7th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister controlling prices the following questions, without notice : -
– I was aware of most of the facts stated by the honorable senator, and I think that I can answer the fifth question. The matter of knitting wool is now under consideration as to prices and conditions.
– Has the Minister for Defence had his attention directed to the fact that Staff-Sergeant Poster, a returned soldier, and a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly, in moving the Address-in-Reply the other day, animadverted upon the unsatisfactory nature of certain features of the arrangements connected with Roseneath Hospital, and will he take the matter into consideration ?
– I am sorry to Bay that I have not had time to read the Hansard report.
– There is no. Hansard, but you can see a report in the newspapers.
– I did not read a report in a newspaper either. Senator Earle brought the matter of Roseneath Hospital under my notice some weeks ago, and as a result of this representation I instructed that there should be prepared for me a report on the points raised by him. That report has not yet reached me, but I will deal with the matter immediately I receive the report.
– Anyhow, it is still a live question. .
The following papen were presented: -
Customs Act 1901-1916-
Proclamation dated 18th July, 1917, prohibiting exportation (except with Minister’sconsent) of Glue Pieces.
Regulations amended, &c - StatutoryRules 1917, No. 158.
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c- Statutory Bulee 1917, Nos. 163, 161, 165, 166, 167. .
Excise Act 1901. - Regulations amended, &c, -Statutory Rules 1917, No. 159.
Papers regarding case of QuartermasterSerseant A. T. Ozanne.
War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 155, 156, 162, 168.
– Shouldthe present Government appraisement of Australian wool for the Imperial Government continue for the current financial year, will the Government see that the claims of Rockhampton as a port for a district producing more than 60 per cent. of the Queensland clip be recognised by the establishment of a wool-appraising centre thereat ?
– I can only promise to bring the question under the notice of the Prime Minister.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Mr. CRITCHLEY PARKER.
Tenders for Printing Work.
asked the Minis- ter for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is - 1 and 2. The Government Printer was asked to undertake this work, but declined, ‘ as his office was overtaxed with matter in connexion with the referendum. Mr. Parker’s quotation was submitted to the Government Printer, who stated that it was reasonable. The arrangement with Mr. Parker included, besides printing, the preparation of a prospectus, advertising sales, distribution and the cost of postage, cartage, &c.
Is it the intention of the Government to countenance the exploitation of the patriotic sentiment by permitting the use of the word “ Empire “ in any movement for raising funds by public subscription for any purpose other than a patriotic purpose?
In the event of question No. 1 being answered in the negative, will the Government make ft an offence under the War Precautions Actto use the word “ Empire “ in any movement for obtaining funds by public subscription for any purpose other than a patriotic purpose ?
– The Government deprecate the use of the word “ Empire “ in connexion with public appeals for subscriptions for other than patriotic funds, but do not feel justified in using the powers of the War Precautions Act to prohibit it at this juncture.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will he state the number of soldiers who desired to be provided with land in each State in response to a circular sent to them by the Hon. J. C. Watson, and also how many of these applicants were considered to have sufficient experience or qualification to justify their being so provided for, the figures to be for each State ?
– The returns received to the 1st May show that 35,680 have expressed the desire to settle on the land, and of this number 21,097 state that they have had experience. The figures for each State are as follows: -
The qualifications of every man desiring to go upon the land will be inquired into before holdings are allotted.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is the Federal Government in communication with the Government of Western Australia, inquiring re the selection of suitable sites for shipyards in that State in connexion with the proposed establishment of the shipbuilding industry in Australia?
– The answer is - Yes.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the action of our ally, Russia, in prohibiting vodka from the commencement of the war, which action was followed by the general prohibition of all intoxicants, and, further, the adoption of prohibition by the people of eight out of the nine provinces of Canada (either permanently or for the period of the war and demobilization), the Government will exercise its powers to stop the manufacture, importation, and sale of intoxicating liquors in Australia for the remaining period of the war and the time of repatriation and demobilization?
– The matter will receive consideration.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether the Government will consider the advisability of appointing a Commission to inquire into -
The number of agricultural holdings in the Commonwealth that have been converted from cereal production and dairying to pastoral production, and the causes thereof?
The number of agricultural holdings that have been abandoned bytheir former owners during the last three years, and the causes thereof?
The social economic and domestic condition of persons engaged in agricultural production in the Commonwealth?
– The Government will consider the question, andI shall let the honorable senator know the result.
– Arising out of that answer, I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, in view of the established fact that wheat growing is either at a standstill or is declining, while scores of wheat farms have been abandoned-
– The honorable senator is now making statements which are not in order.
– Statements of fact.
– In asking a question, the honorable senator must not make statements, whether they are facts or not.
– In view of the pressing demand that the Government shall do something in the way of reducing the cost of living, I desire to know whether theywill bear in mind the fact that wheat growing is at a standstill in some of the States, and that hundreds of farms are being abandoned, despite the fiction that the price of wheat is at a soaring figure to-day?
– I can only assure the honorable senator that all the matters which he has stated, and the many other matters which he obviously desired to state, will be considered by the Government when they are reviewing the main question.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 8th August, (vide page 823), on motion by Senator Russell-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– This is a measure which has not made its appearance any too soon. As honorable senators are aware, the Commonwealth has at length attained to the dignity and responsibility ofa railway constructor and controller. In the early days of the Federation it was not thought wise by the electors to transfer the railways of the States to the Commonwealth, but it has been made quite clear by the lapse of time that the expanding necessities of the States and the Commonwealth, demanded that the Commonwealth should step into the breach and take a share in railway building as well as railway controlling. At the present time the Commonwealth is the owner of strips of railway all over this continent. The eastwest railway will be 1,050 miles in length, and will traverse two States. The Oodnadatta line, which was taken over by the Commonwealth under the agreement in relation to the Northern Territory, is 450 miles long, and is situated wholly in South Australia. Then there is a strip of railway entirely within the Northern Territory which is also the property of the Commonwealth. Lastly, we have a small line working in the Federal Capital - a line which is intended to connect the Capital with the Federal port at Jervis Bay. So that the Commonwealth is the sole owner and controller of four railways situated in four States and Territories.
The proposal embodied in this Bill is that all these lines shall be brought under a unified control. No doubtthat is a very necessary step to take. But, in my judgment, great difficulty will be experienced as the result of locating the seat of control of all these lines in Melbourne . At the sam& time, I am not in a position to suggest anything in the nature of an improvement. Melbourne is. to be the seat of control, whereas our railway activities will extend from the extreme north of the Northern Territory to Western Australia, and as far as Jervis Bay on the east. It is quite clear, therefore, that, viewed from that stand-point alone, the position occupied .by the Commonwealth is anything but a pleasing one. In order to efficiently supervise any undertaking it is necessary that the person charged with that supervision should be located as near to the undertaking >as possible. But, in addition to the drawback that will be experienced by reason of the control of these lines being centred in Melbourne, we have to recollect that the whole of these four railways are far from reaching the point of paying their way. That is not a very inviting prospect, but it is one which we have to face. Of “course, it must be remembered that all these lines will benefit tine States in a very .substantial, but indirect, way.
While the States railway systems are situated in their more thickly populated areas, and .on that account alone are highly payable propositions, unfortunately the lines owned by the Commonwealth run ‘through sparsely populated country, and consequently will not pay for a long time, although they will be very valuable feeders in the meantime to the existing State systems. The Commonwealth has undertaken the responsibility not only of bringing about the many advantages to the people incidental to th© administration of the civil laws, but has also to shoulder the serious responsibility and expense of engaging in a developmental policy from which so far there is little visible prospect of any adequate return. The Commonwealth has been accused of securing most of the paying services and grabbing the revenue to an undue extent, but seeing that we are abouti to be saddled with four nonpaying railway lines it can no longer be said that the Commonwealth has the cream of the position, at any rate so far as railway construction and ownership are concerned. However, we shall have t’o be content with that position. The whole of the people of the Commonwealth, through their agency the Commonwealth
Government, will have to be satisfied to! run these railway systems at a loss, for an indefinite period. I am anxious! that they should be made to pay as soon as possible, and this- Bill has been introduced as a means towards that end, because it will to some extent unify the separate controls that now exist, and introduce some order and system which we hope will be a marked improvement om the present state of affairs.
Leaving the east-west railway, a curious position arises in South Australia. The Commonwealth finds itself hobbled through having taken . over 170 odd miles of line from Port Augusta! to Oodnadatta under certain difficult and disadvantageous conditions imposed at the time of the transfer. The Northern: Territory Acceptance Act included a provision very advantageous to South Australia, . but not at all advantageous to the Commonwealth, by which the Commonwealth is obliged to run that line under the conditions that obtained when the railway came over to us. It has Do run the service on the scale of freights and fares that obtained then, and according to a scheduled time-table which was in vogue then. I believe the South Australian Government has since found it necessary to make a radical departure from the freights and fares which obtained when the line was taken over, and also from the scheduled time-table which the Commonwealth is obliged to observe. It is therefore clear, that something needs to be done to give the Commonwealth a reasonable -chance of making the line pay. We take oven the line and pay for it, yet are obliged to run it on a time-table and charges laid down by the State Parliament years ago.If this Bill does nothing else But show the way to a better understanding between! South Australia and the Commonwealth in this matter, its introduction will have done some good.
In the Northern Territory line we find a slight difficulty, which in certain circumstances might be described as a grave one, because there a kind of dual control has been introduced. The administrator has had a very serious share of the control of the railway. It has been found from experience that the form of dual control which has existed up to date in that part of Australia is anything but economical and safe, and tends to anything but wise and efficient control. During the few months I was at the Works Office I very soon had disclosed to me the nature of the position there, which is clearly not in keeping with the best railway management. The Administrator has had his own functions to perform, but the terms of his engagement conferred on him a power which at times jarred very severely on the railway management proper.
– Will this Bill remove that?
– I believe it is in process of removal. The State authorities had no such difficulties trammelling them in their railway control. The States within limits are a law unto themselves, but the Commonwealth is not free.
I do not need to argue now in justification of the east-west line. It is almost an accomplished fact, and is to be opened in a month or two, but it will not be the hopelessly unpayable proposition which some of its critics would have us believe, or nearly as unpayable as the other two lines I have mentioned. It will cost, complete with rolling-stock and other requirements, £6,600,000; the Oodnadatta line cost £2,250,000; and I estimate that the cost of the Northern Territory railway will be close on £1,000,000. Tha Commonwealth will therefore have, with the Capital Territory line, a railway system scattered throughout four of the States, costing approximately £9,000,000. Of those four systems the Western Australian is by no means the least hopeful, although all are non-paying propositions. According to the Minister, the loss on working expenses on the Western Australian line will be £8,900 per annum, on the Northern Territory line £11,000, and on the Oodnadatta line £31,000. This is the difference between the working expenses and the revenue . received, leavingthe interest out of account, but if we add interest it make’s the position of the Western Australian line slightly worse. On a mileage basis the loss on the Northern Territory line will be £120 per mile, on the Oodnadatta £242 per mile, and on the Western Australian line £200 per mile, so that the east-west railway comes somewhere between the other two.
Some discussion has ranged round the cost of railway construction in this country lately. I have my own views concerning the manner in which the increase in cost was brought about, and since I have had an opportunity of looking into the cost of railway construction in other parts of the world, notably in the United States of America, I have had reason to modify my own opinion concerning the east- west line.
– Do you think you can make a fair comparison between that railwayand the lines in the United States of America ?
– It would be difficult, I admit, to make a comparison with a thousand miles of railway in the United States of America’ to correspond with our trans- Australian line; but I find from the Inter-State Commission’s report up to 30th June, 1911, that American railways, fully equipped, cost on the average £13,000 per mile. Another equally competent authority, Trautwein, in his text-book on railway construction, gives the average cost for United States of America railways for track alone at £5,000 per mile. This estimate, of course does not include station accommodation, water supply, or rolling-stock, and it is based on an average labour wage of 7s. 3d. per day. I am officially informed that, in October last, the labour rate on the trans-Australian railway was 13s.,1d. per day, so it is quite clear, if we bear in mind the differing rates of pay, that the construction cost of the trans-Australian line compares favorably with that of railways in other parts of the world.
– But America is a high-wage, country.
– As I have said, the construction cost of American lines is put by Trautwein at £5,000 for track alone, and in the case of the trans-Australian line the cost, exclusive of rolling-stock, is estimated at £5,800, although Mr. Henry Deane, the first Engineer-in-Chief , estimated the cost at £3,500, which, as events have proved, was much too low.
– But at that time prices for material were much below the present rate.
– We are all aware, of course, that the war has upset all our calculations. Mr. Bell estimates the cost of the’ trans- Australian line at £6,300 per mile, including rolling-stock, while Mr. Deane puts it at £3,800, so that our cost is only about half that of American railway lines.
– Judging by the pictures we saw the other evening, I would sooner construct 5 miles of line on the trans-Australian railway than 1 mile in Tasmania.
– I have one more comparison to make, and then I have finished. The Oodnadatta line, built by the South Australian Government on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, when the basic wage, was 6s. per day, .cost, with rolling-stock, £5,072 per mile,’ and without rolling.stock £4,774. When we remember that this section is laid on the narrow gauge with 40-lb. rails, and remember also that the trans-Australian line is laid with ,80-lb. rails on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, we realize that the construction cost of the latter does not com,pare unfavorably with other railway lines.
While I make that admission, I feel that I ought to say that the railway could- have been built more cheaply under better management, and I want to speak quite frankly in this matter. When the railway was authorized in 1911, Mr. Deane was in charge, and while I do not wish .to criticise him unduly, it will be admitted. I think, that some very serious mistakes were made in the initial stages of that work. Mr. Deane had the approval of the Minister of the day to experiment in internal combustion engines, and instead of pushing forward with the construction of dams for water supply - which is so vital to the satisfactory working of the line under steam traction - the whole water question was held in abeyance for a long time. While in the early stages of the work the management clung to the idea that internal combustion engines would be the best, subsequently there was too long a delay in placing orders for steam engines, and I am satisfied that, if we had to start the work again, we would, at the outset, assemble our material and get the best advice in Australia from those States which have built railway lines over long stretches of dry and waterless country. The water supply, as we now see, was a most important factor. When I traversed the route last January I found that excellent dams had been constructed up to the 150-mile point on the Kalgoor lie side, but they contained no water, and it was necessary to cart water a distance of 520 miles from Kalgoorlie. We can understand what this would mean if, in the construction of a railway from Melbourne to Sydney, we were obliged to cart water from this city up to a point very near to Sydney. A mistake was made in not planning the work so that a water supply could be assured as the road was under construction.
Turning to the Bill itself, I notice that it introduces an innovation by combining contraction and general control and management under one head. I believe that that will, at least for some time to come, be found to be a step in the right direction. In several of the States at the present time a separate Department - the Department of Public Works - is given charge of railway construction work. Under this measure, with the same Department exercising control and management, as well as carrying out construction, it will be possible, as it is not in some of the States, for the same plant to be used with advantage by both Departments. In some of the States, under the control of Commissioners, plants may be lying idle and rusting, and though the Public Works Departments in the same States ‘ might make use of those plants with advantage, they are obliged to purchase additional plant for themselves. To have both Departments under the one head, as proposed by this Bill, should tend to remove friction, and make for economy in connexion with existing lines, and in the construction of spur lines which may be found necessary.
I notice that the Bill imposes several restrictions upon the Commissioner. He is obliged to consult the Minister upon very many things. He cannot lease property without the consent of the Minister. He cannot purchase imported goods of a greater value than £1,000, or rollingstock, or locomotives of a greater value than £5,000 without the Minister’s consent, and he must incur no expenditure outside ordinary expenditure unless he has the consent of the Minister to do so. Further, the general policy with respect to railway lines is left in the hands of the Minister.
– Hear, hear! That will give Parliament a say in those matters.
– I am not inclined to approve of that unconditionally.- We have had in Australia political control of railways in some of the States, and nonpolitical control in others; and neither form has given the satisfaction expected from it. In my opinion, success depends entirely upon the man in charge - the man. behind the gun - whether he be the Minister of Railways for the time being or a Commissioner.. I do not care to reflect upon men who are not here to put their own case and dispute what I say, but I can readily imagine Ministers failing to do their duty when put in charge of a Department.
– They are responsible to Parliament if they do fail to do their duty.
– It -often takes a long time for Parliament to get on the track of a Minister who has failed to carry out his Ministerial duties.
– What has the honorable senator been doing ?
– Senator Guthrie, who has been here for a long time, must! know as well as I do that it is often almost impossible for private members to right things that have been done wrong under Ministerial control. However, I am not here to approve of this proposal or to condemn it. I am prepared to give it a trial. I realize that the Bill gives an enormous power to the Minister, and that the Commissioner will be unable to do anything except of a minor character without his consent*
When I recall what the Commonwealth Bank has done, and what a splendid institution it is, I feel that it is possible to go too far in the direction of removing the control of a work from the man who is held responsible for carrying it out. Though it may be regarded as a digression to some extent, I do not think we could improve upon the way in which the Commonwealth Bank is being run. In connexion with its management, we have removed almost the last trace of Ministerial control, and I venture to say that it has given satisfaction, not only to its originators, but to the general public. The Commonwealth Bank is, in my opinion, a standing example of the success with which a public institution may be run with a minimum of Ministerial and political interference..
– We do not allow the Commonwealth Bank to stamp- coinage.
– No, but we_ give the manager of the Commonwealth Bank certain powers.
– Order !
– I do not wish to> refer to the Commonwealth Bank further than to say that it presents a valuablelesson to Australia of the way in which institutions nominally under the control of the Government should be conducted.
In the several Parliaments of this country for a number of years men .have debated the question whether a purely political or a non-political control of railway systems is the more advantageous.
– This Bill provides, for a happy mixture of both.
– I notice that in this measure the attempt is made to strikea balance between the two systems by referring matters in dispute between theMinister and the Commissioner to th» Governor-General in Council, who, after all, will be the Minister for Works and Railways for the day.. This is an innovation which is perhaps worth trying;, but, for my part, I am not too keen upon giving Ministers too much control in these’ matters unless they are men who can be* trusted to discharge their Ministerial duties solely in the interests of the* public.
– That is what they ‘ are supposed to do.
– I am aware of that.. I have nothing further to say, except that I am prepared to give a general support to the measure in the belief that a fair balance will be held between the taxpay- era of the country on the one hand and the controlling authority in charge of Commonwealth railways on the other. That is what we are after, and that ia what we should set our minds to attain.
I have said that the railways of the Commonwealth are not likely to be a very promising proposition for years tocome. We shall be saddled with a deficit as a result of their operations for a considerable time, but there issome compensation in the knowledge that the Commonwealth is carrying out a policy of railway construction, the purpose of which is purely developmental, and is building railwayswhere the State authorities would not. dream of building them, or taking charge of lines which the State authorities concerned have been eager to unload upon it. If the State authorities could manage to do so, I have no doubt that they are disposed to unload upon the Commonwealth all their unfavorable railway propositions. I think that we can struggle along. without saddling ourselves with any more of these propositions than we have
Already undertaken to control. I support the Bill, and I hope that as time goes on the taxpayers will realizethat as the Commonwealth railways are not designed to hiring in any special revenue they cannot fairly be considered upon a purely cash basis, but that directed to the settlement of the interior they will serve a useful purpose.
– I do not intend to deal with the past so far as the railways of the Commonwealth are concerned under cover of the motion for the second reading of this Bill.I am not much concerned either about the present, but I am concerned about the future of our Commonwealth railways, upon which this Bill is likely to have an important bearing. I agree with the Minister thatthis is really a machinery measure, which can best be considered inCommittee.There is no doubt that, if onedesired, he could occupy the time of the Senate at considerable length in reviewing the agitation for the establishment of Commonwealth railways from north to south and from east to west, and also in covering a portion of the ground which Senator Lynch traversed as regards the mismanagement in the construction of the east-west railway and the north-south railway, or in the working of the railways we took over from South ‘ Australia. But I consider that this is neither the time nor the place to discuss those matters. Let us simply take a lesson from the past, and try to avoid such mistakes in the future.
In connexion with this Bill, I read the debate in another branch of the Legislature. I noticed that one very important point was raised in reference to the land belonging to the. Commonwealth on each side of the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. I understand that on each side a tract a quarter of a mile wide has been handed over to the Commonwealth Government. As regards Western Australia, no conditions were imposed upon the Commonwealth Government as to the use of the land, but I am credibly informed that the South Australian Government imposed certain conditions as to the uses to which this strip of land should be put. For instance, we are told when a township springs up along the eastern section of the line, the South Australian Government areto be consulted before that land can be used for that purpose, whereas such a condition does not apply on the western side.
– The South Australian Government insist upon the surveying of a township.
– Yes ; and I believe that they insist upon something further. To my mind, this is a very important question to which honorable senators should devote their attention. It is a Commonwealth railway, and if one State is quite agreeable to hand over a certain tract of country on either side of the line, and leave it entirely in the hands of the Commonwealth Government, I see no reason why another State should impose certain restrictions. It appears very strange indeed that, in the case of a Commonwealth, owned and controlled railway, the National Government should have to go, cap in hand, to a State Government and practically ask what they can do with their own country. It is an anomaly which should not be allowed to exist: it should be removed before the Bill is passed. The matter was stressed very forcibly in another branch of the Legislature, and I understand that the Minister in charge of the measure promised to make further inquiries as to the real attitude of South Australia in connexion with this strip ofland. Perhaps the Minister here may be’ able to furnish this information before the second reading is carried.
– I do not think that South Australia parted with any rights.
– The South Australian Government reserved to themselves the right of control in more ways than one. Senator Guthrie has just interjected that it is in connexion with the surveying of townships, but I venture to think that if the Minister makes full inquiries he will find that the South Australian Government parted with no rights, whereas, in Western Australia, the strip of land was given free to the Commonwealth Government.
– I think it is only fair to say that South Australia gave the Commonwealth enough room to lay down the sleepers and put the rails on them.
– Yes; and for such a grant let us be thankful. I render my thanks to the State for that very kind deed. I hope that, in his reply, the Minister will point out how the Commonwealth stands in this regard.
I am glad to see that the Bill also provides for suitable housing accommodation for the employees on the transcontinental line. I think that, in that regard, the Commonwealth might do worse than copy the provisions of the Workmen’s Homes Act of Western Australia. I suggest to the Minister that he should look at the Act, and I venture to say that it will be of some assistance to the Commissioner, when he is working out the details of this measure, to take advantage of the (conditions of the Act. It will be a lonely life for the employees along the railway, and we cannot do too much to make their conditions as comfortable as possible. I hope that every facility will be given for the education of their children.
I do not see any reference in the measure to the hours which the employees will have to work. Naturally, such a provision does not appear in the Bill, but I hope that the by-laws will initiate the system of working eightyeight hours per fortnight. I do not think that the system is in existence in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– What is wrong with having an eight-hours’ day?
– It will be wise for the Government to take this matter into consideration.
– Who is to decide the matter, think you?
– The Government.
– Do you think that you would leave that much to the Government ?
– What else could we do?
– The final power will rest with Parliament, because the by-laws will have to be laid upon the table of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
– At any rate, the Government might take into consideration the question of providing that the hours of employment are not to exceed eighty-eight per fortnight, because the conditions across that great stretch of country will be much more stringent than the conditions obtaining on the railways running through populous centres.
– You want special conditions to be given to these men ?
– I think that the conditions governing the working of the transcontinental railway demand special treatment for the employees.
– The men outside deserve it, too.
– A man who lives there with his family deserves consideration.
– Yes; and any person who has an idea of this country will admit that the conditions at their very best will not be so good as those obtaining on railways traversing great centres of population.
I wish to refer to one other matter, and that is as to whether or not the employees on the Commonwealth railways will be brought under the provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is a well-known fact that on two. occasions an appeal has been made to the people of the Commonwealth to alter the Constitution, with the view of enabling railway employees to have the benefits of the Commonwealth Court, but so far the people, in their wisdom, have not seen fit to alter the Constitution in that direction.
– That refers to State railways, not to Commonwealth railways.
– I am saying so. I do not see such a provision in this measure, and so far no assurance has been given by the Minister that the railway employees of the Commonwealth will have an opportunity to appeal to the Arbitration Court.
– I thought that all Commonwealth officials had.
– I thought so, too; but if the honorable member will carefully read the debate on this measure in another place he will find that wnen a question was raised there the Minister did not give a definite assurance that the employees would have an opportunity to approach the Commonwealth Court. He said that he would make inquiries into the, matter. I do not see the necessity for instituting any inquiries.I consider that the question should be dealt with at once, because there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the employees on Commonwealth railways from having access to the Commonwealth Court.
– They would settle that matter themselves, would they not?
– I know that the men are desirous of getting to the Commonwealth Court, but so far the Minister will not give an assurance that they will have that privilege.
– I intend to move the insertion of the following provision: - 47a. The Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911 shall apply to the Railway Service in like manner as it applies to the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– That assurance is good enough for me. Under the provisions of the Public Service Arbitration Act, all other organizations of employees within the Commonwealth Public Service can approach the Arbitration Court. I was surprised to learn from the report of the debate elsewhere that there was a danger of our railway employees not being able to approach the Court, but the Honorary Minister having given the assurance that a provision will be introduced here, I am satisfied.
In Committee, I intend to move amendments in clause 52 - they will be circulated this afternoon - in connexion with the rights of employees who have been taken over from State services. Whilst I believe that it was the intention of the Government, and of the framers of the clause, to protect the rights of men who have been in the permanent service of other States - that is, on the Railways or in the Public Service - I do not think the clause covers the gap between the time when the men were taken into the Commonwealth Service and the time of their employment under the provisions of this measure.
The provision for compensation on retirement from the Commonwealth railway service will not, I think, be fair to the employees. It would appear from the wording of the clause, that an employee is simply to get the compensation on retirement which he would have received if he had retired at a similar wage when he was taken over from the service of a State.
– I think that that question was debated on the proposal to take over the Oodnadatta railway.
– I believe it was, but in Committee on this measure it can be enlarged upon. At present I think that there is a danger of an injustice, unintentionally I admit, being inflicted upon these employees. I have no more to say at this stage. I welcome the Bill, and I believe that by the time it leaves the Senate it will be fashioned better than it is.
– I have very little to say about this measure, but I want to bring one point forward prominently. I understood that when the National party were returned on the 5th May, economy was to be pursued in the management of the affairs of the Commonwealth. But since I have been in the Senate we have created a Department for the repatriation of soldiers, and now it is proposed to create another Department.
– No; the Department has been in existence for five years.
-It must have been in a very small way.
– This measure is going to enlarge the Department.
– Unfortunately the Department was in a very big way, but people did not seem to realize that fact.
– As an ordinary business man, my way of working the railways would be different. In the Northern Territory, I suppose Dr. Gilruth will have partial charge. But in regard to the east-west line I think that we ought to make an arrangement with the Railways Commissioners of South Australia and Western Australia to supervise its working for us.
– The honorable senator would soon regret that arrangement.
– I do . not think so. The working of the Oodnadatta line has been in the hands of the Railways Commissioners of South Australia.
– And when we wanted to take that line away from them because they were making a good profit upon it we could not get it.
– I know that South Australians are a very difficult lot to manage. We used to call them the O.T.M., which signifies “On the make.” They painted the possibilities of the Northern Territory in the most glowing ‘colours when they desired the Commonwealth to take it over from South Australia. I hope that the Railways Department of the Commonwealth mill not be a big and expensive one, with a Minister in charge of it. According to the Budget delivered yesterday, our estimated expenditure upon the ordinary services’ of the Commonwealth has increased by £1,017,655 as compared with the expenditure on those services for the previous year. That is a very disappointing result indeed. My only object in rising was to ask the Minister to see that the utmost care is exercised to prevent the Commonwealth being plunged into unnecessary expenditure, because* I can see our last shilling heaving on the horizon very fast. If our funds become exhausted we know that our boys at the Front will be placed in a most unenviable position. Having uttered this word of caution I think I have discharged my duty in the matter.
– This Bill aims at consolidating rather than building up an institution for the control of Commonwealth railways. The Commonwealth railways already in existence Have very little direct application to Queensland as a State. But honorable senators must endeavour to view these undertakings from a national rather than from a provincial stand-point. In my opinion it will be necessary to consolidate under one roof the, body which will have control and be answerable to Parliament for the successful working of these lines. In this connexion the proposition which forms the basis of this Bill - the east-west railway - has for many years been ridiculed in every State of the Commonwealth with the exception of South Australia and Western Australia. I have always been in favour of the construction of that. line, and tomorrow I would support a proposal to extend the Oodnadatta line from South Australia to the Northern Territory.
– The honorable senator differs from other senators from Queensland, who always voted against it.
– Some of my late .colleagues voted against’ the River Murray waters project, whilst others supported it, although Queensland had no direct interest! in the undertaking. I view these’ railway proposals in the same light as I viewed that work.
I confess that I was much struck by the remarks by Senator Lynch this afternoon. While he cast no great reflection on the increased wages received by the workers engaged upon the construction of the eastwest line, he did refer to that increase as a factor in its excessive cost. The honorable senator did the same thing yesterday. Now, while the increased wages paid to the employees on this undertaking is a factor in its increased cost, it ia not the only, or even the principal, factor. Senator Lynch conclusively proved that ,by the figures which he quoted. He instituted a comparison, between the cost of the construction of- this line and the cost of railway construction in America. Quite appropriately it was pointed out by some honorable senators opposite that in America there would probably! be far more rock tunnelling to undertake, and rougher country to be traversed. As a result, th© comparison which Senator Lynch attempted to draw might not be founded altogether upon an equitable basis. But I suppose there would be-very few places in America where water would require to be carted for such great distances as it had to be carted on the eastwest line, and certainly there would be no place in America where the metal material for the undertaking would have to be carried a distance of 14,000 miles. To my mind, these factors would more than balance the difference between the cost of railway construction in the two countries. In America, this material would be at their very doors. Senator Lynch pointed out that the line from Adelaide to Oodnadatta was constructed at a cost of £4,744 per mile, exclusive of rolling-stock, and of ‘£5,073 per mile complete. He added this -very significant remark, that at the time that railway was constructed wages ruled at 6s. per day. The comparison with the Oodnadatta line shows that the east-west railway has been constructed for less .money per mile, despite tha increased cost of material and the increased wages paid
– Has the honorable senator ever travelled over the Oodnadattta line!
– The honorable senator would see a very great difference; between the engineering difficulties on thetwo lines.
– I understood Senator Lynch to say that they traversed very similar country. But it must be recollected that the line to Oodnadatta is built upon a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge whereas the east-west railway has a 4-ft. 8½-in.. gauge.
– Has the honorable senator seen the country traversed by the Oodnadatta line? The railway has to cross two ranges.
– A sufficient setoff against that disability is the fact that 80-1b rails have been used on the eastwest line as against only 40-lb. rails on the Oodnadatta line. If, when the latter undertaking was being carried out, navvies received only 6s. per day, nobody can contend that the price of metal at that time would be anything like its price during the period that the east-west line has been in course of construction.
– They might have been just as dear.
– Even if they were, the difference between the weight of rails used would be more than a set-off. During the time that the east-west line has been building, tirades of abuse have been levelled against it, and frequently from a desire to make political capital out of it. . It has been repeatedly affirmed that the men were running the show, that the day-labour system was a failure, and that the privileges granted to the employees would break down any railway. Yet we now find that it has been constructed on an average wage of 13s.1d. per day for manual workers, ‘and at a. less cost per mile than a line which was built when navvies received only 6s. per day.
– The honorable senator forgets that more machinery has been used in the construction of the east-west line.
– That is so; but, hitherto, none of these set-offs have been mentioned. The one cry has been that this was a desert railway, and would remain a white elephant for years. I quite recognise that it will not pay its way for many years. But we ought to construct national railways irrespective of such considerations’. Australia should do as Canada has done - build railways for the purpose of promoting-settlement. That is the policy which should be followed in the Northern Territory. If no railway had been built in Australia until an immediate return from it was forthcoming, we should not have possessed the splendid railway systems that, exist throughout the States to-day. The carping criticisms which have been directed against this line were never justified. The achievement of. the employees engaged on its construction is a credit to them and to the officers in; charge of the undertaking. I was pleased to hear the facts outlined by Senator Lynch to-day, because, no doubt, he has made a personal study of all the factors connected with this railway.
I have gone through the Bill very carefully, and I recognise that in it provision has been made for the launching of what will doubtless be a small Department for some years, but one which is, nevertheless, very necessary. There are one or two defects in the measure which I shall endeavourto rectify in Committee. Clause 4, for example, contains an anomaly in regard to the powers of the respective Houses’. Then there is an omission from the Bill to which I have previously referred. It makes no provision for the abolition of the practice of giving gratuities to employees on Commonwealth railways.
– You are like the honorable senator with the land tax on that point.
– It is a point which will bear very serious examination at the present time. When I have raised it on previous occasions Senator Bakhap and others have been inclined to treat it lightly; but I shall endeavour in Committee to show that it has a more serious aspect than is generally believed.
– That sort of thing is generally dealt with in the by-laws.
– Other provisions relating to travellers and employees are dealt with in the Bill, and I think I can show in. Committee that there is a justification for the attitude I am going to take up. I am not keen on privileges to workers generally in the Railway or any other Department. Men should be paid for their services, and if. they do not get enough, more should be given to them. But on this railway the circumstances will be different. Living conditions there for some years will be very bard, and I hope and believe everything will be done to ameliorate the conditions of life for the employees there.
Senator Needham outlined an eighty eight hour fortnight, but I should prefer to see an eight-hour day and a f orty-f ourhour week. We had a forty-eight-hour week in operation on the Queensland railways and in the sugar mills, and it was given out there that we had virtually an eight-hour day. That was not so in practice, because they not only used to count an eight-hour day or a forty-eight-hour week, but a ninety-six-hour fortnight. Men were worked overtime sometimes two shifts on end, sometimes all day and half the night, and sometimes all day and all night, and in that way would accumulate a ninety-six-hour service in six or seven days. Then, instead of receiving overtime for the excess on that ninety-six hours for the remainder of the fortnight, they were calmly put off for two or three days on the plea of slackness, and other railway servants were expected to make up their work. The effect was to put additional work on all those who had not completed the ninety-six hours in the fortnight. I therefore warn honorable senators that a ninety-six-hour fortnight, or even an eighty-eight-hour fortnight, is a delusion and a snare.
I do not agree with Senator Lynch’s complaint regarding the powers proposed to be given to the Commissioner, and his advocacy of a wider and more untrammelled power. It is true that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has practically independent control, but there is a wide and significant difference, because a banking institution has not the many and varied industrial branches under its control that a railway department has. Although the Commissioner may be the fairest man possible, he may become headstrong, or obstinately imbued with the idea that his way of working is the only way, and inclined to back his one-man opinion against the combined opinions of others. That sort of thing would not be beneficial to the control of the system. We have had a little experience of that in the Government Departments in Queensland, although not so much in the railways. The Queensland railways have been for some time under a Commissioner, but we have not experienced in that’ branch of the service that autocracy which we found under other departmental heads, who had almost supreme power, or power almost entirely dissociated from Parliament. One notable instance was the Police Department, which was ruled by a Commissioner with’ a rod of iron, virtually independently of Parliament. His retirement has brought about far better conditions in the police force than ever obtained when he was there.
– The Labour Government brought about his retirement because he did his duty in 1912.
– Order! The honorable senator will not be in order in pursuing that subject.
– Our experience there is one reason why I do not advocate untrammelled power for the Commissioner under this Bill, as Senator Lynch does. Senator Lynch objects to what he calls the overriding of the Commissioner by the Minister, but the Bill, after all, is a machinery one, and it is reasonable that the Commissioner should consult with the Minister before he or anybody else exercises very wide powers. If his recommendations, and that is all they will be in actual practice, are not indorsed by the Minister, the matter will, if necessary, be ventilated in Parliament, when it will be seen whether the Commissioner or the Minister is right. The Bill has my cordial support, and, with the two exceptions I intend to deal within Committee, is a very comprehensive and allembracing measure for what will be, after all, only a small institution at the outset.
– I am better pleased at the toneof Senator Ferricks’ speech than I have ever been with that of any other members of this Chamber from Queensland on this subject, and I congratulate him accordingly. I have a very lively recollection of the all-night sittings we used to have in this chamber on the question of the transcontinental railway, and the very prominent part which Queensland senators took in the debates. Some of them are no longer here, but others are still with us, and I compliment Senator Ferricks on introducing into the debate a much better tone than some of his colleagues, past or present, have ever done. The honorable senator undoubtedly showed a fairer spirit than we are accustomed to from Queensland senators when this subject is before the Chamber. You, Mr. President, will remember that when any question appertaining to the transcontinental railway came before the Senate, the Queensland representatives made a dead set at it. They, however, were not the only offenders, because they were always heartily supported by the senators from Victoria. The opposition from Victoria was not confined to the Senate, for one influential Victorian newspaper, of a notoriously parochial character, always referred to this line as the “ desert railway.”
– Why abuse us because of our paper? We carried it for you.
– I doubt whether Senator Russell was in the chamber when the Survey Bill was before us. The most strenuous battle was on that Bill. It is only fair that I should pay ex-Senator. Findley the compliment of stating that he undoubtedly stood up against the opposition of the Age and its parochialism, and voted for this railway. But he was the only Victorian senator who supported it at that time.
Everything considered, we have reason to be thankful and to rejoice that at last we are nearing the completion of this very important railway. Various opinions have been expressed in’ the Senate regarding its necessity, and its prospects of becoming a commercial success, and ever since Parliament consented to its construction there have been very heated debates regarding the work itself. I assure Senator Ferricks that I am quite aware of the amount of blame attachable to the pick and shovel men, but the fault does not altogether lie with them. A great deal of the fault could be brought home to others, if we cared to go into the history of the line, but I hope we are done with the past. We have to consider the future of the railway, and I trust that we shall have better management than we have had so far. A great part of the previous failure to do as well as we might have done is attributable to the fact that those who were put into responsible positions resided too far away from where the work was going on. The most foolish proposition in connexion with the line was that the Engineer-in-Chief should reside, and have his head office, in Melbourne, while the work was going on thousands of miles away.
– I am afraid that will be perpetuated under this Bill.
– If it is, we cannot hope for success in running the railway. Unless the Commissioner lives on the job, or close to the work, and is able to supervise it, we can expect no better success in the future than we had in the past.
– How can he live at all the places?
– He can live at one end of the railway or the other, and so be in touch with the work, but we cannot expect successful management if he manages from Melbourne a railway outside this State.
– The Chief Engineer of a State does not live on the railway he is constructing.
– He at least lives in the State. The honorable senator would not allow his Queensland Railways Commissioner to live in Melbourne. Even if he did, he would not be as far away from the works he was managing as would be a Commissioner who lived in Melbourne and managed a railway in Western Australia.
– But our Railways Commissioner situated in Brisbane is further away from the Gulf railways than the Commonwealth Commissioner would be from the Commonwealth lines.
– I was thinking of Brisbane as the centre of control for the Queensland railways. Successful management can only be expected when the man who is controlling the railways lives as close as possible to his work.
– But constructing engineers are living on the work.
– They were all supposed to be construction engineers. It is quite true that, at both the Western Australian and South Australian ends, there! are officials with staffs, but the head office is in Melbourne, so that there are three responsible officers, each with an adequate staff, and I am satisfied that if the construction of this line had been in the hands of a private contractor he would not have had three officials all more or less in control of the work, and employing enormous staffs.
– But would it not be better to have an officer in Melbourne for the purchase of materials and to carry out similar work?
– It might and it might not be. I am criticising the work in the light of experience, and I feel sure that unless the present policy is alteredwe cannot reasonably expect any greater measure of success in the future than wehave achieved in the past.I want it to be understood, however, that in offeringthis criticism I am not blaming any particular Government, because all political parties have been responsible for a perpetuation of this faulty system of control. In manyways we can congratulate ourselves on the construction of this line. I am not going to say that everything done was a blunder. Many blunders wene made,and these, I am safe in saying, were due to the fact that the Engineer-in-Chief - the man who, above all others, ought to have been on the spot - was living in Melbourne.
– But the man who started this construction work was only a consulting engineer.
SenatorDE LARGIE. - No. As a matter of fact, the first engineer was just as much an Engineer-in-Chief as is the present occupant of that office. When the project was initiated the Engineersin -Chief of all the States, with the exception, I think, of Tasmania, were consulted. Therefore it could not be said that the Government of the day did not seek advice from the most likely sources. These gentlemen reported on the scheme, preparedestimates, and one of them was chosen as the Engineer-in- Chief .
– Is it not a fact that Mr. Deane’s estimate was not worth thepaper it was written on ?
– While Mr. Deane ‘s estimate was very wide of the mark, the same could be said of other estimates. As a matter of fact, Mr. O’Connor, who, I think, can be regarded as the mostsuccessful engineer in Western Australia, and who ought to have been in a better position to estimate the cost of this work, was also very much out in his figures. He estimated that the line would cost £4,400,000. Mr. Deane had two attempts. His first estimate was £3,988,000, and, subsequently, when more recent data were available, he put the cost at £4,044,000.
We have to bear in mind, in criticising the estimates of the Engineers-in-Chief, that it was understood the work would be carried out with the most modern appliances, and, in order to secure the best results, we introduced an American invention known as the track layer, which, according to Mr. Deane, should have been able to lay from 2 to 6 miles of track perday over easy country suck as is found on the transcontinental railway. There was never a better opportunity for a track-layer to produce good results than on this line; but, instead of laying from 2 to 6 miles a day, we have averaged only something like 1 mile per day.
– It would take a long while to tell that story, and I do not wish to detain the Senate. Once when I visited the construction work at a point over 300 miles from Kalgoorlie, I noticed that the men laid half-a-mile in one hour forty-five minutes. If they could do that, Mr. Dearie’s estimate , of from 2 to 6 miles per day should have been well within the capacity of the track layer ; but; as I have said, it only averaged 1 mile per day, equal only to the average rate on other lines inWestern Australia with hand labour through similar country.
– We have done the same in Queensland over and over again.
– It will be seen, therefore, that we gained nothing from the introduction of the track layer.
– But would there not be a reduction in the number of hands employed ?
– I do not think there was, because a large number of men is required to attend to the track layer. If honorable senators will read Talbot’s book on the construction of the great Canadian railways, they will find that construction work in that country averaged from 1 to 3 miles per day through very difficult country, including the crossing of great lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges; so we ought tohave got more work out of the track layer on the transAustralian line.
-The honorable senator’s remarks would lead one to the conclusion that there has been culpable negligence in supervision.
– The trouble was due to something more than negligence in supervision. Any one interested in the construction of this line in its initial stages will remember that when we called for applications for the various positions, we had about 1,000 engineers applying for not more than half-a-dozen positions, and had tens of thousands of men seeking employment as timekeepers, gangers, and storekeepers; but there was only oner applicant for pick and shovel work.
– What did you expect the men to apply for ?
– I think we ought to get a V.C. especially made for that man who applied for the pick and shovel work. He deserves recognition, and I am glad to have the opportunity now to say a word of praise for him.
Now, on the business side of this line, I do not think we have finished with construction, because the railway is far from being complete. A glance at the railway map of Australia will convince any honorable senator that this is not a truly trans- Australian railway. . As a matter of fact, it runs into a dead-end at either side, and if it is to be a business success, and if Australia is to get full benefit from the expenditure the line should be continued on the Commonwealth gauge from Port Augusta to Broken Hill, and thus become linked up with the railway systems of New SouthWales and Queensland. Brisbane and Sydney would then get somebenefit from this undertaking-, and if I were a representative of Queensland or New South Wales I would seek to have the connexion made with Broken Hill. Unless the course I suggest is followed, I see little hope of making a commercial success of the. Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
– There is a little bit of railway at the Western Australian end the gauge of which requires to be altered.
– That is so, and there are two bits in South Australia which have to be changed to the standard gauge, in one case from a gauge of 3 ft. 6 in. and in the other from the 5 ft. 3 in.
– What about that bit in Western Australia?
– I do not shut my eyes to the defects at the western end any more than to those at the eastern end. of the line, and I agree that the line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle should as soon as possible be converted to the same gauge as that of the rest of the transcontinental line. I realize that there are serious financial obstacles at present in the way of remedying the breaks of gauge, but the line from Port Augusta to Broken Hill would be comparatively short, and by connecting these two points the distance to be travelled in linking up the west with the railway systems of New South
Wales and Queensland would be very considerably shortened. From Port Augusta to Sydney by the existing lines the distance is 1,324 miles, but if Port Augusta were linked up with the NewSouth Wales system at Broken Hill, as I suggest, that distance would be reduced to 962 miles. If we consider the extension of the western line to connect with the Queensland system, I find that the distance from Port Augusta to. Brisbane by existing lines is 2,.049 miles, and by linking up the New South Wales system, as I have suggested, that distance could be reduced to 1,258 miles. Honorable senators will see that, the adoption of this course would lead to a very considerable saving in the shortening of the line, in addition to the advantage that would be gained by overcoming tha break of gauge.
In concluding my remarks on the second reading of the Bill, Iexpress the hope that the Commonwealth Government will be able to. lend assistance to all the States in linking up the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway with their various railway systems. I do not mean to say that it is possible for us to take up this work now, but, perhaps, when the war is over and our soldiers have returned, and’ it becomes necessary for us to provide public works in order to employ the labour that will be cast upon the labour market at that time, we may be able to begin this work, and so do much towards the commercial success of the transcontinentalline.
– As under this measure the Commonwealth Government propose, for the first time, to appoint a Commissioner to take charge of the railways under our control, it is perhaps just as well that each member of the. Senate should say how, in his opinion, the Commissioner may be best able to. carry out his work. I shall say nothing about the railways which are under the control of the Commonwealth Government, becauseI know nothing about them.I am pleased that it is intended to place them in the hands of a responsible person, and I am strongly of the opinion that the Commissioner, when appointed, should beentirely free from all political influence. From my experience of the working of railways in Queensland, and from the experience which one gains by reading of the control of railways in other countries, I am satisfied that the best results are to be obtained by giving the Commissioner the utmost power, and making him entirely independent of political influence. It has been generally the experience of railway management throughout Australia that the best results have been obtained where the Railways Commissioner has had most power, and has been held solely responsible for his staff and the work they do. We have recently had- some glaring instances to show that wherever Commissioners in charge of railways are interfered with in the carrying out of -their duties, the result has been friction and trouble, to the great disadvantage of the public. I know of instances where a Railways Commissioner would have carried out reforms, beneficial alike to the railway employees and the public, and Ministers in -power for hut a short time have made concessions for party, sentimental, or foolish reasons of their own, which have cost the country thousands of pounds. The result has been, in the case of .some railway systems, that, instead of paying, as they have done in the past, they represent at the present time a burden on the people. A Railways Commissioner, given full charge of the management of a railway system, becomes acquainted with the men under his control, learns their temperament, and understands their grievances. In Australia we must look to the development of the country by the extension of railways, and, after our present troubles aTe overcome, that is one great service which the Commonwealth Parliament will be called upon to perform. If our railways are managed on business lines to suit the community, as well as the employees, good results will accrue. The Railways Commissioner should have the fullest power to deal with all the grievances of -his staff, and no outside influence should be permitted to come between him and the men under his control. I think that the Railways Commissioner should be placed in the position of a managing director of a private establishment. Under our legislation he would, no doubt, be guided by awards of Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards, and he should be given the power to deal directly with the railway employees. I do not wish to mention names, but I could 8ite instances in which the interference of a mere puppet of a poli– tical party, in office for a few days or months, has had the effect of upsetting all the work previously done by a Railways Commissioner.
I do not know the country through’ which the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway runs, but I was given some idea of its nature from the pictures exhibited in the Queen’s Hall. I can speak of conditions affecting the railway systems of Queensland, where there are long distances between settlements. In this connexion I should like to direct attention to the necessity of affording employees upon our railway lines the best facilities possible for enabling their children to attend school. I have known little ones up to nine or ten years of age, the children of employees on railway lines in Queensland, having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to catch a train at 7 o’clock, and unable to get ‘back home until 9 o’clock at night. It has often been a matter of wonder to me that some of them have been able to stand it. This difficulty has been to a great extent due to the conditions under which the employees on the railways have to live, and the distance between townships on some of the lines. Somewhat similar conditions will, no doubt, exist on the Commonwealth railways, and I trust that the Government will do all they can in these matters to treat railway employees and their families with every consideration. By doing so, they will make their employees more contented, and will benefit the children, who will naturally follow settlement along the railway lines.
Some reference has been made to the hours of labour of railway employees, and I am free to confess that an eight-hours day may be rather long, in view of the climate and conditions under which some of the men will he called upon to work. To meet this difficulty, I suggest that they should be given longer holidays and greater concessions, to enable them to get away for a time from their monotonous environment, and enjoy some of the benefits of civilization.
– Working too long under unfavorable conditions, they may, be too far run down in health to enjoy their holiday.
– I am not advocating long hours for railway employees, but I do not think that the conditionsupon any part of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway can be less favorable than are the conditions on some of the Queensland railways. One difficulty is that on some of the railway lines, owing to the nature of the country and the scarcity of water, there is little or nothing that a railway employee can do in his leisure time. In some places where they live near a waterhole, they sometimes grow their own vegetables ; but in parts of the country, where there is a great scarcity of water, they have to live a very monotonous life indeed. In such cases provision might be made for doubling their holidays, so as to give them a long spell away from the adverse conditions under which they are compelled to live for the greater part of the year.
– A fatal objection to that is that when accumulated leave becomes due, it is very raTely granted, in the Railway or any other Department.
– So far as I can learn from personal inquiries concerning the working of its Public Service, the Commonwealth has not allowed holidays to be accumulated in the same way as the States have done, and then robbed the employees of their holidays. I am informed that our Public Service Commissioner compels the employees to take their holiday leave whenever the date comes round. A man is simply notified of the date when his holiday leave is to start, and he has to take the leave. Wherever a system is established, it can be worked easily.
– Then if a railway worker could not afford to go for a break at the end of the year, would he have worked all those extra hours for nothing ?
– A man with a family has to keep himself wherever he lives. If he cannot make some provision to go away for a break, then he can stop at home.
– Would you make a man lose the extra time which he had worked during the year?
– No. I would give the time to him, and if he liked to stop at his own home, he could do so. I would grant to the men any reasonable concession to go somewhere from their homes in order to enjoy a break.
– Would you not rather give a man shorter hours?
– No. Queensland furnishes a very good example of the fact that if a man is given shorter hours, he goes to his home, and does not know what to do with the time.
– How would a man know what to do with extended leave at Christmas time if he could not afford to go for a trip with his wife and family?
– That will be an exceptional case.
– No; it will be the rule.
– I think not. In the interval the men can save their money. They are to be allowed a free railway pass, and that I think is a great concession. All that they will have to do will be to take themselves somewhere.
– You know that a man cannot travel with a wife and family at the same cost as he could live at home with them.
SenatorREID. - No. I believe that unless, unfortunately, he has had serious family trouble, the average man will be in a position to save sufficient money to enable him to go and enjoy a break in a centre of. civilization. I might mention that the personal inquiries I made had relation to the employees in the Post and Telegraph Department. From my experience in Queensland, I know exactly what it is for a man to live under ordinary conditions. I would not ask any man to work for more than eight hours a day, but I would give him extra leave during the year. It must be remembered that, as a rule, the homes of these railway employees are not pretentious. There will be no township from one end of the transcontinental line to the other. An employee cannot even run into a township on a trolly and enjoy a change, because there will be no township. Therefore, it is more necessary to give the men longer breaks. I do not knowwhat sort of country the line traverses. If the land is good, it will lead to settlement, and townships will grow up. But there will always be long breaks, and the comfort of the employees should be considered from that point of view, as I trust it will. Above all things, I am strongly in favour of giving drastic powers to the Commissioner, making him the sole individual responsible for running the railway system on behalf of the country, and without political influence.
– Would you leave
Parliament out altogether ?
– Through the political head the Commissioner will have to submit a report to Parliament, and it can discuss its contents in any way it likes.
– The damage might be done before Parliament received the report.
– My own experience teaches me that a wise head of any Departmentis more willing to create reforms than is a Parliament Composed of a number of persons who know nothing about the Department, and who simply talk to their constituents and to the gallery half the time. In my opinion a wise Commissioner who studies the public interest and treats the employees well is the best servant of the State.
– Who is to be the judge of whether he is acting wisely ?
– I would be more willing to trust to the wisdom of the Commissioner than to trust to the so-called wisdom of the Senate or any other branch of the Legislature.
– What is the good of Parliament, then? Abolish it!
– The function, of Parliament is to make laws..
– And to voice grievances.
– I am afraid that its function is more to hear grievances than to pass laws. I believe in national effort. I expect that, after the war, more national effort will be put forth in Australia than has ever been done before, in spite of any Conservative tendency to bolster up prirate enterprise. Ithink that, when the war is over,. Australia will have to do a great deal from the national point of view, and, holding that belief, I consider that, from a business stand-point, all departmental heads should be left free to carry on the work of their Departments in a business-like way; they should be vested with strong powers tlo act on their own responsibility, and when their reports have been laid on the table here the voice of Parliament can be heard.
– I welcome this Bill, because I think it is extremely necessary. The construction of the east-west railway has been variously criticised. Very often it has been condemned on ex parte evidence, and very frequently the conclusions arrived at by its crities have been altogether beside the mark. No railway in Australia was ever laid under such difficulties as confronted the construction of the transcontinental line. When it was begun, there was peace in the world, and the results which have accrued from the war have very materially enhanced the cost of construction; much more so, perhaps, than we earn recognise at present, not only in regard to the obtaining of material, but also in regard to the manufacture of rolling-stock and its transportation to the line. At almost every point along the routes there have been’ cases of increased cost, which it was not possible to foresee when construction work was started. I know that, in connexion with thesurveys, allowance was made in many cases for having to cart water foran extreme distance. Not only from the pictures which we saw screened in the Queen’s Hall the other night, but from reports which have been laid on the table, and from statements in the press, we know that unforeseen difficulties have occurred in. that way. Where water was expected to be got, it was not found. Costly bores had to be put down, and all this work has to be charged against the railway. Very often the line has been made the text of a severe homily. It has been held up as an undertaking in which Australias ought not to have dabbled.
Not only is it an absolute necessity that the east should be connected with the. west from the national point, of view but it is equally necessary that the south should be connected with the north by railway. When the construction of the Oodnadatta railway was begun, it was not intended that it should end at that point. It was only by a mere fluke in connexion with State politics that it ended there. It was really begun as a section of a line which was projected to go beyond the Macdonnell Ranges. Had that idea been carried out, there would have been no complaint about the. railway being a costly failure. It hasbeen stated very often that the taking over of the section has been a costly affair to theCommonwealth. But would not the taking over of the chamber in which we areassembled be a costly failure if, for instance, only the pillars’ had been erectedand no roof had been put on? Would it not be a costly thing if we had to finish the construction of a chamber like this if only one-half of it had been erected ? Practically, the National Parliament took over the Oodnadatta railway under similar conditions. Every person who has been beyond the Macdonnell Ranges, and explored the country, will acknowledge that there are large areas of very fertile land to be seen. It is from that point onward that we may expect the railway to pay.
I am making these remarks because the Commissioner who will be appointed under the Bill will have charge of these railways. If success is to be expected from his administration, the Commissioner certainly should live nearer to his work than Melbourne is.
– Where would you put him?
– Having regard to the position of the tworailways, I should say that he ought to be located somewhere near Port Augusta.
SenatorNeedham. - What about Naretha ?
– Not at such a distance as that. He would then be at a point where he would have the junction of the two longest railways under his control. From Port Augusta he would be able to travel on either of those lines and to overlook the work immediately under his charge. I think we may congratulate ourselves that the cost of the east-west line has not been more excessive, in view of the method that has been adopted in the management of its construction. In any private enterprise for a manager to reside so far away from the activities which he had to supervise would be an unthinkable proposition.
SenatorFerricks. - The Chief Engineer of a State does not : go out and personally supervise’ each railway that is being built.
– But frequently he goes over the line that is being constructed - assuming, of course, that it is under his supervision, and is not being “built by contract. But in this instance the persons charged with the construction of the line scarcely ever met the man who supervised the work. Then the costly head works on the east-westline constitute a chargewhich makes the total outlay appear larger than it otherwise would. For instance, theconstruction of a mechanical branch, for the. building of carriages and locomotives has been made a charge on this particular railway - a chargewhich,in my judgment, should be distributed over other Commonwealth railways. These facts are hidden from the public gaze, and the cost of the undertaking is held up as a horribleexample ofthe evils of construc- tion under the existing system.But, as Senator Ferricks has very properly pointed out, thiseast-west line has a wider gauge than has the Oodnadatta line ; it carries heavier rails, and the cost of the materials used in its construction has been considerably higher. Other circumstances, too, have helped to swell the bill.
– For lack of material men have had to be dismissed.
SenatorSENIOR. - When the cost of the east-west line is compared with that ofthe Oodnadatta line I venture to suggest that the conditions in the twocases are not altogether alike. On the Oodnadatta line there are two bridges, one of which is almost as long as is the Murray Bridge, and was quite as costly. It spans a river at a very great height, and the wonderto me is that! it remains there without more injury beingdone to it. The carriage of materials used in the construction of that bridge to the point where it has been erected made a very great surcharge on the cost of the line.
– The Oodnadatta line was constructed by contract.
– Yes. But when honorable senators refer to that railway as a white elephant I would remind them that they have an opportunity of making it a payable concern.Viewing the matter from a national stand-point, it is our bounden duty - as soon as circumstances will permit-to convert that undertaking, which is now a dead failure, into a remunerative proposition, by pushing forward with the construction of the northsouth line. Senator de Largie hassuggested that that line ought not to stop at Port Augusta, but that it should be connected by the same gauge with the New South Wales railway system. If itbe necessary to do that, it is equally necessary that the 5-ft. 3-in. and the 3-ft. 6-in. gauges, which link up with the Port Augusta portion of the line, should,as speedily as possible,be converted into a uniform gauge. We ought toviewthese matters from the stand-point of the Commonwealth as a whole. If the time should ever come when we have to defend Australia these breaks of gauge will be a serious disability in moving troops from one point to another.
I have studied the Bill carefully, and I cannot see that it can be very much improved: As a master of fact, the Railways Commissioner to be appointed should be vested with very large powers - certainly with more powers than have been 1 conferred upon the State Railways Commissioners*- Reverting to the point mentioned by Senator Reid, I say that anybody acquainted with the tract of country traversed by this line will recognise that it is not a place in which men will desire to spend their spare time. If provision be made in ‘this measure to extend the period of recreation granted to employees on the line as long as practicable, they will welcome the time when they can return to civilization. It must be remembered that on all the railways of Australia concession tickets are granted to employees.
– And their wages are cut down commensurately.
– The honorable senator is labouring under a delusion.
– I have worked on the railways, and I know that I received less money because of those privileges.
– The concessions of which I speak are not debited against the work that a man does. I know that my friends on the railways have received wages equal to what they would have received in private employ, plus the concessions which are granted to themselves and their families.
– When working on the railways I received 6d. per day less than I would have done, as a set-off against such concessions.
– Then I can assure my honorable friend that that experience is not general.
– The same system is operating in every State in Australia today.
– I can say that it is not operating in South Australia.
– It is operating in every State.
– I differ from the honorable senator. I say that the railway employee receives a wage equal to that of the man in private employ who is engaged on the same class of work, plus the concessions which he gets each year.
– The honorable senator will find that under certain regulations in connexion with this railway the practice of which I speak is in force to-day.
– I do not object to the granting of these privileges to railway employees.
– But when those employees pay for them, they cannot be called privileges.
– I shall require proof of the accuracy of the honorable senator’s statement.
– What is the object of these privileges, save to get men to work for less pay I
– Under the arrangement which they make with the Railways Commissioners they - are obliged to go wherever they may be sent. As a result-, many men have to work under conditions very different from those which obtain near our cities. These concessions are earned by them, and it- will be a revelation to me to learn that their value is deducted from the wages of the employees.
I do hope that the Railways Commissioners will constantly keep in mind the necessity for locating married men with families as near as possible to the centres of population, in order that their children may be afforded an opportunity of acquiring a decent! education. In this connexion we have to remember that they are not merely the parents’ children, but the children of the nation. In them the nation has an asset that it must look after, just as much as must the parents.
– The pictures which were shown in the Queen’s Hall the other evening disclosed that a start has already been made in that direction.
– But the educational facilities which have been provided are few and far between. I hope that these facilities will be forthcoming, because it is only under such conditions that we can expect men to undertake the work which will be required of them upon this line. I welcome the Bill, and trust that its passage will result in better management than has obtained in the past.
– I welcome the advent of. the Bill. A good deal of adverse opinion has been expressed as to the wisdom at the present time of adding to the general cost of government by creating a Department to control our railways instead of handing over the work to the States which are more closely linked u,p with them. A large number of people are of opinion that it would be well to permit South Australia and Western Australia to control and work the east-west line; but I am satisfied that the difficulties would be great and the result unsatisfactory, and that ultimately a Railways Commissioner and staff would have to be called into existence at a time when probably a good deal of damage had been done. The railway is about to be opened, and it is well that its control should be in . the hands of Commonwealth officials from the very commencement. The Commonwealth is in possession of small sections of railways scattered in very remote portions of Australia. These include the railway from east to west, which is on the verge, of completion, the line in the Northern Territory, the line from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta, and a line in the Federal Territory at Canberra. There will be a considerable amount of difficulty in working these railways even with the management that has been proposed, so I welcome the arrangement to put them at any rate under one head. At the same time I foresee considerable difficulty, because it will be necessary to appoint a responsible official in direct connexion with each of those railway systems, who will be able to represent the Commissioner for the time being, and settle disputes promptly before they become serious. That will add considerably to the cost, because a responsible official of that class must receive a fairly generous salary.
It would seem at first blush that the right place for the head-quarters of the Railways Department would be at Port Augusta or Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta foi choice, as the most central place, arid at the junction of the two most important sections of the Commonwealth railways. That would be all right but for the fact that we have the other railways to which 1 have, referred, and the Railways Commissioner could not live in three places at once. From that view-point it does not seem so material that the railway headquarters should be at any place other than the head-quarters of the Commonwealth Government, and for that reason I must admit that the right place is Melbourne. When the Seat of Government is removed from Melbourne it will be time enough to consider the question of removing the railway head-quarters. Judging by the progress we are making in that direction, that question is not likely to trouble any of the present members of the Senate.
The details of the management of the railways will be provided for by bylaws. This is largely a machinery Bui appointing a Railways Commissioner and calling his staff into existence, but the method of dealing with the employees will be settled by by-laws.
– Who will make the by-laws?
– That is the point. The by-laws regarding the management of the railways and the relationship of members of Parliament with the railway employees are of much more consequence even than this Bill. The Railways Commissioner will have to frame the by-laws relating to the staff generally.
I am concerned with one or two clauses whose intention is not quite clear. I am not sure that clause 52 protects as thoroughly as it should the rights of railway employees taken over from the States. A considerable number have come over from the service of the South Australian Government. They were for many years in the South Australian railways, and, having acquired considerable experience, were the very men the Commonwealth wanted. I am concerned as to whether their rights are properly safeguarded by the Bill. When they were taken over they were promised that they would not suffer in status or in any other way, and that any rights accruing to them under the State would be honoured by the Commonwealth on their retirement. The Public Service Act makes it abundantly clear that when a Department or an employee is taken over all accruing rights are safeguarded. No doubt the Commonwealth Government is anxious to fulfil every promise iti has made to these railway servants, and I am simply raising the point so that the Minister may see before the Bill is finally passed, or before the regulations are framed, that their rights, existing or accruing, are thoroughly safeguarded. The same thing was done in the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, which specifically provides that’ every officer transferred to the Northern Territory shall have his rights and. privileges secured to him. I trust the Minister will see that this Bill is made as complete in that respect as the Public Service Act and the Northern Territory Acceptance Act.
I am glad that the Government, in framing the Bill, have taken the precaution to appoint an Appeal Board. In a Railway Service mistakes are made, and accidents occur, and the fault is sometimes more “that of the Department than of the individual employee, who may be working under unfavorable conditions or with inferior appliances. He may be punished, whereas the punishment should really be shared by the officers of the Department! who have not provided him with proper facilities for performing his duty. The Appeal Board is being constituted in a way of which I entirely approve. The chairman is to be a police or stipendiary magistrate. I have been connected’ with railways for a number of years, and for some years I was the employees’ representative on the Appeal Board in South Australia. From the very inception of that Board we asked that the chairman should be a magistrate, but that request has not yet been granted, so I am glad to note that the Commonwealth Government have at the outset taken the right course of appointing an independent outside chairman, who,, from his experience and knowledge, can sift evidence and guide those associated with him in returning a verdict on the facts and not on suppositions. The Commissioner is empowered to appoint a representative and the employees are to appoint theirs. Quite a number of railway people think there should be one representative of the men from each branch of the Department on these Boards, but, in my opinion, that would be unnecessary, because one man would soon ‘ become expert in dealing ‘ withcases that come before him, and if he took any .interest in his work and possessed ordinary ability, he would be able to do very good service for the employees.
Clause 54 of the Bill provides for the retirement of employees at the age of 65 years, or, if they desire to retire earlier, at 60 years. I regret- that no provision is included for a superannuation fund, because a railway employee, as a rule, is not in possession of a competence at the retir ing &S&> and ^ ‘ne has been in the service f6r a considerable’ time, he is to some extent unsuited for any other occupation. I should like to see a fund established for the reason that it would have the effect of making a man stick to his job. If a man has been paying for a certain number of years into a superannuation fund, he will have more than a working interest in the Railways Department, and will be able to look forward to the enjoyment of certain privileges, provided partly from his own contributions and partly from the contributions of the Government, when he reaches the retiring age.
– That would apply to all other civil servants, too.
– It does not apply to the running staff on the railways. The officers or the men on the salaried list may; or they may not, have a superannuation fund. I -know that until quite lately South Australian railway officers had no such fund.
– There is such a fund in the Education Department of South Australia.
– There ought to be a national scheme covering the whole of the Commonwealth civil servants.
– I agree with the Minister that something of that kind’ should be done, and I think it would be wise to have a scheme for the Railway Service established at once, because in the course of a few years the Commonwealth will be employing a large number of men.
Something has been said about leave, which, I have no doubt, will be determined when the regulations are being framed, and I hope it will be on a generous scale, because, as a rule, all our railway servants will be situated in the interior of Australia, where men are obliged to put up with much greater hardships than- employees of the State Railway Services. Moreover, there is no prospect of any transfer to a seaboard or to places where men live in ease and luxury compared with the conditions in the interior. On that account the railway men should receive every consideration in the matter of leave. I believe it is the practice in most of the States, where men are living a , certain distance from headquarters, to grant them a few days’ extra leave to cover the time occupied in the journey from their place of employment to headquarters. Men engaged anywhere *between Quorn and Oodnadatta should, I think, get considerably more time than the few days occupied in travelling by train, from their stations to headquarters, and I trust the Commonwealth Government will frame by-laws concerning leave on a scale more generous than that obtaining in the State Railway Services.
Some reference was made to the question of linking up the Commonwealth lines with the railways of the various States on a uniform gauge, and in this connexion I point out that the South Australian Government are building a direct line on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge to Port Augusta. In view of this action, it seems to me the Commonwealth Government should at once enter into negotiations with the South Australian authorities to induce them to build the line to Port Augusta on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. A great deal of fault has been found with the Western Australian authorities because they have not carried out their part of the agreement by linking up Kalgoorlie with Fremantle on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. Perhaps, from the financial stand-point, there may be some justification for this omission, but in the case of South Australia, a line is actually under construction on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and I understand that the section from Salisbury to Long Plains is aboutcompleted, so it is advisable for the Commonwealth Government to communicate with the Government of South Australia, and intimate that if this line is not built on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, a Commonwealth line on the standard guage will be built, if necessary, alongside the one now in course of construction. This kind of thing must not be fooled with any further. The people of Australia have been humbugged by inefficient railway engineers right from the inauguration of railway construction in this country. Inefficient engineers, Inter-State jealousies, and all manner of things have combined to interfere with the proper development of Australian railway policy, but the Federal Government now have an opportunity of preventing a repetition of this trouble in South Australia.
– But the difficulty would be as pronounced with a 4-ft. 8½-in. line, because there would be the break of gauge at Adelaide.
SenatorNEWLAND. - Any hardship caused by the break of gauge would not be so appreciable at acapital city as elsewhere. It is true there would be the expense of transf erring goods, but passengers and live-stock, in any case, would require a rest and change at Adelaide, and, as a rule, passengers are accustomed to make a stay of a few hours at a capital city.
– But there would still be the same difficulty in the transportation of men and material for defence purposes.
– We are committed to that in any case; but if we make the break of gauge at the principal centres, it will not be so objectionable as at outlying stations such as Port Augusta or Kalgoorlie. I hope this matter will be stressed, and that the Commonwealth will take immediate action.
I want now to refer to the question of accommodation on the trains. We have been told that the rolling-stock on the transcontinental railway will be superior to anything in the Commonwealth, and that sleeping cars will be provided for both first and second class passengers. That is quite a proper thing to do, because passengers could not undertake a journey across Australia without sleeping accommodation.
– We already have first and second class sleeping accommodation on the Western Australian lines.
– We have been told, also, that dining cars will be provided , and that both first and second class passengers will have their meals in the same car. This should overcome the objections raised ‘regarding the cost of meals on some of the dining cars on State railways.
– The cost of berths on most of the Australian trains compares very unfavorably , with the cost in other countries.
– My experience is that they are cheaper than in any other part of the world.
– You can get better accommodation on the Malay Peninsula railways for 2s 4d. than on the Australian lines.
– I have no fault to find with the dining-car accommodation proposed, as first and second class passengers are to dine together in the same car, and as it will be almost impossible for passengers to take with them sufficient food for the long journey from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie; and further, as it is not likely that many refreshment-rooms will be established along the line for some years to come, I trust that the tariff fixed for a meal in the dining-car will be well within the means of any person who may be travelling on that railway.
– Will there not be some difficulty about taking something besides food on trains travelling on that railway?
– I was coming to that.
We shall be catering on the railway for passengers from all parts of the world. We are inclined in Australia to think that we are the only people on earth, and that, so long as we are satisfied ourselves, it does not matter a rap whether other people are satisfied or not. In the conduct of this railway the Government should do what is necessary to suit the convenience and the likes and dislikes of the passengers who will travel over it. I blame the Government for having very weakly consented to withdraw from this Bill a clause which provided for liquor being obtained on trains travelling over this line. Passengers travelling over this line will undertake the dryest and most uncomfortable railway journey in Australia, and, in the circumstances, it is regrettable that the Government should have yielded to the demands of a few persons who would prevent a man from having a glass of liquor, whether he needs it or not.
– Nobody ever needs it.
– I can tell the honorable senator that I sometimes need it, and then I like to be able to get it.
– No liquor can be obtained on trains on the CanadianPacific railway now.
– It could be obtained on that railway when the honorable senator travelled over it last year.
– Thatmay be; but Senator Thomas evidently did not know where to find it.
– Liquor cannot be obtained on trains on the CanadianPacific railway to-day, under the law of the land.
– I have received quite a large number of letters from well-intentioned people, who have asked me, under any and all circumstances, to oppose any clause being inserted in this Bill to provide for the sale of liquor on trains. These people, have a perfect right to correspond with public men on these matters, and Ihave just the same right to say whether I am disposed to comply with their request. I regret that such a clause is not to be found in the Bill, and that the Government should have yielded to the pressure of these people to withdraw the provision. To permit the sale of liquor on trains travelling over this railway would be a great convenience to 90 per cent. of those who will make use of it, and who have been accustomed to a convenience of the kind upon long railway journeys. Because liquor is not supplied on brains in Australia, people have to go to refreshment rooms to get what they want, and some of them get more than is good for them, whilst the article supplied is not always of the best quality.
– The clause which has been withdrawn can be reinserted in the measure.
– I should be glad to see it reinserted. We should be above the paltry ideas of those who think that, because a man here and there takes a little too much liquor, every man should’ be debarred from its reasonable use. Passengers, over the Commonwealth railways should be given the opportunity to obtain a glass of grog, if they want it,, just as our teetotal friends are able to obtain a cup of tea. If they were prevented from obtaining a cup of tea, they would set up such a howl as would shake the Empire to its foundations. It is a matter for regret that too many persons take more liquor than is good for them, but that is no reason why a man who takes liquor, because he feels that he. needs it, should be debarred from the opportunity of obtaining it on trains running over Commonwealth railways.
– It is being served out every day to our soldiers in the trenches.
– Any one working in this building may go across the street at any time of the day to get a glass of liquor if he thinks that he needs it, and it is most unfair that passengers crossing a desert on a journey of two or three days by train should be prevented from obtaining liquor if they desire to have it because two or three persons living in Melbourne have so decided. It is unfair to the travelling public that the
Government should have so weakly yielded to the demands of these people.
I am glad that the Bill has been introduced, and, generally speaking, I commend the Government upon its introduction. It seems to me that all practically necessary provisions are included. Much, no doubt, will depend on the by-laws framed under this measure, but the Senate will later have an opportunity to say whether it approves of those by-laws.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I think that possibly on this clause we may discuss the question of the unification of gauges, which was dealt with by Senator Newland.
– The break of gauges has nothing to do with the title of the Bill.
– I may be out of order, but I do not like the way in which you, sir, have told me that I am out of order. I think a little more courtesy might be extended from the Chair to an honorable senator who is addressing the Committee.
– I had no wish to be discourteous to the honorable senator.
– I was really asking whether I would be in order in discussing the unification of gauges on this clause.
– I do not think the honorable senator will be in order in doing so.
– In dealing with the matter on the second reading I referred to the same length of line as that referred to by Senator Newland.
– I wish to speak on the general question. I do not think we should be debarred from discussing it.
– This Bill has nothing to do with the question of gauges.
– It occurred to me that if it was in order to discuss the question on the second reading of the Bill it should be in order to refer to it in Committee. It may be possible to discuss it upon some other clause if the Chairman rules that it cannot he discussed on clause 1.
– I rule that it is not in order to discuss that question on this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 11 agreed to.
– I take exception to the latter part of sub-clause 1 on the ground that in certain circumstances it gives exclusive power to the House of Representatives. It has always to be remembered that that House has powers co-ordinate with the powers of the Senate, except as provided in the Constitution itself. It is not ‘only from that very important stand-point that I take exception to this provision, but also because I hold that in regard to the alteration of the Constitution the Senate has equal powers with the other House.
– They cannot remove a Judge on these terms.
– No. It is not captious opposition which I am offering on account of what might be termed the subordination of the Senate to the other House, although that is a very important matter indeed. There is another equally important, if not more vital, objection to the provision, and that is from the point of view of State rights. The Senate is essentially a States House. While we are keenly divided on party matters when contentious measures are under discussion, we do, I think without any exception, endeavour to view matters from a State as well as a National perspective, and when there is no conflict the National view very often prevails. Let me point out now where a danger to the rights of some of the States might come from the enactment of this provision. Take the representation of the States in the House of Representatives, which alone is to be invested with this extraordinary power. New South Wales has twenty-seven representatives ; Victoria, twenty-two ; South Australia, seven; Western Australia, five;. Queensland, ten; and Tasmania, five. It will be possible for a Commissioner in charge of the construction of railways to bring about a system, not knowingly perhaps, but in his judgment or wisdom, which would be very beneficial to the conduct of the railways, but which would bear very harshly on some of the States. In illustration of what I mean, take the case outlined by Senator de Largie this afternoon. The proposal to link up Port Augusta with Broken Hill, and eventually with Sydney, might be a very good one. I am not “saying that I would oppose the project; in fact, I would support the building of railways anywhere, because I am a firm believer in them. But, for the sake of illustrating the danger which I hold lies in this clause, suppose that such a linking up were made. There would be three States involved; New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia would be directly concerned, even apart from the National aspect in which every State in the Commonwealth would be involved. It would be possible for the representatives of those three States in the other House, by reason of the majority they commanded - they would number thirty-nine members - to bring such influence upon any Minister in respect of what might be a non-party question that it would result in a certain line of attitude being followed by the Railways Commissioner to the advantage of those three States, and to the detriment of the other three States.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 511), on motion by Senator Bakhap -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, if the consent of the Imperial Government can be obtained to the action being taken, it is desirable that a High Commissioner for Australia should be accredited to the United States Government at Washington.
– I would like to compliment the honorable senator who submitted thismotion upon bringing before the Chamber a matter which is distinctly timely, and distinctly important. In the form in which it has been presented, however, I would point out that it is a doublebarrelled motion. It asks the Senate to express approval of the appointment of an
Australian representative in the United States of America, and it also indicates the status which, in the opinion of the mover of the motion, ought to be accorded to that representative. I propose to leave the second -aspect of this matter for the present, and to deal only with the first.
Regarding the general proposition that it is advisable that Australia should be represented in America, I think the Senate will generally be in agreement, as the Government is, with the opinion expressed by Senator Bakhap. But I would remind honorable senators that, during the stirring events which exercised our minds a few months ago, the Prime Minister addressed himself to the desirableness, and, indeed, the necessity, of a systematic and organized effort being made to expand the trade and industries of Australia. When dealing with that subject at Bendigo, he expressed the opinion -
To do that, we must have the brightest intellects at our disposal, who shall go out into every quarter of the world where Australian products can find a market, and develop and open up fresh ‘opportunities for us.
In those few lines may be set out the policy of the Government in this regard. But, apart from it being the’ policy of the Government, I feel that it is one with which every honorable senator will find himself heartily in accord. Amongst the many things which the war is teaching us is that our comparative isolation has gone, and that no nation is strong enough, or big enough, to proceed upon its way quite regardless of fellow nations. Perhaps our national pride has been a little touched by the indications which have come to us with some frequency as to how little Australia is known abroad. These reminders may take the shape of a stray line in a newspaper cable column, or a casual observation by a visitor here. But it has been borne in upon us that Australia is not known amongst other nations, and particularly in America, as she desires to be known, and as it is to our interests that she should be known. The war has given us a costly but a glorious advertisement, and I venture to say, as the result of what our soldiers have accomplished on the battle-fields of Europe, Australia is infinitely better known now than she was when this war broke out.
It is three years since we were confronted with the announcement of war. During that period Australia has grown much older. One of the things we have learned since the outbreak of war is how interdependent nations are, not only in matters of trade, but in all those other matters which have so seriously engaged our attention during the past three years. There are growing indications that, whilst we are looking abroad, other nations are bending their gaze in our direction. A cable was recently published which demonstrates the accuracy of my statement. This cable gives some statements from the New York Times. Upon the authority of that newspaper, it says -
Mr. Stanley Rose, Chief of the Government Bureau of Commerce in New York, makes most favorable comment on the large amount of foreign trade which Australia enjoyed in 1916, despite the most severe strain of the war. Mr. Rose predicts a further increase for 1917, basing this on the statement of the figures in the crop reports from the American ConsulGeneral in Sydney, Mr. Joseph Brittain.
I pause here to point out that other nations are beginning to look closely to Australia, and to its possibilities in the matter of trade. I accept these newspaper reports as gratifying evidence of that growing interest, and as an indication that we ought to be up and doing in order that we may supply the complement to the action described in the words I have just read.
It is added by Mr. Rose that the United States has recently been most interested in Australian trade possibilities, especially in view of Japan’s increased trade to Australia.
All this is obvious, demonstrating that we have a trade here of which it is worth the while of the great American Republic to take notice.
But we have an interest in this matter more direct than have the Americans themselves. We have now reached that stage when we are oversupplying our own market in many particulars, and when, with no desire to lose the British market, we still feel under an obligation to ascertain what trade possibilities there may be in other directions. Now there is no nation in the world which has such purchasing power as has America. Just how big it is may be demonstrated by reminding honorable senators of the population of that country. To state it at 100,000,000 is sufficiently accurate for the purpose of my argument. There we have a market represented by the absorbing power of 100,000,000 souls. Now what trade have we been doing with them? In looking at the figures, I have been struck by the tremendous jump which has been made since the war broke out. In the year preceding the outbreak of war, we supplied America with £2,630,000 worth of goods, which represented, roughly, 6d. per head of her population.. In the year 1915-16, America purchased from us goods to the value of: £17,650,000.
– Those figures include all raw materials, and embrace all. kinds of metals?
– I have not gone into the details, but we may rest assured that the bulk of that amount is made up of raw materials. That, however, is the most profitable form of production in which we are engaged to-day. It will be seen, therefore, that in the short space . oftwo years our trade with America has expanded by £15,000,000.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council give us the figures relating to our imports from America ?
– I am merely showing what America has bought from us, and how big and profitable a customer she is becoming. I am not suggesting that this trade is permanently ours,- because it has arisen out of the stress of war.
– What does it mean per head of the American population ?
– Prior to the outbreak of war, America purchased from us goods to the value of 6d. per head of her population, whereas last year she purchased goods to the value of 3s. 7d. per head. Included in the figures I have given is £7,500,000 worth of gold which was sent there no doubt as part payment by Australia of remittances due to Great Britain. But even if we excluded that amount, America has still purchased from us £10,000,000 worth of goods as against £2,500,000 worth which she purchased two years earlier. That is very satisfactory progress indeed. I should hail it as much more satisfactory if it had occurred apart from the influence of war. But the real point of these figures is that, prior to the war, America was purchasing from Australia goods to the value of only 6d. per head of her population. I think we must recognise thai we are capable of supplying her with more goods than that. All that is re- quired is to bring our growing production into close touch with American consumption, to secure a better representation of Australia, to make some attempt to organize our industries, and to present them for the consideration of the American public.
– I take it .that we should have to get some goods back from her. . ,
– I will give the honorable senator the figures relating to our imports. But nobody assumed when I was quoting our exports that Australia made a present of them to America. I find that we purchased from America in 1913 goods to the value of £9,500y000 as against goods to the value of £2,500,000 purchased from us. We were, therefore, a debtor nation to America to the extent of £7,000,000. We purchased from her goods to the value of ls. lid. per head of our population; she purchased from us goods to the value of 6d. per head of her population. Last year, we purchased goods to the value of £15,360,000, while America purchased from us goods .to the value of £17,500,000.
– For ordinary trade purposes, I suppose that the VicePresident of the Executive Council would hardly include the amount represented by the export of gold ?
– I take the view that, as a gold-producing country,, gold exported from Australia occupies the same position as does any other mineral. We produce it here, and ‘the price received for it pays for its production just as is the case with iron or any other metal.
– We get something for it.
– My honorable friend is nob suggesting that it is a surplus product so far as he is concerned.
But apart from the trade aspect of this question, I suggest that there is a practical sentiment behind it. To-day we see how impossible it is for any nation to face the world alone. To-day, this war has spread till all European nations, with two or three exceptions, are involved in it. It has spread right across to the American continent,- and has even involved certain Asiatic Powers in its mesh. The lesson to be learned from this is that it is desirable that every nation should have as many friends as possible. Now it must be obvious that, next to an abolutely perfect understanding with the people of Great Britain, and of the other Dominions, we should like to be on a good footing with the American nation. For that reason, I welcome the suggestion which is contained in the motion. Upon this point, I wish to quote a recent expression of opinion by Lord Northcliffe when on a visit to America in connexion with a mission on behalf of the Imperial authorities. In an interview with a representative of one of the American newspapers, he expressed himself in these words -
The war is knitting together the Allies in a remarkable, and, I hope, a permanent way. I see that the suggestion has been made that an Australian Commissioner should be appointed at Washington. This may be one of the many steps leading to the permanent linking of Australia and other British Dominions with this mighty Republic.
This motion can be justified and commended on the score of trade, and still more can it be justified and commended on the principle enunciated by Lord Northcliffe. I am glad to see that his is not the only indorsement given to this proposal in America, because the New York Times recently devoted a leading article to this subject. I presume that the dis, cussion in America arose largely from the fact that my honorable friend Senator Bakhap tabled this motion. Apparently his action was cabled to America, and arrested attention in a way which, I venture to say, would not have been the case a few years ago. The cable news a few days ago stated -
In a leading article, the New York Times says that the suggested Australian Commissioner to America would be received most favorably in New York. Exporting circles are in favour of the Commissioner being stationed at New York instead of at Washington, in order to facilitate the handling problem. To exporters of Australian, Tasmanian, and New Zealand products, and to importers, the readjustment of the monetary exchange is one of the most important of the problems that are handicapping trade. The present Australian system of exchange during the past year added 3 per cent, to 5 per cent, on to the cost of American goods over that of British imports.
I quote that as showing .that the New York Times, which may be regarded as one of the principal American papers, considered this matter of sufficient importance to justify reference to it in its leading columns.
All these things are very encouraging, and I feel, therefore, that the Senate will do well to follow the lead given by Senator Bakhap by endorsing the motion, and making it known that at any rate one branch of the Australian Legislature - and I believe the same decision will be recorded by the other House - considers the time has arrived when Australia should be represented in America in some such manner as is set forth in the motion.
– The motion appeals to me from the stand-point of an Australian, and also from the stand-point of a representative of Queensland, because, if one State more than another has facilities for trade expansion with America, that State is Queensland. I presume honorable members are well aware of the possibilities of Queensland regarding the production of raw materials. Queensland’s pastoral resources are almost immeasurable, and I presume that wool figures more largely than any other product in the statement , given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I was pleased to notice from the returns quoted by the Minister that within the past few years the balance of trade between Australia and America has turned in our favour, and that we are now on the right track, although unfortunately this is due to the existence of war, and not because of any legislative activity in the direction of protection to our industries. The war, with all its ills, its miseries, and its huge cost in men and money, has done for us what this National Parliament has riot been able to do, or has not done; it has compelled us to rely upon ourselves for many of those requirements which we have discovered can be produced in Australia, but which, in past years, were neglected because we had not taken sufficient measures to ensure their production. I think it very likely that the appointment of a commercial representative from Australia to the United States of America will be of immeasurable advantage to this country, and particularly to Queensland, in view of the intention of that Government to foster trade with Vancouver and America generally. In the appointment of this official, I should not like to see the Government follow on the lines of the High Comissionership in London. The gentleman to be selected need not be dressed up in all the official garb: - I might even say the flummery - - attached to the official side of the High Commissionership in London. If effect is given to the motion, I would suggest that an energetic man, experienced in commercial affairs, should be entrusted with the commission, and I feel satisfied that he would do better work than any high dignitary selected from Australian public life. It is quite true that Australia has been advertised by this war as she never was advertised before, but I maintain that Australia’s- action in turning down conscription also did very much to advertise the Commonwealth, because the older countries of the world, having experienced all the horrors of -war, will be inclined to turn their attention to a country whose people declared against military domination. By that means they will be attracted here after the war, and this influx must have a beneficial reflex on productivity. As I have already said, the Queensland Government are actively interested in the production of raw materials, especially of iron and .steel, copper, molybdenite, scheelite, and. other minerals, in which Queensland’s resources have only as yet been virtually scratched. In view of all these facts, the proposal appeals to me as an Australian, and I sincerely trust that it will be carried.
, - Some objection has been taken in certain quarters to the motion on the ground that it may interfere to some extent with trade between Australia and Great Britain; but that objection has not appealed to me.
– Who made that objection 1
– If the honorable senator had been reading his papers carefully he would probably have seen very, serious objections raised in certain quarters, but to me they seemed to be rather puerile. Hitherto the balance of American trade against Australia has been too great, and, in my opinion, the adoption of the motion will lead to greater trade development and the establishment of a favorable trade balance, -which will more than compensate us for the expenditure incurred.
– Talking about the balance of trade, I suppose some of the exports mentioned by the Vice-President of the Executive Council formerly went. to England and then to America, but now they are going direct.
– If that is so then it is all the better for us. It is possible, as I have said, that -the appointment of a representative to America will lead to the development of the Australian export trade, and in this case I might mention the fruit industry, in which many States are interested. Hitherto, in what is regarded as our off season, considerable quantities of American fruit have been landed in Australia, but we have not sent any considerable quantities of our fruit to America in what may be. called their off season. It seems likely that an Australian Trade Commissioner would be able to do something to extend our trade. I indorse the remarks made by Senator Ferricks that it will not be necessary to have a costly retinue attached to the office of the Australian representative in America, as in the case with the High Commissioner in London.- I have pleasure in supporting the motion, and I trust that it will receive the indorsement of the other House.
.- I am interested in this motion from a racial point of view, because I believe that the English-speaking races throughout the world have a great work before them. There are national upheavals everywhere at the present time, and in whatever direction we look there is evidence that the Democratic spirit that is abroad ‘ is overturning old forms of government and bringing nations into touch that previously had little communication one with another. The people of the British Empire and of the United States of America have very much in common. Their aspirations and ideals are much the same, and they are one in language and in many of their customs and habits. I believe that any step tending to bring the Englishspeaking Democracies together must ultimately be for the benefit! of the world. The English language is fast becoming the commercial language of the world. Its use in commercial circles is making headway everywhere. In my view anything that will bring the Englishspeaking races more closely together must tend to a condition of affairs which will make impossible such struggles as that in which we are engaged at the present time. The first step to take is to foster trade rela tions between the English-speaking peoples, and the example set by Englishspeaking Democracies must be an inspiration to other nations at present striving after self-government. No people are better qualified to assist the other races of the world to achieve self-government than are the English-speaking people’ of the British Empire and of the United States of America.
– For instance we might give self-government to Ireland.
– That will come byandby. The greatest enemies t’o the selfgovernment of Ireland have been the people of Ireland.
– The honorable senator thinks so?
– Speaking broadly, I do think so. Every time that selfgovernm’ent for Ireland is about to be achieved something arising in that country has prevented its accomplishment. That is what I mean when I say that the people of Ireland have themselves been the greatest obstacles to the attainment of self-government in that country. No doubt they will get it by-and-by.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that question. He has allowed himself to be led away by an interjection.
– The honorable senator started the subject himself. He invited the interjection.
– I do not object to the interjection at all. I was saying that the English-speaking peoples of the world can supply the best examples of national self-Government for adoption by the people of” other nations.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer in discussing this motion. Only this afternoon we have been considering a Railways Bill providing for. the appointment of a Commissioner to control the Commonwealth railways, and I should like to say that I trust that at- a very’ early date the Northern Territory will ‘ be connected with the Queensland railway system running out towards Camooweal.
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to go into that matter.
– It was my intention to point out that by the establishment of a Trade Commissioner to represent Australia in the United States of America it would be possible to make better known to the people of that country that Queensland is in a position to supply a practically unlimited quantity of an article for which there is a very great demand in the United States of America. I may inform the Senate that some Americans have already recognised the possibilities of the cattle raising industry in Queensland, and have established on the Brisbane River one of the most uptodate meat; works/ to ba,f found anywhere outside the United States of America. The establishment, of those works has been the means of finding employment for a very large number of people to whom the best wages are being paid, and the way in which the works are conducted is an example to other meat works in that State. I am aware that some outcry was raised against’ the danger of allowing American syndicates and trusts to come in and capture the cattle business of Queensland. Any one who knows the Gulf country of Queensland and the part of the Northern Territory in the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Carpentaria will agree that millions of cattle can be bred there to supply not only the Australian market, but the American market. Since the establishment of the meat works on the Brisbane River to which I have referred, another big American company has been negotiating for land with the idea of putting up similar works, but the industrial troubles that have arisen, and the consequent uncertainty of continued operations, has caused this company to hold its hand at the present time.
– Would the honorable senator like American companies to take charge of the Queensland meat business ? . .
– They have charge of the meatworks on the Brisbane River to which I have referred. I think that every inducement should be held out to American companies to invest their capital in the Commonwealth. A great deal may be said, and a great deal has already been said, about the danger of encouraging American syndicates to come to Australia, but I remind those who speak in that way that in this young Democracy we are making experiments as to what is the best course to take in connexion with the relations between labour and capital, and I have confidence that the people of Australia are sufficiently intelligent, and their democratic spirit is sufficiently strong, to safeguard the interests of employees in this -country whether they are engaged in enterprises controlled by American companies or not. We have established Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts for the protection of the workers, and I fail to see that any danger is likely to arise from inducing American companies to establish: meatworks and other enterprises in the Commonwealth. The Northern Territory is now under the control of the -Commonwealth Government, and we know that the best use has not been made of it up to the present time. By connecting that part of it hi the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Carpentaria with the’ Queensland railway system great inducements might be held out for future settlement. No one who has not visited the Gulf country of Queensland or the Northern Territory can have any conception of the immense areas of land that are comprised in cattle stations in those districts. One may be a whole week travelling through one of those stations. If the Northern Territory were properly cut up we might have a hundred stations cut out of the area at present comprised in one or two. Honorable senators are aware that great areas of the Northern Territory are leased to a couple of individuals or firms.
– The honorable senator is dealing with a very interesting subject, but I think it is not relevant to the motion.
– My idea was to suggest that if the Territory under the control of the Commonwealth were developed as it might be, and a Trade Commissioner representing Australia was established in the United States of America, it might lead to Americans taking a greater interest in our development, and, speaking from a Queensland point of view, that appeared to- me to be one of the strongest inducements to support the motion.
Another reason why I favour the passing of this motion is that there are a number of ports in Queensland from which minerals, cattle, and wool could be sent to the United States of America. These ports offer excellent shipping facilities for the export of our products. As wool-buyers the Americans at present are the greatest competitors of British manufacturers, because they so in for the best classes of wool produced. Many of our cheaper wools are sent to the Continent and Japan, hut Americans are purchasers of our best wools. Australia is to-day the largest cattle producer and woolgrower in the world. We should look to America in the future for a market for our cattle and our wool, so that prices may be kept up in such a way as to enable us to secure the revenue which will be necessary to meet the financial responsibilities we have undertaken.
– Does the honorable senator not think that it would better help our wool trade with America that the Americans should remove their duty upon wool ?
– Might not one be supplementary to the other?
– If we had a Trade Commissioner established in America the relations between our people and America would be greatly fostered1, and trade between the two countries would greatly increase. We can find plenty of markets for our inferior wools, but we can find in the United States of America a good market for our best wools. That is another reason why I am disposed to support the motion submitted by Senator Bakhap, and consider that it should be favorably received by the Senate.
I repeat the expression of my hope that it may lead to the binding together of the English-speaking races, and so be the means of rendering important assistance to the other nations of the world when the great war in which we are now engaged is over. I believe that the Englishspeaking races ‘will be found to be one of the most important factors in assisting other nations to attain selfgovernment, and this must in its turn do away with much of the friction that has existed between different nations in the past.
– I was at first inclined to think this motion unnecessary. Generally speaking, the appointment of a High Commissioner is regarded as a superfluity since it is assumed that his business is merely to attend Court functions and levees. But in so far as it would affect trade relations between the United States of America and Australia, I think that there can be no question about supporting the proposal other than this, that if it is going to be a big Department, costing a very considerable amount of money, with our present lack of transport for some years ahead, it is very questionable if we will get much during the next few years out of the appointment of a Commissioner. I hope that the intention of my colleague is that this official will be rather a Trade Commissioner than a High Commissioner. I believe that if it should go forth to the public- that we are setting up a High Commissioner, with a number of officials, in America, it will be thought that we are adding unnecessarily to. the cost of the government of Australia. The prospect, for some years to come, I repeat, is that we shall have a very difficult task to transport our products to America or anywhere else. Therefore, I should have been better pleased if this motion had been left in abeyance for twelve months or so, when we could have seen more clearly what we would be likely to accomplish from its adoption. In so far as it will tend towards binding the Englishspeaking races together in a fraternal spirit, the motion ought to commend itself to the Senate. And, even in so far ais it will tend to increase our trade relations with the people of the United States of America, speaking our own language, it ought to commend itself to the Senate. But I am afraid that the public generally will l6ok upon this proposal, if it should go forth as a step to setting up a High Commissioner, as more or less a superfluity. Possibly in his reply Senator Bakhap will tell us that his object is more particularly to increase our trade, relations with our cousins in the United States of America. If that is the end in view, we can ‘give the motion our hearty support; but if it is to set up a High Commissioner, with a costly retinue, I think that it will not meet with the approval which it ought to receive in the Commonwealth.
– Needless to say, I am very gratified at the reception given to this motion by honorable senators. I had very little doubt that when the Vice-President of the Executive Council addressed himself to a consideration of the question we would have quite a notable contribution to the debate from him, and I have not been disappointed. His short speech was something admirable. I am not in the habit of giving fulsome praise to any person, but I must say that I was particularly pleased in listening to the fine speech which fell from the lips of the Minister. Other honorable senators who addressed themselves to the motion also kept the debate at a very high level. I think that the Senate is performing, to a very large extent, the functions which the Australian people imagined it would perform when they embarked upon Federation, when it takes upon itself the handling of important questions such as the one embodied in my motion. I did not rise for the purpose of making a lengthy speech, for, really, all the arguments which have been advanced for the consideration of honorable senators have been in favour of the motion. But it is necessary for me to apologize for an oversight on my part, and to ask the indulgence of the Senate, insomuch as it is necessary to slightly amend the motion.
The arguments brought forward in favour of the motion have been such as not to necessitate any traversing of them by myself; but I desire to particularly reply to some criticism of the motion which has been published outside the Senate, and, I think, published under a misapprehension. I always welcome criticism. I believe that fair’ criticism is quite in the interests of the principle of any proposal which is before Parliament for discussion. But it was asserted that this motion had in it something craven, and almost dastardly, in that it embodied a sort of opportunity for the alienation of the affections of Australia from the great Mother Country, and a transference of them to the United States of America. As honorable senators will remember, I had a similar motion on. the notice-paper in the last Parliament for at least two years. I am sure that they understand that I have not any idea whatever of belittling the connexion with the Mother Country, a connexion which I am wholly in favour of maintaining, and strengthening in every possible way. It is for the purpose of strengthening the Empire and the position of the English-speaking races of the world that I have brought forward the motion. I happened to say in the course of my short address to the Senate, that I believed that very shortly, if she was not at present, America would be the financial centre of the world. Well, sir, facts are facts, and singular to say in the very issue of the journal which criticised Senator Lynch and myself for hav ing brought the proposal before the Senate, there appeared a notification that America was making preparations to lend the Allies a further sum of £600,000,000. A nation which is capable of doing that, a nation in which our mother tongue is spoken; is certainly one with which we ought to endeavour to link ourselves up 1 by all the fraternal ties it is possible for us to conceive and bring into practical operation
We are entering, I may say, a new domain of political philosophy. Australia is no longer a youth even in a national sense. Australia is a grown-up nation with a grown-up nation’s responsibilities, and I have been very careful in the terms of. the motion to set out that action should only be taken if the consent of the Imperial authorities can be obtained. Surely that is sufficiently indicative of the fact that the motion has not been conceived . in any sense of hostility, even of slackness, towards the Mother Country, but in a full spirit of honest and loyal allegiance to her, and to the interests of that Empire of which she is even yet the chief unit, although her statesmen know full well that in the progress of time some of the children Dominions may, perhaps, grow to a national stature which may eclipse even that of the grand old Mother Country. The ‘terms of this ‘ motion are not such that by giving his adhesion to them any Australian besmirches in the least his loyalty to our grand Empire. o But it is merely taking one of those statesmanlike precautions that will enable another strong cable to be. put out, which will anchor us more firmly in regard to our Imperial position.
Honorable senators have very properly and practically, for our race is a practical one, addressed themselves to a consideration of trade issues, and possibilities. I go with them to the full extent of the way traversed by their remarks. But I will say that it was not trade which was uppermost in my mind during the long, months, indeed long years, in which I have been giving attention to this question. I conceive that it is necessary for us - an important unit of the Empire with interests in common with those of all the other oversea Dominions, but yet with interests peculiarly our own- to be able to make through an accredited representative, intimate representations to the authorities of the American Republic on many matters affecting our national welfare, and, indeed, the welfare of our Empire. Now, Japan, one of our Allies, is a oountry which has grown in the space of about half a century from the status of a hermit oriental kingdom to one of the great Powers of the world. Since this motion has been discussed by the Senate, we have been able to read in the columns of our press that the Japanese Government are sending a special mission to Washington. It has its regular Ambassador at Washington, but it is stepping aside from the ordinary diplomatic channels and is sending a special mission to that capital to deal with a special question, namely, the status of those islands taken from Germany by the might of the Japanese arms, naval and military. If a matter of that description is such as to justify our great Ally in going outside her ordinary diplomatic resources, and sending a special mission to America, surely ‘we may be pardoned for thinking that there is something that has grown out of this war which has a very great bearing on our future, and in connexion with which our American cousins ought to know what I might call the innermost thoughts of the administrators of Australia’s affairs. For this reason alone we would be justified in sending to Washington the highest accredited official representative which the contingencies of Imperial diplomacy would permit.
– That is a different idea from that of the Minister leading the Senate. What are we asked to vote for? The appointment of an Ambassador or the appointment of a Trade Commissioner ?
– I am going to ask leave to amend the motion at the very proper and wise suggestion of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. It is a mere trivial amendment.
So important is diplomatic or quasidiplomatic representation esteemed by people with a proper sense of national re-‘ sponsibility, that I might mention that while I was in the East I had the pleasure of dining with a gentleman who received a very good salary in the British Colony of Hong Kong as the diplomatic representative of the Republic of Panama. That Republic was created only yesterday, so to speak, at the instance of the American authorities. This very small Latin American Republic, recently constituted, and important only in the eyes of the world because through its territory the Panama Canal was constructed, had a well-paid diplomatic representative at even the territorially small British Colony of Hong Kong, a small island off the coast of China, where, I suppose, there were not above fifty Spanishspeaking people.
– Have they a representative like that in every part of the world ?
– That I cannot say, but I know that they had a diplomatic representative in Hong Kong. In Australia we have 5,000,000 of Englishspeaking people. We occupy a continent, and some very grave problems affect out future.
I hope, sir, that ; I am not trespassing beyond the terms of the motion when I say that the peace which will come upon the world, let us hope soon, will be, not a German peace, but an American peace. It is the American people who are going to have the decisive voice in the peace which will, I trust, soon come upon the tortured nations of the world.
– Their peace is a peace withno annexations, no indemnities, and freedom of the high seas.
– The honorable senator is going too far. It is not such a peace as he imagines at all. For that reason alone, Australia, and those who represent her at this critical juncture in the Imperial fortunes, should be placed in the most intimate touch with the authorities at Washington. While I indorse to the full everything which has fallen from the lips of honorable senators who have addressed themselves to the motion, there are those grave reasons which the Vice-President of the Executive Council shortly, but forcibly, alluded to, which would, alone, justify the Senate in adopting, as I feel sure it will adopt, the motion. I ask permission of the Senate to amend the motion by eliminating the words “ a High Commissioner,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ an Official Representative of,” and I also desire to insert a second paragraph to read : -
House of Representatives requesting its concurrence therein.
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I am particularly pleased with the consideration extended to the motion. I am greatly gratified with the debate upon it, and I will now leave the proposal, as amended, to the decision of the Senate.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 19th July (vide page 299), on motion by Senator Bakhap -
That the Senate expresses its unqualified appreciation and approval of the statement made on the 31st January last by the Honorable the Colonial Secretary (Mr. Walter Long), which emphatically sets forth that none of the captured Colonial Possessions of the German Empire will, in any circumstances, be returned to that Power; and, furthermore, resolves that any proposal to restore the captured German territories in the vicinity, of the Australian Continent will be particularly distasteful to . the people of the Commonwealth, and prejudicial to their interests, as well as to the future peace of the world.
That the foregoing resolution bc transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence.
– I rather suspect that this night will go down to history” as Bakhap’s night. At any rate, it is the second occasion upon which the honorable senator has, by motion, directed our attention to a distinctly important and a distinctly big question. In dealing with it, I ask the indulgence of honorable senators while I mention one or two historical facts connected with the subject that is dealt with by the motion which we are now considering.
Thirty-five years ago, Germany did not possess a single acre outside of Europe. In the thirty years prior to the outbreak of war, she had put together a Colonial Empire which, if we exclude Russia, was as large as the balance of Europe. That big Empire which had been put together as the result of thirty years of German diplomacy, was wrested from Germany, temporarily, at least, by thirty months of war. I am not suggest ing that that is a factor at all decisive in relation to the war, though it is one of considerable historic importance to us to-day. Upon these Colonies which Germany had acquired - -and I am referring to them because it is impossible to consider the captured German Colonies adjacent to Australia without also considering the German captured Colonies in other parts of the world - Germany has spent in hard cash £120,000,000. In the last complete financial year before the outbreak of the war, there appeared on the Imperial German Budget the sum of £5,345,000, representing subsidies to different parts of her Colonial Empire. It is quite evident, therefore, that, however we may view them, they were regarded as of some importance by Germany.
There is another historical fact that I desire to mention, and I do so because, to some extent, it .is a justification for this motion. In the course of the debate which was initiated when this proposal was submitted by Senator Bakhap, reference was made to the little incident with which the name of Sir Thomas Mcllwraith is so creditably associated in connexion with New Guinea. But it is worth while noting that our experience in regard to New Guinea has been practically the experience of every one of the Colonies which have been torn from Germany during the past two or three years. For instance, Samoa occupied exactly a similar position. In 1877 the natives of that island petitioned the British authorities to proclaim a protectorate over it. The British authorities declined the invitation, with the result that two years later Samoa became a German Protectorate, and, later, a German Possession. In Africa it is interesting to note that the king of the Cameroons was first educated by the Germans and then hanged by them, thus placing him in a position, had he lived long enough, to testify to the efficiency of German culture. In the early eighties his father sought British protection, but was met with .a refusal, with the result that when, in 1884, the British Consul hurried along for the purpose of complying with the request which had been made two or three years earlier, he arrived five days too late, and found Germany in possession of the place. Then in German South- West Africa the natives, in 1883, appealed for the establishment of a British protectorate over them. That appeal was not responded to, and Germany stepped into the breach the following year. It will be aeon, therefore, that all these places enjoy a common history in this regard. In no single instance -Hd their native population appeal to be taken under German protection. Their appeals were always to Britain. Realizing their danger, they do not appear to have welcomed the prospect of German rule. They appealed to England, not, perhaps, because they desired to come under the control of any Power, but because they desired to be protected from Germany, which was becoming an increasing menace to ‘them.
This motion brings us face to face with one at least of those big responsibilities to which Australia will have to address itself as the result of the part we have played >in .this war. ‘ When we stepped from our peaceful solitude into the dangerous and certainly discordant arena of international politics, as we did on the 4th August, 1914, we must recognise that, though our action added _ a few cubits to our political stature, it also imposed upon us very distinct and grave responsibilities, one of which is brought home to us by this motion. In tha past, when we have had occasion to press our views on the notice of the Imperial authorities, we have only been under an obligation to consider ourselves and the Empire. But today we must recognise that, to a very great extent, we have to take into our consideration other interests as well. We have no longer to consider what will suit Australia alone, or what, indeed, will suit the Empire alone. We have to consider the interests, and, it may be, the susceptibilities, of our Allies. Now this motion, does bring up a question of importance when it brings under review the question of annexations. Little as we know of what is taking place in Europe, we must recognise from the scanty news supplied by the cables that the councils of the statesmen of the Allied countries are being influenced by this very question. It is a question which has become very prominent during the past few months. Our latest Ally has made it tolerably clear that she is little disposed to continue a war merely to enable one country to acquire territory at the expense of another. This question has also been a gravely disturbing factor in Russia. As to what is happening there, we can see but dimly. But it is manifest that this question’ of annexation has seriously divided the factions in that country. I do not suggest that because of this we are under a disability in enunciating what we conceive to be our interests. But we are under an obligation to put them forward in a way which will add as little as possible to the difficulties of Imperial statesmen^
– They must not be put forward dictatorial^.
– I am sure we will not do that, and I am very glad of the suggestion that we should refrain from doing anything of, the kind. I was endeavouring ‘to make it quite clear that whilst- in no sense are we justified in refraining from any action for which our interests may call, we are under a distinct obligation to approach this question in a way which will show that we are not confining our gaze to mere local surroundings, but that we are asking for fair consideration of what we believe to be our interests, and at the same time exhibiting a willingness to recognise the interests of those with whom .we are associated.
There is one thing which will comfort us all when we consider, this motion, namely, the past relationship between this and the other Dominions and Great. Britain. Whenever we have had occasion to press our views on the attention of Imperial statesmen, the most casual student of history will admit that those representations have been received in the most generous spirit. Whenever there has been an apparent, or possibly a real, conflict between Australian and Imperial interests, truth compels us to recognise that the Imperial authorities have shown a persistent and magnanimous desire to meet us in every way that is compatible with those larger interests. We can argue from that that they will not be unmindful of ^representations which we may elect to make now.
To show that the position of Australia and our relationship with the rest of the Empire are clearly understood by the responsible statesmen of Great Britain, I should like to quote from a speech made by the Prime Minister - Mr. Lloyd George - in February of the present year -
The question of the conquered German territories will be considered among others. It is unthinkable that their disposition after the war should be determined without consulting the Dominions-
Here is the portion to which I wish to direct attention -
It is also unthinkable that the question should be settled without the Dominions taking their share of the responsibility of considering this issue, not as a separate one, but as part of the settlement - the whole settlement; - of the great world problems which must inevitably follow the end of this great world war. Their presence at this Conference, or rather, Cabinet, is essential in order that they should share with us the anxious burden of considering, not merely a part, however important, but all the factors in a cause for which their sons so freely sacrificed their lives.
Those words indicate very clearly the recognition, by the most responsible statesman of the Empire to-day, not only of our right to be heard in the matter, but - here I again remind honorable senators of the words to which I drew special attention - also of our responsibility, not merely to ourselves, but to the rest of the Empire. We must, therefore, consider this matter not merely as a question affecting Australia, but as affecting the Empire as a whole.
I want now to make clear what is indicated by this motion, and what is the motive underlying our support or acceptance of it. ‘In my judgment, and I believe in the judgment of other honorable senators who may support the motion, it is not that we want added territory so much as added protection; not more acres, but greater security; not that we are seeking additional potential wealth, but increased’ freedom from an otherwise assured menace. We can, I think, declare our views and our desires in regard to this, matter with a perfectly clear conscience, absolutely free from any possible suspicion that we are seeking territorial aggrandisement. If at this stage we neglect to make known our views, we do so at our peril. If we need any justification for the motion, surely it is supplied to us by the history of the past. Whilst we were dreaming our pleasant dreams in our fool’s paradise, as it turned out to be, Germany, in territory adjacent to these shores, was starting there with her military preparations which over a period of forty years were, made so thoroughly in her homeland. We know, also, that even in Australia she had already succeded in introducing the’ tentacles of her wide-spread and sinister organization. With this history to guide Us, we should indeed be foolish if we did not, as far as possible, ask for guarantees for the future. There are some people who declare that Germany will emerge from this war a reclaimed and a reformed nation. We may indulge that hope certainly, but I do say we would be fools indeed if we did not ask for some evidence of that reform before we viewed with equanimity the possibility of Germany being again established as our near neighbour. It ha’s been said that a leopard cannot change his spots, nor the Ethiopian his skin. I am not going to pronounce upon that problem, but where, as in this case, a nation is concerned, I think we have every right to ask that’ there shall be some evidence of reform -before we could welcome Germany so near to our shores, and allow her to establish herself in islands adjacent to this continent.
I have been speaking with regard to the action of Germany in the past. I should like now. to direct attention to a warning given t6, us only a few weeks ago in a statement made by the German Colonial, Secretary - -Sali - who, . according to the cable messages, declared -
The German colonial programme was very simple and clear. They wanted their Colonies back after the war, when they would create a well-developed * colonial property, capable of resistance.
Those words are inoffensive enough in themselves. But Germany would have us believe that this is, for her, a war of defence. Was it a measure of resistance when Germany invaded inoffensive Belgium? I, for one, am disposed to ask for something very much stronger and more binding than Germany’s declaration before I can accept the statement just quoted at its face value.
What I have said will, I think, sufficiently indicate the view which the Government take with regard to this motion. I only desire to add that the Government is fully seized with the vital importance of, this Question as it affects the ultimate future of this country. No steps will be wanting on its part to see that Australia’s interests are properly and’ energetically pressed .upon the attention of Imperial statesmen. At the same time, the Government realizes that in dealing with this matter, we have not merely to consider our local interests, but the interests of the Empire and our Allies as a whole.
I desire now to turn ibo the motion itself, and to examine it in detail, because I want my honorable friend to accept a slight alteration in the verbiage, and in order to make my intention clear, T shall read the motion, which is as follows: -
That the Senate expresses its unqualified appreciation and approval of the statements made on the 31st January last by the Honorable the Colonial Secretary (Mr. . Walter Long), which emphatically sets forth that none of the captured Colonial Possessions of the German Empire will, in any circumstances, be returned to that Power; . . . I desire to draw particular attention to these words, because it is clear that Senator Bakhap based his motion on .a statement which, according to the cable news, was made by Mr. Walter Long. It must be noticed, however, that Mr. Long subsequently reviewed and very considerably modified his statement. Now, this is what Mr. Long is reported to have said on the occasion referred to -
Now, I speak with knowledge and with responsibility, and I speak as the representative, for the moment, of those oversea Dominions which are the pride and glory of our Empire to-day, when I say, “Let no man think that these struggles have been fought in vain; letno man think that these territories shall ever return to German rule.” As I have said, Senator Bakhap apparently framed his motion on this cabled report of Mr. Long’s speech. Subsequently the .Prime Minister of Great Britain - why I cannot say, although I can hazard a guess - made public a statement having a direct bearing upon the remarks made by the Colonial Secretary. It seems to me that he did so because the question of annexations, then, as now, was occasioning some thought in the councils of the Allies. At any rate, the Prime Minister did make a statement which, in some respects, was thought to materially modify the remarks made by the Colonial Secretary. A* a later stage the question again came up, and as the result of some criticism in the House of Commons, Mr. Long, replying, I think, to Mr. Buxton, said -
The honorable member was incorrect, in quoting me as saying that on no consideration should Germany ever have any” Colonies. Of course, I never used any language of that kind, and any oho who will read my speech will. see quite plainly what it was I stated. I said that I was speaking as Secretary for the Colonies, and I was expressing the opinion of those I am specially bound to represent, namely, our Dominions and our Colonies in different parts of the world, as well as the opinion of many people here, and the language
I used was used solely as representing the Dominions, and I think there are many people here who share that view.
I am not very much concerned about reconciling Mr. Long’s later statement with his earlier utterance as cabled. I merely point to iti because it seems to me that Mr. Long’s original statement can hardly be accepted as a sufficient reason upon which to found the motion now before the Senate, and therefore I am going to suggest to Senator Bakhap that he strike out that portion of his motion, which can stand by itself, quite irrespective of anything Mr. .Long may have said.
There is another matter to which I direct .Senator Bakhap’s attention. I have already pointed out that it seems highly desirable that we should make it clear that we are not desirous of territorial aggrandisement, but that we have in view the future national safety of this country. With that object in mind, I shall read the latter portion of the motion, which is as follows:’ - and, furthermore, resolves that any proposal to restore the captured German territories in the vicinity of the Australian Continent will be particularly distasteful to the people of the Commonwealth, and prejudicial to their interests, as well as to the future peace of the world.
We understand perfectly what those words mean, but we must realize that they are capable of other interpretation in other parts of the world. The phrase, that the restoration of the German territory “ will be particularly distasteful to the people of the Commonwealth,” doe’s not make it clear why such restoration to Germany will be distasteful to Australia, and people on the other side of the world might conclude that this, restoration would be distasteful because Australia would thus lose an addition to her Possessions. Now, that is not the reason which animates us at all, and I want this to be made perfectly clear. I would like, therefore, to secure Senator Bakhap’s concurrence to my suggestion that he himself should alter the motion. The other words of the honorable senator’s motion which I think are capable of improvement are those which speak of the restoration of the former German Colonies as being “ prejudicial to our interests.” The restoration would be prejudicial to our interests, but, again, the motion does not make clear what are the interests referred to. It might be inferred that they were trade interests, and I desire that our resolution should stand as far apart as may be from any suggestion that we are moved by any mere material gain that might accrue to us by the acquisition of these Colonies. I am certain that that is not what is in the mind of any member of the Senate. .1 suggest, therefore, that the motion would express all that we desire in a way to which no exception could be taken, and which would be less capable of being misinterpreted or misunderstood elsewhere if it took something like this form -
That the restoration of the captured German Colonies in the vicinity of the Australian Continent will constitute a standing menace to the safety of this country, as well as to the future peace of the world.
I shall not move that as an amendment upon the motion, but make the suggestion for the acceptance of Senator Bakhap. That would make it quite clear that the sole motive animating us in this matter is a regard for our own national safety. It would free us from any imputation of having participated in the war, or of being willing to continue to take our part in it, merely for the purpose of adding to our already widespread territory.
I have only one thing more to say, and it is this: This motion can hardly be considered without recognising that, of itself, it can be of no avail. The final disposition of these territories is not going to be achieved by a resolution of this or any other Parliament. The final disposition of the captured German territories will be decided according to the military position when peace is at length proclaimed. I want to impress upon honorable senators who are prepared to support the motion that it is idle to do so unless, at the same time, we are resolved that, so far as we can, we will do what lies in our power to so order the strength of this country that- we may help Australia, the Empire, and our Allies to place themselves in such a position as to be able to give effect to the motion after we have passed it here. I like to think that, by supporting this motion, the Senate will be again registering its determination to do all that is possible to see the war through to a successful issue, which will not only relieve us of the possibility of the existence of a German menace close to our shores, but will relieve the whole world from that German menace which has been hanging over it for half a century.
Motion (by Senator Needham) negatived -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– It is yet rather early to adjourn the debate on this motion. I think that Senator Bakhap cannot expect that it will meet with the friendly reception that was accorded to the other’ motion he submitted. It deals with a very contentious question, and one upon which we are in no better position than are any of the Powers engaged in the present war, to be dogmatic about. I regard it. as a matter for regret that this question should have been brought before the Senate. Unfortunately, it has been introduced and debated, and we must now put the best face we can upon it. We are in somewhat the same predicament as the nigger who caught hold of the lion’s tail in order to escape from it. To let go was about the worst thing he could do, and it was still very uncomfortable for him to hang on. Even though Senator Bakhap should accept the amendment of his motion suggested by Senator Millen, we shall be assuming a very considerable responsibility in agreeing to it. The settlement of the question does not rest with us, nor does it rest with half-a-dozen other Governments and Parliaments. We know the position in which the Government of Queensland placed themselves in the early eighties, when they annexed the whole of the island of New Guinea that was not already a British Possession. We know how the Queensland . Government came out of that matter. I hold that they came out of it in a very undignified way. The Imperial authorities told the Queensland Government to haul down the flag which they had so hurriedly hoisted in New Guinea. That incident, which was quoted by Senator Bakhap, should have been a lesson to the honorable senator as to the danger of submitting a motion of this kind.
– The fault was with the Mother Country for failing to back .up Queensland in that matter.
– I do not know whether the Mother Country did not do the right and proper thing at that time. My point is that, that incident should be a lesson to usto hasten slowly in the consideration of questions of this kind. I am afraid that we have yet a very long way to go before we reach the end of the war; and, even , when the war is brought to a close, other countries and other Governments besides that of Australia will naturally and properly desire to have some say with Tegard to the future of captured German Possessions in the Pacific. It will, I think, be agreed that New Zealand is entitled to some say in the matter, and also that Canada and the United States of America may claim to be considered. So many countries and Governments are interested in the question, that Senator Bakhap would have been wiser if he had refrained from asking us to rush in and deal with a matter which cannot be satisfactorily dealt with until the war is brought to a close. This is a very dangerous question for us to handle, and one with which wecannot deal in a satisfactory way. I repeat my regret that it should have been introduced at all.
At the beginning of the war I think that nine out of every ten persons interested in the future disposition of different territories as a possible outcome of the war, would have said that the one prize which Russia looked forward to gaining was Constantinople. But we have found, since the revolution in Russia, that the people of that country have repudiated any desire to acquire additional territory in any part of the world. In view of the fact that Russia has expressed her readiness to give up Constantinople as a prize-
– Which she has not captured.
– Russia has repudiated the suggestion that she desires Constantinople.
– She has not captured it, and there are Germans in possession of some of (her own territory.
– It is all very well for Senator Thomas to say that ; but we should some time ago have said that if Germany was beaten in the present struggle, the desire of Russia to secure Constantinople, if she had the. chance, was quite as great as the desire of Australia to secure the captured German Possessions in the Pacific.
– One would not say so from the way in which Russia is going about the war now.
– I am sure that we are not going to speak of the way in which Russia is conducting herself in connexion with the war at the present time. In view of the statement which has been made on behalf of Russia since the revolution in that country, we should be very careful indeed about what territories we propose to annex.
– Is it Russia that is speaking in the way the honorable senator suggests?
– I think it is clearly the Democracy of Russia that has given expression to that view.
– The Democracy of Russia is not Russia.
– Perhaps Senator Reid thinks that the deposed Czar is Russia. We know that it was the desire of the military caste in Russia to secure possession of Constantinople.
– All the evidence we have supports the view expressed by the honorable senator.
– I think that nine out of every ten persons will agree with the statement I ‘have made. There will, no doubt, be tremendous disappointment created if some territories, the possession of which is contended for, are not restored to the people to whom they rightly belong, at the close of the war. I am not going to say that the islands to which Senator Bakhap’s motion refers will not be given to Australia. I am afraid, however, that we would not find them a very great prize, even if we had them to-morrow. The cost of government in that direction is very great at the present time. We have gained but very little from many of the Territories we hold in that region, and I do not see that we would gain very much by getting more of them.
– That was true of Australia in the first years, remember.
– I do notknow that it was ever true of Australia. I think that it was always admitted to be a splendid place to live in so far as climate is concerned, but who will say that these Possessions up towards the Equator are suitable for white men to live in?
– Go back to the thirties.
– The motion is not urged on the ground that the Possessions are valuable.
– I do not think that any one who listened to the speech of Senator Bakhap could come to any opinion other than that’ he considered the Possessions to be of very great value to Australia. I do not hold that view, as I have already pointed out there are other Governments within the . Empire who have an equal right to be consulted, but who have refrained from expressing an opinion. We would have been well advised if we had refrained from debating the question at the present juncture. I was pointing out that in my opinion there is a territory as to which the whole of the Allies will be disappointed if it is not taken away from the enemy, and that is the territory of Alsace-Lorraine. Who at the present stage will say for a certainty that even Alsace-Lorraine, which is part and parcel of historical Prance, will be recovered from the enemy. We are told that we must catch our hare before we can make soup, but we have not caught our hare yet.
– We have caught these Colonies, anyhow.
– Wemay be in the soup before this business is all over. I would like to see the military position much more favorable to the Allies before I would become boastful as to what we ought to insist upon and what we shall do. I would have preferred to leave this question for discussion hereafter. Had Senator Bakhap been content to wait and see how things were likely to go it would have been better for all concerned. We could have dealt with the question at a later stage much more freely than we can do at present. Because of that feeling I would have liked this matter to be held over until a more favorable time to discuss it.
– If you wanted more time to discuss the matter why did you oppose the adjournment of the debate ?
– That was owing to a misunderstanding.
– With me, it is not a question of discussing the matter to-night or next week, but a question of delaying its discussion for months, perhaps years. I think that we have ample time in which to discuss it.
– I remind the honorable senator thatthe Japanese are already taking action in the matter.
– Undoubtedly, and they have as good a right to cast their eyes in this direction as we have.
– I mean in regard to the German Possessions which they have occupied.
– We could have better considered this matter at the close of the war than we can at the present juncture, but this motion has been submitted and discussed, and perhaps the best thing we can do now is to accept it in the amended form suggested by the Minister. That I think is the only move open to us.
– I have been deeply interested in the two speeches we have heard on this question - that by the Vice-President of the Executive Council,particularly in parts, and pretty well the whole of the remarks of Senator de Largie. It appears to me that at long last, at the end of three years the indications are that a bib of toleration is being given birth to. I venture to say that if six or twelve months ago an honorable senator on this side had uttered the sentiment which Senators de Largie and Millen in parts of their speeches gave voice to to-night, he would have been described as a pro- German, an “ I.W.W.-ite,” and a traitor.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood me if he has taken anything I have said to indicate that view.
– The Minister pointed out how, by indorsing the motion as it stands, it might embarrass the Imperial statesmen in arriving at terms of peace. In View of the fact that, time after time, statements have been made in the Senate that, under no circumstances, were these Colonies ever to be returned to Germany, I do say that, had we then made the remarks which have been addressed to us to-night, the epithets would have been hurled at us to which we have had to listen so often during the past twelve months. I am very pleased to see what I regard as a return to sanity. Surely to goodness, after three years of warfare, it is time in all conscience, that a citizen, especially inthe National Parliament, should have the right to voice his opinions without being howled at as a traitor- an “ I.W.W.-ite,” a proGerman, and all the rest of it. There is hardly an anti-Labour politician in Australia to-day - and not an anti-Labour’ newspaper - who, during the past twelve months, has not constantly kept up that tirade of unfair criticism, and mean abuse to gain political advantages.
– That is the exordium, but what is the sermon going to be?
– An exhortation to cultivate the spirit of sanity, which seems to have received birth here tonight. We are told in the motion that the statement of the Colonial Secretary- emphatically sets forth that none of the captured Colonial Possessions of the German Empire will in any circumstances be returned to that Power.
I am opposed to that proposition. If. the, non-return of these islands to Germany, or any other nation, is going to mean a continuation of this world-wide war, I say let the islands go. Senator Bakhap, at an earlier stage to-night, said that the peace terms would not be formulated by Australia, but by America. I agree with the honorable senator that America, at the present time, occupies a very important position. In fact, as I have said in various addresses, Professor Woodrow Wilson, in regard to the conclusions which will be arrived at on the termination of the war, is on a box-seat. He has already stated in plain, honest language that, so far as the United States is concerned, peace will be based on no annexations, no indemnities, and the freedom of the high seas.
– He has expressed himself in favour of the return of AlsaceLorraine to France.
– With the consent of the people themselves, and we are all in favour of that.
Now with regard to the freedom of the seas? If any Australian citizen, or a member of the Senate, had during the past twelve months advocated that view, he would have been howled down, but
President Wilson sets it forth in these plain, unvarnished words -
A universal association of all the nations to maintain inviolate the security of the high seas for the common unhindered use of all the nations of the world.
– They had that before the war started.
– Why do not the Imperial authorities say that they are prepared, as a basis of settlement, to concede the freedom of the seas ? Have they said so? By no means.
– They have always given it.
– To return to the point. The question of annexations and indemnities is a vital question in Russia to-day, and has been for some time past.
– Who is to lead them seems to be the big question there today.
– The indications are that the people are going to lead. So far as Italy is concerned, do we know what is occurring there? We do not, although we can read between the lines and come to the conclusion that things are at least very much disturbed in that country. In view of these facts, is the Senate or is this Parliament on behalf of the people of Australia to pronounce for a continuance of the war for the doubtful privilege of holding a few islands in the Pacific? It may be said that we shall have extra territory, but it will bring a great responsibility.
– And greater protection.
– There is another, phase of that question. Against whom shall we be protected by the occupation of these islands ? If the system of secret diplomacy is to . continue as ithas been carried on in the past, who is going to say that in ten or fifteen years Britain and Germany will not be fighting Russia and France, or Russia and J apan ? We cannot say that, because if we look at what is, comparatively speaking, recent history, we arereminded that a few years ago Russia and Japan were at death grips, whereas to-day they are fighting on the one side. If the diplomats are to have their way, without any indorsement by the people, as to international relations, it is by no means a stretch of the. imagination to suggest that within ten or fifteen years Germany and Great Britain may be alliedin fighting other nations.
– Do you think that the state of Russia to-day is ideal?
– That question is entirely irrelevant. I am dealing with the question of what may occur between different nations. Until the time comes when the people have the right, and the undeniable right, of ratifying any agreement involving the nation in the catastrophe of warfare, I contend that anything may happen.
But coming to the question of the value of these islands from the Australian standpoint, how are we going to deal with them if they are allowed to remain in our possession ? Australia so far has not been capable of successfully handling all the territory it has held. It has had a good few years now in which to develop the Northern Territory, but it has not done so. Until we develop our own country we have no right to look for more territory, and as soon as we do look for outside territory, then our real international responsibilities will begin.
There is a further phase of the question, and a very serious phase, too, to be considered. The acquisition of these islands would involve us to a great extent in the colour difficulty. In Queensland for many years we were cursed with the colour difficulty. But, thanks to Federation the Labour party in this Parliament were able to extract from a Liberal Government, in return for their support, the abolition of the kanakas. We in Queensland know what that has meant, and also what it has saved Queensland and Australia from. Despite calamity howlers to the contrary we know that it hae been a blessing, not only to Queensland, but to the whole healthful life of Australia. An extension of the colour curse within the jurisdiction of Australia would inevitably follow our acquisition of these islands, and would not be in. the interests of this young nation.
– The honorable senator’s argument implies that we ought to get rid of New Guinea altogether.
– I have no desire to extend the colour evil. I believe that the time will come when commercialism will succeed in utilizing and exploiting the coloured labour of these islands. We cannot contend that the natives are not entitled to employment in their own island homes, and Australia will then become more intimately concerned with this colour question.
– Do I understand that the honorable senator is indifferent as to who occupies the islands?
– Yes; if their retention is going to prolong the war.
– The war would not stop if we handed back these islands tomorrow.
– In my judgment the retention of these islands would not be in the interest of Australia. It would be futile for us to butt in-
– But we have butted in to the tune of nearly 400,000 men.
– Are we to go right ahead of all the nations which are opposing annexations and indemnities by saying that there shall be annexations? It appears to me that the whole question of annexations and indemnities can be dealt with in a peace settlement.
I hold that the passing of this motion would not be wise or diplomatic. It would be a grave mistake on our part, when America and other allied nations are declaring against annexations, to send forth the dictum that under no circumstances will Australia agree to the restoration of these islands to Germany. Assuming that we retain control of them,. I have no doubt that in the not far distant future we shall have to adequately defend them. That implies that we shall have to adopt defensive measures in the Pacific, and after we have done that at immense cost to the Australian taxpayer we shall be obliged to go further.
– One of the six States of the Commonwealth is an insular State.
– Suppose that an enemy country obtained possession of these islands, would they not constitute a danger to Australia ?
– In a few years’ time our present enemies may be fighting side by side with us. Judging by the interjections of honorable senators, there is a feeling in this Chamber that Australia should stand out against the restoration of these islands to Germany. Personally, I believe that their retention would provide no compensation for anotherone, two. or three years of this world-wide war, with all the untold misery attendant upon it, not to mention the financial burdens imposed upon the people and the awful welter of blood. If the conflict is to be continued until Germany has been beaten to her knees, until Prussian militarism has been crushed, it will go on for two or three years longer at least.
– Then the honorable senator thinks that Germany ought not to be punished for the destruction of Belgium, Servia, or France?
– I did not say anything about those matters. Honorable senators opposite are pursuing their old tactics. They are not prepared to allow an honorable senator who differs from them to express his opinion. They desire to get him committed to some statement in the press or in Hansard out of which they can make political capital. I wonder if they realize that the recovery of conquered territory virtually involves blowing the invader out of the ground. In the Napoleonic wars, after the Germans had defeated Napoleon at Leipzic, after the naval battles of the Nile and Trafalgar, after the Peninsular war and the grand climax at Waterloo, the map of Europe was scarcely changed at all.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that Europe has not changed during the past 100 years?
– No. It is no exaggeration to say that if we are to continue the war until Germany is beaten flat, and until the conquered territories have been restored, the struggle will proceed for an indefinite period. Personally, I agree with President Wilson that the inhabitants of those territories should be empowered to say under which flag they will live.
– President Wilson has not said that.
– He has practically said that. Why should we lay it down that the war shall be continued till certain parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina are given to Servia, certain parts of Alsace and Lorraine to France, and certain parts of Austria to Italy? It may happen that while the inhabitants of Alsace may desire to live under the French flag, the people of Lorraine may prefer German rule. Are we to continue the war until Russia gets the Dardanelles and the provinces bordering on the Bosphorus ?
Before we commit ourselves to a motion of such significance ‘ as that under consideration we should endeavourto ascertain whether the Imperial authorities still hold the opinion that the war must be continued until the Kaiser had been driven to his knees or marooned, and until all those tracts of country which I have mentionedhave been restored to the Powers concerned. Are these the only conditions of peace which the Imperial Government will consider today? Will they not discuss peace terms until all these practically unattainable objects have been achieved? In justice to the soldiers who are fighting for the Allied cause, in justice to the workers who are bearing the greater portion of the burden, it is time we were told when the Imperial authorities will be prepared to discuss peace conditions.
– The honorable senator has been told that a score of times.
- Senator Henderson has evidently not been following my remarks. If this war is to continue a few years longer-
– Who started it? Only those nations which the honorable senator is defending to-night.
– That interjection is on a par with the statements which usually come from honorable senators opposite. We had a lot of them during the recent election campaign. Because we dared to say things which had been published in the London newspapers twelve months previously, we were called pro-Germans, I intend to quote a few of the statements which have been made in those journals.
– I hope that they arc relevant to the motion.
– They are. This is a letter which appeared in the London Economist of 12th June, 1916 -
If we refuse to discuss the terms of peace to-day we take the responsibility of another twelve months of’ war or more. Who in the world can face such a prospect without a hope that it may prove unnecessary, and that terms of peace satisfactory both to ourselves and to our Allies may, after all. be arranged ?
That letter is from Lord Beauchamp, a one-time Governor of New South Wales. Lord Brassey, twelve months ago, discussed the question of no annexations just as plainly as I have done to-night. As a matter of fact, there has been more toleration exhibited by the authorities at the centre of the Empire than has been exhibited in Australia. Then Lord Loreburn, an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated that many of the Ministers of Great Britain have done what I have accused some honorable senators of doing. They have said that the warmust be continued until Germany has been ‘ utterly crushed.
– You forget those mcn were trying to get volunteers to fight, anyway, and you were not.
– Perhaps the Minister will let me finish. Lord Lorburne declared that the sentiments of these Ministers had been taken up by the minor gods outside, had stiffened the backs of the German people, and helped the Kaiserto delude the Germans that they were fighting a defensive battle.
– This is good stuff.
– The honorable senator might think it good stuff, and I have no doubt that he is prepared to make contemptible political capital out of it. Sentiments expressed here, and published in the British papers, provided very good material for the Kaiser and Prussian militarism. Statements made by Mr. Hughes and Senator Pearce as Minister for Defence would suggest that Australia is out to crush theGerman Empire; and, of course, the German people have thus been deluded into believing that they are fighting a defensive war.
– And so are a majority of the working men of England.
– Quite so; but the remarks of many of these irresponsible people have stiffened the backs of the German people. I trust the motion will not be carried, for I do not think it is in the interests of Australia that it should be adopted.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
Australian Representation at Washington.
Motion (by Senator Millen) put -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator FERRICKS (Queensland) matter which was under discussion this evening, namely, the appointment of an official representative of Australia in America.
– Order! The honorable senator cannot do that.
– Then may I refer to the appointment of an official representative abroad without specifically mentioning America?
– So long as the honorable senator does not transgress the Standing Orders, he may do so.
– I desire to say that I was in favour of the motion as originally presented; but subsequently it was amended. I could not agree to the appointment of an official representative to France, or Italy, or any other country, in a capacity of a diplomat, and I wish to dissociate myself from that aspect of the proposal. It. appears to me-
-Order! The honorablesenator is distinctly transgressing my ruling. He had full and ample opportunity - and he took advantage of it - to express his views when the motion was before the Senate this evening. It is obvious that, if any honorable senator could discuss a motion at a later stage, the debate would be interminable. I must rule that the honorable senator is distinctly out of order.
– All the same, I did not have an opportunity of discussing it.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not in any way reflect on the Chair. He had full and ample opportunity of discussing this question, and he availed himself of that opportunity. The motion was amended, by leave, to which the honorable senator could have objocted. If he had done so, the motion then could not have been amended, but would have had to be submitted subsequently in a different form. The honorable senator’s rights were protected to the fullest degree by the usage and forms of the Senate, and it is not becoming of him now to reflect on the Chair.
– I did not desire in any way; Mr. President, to reflect on the Chair. I merely wished to say I did not have an opportunity of discussing the motion, for the reason that Senator Bakhap subsequently amended it.
– No ; he did not. Tho motion was amended by leave of the Senate; and, if the honorable senator had availed himself of his right to object, his objection would have been fatal to the request for leave to amend the motion.
– I did not want to do that, although I did not approve of it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 August 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170809_SENATE_7_82/>.