6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Electoral Office whether arrangements will be made by that office to provide facilities to enable men in the military camps throughout the Commonwealth to record their votes after the issue of the writs for the taking of the referendums ?
– I take it that the honorable senator is referring to the provision under which men can vote as absent voters after the issue of the writs?
– Hear, hear!
– We have taken an active interest in this matter, and issued instructions to theReturning Officers in districts where camps are situated to do all in their power to secure the votes of all the men; in fact, to grant special facilities to those who are about to depart.
– Is the Minister of Defence, as representing the Government, yet in a position to announce, or to state when an announcement will be made, as to the wheat freights which will be charged in the coming season?
– I am not in a position to make an announcement on that question.
Allowances - Pay of Public Servants Enlisting - Treatment of Australian Soldiers in London.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether the wives and dependants of a number of soldiers resident in Sydney have not been paid the allowances due to them up to date; and, if such is the case, whether he will see that the payments due are made at once?
– I am not so aware, and Isuggest to the honorable senator that if there are such cases they must be ascertainable by those who supply the information. If the honorable senator will give me the names, or specify the cases, I shall certainly have prompt inquiries made in respect thereto.
– Is the Minister of Defence aware that in some of the States soldiers have been paid the difference between their regimental pay and their official pay in their different offices? Is such done by the Commonwealth, or is there any intention to do so?
– A conference of the State Governments and the Commonwealth Government was held very shortly after the outbreak of the war, and that was one of the questions which were dealt with. It was agreed by all the States and the Commonwealth that they would not make up the difference between what the men received as military pay and what they received as State or Federal officials. When the representatives of New South Wales returned to their State, however, they found that the same question had been raised there during their absence, and that a State Minister had given a promise that the difference would be made up, and since that time the State has made up the difference, but no other State has done so. The other States have observed the undertaking arrived at in the Conference, and so has the Commonwealth Government.
– Is it not a fact that the South Australian Government have done, not exactly the same, but have increased the military pay of any of their employees who have enlisted ?
– I am not aware that that is a fact, but I shall have inquiries made. My information was that all the States except New South Wale’s had observed the undertaking.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been mlled to a short cablegram appearing in last night’s Herald? May I read the message, sir, as it is only a short one?
– Yes, if it helps to elucidate the question.
– The cablegram reads -
ON THE EMBANKMENT.
Friendless Australians moved on by Police. Woman Calls it a Scandal. (United Service Special Cable.)
London, Wednesday, 1 a.m.
Referring to events the occurrence of whieb is now fully provided against, the president of the Women’s Reserve Ambulance writes to the Daily Mail : - “ It is a scandal that convalescent Australian and New Zealand soldiers should be forced to sleep on the Thames Embankment. Even there they are moved on by the police. They are enduring hardships, are friendless, are receiving no pay, and are stranded. “ Happily, a club has been opened for Australasians, where the women of England are humbly showing devotion to the Anzacs. Sixteen of our orderlies are attending to the housework, fourteen are waiting in the diningroom, and others are running the canteen.”
Has the Minister any information as to whether the statements contained in the. cablegram are correct, and, if not correct, will inquiries be made to ascertain whether treatment such as stated has. been meted out to Australians?
– I did read the. cablegram with considerable surprise, because the conditions under which soldiers, are dealt with are that a soldier, if wounded or sick, is in a hospital where his wants are provided for, and when he leaves the hospital he receives his pay. The. statement in the cablegram is that the men are receiving no pay. Yesterday, Senator Lynch raised the same question, although it was not based on that par- . ticular cablegram, and I gave instructions’ for a cablegram to be sent to the High Commissioner drawing his attention to the fact that such statements were beingmade here, and asking him for a report. To-day we received a cablegram thatColonel Fetherston, the Acting DirectorGeneral of Medical Services, will arrive in England on 2nd November, and as the question is one which comes under the administration of medical services, I sent another cablegram to-day instructing that officer to make a special report. TheHigh Commissioner is the officer who has. been administering the Australian portion of the hospitals in England, and all his communications have been to the effect that thewounded have received,. every attention, and arc quite in conflict with the cablegram in the newspaper. However, we shall have a report from not only the High Commissioner, but also the Acting Director-General of Medical Services, so that we shall have information from one whose administration is not challenged, for he is not responsible for what may have taken place.
– I understand that the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs is now in a position to answer a question I asked some time ago regarding the number of officers employed in connexion with the transcontinental railway, namely, at the central office here, in the Kalgoorlie office, and in the Port Augusta office. Will he kindly supply the information?
– I have been furnished to-day with the following interim reply: -
A statement is being prepared, and possibly will be completed to-morrow, but, without fail, it will be ready for presentation to the Senate on the first sitting day next week.
The following papers were presented : -
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1914.- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 174.
The Right Honorable Sir George Reid, P.C., G.C.M.G. : Copy of correspondence respecting extension of term of appointment as High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Australia in London.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer certain questiom with regard to the amount expended in newspaper advertising by the different Departments of the Commonwealth. I would like to know if the information is yet available?
– On 26th October Senator Findley asked the following question, upon notice -
The answer is as follows : -
I am not in a position to say that there were any advertisements by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, as the item is left blank, butI will ascertain and let the honorable senator know later.
– Arising out of the Minister’s reply, I would like to know whether the return in each instance includes the amount actually paid to the Government Printing Department for advertisements in the Gazette, or if the figures include an amount equivalent to what would have been paid to itif charges were made for advertisements in that publication?
– No; I take it that the answer furnished does not include the cost of advertisements in the Government publication.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– A necessary officer ! Absent eighty-eight days from his office.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister, representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Waterproof Overcoats : Age of Recruits : Prisoners of War in Turkey.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
Has he considered the question of supplying the Australian troops at the Dardanelles with waterproof overcoats, and, if so, how far have arrangements advanced to enable the Defence Department to make the necessary provision ?
– Each man is provided with a waterproof cloth greatcoat from Australia, and it has been ascertained that winter clothing for the Australian troops at the front is being supplied by the British War Office.
– Respecting the examination of recruits for military service, when a candidate who is obviously under age presents himself, is the examining officer expected to communicate with the parents ?
– No. The candidate has to make an attestation concerning age, and there is a penalty attaching to the making of a false declaration. Moreover, the candidate has to pass a medical examination. If he makes an affirmation risking the penalty, we have to assume that he is over the age.
– Does the Minister not notice that the question refers to candidates obviously under age?
– In such cases, inquiries are made.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answer is - 1 and 2. In August a report was received from the Commanding Officer that the crew were quite fit and well. The Naval Representative in London was given full authority, in June last, to arrange payments, and on 23rd July cabled that £3 was being paid to each rating for month of May, and £3 for month of June, through the United States Ambassador. It was stated that the payments thereafter would have to be reduced to conform with Army Regulations.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether envelopes have been issued for the convenience of persons furnishing income tax returns ; and, if not, whether this will be. done ?
-It is not intended to supply envelopes.
– People living in the bush -will have to send to town for big envelopes, and perhaps not be able to get them then.
– The returns can be posted without envelopes.
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) agreed to-
That Standing Order 68 be suspended up to and including 5th November, 1915, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m.
Report of the Public Works Committee, with appendices, relating to provision for barracks, quarters, gun park, irc., for the Royal Australian Field Artillery, at Enoggera, Queensland, presented by Senator Lynch.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Quarantine Act 1908-12.
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill presented by Senator Russell, and read a first time.
– I move-.
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It involves no new principle. We all have a common interest in preventing the * entry into Australia of undesirable diseases, which, if allowed to gain a footing within our borders, would cause serious trouble and expense. Neglect in matters of that sort would be foolish, and it_ is highly necessary that most effective powers of control should be given to the Quarantine Department. We have already a fairly complete Quarantine Act, but no amendment has been made of it for three years.
– Quite a record, as things go now.
– It has been altogether too long so far as quarantine is concerned. Many weaknesses have been found in administering the Act. The powers of the Department in relation to masters of ships, and passengers on snips - the cleansing of ships, and the taking of the steps necessary to preserve the general health of passengers - were not clear. It was also quite possible, if a dispute arose between a State Board of Health and the Commonwealth, for disease to spread throughout the States while the matter was being settled between the respective Cabinets, and it was, therefore, thought desirable to give the Commonwealth full power to deal with the disease first, and settle the dispute afterwards. The main force behind the introduction of this Bill is the opening of the Panama Canal and the anticipation that, in consequence, yellow fever may be introduced into Australia. It may be news to honorable senators that the species of mosquito, which is the only carrier ‘ of yellow fever, is to be found in all the ports of Queensland and south along the coast as far as Newcastle. I understand that, although it is agreed that the mosquito found on the Australian coast is of the same species as that which is Known to be a carrier of yellow fever, it has not yet been infected in Australia with this disease. Tt behoves us to take effective action to prevent the introduction of this or any other disease to Australia. The Bill is essentially one for consideration in Committee, and, as I have said, its purpose is to tighten up the provisions of the existing Act, and strengthen the hands of the Quarantine Department.
– The Assistant Minister has been brief in submitting this motion, and his brevity is no doubt due to the fact that the object of the Bill is mainly, if not wholly, to tighten up the provisions of the existing Act. It has just been circulated, and I doubt whether any honorable senator has, so far, had an opportunity to read it through. I have been able to look only at the marginal notes, and to glance casually at some of the clauses.
– There is no new principle involved in it.
SenatorKEATING . - Possibly , but it seems to me that in clause 7 there is provision for an extension of the powers of a quarantine officer. He is given, under this clause, the power to ask any person subject to quarantine questions concerning his personal health or liability to infection, and the quarantine officer may require his questions to be answered by a declaration. That is an extension of the powers given to quarantine officers under the existing Act, and, in my view, it is a very desirable extension. I presume that it will apply in cases where persons who, although they may nob have been actually infected with disease, may very recently have been brought into relation to other persons and places that has exposed them to a liability to infection, which might not become evident until after subsequent development.
– The quarantine officer has power now to ask questions of the master or the medical officer of a ship.
– The inclusion of clause 7 in this Bill infers that the power which it is intended to convey does not at present exist. In relation to the individual, I presume that the quarantine officer has this power under the existing Act only where there is actual evidence of infection.
– The master and surgeon of the ship are the only persons who, under the existing Act, may be questioned.
– By this Bill it is proposed that the quarantine officer may question any person subject to quarantine, and while that is a very desirable power, it seems to me that it does involve a new principle.
The possible danger of infection from yellow fever was adverted to when the original Act was under consideration in 1908. The Panama Canal was then in course of construction, and it was pointed out, on the introduction of that measure, that upon the opening of that canal, Australia would be faced with new problems in connexion with the maintenance of the health of the people. It will, as the Minister has said, probably be news to most people that the species of mosquito which is the principal vehicle of infection by “ yellow jack “ in the Panama Canal region is to be found in Australia, although, so far as we know, it has not yet been infected here, and is therefore not a vehicle for the communication of that disease.
– How can a mosquito be kept out of a ship ?
– Efforts have been made with varying success to keep mosquitoes out of quite open and public places. The way in which “ yellow jack “ was combated in the Panama Canal zone was by keeping mosquitoes entirely away from water spaces and places they were known to frequent. That seemed a task almost impossible of accomplishment, but with science, energy, and enthusiasm, those charged with the responsibilities of performing that almost impossible task set about it and achieved it with an enormous amount of success. What has been done there could, no doubt, be done here. Our task should be easier because we have not to effect a cure, but to prevent the introduction of the disease. So far as we know, yellow fever has not yet occurred in Australia. We know that the variety of mosquito that conveys yellow fever to human beings exists in Australia, but it has not yet been discovered to be infectious. We want, as far as possible, bo preserve that condition of things at least, if we cannot improve upon it.
– In Brisbane at the present time householders are obliged to protect water from mosquitoes.
– By doing so mosquitoes are prevented from access to what would be their breeding grounds. Every measure which can be taken in this regard is to be commended. This Bill deals with one ofthose questions in connexion with which no expense should be spared. We have in Australia been free from many diseases that have devastated humanity in other parts of the world. It is highly desirable that we should preserve our freedom in that respect as long as we possibly can. Contacts with people in other parts of the world and communications with other parts of the world tend to increase our liability to the introduction of communicable diseases, and now that we have the opportunity we should endeavour, to the fullest measure of our power, to prevent the introduction into this community of any new deadly diseases.
As the Minister has said, this Bill is one that can be best dealt with in Committee. I do not know whether it is hia intention to explain each clause as it is considered, but I notice that several of the proposed amendments appear to be merely verbal, and to be intended to make more clear what Parliament perhaps did not express as clearly a3 it might have done in the original measure. That Act has stood without amendment- except on one occasion - since 1908, and, as I said by way of interjection, that is almost a record in these days of amending legislation, and it is a tribute to the draftsman of the original measure. It was only natural to expect that with the increase of knowledge coupled with actual experience under the Act the necessity for some amendment would be disclosed.- The fact that it is proposed to amend it in 1915 is no reflection on the original measure of 1908. It merely evidences that this Parliament and the Quarantine Department are determined to keep abreast of modern science in relation to everything pertaining to the functions of quarantine.
– I protest against the manner in which this measure has been introduced. The question of quarantine is a very important one. Science has discovered to us the fact that such apparently unimportant creatures as rats, mice, mosquitoes, and flies are the vehicles by which diseases of the most deadly character are spread amongst the community. That being so, one would imagine that any legislation dealing with a matter of this kind would be brought before Parliament in a decent fashion. But the Government have apparently forgotten that there is such a place as the Senate. If they have not forgotten it, they have evidently arrived at the conclusion that they have merely to introduce Bills into this Chamber, vouchsafe very little explanation of them, and afford honorable senators no time in which’ to gain information respecting them.
– That is a reflection on the Opposition.
– It is primarily a reflection on the Ministry, which is endeavouring to introduce a system of parliamentary government that is entirely unknown in history.
– The Bill has been introduced here. Had it been introduced in another place, and had we been asked to say “ ditto “ to it, the honorable senator might have had some cause for objection. 1 -^!7i
– I am objecting now, and I am astonished that the honorable senator himself did not object. Probably he knows more about the subject of quarantine than does any other honorable senator, because he was charged with the administration of the. principal Act for a period.
– Not with the administration of it. I introduced the original Bill.
– I object to this system of carrying on the government of the country. The Minister of Defence secured the suspension of the Standing Orders to permit the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay. That means that honorable senators will be afforded no opportunity whatever of comparing these proposed amendments
– I would remind the honorable senator that this is not the proper time for him to make reference to the suspension of the Standing Orders. A full opportunity was afforded him to discuss that matter when the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders was submitted.
– Unfortunately, I did not hear your remarks, sir, and, consequently, I do not know to what they referred.
– Then I will repeat them for the information of the honorable senator. I say that it is not now in order for him to refer to the suspension of the Standing Orders, or to the effect of their suspension, or to raise any objection to the course which has been adopted. Ample opportunity was afforded him to take exception to the procedure that has been adopted when the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders was moved a few minutes ago. Having allowed that motion to go by default, it is not now open to him, or to any other honorable senator, to question the propriety of suspending the .Standing Orders.
– You, sir, have quite misunderstood my remarks. I do not object to the suspension of the Standing Orders. I merely say that the Standing Orders have been suspended, and that honorable senators have thus been precluded from obtaining any information whatever in regard to the clauses contained in this Bill. The Minister in charge of the measure has given us no information as to the alterations which are proposed, and he has not afforded us an opportunity of acquiring that information for ourselves.
– Did the honorable senator hear what I said in moving the second reading of the Bill?
– I did.
– Did the honorable senator hear what Senator Keating said ?
– I did.
– I could not have said more unless I trusted to my imagination.
– There was very little in what the Assistant Minister said, or in what Senator Keating said.
– There is very little in the Bill.
– But we have no time to discover what is in the Bill and what is not in it. I object to this system of legislation. When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament it was customary, when an amending measure was brought forward, for the alterations which it proposed to effect in the existing law to be shown upon its face. Thus, honorable members were enabled to intelligently discuss it. But nothing of the kind has been done here, and we have no opportunity of referring to the principal Act and ascertaining for ourselves what will be the effect of the proposed amendments. If this sort of thing is to be tolerated, then the sooner the Senate is abolished the better. Indeed, if such a system is to prevail, the sooner the Parliament is abolished the better, because if we acquiesce in it there is no earthly need for 111 members of this Parliament. All that is required is ten or eleven Ministers. They can very well run the whole show. Much money would thus be saved to the citizens of Australia at a time when the practice of economy is urgently required. A Government which’ brings forward measures in this fashion does not deserve to hold its position. Indeed, I go further, and say ‘that a Senate which acquiesces in it has abandoned its self-respect, and is not discharging its duty to the people who elected it. I have no means of ascertaining the effect of any of the clauses embodied in this Bill, and, therefore, I will not attempt to discuss them. I shall content myself with again entering my protest against this method of introducing Bills and passing them through all stages without affording us time in which to obtain necessary information.
– I would not have spoken upon this Bill but for an observation made by the Assistant Minister during the course of his second-reading speech, because I have not had time to peruse it and to make myself conversant with its aims. But the Assistant Minister stated that the purpose of tire measure was to make more emphatic the powers of the Quarantine Department in contradistinction to those possessed by the various Boards of Health. If that be so, I heartily welcome the measure. Though it may be a small Bill, I regard it as a very important one. If it will settle any differences in jurisdiction which exist to-day as between the central authorities and the State Boards of Health, I say that it is urgently needed. That has been brought home to me by the lack of action in regard to the present outbreak of meningitis, particularly in Victoria. I was somewhat astounded this morning when, for a purpose quite apart from that of this measure, I ascertained the effect of that malady up to a certain stage. The figures are really appalling. They go to show either that the quarantine departments did not have the necessary authority, or that they did not put into force whatever powers they had. The Victorian Board of Health has been almost criminally negligent in that regard. I found from reference to papers that, up to the 13th October, there had been 462 cases of meningitis in Victoria, namely, 193 cases from the metropolitan area, 179 cases amongst soldiers, and 90 cases from the rural districts. The number of deaths was 150, or a percentage of 34.2. That position of affairs seems to me to call for the loudest protest on behalf of the people of Victoria, as well as of Australia. I had a very close contact - as close as it could possibly be without being personal - with the small-pox scare in New South Wales some fifteen months ago. I am in a position to say that that outbreak was nothing more than an aggravated form of chicken-pox, which disappeared, leaving hardly any scars, and causing only one or two deaths. What was the position taken up then in New South Wales? The quarantine regulations were enforced very drastically. I make no complaint in that connexion, because I think it is the right course to take when the public health is endangered. For many months - in fact, for almost half-a-year - commercial Sydney complained very loudly against the retention of the quarantine restrictions. Indeed, the newspapers were full of complaints from commercial men ann others. It was said that the medical men of Sydney had raised the scare for their own advantage. I make no comment on that statement, taut I consider that the State authorities and the Federal Quarantine Department did the right thing on that occasion. If the powers of that Department are not sufficient to enable them to take drastic action in Victoria at the present time, I sincerely trust that the Minister will be able to give us an assurance in Committee that the Bill will grant the requisite authority, and that he will impress upon the Department the absolute necessity for taking some action. It appears to me that the Victorian Board of Health have taken no action, simply because this very serious outbreak has occurred just prior to a great annual festival, namely, the Melbourne Cup. If restrictions had been placed on the people as they should have been, it goes without saying that there would not have been the same influx to Melbourne as to previous Cup meetings. That would have been regrettable in many instances. Although I am not a racing man, I have no objection to racing. I have not yet seen ‘a Melbourne Cup race, but I hope to do so on Tuesday next, whether the Senate adjourns or not, and when I go I generally speculate to the extent of a moderate half-sovereign.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to recognise thathis remarks have nothing to do with the Bill.
– At the cost of any interference with the general or commercial life of Victoria or Melbourne, I sincerely trust that the Federal Quarantine Department will take action, and, if necessary, override the Board of Health. It is strange that the persons who have been afflicted, and those who, without being afflicted, may be carriers of the disease should be allowed their free will in travelling about this city in public conveyances and vehicles, thereby disseminating a very serious malady, and that not one effective preventive action has been taken by the responsible authorities. I sincerely trust that if this measure empowers the Quarantine Department to take action, the Minister will let us know when we come to the clause which confers that power.
– I am afraid that meningitis is in the same position as commerce, which has to extend beyond the limits of one State before it can be dealt with by us.
– That is very regrettable. In regard to preventing the egress or ingress of mosquitoes, it may be at first view considered rather a light subject, and one to be dealt with in a not very serious manner, but I think it is a proper power for the Quarantine Department to acquire. In my opinion, it is a wise precaution to impose on the officers of vessels sailing into our waters or ports the responsibility of covering effectively such companionways, and so forth, as may liberate into Australia what I heard Senator Mullan describe as prohibited immigrants - mosquitoes which might be the bearers of a great disease.
– They are already here in millions.
– Yes ; but it has been pointed out bya previous speaker that, so far, scientific investigations have not proved that mosquitoes are able to carry the serious disease known as “ yellow jack.”
– They are found from Darwin right down the coast as far as Newcastle, which is in about the same latitude as the place where the disease rages in South America.
– The particular variety is not here in millions.
– Yes, on the eastern seaboard.
– -From Newcastle upwards.
– Their invasion can be modified, and their number reduced, by scientific methods. We know that in various districts and towns the number of ordinary black mosquitoes has been greatly reduced by preventive methods. I sincerely trust that this amending Bill will have the effect of stiffening the Quarantine Act generally; and I feel quite sure that the Government, having the interests of the people of Australia at heart, will not neglect to strictly enforce its provisions.
– I think that the Government are to be commended for the prompt manner in which they have brought forward this measure.I agree with what
Senator Stewart has said regarding the importance of the subject; but in my opinion the Government would be open to a charge of laxity if, at such a stage as we have now reached, they were to resort to the usually slow and deliberate methods of introducing legislation. We all know that time does not permit of that course being taken. If we were beginning a session, instead of practically ending one, there might be something in the charge that we have not been allowed sufficient time for reflection. Undoubtedly the general health of the community is one of the most important questions upon which we could legislate. It is a question on which we are very much in the dark, and we have of necessity to grope our way, lay down our precedents, and find out methods of dealing with diseases. We know that it is of very little use to look to other countries for guidance. For instance, although we belong to the same race, the laws of the United Kingdom in this regard would be quite unsuited to our sunny country. It is more a geographical matter than a racial one. It would be a very grave mistake to adopt the methods of the Old Country in the hope of securing ourselves from diseases. Scarlet fever is not a quarantinable disease in the Old Land, but a fatal and quarantinable disease in India. Small-pox in India is considered of even less importance than scarlet fever, for it is not nearly so fatal to the Indians. It will be seen, therefore, that the question of the quarantine law is a very complicated one. I desire to say a few words regarding the mosquito. It has been the subject of a good many jokes. In my opinion we have not taken sufficient credit for the work which our doctors have done in dealing with the insect. In Papua Dr. Jones, of Samarai - I think that he is chief medical officer for the Territory - has undoubtedly done very great work as regards the abolition of the evil effects of mosquito bites. On the little island of Samarai, which is the principal seaport in the Territory, Dr. Jones, by his firm administration and his inquiries into the harmful effects of the mosquito has been able to abolish serious evils, notwithstanding the fact that the people live in the tropics, and, therefore, are constantly in danger of contracting various diseases. We are informed that there is not a mosquito now on the island of Samarai, or in that particular seaport,
That excellent result has been obtained, I understand, by covering in the water deposits, and filling up waterholes, and thereby preventing water from stagnating. I am afraid that the people on the mainland have not taken sufficient warning from that lesson. We. know that there are many places at various seaports which are considered uncomfortable to live in simply because of the large number of mosquitoes existing there. I am surprised to think that in face of not only the well-known Panama case, but also the Samarai case, we on the mainland have not taken effective action in that direction. This is a matter in which the press might very well help by spreading the information that it is possible to abolish the mosquito. Newcastle has been mentioned’ as one of the ports where the mosquito pest is very prevalent, but if the same precautions were taken there as were taken in Papua, the mosquito pest could be abolished just as it has been in Samarai. We think we know all about the mosquito, but it is evident that we do not. Even in Newcastle, there are many varieties of this pest with regard to which we have yet a great deal to learn. It is expedient, therefore, that the local Boards of Health should be a little more energetic than they have been in the past. If we succeed in exterminating the mosquito we shall do a very great work for the people of this country.
– I can very well understand the objection taken by Senator Stewart regarding the way in which this Bill was introduced, but if the honorable senator desired more time to understand the Bill, it was within his province to move the adjournment of the debate. That is the usual custom, upon the introduction of a Bill, if honorable senators think that more information is required concerning the subject.
– If Senator Stewart had* moved the adjournment of the debate, I would, if I thought he was serious^ have agreed to it.
– If, instead of complaining, Senator Stewart had asked for further time, the Government would have been prepared to fall in with the suggestion, and thus allow honorable senators an opportunity of discovering what proposals were outlined in this measure. Personally, I think that we might just as well go on with tlie” Bill, because, so- far as
I have been able to gather, its object is simply to remedy defects discovered in the principal Act of 1908-12. After passing the principal Act, we had to pass sul amending Bill, because we found that certain matters had not been provided for ; and now, after three years, we find thai other difficulties, which were not contemplated in connexion with the principal measure, have arisen. The result is that the Government feel it necessary, as soon-as possible, to place added power in the hands of the officers administering the quarantine laws, so as to afford more protection to the people of Australia” owing to the fact that we shall be having more direct communication than we have had in the past with places where yellow fever is raging. The Constitution gives the Commonwealth absolute power ever quarantine matters. It is not necessary to consult the States in any way. The Commonwealth can legislate and administer legislation as far as quarantine i3 concerned in any way that may be deemed desirable; but I remember that, when the principal Act was being discussed, it was pointed out that the best course to adopt was to seek the assistance of the State health authorities, so as to avoid any friction, and to provide for the more effective administration of the quarantine laws. Senator Ferricks is right in drawsag attention to the serious aspect of a deadly disease in Victoria, but I would point out that there have been similar outbreaks in at least three of the States* - Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.
– In Tasmania also.
-My friend informs me that cases have been reported from Tasmania also, so the disease has spread throughout four of the States of the Commonwealth, and to that extent it comes more under Uie direct cognisance of the State Boards of Health, and probably those bodies are able to deal with it more effectively than the Commonwealth could.
– I do not think that the number of cases has been nearly so heavy in the other States as in Victoria.
– I know there have been cases in Queensland and New South Wales, and that the health authorities there are dealing with it. I understand that the Defence Department requested the health authorities in those States to do all they possibly could to see that the law was carried out. It is quite true that a good deal can be done to prevent certain diseases finding a foothold in Australia.
– We shall have ,o get a different lot of doctors, then.
– I cannot speak on that subject, but I think splendid work has been done by the institution established at Townsville to deal with tropical diseases. It is admitted that tropical fever and similar diseases are only met with in the tropics, and on account of the research work carried out by the Townsville institution, we know that the mosquito, which in other countries carries the germ of the yellow fever, exists in a very large part of Australia. But I gather from the reports of the Townsville institution that yellow fever is prevented from gaining a foothold in Australia because no yellow fever patients have reached Australia in such a , condition that the mosquito has been able to spread infection. As far as we can we ought to prevent such a state of affairs arising in this country. Senator de Largie has told us that the mosquito has been abolished in Samarai. I am glad to have that assurance, but I am rather doubtful about it.
– I understand that not one mosquito has been seen there for at least five years
– The mosquito has been abolished on the Panama Canal zone.
– As far as Brisbane is concerned, I do not think the mosquito pest is nearly as troublesome as it was a few years ago for the simple reason that the health authorities have compelled the people to drain their land, and so do away with the breeding places. 1 The householders there have been put to a considerable expenditure. For instance they are not allowed to have rain-water tanks unless these are fitted with mosquitoproof strainers, even. to the overflow pipes from the tanks, so that in the event of mosquitoes breeding in the tanks, they will be unable to get out and thus spread disease, in any way. The Government are to be congratulated for having brought in the measure, even though it may be at an inconvenient time for’ honorable senators, who may thus not have an opportunity to look closely into its provisions. They are doing quite right in asking the Senate to proceed with this Bill as soon as possible.
– They are doing it the wrong way.
– The honorable senator, as I have already said, had an opportunity of moving the adjournment of the debate.
– Could I have carried it?
– Probably the honorable senator was not present when the Minister in charge said that he would have acceded to a request for an adjournment of the debate.
– I did not hear that.
– It seems to me that the best thing we can do now is to get on with the measure and have it placed on the statute-book, so as to give the Health authorities power to deal effectively with any vessel that may touch at Australian ports from fever-ridden districts, and in that way protect the community against yellow fever or other diseases.
– I think Senator Stewart will recognise that he cast an unjust reflection upon me in regard to this measure, because I was in the unfortunate position that I could not help myself, as the Senate had deliberately decided to suspend the Standing Orders. It was noi within my power to circulate the Bill until it had passed its first reading in this chamber.
– The Senate decided on that course by a unanimous vote.
– Yes. and, therefore, I assume that Senator Stewart, as he did not vote against the motion, supported the proposal for the suspension of the Standing Orders. The Bill contains no new vital principles whatever. All these were determined long ago, but it has been considered necessary to strengthen the principal Act, and stop up loopholes that have been discovered. Senator Keating drew attention to the power to question an individual on a boat. Previously there was power to ask a captain or the surgeon of a boat about anybody on board. But a man anxious to reach his people immediately, and fearing that he may be prevented from landing, may very possibly try in every way to avoid being reported by the doctor, and in such a case the quarantine officer should rightly be able to make inquiries. I do not call this an original provision, but it is certainly a strengthening and tightening of the powers given in the Act. Senator Stewart is about the first man I ever heard who admired my eloquence, and wanted more of it. I cannot oblige him at this rather critical time, but, if on some future and more convenient occasion he repeats his request, I shall endeavour to oblige him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses1 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 73 of the principal Act is amended by adding thereto the following sub-sections: -
A quarantine officer may ask any person subject to quarantine any questions concerning his personal health or liability to infection, and the person shall, to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief, truly answer thequestions asked him by the quarantine officer.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
A quarantine officer may, if he thinks fit, require a person who has been asked questions in pursuance of this section to verify, by statutory declaration, the answers given to the questions, and any person who refuses to comply with any such requirement shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
Section proposed to be amended -
– A quarantine officer may ask the master or medical officer of any vessel any questions he thinks fit … .
– An ordinary individual has a fair idea of his personal health, but can hardly be expected to answer questions regarding his liability to infection.
– He must answer them to the best of his ability.
– If I were asked, I would say I had no knowledge on the subject. What, then, is the use of the provision, which becomes more farcical when it is seen that by sub-clause 2 a man who says he does not know whether he is liable to infection or not may be required to verify his answer by statutory declaration?
– There is no farce about it. It may be necessary to ask a man who has been occupying a cabin with a yellow-fever patient whether he haa come in contact with the patient.
– One man may be liable to infection, and another not, but if the Minister is satisfied with the clause I shall not worry.
. - The quarantine officer, and not the person questioned, would determine the liability to infection, after asking questions regarding the person’s movements, contacts, and relations with other persons during a previous period. Under the present law, the quarantine officer can ask the captain and the surgeon, and this provision gives him a very necessary power to question any or every person on the ship. If the quarantine officer is not satisfied that he has received correct or full answers, he may bring home to the person questioned a sense of the seriousness of the matter by requiring him to verify his replies by statutory declaration.
– Will the Minister indicate whether the Government have considered the advisableness of taking action about the present outbreak of meningitis in Victoria? So far, one person out of every three afflicted has died, and the total fatal cases in the Alfred Hospital have numbered 50 per cent. Plague, small-pox, and yellow fever are not “in it” with this disease. Certainly the plague as we knew it in Queensland was not “in it.” The people who died from the plague in Queensland were people who were pulled out of their beds in the middle of the night, and hurried long distances to hospitals while. in an advanced state of fever. I am justified in the statement that the fatalities from plague did not represent nearly so high a percentage as those which have occurred from meningitis. I am not one of those who blame the Defence Department for all the deaths that have occurred, because it is said that the soldiers have been carriers of infection. We might all be carriers unconsciously. I want to impress upon Ministers the seriousness of the matter, and I ask the Minister of Defence whether it might not be possible for him. under this clause to bring under the notice of his colleagues, not merely the advisableness, but the absolute necessity, of taking action in this matter, which has been, so callously neglected; by the Boards of Health, particularly in Victoria.
– The disease has. occurred in more than one State.
– I understand that it has appeared, in. Queensland, New
South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania, as well as in Victoria.
– We have taken control of it in Tasmania.
– The honorable senator might say whether it is controlled there by the local Boards of Health or by the Federal Quarantine Department. The question of dealing with the disease is evidently too big a one for the Victorian medical men, and it should be dealt with by the National Government.
– Medical men say that it will not live during the warm weather.
– I am looking forward with hope to the advent of warm weather’ on that account. Medical men have assured us that the disease is more or less endemic in Australia, and I quite believe that that is so, especially in the larger cities. I believe that New South Wales small-pox, which I described in that way for identification, is more or less endemic, and only occasionally breaks out in epidemic form. The present outbreak of meningitis is, I think, more serious than anything of the kind we have previously experienced in Australia, and it deserves, the serious consideration of the Government.
– I wish to say a word or two on the question raised by Senator Ferricks as regards the outbreak of meningitis. First of all, meningitis has been with us for many years in practically all the States of the Commonwealth, but it has not been epidemic. There is undoubtedly a large percentage of fatalities from meningitis, but it should be remembered that there are many circumstances connected with an outbreak of meningitis which differentiate it entirely from other diseases of an infectious character. It is estimated by the Defence medical authorities that of the military cases more than 20 per cent, have occurred amongst men who, apparently, have not come in contact with the disease at all.
– How did they get it ?
– That is the puzzle.
– I have heard authorities say that it is prevalent amongst fowls.
– Where cases have been discovered in the camps all those who have been in contact with the persons suffering from the disease have been isolated, and yet cases of the disease amongst these contacts are extremely rare. When I visited the Seymour Camp I saw quite a large number of men who were isolated because they had been in contact with the disease, and yet not a single case of meningitis occurred amongst them.
– It does not seem to be highly infectious.
– That is so.
– Carriers of the disease may get well themselves without knowing they have had it.
– Honorable senators will see that it is an extremely difficult disease to isolate. Its extension is probably due to the carrier who does not exhibit any signs of infection, but is yet capable of infecting others. I may inform the Committee that the matter has been by no means neglected. There has been a conference between the Victorian Board of Health and the military authorities, and a further conference has been arranged for. So far as the military camps are concerned, every precaution has been taken to combat the disease. Swabs were taken daily, and the nostrils of soldiers sprayed with eucalyptus and other disinfectants, and only half the previous number of men were accommodated in a tent. Where any person showed signs of influenza, which is very similar to the first stages of meningitis, he was kept under observation.
– Or sent home.
– No. The honorable senator refers to an unfortunate case of which I am aware. Mistakes are to be expected from human beings, and in one case to which Senator Guthrie refers, a young fellow was sent home, whose illness was afterwards diagnosed as meningitis. In that particular case the doctor broke the instructions given to him, and honorable senators will agree that we cannot make any system fool-proof. The instructions given have, in the main, been observed, and everything possible has been done to prevent the spread of the disease. The question of its treatment by serum has been taken up, and a large quantity of serum has been obtained. As honorable senators are probably aware, it is the intention of the Government to establish a laboratory for the production of serum, not only for this, but for other’ diseases. I can only Bay that every means that has been suggested for combating the disease has been used. We have brought together the best minds in the Common wealth and State services to discover the best means of dealing with the disease. I believe that it will disappear when the warm weather arrives. I am glad to be able to say that it has been completely stamped out in many of the military camps where it made its appearance. I understand that at the present time there are no cases of the disease at the Liverpool Camp, or in the camps in Tasmania, or in South Australia.
– I believe that several deaths occurred in one week at Claremont. .
– I believe the disease has now been stamped out in that camp, and there are very few military camps in the Commonwealth to-day in which it has not been stamped out. Everything possible has been done by the Board of Health in Victoria, in co-operation with the officers of the Defence Department. It is undoubtedly a most difficult disease to deal with, but everything that medical science can suggest should be done is being done in order to cope with it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause. 8 -
Section 78a of the principal Act is amended -
By adding at the end of the section the following sub-sections: - “’ 2. A quarantine officer may, subject to the regulations, order any such vessel to be taken to an appointed place for the purpose of cleansing, fumigation, disinfection, or treatment, and the master of the vessel shall cause her to be taken to that place.
Penalty -. One hundred pounds.
The Minister may order any vessel in any port in Australia to be taken to any other port in Australia for the purpose of cleansing, fumigation^, disinfection, or treatment, and the master of the vessel shall cause her to be taken .to that port accordingly.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.”
Section proposed to be amended - 78a. A quarantine officer may, subject to the Regulations, order any vessel in any port in Australia, which vessel is, in hia opinion, in an insanitary condition favorable to the spread of communicable disease, to be taken to any prescribed place and to be cleansed, fumigated, disinfected ….
– In sub-clauses 2 and 3 of this clause an attempt is apparently made to give a dual authority - on the one hand, to a quarantine officer, and, on the other, to the Minister - to remove a ship from a given place to any other place. I should like to know whether the Minister considers this clause sufficiently clear to prevent a quarantine officer, by his interpre- tation of the words “to an appointed place,” in sub-clause 2, ordering the removal of a ship from the port “In which she is to some other port? That might be prevented if the Minister thought it desirable by the insertion, after the word “place,” of the words “not being another port.” A vessel arriving at one of the north-western ports of Western Australia might, under this sub-clause, be ordered by a quarantine officer to go to Fremantle or Bunbury. In the same way, a vessel arriving in a Queensland port might be ordered to go to Brisbane, Maryborough, or Rockhampton. I presume that it is not intended to give such a power to any quarantine officer as would entitle him to order the removal of a ship from one port to another.
– Under subclause 3, a ship may be ordered to any port in Australia.
– That is so, but that is a power given to the Minister, who may order a ship anywhere.
– Vessels have been sent from Queensland ports to Sydney because they could be more effectively dealt with there.
– I am afraid that, in the terms of sub-clause 2, a quarantine officer might exercise a similar authority, and I do not think it can be intended to give such power to a quarantine officer.
– I do not altogether agree with the contention of Senator Lynch as to the advisability of amending the clause in the way he has suggested. We might blunder seriously if we did not give a quarantine officer the power conferred by this clause. Along our enormous coastline there is quite a number of small isolated ports.
– This clause refers only to first ports of arrival.
– The first port of arrival of a ship might possibly be one of these isolated ports, with which there may not be even telegraphic communication.
– “ Small ports “ are defined in the principal Act.
– But vessels may possibly call at these small ports.
– They have no right to do so.
– We have only to imagine a serious outbreak of disease on board a vessel which compels it to make for the nearest port -
– Weather cond- tions may oblige a vessel to make for the nearest port.
– Exactly. It will be a manifest blunder if we do not endow quarantine officers at such ports with necessary powers. We all know that there are numbers of ports at which there is no quarantine station, and no fumigating plant. What will a quarantine officer do if a vessel is compelled to make one of those ports? He will be in a perfect dilemma. He will have no power to order the ship away, although its presence may be a menace to the health of the port.
– There will be no quarantine officer there, unless it be a first port of entry.
– But we can appoint a quarantine officer at any port we may desire.
– Only at the first port of entry.
– But the first port of entry may be any port.
– No; the first port of entry is defined in the principal Act.
– I have already pointed out that a ship may be driven by stress of circumstances, to make the first port.
– Stress of weather is the only recognised exception.
– If disease breaks out on board a vessel, that vessel will undoubtedly make for the most convenient port. It may happen that the nearest port is the only port .which she is capable of making. If the quarantine officer there is not to have the power to order her to proceed to a port where she may be subjected to proper supervision, of what use is the Bill? I trust that the Minister will adhere to the clause as it stands. Some such provision is an absolute necessity.
– There seems to be a little confusion in the minds of honorable senators, if I may judge by the remarks which have fallen from Senator Lynch and Senator de Largie. I merely wish to point out that all that Senator Lynch desires the Government to do is already provided for in the Bill. The view of the Government is that if it be necessary to order a ship from one port to another port, the matter is of a sufficiently serious character to warrant the necessary instruction emanating from the Minister alone. But if, for example, a disease broke out on a vessel lying at Victoria Dock, it will be within the power of a quarantine officer to order her into mid-stream. I trust that honorable senators will agree to the clause.
– Since the Assistant Minister made his explanation, I am hardly clear as to the intention of the clause. Senator Lynch voiced the opinion that it is proposed to give possibly too much power to a quarantine officer. Let me take the case of a vessel upon which there is an outbreak of disease coming from the East, and whose first port of call is Cooktown, where there are no quarantine facilities. I take it that in such circumstances, the master of the vessel would not be permitted to take his ship out of port, unless under instructions from an officer of the Department. It seems only reasonable that we should vest in the quarantine officer at Cooktown the power to say to the master of any vessel upon which there is an outbreak of disease, “ I cannot deal with your vessel here. The best thing you can do is to take her to Townsville.” But if, on the other hand, he has to wire to the Minister for the requisite instruction, we may be unnecessarily endangering life. “We all know that the sooner the people on an infected vessel can be quarantined the better. But if a vessel has to be detained whilst wires are transmitted to Melbourne to secure the necessary Ministerial authority, delay will be inevitable.
– The clause relates only to the cleansing and disinfecting of a ship. The cases’ to which the honorable senator is referring are dealt with under section 42 of the principal Act.
– If a vessel puts in at Cooktown, as her first port of call, the quarantine officer may order her to proceed to Townsville.
– He may permit any vessel in quarantine to proceed on her voyage.
– Then that is all right.
– This proposal seems to me to be per fectly clear. Paragraph 3 of the clause seeks to endow the Minister with certain powers, and to exclude any other person from exercising those powers. The use of the term “ the Minister “ implies that those powers are to be confined to him. As the Assistant Minister has already pointed out, it is proposed, under subclause 2, to vest in a quarantine officer the power to order the removal of an infected ship from one place to another. But that power relates only to places within a port. The officer will have no power to order the removal of a ship from one port to another. That authority is expressly reserved to the Minister.
– The officer’s note of this provision reads -
These new sub-sections are inserted to provide for the effective treatment of any vessel arriving in Australian waters with a history of yellow fever or of suspicious cases which might have been yellow fever. In such cases it would be necessary for the vessel to be removed some distance off shore in order to avoid the risk of infected mosquitoes escaping before they could be destroyed.
– The clause is of a general character, and does’ not apply to any particular case. In certain circumstances it may be very important that a vessel lying alongside a wharf should be ordered away as quickly as possible without any reference to the head office. The officer on the spot may be trusted to realize the gravity and urgency of the situation, and, if necessary, to order her out into the stream. But the power to order a vessel from one port to another is intended to reside exclusively in the Minister. The proposed new sub-section will be applicable only to a vessel under a certain set of circumstances, which is expressly provided for in section 78a of the principal Act.
– When I previously addressed myself to this question, I did so on the assumption that the statement made by Senator Lynch, who had the principal Act before him, was correct. I now find that I was slightly misled by his remarks. Nevertheless, my contention still holds good. If, under the principal Act, a quarantine officer has not the power that I think he has, we ought certainly to clothe him with that power under this Bill.
– He has the power that the honorable senator desires him to possess under another section “of the principal Aci.
– Then, where is the contradiction to which the Assistant Minister made reference?
– Look at section 42 of the original Act.
– Honorable senators labour under a disability in that they have not the principal Act before them. I understood from the Minister’s remarks that, in the original Act, there was no such provision as I was contending for, but now I am informed that there is.
– He said that there was.
– We shall arrive at the true position presently. It was my intention to suggest an amendment in this clause, but now that I have been again corrected, it will not be necessary for me to make the suggestion.
– Section 42 deals with a ship generally, whereas this clause deals with a ship specially.
– I take it that in a port the quarantine officer has power to order the removal of a ship to any part therein, which he thinks most suitable to carry out the fumigating and cleansing processes, but that if a ship has to be ordered from one port to another, it can only be done on the authority of the Minister. I am informed that, under a provision which is not mentioned in this measure, the quarantine officer possesses such power.
– I tried to get a reprint of the Act showing what was to be struck out, and what was to be inserted, but, unfortunately, time was against me.
– We can readily understand the case of a ship calling in suddenly at an isolated port, perhaps in the north-west of the continent. If the quarantine officer at the port had not the necessary power to act he would require to telegraph to Melbourne to acquaint the Minister, and the Minister, on his part, would have to wire authority for the ship to proceed to another port. It can be easily understood that much valuable time would be lost by the delay, and that the spread of a very serious disease might take place. Take a case which is likely to occur. Suppose that a ship were to call in at a distant port on a Saturday. By the time a telegram could reach Melbourne, the Minister, perhaps, would be out of town and the office closed. The ship would have to remain at the port till Monday, and a serious disease would be raging on board before the quarantine officer could obtain the necessary power to order the ship to go on to another port. If, however, the necessary provision is already made in the principal Act, my contention is answered.
– I desire to get a little information concerning sub-clause 2, which reads -
A quarantine officer may, subject to the regulations, order any such vessel to be taken to an appointed place for the purpose of cleansing, fumigation, disinfection, or treatment, and the master of the vessel shall cause her to be taken to that place.
I wish to know if there is a definition of what a quarantine officer is in the different ports. In many ports, there is quite a number of quarantine officers who are not medical men. If provision is not already made, I think that there should be a definition as to whether a quarantine officer is a medical man or otherwise.
– Under section 5 of the’ principal Act, “ Quarantine Officer “ means “ a quarantine officer appointed under this Act.”
– I would point out that all quarantine officers, whether medical men or not, are appointed under the Act. I know of cases in Sydney where vessels have been shifted without the consent of the head medical quarantine officer, and have had to be taken back.
Clause agreed to. .
Clause 9 (Amendment of section 87).
– The remarks I have to address to the Committee will not refer to the subjectmatter of this clause, but to the breviate or marginal note. Section 87 is the section of the original Act. which is proposed to be amended by this clause. I do not know what the section is, but we can guess at a glance that it deals with the regulations. If the Government cannot see their way to provide honorable senators with a copy of the original Act, showing the proposed amendments to be made, they might supply a little more information in the marginal note. If, for instance, the breviate to clause 9 of this Bill was “ Amendment of section 87 - Regulations,” or if the Government would reprint the breviate of the original section which is to be amended, we would know what we were asked- to deal with. Going back to the last clause for the purpose of illustration, had we known the breviate to section 78a we would not probably have taken so long on the clause. We would have realized that it was amending a special, rather than a general, section. If the Government are forced by time and the printer to deprive us of the opportunity to see the original measure, they might help us considerably in Committee if they would print the breviate of the original section to be amended. It would give us a better idea of the provision of the Act with which a clause dealt. I hope that, in the future, honorable senators will be vouchsafed that small amount of information as a minimum.
– At one time we had a practice which contributed very much to the convenience of honorable senators when they were discussing an amending Bill. Every provision to be omitted from the Act was shown by the use of erased type, and any new provision was printed in block type, so that the proposed alterations could be seen at a glance. If that practice were resumed, we would not require to have a copy of the Act in our hands, and to glance from one measure to the other. It is not an easy matter to look up an Act in the bound volumes. It takes some time to find a measure, and then, as Senator Keating reminds me, there are not enough volumes to go round. In recent years that very admirable practice has been dropped, but I do not know why. I hope that it will be reverted to.
– I recognise that it is a great convenience to honorable senators to have the whole matter dealt with by a clause brought under their eyes. I think that it also tends to facilitate business. Not only shall I note the suggestion made, but I will bring it under the notice of my colleagues, and, as far as it is possible for us against time, carry it out. I ask honorable senators to remember that the Government is a new one, being only two days old. We did not desire honorable senators to waste any time, but as we grow and become stronger I hope that there will be less complaints on this score. The clause before the Committee deals simply with the power to make regulations under the Act. It gives complete power to do all that may be deemed essential by the medical authorities to safeguard Australia against disease.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Commonwealth Naval Dockyard, Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, presented by SenatorBakhap.
.- I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
On behalf of the Government, I desire to state that, with the exception of the one we have just dealt with, the Bills to be introduced during the present sitting of the Parliament will be all Money Bills, and as such cannot be introduced in this Chamber. It will be necessary, therefore, to wait until some of them have been passed by another place. It is anticipated that we shall have some of those measures early next week. They comprise the Murray Waters Agreement Bill, a Bill to continue the payment of bounties on the production of iron, a Bill to amend the schedule to the Income Tax Act, a Bill to authorize the further construction of the railway in the Northern Territory as far as Bitter Springs, a Supply Bill, and a Loan Bill. As honorable senators will see, all these must first be dealt with in another place, and, therefore, it will be advisable for the Senate to adjourn until Wednesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Expeditionary Forces : Christmas Gifts: Australian Prisoners in Turkey.
– In moving
That the Senate do now, adjourn,
I wish to refer to a matter raised by Senator Long, and referred to by some other honorable senators, concerning the distribution of Christmas gifts to our soldiers. Instructions were issued by my direction of 1st September last with a view to the organization of the supply of gifts being taken in hand in all States without delay. Action was immediately taken in the matter, and large consignments of Christmas comforts are already in transit to England and Egypt. The distribution will be effected under the supervision of the Red Cross Commissioners, Messrs. Adrian Knox and Brookes, in the case of sick and wounded and hospital staffs, and by the Patriotic Societies’ Commissioner, Mr. Henry Budden, in the case of comforts for those at the front, and in training in Egypt. Every possible facility has been extended those engaged in forwarding gifts to men in the firing line to enable them to carry out the donors’ wishes to the fullest possible extent, and advice has been received from Mr. Budden stating that no effort has been spared by the responsible Military authorities to assist him in carrying out this work, opportunity having been provided him to visit men in the trenches and distribute goods with the help of the unit commanders. Advices are received from the distributing officers from time to time of the nature of the gifts and the comforts required, and the respective patriotic societies are at once communicated with in order that such articles may be promptly collected and shipped. The troops occupying the late German Pacific Islands are included in this scheme of distribution, as are the Australian troops in France, and the wounded Australian soldiers in England. Efforts are also being made with a view to providing a supply of such gifts for the Australian Aviation Corps on active service. On several occasions I have publicly referred to the excellence of the work carried out by the Bed Cross Society, - whose efforts in the cause of the amelioration of the condition pf sick and wounded have been undertaken so systematically and energetically^ and I am glad of this opportunity of inviting attention to the patriotic and public spirited action of those societies whose energies are directed in providing comforts additional to approved army issues to the actual -fighting troops, and to publicly convey to them the appreciation of the Department for the manner in which they have undertaken the work.
Senator McDOUGALL (New South Wales) [5.251. - I wish to draw attention to the fact that, in answer to a question from me concerning the payment of Australian prisoners of war in Turkey, the Minister in April last said that provision was to be made by the Commonwealth Government for the payment to them of £3 per month. I want now to bring under his notice the fact that one of our soldiers taken prisoner, John Keiran wrote, on 21st August, to his father in Coolamon, and stated -
Being short of money, we were unable to buy in sufficient stacks, and we need good food. We were forced to work on the roads breaking stones, and we received no pay for our labour.
In conclusion he stated -
There was a rumour that we were to be allowed £3 per month by the Commonwealth Government, but, so far, nothing has come of it.
I have had a communication from the relatives of this young man stating that they are willing to send him money if there are any means of doing so through the American Consul.
– The statement read by the Minister showing what is being done with regard to the despatch of Christmas gifts to our troops must, I think, be satisfactory to all of us, as it will be to the public generally. I sincerely hope that the efforts now being made will be successful. Yesterday I asked a question with reference to the Australian troops at Basra, and I note that the Minister in his statement made reference to them, saying that efforts were being made to have the Australian Aviation Corps included in this scheme for the distribution of Christmas gifts. I do not think that it is very generally known, and certainly not as well known as it might be, that a number of Australians are doing fine work for the Allies at Basra. We might say with regard to our troops at Gallipoli, in France, and elsewhere, that they are constantly in the public eye, and we might well imagine that their wants will not be forgotten during the forthcoming festive season. But those others to whom I refer are more remote, and they can hardly be expected to come so much under public notice. By reason of that fact our interest in them might well he a little stimulated. Those who have relatives there have found that the rates of postage on mail matter are comparatively high, and altogether out of proportion to the rates prevailing on mail matter and parcels between Australia and Egypt or Gallipoli. It has to he remembered that the present rates to Egypt and Gallipoli are not normal charges, hut have been reduced since the war began to bring them into line with rates on mail matter going to England, I understand from inquiries made that the Indian Government have been communicated with concerning the rates on mail matter and parcels for our troops at Basra, and I trust that the communications which are passing between the authorities here and the authorities in India will be pushed speedily to a successful conclusion. I feel assured that if the Indian Government are responsible in any way they will be quite prepared to meet the Commonwealth Government in the same way as the British authorities have met us concerning postage rates to Egypt and Gallipoli. The Australians at Basra are more remote from their friends than are those in Egypt and Gallipoli, and it is to be hoped that they will not be forgotten during this Christmas season. I earnestly hope that the negotiations which I know are passing between the Commonwealth and the Indian Governments will soon be successful and that those Australians who have taken their lives in their hands in that remote area of this great conflict will be reminded of the fact that we in Australia are not unmindful of them and of their heroic efforts on behalf of the Empire.
– I will bring the matters mentioned by Senator McDougall and by Senator Keating under the notice of the Government. I can also assure Senator Keating that the Government will do all they can to press forward the negotiations for the reduction of the postal rate to Basra.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at5.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 October 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19151028_senate_6_79/>.