6th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
– I ask permission to make a statement.
– It is with a deep feeling of horror and regret that I have to announce to the Senate that news has been received that the White Star liner Arabic, carrying a large number of passengers, which left Liverpool yesterday for New York, has been torpedoed by a German submarine near the spot where the Cunard liner Lusitania was torpedoed. I do not propose to submit a motion on this occasion, because Parliament has already expressed itself in no uncertain terms regarding these atrocious crimes. I only wish to say that this adds another blot which can never he removed from the escutcheon of Germany as a nation, and it should nerve the determination of the whole civilized world to punish these foul murderers.. It becomes now not merely a question of national differences, but a question of civilization, as to whether these foul murderers should he allowed to continue to exist and perpetrate horrible crimes on humanity at large. I cannot find terms in which to express my feeling of abhorrence and detestation, but I do think that this additional crime will send a thrill of horror through the civilized world, and that it should come as a call to all civilizations to put an end to the barbarians who are perpetrating these outrageous acta of murder.
– May I be permitted, sir, to add a few words to what the. Minister has said?
– I only desire to say that, whilst our sympathies will go out to the victims of this latest outrage in the name of German culture, the only effect, so far as we are concerned as a portion of the British Empire, will be to steel our hearts and strengthen . our resolve to prosecute this war, not only to a successful end, but in order that we shall be in a position to carry punishment to those who are responsible for these foul murders.
– Has the Minister of Defence had made to him any representations concerning the desirability of establishing a second military camp in Tasmania, that is, at the northern end, and, if so, is it his intention to accede to the request?
– The representations alluded to by the honorable senator have been made, and have been referred to the Quartermaster-General for inquiry and report. I may say that a large amount of latitude is allowed to the District Commandant in the State as to the disposition of his Forces - of course, subject to the control of the QuartermasterGeneral. In the ordinary way a State Commandant will be called upon to report as to where he thinks it is advisable to distribute the camps in Tasmania. In some States at the present time there is a reason for distribution arising out of the outbreak of cerebro-meningitis, but where that disease has not occurred, it is not advisable to distribute the camps’ too widely, because it increases the expenditure, necessitating the provision of headquarter staffs at every camp. The reasons which may obtain in one State for distribution may not obtain in another.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether, in view of the certain need for loan funds in the near future to keep governmental activities going, the Treasurer will follow British and Canadian precedent, and authorize the High Commissioner to find out what is the prospect of raising a loan in the American money market?
– I think that all the immediate arrangements in connexion with loans are well in hand, but I can assure the honorable senator that there will be no development in any part of the world which will not be noted by the Treasurer, in case the information may be needed later.
Supply of New Steamer
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Referenda: Disposal of Effects: Age for Brigadier : Commissions to Youths
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1, 2, 3, and 4. The law does not permit of voting under the conditions indicated by the honorable senator’s question. It would be impracticable to provide members of the Defence Forces serving abroad with voting facilities which would have uniform application.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has any reply been received from Adelaide relating to a complaint that Cook and Son were demanding unreasonable charges for carrying out their agreement with the Military Department in connexion with the effects of deceased soldiers ?
– The answer is-
A reply has been received which indicates that instructions in the matter were received from the Melbourne office of Messrs. Cook and Sons. The result of investigations which are being made will be communicated to the honorable member as early as possible.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Debate resumed from 19th August (vide page 5913), on motion by Senator Pearce-
That in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it is desirable that a Small Arms Factory, with necessary provision for housing workmen, be erected forthwith at Canberra.
– So far as I have been privileged to listen to the debate on this motion, and to peruse the report of speeches which I did not hear, I have been struck with the marvellous contrast in the estimates given of the attractions of Canberra to-day as compared with those given a few years ago, when the selection of Canberra was urged as the site for the Federal Capital. One of the advantages now claimed for Canberra is that it has an abundant water supply, but we were told a few years ago that there was not enough water there to fill a pannikin.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– The very honorable senators who are now urging that we should remove the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow, because those employed there could get plenty of water at Canberra. As for the climate, no tourist resort is described in any tourist guide published in any part of the civilised world in such attractive language as that now used to describe the climate of Canberra. When I contrast this with what my honorable friends had to say about the climate at Canberra when that place was being urged for their acceptance as the site for the Federal Capital, I have to ask myself what has brought about this wonderful change of opinion. The climate and water supply at Canberra have not changed.
– The climate was never objected to.
– I was going to say that wonders will never cease.
– The honorable senator i3 not going to say that there is more water at Canberra than at Dalgety?
– I said when we were considering the selection of the Capital site that there was sufficient water at Canberra, but my honorable friends are now saying that there is not only sufficient for governmental purposes, but enough for the establishment of a fine industrial centre. What is the cause of this wonderful change of opinion? It seems to me that the answer to the question explains the submission of this motion to the Senate. The fact is that there is underlying it, not the consideration of the interests of the Small Arms Factory or of the Federal Capital, but the desire of my friends opposite to giveeffect to what is a well-known plank of their political platform. They consider that alone, regardless of the interests of the Factory and the purpose for which it is established.
– The programme is all right, but the Federal Capital is in the wrong place.
– My honorable friends wish now to put the Small Arms Factory in the wrong place. Either Canberra is a suitable site, because of its advantages in the matter of climate and water, or it is not.
– Is it not possible for it to be a suitable site, although there may be an even more suitable site?
– Senator Pearce knows as well as does any member of the Senate, that the contention previously was, not that Canberra was less suitable than some other site proposed for the Federal Capital, but that it was entirely unsuitable.
– The contention was that Dalgety was more suitable.
– Pictures were exhibited in the Chamber to misrepresent Canberra. I remember one taken from the Bulletin showing a starved cow beside a dried up water-hole. I am not sure that Senator Pearce was not responsible for some of the reflections upon Canberra now that he invites my attention so particularly to its advantages.
– I always1 said that Dalgety was a better site.
– It was not only said that Dalgety was a better site, but that Canberra was entirely unsuitable.
– Is it not a question that, as the Federal Capital has been fixed at Canberra, we should do something to build it up?
– The question which concerns my honorable friend is how to get away from these awful ghosts of the past.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake, so far as I am concerned.
– I have not a word to say to the detriment of Canberra.
– But having voted for the selection of Canberra, the honorable senator does not want to see anything done to make the Federal Territory a payable Territory.
– That is quite beside the mark, and it is not in accordance with the facts’. I have done all that I could to urge the completion of the Federal Capital in order that effect might be given to the plain intention of the Constitution. But I am entitled to remind my honorable friends who are now so eulogistic of the attractions of Canberra of the totally different attitude which they took up some few years ago.
– Does not that apply also to the honorable senator?
– No, I still say of Canberra that as a site for the Federal Capital it possesses an extremely pleasant climate, and the supply of water is ample. But the possession of a good climate and an ample supply of water are not the only factors to be considered when we are asked to determine this proposal. Why is this motion submitted to the Senate at all? There was ho legal obligation on the Minister of Defence to bring it before the Senate. He admitted that in introducing the motion. Under the Public Works Committee Act it is obligatory upon the Government. to refer to that Committee for inquiry all proposals involving the expenditure of more than a certain sum of money, but the Act distinctly leaves out the Senate, and stipulates that the reports of the Committee shall be submitted to the House of Representatives. Paraphrasing its provisions it goes on to say that, unless the House of Representatives1 approves of the recommendation of the Committee it cannot be gone on with. I want to know what is to happen if this practice of submitting these motions to the Senate is to be adopted. Do the Government propose to make a system of this practice? Is every proposal reported from the Public Works Committee to be submitted to the Senate, as well as, to the House of Representatives, or is this special proposal to be singled out for special treatment?
– The honorable senator does not object to the Senate being underrated.
– I remind the honorable senator that this Parliament has passed a certain law, and if it be thought desirable that all these proposals should be approved by both Houses of the Federal Parliament, the course the Government should take is to propose an amendment of that law.
– I wanted to amend it, but I could not ‘ get the honorable senator’s help.
– I should have a great deal of hesitation in extending my help to anything that Senator Lynch wanted. The law requires at present that the Committee’s reports upon works proposals shall be made to the House of Representatives, and its decision determines the subsequent Government action. If that House approves, the Government are free to go on with a proposal, but if it does not approve the Government are barred from going on with it. If it be thought right that the Senate should have an opportunity to discuss the works proposals of the Government they should come down with a measure to amend the present law, and to provide for the approval of such proposals by both Houses. They have notdone that, and therefore I wish to know whether the submission of this motion marks the adoption of a new system, which will be followed in connexion with all similar proposals in the future, or whether this particular proposal is submitted to the Senate for a special purpose, and, having been disposed of, all future proposals of the kind will, as the law provides, be submitted for approval to th© House of Representatives only. If it is only the exception to the rule, why the exception? One is impelled to the conclusion that this is merely a party move - a move to save the Government from the defeat which they evidently anticipate elsewhere.
– The honorable senator’s opposition seems like a party move.
– All that I am asking is that the law shall be followed. What do the Government propose to do if this motion be carried and if it should afterwards be rejected in another place? If they observe the terms of the law they cannot then proceed to give effect to it. In these_ circumstances, why has it been brought forward here? It is merely a demonstration of force, with a view to influencing waverers. In view of the desire which is exhibited to close Parliament next week, I would like an assurance that this motion will be dealt with in another place before the adjournment. If it should be carried in this Chamber, and the other House should not be afforded an opportunity of dealing with it, the Government may afterwards say, “ So far as the Parliament has expressed an opinion upon it, that opinion has been a favorable one.”
– It would be a calamity if the Senate had a vote in the matter, I suppose?
– If it is thought desirable that the Senate should have a voice in the matter, the Government should bring forward a Bill to amend the law.
– I certainly think that.
– Then the honorable senator should have said so when the Public Works Committee Bill was before the Senate. I am discussing the law of the land as it stands to-day. I wish to know why this motion has been brought forward. It can have no effect unless the Government choose to give effect to it. Now the law provides that the reports of the Public Works Committee shall be submitted to the House of Representatives alone.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if the honorable senator is in order in discussing a measure which is not now before the Senate? I hold that this motion should be debated upon its merits, quite apart from any Act that may be in existence.
– I would direct your attention, sir, to the terms of the motion. It reads -
That, in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing , Committee of Public Works -
It will be seen, therefore, that it makes direct reference to the work of a Committee which has been appointed under Act of Parliament. I am endeavouring to show that that Act does not require the submission of this motion to the Senate, but that it does require its submission to the other House, which has to determine whether or not the recommendation of the Committee shall be acted upon.
- Senator Millen was arguing - as he had a perfect right to do - that the Act under which this recommendation has been made provides that the report of the Public Works Committee shall be submitted to the other branch of the Legislature, and that there is no good reason why it should be submitted here. It is quite competent for him to do that, and he is entitled to say that the proper method for the Government to follow is to bring forward a Bill for the amendment of the existing law.
– I invite the attention of honorable senators to the position which may arise if this Chamber carries the motion and the other House rejects it. The Government, I say, are practically inviting us to adopt a motion to which it might have to decline to give effect. If the Senate places on record a resolution, knowing that under certain circumstances the Government may have to disregard it, I think it will be making a travesty of our proceedings.
– Does the honorable senator say that if the motion be carried here and rejected in another place the Government may proceed with the erection of the Small Arms Factory at Canberra ?
– The only reason for bringing it forward here is the assumption that the other branch of the Legislature will not have time to deal with it before the adjournment. The Government may then say, “ So far as the Parliament has expressed an opinion upon the proposal, it has expressed an opinion in favour of it,” and it may then take steps for the initiation of the work.
– Does the honorable senator object to the Senate having a voice in determining the’ matter?
– I desire to see the terms of the law observed. If honorable senators are of opinion that the Senate should be consulted in matters of this kind, the obvious course to adopt is to secure an amendment of the law, and thus to give us legal authority for what we are doing. At the present time the adoption of this motion will constitute merely an expression of opinion which will have no effect whatever. I wish, now, to draw attention to the extraordinary error into which Senator Story allowed himself to fall last night. When I asked by way of interjection what would be the effect of carrying this motion, he said that if we passed it in two consecutive sessions, and the other House rejected it, it might be referred to the people for their decision. Now the only matter which can be the subject of a referendum is a measure which has been twice passed by either House of the Parliament and rejected by another place relating to an amendment of our Constitution.
– Senator Story meant that there would be a referendum by means of a general election.
– No; the Minister cannot help him out of the difficulty in that way. He specially referred to a measure which had been twice passed in con- *secutive sessions by one branch of the Legislature and rejected by the other.
– He meant by way of a double dissolution.
– A double dissolution cannot be obtained in that way.
– A double dissolution can be obtained on anything in the light of our last experience.
– Honorable senators know perfectly well that the Constitution limits, not only the purposes for which, but the methods by which, a double dissolution may be obtained. Coming more particularly to this motion I wish to say that the object we ought to have in view at the present moment is the rapid output of rifles. That ought to be our main consideration. We ought to ask ourselves: What steps will enable us to increase the output of rifles more expeditiously than any other? I have not heard anybody attempt to justify this proposal on the ground that it will speed up the production of rifles.
– The Lithgow Factory is working continuously night and day, and will continue to do so whilst the Factory at Canberra is being erected.
– But nobody has ventured to affirm that by reason of this proposal we shall obtain more rifles in less time than we shall secure them by the alternative proposal. Of course, an attempt is being made to minimize the disruption which will inevitably occur, but there is a clear indication that there will be a disruption in the output of rifles. If we merely desire an increased output in the shortest space of time, we shall turn down this proposal, even if it possesses other advantages of a more permanent character. So far as an early additional output is concerned, the proposal stands condemned by the report itself. What is the alternative that is put before us? If the declaration of the Minister of Defence - which I accept in its entirety - is to stand we are asked to decide, not merely on the wisdom of removing the Lithgow Factory to Canberra, but on the concentration of all the industrial enterprises under the control of the Defence Department within the Federal Territory. The Cordite Factory, the Harness Factory, and the Clothing Factory are eventually to be established there.
– And rightly so, too.
– MayI ask when?
– That is a question of expediency.
– That is to say that, although this policy is to be laid down now, no steps are to be taken to give effect to it, except in the case of the Small Arms Factory.
– Because there is no need to interfere with anything else. If we were duplicating our Harness and Clothing Factories we would do the same thing as we are proposing to do now.
– I shall be interested to observe the attitude of the honorable senator at a later period, when it is proposed to disturb Victorian industries. An attempt- has been made to show that there is some virtue in concentrating all these enterprises in Commonwealth territory. I wish to point out that, if we are going to place them in the Federal Territory merely for the sake of concentration, we shall be creating a danger instead of reaping an advantage. What advantage can result from establishing the Harness Factory in Canberra more than will result from its establishment here ?
– Why not improve our own property ? If we put buildings upon it we shall enrich it.
– What else? Senator Barker is very useful in proportion as he is less discreet. He has just stated the whole reason underlying this proposal. It is an effort to concentrate Federal industries in the Federal Territory for the purpose of increasing values there. There is no other reason, so far as I am aware, and Senator Barker having made the admission, I will not pursue that line of argument any further. Now it is stated it will cost £66,000 to duplicate the plant at Lithgow, and about £94,000 to start the Factory at Canberra. I would like to point out, however, that these are estimates only, and I challenge anybody to point to any departmental estimate running into substantial figures which has not been greatly exceeded by the cost of the completed work. Never within my knowledge has this been otherwise.
– That is not so with regard to works undertaken by the Labour Government.
– It does not matter by what Government the works have been carried out, I say that estimates for public works running into thousands of pounds are invariably under the actual cost.
– The honorable senator is quite -wrong. The cost of undergrounding the telephone wires in the metropolitan area here was much below the departmental estimate.
– I am speaking of estimates that have come before Parliament from time “to time in the State or Federal arena; I do not know of any instance in which they have not been greatly exceeded. . Whether that is so or not, we are now asked to spend 50 per cent. more money at Canberra to get the same results as would be achieved at Lithgow.
– You should add the cost of the Lithgow plant tothe £66,000 in order to make a proper comparison.
– But it is proposed to shift the Lithgow plant to Canberra later on, and as a set-off against that there will be the Lithgow establishment on our hands. That has an important bearing on this question, and those who are in favour of the Government proposal should say what it is intended to do with that establishment.
– The Committee has made a recommendation.
– I am aware that it is proposed to utilize the Lithgow Factory for the manufacture of vehicles for the Defence and other Departments, in order that we shall not have an idle building on our hands. But in this policy there is apparently disclosed the insincerity of the arguments that have been used in support of the transfer of the Factory from Lithgow to Canberra. If the Lithgow Factory is to be used later on for the manufacture of vehicles, what becomes of the argument for concentration which is being employed to insure the establishment of Government activities at Canberra ?
– It will veto their own proposal.
– If those who are in’ favour of the transfer rest upon thin argument of concentration, then they ought to say at once that, having shifted the Factory from Lithgow, another should not be put in its place, but that the whole property should be shut up and sold, instead of proposing to undertake other work for the Defence Department in the Lithgow premises.
– And work which more properly ought to be done at Canberra.
– Apart from that, Senator Keating will see that if the argument of concentration is the one to which we ought to pay attention, the Government should not establish another Government Factory at Lithgow.
– What do you advise - leaving the building vacant?
– Senator Lynch, who asks that question, and supports this proposal for concentration, should say if, having transferred the Factory to Canberra, he is prepared to favour setting up another establishment at Lithgow. If this policy is to be pursued, then in a few years it will possibly be said that in continuation of this policy of concentration the Government Factory must be again shifted from Lithgow to Canberra, and room made for a third at Lithgow, in order that the buildings may not be idle. If those who are supporting this policy of concentration are going to put another establishment in the empty factory they will show a want of appreciation for the first argument of concentration, and there will be disclosed an insincerity on the part of those who are advocating it.
– Do you object to works being established within the Federal Territory?
– No; I say we ought to put them there, so far as we can do it. I am merely drawing attention to the illogical position of those who say that we should shift the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow in order to concentrate Commonwealth activities within the Federal Territory, and then turn round and propose to establish a second industry in the vacated premises at Lithgow. If it is proposed to manufacture vehicles in the Lithgow Factory, why not carry out that work at Canberra, and thus avoid disturbing the Lithgow men? What are we going to do with the employees at Lithgow who were induced by the Government to go there and develop interests, and who have rendered as loyal service as has been rendered by any body of public servants anywhere? They have endeavoured to do what I think we ought to commend them for doing, and that is, to acquire homes for themselves.
– They are more lucky than many workmen in the community.
– I would like the honorable senator to go and preach that doctrine to men who, in order to save a little, have practised the virtue of thrift. Having been economical and developed little homes, does any one regard that act of the men as an offence?
– Who got their savings?
– Their savings have gone, no matter who got them.
– It does matter.
– Some of the savings have gone into the purchase of houses.
– A sum of £2,600 went to one of the local land sharks.
– That is a sort of phrase which apparently gives a great deal of comfort to the single-tax soul of my unearned -increment friend.
– You want still more to go there.
– You are objecting to the proposal.
– My object today is to see that the Government do not turn round on the men and say to them, “ The value for which you have paid will be destroyed by our action.” It should always be borne in mind that a number of the men have acquired land and built cottages.
– What about those who have not acquired land? Are you barracking for Mr. Brown to sell them some land at £8 per block?
– That is a question of which I do not think I need’ take any notice. The question of what is to be done with the men who have developed interests at Lithgow is one which ought not to be lightly turned down by the Senate. If it is prepared to carry the motion, it may, if it like, bluff the thing. It may act with a callous disregard of the interests of the men, but it will not be doing justice to them, or acting with credit to itself. If the men should suffer any loss by reason of the removal of the Factory, Parliament should accept the responsibility of compensating them.
– You are destroying your argument.
– I am pleading for justice for the men, and I will destroy fifty arguments rather than that justice shall suffer. I see no destruction of any argument.
– Since the Government established the Factory at Lithgow the value of land there has gone up.
– During the last ten years there is no place in Australia where the value of land has not gone up. The concentration of people anywhere will tend to send up land values. But that has nothing to do with the fact that certain employees at the Small Arms Factory have acquired land at Lithgow and built cottages, some of them carrying a big mortgage, and that the Government now proposeto destroy the value which- is there. That will be the effect on these men.
– Are you nob fighting a shadow ?
– To my honorable friend with his rich lands and possibly his big banking account, a mortgage may be a shadow, but I have staggered under the weight of a mortgage, and I know of no greater nightmare.
– I have half-a-dozen.
– It is idle to talk about a shadow of a mortgage. Many of these men have acquired properties, some of them on time payment, and if the Factory is removed from Lithgow it is inevitable that their properties will be un saleable, or that they will not be able to get out without suffering a big loss. If the Government are determined to shift the Factory to Canberra, they should take into consideration the circumstances of the men, and say that so far as they can do so they will grant reasonable compensation for any losses to which the men are subjected.
– The proposal at the present time is not to shift the Factory at Lithgow, but to erect a new plant at Canberra.
– The Minister is not candid, because he knows very well that if a new plant is erected at Canberra it is intended to build premises there which will be capable of using not merely the new plant, but also the plant at Lithgow, to be shifted later.’
– After the termination of the war.
– It is only trifling for the Minister to say that the present proposal is not to shift the Factory. Part of the proposal is to shift the Factory.
– Is two years ultimately ?
– After the end of the war.
– The report from the Public Works Committee recommends that the work should be done as soon as the buildings at Canberra are ready. Suppose that it is not done until after the war is ended, it is going to be done. If the Factory is to be shifted from Lithgow, in justice to the men who in all good faith, assuming that the Government institution would be a permanent one, and that their employment would be permanent, subject to proficiency and good behaviour, have done what thousands of men have done, and that is acquire little homes, we have no right now to be frightened by economic laws into doing an injustice. We ought to ask ourselves this question: What is the fair thing to do for the men ? If any one of the men can bring forward a bond fide case as to the acquisition by him of land or a house prior to the declaration that it was intended to shift the Factory we ought to shield him from financial loss consequent upon the action which it is proposed to take.
– We transfer our employees from place to place.
– The honorable senator must recognise that the removal of a public servant from Melbourne does not affect land values or his ability to sell his house. When you remove the staff of this Factory, which I suppose is the biggest industrial concern in Lithgow, it must make a material difference. Between 500 and 600 men are employed in the Factory, and its removal will mean the transfer of a population of a few thousand persons to Canberra. We cannot take a Small Arms Factory out of a small town without materially affecting the industrial position, and the position of the property market. A few men, even a thousand men, shifted out of Melbourne would not have an appreciable effect, but to shift out of Lithgow the whole lock, stock, and barrel of the biggest undertaking there must have a very serious effect on its commercial and industrial life.
– That argument would also tell against shifting Parliament to Canberra.
– I do not put Parliament in relation to Melbourne in the same important position as I put the Small Arms Factory in relation to Lithgow. There are 110 members of Parliament, and possibly with officials and others the total number to be shifted would be 150.
– What about the staffs of the Departments?
– Call the number 500, or, if you like, 1,000. What is that number compared to the population of Melbourne?
– If you were to shift all the employees in the Harness Factory and the Clothing Factory, the Hansard Staff, the employees of the Government Printer, you would have at once a city of 5,000 or 6,000 persons.
– I am speaking of what is proposed to be done at Lithgow. When the Government put up a Small Arms Factory there, surely it was the best guarantee of permanence they could give to the employees ! Does Senator Senior, who professes to know something about the mode of thought of the working classes, pretend to think for a moment that the men would have bought allotments, many of them on time payment, and started to erect houses, unless they thought that the Factory was to be a permanent institution ?
– In South Australia there are people who have bought permanent places to live in miles away from where they are employed.
– What has that to do with the position I am putting to the Senate ? No employee at the Small Arms Factory would have acted as he has done if he had thought that, in the course of a year or two, he would be shifted to Canberra. If it is intended to compel the workmen to face a loss in the market we have a right to say that we will extend reasonable compensation to them.
– I would not mind betting that a majority of the men are paying rent, and have no homes of their own.
– Probably the majority are paying rent, but I am talking of the ninety-five men who, according to the Committee’s report, have acquired homes’ at Lithgow. The interests of ninety-five men may count for very little in the minds of some honorable senators, but I contend that we ought” not to proceed with this proposal without taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances surrounding those men. May I add here that, if the men are compensated for the loss to which they will be subjected, the amount of compensation will have to be added to the cost of the Canberra scheme? What the compensation may be I do not pretend to know; probably it will not be very heavy, but whatever it is it ought to be added as a charge against the Canberra scheme.
– That would apply to the Harness Factory, the Clothing Factory, and everything else.
– Which my honorable friend wants to shift to Canberra ?
– They will be dealt with on their merits later.
– The honorable senator is now saying that, although he talks of concentration in Canberra, he is not to be an advocate of that view when it comes to the question of shifting the Harness Factory.
– We shall deal with the other factories on their merits.
– I know what the merits will be in the mind of .the honorable senator. .
– He is frightened of the Age.
– I would like Senator Findley to get up and say that, in voting for this motion, he wants to give effect to the Government’s policy, as declared by Senator Pearce, that the Harness Factory and the Clothing Factory are also to be shifted to Canberra.
– I am not allowed to speak.
– He has already done that on Senator McDougall’s motion.
– One of the chief objections to Lithgow urged by the late manager of the Small Arms Factory was the difficulty of obtaining labour there. 1 believe it is held by all those cognisant with big industrial undertakings that it is always desirable to have them planted where the population is dense, in order that there shall be a continuous supply of the younger members of the com:mungy to undertake the work offering. It was urged that, at Lithgow, such labour was not available. Where is it to be obtained at Canberra? The difficulty at the Capital will be intensified. That is a matter which seems to have been entirely overlooked by the Public Works Committee. They had one idea in their mind, and that was to try to concentrate Government undertakings in the Federal Territory in order to build up the Territory and create land values for the benefit of the country. It seems to be thought that, because of the cheap land there, we shall be able to offer the persons who go to the Capital very much better terms in acquiring the right to use houses than they can obtain at Lithgow. Has any one stopped to think what the difference in land values will mean iu the’ yearly charge ? Some figures were used last night as to the value of land at Lithgow. Senator Keating quoted the evidence of a witness putting the value down at £50 per acre. Suppose that the value of land per acre is £100 at Lithgow, and £4 or £5 at Canberra?
– Even then we have no land-owner at Lithgow coming forward and saying, “ I will give you land at £100 per acre.”
– There is any amount of land to be had there at £100 per acre. What is the yearly charge on an allotment worth £100 per acre? The average allotment in our cities to-day is much less than a quarter of an acre in extent. - But if we take an allotment of a quarter of an acre that will mean £25 worth of land, and an interest charge of 25s. a year. That is the extra charge at Lithgow, as against Canberra, per cottage on a’ quarter of an acre of land. It would not be quite that amount, because the Canberra land will cost something. The outside increased charge at Lithgow, as compared with Canberra, would be from £1 to 25s. per year. Against that I venture to say that a house might be built more cheaply at Lithgow than at Canberra. The extra charge, therefore, of £1 or 25s. per year for the ground rent of land would be compensated for by the increased cost of building a house at Canberra.
– We can turn out bricks at Canberra more cheaply than they can be turned out in any other place in the world.
– What we may be able to do in that direction I cannot say, but we have not done that so far. The work of construction at Canberra, as the officers of the Home Affairs Department tell us, is costing more than similar work costs at .Lithgow.
– They have done work at 50 per cent, lower than the tendered prices at Canberra. That was done under the Government of which the honorable senator was himself a member.
– The honorable senator makes that statement as if he believed it, and as if he expected me to believe it, but neither assumption is justified. This talk about differences in land values is very much like idle chatter when we consider that the difference between Lithgow and Canberra, in the’ case of a cottage on a quarter of an acre of land, worth at Lithgow £100 an acre, would be only about £1 per year.
– There is no landlord like the State landlord.
– That is another unfounded assumption. I have been a Crown tenant, and I hope to God I shall never be one again. I shall never become a tenant of the Crown again if I can possibly help it. That is the result of my experience of the Crown as a landlord .
– The richest men in New South Wales have been tenants of the Crown.
– They have, and there is not one of them who was1 not glad to get out of that position.
– The whole of the Western Division of New South Wales has been scooped up by the various banking companies of New South Wales.
– That is one of those statements which has no bearing whatever on the motion, and has no relation even to the truth. Those who talk about the difference in land values ignore the fact that, taking the most exaggerated figure of the value of land at Lithgow, and estimating the value of land at Canberra as nil, the difference in respect of an ordinary cottage on a quarter of an acre of land represents no more than £1 per year, and against that it cannot be questioned that much bigger savings could be made at Lithgow than would be possible at Canberra for years to come.
– There would be a material difference to the revenue from the Federal Capital.
– There may be something in that contention. We have had no evidence that this proposal will give us more rifles in a shorter period of time than we should obtain than by duplicating the Small Arms Factory where it is. There is no evidence of any advantage to be derived from the proposal save the nebulous one due to an enhancement of the value of land at Canberra, and an increase of revenue from the Federal Capital. The purposes for which the Factory has been established would be served more certainly and more expeditiously by duplicating the plant where it is. The interests of the employees, which is a matter about which our honorable friends opposite profess to be most concerned, until an opportunity is afforded them to give effect to their professions, would be best served by leaving them where they are. If that is not done the Government must undertake the financial responsibility of any loss that may be occasioned by their removal from their present homes.
– The statement was made by the Minister of Defence, in submitting the motion, that it is not intended to remove the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow during the continuance of the war. That discounts in a very large degree the objections raised to the proposal. If I thought that the action proposed by tha Government would interfere in the smallest possible way with the output of rifles I should not countenance this motion.
– Does the honorable senator think that it will not?
– How can it?
– I do not think that it will. The Government propose that as soon as possible the work of building a factory sufficient to house machinery similar to that now in operation at Lithgow, shall be commenced at Canberra. Later on, when the war is finished, and not until that time as we are assured by the Minister of Defence, the question of the removal of the machinery at Lithgow will be considered.
– That is not the purport of the report of the Public Works Committee which we are asked to adopt.
– We have been assured that that is the way in which the Government intend to carry out their proposal. I wish to make that perfectly clear, in order that those who are opposing the motion may not be able to mislead honorable senators or the public outside.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator should himself be so easily misled.
– That is the view I take. I have said that if the Government proposal were calculated to interfere with the output of rifles, I would not entertain it, because, above all things, it should be the objective of this Parliament to see that nothing is done that would interfere with the successful conduct of the war.
– The machinery will not be available for twelve months.
– The Minister of Defence has informed us that the machinery has been ordered, and is expected in about twelve months’ time. We may safely conclude that we shall be very lucky if we have that machinery delivered at Canberra in twelve months’ time.
– There is some machinery already in the country.
– We have heard a great deal about the machinery there is in the country capable of producing rifles. Why do not those who possess that machinery proceed to turn out rifles with it, and offer them* to the Government for sale?
– They have done so.
– So far as I know, there is no factory in Australia that has done so. It is like the manufacture of munitions. We are told every day that there are numerous factories in the Commonwealth where high explosive shells and other munitions of war can be manufactured, but up to date that has been only talk, just as has been the statement with regard to machinery capable of producing rifles. If people have machinery capable of producing rifles, why do they not produce them when they know that the Government are prepared to purchase as many as they can furnish ? Let me inform honorable senators that up to the end of June of this year the Commonwealth had expended on public works at Canberra no less than £663,749 15s. What has that expenditure been incurred for? Every effort made to establish the Federal Capital has met with strong opposition. I am confident that the great majority of the people of New South Wales were of opinion that after the lapse of ten years from the establishment of Federation the Commonwealth Parliament would be meeting at the Federal Capital. Up to date practically nothing has been done to bring that about.
– Surely something has been effected in view of the large sums of money that have been spent at the Capital.
– Nothing has been done towards the erection of Houses of Parliament at Canberra. When we consider that the retention of Parliament House at Melbourne, and the other public offices required by the Commonwealth, involves an expenditure of about £300,000 annually in this city, we need not be surprised to find strong opposition from Victoria to the removal of the Federal Parliament to Canberra.
– Why drag Victoria into it?
– Because I believe that what I am saying is in accordance with fact.
– That is why Senator Russell does not like it.
– Has the honorable senator ever known me to give a vote against works at the Federal Capital?
– We have a large staff of officials in the Federal Territory. They have been responsible for the construction of hundreds of miles of roads. They have provided a good water supply. The preliminary steps have been taken for the manufacture of bricks there, and it is proposed to manufacture about 15,000,000 bricks per year at the Federal Capital. In addition, a railway has been constructed from Queanbeyan to the Capital site. A railway between the Capital and Yass has been surveyed, but, owing to some trouble with the New South Wales Government, nothing so far has been done to commence its construction. A line has also been surveyed from the Capital to Jervis Bay. Why are we doing all this work ? Is it merely for the sake of finding employment for a few officials ? I take it that it is the intention of this Parliament that as soon as possible every Federal activity shall be centred at Canberra. This is about the first opportunity that has been afforded us to establish an industrial undertaking at the Federal Capital. I should hesitate to do anything which would seriously inconvenience any large body of workmen, no matter in what State they might reside. The Small Arms Factory was established at Lithgow before the Federal Capital was definitely decided upon. Naturally, it has grown, and vested interests have been created in connexion with it. But they should not be sufficiently strong to prevent this Parliament from doing the right thing. An effort has been made £o show that the workmen at the Lithgow Factorv would be seriously inconvenienced by the removal of the Factory to Canberra. I do not believe that that statement is correct. It must be remembered that every workman who has decided to live at Lithgow has had to pay £80 to one of the local land-owners for a licence giving him the privilege of building a home for himself. On one estate alone - the Cooerwull Estate - thirty blocks have been sold at prices realizing £2,600, or a little more than £80 per block.
– What is the area of the blocks?
– I think that I am perfectly safe in saying that they do not approximate even a quarter of an acre.
– What does the honorable senator mean by a “ licence “ ?
– I mean permission to live at Lithgow - permission from the local land-owner to make a home there. The workman in that centre has had to pay more than £80 for a piece of land on which to build a home for himself.
– That is a very different matter from paying £80 for a licence.
– My point is that the workman who went to Lithgow was not permitted to build a home there unless he consented to pay to some local land-owner the sum of £80. That meant that he had to mortgage his wages for a considerable time ahead.
– He is largely responsible for the advance which Has taken place in land values.
– Exactly. At Lithgow, the price of land, has steadily increased. The people who will be primarily inconvenienced by the removal of the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow are the workmen who are employed in that establishment. It was frankly admitted by a business man in that town the other day that he, too, was concerned in the removal of the Factory, inasmuch as it would cause a depreciation in land values. I want to give the workers in our Federal factories and other factories the best housing conditions possible. The way in which the workmen are housed in Sydney, Melbourne, and other large Australian cities is a standing disgrace to us. Only the other day I heard one honorable senator talking about granting a 40-ft. allotment to a man. Imagine the impertinence of any individual who suggests that a workman should not be allowed to get an allotment with a larger frontage than 40 feet in a continent like Australia.
– He ought to have, at least, a quarter of an acre.
– That ought to be the minimum area.
– Nobody ever made the statement that is alleged by Senator Grant. What I said during the course of my speech was that the average size of building blocks was about 40 x 120 feet, and I know of many people in a very much better financial position than working men who are only too glad to have cottages built on such allotments.
– The idea that the man who is responsible for the production of the wealth of this country should be content with an allotment having a frontage of only 40 feet should not be tolerated for a moment. I hope that when the Small Arms Factory is established at Canberra the Government will devise such a scheme for the housing of the workmen there as will prove a model for the Commonwealth and for the rest of the world.
– We are laying down such a scheme in Adelaide.
– The honorable senator means that the Labour Government are doing so.
– It must also be remembered that we are spending £75,000 on the construction of a main sewer at Canberra. So far as members of the Opposition are concerned, that work will be useless. We have also at Canberra a large, wellequipped power plant capable of supplying all the power that will be required in the Small Arms Factory. Something has been said in reference to the impregnable position occupied by Lithgow. I think that recent experiences should make us very careful about regarding any place as impregnable. Already we have heavy guns which are capable of throwing high explosives a distance of 20 and 25 miles, and it is quite within the range of possibility that in a few years their range will be largely increased. The impregnability of Lithgow ought not to weigh with us for a moment. The real trouble in connexion with this matter is to be found in the vested interests that have been created, and the more directly that issue is faced the quicker we shall arrive at a determination upon it.
– There are municipal interests that have been created at Lithgow.
– I do not deny that this reform will inconvenience a certain number of people. All reforms do. But if we duplicate the Lithgow Factory it will mean that every, man who may later on be employed there, and who desires to build a home for himself and his family, will be obliged to go cap in hand to one of the local land-owners and pay him, probably, £100 for a small block such as Senator Gould suggests is all right in the case of the working man.
– I accept the honorable senator’s disclaimer, and I hope that he will banish 40-ft. blocks from his mind in the future. I trust that he will give the working man at least a quarter of an acre.
– What is the usual size of subdivisional blocks in Australia ?
– I do not know; but I do know that in Sydney many of them have only a 16-ft. frontage.
– That is an extreme case. What is the size of the ordinary block?
– It has a frontage of about 20 feet, I suppose. But, whatever may be the average size, I say that it is too small.
– What would the honorable senator give them ?
– Not less than m, quarter of an acre. Honorable senators opposite expect men to go and fight for this country, and yet they would give them building blocks of only 40-ft. frontage.
– The honorable senator seems to forget that a block of a quarter of an acre contains only 66 x 165 feet.
– At Canberra we have purchased a sufficient area of land for the nominal sum of £4 10s. per acre. If that be cut up into building blocks of a quarter of an. acre, we ought to be able to let one of those blocks to a workman for a rental of 5s.* per year. That is quite enough for any workman to pay as rent. A number of people seem to think that the worker has nothing to do with his wages but to pay them over to the landlord every Monday morning.
– What about his home ?
– At Canberra a workman ought to be able to secure a block of a quarter of an acre for a rental of 5s. per year. On the other hand, we must recognise that at Lithgow he is required to pay one of the local land-owners the sum of £80 for his block, with an addition of 6 or 7 per cent, interest on the quarterly balances, so that in the long run he will probably be called upon to pay £100 for it.
– How much land would he get for £80 at Lithgow?
– About a 40-ft. frontage, I think. I do not know. The position appears to me to be one which justifies us in adopting this motion, especially in view of the statement of the Minister of Defence that by so doing the production of rifles at Lithgow will not be disturbed during the currency of the war. On that ground I support the motion.
– I presume that this motion will be pressed to a division, and, therefore, I propose to state briefly the reasons why I intend to vote for it. I have listened very carefully to the arguments which have been put forward during this debate, and it seems to me that there is a good deal of strength in the attitude that has been adopted by both’ parties. But in deciding to vote for the motion I cannot lose sight of the fact that this Parliament has appointed a Public Works Committee. That body has gone to a lot of trouble and considerable expense in taking evidence at Canberra and Lithgow on this subject. The Committee certainly cannot be charged with bias in favour of one place as against the other. No member of that body can be suspected for a moment of having in view any other object than what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth. But the report of the Committee, strange to say, seems to bear a partisan aspect. There are nine members of that body, six belonging to the Ministerial, and three to the Opposition, side of the Parliament, and the report shows that the six members of the Ministerial party - Senators Lynch and Story, and Messrs. Fenton, Finlayson, Riley, and Smith - voted in favour of the Canberra proposal, while the three from the Opposition - Senator Keating, and Messrs. Gregory and Sampson - voted in favour of the Lithgow extension. For some reason or other, therefore, the report has a partisan aspect.
– It has a parochial aspect now.
– I want to point out, however, that if the Committee’s report appears to bear a partisan aspect, the discussion in another place and here has shown that this is not altogether a party question. It is rather significant to note now that the question of party has been introduced by Senator Millen into this discussion, that not one member belonging to the Opposition in another place is in favour of Canberra, but in both branches of the Legislature there are members of the Ministerial party who, for their own good reasons, no doubt, are in favour of Lithgow. So if parochialism may be charged against either party, the Ministerial party certainly cannot be blamed. Two principal objections against the transfer are urged by those who desire that an extension should be made to Lithgow. The first objection is that the Government proposal will retard the necessary increase in our output of rifles, and the second is that it will mean increased expenditure. Now let us examine these objections. My answer to the first objection is that it has been clearly stated by the Minister, and is as clearly shown in the Works Committee report, that the increase in output will not be retarded. It is not argued by those who are in favour of Lithgow that an extension of the works should not be made, and according to the report, if we build at Canberra, as against the proposal to extend the Lithgow Factory, there need be no fear that an increase in output will be retarded, because the machinery necessary for the additional Factory could not possibly arrive in Australia inside of twelve months. Therefore, we could not have an increase in our rifle output or of small arms of any other kind inside that period, even if the extension were made at Lithgow. Our main object is to secure this increase in output as speedily as possible, and it seems to me, so far as I can gather from the evidence, and from the statement made by the Minister, that the first objection to which I have referred should not have entered into the discussion at all.
– We shall effect economy by extending the Lithgow Factory, and the increase in the output will be obtained more quickly, by doing so than by establishing a new Factory at another place.
– If we cannot get the machinery inside of a year, preparations in the way of buildings for the plant can be made just as well at Canberra as at Lithgow in the meantime. I submit, of course, that Senator McDougall may have very good reasons for his views on this subject, but I think that number one objection should have been eliminated altogether. It is not intended to interfere with the Factory at Lithgow, for we have been told by the Minister of Defence that this establishment will be kept working up to its fullest extent.
– It would be foolish to do anything else.
– Of course, it would. We would not get the new machinery any sooner whether we decided on an extension at Lithgow or built a new Factory at Canberra.
– So long as we axe ready for the plant when it arrives no time will be lost.
– This work may be regarded as a preliminary undertaking prior to the arrival of the plant. I have no bias in favour of one place or the other.
– It does not matter to me where the Factory is placed.
– No; I can understand that would be so, because the honorable senator, like myself, represents a whole State. Now when we examine this second objection that the transfer to Canberra will be. more expensive, we ‘are up against the fact that the proposed extention of the Factory at Lithgow to double its present output would cost £66,000° while if the Factory were established at Canberra we would have double the output at a cost of £92,000. There is only a difference of £26,000 between the two estimates.
– But we would double the output.
– Yes, and if we duplicate the Factory at Lithgow, the cost of that work - £66,000 - must be added to the cost of the Factory there at present. I admit that a difference of £26,000 may. be used as a valid argument against the transfer, because these are times when we should seek to effect savings in every direction; but as against that £26,000 extra cost of the transfer proposal, we would still have a Factory at Lithgow which would be worked at its fullest capacity up to the time that the new establishment was ready. Afterwards, I take it the premises would be used for some other purpose.
– But you know that in the country now there is machinery that could be taken to and installed at Lithgow. You will find that in Mr. Wright’s evidence.
– I know that Senator McDougall is a practical man.
I am not disputing the statement, but I understand the Government, and those who are in favour of extending the Factory at Lithgow, do not propose to take any of the machinery that is in Australia, but to wait until the new machinery has come to hand. Another valid objection to the transfer, in the opinion of honorable senators who argue that the extension should be made at Lithgow, is that a large number of workmen have established their homes in that town.
– If you take them to Canberra you will disfranchise them.
– That may be so, but I was thinking of the hardship that would be inflicted on them if they had to remove to Canberra. No one wishes to inflict any hardship on these workmen, and least of all the members of the Labour party, but there seems to be a new-found zeal on the part of some honorable senators opposite to protect their interests. In former years, and up till quite recent times, we have not heard much from that side of the Senate about the rights of workmen, and the necessity for providing them with good homes; but we are always ready to welcome late converts, and we hope that this zeal on behalf of the workmen will long be maintained by honorable senators opposite. Now let us examine the argument about the hardship to be inflicted on workmen by transferring the Factory to Canberra. If we establish a Small Arms Factory there, it will he a new building and a new industry, and it will not necessarily follow that the present machinery and plant will be removed from Lithgow. I have gone carefully through the reasons which induced the members of the Public Works Committee to sign the majority report in favour of the Canberra site.
– Can the Government arrange for these men to have a voice in the management of the affairs of the country?
– I do not see why some arrangement should not be made before the next election for the men who reside in the Federal Territory to have votes, if not for the election of a member of the House of Representatives, at least for the election of a member of the Senate. If we cannot make some such arrangement, it will show that we have not much inventive genius.
– An alteration of the Constitution will be required.
– That should not stand in the way. It is about time this question was taken up. A Bill to amend the Electoral Act has been promised, and when it is brought forward I hope it will contain some provision by the operation of which residents in the Federal Territory will be able to exercise the ordinary citizen’s franchise. But, coming to the reasons given by the Public Works Committee in favour of Canberra as the site for the Small Arms Factory, as against Lithgow, the argument as to climate seems to equally favour both sides. According to the majority report, Canberra has climatic advantages over Lithgow, but they do not seem to be very great. If anything, the Committee state, the climate is more pleasant at Canberra than at Lithgow for industrial life, there being less fog and snow; but I do not think that, as a rule, workmen take much notice of either fog or snow-. It is also suggested that the Lithgow site is already an unsuitable one for the Small Arms Factory, and that it would be unwise to perpetuate the mistake. On this point, I am compelled to accept the conclusion of the majority of the Committee, which has gone carefully into this question. That is what the Committee was appointed for; it is why the country pays the expenses of the Committee in order that it may travel about and take evidence, so that conclusions may be formed for our guidance. In another part of the report, it is pointed out that one of the reasons urged in favour of Lithgow is that there is a possibility of steel suitable for the manufacture of small arms being made locally ; but the Committee does not agree that that possibility exists, because up to the present no such steel has been manufactured at Lithgow. At Canberra there is unlimited room for the extension of the Small Arms Factory, and for the erection of any co-related factories, and a considerable area is also available for the erection of workmen’s homes in the event of a scheme being adopted. Land is available at Canberra at values ranging from £4 10s. and £5 4s. per acre; whereas, the Committee point out, land at Lithgow originally cost £40 an acre, and it is improbable that additional land will now be secured at other than a considerable advance on that figure. A very strong reason advanced by the Committee in favour of Canberra is that it would be an advantage to the Commonwealth to have any factory for the manufacture of small arms situated within its own Territory, and under its own jurisdiction. That appeals to me as a very strong argument in favour of the Canberra site; but perhaps the strongest reason that impels me to vote in favour of the proposal is the fact that Canberra is Federal Territory. Although I was not in favour of the selection of the Canberra site - I believed another site was the better one - yet I recognise that we are up against the hard fact that Canberra is in the Federal Territory, that we have already incurred enormous expenditure there, and that we are committed to a big expenditure year by year. That being the position, I think it is the duty of this Parliament to do all it can, within reasonable limits, to establish a population at Canberra if, by doing this, no injury is likely to accrue to the best interests of the Commonwealth. How can it be said that we shall be doing any injury to the best interests of the Commonwealth if we establish such public works as naturally belong to the Commonwealth on Federal ground, other things being equal? That other things are equal, is shown by the report of the Public Works Committee, and in my view it would be an excellent start for the Federal Territory if we could within the next year or two establish there one Federal industry that would be responsible for the settlement of 5,000 people. I have gone carefully through the evidence and the report presented by the Committee, and I have followed the arguments on both sides, in the Senate and in another place, and I am impelled to the conclusion that the Government’s proposal is the one that should receive support.
– I regret to have noticed during this discussion that several honorable members have so far forgotten their duty, as members of the Senate, as to question the right of this Chamber to discuss the business now before us. We have been told that this subject is one with which the Senate ought not to interfere, that it is a matter for the House of Representatives alone, and has only been introduced here for the purpose of wasting time by provoking a debating society discussion. If there is one subject in which the Senate ought to be in terested it is the welfare and prosperity of Canberra as the capital of Australia. This is a national question, and the Senate is elected on the broadest possible franchise by the people. In years gone by, there were many discussions on this subject, as the result of which the people of Australia were defeated in any desire they might have had to select one of which I think were the two best sites in Australia - I refer to Dalgety and Bombala. Political wire-pulling, chiefly in New South Wales, but also to some extent in this chamber and in another place, resulted in neither of these two places being selected. Canberra was chosen, and we now find that the very people who forced us to accept that site, and brought about the defeat of the claims of Bombala and Dalgety, are the people who are endeavouring to prevent Canberra from being a success. I think it is time that the Senate protested against this sort of thing being pursued any further. The time has come when we should recognise that money provided by people living in all parts of the Commonwealth - by people in Western Australia as well as by those of New South Wales - must not be misspent; and I think it is also time that we insisted, as far as it is in our power to insist, upon Canberra being made a success. We can only make a success of Canberra by the establishment of an industrial population there, and I would urge that that view should not be forgotten in the discussion of the proposal now before the Chamber. May I for a moment refer to the contention that only the House of Representatives has the right to discuss any report of the Public Works Committee. In my view, there is no question of a public nature as affecting the Commonwealth that the Senate has not the right to discuss, and I feel strongly supported in this view by a reference to the Standing Orders of the Senate. Once a subject is introduced in this Chamber, it becomes the property of the Senate, and may be discussed; and that being the case, any honorable senator who seeks to limit the right of the Senate to discuss such questions, is, in my opinion, making a considerable error of judgment. The Works Committee more than once, through Senator Lynch, its vice-Chairman, has presented its reports to the Senate. It is quite true that these reports have not been discussed. It is quite true that no particular action has been taken, but the report was received, and any honorable senator had the right to rise and give notice of a motion that the report be discussed on a certain date, and so bring the subject-matter before the Senate. What becomes of the contention of honorable senators who Have been declaring vehemently that we are not entitled to have this particular business placed before us ! I think that if the Standing Orders are referred to ‘it will be found that, individually, we have the right to discuss any mailer which is brought before the Senate if the - proper procedure is adopted. I desire to show honorable senators that they take a very limited view of the powers of the Senate when they raise the contention to which I have referred. There are several Standing Orders which have a bearing on this point, but I will only quote standing order 360, which reads -
On any paper being laid before the Senate, it shall be in order to move (1) that it be read, and, if necessary, a day appointed for its consideration; (2) that it be printed.
If it is within the competency of any honorable senator to give notice of a motion that a paper be read or printed, or set down for discussion on a certain day, surely it is equally within the right of any honorable senator to move that a report from the Public ‘ Works Committee be discussed on a certain day.
– -“Does that standing order refer to a report from the Public Works Committee ?
– ft refers to any document or report which is presented to the Chamber.
- Gui bono, if the decision binds nobody ?
– The decision must bind those who supported the proposal.
– To a certain extent.
– This is a new aspect of the question which the honorable senator is raising. As regards any decision which may be come to here after discussion, I hold that there are various means of tying and binding the Chamber and the Government, because the decision is not the final stage of any business. We know Chat money has to be provided for carrying out a work, and that the Senate must consent to the passage of a money Bill before it can become law. That strengthens our hands in a double sense. To say that whilst we have the right to discuss a matter our decision is binding on nobody is merely to shuffle. I contend that the Senate is fully armed with every power to make its opinions felt, whether it is in regard to a report from the Public Works Committee or any other Committee. So long as a document is placed before the Senate, whether it comes from the Public Works Committee; or from a Select Committee, or from a Royal Commission, I hold that it is competent for any honorable senator to give notice of motion that its subject-matter be discussed on a certain date. I submit that my interpretation of the Standing Orders is a reasonable one, but if there was room for doubt, I hold that it is not the place of the Senate to question its rights. Our duty, 1 contend, is to extend our powers rather than to limit them, and I cannot look upon any honorable senator who tries to limit our powers as a very faithful or patriotic member of the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– I think that before the suspension of the sitting, I had successfully established my contention that the Senate is well within its rights in discussing this motion, and that, as regards those who have contended that it is purely a matter for the consideration of the House of Representatives, our Standing Orders show that when a report is presented or read here, it is competent for any honorable senator to give notice of a motion that the subject-matter be set down for discussion, and a discussion such as the one now proceeding may take place on any document or report which has been submitted to the Senate. Leaving that matter, I will touch very briefly on the question of the comparative fitness of Lithgow and Canberra for the purposes of a Small Arms Factory. I have no objection to seeing the prosperity of Lithgow established as firmly and widely as possible. Indeed, I may say that of the few towns in New South Wales with which I have much acquaintance there is no town in which I have more personal friends than I have in Lithgow, except it be, perhaps, in Newcastle. It would ill become me, therefore, to do anything which would injure the interests of Lithgow. I can say in all honesty that whatever I may do at present is not done with any desire or intention to injure Lithgow, but merely because I think that Canberra is the proper location for a Factory of this kind. It is our duty as representatives of Australia to make its future Capital as successful as possible. Viewing the question from that stand-point, I think that we must put the other consideration in a very secondary position indeed. I must confess to a certain amount of disappointment in connexion with Lithgow as a site for a Small Arms Factory. I think that the idea in the minds of most of us in the first instance was that, owing to the establishment of the steel industry there, we would be able to secure much of the raw material for our rifles at the adjacent steel works. It has been a disappointment to those who have been interested in the manufacture of steel in Australia to find that that expectation has not been realized, and I cannot altogether understand why. Dealing with the steel question in his evidence before the Public “Works Committee, Mr. Hoskins said that he was not able to tender because the quantity of steel required by the Factory was too small, and also because, owing to the proper kind of ore not being obtainable in the vicinity, the production of steel there would not be a commercial success. I cannot altogether subscribe to that view, because I know something about the making of steel. I consider that in Australia ores may be found for making almost any kind of steel which is known to man. We have here a large and widespread variety of ores. It may be that Mr. Hoskins has not the machinery necessary for dealing with the ores, or it may be that his firm have not yet progressed sufficiently far to understand the proper method of tempering the steel. But. be the case whatever it may, Mr. Hoskins admitted that it would not be worth his while to manufacture steel for the purpose of rifles. Therefore, the advantage which we expected Lithgow to give to the Small Arms Factory does not exist, and we can exclude that factor from our consideration. If steel has to be imported, the cost of transport will be a consideration; but it will be no more expensive to take steel to Canberra than to Lithgow. In fact, -if, as I anticipate, the Newcastle Steel Works will, in time, produce the article, the greater portion of the transportation will be effected by water carriage, which is the cheapest, and, of course, the best, means to employ with heavy material. Again, we have to take into our calculations the cost of coal. Though the quantity required for a Small Arms Factory may be small, still the cost is a consideration. I admit that, at the first glance, Lithgow has an advantage in that regard ; but I warn honorable senators not to think that it will be impossible for all time to get coal at Canberra. I believe that it is situated within, or is not very far removed from, the carboniferous area. According to some of the best geologists, the coal-fields of New South Wales extend much farther south along the southern coast than Jervis Bay. I have a friend - a well-known prospector in Western Australia - who has been prospecting for coal in the Jervis Bay area. The Minister will remember that I sent on to him a report on a discovery that had been made there, and the offer of a coal mine in the Jervis Bay area. The Government did not see their way to accept the offer, but the proof that coal exists in the Jervis Bay area encourages us to hope that, in time, coal will be produced in what is practically an unknown part of Australia. Although it lies so near to. Sydney, there is no part within 100 miles of Sydney which is so little known, and has been so little prospected and developed as the area around Jervis Bay. Indeed. the same remarks may apply to any part of the Canberra district, or the Federal Territory. There has been no work of development or prospecting done there to any great extent. Consequently we are going into virgin country ; but the knowledge of the existence of coal there leads us to hope that, by the development of the coal-field, we may have a very big centre of industrial activity at Canberra, or perhaps nearer the coast, at Jervis Bay. Those are facts which should not be forgotten when we are considering the advantages of Lithgow from the coalproducing stand-point, as compared with Canberra. I believe that the time is not very far distant when many industries will be established at Canberra. Therefore, it would be a pity for us to continue a most important part of our work at Lithgow, where little or no advantages are offered which may not be secured at Canberra. I cannot agree with those honorable senators who have cast a reflection on Canberra as a site, especially those who come from New South Wales, because if we were’ to treat this matter as it deserves, according to their remarks, we would shut down at once on all expenditure at Canberra. We would say, “ This place is of no use to the taxpayers of Australia. Why should we go on spending large sums in the place if there is no hope of any profit or return to the taxpayers?” The people of New South Wales have been well treated in the matter of the Federal Capital. They were given an unfair advantage over the people of the other States in the first instance by the provision of the Constitution that it must be in their State. Then, when we set about selecting a site for the Capital, the efforts of many persons in New South Wales were directed to preventing us from securing the best site. While it may be admitted that Canberra is a fairly good site for the Federal Capital, it is by no means the best site that was inspected, and the blame for the failure to select the best site rests to a greater extent on representatives and public men of New South Wales than upon any one else. The Public Works Committee, who had every means of ascertaining the best site for the Small Arms Factory, have decided in favour of Canberra. I do not place undue reliance on the witnesses they examined, as the evidence of many of them should not carry much weight. I put more trust in my own knowledge of the two districts concerned, and I feel it incumbent upon me to cast my vote in favour of Canberra as the site for the future Small Arms Factory of the Commonwealth. By establishing this Factory there we shall be beginning the settlement of an industrial population in that part of Australia. I hope that Canberra will in future be not only the chief political and official centre of the Commonwealth, but an industrial centre which will repay us for the money we are expending there at the present time.
– Much as I feel inclined to support the Administration in regard to all their war measures, I must be allowed to say that, strictly speaking, this motion cannot be regarded as a war measure, since it is not anticipated that the establishment of -a Small Arms Factory at Canberra will be productive of anything in the shape of rifles for two years to come. Before two years have passed, rifles may be of very small account in warfare. The use of the rifle may be superseded, as it is being rapidly superseded now, by the use of machine guns and powerful artillery using very high explosives. Although a great stickler for the privileges of the Senate, I am disposed to think that they are not being used wisely when honorable senators are provoked to indulge in an academical discussion on such a motion as that now before us.
– This is not an academical discussion.” We have every right to discuss this motion.
– In connexion with financial matters, the House of Representatives is the originating Chamber, and we should, I think, be exercising our functions in the best way in dealing with a matter of this kind if we suspended their exercise until the vote for the expenditure involved had received the sanction of another place, and had reached this Chamber. It would be within our power to veto that expenditure, to sanction it, or to request that it should be varied; but our powers in that regard could be best exercised when the vote came before us. I think that we are approaching perilously close ‘to the limits of our constitutional prerogatives when we attempt to forestall another place in regard to a proposal which will involve the expenditure of such a large sum of money as over £90,000. In my opinion, the privileges of the Senate will best be preserved by not being strained. It is well that we should recognise our constitutional limitation in connexion with financial matters.
– The honorable senator does not know the Standing Orders.
– I know them fairly well when it suits me. I ask Senator de Largie’s consideration of section 56 of the Constitution, which reads -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
I will not say that that section absolutely bears out my contention, but it does indicate that we are proceeding, by this motion, in a very purposeless and ineffective way. There is no doubt that this Chamber is being used by the Administra- tion to adopt a minatory attitude towards a number of recalcitrant members of another place. The privileges of the Senate can be best exercised and maintained by our recognising the constitutional superiority of the other Chamber in regard to financial matters, so far, at any rate, as their origination is concerned. Whether we pass this motion or do not pass it, I am inclined to think that our action will have no great effect upon honorable members in another place, except, perhaps, to arouse a feeling of resentment at the action of the Senate and the use made by the Administration of this Chamber. I wish now to address myself to the merits of the motion. I happen to be a member of a Parliamentary Standing Committee that visited the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow to inquire into the financial phase of its operations. We stayed a great many more days at Lithgow than did the members of the Public Works Committee. I do not intend to cast any slur upon the judgment of that Committee.
– For the reason that the honorable senator cannot do so.
– I am not going to attempt to do so. The recommendations of the Public Works Committee will at all times receive consideration from me. No doubt it will be found as useful as the Finance Committee. But I say that, as a member of the Finance Committee, I was at Lithgow for several days, and I came to the conclusion that there are very few disabilities attaching to Lithgow as a site for a Small Arms Factory. It has this very great advantage, that it is situated behind one of the most formidable mountain barriers for defensive purposes existing in Australia or in any part of the world. We know that the nature of the Gallipoli Peninsula has presented, I will not say an insuperable obstacle because it will be overcome, but a serious and dangerous obstacle to the prowess of our troops. The hills of Gallipoli, though only 600 feet or 700 feet high, are precipitous and are traversed by ravines and gullies. I suppose there is no member of the Senate who has not visited the Blue Mountains. There are ravines in the Blue Mountains that are 2,000 feet or 3,000 feet deep and more than 3,000 feet across. The Blue Mountains are the counterpart of the Balkans, the Turkish name for which is the “ Emineh Dagh,” or Defence Range, be cause for centuries the Balkans constituted one of the principal barriers against any foe advancing upon the European territories of the Turkish Empire. The Minister of Defence, in introducing this motion, admitted’ that one of the principal factors to be considered in connexion with the establishment of a Small Arms Factory is the suitability of the site from a defence point of view. No one can say a word against* the suitability of the Lithgow site from a defence standpoint. I should like to be in a position to make a military reputation by defending Lithgow and the Blue Mountains against odds of twenty to one. With 2,000 troops I would undertake to hold the Blue Mountain passes and Lithgow secure against 20,000.
– Like Horatius on the bridge.
– It would not require any very great degree of valor or skill, because of the obstacle presented by the Blue Mountains. I cannot concede that Lithgow is not a suitable site for the establishment and continuance of the Small Arms Factory. I am using the argument of the Minister of Defence that the suitability of the site from a defence stand-point must be considered in connexion with the establishment of such a factory.
– Does the honorable senator think that Federal activities should be scattered all over Australia ?
– Decidedly I do. Why should they not? Are not the activities of the Australian people scattered all over Australia?
– They should be in the Federal City.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that we can artificially concentrate every industrial activity of the Commonwealth in the Federal Territory? He knows that that is a vain dream. I am actuated by no political feeling in regard to this matter. I. believe that nine-tenths of the people of Lithgow have the Labour brand upon them. But what has that to do with me? What I am concerned about is the establishment of a Small Arms Factory at which rifles may be turned out at a moderate cost, and the suitability of the site from a defence stand-point.
– What is moving the honorable senator and other honorable senators opposite is that the Opposition have apparently had a meeting and have come to the decision to oppose the motion.
– The only member of Parliament with whom I have had any consultation in regard to this matter is Mr. Carr, the representative of the Lithgow district in the House of Representatives.
– It is a wonderful thing that all the members of the Opposition here and in another place should be voting in the same way on this motion.
– I should like to know why the Administration has taken this step. They referred the schedules to the War Census Act to the consideration of the War Committee, and I venture to say that the question of the establishment of a Small Arms Factory at Canberra would have been a most appropriate question to’ have referred to that Committee. If the majority of the members of that Committee had indorsed the report of the majority of the Public Works Committee no member of the Senate could have lightly opposed such a motion as that now before us. The War Committee would be a singularly suitable body to advise upon the report of the Public Works Committee.
– What a suggestion - *hat a Committee should be appointed for a special purpose, and that its report should then be submitted to another Committee !
– The report of the Public Works Committee was not unanimous by any means. I venture to say, with due respect to the members of that Committee, that their report has been arrived at, consciously or subconsciously, by the consideration of preconceived ideas in regard to land values in the Federal Territory. That has been the consideration inspiring their report. There is not the slightest doubt about it, because those who have supported the motion, including the Minister of Defence, have stressed the question of the land values which might be appropriated by the Commonwealth if created by the establishment of industries in the Federal Territory. Now, Lithgow is a very considerable town. It possesses a very fine street and considerable municipal activities.
– Is there a village pump ?
– I can assure my honorable friend that it is a very progressive town. I wish that there were a few more like it throughout Australia.
– It has done very well out of the Federal Treasury. It has received the benefit of an expenditure of £180,000.
– A good deal of talk has been indulged in as to land values there. It has been said that these range up to £200 and £300 per acre. On a former occasion I stated, on the authority of Mr. Carr, the representative for Macquarie in another place, that 118 acres of land could be secured in the vicinity of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory for about £50 per acre, and that he had that area under firm offer to the Department at the price indicated. When I made that statement I was informed that it was a cock-and-bull story. Now I am not in the habit of telling- cock-and-bull stories. Accordingly I went at once to Mr. Carr, and, through his courtesy, I have in my hand the following letter : -
Re Lithgow Small Arms Works. I am instructed by Mr. J. L. Brown to authorize you to offer to tho Federal Government up to 118 acres joining the land occupied by the Small Arms Factory, at £ 50 per acre. This is a long way below the market price, but is offered in a public spirit.
Mr. Wilkinson, I understand, is the agent for Mr. Brown, who owns the land. Is that a cock-and-bull story? Now I propose to say a word or two in defence of the municipal activities of Lithgow. The municipality there has committed itself to an expenditure of £40,000, largely in connexion with services which may be utilized by the Small Arms Factory. I fancy that Senator Watson quoted some figures from the municipal compilation that I hold in my hand, but I am not sure, because I was absent from the chamber at the time. But, in any case, I propose to cite a few statistics in justification of what the municipality has done in a way that is conducive to the interests of the Small Arms Factory. From the leaflet published by the Lithgow Town Committee I extract the following : -
On the Extension Estate, adjoining the Small Arms Factory, land has been purchased by residents of Lithgow to the value of £22,154. Residences have been erected at the cost of £55,027. Amongst the purchasers of land are IGO employees of the Factory, several on the deferred-payment system; ninety of these have built their own residences, but the remaining seventy have not yet built, and are dubious about doing so. Should the Small Arms Factory bo removed from Lithgow, the majority of these will, no doubt, be compelled to forfeit. On the new estate (Cooerwull), which has just been opened up, thirty lots have been sold at a cost of £2,625. The purchasers of this land, although many of them have permits to build from the local council, will not go on with building unless the present uncertainty is removed.
This much-maligned municipality, according to the Minister of Defence, is guilty of a great crime in not having provided a road in the vicinity of the Factory. But I saw streets being laid out there, and a good deal of municipal activity in the form of road construction. The leaflet continues -
To provide for the welfare and comfort of residents of the estate, the council have carried out the following works: -
On roads and drainage, £2,000; for the supply of gas to residents, and also to the Factor)’, the sum of £9,700 has been expended; on water reticulation and the laying down of a larger main, the sum of £10,260 has been expended; whilst the sewerage works for that part of the municipality have cost £10,000. To carry out the above extensions, the council has had to borrow, and it will thus bo seen that the removal of the works would cause hardship to not only the employees of the Factory, but to all the ratepayers of Lithgow.
– Not the whole of it. But the fact remains that these services are available to that establishment. If, however, the site were unsuitable, if it could not be easily defended, and if it were not located in a flourishing manufacturing district, I would vote for its removal. But the fact is that both coal and iron can be obtained near Lithgow ; and I have seen a telegram in the hands of Mr. Carr in which Mr. Hoskins, a master ironworker there, states that the locally-manufactured steel has been tested for the purpose of making rifle barrels, and that the tests have been eminently satisfactory. In fact, I construe the telegram to mean that rifle barrels have been made out of Lithgow steel.
– But have they been tested ?
– Yes. If I am told that this is another cock-and-bull story, I will ask the leave of the Senate to resume my remarks, so as to enable me to approach Mr. Carr and get the telegram from him.
– When did that telegram come to hand - after it was proposed to remove the Factory to Canberra ?
– I suppose so. Is it not human nature for these people to busy themselves when disaster is likely to overtake them ? We cannot expect them to be prophets and demi-gods, and to foresee what is going to happen. The point with which I am chiefly concerned relates to the cost of manufacturing rifles. I want to know whether rifles can be manufactured at Canberra cheaper than they can be manufactured at Lithgow? I am not by any means sure that they can.
– In his sworn evidence Mr. Hoskins stated that it would not pay him to manufacture that class of steel at Lithgow.
– I say that the telegram to which I have already referred is in the possession of Mr. Carr. Does not Senator Senior join with those who are constantly affirming that Australian industries must be nurtured ? We all know that Rome was not built in a day. Are not honorable senators in a state of jubilation because steel rails are about to be manufactured in Newcastle ? Lithgow is the centre of a very flourishing manufacturing district, and the site upon which it stands is protected by a natural defence by reason of the mountain barrier which exists between it and Sydney. Further, it is as close to Sydney as Canberra is ever likely to be. The industrial population of the New South Wales metropolis can be drawn on for service at Lithgow much’ more readily than it can be for service at Canberra.
– At Canberra we should have the population of Melbourne as well as of Sydney to draw upon.
– Lithgow is situated on a railway which gives direct communication with Sydney, and workmen are just as easily procurable at Lithgow as they will be procurable at Canberra. The point, however, with which I am chiefly concerned has reference to the cost involved in the manufacture of rifles. From the document from which I have previously quoted I gather that at Lithgow bricks can be obtained for 47s. 6d. per 1,000, cement at 75s. per ton, sand at 5s. per ton, aggregates at 3s. per ton, timber (hardwood) at 17s. 6d. per 100 feet, and water at 3d. per 1,000 gallons. Coming to a comparison of freights, I find that the freight on timber from Sydney to Lithgow is 18s. 8d. per ton, as against £1 14s. lid. per ton from Sydney to Canberra ; upon steel it is £1 7s. 6d. per ton from Sydney to Lithgow, as against £2 13s. Id. per ton from Sydney to Canberra; upon machinery it is 19s. lOd. per ton from Sydney to Lithgow, as against £1 18s. 4d. per ton from Sydney to Canberra; upon sundries it is £2 7s. per ton from Sydney to Lithgow, as against £4 2s. 6d. per ton from Sydney to Canberra; on rifles it is £1 3s. 6d. per ton from Sydney to Lithgow, as against £2 ls. 3d. per ton from Sydney to Canberra; and, upon Portland cement it is 2s. Id. per ton to Lithgow, as against 18s. 2d. per ton to Canberra. It will be seen, therefore, that there are enormous advantages in general freight, amounting to 48 per cent, in favour of Lithgow as against Canberra. Now, the municipal authorities of Lithgow have issued this statement, and if it contains the elements of truth it is manifest that rifles cannot be manufactured as cheaply at Canberra as they can be at Lithgow. At the present time their manufacture is costing more than it should, and consequently I cannot vote for this motion.
– To my mind, the question involved in this motion is not whether our Small Arms Factory should be located at Lithgow or at Canberra. My view is that the present is an inopportune time for the removal of the establishment from Lithgow. If Senator Grant imagines that the transference of the Factory can be made without interfering with the output of rifles, I am sorry for him. For the Minister of Defence to say that the Factory will not be removed from Lithgow is sheer nonsense. It will undoubtedly be removed if -the Government can secure the consent of the other branch of the Legislature to this motion.
– I say that the Factory will not be removed during the currency of the war, and the honorable senator is, in effect, declaring that I am not speaking the truth.
– But the Factory will ultimately be removed.
– What is the objection to removing it after the war is over?
– Strangely enough, those honorable senators who only twenty-four hours ago were so jealous of the privileges of this Chamber are not now particularly jealous of those privileges. In 1913 - only about eighteen months ago - this Parliament passed a Bill providing for the creation of the Public Works Committee. Section 15 of that Act provides -
No public work of any kind whatsoever (except such works as have already been authorized by Parliament, or. which are authorized during the present session, and except works for the naval or military defence of the Commonwealth exempted by Order in Council from the operation of the Act), the estimated cost of completing which exceeds £25,000, and whether such work is a continuation, completion, repair, reconstruction, extension, or a new work, shall be commenced unless sanctioned as in this section provided.
Has that been done in this case ? Senator Turley. - It has been.
– I understood that it had not. Has the expenditure connected with the removal of the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow to Canberra been sanctioned by the other branch of the Legislature?
– It was referred to the Public Works Committee. Now it remains for a Bill to be brought in to authorize the expenditure. The Act has been complied with in every detail.
– I take it that the Act has not been complied with.
– I will give you the quotation presently.
– In sub-section 3 of section 15 of the Act it is stated -
The explanation shall comprise an estimate of the cost of the work when completed, together with such plans and specifications or other descriptions . as the Minister deems proper.
– That has all been done. It is the subsequent step that has to be authorized.
– The Act goes on to say in sub-section 6 of section 15 -
After the receipt of the report of the Committee, the House of Representatives shall, by resolution, declare, either that it is expedient to carry out the proposed work, or that it is not expedient to carry it out.
Has that been done?
– Yes. The Public Works Committee has declared that it is expedient to carry out this work.
– But the House of Representatives has not voted on it yet.
– The point is, the motion has not been carried in the other House, and if the Senate carries this motion that will not be the final decision, for unless the other House also adopts it the decision of this Senate will be of no avail, and we shall have wasted all this time for nothing. That is the position we are in.
– The Supply Bill will come on, and we shall then have an opportunity to assert our rights.
– We shall then have rights absolutely equal to those of the other House.
– According to my reading of the Act and the Constitution, we are wasting time by this discussion, for our decision will be of no avail unless the other branch of the Legislature passes this motion.
– You are fighting strenuously against it, anyway.
– Because I am jealous of the privileges of this Senate. I am quite as jealous of our rights as are those honorable members who protested yesterday so loudly on this subject, but who to-day are apparently prepared to give way.
– This matter has nothing to do with the Senate.
– Then what are we dealing with it for ?
– I do not know; we are only wasting time.
– Unfortunately, I did not hear the honorable senator speaking on this subject yesterday, or probably I would not have been speaking now.
– I stated my opinion that this was merely an academic debate.
– Every man on your side has spoken on this subject, and that fact shows that it is regarded as a matter of some importance.
– I did not hear one word about it before.
– Your party is making a party question of the matter.
– I deny that. I am merely protesting against this Chamber being used as a stalking horse in con- pnexion with this particular matter, and
I call upon those honorable senators who yesterday were so loud in their protestations about the rights of the Senate to vote against this motion.
– I have just a few words to say concerning .the criticisms that have been levelled against the motion, and, taking the last first, I want to refer to some remarks made by Senator Bakhap. That honorable senator told us that the Factory should be kept at Lithgow, in order that we may use the Lithgow steel, and I want to direct his attention to what Mr. Hoskins had to say on this matter in his evidence before the Committee. , On page 15 that gentleman is reported as follows: -
We have not supplied any steel to the Small Arms Factory for the manufacture of rifles. Mr. Wright did interview me, and wc would have been very pleased to have made the steel he uses, but we found that his requirements were so small that it was not worth our while to consider the proposal. The least steel we put through our furnaces in one charge is from 30 to 50 tons. If one charge would supply the Factory with steel for three years, the business would not be worth catering for.
– Mr. Hoskins may have changed his opinion. Mr. Wright gave us the information I have quoted when we were up there taking evidence.
– Another consideration is that of basic steel, and on this subject Mr. Hoskins stated -
Another consideration is that our steel is basic, whilst for most of the Factory requirements acid steel is preferable. We could supply some of the steel the Factory used if its requirements were larger. I understand that the Government are thinking of enlarging the Factory, which will then require a larger supply of material, and that may put a different complexion on the proposition.
Further on, and in question 71, he gave some information in reply to Senator Keating on this matter, and I notice that Senator Keating, who quoted pretty well everything in the report, was careful to omit this. In reply to that honorable senator Mr. Hoskins said -
Basic steel for a number of purposes is quite equal to the acid steel, but the latter is looked upon as a finer and better steel, ant it can be tempered to a higher degree. The difference in the steel is accounted for by the class of ore and the lining in the furnace. There is no ore in Australia with which acid steel can be manufactured.
That is Mr. Hoskins’ opinion, and yet Senator Bakhap tells us that we ought to keep the Factory there in order that we may use the Lithgow steel.
– I did not use the steel argument.
– The figures quoted by Senator Bakhap refer to railway charges between Sydney and Canberra. But how does the honorable senator get information on that subject?
– You told us that there would shortly be two branch lines.
– The ingenious gentlemen who have been responsible for the compilation of the statistics have taken the charges by rail to Queanbeyan, and road cartage to Canberra, as rail freight to Canberra, and compared them with the Lithgow freights. We all know how these things, can be doctored up, and I attach no importance to figures unless I am informed as to the basis on which they havebeen compiled.
– They are compiled by municipal authorities anyhow.
– Senator Keating, Senator Millen, and Senator Shannon, and others who have argued on this question, and to some extent also Senator Turley, have stated that the Senate has been flouted by the Government in connexion with this motion.
– We say that it is time wasted in an effort to do something which can be of no avail.
– The extraordinary thing about this matter is that all the honorable senators who complained about time being wasted themselves contributed very largely to this waste of time by their speeches.
– I only spoke for about five minutes.
– I propose now to show that, after all, this is not a waste of time, but that it is the legitimate duty of this Chamber to discuss this subject. Now, what is the primary duty of the Public Works Committee? It is obvious that all financial measures must originate with the House of Representatives, for under sections 14 and 15 of the ; Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act it is provided that all proposed expenditure over £25,000 must be referred to the Committee, and the Committee reports to the House of Representatives, because that is the initial stage of that expenditure. Every report comes here, “but ob- viously there is no necessity for the Senate to discuss it on the proposed expenditure, because it might never get over the first obstacle. If the House of Representatives rejected the proposal it would not come before the Senate at all. Now what was referred to the Public Works Committee was exactly that class of question. The Government proposed to duplicate the rifle plant at a cost of some £60,000, and under the Public Works Act they had to take the initial step of referring that question to the Committee, unless they decided to act under an Order in Council. May I inform Senator Shannon - who frankly admitted that he did not know anything about the subject at issue, but who nevertheless took an important part in the discussion - that if he will turn up the Votes . and Proceedings of the House of Representatives for the 5th May he will find the following amongst the Orders of the Day -
The Order of the Day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the following motion by Mr. Fisher - *
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-14, the following work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, with a request that the reference may be dealt with as an urgent matter: -
Small Arms Factory, Lithgow - Extension of buildings, plant, &c.
Question put and passed.
In accordance with the Public Works Act the proposed work was referred to the Public Works Committee, which recommended the expenditure, and that is the question with which the House of Representatives is absolutely concerned. But the Public Works Committee did more than that. They did something they were not asked to do, but what I contend was quite a legitimate thing for them to do. In recommending the expenditure of this money the Committee also recommended that the duplicate plant should be established at Canberra, and not at Lithgow. That is the question which is now before the Senate, and not the question of whether there should be duplication of the plant or not. If it had been only the question of the duplication of the plant, I would agree with those honorable senators who say that we are wasting the time of this Chamber by discussing this motion until the matter has been decided by the House of Representatives. But, as I have shown, the duplication of the plant is not the question which we are discussing at all. That is a foregone conclusion. Everybody agrees that the plant should be duplicated. What is now under consideration by the Senate is the matter raised incidentally by the Public Works Committee, that the duplicate plant should be erected at Canberra. In view of that fact, I maintain that the Government have a perfect right to consult both Houses of Parliament on the subject.
– The “Government have a perfect right to consult both Houses on any matter.
– This is a question not so much of expenditure as of policy, and surely a Government, responsible to both Houses of Parliament, have a right to give both Houses a full opportunity of expressing an opinion on it. That is what we have done, and I see no-reason why any honorable senators, especially those who claim that the Senate should occupy an important position in the Legislature of this country, should look upon the action of the Government as a derogation of the rights of the Senate.
– The Senate will not add to the security of its position by arrogating to itself the right to originate a financial measure.
– If I have not made myself clear to Senator Bakhap, I am afraid that no amount of repetition will enable me to succeed. This proposal is entirely separate from that which initiated expenditure upon this Factory. As I have already pointed out, the proposal to incur expenditure has been brought forward in the manner stipulated by the Public Works Committee Act. The Public Works Committee, in carrying out their duties under the Act, recommended certain expenditure, but.the Committee went further, and by introducing the subject of the Factory’s location introduced this question of policy. That, as I have- already explained, is altogether foreign to- the question of sanctioning the expenditure that will be necessary whether this work is carried out at Lithgow or at Canberra.
– Then if the Senatevetoes this motion, the Government will not go on ?
– The Government will go on. Let there be no mistake about that. The subject is too important to be hung up by any quibble of that kind. I will now deal with the military considerations put forward by Senator
Keating. The honorable senator told usin homely phrase that we should not put all our eggs into one basket, arguing that if these works were centred in one place the position would be dangerous from a military point of view. His argument was that works of this description should be spread over the Commonwealth, and that they should- be erected in different places, so that when an enemy attacked them he would be compelled to attack at a number of points. Let us consider that position. Senator Keating said that the greatest danger is from aerial attackSupposing an enemy had twenty airships with which to attack us, and that we1 had twenty for use in defence, could wedefend one place better than we could defend five? Obviously not. If we had’ five points to defend, we should have to divide our twenty airships into fivegroups, and have only four aeroplanes at any one point to meet the enemy’s twenty. Is it therefore in this case unwise to have all our eggs in one basket? I say it is not, because by having one point only to1 defend, we should be able to put out twenty aeroplanes there, and meet theenemy on even terms. The enemy has to choose the point of attack. He canattack where he likes, and it is necessary that we should be able to meet him with all the force we can command. And what is true of aeroplanes is equally true of military forces. If we had arsenals scattered over five portions of Australia, we should have to provide at each of these points a force, sufficiently strong to meet the full force of the enemy. If he invaded the Commonwealth with 50,000 men, we should’ require at least 50,000 men to meet him at each one of our vital points; but if we had our arsenal centred at one point, we should be able to put between the enemy , and that point the full strength of our Army, which would be equal, or perhaps greater; than that possessed by the enemy. Therefore, it seems to me that Senator Keating’s homely little phrase about all the eggs going into one basket has led his argument astray, and I think that if he had inquired into the situation from this point of view, he would have seen the instability of the point he was trying to make. Another point has to be borne- in mind in connexion with this aspect of the question. An army is only effective- if it can get all its supplies. For instance, the rifle is no good without the- cartridge; the cannon is no good without the shell ; the shell is no good without the cordite. If an enemy could destroy the Cordite Factory; sooner or later the cannon would become useless, because it would be impossible to make the shell. If he could destroy the Munitions Factory the rifles would, for a similar reason, be of little assistance. Therefore there is a direct inducement to any enemy to seek to strike at any one of these vital points. Naturally, he would strike at the one which he thought the weakest, and the weakest would be that nearest to the coast. That is one of the military reasons why it is a sound principle to have the arsenal far removed from the coast, at a place difficult of access, but easy of defence. Senator Millen endeavoured to make capital out of the injustice and hardship that will be inflicted upon the workers at Lithgow who have invested their money in land, by the transfer of the Factory to Canberra; and he endeavoured to put those who are supporting the proposal for the establishment of a duplicate plant at Canberra into the position of defending the infliction of that hardship.
– He put up an Aunt Sally.
– I think he did; yet I venture to say that the workers at Lithgow are more likely to get consideration from those who are supporting this motion than from those who oppose it. I do not think there is any doubt that this Government will give every consideration to any case in which it is established that hardship has been inflicted upon the workers of Lithgow, or anywhere else, by its action. Some attempt was also made to argue that this proposal would be bad from a business point of view, because it was said the present Factory at Lithgow would be left on our hands. Yet the gentleman responsible for this argument also endeavoured to make us believe that Lithgow is the finest manufacturing centre in Australia.
– Is it a good defensive position ?
– Certainly it is.
– Two main factors have been submitted to the honorable senator, one of which must be granted.
– May I point out that the arguments used by honorable senators opposite are mutually destruc tive. If Lithgow has all tlie advantages of a manufacturing centre that have been claimed on its behalf, the Commonwealth Government should be able, easily, to dispose of the Factory. It is a well-built Factory, and, according to honorable senators opposite, it is in a splendid position and possesses enormous advantages for manufacturing purposes. If, therefore, the Government wished to dispose of the Factory, we should have no trouble in disposing of it, either privately or to the State Government. But it may be that we shall have no need to dispose of it. If the party now occupying the Government benches remain in power, the establishment of a Small Arms Factory will not be the end of Government enterprise. Rather do I think we are hardly yet at the beginning.
– What if the other party is in power ?
– I do not know. Judging by the experience of their thirteen months of office, I think they will sprag the wheel as long as they can; but I venture to say that there is sufficient common sense amongst honorable senators on this side not to allow a building of this description to remain idle, especially when it is part of our policy to initiate Government enterprise. There are quite a number of enterprises, apart altogether from those connected with defence, which may be established, and which, as honorable senators have pointed out, need not necessarily be associated with the Federal Capital. So that we have two alternatives. We can either establish at Lithgow some form of Commonwealth enterprise associated’ with the arsenal, or we can establish an enterprise associated with other Commonwealth Departments. Take the Post Office, for instance? Consider its requirements in the matter of copper wire or telephone instruments. Is there any reason why we should not commence the manufacture of many of these things ourselves? If the referenda proposals are agreed to, a whole field of production will be opened out, and we shall require factories - not one or two - dealing with various aspects of industry, all over the Commonwealth. So that there seems to be very little basis for the arguments put forward by our opponents.
– The honorable senator cannot expect to appeal to honorable senators opposite by that.
– No, I do not suppose it will appeal to them. However, I want to say, further, that it is the intention of the Government that there shall be no interference with the production of rifles. On the other hand, I think that the output will be increased as the result of the order that has been placed. Should the war continue for another year, by the acceptance, of this motion we shall have two Factories established, and it will be possible, eventually, to work two shifts at each. In Great Britain there is more than one Small Arms Factory. In America also there are several. While the war is in progress, no Government would dream of doing anything to interfere with the production of rifles. Rather would the Government commence to run the second Factory as a separate unit whilst continuing to run the Lithgow Factory at its utmost capacity.
– And with the two Factories you will also duplicate the overhead expenses.
– To some extent, probably.
– And increase the cost of each rifle, which is admittedly already too high.
– No. The honorable senator is wrong. We shall not increase the cost of the rifle, because it will cost no more - it will probably cost less - to operate the Factory at Canberra than at Lithgow. But the Factory at Canberra will not be turning out the same rifles as Lithgow. The Lithgow charges will not be increased because there may foe another Factory at Canberra.
– But the cost of rifles at Lithgow would be reduced if the Factory there were duplicated under the one overhead expense.
– That may be, but time would be lost by having building operations going on whilst the Lithgow Factory is in operation. The proposal affecting Lithgow is to build another story on to the existing Factory, and it is obvious that the present plant would have to stop working whilst that was being carried out. At present the Factory is worked in different sections, and the idea is not to have two separate factories there each performing the same process, but simply to enlarge each of the individual sections as they now are. If a lot of machinery is to be duplicated, obviously there must be some interference with the progress of rifle manufacture whilst that duplication is taking place. I believe the existing foundations are strong enough to carry the contemplated additions; but if the Lithgow Factory is duplicated there must be a period during which its operations will have to be suspended. That stoppage would not take place if the Factory were being erected at Canberra. But apart altogether from the military considerations, which I think are strong; apart altogether from the economic reasons, which I think are also strong; to me the political reason that at Canberra we should be masters in our own house, appeals with considerable force. At Canberra we should be beholden to no one. We could lay down any law we liked. We could make our own industrial laws; we could make our own factory laws; we have, the sole control over that territory, and to my mind that is the overmastering argument in favour of this proposal that should appeal particularly to senators on this side of the Chamber.
– It is certainly the strongest argument.
– I would not say it is the strongest, but it is a very strong argument; and to those who believe that the Federal Capital Territory should be something more than a mere home for the Commonwealth Parliament, it should come with considerable force.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative
The following papers were presented : -
Estate Duty Assessment Act 1914. - Regulation. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 136.
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1914. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 137
Military Camp at Liverpool: Report of His Honour, Mr. Justice Rich, who was appointed a Royal Commissioner to inquire into charges made by Mr. R. B. Orchard, M.H.R., into administration.
Special Adjournment : Conduct of Business - Report on Liverpool Camp - Overtime in Ordnance Stores - Continental Tyre Company - Expeditionary Forces : Postal Arrangements in Egypt : Payment of Tasmanian Troops.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish, bo say that we have had to abandon the idea of holding a Tuesday sitting, as the progress made in another place has not been sufficiently encouraging to show that any good purpose would be served by calling honorable senators back on that day.
– This is the place to transact business.
– I very much regret that the prospects of our getting an adjournment seem to be again fading into the distance. A little time ago Senator Maughan asked me some questions in regard to the desirability of improving postal matters in Egypt, and the following reply has been received : -
The question of improving the conditions respecting postal arrangements for soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force lias received very careful* consideration, and in order to remove the difficulties which ‘have been experienced in connexion with the prompt and correct delivery of soldiers’ correspondence, an offer was recently made to the Imperial Government of an Australian base post-office for service in Egypt.
The establishment of the unit will be three officers and forty non-commissioned officers and mon, and the personnel will be composed of specially selected officials of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department officially recommended as having the qualifications necessary for the work in view.
A reply has not yet been received from the Imperial Government.;, but in the meantime information which will bo extremely useful to the Postal Unit is: being gathered by a press representative, authorized by the Defence Department to make inquiries concerning complaints as to non-delivery of mail matter to Australian soldiers on active service.
If the Imperial authorities agree to that suggestion, probably we shall be able to get a better state of affairs established.
– I noted with interest what the Minister said, in moving the motion. He stated that the prospects of an adjournment seem to be receding. If the Government intend to get an adjournment of Parliament, it is desirable - and I am speaking for myself in this regard - that Ministers should realize that the Senate will not be stinted of its full opportunity of discussing the very important financial matters which will have to be dealt with in the very near future.
– Will you impress that on some of your colleagues in . another place?
– That has nothing to do with this.
– During the course of a discussion here, Senator de Largie and others referred to the rights of the Senate in regard to legislation ; but I am mindful that on a very recent occasion a matter came up for consideration on a Friday afternoon, and some honorable senators had to abstain from addressing themselves to it. When that honorable senator was speaking, and it was pointed out that the other House was waiting for the determination of the Senate, he decided to conclude his remarks and the debate in order that that House might not be inconvenienced. I hope that there will be no recurrence of that proceeding. I know that it has occurred on many occasions in connexion with, not only this Government, but other Governments. As the financial matters which are under consideration elsewhere are perhaps of greater importance than any proposals of that character which have ever been submitted to Parliament, I earnestly hope that the Senate will’ insist “that it shall have afforded to it a full measure of opportunity to deal with them ; and that one argument which will be used to hasten us in determining our attitude will not be that the other House will be inconvenienced, or is awaiting our1 decision. I think that honorable members of both sides in another place might be informed,, and informed early, that if they choose to discuss financial matters at such length that they can only come up hero for a limited time, the Senate cannot consider the individual convenience of the honorable members of that place, but will take unto itself the fullest measure of time consistent with the importance of the subjects, to debate them, and to determine its attitude in regard to them.
.- When Senator Keating was speaking, the Minister of Defence suggested that we ought to read a sort of moral lecture to our honorable friends in the other House to impress upon them the beauties of brevity. I wish to point out that whatever sins the other place may commit that in no sense binds the hands of this Chamber, nor ought it to be used as an excuse to deprive the Senate of a proper opportunity to consider matters sent to it. I suggest that the Minister should, through his colleagues, intimate to his friends in the other place that, if they want to adjourn next week, or on a particular dato, they ought to so curtail their discussion as to leave ample opportunity for the Senate to consider matters sent here.
– The members of the Government down there will be only too pleased to do so.
– It is’ for the Government to make that intimation. If the other House wants to rise on Friday next, it should send the business up here in such time as will enable the Senate to dispose of it by that day, otherwise, without being at all tragic, may I say, “ Their blood be on their own head “ *
– I think that a lesson of that kind would do them good.
– The Minister having made that remark, I hope that next week, instead of his coming here and pleading with us “on this occasion” to allow the measure to go through, he will urge the Senate to stiffen its back and administer a lesson, which he admits is very badly needed.- There are two other matters to which I want to refer. The Minister of Defence has just laid on the table a copy of the report of Mr. Commissioner Rich on the Liverpool Camp. I would like to know whether it will be free to the press to publish such portions of the report, as they think fit, or whether steps will be taken to censor it) I also want to bring under the Minister’s notice complaints, which I think are very gene ral, as to the non-payment of overtime in the Ordnance Stores, Sydney. I understand that’ a number of the men have been working for a very considerable time in excess of the regulation hours. They are not objecting to that in any way, but they are entitled to certain allowances for the overtime. I understand that the allowances are not being paid, but are in arrears, not for the matter of a few days, but for a very considerable period. That is greatly inconveniencing the men, who are called upon to meet such little expenses as .tea money, and so on, and who are only asking for that to which they aro entitled, and which the Department admits is due to them. I would like the. Minister to ascertain the reason for the delay, that is, assuming that my information is correct, as I have every reason to believe it is.
– I desire to again ask for some information in reference to the question I brought forward last week, and that is, the reason why the Continental Tyre Company has been singled out of three German firms on whom the ban of enemy traders has -been placed ? I see that questions on the subject have been asked in another place. The Ministers appear to be eager enough to answer questions from the other side, but, of course, they do not seem very eager to tell anything which I desire to know. I wish to intimate that I will have to take some other opportunity of ventilating this matter if I do not get more satisfactory answers. I gave to the Minister the publication I referred to, and politely asked him to give me certain information. I want to know why the Continental Tyre Company has been singled out of three German firms) I am aware that it has always had a hold on the Government. Probably it was the lowest tenderer. I do not say that it was not. It has always been the greatest supplier of rubber goods to the Government, even displaying a sign as contractors to the Government in detriment to Australian firms. Private firms which have been dealing with the Continental Tyre Company are now bringing out their vehicles without tyres. They are getting their supplies in Australia. There are locally-owned factories in Sydney and Melbourne; and to their detriment, as reported, the Commonwealth Government are still dealing with an enemy firm. I do not propose to say anything more on this occasion. I ask for information, and, unless I get it, I shall have to endeavour in some other way to find out what I desire to know.
– I might have given the same answer to Senator McDougall’s question as was given in another place.
– The some question was not put in another place.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will allow me to finish what I was going to say. The answer given in another place did not convey sufficient information, and the only reason the information is not to hand this week is that the Attorney-General is working at top speed, and could not obtain it. He, as well as I, realizes the importance of the matter, and I give my promise to the honorable senator that he will have the information next week.
– Before the Minister of Defence replies, I should like to ask him whether he has any information regarding the matter to which I referred last night, namely, the deferred payment of Tasmanian troops, who have been here for some weeks.
– I am not yet in a position to reply to Senator O’Keefe’s inquiry. With regard to Mr. Justice Rich’s report, I may say that I have not yet read it. I received it only ten minutes . ago, and laid it on the table of the Senate. I direct the attention, of Senator Millen to standing order 362, which reads -
All papers and documents laid upon the table of the Senate shall be considered public. Papers not ordered to be printed may be inspected at the Office of the Senate at any time by senators, and, with permission of the President, by other persons, and copies thereof, or extracts therefrom, may be made.
– Where does the censor come in? That is what I was thinking of.
– There will be no censorship of the report, unless, of course, it contains matter of a confidential character the publication of which would be banned by some particular order of the censor.
– A matter of military necessity.
– Yes. Any information the publication of which would be of advantage to the enemy, would, of course, be censored. On the other matter referred to, I draw attention to the fact that the officers of the Ordnance Branch and the Pay Branch of the Department of Defence are at the present time working at great pressure. The Pay Branch would be responsible for the nonpayment for overtime, but the officers of that branch are working under very great pressure, and it is exceedingly difficult to bring new men into such a Department. They are practically of no use to us, and they hinder rather than assist the work of the Department, because the permanent men have to leave their work to teach the new men where to find things, and how to perform their duties.
– The complaint is not against the overtime, but the nonpayment for it.
– I am aware of that, and it is the Pay Branch that is responsible for the delay in payment. It is difficult to give that branch such an increase of staff as would enable it to bring its accounts up to date. Everything that we can do is being done.
– I understand that the officers are working from eighty to ‘ ninety hours per week.
– They are working under high pressure, and it seems impossible to give them any great deal of relief, because new men at such work are not of very much use for a considerable time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 August 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150820_senate_6_78/>.