7th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Leader of the Senate replies to the questions I put on the notice-paper last week regarding the appointment of Pensions Officers at Perth?
– The honorable -senator asked -
The answers supplied are as follows : -
– In view of the proclamation of the Prime Minister ascribing one of the causes of the present) industrial upheaval in New South Wales to the domination of secret agents of Germany, will the Minister for Defence order that the whole question of tie treatment of enemy subjects, within the Commonwealth be revised forthwith ?
– I see no necessity to give the order suggested, as effectual action is being taken to deal with any evidence which comes to hand.
– The facts in this case are that at a conference of Commonwealth and State Governments held after the outbreak of war, it was agreed that public servants enlisting, should receive military pay only . The Commonwealth Government is adhering to that agreement. I understand that the States of New South “Wales and South Australia are not adhering to the agreement; the other States are.
– The more to the credit of South Australia an d New South Wales,.
-Has the Minister representing- the Prices Board made any inquiry yet into the price of onions; and, if so, has he any answer to give) I noticed in the newspaper this morning that growers complain that they receive £4 a ton while onions are sold at as high as £14 a ton. Has the Minister my letter of, 16th January, in which I gave him notice that this rise was going to take place, and asked him to’ make inquiries into the matter!
– This is a question which the Prices Commissioner has to deal with. I shall endeavour to get a reply for the honorable senator tomorrow.
asked the Minister for ‘ Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act 1902-1916. - Promotion of A. J. Rutherford, Postmaster-General’s Department.
War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 182.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th August, vide page 993) :
Clause 46 agreed to.
Clause 47 -
Subject to this Act, the Commissioner shall, appoint or employ such persons to assist in the execution of this Act- as he thinks necessary, and every person so appointed shall hold office during pleasure only.
The Commissioner shall pay such salaries, wages, and allowances to employees as be approves and as the Parliament appropriates for that purpose.
No employee appointed under this section shall, without the written consent of the Commissioner, engage in any employment out- side the duties of his office.
– I move-
That the following new sub-clause be added: - “ 4. No employee under this section shall, without the written consent of the Commissioner, accept a gratuity from a member or members of the public using the railway.”
This is the proper time to endeavour to make some provision against what is undoubtedly a national evil. My previous references to the question have been received with a certain amount of levity, but “changes of opinion have been forced upon us by what has occurred since the outbreak of war. What Germany was able to do by the aid of the pernicious evil of tipping shows the seriousness of the subject. I have been informed by people who travelled through Germany just before the war broke out . that there were technical colleges- there for the instruction of hairdressers, waiters, footmen, coachmen, and so on, and that for. some years Germany had been virtually the supplier of men to occupy these posts throughout Great Britain. The result was that German secret service agents were established as waiters and stewards - in the clubs, including the Naval and Military Clubs, and the leading eating houses and hotels. They had received their tuition under the German system of disbursement of Secret Service money, and were able to secure the positions by reason of the fact that in many cases no wages were paid for them, the men depending on tips, and sometimes premiums had actually to be paid. Prior to the outbreak of the war there was a remarkable clearing out of these gentry from Great Britain. One man, of considerable standing in Australia, told me that the arrogance of these German Secret Service instruments was beginning to assert itself in England just) before the war broke out, so much so that if the tip offered was not sufficiently large - the customer was openly bantered. On one occasion he was in a leading tea garden in England with some lady friends, and handed out £1, thinking he would get sufficient silver change to provide the necessary tip. All he got back was half a sovereign and a threepenny bit. Not wishing to give the half -sovereign as a tip he told the waiter to keep the 3d., with the result that when he and the ladies, on leaving, walked down the aisles, a chorus of “ dreipence “ was taken up in the German tongue from one waiter to the other.
The tipping evil is rampant throughout Australia. I propose to throw some of the responsibility on the person who gives or offers a tip.’ As regards tipping on ships, I have’ been for. some years speaking against this national evil, and at first discriminating treatment was meted out to. me by some of the stewards evidencing a hostile spirit. ‘ When, however, they realized that my object was to have the stewards paid a proper living wage for their services by the people who employed, them a great change came over them, and I have received letters of commendation from the secretaries of various stewards’ unions, saying that the removal of the tipping evil would be a good thing for the men themselves. Unfortunately, Mr. Justice Higgins legalized the practice by allowing so much for wages to the stewards in his award and expecting them to make up about 15s. a week in tips from the public.
– He has given another award to the same men since then.
– Even so, I do not think the award is commensurate with the work performed. I believe he allowed stewards £9 a month, which, although it is not expressly stated, leaves something to be made up by tips.
As regards the railways, I do not say the railway employees make , such a fine art of the practice as do shipping stewards and others, but the evil is perceptibly growing. On the Central Station in Brisbane a number of lads are employed as platform porters to attend to passengers’ luggage. I have often watched mail trains going out at night for the north. When a parliamentarian or commercial traveller carrying only an umbrella or stick or brief bag comes on to the platform, he is at once surrounded by four or five of these lads who are anxious to know if he has the number of his car or sleeper, while a little further down the platform a lady, with two or three children, will be left to struggle with her own ‘ luggage. These boys are put there to attend to passengers’ luggage, and not to look for tips. I do not blame them altogether, for I held the responsible position of lad porter myself once, and I know the boys are keen to make all they can. Bub’ the system is wrong, and will not bear examination.
If the Senate indorses my amendment a start will be made towards abolishing the tipping evil. Most people have admitted ito me that the system is rotten, but regard the idea of abolishing it as Utopian. “We have found we can do lots of things that we thought we could not do before the outbreak of the war. We have raised £80,000,000 in this country, although previously it was thought that we could not raise loans in Australia, and since we have been cut off, to a certain extent, from other countries we have found that we can make innumerable things that it was never thought we could make before.
This Bill offers a splendid opportunity for the National Government to make a start towards the abolition of tipping on its own national railways. Not only passengers, but consignors of produce or goods use the tipping system to buy more personal attention from railway employees than is their due. A commercial traveller who wants his samples sent ahead, or a business man who wants goods consigned by a certain train, gives a tip, and the things go without fail, while farmers’ produce and other stuff’ may be left behind. I am certain that this is one of the main reasons for a number of the letters that we see in the papers.
– You are making a grave charge against the railway employees. ‘
– I know, but it is only “too true. My advocacy of this reform is npt popular, and I have been told that,, in Queensland, I was losing votes, but the evil exists, and the ^National Parliament should endeavour to stop it. I have included the words “ without the written consent of the Commissioner,” so as not to prevent a railway employee from receiving a presentation of a purse of sovereigns, or a gold watch, in recognition of some deed of heroism.
I commend the amendment to the serious consideration of honorable senators, and although I have not spoken to any other member of the Senate about the matter, I feel confident that the majority will agree with the sentiments I have expressed. The only objection which, I think, can be raised against the amendment is - Can effect be given to Tt? It is possible at all events to make an attempt, and let it be known that the Commonwealth Government, on their own railways, will endeavour to do away with this pernicious practice, the abolition of which will, I think, be in the best interests of Australia and of the men themselves.
– I direct attention to sub-clause 3, which states -
No employee appointed under this section shall without the written consent of the Commissioner engage in any employment outside the duties of his office.
I am sorry this sub-clause has been included in the Bill, because, in my opinion, it places an unfair restriction upon members of the Public Service. I know that, in the Queensland State Service, a similar provision was found to be open to a very wide interpretation indeed. It has been urged that without this provision it will be impossible for Government employees to undertake work outside their ordinary employment, and thus neglect their own duties j but in answer to that I would say that if any official neglects his work it is the duty of the head of the Department, or the foreman in charge of a gang., as the case may be, to send that man. about his business. No such ..restriction is placed upon employees of private firms, a lid if this practice is to be continued in the Government Service, higher wages should be paid to make up for the disability. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Let me illustrate how unfairly the sub-clause will operate. I will take the case of a man in receipt of a small wage, say, in the Railway Department, in one of the cities of the Commonwealth. If an opportunity is afforded him to earn half-a-sovereign on a Saturday afternoon by, say, , talcing gate money on a racecourse, why should he be prevented ‘(
– And compete with a man who, probably, had nothing to do during the week?
– It is hardly likely thai a man with whom such an official would compete would have been earning nothing during the week. This railway man ito whom I allude might have a large family to keep, and he should not be denied a chance of earning a few extra shillings to provide his family with some additional comforts.
– If he does his work, what else matters ?
– I agree with the honorable senator. If an employee of the Government performs his duties satisfactorily during office hours, it should be the concern of no one what he does with his spare time. Let me now quote the case of another man in somewhat more fortunate circumstances: He may possess two .or three allotments of land in one of the suburbs, and, in his spare time, build a small cottage for himself. He may live in that cottage for two or three weeks, or months, and then sell at a profit. No restriction whatever would be placed upon him because it would be argued that he was simply building for himself,’ and that his work was not “employment” in the meaning of the Act. That, man, as well as theother to whom I have alluded, would be “ quite entitled to make extra money for himself. If, however, the Government will guarantee to pay their workmen; wages above the award rate, I shall not press my objection. I intend to move -
That sub-clause 3 be left out.
Amendment (Senator Ferricks’), by leave, temporarily withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Foll) proposed -
That sub-clause 3 be left out.
– I am afraid that Senator Foll”s amendment, if adopted, will not render very much service to the most deserving men in the community. If we do not pay sufficient wages to our employees, we ought to do so. After giving the best yearsof his life to the service of the Government, a man is entitled to proper treatment, so that he will not be obliged totake outside work in order to earn a few . extra shillings. We have found, by experience extending over a number of years, that this sub-clause does not operate against the best .servants of the State, but only against those who, after drawing Government pay, are contemptible enough to compete with others, less fortunately placed. They have not sufficient manliness to fight for a sufficient wage, but, whilst subsidized by the Government, are prepared to compete against men in other departmentsof life. Such persons deserve no sympathy.
– They do it in their own time.
– That does not touch the point. Suppose a man, a capable musician, earns £4 in his capacity as a Government servant, and . then accepts engagements at 12s. 6d. a night, while the recognised rate for musicians is £1’ ls. a night.
– He could not do that under the award rate.
– Let me tell the honorable senator that the award rate does not always operate. All Government Departments are unanimous in their condemnation of the public servant who practically utilizes a Government subsidy to undercut individuals in private employment. If a Government employee does not receive a wage sufficient to maintain himself and his wife and family in comfort, by all means let us put up a fight for an increased wage being paid to him. If he is actuated by a genuine desire to improve his position, he may have the law relaxed in his favour by the Commissioner, but obviously he cannot be granted this concession if he merely wishes to undercut others who are engaged in private employ. By-law 15, which will probably be adopted when this Bill becomes law, reads -
No staff employee shall engage in any paid employment outside his departmental duties without . obtaining the permission of the Acting Commissioner, but this shall not apply in respect to any payment received, from a trades union or friendly society..
In other words, his freedom of action, will be limited only when he seeks, after completing his day’s work, to compete with his fellow citizens who are in private employ. Under that by-law he will be able to become the secretary of a lodge, or of a temperance society, or of a trade union.
– Will he be able to fill in land’ tax: returns?
– I do not know, but I do know tha’t many public servants voluntarily render numerous services to the public in connexion with the filling in of land tax returns, particularly in the country. Honorable senators will recognise that we must have power to prevent railway employees from competing for outside employment to the detriment of other persona.
Senator THOMAS (New South Wales) (3.34]. - I trust that the amendment- will not be carried. I venture to say that if it be adopted, o-ppositiom to it will come, not so much from the Commissioner as from the outside public, The provision aims at. dealing more with permanent officers, than with men who are engaged on the temporary staff. Now permanent officers have their positions assured to them until they are sixty-five years of age. They are paid all the year round, whether the- weather be wet or fine, and irrespective of whether or not they are absent from duty on account of illness. They cannot be dismissed without first having a right of. appeal to a Board constituted for the purpose. SenatorFoll wishes, to give men appointed under such -conditions an opportunity to compete with individuals who are liable to’ be dismissed from private employment at a moment’s notice. That would be grossly unfair. I know of a case in- which the wife- of a locomotive driver actually conducts a small store in opposition to a widow who has to support “four or five children-. Rather than open the door in the direction suggested by Senator Foll, I would close it. A railway employee ought to be paid a reasonable wage, but he ought not to be permitted to unfairly compete with individuals in private employ.
– I compliment the Government upon- the insertion of this provision in the Bill. As one who has had many years’ experience in industrial matters, I know that with, men in private employ it is a common complaint that public servants frequently attempt to take the bread out of their mouths. I have seen a Government employee utilize his three weeks’ holiday leave- by accepting outside employment while at the same time public servants were clamouring for shorter hours in order that they might have reasonable recreation . I hope that the sub-clause will be retained in the Bill.
– The Honorary Minister has stated that if the wages paid to an employee on the- Commonwealth railways are not sufficient to maintain himself and his family in comfort, he regards it as the duty of the Government to- see that those wages are increased.. In view of that assurance, I cannot see my way to support the proposal of Senator Foll. When a man is in constant employment it is unfair to allow him to compete in the industrial market with others whose employment is of a very casual nature. Senator Foll spoke . of a public- servant who in his leisure hours: might perhaps build a house with a view to subsequently selling it. But this provision would not prevent a man from doing- that.
– What if he put 15 or 20 acres in a suburb under crop ?
– To be engaged in any employment, a man must be employed by some one else. I do not think he could be fairly described as being engaged in an employment if he was building his own house..
– It- would be an interference with the building trade all tha same.
– That may bo so, but the number of railway employees who will build their own houses will not materially affect the building trade. So long as the employees on the Commonwealth Railways receive fair wages it is not wise that they should be allowed to compete with persons outside the Government service in any industry.
– I should like to see the word ‘ ‘ employment ‘ ‘ defined- As the sub-clause stands at present an arbitrary Commissioner might prevent a railway employee from rendering voluntary service to a repatriation committee, or the service to the general public to which the Minister has referred. I believe that the Minister’s objection is to any employee of the Railway Department seeking paid employment outside whilst receiving wages from the Government.
– A Commissioner might reasonably object to an employee giving voluntary service.
– I should like to see the word “ employment “ defined, because without a definition a- railway employee may be exposed to unreasonable restrictions by an arbitrary Commissioner. If the Minister could suggest some definition of “ employment” it might overcome the difficulty in the minds of some honorable senators.
– I agree with Senator Pratten that it would be well to define the word “employment,” as used in this clause. Senator Thomas referredto a case of an employee whose wife was engaged in a business, but, as the business did not belong to the husband, that could not be prevented. I know that under the Railways Acts of South Australia such a thing could be prevented. There are many things in which a railway employee might be engaged which could scarcely come under the definition of employment prohibited under this clause. A man might acquire a few acres of land upon which he would grow crops for sale. After all, he would be in competition with the primary producers, and I should like to know whether he would be considered as engaged in employment outside the railway service. I know of districts in which railway men and their wives go in very extensively for the breeding of goats. In some parts of Australia that is a very profitable occupation indeed. Much of the country through which the Commonwealth railways pass is good country for the breeding of goats. A man might run a poultry farm, keep a cow and sell the milk, or grow vegetables for sale. There are a thousand and one things which a railway employee might engage in in his own time, and to the benefit of himself and the community generally.
– There is always a lot of latitude allowed in dealing with such matters.
– I am a’fraid that the tendency is rather in the other direction.- I know that certain members of a railway staff were elected to positions on local authorities in connexion with which they performed a great deal of honorary work, giving up their own time to serve the community. The railway authorities in South Australia stepped in and compelled those men to resign from the honorary offices which they filled. I happened to be one of them myself, so I know what I am talking of. It was customary, some years ago for a railway employee to accept office as the secretary of a friendly society, for the work of which a small honorarium was paid. The Government stepped in and refused to allow any Government employee to take a position which carried a higher salary than £10.
– The Minister says that that is not affected by this provision.
– That is so. In South Australia the difficulty was got over by that means. There are various ways of getting round an Act of Parliament. My concern is that the word “ employment “ can be defined as the authorities may think fit. But I recognise the difficulty of putting in a definition, or opening the door wide. I do not wish to open the door wide, because I have nosympathy with a man who puts in a day on the railway and then enters into competition with ‘ some other person. I know a man - he^ was a butcher by trade - who used to do one days’ work on the railway and two days’ work in a butcher’s shop. He could not do that sort of thing to-day. I expect that the Butchers’ Union would see that he did not. In this matter we shall have to trust to the by-laws, because such matters ‘ can be defined more closely in by-laws than in the Bill itself.
I am agreeable to the retention of this word on the understanding that it will be made perfectly clear in the by-laws that certain kinds of employment cannot be engaged in by railway men when they are off duty.
– If this question were submitted to a vote of the Australian organized workers, I believe that they would refuse almost unanimously to permit employees of the Railways Commissioners to engage in any other kind of employment. It would be very much better for the Government, if that is their desire, to eliminate the words “ without the written consent of the Commissioner ‘’ so as to make the provision read -
No employee appointed under this section shall- engage in any employment outside the duties of his office.
If the Commissioner is given the right to say whether an employee shall engage in outside employment, a man who has a pull on the Commissioner will get permission to loiter when he is on duty and to engage in other work for the remainder of the day. There are innumerable directions in which men can employ profitably their leisure. I take a wider view of the word ‘ ‘ engage ‘ ‘ than the mere fact of a man being employed by somebody else. In my opinion, iti is not necessary for a man to be employed by somebody else to engage in profitable work after he has completed his day’s duty for the Commissioner. Apparently, it would not be an infringement of the sub-clause if an employee engaged in the breeding of pigeons. It might not be very profitable, but still it would interfere very considerably with persons who devoted the whole of their time to that business. Another railway man might engage in the breeding of prize fowls, and he, too, would interfere very seriously with those who had not the privilege of holding an office under the Railways Commissioner, and who had to devote the whole of their time to fowl-breeding. Yet, acording to the definition placed on the word “engage,” that would be no infringement of the sub-clause. A man might even go so far as to engage in the breeding of racehorses, or to have several shares in racehorses. He would nob be directly employed by anybody outside the Department, but he would be engaged in an avocation which probably was just as pro- Stable as the one in which he was em ployed by the Commissioner. So, too, with regard to the breeding of dogs and other animals.
Reference was made by Senator Foll to the question of house-building. Apparently, it would be quite the right thing for a railway employee to secure a suitable piece of land whereon to build a home for himself. Instead of employing a recognised builder, he would devote any spare time he had in the morning and evening, Sundays, Saturdays and holidays in erecting a dwelling. That would be interfering directly with those who devoted the whole of their time to that particular industry. But, apparently, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent that kind of thing being done.
– Would you let a man put up a tent?
– There are persons who devote their time to making tarpaulins for tents, and there are others who spend all their time in building tents. It is just as much an interference with the rights of citizens for a railway man to do that as to engage in other outside work in his spare time.
– Would you not allow a man to grow a little fruit or vegetables ?
– Or to catch some fish?
– Apparently, it would be quite right for a man to go fishing, and provide himself with food in that way, instead of getting his supply through the ordinary . channel. If this provision is to have the wide sweep which some honorable senators desire it should have, it will prevent a gifted employee from writing such a book as The Sentimental Bloke, or The Moods of Ginger Mick. If honorable senators are going to prevent the ordinary railway man from earning some money after his office hours, they will certainly require to stop the production of any literary works of that character. They will also require to prevent a man who has had journalistic experience from making use of his literary qualifications and earning additional money.
It has never been a plank of the Labour platform that one man should have only one job. But it is a principle generally adhered to. It is recognised that” if a * man does his work, ‘and does it well, he is not fit to engage in other employment. In my opinion, the proper remedy to adopt is to remove from the Commissioner the right to give his sanction. If the amendment I have suggested were made, it would do away with all amateur fishing and house building, and, probably, it would go so far as to prevent a railway man from investing surplus leash in shares in mining companies or other ventures of that sort.
After the present amendment is disposed of, I will submit the amendment I have outlined, and then we shall see whether honorable senators are prepared to give the Commissioner the right to give or withhold his consent to the performance of outside duties. Seeing that there is an annual loss of a> sum exceeding £350,000 on the Commonwealth railways, I take it that the Commissioner will have his work cut out for a considerable time to make ends meet. It would really convenience him and greatly conduce to the satisfactory working of the railways if the employees were required to devote the whole of their time to that business, and were prevented from engaging in outside employment, either directly or indirectly.
– The amendment before the Committee is that the whole of the sub-clause be struck out.
– If that amendment is defeated, I shall move the one which I have suggested.
– I intend to support the amendment of Senator Foll. I am not afraid, as Senator Grant is, that the operation of the sub-clause would result in the prohibition of the outflow of literature similar to tha work called, The Moods of Ginger Mick. That is not a difficulty which is in my way at all. ‘ I object to the principle which has been laid down by several honorable senators of prohibiting the activities of a man outside the terms of his engagement with the Commissioner, if he carries out properly the duties allotted to him by the Department over which the Commissioner presides.
A good many of the statements made here to-day seem to me to involve a very big fallacy. There is the idea that’ one producer of wealth enters into competition with another producer. That is fallacious. If it is accepted as a principle,” I venture to say that I shall be able to produce a pretty long list of exceptions to iti. Does one gold-miner ente into competition with another gold- miner ! Does one wheat farmer enter into competition with another wheat farmer, and is the competition to be deprecated even if he does ? Practically all competition is only one phase of wealth production. We must not forget that the railways under the immediate jurisdiction of the Commissioner will traverse the waste spaces of Aus* tralia. It would be a very good thing if every stationmaster, every guard, every porter who- will be living in these practically unpopulated stretches were encouraged to engage in grazing, and breeding horses, cattle, goats, and sheep. I should eulogize any principle that would permit these men to engage in the production of wealth outside the time occupied in their railway duties, and encourage them to subdue the wilderness. If a Government employee in a suburb helps his wife to run a poultry farm in his spare time, is he doing something inimical to the interests of the country?
– Does any Commissioner prevent him from doing so ?
– The honorable senator is, inviting the Commissioner to prevent him: It seems to be set out- in this sub-clause as a principle that it is desirable to limit ‘the activities of men in the hours outside those occupied in performing their- official duties. I hope I shall never’ vote for the embodiment of this pernicious principle in any of our Railways Acts. I am astonished at honorable senators who have spoken against the amendment. We are always talking about our liberty, and. proclaiming this country to be a Democracy, yet throughout our legislation it seems to be regarded as- a sacred principle to limit the expenditure of the energies of the individual. I know the direction , in which Senator Thomas would limit our liberties. He will prescribe our porridge for us presently. As a Democrat, I am absolutely opposed to this sort of thing. I .believe in the free and complete exercise of human activity. This is an obnoxious provision, and I honour Senator Foll for having taken action which may lead to its emendation.
.- There seems to be a misunderstanding about the effect of the sub-clause, which I commend the Government for introducing. It applies only to certain avocations. I have known in the past of numbers of men in constant Government employment taking, just for the sake of the extra few shillings, small jobs which were all that cripples or other physically unfit men had to depend on for a living. The Minister spoke of men in the Department taking the places of musicians. I have known cases where they have done so, at considerably less than the ruling rate of wage. Strong objections have been raised outside to that sort of thing, which cannot be defended by any plea for liberty or Democracy. No one objects to a man in the wilds along this line raising stock, and no Commissioner would prevent him, but I object to a man, getting a fair “ screw,” in continuous employment, taking small sums that could be earned by outsiders ‘ as gatekeepers on race-courses or at shows. Many men physically incapable of hard work make a precarious living as stage supers, at anything from 2s. 6d. to 4s. a night, yet cases have been known of men in regular Government employment trying to take that work from them. Will Senator Bakhap say that is Democracy or liberty ?
– There will not be many theatres along the east-west railway.
– Perhaps not, but if a man has a job on that line, and his wages are not sufficient to maintain himself and hi& wife, it is a disgrace to the authorities running the railways for offering it, and to himself for taking it.-
– Do you want to give a man only sufficient to maintain him ? Do you not want to give He poor chap a chance ?
– What does the honorable senator call a ‘ ‘ poor chap ‘ ‘ ? Does he call himself one?
– Get your ideas out of the cities ! Get out into the big spaces of Australia !
– Why does not the honorable senator get out into the big spaces, and raise horses, cattle, pigs, or fowls ? This sub-clause has nothing to do with that. It is our duty while the Bill is going through to see that men employed by the Railway Department are given sufficient wages, and I protest against men in permanent occupations being allowed to take mean little jobs outside from those who are really in need of them. I shall vote for Hie clause as it stands.
– I am as much against Senator Grant’s amendment as I am against Sonan tor Foil’s.- I do not contend that in no circumstances should a person be permitted to do work outside his official duties. The Government have struck the happy medium by leaving the matter to the discretion of the Railways Commissioner. There may be times when it would be to the advantage of the community to allow persons in Government Departments to do a certain amount of outside work. I remember one case in Melbourne, where no one outside the Federal Service could be found qualified to give instruction in a particular kind of telephone work, and after full inquiry, the Public Service Commissioner granted an officer permission to give instruction to those going in for a certain examination. If the sub-clause is passed, I do not anticipate that the Commissioner will prevent any employee along the line from raising poultry, or even cattle, in his spare time. I was pleased to hear Senator Bakhap, from Tasmania, say he was against the restriction of liberty. If the time ever comes in this Senate when we raise the question as to whether Victoria or New South Wales should be restricted to only six senators, I trust the honorable senator will remember that he is not in favour of the restriction of liberty. I doubt if in the Federal Service at the present time there are more than 300 persons at the outside permitted to engage in outside occupations, and in no case is this done without the consent of the Commissioner. I guarantee that in every case there is a very fair reason why it should be done. I am therefore quite prepared to give the Railways Commissioner the power of decision, which I am sure will be wisely used.
.-I was not referring to men who had given long years of service to the Government Departments, so much as to men who when they first entered the Government Service received a paltry wage. There are times when many men, who have married young, find it practically impossible to keep themselves and their wives on the wage they receive on starting in Government employments
– You. want that sort of man to take a job from another man, who is even worse off.
– I want to do nothing of the sort. Nearly all the bogies raised by honorable senators are brought forward for the purpose of protecting one man at the expense of the other . No objection is to be offered, according to Senator Thomas and others, to a Government employee in the country raising produce for market in order to supplement his ordinary salary, but a Government employee living in the city is not to be allowed to do anything of the kind. This is simply making fish of one and flesh of another. A provision similar to this sub-clause caused much dissatisfaction when in force in Queensland, and under it many injustices were done. I know of a. man who had an opportunity of working at a totalizator on a Queensland race-course, and in that way was able to earn 30s. on a Saturday afternoon without in any way neglecting his duties as a railway servant, but still he got into serious trouble with the Queensland Railways Commissioners. I could also quote cases of men in country districts of Queensland getting their homes together by raising poultry, cattle, growing vegetables, and engaging in other occupations in their spare time. Some of those men were able to retire at an early age from the Service and go upon farms which they had established for themselves during the time they were employed by the Railways Commissioners. Senator McDougall said he was not in favour of any Government employees competing with other individuals in their spare time; but we know that, as a rule, their hours do not allow of very much opportunity for competition with other individuals. It is probable, therefore, that Senator McDougall raised an objection to serve his own ends, because he did not make any reference to employees of private firms doing the same thing. It appears according to Senator McDougall that, simply because a man happens to be a Government employee, he is to be prevented from doing what other people are allowed to do.
– Do you think Government employees should be dismissed at a moment’s notice, as in the case of employees in private firms?
– If a Government employee neglects his duty hie may be dismissed in the same way as an employee of a private firm. If he is not discharged for neglect of duty, the official who should have dismissed him must be neglecting his duty. Senator Russell mentioned that exceptions are to be made in the cases of men fortunate enough to secure positions as Secretaries of unions and lodges, but that does not remove the objection I raised to the sub-clause, namely, that it will operate unjustly on every employee who may desire to do something in his spare time. The fact that similar provision has been inserted in the Acts of the various States does not prove it right ; but, on the contrary, according to my view, that is all the more reason why it should be wiped out of the Bill because there are more men suffering under this injustice than I thought was the case.
– Does the honorable senator say it has been emendated from the Queensland Act?
– Yes, it was found to work so unsatisfactorily that it was excised about eighteen months ago. I commend the Queensland Government for having done that, and I trust that the amendment will be carried.
– Before the Committee decides this matter I wish again to direct attention to one point which seems to me to have been very much in evidence during the discussion, namely, that it is necessary to discriminate between employment and any other effort which a Government railway employee might make to add to his income. Senator Bakhap drew a most entrancing picture of sylvan money-making by describing how State employees could engage in the production of horned cattle, such as goats, as well as poultry, and so on. I remind the honorable senator, however, that a provision similar to this appears in every Railways Act, and yet honorable senators - who for their manifold sins are obliged to travel continually upon our railways - must have noticed fettlers engaged in bee-raising and other occupations to add to their incomes without in any way offending the spirit of the provision referred to. This sub-clause is not a prohibition against men doing anything of that sort, but it is a prohibition against a Government -servant entering into the service of another man.
– Why not so define it, then?
– It is so defined, because where there is employment there must be an employer. If honorable senators will bear that in mind, and bear in mind also the scriptural injunction that no man can serve two masters, they will, I think, see the wisdom of the sub-clause as it stands. It does not in any way impair any opportunity which a man may have of devoting his spare time to those occupations which may add to his income; but I submit that the Commissioner must be intrusted with the control of Government railway employees, arid of deciding whether a man’s acceptance _of a particular employment is detrimental to his position as a Government, employee or otherwise.
– Does not the honorable senator see that the phrase ,’ ‘ engage in any employment “ is synonymous with ‘ ‘ engage in any occupation ‘ ‘ ?
– No, it is not. This provision, which is contained in every other Railways Act of the States, is interpreted as I have indicated.
– Senator Foll has just told us that it has been excised from the Queensland Act.
– It is in the Victorian, ‘New South Wales, and South Australian Acts at all events, and even if, as Senator Foll indicates, it has been removed from the Queensland Act, that cannot be taken as conclusive evidence that it is not advisable to retain it in this Bill. Even in the case of men offering for outside employment, there is power in the Bill for the Commissioner to grant exemptions from the operation of this subclause, which, I submit, is necessary for the maintenance of discipline in the Service, and, to some extent, to act as a check against an undesirable practice of allowing public servants to compete in the open labour market. I ask the Committee to allow the sub-clause to remain as i£ stands, and rely on the good sense of the Commissioner to interpret it in a reasonable manner.
– It is a pity that we have approached the discussion on this Bill before honorable senators have had an opportunity of realizing the nature of the country through which t(he east-west line passes, and the condition of isolation imposed upon men who will be engaged on that railway.
– There will be other railways in the future.
– But such lines will traverse country very much in the nature of that through which the eastwest railway passes, and my argument will still hold good. We must bear in mind that railway men employed on that line will have a great deal of spare time on their hands, and that being so, are we going to prevent them from doing anything outside of their regular employment? Suppose that, in a certain place, there is ari ample water supply, and that by cultivation railway men could grow sufficient for themselves, or for somebody else,- along the line where water is not procurable, are we going to be so unreasonable as to prevent that being done?
– The Commissioner will have that power.
– I do not think the Commissioner would be so narrow in his definition of employment. We can safely leave this matter to his common sense. Therefore, I shall support the sub-clause as it stands.
Amendment (by Senator Ferricks)’ again proposed -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “4. No employee under this section shall, without the written consent of the Commissioner, accept a gratuity from a member or members of the public using the railway.”
– The amendment moved’ by Senator Ferricks- is worthy of consideration. All honorable senators, as well as’ members of the other branch of the Legislature, are subject to the present system of tipping. The insertion of the proposed new sub-clause will be an innovation in our legislation.
– What will be the value oi it unless we make it a penal offence ?
– That will be for the Commissioner to do.
– It is a step in the right direction. In t”he course of his remarks, Senator Ferricks referred to a judgment by Mr. Justice Higgins in relation to stewards and pantrymen on coastal steam-ships. Personally I was much surprised that His Honour should have made any allowance for tips as remuneration to such employees. It was a most remarkable thing to do. If, in the wages paid to a steward an allowance be made for tips, obviously it is the passenger, and not the employer, who pays those wages.
– The passenger will have to pay in any circumstances.
– I do not think so. The tipping system is degrading alike to the man who gives the tip and to the recipient. I do not know of any employers in the Commonwealth who are better able to pay a proper living wage to their employees than are the shipping companies of Australia. I was astonished when Mr. Justice Higgins made this allowance for tips in the case of stewards.
– That decision no longer holds good.
– The award given by His Honour still stands.
– Not at all.
– I shall be very glad if Senator de Largie can prove to me that the award has been varied to the extent that the Arbitration Court does not now take into consideration the tips received by stewards on our coastal steamers.
– That is very easily proved.
– I think that when the honorable senator attempts to prove it he will be undertaking a very difficult task. I have read the variations of the award given byl Mr. Justice Higgins, and I say that they do not vary in any particular the allowance made by him for tips.
– But the Stewards Union passed a resolution prohibiting its members from accepting tips.
– Probably that is what is agitating Senator de Largie’s mind.
– How is the honorable senator going to prevent tipping ?
– Perhaps it will be difficult to accomplish by legislation. I know that there is one honorable senator present who would like to make men teetotallers by Act of Parliament. He will never succeed in doing that. But the experiment proposed by Senator Ferricks is one which is worth while trying so long as the Government, pay to our railway employees a reasonable living wage. If those employees received such a wage, there is no reason why they should augment their earnings by the acceptance of tips. I venture to say that the amendment is one which will appeal to the employees themselves. The average Australian is very independent. Indeed, I know of many instances in which tips have been refused, by railway servants.
SenatorPratten. - Those instances represent a very small percentage of the. whole.
– I do not think so. I have travelled the Commonwealth quite as much as has Senator Pratten, and I have frequently met men who have refused to accept tips.
– In the capital of the State which the honorable senator represents.
– How much was the amount of the tip?
– In reply to the inquiry of my honorable friend, I merely wish to say that 1 am not a Scotchman. So long as we pay our railway employees a reasonable living wage, there is no need for them to receive gratuities. I shall support the proposal of Senator Ferricks.
– I entertain the greatest sympathy for the amendment. My only objection to it is that it is impracticable. We all realize that tipping is a very bad practice indeed. But that is no reason why we should not attempt to- suppress it. So long as a railway employee receives a reasonable wage for the services which he renders, he has no right to accept gratuities from the travelling public. But in spite of all that we may say upon this question, it is undeniable that the tipping system, instead of decreasing, is increasing, and increasing to the disadvantage of thegeneral public. The evil is a very acute on.e in England, where, on my recent visit, I did not encounter one person who refused a tip. There, however, the wages paid to quite a number of officials are very low, and, naturally, those officials endeavour to make up the deficiency in tips. Theconditions in Australia are very different. When passing through Canada I found, that the tipping system, particularly on the railways, had been reduced almost toan exact science, because the controllersof the railways of the Dominion are imbued with the idea that if the wages paid” to the employees who come into close contact with the passengers are low, thoseemployees will be more attentive to theneeds of the travelling public, and, generally, more servile. In other words, we were assured that the practice of tipping; was an integral part of the system which obtained there. I should be very sorry to see such a system introduced into Australia. Every passenger has a right to civility and courtesy at the hands of railway employees ; but railway employees, on the other hand, have an equal right to expect civility and courtesy from passengers. But if civility is exhibited on both sides, the employee can surely discharge his official duties without any hope of receiving a gratuity. Although I think that the proposal of Senator Ferricks, if adopted, will probably remain a dead letter, we have a right to continue our efforts to suppress an admitted evil until we succeed.
– The sympathy of the Government, it is almost needless to say, is with the mover of the amendment. The donor of a tip is invariably actuated by the purest motives in that he merely desires to render a favour in return for a favour. ‘ But the receiver of a tip is unquestionably humiliated by its acceptance. I have no objection to the proposal of Senator Ferricks as a moral placard,, but I do not think the world has yet reached that stage when the evil of which he complains can be abolished. It. is the intention of the Minister for Works and Railways to frame a by-law which will absolutely prohibit tipping - a bylaw ‘similar to that which is already operative in the various States of the Commonwealth. But, as we all know, that provision is more honoured in the breach than in the observance. Honorable senators can best assist in suppressing the tipping evil by themselves refusing to give tips. When that practice has become an established one, I shall be glad to join their brigade, but not before. I ask honorable senators not to. put the provision in the Bill. I give them the assurance, on behalf of the Minister for Works and Railways, that tipping will be absolutely prohibited under the by-laws.
– I hope, with Senator Russell, that the amendment will not be pressed. I agree with other honorable senators that the tipping system is- most objectionable and painful. The last time I had the pleasure of being in London my life was made an absolute hurden to me, because at every meal I took I was wondering all the time what sort of a tip I was expected to. give to the German waiter. A friend of mine compounded with the manager of one hotel by offering to give 10 per cent. on his bill for tips.
– Probably all those German waiters were secret service agents.
– I think that is quite likely. The difficulty is that whilst we have a great many laws in operation in Australia, very many of them are continually broken. The worst thing we could do is to pass a law if we are not determined that it is to be rigidly enforced.
– The Customs Act is sometimes broken.
– That is so, but the people who break it have to suffer if they are found out. If we carry the provision proposed by Senator Ferricks, tippingwill go on all the same, though perhaps it may be done a little more quietly than heretofore. If the insertion of such a provision in the Bill would prevent tipping, I should gladly support it, but I do not think it would have any such effect. Honorable senators are aware that our game laws are continually broken, and that in some cases even policemen are known to go out shooting in the close season. When travelling through New South Wales I found that on the main lines, where tips are very frequently given, they did not have any lowering effect upon the porters who were tipped. When I got on to the lines in the back country, I found a different state of affairs, because, whilst the railway employees would not accept a tip, neither would they carry my swag. I had to carry it myself. As Senator Russell has suggested, tipping seems to be one of the frailties of human nature, and until we all become angels I doubt whether any law we may pass will put an end to it.
– I think that we may very well leave this matter in the hands of the Railways Commissioner. I have some reason for saying so, because of a little experience I had on a journey over the Kalgoorlie: to Port Augusta railway: There was a fair company of us making the journey, including the present, EngineerinChief. We decided not to adopt the practice of tipping on that occasion, and I am sure that the present EngineerinChief of Commonwealth Railways would be only too glad to prevent tipping.
– Will he he travelling on every train on the Commonwealth railways ?
– If any senator other than Senator ^Needham had asked that question, I should think that there was a joke behind it. But, as the honorable senator never jokes, his interjection must have some hidden meaning, which at the moment I fail to grasp. It is said that he was a courageous man who first ate an oyster, and, in the same way, it takes a considerable amount of courage to break an established practice like that of tipping. But if we begin well in connexion with ,our Commonwealth railways we shall not find it difficult to maintain the practice of refusing to offer tips.
– I hope that Senator Ferricks will not withdraw his amendment, I am one of the guilty mortals, having tipped north, south, east, and west in two hemispheres and five continents. ‘ I have known very keen efforts made by very large caterers and hotel-owners in various parts of the world to put down the practice of tipping. To my mind, it is a relic of a barbarous age, when men were asked to work for nothing and beg for what they could get. Going about the world as I have done, I divide tippers into three classes. One class comprises the vain men, who wish to make a provocative display of their wealth; another class is comprised of persons who have no backbone or will of their own, but must do as other people do; and the third class is made up of those selfish persons who give money in tips to pay for extra services for themselves which belong to the public generally. I hope that Senator Ferricks will persist in his endeavour to see whether, on the new railways of this young Commonwealth, we cannot set out upon a course of our own in this matter. I know that attempts have been made on’ the State railways to put down- tipping, but we have, in connexion with the Commonwealth railways, an absolutely clear course, and I trust that, not only will the amendment be carried, but that it will be followed by its necessary corollary in the form of a clause making it penal for any person to give a tip.
– Senator de Largie, in speaking against the amendment, told us that he travelled over the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway in company with the Engineer-in-Chief of Commonwealth Railways, and that “the party of which they were members decided to give no tips, and none were given by them. I very innocently asked the honorable senator whether the Engineer-in-Chief would be travelling upon every Commonwealth railway and in. every train. I am prepared to believe that if Senator de Largie and the Engineer-in-Chief of Commonwealth Railways were travelling by a train, no tip would be given, but they cannot travel by every train, and on every Commonwealth railway at the same time. So that the honorable senator’s joke is turned against himself. I think that Senator Pratten has put this matter in a nutshell. It is all very well to say that we should refrain from giving tips ourselves, but what will happen if we do.
– What is done by every parliamentary Committee that travels by the railways. A subscription from each is put into the hands of the secretary to be expended in tips.
– The Honorary Minister has said that a by-law will be passed forbidding tips, and if that is the intention of the Government, why not put a provision to that effect into .the Bill ? The honorable senator may not attach as much importance to the amendment as do other members of the Committee.
– I say it will be covered by the by-laws.
– If iti is to be covered by the by-laws, there is no reason why it should not be included in the Bill.
– With respect to the practicability of the amendment, I should like to remind honorable senators that a considerable advance has been made in Victoria in the reduction of the tipping evil. At the present time, there are to be found on the Spencer-street railway station no less than thirty-seven licensed luggage porters who devote their attention to passengers’ luggage. If a porter in the service of the Railways Department accepts a tip, and one of .the thirty -seven licensed luggage porters sees him do so, he will report him. I know that is so, because when I first came to Melbourne I approached ope of these licensed luggage porters, with a red band round his cap, thinking that he was a railway porter. I wanted him to see that eight packages which I was not taking with me at the time were put into the cloak room. I went up to this man with a two-shilling piece showing in my hand, and asked him to see that the packages were placed in the cloak-room. I believed that the charge would be 2d. per package, and I was not going to wait for the change. The man said, ‘’ This is no good to me.” I thought this was rather a strange reception, and I interviewed the foreman porter, who told me that my packages would be taken to the cloakroom in the ordinary course, and I had only to keep my checks for them. The licensed luggage porter was watching us, and he subsequently reported the foreman porter for having.accepted a tip from me. Explanations followed, and I was able to inform the s’tationmaster that I had given no tip to any of his men. I know that tips have been refused on the dining-cars. If we do noi’ make some attempt to put down the system of tipping on our railways, the number of our railway employees will increase as time goes on, and a vested Interest in tips will have been created which it will be very difficult to handle. There is nothing to prevent honorable senators doing what they believe to be right in this matter now. No member of the Committee has justified tipping, or expressed any sympathy with it, so that, in the opinion of every honorable senator, it must be a bad system. Why have they not the courage to support the amendment, and make an attempt at reform ? The Minister said that the millennium would have’ to arrive before human nature would be developed to that standard, or words to that effect. That is a very weak attitude for him to take up on behalf of the National Ministry. Have we not the courage to endeavour to make this reform ?
It is suggested that we should leave this matter to be dealt with by by-laws. It is so dealt with under every other Railway Act, and, with the exception of Victoria, I do not! think that any progress , or advancement has been made. If it is good enough to be dealt with in that way it is good enough to be included in this clause, especially when we notice that sub-clause 3 deals with practically the same matter, namely, the question of railway servants, being paid for outside employment. Railway porters and conductors are put on a station or a train to do certain work. They are put there by their director, not to make any discrimination between classes of travellers, but to do their allotted duty. Why should they be encouraged to neglect persons who ‘ are not able to give them tips, and run round and dance attendance upon those who can tip? Why should the rich have the privilege of obtaining this almost personal attendance at the hands of railway employees, and those who are not able to tip be left, .even if they be ladies, struggling with children, to battle with their own luggage and encumbrances ?
– Those are the worst cases.
– It has been suggested by an honorable senator on the other side that a penalty ought to be provided. I do not mention a penal tv because 1 take, it that the acceptance of a tip will be a breach of the directions or commands of the Commissioner, in which case he will impose his own penalty. Just as in the case of a man who took outside work without the Commissioner’s sanction, the receiver of a tip would be guilty of an offence. In regard to a man who gives or offers a tip, provision is made in a succeeding amendment for the infliction of a fine of £10.
The tipping system has a most detrimental effect upon our national standing, and it is degrading to our manhood. I cannot agree with Senator BaKhap, or anybody else, when he says that the effect of a man dancing attendance on a traveller in the expectation of receiving a tip-
– I did not say anything about that.
– Well, I “say it. The better instincts of that man’s manhood are being interfered with. It is bringing up a nation addicted to servility. How can we expect to build up a nation if we- encourage men to dance round others in the anticipation of receiving a tip. If this question is to be tackled, now is the time to make an attempt, before there are great numbers of men employed on the transcontinental railway. There will be an infinitely better chance of effecting a reform now than there would be twelve years hence, when a larger number of men would be engaged, and the pernicious practice would have been established. Seeing that there is no one opposed to the amendment, I appeal with every confidence to honorable senators to support it.
Let us give this reform a trial, and let Australia lead the world.. If we have not succeeded anywhere else, I think we can succeed on the Commonwealth Railways.
.- I am in full sympathy with the attempt which Senator Ferricks is making to reform the tipping system. Every one here has condemned it as a very pernicious system. I think that Senator Russell put the matter very well when he said, ‘ We all preach, but very few of us have the courage to put our precept into practice.”
– I have practised it for five years.
– Every one knows the difficulty of suppressing the evil. I recognise that if all members of Parliament were to cease to tip it would make very little difference to the public, and the porters and guards would say, “ These parliamentarians are the meanest lot who travel.” I will give just one example of the pemiciousness of the tipping system. I was living in London when the Germans came over there as waiters. When they got into the hotels and restaurants they received very low wages. They were obnoxious in pushing for tips. Time passed, and then the Germans offered their services for nothing, and lived on the tips they received. It ended in the men offering premiums to the hotels to be engaged to get. the tips.
– Using German Secret Service money.
– That was quite a common thing. It turned out that all the best hotels and restaurants were run by German waiters, who’ had each paid a premium to get a position. Eventually it was disclosed, that the German waiters were subsidized and belonged to the German spy system. The tipping permitted the Germans to get these positions. No one can defend the system. I have always felt very strongly against it. Personally, we all like to be kind to an obliging person. There is always a desire to remunerate a man for a kindness shown. There are grades of employment where the great majority are ever looking for tips and putting themselves out of the way to give a hint to a man if he does not offer a tip. that on the next occasion he travels they will not take notice of him. I recognise that it is very difficult to do away with the system. The only good thing. I can see about the amendment is that it is a declaration by the Senate that the tipping system is pernicious to the manhood of Australia. It is a public declaration that the Senate objects to the degrading system of tipping, and considers that every person should get remunerated according to the services he renders. My view is that a prohibition against tipping will be obeyed just as much if it is made in the Bill as it would be if embodied in a by-law. Those who travel are aware that the tipping system is becoming a curse. Some years ago it was not half so prevalent anywhere in Australia as it is to-day, and in Queensland I think it is less prevalent than it is in other States. The evil is growing. It should be declared in this measure that in the view of the Senate it is a right thing for a railway employee to render a service to a man without looking for a tip. I shall vote for the amendment on that ground.
– It may,, as a matter of expediency, be desirable to say something about tipping; but I certainly am going to protest against the thing being looked at in the light of an offence, and against hearing the adjective “ degrading,” and so forth, applied to the practice. The principle of tipping is founded in human nature. It is a desire to pleasantly mark a sense of appreciation of services rendered, and, while in seme countries it is degenerating into a system of substituted payment for a substantial wage which the employees should receive from- the. employer, in Australia it does not resemble the practice in the Home country,, and even, there it is not nearly so bad as it is on the Continent of Europe. I know something of the nature of Senator Needham, and I venture to say that,, despite the fact that he stood here and made a statement about the iniquitous nature of tipping, he would be the very first man on a boat or a train, to mark his sense of some kindness shown to him by a steward or a guard. ‘
– Do not make any mistake.
– No; I know enough about the honorable senator to know that I am not making a mistake.
– Why should a guard or a porter’ pay to him attention which he would not pay to a man who did not tip him ?
– Why ‘should not the guard or porter give the attention in a friendly spirit, and not in a cold and aloof fashion? One man may render a service in a most kind, enthusiastic fashion; another man may perform a service in a cold, aloof style, and human nature being what it is, does not one think that a person to whom a service is warmly rendered will mark his sense, not of obligation, but of friendly appreciation?
Let Senator Ferricks reflect upon what a steward has to do on a vessel or a train which is going over a very long stretch. Some persons are subject to train sickness as others are to nausea when they go on board a ship. I know that- at times services of an almost revolting kind have to be performed by public servants. I would be very sorry indeed to get off a train when a service of that kind had been rendered to me without marking my sense of appreciation of the way in which it was performed. I even ventured to interject that the practice of tipping has scriptural warrant, and as interjections of that kind in the cold pages of Hansard sometimes permit of an unusual construction being placed upon them, I shall make myself quite clear. In my salad days, when I did read, the Scriptures, I remember coming across the parable of the talents. One individual was given one talent, and he hid it in a napkin, and did nothing with it. He thought that he was a most praiseworthy individual for having preserved what his master had given him. Another individual was given ten talents, and he gave them a most profitable run. When the master came home, and required an account of the manner in which his servitors had employed the gifts, he was very wrath that the man had done nothing with the one talent but keep it, and ordered that it be taken away from him and given as a tip to the man who had successfully employed the ten talents.
I protest against making an offence out of every innocent action. Tipping is not a practice that I indulge in to an inordinate extent. My tips are modest, and so long as I. like to offer them I shall find people willing to take them, for that also is human nature. I deprecate the statement that any one who renders ‘service is necessarily doing something servile. There is an honour and glory in service well rendered, and I hope the travelling public appreciate the fact that a man is no less a man because he is a railway guard. He is a free man serving his country, and rendering, in times of peace, just as worthy service as a soldier may render in time of war. There is nothing derogatory to a man in being employed by his country in a civil capacity. I do not agree that he is servile because he is a public servant, and’ if he does something for me and I give him 6d. or ls. he is none the less a man for accepting it. He knows I am not materially impairing my own stock of money, and he knows that the small amount does not add greatly to his. Do not honorable senators derive more> pleasure from the small perquisites of their seats in Parliament than from the parliamentary allowance! which is given them to reimburse their expenses, and which is sometimes not sufficient to meet the* needs of the occasion ? Even a 6d. or ls. given in a spirit of friendship or recognition of service well rendered will give more pleasure to the recipient than, perhaps, a pound which he earns himself. I deprecate the tendency to regard tipping, whatever its virtues or demerits, as an offence. While I am in the Senate I shall raise my voice against the multiplication of offences, or the tendency to put upon necessary acts, or acts of a neutral character, the complexion of an offence against the State andi the principles of good government. I believe in men being well paid, but, human nature being what it is, you may give every public servant £5 a day, and then, if you are sensible of the fact that he has rendered very good service, and you offer him a tip, he will accept it, knowing that he is not being degraded by doing so, but only accepting a kindness offered in a friendly and fraternal spirit. Without posing as the embodiment of the spirit of generosity, and without greatly defending the practice of tipping, I have no hesitation in opposing the amendment.
– I should like to learn from Senator Bakhap something about the perquisites attached to a seat in Parliament. I have had seven, years of parliamentary life, and have not even seen one of the things he speaks of.
– Do not the racing clubs send you a ticket sometimes?
– As I never go to a race meeting, that does not affect me, and as I do not render the racing, clubs any service, I do not dance attendance on them in the expectation of receiving tickets. My proposal to abolish tipping is not a reflection on public servants, into which Senator Bakhap endeavours to twist it. We oppose the tipping system because we say that men who render certain services should be paid adequately for them by those who employ them, and should not have to depend on gratuities from the public to bring their pay up to a living wage.
– It is only to the lower paid men that people offer tips.
-Senator Reid will bear out my statement that a few years ago, in the Queensland railway service, the inducement was actually held out to railway employees to bring their pay up to a living wage by tips or other methods.Up to a few years ago they were not getting a living wage. The pay for fully-fledged porters in the Queensland railways was only 5s. a day. The evil was intensified by the fact that a number of lad porters were employed, many of whom, including myself, were at that time physically better men than they have ever been since. They were employed at anything from 10s. to 25s. a week. How were they to live? How was a married man to bring up a family on 5s. a day if he did not supplement his income by tips from the travelling public? He would have to pay Senator Bakhap, or any other likely-looking mark, extra attention. Senator Bakhap, if he went up there, would get the “milk of human kindness ‘ ‘ that he spoke of all round him, if not upon him, in anticipation of a tip. The principle of tipping not having been defended, it only remains for honorable senators to put the amendment in the Bill, thus making an honest endeavour to lead the way in this reform in the control of the national railways. If they do, I am confident that beneficial results will follow.
– I admire the persistency with which Senator Ferricks has fought this question for many years, and support him in his endeavour to incorporate this provision in the Bill. I do not know that it will be much more effective there than in a by-law, but” one would think, from the slack way in which regulations in this regard are enforced on the State railways, that the Railways Commissioners were sharing in the spoils extracted from the public. Many people think that, no matter what is done, the tipping system will still go on, but if a stiff penalty is im posed it will be checked as other abuses have been. Men employed by public Departments, shipping companies, hotelkeepers, caterers, and others ought to be told that their proper source of income is from their employers direct, and not from the wealthy section of the travelling public. The poorer section of the travelling public are more than likely to be ignored under present conditions, and the best attention given to those who are likely to pay best. Although the Minister’s request to be allowed to include the amendment in the by-laws seems reasonable, the proper thing is to put it in the Bill, and follow it up by a substantial penalty provision, which will catch the Bakhaps and others who are inclined to violate the law in that respect.
Question - That the proposed new subclause be added to the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
– On behalf of the Honorary Minister, I move -
That the following new clause be added to the Bill:- “ 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.
Provided that in its application to the Railway Service, any reference in that Act to the Public Service Commissioner shall be read as a reference to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner.”
The effect will be to bring servants on the Commonwealth railways in linewith other Commonwealth servants, and make the Bill accord with the policy expressed in the Public Service (Arbitration) Act.
– I am glad to know that the new clause is to be inserted, as I understand it will give the employees of the Commonwealth railway the same rights in regard to the Conciliation ‘and Arbitration Court as are enjoyed by members of other Commonwealth organizations.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 48 to 50 agreed to.
Clause 51(Certain salaries not to be increased by Commissioner without approval).
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (2) In this section the words “ salary “ and “ wage “ include all allowances other than travelling allowances.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 52 - ,
Any person -
Provided that an employee shall not be entitled by reason’of his prior permanent employment to long-service leave or leave upon retirement for a longer period than four months.
– I move -
That after the word “ employed “ in paragraph a, the words “ in connexion with any railway worked by the Commonwealth or “ be inserted.
Honorable senators have been supplied with copies ofthe amendments which I desire to move in this clause, and I will take the sense of the Committee in regard to the first. If this is carried, other consequential amendments will have to be made. My object is to cover the whole of the employees inthe Commonwealth Railway Service from the time of the survey up to the present. In my second-
Teading speech I referred to this clause, and expressed a doubt whether those officers who had left State employment to join the Commonwealth Service were really being protected. The clause appears to have been loosely drafted, though I do not think there is any evidence of intention on the part of the Government or those responsible for the draftsmanship of the Bill to overlook, the officers I have referred to. I notice that Senator Newland has circulated amendments of a similar character, and I think the Committee will see the advisability of agreeing to those I have indicated.
– Senator Needham is endeavouring to accomplish what is exactly the object of the Government. There is just a little doubt as to whether the intention of the Government has been correctly expressed. I have had an opportunity of discussing the matter with the honorable senator, and I suggest that he adopt the amendments drafted by the officers of the Department, and which have the same object in view.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the word “or,” line 3, be left out, and that the words “ employed in the construction or working of any Commonwealth railwav or is at” be inserted in lieu thereof. That the word “therein,” line 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ in the Railway Service.”
That after the word “ employment,” line 7, the words “ in the construction or working of any Commonwealth railway or “ be inserted.
– I move -
That the following new paragraph be added to sub-clause 1 : - “ and (iii) to have any existing or accruing rights to pension and retiring allowances preserved to him on the basis which would-1 be permitted by the law of the State if his service with the Commonwealth were a continuance of his service with the State.”
Paragraph (ii) sets out that any officer transferred from a State railway service to the Commonwealth railway service shall have his retiring allowance computed as. from the date upon which he joins the Commonwealth Service. In other words, he will have no accruing . rights after he enters the Commonwealth Service. The provision thus lays down a. principle which is absolutely alien to other Commonwealth Acts so far as they relate to transferred officers.
– But those Acts deal with transferred Departments, and this ia not a transferred Department.
– I wish to preserve to men who may be transferred from a State railway service to the Commonwealth railway service their existing and accruing rights. The principle, I repeat, is recognised in quite a number of Federal Acts: Iknow that the position which I desire to create will be a somewhat difficult one, for the reason that men may join the Commonwealth railway service from every State railway service in Australia. A man from New South’ Wales would enter the Commonwealth Service with certain rights under the New South Wales Railways Act, a second individual from Western Australia would have specific rights under the Western Australian Railways Act, whilst a third would have different rights under the South. Australian Railways Act.
– But there is another class altogether, consisting of men who were not in a State railway service.
– Their rights will commence under the Bill which we are now considering. I know that men have left the Victorian and South Australian railway services to join the Commonwealth on the distinct promise that their existing rights would, be preserved to them. Otherwise they would not have entered the Commonwealth Service.
– The honorable senator says that a distinct understand ing was made with those men, and wedeny that statement absolutely.. The honorable senator ought to give us some evidence in support of his declaration.
– My evidence is the statement of the men themselves. But if the Government deprive these employees of rights which they had under State law simply because they were not promised that those rights would be preserved to them, they will be guilty of conduct which is highly reprehensible. I am quite confident that this Chamber will never indorse their action. At the time of their transfer the men were quite satisfied that they would suffer no disability as the result of joining the Commonwealth Service. The only objection which can be urged to my amendment is that it will create conflicting interests for a few years, when these men will have to retire. The Commonwealth Government will have had the benefit of the experience of these men in setting the railways of the Commonwealth going, and all I ask is that they should not be called upon to suffer because they transferred from the service of the State to that of the Commonwealth. It is absurd for the Honorary Minister to ask me to produce evidence that a promise that they would not suffer was made, because the men must have come from the State Service to that of the Commonwealth on a clear understanding that their transfer would not mean that they would be placed in a worse position than they were in under a State Government. I submit the amendment in order that it may be made clear that men transferred from State railway systems . to that of the Commonwealth, shall have preserved to them their existing and accruing rights, just as those rights have been preserved to men transferring to other Departments of the Commonwealth from service under a State Government.
– I am afraid that there is some misunderstanding on the part of honorable senators as to the purpose of the amendment. It is a mistake to confuse transfers from State to Commonwealth control in case of the Customs and Post and Telegraph Departments’ with transfers from State railway systems to the railways to- be conducted under this Bill. In the case of the Customs and Post and Telegraph Departments, there was a transfer of the whole of the Departments from ownership by the the State to ownership by the Commonwealth.
– That applies also to the Port Darwin and Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railways.
– The officers of the Customs and Post and Telegraph Departments had all their rights preserved, because they were transferred with those Departments to the control of the Commonwealth Government. This Bill will deal with men who have undertaken to work at construction and in. the running of the Commonwealth railways without any inducement being offered to them to do so. Their transfer to the Commonwealth Service has been purely voluntary, and made without a promise of any kind. Some persons may contend that promises were made, but I am advised that there is no record of any promise having been made by a Commonwealth Minister or a responsible officer of the Railway Department. In the different] States there are six varying sets of conditions of service in the Railway Departments, and varying rights conferred upon employees of those Departments. We shall, no doubt, be getting men from each of the different States, and it is very desirable that they should all start in the Commonwealth Service on a uniform basis. The Bill provides that all existing rights up to the date of their leaving the service of a State for that ofthe Commonwealth shall be recognised. But once they enter the Commonwealth Service the conditions under which they serve will be those applying to all railway employees of the Commonwealth. I would like to remind Senator Newland that one effect of his amendment, if accepted, would be to handicap men in the State Railway Services desiring to transfer to the Commonwealth. If he were Minister for Works and Railways in the Commonwealth Government, and he had the choice of accepting the service of a man who had no accruing rights! and that of a man who had accruing rights’ under a State Department, he would prefer to take . the first man. We are dealing here with a new Department.
– What about the Northern Territory railway ?
– That was a railway taken over by theCommon wealth.
– But the Bill will apply to all Commonwealth railways.
– There are some permanent men on the Port Darwin line who will be brought under this Bill.
– The Bill will preserve to them all rights existing at the time they joined the Commonwealth Service. If a man, starting a new business in a district, engages an employee of an existing business, why should he be asked to continue to him the rights which the employee enjoyed under somebody else?
– We are not dealing with somebody else in this case. We are dealing with the people of Australia all the time.
– I remind honorable senators that the rights and privileges conferred upon employees under this Bill may be even superior to those which would have been enjoyed by transferred men if they had continued in the service ‘ of a State. The purpose of this Bill is to make the rights of all the Commonwealth railway employees uniform. A man possessing special rights in the service of a State may be trusted to recognise what he is doing when he makes an application to enter the service of the Commonwealth.
– Applications were called three years ago for men for the Commonwealth railways.
– But they were guaranteed no special privleges. Scores of men have transferred from the State Railway Services to the Commonwealth, but no inducement was held out to them to do so. I, hope and believe that the conditions of employment on the Commonwealth railways will be much better than those of the State railways, but we must have uniform conditions for each class of employees. I believe I am oorrect in saving that, officers of the different State Services eagerly transfer to the Commonwealth Service when the opportunity offers, because they feel that the Commonwealth Government is more generous to its employees than are the State Governments. I ask honorable senators to permit the clause to remain as it stands.
– I find that Senator Newland and myself are working on similar lines. The arguments of the Honorary Minister have entirely missed the mark. He’has been speaking of the prospective effect of the clause and not of its retrospective effect. The very marginal note of the clause shows that it deals with the rights of employees previously employed by the Commonwealth or a State. The arguments of the Minister were directed to the case of men who will enter the service of the Commonwealth Railway Department after this Bill becomes an Act,- The object of Senator Newland’s amendment, and of that which I have withdrawn temporarily, is to secure to men previously in the employment of the Commonwealth or of a State that upon their transfer to the Commonwealth Railway Department their rights, so far as continuity of employment! is concerned, shall be preserved to them. Senator Newland is proposing on exactly the same lines that rights to sick allowances and retiring allowances shall be preserved to men we take over from other services. I believe that men will gladly prefer to enter the service of the Commonwealth rather than that of a State, believing it to be a more generous service, but those are not the men about whom Senator Newland is concerned. He is trying to secure the rights of men at present in the Commonwealth Railway. Service, who have been transferred from other Commonwealth Departments or from State Departments. Senator Pearce interjected that a man might have no existing or accruing rights, and it is quite possible that men will join the Commonwealth Railway Service who had no previously existing rights. But if a man joins the Commonwealth Railway Service who had rights under the Commonwealth or under the State, Ministers should be prepared to see that his rights are preserved to him.
– What are the rights, and who are the men?
– I could not give the Minister actual details, but he knows that there are men at present in the Commonwealth Railway Service who were previously employed in the Public Service of the State or in a Railway Department of a State, and who were there entitled to certain sick allowances and retiring allowances. I mentioned, when indicating the nature of the amendment I propose to move, that men had been taken from the State Railway Services-
– No man was taken from the State Railway Service.
– The stationmaster at Port Darwin was taken over by the Commonwealth .
– Will the Honorary Minister tell me that there is no man in the employ of the Commonwealth Railway Department now who was taken from a State Railway Service?
– I say that these men will be permanent men for the first time under this Bill.- Every man on the Port Darwin line when it was taken over was a temporary hand under the South Australian Government, and those men will be given permanent positions for the first time under this Bill.
– It is not so with respect to the men on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line.
– I ask the Minister whether there are not men to-day in the Commonwealth Railway Service who, prior to their joining, that service, were permanent employees of a State Railway Service ?
– None was taken over. They left the State Service, and came to the Commonwealth.
– Because certain inducements were held out to them to do so.
– That is so. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am referring to permanent employees on our railways who left State Services- to join the Commonwealth Service.
– But it recognises all his State rights up to the time he comes into the Commonwealth Service,when he starts under a new system.
– That is the ‘ point at which we join issue. When a man retires from the Commonwealth Service at the age of sixty or sixty-five years, no matter how good his conduct may have been, he will get only that allowance which he was entitled to at the time he left the State Service.
– That is so;, but why do you assume that our conditions are going to be less generous than the State conditions?
– It is here in black and white, so that I have no occasion to assume anything. I am pro- testing against the wording of this clause, and so is Senator Newland. We are endeavouring to amend the clause to prevent any assumption or presumption, and ‘ to put an end to protesting.
– You cannot put them under both Bills at once. The point is : “ Where do you finish with the State and begin with the Commonwealth ?”
– The Minister has not attempted to put them in two
Bills at once, but he has put them holus bolus under this measure without regard to anything else. I realize the difficulty which arises out of the differing conditions obtaining in the various States, but surely that is no bar to our doing the right thing. It is a monstrous idea that a man who got £150 a year in a State Service, and is retiring from the Commonwealth Service at a salary of £700, should only get the pension or retiring allowance which would have been payable to him had he retired when he was only- receiving a salary of £150. Senator Newland and myself are aiming at the same object, and I hope the Committee will accept the amendment.
Sena torRUSSELL (Victoria- Honorary Minister) [6.22]. - There seems tobe a misunderstanding that in some way we ave going to take a privilege from those who have been State officers. But that is not so. Up to. the day when they leave the State Service they will be entitled to every privilege and right which existed under the State law up to that date.
– That is the point.
SenatorRUSSELL. - These men are not transferred to the Commonwealth. They leave the State Service, and then make an application to enter the new Service, which, probably, will be more generous as regards conditions than was the old Service. They will get every condition laid down in the Commonwealth Act; but we cannot have the two systems side by side. The object of this amendment is to continue to a man the rights he enjoyed as a State officer up to the day be leaves the Commonwealth Service. Suppose that we needed seven stationmasters, that we appointed one stationmaster from each State, and that the seventh stationmaster was a new man. We would have one stationmaster under the Queensland system, one stationmaster under the South Australian system, one stationmaster under the Victorian system, and so on. There would be only one stationmaster to whom the Common- wealth Railways Act would apply. What sort of a system would’ we have in that case? All that we say to a State man in this clause is that every privilege and right which he enjoyed up to the date of his leaving the State Service shall count in his favour; but that there is only one basis , on which he can enter the Commonwealth Service, and that is the basis of the Commonwealth Railways Act. I believe that 98 per cent, of the State civil servants today would be glad to get a transfer to the Commonwealth Service at any time, because of the broader lines on which it is conducted, and the better conditions which obtain. Seeing that State railway men under this measure will lose no privileges they had, are we to say that for all time the State law shall, dominate the Commonwealth law ? Some of the men with rights may be middle-aged men. When are we going to start to get a uniform law if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity, when a new service is being started, to establish new conditions which will not injure State men, but preserve and improve upon their previous conditions.
– There is very little in the Minister’s argument. Every State Department! practically has men working under more than one set of conditions at present. From time to time laws and regulations have been passed to curtail or extend the privileges of employees. We have in the State Service men who are entitled to pensions. The older members of the staff, for instance, have this right. A few years after those men entered the State Service the pension right was abolished, and therefore those who joined subsequently are not entitled to a pension. There is no difficulty in the way of making this amendment. I am not asking that the Commonwealth Railways should be run under the State laws, but I am asking that the Commonwealth shall observe a compact made with the men whom it has taken over. Under the Constitution Act, these men are entitled to the privilege for which I am asking.
– You cannot have it either way. First, we say that there is no compact with anybody, but if there is a compact it will be recognised in full.
– I am asking that the compact shall be recognised here.
– It will be recognised.
– I am not in a position to say what compact was’ made, but I know that conferences were held between railway men in South Australia. It was practically decided that the whole of the staff at Quorn and the railway should be taken over, but because a satisfactory arrangement could not be made with the Commonwealth Department, the matter was hung up. That course was taken because the men could not get a definite assurance from the Commonwealth that their accruing rights would be secured to them. Section 84 of the Constitution Act provides for the transfer of a State Department, but the last provision in the section reads -
Any officer who is, at the establishment of the Commonwealth, in the Public Service of a State, and who is, by consent of the Governor of the State, with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, transferred to the Public Service of the Commonwealth, shall have the same rights as if he had been an officer of a Department transferred to the Commonwealth and were retained in the service of the Commonwealth.
The Minister says that it is not the case of a transferred Department. I am pointing out that the Constitution itself provides for the transfer of a Department, and also for the transfer of an officer, so that the argument is clearly not so strong as he would have the Committee believe.
– This is the case of a man resigning from the State Service to enter the Commonwealth Service.
– The Commonwealth has taken over the men on a definite understanding. I am not going to say that a promise was given. I know that it is in the mind of several railway men that they were promised certain things.
– The only permanent men we have are engaged on the railway from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta. It is not proposed to transfer those men, but should they be transferred subsequently, they will be dealt with with all their rights existing.
– You are going to chuck them over?
– South Australia runs the line with a State staff.
– These men are not interested in . this Bill. I am not quite sure, but I understand that certain men with rights, from South Australia, have been taken over by the Commonwealth. They are, it is true, on the temporary staff, the same as the rest of , the Commonwealth employees. But they are looking for something better than temporary employment. They are no more permanent employees than are other members of the staff.
– Were they permanent men with South Australia?
– Can they go back to the South Australian staff?
– They may, or they may not. Section 60 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act contains this provision -
– There is not one single transfer. Every man who has come into the Commonwealth Service definitely severed his connexion with the State Service by resigning. That pointdoes not . arise.
– The men who are affected would not appear to be so, from the instructions I have received on this very point.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I was pointing out that the Public Service Act provides for the matter with which we are now dealing, namely, that individual transferred officers should be dealt with in the same manner as if the Department in which they had been serving had been transferred to the Commonwealth. I further pointed out that the Northern Territory Acceptance Act contains the same provision. I believe that, in the Northern Railway Service, there are some officers who would be affected unless provision such as I have indicated is included in this Bill. Some of those officers were transferred from the South Australian Railway Department when the railway was taken over, and they are now looking to the Federal Parliament to protect their interests in this new Railway Bill as they were protected under the Northern Territory Acceptance Act. Section 12 of that Act states -
I regret now that, instead of moving the amendment in the form I adopted, I did not move for the inclusion of a provision similar to the one I have quoted. I am confident, however, that my amendment will have precisely the same effect as if I had done so. The men affected have every right to expect that their interests shall be protected, and that their services shall be regarded as continuous.
– If we had appointed an officer, not a South Australian, from the State Public Service to the Common- “ wealth Service, would you take him over with all his accruing rights ?
– I certainly would.
– Then you would not appoint him.
– Perhaps nott, but I point out that expert railway men are not made in a day.
– I am not talking about railway officers, but other officers.
– This Bill also provides that individual officers shall be treated as if they had been taken over with the Department. The men to whom I allude were in the service of the South. Australian Government at the time. There were no other officers in the Northern Territory then except’ those who had been appointed by the South Australian Government, and their right’s were preserved under ‘the Acceptance Act. -So far back as 1911, when the debate took place on the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie railway, the then Prime Minister of the “Commonwealth said .that doubtless, a Railway Department would be created ultimately to take over the Commonwealth railways, and that when this was done appointments of a permanent character would be made, bub that this could not be done until the railways were taken over by Act. of Parliament. The then Prime Minister indicated tlo all who were anxious to obtain employment under .the Commonwealth that service in a State would be considered as service in the Commonwealth.
– What are you quoting from ?
– From a debate on the- Port) Augusta-Kalgoorlie’ railway, in 1911, Hansard,, page 1053.. In that debate it was suggested that the Commonwealth would establish a permanent railway staff, and Mr. Fisher intimated than existing rights, of officers, taken over would be preserved. Had’ these appointments been made under the Public Service Act there would have been no question as to the rights of individuals being preserved, and we should not allow any invidious distinctions to be made between officers appointed under this Bill and officers appointed under previous Acts, because this would be manifestly unfair. It is within the recollection of honorable senators that when the Post Office was taken over certain promises were made to officials, but, unfortunately, those promises were not observed, and, at the present time, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst the older officials.
– In .South Australia. The honorable senator knows perfectly that, when he was Minister, he had a good deal of trouble with postal officials of South Australia about inequality and injustice, and, unfortunately, the cause of that difficulty has not been removed.
– It was due to a legal technicality.
– Yes’; advantage was taken of a legal technicality, and the difficulty has never been removed.
– The Postal Commission went into the matter, and decided that the officials had no claim, either moral or legal.
– The officials in South Australia, at all events, were quite satisfied as to their claims.
– There were only six of them.
– No; there were scores, but the six referred to made more noise than the others. However, the association took up the matter, and, on several occasions, sent representatives, to Melbourne to have matters put right. I do not want an anomaly of this kind to be created under this Bill. It is a simple matter to put right, and it should be attended to now. As I have already said, it takes many years to train men in some branches of the Railway Service, and I want the Commonwealth to be in a position to approach men and give them an assurance that they will suffer nothing by coming over from any State Service to the employment, of the Commonwealth.
– Were you quoting from page 1063 of Hansard of 1911 1
– I have Hansard by me, and there is nothing of the sort you quote.
– The opinion I formed from reading the speech was that the Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Fisher, said that when the east-west railway was constructed a Railway Department would be created to manage it. He further said that appointments of a permanent character would then be made by the Public Service Commissioner or some other authority.
– The speech is very short, and I will put it on, record shortly.
– At all events, there are the facts, and ll hope the Committee will see that State servants who have entered Commonwealth employment are not penalized.
– I confess I cannot follow Senator Newland ‘s line of argument. As I understand him, he desires that State officials brought over to the Commonwealth should bring with them all their accruing rights under State legislation, and, in order to add force to his argument, he falls back upon the Constitution, which practically provides that every official taken over shall have his existing and accruing rights preserved.
– Every official taken over in transferred Departments.
– Yes. There is a great deal of justice about that contention, because the persons concerned had to come over to . Commonwealth employment whether they cared to or not. The officers of transferred Departments had no choice but to accept service under the Commonwealth. In the present instance, however, the conditions are quite different. We know that in South Australia there are a number of permanent officials who are engaged upon a portion of the east-west railway. Immediately we take over that line, every person employed upon the section of which I am speaking will have a right to ask the South Australian Government to continue him in its service. We can only ask these State railway employees to enter the Federal Railway Service. They will have to consider whether it will pay them to sever their connexion with a State Railway Service and to enter that of the
Commonwealth. The illustration used by Senator Newland when he dragged in the claims of half-a-dozen postmasters in South Australia, confirmed me in my opposition to his proposal.
– If the honorable senator were to go through the Commonwealth Service, he would find general dissatisfaction.
– Why, the postal officials of South Australia benefited most materially by their transfer to the Commonwealth. The Postal Commission investigated . that matter very thoroughly, and its members were quite satisfied that the postal officials who chiefly benefited from Federation were those of South Australia and Tasmania. One of the accruing rights which the postmasters of South Australia desired to bring over with them to the Commonwealth was the right to be paid a certain commission on the sale of postage stamps. I repeat that in the present instance it will be quite optional with State railway employees to enter the Commonwealth Service or to decline to do so. The Assistant Minister has stated that those who do enter the Commonwealth Railway Service will have all their rights up to the date of their entrance preserved to them. I should like to know whether, in the case of an official who is entitled under State law to a pension, the Commonwealth will have to provide that pension ?
– Then this Bill actually goes farther than does the Constitution.
– The Commonwealth can recover from the State concerned its proportion of the pension.
– But the States do not always pay up their proportions.
– During my Ministerial experience I never knew of a State Government repudiating its liability.
– The State Governments have done so in several instances.
– If the amendment be carried, provision should be made for these pensions to be paid by the States.
– The Commissioner _ will pay them, and the Commonwealth will make what arrangement it may choose with the States for the payment of their proportion of them.
– Ican quite conceive of circumstances in which a State railway employee might desire to enter the Commonwealth Service, but in which his accruing rights would prove a bar to his doing so.
SenatorNEEDHAM (Western Australia) [8.27]. - The real issue before the Committee is, I fear, being somewhat clouded. The remarks of Senator Thomas show conclusively that he is thinking chiefly ‘of men who may come over from a State Railway Service to the Commonwealth Railway Service. The amendment of Senator Newland has nothing whatever to do with that class of employee. Its primary object is to protect employees who are already in the Commonwealth Railway Service, and who, before joining it, had to relinquish positions in a State Railway Service or in the Public Service of a State.
– I thought it embraced both classes.
– That is not the intention of the amendment. There are men in the Commonwealth Railway Service who quitted the Railway Service of a State, but who were not transferred. That being so, it is idle to quote the Constitution in respect of transferred Departments or transferred officers. We merely desire to protect . those men who have left a State Railway Service to enter the Commonwealth Railway Service.
– Give me one instance of an individual who will be injured by the Bill. Take the matter of leave. If a man has fifteen years of State service to his credit, after he has spent five years in the Federal Service he will be entitled to his long furlough on full pay.
– He will not; and he will not receive the retiring allowance to which he would have been entitled had he remained in the State Service.
– He will get all the privileges to which he was entitled up to the day that he entered the Commonwealth Service.
– If the honorable senator will look at sub-clause 1 of clause 52, he will see that that has been provided for.
– The paragraph to which Senator Pearce directs my attention reads as follows: -
To have the period of his prior permanent employment reckoned as employment in the railway service for the purpose of computing any annual, sick, or long-service leave under ‘ any by-law;
But if Senator Pearce will look at paragraph ii. with his two eyes, he will find that it contradicts the paragraph I have quoted.
– No; it deals with a different matter. It deals with retiring allowance, and not with leave. The honorable senator was discussing the question of leave.
– I was discussing the question of leave at that particular moment, but Senator Newland and I, by our amendments, desire to cover what is contained in both these paragraphs. Paragraph ii. reads -
To receive, upon his retirement from the railway service, compensation, retiring allowance, or gratuity to such amount, or at such rate as he would have been entitled to receive at the time of his first appointment to the Railway Service, had he at that time been eligible to retire from his prior permanent employment as having attained the retiring age.
The point is that under this paragraph the retiring allowance will be reckoned only upon the . period of service in a State Department prior to entering the service of the Commonwealth railways.
– Can the honorable senator mention one man who has been transferred with a retiring allowance?
– I am not speaking of men who have been transferred, but of men who voluntarily left the service of the State to enter the service of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator know of one who was entitled to a retiring allowance in the service of a State?
– I cannot give the name of any man.
– If there were such a case, the right would have been adjusted on the man leaving the service of the State
– I know that there are to-day men in the Commonwealth Railway Service who, had they remained in the service of a State, would have received a better deal than they will get under this Bill.
– In what respect?
– Take the case of a man who, when he left the service of a State, was getting £150 a year. Under this Bill his retiring allowance is based upon that salary of £150, though he may not retire from the Commonwealth Service until he is sixty-five years of age,, and after being many years in the service of the Commonwealth. My objection ‘is that in the matter of retiring allowance there is no recognition of the period served in the Commonwealth Service.
– That is to say that the allowance will not accrue upon his Commonwealth Service ?
– Tes. Wha t we are after is that th,ere should be some recognition of the period served in Com- i, i m wealth employment.
– Does the honorable senator not see that if that were agreed to we should have one set of men in the Commonwealth Railway Service entitled to a retiring allowance and another set not entitled to such an allowance?
– That might apply to men who might enter the Commonwealth Service after this Bill becomes an Act.
– It will apply to some who are in the service now.
– It may apply to a very few; but that should be an easy matter for the Railway Department to deal with. The differentiation would be very small. I am prepared to admit that, once this Bill becomes an Act, any man thereafter entering the Commonwealth Railway Service will do so with his eyes open. He will have this Act, and the by-laws under it, before him’, and will know the conditions of Commonwealth employment. But I am speaking on bell nlf of men who have been in the service of the Commonwealth from the time of the survey of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway up to the time it becomes a permanently running line. These “nien could not know what provisions would be contained in this Bill. I hope that in any future discussion of the amendment honorable senators will lose sight of men who may join the Commonwealth Railway Service after this Bill becomes law, and will deal with the men who are already in that Service, and see that their rights are preserved to them.
– It seems to me that some honorable senators still fail to. clearly understand the clause. In connexion with leave and other matters referred to, service in a State Railway Department is taken into consideration. The honorable senator suggested that we should read paragraph ii. with two eyes, and that paragraph says distinctly what is to be done in the case of a man who had a pension right or a right to a retiring allowance in the service of a State. Say, for instance, that it would take fifteen years for him to acquire that right, and at the end of seven years he leaves the service of the State for the Commonwealth Railway Service. He may be getting £200 a < year when he enters the Commonwealth Service, and £300 at the end of the fifteen-years’ term, but his pension right is based on his service in the State, and does not go- on accruing during his service in the Commonwealth. The reason for this is that in the Commonwealth Railway Service he would be under some other compensation system applicable to all of the employees in that Service. If the intention of honorable senators supporting the amendment is to initiate a Commonwealth pension- system, jet us be honest about the matter, and make it of general application to- the whole of the public servants of the Commonwealth.
– Including the navvies on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ?
– Yes, I should’ not ask a man what his occupation was. We should not start a pension system with a privileged few. If honorable senators desire a pension system for all Commonwealth employees, I am disposed to help them.; but we should not do the work in this piece-meal fashion. It has been said that some promise was made to men entering the Commonwealth Railway Service; but, on the authority of those who have had charge of the Department, and have looked up all the records, I say tha? there was no definite promise made by any one to any of these men, and no one can produce such a promise. I exonerate Senator Newland from any thought of deliberate misrepresentation, but he has evidently been supplied with notes of speeches made by Mr. Fisher which that gentleman never delivered. The statements which he did make cannot bear the interpretation which has been put upon them. I shall quote for honorable senators what Mr. Fisher really did say. I find at page 1053 of Hansard of 4th October, 1911, that SirWilliam -Irvine said -
There must be a properly qualified staff having a certain definite position in the Public Service, and, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, it is desirable that we should have, as soon as possible, a statement on the subject from the Government. ‘
He was trying to discover how these men would stand, and Mr. Fisher replied as follows : -
The honorable member for Flinders has practically raised two questions. He says, in the first place, that, sooner or later, the Government will require a Railway Department and a railway policy.
Mr. W. H. Irvine. A Public Works Department.
Mr. FISHER. That Department might also cover works that are not now, in a sense, under the Minister for Home Affairs. There are certain naval works which, perhaps, do not come under the control of the Public Works Branch of his Department; and, since in this Parliament we have to deal with large national works of a varied character, we must be careful not to dogmatize on the old State lines. Undoubtedly, there ought to be, when our railways are constructed, a Railway Department to manage them; and that will be the policy of this Government.
Mr. W. H. Irvine. It might be a subdepartment of the Department of Home Affairs.
Mr. FISHER. The most economical way of carrying on such a business is to have a body of experts to deal with it; and the Department best equipped at the present time to supervise the construction of this railway is the Department of Home Affairs. That being so, it will have the control of this work, subject to the declaration of policy, which is common to all Governments; being determined by the Government itself. That is the best that can bo done.
Mr. W. H. Irvine. My difficulty is not so much in regard to which Department the work will come under, as to what will be. the general character and position of the staff that will control the work.
Mr. FISHER. We must put our trust somewhere. Some Minister must be responsible for the carrying out of the work. The Government behind that Minister must take the full responsibility for the faithful and proper carrying out of the work on economical lines, and fairly as between the parties themselves and the States. The method and manner in which the work will be carried out will be subject to the criticism of Parliament, and I can assure honorable members that the Ministry will give careful thought and attention to the question of what is the best and most economical way of constructing this line.
That is the whole of the speech which was delivered by Mr. Fisher on that day. Yet we are told to-night that he made a definite promise which the present Government desire not to honour.
– Who said that?
– That is the meaning of what was said here.
– I said nothing about a definite promise, but I read the sentence, “ appointment made by the Public Service Commissioner or some other authority.”
– I made it quite clear that I did not accuse the honorable senator of making a misrepresentation, but I say that the effect of the note he read was to lead honorable senators to think that a definite promise was made by Mr. Fisher. I am not dealing with the intention of the honorable senator.
– That is a fair interpretation. I heard the remarks of Senator Newland.
– I think that it is a fair interpretation. I am not in the habit of misrepresenting what honorable senators say. I have to defend the position of the Government, and I point out that there is no record of a promise having been made to these men. They terminated their agreement with the State, and ought to have protected any rights which they then possessed. They applied for temporary employment under the Commonwealth, and it was granted to them. We are now doing something better for the men. We are giving them a definite standing under a Commonwealth Act. As regards its administration, the Public Service Act of the Commonwealth is the best Act which any working men in the world have worked under. With this long record to the credit of the Commonwealth, what cause for fear has any one ? Why should it be suggested that the men are not getting a benefit under this measure? I have no hesitation in saying that if it were not for the isolation of certain parts, that if this railway traversed a wellpopulated area, and we called for applications, 99 per cent, of the railway men of Australia would make an effort to get into the Commonwealth Service. We are not out to rob any men of their rights, but to give them a definite status with fair conditions. Despite the so-called grievance on the part of some persons, it will be found that our desire is to establish a good service with fair conditions to all concerned.
– What the Minister has said does not make any difference to the intention of my amendment. The only difference between, the brief note supplied to me and the speech read by the Minister is that the note refers to the Public Service Commissioner, a reference which is not contained in the speech. Of course, the inference from the note is that, had the appointments been made by the Public Service Commissioner, they would have carried all the rights we have been pleading for. I am not so much concerned with the men who come into the Commonwealth Service in the future as I am with the men who have come from the State Service to the Commonwealth Service. I am simply asking that the men who are already in the Commonwealth Service, and who, at the time of their entrance, considered that their State rights would not be interfered with, shall be secured in those rights. From, reading the clause, it is perfectly clear to me that the rights of a man who left the State Service, no matter how many years’ privileges he had acquired, will cease the moment this Bill comes into operation. A comparatively young man who came over from the State to the Commonwealth .will have to serve for a considerable term in order to get anything like the privileges which he would have enjoyed had he remained in the State Service.
– No; read paragraph i.
– Paragraph i. of sub-clause 1 provides for one thing, and paragraph ii. provides for something else. Under the latter provision ‘the accruing privileges are cut off, and after twenty years’ service to the Commonwealth a man is to be treated, as regards accrued privileges, just as if he had retired twenty years previously.
– The point made by the Minister was that any man entering the Federal Public Service in any other Department now would be under the same conditions.
– No. The rights of any State officers who entered the Commonwealth Service under any previous law are secured to them by the Public Service Act. Their rights are accruing now. Railway men are the only men who have been considered as temporary employees up to the present! time.
– If you will read sub-clause 3 of clause 3 you will see that . it provides that any contract entered into by the Minister for Home Affairs shall be honoured.
– I am looking to the future now. . The Government of today is reasonably honest, and we hope that it will so continue. But hereafter we might have a less conscientious Government. We wish to make it impossible for such a Government to slide out of their obligation to these men because some defect is found in a measure which we are passing to-day with our eyes open. The object of this Bill is to call into existence a new Department, and it is imperative to see that no future Government shall be able to avoid any obligations imposed upon them with regard to men who have been transferred from a State to the Commonwealth. For that reason, I feel sure that honorable senators will accept) my amendment, which, after all, is providing for men who are already in the Public Service, and not for men who may enter it subsequently. All those who join the Commonwealth Service after the passing of this measure will come in with their eyes open. Up to the present time the men who have entered the Commonwealth. Service did not know what was ahead of them. They had to ‘trust to the future action of Parliament. If the Committee should take the advice of the Minister, it will do something which would be distinctly unfair to the men who left the State Service to work for the Commonwealth. That is why I am so anxious to see this provision inserted in this clause.
– I was amused to find that with some honorable senators justice changes with changing circumstances. We on this side recognise that justice is unchangeable, or should be. If men in one branch of the State Service coming under the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner have certain rights and privileges secured to them, it is doing an injustice to men in another branch, which is equally important, to provide that they shall lose their accrued rights and privileges when they come into the Commonwealth Service. As regards justice for the men who are taken over from a State, I would point out that their accrued privileges under paragraph i. will be secured up to date, but had they remained with the Slate, their service would have continued without a break. Because they joined the Commonwealth Service just as postal employees had to do, there is a break, and although they may serve the i Commonwealth for twenty-five years, their service as regards rights and privileges will only be counted up to the time they left the State Service. The point is that these railway men from the State Service are not to receive the same privileges as State men in transferred Departments under the Public Service Commissioner are receiving. That is the position admitted by the Minister himself. In the future, State men who apply to the Commonwealth for employment in the Railway Service are to be treated as though they were outside the State Service.
– Some of these men have never been under a Commissioner before. We have a Shipping Depart.ment. and are’ picking up captains of forty years of age. Would you put these captains under a pension system because they had worked for John Brown before ?
– I am dealing now with the Commonwealth railways to be managed under the provisions of this measure. But if I were dealing with a Shipping Department, I should take into consideration ohe shipping conditions, and continue the privileges guaranteed to the men. What I take exception to is that the Minister should lay such great stress on the point that there was a break in continuity when these State men joined the Commonwealth Service.
– Suppose that we brought in a compensation system covering the lot . Would you insist that ‘these men should be brought under that system ?
– Now the Minister is introducing the question of compensation.
– Sick leave is not a retiring allowance. It is given at any period during a man’s service.
– I assume that a man has built up a right to sick leave.
– Sick leave is guaranteed to the man under paragraph i. Paragraph ii. simply provides that we shall not continue the retiring allowance or pension, but shall pay the men. We shall pay the allowance or pension up to the date of leaving the State Service, but will not continue it.
– The point I wish to put to the Minister is that, in the case of men under the Public Service Commissioner, retiring allowances are cumulative, whereas a man in the Railway Service is in an entirely different position. How can the Minister say to a man, “ On one point we will give you continuity, but on the other point we shall demand a break”? The position is one which the railway men have certainly not been expecting. When the Northern Territory railway was taken over, temporary employees there believed that all their privileges would be continuous and cumulative as though they had remained in the service of the State. I was present in the House of Assembly in Adelaide when, the Bill referred to was under discussion, and I . followed the proposal throughout, with the result that I have a very clear recollection that it was understood that all civil servants taken over from the South Australian Service were to receive the same privileges as though they had remained in the State Service.
– The Commonwealth Department were not bound to take over every man in the Northern Territory. They could have informed a man that he was riot wanted.
– Then that would have been a perfectly fair position to take up, but it is not fair now to overlook their rights and privileges. They have not got in this Bill an assurance that their privileges will be preserved.
– They have in the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill.
– The railway men of the Northern Territory have not got it, and this has been the cause of considerable dissatisfaction amongst officials taken over. We should now insert a bond in this Bill not to bind the present Government only, but future Governments, to conserve the rights of the officials referred, to.
– The men you are referring to on the Port Augusta line are employed by the South Australian Government, and it is not intended to transfer them.
– How long will that last? You could terminate it in three months, and the Commissioner will very likely do that.
– Officials temporarily employed in the Northern Territory railway when it was taken over are still there, and will be working under this Bill. Consequently unless their privileges are definitely preserved they will have no guarantee that a future Government will not say, as the Minister does, that they have no rights according to them.
– I did not say that they had no rights.
– I hope I have not misunderstood the Minister, but I listened very carefully. The proviso of the clause intimates that an employee shall not be entitled, by reason of his prior permanent employment, to long service leave for a greater period than four months. I know men who have retired from the South Australian Railway Service on twelve months’ long leave, and this Bill seeks to cut that down by onethird. In the face of this, how can the Minister say that the Bill provides for the preservation of the advantages and privileges of men who came over from the State Service? I believe, however, that the Committee will accept Senator Newland’s amendment so that justice will be done to the men.
Question - That proposed new paragraph iii. be added to sub-clause 1 (Senator Newland’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so ‘resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Any employee appointed to a permanent office may, in the prescribed manner, appeal against any decision of the Commissioner dismissing him or reducing his rate of pay for incapacity or misconduct.
– I move -
That after the word “ his “ the words “ grade or “ be inserted.
This clause provides for appeal by officers against punishment by the Commissioner, but if a man is reduced in his grade he has no right of appeal. I am anxious that an employee shall have right of appeal in any circumstances to the Appeal Board, which willconsist of a chairman who shall be a police magistrate or special magistrate, an employee to be appointed by the Commissioner from some branch of the Railway Service, and a representative of the employees. I desire an appeal to lie in the case of any man who may be degraded in rank.
.- I quite agree with the amendment; but I would point out that it will not cover every penalty which an employee . may have imposed upon him.
– The object of the clause is to limit the number of appeals.
– That is not a fair thing. An employee should have the right of appeal in all circumstances. He may be under suspension for a fortnight before the head of his Department decides what punishment shall be inflicted upon him. At the expiration of that period, he may be fined £5. From such a decision this clause will not afford him the right of appeal.
– Suppose that he is fined half-a-crown ?
– If the fine be an unjust one, he should have the right of appeal. A. fine of half-a-crown would constitute a black mark upon his record. I would suggest that, after the word ‘ ‘ pay ‘ ‘ the words “ or any other penalty “ be inserted. I believe that honorable senators will realize the justice of my contention. If an employee believes that he is the victim of an unjust decision, he should have the right to appeal against it.
– This clause has practically been indorsed by the representatives of the railway unions. They recognise that if the Appeal Board is to sit upon every occasion that a man may consider he is labouring under a slight grievance, its sittings will be interminable. We all recognise that whilst 99 per cent, of our civil servants are wellbalanced and capable officers, there are to be found amongst them a few individuals who would always be anxious to take advantage of a provision such as that proposed by Senator Newland. I would remind the Committee that all fines will be imposed by the Commissioner. He will be responsible for the management of one of the biggest businesses in Australia. As we are quite willing to trust him to safeguard the lives of thousands of our citizens, surely we may trust him to impose fines for offences committed by employees under him.
– I think that the Minister has overlooked the amendment moved by Senator Newland, which deals with a big matter. The question of the grade of a railway employee is a very important one. I quite agree that if the Court of Appeal had to investigate every case in which a small fine was imposed upon a railway employee, it would be ‘ sitting, continuously; but if, for example, an enginedriver were reduced in rank, under this, clause he would not be able to appeal against the decision of the Commissioner.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 54 to 57 agreed to.
Clause 58 -
.- On behalf of Senator O’Keefe, who is absent m Tasmania, and who cannot return to Melbourne till tomorrow, I wish to move -
That this clause be left out.
I may add that I am in thorough agreement with the view that is entertained by Senator O’Keefe regarding this provision. The first portion of it reads -
The Commissioner shall, when so directed by the Minister, or as may be required for the purpose of supplying information to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, have investigations, inspections, and surveys made of liny proposed railway route.
Now, I ask honorable senators to read that provision very carefully before agreeing to it. It seeks to give complete power to the Minister-
– Subject to the approval of nine other Ministers.
– Then I will say that it gives power to the Government-
– It embodies the existing practice.
– It does not. It seeks to, vest in the Government the power,, without the consent of Parliament, to spend money on investigations, inspections,, and surveys of any proposed railway route. Some honorable senators will doubtless recollect the big fight which took place in this chamber upon the question of the survey of the route to be followed by the east- west line. It took a considerable time to induce this Parliament to sanction even a flying survey of the route of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and it was not undertaken until Parliament authorized it.
– Parliament will still have some power to deal with the matter in spite of this clause.
– That is so, but it will be after the survey has been made, the investigation completed, and the money spent. The Minister may then come to Parliament, and tell us all about it. Parliament may then decide that the wrong route has been selected and the money uselessly spent. This clause gives too much power to the Minister or the Government. There is an alternative in the use of the words - or as may be required for the purpose of supplying information to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
The Act governing the Public Works Committee provides that it can inquire only into a work the cost of which is estimated at over £25,000.
– We could not get much of a railway for less than £25,000.
– A survey might co3t nearly that amount. I want to - impress upon the Committee that no Government can enter upon the construction of a work the,cost of which will exceed £25,000 without referring it to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
– Put a limit of expenditure in this clause, and let it go.
– I would do so if 1 could.
– We could not spend any money on a survey unless it was voted by Parliament.
– But the4 Government are taking power to do so under this clause.
– Where should we get the money from ? It cannot be spent until it is voted by Parliament.
– The Minister will agree that there is nothing in the Estimates now before Parliament to provide for the survey of any line of railway to branch off from any of our existing Commonwealth lines. Parliament may pass those Estimates, and then go into recess, and suddenly the Minister for Works and Railways may discover that it is necessary to survey a line branching off from an existing Commonwealth railway. An investigation of the country is made, a survey is completed, and it may cost anything from £5,000 to £25,000.
– What happens to the Minister if Parliament refuses to vote the money?
– Nothing happens to the Minister, but the money of the taxpayers has been spent.
– Did the honorable senator refer to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ?
– I referred to the debates which took place in this Chamber before even the survey of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line could be made.
– The survey could have been made without referring the matter to Parliament if the Government had chosen to accept the responsibility of that course. We had a survey made of a strategic railway by the Fisher Government, and there was no Bill introduced to authorize that survey.
– It is upon that account and other matters that I protest against this power being placed in the hands of any Government. The Minister knows that one of the biggest fights that ever took place in this Chamber occurred in connexion with the Bill to authorize the survey of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. ‘
– That is a very good reason why the Minister should have this power. I know what the feeling of the people of Western Australia was upon that matter..
– I think I know the feeling of .the people of Western Australia as well as does Senator de Largie.
– When the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Survey Bill was being debated, references -were made to a “desert railway,” and many misstatements were made as to the character of the country, for lack of a preliminary survey.
– I do not see how that touches the point.
– I was then a member of the Senate, and I did not know what the country was like until the survey was made.
– Still, the honorable senator voted for that survey. I do not see why the Government should have the right, without the consent of Parliament, ito survey any line they may think fit. Some of the State Parliaments of Australia have Railways Standing Committees who consider railway proposals. I know that in Victoria the Government have no right to make any inspection or survey of a line without first referring the matter to the Railways Standing Committee. But here we are asked to give into the hands of one man, who will not be the Minister, but the Commissioner for Railways, because he will be the person ‘to advise the Minister, the right to survey a railway route. Why should not the Parliament have an opportunity to consider such a proposal before money is expended in carrying it out? Parliament is the final arbiter, no doubt; but my point is that, if it is necessary to survey a certain route for the purpose of a public utility the Railways Commissioners should, through the Minister for Works and Railways, make the recommendation to Parliament, and Parliament should decide whether the survey should be made or not.
– A survey may, apparently, under this Bill, be carried with or without the consent of a State.
– No ; I presume that this applies only to surveys within Federal territory. We cannot legislate to run a railway through a State without the consent of that State. This clause gives the Minister power without consulting Parliament to make an investigation or survey of a railway route in Federal territory, and Parliament may subsequently discover that it has been merely a waste of money.
– The Minister has to authorize the expenditure of the money before the Commissioner can make the investigation or survey.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that he may do so whilst Parliament is in recess, and Parliament will have no say in the matter until after the money has been spent.
I say that these proposals should come up for the consideration of Parliament in just the same way as proposals for works and buildings, the money for which is included in the Estimates. Time and again the consent of Parliament has been sought for votes for the erection of new post-offices and new Customs houses. The expenditure upon these public utilities has to be sanctioned by Parliament before a penny is spent.
– The survey of a site for a post-office?
– Even the proposal to purchase land on which to erect a post-office has to be sanctioned by Parliament.
– If we had waited for parliamentary sanction we would not have had the new post-office at Perth to-day.
– Authority had ito be given through the Estimates before any money was spent upon that building.
– We cannot survey a foot of land until this Parliament votes *he money.
– That is where the Minister and I differ. If he will read the clause he will find that that is not so. There is no provision here for Parliament itself to have a say in the expenditure of that money. It is the Minister first and the Minister last. It is to be a matter between the Minister and the Commissioner.
– Do you not think that the Minister will do as Parliament likes, because it will have to vote the money?
– I admire the innocence of the honorable senator. If the Government did everything which Parliament liked, there would be no need for controversy. It is because the Government do not take that course that the need of controversy arises. The -Minister has interjected that it could not be done without the sanction of Parliament; but that is the very point on which we are at issue. I contend that the Minister can ‘spend all this money without Parliament knowing anything about the expenditure.
– Parliament must know at some time or other.
-After the money has been spent?
– If Parliament refused to ratify the expenditure the Minister would have to pay the money out of his own pocket.
– I wish to save that situation. I want Parliament to have some knowledge of what is proposed to be done before the Minister takes unto himself the responsibility of spending the money. I have already referred to the Victorian system under which neither a survey nor anything else can take place without a reference of the proposal to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways. I consider that the Minister here is taking too wide a power to himself. I ask honorable senators to carefully consider whether they should delegate the power to one man.
– I am opposed to giving a Minister such extensive powers. This clause seems to have been lifted from a State Railway Act. It might be quite applicable to the construction of State railways, but I will endeavour to show how it would be out*of place in regard to the construction of Federal lines. In the case of a State, the railway proposals, as a rule, are not of great magnitude. A feature or preliminary survey is very often a purely formal matter, not entailing a great deal of expense, and not involving any great divergence of opinion otherwise. It is relatively a small matter with the great majority of railway proposals in a State. But when we come to consider the question of railway construction under Federal control, I submit that the conditions are entirely different. We shall not be building very many small railways. We shall not be building many. railways, presumably. But the railways which are undertaken will be works of great magnitude. Suppose, for instance, that it was proposed to extend the Oodnadatta railway to the Northern Territory, or suppose that it was suggested, as an alternative, that there should be a deviation made into Queensland. The proposal would be of, such mammoth proportions, in its after effect in regard to cost, that it would be well to obtain full particulars before even the proposal was seriously mooted. A feature or preliminary survey for a work of that kind would be far too great and important to allot to any Minister of the Crown who would be acting pretty well, we will assume, with the concurrence of . the Government. Perhaps he would not go to that extent in safeguarding the public interests. In various Governments we have had experiences of Ministers who, in their Departments, have taken great responsibilities upon themselves. The money would have been spent on the survey when, perhaps, Parliament itself would have no serious intent of going on with the project. The question has been not only raised, but stressed by frequent interjections from the other side^ that the money could not be utilized unless it had been voted by Parliament. But, as Senator Needham very correctly pointed out, the work might be entered upon, and a considerable amount of money expended without the ratification of Parliament in Tecess or at other times.
– If Parliament were against ‘the work, what would become of the Minister?
– That would depend upon how servile his followers were. Assuming that the proposal did come before Parliament before even the work was commenced, it would be brought before the Senate as one of a number of items in a Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill. I contend that discussion on one particular item could not be concentrated. There would be so many avenues of discussion, or so many targets of criticism, in the Bill, that such a huge proposal as the construction of a Federal railway would not receive that whole-hearted and concentrated consideration which its importance would fully warrant. If it came to the question of constructing a railway within a State, with the concurrence of the State according to the Constitution, that is an additional reason why Parliament should have first say. We have known such things as State jealousies, and it might be possible for a Minister, on his own initiative with the concurrence of the Cabinet, to undertake a survey and all initial expenditure for the construction of a railway, say, in Victoria or New South Wales, which would not be warranted - a railway which might be proposed to be built in a State represented by the Minister, and which he, perhaps, honestly enough might be desirous of constructing, thinking that it would be in the interests of Australia. In that case the money would have been spent, the responsibility, at any rate, would have been entailed, without any warrant from Parliament. This is an undue power to give to a Minister. It is a power which should not be taken from Parliament, because it should keep a firm hand on its railway policy.
– Provide for a limited sum to be spent instead of interfering with the powers of the Commissioner.
– That would not meet the case, in my opinion. A preliminary survey of a comparatively small railway, perhaps not entailing a very great expenditure, but confined to one State with the consent of that State, might not be a good thing for the Federation. Even if the Committee were to place a limit on the initial expenditure, it would not obviate that danger. I sincerely trust that Parliament will reserve its control. I do not think that it should give this power to a Government with a big majority, even if it was opposed by only a small minority. I might point out here that the small minority on this side represent 525,000 electors. The principle involved in this clause is dangerous, and, while it might be suitable enough for a State Act, it is wholly unsuitable for a Commonwealth Act. I sincerely trust that this power will be taken away from the Minister and reserved to Parliament.
– I think that if we were basing our action on the experience of this Parliament, and of this Chamber in particular, the alleged reasons given by Senator Needham for his amendment would be the best of all reasons against it. The most unseemly squabble we have over had in the . Senate occurred over a work which was really national, and that was a survey of the transcontinental railway. For the reason that Parliament had to give its sanction to the survey - a work which I believe nine-tenths of the people admitted was necessary - the proposal was defeated time and again. The Government were in favour of a survey being made, but because a number of men in Parliament resorted to different tactics, that most necessary work was delayed from time to time. Even in the State which Senator Needham represents that is the opinion of the people, I am sure.
– Abolish Parliament altogether then, and let Ministers rule.
– We could not possibly get this work done unless there was a Parliament, because it has to provide the money. I maintain that the preliminary expenditure on a railway survey is an absolute necessity. I sug- gest that Senator Needham has given very good reasons for the clause being in the Bill rather than reasons against it.
.- I regret that I cannot agree with the remarks of Senator de Largie. I think that there is a good deal in the contention that the clause gives too much power to the Minister. I suggest to the Honorary Minister that if he were to substitute the word “Parliament” for the word “Minister,” in sub-clause 3 where it occurs the second time, it would meet the whole of the many valuable suggestions which have been made.
– Do you realize that the Minister cunnot authorize the expenditure of money unless it has previously been voted by Parliament?
– Since I have been here, the Senate has voted money which had already been spent by the Minister. It seems to me that the Commonwealth owns nothing but the Northern Territory, and that sooner or later there will have to be some trial surveys made with regard to linkingup the north with the south. There may be a Minister representing South Australia, who in all good faith will want another trial survey south to north; there may be a Minister representing a New South Wales constituency, who also in all good faith will want a trial survey from Bourke to the north ; and there may be a Minister representing a Queensland constituency, who will want a junction higher up, in all good faith, too. The clause seems to give too much power to the Minister to prejudice any unbiased and unfettered discussion on a matter of this sort in the Senate.
.- I am divided by the arguments advanced to-night. I recognise it is imperative- that the Government! should have the power to investigate and obtain- an opinion to enable honorable senators to exercise their wise judgment when a question comes before them, and I think the object sought! would be obtained by insisting upon the question of a survey being first submitted to Parliament. This end would be achieved if the word “ preliminary “ were inserted before the word “ survey.” This would enable the Ministry to make a preliminary survey, and obtain a report for the guidance of “the Public Works Committee.
– Suppose it was only a short length of line?
– That would not matter, because the Government would have to come to Parliament for authority to construct. Senator de Largie’s statement that the survey of the transcontinental railway was consistently opposed by the Senate seems to be an argument in favour of the amendment.
– As a matter of fact, there had been a survey befnrn that. It was authorized by the Government.
– That would be all right so far as the preliminary survey is concerned. I do not think it would be wise to place too much power in the ‘hands of the . Ministry. This authority should be vested in Parliament, which is responsible to the electors. It is quite true that a Government is responsible to Parliament, but once money is spent, we have to foot the bill, and the only satisfaction we can get is to turn the Government out. In order to meet the objections raised, I move -
That before the word “ surveys,” Bub-clause 1, the word “ preliminary “ be inserted. Progress reported.
Motion (by Senator Millen) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to detain . the Senate for long, but I desire to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence to the fact that yesterday he laid on the table some papers dealing with the last general election so far as it concerned the House of ‘Representatives. I take it that before long similar papers referring to the Senate election will also be laid on the table, and I would like to know if it is possible for the Chief Electoral Officer then to give reasons for the informal votes. I do not wish to suggest that votes declared informal were not legitimately informal, but I think it would be a very great assistance to members if we knew the reasons for informality, so that we could advise electors in the future. Though I have raised this question, I do not wish it to be understood that I am thinking of another general election. That is not in my mind at all. Three years ago there were as many as 30,000 informal, votes in New South Wales alone for the Senate, and if we knew why they were -declared informal it would probably help us to avoid this experience in the future.
.- Though Senator Thomas addressed his question to my colleague the Minister for Defence. I was the Minister who placed the papers on the table, and I remind the honorable senator that the returns covered both the Senate and the House of Representatives, a fact which he must have inadvertently . overlooked. I regret to say - and I am sure other honorable senators join me - that the number of informal votes was as large at the recent election as on the previous occasion to which he referred. I can only say that the matter he mentioned will be brought under the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer.
– Some of the reasons for informality are not fit for publication..
– It is desirable, if possible, to obviate these informalities in the future -by taking advantage of the unfortunate experience of those whose votes did not count. In conclusion, I may say that Senator Thomas can surely have no reason to regard an election as an unpleasant subject!. If it is unpleasant at all, it certainly is not unpleasant to those who were returned to the Senate at the last election.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 August 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170815_SENATE_7_82/>.