29 November 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 : -

Solicitor-General Bill.

Estate Duty Assessment Bill (No. 2).

Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill (No. 21 1916-17.

Income TaxAssessment Bill (No. 3).

Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill.

Land Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2).

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The PRESIDENT informed the Senate that he had received from Senator Lynch a letter resigning his position as a member of the Public Works Committee.

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New Ministry: War Policy

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · Western Australia · ALP

By leave, I have to announce to the Senate that, on the 14th November last, the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes tendered to the Governor-General his resig nation as Prime Minister, and that His Excellency was pleased to accept it. On the same day the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes tendered to the Governor-General a request for the issue of a commission to form a new Government, and the request was granted. Accordingly a new Administration was formed, and offices allotted as follows: -

Prime Minister and Attorney-General. - The Right Honorable William Morris Hughes

Minister of State for Defence. - Senator the Honorable George Foster Pearce.

Minister of State for the Navy. - The Honorable Jens August Jensen.

Postmaster-General. - The Honorable William Webster

Treasurer. -The Honorable Alexander Poynton

Minister of State for Trade and Customs. - The Honorable William Oliver Archibald

Minister of State for Home Affairs. - The Honorable Frederick William Bamford

Minister of State for Works. - Senator the Honorable Patrick Joseph Lynch.

Vice-President of the Executive Council . - The Honorable William Guthrie Spence.

Assistant Ministers. - Senator the Honorable Edward John Russell and the Honorable William Henry Laird Smith.

I have also to announce that the following will be the arrangements with regard to the representation of Departments in the Senate: -

Minister for Defence. - Defence, Prime Minister, and Navy

Minister for Works. - Works, AttorneyGeneral, and Postmaster-General.

Assistant Minister. - Trade and Customs, Home Affairs, Treasury, ‘ and matters relating to the. Wheat Board and Commonwealth shipping.

Some re-distribution of the duties of certain Departments has been considered desirable. The Department of External Affairs has been abolished, and its duties have been allotted to the Department of Home Affairs, with the exception of matters relating to external affairs; these will be controlled by the Prime Minister’s Department. The Home Affairs Department has been relieved of the control of Works, which has been constituted a separate Department, for the administration of which a Minister has been appointed.

The policy of the Government will be to bring forward such measures as are calculated bo assist in carrying on the war to a successful conclusion, all other questions being subordinated to that end.

In order to conserve the resources of the Commonwealth to the utmost to meet the demands of the war, the ordinary Estimates and loan “estimates have been subjected to a most rigid scrutiny, and wherever possible, without impairing the nation’s efficiency for war, rigorous economy is to be observed.

The policy of the Government in regard to the war will be to prosecute it with all the energy necessary to give effect to the desire of the people of Australia to render the utmost assistance to the Mother Country and her Allies.

There are five Australian divisions in the field.

The Army Council’s communication to the Commonwealth Government stated that, in view of the heavy casualties, it was necessary that reinforcements should be provided at the rate of 16,500 per month.

Since May, 1916, voluntary enlistment has provided the following: -

In regard to September and October, enlistment during these two months was doubtlessstimulated by (the announcement of the Government’s intentions, and by the issue of the proclamation under the Defence and War Precautions Acts.

It seems hopeless to expect that we can by voluntary enlistment raise 16,500 per month, but we propose to do the utmost that voluntary enlistment is capable of.

In the past, voluntary enlistment has been conducted by voluntary organization, and the Government now proposes to supplement voluntary organization by a permanent and paid organization throughout the Commonwealth.

The weakness of the voluntary organization has been that in some districts, where there were considerable numbers of men available, but very little enthusiasm, no organization was formed to stimulate recruiting, with a result that there was a very poor response to the call for recruits. In other districts where a good organization was in existence, splendid results were obtained, in some cases the whole of the single men of fighting age coming forward.

The work of directing recruiting throughout a campaign covering the whole of Australia obviously calls for the entire time’ and effort of the man who is directing it. It has been impossible for the Minister for Defence, owing to his multitudinous duties, to give a great deal of. his time to this important work in the past, and it is, therefore, proposed to appoint a Director of Recruiting, who will be responsible to the Minister,, but will take complete charge of all matters relating to voluntary enlistment. Under him will be an organization covering the whole of Australia, particulars of which are as follows : -

Central Head-quarters. A Director of Recruiting to be appointed under the Minister. Mr. D. Mackinnon, M.L.A., of Victoria, has been offered and has accepted the position in an honorary capacity. The Director will be in close touch with the Military Secretary on all matters affecting recruiting. He will visit each State, arrange and perfect organization, obtain full co-operation of Federal and State members of Parliament and local organizations, and generally arouse public interest.

State Head-quarters. A Central Recruiting Committee will be organized in each State, containing one Federal member or more, one State member or more, and civilians. Their staff will consist of the Military Director of Recruiting, who will be the officer in charge of recruiting on the staff of the District Commandant, and. such clerical assistance as may be required.

District Organization. Each Federal electorate of the House of Representatives to be a recruiting district; each member of the House of Representatives will be ex officio chairman of the District Committee. He will act under the State Central Committee, and will form such committees as are practicable. The Federal member will invite the cooperation of the State members within his division, of the local governing bodies and their organizations. The Military Registrars appointed under the recent proclamation in each Federaldivision, or such of them as are suitable, will be the district recruiting officers. They will be supplied with such, clerical, assistance as may be necessary, and under the direction- of the State Committee will make all arrangements for meetings,. recruiting arrangements, medical examinations, and the forwarding of recruits.

Organizers. Organizers may be appointed if found necessary, but they should, as far as possible, be suitable discharged returned soldiers appointed as civilians, civilians not eligible for active service, or civilians who, having volunteered for active service, have been rejected.

The Government appeals to every member of the Federal Parliament, whatever his views may be, to give the utmost of his time and interest in making this scheme a success, with a- view to supplying as many as possible of the recruits required. It appeals to members of the State Governments and Parliaments to cordially co-operate with the Federal organization in this work. It also appeals to all local governing bodies, and all patriotic organizations of every kind, to assist to their utmost. By the location of recruiting officers in each Federal division with the necessary clerical staff, it is hoped to have an organization that will keep alive public interest throughout the Commonwealth in the stimulation of recruiting. The Government also appeals to the people of Australia to realize the absolute necessity, in the interests of Australia, of the Allies winning this war. It points to the statements of British statesmen and military leaders that the utmost man power of the whole of the Empire is required to that end, and it asks all sections to sink their differences of opinion and work unitedly to this common end. The Government asks every citizen to do his utmost to make the scheme a success. I lay the statement on the table and move -

That the Paper be printed.

Debate (on. motion by Senator. Millen) adjourned.

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Senator GARDINER (New South

Wales) [3.10]. - By leave, I desire to intimate to the Senate that, owing to the withdrawal of a number of members from our party, for reasons best known to themselves, the remainder of the members of the party have elected me to act as their leader in the Senate. Although we constitute an absolute majority of the Senate, we have decided to take up our position in opposition, and trust to assist you, sir, and the Government to conduct the bust ness of the country in. the way in which it should be conducted.

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The following papers were presented : -

Arbitration . (Public Service Act 1911) -

Further variation of Award of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, together with Statement re Laws and Regulations, and Remarks of Deputy President of the Court, on plaint filed by the Australian Letter Carriers Association.

Audit Act 1901-1912. - Regulations amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1916, No. 233.

Customs Act 1901-1916-

Proclamations prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cine; matograph Films to Gilbert and Ellis Islands Colony.

Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 191.6, No. 266.

Commonwealth Railways - Establishment of Workshops at Port Augusta or Quorn - Reports by Engineer-in-Chief and Chief Mechanical Engineer.

Defence Act 1903 - 1915. - Regulations amended, &c. -

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 235, 238, 246, 249, 251, 258, 268.

Defence Act 1903-1915 and War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. -

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 253, 269, 285:

Exaise Act 1901. - Regulations amended, &c. -Statutory Rules 1916, No. 259.

Ireland - Headings of a Settlement as to Government. - Paper presented to British Parliament.

Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired under, at -

Dubbo, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.

Enoggera, Queensland - For Defence purposes -

Dated 4th October, 1916.

Dated 18th October; 1916.

Fremantle, Western Australia - For De fence purposes.

Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.

Waverley, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Lighthouses Act 1911. - Regulations amended, &c, Statutory Rules 1916, No. 277.

Military Service Referendum Act 1916. - Regulations -

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 260, 261, 262.

Naval Defence Act 1910-1912.- Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 223.

Papua - Ordinances of 1916 -

No. 5. - Supplementary Appropriation 1915- 1916 (No. 3).

No. 17.- Appropriation 1916-1917.

Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1913.- Regula tions amended, &c. -

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos,. 211, 228, 229, 230, 231, 244, 245, 274, 275, 276.

Public Service Act 1902-1916- Appointments, Promotions, &c. -

Prime Minister’s Department - S. P. Semmens.

Department of the Treasury - G. A. W. Cox.

Department of Trade and Customs - C. H. Green, W. H. Lovegrove, J. McMurray.

Postmaster-General’s Department. - H. J. Brown, J. T. Byrnes, S. Coulton, J. Horsley, E. A. Jones, R. S. Lamont, A. N. Muir, J. HcCaul, E. A. Rinaldi, and G. Brown.

Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 210, 241, 242, 264, 265, 287, 297.

The War-

Poland - Copies of further correspondence with United States Embassy regarding proposals for importation of foodstuffs.

Papers presented to British Parliament -

Greece - Collective Note addressed to the Greek Government by the French, British, and Russian Ministers, and reply thereto.

Mails, Detention of - Correspondence with Swedish Minister.

Prisoners of War - Correspondence with His Majesty’s Minister at Berne respecting reprisals.

War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- Regulations amended, &c. -

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 232, 234, 236, 237, 247, 248, 256, 257, 280, 281, 282, 286, 290.

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Senator READY:

– I ask the Minister for Defence, without notice (1) Is he aware that citizens are being prosecuted in Tasmania for interrupting public meetings, and that where they are conscriptionists the charges against them are being dismissed, whilst where they are anti-conscriptionists they are being heavily fined? (2) Is the Minister aware that two women were prosecuted in Launceston, Tasmania, who have, respectively, five and three sons at the front fighting for the Empire? (3) Will the Minister have inquiries made into these cases with a view to asking that the fines be remitted?

Senator PEARCE:

– I have no knowledge as to any of the statements included in the honorable senator’s ques tions. I am not aware in any case that such prosecutions come under the Defence Department. Disturbance at a public meeting is an offence against the Electoral Act, and, that being so, such prosecutions would be under the Minister administering that Act. I suggest to the honorable senator that he might direct his questions to that Minister.

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Prosecutions for Evasion

Senator BLAKEY:

– In view of the decision of the people at the referendum held on 28th October, is it the intention of the Government to withdraw all warrants issued against persons who have been charged with evasion of the recent proclamation under the Defence Act, and to remit all sentences already inflicted? If not, why not?

Senator PEARCE:

– The action suggested by the honorable senator’s questions has already been taken except in the case of those who have been sentenced, and who have avoided arrest. In such cases the sentences will not be remitted.

Senator Blakey:

– Why the discrimination?

Senator PEARCE:

– In such cases the sentences will not be remitted until the offenders have been arrested, when the subsequent action to be taken in their case will be determined.

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Senator KEATING:

– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he has received any representations concerning complaints which are very general amongst the Australian soldiers in Egypt as to the conditions under which they are compelled to travel in railway trains. For his information I may say that even when they are prepared to pay their fares they are compelled to travel in a class of carriage which they do not appreciate, and to consort with persons whom they do not think desirable?


– Order ! The honorable senator must not make statements.

Senator KEATING:

– Has the Minister received any such representations, and has auy action been taken in regard to them ?

Senator PEARCE:

– No representations of the kind have been’ made to me as Minister, or to the Department, but certain statements did appear in the press of Australia, and these were referred to Egypt for report. That report has been received, and I shall be glad to let the honorable senator have a copy of it.

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Senator MILLEN:

– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister, in regard to the statement appearing in the press that the Commonwealth Government have negotiated the sale of the Australian wool clip to the Imperial authorities at a flat rate per poundi whether he will see that, in the organization which is devised for distributing that flat rate, the growers themselves are represented. Will he bring this matter under the notice of his colleagues?

Senator PEARCE:

– I shall certainly bring the honorable senator’s’ question under the notice of the Prime Minister.

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Leave of Absence to Farmers’ Sons

Senator SHANNON:

– I ask the Minister for Defence if he will see that effect is given to the Prime Minister’s promise that where farmers’ son’s have voluntarily enlisted for service abroad they will be granted leave of absence to enable them to assist in the forthcoming harvest?

Senator PEARCE:

– In order to remove a misapprehension which has evidently been created by some garbled report of the Prime Minister’s statement, I wish to say that that statement had relation’ to those men who were called up under the recent proclamation, and who were then in camp. It referred only to the Australian Imperial Force Camps, and not to the canips of the Australian Military Forces.

Senator SHANNON:

– Where the sons of farmers have enlisted voluntarily on the strength of the promise of the Prime Minister that they would be granted leave of absence to enable them to help in harvesting operations, will that promise be respected ?

Senator PEARCE:

– The statement to which the honorable senator alludes was made many months ago to meet the convenience of farmers and others who follow seasonal occupations. Men were then informed that, if they chose to enlist, they could submit themselves to medical examination, and if they emerged from it satisfactorily they could fix a future date on which they would enter camp, thus affording them an opportunity to take off their crops in the interim. But they were distinctly given to understand that, when once they had entered the training camps, no further release from duty would be granted.

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Transportation of Troops

Senator WATSON:

– I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that men called up under the proclamation which was recently issued, and who subsequently enlisted for service abroad, have been transported overseas in advance of others who were in camp before the issue of that proclamation?

Senator PEARCE:

– It is quite possible. The procedure is that each State, as far as possible, has to provide its own reinforcements. It is quite possible, therefore, that in some of the States men in the Australian Military Force camps have been despatched overseas before others who had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force.

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Soldiers’ Votes : Propaganda Expenditure

Senator McKISSOCK:

– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he will release for publication the number of votes recorded by Australian soldiers abroad in favour of “ No “ and “ Yes “ respectively on the occasion of the recent referendum ?

Senator PEARCE:

– No.

Senator MULLAN:

– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether any money was paid out of the Secret Service Vote towards advocating conscription at the recent military service referendum ; and, if so, how much ?

Senator PEARCE:

– No. No Government funds of any kind were used for that purpose.

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Order of Business - New Ministry - Labour Opposition

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · Western Australia · ALP

– In moving -

That the Senate do now adjourn,

I wish to say that the business to-morrow will be the resumption of the debate on the Ministerial statement. Later, we shall deal with the Supply Bill, which is expected from another place.

Senator MILLEN:
New South Wales

– I should like to seize the opportunity, which was not presented at the normal time, of offering a few words of congratulation to the new Minister who is present to-day. It is customary for such congratulations to be offered when the Minister representing the Government announces the changes that have taken place, but for obvious reasons that course could not be followed to-day, because the Minister for Defence, after announcing those changes, was immediately obliged to proceed with his statement of the future war policy of the Government. Therefore, it was impossible for me to do then what I wish to do now on behalf of the whole Senate, namely, to offer congratulations to Senator Lynch on his elevation to Ministerial rank. However much we may differ in our opinions on political questions, every honorable senator has the best of personal good wishes for that honorable gentleman, and trusts that he will succeed in adding to his public laurels by his achievements in the Works Department.

Senator LYNCH:
Minister for Works · Western Australia · ALP

– I have to thank Senator Millen and those who joined with him in the congratutions which he has extended to the new Ministers, for singling me out for a special share of them. I assure the honorable senator and the rest of the Senate that I shall endeavour to do my best to discharge the responsible duties that will fall to my lot as the first Minister for the new Department of Works and Railways. If my endeavours fail, it will not be for want of trying. Ihave been a fair trier in the past, and if on this occasion I fail it will not be for want of a conscientious effort to discharge my duties faithfully, fearlessly, and fully.

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Defence · Western Australia · ALP

– I find myself in somewhat of a difficulty, and may be accused of an oversight in regard to the announcement made here to-day by Senator Gardiner. Such a statement in Che ordinary course of eventB should call for recognition and congratulation from the Leader of the Government in . this chamber, but I am not sufficient of a hypocrite to congratulate the honorable senator.

Senator Millen:

– The honorable senator ought to congratulate me on the accession of strength on this side.

Senator PEARCE:

– Nor am I at the present moment sufficiently assured that the honorable senator is the Leader of the Opposition.

Senator Gardiner:

– We shall relieve you of any doubts without much delay.

Senator PEARCE:

– The honorable

Benator must therefore, take my omission to be due to the causes I have stated.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.33 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 November 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.