17 May 1916

6th Parliament · 1st Session

The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Assent to the following Bills reported: -

Supply Bill (No. 5) 1915-16.

Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill (No.5) 1915-16.

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– On Thursday last, I asked SenatorPearce, the Acting Prime Minister, to bring before the Cabinet the advisability of protecting the interests of soldiers at the front who have mortgages on their homes. I ask the honorable senator now whether the Government have since given the matter any consideration?

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– In regard to the question raised by Senators Buzacott and Keating of assistance by the Commonwealth Government to enlisted soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force, who, having contracted financial obligations before enlistment, are unable to meet them because of their absence on active service, the Government have decided to ask the Attorney-General to take the necessary steps for the establishment of a moratorium, which will prevent foreclosure during the absence of such soldiers, in respect of loans, mortgages, or debts.

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Senator STORY:

.- Has the Leader of the Senate noticed the new method of answering questions which the Minister of Home Affairs has adopted in connexion with a question asked by me ? Can he inform the “Senate whether it is the intention of the Minister of Home Affairs to answer other questions in the same way?

Senator PEARCE:

– Not having seen the answer referred to, I am not in a position to say whether it is a reply to the honorable senator’s question or not.

The PRESIDENT. - I point out to Senator Story that the question to which he refers is on the notice-paper, and will be reached in the ordinary way.

Senator Story:

– I think, sir, you are under a misapprehension. I desire to know whether the Acting Prime Minister has noticed the new form which Mr. King O’Malleyhas adopted in the answering of questions affecting his Department.


– I cannot allow the honorable senator to proceed. Heis referring to a matter relating to a question on the notice-paper inhis name, and it will come on for consideration in the ordinary way.

Senator MILLEN. - I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to submit through the post answers to questions put by members of the Senate.


– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable senator to proceed in that way.

Senator MILLEN. - I am not dealing with a specific question on the noticepaper, but with a new system which, apparently, has been introduced, and I wish to know whether honorable senators are to assume that a new method of answering questions submitted by them has been adopted.

Senator PEARCE:

– I have no proposal for a new method. I do not know what is in the honorable senator’s mind.

Senator Millen:

– It is in my hand, not in my mind.

Senator PEARCE:

– I suggest that if there is to be a change made, Ministers might themselves be let into the secret.

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The following papers were presented : -

Arsenal Committee - Extracts from Report upon Visit to India, 1915.

Cordite Factory - Extracts from AnnualReport of Manager -

For year ended 30th June, 1914.

For year ended 30th June, 1915.

Customs Act 1901-1914 -

Proclamations prohibiting exportation (ex cept under certain conditions) of -

Gold jewellery of a quality standard of 9 carat and over. (Dated 10th May, 1916.)

Fruit, fresh, dried, or preserved in any way, and nuts used as fruit, to all foreign countries in Europe and on the Mediterranean and Black Seas, other than France, Russia (except through Baltic ports),Italy, Spain, and Portugal. (Dated 10th May, 1916.)

Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 247.

Further Correspondence with the German Government respecting the incidents alleged to have attended the sinking of a German submarine and itscrew by His Majesty’s Auxiliary Cruiser Baralong on 19th August, 1915. - Paper presented to British Parliament.

Harness, Saddlery, and Leather Accoutrements Factory - Report -

For year ended 30th June, 1914.

For year ended 30th June, 1915.

Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - land acquired under, at Scone, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Naval Defence Act1910-1912 - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 78.

Public Service Act 1902-1915. - Promotions - Attorney-General’s Department - J. H. Moore.

Postmaster-General’s Department -

C. Francis.

A. Hart and J. Holman.

H. Houston.

Quarantine Act1908-1912 - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 190.

War Precautions Act1914-1915 - Regulations amended, &c. -

Statutory Rules 1916, No. 26.

Statutory Rules 1916, No. 63.

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Senator LYNCH:

– I ask the Assistant Minister, who is in charge of the wheat scheme, what are the prospects of the wheat growers getting their extra sixpence? Is the Minister impressed with the fact that the payment of that 6d. is vital to the putting in of a much larger area of wheat for the next season than: will otherwise be possible?

Senator RUSSELL. - I can assure the honorable senator that the prospects of the wheat growers securing the extra 6d. are first-class. The only difficulty is as to the time at which it can be paid, and on that point the only assurance I can give the honorable senator is that the Wheat Board will make the 6d. payable at the earliest possible moment, according to the condition of their funds.

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Appointmentsfrom Physical Training Staff - Saluting - Allotmentsof Pay

Senator NEEDHAM:

asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Was a recent decision given that a limited number of officers of the Physical Training Instructional Staff were to be given a chance to obtain appointments in the Australian Imperial Force?
  2. How many of these officers have been appointed to the Australian Imperial Force, and what was the procedure adopted in their selection?
  3. Will the Minister supply a list of the officers of the Physical Training Instructional Staff who have passed military examinations, are qualified, and have applied to go to the front, but have been passed over, and the reason or reasons for their non-selection?
  4. Could not a system be devised that all of the officers mentioned in 3 be given an opportunity toserve at the front, and yet not interfere with the continuance of the physical training work which they are at present doing ?

Senator PEARCE. - The answers are -

  1. Yes. 2. (a) Two officers have been appointed, and two others arc at present under consideration.

    1. The following were the instructions issued in regard to the appointment of officers of the Physical Training Instructional Staff to the Australian Imperial Force: -
    1. It has been decided to recommend for approval that a limited number of officers employed on the Physical Training Instructional Staff shall be given appointments in the Australian Imperial Force.
    2. Applications are to be invited by District Commandants from the officers of the Physical Training Instructional Staff under their command who are desirous of serving abroad, prior consideration being given to those officers who hold substantive commissions on the Unattached List, A.M.F.
    3. The applications, which should state fully the military qualifications of applicants, are to be submitted by District Commandants to their respective District Selection Committees for a recommendation.
    4. District Commandants will forward to Head-Quarters the applications of the officers recommended by the District Selection Committees, together with their own recommendation.

The final selection is made by the Ad j u tant-General .

  1. List of Officers of P.T.I. Staff who have passed military examinations in addition to the examinations required in their professional training as Officers of the Physical Training Staff, are qualified, and have applied to go to the front, but have not been approved: -

Military District.Rank and Name. Appointment. Reason for non-approval.

Head-Quarters. - MajorF. J. Alderson, Director and Chief Instructor. No other officer qualified and available to carry out his duties and act as the adviser to the Department on Physical Training. 1st Military District. - Lieut. A. G. Murray, Assistant Instructor. Not recommended by District Selection Committee in view of the fact that only a limited number of officers of the P.T.I. Staff was to be considered. 2nd Military District. - Lieut. W. H. Flynn, Assistant Instructor. No suitable vacancy existed. Not deemed by Selection Committee to have claim to appointment in preference to other waiting candidates who had better qualifications. Has not attended A.I.F. School. 2nd Military District. - Lieut. H. T. Woolley, Assistant Instructor. No suitable vacancy existed. Not deemed by Selection Committee to have claim to appointment in preference to other waiting candidates who had better qualifications. Has not attended A.I.F. School. 3rd Military District. - Lieut. E. K. Hatfield, Assistant Instructor. This officer is still serving his probationary period on the P.T.I. Staff, and it was considered desirable that he complete this period before being considered. 5th Military District. - Captain. J. F. Rogers, Instructor. No suitable vacancy to which this officer could at present be appointed. 5th Military District. - Lieut. H. S. Hatton, Assistant Instructor. This officer is still serving his probationary period on the P.T.I. Staff, and it was considered desirable that he complete this period before being considered. 6th Military District. - Lieut. C. R. Collins, Assistant Instructor. No local qualified instructor available to replace this officer.

The question of filling his place is still under consideration.

  1. Consideration will be given wherever possible to afford an opportunity to these officers to serve.

Senator McKISSOCK asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Does he not consider that the practice of saluting of officers by members of the Expeditionary Force of inferior rank is both irksome and vexatious, and expressive of servility?
  2. Will he issue instructions that, outside of military operations, encampments, &c., members of the Forces will not be required or expected to salute each other outside the duties and places aforesaid ?
  3. Is it a fact that the employees in the various Departments under his control have to either salute or take off their hats to visiting officers; and, if so, will he compel a discontinuanceof such custom ?

Senator PEARCE. - The answers are -

  1. No. Saluting is a practice adopted in all

European Armies, and has been proved by long experience to be an important factor in the attainment of discipline, without which an army is but a futile rabble. It is in no way expressive of servility, but is an acknowledgment of the authority vested in His Majesty’s Commission. The ‘personal element is entirely absent. It is as incumbent upon the officer to return the salute as upon the soldier to give it; and, further, saluting is. not confined to the rank and file, all officers being required to salute their seniors.

  1. No. Australian soldiers will be in constant touch with the Imperial and Allied Forces necessitating the maintenance of a principle of discipline common to all those armies.
  2. No. Saluting by soldiers in uniform is compulsory by regulation, but the raising of the hat by employees not in uniform is not compulsory.

Senator READY asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Is the Minister aware that complaints have reached Tasmania to the effect that the Staff Pay Officers in Egypt, in some instances, were not allowing soldiers to alter or amend their allotments of pay in favour of relations or friends?
  2. If so, will the Minister, if possible, endeavour to arrange that permission be given to any soldiers in France or Egypt to alter their allotments if they at any time wish ?

Senator PEARCE. - The answers are -

  1. Yea.
  2. Instructions were issued to the Officer Commanding, Australian Imperial Force, HeadQuarters, Cairo, that, if possible, arrangements were to bo made to remedy the cause of complaint.
Senator STORY:

asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the Minister for Home Affairs has issued instructions: That the plans, specifications, quantities, and estimates for the reconstruction of the Customs House, Sydney, be referred to Mr. W. B. Griffin forhis consideration? 2.Is th is action approved by the Cabinet?
  2. If so, is it intended that Mr. W. B. Griffin shall act as Director-General of Works for the Commonwealth in addition to his duties as Director of Design and Construction of the Federal Capital?

Senator PEARCE. - The answers are - 1 and 3. No; but the facts are that the Minister, not being satisfied that the proposed expenditure on the reconstruction of the Customs House, Sydney, and the plans thereof, had been sufficiently examined, asked Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Oakeshott, of the Department of Home Affairs, and Mr. Griffin, to have a conference on the matter; which after considerable delay took place on 21st and 22nd January, and again on 16th and 22nd February, with the result that the Department recommended and effected certain improvements and economics in the plans, the principal feature being the reduction of cost obtained by substituting timber construction for reinforced concrete.

No adequate specifications with itemized quantities for accurately estimating the cost were passed upon by the Public Works Committee

The PRESIDENT.- I call attention again to the fact that I have repeatedly ruled that, under the Standing Orders and the practice of Parliament, questions with or without notice are only permissible for the purpose of obtaining information, and that the answers are subject to exactly the same limitation, that is to say, they are limited to supplying the information asked for by the questions. The questions asked by Senator Story are plain and direct, and each could be answered by a plain “Yes” or “No.” I have allowed the Minister to proceed with his reply to the questions, up to a certain point. It must be admitted that the answer he has so far read more than adequately answers the questions put. But the answer proceeds to argue a contention with regard to something about which Senator Story did not ask for any information at all. Senator Story asked for no information as to the plans or estimates that were submitted to the Public Works Committee. The answer the Minister was proceeding to give enters upon a long explanation and reasons on this subject; and I have, therefore, to rule him out of order on that portion of the answer to the questions that have been put.

Senator PEARCE.- I think, sir, that the answer I have to the second question will conform to your ruling. It is -

The matter is one coming within the province of the Minister.

Senator STORY:

asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Upon what date was the Customs House, Sydney, vacated by the Customs and other Departments ?
  2. When was the work of reconstruction commenced ?
  3. What progress has been made with the work ?

Senator RUSSELL. - The answers are -

  1. All Departments with the exception of the Shipping Master were removed from the Customs House between last Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The Shipping Master is under State control, and is still in possession. 2 and 3. Demolition work was ordered on 17th February, 1916, and the demolition of the central wing and cleaning off and stacking of material therefrom has been completed. Reconstruction will be commenced as soon as the Public Works Committee have again reviewed the matter, which the Minister desires Parliament to re-submit to them owing to the huge difference between the estimate upon which they reported, viz., £29,000, and the now more closely calculated estimate of £51,481 7s. l1d.
Senator MULLAN:

asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -

Whether, in view of the fact that the Acting Prime Minister cabled to the Imperial Government expressing deep regret at the Irish Rebellion, and intimating that representative Irishmen here had denounced and repudiated it, he is now prepared to again cable to the Imperial Government informing them that the Irishmen to whom he referred in his former cable deeply deplore the hasty and wholesale execution of Irish revolutionaries, and regret that their countrymen are not receiving that clemency which was shown to the rebels in the recent South African revolt?

Senator PEARCE. - The answer is -

In view of the attitude of the Government of the United Kingdom on this question, as reported by cables appearing in the Australian press, and of the fact that the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, is now visiting Ireland to inquire into the whole matter, the Government think it inadvisable to send such a message at the present time.

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The following Bills were read a third time : -

Rules Publication Bill.

Acts Interpretation Bill.

Post and Telegraph Bill.

Commonwealth Public Service Bill.

Customs Bill (No. 2).

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Conductof Business.

Senator PEARCE:
Minister of Defence · Western Australia · ALP

– I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

I understand that an attempt will be made elsewhere to enable us to deal with the Appropriation Bill to-morrow. In the meantime, we must wait on another place, because, unfortunately, the most important Bills which the Government wish to pass - such as the War Pensions Bill, and War Profits Taxation Billare money Bills, and must originate there.

Senator MILLEN:
New South Wales

– If the Minister’s hopes with regard to the passage of the Budget to-night are not realized, will he urge the Government to re-adjust the business-paper of another place so that some of the other measures may be considered and passed, thus giving us business to deal with?

Senator LYNCH:
Western Australia

– I urge the Minister to make a special effort to see that the Senate has work to keep it occupied until 8 p.m. tomorrow. I warn him that I am anxious to move, and debate, the motion standing in my name in favour of changing the name of the Federal Capital to Anzac; and, if necessary, will occupy the whole of the day myself in order to create the opportunity.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 May 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.