6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1912.- Regulations amended. -Statutory Rules 1916, No.194.
Designs Act 1906-1912 and Patents, Trade Marks, and Designs Act 191415.Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 65.
Patents Act 1903-1909. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 45, 162.
Patents Act 1903-1909 and Patents, Trade Marks, and Designs Act1914-15. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 66.
Patents, Trade Marks, and Designs Act 1914- 1915. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 220, 221, 222.
Trade Marks Act 1905-1912 and Patents, Trade Marks, and Designs Act 1914-15. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 64.
War Census Act 1915. - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules1916, Nos. 14, 131.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer is - 1 and 2. No temporary clerks except those who are attested soldiers are issued with uniform. All clerks of the Ordnance Department who are attested are being provided with uniform.
asked the Minis ter for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
CASE OF R. J. HUGHES AND J. McCARTNEY.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral,upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Will the Minister call for a report showing the cost of removing the King Island Wireless Telegraph Station from its present position to the Post Office Reserve, Main-street, Currie, King Island?
– The reply furnished by the Minister for the Navy is “Yes.”
Disfranchisement of Citizens of Enemy Origin
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Is it his intention to disfranchise people of enemy origin who have one or more sons fighting with the A.I.F. at the front?
– All persons of enemy birth will be disqualified from voting at the forthcoming referendum under the provisions of the Referendum Bill mow before Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he cause inquiries to be made as re gards the number and amount of fines and penalties inflicted on soldiers in the Bendigo Military Camp since and during the appointment of Major Ebling and CaptainRoss as Officer Commanding and Adjutant respectively, and state how this compares with the same camp under previous officers?
– Yes. Inquiries are being made.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is the unimproved value of land as shown bysection XI. (b), Wealth Census Card, in -
– The information is not yet available, the compilation having to be temporarily suspended, in order that the staff should deal with the “ call to arms” appeal and matters arising, therefrom.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator Blakey) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing; -
The names of officers employed at District Head-Quarters and the various camps throughout Victoria who are not eligible for commissions in the Australian Imperial Force, either by being over age or by having obtained their commission since 1st January, 1915.
The total number of officers (excluding officers of the permanent Australian Imperial Force staff) employed at District Head-Quarters who have no war service.
The number of returned soldiers of equivalent rank who arc available for such duty.
Resignation of the Honorable F. G. Tudor.
I ask the permission of the Senate to make a statement.
– I desire to inform the Senate that the Honorable F. G. Tudor has resigned the portfolio of Minister of Trade and Customs. No other appointment has yet been made.
Public Service Clerical Association : Arbitration Award - Control of Patriotic Funds - War Precautions Act : Aliens - Division of Ministerial Duties - Pay of Instructional Officers - Commonwealth Ships : Control and Management - Tasmanian Steamer Service - Expeditionary Forces: Mail Service - Postage on Circulars - Country Newspapers - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway : Construction Work - Old-age and Invalid Pensions.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Honorable senators will notice that the consideration of this Bill is the only business that we have before us at present. It is desirable that we should be able to proceed with it immediately, sitting to-morrow, if necessary, and to enable us to do that we shall need to suspend the Standing and Sessional Orders.
– If the Bill goes through to-day, there will be no need to sit to-morrow ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
I shall deal with the details of the Bill itself on the motion for its second reading. But I wish to correct a statement that I made just now. I said that if the Bill was not dealt with to-day, we could sit to-morrow, but I believe that it requires to be passed to-day, as payments are due under it.
– Some few days ago, when the Minister of Defence was laying papers on the table of the Senate, I was under the impression that an award, a copy of which I had received, had not then been presented to this Chamber. On inquiry from the Clerk, however, I learned that the award in question had been laid on the table of the Senate on the last day that it had previously met. Upon reading that award it struck me that it contained something which was not in accordance with the principle which has been laid down by the Labour party in connexion with wages paid for services rendered. The award in question was given by the Deputy-President of the Arbitration Court, Mr. Justice Powers, in the case brought before him by the Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association. I have always understood that the policy of the Labour party, and. indeed, of this country, is that the wages paid to any individual should bo proportionate to the value of the services rendered by him. In the present instance, however, that policy has been departed from, inasmuch’ as regard has been paid to the conjugal conditions of members of this organization. Hitherto a man or woman has been paid the salary that is attached to the office which he or she fills, quite apart from any other consideration. But, apparently, there is a number of persons who believe that they can influence our marriage statistics by imposing disadvantageous conditions so far as the employment of single men is concerned. I desire to read the comments of His Honour upon this matter. Upon page 30 of the award he says : -
The only reason given by the respondents for fixing a lower wage than that fixed by the Arbitration Courts as a living wage for a labourer - and one which must have weighed with all the State Governments - is that clerks do not usually marry before 23, and at 23 they receive, generally, more than the living wage fixed by this Court for a married man and his family of two or three children, and they continue to receive automatic increases until they reach £180 a year.
That is, the adult minimum wage far clerks is fixed on the basis of single men, and before they marry they are, as a general rule, receiving the adult wage claimed - £156.
In support of this contention evidence was tendered showing how few men marry at 21, and that the majority are single now until they reach 29 years of age. After that age the married men are in the majority.
It must be admitted that £126 (paid to all clerks who enter the service, after they attain 21 years of age) is sufficient to keep a clerk, while single, in reasonable comfort, and allow him to make some provision for marrying, especially as his salary increases each year until he does marry; but as some clerks do marry before they receive £156 a year, and as I do not think any clerk if married, considering the value of the work he does after four years’ service, ought to be required, during these days of abnormal prices daring the war, to live on less than £150 a year, I propose to provide that until this award is amended an officer in the fifth class, if married, shall receive such an addition to his salary as will make his total remuneration equal to £150 a year. Since coming to the conclusion that some special provision should be made for married men, I note that, in West Australia, clerks in the fifth class, if married, are paid more than single men. In New Zealand a difference is also made.
I propose to fix the adult wage for fifth class officers, single men, at £126, and for fifth class married officers at £150.
I think this is the first time that a principle of that kind has been introduced in an industrial award. Thinking it was wrong, I made inquiries from the responsible officers, and found that, so far as the fifth class is concerned, a young man enters the Service at 18; when he reaches 21 he has to be paid a minimum wage of £126 per annum; the following year, according to the award, £138; and next year, unless exception is taken by the officers or by the Public Service Commissioner, £156 a year. That is his minimum wage at the age of £3, because these are practically annual increments. The terms of the award are -
Officers in the fifth class, clerical division;at whatever age they enter the service, when they shall have attained the age of 21 years, shall, if single, be paid a salary of not less than
Officers in the fifth class, clerical division, after they attain the age of 21, shall, if married, be paid a salary of not less than £150 per annum. Every officer in the clerical division, fifth class, shall be advanced after twelve months to the next higher subdivision - provided that such advancement has beenapproved by the Commissioner upon report from the Permanent Head or Chief Officer, as to conduct, diligence, and general efficiency of the officer.
Provided that every officer who enters the service after 18 years of age, and who shall receive the salary of £126 a year solely because he is 21 years of age, or the salary of £150 solely because he is over 21 years of age and married, shall only be advanced (if entitled to increments) to the next higher subdivision eachyear after having received £126 or £150, as the case may be, for twelve months, until he receives £156 a year. No further advancement shall be granted until he would, in the ordinary course as an efficient officer, have become entitled to more than £156 a year if he had advanced through the subdivisions of class 5 and had remained unmarried. This condition is without prejudice to his promotion at any time for special efficiency, good conduct, and diligence.
The salary of £126 or £150, as the case may be, shall be payable from the first day of the month succeeding the date upon which an officer attains the age of 21 years or marries. Provided, however, that where an officer marries while in receipt of £138 per annum, he shall be advanced to £156 twelve months after he has received £138.
I object to this method of dealing with the labour question. There seems to be a desire in many quarters to penalize the man who does not see fit to marry. Comparatively few of us were married at twenty-one, and I protest against the idea often expressed in the newspapers and elsewhere, that people marry for the good of their country. A man marries because he meets the woman who, he believes, is his right mate. He has no thought of doing good for the country by breeding further individuals for the community. He and the woman marry practically because it suits them. A young man who enters the Public Service is entitled to £126 a year when he reaches twenty-one, but if he marries on the day after he is entitled to £150 straightaway.
– Do you not think he needs it?
– That is not the question. In all probability he does, but the real test is the value of the work done, and not a man’s conjugal state. The award seems to represent an endeavour to induce or force men to marry for the sake of a certain amount of pecuniary reward. If the principle is to be applied to outside employers, as well as to the State, it will be curious to see how it acts. It appears at first sight to offer a premium on marriage, but what chance will a married man have of getting work if he has to be paid ahigher wage than a single man doing the same amount of work ? A single man who does the same amount of work as a married man is entitled to the same wage. Many people advocate extra taxation on single men, and Dr. Arthur recently advocated the collection of a tax from all single men, and all married people with one or two children, so as to hand over the proceeds to people with four or five. It is not long since there was an agitation in the press for the special taxation of single men. Why not call things by their right names? The principle practically amounts to a special reduction of wages for single men, and really offers no inducement to a single man to marry unless he meets the right woman. This is not the time to penalize a man because he does not see fit to marry. What is the position today? In connexion with the recruiting movement do we not see, in the columns of the daily press, appeals to the single men to take their share in defending the community, because single men have not others dependent upon them as is the case with married men? If, then, we are asking the single men to step into the breach in this way, is there any reason why an award should be made stating, in effect, that a man who is not married shall not receive the same value for the labour which he gives in connexion with any industry as the married man ? It seems to me that the principle is wrong. I understood, and, I think, other members of the Senate understood, that, when this legislation was being passed, Parliament would be afforded an opportunity of saying whether an award under this Act should be put into force or not. At all events, that was my impression until I made an inquiry, and found that, according to the departmental view, the position was otherwise. The Act was passed in 1911, and I find, upon perusing the measure, that Parliament has no power, except at the instigation of the Attorney-General, to deal with this matter at all. Sections 14 and 15 of the Act are as follows : - 14. (1) Every award made under this Act shall be expressed not to come into operation until a future date, not earlier than after the expiration of thirty days after the award has been laid before both Houses of Parliament.
This award was brought down without any message from the Prime Minister, or any special opinion from the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court. It was laid on the table on the last day of sitting prior to the adjournment. That was considerably more than thirty days ago, but the Act does not specify thirty sitting days. It merely states that an award shall come into force thirty days after it has been laid on the table, unless Parliament, by resolution, orders otherwise. I know that is the view of the Department, because the Public Service Commissioner told me that the award was in force now. While it may not affect a great many, the principle, in my opinion, is wrong.
– Then the principle of the income tax is wrong also in its relation to the exemption for children.
– Under the income tax the object of exemption is to relieve to some extent the married man with children, but this principle will interfere with industry. Would the honorable senator have two deck hands on a vessel, one getting £8 per month, because he was a married man, and the other only £6 a month because he was single ? I am sure he would be one of the first to object to it on principle.
– If the married man had a bonus, I would not.
– The honorable senator must remember that the single men of today are the married men of to-morrow.
– But the principle is wrong, because, if it is allowed in connexion with an industrial award in relation to a public Department, it is possible that it will be extended to outside employment, and thus it might prevent a married man from getting employment, because an employer might be obliged to pay him a higher wage than to a single man for similar work. I have brought this matter up now because it is the only method by which I can place before the Senate my views on this question. It is the first time that I have found a distinction of this kind made in connexion with an industrial award, and I think it only right that I should protest against the principle because of its probable future effect in other employment.
– I recognise that the matter calls for some reply. The complaint refers to a judgment of the Arbitration Court, and not to a declaration of policy by the Government.
– Certainly not.
– I point out that the Court is not guided in its judgment by the policy of the Government, which is set out in the Act upon which the Court adjudicates. If Parliament, or the Government, desired to adopt a certain line of policy as to a principle to be laid down in a judgment of the Court, that policy must be clearly set out in the Act itself. While it may serve a useful purpose to refer to the position, I point out fiat the authority of the Government can only be exercised after the Court has given judgment. If the Attorney-General certifies - in respect to these Public Service cases - that there is nothing in that judgment to conflict with any law of the Commonwealth, the judgment is laid on the table, and it comes into force unless Parliament takes certain action to prevent it. So that it seems to me the only course for the honorable senator, and those who think with him, to take is to wait until an amendment of the Arbitration Act is brought forward, and if they then think an instruction should be issued to the Court dealing with these matters, to see that their point of view is clearly set out, and that the Court must make its judgment within the lines laid down.
– But if no one protests, the Court will take no notice.
– I doubt whether the Court would take any notice of any protest in Parliament. The only effective way Parliament can deal with the Court is by an Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In doing this, may I point out that the Bill is to grant Supply for the term of three months, the sum involved being £5,023,580, which will carry the Government to the end of November ? Included in the Bill is the sum of £1,100,000 advance to the Treasurer. That is a very large amount, but all the details will have to come before Parliament subsequently for authorization. The money is required for the East-West railway, Post Office sites and conduits, building in London, and the Fine Creek to Katherine River railway. These items involve the sum of £600,000, and though the various works have already been approved by Parliament, the specific amounts of cost have not hitherto been voted. Another amount of £100,000 is really a bookkeeping entry - a payment for foodstuffs for the Governments of India and South Africa, which will subsequently be recovered from those Governments. Just here may I say that one result of the war has been the opening up of a very profitable trade in foodstuffs between Australia and South Africa and India, and it is somewhat regrettable that the scarcity of dairy cattle, and other circumstances, have prevented the Commonwealth from carrying on this trade to a considerably greater extent than has been possible.
– What are the goods ?
– A variety of goods - flour, bacon, cheese, &c.
– So far as bacon. and hams are concerned, I know the proclamation of the Government preventing exports for a considerable time almost wiped out that trade.
– The requests of the Governments of India and South Africa were promptly sent on to the various State Governments, and, as far as they possibly could the Commonwealth Government have tried to facilitate trade. There have been certain trading prohibitions, but they were with the object of protecting the people of Australia. For instance, in respect to the export of butter, it is a fact that prohibition was applied, but that was not until the discovery was made that there were only ten days’ supply of butter in Australia. Some States had surpluses, but some had none, and the Government stepped in and prohibited export, lest a scarcity should be created and prices sent up unnecessarily. The Bill also provides for the cost of the referendum, which it is anticipated will involve from £60,000 to £80,000. This sum is also ineluded in the Treasurer’s Advance, and the balance is to provide for unforeseen requirements. A sum of £399,660 is provided for the universal training of the Citizen Forces. This was not carried out last year, but it is being carried out this. Then £300,000 is provided for the trading vessels which the Commonwealth are now Tunning - both the vessels that have been purchased and also the interned German vessels that are being used for trading purposes. The sum includes payments for coal, stores, wharfage, light dues, stevedoring, freight, &c, sums that up to now were paid by the agents in foreign countries out of the freight. In order to adjust accounts, however, it is now necessary to provide for the expenditure in the ordinary way. These are the principal items in the Bill, which otherwise is based on the normal estimates of 1915-16.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
– I should like to know whether the Minister for Defence, or the Government as a whole, have given any consideration to the necessity for Federal control of the various war funds to which the people of Australia have been, and are still, contributing. I do not need to enumerate the different patriotic bodies that are in existence. All no doubt have very laudable purposes to serve, and I am sure that the ladies and gentlemen in charge of the various funds are doing their very best to see that the money so freely contributed by the public shall be spent in the right direction. There is, however, a danger that there are too many controlling the various funds, and that there is overlapping of the efforts of those in charge of them. I think there should be concentration, and that in conjunction with the State Governments, State War Councils, and Patriotic Committees, the Federal Government should take steps to see that every penny contributed by the people to these various funds is spent in a proper way. I shall not elaborate the suggestion, but remind the Minister for Defence that the consensus of opinion in Australia at the present time is that there should be some central body appointed to control these patriotic funds. Another matter to which I desire to direct attention is an alteration which has been made in the regulations under the War Precautions Act. Statutory Rule No. 216, issued on 6th September, 1916, deals with the exemption of aliens .from the regulations, and from it I quote the following -
War Precautions, Aliens Regulation 1616, additions and amendments.
Section 11. The following aliens shall he exempt from the provisions of these regulations: -
All Consuls representing any foreign country, and their stall’s, in so far as the staffs comprise persons who have been sent by the Government of a foreign country for employment upon the staff of the Consulate, and their wives.
All aliens exempted by the Minister or
Secretary or Acting Secretary of the Department of Defence.
It is to paragraph b that I take exception, and I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to what it contains. I do not object to the Minister for Defence having the right to exempt aliens under these regulations, but I do decidedly object to any civil servant having such a power delegated to him.
– Without the consent of the Minister.
– The paragraph to which I take exception does not require the consent of the Minister to enable the Secretary or Acting Secretary of the Department of Defence to act in this matter. It gives a civil servant the same power that a Minister of the Crown may exercise. There may be reasons for this which the Minister for Defence will probably give in reply to this debate, but those reasons must be very strong to induce me to confer upon a civil servant the same power which this Parliament confers upon a Minister of the Crown. The Minister is responsible to this Parliament directly, the civil servant is not. In raising this question, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not reflect in any way on the gentleman who at the present time occupies the position of Acting Secretary of Defence at Military Head-quarters in Melbourne. I recognise in him a very valuable officer. Whilst I have confidence in his ability, I am not prepared, in accordance with the wording of this regulation, to vest in him the same power that Parliament vests in a Minister of the Crown. I want to know the reason for this regulation. We are today at war, and the alien question is a very important and very grave one. We are endeavouring so far as we can by legislation and regulation to safeguard ourselves against any system of espionage that might result from the residence amongst us of persons of alien birth, extraction, or sympathy. We have rightly invested the National Government with certain powers to protect us from the enemies within our gates. With that I am in entire accord, but I cannot agree with a regulation, which not only delegates the authority of a Minister of the Crown to a civil servant, because that would require the permission of the Minister before action by the civil servant, but which gives the civil servant the same power as Parliament has conferred upon the Minister. I should like to have some statement from the Minister for Defence regarding the necessity for this particular amendment of these regulations. The paragraph to which I have taken exception amends a regulation issued three months previously on the 28th July, 1916. There is no mention in section11 of that regulation of any power being given to a civil servantto exercise the same authority as a Minister of the Crown. If honorable senators will compare the statutory rules they will find that a drastic alteration of the previous rule is contained in paragraph b of the regulation to which I am referring -
All aliens exempted by the Minister or Secretary or Acting Secretary of the Department of Defence, and the master and crew of any public vessel of any Government.
There would not be so much objection if the paragraph read, “ All aliens exempted by the Minister and Secretary, &c.”
– That would be worse, because in that case the Minister could not act without the Secretary. Does the honorable senator know what this is all about ?
– That is what I wish to know.
– If the honorable senator knew what it is about, he would not waste time over it. It deals with the changing of an address.
– I think that in this connexion a reference to wasting time should not be made.
– I mean that the honorable senator is wasting his own time.
– My time is at the service of the public, just as is that of th Minister for Defence. If this regulation gives a civil servant the same power as the Minister himself possesses, we ought to know the reason for it. Of what use is it to have Ministers of the Crown if civil servants may exercise their authority? The Minister for Defence has suggested that it is wasting time to discuss this matter; hut if we do not ask the reason for these regulations we shall remain in the dark. I want to know if the Secretary for Defence, Mr. Trumble, may exercise full powers of exemption under this regulation in the same way as Minister for Defence?
– Yes, he can in this connexion.
– Not in every connexion ?
– Then if I have served no other purpose, I have at least enabled the Committee to hear a statement from the Minister for Defence as to what the regulation to which I have referred exactly means.
– With reference to the first matter mentioned by Senator Needham concerning the control of war funds, there has recently been issued, under the War Precautions Act, a regulation which stipulates that no new fund shall be originated in any of the States without the consent of the State War Council.
– It is a pity that such a regulation was not issued earlier.
– Probably it would have been well if such action had been taken earlier. At any rate, it has been taken now, and this will regulate the commencement of new funds and new collections for existing funds, and will prevent abuses in this way. The other question raised by Senator Needham as to the control of the expenditure of these fluids is one of very great importance. Senator Needham has spoken of a central body, and I do not know whether he refers to a central body established in Melbourne, or such a body in each State.
– A joint committee.
– I do not think that a. central body is required so much as a definition by law or regulation as to how the funds shall be controlled and spent, and their expenditure accounted for. The Repatriation Fund is, so far, the only fund regulated by Federal law. It is controlled by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Federal Government. In my opinion, the time has come when similar action will have to be taken by the States or the Commonwealth in regard to all other war funds. The Commonwealth Government have not been idle in the matter, but it has to he remembered that the objects for which these funds have been created differ in the various States. People have contributed to the various funds with specific objects, and on the understanding that the money would be used to promote those objects. No Government should attempt, without very serious consideration, to legislate to divert these funds to objects other than those for which they were created. Recognising that, the ‘ Government endeavoured to get the various State Governments, which are more closely in touch with the local funds, and, above all. with the local circumstances, to introduce legislation in respect of those funds. Some of the States have already done this. I believe that Queensland and Western Australia have done so.
– I want to see the money spent upon the purposes for which it was intended to be spent.
– I think that several other States have the matter under consideration at the present time. I quite agree with Senator Needham that there is a necessity for legislation in respect of all those funds. Personally, I think it is desirable that there should be State legislation in respect of funds which have been raised locally. On the other hand, the Repatriation Fund, being a national fund, should be dealt with by Federal legislation. I can assure Senator Needham that the Government do not intend to lose sight of this matter, but propose to see if we cannot arrive at an understanding with the State Governments in respect of it. In regard to the other question raised by the honorable senator, I can assure him that he need have no fear that the proposal he has been discussing will have the effect of causing the reins of government to pass from the elect of the people. But the time is ripe, and rotten ripe, for divesting Ministers of many functions, and of vesting those functions in the permanent heads of the Departments, that is, if Ministers are to cope with the work of their Departments. I have referred te this matter previously. Take, for example, the Department with which I am associated, even in peace time. Prior to Federation there were six Defence Departments, one in each State, with a Minister presiding over each of them. Under that system a Minister had ample time to sign every document. He could dot the “ i’s “ and cross the “ t’s “ in every one of them. But with the advent of Federation, those six Departments became one. At the same time we inherited the departmental system which had previously been followed, and now that the Department has grown, the Minister has to stagger along with all this detail work on his shoulders, in a fruitless endeavour to do what could easily be done under the old regime. To continue that system to-day is absolutely impossible. Do honorable senators - think that Ministers in Great Britain have all these matters of detail brought before them ? The objection to the existing system is that it makes the Minister of a Department the mere slave of detail. If he has to spend the whole of his time, apart from the period devoted to sleep, in attending to mere matters of detail, he will never have an opportunity to consider questions of policy. Coming to the particular question referred to by Senator Needham, I wish to say that the regulation which he quoted referred toprior regulations. In the Statutory Rules published in July, 1916, the Alien Registration Regulations are set out in detail. I may be permitted to explain that in some portions of the Commonwealth there are a large number of aliens, and it was deemed desirable that we should have power to register them and to keep track of their movements throughout the Commonwealth. As those regulations were originally enforced, before an alien who had registered could change his address he had to secure the consent of the Minister. Fancy effect being given to a regulation of that sort ! If an alien who had registered desired to change his residence from Ballarat to Bendigo he had first to obtain the consent of the Minister. The thing inevitably broke down of its own weight.
– Why not put the required provision in the regulations ?
– It is in the regulations.
– It is not expressed in plain language.
– The honorable senator did not look up the original regulation - No. 9.
– The same remark would apply to a private member as applies to the Minister. If a private member had to read all the regulations which are published he would have no time to do anything else.
– Exactly . Now it is proposed that the Secretary of the Department, or the Minister, shall be vested with power to allow an alien to change his address. I do not think that the honorable senator, now that the position has been explained, need have any apprehension that a public servant is to be vested with undue power.
.- The Minister having dealt with this matter, I apprehend to the entire satisfaction of Senator Needham, I wish to refer to a question which falls under the head of “Pay, £12,000.” This is not the first occasion on which I have called attention to what I regard as a very grave injustice to an important section of our permanent Military Forces. I refer to the sweated wage that is being paid to the sergeant-majors of the Instructional Staff by the Defence Department^ Honorable senators have merely to recollect that a. corporal who lias only been in training for five or six weeks at the most, receives a much higher wage than do the sergeant-majors from whom he has gained most of his knowledge, to be seized with the palpable unfairness of the existing position. To-day, the time of sergeant-majors is spent in instructing not only non-commissioned officers, but those who are qualifying for commissions. Yet these sergeant-majors are receiving no higher pay than they received previously. Any young man with a good education will experience very little difficulty in securing a commission after three months’ work. Upon receipt of his commission he receives something like 17s. 6d. per day, and on embarking for active service he is paid £1 ls. per day, or more than twice as much as is received by the sergeant-majors from whom he obtained the greater part of his instruction. I have called attention to this very unjust state of affairs because it urgently demands a remedy. These sergeantmajors work all hours without complaint, and are thoroughly devoted to their duties. But surely it is high time, in view of the splendid work which they have done, and. are doing, that they received a rate of remuneration at least equal to that of a corporal on active service. It is a disgrace to the Defence Department that they should not be getting the pay to which their splendid services entitle them. I have no desire to mention any names in connexion with my protest. No matter what State one may visit he will find that these men are receiving the same scant consideration. I wish to say - and I do not wish my statement to be interpreted as a threat - that if these sergeant-majors do not speedily receive thejust measure of recognition to which they are entitled, I shall ask the Senate to express its opinion on the matter in such a way that the Government cannot longer refuse to take action.
– I think that Senator Long was one of the gentlemen who made representations to me in regard to the pay of sergeant-majors who are placed in the camps of the Australian Imperial Force. It must be remembered that there are two classes of duty performed by sergeant-majors now. In the first place, there are those who are associated with the training of our Citizen Forces. They are located in districts, and I need scarcely remind honorable senators that that training is not continuous. These sergeant-majors have to train our Senior Cadets, and also to be associated with the annual training of our Citizen Forces. They are not on duty every day in the week. They are not on duty on Sunday. The training’ of the cadets is generally carried out at night with a half-day’s drill, and sometimes a whole day’s drill on Saturday. Of course, when our Citizen Forces go into camp the staff sergeant-majors are required to go with them. It will be seen, therefore, that in connexion with our home training the staff sergeant-majors are not constantly employed. But, of course, when our Citizen Forces go into camp these officers are on duty so long as the camp lasts. In other words, they are on duty seven days a week. Then, in the Australian Imperial Force camps, a large number of staff sergeant-majors are employed. These men are put to additional expense owing to their presence in such camps, and acting on the promise which I made in reply to representations some time ago, I have looked into this matter, with the result that a special allowance has been made to these officers to cover the extra expense to which they are subjected whilst they are absent from home. Honorable senators will understand that when a staff sergeant-major has been detailed for duty within a certain area, he establishes his home there, and naturally he is put to additional expense when he is taken away from that home, and placed in one of our Australian Imperial Force camps. The allowance lias been fixed on a fairly generous scale-
– One shilling and fivepence per day.
– But the honorable senator must recollect that in addition to that, a sergeant-major enjoys a special allowance which brings his pay much above that received by a corporal. My recollection is that a corporal receives 9s. per dayfor seven days weekly, or £3 3s. per week. Now, the pay of a sergeantmajor is £156 yearly, exclusive of allowances. With the allowance which he receives in an Australian Imperial Force camp, his pay is certainly much higher than is that of a corporal.
– Does the sergeantmajorprovide his own mess?
– He is given a messing allowance in addition to the special allowance I spoke of. It is pleasant to distribute largess and raise salaries and wages, and unpleasant to have to reduce them ; but I cannot see my way at present to recommend the Government to increase the amounts above what we are paying. I think that what we have done in the way of a special allowance for the men in the Australian Imperial Forces camps is a fair thing. We hope those camps will not be everlasting, but, in view of the burden the country is now carrying, I do not feel justified in recommending the Government to go any further. I do not know whether Senator Long was informed of what was done, but I fancy it was communicated to him, and I should like him to consider whether the matter could not be allowed to remain where it is, at any rate for the present.
.- I and other members of the Senate would be glad to know the intentions of the Government as to the immediate disposition of the fleet of ships recently bought by the Commonwealth. Will the responsible Minister state whether it is intended to utilize them solely in the international trade, or to put some of them in the Inter-State trade? I am more especially concerned in ascertaining how many, if any, are likely to be placed on the route between Australia and Tasmania.
– They are unsuitable for passengers.
– They are much more suitable for passengers than are a number of those now .in that trade. I would much prefer to travel on one of them than on the Noah’s Ark known as the Rotomahana. The people of Tasmania are anxious that something should be done at once to relieve them from the grip of the shipping combine now operating between that island and the mainland. ‘
– Let us buy a few more passenger ships. ,
– That would be only giving effect to the compact which the Labour party entered into at the 1914 elections. The purchase of the Commonwealth line of steamers has, in a measure, redeemed the promise given at the time, but has not done so completely. Necessary as it is to link the east with the west by a line of railway, it is equally a Federal obligation to link up Tasmania with the mainland by a Commonwealthowned lino of steamers.
– You are not overlooking ex-Senator Clemons’ legacy - the mail contract 1
– No; but no matter how stupid was the conduct of ex-Senator Clemons in that connexion, I have sufficient confidence in the present’ Government to expect them to get us out of it. The people of Tasmania have suffered long enough, and we shall be glad if the Minister will state definitely whether it is the intention of the Government to place at least two of these ships on that trade immediately, or, if not immediately, how soon.
– Is it intended that the ships should be worked entirely by the Commonwealth when they arrive? Is a Shipping Department to be established, and will the Commonwealth do its own agency business, or hand it over to a private firm or firms? I do not want to see a repetition of the wheat chartering business in this case. The Commonwealth should be its own agent, and transact the whole of its own business, and not hand the vessels over to any private firm, no matter how well Known or reputable.
.- Tasmania’s unfortunate position in this matter is entirely due to the fact that the previous Administration, in the teeth of the opposition of the majority of the members of the Senate, handed Tasmania over to the hands of the Union Steamship Company and Huddart Parker and Company Dy giving them a mail contract which will last for another six years at least. It may last longer, because the contract which ex-Senator Clemons signed provides that a new boat equal to the Loongana shall be put on, and that the new contract shall last for another five years from the day that that new ship takes up the running. As it is now laid up in England, about seven-eighths completed, it may be another two years before it arrives, so that the contract may have another seven years to run. I, as a representative of Tasmania, have, therefore, without success, racked my brains to find a way which can be logically and fairly recommended to the Government to get out of the difficulty remaining to us as a legacy of the blunders of the last Administration.
We have a large and important produce and fruit trade at one season of the year, and it would help us considerably if the Minister for the Navy could see his way clear to put a boat, not necessarily one of the new ships, but one of the many now under the control of the Navy Department, on to the Sydney-Launceston or SydneyHobart trade for certain months of the year. That would be a real and tangible help to our State, and the producers of our splendid fruits; and while not in the same category as providing us with a new mail and passenger service, it would at least help our primary producers, and be of great assistance to two or three States. I believe a member of my own party is approaching the State Government to do something in this regard, and that if the Minister for the Navy would provide the ship, an arrangement Wl Ofl the State Government would be possible by which the service could be inaugurated in the coming fruit season.
.- Tasmanian people are deeply interested in the action of the Government in acquiring steamers, and in most quarters there there is nothing but commendation for what the Government ‘has done in that regard, but I doubt if any of the steamers recently acquired would be of much value for a direct passenger service wilh the mainland. 1 understand that they are rather slow.
– They are quite fast enough for Tasmania.
– We have the fastest boat in the Commonwealth on that trade now, but it is not fast enough. We are dissatisfied, not with the vessel, but with the conditions. Senator Ready might well have said that we are in the hands of one company, because the two companies he mentioned run as one, and I do not know that they are not one except in name. The previous Labour Government had as part of its policy the establishment of a Commonwealth-owned steamship service between Tasmania and the mainland, a proposal which met with approval from one end of our State to the other, and to which effect would undoubtedly have been given if that Government had remained in power. Every one in Tasmania, except a very few, deeply regrets the condition in which we find ourselves to-day - tied up with a contract foi- five years after the new boat referred to by Senator Ready reaches Australia. It may not be here for two years, or even ten years. So long as the war lasts it is probable the boat will remain on the stocks, and yet the contract will continue for five years after it arrives in Australia. It is a monstrous contract. I doubt if any members of this Chamber, or of the other House, were aware of its terms, otherwise they would not have indorsed it. I thoroughly agree with all that has been said by Senators Long and Ready in connexion with the steam-ship service, and I sincerely hope that the Government ships will be used to the best advantage. I also agree with Senator Newland that we should establish our own agencies, and not employ agents who perhaps may not be in sympathy with this new national industry. The success of this concern will very largely depend upon sympathetic management, and if in this connexion we have agencies that prove to be unsympathetic, possibly the venture will end in disaster. I hope, therefore, that before Ions we shall have our own agencies established in the various ports in Australia, as well as in England and elsewhere.
– I desire to express my sympathy with the representatives from Tasmania concerning the steamer service to that. State, and I hope there will soon be a considerable improvement in the arrangements. For many months I have had control of the Commonwealth Shipping Department, and I am sure that if I could only get certain boats off the Tasmanian trade, and run them elsewhere, I should be heartily cheered in many quarters. I regret to say that unsatisfactory to Tasmania as is the service, it is quite as good as, if not “better than, the service to most of the other States. Now I want to point out that if the ships purchased by the Commonwealth’ Government were placed in the coastal trade, they would be doing work at rates which are fixed by the Government, and to use a colloquialism, they would net pay axle-grease. The Government intend to use those vessels to the best commercial advantage. There is no reason why we should place them at the disposal of wheat kings, wool kings, metal kings, or any other kings of commerce at cheap rates. We intend to ask for these vessels the same freights and fares as are charged by the private companies, and not to burden the general taxpayer in order to provide cheap freights for private enterprise. The fleet will be directly controlled by the Prime Minister’s Department, and as Assistant Minister I have been asked to take charge. The fear expressed by honorable senators concerning the agencies is, I think, largely a bogy, because the whole of the shi,ps will be controlled from the Commonwealth offices in Australia, and our main London office. The agents will have nothing whatever to do with the management, but they will be called upon to do certain work of a formal character at the different ports under Government direction. The payment of Customs duties, provisioning of the ships, coaling, and .such services, will be undertaken by the Department. So far as possible they will be worked in connexion with the Navy Department, and joint contracts for the larger services will be entered into, and, so far as .practicable, repairs will be undertaken at the Naval Dockyards.
– Who will look for freights here or overseas?
– The agents will have nothing whatever to do with that matter. The freights outward will be looked after by the Commonwealth officers in London, and freights from this end will be directly controlled by me.
The fifteen ships appear to be a large fleet, and the venture is really a splendid thing .for Australia, but at present it would not be advisable to establish Commonwealth agencies at coastal ports.
– Could not this work be done through the Customs Department ?
– lt might be possible to do that. The present arrangement is only a temporary one. It was a big undertaking to organize a new Commonwealth Department, and finality has not yet been reached in regard to details, except that the policy will be to run the ships on the best commercial principles. We shall not want any cargo agents in Australia, because all the cargo is waiting, and, therefore, no commission will be paid in respect to freights obtained from this end. I believe, as a result of this, that we shall be able to work our vessels more cheaply than any private company in Australia. I hope the day is not far distant when the fleet will be considerably increased, and when, as a result of that, there will be direct control at the larger ports. The policy has not yet been developed, and I ask honorable senators to be patient for a little while until we have an opportunity of having a Commonwealth-controlled line, even including constructional work.
.- Some time ago a good deal of dissatisfaction was expressed concerning the carriage of mails and the delivery of letters to our soldiers at the front or in Egypt. I should like to know from the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if the complaints are as numerous to-day as they were, or if some improvement has been effected. I mention this because I had a complaint which I referred to the Minister to-day. This was in relation to a young man in Egypt. His parents had written, on an average, eight letters a month, and for six months he did not receive one.
– The complaint referred to by Senator Guy is one that really requires immediate investigation, and the necessary inquiries are now being made. With large numbers of men overseas, it is only to be expected that letters, addressed by people who perhaps are not acquainted with the correct method, should go astray. In one case a m,other made a complaint that her son had not received a letter for six months, but upon investigation it was found that he had been appointed an officer’s orderly, and, although our troops were in Egypt, he had travelled extensively through Europe with the officer. Therefore, it would have been almost impossible in any circumstances for his letters to catch up to him. I am aware that there have been many complaints, but honorable senators will agree that during the last six months the Postal Department has re-organized the service, and placed it on a more satisfactory basis. We are always prepared to listen to genuine complaints, and, if possible, to remedy them.
– I invite the attention of the Minister * representing the PostmasterGeneral to what appears to be a new and unwarranted interference with those who issue a considerable number of circulars for the purpose of convening meetings or conferences. Hitherto it has been permissible for a person to issue circulars at the rate of fd. for twenty, providing they were taken to the Post Office and tied up, but it appears that the Department has discontinued this practice, at least so far as some people are concerned, and, as it interferes with the advocacy of taxation of land values, I want to read portion of a letter which I have received from Mr. A. Q. Huie, secretary of that organization. It is as follows: -
Would you be so good as to see the Honorable the Postmaster-General with reference toil serious restriction recently imposed upon the public by the Sydney General Post Office. Our latest disability, and there arc ;i number, isthe action of the postal authorities in insisting upon “ letter rate “ for circulars. For many years we have been able to send out communications of a general character if left open and marked “ 20 posted “ at the Jd. rate. The Department now pretends that such matter is “ personal,” and must pay ordinary letter rate.
Suppose a public meeting is being arranged, and a circular is drawn up for the purpose of notifying, say, 100 people about it. It is in letter form, all typed and in identical terms. Hitherto such matter went at Jd. ; now it is pretended that it is a” “ personal communication,” and Id. demanded.
Or, say, a deputation is waiting upon a Federal or State Minister. The promotors send round a typed reminder, say, any number from 20 to 100. Hitherto such a general communication went for Jd. ; now it is regarded as a “ personal communication,” and Id. required, as in the case of an ordinary inclosed letter, which is a ootid fide personal communication to a single individual.
Or, again, say that you, in the discharge of your public duties, desire to send a letter, all typed and in identical terms, not personally signed, dealing with a public question, to a number (twenty or more) country papers. You send it as a letter “ to the editor.” Such a letter is in no sense personal; it is for the public, and being addressed “ to the editor “ is a matter of form. Yet such matter is now classed as a “ personal communication,” and letter rate demanded. I am at a loss why such an extraordinary pretence should be set up.
I was at a loss to understand why the Department should insist upon this, and, in reply to a further communication, Mr. Huie wrote -
You ask if the whole of the circular is typed, including the name of the writer. Yes, every letter typed. In fact, I think if it were even all printed it would make no difference.
This is a matter that not only affects Mr. Huie but a very large number of electors, who for years have been able to send out twenty or more circulars at. the reduced fee, provided they were in identical terms. I would like the Postmaster-General’s representative to look into the matter and see if the old order cannot be restored.
– I have listened with much interest to the statement by Senator Grant, and I can quite sympathize with the gentleman whose letter he has read. Mr. A. G. Huie is known as a prolific letter-writer, and I can quite understand how any departure from the old order would affect him. I also recognise that heretofore the privilege of sending matter through the post at much under the cost of carriage has been enjoyed by quite a large number of people at the expense of the rest of the community. Under the new system of management, the endeavour will be made to see that those who enjoy the privileges of the Postal service shall pay for it. I understand that a drastic effort is being made to turn the Postal deficit that has occurred year after year in to a surplus, and there is no hope that this particular matter will be looked into with the object of reverting to the old order of things.
– Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council give the Senate any information as to the intention of the Postal Department regarding the carriage of country newspapers? I believe some announcementhas been made of the intention to increase rates, notwithstanding that most of the country papers have been compelled to reduce their sizes on account of the cost of paper. If, in addition, the Postal Department is going to increase its charges, I am afraid that some of the country papers will be driven into oblivion. If the Government contemplate any action in this direction, the present is not an opportune time to make the change, and I would ask the Minister to say it is not the intention to touch these papers, or, at all events, that for the time being the intention will be postponed.
– The whole question of the carriage of newspapers has been submitted to arbitration. Only a small increase of rates is anticipated, but that small increase has already been complained of. There will be no difference in the treatment of country newspapers and the big city dailies. What has been happening for years is that newspapers have been carried at a cost to the Government three times greater than the amount realized by the charges that have been made. Where it has cost 6s., for instance, to carry the Argus, that newspaper has been called upon to pay only 2s. That kind of thing, which is one of the influences that has caused the Postal Department to be run at a loss, will have to cease. I quite understand that some of the country papers may be hit harshly in view of the prevailing high cost of paper, and I will bring the honorable senator’s representations on that point under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– Following upon the question raised by Senator Guy, I would like to ask the Minister for Defence, who has interested himself in this matter more than the VicePresident of the Executive Council, if he can give the Senate any information as to what is being done to insure the more regular delivery of mails to our soldiers. The fault is not with the office or the organization at this end. It is the organization at the other end - in England and France - that is responsible. I have before me now the case of an Evandale resident whose son has been at the front for several months. His family have written twelve to fifteen letters to hire each mail; they have cabled to him; but he has received neither letters nor cable. By this inward mail I have a letter from the soldier himself dated “ Egypt, 26.7.1916.” In it he says-
It is no use my trying to write a long letter, for I cannot get the news to put in it because I have not got any letters from home. In fact, I have not got any from any one.
I have also a letter from the father stat ing-
Since I wrote to you, we have heard from our boy. His last letter was dated 31st July, 1916. We got seven letters from him on Friday last. Each of these had been written a week previous to the other, but all came at once.
I am sure honorable senators have been deluged with similar complaints to this. When the Postal Corps was sent to the front, there was some improvement, but still mysterious cases like the one I have quoted occur from day to day. I hope the Minister, if he can offer any explanation, will at least make it clear that his Department and the Postal Department in Australia are doing all they can to prevent these unfortunate happenings.
– When these complaints became numerous, in the first instance we got some of the besttrained men in the Post Office and sent them to Egypt, in order that they might put things on a proper basis. This corps h as been at work for some time, and yet these complaints occur. I cannot find out the reason for them, and I am just as much puzzled as honorable senators are.
– Has your Department sent protests Home?
– Yes, protest after protest has been sent, but we cannot get any explanation of the cause. When Mr. Keith Murdoch, a prominent Melbourne journalist, was going to England, we asked him to make inquiries in Egypt and at the front - which was then Gallipoli - on this subject. In his report, Mr. Murdoch said that when he left Australia he was indignant at the military authorities in regard to the postal bungle. When he got to Egypt and saw the conditions there he began to feel that after all they could not expect much better results than had been achieved. But when he saw the conditions in Gallipoli he thought how unreasonable the people of Australia were to expect anything else to happen. That was the effect of Mr. Murdoch’s report. I only wish I could put my finger on the weak spot and say “ that is where the trouble is,” but I cannot.
– The Minister for Defence has stated that portion of the proposed advance to the Treasurer is to be spent upon the construction of the East-West transcontinental railway, and upon works in the Northern Territory. I am not concerned at present about the works in the Northern Territory, but I am very much concerned about the way in which the transcontinental railway is being constructed .
But I have not been approached by any person in authority on the western section, nor have any complaints been lodged with me by such persons concerning the way in which the work is being carried out. I have heard from other sources what is happening there, and, in my opinion, the time has come, if it has not long since passed, when there should be a radical alteration made in the method of carrying out this great work. On the western section there are at least four separate Departments engaged in the work; each is independent of the other, and neither acknowledges the authority of the other as superior to itself. There is a Construction Department presided over by the Constructing Engineer, and there are also a Traffic Department, a Locomotive Department, and an Accounts Department, each presided over by its respective chief. Presumably, none of these four separate Departments is concerned with the interests of the others. There are four superintendents, so to speak, employed in the construction of this railway, each running his own section of the business, and unconcerned about the interests of the other Departments so long as his own is run to advantage, and in such a way as to secure as much credit as possible for the way in which the work of his particular Department is carried out. This is quite opposed to the. practice adopted in carrying out such works in Western Australia. I do not say that this is a solid reason for seeking improvements in the method of carrying out the construction of the transcontinental railway, but if the Western Australian Government are engaged in the construction of a railway 200 miles in length, the complete control of the work is given to the Constructing Engineer and the Traffic and other subordinate Departments are placed under his charge. On the transcontinental railway each Department, as I said, is independent of the other, and responsible only to the head in Melbourne. Honorable senators can realize the folly of carrying out the work in this way, and the amount of unnecessary work involved, when I say that there is an array of clerks employed in keeping the accounts of the four separate Departments, and if a small error occurs endless trouble is gone to to decide to which particular Department 4 1/2 d., or some other similar amount, should be credited or debited. Voluminous correspondence takes place to discover how the small mistake arose, and then at the end of it all, an order comes from Melbourne that one particular Department is to be debited or credited, as the case may be, with an amount running into hundreds of pounds. This illustration alone proves the folly of carrying on such a work in such a way. I need not mention other aspects of the present system. It goes without saying that where there are four independent authorities engaged on the- same job, there must be friction, and lack of economy. A locomotive, for instance, may, from the time it leaves the Kalgoorlie yards until it is returned, be employed upon work for each of the three separate Departments, and friction may arise as to the cost of its running to be debited to each. If the Constructing Engineer wants a locomotive he has to apply to the Chief Mechanical Engineer in charge of the Locomotive Department. The head of the Traffic Department must do the same. The Locomotive Department is charged with the responsibility of running the engines, and is expected to keep costs down to a minimum, and under the system which has been adopted there must be friction in apportioning the work of a locomotive. The construction of the line is the chief feature of the work. We want that railway pushed through, and yet Mr. Darbyshire, the EngineerinCharge of Construction, has no power to demand from the heads of the other Departments, which should be subordinate Departments, the facilities necessary for the economic and expeditious carrying out of the main work of construction.
– He is often short of material in consequence.
– Very likely he is. He cannot order the Chief Mechanical Engineer to send out a particular engine to do certain work necessary for the construction of the line without regard to the necessities of the Traffic Department. As head of the Locomotive Department, the Chief Mechanical Engineer may tell the Engineer-in-Charge of Construction that he does not take the same view of the matter in hand, and that, consequently, the engine required will not be sent, or will only go half as far as the Engineer-in-Charge of Construction desires.
– Has that ever occurred ?
– I have said that I have received no complaints from the men in charge of the work, but I have evidence of the folly of the system to which I have already referred, namely, the great efforts which are made to apportion small sums to the credit or debit of a particular Department, whilst, at any time, an order may be received from Melbourne requiring a particular Department to accept a credit or a debit of hundreds of pounds.
– Has the head of the Locomotive Department refused to supply locomotives to Mr. Darbyshire?
– I have no knowledge of that; but it must be clear that the system that has been adopted leads to friction. I have said that under the State practice, if a railway, 50 to 100 miles in length, is to be constructed in Western Australia, one man is placed in supreme charge of the work, and the Traffic, Locomotive, and Accounts Departments are made subordinate to him. If we were to credit rumours, some of which are, no doubt, well founded, it would appear that an inquiry into the construction of the transcontinental railway would disclose a number of interesting details. I am referring to facts, and not to rumours, when I speak of the financial arrangements that are made. I have obtained this information from persons interested in the carrying out of this great work on lines that should reflect credit upon the Commonwealth. I do not know how the work is being done on the eastern side.
– It is just the same there.
– We know that no man running a business would think of conducting it on such lines if he wanted to succeed. If he established a branch store with four independent heads, what chance would his business have of running smoothly or economically? Big commercial businesses cannot be run in any other way. If a branch of any enterprise is established in a certain town a manager is appointed, who is given supreme control of the branch, subject only to authority from the centre. It “would never be considered right, in such a case, to appoint four independent managers, and yet that is what has been done in the case of the transcontinental railway. The _ matter is one which should ^engage the immediate attention of the Government, not merely for the purpose of stopping whatever want of economy has been in evidence up to date, Hut for the purpose of placing the construction of that line on a proper business footing. At present it is not upon such a footing. It is far from it, as is shown by the information which has been supplied to me first hand, and as to the genuineness of which I have not the slightest doubt.
.- The Minister who is in charge of the construction of this line occupies a seat in another place. If Senator Lynch will supply me with a copy of his remarKs I will see that they are brought under the Minister’s notice.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That this Bill bc now read a third time.
.- I desire to call the attention of the Government to a matter upon which I had intended to speak when the Bill was in Committee. Unfortunately, I was prevented from doing so by being unavoidably absent from the chamber. Lt has been the experience, I believe, of nearly every honorable senator to have recently had brought under his notice the position that is occupied by old-age and invalided pensioners. Owing to the large increase in the cost of living, it is notorious that many of these pensioners experience the greatest difficulty in eking out an existence, even though they may be in receipt of the full pension of 10s. per week. During my recent travels through Tasmania I was told of a great number of such cases. The pensioners were pointed out to me by persons who knew of their circumstances. Owing to the fact that a sovereign to-day will purchase only as much as 13s. would purchase a few years ago, many old-age and invalid pensioners are scarcely able to secure the means of subsistence. Of course, I recognise that we are at war, and that all our funds are required for the successful prosecution of the war. But, nevertheless, I hope that the Government will consider the advisableness of granting a small increase to old-age and invalid pensioners in order that they may at least live through this great crisis.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that ample opportunity was afforded him to discuss this question, and, indeed, all other questions, not only on the motion for the first reading of the Bill, but on the motion for its second reading, and also in Committee. The debate on the motion for the third reading of a measure is usually limited to advancing reasons why the principle which it affirms is unsound, and why the Bill should not be passed. The honorable senator is now discussing details of administration, which are not a proper subject for debate on the motion for the third reading of a Bill, unless he proposes to advance reasons why the Bill should not be allowed to pass at all.
– I have very little to add; but I hold in my hand a statement from a pensioner which has been supplied to me by a resident. The statement from the pensioner reads -
Will you, for the sake of the many who are depending wholly on the old-age and invalid pensions, do all you can to get the 2s. 6d. additional ?
– The honorable senator is now endeavouring to evade my ruling.
– I can assure you that I have not the remotest intention of doing so. I merely wish to say that upon five of the necessaries of life a pensioner in Launceston has been expending 9s. Id. per week, which leaves him with absolutely nothing for the purchase of clothing and other necessities. I do hope that the Government will take into consideration the necessity of doing something to help triose who are unable to help themselves.
– In reply to the honorable senator’s remarks, I wish to say that the question of old-age and invalid pensions is at present under the consideration of the Government, and we hope to make an announcement of our decision in respect to it shortly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. to-morrow.
Probably by that time we shall have some indication as to whether there will be business for us to proceed with on Tuesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 September 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1916/19160914_senate_6_79/>.