6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and. read prayers.
Tasmanian Supplies - New Appointments
– Is the Minister who represents the Government in regard to- the Wheat Board in a position to state whether the representations which, in answer to me, he referred to last week, in reply to questions asked of him, as likely to come from Tasmania, have come? If they have come, will the honorable gentleman inform the Senate as to their nature, character, and form, and as to the authorities from which they have come ? Will he also let us know what action the . Australian Wheat Board is taking to enable wheat supplies to be maintained in Tasmania for milling purposes ?
– No action has been taken by the Wheat Board, but as the result of a conference between interested parties, it is proposed to take certain action, though Lam not in a position to anticipate the decision of the Executive Council in regard to it.
– What does the Minister mean by” interested parties “ ? Last week he referred to “ interested States,” and explained that he meant the wheat-producing States. The Premier of Tasmania has communicated with me repeatedly since we met last week, urging that instant action be taken in order that a wheat crisis - a bread and butter crisis, a breakfast table crisis - may be avoided in Tasmania. Is the Government doing anything to obviate the possibility of this ?
– No action has been taken- by the Wheat Board, but, as the Minister responsible for the control of foodstuffs, I, this morning,, took definite action, subject to the approval of the Executive Council, which I am not in a position to anticipate.
– The Minister hopes for that approval ?
– Have steps been taken with a view to appointing representative growers to the Commonwealth Wheat Board?
– A recommendation was made to the Board by the Prime Minister, but was not accepted by a majority of the Board’s members. The Board will probably meet within a week, when the matter is likely to be brought forward again. The Commonwealth has no power to make a direct addition to the Board without the approval of the majority of its members.
– Am I to understand that the Commonwealth has only the power to recommend, and that the Board may accept its recommendation or decline it?
– The Commonwealth does not control the Wheat Board, which is composed of a Commonwealth representative and four representatives of the wheat-producing States. There must be at least three members of the Board in favour of a certain- course before a decision can be arrived at regarding it. I do not know what the reserve powers of the Prime Minister may be.
The following papers were presented : -
Naturalization Act 1903 - Return of number of persons to whom naturalization certificates were granted during 1916.
Papua - Ordinance No. 18 of 1916 - Nntire Labour.
Public Service Act 1902-1916 - Appointments and Promotions- Department of Trade and Customs -
C. F. W. Flint and W. L. Brennan.
P. J. Tipping.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– This information is being obtained, and will be furnished at the earliest possible date.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Government introduce a Bill to enable the soldiers at the front to vote at the forthcoming Federal election?
– The answer is-
Yes. It is intended to introduce a measure to provide for the taking of votes abroad, as was done in the recent referendum.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Are returned soldiers now being discharged by the military authorities before suitable employment is found for those who require it?
– The answer is-
Soldiers are discharged from the A.I.F. when, in the opinion of the medical officers . concerned, such action is deemed necessary. In the case of men entitled to pensions, military pay. ceases on the day prior to that on which pension commences. With the object of providing employment for returned soldiers, an employment bureau, under the auspices of the State War Council, has been established in the capital city of each State. Partially incapacitated soldiers, and those who have been discharged as medically fit to earn their own livelihood, who are desirous of obtaining employment, are instructed to apply to the officer in charge of the Employment Bureau. Recent reports indicate that the returned soldiers are, with advantage, adopting this means of securing employment.
Invitation to Imperial Conference:
Disallowance of Statutory Rule
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minster, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, uponnotice -
Does the Government intend requisitioning rabbits or rabbit skins for military purposes during the coming autumn or winter?
– Any action it may be deemed necessary to take in this direction will be determined by the circumstances existing when further supplies of military hats are required.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The answers are-
Workers and Soldiers: Voting Arrangements
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
SenatorFINDLEY.- Arising out of those replies, may I ask a question?
SenatorFINDLEY.- After a few pre- liminaries in the answer to the first part of the question it is said that, provided certain things are done, the men will have the opportunity of voting. May I ask the Minister to give to those men who will go abroad every possible opportunity
– The honorable senator is not asking a question, he is making a statement.
SenatorFINDLEY. - My question is whether the Minister will give themen who apparently are going abroad every opportunity of being placed properly on the rolls before their departure?
– That question has already been answered.
– Not in that way. Do you rule that it has?
– I rule that it has already been answered. The question was, “ Does the Government intend making provision for all the men who leave Australia to work in Great Britain to have their names put on the electoral rolls and kept there?” The Minister has replied definitely to that question, which is the same as the honorable senator has asked.
– The Minister has replied in a manner which does not convey to me the fact that the men going abroad will be kept on the electoral rolls ?
– Also arising out of the question, will the Government take particular care in connexion with any legislation of the kind indicated to obtain from the Imperial Government a guarantee that the details of the vote will be available and fully published in Australia?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of that question.
– I give notice for to-morrow.
– It is too late for the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Arising out of that answer, may I ask the Minister if consideration will also be given in connexion with the matters he has indicated to recording accurately the votes of soldiers abroad in respect to their several States or to the several electoral divisions to which they belong in Australia?
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answer is of such a voluminous character that I propose to lay it on the table of the Senate, and move that it be printed as a return.
That the return be printed.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Government taken any action that will prevent the Australian shipping companies refusing to issue return tickets to the general public, and only supplying single tickets at h igher rates?
– The matter is under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the Treasurer take into consideration the question of the desirability of the prizes at racemeetings being paid in War Bonds instead of in cash, to assist the War Loan?
– The Treasurer would be glad if the persons who control the prizes would convert them into war bonds, but he has no authority to compel them to do so.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In order to supply full information in reply to this question I have to take a similar course as I took in reply to the question submitted by Senator Keating, and move that the answer be printed as a return.
That the return be printed.
“WIN THE WAR.”
Senator NEEDHAM (for Senator
Ready) asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are-
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway : Charges by Mr. D. L. Gilchrist - Soldiers’ Separation Allowance - War Precautions Acts : Inter-State Trade - Official Correspondent with the Austalian Imperial Force - Proposed National Government - Imperial Conference - Formation of Naticonal Party : “ White Australia “ Policy - Recruiting.
Debate resumed from 9th February (vide page 10406), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– There are one or two matters with which I should like to deal on the motion now before the Senate. I have to direct attention first to the most peculiar procedure which has been adopted by the Government. After an adjournment of some weeks, the Government meet Parliament, make no statement, and merely move the first reading of a Supply Bill, without giving any information to the Senate with respect to what has transpired during the adjournment. It has hitherto been the practice, not only in this, but so far as I know, in all other Parliaments, for the Government to give some information concerning events which may have transpired during an adjournment. Ministers may say that it is for them to decide- how the business shall be carried on, and that they will conduct it in any way they think proper. I can only say that, if that is the course which we may expect Ministers to follow in the future, it will not tend to shorten debate or to avoid unnecessary questions.- To-day I asked a question with respect to a matter which I had previously brought under the notice of the Senate on several occasions. ‘ I asked what action the Government are prepared to take upon the report of Judge Eagleson as a Royal Commission appointed ‘to inquire into charges made by Mr. D. L. Gilchrist with respect to the conduct of work on the Kalgoorlie to Port ‘Augusta Railway. I had to ask quite a number of questions on the subject before . I could secure any information at all. Why the Government should desire to smother up such a matter I am at a loss to understand’. It is a matter of very great importance, not only to members df the Senate, but to the public at large. The last day upon which the Senate sat in December, the Minister for Works informed me, in reply to one of many questions on the subject, that an opinion had been received from the AttorneyGeneral, but that hp had not had time to lay it before the Government for consideration. It was added that the opinion would be laid before the Government on the next day. That was definite information. I thought, in the circumstances, that I should be able to-day to learn what the Government proposed to do in the matter, and when I asked a question on the subject of the Minister for Works, he apparently did not think it necessary to reply. ‘
– The honorable senator might permit me tol explain that his question was misunderstood. I thought the name he mentioned i was Gilruth. I thought that he referred to Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator of thi Northern Territory, and not to Mr. Gilchrist.
– 1 asked my question as plainly as I could, and mentioned the circumstances which led up to it. I stated that, on 19th. December, Senator Lynch had informed me that an opinion on the matter had been furnished by the AttorneyGeneral ; that the Cabinet had not had time to consider it; and that it was to be considered on the next day. As so much time has since elapsed, I considered that the Cabinet would have had an opportunity of considering the matter, and I asked to-day whether the Government had arrived at a decision. I saw the Leader of the Government in the Senate speak to his colleagues when I asked my question, and then the Assistant Minister got up and asked me to kindly give notice of the question again. Information of this kind should be given as soon as it is asked for. Why should honorable senators be compelled to bring up matters of this kind time after time before they are given any information? I went into this matter some time ago, and do not intend to go into it again to-day. I shall, however, take another opportunity to put the facts into Hansard for the information of the public, and shall use them on the platform as well. I shall refer to the opinion expressed by Judge Eagleson in reporting the result of his inquiry as a Royal Commission, because I believe that public servants have a right to be protected against people who make charges which cannot be substantiated.
– Possibly the Government were trying to shield the exMinister for Home Affairs, Mr. King O’Malley.
– I do not know whom the Government are trying toshield ; but when I was asking these questions in December, it was rumoured that I might be sure that nothing would be done, because it would lead to the washing of too much dirty linen. When I last referred to the matter, “I mentioned that, in connexion with the railway service in Victoria, when a clerk embezzled £5 or £6, he was immediately brought up, lost his employment, and was sentenced to a “term of imprisonment. I contrasted that with the fact that, up to the present time, there is a man in .the employment of the Commonwealth who, apparently, may make charges at will against the integrity of public officers, and, though a Judge appointed as a Royal Commission to inquire into those charges reports that this man has been guilty of wilful and corrupt perjury, the Government do not appear to be able to decide what, if anything, should be done with the offender. Personally, I have only seen Mr. Gilchrist once. He came up here the day before the Senate last adjourned*. He asked me whether I was interested in the matter. I said that I was, only to the extent disclosed by the questions I had asked. He said that he- had a position to go to in another State; but that he did not “wish to leave Victoria so long as this charge hung over his head. He wanted to have a decision one way or the other. I shall again refer to the matter if some action in connexion with it is not taken in the meantime by the Government. No nian should be allowed to speak at large and defame and destroy the character of public officers holding responsible positions, and then be allowed to go free when the charges he makes have not been substantiated.
– Quite a number of people are doing that.
– Possibly so. In that regard the honorable senator’s experience is wider than my own, and no doubt he speaks with authority. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and which I may say greatly surprised me when I heard of it. While in Brisbane recently I was waited upon by a returned soldier - a man who had been wounded while at the front, and had been sent back. The story that he told me was bo surprising that I was disinclined at first to believe there was anything in it. He said that he enlisted on 11th January, 1915, and that whilst he was in camp iri Australia his wife and children received the separation allowance, but that it was discontinued from the. day that he embarked for the front, the 18th February, 1915, until the 1st May following. I think that we all understood that the dependants of those who enlisted were to receive a separation allowance from the day that the men went into camp until they were finally discharged. I was surprised, therefore, to be told that the wife of this man had not received the allowance from the day on which he embarked until nearly three months later. On inquiry at the Defence office at Brisbane, however, I was told that the statement was quite correct; that at that time while a man was in camp his wife, living a mile away, perhaps, waa entitled to a separation allowance for herself and children, but that the allowance was discontinued . from the time that he embarked for the front. I had a chat with this man after ascertaining the correctness of his complaint, and was informed by him that it was not until his return to Australia that he learned of what had been done. He assured me that there were numbers of men at the front whose wives had been deprived of the separation allowance in this way without their knowledge. Surely the dependants of a man who goes to the front should be as much entitled to receive the separation allowance as are the wives and children of those who remain in camp in Australia. The position is so ridiculous as to be scarcely believable. Had’ I not taken the trouble to go to the pay office and verify this man’s story, I should not have mentioned it !here.. The man said to me, “ It would have been all right if I had remained in Australia; my wife and children would have received the allowance; and I do hot think it was a kindly act on the part of the Federal Government to stop this allowance to my wife and children for about three months after the date of my* embarkation.” Much argument should not be necessary to induce the Government to pay what is due to these people. Why should the dependants of those who remain in camp here receive the allowance while the wives and children of those who leave for the front are denied it?
– The honorable senator was supporting the Government who did this thing.
– I was; but it was only about a month ago. that I learned of it. I did not think there was a man who would knowingly allow such a state of things to exist. Had I known of it when I was supporting the Government who were responsible for it, I should have told that Government from my place in this chamber exactly what I thought of them.
– The honorable senator knew what the regulations were.
– I did not.
– You should have known. Everyone else knows of them.
– Even if there had been a regulation to this effect-
– There is no such regulation.
– I was not aware of any such regulation; but from 18th February, 1915, to 1st May following, the separation allowance in this case was stopped. It was then continued. This is the treatment extended to the dependants of men who have gone, to the front.
– The honorable senator is referring to the case of one man.
– And that man tells me hundreds of others who went with him to the front are in exactly the same position. The honorable senator may hold up as liars those who go to the front, but I shall not do so.
– I do not want the honorable senator to put words into my mouth.
– The honorable senator said this was merely the case of one man, so that he, apparently, thinks it a matter of no concern if the wives and children of only a few of the men who go to the front are thus deprived’.
– The honorable senator’s statement is contemptible in the extreme.
– I am not worrying about the honorable senator’s opinion” of me. I can supply ‘the name of this man who tells me that the dependants of a large number of ‘his mates who went with him from Queensland had their separation allowance stopped in the same way.
– Where are these hundreds of cases? Why does the honorable senator not bring some forward to substantiate the charge?
– The honorable senator would .ha/e these men dragged back from the front to g;ve evidence before the Senate. I do not propose anything of the kind. I am here to give the Senate the information supplied to me by this man, an i verified by reference to the Department. On inquiry at the Brisbane office, I was told it was the rule at that time to grant a separation allowance to the wives and children of men while in camp in Australia, but to stop it as soon as the men embarked for the front. It is because I obtained that information, not from Senator Newland, but from the Department in Brisbane, that I have brought it forward. I hold that this grievance should be remedied - Even if the sum involved is only £4 or £5 per man, those who have been done out of it by the Federal Government should have the amount made good without delay. What have we heard recently regarding the correspondence which men at the front have been able to receive?
I do not know what letters this man received while he was there, but he has assured me that he had no knowledge that the separation allowance had been withheld from his wife and family until his return to Australia. He also affirmed his belief that there are a considerable number of his own mates still at the front who are just as ignorant of what has transpired during their ‘ absence as he was.
– The honorable senator said that there were “ hundreds “ just now.
– Senator Newland may sneer as much as he chooses.
– I am sneering at the honorable senator, not at the men.
– I want the Government to’ take -up this matter .with a view to seeing whether justice has been meted out to these men who went to the front, but who would have been better off had they remained at home.
– But the honorable senator has only one case to go upon…
– According to Senator Newland, we ought not to do. justice to one case: Why should we wait until the return of all these men whose wives have been deprived of separation allowance before taking action ? - According to the honorable senator, the Government. ought not to take any notice of ones or twos. In my opinion, my informant, whose name and address I am prepared to supply to any .honorable senator who desires them, told me the truth ; and he has a right to demand consideration . of his case by the Government. Why should one man’s wife be “ jewed “ out of £4 or £5?
– Does not the honorable senator think that a mistake may have been made?
– There was no mistake.
– There was.
– I would not have brought this matter up’ in Parliament had I not first taken the trouble to inquire into the accuracy of my informant’s allegations. The result of my inquiries goes to prove that at the time of which I speak it was the practice of the Department to do this sort of thing. The evil, I believe, was remedied about the 1st May, 1915. ‘’ Senator Newland may say that my- statements are all wrong.
– I did not say anything of the kind. But the honorable’ senator has brought forward only one case, upon which he is founding a wholesale charge.
– I thought that the honorable senator did not believe it. He said that I had only, the case of one man to go upon.
– That is all.
– According to the honorable senator’s view, if it be the case of only one man, justice should go by the board.
– The honorable senator is saying that; I am not. The honorable senator is a past master in twisting what other men say. He is an unscrupulous and unprincipled man.
– There is another matter upon which I desire to say a few words. We have been assured in the press, and on all hands from the Prime Minister downwards, that the present war loan has been such an unqualified success that it evidences the determination of our people that Australia shall prosecute the war to a victorious ending. May I say that the people of Australia have never determined anything else. But we have a perfect right to express our views in respect to this war loan, and I cannot understand the cause of all the jubilation in connexion with it. The announcement was made a couple of days ago that the loan had been fully subscribed. That is perfectly satisfactory from one stand-point. If we set out to obtain £18,000,000 from the community to enable us to carry on the war, and if the full amount is forthcoming, all our requirements have been satisfied. Nevertheless I confess that I was somewhat disappointed with the ‘response made by the public to our invitation to contribute to this war loan.
– Will the honorable senator give me the same opportunity of making inquiries into the case which he mentioned as -he himself had ?
– Certainly. I do not bring cases before Parliament without first investigating them myself. What is the position in regard to the present war loan ? ‘ We have raised just a little over £18,000,000. The total number of subscribers to the loan was 44,397. Out of that number, seventeen banks subscribed £4,440,500, four savings banks £315,000, fifty-three insurance and other companies £3,832,000, and sixty-one subscribers, who subscribed a minimum of £10,000, invested £892,000. ‘ Thus we have 135 subscribers who contributed £9,879,500, while the balance of a little more than £8,250,000 was taken up by 44,262 subscribers. We must not forget, too, that applications were made to the Treasury that the names of some of the larger subscribers should not be published, and consequently we do not know them. Now I wish to compare the response made to this loan with the response which was made to the last loan, and I think it will be at once manifest that it has not been so successful as was the last loan. Applications for the last loan closed on the 1st August, 1916, and on Thursday, 3rd August, the Treasurer announced that 69,592 subscribers had contributed £20,569,400. On 4th August the number of subscribers had increased to 73,782, and the amount of their subscriptions to £21,559,080. On the 18th November a notice was published in the press to- the effect that there had been 101,858 subscribers to the loan, and that their subscriptions1 aggregated £23,574,120. As the result of ringing up the Treasury I have ascertained that the number of subscribers when the loan actually closed was 102,039, and that their total subscriptions1 represented £23,586,570. I admit that we may reasonably expect a large increase in the number of subscribers to the present loan. But I wish to point out that on this occasion we have ‘not had the response from small subscribers that we had on the last occasion.
– The reason is that small subscribers have not so much money to continue subscribing.
– I know very well that there are quite a number of persons who cannot continue to be subscribers; but there are also a number of otherswho, if. they understood the position in Australia to-day, ought to be among the small subscribers to the war loans. That is one of the reasons I am dealing with this question. I believe in the democratization of finance and of credit. This has been carried out to some extent in Australia; and any one who knows the results of such a policy over a number of years on the continent of Europe and in Ireland must realize that there, by this means more than any other, production in agricultural and other directions has been promoted. I do not believe that any extra consideration should be given to small subscribers as contrasted with large subscribers.
– I do.
– What is the position here in Australia? Do we give any special consideration to small subscribers? I do not think we do; and I have always held that the man in Australia who lends his money’ to the Government should receive just as much consideration, and as. much interest, as does the lender abroad. The small subscriber should, as I say, receive just as much consideration as a large subscriber, and should not ask for more. In my opinion, if we could have had 1,000,000 subscribers at £18 a head it would have spread a basis of the loan in such a way as to create far more interest in the matter than we have found displayed.
– You are not alone in that view.
– I am glad the honorable senator agrees with me as to that. The Savings Banks, which are very good institutions, have “always been prepared to pay a lower rate of interest to the small man than that at which the Government was able to obtain money from abroad. If the average man, with his £5, his £10 or his £15 to invest, believed for one moment that his bonds would, after the war was over, be very nearly as negotiable as a £5 note or the £10 note, I believe thousands of people would subscribe to these war loans. At the present time, by means of the Savings Banks,, the various Governments in Australia have nearly £100,000,000 at their disposal; and only when we can get the people to understand that these smaller- bonds of £5, £10, or £15 will, after the war, be nearly as negotiable as £5 notes*-
– A working man cannot invest in bonds that are not negotiable, because he may desire to use the money.
– That is most peculiar. We are told by the Savings Bank authorities, and. general statistics show, “that there has been, and is, a continual rise in the deposits year after year - the larger amount is going in all the time - -and that enables those institutions to put money into war loans-
– You have proved my case exactly.
– In the case of friends of my own, when the position has been explained to them, they have been prepared to put their money into bonds of small denominations; and if it were made clear that this money would not be “tied up for about twenty years, there would be no difficulty in increasing the number of subscribers. In a loan of £18,000,000 I cannot regard 44,000 subscribers as indicating the success anticipated, or anything like the success there should have been.
– Has not the honorable senator told us that insurance societies and Savings Banks have invested in the loan ?
– Yes; I know very well that the banks have subscribed to the loan. But what have honorable senators been preaching all their lives ? « Is it not that the worker suffers because the moneyed classes are able to control everything in the community? The banks subscribe to the war loans as a safe investment.
– Whose money do the Savings Bank invest, if it be not the money of the small people.
– The deposits represent the economy of the working men.
– Then the Savings Bank’s subscription should be credited to the small investors.
– I desire to see the war loans spread over a wider basis than at present. I do not wish to have another loan -in which 132 people take up considerably more than half. Can such a position be regarded as a democratization of finance ? “ Certainly it serves to save the face of the Government, and enable them to declare the loan a success. I am glad that so much money has been received by the Treasurer, but I should have preferred to see the contributions more widely distributed. The insurance companies are in much the same position as other financial institutions. Some which are mutual, and some which are not, have subscribed large sums of money to the loan. Are the non-mutual companies subscribing this money for the benefit of their clients or lor the benefit of those who are practically the proprietors of the companies ? Their position is just the same as that of any other institution which has shareholders. If the company is formed on a mutual basis, the’ policy-holders receive a return from this investment in the shape of a bonus, but if the company is not mutual, the policy-holders have only a small amount returned to them, and the balance of the . earnings is distributed “amongst the proprietors. I have no desire that we shall talk about the enormous success of this loan when, in my opinion, it is not nearly as successful as. it ought to be in a .country where the wealth distribution is wider than in any other country in the world. For that reason I believe that it would be better to endeavour to induce a greater number of people to invest in the war loan, and thus show their confidence in the country, and their preparedness to do what is within their power for ‘the successful prosecution of the war.
Another matter with which I wish to deal is that of Inter-State Free Trade, ^concerning which we have heard a good deal of talk lately. The Prime Minister was asked by Mr. Groom in another place a few days ago whether the Government had come to any decision with regard to the matter of the Queensland Government placing an embargo upon the movement ‘ of stock from that State. The Prime Minister replied that .the Government had decided, on the recommendation of the Attorney-General, that the Inter-State movement of stock, being - intimately related to export, was a matter coming within the ambit of the Commonwealth”, and it was proposed therefore to legislate, either directly or by regulation under the War Precautions Acts, in such a way as would prevent the State of Queensland from taking action having for its object the prohibition of the movement of stock from that State to another. This is a matter on which this Parliament, as well as the State Parliaments, will have some say. In the press of the 10th February the Premier of Queensland made these observations - “As far as Queensland is concerned, the Government has no intention, and never had, of violating the Federal Constitution in any way.” This was said by the Premier (Mr. Ryan) to-day, when his attention was directed to a Melbourne telegram announcing that the- Federal- Government had decided that, as import and export transactions were clearly within the ambit of the Commonwealth, it would take action by legislation, or a regulation under the War Precautions Act, to prevent State interference with the” export and import of cattle, Inter-State br overseas. Mr. Ryan added, “The High Court has already held that the Meat for Imperial Uses Act is valid, and the action of this Government is quite constitutional. I am sure I do not know what action Mr. Hughes contemplates, but I would “naturally expect that he would communicate with me if he intended to attempt in any way to interfere in Queensland affairs. - It is difficult to pass an opinion on the scope that the Prime Minister would give to the War Precautions Act. I think he regards it as a panacea for all evils. The only thing that seems to be outside the scope of its operations is the Labour majority in the Senate.” I consider Mr. Ryan’s remarks were very a propos. The position, as we understand it, is this: The State of Queensland has a considerable number of cattle, and the Imperial authorities made arrangements with the State Government to secure a big proportion of those cattle for export. The State Government at the same time acquired a large number of cattle to insure a supply of meat for the people of Queensland. Finding that a number of cattle were being driven southwards, towards the New South Wales border* the Queensland Government, acting as they believed in accordance wilh’ the Constitution and the State laws, prevented the cattle from crossing the border. Prior to this the matter had been referred to Hie High Court, which decided, in effect, that the State had no right to interfere with stock crossing the border, or to impose any restrictions whatever upon Inter-State trade. On a second case coming before the High Court, however, an almost unanimous decision was arrived at that the State law of . Queensland was quite in conformity’ with the Constitution. I do not propose to argue the legal aspect of the matter, but’ I desire to point out how recent has been the awakening of certain people to the importance of Inter-State Free Trade. When the Referenda Bills were before the people on two previous occasions, the very people who are complaining that they have not freedom of Inter-State trade in their commodities, and that the Constitution requires an alteration, were bitterly opposed to the referenda proposals, which would have secured to them freedom of trade between States for all time. The Prime Minister says he could take action–
– Under the War Precautions Act.
– Yes. That is the panacea for all evils. It does not matter, apparently, whether the censor cuts out information which honorable senators think ought to go outside, or whether, under that Act, the Prime Minister censors an invitation to the Imperial Conference, which one of the Liberal members declared Mr. Hughes quietly put in his pocket and said nothing about for two or three days. It does not matter, according to the honorable senator, and everything must be all right, because it is done under the War Precautions Act. What was the attitude of those who are now supporting the Government when we had other matters besides that of Free Trade in commodities between the States, before the people- in the form of the referenda questions?
– Was that plea put up then?
– No, certainly not; but the Grooms and all those people who are in favour of this legislation now were opposed to it then, because they thought it was going to do something for Labour - that the Labour movement would become established more firmly than ever before.
– - And the honorable senator is now endeavouring to make the labourer’s beef dearer in other States.
– There is no question of making beef dearer at. all. If a neighbouring State is afflicted with stupid legislation, the Government of another State cannot be blamed. What was it that prevented beef from being sent to South Australia?
– It was stopped at the border.
– But you have already admitted it.
– I said that cattle were stopped at the border, but I did not refer at all to beef, and the honorable senator will see that there is a good deal .of difference. In this case the Premier of Queensland actually offered . to supply South Australia with as much beef as required.
– And Victoria, too.
– I do not know about Victoria; but I do know that the Queensland Government offered South Australia beef at the same price as they were supplying it free on board for the people overseas.
– That is only part of the statement. It was offered with the provision that it had to be slaughtered in Queensland.
– That is what I am coming to ? Does the honorable senator think that South Australia will get better beef under their own conditions? The offer was that the cattle should be killed in the Queensland meat works, put into cold storage and sold as chilled,’ not frozen, meat, in just the same condition as it is offered for sale in all parts of Australia. When cattle are killed at the meat works, the beef has to’ be sent into chilling chambers to’ be cooled down, and it may be there two or three days before it reaches the butchers for distribution. That was the kind of beef that was offered to South Australia, but evidently the Government of that State do not want it..
– The honorable senator must know that cattle driven on the hoof to Adelaide would be cheaper than beef transported by sea.
– Why will not the Queensland Government allow the cattle to go over the border f .
– Because, under the Constitution, they have power to stop it. I am as strongly in favour of Free Trade between the States as the honorable senator.
– Are you sure?
– I am positive.
– I am not.
– The honorable senator is , not very positive about anything, except what he himself thinks or says.
– Does not the honorable senator think it a form of despotism to make people eat chilled meat when they desire to eat. fresh meat ?
– It is all very well for the Minister to talk like that, but-
– Talk about Federation ! They are playing with the Federal Constitution^
– No; they are not. The Queensland Government endeavoured to come to an arrangement with the Government of South Australia, but were unable to do so, because the South Aus-: tralian law provides that no meat may be sold in the metropolitan area except that which is slaughtered in the metropolitan abattoirs.
– Quite right, too !
– Than there is nothing to complain about. If, however, I were living in Adelaide, I think I should prefer to get good beef at 6d. per lb. rather than be obliged to pay lOd. or ls. per lb. for it. It would not matter to me where it was killed, so long as it was good, fresh meat. N
– That is the root of the trouble. The South Australian Government would have no control over the inspection of frozen meat.
– It would not take a Government very long to get control over anything if they had a mind to do it; but, evidently, in this case, they do not want the meat, and, therefore, any odium in connexion with the matter must rest, not upon the Queensland Government, but upon the Government of South Australia, because they do not care to fall in with that particular arrangement.Now, I have said that I am as strongly iri favour of Free Trade in commodities between the States as any member of this Senate-, and I want to draw attention to the - attitude taken up in some quarters when we had the referenda before the people asking for greater powers to. be granted to the Commonwealth. Did Senator Stewart then get any support from the people who are now claiming that there should be Free* Trade- between the States? None whatever.- On that occasion, they said, “ Let us fight this question for all we are worth,” and, in pursuance of that policy, they brought all the forces they could marshal against the movement, including the full strength of the manufacturers, the Protectionists, and the Free Traders. They were all up against the party that was endeavouring to do justice to the people in the various States, because they thought the extension of -Commonwealth powers would play into the hands of Labour. Is Senator Stewart prepared to stand that? I am not.
– But I think the abattoirs in Adelaide are municipally owned.
– - Of coarse they are.’
– I am aware of that, and also the fact that the Act provides’ that, unless the . cattle are slaughtered in the abattoirs, the meat cannot be distributed within that particular area. But I am not complaining about that at all, and I am not urging that the South Australian- Government should alter the law. All I want to say vis that beef discharged into a cold store from -a ship- can be inspected just as thoroughly as. at any abattoirs. The most careful inspection in Australia is carried out at the big meat works in Queensland,, where practically all the inspectors are veterinary , surgeons, who are continually going through the works and inspecting; every beast that is killed. I admit that there was a time when inspections of all sorts were badly carried out, but that timeis past, and to-day the meat works of Australia^ at any rate those which are exporting, are all operated under Commonwealth expert examiners.
– People will not eat. frozen meat when they can get fresh, meat.
– The honorable* senator is eating chilled meat almost every day of his life. -
Senator -Guthrie. - When he can- get nothing else.
– Is the honorable; senator aware that the same principle* operating against Queensland caused thepeople of that State to pay 6d. more per bushel for wheat than was paid in New. South Wales? <
– It was hardly good, enough for pigs to eat.
– Senator Stewart, can say that the wheat which is grown in his own State is not fit for pigs to eat.
– I do not say that.’,
– I have seen some excellent wheat grown in that State.
– What I said wasthat the imported wheat was hardly fit for pigs’ food, yet, owing to the action of the Government, people had to use thatwheat.
– That wheat wasnot imported by the Government.
– It was imported from the Argentine.
– The Commonwealth had nothing to do with the importation of that wheat.
– The Queensland” Government had.
– The Government, of Queensland brought in the wheat because -there was no wheat in the State. The honorable senator, probably, would have said, “ It does not matter whether we have any wheat or not. It is better to go along as we are.”
– I am referring togood Australian wheat.
– I know what the Minister is ref erring to. Senator Stewart referred to the importation of wheat at a time when there was no wheat in Queensland.
– Does not the honorable senator know that a prohibition against New South Wales wheat was passed in Tasmania?
– We know what went on at that time, but the prohibition only lasted for a little while. It lasted because the wheat, which was being brought into Sydney from the outside districts, was being shipped to Queensland. The New South Wales Government said to Queensland, “ If you want wheat, take the wheat which is grown near your own - border, and take it over the border.”
– Wheat could be brought from Tamworth by rail to Sydney and then sent by boat to Brisbane more cheaply than it could be taken by railway from Tamworth to Brisbane.
– I suppose that it could be done.
-And that is InterState Free Trade.
-There was undoubtedly some discrimination made by one State against another, but since then the Commonwealth has taken a hand in the matter, and to-day there is no question about prohibition. If the Com- mon wealth Government were to do the same’ thing with stock there would be no question about their being able to hold it up, “because practically an agreement would be made, so far as the States were concerned. But. no agreement has been made. There was no agreement made by the Imperial authorities with’ the Commonwealth or by the States with the Commonwealth ; it was a case of go-as-you-please. And because Queensland has acted in what is considered to be a perfectly constitutional way we are told now that the State Government is to be coerced under the War Precautions Act so that it may be compelled to do things which it is believed are constitutional. If it is to be another, case of providing money for the lawyers, well and good, for that is certainly what is bound to happen. It is because I do not care about seeing these sort of things going on that I think it would be a long way better if some other arrangement could be come to Between the Commonwealth and Queensland, so that if the people of South Australia want cheaper meat, and Queensland has it, they may be able to, get a supply. At the same time I say that the very people who to day are yelling out against the action of the Queensland Government are those who stood in and used all their influence and might against the extension of a boon like this to the Commonwealth people. I refer to the time when they had an opportunity to carry referenda proposals, which would have not only provided for commodities to be free, but also enabled many things to be handled by the Commonwealth.
– You are speaking very generally.
– I am speaking generally.
– Do you think that the butchers of Adelaide did not support the referenda?
– I -am’ not saying whether they did or not. I do not know what they did, and I have not made any inquiries. What I know is that all the big influences in Australia - in South’ Australia, and everywhere else - were up against the referenda. ‘ Otherwise they would have been carried easily. It was because of the exercise of these enormous influences that the referenda proposals were turned down on two occasions.
– Were not the Queensland Government one of those influences ?
– Certainly, the Queensland Government at that period were, because they represented the interests of which I am speaking. Because they did not believe practically in having Free Trade between the States; because they did not believe in giving power to c the Commonwealth to control labour ; because they did not/ believe in the Commonwealth being enabled to wipe out all the anomalies which exist at the State borders, they were opposed to the proposals. Had the State Government only supported the proposals there would have been no possibility of the. State Parliament passing the legislation which has had the effect, as they claim, of compelling people to pay more dearly for their meat in some States than is paid in others. That is the reason why I brought this matter up here to-day.
– The point I put was that the present Government of Queensland were one of the most effective powers in postponing the taking of the referenda.
SenatorTURLEY. - Those who form the present Government in Queensland worked day and night to secure the passage of the referenda proposals. Something may have been done at the Premiers’ Conference, or some such gathering of which we have no report, but as regards the members of the party which is in power there to-day the big majority of them were out on the platform and doing all they possibly could to secure the adoption of the referenda proposals. We have seen an address by a man who has been advertised all over Australia as a great constitutional authority - Mr. E. F. Mitchell.
– Who ishe in the world? I neverheard ofhim before.
– If the honorable senator’s name had been circulated as extensively throughout Australia as Mr. Mitchell’s has been hewould be far more widely known than he is.
– I never heard of him before.
– The honorable senator may not have heard of Mr. Mitchell, but I am satisfied that there was no newspaper produced in Australia which did not contain’ addresses published by Mr. Mitchell when the referenda proposals were before the Parliament, and even when the vote was being taken. His opinions were printed and circulated in hundreds and thousands by those who were opposed to the referenda.
– Were they paid for as advertisements?
– I do not know. That is a matter which did not concern me. In an address upon what he terms “ Popular Panaceas Exposed,” Mr. Mitchell says -
During the seventeen years that the Consti tution has been in force, and more particularly during the last ten years, there had been many decisions of the High Court, and one or two of the Privy Council, which had had an important effect in defining its meaning and limitations. The “wheat” case and the “meat” case were regarded by many people as showing a need for unification. All he desired to say about those cases was that comparatively simple amendments of the Constitution could be readily suggested, which would vest in the Commonwealth power to pass laws for repealing any State laws, the effect of which did really interfere with absolute Free Trade between States.
Here we have another gentleman who apparently is becoming a convert to the idea of more power being taken over by the Commonwealth Government.
– He was always a Unificationist.
– Yes, he was.
– This is the first time that I have heard it. His views in opposition to Unification and the taking of power from theStates to give to the Commonwealth were circulated throughout Australia as though they were divine.
When thewar broke out the Government, on the recommendation of the Journalists Association, appointed an official correspondent to supply news of the doings of Australians at the front. I was surprised to read in the Argus of 7th February the following statement published with the authority of the official reporter: -
HowAustralians Pass Time. (From Mr.C.E. W. Bean, Official Reporter with the A.I.F.)
British Hdqrs., France, 1st Feb
To-night (Thursday), in face of one of the most bitter north-east winds that has driven the snowdrift over the slopes of these bleak French downs within living memory, the Australians attacked portion of, a German trench. They seized a trench and dug-outs, and sent back thirty-five prisoners, including two German officers, and when the last message arrived from there they were holding the captured trench and strengthening the position during the night. Around them stretches a vast snowfield, broken only by the brown pockmarks of recent shells.
For the past fortnight the country has been bound in frost moresevere than any in the past twenty years. The countryis entirely covered with a thin sheet of snow. The thermometer several times has been not far from zero. Every lake, pond, waterhole, and shell crater is frozen fast with ice a foot thick. Behind the lines during the first day snow fights raged between the Australians. One that I know of continued on and off the whole day. Snow-men sprang up all over the Australian area. The excitement after the first day or two wore off, but the Australians are still every day to be seen sliding across the village ponds.
In the line, through the long, long nights, the troops look out over the wide, moonlit snows in the teeth of a bitter wind. But more bitter still is the thought which I hear expressed on every side that, after all these men have done, the Australian party politicians cannot sufficiently sink party gain and loss to whole-heartedly represent in the Imperial Conference the Australian ideas of justice and right for which they are fighting and dying.
– It is an expression of the opinion of the men at the front, which is what the honorable senator has been asking for during the last few months.
– The appointment was made in order that the Australian public might be supplied with news from our men at the front, but on numerous occasions political opinions have been’ given publication in this way. Would not the correspondent have been hauled over the coals had there been in power a Government opposed to conscription? The probability is that under such, circumstances he would have been recalled for expressing opinions considered detrimental to the interests of Ministers. There is not time to-day to deal with the question of Imperialism. _ In my opinion, a large body of electors in Australia will not countenance an Imperialism like that which some honorable senators opposite seem to favour, and to which at one time they were opposed. I quoted this article to point out that it is not the duty of an official journalist to express political opinions; it is his duty merely to supply news. He may profess to give the opinions of the men at the front, but it often happens that a journalist is wrong when he undertakes to say what are the opinions of other persons. The bulk of the newspaper writers in Australia were saying, before the vote was taken, that the country would not reject conscription. They were utterly mistaken as to the opinion of the majority on that question. Last week, when Senator Needham was referring to a proposed coalition of the Cook-Hughes parties, Senator Lynch interjected, “ What about the offers that the Labour party has made to Mr. Cook?” I replied at the time that no offer was made by the Labour party, and I wish it to be distinctly understood that that is the case. The Brisbane Courier, in its issue of 11th January, said that the Leader of the Federal Liberal party, Mr. Cook, had stated that all sorts of offers from Mr. Hughes’ opponents had been made to him, and that he had been asked to take the whole of the portfolios, but ‘that he had regarded the offers as in the nature of gifts from the Greeks. I do not know whether Mr. Cook made that statement, but I do know that he has not bee* approached by the Labour party, noi asked by it to take any or all of the portfolios.
– The party, has not approached him, and has not thought of approaching him.
– No one has approached Mr. Cook on behalf of the Labour party. If Mr. Cook has been approached by a member of this party, the member in question acted entirely on his own responsibility, and Mr. Cook should let us know by whom he was approached. The Labour party is not interested in Mr. Cook’s alliances. He may deal with portfolios as he pleases. We stand alone, having realized by experience that when we enter into alliances’ with other- “parties we suffer. Senator Bakhap seemed to think that Australia has not done a great deal to ‘assist the Empire in the prosecution of the war. He referred to the proposed creation of a National Government; and asked why the Labour party was unwilling that Australia should follow the example of Great Britain in this matter. My reply is that the circumstances of the two countries differ entirely. He spoke as if the war would be ended in the course of a few weeks because of the development of the .submarine campaign. Great Britain, whether with or without the consent of a majority of its population, has conscription; Australia - I think rightly - turned down the conscription of manhood. Then, in the Old Country, there is a great production of coal and iron, and machinery is manufactured there and sent to all parts of the world. Great Britain, moreover, is the greatest shipbuilder in the world. Having made inquiries, I understand that, although many . industries might be started here, an obstacle in the way is the lack of machinery. We were kept waiting a long time for the machinery needed to duplicate the plant of the Small Arms Factory. We also had to wait a long while for information necessary to the making of ammunition, -and although thousands of pounds were lost, we were able to do practically nothing in that matter for want of knowledge and machinery; but, notwithstanding this, our endeavour to play our part in the war has been recognised at the’ heart of the Empire. Over 300,000 men have volunteered in the various States for service abroad, and o&r men have been ready to do the work that they were called upon to perform. Again, when there was a demand for artisans in the Old Country, the number of applications for employment was more than was needed. We are not able to do certain kinds of work, but we have produced enormous quantities of foodstuffs - wheat, meat, butter and jams - and we have also exported wool, hides, leather and metals for the assistance of the Empire at large. This is what’ Australia has done to assist the Old Country. We have been told that we can do a great deal more, and I think that we can by our men volunteering to go to the front, or by our supplying the things that are necessary to enable those who are conducting the fight at the front to do the best that is in them to settle the war. Senator Bakhap has told us that the Liberals did not seek any alliance. As I have just said, the members of the Labour party are not interested ; they have not sought any alliance ; as a matter of fact, they turned down the offer that came from both the Liberal and the National Labour party to form an alliance, for the simple reason that they do not care for Fusion Governments, and do not wish to be a party to them.
– They do not wish to have unity at this juncture.
– The members of the Labour party are anxious that there should be unity, and they have told the Government that they will do everything they possibly can to assist in the prosecution of the war, but beyond that they do not intend to make any promise to this or any other Government. Senator Bakhap has claimed that the Liberals have been blamed for preventing Mr. Hughes from going Home. Why should any one blame the Liberals? If he had desired to go they could not have prevented him from going even if they wished to do so. It is the political situation in Australia that has prevented Mr. Hughes from going Home. Were the Liberals asked on the last occasion that Mr. Hughes went Home as Prime Minister ?
– The Liberals are not preventing Mr. Hughes from going Home.
– I do not say that they are; but I am saying that if the position of politics had been what it was , when Mr. Hughes went Home previously, the Liberals would not have been asked; they would simply have been notified that the Prime Minister was about to visit
Great Britain to represent Australia. It is the political situation that has prevented Mr. Hughes from packing his bag and doing as he did before.
– As Prime Minister he should have done it.
– I am not quarrelling with the honorable senator on that point, but when he complains that the Liberal party has-been blamed in this regard, all I can say is that they would not have been blamed if the political situation had been what it was six months ago; they would never have been asked anything concerning the matter.
– Who does the honorable senator think should go Home at the present time?
– I am not particular who goes Home.
– Is the honorable senator particular that any one should go?
– Under present conditions’ I do not know that any good will be done by any person who goes Home to represent us.» The people in the “Old Country are well able to handle the situation. I believe that the position is. as was -pointed out by Mr. Hughes some months ago, when ‘he was asked whether Australia was to have any control over the troops which left Australia. He said that it was not our business, but the business of the people on the other side of the world to whom the troops were going, to use them to the best advantage towards winning the war.
– They seek our aid in handling the military situation.
– I do not know that (they do.
– Does the honorable senator contend that they do not welcome military aid ?
– Certainly, they welcome military aid, but that is quite different from sending men to the other side of the world to interfere with the policy of the people there. We have not been interfering with the policy of the people on the other side of the world, and, at the present juncture, I do not believe that all that is “in the air” is going to do any good. ‘ The Northcliffe press may again come to the fore and use Mr. .Hughes, and the men from the Dominions, with the object of fastening around’ their necks an Imperial connexion which may do a great deal more harm than good in the future ; but, so far as the war is concerned. I do not believe, that we can do more than give all the aid we possibly can-, and allow the authorities at Home to use it to the best possible advantage.
– They ask for our aid, but not our advice;
– It is not a question of advice. Does the honorable senator recommend that we should send Mr. Hughes over to relieve Sir Douglas Haig ?
– No. The question is too foolish, really, to call for an answer.
– Or does he propose to send Mr. Hughes over to relieve Sir David Beatty of his command of the Grand Fleet? I do not think so. The honorable senator knows that these men are capable of handling the situation, far more capable than those we may send to the’ other side of the world. Beyond riveting on the people of the Dominions a policy which they will have plenty of opportunity to . suttor under before they kick against it, they can do little.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that we will permit anything to be riveted on our necks ?
– It is all very well asking whether any one proposes topermit of this or that being done. When the War Precautions Bill was under consideration, how many members of this Parliament would have voted for it if they had been able to realize the purposes to .which it was ultimately put 1 I undertake to say that, if Senator Bakhap had foreseen some of the matters for which it has been used, he would have been the first to rise and protest against it. -
– I have an objection to some acts of administration that have’ been carried out under its provisions, but the Act is none the less necessary.
– I am quite satisfied that there is great need for such a measure, but there is no need to give such enormous powers, that can be wielded in every direction to the detriment of a large number of people in this country. When the last Supply Bill was before us we found ourselves in a very peculiar position. We were asked’ to give the Government three months’ Supply; but we told the Government that two months’ Supply would be sufficient to carry them over Christmas, when they could get further Supply. There was a little bit of friction between the two Houses; but, eventually, the Government saw the moderation of the Senate’s demand, and told us that they, would send up a new Bill covering two months’ Supply ; and, when that Bill came up to us, we passed it. But what was the big argument used in favour of granting . three months’ Supply) Every honorable senator was anxious to go back to his State and do something towards recruiting and bringing- the war to a successful conclusion. Has that been, the policy pursued ? As every one knows, instead of recruiting work being done, all that has been in progress’ has been political intrigue in Melbourne. Those who were appealing for time to carry on a recruiting campaign have been engaged in forming new parties, and in appealing all round to all sorts of people, of every nationality and party, for support in connexion with their object. A word or two in connexion with party formation in Australia is necessary. Before any honorable senator had– an opportunity of getting upon a recruiting platform; this statement was published in the Brisbane Courier, of the 8th January: -
The full story of the proposed formation of a new National party is interesting. At the final meeting of the Referendum Committee, which was attended by the Premier of Victoria (Sir Alexander Peacock), Sir William Irvine, and Mr. Watt, among others, the Prime Minister made a speech advocating the formation of a new National party on a Win-the-War “ policy. The coming together of Mr. HiSlman’8 supporters and the Liberals in New South Wales was quoted as. a precedent for the establishment of a Federal party on a similar basis. An attempt was then made to enlist the sympathies of the State Premiers, the Queensland Premier (Mr. Ryan) being, left out. Subsequently arrangements were made to hold a conference in Melbourne to coincide with the reassembling of the Premiers’ Conference. Delegates were sent from New South -Wales and Western Australia, but on their arrival this week they were told that, owing to unexpected developments, it was not to be held. It appears that neither the Leader of the Liberal party (Mr. Cook) nor the great majority of the members of the Liberal party were in the secret that a meeting was to be held to consider the formation of a new party. This caused ill-feeling, but not individually to any of those who attended the meeting. Why the proposed conference was not held has not been announced, but, from what can be learned, few of the visiting Premiers viewed with favour the formation of a new party, and this may have pen the reason for not proceeding with the conference. The .formation of a new party , 1088 not appear to be. viewed with much favour by Liberal members generally. A frequent objection is that Mr. Hughes supporters claim that, notwithstanding that certain action has been taken in regard to them by the Labour organizations, they still adhere to every plank of the Labour platform to which they have previously subscribed. Under such circumstances the difficulties in the way pf uniting in one party are regarded by a prominent member of the Liberal party as insurmountable.
The man in the street began to wonder what was going to happen. He understood that a new party was to be formed, but he wondered how it was going to fare in face of the existing political organizations. No one wondered more than Mr. Cook. He addressed a meeting of the executive of the New South Wales Liberal party on the 8th January, and was reported to have said : -
It is my pleasure and privilege to lead a party consisting of very able men indeed. Whoever else is critical of the Liberal party, I, for one, am very proud of it, and never prouder than in these last few days. Oura has been a task of no mean difficulty. Since the war broke out we have addressed ourselves, without thought of party preferment or ambition, to the consideration of the great war tasks as they developed, from day to day. How else would it be possible for a great party, such as ours is, to swing behind a party that is much smaller - shall I put it in that way? - that we should be keeping in office, and in positions of responsibility, a number of men who, on every democratic principle, have no claim to be in such a position! On no party’ or political grounds could they be permitted to remain there for one minute. It was only because of the intrusion of those larger issues, which tower high above party considerations, that we found ourselves supporting a Government composed, as a party, of the least numbers of any of the parties in the present Federal arena.
Further on he said -
I” see in some quarters an attempt is being made to bring into existence another party, an “ in-between party,” which they call a National arty. I am much concerned as to its name, ut I om more concerned as to the men composing it. They call it the National party, and delegates are already meeting in Melbourne; but when I look at the names of these delegates I find only the names of Labour men. I want to say this quite plainly, that if the matter of the war is all that concerns these gentlemen - and it is only war that should concern them just now - then I say, unchallengeably, the party to which I belong has turned itself into a Win-the-wor party since ever the war began, and will so- continue until the last shot has been fired, and a triumphant peace has been won.
Later on, he talks in this strain -
We are told in certain places - I refer, of course, to the august Senate- that we cannot be permitted to stay in our positions but for a little while longer, and in view of possible elections, say, in April or May, there is not much time to lose if we are to go to such elections in such a way as to preserve our selfrespect, and to conserve the interests of the great body of the people whom we represent.
We cannot remain much longer in our present position of inactivity. ‘ We must have our candidates selected, so that we may be ready for that apparently inevitable appeal, which might be made very speedily indeed.
This waa in consequence of an announcement made by the Prime Minister that a meeting would be held on the next evening in the council room of the Melbourne Town Hall. for the formation of a National organization. He had, he said, received numerous requests to call a meeting for the purpose, and this was the initial step. Then we heard of the organization of the party. A number of men were sent down from Queensland, amongst (hem being Mr. Adamson, Mr. Peter Airey, Mr. Reid, and, I think, Canon Garland. I understood that they were going to Melbourne in connexion with recruiting business. I do not know anything about the way in which the expenses in connexion with this matter were met, but the first intimation we had as to the work being done by these gentlemen was that it was in connexion with the formation of a new political party. I am speaking now from the Queensland point of view, and the information sent to Queensland was that those forming the executive committee of the new party for Queensland included Mr. Adamson, Mr. Edmund Jowett, Mr. Peter Airey, and Mr. Matthew Reid. We were told later that Canon Garland and others were at the meeting. Mr. Airey is reported to have said on that occasion, when supporting a motion, that the Premier of Queensland. did not represent the feeling of that State with regard to the question which they had before them. He was reported further to have said -
The man who would not sink his political beliefs in the interests of his nation was assisting to sink his country and his nation.
– What is the insinuation about the expenses!
– I say that some of these men were . not previously on war councils’ at all, but they were apparently on a new committee which came down to Melbourne for consultation in connexion with the matter of recruiting, but whilst they were here they were engaged principally, I think, in connexion with the formation of a new political party.
– Does the honorable senator think it. would not be better to make a Straight-out statement rather than to make an innuendo?
– No; because I do not know the facts. If I knew them, Senator Russell need not for a moment think’ that I would not be prepared to say what I did know.
– If the honorable senator does not know, I do not think he should make’ an imputation of that sort against the character of honorable men.
– All that I know is that there were a number of men who I believe now are members of a war committee of some description, who came to Melbourne with the object of inquiring into the methods to be adopted in connexion with recruiting. While they were in Melbourne the only information we received in Queensland through the press as to what they were doing had no connexion whatever with war business, but was connected with the formation of a new political party.
– The honorable senator has made a statement which distinctly implies that the Queensland delegates, came to’ Melbourne at the expense of the recruiting movement to organize a political party.
– No. I say I should like to know whether that was the case.
– The- honorable sena- tor implied that.
– I say that I should like to know the facta. They were here with the object of doing work in connexion with the recruiting movement, and the only report received in Queensland of their work was a report of work done by them in connexion with the formation of . a new political party.
– Does the honorable senator know who paid their expenses?
– No, I do not. If I did know, it would not be necessary for me to ask.
– The honorable senator did not ask; he insinuated.
– Will Senator Russell say who paid their expenses?
– The honorable senator had better give notice of that question.
– That is the trouble; I cannot get the information when I ask for it. We have a statement as to the executive of the new party. Mr. Watson was appointed chairman, and the executive included also the Premier of Victoria, Sir Alexander Peacock; Mr.
Plain, M.L.A.; Mr. Edmund Jowett, the treasurer, pro tern.; and Mr. Hume Cook, the general secretary. I raise no objection to the formation of organizations of any kind; but it has been a matter of wonder to me that men should be joining alleged Labour organizations to- ‘ day who have previously considered such organizations the greatest curse that Australia has ever seen. A branch of the party has been formed in Queensland, and amongst the’ names included in that branch I see that of Sir Robert Philp. I was with him in the Queensland Parliament for many years, and I know that he always considered that if ever there was a curse to the country it was a Labour party of any description. On one occasion his leader made the .statement publicly in the Queensland Parliament that it would pay the State well to pay the expense of sending out of the country every man who was agitating on behalf of the Labour movement. It will be considered great fun in Queensland that Sir Robert Philp should have joined what is alleged to be a Labour party.
– I suppose that he has been converted.
– That, of course, may be the case. The best thing I saw in connexion with the matter was the appointment on the executive of Mr. Edmund Jowett. I believe it was good tactics to . appoint to the executive this gentleman, who is a prominent member of the Pastoralists Association, because* in view of the various interests he holds in the State of Queensland, he is surely entitled to that position. The Pastoralists Association, of which he is a member, has until lately regarded a Labour organization as, not only a curse to the country, but especially to the industry in which the members of that association are concerned. I thought it would be well to see what interests are held in Queensland by this gentleman, who has just joined an alleged Labour organization. I never met him, and have nothing to say against him. I have understood that he was, and is, a very large holder of Crown leases in Queensland, for which he pays a rental to the Government, and in respect of which he has, - no doubt, to contribute a good deal to land taxation, and, possibly, also in income taxation. There can be no objection to Mr. Jowett on that score at all. He may possess a good deal of freehold property, also, but on that point I have no information. There may become pre-emptives connected with the leased estates in which he is interested. I have taken out a few facts and figures from Pugh’s Almanac for 1916, and I mention estates in which Mr. Jowett is interested in various districts so that honorable senators may be able to form an idea of the extent of his interest in the country. In the Adavale district he has Mount Howitt, with 78 horses and 4,600 head of cattle. In the same district, Collabra, ‘with 18 horses and 675 cattle. In the Alpha district he has Drummondslope, with 20 horses and 1,850 cattle. In the Augathella district he has Clare, with 10,850 sheep. In the Aramac district he has Doongmabulla, with 83 horses and 3,757 cattle. In the Bogantungan district he has Rutland, with 98 horses and 796 cattle.” In the Burke district he has Alive Vale, with 370 head of cattle. In the Burketown district he has Almora, with 6 horses and 180 cattle; Alroy, with 20 horses and 460 cattle ; Armraywald, with 98 horses and 600 cattle; and Whitworth, with 200 head of cattle. In the Claremont district he has Bathcaston, with 96 horses and 3,000 cattle; Finnigan, with 12,900 sheep; Labona, with (2,875 .cattle; Shuttleworth, with 18 horses, 882 cattle, and 18,850 sheep; and Tungi, with 14,800 sheep. In the Cloncurry district he has Haslingden, with 11 horses and 2,700 cattle; Quillalar, with 25 horses and 200 cattle; and Westbank; with 73 horses and 4,227” cattle. In the Dalby district he has Canaja, with 495 cattle’; Fairyland, with 35 horses and 505 cattle; Foxborough, with 64 horses and 32 cattle, and 24,900 sheep; Stockyard Creek, with 10 horses and 886 cattle. In the Isisford district he has Mount Marlow, with 362 horses, 369 cattle, and 63,000 sheep; and Gallipoli, with 250 head of cattle. In the Jericho district he has Eastmere, with 394 horses, 901 cattle, and 41,000 sheep. In the Jundah district he has Berrimpa with 47 horses., 60 cattle, and 9,000 sheep. In the Kynuna district he has Quambatook with 74 horses, 96 cattle, and 30,593 sheep- In the Longreach district he has Topham with 2,200 cattle ^-Vergemont 260 horses, 300 cattle, and 28,000 sheep; Warbreccan North, 1,300 cattle. In the Leyburn district he has Cloonacool with 12 horses, 4,054 sheep. In the Normanton district he has- Roderick with .5.00 cattle; East Creek with 2,000 cattle. In the Pentland district he has Blair Atnol with 37 horses and 1,600 cattle. In the Richmond district He has Trenton with 1,000 cattle; Bunda Bunda with 216 horses, 5,000 cattle, and 45,993 .sheep; Kuradin with 3,100 cattle; Malpas with 150 horses, 2,000 cattle; Pinaba with 2,000 cattle. In the St. Laurence district he has Warwick, 2604 cattle. In the Windorah district he has Portia with 700 cattle; Uko with 720 cattle; Curran with 560 cattle; Dirri Dirri with 1,400 cattle; Palparara with 84 horses and 10,340 cattle. In the Warra district he has Wyobie with 46 horses, 115 cattle., 7,176 sheep. In the Winton district hehas Binburi with 1,000 .cattle.; Carcara with 1,050 cattle ; Dunham Downs with 60 horses and. 9.00 cattle; Manabudgeri with 1,100 cattle; and Selkirk with ‘950 cattle. It was a good tactical move to appoint astreasurer of this new organization a gentleman holding such vast estates. Therewill be no necessity for levies upon its. members, seeing .that it has as its treasurer a gentleman possessed of this enormous wealth. A small levy on his cattleherds would bring in more money’ than would be necessary to finance any newparty in Australia over a considerable period. I was surprised that a man possessed of such wealth should have become a member of an alleged Labourorganization. I have been taught that it is easier for a camel to pass throughthe eye of a needle than for a. rich man to enter the Kingdom “ of Heaven. It would seem, However, that the days of miracles are not yet passed. Here we have a gentleman, who must beliterally rolling in wealth, coming forward and saying, “I am prepared to join a Labour party with the object of makingthings better in this country of ours.”
– That is the kind of man you want.
– I can understand” the National Labour party wanting such a man. It is men of this type who are’ going to make something of the National Labour party if it is ever to be anythingat all.
– We want men of substance in it.
– Undoubtedly. It is only a few years ago that the capitalistic papers throughout Australia were telling us that Senator de Largie and someof his friends had taken up thousands of miles of shee,p country in Western Australia, and were blossoming into pastoralists. I do not .know whether Senator de Largie has succeeded so well in that direction as to have .become a member of- the Pastoralists Association. If he is in the industry he should become a member’ of that organization. He tells us that “ these are the sort of people that, are required in a National Labour party.” T can quite .understand the honorable senator’s statement if, as we are ‘ told, he holds a large area of land, in Western Australia, and is developing it. In such circumstances his sympathies would naturally go o’ut- to Mr. Edmund Jowett and other large land-holders. The list of properties which I have just read out represents merely the areas held by Mr. Jowett in one State; I do not know what properties he- possesses in other ,parts of the Commonwealth. It is only since the honorable senator left the Labour party that he is able to appreciate the assistance of such men who have been for many years towers of strength in the big Pastoralists Association.
– I have been too long associated with you poverty-stricken people.
– We do not mind being included in that category. Experience teaches us that the worker can rely only on his own efforts, and the efforts of those who belong to his own party, to drag him out of his povetystricken conditions. The worker knows very well that, until the last two or three years at all events, those who have reached great heights in the pastoralists’ industry were always prepared to oppose to the best of their . ability those who were endeavouring to improve the conditions of Labour in Australia. The Labour movement has not yet been able to establish a heaven on earth, but it is the only movement that has improved the conditions of the workers. That being so, it is difficult to imagine a°man who is overburdened with wealth throwing, himself -enthusiastically into -the work of a Labour organization, or offering to supply it with the sinews of war.
– The organization to which the honorable senator refers is not an exclusive one. He may join on payment of Is. .
– Artemus Ward once travelled with what he described as the greatest show on earth, and when asked by a man whether he might enter it, he replied, “ Yes, by- paying to go in.” The man’s answer was, “ I have no money.” “Well,” said Artemus, “a characteristic feature of this show is that you cannot go in without paying, but you can pay without going in.” That seems to be very much the position of this National Labour organization.
– One cannot pay and enter your organization.
– The honorable senator’s statement is not correct. A man who is working for his living, on joining a trade union, may take all the part that any one really requires to take in connexion with the Labour movement. It does not matter whether he joins the A.W.TJ., the Coopers, the Ironworkers, the Bakers, or any other union; if he becomes a member of any trade organization, he becomes at once eligible for any position within the gift of the party.
– I have been a unionist all my life, and am still a member of a union, yet I am not eligible.
– It does not follow that because a man joins a union he must be appointed to any position that he desires to occupy.
– I am a unionist, and have been the creator of unions.
– I think I have been a member of. a union quite as long as the honorable senator has. I have held office in various unions, and my membership of those organizations has made me eligible for any position within the gift of the Labour party within my State.
– That is not the point. The honorable senator said that any one who was a financial member of a union was entitled to any position within the gift of his party. I am a full financial member of a union, and yet I am hot eligible for membership of the Political labour CounciL
– I can only say that we receive nominations from dulyaccredited unions which are connected or affiliated with the central body.’
I want now to deal with the platform of the National Labour party. Every organization must have a platform on which to appeal to the country; and I find that the fifth plank in the platform of the National Labour party is, “ The upholding of the White Australia’ policy.” In my time I have taken a fairly active part in the work of upholding that policy. I supported it at a time when the preaching of such a doctrine was not very popular. I supported it when we had in Queensland a greater number of imported coloured people than there was in any other part of Australia - whenwe had in that State, I suppose, more Chinese than were to be found in any other part of the Union. We carried on the agitation for a White Australia until at last statesmen considered that the time had arrived to give effect to it, and when Federation was brought about the people in power legislated to bring the policy into operation. I refer to this matter because of the fact that Mr. Edmund Jowett, who is a prominent member of the Pastoralists Association, has been appointed treasurer of this so-called Labour organization. I do not know whether he subscribes to all the doctrines which the Pastoralists Association preaches, but I propose to make a few quotations from an article on “The Northern Territory Problem,” which appeared in the Pastoral Review of April, 1914, and which does not seem to be altogether consistent with the policy of a man who joins an organization having as one of its objects the upholding of the principle of a White Australia. In this article we have the statement -
It is impossible to have an entirely white population in tropical Australia, but the failure to realize this is what has kept the “ White Australia “ fetish alive so long. A “pure-white” Australia is impossible of accomplishment, and most of our politicians are aware of it, but will not publicly proclaim or acknowledge it, as they know it would be as much as their parliamentarysalary is worth to do so. There is no country in the world possessed of low-lying tropical areas where whites make a living solely by their own unaided efforts. They superintend, but those they oversee are units of dark-skinned races. Science teaches that the black or dark skin is not nearly as susceptible to heat as white, the black pigment being a non-conductor, and nature, on this account, has peopled all her hot, tropical areas with dark-skinned races - the Africans, the South American Indians, the Hindus of India, the South Sea Island kanakas, the Australian aborigines, and so on. Therefore, it is obviously unnatural to expect white people to work manually in tropical countries subject to great and continuous heat and an abnormallyhighdegree of humidity.
Further on thearticle deals with the methods which should be adopted in order to secure the settlement of that portion of Australia. It says: -
For over fifty years the South Australian and Federal Governments have been pouring money into the Territory and building upa huge debt, and now at last it has sunk into the minds of unprejudiced people that we have made a mistake. The reason for all this is want of suitable labour. It must be introduced, but, at the same time, it must be a systematic introduction which will check any tendency to overrun the whole of the continent, multiplying) and ultimately developing into the problem which confronts the United States and South Africa. If coloured labour, Chinese, kanakas, Javanese, or Fast Indians, were allowed uncontrolled freedom of movement into any part of Australia, the remedy would be almost as bad in the long run asthe original evil.
The indentures should be of, say, five years’ duration, although at the expiration of that time the men could be allowed to sign a fresh agreement for a further period of years. Restrictive legislation would have to be framed to prevent them obtaining vested interests in the country, but that would present no difficulty. The problem has been how to allow black labour in the Territory, and at the same time to keep them from overrunning the whole of Australia. The above solution briefly is to introduce men and women under agreement for a term of years, and to keep them within a fixed boundary, the line of demarcation to be the 75 deg. wet bulb summer isotherm. Children born in the country must be subject to the same conditions, and leave either with their parents or after a. fixed number of years.
I do not know that I have ever heard of any more inhumane statement than that.
– We all indorse the honorable senator’s view.
– I cannot conceive of anything more inhumane than the suggestion that children born in Australia of men and women who were brought here to develop this country, should be deported as undesirables. The statement continues -
Instead of complete stagnation, or even retrogression, as it has been recently, tropical agriculture would bound ahead, cotton, coffee, fruit, rice, rubber, and all sorts of industries would be started. Whites could live in comfort, their wives would have domestics to do the house work, and the sea coast-line would be quickly peopled, and defence made easier. The “White Australia” fetish must be dropped; a continued worship of it spells ruin for the north; discarding it means prosperity, progress, and safety. Introduce the labour, and capital for development will follow: The sensitiveness of capital is such nowadays that it will not readily follow white labour in temperate latitudes, much less the tropics. But give it the security that black labour offers, and sympathetic government, and the development of northern Australia is assured.
I have read this extract because it seems to me so incongruous. Here we have one of the pillars of the Pastoralists Association identifying himself with a new political party which has for its object the depletion of the membership of Labour organizations as much as possible. The first meeting of this new party was held in Geelong, and the second in Ballarat, from both of which places Labour men have enlisted for service at the front. These were the centres selected for the purpose of forming and fostering this new organization, which has for its object the political cutting of the throats of many members of Labour organizations while they are absent from the country patriotically doing their duty. If a parliamentary representative of the people departs from Australia on active service, he is liable to find that, during his absence, a movement Has been inaugurated for the purpose of securing his political slaughter. According to the Brisbane Courier of 24th January, the Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, in addressing the members of this new party, said -
I hope my Liberal friends will remember that I broke with the most powerful party organization in Australia, not because I did not believe in the Labour platform, but because the Labour movement, which was created to serve a great and unselfish purpose, was being prostituted to the ends of a mean and selfish one. In the supreme hour of national danger it failed to think and act nationally. Suppose the position had been reversed. Suppose the Liberal party in a majority, and controlling the Government, had split, as the Labour party had done, and the smaller section, fighting for a great principle, had to rely upon the Labour party for support in Parliament. Would they have not thought it a little difficult if, when they wished to form an organization in which all parties could work, who put certain great principles first, the Labour party had said, “ Why form a new party ? Why not join the Labour party?” The fact is that I am not a Liberal, that very many of hundreds of thousands who support me are not Liberals, that we are only agreed that all other things, Liberal and Labour, must be subordinated to the necessity for solidarity in this hour of great national peril. A new organization is required into which men and women of all parties may come without abandoning their principles or their connexion with their own party, but, loyally subordinating party interests, work together for the great national cause. The National Federation is such an organization. A Liberal may join without abandoning his principles or severing himself from his party. A Labour man may do so without prejudice to his Labour principles. All that is necessary is that Liberals and Labourites shall accept the platform, which is nonparty, suited to the exigencies of the present situation, deals with those problems that must inevitably arise after the war, and is compatible with free democratic government.
That is a most peculiar feature of the organization. I am not much in the habit of frequenting racecourses, but when I have occasionally visited them, I have seen some men playing a game which is known as “ the thimble and the pea “ - a game’ in which one pays his money and takes his choice. That game seems to resemble very closely this new political party. If one is a Labour man, he is assured that he can join it without sacrificing his principles, and the same assuranceis given with equal facility to all Liberals. Is it to be imagined for a moment that Labour organizations will be content to sit quietly down while their members flock to a new association, whose one object is the main- . tenance politically of those who have left the Labour party?
SenatorRussell. - Who left that party ? Give us the names.
– The honorable senator himself was one.
– We had no option. We were kicked out.
– That is not so. Only the other day I pointed out to a man who questioned me on the subject, that Labour members of this Parliament had no pre-emptive claim to their seats. So far as the party inside this Parliament is concerned, it had nothing whatever to do with the action of certain members of it who, on a memorable occasion, quitted a Caucus meeting. The party has always reserved to itself the right to select its own chairman. It has a right to change its chairman. What are the facts of the case? A meeting of the party was called. Nothing was pre-arranged, so far as I am concerned. At that meeting, somebody moved that the chairman be no longer permitted to occupy his position, that the office be declared vacant,and that somebody else be elected to it.
– The honorable senator is now dealing with the effect.
– I am dealing with what the party in Parliament did. I am not dealing with the action of outside organizations.
– I do not attach any blame to the honorable senator.
– People should understand the position.
– They should understand that, two months before that meeting was called, a motion was twice affirmed that I should not again be selected as a Labour candidate.
– I repeat that no member of the Labour party enters this Parliament with any pre-emptive claim to represent the constituency which has returned him. The organization outside may propose to leave a man out altogether, and he may not be nominated; and even if nominated, he may be disregarded at this election. So far as the party in Parliament is concerned, neither Senator Russell nor any one associated with him was asked to leave the meeting, but they walked out at the invitation of Mr. Hughes himself.
– As a matter of fact, we had no right to be there under the Labour party’s constitution.
– I do not know anything about that. I was pointing out that the organization to which I have referred is out, as other organizations have been in the past, on many occasions, to crush the Labour movement in Australia ; and this we are not going to allow if we can possibly prevent it. Coalitions and fusions, and the allotment of portfolios, have nothing to do with the Labour party, which stands “ on its own/’ as it always has done. This party has had “ setbacks “ on many’ occasions, though in the Commonwealth we have done remarkably well. On one occasion, in Queensland, our numbers were reduced from thirty-five to seventeen, but in a very few years we again became- the governing power. The Labour party cannot form alliances or fusions with any other party, owing to the fact that to do so it must sacrifice many principles which its members have advocated before the public. I suppose that things will go along as they are for some time, and I do not wish it to be understood for one moment that the Labour party or the Labour movement is averse to doing everything possible to assist in bringing the war to a successful conclusion. I have realized that, in spite of all the talk we heard on a previous Supply Bill as to what must be done in recruiting, comparatively little work has been done by -those who made the most noise. The work has generally been left to those who made no fuss, but were prepared to attend recruiting meetings, and do everything possible in the way of bringing it home to eligibles that their duty is to go to the front. In this work I have taken some little hand, and I shall be very glad when I have an opportunity to resume it. While we will not form any fusion with members opposite, or with the Liberal party, we are prepared-
– You are speaking for yourself, now, I suppose?
– I am speaking . practically for the party.
– What does Senator Ferricks say to that?
– I speak for myself.
– Senator Ferricks said that, personally, he would not assist in the recruiting work, because of the fact that he himself is of military age, and, consequently, does not care to urge other eligible men to recruit. Nearly all the members of our party, both State and Federal, have taken part in the recruiting work.
– They are the only people who have been doing anything !
– Practically the only people in public life. In Queensland the Premier, Ministers, and members of the Labour party in the State House, and also Federal Labour members, have addressed recruiting meetings.
– And it has been so in every other State,
– Oh, no ! We can only judge by newspaper reports; and we learn from these is that all the efforts - all the intrigue and hypocrisy - have been devoted to the formation of a new organization of a political character. However, after all that is settled, we shall probably find those who are now thus engaged, willing to take their part in recruiting work. What I desire to say is that, whilst we will not form any alliance” or fusion with our friends opposite, or with the Liberal party, we will not have it said that we, as a party, refuse to do all ‘we possibly can to bring the war to a successful conclusion.
– I think that most of us rather like to hear Senator Turley when he is in good “ slogging form,” as he evidently is to-day. I desire to point out to him, however, that when he was associated with those whom he is to-day denouncing in good round terms, he refused to accept, as a true representation of his party and its objects, any views expressed, possibly by junior reporters, in any newspaper. To-day, however, he chooses to judge his former colleagues by newspaper reports
– Mostly by the public utterances of those men.
– The honorable senator has referred to the fact that Mr. Jowett is treasurer of the new organization, and also to the connexion of wealthy men therewith. But is the Official Labour party also to be condemned because some of its members possess wealth ? Many men possessed of this world’s goods have been amongst the best Democrats the Labour party has ever known. Because Mr. Jowett is treasurer of the organization, and a member of the Pastoralists Association, are we to be condemned because of what some editor or other has ‘said? There are Labour newspapers in connexion with the Labour parly, but God help the Labour party, and God help Senator Turley, if it, or he, has to be held responsible for all that may appear in their columns. Many such journals depend on volunteers for their work; and surely no outside person or persons can be held responsible for what may be published ? Because something appeared in the Pastoral Review in reference to White Australia, Senator Turley, for election purposes, would brand all of us on this side with the stigma of not believing in that policy. Senator Turley, by means of Hansard, seeks to cast this imputation upon us, although he, and those associated with him, know in their hearts that it is false. Neither Senator Turley nor any other honorable senator opposite can point to any vote cast against the interests of the working masses by a member of the Labour party on this side. No one can show that a -man on this side has dishonoured himself by breaking any of his written pledges. Senator Turley told us that all men may join the Official Labour party if they are affiliated members of any union. Well, I am an affiliated member of a union, and yet neither I nor my colleague are eligible. I understand that in Western Australia, if men in a similar position to myself comply with the dictates of the- local executive, they may once more become members. That I, myself, could “do in Victoria, if I went down on my bended knees, and begged the privilege from men whom I. believe to have no power or authority, nor, if I may say so, in many, cases, even an average intelligence entitling them to dominate my position here. We have taken up an attitude which is hostile neither to the principles nor. to many of the persons of the
Labour party. I have always been proud of my colleagues in the old party, regarding many of them as fine, manly, honorable men. But, because I have this regard for certain men, and because I hold certain principles, am I to abandon whatever manhood I possess, and submit, to the control of the few outside? If Labour members opposite expect fair play from us, they ought surely to extend fair play. Would’ Senator Turley, instead of dragging in the Pastoralists Association, and making the imputations he has, take it upon himself to say, in all honesty, to me as an individual, “ Russell, you do not believe in a White Australia, and desire to became the owner of stations”? Heaven knows where these stations are; and I do mot know whether or not Senator de Largie or his station is “broke”; ‘but I fancy that if Senator Turley were to make an offer of purchase, Senator de Largie would accept it with a very considerable discount. As to the idea that Queensland and the north of Australia will be “ ruined,” even if we suppose that Mr. Jowett believes in the principles imputed to him, would it be fair, on the other hand, to suggest that. Senator Turley believes in all the godless assertions made in a certain section of the* press, , and in the declarations of policy of the Industrial Workers of the World movement? Certainly not, I have too high an opinion of Senator Turley to think so; but, if he expects manly treatment, he ought to give manly .treatment in return. I have heard despotic proposals made in my time, but the greatest of all is that, when the people in the south of Australia desire fresh meat, they must eat chilled meat for the benefit of Queensland. Whether we, in the south of Australia, get fresh meat or not, must depend on the commercial advantage to the northern State ; and that, from a Socialist and humanitarian like Senator Turley,is the most extreme suggestion I ever knew. Queensland may gain the advantage of a little work and labour in the chilling and preserving of meat, but inreturn she has to pay an enhanced price- for her daily loaf. Owing to the system adopted in the wheat districts, every bushel which goes into Queensland to-day costs 6d. more than -what is paid- in theother States, and this largely for the- benefit of State railways and private shipping companies. Just as I am anxious to remove the embargo on wheat, and give
Queensland cheaper bread, so am I anxious to remove the other embargo. Queensland cannot have the advantage without the corresponding disadvantage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Northern Territory: Administration: Land Settlement: Mining Development - Unemployment - Control of Wool Clip: Appraisement- Old-age and War Pensions: The Blind - Federal Capital : Housing Accommodationfor Workers - Clothing Factories : Discharge of Operatives - Hours of Labour - Uniform ElectoralrollsSenator Grant and Recruiting - Senator Gardiner and Supply - Proposed National Government - A.I.F. Mail Services - Separation Allowances - Reemployment of Military Trainees - Port Stephens Naval Base.
– From communications which many honorable senators have received from the Northern Territory it is apparent that there exists a great deal of anxiety concerning the danger of the re-appointment of Dr. Gilruth to the position of Administrator. I call the possible re-appointment a danger because I think it would be in the worst interests of that portion of the Continent to allow Dr. Gilruth to continue in his present office. For a considerable time past the Territory has been seething with discontent, and the conduct of the Administrator has not made things easier. In times past I. have called attention to the policy laid down by that gentleman, and I cannot help believing still that the aim of that policy has been to prove white labour a failure. Senator Turley quoted this afternoon from a very pertinent and significant pamphlet issued by the Pastoral Review, issued shortly before the outbreak of war. On previous occasions I have pointed out that there appeared to be throughout the newspapers of the Commonwealth a well-organized conspiracy in accordance with the spirit of that particular pamphlet. Even the Age and the Argus were offenders in that respect, for regularly they published articles in which the argument was used that, whilst white labour might be all right for other parts of Australia, it was greatly to be feared it would never be a success in the Northern Territory. Those of us who have worked in tropical and sub-tropical parts of Australia will agree that where a coloured man can work a white man also can work, and it has been our experience in the canefields of North Queensland that the white man can do twice as much work in agiven time as his coloured competitor. The climate of the Northern Territory is not vastly different fromthat of North Queensland but the policy laid down by the present Administrator is the encouragement of all the coloured races that have found their way to Australia, including men from the southernmost parts of Europe, Patagonians and mixed nationalities from all parts of the world’, except Australia and Great ‘ Britain. The Patagonians and Greeks have been attracted by the inducement of high wages on the wharfs and on railway construction works, but I affirm that if similar encouragement had been given to the workers throughout Queensland there would have been plenty of response. I stated on one occasion that if applications were called from men willing to work on railway construction in the Northern Territory at the then prevailing rates ranging from 16s. per day upwards, the fares of the workers to be paid as were those of the Patagonians, there would be 500 responses in North Queensland alone within twenty-four hours. I suggested also that people who had been acclimatized could not be surpassed as settlers in the Northern Territory. The present Administrator has adopted a dictatorial policy which’ has not been in the best interests of Australia. From the very inception of his term of office the policy of Dr. Gilruth has been violently anti-Labour, and his subordinates knew that unless they were subservient to his policy they must get out. I do not suggest that insubordination should be tolerated,.’ but the experience has been that if a man dared to disagree with any proposal of the Administrator, or even to make a suggestion within his own Department that was antagonistic to the policy laid down by Dr. Gilruth, he earned his superior’s enmity, and had to leave. We remember that Mr.Ryland, the Director of Lands, was sacked as soon as the Cook Government came into office in 1913. He was an energetic and capable man, and applied his faculties to the land question, to which he had given years of attention. His only fault was that his mind had been imbued with certain principles, and that he had been appointed by a Labour Government. Owing to his possession of those desirable attributes, Mr. Ryland was never given an opportunity by Dr. Gilruth to formulate any scheme for the lay-out ‘of the country with a view to its partition and ultimate settlement. Again, the Director of Mines, Dr. Jensen, has been virtually kicked from pillar to post, and was relieved from the position of Director of Mines to which he had been appointed in conjunction with that of Government Geologist, whilst a subordinate has been appointed . Director of Mines and placed at the head of a separate Department. Even when Dr. Jensen continued with his work as Government Geologist, he was hampered in every direction, and no play was given to his knowledge and proposals, and finally his services were dispensed with. There has not been smooth working in the Territory for several years past, and there will not be in the future if the present administration continues. With the exception of Dr. Gilruth’s particular supporters, the people of Darwin are up in arms against him; and whatever Government may assume responsibility in the near future will be acting in the best interests of Australia if they make a change in the occupancy of the office of Administrator. Dr. Gilruth has been in Melbourne since September last. His salary is about £1,750 per annum, and he has an allowance of £500 for entertaining at Government House at Darwin. While absent from ‘Darwin, he is entitled to draw expenses at the rate of £2 2s. per day. Every year he comes to Melbourne for lengthy periods, frequently visits Government House - that, of course, is his private affair - and takes a prominent part in social affairs generally.
– Is that entertainment allowance of £500 a year spent by the official relieving him during his absence ?
– No; I think the Government Secretary virtually does the Administrator’s work in his absence.
– Does the allowance continue, in spite of Dr. Gilruth’s absence?
– Yes, it is attached to his salary. While he has been prating of his patriotism and his adherence to the policy of a White Australia, Government House has been filled with Chinese servants. That fact, in itself, shows his ardent desire to prove that white labour can be successfully employed in the Northern Territory. In to-day’s Age appears a long report of a meeting held at Darwin on Friday night, when resolutions were passed in favour of the motion moved in the Senate by Senator Newland for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the affairs of the Northern Territory. Today I received this significant communication from Darwin -
Large and enthusiastic public indignation meeting Town Hall last night, representative all classes. Severe criticism Administrator and administration. Motions carried unanimously condemning same, also motion calling on Government to give representation, also allow Territory to be administered by advisory council.
The grievance of the people at Darwin in regard to representation has been accentuated since the referendum campaign. Despite any provision made by Parliament they, in common with the people of other Federal territories, were given the right to vote on the conscription issue. Having exercised the franchise on that occasion, they naturally believe that they should have’ the opportunity of doing so at every Federal election, and should have representation in the Federal Parliament. The creation of an advisory council is also a sore point. Government nominees are placed upon the council, but in order to qualify , for an appointment they must be in sympathy with the policy of the Administrator. It appears to me that the people in that far-away portion of Australia should be given at least the ordinary inducement of being allowed to conduct their affairs in a proper and systematized way. If the Government re-appoint Dr. Gilruth, I am certain that there will be a continuation of the pastraspings in the Territory, and that no genuine progress will be made. As a matter of fact, we cannot have progress with an anti- Australian policy in force, and administered, in same cases, ‘vindictively by certain officials, in the Northern Territory. I have taken this opportunity to ventilate this particular aspect 4£ the question, lest the whole schedule go through before honorable senators had an opportunity of giving attention to it.
.- I desire to make a few remarks with regard to the Government works programme.
– I remind the honorable senator that the Bill has passed its second reading, and the Committee is now dealing with the schedule. The honorable senator must, therefore, deal only with questions relative to the schdule
– I propose to speak on the subject of works and railways.
– On a point of order, I ask, if Senator Barnes is allowed to continue, shall I be allowed to come back to the Northern Territory Department?
– The Committee is dealing with the schedule as a whole, and the honorable senator will, therefore, be in order.
– I wish to direct attention to the fact that, in Melbourne, and in every other capital city of Australia, thousands of men are out of employment, and that, as the schedule “includes provision for works and railways, the Government should act as quickly as possible by instructing the Public Works Committee to ‘consider the proposals without delay. At the present time in Melbourne there are about 1,000 carpenters out of work, and the schedule indicates that if the works contemplated are put in hand there will be plenty of employment. It is the duty of the Government to keep these people in work if possible; and, as the matter is urgent, I hope the Government will give early consideration to my suggestion. The Government have set out to run the affairs of Australia, and, as far as I can see, the rest of the earth also; and I want particularly to impress upon them the necessity of not forgetting that the only possible chance of successfully carrying oh the affairs of this country is by keeping every available man willing to work in work. If it is possible for the country to raise £18,000,000 for the war loan - and this” has been done successfully, although, by the way, the amount is £9,000,000 short of what the Government asked for six months ago - I say the first consideration should be to put into operation those works which will give employment in Australia.
– But the policy is economic conscription ; that is the game.
– It will not be as far as I am concerned, and I do not think the Government will be able to do that so far as the honorable senator is concerned. The suggestion I make is a reasonable one, and, if adopted, it would be of immense benefit to the people of this country. All that is necessary is that the Government- should instruct the Works Committee to consider the undertakings mentioned in the schedule, and have the work approved as early as possible. No nian with ,a family including five or six able-bodied sons, would keep them hanging round the house in idleness if there was any possibility of getting profitable employment for them; and exactly the same argument may be applied to the Government of the country. Only a fool Government would keep thousands of men out of work if there was work to do,especially when those men have- wives and children to support. I hope the Government will not adopt the procedure of the Industrial Workers of the World of slowing down in ‘connexion with their public works proposals, when there are so many men out of work in Australia. They have a responsibility with regard to the people in Australia as well as to those who have gone out of Australia, and it is part of their duty to find employment for them.
– Is it not the responsibility of every individual citizen to find work for himself ?
– No. There are thousands of men wanting employment in Australia, and as it appears from the schedule that there is work to be done, this ought to be the first duty of the Government.
– -.1 wish to say a few words with regard to the Northern Territory. I notice from the reports in the press that the Government propose to re-appoint Dr. Gil- * ruth as Administrator. Probably they are experiencing some difficulty in getting any person to accept an appointment in that portion of the Commonwealth.
– Ten thousand people would accept it to-morrow.
– If that is the case, it is unfortunate, and I also think it would be unfortunate if Dr. Gilruth were re-appointed. 1
– He is a very good man.
– The honorable senator may say so, but I do not know. I know, however, that the Northern Territory has made absolutely no progress under his rule, or if it has made any progress at all, it is like that of the crab - backwards. We are spending large sums of money ‘ annually on the Territory, and yet no development has taken place, and none, as far as I can see, is in sight.
– Too much I.W.W. there.
– I do not know whether Dr. Gilruth is altogether responsible for this condition of affairs, but whether he is or not, the Government should have every reason to be dissatisfied with the conduct of affairs since he was appointed.
– He has only been carrying out the policy laid down by the Government.
– Laid down by the Labour Government.
– I am not sure that the Government had any policy to put into operation. As a matter of fact, the Northern Territory, notwithstanding all our boasting about” its resources, and so forth, seems to be like the Old Man of the Sea, and the South Australian Government were very wise indeed when they foisted it on to the Commonwealth. It was one of the slickest games ever perpetrated by any political party in this or any other Parliament.
– Where were you when this slick game was being played ?
– I was here.
– What did you say then ?
– Mine was like a voice crying in the wilderness. I foretold exactly what has happened. However, we cannot go back upon what has been done. South Australia has been relieved of the incubus which has been transferred to the broad bosom of the Commonwealth. Senator Newland was up there some time ago taking observations, and if the Government want a man who has shown some interest in the place, that honorable senator, I think, would be likely to do something to advance the progress of the Territory. He has been a critic of the past Administration, and perhaps it would be a very good thing to give him a chance to see what he could do. Then if
Senator Newland would not accept the position, perhaps Senator Bakhap would make a very good Administrator. I am quite willing to sacrifice all my friends by sending them to’ the Northern Territory, but I am not prepared to go there myself. The position is too serious altogether, and I think the Government should give some good man a chance.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to S p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner, I was endeavouring to impress upon the Government the necessity of appointing a good man to the position of Administrator of the Northern Territory. I think that the Government have been somewhat in doubt as to whether Mr. Gilruth should be reappointed, and probably in the end have decided to make the best of what they may consider to be, on the whole, not a particularly good bargain. So far as I can see,’ Mr. Gilruth is not the kind of man to fill a position of that character. In the first place, so far as my information goes, he was more or less of a city man, without any particular knowledge of the bush, land matters, mining, or any of the primary industries which are to be found in a new place like the Northern Territory.
– He was a cattleman, was he not?
– He was a veterinary surgeon. That occupation does not carry with it any particular qualification for the position he holds, and the history of the -Territory during his administration, I think, proves that, to put it mildly, he was not, and is not, the kind of man for the position. Some time ago, when the question of the Territory was under discussion, I pointed out that it embraced 70,000,000 acres of good agricultural and pastoral land, which was held on lease in large areas by people- who were making comparatively little use of it. I urged upon the Government the desirability of resuming that area. If we here could not persuade Parliament to tax the present holders out, as I think ought to have been done, then the next alternative was to buy them out ; but the Government^ apparently did not see the desirability of” doing that. I still believe that, before . any settlement is possible in the Terri- tory, this huge area of good country must be resumed. It must be got possession of in some way by the Government, and placed under its control. We hear people talk about settling small men in the Territory. In my opinion, the idea is ridiculous. I do not think that a small man has a ghost of a chance of making a living in the Territory. He is too far from markets, the cost of labour is too high, and everything is against him. The only man who can make a living in that part of Australia is one possessing a sufficient capital to start sheep or cattle or horseraising in a fairly moderate way.
– We have had no report that it is very suitable for horseraising.
– Some parts, I think, are fairly suitable for horses; but, in any case, sheep and cattle do well in that part of Australia, and would do well in the hands of comparatively small men - not 200 or 300 acre men, but men . with anything from 20,000 to 100,000 acres; men something like the gentlemen to whom Senator Turley referred this afternoon, and particulars of whose holding he gave to us in detail. If men of that stamp got hold of a portion of the Territory, they would, and could, develop it; but, unless conditions are altered, I think that the whole outlook is hopeless.
– Do you not think that it would be a good thing if the Government developed the Territory themselves by means of the pastoral industry?
– I have advocated here that the Government should establish sheep and cattle stations in the Territory, and produce wool and mutton for the people of Australia.
Sena-tor Ferricks. - They cannot do that until the referendum is carried. ‘
– No. It was pointed out that we had not the’ power.
– It is our own Territory. Why cannot we do it?
– It was pointed out that, although we could establish sheep and cattle stations, we could not trade in beef and mutton with the public.
– The same objection, I believe, applies to the coal trade ?
– Yes. In any case, the foundation of this huge socialistic scheme may very well be laid in the Territory, seeing that we cannot get the small capitalist, or even the comparatively wealthy capitalist, to go there. The people of Australia, -having the Territory thrown on their hands, ought to attack the problem of its development in their own way. That is how the settlement of that country, so far as sheep and cattle are concerned, can be carried out. With regard to mining, we have been told here, time and again, that the Territory is particularly rich in minerals, but, so far as I know, the Government have never had a survey of the country made by a competent mining engineer. That is one of the first tilings which ought to be undertaken by any Government. When a man buys a property, if he has not found out already what it is, one of his first acts after he obtains possession is to try to discover its possibilities. In the Northern Territory we have not attempted that. No Government, so far as I know, has in any way tried to find out what the possibilities or probabilities” of the Territory are from a mining point of view. I think that that also ought to be done. The Government should take this matter in hand at the earliest possible moment. But to carry out these proposals, a man would require to be placed in authority who has had some experience in connexion with land and mining. In Australia, there are dozens of men who have had a large experience in that direction, and whose services, I am sure, could be obtained on the terms held out by the Commonwealth. If the Government would only look for a man of that class, - 1 am perfectly sure that they would find him. There are many such men in Australia. I do not consider that the present Administrator ought to be re-appointed. I do not think that he is suitable “for the position. ‘ In addition to not having the necessary knowledge with regard to the land, and other matters, Mr. Gilruth seems to be wanting in tact. No doubt he had a very rebellious people to deal with, but tact goes a long way. In my view, Mr. Gilruth is very deficient in the gift of managing people of the class he undoubtedly had to deal with. - On the whole, I think that the Government would be very well-advised if it did not re-appoint him.
– I desire to refer to the Departments of the Prime Minister and the Treasury. I ask the Minister in charge of this Bill if I am right in assuming that the former Department is in control of the Australian wool clip?
– In speaking to the first reading, I called the attention of the Minister to certain matters in connexion with the wool clip, and also to war pensions and old-age pensions. I think that, when the honorable senator was replying to the debate on the first reading, he might have given the Senate some information on those two points, which I consider are very important. It has always been customary on such an occasion for the Minister to give some indication of what is in the mind of the Government on important points raised in debate, and I think that the Minister will agree with me that the points I referred to are very important. Not having given us any information, I desire to refresh his memory. Inmy former speech I -pointed out that under the system in existence all the wool from each State) must be sent to one port, there to be appraised, and that in Western Australia the system does not apply very well. I pointed out that at Geraldton there is any amount of wool to be appraised, but that the Government insists upon that wool being sent to Fremantle. When I made that remark, the Minister appeared to be sympathetic with the idea that an appraiser should be sent to Geraldton. The wool-growers up there are prepared, and have made the offer to the Government, to pay the cost of an appraiser. I shall be very pleased if the Minister will intimate, before this schedule is disposed of, what the intention of the Government is in that direction, so as to relieve the difficulty which exists, and which is in no way fair to that portion of the vast State. The other matter I referred to was an injustice to many citizens of Australia, in so far as the right to a war pension is militating against the grant to them of the full benefits of the Old-age Pensions Act. I pointed out last Friday, and I desire to point out again, that an applicant for an old-age pension who in every other respect has fulfilled the requirements of the Act, should not be deprived of a full pension because that person is in receipt of a war pension. I further refer the Minister to a statement in Hansard by the Leader of the Senate, when I raised a question on the War Pensions Bill. If such a thing occurred, I asked, was it the intention of the Government to so amend the Oldage Pensions Act that the two Acts, that is, the Old-age Pensions Act and the War Pensions Act, would be independent of each other. If a man or woman has reached the statutory age of sixty or sixty-five years, and is in every other respect entitled to a full pension of 12s. 6d. a week, and is getting a war pension of some sort on account of the loss of a relative at the front, or of an injury to a relative, it is unfair that the latter pension should be set off as income against the old-age pension. Every indigent citizen who has arrived at a certain age is entitled by law to an old-age pension, and when such persons are also entitled to war pensions they should be permitted to draw both pensions. I have already spoken on this subject on many occasions, and shall continue to speak on it until I have obtained redress for those who are suffering injustice.
– I understand that there are in the Commonwealth about 3,000 blind persons, some of them employed in institutions such as the Blind Institute on the St. Kilda-road, which are partly subsidized by the State. No person who is not destitute of feeling could visit one of these institutions without being moved to pity for the unfortunate inmates. Blind persons are now treated in respect of pensions much in the same way as invalid persons, but I hold that they should be put into a class by themselves. Every one who is permanently incapacitated should be given enough to keep body and soul together. Some of those who are blind lost their sight through following occupations which are extremely hazardous. It is rightly provided that no deduction shall be made from a pension given to a soldier who has been incapacitated on active service, and the rates of military pensions have been increased since the war began. A soldier may earn as much as he can without bringing about the reductionof his pension, and rightly so. Blind persons, however, may not earn more than 10s. a week without a deduction from their pension. The pension given to a blind person is 12s. 6d. a week, but should a blind man earn more than 10s. a week in addition, there is a deduction from the pension equivalent to the excess; a blind person’s full pension and earnings may not exceed 22s. 6d. In my opinion, every blind personshould be paid the full amount of the pension, irrespective of what he may earn. Those who enter institutions to learn useful trades show their desire to be independent, and it is a discouragement to make deductions from their pensions in proportion to their earnings. They have pointed out that what they can earn, together with the pension, is altogether insufficient to allow them to marry. At best, they cannot earn a living wage. I understand that a short time ago a deputation which waited on the Treasurer received sympathetic consideration, but I have not heard that definite action has been taken to comply with its requests. I urge this Government, and whatever Government may succeed this, to extend special consideration to theblind. My desire is that they shall be given the full pension, irrespective of what they may earn in addition.
.- I invite the attention of the Committee to the continuous neglect of the Minister for Works to provide decent house accommodation for the workmen at Canberra. Any senator who has visited the place will substantiate my statement that it is a disgrace to this Parliament and to the Department that the workmen employed there should be housed in the wretched habitations which they now occupy. The streets appear to have been laid out, but the houses themselves are built of rusty kerosene tins, pieces of corrugated iron, boards, old doors, sheets of oilcloth, and any other material that will help to keep out the wind and rain.
– They have been built by the occupants, I suppose.
– I understand that they have been built by the men themselves. The houses occupied by officers are well built and up to date. Why should there be this difference between the accommodation of those who do the work and that of those who direct it?
– When did the honorable senator make the discovery that he speaks of?
– Some little time ago. I havealready referred to it in this chamber. That is why I speak of the neglectas continuous. There seems to be absolute indifference, if not hostility, on the part of the Minister to those employed at Canberra. The machinery in the power-house is well housed; the departmental officers are well housed; but the men who do the hard work of the place, with their wives and children, are treated unsatisfactorily. The present state of affairs should not be allowed to continue for a month. If it were a question of providing a dwelling for Dr. Gilruth, or some other high official, the machinery of the Works Department would be set in motion without delay to build a decent habitation; but the workmen are completely neglected. A number of the single men are living in a wool-shed, where they are comfortable compared with the occupants of some of the detached dwellings. I might use a stronger term than indifference or neglect; but I hope that that may not be necessary, and that the Minister for Works, or the Minister for Home and Territories, whichever may be the responsible Minister, may give attention to the matter. Photographs contrasting the workers’ accommodation with that of the officers’ would be interesting. I draw attention also to the callous indifference of the Minister for Defence to the welfare of the operatives in the clothing trade in Sydney, and perhaps in other parts of the Commonwealth. Almost without warning, the instruction was issued a few days ago that no more cloth ‘should be supplied to the contractors, with the result that about 1,000 persons, girls and young women, were suddenly thrown out of work. At the same time, returned convalescent soldiers are beingclad in British-made suits. This retrenchment comes on top of the action of the New South Wales Government, which, by closing down a large number of works, has thrown at least 10,000 persons out of employment. I look upon this as part of the reward the electors of the Commonwealth are getting for the disappearance of the Labour Ministries in the Commonwealth and in the State of New South Wales. Of course, it will continue, but not with my consent or approval.
I have previously referred to the question of securing a reduction in the hours oflabour, more particularly in the case of men employed in the building trade by the Works and Railways Department. The whole of the building trades in New
South Wales are prepared bo effect an immediate reduction in the hours of labour to forty-four hours per week., but for some inscrutable reason the Minister for Works and Railways has refused to agree to the unanimous request of the council representing the whole of the building trades of the State, claiming that it is a matter for arbitration. I cannot understand his attitude. A reduction of hours would not interfere with the efficiency of the work done, or with the output of work per man employed; in fact, we might reasonably suppose that the output would be increased, with a consequentially better return for the money spent. There seems to be no reason for refusing the request.
Another matter mentioned by me some time ago, and not yet dealt with, is the question of having uniform electoral rolls for the Commonwealth and the States. Notwithstanding conference after conference assuring the Commonwealth that nothing whatever stands in the way of carrying out the proposal, nothing has been done. Various excuses have been furnished to us.
– What do you mean by “ conference after conference “ ?
– There have been conferences of electoral officers, and the matter has also been decided at various Premiers’ Conferences.
– A Premier’s Conference could fix up a lot of practical details in connexion with electoral rolls !
– There is no difficulty in the way of carrying the scheme out. Keeping the rolls up to date is a most costly operation to the States and to the Commonwealth. I think that the Commonwealth ought to bring pressure to bear on the State authorities to settle the matter without delay. We hear continual talk of cutting out unnecessary waste, and if the” States are genuine in these protestations they should fall into line with the scheme for the adoption of common rolls-
– If honorable senators talked less we could economize in the cost of Hansard, and have more time tobring about uniform electoral rolls.
– To my mind, honorable senators do not talk nearly enough. Those who charge us with talking too much are the people who are themselves anxious to manufacture public opinion. It is just about time that members of Parliament, who are elected to represent the people of the country, should assert their right to manufacture public- opinion in the same way that Mr. Huie, who edits the Standard, in Sydney, which advocates the policy of land values taxation, tries to manufacture public opinion in New South Wales. Other papers make most strenuous efforts to manufacture public opinion. Fortunately they are not held in very much regard, and it is a safe line to follow, if one desires to make progress, to go in the opposite direction to that advised by the newspapers. That remark holds good in regard to nearly all newspapers with the exception of the Worker, and a number of ethers I need not mention.
– To what line of the schedule is the honorable, senator speaking?
– It is very unpleasant to the honorable senator to hear me mention the Standard.
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable senator upon the matter at any other time.
– I am tired of listening to the honorable senator talking of newspapers in this State, Every time he makes reference to them he will /hear me mention the Worker and the Standard, and. other up-to-date papers.
– The honorable senator will act wisely if he confines his remarks within measurable distance of the schedule.
– It has been said that certain remarks of mine have been prejudicial to recruiting. I asked one gentleman who made a remark to that effect if he knew of any citizen who contemplated enlisting and had not done so because of my remarks.
– On the first reading of the Bill it would have been quite competent for the honorable senator to discuss that question. It is not competent for him to ‘do so now.
– I conclude by saying that no specific cases have been given where my remarks have had the effect that it is said they have had, and the statements made carry no weight whatever.
– Last week Senator Pearce said that I had threatened to stop Supply. I would like him to produce anything in’ which such a threat appears. I may have said that a Government without a majority in either House was not likely to again get into recess. Surely the
Minister does not stretch that remark into a threat to stop Supply.
– That is the statement to which I was referring.
– If the Minister thinks that the only means of preventing Ministers from getting into recess is to stop Supply, he has no idea of the resources at our command. There are one or two other matters to which I think reference should be made.
– Is the honorable senator about to refer to the other statements that I made concerning what he had omitted from his speech?
– I could refer to them, but I tell the Minister candidly that I have no desire to elevate any party, even that to which I belong, to the position occupied by Ministers. When I look for information from the Government, the people whose duty it is to give it, the Leader of the Senate retorts’ that my party should make a statement. If he cannot see the difference between a party and a Government I can ; but I overlook his demand. I may say, however, that we publicly announced, in regard to the Fusion Government we were asked to join, that we had been informed that for six weeks continual squabbling had been in progress between those holding office and those desiring office as to how the portfolios should be divided, and that we thought it would only intensify the difficulties of the position if we came in. So we left it to themselves.
– What I said was what one of your leaders, Mr. Anstey, said publicly.
– As the honorable senator knows, our party is all leaders.
– There was no objection on principle.
– Principle was the main reason why we did not participate in the Fusion. The honorable senator will agree with me that it is not good to have a party discussing -week by week whether the National Government should consist of six Liberals and five Hughesites, or. whether seven Liberals or four Hughesites would sooner win the war. Possibly with eight Liberals and three Hughesites we shall have every chance of winning the war.
– I thought it would be a good chance for the honorable sena tor to come over here and for me to go over there.
– The Assistant Minister is sufficiently self-sacrificing and sufficiently interested in helping to win the war to make way, with the approval of his leader, for Sir William Irvine.
– The honorable senator is not keeping his remarks within the confines of the schedule. I ask him to do so or cease talking.
– I think I can bring my remarks within the schedule, which provides the money by which the government of the country will be carried on. If you rule that I cannot make these remarks now, I shall take steps by which I may do so. However, I do not wish to do that. I shall not take up much time. We have a very strong demand for a National Government, and we have the sorry spectacle of those making the demand quarrelling, or, rather, huckstering and haggling as to whether the National Government shall have five Hughesites and five Liberals, or whether there shall be six Liberals or seven Liberals in the Government, and I recognise that the Assistant Minister will patriotically observe that if he makes way for Sir William Irvine, the war will be won much more speedily.
– The honorable senator must not continue on those lines.
– The whole expenditure of government appears in the schedule.
-The honorable senator is not dealing with the cost of government. He is dealing with the personnel of the present Government, or of what he is supposing will be the future Government. I ask him to confine his remarks to the schedule.
– I believe that I am doing so. We are dealing with the whole of the schedule, and are asked to vote one month’s Supply, not for this Government, but possibly for another Government - which makes all the difference in the world. I hope that when I finish my remarks the Leader of the Senate will tell me whether he intends to carry on until the end of this month’s Supply, or whether another Government is likely to spend the money. If the Chairman will permit me, I shall connect the schedule with my remarks. We find in it provision for. the Parliament, the Department of the Prime Minister, the De- partment of the Treasury, the Department of the Attorney-General, the Department of Home and Territories, the Department of Defence (Military), the Department of the Navy, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department ofWorks and Railways, and the Department of the Postmaster-General. I am anxious to know whether the offices so excellently filled by my honorable friends opposite may to-morrow be filled by others. This raises the serious ‘question of whether we should pass this Supply, or wait first to see who will administer the expenditure of the money we are asked to vote to-night. If the Chairman says that that cannot be discussed on this schedule, I must bow to his ruling; but I take it that as in the discussion of Supply we have the right to ask for the redress of grievances, such a ruling would be calculated only to prolong discussion on each item of the schedule. I have not the slightest desire to take such a course, but, on the contrary, I desire to help the Committee in the consideration of the Bill as much as possible. I was pointing out that by making way for Sir John Forrest, the Minister for Works might be under the impression that that would help to win the war more quickly; but for the life of me I amunable to understand that the substitution of one. Minister for another, when the reason is claimed to be the establishment of a strong National Government, can help to win the war more quickly. I understand that various members of the present Government are likely to go by the board. I have heard that the PostmasterGeneral has himself said that it would be a calamity if he were removed from office for the next five years.
– He said that it would be a bad job for Australia.
– I was thinking that it would be a calamity for Mr. Webster. If Mr. Webster were to give way to Senator Millen as Postmaster-General to secure a National Government, what earthly difference would it make in the winning of the war? With all this pretence and humbug about the establishment of a National Government, we have one party offering so many portfolios, and another standing out for more than have been offered. Then these Estimates may provide for the expense of sending two, three, or four of these people to Great Britain.
– No; only two are going.
– It will, in my opinion, be to the lasting discredit of the Commonwealth if more than one man goes. Australia should be represented at the Conference, but if any proposal is put before the Senate that a member of the Hughes party and also a member of the Liberal party be sent to represent the Commonwealth at the Conference, I, for one, will use all the forms of the Senate to prevent such a farce being played upon Australia.
– One might be sent to watch the other.
– Is this discussion proper in Committee?
– If Senator de Largie desires to take a point of order, I may inform him that we are dealing with the schedule as a whole, and that I am discussing just now the Prime Minister’s Department. Some statements have been made that passages for these gentlemen have alreadybeen booked, and I have the right to demand why Parliament should be asked to pay the passages of more than one representative to the Conference.
– Let me tell the honorable senator that no passages have been booked.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Assistant Minister. I had twelve months’ experience of office with the Assistant Minister and the Prime Minister, and I know, of course, that the Prime Minister always took us into hisconfidence, and told us everything he intended to do. I have little doubt that he is pursuing the same course at the present time. To get back to the question of the proposed strong National Government, why is all information concerning it withheld from Parliament? Is it because the heads of the Liberal party, in the interests of winning the war more quickly, are tryingto squeeze a little’ more out of Mr. Hughes in return for their support? I say that that kind of thing ought not to be allowed to continue. No Government should try to secure support and a majorityby offering Ministerial positions to members of another party, or offering to allow some one else to accompany the Prime Minister to Great Britain. If the affairs ofthe country are to be properly conducted, the Government should bring down a straightforward policy for the consideration of Parliament.
– The honorable senator should wait until he gets the policy of the Government. He will then be able to say whether it is a straightforward policy.
– I rise to a point of order. I hold that whilst the lecturette to which we are being subjected might have been in order on the first reading of the Bill, it is quite out of order at the Committee stage. I hope you will restrain Senator Gardiner from further discussing matters which should have been dealt with on the first reading.
– On the point of order, I contend that, since you decided to put the schedule as a whole, which, in my opinion, you should not have done, honorable senators are at liberty to make practically first reading speeches on this measure at the Committee stage.
– So far as I am able to judge, Senator Gardiner is taking more liberty than he should do in fairness to the Committee. My ruling that the schedule should be considered in globo does not give honorable senators licence to make first-reading speeches. I therefore ask honorable senators toconfine their remarks to the schedule. Now that the opportunity to make a first-reading speech has passed and gone, I hope that Senator Gardiner will take the course I have suggested.
– I think, sir, that I am taking that course, and if I had been permitted to continue my remarks I should probably not have taken up so much time as has been occupied through Senator de Largie’s interference. If I had to seriously consider Senator Guthrie’s suggestion to wait until the Government submitted their policy, I might ask that the Government should wait for Supply. I do not wish to do that. I feel’ that at this stage I am quite justified in refusing to vote any one of the items of the schedule when the money may be spent by men to whom the Committee might not be prepared to intrust the expenditure of a single vote.
– Most of the money has been already earned and spent.
– Half the amount asked for has not yet been earned or expended.
– We have had the honorable senator’s own word that the Bill would be through before the 14th.
– So far as my following is concerned, evidence has already been given of our desire to assist the Government in that direction. I want, however, to say that my offer was contingent upon another proposal which the Government did not accept, and that was to skip the Friday sitting, and adjourn until , the Tuesday. I am not in any sense “ stone-walling,” but if I cannot get in the few remarks which I wish to make, in discussing the schedule, I may be obliged to ask that the Estimates for the several Departments should be considered separately, or it may be necessary for me to move that Supply be granted for only a fortnight. The Government asking for this money are negotiating with another party under the pretence of the establishment of a National Government, and the whole difference between them is as to how many Liberals and how many Hughesites there should be in the new Ministry.
– The honorable senator must have been under the table.
– The honorable senator is guessing again. He is as bad as King O’Malley.
– What we used to guess was whether Senator Gardiner would be over here or. where he is at present.
– There is some doubt as to where I shall be upon any question. Senator Russell’s acquaintance with me enables him to say how difficult a thing it is to get from me an expression of opinion as to where I am likely to be.
– I do not say that.
– I am here now, at all events, and I am commenting upon what, in my view, is the most important matter that the public of Australia have been confronted with for many years. The question we have to consider is whether the Government now conducting the business of the country are entitled to have these votes passed for them to expend, when we know that, as a matter of fact, they are bargaining and huckstering day by day in the endeavour to meet the exorbitant demands of the members of another party for representation in the Ministry.
– I rise, sir, to a point of order. Senator Gardiner is defying your ruling. The honorable senator is quite out of order in discussing future Governments, or anything of the kind. He should be kept strictly within your ruling, and be confined to the discussion of the items in the schedule. He is not doing that, and I direct your attention to the fact.
– - Before you give your ruling, sir, I should like to impress upon you that Senator Gardiner is objecting, in a way, to the passing of the Bill, because he does not know what Government may yet be intrusted with the spending of the Supply asked for. That is the matter about which the honorable senator is concerned.
– I have tried to give honorable senators every reasonable latitude, but I now say candidly that Senator Gardiner is out of order. He cannot discuss, on the schedule to the Bill, the Government that is likely to be in power here’ fifty years hence.
– With all due respect to you, sir, I was not discussing any Government -that is likely to be in power here fifty years hence. Rulings from the Chair form precedents, and it is therefore necessary that we should be quite clear ‘as to what they are. If you, sir, rule that I may not on the schedule discuss who is likely to spend this money, or who may be called upon to expend it next week, I shall take the necessary steps to have the ruling submitted to the President to see whether I am in order or not.
– Very well. I rule that the honorable senator cannot do what he proposes to do.
– I disagree with the ruling, and I submit my disagreement in this form -
The whole schedule of the Bill .being under discussion, the Chairman rules that I could not discuss the possibility of a new Government administering the Departments and expending the money which the Committee is asked to vote, I disagree with that ruling, and claim that I am at liberty to do so.
In the Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - I have to report, sir, that it was decided at’ the outset of the proceedings in Committee that the schedule to the Supply Bill should be taken* as a whole, and that several honorable senators, in the course of the’ debate on the schedule, have made remarks relating to certain Departments. Senator Gardiner, however, proceeded, in the course of his remarks, to discuss the formation of a new Ministry, and the number of portfolios that should be distributed amongst certain parties from which it was likely to be constituted. I ruled that the schedule had no application to that question, and that the honorable senator, therefore, could not discuss the distribution of portfolios or the formation of a new Ministry which might, or might not, expend the sums provided for in the schedule. To that ruling Senator Gardiner has taken exception.
– On the point of order, Mr. President, I would’ draw the attention of the Senate to what has been our unfailing procedure in respect of ordinary Bills. In the first place, it has always been ruled that the principle of a Bill may be discussed on the motion for the second reading- .
– On the motion for the ‘first reading of a Supply Bill, a general discussion may take place.
– On the motion for the first reading of any ordinary Bill, there is no discussion, but in respect of Supply Bills it ‘has been the practice on such a motion to allow a general discussion of matters not relevant to-the Bill itself. This Bill, however, has passed both the first and second reading stages. The question of whether or not the Government should be intrusted with the expenditure of the amounts which it has asked Parliament to vote, might be pertinent, I. submit, .to the motion for the second reading of the Bill; but the, Senate, by passing the motion for the second reading, without even a division, has really agreed to the proposed vote. That being so-, we are now concerned only with the allocation of the sums provided for in the Bill amongst the several Departments. It is obvious that the discussion in Committee must be pertinent, and relevant to the one point as to whether or not the sums of money allocated amongst the several Departments should be so allocated ; whether they are sufficient or insufficient, and whether they will be properly expended or nob by the Government. The discussion, in order to conform to our practice and our Standing Orders, must be kept within those bounds.
– I have no desire to disregard either our practice or our Standing Orders. This Bill, however, provides for certain votes in respect of the Parliament, and the Departments of the Prime Minister, Treasury, the AttorneyGeneral, Home and Territories, Defence (Military), the Navy, Trade and Customs, Works and Railways, and PostmasterGeneral. In the discussion in Committee, I was pointing out the difference between voting the Supply asked for to the Government at present in office, and voting it for a prospective Government to expend. The Chairman, on a point of order, by Senator de Largie, ruled me out of order. Believing that the freedom of debate in this Committee is more important than any mere party advantage, I appealed to you for your ruling.
– Senator Gardiner was by no means confined strictly to the well-established rule of procedure in Committee, and he was warned before he was ruled out of order that he was not keeping within the Standing Orders. He persisted, however, in talking in a general way of the possibility of future Governments. It is well known to honorable senators that when we are in ‘Committee on a Supply Bill the discussion must be relevant to the items in the schedule. Senator Gardiner, however, was proceeding to roam over the whole field of future politics. The formation of future Governments, I submit, has nothing to do with the schedule to this Bill. We cannot have in Committee a general, rambling statement, such as might have been made on the motion for the first reading.
SenatorGardiner. - Is the honorable senator in order in referring to my remarks as “a general rambling statement.”
– Such a descrip tion is not unparliamentary, but if the honorable senator takes exception to it, I shall ask Senator de Largie to withdraw it.
– I do object to it.
– I withdraw it.
– There are two well-known principles of parliamentary procedure which have a distinct bearing on the point of order raised. The firstof these is that before Supply is granted, every grievance must be heard, and that every honorable senator shall have the right to criticise the Government and the management of public affairs in any way he thinks fit. The second principle is that every discussion which takes place, either on the Bill when before the House on the second reading or on the items of the Bill when in Committee, must be relevant. The first principle I have enunciated as bearing on the question is complied with by the practice of the Senate in giving to every honorable senator on the motion for the first reading an unrestricted opportunity for speaking on any subject he thinksfit - hypothetical or otherwise, relevant or irrelevant - to the fullest possible extent that his fancy dictates. That opportunity was taken advantage of by many honorable senators when the Bill was before the Senate on the motion for the first reading. When the motion for the second reading of the Bill was called, a further opportunity was given for discussing its general principles. When Senator Gardiner rose, however, the Bill had been taken into Committee, and the only question I have now to decide is whether a discussion on the. lines indicated by the Chairman as having been pursued by Senator Gardiner is relevant to the subject-matter of the items in the schedule. Senator Gardiner unquestionably; would have been perfectly in order in criticising to the full either the present or any hypothetical Government had he chosen to do so on the motion for the first reading of the Bill. I am not prepared to say that he would have been out of order in doing so on the motion for the second reading. But the question is whether the honorable senator’s remarks were relevant to the items in the schedule. Those items all concern the ordinary working of the various Government Departments, and it is unquestionable that any discussion regarding expenditure connected with each of these several items, provided it was confined to the expenditure of those items, would be in order. Any speculations that might be indulged in as to the Government which might be in office next week, next month, or six months hence, however, do not appear to me to be relevant to the particular items of expenditure in the schedule to this Supply Bill. If the salaries of. Ministers were included in any item in the schedule, something might be said for such a discussion. We know, however, that they are not. They, like the allowance to honorable senators,
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote for Parliament, £3,365, by £365.
I submit this motion in order that the Senate may have an opportunity to express its disapproval of the way in which the business of Parliament, .as at present constituted, is being conducted by the Government. That can be done only in this way. I have no desire to get round , the President’s ruling. I bow to it, but wish to express my entire disapproval of the action of the Government in so conducting the business of Parliament as to hold it up to public ridicule. Under the guise of forming a National Government
– I rise to .a point of order. Senator Gardiner is now pursuing a course which you have ruled he cannot follow.
– If I am not in order, I presume I shall have an opportunity, on the motion for the third reading of the Bill, to put before honorable senators what I desire to say in this respect.
– Why does not the honorable senator allow his judgment to overcome his temper?
– The honorable senator cannot pursue that line of argu-% ment. He must confine his remarks to items in the schedule.
– Do you rule, sir, ‘ that I cannot state why I have submitted this request ? Can I not state that I have’ moved it in order to give honorable senators an opportunity to emphasize their disapproval of the way in which the Government is conducting the business of Parliament. If you, sir, rule that I cannot pursue that line of argument, of course I will desist.
– I must rule in that way, because, whilst the honorable senator will be in order in moving a reduction of the item, he will not be in order in making a general speech upon it.
– I am moving a serious motion, and I wish to assign reasons why it should be carried. I have no other object in submitting the request than that of bringing the Government to their senses in relation to their conduct , in degrading Parliament.
– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable senator to proceed on those lines.
– If you rule that I cannot put my reasons in my own way, I will withdraw the amendment.
– Order ! The honorable senator must have some respect Cor the Chair.
– If I have said anything disrespectful of the Chair, I will apologize. But I merely stated that, in view of the fact that your ruling precludes me from presenting my own arguments in my own way, I would withdraw the motion. That is plain speaking, but it is not disrespectful. I do not wish to be disrespectful to you, sir, because you have not been disrespectful to me. I could make out a good case why this money should not be voted; but, if I am not at liberty to do so, I withdraw the request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– We have recently had complaints about correspondence not being delivered to troops at the front. I do not know what explanation the Government have to offer in regard to this matter, but I was recently shown a letter from a soldier who was on his way to the front. He gave his regimental number, and all the information that he thought necessary to enable his friends to correspond with him. Yet everything was deleted in this letter except his name, and the letters A.I.F. That may. be a perfectly sufficient address. Whether it is or not I do not know. I am merely stating how his letter was treated by the censor. His people are now under the impression that they cannot correspond with their son, and are very much disappointed in consequence. Perhaps the Minister for Defence, in reply, will give us some information on this matter.
– If honorable senators will take the trouble to read the Herald of this evening, they will there see a paragraph which we publish every week, in order to disseminate amongst the community the correct way in which to address soldiers abroad. Here is a sample -
No. 1234, Private Hughes, 21st Battalion, a.i.F.,
But what happens is that a number of soldiers, in writing to their friends, forward to them what they believe to be the correct address, but what, in nine cases out of ten, is not the correct address. They usually put in a lot of details which are not essential, and omit things which are essential. When honorable senators come across cases like that mentioned by Senator Stewart, I suggest that they should recommend to their friends the wisdom of cutting out the newspaper notices to which I have referred, and putting them aside for the purpose of reference. ‘Not long ago we had a complaint from a woman to the effect that her letters to her son were going astray. We asked her to supply us with the full address to which she had been writing. She sent it along, and, although it covered the whole of the envelope, it was, nevertheless, the wrong address. We gave her the correct address.
– In the interests of proper discussion, I wish to ask - seeing that I was not permitted to make general statements - why the Minister is at liberty to pursue that course?
– The Minister for Defence is simply answering a question relative to his own Department.
– Honorable senators should advise people who make complaints in regard to the non-delivery of their letters to cut out from the newspapers the notices to which I have referred, and to put them aside for the purpose of reference.
.- Whilst the so-called Win-the-War party has been huckstering for the past five or six weeks as to whether it shall take six Ministerialists into the Government-
– What request is the honorable senator going to submit?
– I am going to submit a request after I have got into my stride.
– Has the honorable senator any request to submit?
– I will submit a request if you, sir, will allow me to finish my sentence. Whilst the so-called National Government have been huckstering as to whether it shall take six Liberals and five Ministerialists into the new Cabinet, or six Ministerialists and five Liberals-
– I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable senator is pursuing the same line of argument as Senator Gardiner attempted to pursue, and which you have already ruled out of order.
– I rule that Senator Findley is out of order unless he intends to prefer a request.
– I bow to your ruling, sir; but if I am denied an opportunity of dealing with this matter now, I shall avail myself of the chance to do so before the Senate adjourns.
– During the course of this discussion, certain statements have been made which involve the Department that I control, and I therefore wish to know whether I shall be in order in referring to them now?
– I desire, particularly, to refer to certain statements made by Senator Grant; but before doingso I would like to reply to some observations concerning myself which were made by Senator Gardiner.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the Minister is out of order in replying to strictures passed on his Department, seeing that the discussion upon his Department has closed.
– I would point out that in Committee it is the privilege of any honorable senator to speak more than once.
– There is no point of order involved..
– It appears that honorable senators are consumed with anxiety lest I should reply to Senator Gardiner, and out of respect for their feelings I forbear criticising his statements in reference to myself on the present occasion. Senator Grant has accused me of being guilty of continuous neglect in failing to provide proper housing accommodation for the men who are employed at the Federal Capital. I wish to assure him that the Capital is not exactly under my control at the present time. The fact is that the Minister for Home and Territories and myself have decided to jointly control it until the report of the Commission which is now inquiring into certain matters connected therewith has been received. It will then be determined under whose control it shall remain in the future. In the meantime, I wish to point out that Senator Grant has been a member of this Parliament for nearly three years. Hehas visited the Capital as a close scrutineer of public works, but it is only lately that he has discovered that the men employed there are being badly treated. When, therefore, he accuses me of being guilty of continuous neglect in this connexion, he convicts himself of the same offence. The fact is that the housing accommodation at the Capital is the same to-day as it was two years ago, or even at the time Senator Grant was elected to this Chamber; but until about a fortnight ago he apparently visited the Capital wearing peculiarly coloured spectacles, and only then did he discover that something was wrong. Why he only re cently made that discovery is for him to explain, as I have quite enough to do to explain my own actions.
– I mentioned it in this chamber nearly two years ago.
– The housing accommodation at the Federal Capital is just as good and just as bad now as it has been in the past. In the present circumstances of this country, it is not too bad, and it exactly conforms to the economic policy that is being adopted in carrying out works there. Surely Senator Grant would not have us go to the expense of erecting costly dwellings in a place from which they might eventually have to be removed? In view of the temporary nature of the work there, the men employed at the Capital must be prepared to submit to the same treatment as that to which those employed on otherworks are subjected - to no better, and no worse. They are living in the same class of housing accommodation as is provided for men who are employed in other places, north, south, east, and west. Why Senator Grant should have so lately discovered that something special ought to be done, I fail to understand. I say again that the character of the work has to be considered. At the present time an inquiry is being held whether certain works should be carried on or whether they should not, so that we now, if ever, are in a state of transition. The men there are housed, if not better, certainly no worse, than men in a similar position employed elsewhere. I myself have been on public work, and I know what housing accommodation means, so that I speak from experience. I may say that, as the Minister controlling the Department, I have not had a single complaint from these men about the housing; but it would appear that Senator Grant, like others of his party, are going around striving, in a foolishly misguided way, to sow the seeds of discontent in the minds of men by leading them to suppose that they are illtreated. In the absence of any complaints from the men, I advise Senator Grant to postpone his extraordinary solicitude until we hear something through the proper channel.
As to the forty-four-hour week, when I took charge of the DepartmentI declared that I would adhere rigidly and firmly to the principle of arbitration. and if Senator Grant thinks that he can succeed in inducing rae to get over, under, or around any arbitration award he will be disappointed. The door of the Arbitration Court is wide open, and if the men desire a shorter week they have a proper tribunal to which to apply. I am not a slavish advocate for either a forty-four-hour week or forty-, eight-hour week, though eight hours a day is a very good general arrangement. We know that for some classes of work eight Lours a day is too short, while for other classes of work it is too long, as will be recognised by any one who knows anything about labour in its most irksome and arduous form. If the men do apply to the Arbitration Court, I believe that, in equity and good conscience, the Court will grant them fair hours of employment. As Minister, I am not going to interfere in any way, for, in the. first place, it would obviously be impossible for me to interfere, and, in the second place, I am wedded to the principle of arbitration. I feel that I am the best and truest champion of the workers in the attitude I take, though Senator- Grant professes to be their more ardent and staunch friend.-
As to the Northern Territory, I think that the complaint about Dr. Gilruth is most extraordinary. If I had time I could show clearly that the complaint which appears in the press of this morning is1 contradictory from /start to finish. There was a meeting called by the executive ‘of the Australian Workers Union-
– The Minister can scarcely go into that matter.
– Judging by the report in to-day’s Age, at that meeting it was declared .that the cost of the works was mounting up, while it was admitted, though there- is a fortyfourhour week, with high wages, there ia not the degree of- efficiency we” have- a right to expect. By some means or other, this meeting sought to blame some one else for the undesirable results. We are told on the one hand, inferentially, that the wages are too high, on the other the work is not accomplished satisfactorily. These wholesale statements about the condition of affairs up there ought not to be so unreservedly accepted; we have to be careful what we are doing. We cannot expect the Territory to make progress if we have these continuous demands. >
– The Minister is getting away from the question.
– I realize that. All I desire is to call attention to the fact that the statements made at the meeting cannot be taken side by side. We must remodel our ideas if we desire to make the Northern Territory a progressive portion of the continent. I myself worked for y earl* in Northern Queensland, whichis exactly similar country, and, therefore, I know what tropical Australia is like. In my opinion, it is a place where a man can do an honest day’s work just as well as anywhere else ; and unless we desire to encourage an undesirable condition of affairs, we must reconsider our position. In regard to works under my control, the Department* is trying to hold the scales fairly between the taxpayers of Australia and the men who; in the Northern Territory, depend on their wages for a living. We shall give a fair wage, and in return shall expect a fair day’s work. ‘ If we do not get that fair day’s work, then on the heads df the workmen will recoil ? he responsibility for the stagnation in the development of the Territory.
– I cannot allow the Minister’s declaration of policy about the housing of the workmen to pass without question. When an honorable senator brings before us the fact that the Commonwealth ‘employees are badly housed, the complaint is entitled to . fair consideration. I agree with the . Minister that, in the past, workmen have been badly housed; but the day is gone when men were satisfied with houses of ,rag and tin-cans. In a great work such as this, which will give employment for many years, the question of the housing of the men has for too long escaped attention. As to the Minister’s attack on Senator Grant - for it is nothing less than an attack - I may say that that honorable senator did bring this matter before the Senate on a previous occasion.
– When ?
– I suppose two years ago; and as this is not in Senator Grant’s constituency, he is acting quite disinterestedly. If the men are badly housed, then any reasonable man will agree that the housing should be improved; and we, as a Senate, ought to see that it is. It is not necessary that palaces should be provided, but the men . should certainly have proper accommodation. Senator Grant speaks about what he has seen.
– What about the housing on the transcontinental line?
– When I took a trip over the transcontinental railway, one of the first matters I brought under the notice of the Government was the housing of the men, whom I found dining under conditions that were a disgrace to civilization. If proper conditions can be provided without wasteful expenditure, why not provide them ?
– I have been at the Federal Capital oftener than has Senator Grant, and, with members of the honorable senator’s party, and not a single complaint has been lodged by a workman about the housing.
– Of course, if the men are well housed, that ends the matter.
– That is the position.
– What I understood the Minister to suggest was that because conditions were bad in the past for other people, there is no reason to give these men decent accommodation. I do not know what the hours of work are, but I think it was the policy of the previous Government to give the men in the various trades the terms of the awards existing in the places from which they came : and that, I take it, is a reasonable method .
– Would you take into consideration the other conditions as well ?
– All conditions should be taken into consideration; but surely the Minister would not depart from an award because of advantages in some other . respects? The Commonwealth should be a model employer.
– And should get model service.)
– I would insist on that all the time; and the only way to get model service is to remove real grievances. If we desire to get good service, we must not treat men as though we felt they were “ out “ all. the time to “best” the. Commonwealth ; if they are treated in a straightforward, manly way they will give us a straightforward, manly return. Like the Minister, I have had experience of workmen, and my opinion is that men work according to habits they contract in their training, and. that it ia> as difficult for a quick man to work slowly as for a slow man to work quickly. There ought to be no feeling displayed on the present” occasion, because we know that the redress of grievances before Supply is one of our privileges. The Commonwealth at the Territory is undertaking an immense, work ; and it would be money well expended in building, not palaces, but good common-sense workmen’s cottages, which, I am sure, would pay interest on the cost of construction. Nobody is asking that the men should be given these houses. At Jervis Bay the Government built 8 by 10 galvanized shanties, with cement floors. I ran my eye over the timber, and reckoned them to have cost about £S each ; and yet the men were charged a weekly rental of 6s. Talk about sweating! In a Government Department which is*” likely to carry out public works for many years to come, it is false economy to allow men, particularly in a rigorous climate, to exist in houses that are not well constructed. It makes all the difference in the world in their efficiency if they are comfortably housed, instead of having to battle with the elements all night. The Minister would do well to ‘call for an inquiry into this matter, and to have snapshots of the buildings obtained. ‘ I merely rose to enter my protest against the unfair reception of Senator Grant’s request by the Minister.
– I should not have risen to speak on this schedule if it were not for the serious industrial position that has arisen in Victoria in the last few weeks. .1 wish to supplement the remarks of Senator Barnes in regard to the serious unemployment amongst carpenters in this State, owing, of course, to reasons over which the Government may not have absolute control.
– The honorable senator is trespassing in precisely the same way as other senators have done. He is now endeavouring to establish a grievance, one which he had every right to mention on the first reading of the Bill, but certainly not in connexion with the schedule. The honorable senator may mention any requests which he desires to make.
– I desire to request the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Works and Railways to take into earnest consideration the necessity for finding employment for the carpenters who are at present out of work.
– The honorable senator is not making a request on the schedule at all. To what item ishe referring?
– I am dealing with the defence vote, and I proposed to speak on the building of houses in connexion with the repatriation of soldiers; but I will defer my remarks until a more fitting opportunity is presented on the motion for adjournment.
– On the first reading of the Bill I mentioned the matter of the stoppage during 1915 of the separation allowance to the wives and children of some men who had gone to the front. I stated that a complaint had been made to me, and that I had confirmed it by inquiry at the paymaster’s office in Brisbane,, that if a soldier remained in camp in Australia his wife and children received a separation allowance, but that in this case the soldier had left Australia in February, 1915, and from that time until May of the same year the separation allowance had been stopped.
– How long ago is it since you spoke to the paymaster?
– About a month or five weeks.
– Did thepaymaster say that the woman is not now entitled to that separation allowance?
SenatorTURLEY.- He told me that the separation allowance for that period had not been paid.
– And that the woman was not entitled to receive it?
– I do not know about that.
– If you will make a sworn declaration that the paymaster told you that the woman is not now entitled to the separation allowance, that paymaster will be suspended, because his statement is not true.
– The soldier himself returned to Australia, and he made a statement to me. I inquired over the telephone whether the information I had received was correct, and I was told that at the time referred to theregulations provided that the separation allowance should not be paid to the wives and children of those who had embarked. That regulation operated until some date in May.
– I understood you to say this afternoon that you had been informed by the paymaster that the soldier’s wife was not now entitled to the separation allowance.
– I stated that I had been informed that she was not entitled to be paid a separation allowance from the time her husband embarked, about the 18th February, 1915, until the 1st May following, when the new regulation was introduced. During that period she had lost about £4, and had not been able to get the money, although her husband had made complaint to the pay office. He was informed that, had he remained in camp in Australia, the separation allowance would have continued.
– This matter is capable of an easy explanation. I understood from my colleague that Senator Turley’s statement this afternoon was that a woman who was entitled to a separation allowance, and whose husband was at the front, had not received it, and that the paymaster had told him she was not entitled to receive it. Such a statement is not correct. When the separation allowance was instituted in the early stages of the war, it was made payable to the wife and family only while the husband was in the Commonwealth, on the ground that only then would the husband come home frequently and put the family to the expense of maintaining him. For some time, the separation allowance ceased when the soldier left the Commonwealth. We saw, however, that the regulation was not equitable, and that the home had still to be maintained, and the Government, of which Senator Gardiner was a member, amended the regulation.
– The new regulation operated from the 1st May, 1915.
– From that date, the separation allowance was made payable to the wife and family, irrespective of whether her husband was in Australia or overseas. That being the case, the woman whose case has been mentioned by Senator
Turley was not entitled to a separation allowance for the period anterior to the 1st ‘May, 1915, after her husband had left the Commonwealth! because the new regulation was not made retrospective. Now every married man is entitled to a separation allowance for his wife and family, whether he is in the Commonwealth or abroad.
– What the Minister has stated is the grievance which I have brought forward.
– You stated that the money was due to this woman.
– I stated that if this man had remained in camp in Australis his wife and children would have received the separation allowance; but, because he had embarked to go abroad, the payment had been stopped.
– It has not been stopped. It was never due. Every soldier who joined at that time knew that he would not get a separation allowance after he left the Commonwealth.
-. - It seems to me that this man had a grievance, because, as one returned soldier informed me, he had no knowledge until he had been at the front for some months that his wife and family were not receiving the allowance.
– That was one of the conditions of enlistment, and was published everywhere^
– That may be so; . but my informant tells me that this grievance is felt by many men at the front, and that some do not know even to-day that their wives were not receiving the separation allowance between the date they left the Commonwealth and the 1st May, 1915.
– There was no regulation under which the allowance could be paid during that period.
– That appears to have been a distinct injustice to those men. Whilst the men were in camp in Australia, even though they did not go to their homes, their wives were receiving that allowance. It does not seem that there would be anything wrong in the Government paying to these men the amount ‘ that should have been paid in separation allowances to their wives and children between the date they embarked for service abroad and the introduction of the new regulation on the 1st May, 1915. I am satisfied that not one member in either branch of this Legislature would raise a word of objection if the Government were to make that payment, but would regard it as an act of ordinary justice.
– In the present polluted state of the political atmosphere, it does not seem that any useful purpose can be served by harrowing the dying Ministry, because, after all, any promise Ministers may make to-night will probably expire with their term of office. - But. there is a matter of immediate importance to which I should like to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence, and that is the closing down of the Clothing Factories in Melbourne, Sydney, and elsewhere, involving the dismissal of thousands of hands, principally women. It may be that there is an enormous surplus of clothing in the Commonwealth, and that the Government do not wish to be unnecessarily overstocked; but, on the other hand, it is evident that . there is a big shortage of .clothing and of labour in England. .That being so, we ought to take advantage of our position to keep our hands employed, and” send our surplus products overseas. I am in possession of information from the front that, when men are wounded and sent to the hospital, their own clothes are usually destroyed because they are bloodstained, or otherwise unfit for use. The Australian soldier prides himself on being well found, and I think the Commonwealth Defence authorities are fully entitled to credit in this respect, because our men are clothed better than any other soldiers in the world. We ought to maintain that superiority, and see that our men are properly uniformed at the hospitals, instead of being shabbily dressed as they say they are, or, as an alternative, being obliged to purchase some other clothing resembling the Australian uniform. I have here an extract from a letter which appeared in the Age on the 26th January from Private A. E. Dinger. It is as follows : -
There are no Australian issue tunics in England. The tunic you are served out with is a Tommy tunic - a little short tunic that reaches down to your waist. They look ridiculous on our big fellows, so we have to have tunics made to measure, the cheapest being £2 10s. We had to pay this ourselves, excepting 14s. the Government allows us on each tunic we bought.
Another soldier - a Queenslander - writ-“ ing under date 14th October, shows that the grievance still existed, and covered a considerable period of time. This soldier is Private V. J. Dunne, No. 13608
A.A.M.C., c/o Base’ Records Office, Horseferry-road, London. His letter contains the following statement: -
Our boys are not receiving fair1 treatment in regard to uniforms. When we leave hospital we are given a suit of Tommy’s uniform, which fits where it touches, the same as the English soldiers wear. If- our own uniform, that is, 1 the Australian issue, is required, we must- pay for it. It costs about £5 for a full suit of Australian issue. I .do not think that is fair to the men. Our old uniforms are usually torn and bloodstained (mine was) when we leave the trenches wounded, after having been in the field three months, and I think we are entitled to a new one. Our second uniform, which we brought from Australia with us was taken from us in Egypt. The people of Australia should buck against that.
Seeing that we have a great accumulation of uniforms in the military stores here, there is no good reason why we should not send some of them immediately overseas, to he available for our soldiers when required, and replenish the stocks here by re-engaging those thousands of women who have been put off in our factories during the last fortnight. A great deal of distress exist? both in Melbourne and Sydney in consequence of this action, and the position can be relieved in the manner I have indicated. Our soldiers in England have to pay for uniforms when they come out of the hospital, but they should be able to get those of Australian manufacture, with which they are well satisfied, free of charge. . There is no reason in the world why this reasonable request should not be complied with. I knowthere was a time when it could not be done, because we were then sending so many men away that it took the Government all their time to supply uniforms; but that pressure has been relieved, and for the future there should be no. difficulty whatever in supplying the requirements of all our reinforcements, and, in addition, sending a fair stock of uniforms to be held in- reserve in England, so that when our men are sent from the front to a hospital they may be supplied with a uniform of Australian manufacture free of charge. I feel sure that this matter has only to be mentioned to the Minister to be rectified, more particularly if by doing so the Government can relieve distress amongst thousands of people who are unemployed at present.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -Minister for ‘ Defence) f 10. 5] .-The matter raised by the honorable senator was mentioned earlier in the debate by Senator Grant. It is not a fact that English- uniforms for service conditions are issued to the Australian soldiers. What’ has been done is this,: We have only one Australian hospital in England - the hospital at Harefield Park - so that when our soldiers are returned from the front ‘wounded, many, of them are sent into British War Office hospitals, distributed all over Great Britain, and which are under the i control of the War Office authorities. We pay to the War Office so much per day for each Australian soldier, but we neither provision him, find him medical attention, nor supply him with a uniform when he comes out. That is all done by the British War Office authorities; and it is obvious that it would not be a wise policy on the part of the Commonwealth to have forty or fifty quartermasters for .those hospitals to supply uniforms to any half-dozen or dozen Australian soldiers who might be under treatment there. In such cases, therefore,, our men receive the English-made uniform, but on service they are almost wholly supplied with uniforms made in Australia. In cases where we were deficient in one or two articles of clothing we appealed to the War Office to supply them; but that deficiency was not due to. any inability on our part to make uniforms. It was because we were not always able to send them overseas to arrive at the right time. Do honorable senators realize the nature of the shipping difficulty, and what it means ? We have been subject to that inconvenience, and so we have not always been able to get our supplies away in time. We have been building up huge stocks, not only in Australia, but in Great Britain also, so that to-day there is no necessity to turn out as large a number of uniforms as formerly, because we have built up our reserves.
– What about supplying uniforms to Great Britain?
– I may tell the honorable senator that we have already made an offer to the War Office, not only as regards uniforms, but as regards boots and cloth, but, unfortunately, it was not accepted. We also informed the War Office we were able to turn out saddlery, and when that offer was turned down we i asked them to send it on to our Allies.
Honorable senators will see, therefore, that the position” has been fully exploited by the Defence Department of the Commonwealth. I -want now to remove any misapprehension that may exist as to Commonwealth activities. The Commonwealth factory has not been curtailed in its operations, but is going full speed ahead. Some of the contractors, however, are not now getting the orders they previously secured, and I suppose they have been obliged to slacken off, but obviously it would not be wise for the Commonwealth to build up larger stocks of uniforms than are likely to be required.
– Does not the Minister think that it would be wise to remove the grievance which exists among the men I have referred to, those men who thought that their wives and families were entitled to separate allowance between the time of their embarkation and the time when that regulation was passed? It seems to me that they are labouring under an injustice, or what they believe to be an injustice.
– I will look into the matter, but I point out again that those men only had to look at their conditions of enlistment to see that they were not entitled to a separation ‘ allowance when they left Australia. That regulation was subsequently reviewed, and at a still later date the separation allowance was increased. It might, therefore, be argued that this increase should be carried right away back. I can only say that I will give consideration to the representations which the honorable senator has made; but if the men were under any misapprehension it was due to their ignorance of the conditions Under which they enlisted, and because they, did not give that attention to it which they might very well have done.
.- I would like to know from the Minister why the work at the Naval Base at Port Stephens has not been continued. I am aware of the fact that this work wa3 begun when there was a dearth of employment in the Newcastle district in consequence of the coal trade having slacked off considerably, and that it was undertaken to provide employment, but there is still need for the same consideration, as about 200 men are out of employment iri that district. I ask whether the work undertaken at the outset has been completed, or whether the Government have abandoned the idea of develop^ ing the Naval Base at Port Stephens or not?
– As this matter is under the Minister for the Navy, I can only promise that if the honorable senator will supply me with a COPY of his remarks, I shall bring them under the notice of the Minister.
– Under Military Service Regulation 2,40 of last year the Government called up by proclamation all the men of a certain age for military service, and it was understood at the time that steps would be taken to see that employers re-engaged them after their term of training had expired, assuming they went back to civil life, as was the Case through the referendum being rejected. ‘Complaints have been made all over the Commonwealth that men have lost good positions through no fault of their own. They responded to the call of duty, they registered themselves for military service, but when they went back to their former positions at the end of their month’s training they found the places had been jumped by other men. We had an assurance from the Government that they would take steps to rectify this injustice, and I would like to know if anything has been done.
– I can only say that several cases which have been reported to me have been referred to the Crown Solicitor, and I have not, yet received any advice on that subject.
– Are you in a position to say whether or not the employers were guilty of an illegal act?
– I am not in a position to say off-hand. I believe that the Crown Solicitor has advised on that point. I have not yet had an opportunity to see the advice which he has given, but I will look up the matter.
– Before the debate is closed I wish to reply briefly to one or two of the questions which have been raised. First, Senator Needham raised the question of mixing the old-age pension and the war pension. I shall not deal with .that matter specifically, but I will bring it under the notice of the Treasurer, because a good deal of trouble can probably be avoided by means of administration. I am not in favour of making a mixture of two pensions to any one person. If it is a case of the war pension not being high enough, it is the duty of Parliament to increase the amount to those persons who have rendered service to the country. I am opposed in principle to the payment to any person of two pensions. If one pension is not sufficiently high, it is to the discredit of Australia, and Parliament ought to take the responsibility of increasing it. If it is a case of the old-age pension, the amount is based on the fact that a certain income is being earned. Personally I have not been in sympathy with that restriction, but the finances of the country have always prevented an extension of the pension to those in receipt of more than a certain income. In my opinion the question would be better dealt with by increasing whichever pension is insufficient to meet the requirements or necessities of the individual concerned rather than by mixing two pensions to one individual.
– They are being mixed now.
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Treasurer, and see whether there is a chance of our doing anything. In regard to the wool clip, I understand that what Senator Needham has in his mind is the position of Geraldton.
– The getting away of the wool clip is a big job. Probably no bigger commercial undertaking has ever been entered upon in Australia in the limited time at our disposal, and worse than all, with the limited number of ships which are controlled by the British Government. One of their requests to Australia is to save as much space as possible. We have been saving hundreds of thousands of miles of sailing by not sending any ships to more than one port if we could possibly get a full loading at one port. It is remarkable how many new ports for the shipment of wool people want to establish as soon as the Government take over this business in Australia. This request is not confined to Western Australia.
– That would not apply to Geraldton, because it is a natural port.
– It applies all round Australia. The point is whether it would be an advantage to send a boat to Geraldton, or whether it would be more advantageous to utilize some of the coastal boats to bring the wool to Fremantle. As regards the handling and the classification of the wool, which I may say is divided into 312 classes, and the question of shipping, the best advice we can obtain in Australia is that it is better to concentrate the whole of the wool of Western Australia at Fremantle. That policy has been carried out, and considerable objection has been raised there. The Committee advised the Prime Minister against taking the wool from. Geraldton direct to the Old Country. I have received numerous complaints in writing from representatives of Western Australia, and the Prime Minister has promised definitely a further inquiry into the advisability of using Geraldton as a direct port of shipment for wool. I expect to receive an answer within at . least a couple of days, and will be pleased to let Senator Needham have a copy of the report which is submitted to the Prime Minister. Senator Findley brought up the question of the pensions paid to the blind. I do not think that the treatment of the blind is a party matter. I believe it is the desire of every person in Australia who has a heart that blind persons should suffer ho disadvantage. I have never been very favorable to the charitable institutions employing cripples, but at the same time I believe that, under the system which preceded the grant of pensions, those institutions did the best they could in all the circumstances, and probably in many cases kept the old people from poverty and starvation. But to-day, with the newer conception of life, I am inclined to think that there is a good deal of force in what Senator Findley said. I feel sure that every member of the Senate is in sympathy with his suggestion, if it can be managed financially. That also I will bring under the notice ofthe Treasurer, and see that consideration is given to it.
– Do you also include the inmates of benevolent institutions ?
– I would like to include them all. If I could have my way there would not be any conditions imposed in regard to the payment of pensions, except as regards age.In reference to the question of the Northern Territory, which Senator Stewart brought up, the re-appointment of Dr. Gilruth is now under the consideration of the Cabinet. I am not able to anticipate its decision, but. the matter will be dealt with at a very early date. ‘ Regarding the question of uniform rolls, which Senator Grant was so keen about, I may say that whatever fate the future may bring, the Electoral Office is now in possession of a unanimous recommendation by the whole of the States in favour of .uniform rolls and cooperation. A decision at these Conferences has not been recorded .a dozen times, but once only. That decision was unanimous, and I am glad to say that a Bill has been prepared, and is now in the Electoral Office waiting to be introduced whenever Parliament gets an opportunity to deal with it, which I hope will be very soon. I do not think that I have opened up any new ground.’ I have endeavoured to briefly answer most of the questions which have been raised, and if I have overlooked any matters, I can assure honorable senators that no discourtesy was intended.
.- I thank the Assistant Minister for the reply he gave regarding the matter of the wool clip. . So far as the question of the war pension and the oldage pension is concerned, I am not at all satisfied with the reply. The honorable senator informed the Committee that he will bring the matter under the notice of th~e Treasurer. In view of the fact that the Leader of the Senate assured me when the War Pensions Bill was being debated that, should it be found to conflict with the Old-age Pensions Act, the Government would bring down an amendment, I think it is a matter for the Cabinet itself to determine, and not for a particular Minister to deal with. I did hope-that the Assistant Minister would have made a statement of that nature rather than tell us .that he would refer the matter to a particular Minister. Now tlie Treasurer may consider that, owing to the scarcity of money, it may not be wise to give the two pensions, but I think that the good sense of this Parliament is behind my request, and the promise of the Minister of Defence that the Government would bring down an amending measure.
– I made no such promise.
– If the honorable senator will read Hansard, he will see there in black and white his promise that if any applicant for an old-age - pension were in receipt of a war pension, the latter would not be set off as income. He can refer to Hansard-
– Yes, I can refer to Hansard, where you brought the matter up. “I have explained this before ; but, of course, you will bring it up half-a-dozen times.
– I repeat that in the statement I referred to the Minister for Defence made the promise that if such a thing occurred an amending Bill would be brought down. I hold the honorable senator to that promise, and contend that it is the duty of the Government to see that the two pensions are separated. Both are earned in a certain way. A claimant for an old-age pension is entitled to the pension by virtue of citizenship, and the fulfilment of certain conditions, .while a claimant for a war pension is entitled to the pension for other reason’s. This is not a question for the Treasurer, but a question for the Cabinet to consider.
– Which Cabinet?
– May I say that when it is a question of amending an Act the usual courtesy is that the Minister in charge of the Department shall make a recommendation to the Cabinet?
– I am talking about justice, and not courtesy. If I had not reminded the Assistant Minister , again to-day he would have forgotten my remarks’ of Friday, last. I care not whether the matter is brought before the present Cabinet or any other Cabinet, even a Cabinet including Senator de Largie.
– The new Cabinet will include two Western Australians - Sir John Forrest, as Treasurer, and Senator Pearce, as Acting Prime Minister, with Senator Lynch overboard.
– There cannot be too many Western Australians in a Cabinet, for they are all good men.- In conclusion, I want to suggest to the Minister in charge of this measure that the Cabinet should consider the question of keeping these two pensions entirely separate, so that one will not conflict with the other.
– May I request now, sir, that each item in the schedule be put separately? During the debate I have been considering quite a number of requests which I want to move. I desire to move a request for a reduction of each item by a percentage as it comes along, but.it will be very difficult to do that if the schedule is put as a whole. Suppose, for instance, that I want to move that the item for contingencies for the Senate be reduced by £50, and later, that the item for contingencies for the House of Representatives be reduced by £70, how can I get an opportunity to move the two requests unless the items are put separately ?
– The honorable senator is quite at liberty to move a request in regard to every page of the schedule.
– The fact, sir, that I have that liberty satisfies me. Noticing the range of debate which was taking place, I began to imagine that my liberty was being restricted, but now that you assure me that it remains the same as that of other honorable senators, I accept the assurance.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
– I do not know what latitude I shall be given on this motion, but I wish to ascertain whether, after the adoption of the report, the Government will agree to postpone the further consideration of the Bill until the negotiations between the Ministerialists and the Liberal party have been concluded.
– We are willing to defer the third-reading stage until tomorrow, if that is what the honorable senator desires.
– Is there any chance of our obtaining information regarding the changes that are to be made in the Government?
– What has that to do with the Bill ?
– We ought to know whether we are giving Supply to one set of Ministers which will be spent by another set, particularly if the change is taking place under conditions that are discreditable.
– Something may be known about 3 o’clock in the morning.
– I shall curb my impatience, in the hope that there may be a definite statement to-morrow afternoon.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the third reading be an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– Go on with it now !
– If the honorable senator is willing to allow the third reading to be taken now, I ask leave to amend my motion accordingly.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the Minister have leave to amend his motion ?
– I object.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed National Government - Un employment - Development of Northern Territory - Imperial War Conference - Supply Bill - Federal Capital : Labour Conditions - Tasmanian Wheat Supply.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Earlier in the evening, I was ruled out of order by the Chairman of Committees, when desirous of making certain remarks; I hope that what I wish to say now may not be considered out of order. No doubt, on the motion for the first reading of the Supply Bill, I had an opportunity similar to that which now presents itself to deal freely with matters affecting the public weal’, but I did not avail myself of it. WhatI was trying to say earlier in the evening was that the Win-the-war party had been discussing for more than six weeks whether the war could be won by forming a Coalition’ Ministry consisting of six Ministerialists and five Liberals or a Ministry consisting of six Liberals and five Ministerialists. The party is further divided, some believing that success for the Allies and a victory for civilization can best be achieved by choosing four salaried Ministers from the Ministerial side, and the same number from the Liberal side, making two other Ministerialists and one Liberal Ministers without portfolio. I believe that there are more than twenty aspirants for office in the Liberal party. The I.W.W._ sympathizers have been charged with “ going slow,”’ but they are nothing to the Win-the-war party, which in eight weeks, has achieved nothing. There was a meeting at 8 o’clock this evening, and a few. minutes ago the party was divided into factions. There were the Cook faction, the Sir John Forrest faction, and the I.W.W. - that is, the I, William Watt - faction; and they have been quarrelling among themselves as to the method by which the number of seats in Cabinet allotted by the Ministerial party shall be filled. Some wish to follow the old method of leaving the selection to the leader of the business. The managers of the of the business. The managers oi business, apparently, have not conducted things in the way some men in the room, who call themselves business men, approve of. To proceed on the old lines, though it would be unbusiness-like in the view of some, would speedily enable them to come to terms ; but there are some members of the party who want the team to be selected by ballot, and because there is strong opposition to the suggestion to make a selection by ballot, two or three gentlemen who represent constituencies in the State of Victoria are putting up the fight, of their lives. I do not know when they will finish their job, but when it is finished the Ministry will be constituted, and, if I am correctly informed, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Cook will lose ho time in leaving the shores of Australia in order to be present at the Imperial Conference. . It is not that two gentlemen are required to represent Australia at the Conference. The difficulty is that the Liberal party are very watchful, and a bit suspicious about the other chap, and these managers think it good business that one of their representatives should be present at the table where the deliberations will take place in order to watch the other fellow, and that during the absence of their leader things must be watched here. These gentlemen are all for winning the war! No one would say that they are concerned about their own elevation, or about the next elections ! These matters would be about the last to concern them. They are not concerned .about, portfolios. Not at all ! That is why they are still at their meeting. They are not concerned about the next elections. No ! That is why they are so seriously engaged to-night in devising ways and means whereby Senator McKissock, Senator Blakey and I may be sent to the right-about at the next election. I do not know whether you, Mr. President, know* what their scheme is; but it is reported that the proposals before these gentlemen to-night have been considered and decided upon by the Ministerial party, of which you are a member. They say they are concerned, nob about the next election, but about winning the war. They also have due regard for. economy, and on that account one of their proposals, which will meet with the unanimous approbation of every man who is anxious to see proper economy in Australia, is to have a single election for the Senate! It will cost about £.100,000; but a matter of £100,000 is a mere bagatelle to the formation of a new Government that is going to win the war and save the Allies and civilization from ruin and disaster. The present Ministers came into office with a war policy, and it is an admission of their weakness and inability to do anything when they say that they are unable to do what they came into office to do except witu the assistance of Sir John Forrest, the so-called Emperor of the West ; Senator Millen, Mr. Glynn, and a few others who are not yet fixed. With the assistance of these gentlemen, the war will be won - I am talking about the European war - but in order to win it they say that it will be necessary to engage in a political war in Australia within a few months. They are hopeful that, with the candidates they will put forward, they will be able to win additional seats in the Senate, and part of the scheme outlined - so the man in the street has told me - is that if they happen to dish my two colleagues and myself in Victoria, and can pick up a seat in another State, they will have won their war ! They will have captured this Chamber, and in order, not to win the war, but to save their political skins, and hold on to the sweets of office, they will appeal to the Imperial Parliament fox an extension of the life of the House of Representatives. It is a’ scandalous proposal to have a single election. The people of Australia will express themselves in no uncertain way in respect to a proposition, not for winning the war, but for capturing the Senate in order to save the skins of. the gentlemen now on the Ministerial bench, and those who are in consultation with, them, by prolonging their parliamentary life. While these negotiations are being carried on, all domestic legislation in Australia has been shamefully neglected, with the result that there has been a partial stoppage of works undertaken by the Commonwealth in the different States. It would seem to be part and parcel of the scheme.
– Where are the works ?
– In every district the services of men are being dispensed with. Are there as many men to-day employed on the east- west railway, or at the Naval Bases, or at the Federal Capital? There are fewer men engaged than were at work two months ago.
– Give me the name of one man who has been sacked?
– What a. question to ask me.
– Sixty -seven men were sent away from the Flinders Naval Base last month.
– Every month for quite a long time large .armies of men have been dispensed with at the Flinders Naval Base alone, not to speak of other works undertaken by the Commonwealth.
– The buildings they were engaged upon were’ completed.
– I believe this is a part of a well-laid scheme to bring about economic conscription. Municipal authorities and State Governments are stopping works, and the Commonwealth Government is following the example, with the result that in Victoria at the present time the condition of affairs in the building trade, not to speak of other trades, is worse than it has been at any other time during the last three decades. There are between 1,400 and 1,500 carpenters alone out of employment within the Melbourne metropolitan area, and hundreds of workmen in other spheres of activity are also out of employment. Senator de Largie and the Minister for Defence may laugh, but I ask them how they would like it if they were following their old occupations in the mine and at the carpenter’s bench, and found themselves out of work, as some unfortunate men outside have been for the last seven or eight weeks, and in some cases for three or four months.
– I was never out df work in my life.
– The prospect of Senator Findley being out of work is what is bothering him.
– I expect that I shall be able to get a crust if I am put out of my job, as the honorable senator was, I have no doubt, when he was thrown out of his employment. I was never more serious than I am now when discussing this topic. It is heart-rending to any man in the Labour movement to be able to do nothing for excellent citizens and highly competent workmen, who appeal to him day after day, to try to get some work for them. What are the Government going to do ? Are they going to stand idly by and see the army of unemployed increase day by day, not by-hundreds, but it may be in a short space .of time by thousands. Any man who would treat- this matter light-heartedly must be destitute’ of any feeling at all. I will guarantee that in Victoria - and I speak particularly of, the metropolitan area. - there is an army of from 5,000 to 10,000 competent men seeking employment to-day, and unable to get it. If the so-called policy of economy is continued by the present Government, the misery at present existing amongst the working classes must continue and increase. I make a special appeal to the Government, if they remain in power, .to do something on behalf of the army of unemployed. Many, of the men unemployed in the building trade have sons and relatives at the front, and many of them have lost sons and relatives in the war. It is a poor recognition of the services of the sons and relatives of these men that those whom they have left behind them should receive no consideration when they are out of employment. .It is all very well for the Government to say that they have not stopped Commonwealth works, but some time ago, in delivering a financial statement in another place, the ‘present Treasurer said that he expected to make a saving .of £740,000 this year by not proceeding with works which it was previously intended should be proceeded with.
– Does the honorable senator think it is any pleasure to members of the Government to stop works?
– No, I do not. jfr
– -Then,what is. the honorable senator talking about?
– I think it should be a pleasure, to the Government to do all they possibly can to find work for men and women at the present time.
– The honorable senator ought to get his head read.
- Senator Lynch thinks that a man ought to get his head - read for calling attention to the army of unemployed.
– The Government are doing their level best every day in the week to place every man they can in employment, but money cannot be had for the purpose, and the honorable senator knows it. All his talk is just “flapdoodle.”
– The Minister for Works need not get angry. He should be a good judge of “flapdoodle.” I heard him say to-night that the conditions of working men are as good to-day as when’ he was at work. If the world has not moved any faster than that the Labour movement does not count for much. In years gone by, as the honorable senator knows, shearers had to live in huts that were unfit for human habitation, and yet ‘he tried to convey in the speech he made to-night that what was good enough for them in his day, twentyfive years ago, ought to be good enough for them to-day. He said further that an eight-hours day is too short. That is a nice statement for a Labour man to make. It is a nice statement from a man who accuses me of talking “ flapdoodle.”
– He said that an eight-hours day was too long in certain occupations.
– What can one expect from Senator Findley but a half truth?
– The unemployed question is the question of all questions. If it is solved every other question is of minor importance. The present Government and people generally profess to be extremely anxious about the men who are returning to Australia from the front. I speak with some .knowledge of the subject, as a member of the State War Council of Victoria, when I say that men are returning to Australia by every boat, and are being discharged by the Defence Department from time to time. Although there is a desire on the part of most people to find employment for the re named discharged soldiers, it is impossible to find employment even for all of them, whilst the difficulty of finding employment for civilians is very much greater. What should the Government do? Should they wait until the war is over to strike out in a new direction ? Should they not rather proceed here and now to provide for such works as will not only give employment to the men who are out of work at the present time, but will insure the reemployment of all the men who return to Australia after the war is over? That is what ought to be done here and . now. The Government say that the difficulty in the way “is that of getting money, but I contend that they would find little difficulty in financing big propositions, if they went about the business in a whole-hearted way. During the discussion of the Supply Bill We had speeches from two or three honorable senators who referred to the Northern Territory. I have never wavered in the’ opinion I have expressed with regard to the possibilities of that extensive Territory of the Commonwealth. There is a golden opportunity for the Government to go in for big works in that area. Why did we take over the Territory ? Was it to look at it and play with it ? During the whole of the time we have had control of the Northern Territory we have done little or nothing with it. It is about time we made up our minds to do something with it, and we can only do that by undertaking big things. When we speak of developing the Northern Territory we must talk, not_of hundreds or of thousands of pounds, but of millions.
– Where are we to get the millions?
– Might I ask the Leader of the Government in the* Senate where we are to get the millions we shall require for the repatriation scheme, if millions cannot be obtained for the development of portions of the Commonwealth? Are we to be told that there is no. hope for the unemployed to-day ? Are we to be told that there is no hope of financing any big proposition that will absorb the unemployed as long as the war continues ? If we are, then we and the unemployed will know exactly how we stand.
-r-But, apparently, we must not speak of millions.
– The development of the Northern Territory is’ too big a proposition to be bracketed with the expenditure of small amounts. It is proposed to raise millions for the settlement of returned soldiers, and the cause Is a good one.
– It was proposed.
– It was proposed, but we do not know what will be done. I shall not occupy any more of the time of the Senate. I have done what any labour man would have done when his attention had been called by a trade organization to the difficulties that many hundreds of their members experience today in securing employment, and the distress in which many of them find themselves: I think it is the duty of any member of the Labour party in such, circumstances to do his utmost’ to see that some provision is made for these men, to say nothing of their wives and children.
– Action should be taken at once.
– There should be no hesitation on the part of the Government in endeavouring, in some way, to relieve the distress that exists.
– All this is with a view to the next election.
– The honorable senator may impute whatever motives he pleases.
– Senator Findley has a monopoly of that sort of thing.
– Order ! Motives, must not be imputed.
– Honorable senators on the Government side may laugh and jeer as they like, but the men who are out of employment, and who helped to make them what they are today, will stand none of their humbug. While they are much concerned about their own jobs, they are indifferent to the -position of other men.
– The honorable senator’s job is not too safe.
– It may or may not be; but I do not hesitate to speak on behalf of these men, and to appeal to the Government, whether its life be long or short, to do all it can to relieve the distress that exists among many thousands of men, to say nothing of women and children.
Senator FERRICKS (Queensland) £11.4]. - I wish to advance one reason for the objection I took to the motion for the third reading of the Supply Bill being proceeded with to-night. There has been no conflict between myself and any of mv colleagues. I notified the leader and several other members of my party that
I intended to speak on the motion for the third reading of the Bill if it were proceeded with to-night, and I should have spoken at some length. My objection to’ the third. reading being taken to-night may be briefly stated. A Liberal junta has been sitting all the afternoon, and is still sitting, to decide the fate of the Government. There is no objection to their moulding the destinies of the Government or the Hughes party, but I do object to their placing Parliament in the lap of the gods with the Hughes party. I was not prepared to agree to give the Government something in the nature- of a blank cheque. v” Again, it was due to our party that Ministers, before asking for the third reading of the Supply Bill, should have stated whether any definite arrangement had been arrived at with the Liberal party.
– While the honorable senator, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, is entitled to discuss almost any question, he is restricted by the Standing Orders from anticipating the discussion of a Bill before the Senate. The Supply Bill is still before the Senate, and he must not anticipate discussion upon it.
– I observe the wisdom of your ruling, Mr. President, and I shall deal now with the political situation. Any party .presuming to rule the destinies of Australia should take the Parliament into its confidence with regard to what is transpiring. Towards the end of the discussion to-night there was quite a jubilant, if not an arrogant, note sounded by some of our honorable friends opposite. That was not the correct attitude for them to adopt, considering the position of the political machine from a governmental stand-point. Parliament should have the last word on the very important matters involved, and should know what is being done. Had we agreed to the third reading of a certain measure to-night we should not have had any information as to the political situation, seeing that the Liberal junta is still sitting.
– The whole of the Liberal party is meeting. Surely the whole party cannot be described as a junta.
– The Labour party has often been referred to as a junta by the honorable senator himself. The Liberal party is dealing with the destinies of Senator de Largie as well as those of Senator Lynch. I take exception to the impending departure of the Prime Minister for Great Britain - and it is pretty certain that he will go if he possibly can - without receiving specific instructions from the Parliament.
– He may take Cook with him as his factotum.
– I was rather inclined to think that if any one was to accompany Mr. Hughes to London it would be Senator Millen. That honorable senator is rather anxious about the matter. His seat as a representative of New South Wales is somewhat in jeopardy, but if he accompanies the Prime Minister to London the sentimental aspect may be strongly in his- favour. With the sneers of the Minister for Works to-night in regard to those who are advocating the eight hours’ principle, I have no sympathy. Senator Lynch said that eight hours a day was too much -in some occupations, and not long enough in others. He did not reply to an inquiry that I made by way of interjection as to whether he would name a few of those occupations in which eight hours’ work per day was not enough. Most honorable senators, like Senator Lynch, have worked hard for very many years in various occupations, -and are familiar with the varied experiences of those who follow what might be called’ a varied life in Australia. At any rate, I have never struck an occupation in which eight hours a day was not sufficient, no matter how light the work may have been. The Minister for Works and Railways may sneer, but even in such a light occupation as harrowing, if a man works honestly, at the end of eight hours he will have had enough. In preaching against ten and twelve hours a day being worked in the cane-fields of Queensland, we always adopted the attitude that if a man did not accomplish a fair day’s work in eight hours he would not accomplish it in twelve. Instead, of indulging in generalities, the. Minister should have enumerated a few of the avocations in which eight hours labour daily is not sufficient.
– I leave it to the. honorable senator’s imagination. It is pretty keen.
– I have worked just as hard as has the Minister, though not perhaps for so many years.
– It was only the other day that the honorable senator started work.
– It is over ten years since I left off manual work, but I have not forgotten what it was like, as Senator Lynch seems to have done.
– I have lost more sweat than the honorable senator could swim in.
– The honorable Minister for Works and.Railways does not appreciate very much the men who are sweating now. He is working for that .2 gift which the Liberals ‘are prepared to give to the Hughes’ followers. The former have publicly stated that they are willing to give away one-fifth of a portfolio in the projected new Ministry to the present Ministerialists, and the way in which Senator Lynch has been playing up to them ‘ of late suggests that he is desirous of securing their favour.
– I talked to my supporters for years in a strain that the honorable senator has never been man enough to1 adopt.
– If the honorable senator had previously shown two such faces in his life as he has exhibited in this chamber during the past few months, he would never have seen Parliament.
– The honorable senator has been crawling after them for votes all his life.
– And Senator Lynch is crawling after Joe Cook and John Forrest. When the honorable senator and those with whom he is associated find themselves in an extremity, they endeavour to vent their spleen on their erstwhile supporters^ - on the men who formed the ladder upon which they have climbed to success.. I object to the Prime Minister leaving Australia without instructions from this Parliament, because very important questions will doubtless be considered at the Imperial War Conference. One of these -questions was mentioned in the newspapers this morning. It was there stated that the disposition ‘ of Australian trade and products may come up for consideration at that gathering, and I notice that at a farmers’ conference at Wangaratta, a resolution was carried affirming that its members would not consent to the sale of their produce unless they had direct representation on the Wheat Board, or were able to give instructions to the Australian delegate who would attend the Imperial Conference. That is to say, they would not sell their produce even to the’ Imperial Government in the same way as the wool clip has been sold. I do not go ‘that far, but, I hold that, upon such questions as the cession or exchange of territory, for example, the voice of Australia should be heard. Only the other day, Sir Joseph Ward, speaking at the “ Windy “ Club, I think, said that Australia and New Zealand would never let go their hold upon the islands which they have conquered from Germany. In all probability, the Australian representative at the Imperial Conference will have to answer for Australia upon that question. It is a’ question upon which there is a great divergence of opinion, and, therefore, our representative should not commit Australia to any specific course of action until his views have been indorsed by this Parliament: Need I remind honorable senators that France, one of our Allies, which is often extolled by us, has a law in operation under which no territory can be ceded, exchanged, or acquired without the sanction or ratification of Parliament. Are we going to give a free hand to our delegate to make bargains on behalf of Australia, whether he be Mr. Hughes, Mr. Tudor, Mr. Fisher, or Mr. Cook ?
– Mr. Hughes would not take instructions from anybody.
– I venture to say that he will have to bow to Australia’s wishes. Otherwise, he will’ do an injury to1 Australia, and to the Imperial authorities. Another ( reason why we should have a clear pronouncement from the Government is that we desire a definite statement regarding the Tariff. When Senator Lynch sneers at those who gave him his first step in life - at the workers who paved the road which he has since travelled - he should advance some reason for his action, and not be content to say, airily, that the hours worked in some occupations are too short and the wages are too high. I do not believe that the wages are too high in any occupation, and I do believe that eight hours a day is quite long enough for any man to work.
– I wish to congratulate the Minister for Works and Railways upon the bold stand he has taken up this afternoon. He said that “he was a disciple of arbitration, and that into the Arbitration Court he would go. I wish to tell him that, since the works , at the Federal Capital were commenced, no Government has yet paid the men employed on them the wages awarded by the New South Wales Arbitration Court. I desire to see those wages paid in the future. I refer to the wages and conditions of sewer miners; and, as I say, no Government has yet paid to them the wages fixed in the Arbitration Court award. I have been doing my best in the matter; and although Ministers have come and gone, some of them’ with a great flourish of trumpets and promises, never have I been able to get more than” the stereotyped reply, which, though signed by them, I do not think they have read. I hope that the Government will see that the arbitration awards are carried out in their entirety.
– I desire to again call the attention of the Government to the supply of wheat to Tasmania for milling, purposes. This is a matter I made the subject of a question this afternoon, and also on two days last week ; and I do not know that the Government really appreciate the gravity of the situation. The position amounts almost to a bread crisis - a breakfasttable crisis. I tried yesterday to get into communication with one of the Ministers, who was otherwise engaged; but I. think that an urgent telegram that I received from the Premier of Tasmania on Saturday will disclose the seriousness of the position. That telegram has sincebeen followed by another urging that joint action should be taken by the senators representing Tasmania. As honorable senators know, however, Tasmanian senators who go home at the week-end cannot return to Melbourne until the Wednesday, so that to-day we are not in our full strength. The telegram I received on Saturday from the Premier of Tasmania was as follows: -
Following telegram addressed Prime Minister yesterday, begins, Wire received. Regret decision of Wheat Board. Position this State now is Ils. Must close next week some relief not given.
That means that all the mills in Tasmania must be closed -
Deputation mill employees waited on me this morning, urging something be done prevent unemployment. My Government realize seriousness of situation, but cannot accept responsibility. Federal Wheat Board control wheat supplies, and have fixed price for same at rates which will not allow flour to be manufactured and sold here at proclamation rates. State is now faced with shortage of flour supplies.
That, I take it, is the conclusion of the telegram to the Prime Minister from the Premier of Tasmania, and the latter then goes on to say -
Must respectfully urge you take steps to safeguard interests this State, and integral part of Commonwealth. Kindly confer with Sir Elliott Lewis. Address, Menzies’ Hotel, Monday.
So far as I understand the matter, the’ wheat produced in Tasmania is not by itself usable for milling purposes for the, making of bread, and it must be mixed with a large proportion of the harder wheat from the other States, such as South Australia. In Tasmania there are splendid crops of wheat, averaging, I think, 19 bushels to the acre, as against 9 or 10 bushels in South Australia; but, while the Tasmanian wheat may be used for biscuits, fowls’ foodland other purposes, it is not good for milling. Tasmania is an importing State so far as wheat is concerned. I understand that wheat is supplied at Williamstown at 4s. 9d. f.o.b., and the non-producing States have to buy at that figure, and, in addition, pay freight and transport. The result is that by the time the wheat gets to Tasmania, instead of being 4s. 9d., it is something like 5s. 9d., or, at least, 5s. 3d. At the latter price this means 6d. on the 4s. 9d., or 11 per cent, more than the cost to the millers in Victoria. The result is that the Victorian millers can dump into Tasmania just as they please. At this late hour I do not wish to press the argument at. any length, but merely mention the matter in order that the Government may take it into their serious and immediate consideration. As I say, the Victorian millers can dump in what they want; and if the figure be £11 10s., or the proclamation price for the selling of flour, that means about £1 less than in Tasmania ; but once they capture the market the Tasmanian people do not know where they are. Now that representations have been made by the Premier of Tasmania to the Prime Minister, this matter ought to be looked into, for it is one not raised in the’ last few days, but one in connexion with which I have been in communication with the Department -since before April of last year.
– I indorse the remarks of Senator Keating. The situation arises from the fixing of the price of wheat, and also the price of the secondary commodity, flour. There is a complete lack of flexibility in the matter. It is stated on the highest authority - that of the Premier of Tasmania. - that the Tasmanian milling industry will come to an end if a greater element of flexibility is not introduced into the working of the Wheat Board, so far as its operations extend to Tasmania. I take it that the Wheat Board was constituted under a war power, and that the fixing of the price of flour is under a similar authority.
– Do you want wheat at less than 4s. 9dJ
– We want wheat at, such a price as to enable the milling industry to survive, and to provide flour for the people of Tasmania. Is Tasmania, because it is an island, to be blockaded, perhaps, more effectively than Germany by England?
– How much are you prepared to pay ?
– We want wheat at 4s. 9d. in every State capital.
– It seems to be assumed that only the wheat-producing States are -interested in the operations of the Wheat Board. Since when have honorable senators believed that the interests of the consumer should not be regarded? Is not price- fixing, to a large extent, in the interests of the consumer? Is not price- fixing adopted by any Government as an instrument to prevent the exploitation of the consumer 1 Seeing that the people of a whole State are affected, any representations in regard to urgency are well justified. Before I knew that Senator Keating had interested himself in the matter, I had contemplated taking some steps, and I have since acted in con j une- ‘ tion with him. I addressed an urgent letter yesterday to the Prime Minister.
– Is it a question of the shortage of flour, or an increase in the price of bread, or both ?
– It is a question of the shortage of flour for the Tasmanian people, and extinction of the milling industry - in that State. The matter is one of the greatest urgency, and no question of political association or Ministerial reconstruction can be so important as to preclude the necessity for an immediate decision of it.
– It seems to me that the request made by the Tasmanian representative’ can be boiled down to a request that wheat shall be supplied to Launceston and Hobart at 4s. 9d. per bushel. -
– It does not matter whether the price is 4s. 9d. or 5s. 3d., so long as it is the same throughout the Commonwealth.
– That seems to be a request that the Wheat Board should be able to grant. It is unfair that an attempt should be made to practically starve the Tasmanian people.
– I wish to express my disappointment with the condition of affairs in Tasmania in regard to the supply of breadstuffs. I realize that a State of the Commonwealth so close to the other wheat-producing States ought not to be penalized to any extent. A declaration was made that the price of wheat throughout the Commonwealth should be, approximately, the London parity, less the freight; and why Tasmania should be penalized to the smallest’ extent I am at a loss to know. I am fairly well occupied with the work of my own Department without being called upon to understand the working of. the Wheat. Board, but I promise Senator Keating, and Senator Bakhap that I will bring this matter before my colleagues immediately, with a view to a readjustment to meet the interests of the people of Tasmania. I cannot see why Tasmania should be penalized any more than the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia.
Senator Findley expressed an almost nervous desire to have something done to relieve the unemployment in Melbourne. There is no justification for the honorable senator addressing those remarks to the Government in such a way as to, suggest that we are not doing as much as we might do. As I interjected, the Government are straining every, nerve to provide all the work possible, particularly in the metropolitan areas, in order to absorb the men who are unfortunately out of employment. I have written to the chairman of the Public Works Committee, asking him to get that body to inquire with all expedition into the works referred to it, with a view to absorbing upon them as much artisan labour as possible. I have also addressed to the officers in charge of the transcontinental railway construction at Port Augusta an inquiry as to what openings there are. for carpenters.- . The reply I have received is that the Departs ment is fully staffed there, and that there will be ,no immediate openings. I’ further endeavoured to have put in hand at once> the work of shifting certain buildings and equipment from Williamstown to the Flinders Naval Base ; but I found that the Naval authorities had not yet decided upon the shifting of those buildings. I would remind honorable senators that it is not the desire of the Government to curtail employment to the extent of the saving of a single sovereign. fI never knew a Government, whether Liberal or Labour, that would not, to the extent of its power, re- lieve distress when confronted with it; and I resent any suggestion that the present Government are wanting in sympathy v with those who are out of work. It must be patent that the question of providing employment is one of finance. There are developmental works in the inland areas that should be proceeded with if possible; but, in connexion with railway building, for instance, we find that we can get enough rails to finish the transcontinental railway only by the application of special strategy to the contracting company. We have endeavoured to provide as much employment as possible along that railway. The Senate must be aware that, even when Mr. Higgs was Treasurer, although certain works had been approved by Parliament, it was found impossible to expend within £900,000 of the amount authorized. I did not hear any particular complaint urged then about -the action of the Government in not pushing on with public works. I do not know, whether unemployment was’ rife then or not, but the fact remains that Parliament had said, “Let this much money be spent,” but owing to the fact that the Government could not get the money the expenditure was £900,000 short of the authorization. The same conditions and. causes are in operation today, and in view of the circumstances X hope senators will realize that we do not possess the philosopher’s stone with which to turn will into gold. We asked tho people to lend us money, and we received a fair response; but I do not know whether the advocacy of some gentlemen in this Chamber that no interest at all should be paid did not have an effect upon those who. have surplus money to invest. The honorable senators who adopted that attitude must accept their share of the blame if the- Government cannot got money enough for its requirements. It is no pleasure to the Government to defer the putting in hand of public works, or for me to have men clamouring every day for employment which 1 am unable to give. The present situation is most unfortunate, but we are doing our level best to carry out all works authorized by Parliament to the extent of the money at our disposal. No more than the Government have done, and are doing, can be done at the present juncture. Of course if we can get more money, and honorable senators will assist us in that regard, it is hard to say at what rate of speed we shall proceed with’ the carrying out of works in the future. But for the time being, it is useless to promise to do more, when we cannot get the money. The Government are the victim of the abnormal circumstances which obtain to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 February 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170213_senate_6_81/>.