7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Defence been informed that yesterday Lieutenant Wills, when the Loongana was about to leave Launceston, refused permission to the two highest dignitaries of the Catholic Church in Tasmania, Archbishop Delaney and Monsignor Beechinor, to accompany the Catholic Apostolic Delegate on to the wharf, notwithstanding that a pass for that purpose had been issued to them either by an officer of the Union Steam-ship Company or by the Naval Officer? Was the refusal in accordance with the usual custom, and, if it is not usual to refuse to those who have received passes permission to go on to a wharf, will the Minister have the officer responsible suspended until the matter has been inquired into?
– No statement such as that of the honorable senator has been made to me. As the duty of guarding ships falls within the province of the Minister for the Navy, I should be glad of notice of the question, so that the matter may be referred to the Navy Department for a reply.
– I shall bring up the matter on the Supply Bill, and the honorable senator will have an opportunity of obtaining the information in the meanwhile.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1917. - Special Report of the
Auditor -General (under section 64) - Comments upon those portions of the Second (Progress Report of the Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration which relate to the Audit Office.
Commonwealth Railways Act 1917. - By-law No. 3.
Defence Department - Commonwealth Government Factories - Report for year ended 30th June, 1916.
Inter-State Commission Act 1912. - Fourth Annual Report of the Inter-State Commission.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land ac quired at -
Jericho, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Leichhardt, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.
Papua. - Ordinances of 1918 -
No. 1. - Timber
No. 3.- Superannuation
No. 4. - Superannuation (No. 2)
No.5. - Past Officers’ Superannuation
PUBLIC SERVICE EXAMINATION.
– My sympathies are with the honorable senator. I do not know what has been done, or what can be done in the matter, but I shall endeavour tohave the Public Service Commissioner informed of the desirability of conceding the request.
BALSILLIE RAIN EXPERIMENTS.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council in a position to answer the question which I directed through him to the Minister for Works and Railways regarding the cost of the Balsillie rain experiments?
– The total expenditure on the experiments has been £2,418 .
Notices at Post-offices.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral questions concerning the posting of rifle club notices at post-offices. Has he an. answer yet ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
SenatorFOLL. - Has the Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council any information to give by way of reply to my question regarding the shortage of methylated spirits in Queensland?
– I have received the following information from the secretary to the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner : -
Melbourne, 13th April, 1918.
With reference to your communication of the 11th inst., covering an extract from Hansard relating to a request by Senator Foll that inquiries be made into the question of the supply of methylated spirits in Queensland, I am directed by the Chief Prices Commissioner to state, for the information of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that inquiries were made recently into the alleged shortage of methylated spirits in Queensland, when it was found that the Bundaberg Distillery Company had on hand about 8,000 gallons of spirit, of which the military authorities intended to take over 1,000 gallons at once. It was also stated that the Bundaberg Distillery Company can now make about 10,000 gallons per month, and that such will meet all requirements in Queensland.
This information was furnished about the middle of last month, and further inquiries are being made by telegram as to whether those conditions still exist.
Melbourne, 17th April,1918.
In continuation of my memorandum of the 13th inst., relative to the question asked by Senator Foll in regard to the supply of methylated spirits in Queensland, I am directed to inform you that a telegram has now been received from the Prices Commissioner in Brisbane, as follows: - “Your telegram 13th inst. methylated spirits Distilling Company mode 4,744’ gallons March April should be higher stocks were so short every one wants some am asking Distilling Company what they will deliver next month.”
Bill presented by Senator Millen, and read a first time.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question in connexion with the Pools, Boards, and Committees appointed by the Commonwealth. The reply I received from the Minister for Repatriation was that the information would be obtained and furnished as soon as possible. Has the Minister the information available to-day?
– All I can say is that steps have been taken to fulfil the promise given, and that an answer to the honorable member’s question will be furnished to him as soon as possible.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
The reply I received was that the information would be obtained and furnished as soon as possible. Is the information available to-day?
– I can merely repeat the answer which was given last week.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that dirty and torn Commonwealth bank notes are being re-issued by some of the banks, and will he take steps to prevent it?
– I am not aware that it is a fact, but I shall draw the attention of the Treasurer to the honorable member’s question.
– I would like to know who is the Minister in this Chamber who represents the Prime Minister?
– I have to plead guilty.
– Can the Minister for Defence say whether or not there are any Germans still in the employment of the Defence Department? If any Germans are still employed in the Defence Department, is it his intention to dispense with their services at an early date as one means of encouraging recruiting?
– I am not aware that there are any Germans in the employment of the Defence Department. Some little time ago the Prime Minister announced that the Government intended to appoint stipendiary magistrates, whose duty it will be to inquire into persons in the Public Service generally who are of enemy origin, and to submit a report to Cabinet. I understand that these appointments are about to be made.
– If I can give the name of a German-born employee of the Defence Department, will the action indicated be taken in his regard ?
– If the honorable member can supply the name to me, it will be forwarded to one of the police magistrates who are to be appointed for this purpose.
– Can the Minister for Defence tell us what steps are being taken in connexion with the erection of the proposed arsenal at Tuggeranong?
– If the honorable member will submit the question when the Supply Bill is being discussed, it will be the better course to. follow. To set out what is being done in connexion with the matter, obviously would need a lengthy answer.
– Has the Government come to a decision in regard to the publication of the final report of the Board of Trustees of the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Fund? The Minister for Repatriation was not in a position to give us the information last week. Perhaps he can make it available to-day.
– I had hoped to be in a position to give a definite answer to the honorable member to-day. I still hope to be able to do it at a later stage of the proceedings.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen an article in the Brisbane Daily Standard of Saturday last referring to a case in Victoria where a money lender charged a soldier’s wife interest at the rate of 84 per cent. on a loan ? If so, will action be taken by the Department in order that these exorbitant charges may not be imposed on dependants of soldiers ?
– I fancy that the honorable senator is referring to the report of police court proceedings in which an individual was charged and committed for trial, but as he has not given me a sufficiently clear indication to locate the case, I ask him to supply me with a copy of the newspaper report to which hehas referred, so that I may make inquiries into the matter.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer what is the cost per inch for advertising in the newspapers in Australia in connexion with Commonwealth war loans ?
– I regret that I have no information as to the schedule of charges of the various newspapers of Australia, but if the honorable member is sincerely concerned about getting the information I shall obtain it for him.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 to 6. See statement attached. 7 to 8. It is not considered advisable to supplythis information.
– I regret the Minister has not given the full answer. It means that no honorable senator is in a position-
– It is not permissible for the honorable senator to make a statement at this stage.
– As arising out of the answer given, or purporting to be given, by the Minister, may I ask the honorable gentleman to read out the “statement attached” ; otherwise, so far as I know, it will not appear in Hansard?
– Certainly. The statement is as follows : -
Statement setting out the number of pianos and the quantity of galvanized iron imported into the Commonwealth during the six months ended 31st March, 1918, showing the ports of entry and the country whence imported: -
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he guarantee that in connexion with the Government’s shipbuilding scheme a fair proportion of work arising out of this scheme be given to Queensland?
– The Government are desirous of affording every State the fullest possible opportunities for building vessels, and will be glad to consider any proposals from Queensland in connexion with the matter.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
How many tons of wolfram, zinc, lead, copper, and antimony have been exported from Australia since April, 1917?
– It is not considered advisable to supply the information desired by the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Min ister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Effect on Retail Businesses.
asked the Minister in charge of price fixing, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister re presenting the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many members of the Commonwealth Police Force are returned soldiers?
– Sixteen. Preference is given to returned soldiers, and this number exhausted the applications of returned soldiers with suitable qualifications.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Government arrange with the Queensland Government for the supply of cheap meat to the wives, children, and dependants of the soldiers at the Front?
– The whole question of the price of meat is under the consideration of the Inter-State Commission, and the matter will be considered in the light of the Commission’s report.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Dismissal of Men at Cockatoo Island Dock - Expenditure of Senate Select Committees - Naval Supervision of Wharfs in Tasmania - Ministers’ Salaries - Cost of Living - Defence Administration : Business Board - Government Employ ment of Enemy Aliens - Treatment of Interned Aliens: Case of Herman Hayman - German Concentration Camp in New South Wales - Soldiers’ Dependants: Administration of Lord Mayor’s Fund, Sydney - War Expenditure - Government Control of Industries : Enlargement of Boards and Committees - Australian Imperial Force Enlistments: General Service Order : Equipment - Repatriation - Development of Oil Resources - Finance and War Indebtedness : War-time Profits Bill : Taxation of Imports - Rent of Commonwealth Buildings - Land Values Taxation - Nationalization of Industries and Public Utilities.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– A Supply Bill is one of the most important measures that can come before the Senate,but apparently the Government are determined to push this measure through the Senate in the next few hours. There was nothing at all to prevent the Government taking whatever steps they deemed necessary in order that senators might have a full and ample opportunity of discussing every item in the Bill. I hope this is the last occasion on which the Government will ask the Senate to rush through a Supply Bill for such a large amount in the course of a few hours.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, who is engaged in other business connected with the welfare of the Commonwealth, and which I hope will be successful, I do not propose to say much on this measure. It is readily agreed by all parties that in this hour of the nation’s danger there should be harmony in the community, and it is with a view to promoting such harmony that I propose to point out instances in which the Government are responsible for creating disputes when they ought to be healing all divisions in public opinion. The Government are setting man against man and union against union. But if they wish to bring about the unity of all classesof the community for the sake of recruiting, they must set an example to private employers. Lately they have been guilty of what I regard as one of the most dastardly acts that any Government or employer could be guilty of. I refer to the dismissal from Cockatoo Dock of a number of men who had refused to sign a certain agreement. There may be reasons for requesting men to sign that document, and there may be good reasons in the opinion of the men for not signing it, but this is not the time when the Government should be holding a pistol at the head of the workers and saying, “ Sign this document or leave our employment.” Men who have given good service to the Commonwealth, and earlier to the State Government, are being compelled to leave Cockatoo Dock, where they have been employed for almost a life- time, because they decline to sign an agreement which is obnoxious to them. Those men comprise not only followers of the party to which I belong, but also supporters of the National party, men who quarrelled with their fellow-employees in order to stand by the Government on the conscription issue. It is scandalous that we should find the Commonwealth Government using the heavy hand of tyranny at this stage in the nation’s history. Personally, I would rather do anything than sign such an agreement. Instead of forcing upon men an action that is objectionable to them, we should be trying to get the people together in a solid body to resist the common enemy. Ever since the present Government have been in office they have shown a desire to do something to injure the unionists of Australia, particularly in connexion with the shipbuilding industry, of which I have an intimate knowledge. Men have done almost everything possible, short of the grovelling that is necessary in some countries to-day, to fall into line with the wishes of the Government. Some of them have given up the principles of a life-time in order to try to assist the Government in the hour of need. Now they are dismissed. Thank God, there are private employers who will not draw such distinctions, and those who have been dismissed will obtain employment. But that fact does not excuse the tyrannical action of the Government. I have read in the press that fourteen turners, thirteen fitters, and one patternmaker lately employed at Cockatoo Dock have been dismissed, and Mr. King Salter, manager of the dockyard, is reported to have said that fourteen of the men who had been put off in accordance with the instructions of the Prime Minister were old hands. I guarantee that the manager was sorry to dismiss those old hands, who had held responsible positions, not only in the unions, but also in social and political life. I take this opportunity of entering my protest against the injustice done by the Government,and I hope that the time will come soon when we shall be able to turn the tables on them.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is the administration of the German concentration camp in New South Wales. Some time ago I informed the Minister privately of some irregularities which I thought were occurring there. Rumours of grave irregularities are current, of whichI know nothing, but I shall mention one case, with the particulars of which I am acquainted. I told the Minister that I had written to the State Commandant in regard to the liberation of a certain German internee in order that he might attend race meet ings and other gatherings. I received a rather sharp reply from the Commandant, who practically said I did not know what I was talking about, because there was no man of that name interned in the camp. I had made a mistake in the spelling of a foreign name, and, when I discovered that, I told the Minister that I proposed to take further action. Evidently he communicated with the Commandant, because I received a letter from the latter to the effect that this internee was liberated because he suffered from locomotor ataxia. Despite what the doctors say, his ailment is very slight. He can get about the streets and follow his business as a commission agent. That does not look as if he had much locomotor ataxia. Will the Minister make inquiries into the management of the German Concentration Camp, and see that these unfair proceedings are terminated ? A searching inquiry is necessary. With reference to this internee, a paragraph appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 18th March to the effect that a German named Herman Hey man - I spelt it Hayman, and his first name in full, and yet the State Commandant said there was nobody there of that name - was sentenced by Mr. Love, Stipendiary Magistrate, to six months’ imprisonment at the Water Police Court, Sydney, on a charge of having, at Sydney, on 5th February - falsely pretended to George Weil and that he had £300 worth of chemicals at the German Concentration Camp, and, being a friend of Colonel Holman, who knew they were there, he would be able to remove them, and that he had arranged for their disposal, by means of which he obtained £6.
A further sentence of three months’ imprison ment, to be cumulative, was passed upon the accused on a charge of endeavouring to impose upon Ernest Victor Finckh, by falsely representing that if Finckh gave him £3 5s. he would “ square “ the guard at the German Concentration Camp, and get away with 15 ozs. of cocaine belonging to a German internee.
That is the man who was walking about the streets of Sydney, a full-blooded German, who would sneer at me, an Australian, and tell others that he had me beaten. He is under lock and key, but he makes a charge against Colonel Holman at that Camp that should be investigated.
– Was it not investigated at the Court when he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment?
– No. He said he was a friend of Colonel Holman, and that is a statement that ought to be investigated. I hope the Minister will take some notice of what I say now. If notice had been taken before of what I said, a great deal of trouble would have been avoided.
– What is the question for inquiry ?
– The whole control of the German Concentration Camp, especially with regard to supplies and contracts.
– The Royal Commission has recently inquired into that, and reported on it, and the honorable senator has the report.
-I have not seen it, nor do I know that they have reported on these things. Mencan get away from the Camp at any time they like, go to the city, do what they like, and get back. If any German internees are to be treated in that way, others ought to be given the same privileges. . Anybody who has offended against the laws of his country has as much right to his freedom as a German who is interned to-day as an enemy to the country.
Some time ago I had occasion to refer to the distress in Sydney amongst the dependants of returned soldiers. Somebody on the other side said at the time that I ought to be ashamed to bring such cases forward here. This is the only opportunity I and others like me have of ventilating these cases publicly. The Minister demanded that I should give him cases, and I did. His version of those cases was published in the papers, but my version was refused publication. This is the only opportunity I have of explaining my attitude. I took action because statements were published in the Sydney press that the dependants of soldiers were in want. I am sorry to have to say anything about this now, because I have read the repatriation regulations, and believe that these people will be better looked after in the future, but I have to defend myself. I brought certain cases forward as they were published in the press, and had to go back to Mr. Pontey, the honorary organizer of the Fruit and Vegetable Fund for Fighters’ Families, for an explanation of them. They had apparently been inquired into by the executive of the Sydney Lord Mayor’s
Fund, who are being accused of not properly administering that fund. The Minister actually went to those who we say are to blame’ to find out if these statements were correct ones. They made misleading statements. I would not like to say they were absolutely incorrect ones.A number of other well-known Sydney residents are working with Mr. Pontey, and I had to go to him for verification of the statements I had made that had been published in the press.
– And I understand that Mr. Pontey had originally supplied you with them.
– No. I got them from the Sunday Sun, the Sunday Times, the Evening News, and the Daily Telegraph. Mr. Pontey states -
The reports supplied by the Department are apparently prepared by the Lord Mayor’s Patriotic Fund, who are the people mainly to blame for the whole matter. Firstly, because they failed to provide relief for special distress amongst the soldiers’ dependants since August, 1917, and secondly, because they endeavoured, through the War Council, to prevent other people obtaining and dispensing the necessary help. It is beside the point for the Lord Mayor’s Fund to quote the amount of relief which has been given to these women since the inception of the fund in 1914. It is admitted that grants of money were made to many soldiers’ dependants for special distress prior to August, 1917. The point is, What has been done since August, 1917? As far as I can see, nothing, or practically nothing. The families only received a matter of a few shillings per week, and many of them received this before August, 1917. Then, again, the basis of this weekly dole is absurd on the face of it, for the reason that the women with seven children only receive the same weekly payment from the Lord Mayor’s Fund as the women with only two children. As far as I can see, from the reports furnished, there has been no attempt to deal with the real question at issue, so far as I am concerned, which is, that there has been since August, 1917, a deal of distress amongst active service soldiers’ wives, which the Lord Mayor’s Fund has not only refused to relieve, but has endeavoured to prevent other people relieving. I have never said one word about the amount of relief granted to the families prior to August, 1917, and if a public inquiry takes place, I will undertake to prove my statements that there has been a deal of distress since August, 1917, right up to the hilt. In my opinion, it is a serious bar to recruiting to allow these grievances to continue as they are.
I am going to refer to only one case, but it was made a lot of by those who think I had no right to make these matters public. That is the case of Mrs. Lynch, of Forest Lodge. On this Mr. Pontey says -
This is the case in which a Court ejectment order was made for rent totalling £2 2s. She had got into arrears through having to undergo an operation, and when she received the notice to quit on the 3rd December, 1917, she applied personally to the Lord Mayor’s Fund for assistance to meet it, and was told her case would receive consideration. When she received the summons for ejectment on the 12th December, 1917, she called again at the Lord Mayor’s Fund, and was told that it had not been possible to get the Committee together to deal with her case. (They managed to get’ the Committee together, however, to vote ,£100 to be wasted in buying toys, a number of which went to children who had no one at the war.) Finally, when the fortnight allowed by the Court ejectment order had expired, the Lord Mayor’s Fund wrote and said nothing further could be done for h’er. Furthermore, when this case was investigated by the Daily Telegraph, at the beginning of February, 1918, the Lord Mayor’s Fund people stated they knew nothing of the circumstances, and that they had not been applied to for assistance. This is a plain misstatement of fact, because I have their letter of refusal, clearing showing there must have been an application for assistance, or there would have been no need for the letter of refusal. It would appear that other people are open to charges of misrepresentation. There has never been an explanation of why this woman’s appeal for assistance, to the extent of £2 2s., to save herself and children being put out in the street, was refused by the Lord Mayor’s Fund.
Every ease is inquired into fully by Mr. Pontey, but I shall not occupy time by reading all the information that I have at my disposal. Mr. Pontey is not a supporter of Labour; indeed he has been its consistent opponent, but he is a reputable citizen, and has lost business by his efforts in the establishment of a fruit and vegetable fund for the unfortunate wives and children of soldiers who have been neglected by the Government which sent them overseas to fight. Those who went away were promised that conditions would not be altered, but they have been altered, and it is the duty of the Government to put things right, and to restore harmony. Until that is done, recruiting must suffer. When it has been done, we shall get all the recruiting we want. I advise the Government to give an honorary commission to every man in this Parliament under the age of fifty years, so that he may go out and do what Captain Carmichael is doing. There are in this Parliament and in the Public Service many men under the fighting age who have not done anything like that, al ienator McDougall. though the obligation is not upon one, but upon all in the community. Every man- no matter what his age - should offer his services. When this has been done, we shall get more sympathy from the class that I represent. But while the victimization and oppression of men continues, so that children have to seek their bread in the dust-bins in the streets, we cannot expect the assistance that we desire. I assure honorable senators that it is, unfortunately, only too true that many families have to send to the markets for stale fruit and vegetables, which they use, cutting away the bad parts. Yet the men are told that if they do not volunteer they are -disloyal. There is no disloyalty in the ranks of Labour. But those who will not remedy the state of things about which I complain are doing the work of the Hun. I say: Go into the back ways of the city, and make things right there., Let men get back to their employments, so that they may earn their living. When you have done that you can ask for the sympathy of the class to which I belong, and will have assistance for the Empire in time of need. It is said that Mr. Pontey, who has ruined his own business by his philanthropy, has an object to serve. I do not know what that object can be, if it is not to assist the deserving.
– Was he at one time associated with the Red Cross Society?
– I cannot say. His business is the rebuilding up of typewriters at 11 Barrack-street, Sydney. He has his home on the Mountains, where he grows fruit, vegetables, and flowers, and he started by bringing them into Sydney and distributing them amongst soldiers’ families. He soon found that hit own supplies were insufficient, and got friends to help him. Then some of the city caterers, knowing that he- was doing good work, sent him some supplies, and the Government provided him with a depot. Dozens of men and women are now assisting him in the distribution of fruit and vegetables, 1,200 women being dependent on their efforts. I have seen the books in the depot, and have seen the rush . of applicants. The Government v should remedy the grievances that make the distress that has to be relieved. There would then be a response to duty’s calL This is an account of the institution to which I have been referring, which was written by Mr. W. A. Zuill, M.L.A., and printed by the Daily Examiner, Grafton -
Fruit and Vegetable Scheme. more donations wanted.
Fruit and Vegetable Fund,16Carrington street, Wynyard Square, Sydney.
I do not think it is very widely known throughout the Clarence District that there is a depot of the above nature existing in Sydney, whereat the wives and families of fully 1,200 men at the Front are receiving a weekly donation of vegetables, fruit, jam, &c. This institution, which is entirely apart from the Red Cross, is conducted by a philanthropist named R. M. Pontey, and assisted by a number of willing co-workers - ladies and gentlemen of independent means - who roll up at the little depot at 9 o’clock every morning and work like galley slaves, making up hampers and delivering them to women and children, who call on regular days to receive the donations.
The writer had the pleasure of seeing the good work that was being accomplished, and he feels sure than an appeal to the farmers of the Clarence to send along a donation has only to be made and the thing is done.
On the ground floor of the depot, 16 Carringtonstreet, Wynyard Square, the distribution is going on all day long. It is like a miniature vegetable market. Inside, piles of bunches of carrots, cabbages, rhubarb, pumpkins, preserving melons, potatoes, &c., &c., are to be seen, from which the willing workers make up an assorted hamper for the applicant, who sits and waits her turn with a patience that was pleasing to observe.
A small staff attends to the clerical part of the business, for the whole affair is run on Teal business lines; every applicant is registered, and identification is certified by the local clergyman, police sergeant, or public school teacher, so there can be no duplication or “ringing in.” The applicant is each provided with a card which she presents when she comes for her gift, and this is dated and initialed, so that everything is worked according to a system.
The use of the building is granted free by the Resumed Properties Department, and the organization is registered with the State War Council, which brings their affairs under the control of the Auditor-General. Upstairs, in another room, are men and ladies busily engaged in making jam. On the occasion of my visit, several big cauldrons were steaming away, while the workers were cutting piemelons and grammas into cubes and lemons into slices. The jam, when made, is put into pickle bottles or empty treacle tins, and distributed in the same careful way as the vegetables are. One of the city merchants supplies the sugar at cost price.
Now, the workers upstairs, as well as downstairs, are all volunteers. They receive not one penny for their work, and they work like niggers the whole day long. It is their way of helping to win the war, and they are doing it without a grumble. There are no I.W.W. hours at this depôt, no awards, no anything but extreme gratitude from the hundreds of women who are being helped.
My object in writing this article is to endeavour to enlist the sympathy and assistance of the people of the Clarence electorate. By helping the families of the man who is fighting for you, you are at least doing something. There are lots of times when you produce things on your farms that are wasted. Don’t let them waste. Put them on the steamer and send them along to R. M. Pontey, 16 Carringtonstreet, Wynyard Square, Sydney. I feel sure the steam-ship companies trading between the Clarence and Sydney would be only too pleased to carry the parcels freight free. If they will not, Mr. Pontey will pay freight out of cash donations he gets from well-wishers.
I would suggest that a few enthusiastic young ladies at each centre in the district combine and undertake to receive the donations and have them sent along. I was pleased to learn that the Casino ladies, with Mrs. Fanning at their head, were amongst the best contributors to this depôt. Mr. Pontey assures me that regular supplies come from Casino.
Farmers! When shipping maize or potatoes, put in an extra bag for the soldiers’ wives. At present Mr. Pontey is unable to assist women with only child; it is only women with two or more children who are assisted, but I feel sure that when the scheme becomes more widely known sufficient donations will come along to enable him to give these women a weekly dole also.
We ought to be ashamed that there should be need for this effort. On the last occasion when I said something across the chamber, the Minister said that he would not inquire into mere tittle-tattle. This is not tittle-tattle. I do not say that the Minister is not trying to do his best, because I think that he is, and I am pleased with what he has done, and shall help him in any way that I can. But he must not tell me that my statements are incorrect. This is a statement regarding the same institution which appeared in the Sun -
The Fruit and Vegetable Fund for Fighters’ Families has touched bedrock. Instead of a great quantity of commodities, it has on hand but a few carrots and pumpkins; and its organizers (all of whom acted in a purely honorary capacity, under the honorary direction of Mr. R. M. Pontey) are making desperate efforts to remedy the position. They are actuated by a profound and humane incentive in the fact that no less than 4,500 children and 1,200 mothers, the dependants of men who are fighting for Australia, are looking to the fund each week to supply them with the necessary fruit and vegetables that their slender allotments and separation allowances do not permit them to purchase. The incentive is deepened, too, by the fact that every week there are fresh applicants for assistance, at an average of 200.
Similar accounts have been published in other Sydney newspapers, and have been copied into country newspapers. Can we expect a rush of recruits when so much misery exists? I want the Government to remedy the troubles that have caused this distress. I do not justify the last strike, but I say that the condition of German prisoners is not worse than that of some of those who are suffering for it. Men who formerly occupied clerical positions have been forced to try to get work in the mines. Some of those who had got themselves taken on by the Railway Department were sacked again when it was discovered that they had been connected with the strike. This is an order from the inspector of the permanent way at Bathurst -
Bathurst, 22nd March, 1918
Ganger Gibson, Orange Triangle
It has been reported by the District Superintendent, Orange, that Walter Francis Woods was previously employed in Traffic Branchas a leading porter at Orange, and was dismissed in connexion with the late railway strike.
As we had no authority to re-employ Woods he should not have been given employment, and you will therefore arrange for his discharge along with others from to-morrow, Saturday, 23rd inst.
While such things exist, we call on men to rally round the flag. I maintain that by the use of the War Precautions Act we can open any shop, or compel any employer to re-employ these men; but if Ministers would only appeal to the New South Wales Government to give these unfortunate men the opportunity of earning a living, they would do something in the direction of helping to win the war. I hope that the Conference sitting at Government House will do effective work. I hope that those obnoxious regulations which have pressed so hardly on the people will be repealed. Let us give men a chance to live. I hope that the Minister will not take my remarks as being criticisms against his administration of his Department. They are intended to help him by way of advice. I have merely endeavoured to tell him of something which is actually existing, and giving dissatisfaction, and I trust that the cause of this dissatisfaction will be speedily removed.
– I propose to trespass upon the time and kindness of honorable senators for the purpose of bringing under their attention a matter which I deem of some little importance; that is to say, the extent to which the Senate has the right to appoint Select Committees, and see that the necessary funds are provided to enable them to properly fulfil the functions for which they are appointed.
During this session the Senate has appointed a Select Committee to inquire into the effect of intoxicating liquors upon outgoing and returning soldiers, and upon demobilization and the repatriation of our troops; and it has also resolved that the Committee should be given the authority to move from place to place, which, as I understand it, means that the Committee had the right to visit any part of Australia, if it so desired. The Select Committee so appointed commenced work, but in a very little while found that the £100 provided on the Estimates for Senate Select Committees would not be sufficient to enable it to do what it deemed necessary before submitting a report. Consequently I, as Chairman of the Committee, communicated with the President, asking that the sum of £350 might be placed at its disposal. On the 6th February, the Clerk wrote to the Treasurer as follows -
On the 10th January, 1918, a Select Committee of the Senate was appointed to inquire as to the extent to which intoxicating liquor is adversely affecting outgoing and returned soldiers, and the best method of dealing with the sale of intoxicating liquor during the period of the war and of demobilization and repatriation, and by the resolution of the Senate of the 22nd idem was given authority to adjourn from place to place.
The Committee is desirous of obtaining evidence on the subject of inquiry in the several State capitals, but the funds at our disposal under the vote on the Estimates of this Department for expenses of Select Committees are insufficient to cover the cost. I have, therefore, by direction of the President of the Senate, to request that you will be good enough to make available from Treasurer’s Advance the amount of £350, which it is considered will be required for the purpose above mentioned.
The Secretary to the Treasury replied as follows -
Your letter of the6th instant, in which request was made for a sum of £350, to enable a Select Committee of the Senate to obtain evidence in the several State capitals, has been duly placed before the Treasurer, who requests me to state that he will be glad if the matter be submitted to the Honorable the President for his consideration.
Lord Forrest states that he would be only too glad to do all he can to meet the wishes of any Select Committee of the Senate, but points out that there will be a large deficit of revenue to be met at the end of the financial year, and would like the Honorable the President to keep this fact in view in dealing with the request for the additional sum involved in the taking of evidence by the Select Committee in the several State capitals.
This is how the President replied -
The secretary of the Select Committee appointed by the Senate to inquire into the effect of intoxicating liquor on soldiers, &c, has shown me the memorandum which has been received from you with reference to the application for a sum of £350, to enable the said Committee to visit and obtain evidence in the several State capitals, requesting that the matter should be again submitted to me, in view of the ‘ desirableness of strict economy at the present time.
I quite agree with the Treasurer that the necessity exists for strict economy, owing to the financial stress caused by the war, but I desire to point out to you that, as you no doubt are ‘already aware, 1 have consistently refused to admit the right of either the Treasurer or the Government to review parliamentary expenditure, and have even refused to discuss the matter with them, because I have always held, following out the practice of the House of Commons, that Parliament should be supreme master in its own household, and that as it has,to impose taxation and find the money for all services, and has no voice in Cabinet discussion on the apportionment of money so provided, it should be supreme in matters relating exclusively to itself.
The £350 asked for by the Select Committee, however, comes under a different category, and is not included in my Estimates of Senate expenditure. It is a request for money which comes from the Select Committee, and as such I have forwarded it on to the Treasurer. It will be for him or the Government to decide, having in view the objects for which the Select Committee was appointed, whether additional expenditure is justified under .present circumstances.
In order to support his contention the President deals with an analogy from the House of Commons. Again, I am a little bewildered. It seems to me on the face of it that there is no perfect analogy between a House that has the fate of a Govern- . ment in the hollow of its hands, and in which a member’s vote may unseat the strongest of Administrations, and crumble it to the dust, and a House that can pass half a dozen motions of censure on the weakest of Administrations without .the position of the Ministry being affected in any way. Therefore I need not trouble very much about the analogy that the President’ has drawn. It does not seem to me to be a perfect one.
– There was one Government which found it impossible to carry on without the consent of this Chamber.
– If the analogy is a perfect one, Well and good. In paragraph 3 of the President’s letter we are told that the request of the Select Committee for .£350 does not come under the category of that which Parliament deems necessary for its carrying on, because it is not included in “-my Estimates of expenditure.” I. like the use of the word “ my “ ; there is a regal touch about it reminding one of the words used by His Gracious Majesty the .King in opening Parliament. His Majesty says, “ My beloved peers,” “ my faithful commoners,” “ my loyal subjects,” “ my Army,” or “ my Navy.” Do I understand from the use of the word “ my “ that it is not a case of what the Senate thinks is necessary, but a case of what the President thinks is necessary for the Senate to carry on.
– If the honorable senator will pardon me, I would like to remind him that the Estimates of the Senate, as passed by the Senate, come under a different category from a request from a Select Committee, which has none of the rights of the .Senate and is entirely subordinate to it.
– If in using the words “ my Estimates,” the President is assuming a position which is more important than that of the Senate itself, then the Senate will not be able to appoint Committees or, if any are appointed, see that, their work is carried on, unless on “ my
Estimates there was originally a sufficient sum for the purpose. I found that the President had placed £100 on the Estimates for the purposes of Select Committees. The Senate had passed a resolution calling a Select Committee into being, and that Select Committee could not do ‘ its work unless it was granted more than £100. The Government, through the Treasurer, was anxious that no more than £100 should be expended; and I am not blaming the Treasurer for desiring economy - that is not the point. But in. answer to the communication from the Treasury the President said -
The £350 asked for by the Select Committee, however, comes under a different category,- and is not included in my estimates of Senate expenditure. It is a request for money which comes from the Select Committee, and as such I have forwarded it on to the Treasurer. It will be for him or the Government- to decide, having in view the objects for which the Select Committee was appointed, whether additional expenditure is justified under present circumstances.
As I take it, no discussion is allowed by the Treasury concerning- the item of £100 which the President has placed on the Estimates, but the money asked for by a Select Committee appointed by the Senate “comes under a different category.” It was, I understand, merely a request for money which had been forwarded to the Treasurer in a very peremptory manner by the President, and it was for the Treasurer - this is the point I wish to emphasize - to decide whether or not it should be granted.
This, I believe, is not the only Select Committee of the Senate for which the money placed on the Estimates has proved insufficient. I was not a member of the House at the time of the incident I have in mind, and if I am wrong in regard to some of the details, other honorable senators may be able to put me right. I have to rely, pf course, on the records for information, and I understand that some years ago the Senate appointed a Select Committee to deal with the discharge of a federal servant. That Committee was for the purpose of conducting what became known as the “Chinn Inquiry.” The Committee, I understand, had not been sitting very long “before it was discovered that the £100 placed on “my estimates” was not sufficient, and a request was made for more. I think I am right in saying that the Treasurer of the day flatly refused to give any additional funds. The President of that day, when the reply reached him to the effect that the Government were not prepared’ to grant any. more money, did not say that the case “ came under a different category “ from “ my estimates,” and that the matter was one for the Government to decide. That President came to the Senate, and, according to Hansard, presented the following memorandum : -
I have looked into the matter carefully, and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, this action on the part of the Government is entirely without precedent. I take a very serious view of it, because if it were allowed to pass without question, this or any future Government might at any time entirely nullify the power of the Senate to inquire into a particular matter by refusing to provide the necessary funds. I would point out, also, that several Select Committees have paid visits toother States and other places, in order to collect necessary evidence, and that their expenses were met entirely without question by the Government of the day. A Select Committee on the Tasmanian mail service visited Tasmania. There was a Select Committee to inquire into the case of Major Carroll, which went to Sydney and Brisbane; and a Select Committee which was appointed to inquire into the matter of the press cable service, and of which I happened to be a member, visited Sydney, and there was not, so far as I can ascertain, any question raised by the Government of the day in regard to the expenditure. According to the authorities I have looked up, in the House of Commons- -the procedure of which is used largely as a guide for the Senate - there has never been any question as to the payment of the necessary expenses incurred by a Select Committee to inquire into any matter. I thought it my duty to make this announcement to the Senate, because, as I have- said, in my view the position is a very serious one. It will be for the Senate, and the leaders of the Senate, to take the. necessary action, if they consider it proper, to safeguard its rights, and not to have its powers abrogated or nullified at the discretion of any Government.
I quite recognise that while Presidents come and Presidents go, the Senate remains, and that the view of one President may not be the view of any succeeding President. By rather a strange coincidence, however, I find from the records of the House that the President who presented the memorandum on that occasion had the same name as yourself, sir. Another strange coincidence is that he was a senator for Queensland. It is not for me to-day to belittle any Select Committee previously appointed by this Chamber, nor do I desire to aggrandize the Committee of which, for a moment, I happen to be Chairman. I take it that all Select Committees stand, so far as the
Presidents are concerned, on an equal footing. I, therefore, wish to know why, in the case to which I have referred, it was held by the President of the day that the refusal of additional funds would nullify or abrogate the powers of the Senate, while now it is held to be a matter for discretion on the part of the Government.
– What was the final outcome of the previous case referred to?
– I have not followed it up.
– Is it not worthy of consideration as a precedent?
– I should say the money was granted.
– At any rate, the action of the Government did not stop the inquiry.
– I am now simply dealing with the decision of a President of the Senate, and, for my present purposes, I have nothing to do with whether or no money was granted, on the previous occasion. I do not say that a Government does wrong in refusing to supply funds, but on this previous occasion a President came down and said that, in refusing, the Government were interfering with the rights of the Senate.
– Can the honorable senator, speaking from memory, say whether the action of the Government then was protested against? Did the honorable senator protest against it?
– I was not a member of the Senate.
– That would not prevent your protesting if you thought it unconstitutional .
– As it happened, I was a member of another place at the time, but that has nothing to do with the case. Suppose I had not been a member of the House of Representatives ? A President said that he had inquired into the matter very carefully, and-
– Which President was it said that?
– I was not here.
– But you have the record ?
– I say that, by a strange coincidence, his name was the same as that of the present President of this Senate - Thomas Givens. How can I say whether it was the name of the same man who is now President? What I want to know is - “ Why this differentiation ?” In view of the answer of the present President regarding the Committee of which I am chairman, to the effect that it was for the Government to please themselves, I felt that I, and also the Select Committee, were denied the rightful support of the President in our efforts to fulfil the functions with which we were commissioned. This Committee, remember, was not appointed by me, but by the Senate, and, therefore, I thought I was entitled to the proper support of the President of the Senate. On receipt of the letter I went personally to the Leader of the Government in this House with a request that more money should be provided. It was rather an easy task for me, not only as a member of the Senate, but as a member of the party to which the Leader of the Government belongs, to prefer such a request, for I think I can claim that the personal relationship between the members of the Government and myself is most friendly. But supposing a member of the Opposition had been chairman of this Select Committee, and he had thought it his duty, again and again, to assail the Government, as he was entitled to do, in the discharge of his parliamentary duties? Would it have been an easy task for such a man to arrange with the representative of the Government for a further advance? As a result of my interview with Senator Millen, I received the following letter: -
Dear Senator Thomas,
For the information of your Committee I forward herewith copy of a letter which I have received from the Secretary, Commonwealth Treasury, relative to the question ofproviding additional funds to enable the Committee to take evidence in the several State capitals.
From a conversation I had with the Acting Treasurer, it did not seem to me at all likely that any further sum would be available, and therefore I consider the Committee would be wise to make their arrangements so as not to exceed the amount already provided. (Sgd.) Thos. Givens,
President of the Senate.
This letter informed us that the Government had made available the sum of £200, but through the President we were told not to expect any further money for the purpose of our inquiry. There was not a single word of protest from the President, or any indication that he offered any objection to the Government’s refusal to grant the necessary money. I cannot but feel that it was not my duty to ask for further funds in order to carry on the work of a Committee appointed by the Senate, but that that was the duty of one who is supposed to be the custodian of our rights. I am not asking that the President should do anything that is not his duty, but I do desire to know how the Senate stands in a matter of this kind, .especially in view of the statement made by the then President on 10th September, 1913, that it would be a very serious abrogation of the rights of the Senate if the money required for the Chinn inquiry were not provided by the Government. I feel that there is in this question something more important than the mere provision of money for the Committee of which I am Chairman. The action of the Government raises a question as to the free and unfettered right of the Senate to appoint Committees. Either the Senate has, or has not, that right; if the right does exist, it must be free and unfettered. I recognise that this raises a very big question from the point of view of the Government. The Senate might be in future, as it has been in the past, hostile to the Government, and might appoint Committees without number merely for the purpose of harassing the Government, and spend moneys recklessly.
– I am glad that the Minister has raised that point. I admit that there is the possibility of that difficulty arising. In a private conversation^ with a well-known gentleman, who, as a professor in one of the Australian universities, is required to study constitutional history, I asked him what would be the position if the Senate were to be continually appointing Select Committees which might recklessly spend money, and in some way upset the -Budget of the Treasurer. His reply was to the effect that representative and democratic government, as we understand it, presupposes, firstly, that sane men are returned to Parliament, and, secondly, that once a man is in Parliament he realizes the responsibilities of his position. These two things not being conceded, representative government fails. That seemed to me a reasonable argument. Every Select Committee that is appointed by the
Senate must necessarily be the creature of the Government, because unless the Government are prepared to find money for the incidental expenditure, it is useless to appoint a Committee. Suppose that the Government flatly refused to make the money available, what could the Senate do f The Senate’s action would depend upon the circumstances of the cases. There may be a time when the Senate will be absolutely powerless to do more than offer a dignified protest. I Was a member of the other branch of the Legislature at a time when that Chamber deemed that its rights had been interfered with by the Senate. By the way, I supported the action of the Senate on that occasion, and another place felt that it was powerless to fight this Chamber on the issue then raised. Mr. Deakin moved -
That, having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of a Federal Tariff, and pending the adoption of Joint Standing Orders, this House refrains from the determination of its constitutional rights or obligations in respect to this Message, and resolves to receive and consider it forthwith.
Whilst at times, the Senate might be absolutely powerless to get the money it requires to carry on its work, at other times its case may be so strong that even a powerful Government could not refuse to join issue with the Senate on it. But the strongest case the Senate could ever have in a matter like this would be perceptibly weakened if the records of this Chamber showed that a President, speaking, presumably, on behalf and in the name of the Senate, had stated that it was for the Government to decide whether it should or should not grant necessary supplies..
– No President has said that.
– The present President has said that.
– Has the President said, that a Select Committee appointed by the Senate is dependent upon the Government for means to carry on its operations?
– That is the effect of what the President has been saying for a long time.
– There is a way out of the difficulty that is presented. The President said, “ I will not allow the
Treasurer to even discuss any of my Estimates.” In his Estimates the President has provided £100 for Select Committees. By interjection, he stated that the £100 must he passed by the Senate. In order to obviate difficulty in future, we must not provide merely £100 for Select Committees, but must instruct the President to place on the Estimates an item of £10,000. Then that sum will become portion of the President’s Estimates. and he will not allow the Treasurer to even discuss the expenditure of it. I wish to know what the £100 provided on the Estimates means. I infer that the provision of £100 for Select!; Committees means that the Senate has the right to appoint Select Committees. ‘
– That sum has been placed on the Estimates formally ever since this Parliament was established.
– That is so. If the President takes the stand that, because the Senate provides £100 for Select Committees, any amount asked for by the Senate in excess of that sum, in order to carry on its work, does not come within the category of his Estimates, it behoves the Senate to see that the Estimates contain an item for Select Committees, not of £1,00, but of £10,000. .
– If the other House refused to indorse any increased expenditure, what would happen?
– I admit that there may be difficulties, and if honorable senators care to declare that another place is justified in refusing supplies to this Chamber, I do not mind. But I desire the Committee of which I am Chairman to be placed on the same footing as the Select Committee which inquired into the Chinn case. A previous President said that, the refusal of funds to carry on the work of the Senate would be an abrogation of the rights of this Chamber. If the Senate chooses, of its own volition, to abrogate those rights, nobody can blame the President. But I repeat that if the Senate does concede that another place might justly refuse further funds to a Select Committee of this Chamber, then every Select Commi#tee becomes merely the creature of the Government.
– And logically, we could make the Select Committee of another place also the creature of the Senate by refusing to pass Supply.
– This Senate could always refuse to pass more than a month’s Supply, and few Governments would choose to come back month after month ,for Supply rather than provide £250 to carry on the work of a Senate Select Committee. The Senate must express an opinion as to whether or not its Select Committees are to. be the creatures of the Government, and are only to be appointed when the Government concur, and agree to find the’ money. In this particular case the Government did not object to the Committee. The Senate would do well to guard its right to appoint Select Committees. In another place, when members appoint a Select Committee, and the Government refuse to give them supplies, they can say, “ We are in a majority, and if you refuse to enable the Committee to carry on, you cease to be a Government.” Having that right, they have also to face the responsibility of possibly forcing a dissolution; and if the Government threaten to ask for a dissolution, it is quite possible that the majority of members m&y decide not to appoint the Committee in the circumstances. There is no fear of that in the Senate. ,
– You have another way of making your protest effective. You can move to reduce the amount of an item on the Estimates.
– That is for the Senate to decide. The Senate has either the right to appoint Select Committees or it has not.
– Does the honorable senator argue that, so long as the Senate appoints a Committee, the Treasurer, regardless of its demands, has to meet them? ; Senator THOMAS. - I should say “Yes.” If we do not take up that attitude, a Select Committee is the mere creature of the Government. As a member of the Senate, I contend that the Senate has the right to appoint a Committee, and, having that right, it has the right to demand the necessary money.
– You would admit the logical conclusion that the Senate is bigger than the Treasury? Which is the bigger, the Treasury or the Senate!
– The Senate; but I will not discuss that point.
– It is not the Treasury against the Senate, but it is the fact that the Treasurer is responsible to his House.
– I admit that, and that he is responsible to the people. I oan quite understand the Treasurer saying, “I will not grant the money, whatever the consequences are”; but that is no reason why we should not demand our rights. There are times when we can maintain our rights.
– Then the Treasurer takes the responsibility of coming into collision with the Senate.
– Decidedly. There are demands which the Government dare not refuse. There are other occasions on which they survive, until, as happened on one occasion, they foolishly go to tie country. The Government have acted a little strangely over the matter. When I moved for the Committee, the Minister of Defence, speaking on behalf of the Government, said they raised no objection to it, but rather welcomed it. .1 have had every assistance from the Minister since the Committee was appointed. On one or two occasions the military authorities deemed it necessary to censor some of the evidence before publication in the press. I may differ from the Minister as to the necessity for that, but I recognise that he has a great Department to administer, and that he has responsibilities which the members of the Select Committee have not. When I have gone to the Leader of the Government in the Senate we have always had a very pleasant conversation.’
– ‘Generally leading to definite and speedy results.
– Yes; but in view of the fact that the Government did not oppose the Committee, it seems a little strange that Lord Forrest, the late Treasurer, should, on behalf of the. Government, have said that, on the score of economy, no more than £100 ought to be allocated. It is not for me to say what the duty of the President of this august assembly should be. But I should not have been so disappointed if, in his answer, instead of saying it was merely a matter for the Government to decide whether they should give the money or not, he had pointed out that there were three members of the Government present when the Committee was moved for, and that that was the time, if any, for them to have spoken on the question of economy, so that the Senate would have the opportunity of voting with its eyes open, and of then deciding whether £350, in addition to the first £100, should be spent in order to get the information required, or whether the Committee should be put on one side, on the ground that the amount asked for was too large. The members of the Government did not point out those things then, and we were, therefore, justified in asking for the money. The Government have since granted £200 more. I have had no direct official communication from the Government to confirm what the President has been good enough, to tell us in his letter, that from his conversation with the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) he gathered .that the Treasurer has asked that we should not spend any more. I quite recognise that the Government can cut off supplies if they like. They may say they will not grant £150 more, and I do not know whether we shall want the whole of that. We have done a good deal of work, and we still have some of the £200 in hand. It is quite possible that we may not want even the £150 that we ask for, but we may. We have visited all the capitals on this inquiry except Sydney and Brisbane. The President can continue to say, if he so desires, that it is not a matter in which he is concerned, but one merely for the Government. The Senate ‘has the power to disown its own creation, and disband the Committee.
– Or it may “say that you have brought out all the profitable information that you are likely to obtain.
– Certainly. The Senate can do more if it so desires. It can abandon its right to appoint free and unfettered Committees. I have not attempted to aggrandize the importance of the Committee of which I am the Chairman. I have not claimed for it more importance than for .any other Committee appointed by the Senate, whether it was to inquire into the dismissal of a Federal servant, to unravel some great problem in connexion with the post-office at Balfour, Tasmania, or one to obtain information on one of the great social problems of the day. All Select Committees appointed by the Senate Stand, ‘so far as the Senate is. concerned, on an equal footing. All are children of the Senate, and all are entitled to the same consideration from the Senate. I feel strongly on the question of the right of the Senate to appoint free and .unfettered Committees. A person may not believe, as a citizen, in the bi-cameral system. He may be honestly opposed to the creation Or existence of the Senate, but once he accepts nomination, and is returned to the Senate, seeing that the people of Australia are in favour of the bi-cameral system, he will be doing wrong to those who voted for him if he in any way minimizes the powers, functions, and privileges of the Senate. He may try to persuade the people to do away with the Senate altogether, but so long as he is a member of it, it is his duty to see that its privileges’ are maintained. I am therefore justified in asking why the President, when the Chinn Select Committee was refused Supply by the then Government, made a statement to the effect that such a course, interfered with the rights of the Senate, while in the case of the present Committee, he says it is quite a matter for the Government to decide whether to grant Supply or not. Do the Government propose to give us as little money as is necessary to do the work? While saying nothing about the importance of the Committee, I venture to assert that the doings of no Committee ever appointed by this Chamber have been followed, with keener interest by so large a percentage of the people outside. I am confident that there are a good many people outside this august Chamber who will watch the answer to these questions with a certain amount of curiosity, and perhaps with some anxiety.
– It is somewhat regrettable that Senator Thomas did not take the opportunity to make in Committee his personal attack upon myself and my administration of my office, as he could have done when the first item of ‘ the Estimates was before us, and when I could have met him on the floor of the chamber on equal terms. When an honorable senator feels that it is necessary for the carrying out of his duties in the Senate to make an attack on another individual, the least that that other individual has a right to expect is that he shall not be placed at a disadvantage when that attack is delivered. My only excuse for speaking at all now is that I would not have the right to speak on this matter at a later stage, because the Standing Orders prohibit the revival of a previous debate. .
– Then you would not have the right to speak in Committee ?
– I should not have the right in Committee to revive a debate which took, place on the first reading. I am therefore reluctantly compelled to take this, the only opportunity I shall have, to reply to Senator Thomas. He made his personal attack upon me in the most approved unctuous, pulpit style at his command. He made my letter to the Treasurer the text of his sermon to me and to the Senate. He divided it into firstly, secondly, and thirdly, and gave us a long disquisition on each of them. I desire to follow his own style seriatim, and to show the Senate the obverse of the medal, so that honorable # senators may judge for themselves. Senator Thomas finds fault with me because I did what I have always done in regard to applications from Select Committees similar to his. I forwarded to the Treasurer, without comment, his request for more money. That has been my invariable procedure in regard to such requests. I did not refuse the money that was asked for, nor did I decline to take the necessary action to have it dealt with. Senator Thomas had not a word to say about the action of the Government in refusing to sanction further expenditure and in sending back his application for money for further information. . Everything that he had to say concerning the Government, and concerning Ministers, was of the most fulsome and servile pattern, his language reminding me of the definition which speaks of gratitude as “a lively sense of favours to come.”
Senator Thomas undertook to prove that my attitude as to the rights of the Senate in respect of the Estimates was entirely wrong. He contended that there is no analogy between the position of the Senate in this matter and that of the House of Commons, a body which makes and unmakes Ministries by a wave of its hand. I am not responsible for the fact that the Senate possesses the same privileges as are enjoyed by the House of Commons; but it certainly possesses those privileges, and the responsibility for that rests with the members of the Convention which drafted the Constitution, with the people of Australia who accepted the Constitution, and with the Parliament of Great Britain which enacted it. If honorable seators .will turn to section 49 of the Constitution, they will see that it is there laid down that -
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the Committees of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and Committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
The Senate has declared what its rights and privileges are in certain regards, butin others it has not, and where it has made no declaration, its rights and privileges are those of the House of Commons. If Senator Thomas complains of that, his complaint should be addressed, as I have said, to the framers and acceptors of the Constitution, and to those who enacted it.
Coming . .to his next complaint, he pointed out in a most sarcastic way - his_ remarks constituting a bitter attack upon me - that my attitude towards the Chinn Committee was quite different from that towards his Committee. In what respect, may I ask, was it different? The Chinn Committee sent a request to me for more money in the same way that the Committee of which Senator Thomas is chairman sent its request, and that request was forwarded by me in the same way that I forwarded Senator Thomas’ request. But the Government of the day flatly refused to grant any additional money to the Chinn Committee; the present Government have not refused to grant money to Senator Thomas’ Committee. I reported tol the Senate the refusal of the Government to grant money to the Chinn Committee. That was the only action I took, because it was for the Senate to go further, if it so desired. In this case, there has been no refusal by the Government to grant money. Had there been such a refusal, I should have deemed it my duty to report the matter to the Senate.
Senator Thomas .complains that I speak of the Estimates of the Senate as “ my Estimates.” In so doing, I speak as chief executive officer of the Senate, which I am by virtue of holding the position of President. No personal vanity or personal feeling prompts the expression. The attitude I have always assumed towards the Treasurer in regard to the Senate’s Estimates is that set out in the letter that has been referred to. I do not acknowledge the right of the Treasurer to discuss, and much less to dictate tq me concerning, the Estimates of the Senate. In taking that attitude I am following the practice of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and for the reasons set out in the letter. But there is a difference between the Estimates’ of the Senate and the request of a Select Committee for money. When I require money for expenditure on repairs or renovations, my attitude towards the Treasurer is quite different from my attitude in regard to the Estimates. The amount required may be a £5 note, or it may run into thousands of pounds, as in the case of painting, expensive repairs/ or lift alterations. When money is required for such purposes, I have to go cap in hand to the Treasurer, and to discuss with him the proposed expenditure. Such an application for money on my part differs entirely from the submission of Estimates, because the Senate has not authorized the expenditure which it is proposed to make. Nor is there any analogy between a Commit-‘ tee’s request for money and the submission of ordinary Estimates. I remember reading some time ago that Senator Thomas, who attaches wonderful importance to this Committee, of which he was the originator, was adversely criticised for originating this Committee by a leading temperance newspaper which usually supports him, on the score that he was merely trying to save his face because he had supported the Government in the suppression of the Fiddler and Defeat, two pamphlets which had been suppressed by the Government censor. Probably Senator Thomas attaches an exaggerated importance to this Committee. I do not know whether .that is bo or not.
If the responsibility were mine instead nf the Treasurer’s, I would not give to the Committee the amount for which it is asking, . nor, as President, would I recommend the, granting of that money to them. I shall tell the Senate why I take that position. I find that the Committee proposed to travel, whether it had many or few witnesses to examine, to -every capital city in the Com-, monwealth, and probably to other places.
It has already visited Launceston, Hobart, Adelaide, and Perth. It would be infinitely cheaper for the Committee to bring to Melbourne from, say, Perth, the few witnesses which it means to examine than for the members of the Committee, accompanied by the secretary and a Hansard reporter, to travel to such places to examine those witnesses. If the Committee, at its own sweet will, and without the sanction of the Senate, or of any executive officer of. the Senate, is to spend as much money as it pleases, that will lead to wholesale extravagance. The Committee visited Tasmania, its trip there being in the nature of ‘ a very agreeable peregrinating picnic. It travelled overland from Launceston to Hobart. I am not objecting to the visit to Tasmania, but I point out that this Committee took with it a messenger. The practice has been that the necessary and unavoidable expenses of travelling shall be met by the secretary to the Committee, the members of the Committee not handling any money at all. This Committee had with it a messenger as well as a secretary. I have no objection to that. But having taken a messenger to handle their luggage and perform various little offices, there was no need to pay large tips each way to the stewards on board the steamer on which the members slept for a night or to the railway porters. When a messenger is provided for the convenience of the members of a Committee, there should be no need for much tipping. I find that the Committee’s trip to Tasmania cost about £90. It would have been much cheaper to bring to Melbourne the witnesses to be examined, giving them the trip, instead of having the Committee peregrinating expensively in war time when every shilling is required. Had I not issued my veto against the further employment of a messenger, the Committee would probably have continued to travel round with him as well as with a secretary. After I had signed the voucher for the large sum that I have just mentioned, I learned that one of the members of the Committee had stayed behind the rest, and further tips and expenses, amounting to some JE2 10s., had to be met on his account. It is. for the Treasurer to say ‘what amount the Government will give to a Committee. Should the Senate vote a sum of money, the case would be different, but where the Senate has not done that, I, as President, should not be asked to take any responsibility. I defy Senator Thomas, or any one else, to show that I have treated his Committee differently from any other Committee. I say, advisedly, that, in all my experience, this is the most extravagant Committee that I have known.
– ‘May I ask the President, through Senator Givens, if he is in order in saying that a Committee of this Senate has been extravagant?
– The statement is in order. The honorable senator should keep silence while I am on my feet. I am speaking as President, and will not tolerate impertinence.
– Will you, sir, enforce the rule as to silence when other senators are speaking? That is not always done.
– Whenever a senator asks to be protected against interruptions I intervene. I did not refuse to take action in connexion with the request of this Committee. I sent on its request to the Treasurer in the usual way. There has been ho difference between my treatment of this Committee and my treatment of the Chinn Committee. When the Treasurer refused to grant money to the Chinn Committee, I reported the matter to the Senate, for it to take any action it might please, but did not do anything beyond that. In this case, as I have said, it was unnecessary to report to the Senate. I have a right to resent the gross personal attack made upon me by Senator Thomas, and also his attack on my administration, which is entirely unwarranted. It is painful for me to have to speak like this from the position that I occupy, and I regret that Senator Thomas did not take the opportunity to bring the matter forward on the first item in the schedule, during the Committee discussion, so that it could have been threshed out fully. The Chairman would then have been in the chamber, and I should have been on equal terms with my attacker and with other senators.
– You could have put the Deputy President into the chair.
– No, I could not. The Standing Orders provide that when the President is here he must be in the chair.
– Then who the devil is going to keep order when the President is talking?
– Will the honorable senator withdraw that remark?
– I do so.
– I have nothing more to add, except that the Committee has been treated by me in the fairest possible way. I have not exaggerated one iota. I treated the Committee with the utmost courtesy when I forwarded, without comment, its request for money; and when the Treasurer sent it back, asking for further information, all I did was to forward it a second time without comment. I cannot see that I have failed in my duty to the Committee in any way. If Senator Thomas thinks that I should have denounced the Treasurer in heroic style, I take a different view of my duty. Why has he not denounced the Government? Instead of denouncing them, he has displayed the most unotuous civility towards Ministers, notwithstanding his vicious attack on me, although I have not been guilty of any dereliction of duty. I regret very much that the incident has occurred. It has not been pleasant to say what I have said about the expenditure of the Committee. I should have left the matter severely alone, as I was not responsible in any way for the expenditure, it being a matter entirely for the Senate, had Senator Thomas not forced me to say what I have said. I leave it to the Senate to judge between us.
– Early this afternoon I asked a question which should have been addressed through the Minister for Defence to the Minister for the Navy. I wish now to put before the Minister the details as they have come to me, without making any assertion that they are facts. I have received the following telegram from Father Graham, of Launceston -
Outrageous insult offered to-day to Archbishop Delaney and Monsignor Beechiner by Lieutenant Wills. Although Naval- Officer in Charge had given admission pass to wharf on departure of s.s. Loongana to His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate and his party, Wills insolently refused to allow the two dignitaries named to come upon the wharf. In the name of all Tasmanian Catholics I demand full investigation by Defence Department.
The clergyman who signs this telegram is a member of the Roman Catholic Church in Tasmania. I admit that he is using rather strong expressions in demanding an investigation by the Defence Department, and I do not propose to say whether I believe his assertions are correct or not. I propose to supplement his statements, by what tha secretary to the Apostolic Delegate told me, when I consulted him after receiving the telegram. The secretary to the Apostolic Delegate lias informed me to the following effect: - Father McNally, a Launceston clergyman, knowing that the Archbishop of Tasmania and Monsignor Beechinor, who is the second highest dig,nitary in the Roman Catholic Church in Tasmania, and one or two other gentlemen, wished to go upon the wharf to take leave of the Apostolic Delegate upon his departure, went to the office of the Union Company, and secured a pass, signed by an official in the’ office. This pass was issued to Father McNally and party, giving them permission to go upon the portion of the wharf which is roped off. A motor .took Father McNally and a couple of other clergymen down to the wharf 7 and they used the pass to get past the barrier, while the car returned to Launceston, and brought down the Apostolic Delegate, along with Archbishop Delaney and” Monsignor Beechinor. But when these three gentlemen arrived at the barrier, they were stopped bv Lieutenant Wills. Of course, the Apostolic Delegate was allowed to go through, because he had his steamer ticket; but Lieutenant Wills, in the words of the secretary to the Apostolic Delegate, and as shown in the telegram which I have read, insolently refused to allow Archbishop Delaney or Monsignor Beechinor to go on the wharf, although Father McNally stood there, and showed his pass, which gave permission to himself and party to go into the enclosed space on the wharf.
According to the telegram the pass was signed by a Naval officer. I put the question to the secretary to the Apostolic Delegate, and he said that, although he was not certain, .he thought it was simply an official of the Union Steam-ship Company who had signed and issued the pass. In any case, the point is immaterial.
Senator Long has also received a telegram from Father McNally making exactly the same charges and assertions as to the insolence of Lieutenant Wills, but in slightly different words. It adds that there was intense indignation on the part of members of the Roman Catholic Church who happened to be present, a’nd that they took it to be meant as a public insult, which was offered to the two dignitaries of the Church by this official.
My reason for bringing this matter forward is that it affects not only the two church dignitaries who might have taken the action of Lieutenant Wills as an insult, but also a large section of the people of Tasmania, who would resent an insult purposely put upon the dignitaries of their church, just as any other section of the people of Australia would resent an insult put on any of the dignitaries of their churches in the circumstances alleged in these telegrams. I make this as an *exparte statement. Perhaps the Minister for Defence will communicate with the Minister for the Navy with the object of having an inquiry made. If the assertions are borne out by the evidence, I hope that the Minister will take the necessary steps to show the officials under his control that they must not go out of their way to insult any member of the public.
– When a Supply Bill comes before the Senate it is an occasion for an honorable senator to wander from “Dan to Beersheba,” and speak on almost anything under the sun; it is one of those occasions upon which honorable senators feel that they are free.; but with all the weighty things that are happening abroad, it is rather difficult for honorable senators to concentrate their attention upon mere money details. I am sure we all feel absolutely helpless with regard to what is going on in Europe, but I believe that “doing one’s bit” is a text for a sermon which might still be applied here, and “one’s bit” in Australia just now seems to me to consist in insuring economy with efficiency, not only in private concerns, but in national undertakings. In matters affecting recruiting and administration, and in other matters, the Government may be guided by the honest opinions that honorable senators may express.
Australia does not appear to be suffering very much as a result of the war. The recent Sydney Agricultural Show, an annual festival, resulted in a record amount being taken at the gates, and in drawing a record number of visitors. We are told by Ministers that there is less horse-racing than existed prior to the war, but, so far as one can see and judge, the racing crowds are bigger now, and the amount of money spent in racing is far greater than it was previously. To-day I came across a case showing that secondhand machinery merchants’ businesses are flourishing as they never flourished before, and throughout the length and breadth of Australia, so far as I can see, the war has not really touched us. Evidences of prosperity and of increased expenditure of money can be seen on every side amongst private individuals. There are other evidences of prosperity, all of which has been brought about by the expenditure of the British money that has been paid for produce which still remains unshipped to the Old Country. This state of things makes one wonder what the future holds for us.
What does the future hold for Australia ? No senator dare make a guess as to what is going to happen. No one here this afternoon can say with any certainty that Australia will not some day he a jewel in the hair of the Germanian frau. We cannot prophesy, we cannot even guess, what is going to happen; but the duty which lies nearest to us is that of making the government of the country as efficient as possible, and of doing all we can, directly or indirectly, to help on the great events abroad. If some philosophers or observers came to Australia to-day and saw the evidence of indifference, luxury, comfort, and spending which exists in this young, virile Democracy of ours, to which so many of us are proud to belong, it would strike them that we were decadent. I do not say it; but I do say that comfort, luxury, and extravagance, if placed before duty, have brought down empires, and they are contributors to decadence, as history teaches us.
This Senate has the responsibility of taking a broad-minded view as to what its functions and duties are. I do not think that there is one honorable .senator on this side of the chamber who is anxious to make the difficulties of the Government greater than they already are. Heaven knows how great they are, and what improvization has been attempted to meet them during the last three years.
The Government are to be congratulated upon a reduction in the Estimates as compared with the corresponding period of last year. The Treasurer, in presenting this. Supply to us, has gone some way towards safeguarding economy in expenditure, and I trust that he will continue this policy so that when the next Supply comes before us, we may have further evidence of the fact that the Government appreciate the necessity for economy. The Treasurer has told us that the total loan expenditure of Australia on the war, to the 1st of next September, will amount to £233,000,000, but even should the war cease at an early date, I have no doubt the total liability of Australia, when all our engagements are cleared up, will be something’ approaching £300,000,000. The Treasurer has told us that we have raised, by loan, the sum of £106,000,000, out of a total expenditure of £233,000,000, and that our shortage to-day is £127,000,000. He says, again, that we have borrowed from the British Government the sum of £47,500,000, and rhat we have a deficit, so far as money raised in Australia is concerned, of £80,000,000. He further says, and rightly too, that this position is not creditable to Australia. We are engaged, and successfully engaged I am glad to say, in raising another internal loan of £40,000,000; but on the Treasurer’s own statement, apart from the amount, we have borrowed from the British Government, we have yet to borrow another £40,000,000 before September next in order to make both ends meet. Personally, I do not think Australia is facing the financial problem. On the figures as we know them, the Commonwealth to-day is doing little better than paying the interest on the money it borrows, in addition to the ordinary expenditure of the Government. Britain is paying 4s. and 5s. in the £1 of her war expenditure from revenue, whereas Australia is not paying ls. in the £1 of her capital war expenditure from revenue. I, therefore, say, without fear of contradiction, that we are not facing the financial position. With regard to war loans, I should like to say in all sincerity that I am not enamoured of the cheap-jack methods that are being adopted in order to raise money. I am not enamoured of false-whiskered men in Collins-street, on a so-called tank, or on the model of a ship, singing chanties to induce people to come along and pay £100 for 100 £1 war bonds. I am not enam- oured of all this camouflage and the many circus-like tricks adopted now to raise money from the people of Australia. My experience is that, as a rule, there is one class of people that will always give to Bed Cross, benevolent, and comfort funds; who will always do their best with regard to war loans, and make all the sacrifices that they can be reasonably expected to make under present conditions. There is another class of the community who will do nothing. Capitalists have come to me and said, “ I am not going to put money into war loans, because I can get 6 per cent., 7 per cent., or 8 per cent, for my money, and I should be a fool to invest it at 4£ per cent.” I believe the time has come when this Parliament, by an Act and a stroke of the pen, will have to call upon every man to do his bit, if not voluntarily, then by compulsion.
– Will those friends of yours advocate the conscription you speak of?
– I do not know whether they advocate conscription or not. I believe that the voting on the question of conscription was very mixed, and I am. quite sure that the men who to-day are making sacrifices also advocate conscription; and, personally, I believe that, if it is right to advocate conscription of manhood, it is right to advocate conscription of wealth. I have already said that I do not agree with the circus-like methods resorted to for the purpose of raising’ money; in my opinion,” as they say in America, they “ cut no ice.” I do not think they bring any large aggregate contributions to the Treasury, while, in the eyes of all serious-thinking men, they degrade the present serious war position.
It seems to me that the future Budget of the Commonwealth, supposing all goes well with us, and we are allowed to carry on in the future as in the past, will amount to at least £50,000,000 per year, without there being any provision for sinking fund on our huge war debt. It will be generally admitted, I think, that the sum required for interest on £250,000,000 or £300,000,000, for soldiers’ pensions, and for the Bepatriation Department, will amount to a . total of very nearly £20,000,000 a year. That leaves us about £30,000,000 ho carry on the ordinary governmental services, and to complete the building of Naval Bases, and to provide that defence which, in my opinion, it will be necessary to provide in the not distant future. So, taking a general view of the future position of the finances of the country, nothing less than a Budget of £50,000,000 a year will pay our way, without any regard to a sinking fund on our debt. That is one of the reasons why, in my opinion, we are not at present facing the financial position as it ought to be faced by us as a party, as a Parliament, and as a Government. I am glad to see that the Treasurer has indicated that in his next Budget speech he will introduce additional taxation. I am expressing a purely personal opinion when I say I believe in graduated taxation of all sorts - graduated land taxation, graduated income taxation, and graduated probate taxation - and a graduation that hits hardest the man who has most.
– Call it progressive taxation.
– Well, call it progressive. Personally, I would go further, and scientifically so graduate our taxation, in view of the enormous commitments of the war and the burden we shall have to carry, as to make it almost impossible in the future for men in our community to gather together the huge aggregations of wealth that are now being accumulated. In this, also, I am expressing my individual opinion.
– Is that the reason you objected to certain portions of the war-time profits measure?
– The only objection I had to the proposed war-time profits taxation - as, I think, is fully recorded in Hansard - was its inequities, its unfair incidence, and the fact that it did not affect everybody. My objection to the taxation was, and the objection stands today, that, if a man had been making profits of £100,000 a year before the war, and since the war had been making £100,000 a year, he was not to be taxed.
– And the men who were being taxed you desired to have exempted.
– It will be remembered that I said I believed in a War-time Profits Act on the Canadian system, under which every man obtaining a large income in war-time, irrespective of whether he obtained that income in prewar days, is taxed. If Senator Needham will refer to Hansard, he will find that I had no objection to a war-time profits tax in principle, but that my objection was that the taxation was unfair in its incidence, and did not include everybody.
– And then you had a list of amendments of exemptions which you endeavoured to pass.
– I think my honorable friend is misinformed. Once the principle was adopted on the second reading, my amendments were attempted, and some of them achieved, in order to make the measure more workable and more business-like.
– From your standpoint.
– A future Budget of £50,000,000 a year, which we must anticipate means, with, a population oi 5,000,000, 4s. per week for every soul - one-fifth of the total income of all the people. Therefore, the sooner we get to business and face this financial problem the better it will be for Australia generally.
A good deal has been said about a levy on capital. We have had various estimates given in the daily newspapers of what the total capital in Australia really is. I believe that a partial census was taken by the Government Statistician some time in 1915, but that census was never completed. So far as it went, I think the figures showed a total capital wealth in Australia of about £1,600,000,000.
– Are you speaking of wealth or capital?
– I am speaking of wealth ; and the figures (I have given do not include public services that are owned and conducted by the various Governments of Australia. It is fair to assume that, excluding these, the total capital wealth of Australia to-day is in the vicinity of £2,000,000,000; and, if things go reasonably well - if we have a reasonable peace by negotiation, and we achieve some of the objects for which we are fighting in Europe - that capital wealth will remain as a basis of taxation.
– Does that figure not include public utilities?
– I am informed that the sum of £1,600,000,000, when the census .was taken, was the estimated wealth so far as then could he ascertained, and it did not include public utilities or public ownership. It was admitted, and is admitted, that that census was not complete. Since then Australia has been exceedingly prosperous; businesses of all sorts have been most profitable; and, consequently, I think it a reasonable assumption that the capital value of the wealth of Australia in private hands today is in the region of £2,000,000,000.
– I think you are complicating the matter by using the word “capital;” would it not be better to speak of ‘ ‘ private wealth ‘ ‘ ?
– Perhaps so. I have attempted to closely follow all that is going on in Australia, and all that the Government is doing, for myself; and I am sure that honorable senators, let alone the man in the street, must be surprised at the activities of the Government to-day in its control, partial or complete, of huge enterprises that affect the life of the whole of the people of Australia. We all know that this year’s expenditure will amount to considerably over £100,000,000. In addition to that, the Government is controlling primary and secondary products, which also are valued at considerably over £100,000,000. A table recently completed shows the activities of the Government, and included are items such as these: - The Winter Pool of butter was valued at £8,500,000 and the butter sold to Great Britain at £4,530,000. Other commodities dealt with were: - Leather Board, £3,500,000; frozen rabbits, £1,500,000; skins, £600,000; hides, £110,000; jam, £1,093,000; wheat, £30,000,000; coal, £192,000; metals, £19,000,000; sugar, £8,000,000; and wool, £25,340,000. All those commodities are being controlled to-day by the Government, who, in addition, are engaging in shipbuilding and operating the Commonwealth line of steamers. They have recently appointed a Board, controlling shipping space to the value of millions per annum, and the Government are also attempting to fix the prices of necessary commodities. It must be clear to any business man that, in all the circumstances of the war, the creation of these monopolies was a statesman-like action. I do not criticise the conception of the public control of these various commodities in war time, so that there may be one united seller and one buyer, and that our trade and commerce, when shipping space is limited, shall be controlled. But I join issue with the Government most seriously in connexion with their administration of these Pools, inasmuch as they have appointed to the Committees and Pools men who are interested in the businesses which those bodies operate. In my opinion, the time has come for enlarging the personnel of these bodies.We are reaching a danger-point when the Government create monopolies and give the control of them to interested persons. I am not suggesting that any man on these Committees is anything but an honorable man. I know that all are prominent in the commerce and industry of the country; but I think the principle of giving the control of Government-created monopolies to interested persons is wrong. Consider, for instance, the Shipping Board.
– That is not a monopoly.
– Under the War Precautions Act, the Shipping Board has control of all shipping space and all charters in Australia. On general principles, the Board is guided by instructions from the Imperial Government, but, apart from those general instructions, the Board does practically as it thinks fit. I regret very much to have received to-day from the Vice-President of the Executive Council a reply that the sight of ships’ manifests is refused to honorable senators. There should be nothing in the ship’s manifest that need be hidden from us.
– Whilst honorable senators may be permitted to inspect the manifests privately, it would be unwise to publish the manifests to the world.
– I understood from the Minister’s previous answer that the manifests were to be kept a close corporation, and I am glad to have his assurance now that honororable senators may inspect them privately. I can understand that publicity is undesirable, but I know of no reason why an honorable senator should not have an opportunity to know as much as a member of the Shipping Board. I infer from the Minister’s interjection that these manifests will be available to honorable senators to peruse privately and confidentially. I am not suggesting for one moment that in connexion with any of these bodies there is anything that is not strictly honorable, but I suggest that their personnel should be enlarged. Whom do we find controlling the whole of the shipping space and cargoes? Apart from Rear-Admiral Sir William Clarkson, the President and Controller; LieutenantColonel Oldershaw, who represents the Commonwealth Government; and Senator Guthrie, all the members of the Board are colliery owners or ship-owners. They are - Mr. David Hunter, representing Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Company; A. Gordon Wesche, representing the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the British-India lines; Mr. Young, representing Elder, Smith, and Company ; Mr. Brodie, of Sanderson and Company; Mr! Bright, of Gibbs, Bright, and Company; Sir Owen Cox, representing Birt and Company and Lord Inchcape; Mr. Newman, of Howard Smith and Company; and Mr. Eva, of the Commonwealth Government Steam-ship line. I am glad that Senator Guthrie is on the Board, because no man in this Parliament has a better knowledge of shipping from the stand-point of labour. But I remind the Government that shipping is perhaps the most important activity in Australia today. The members of the Board are in a position to bestow favours; they can keep back information. The control of shipping should be in the hands of not only the Government officials, ship-owners, and colliery proprietors, but also two or three gentlemen who have no interest whatever in shipping. I am merely illustrating what might occur under the present system of administration, and in the most kindly spirit I suggest to the Government the enlargement of all these Boards and Committees. The. metal industry supplies another illustration. I understand that one Board controls practically all the copper, zinc, and lead produced in the Commonwealth, and with the exception of Mr. Higgins, who represents the Government, the members of the Board are interested persons. I hope that in the read]justment of the work of the various Cabinet Ministers, which I understand is now being carried out. the points I have mentioned will be considered by the Government, so that there may be no suspicion that anything is wrong, and so that there will be men on the Boards who will insure that the public shall get a fair deal.
I am not saying that anybody is not getting a fair deal; I “am merely pointing out the danger that exists when the Government create monopolies and allow interested persons to control them.
I very much regret that the Ministry did not think fit to bring in a Bill to provide for the payment of the additional new Ministers. I was disappointed to read the statement that these four extra Ministers will cost the country nothing. The salaries paid to the ten good men and true who constitute the Government today total about £15,000, or an average of £1,500 each. The labourer is worthy of his hire, and it would have been a shortsighted policy for any member of this Senate to have objected to any reasonable addition to the sum allowed by Parliament for the payment of Ministers. The Government are responsible for the administration of Government expenditure totalling over £100,000,000 per annum, and the control of primary, secondary, and other products valued at considerably over £100,000,000. If we compare what is happening in the commercial and manufacturing world with what happens in the Government service, we realize at once that one of the reasons why private enterprise is more efficient than Government enterprise is that the former offers a greater reward for the men who create the efficiency. I understand that, a few years ago, Mr. Delprat, the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and the caretaker of a capital of £2,000,000, received a salary of £3,000, and it is quite reasonable to assume that his salary to-day is in the region of £5,000.
– And the Government are not receiving any credit from the public press for asking the additional Ministers to work for nothing.
– I am informed by Senator Plain that Mr. Delprat receives a salary of £10,000 per annum. He is getting £10,000 for successfully controlling a capital of £2,000,000. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth does not receive a quarter of that sum. I do not suppose that the controller of the Commonwealth line of steamers, which is making more money than the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and has certainly an equivalent capital, is paid more than one-tenth of that salary. The Chief Railways Commissioner in New
South Wales receives £3,000 per annum, and the acting Comptroller of Customs probably one-third of that amount. Yet these Government servants have the responsibility of looking after bigger capital values than that of the Broken Hill Proprietary. For the sake of Government efficiency, I regret that the Ministry did not bring forward a Bill to provide for the payment to the four additional Ministers of an amount worthy of the responsibilities they bear.
The question of the cost of living demands attention in its relation to the matter of efficiency. It is generally admitted that the cost of living has gone up considerably. I am not speaking, for the purpose of this argument, of imported goods. I believe it can be safely said that the cost of the products of Australian which may be called necessary commodities in the lives of the people, has certainly gone up, rightly or wrongly, to the extent.’ of at least ls. per week per head, man, woman, and child. The Government have made a Department for the fixation of prices. For the sake of my argument, I do not wish unduly to criticise that Department. Personally, I think it is not nearly strong enough. I do not think there are men there who are sufficiently weighty in the business community, or who have sufficient experience in business to carry out for the benefit of the whole people the duties for which they are “laced there. A rise of ls. per head per week in the cost of the necessaries obtained in Australia means £250,000 per week being paid by the people of Australia more than they paid in pre-war days, or a sum amounting in a year to £13,000,000. Those are the gigantic propositions that the Government and the officials of the Government have to control to-day. I would urge the Government to strengthen this control in every possible way. We have to have it until the war is over, and for some time afterwards, because it makes for the best possible government, and that is one way in which we can aid.
Concerning the Defence Department, there has been a large amount of controversy recently in the papers about Senator Pearce aud Defence Department methods. I have a certain amount of sympathy with Senator Pearce. I believe he has a marvellous grasp of the details of the Department, is probably the most hard-working Minister in the Government, and has
Senator Pratten. achieved some success. I cannot, however, overlook the fact that there have been some failures brought about by want of proper methods. If Senator Pearce had not made the mistake of ignoring the offers of business men, and of not separating the civil from the military side of defence, matters in his Department would have been generally satisfactory.
– J have been told that that is just the very thing he insisted on, and that the greatest failure is where the business men are interfering.
– Sir Ian Hamilton, in the report that he made when he visited Australia with regard to the building up of the Military Forces, emphasized the. need for business men in control of the civil side of the Defence service. In one paragraph he said -
As a business proposition, too, the need !b obvious for specialized training for the man who has himself to carry out important commercial transactions in peace time.
There are several other paragraphs in his report bearing on this matter, and showing that, so long ago as his visit to Australia, the importance of separating the civil and military side was emphasized by so high an authority.
– Ninety-nine per cent, of officials of the Department are socalled business men.
– The soldier is the most inefficient business man in the world. It is only in the last twelve months that business men of standing and experience, and of well-known ability, have come in, and Defence matters now are on a much more satisfactory footing as the result of their work and effort.
– We had no military class to draw upon for our officials.
– I have a case which I could easily make good if I desired to occupy the time of the Senate, but even in the report of Sir Robert McCheyne Anderson in 1915 the desirability of the co-operation of business men was laid down. In Mr. Justice Rich’s report on the Liverpool Camp, made on 18th August, 1915, it is stated that “ business men might well be employed in matters where their training and experience would be of the greatest advantage to the military authorities, that is, in connexion with ordnance and on finance committees.” I repeat that the fundamental mistake made by the Minister for Defence or his advisers when the war started was in not organizing the Department on the lines suggested previously, and in not separating the military from the civil administration. I do not wish to probe this matter further, but I am glad that the Prime Minister, in his announcement regarding the progress report of the Royal Commission on Naval and Defence administration immediately formed and created the Business Board that has been so long wanted. He said it would be appointed for the period of the war, and that Mr. Swinburne would be a member of it. I earnestly hope and trust that this business body will have ample powers to check extravagance and carry on the business of the country with the necessary economy. I hope it will not be camouflaged, or strike the stone wall of officialdom. I do not know what powers the Board has, but I hope the Minister for Defence will be sufficiently sensible now, after all the experience the Department has gone through, as evidenced by the reports of the Royal Commission, to carry out the recommendation made by Sir Ian Hamilton, Sir Robert McC. Anderson, and Mr. Justice Rich, that the civil should be separated from the military side of Defence matters.
I am pleased indeed to read in these reports of the obvious success of the Government factories, such as the saddlery factory, the clothing factory, and others. I should like to know, but the information is not contained in the reports, what prices are being charged the Defence Department for the products of these factories. If the prices charged the Department and credited to the factories are prices which are competitive, and no more than will be charged by other manufacturers, then the triumph of the Defence Department, so far as these factories are concerned, is complete.
– And that is business ?
– Yes. I feel strongly that, perhaps through no fault of the Minister for Defence, the interned alien question has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves. I shall not detain honorable senators on the subject beyond summarizing some of the things that have happened in New South Wales. So long ago as the 25th August of last year the recruiting officers from all over the State met and passed this resolution : “ That this conference urges the Federal and State Governments to take firmer action in regard to any enemy aliens in our midst, in the interests of recruiting.” There has been simmering in. Sydney for many months, if not for years, rightly or wrongly, very grave dissatisfaction with the Defence Department for allowing enemy aliens the freedom they have. I have come across cases where a particular German has been at a recruiting meeting, and has been seen to sneer and make disparaging remarks. I have here the absolute definite evidence in the form of a letter from the Defence Department itself that a German is still in the employment of the military at Victoria Barracks, Paddington. I do not wish, and, obviously,, it is not altogether desirable, to pursue this subject very far, but for the information of the public, and, if necessary, of the German Government itself, I should like to read to the Senate a billoffare that was given to the German interneees that came from the East to Sydney in 1915 by a well-known Eastern trading boat. They were given all the saloon accommodation.
– We did not bring them. The Imperial Government sent them.
– Quite so; but the honorable senator could not have heard the remarks with which I prefaced this matter.
– You are trying to suggest that we gave them the saloon accommodation.
– I am not criticising the Defence Department in this regard. I premised my remarks by saying that I would read the bill-of-fare for the information of the public, and, if necessary, of the German Government, as showing how handsomely we treat the Germans who are interned. I said distinctly that the steamer came from the East with internees. I have not intimated or inferred that they had anything to do with the Defence Department until they arrived in Australia.
Senatorkeating.- Did they not hold consular or semi-official positions ?
– You started off by saying that there was great dissatisfaction with the treatment of interned aliens by the Defence Department. I was therefore justified in assuming that this was one of the cases you referred to.
– I did not intend to infer that this particular incident had anything to do with the Australian Defence Department. I mention it to show how generous the British community is all over the world to enemy aliens, and how well they are treated, and, at all events, to infer the opposite as far as Germany is. concerned. This menu was for troops and prisoners. The breakfast consisted of oatmeal porridge, grilled steak and onions, fried sausages, and boiled potatoes. The dinner consisted of soup, steak and kidney pie, boiled mutton and caper sauce, cabbage, boiled potatoes, stewed prunes, and boiled rice. For tea there was haricot steak, curry and rice, cold roast mutton, pickles, &c, and cold roast potatoes. The second menu is similar to the first.
– Is that not better fare thanour soldiers get?
– I do not know. The Minister has indicated that it is intended to appoint a magistrate to deal with the thorny question of the treatment of enemy aliens. That should make some improvement in the position. When there is any doubt about a man, it is safer to put him behind the wires. In this connexion I am reminded of the verse -
The Germans are spies,
All ears and all eyes;
With the exception of Hermann -
And Hermann’s a German.
I do not know what is going to be done in connexion with the re-organization of the Defence Department. The reply of the accountants who investigated the methods of the Department to the defence of Colonel Thomas was that, in their opinion, that officer is not qualified for the position he holds. I trust that the Business Board will have full control of the civil side of the Defence administration, in which case things will be very much more satisfactorily managed. Let me add a word or two about recruiting. No doubt the recruiting movement has failed, for various reasons, one of many being. I think, that there is not enough sympathy with the men on the part of the military officers in the camps. Such sympathy would be a great help towards recruiting. Metaphorically speaking, we say to unenlisted men, “ Gentlemen, come on,” and when they have donned khaki, we say, “You are here, and be damned to you.” I appeal to the Minister to consider this matter. It must be remembered that our soldiers are volunteers. They enlistof their own volition. They are ready to make the supreme sacrifice, if necessary, and most of them give up somethingto join the Army. This not being a conscript country, in which soldiers can be bandied about from pillar to post, in the Prussian style, I say that if more sympathy were shown to new recruits, it would go a long way towards making camp life more popular. Another thing that, in my opinion, has militated against recruiting is a recently promulgated general service order that the recruit must hand himself over to the military body and soul, without knowing what is to be done with him, or wherehe is going. Before that order was issued, I think it could be safely said that, in spite of the falling off in recruits, the infantry only was affected, enough men being available for the artillery, the Army Service Corps, the Army Medical Corps, the Engineers, the Cyclists Corps, the Wireless Corps, Light Horse, and all the other branches of the Army. A man, when about to enlist, wants to know where he will be put.
– According to the honorable senator, the present system affords no opportunity to the specialist to offer himself.
– That is so. Every man must offer for general service. The officers’ schools are being abolished owing to a falling off in the number of recruits. If we can get enough recruits for all the other branches of the Army, we should concentrate on the recruiting for the infantry.
– Some of the most brilliant men in the world to-day, I believe, are holding back because they cannot, under the present general service order, offer their services.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Some time last year there were in the Liverpool Camp hundreds of artillerymen and hundreds of men who had enlisted in special units, the Cyclists Corps and mechanical corps of various kinds; but as it was thought that no further artillerymen would be required at the Front, there came a sudden call from Head-quarters asking the whole of these men to go into the infantry. One or two members of another place and I waited upon the Minister in reference to the matter, and pointed out that the honour of Australia was at stake, because these men had been specially advertised for, and had joined special units. As a result of our representations to the Minister, the whole of these men went away in the corps in which they had originally enlisted, and I know, as a fact, that within a month of their landing in England, all the artillerymen were sent to France, because artillery reinforcements were very urgently required. From month to month and week to week the changes in the war are kaleidoscopic. If we cannot call for men for the artillery service, we should certainly not refuse men for special units.
My experience in regard to this war covers Egypt, Salisbury Plain, Abbeywood, and other camps of Australians, and I can say that the boots, clothing, and other equipment from head to foot supplied by the Defence Department for our soldiers cannot be surpassed by the equipment supplied to any other army in the wide world. It was the best that money could buy, and the best that any community could supply. The Australian soldiers preferred an old repaired pair of Australian boots to anything new that the British Army could issue to them. I have nothing but praise for the section of the Defence Department that deals with the equipment of our troops.
I notice that there is no special vote in this Supply Bill for the Repatriation Department, but I assume that the £1,000,000 set down for Treasurer’s Advance is to be devoted to that particular service. I repeat that we are not in a Prussian community, and that every man is a volunteer, and not a conscript, and I urge upon the Repatriation Department, as well as the Defence Department, the need for employing sympathetic officers. If we wish to achieve success in respect to our treatment of returned soldiers we must have them.
Now, just a word or two on the very important question of oil. According to a report of the Committee of Public Accounts upon Boring for Oil in Papua, the Commonwealth Government have been engaged in this work since 1913, and, speaking from memory,- the net result of operations has been that a total of 4,000 feet of boring has been done in various bores at a total cost of about £60,000.
– That figure includes the cost of the plant in use.
– Exactly. A nation can undertake no more important work than that of securing its own supplies of oil fuel. The work proceeding at Papua is a Government monopoly. Private enterprise is not allowed to bore for oil in that Commonwealth territory. Our Government Departments have spent five years in boring for oil at the rate of less than 800 feet per annum, and at a cost of £60,000, and they have not yet succeeded.
– In South Australia boring has been in operation for ten years without ‘success.
– Quite so; but the experts agree that there are great potentialities in Australia so far as the production of .oil is concerned.
– In . New South’ Wales for fifty years there has been an endeavour to establish the kerosene industry, but the efforts have not yet proved successful.
– The kerosene industry of New South Wales has had violent fluctuations between success and non-success; but it is an entirely different matter. It obtains the oil from shale, whereas I am speaking of boring for natural oil wells. Nothing could be more important to Australia’ than to make it self-contained so far. as oil fuel is concerned. No motor can be started without oil. The Germans have obtained control of the Rumanian oil wells, and they are about to obtain control of the Batum oil wells in Asia Minor. If they can retain the control of the oil wells of those two districts after the war, they will control one-third of the world’s output of oil. The whole of Australia’s requirements are supplied from the Dutch East Indies and the United States of America, by two monopolies - .the Standard Oil Trust, and that association of international Jews, the Shell Oil Company. Mr. George D. Meudell has had considerable experience in regard to this matter.
– Where did he get his experience - in Collins-street 1
– He is a wellknown mining engineer and geologist. Speaking geologically he reports -
The most powerful argument in favour of the existence of oil in the Commonwealth is that this country possesses deposits of coal, brown coal, and kerosene shale unequalled in extent on earth. Coal-fields indicate petroleum nearby, and oil-wells usually exist alongside coal.
– Then why does he not go and find it?
– Because the Government have the monopoly, and will not allow private interference in Papua. In maintaining that monopoly they have a responsibility to the people of Australia, to Parliament, and to themselves to deal with this matter in some better way than they have dealt with it hitherto. It seems nothing but playing with this matter when they spend £60,000 in five years, and bore at the rate of less than 800 feet per annum. I appeal to them to put the matter on a business basis, and go ahead with it. It is of vast importance to the internal development of . the Commonwealth. There are plenty of men in Australia who have “the requisite experience and knowledge. The plant required is not very elaborate. One can bore with a diamond drill for tin or gold, even in these war times, at 30s. a foot, and I am informed that it is not any more difficult to put down a bore for oil than it is to put down a diamond drill.
– The States have all offered bonuses for the production of oil, and yet private enterprise has failed to discover any.
– So far as indications go, the oil belt runs from New Guinea to Java, and the probabilities are that supplies of oil will be struck more easily and more quickly in Papua than they would be further south. The- place should be exploited very speedily, because in Timor, half of which is owned by the Portuguese and half by the Dutch, there are good indications of the presence of oil. If we do not strike it, some one else will.
I estimate that our war Budget after the war will be £50,000,000. We will have to spend £20,000,000 per annum on fixed charges of interest on war loans and obligations for repatriation as well as pensions, and we must also look forward to the expenditure of large sums of money upon the development of the defences of Australia. I have already said that I hope the Government will face the position, and that the rich people of Australia will have to bear the biggest part of the burden. I believe that there is a good deal of evidence of misery being an accompaniment of millionaires. The building up of excessive wealth brings in its train extreme want in the community. Speaking broadly and generally, I hope the Government will so shape its financial course that we shall face the obligations of the future, and not pass on too much to posterity. One honorable senator opposite interjected an observation with regard to the War-time Profits Bill. Personally, I think that measure will break down, for I know that two prominent accountants in Sydney each sent in approximately about 100 returns, and by a coincidence only two returns in each 100 were liable to the war-time profits tax. It will be remembered that I opposed this measure, not because it was not a good principle to take war-time profits, but because the Bill was inequitable in its incidence, and did not touch half the rich men.
– That is what Sir William Irvine said long ago.
– During the second-reading debate I took up this attitude, and the position is the same to-day.
With regard to further avenues of taxation, I was astounded to read in the latest publication by Mr. Knibbs that the imports into Australia for the year 1916-17 totalled in value almost as much as those of the previous year. It may be interesting to know that the importation of alcoholic liquors in 1916-17 exceeded the imports of 1915-16 by about £500,000, the figures being £1,985,000 as compared with £1,488,000. In 1916-17 the imports of tobacco exceeded the imports of the previous year by over £100,000, and the imports of motor cars and motor bicycles, &c, wore within £200,000 of those of the previous year. In 1916-17 the imports of motor vehicles exceeded those of 1914-15 by over £60,000. The total imports into Australia from overseas last year amounted in round figures to £76,000,000, as against £77,500,000 in the previous year; and the total imports of 1916-17 exceeded those of 1914-15 by over £10,000,000. I am quite prepared to concede that in bulk the imports. were less, because clearly the value would be much greater than in the earlier years, but it is a puzzle to me to read about the shortage of shipping and the stringency in the shipping business, and then to be met with these figures. And this importation is still going on. It seems to me to be a fundamental principle that the Treasurer should impose an import tax or a super-tax through the Customs in order to get extra revenue from those extravagant people if they will spend their money on imported luxuries.
I have had a few words to say with, regard to the Defence Department, and do not wish to repeat my remarks, but I would again urge the Minister to take into sympathetic consideration that universal service order and put a strong blucher boot into the Prussianism displayed by some of the junior officers of the Department, of which probably he knows very little. I again urge him to see that sympathy is extended to the men who go into camp, and to give this new Business Commission that has been created tr take over the civil side of the Defence Department absolute powers, subject to his veto.
There are one or two other matters to which I now desire to refer. I thirds it is clear that the proposed re-organization of the Ministry means the creation in Australia of a Trade and Commerce Department that is going to be all-powerful with regard to the whole of our primary and secondary industries. This new Department will take under its sheltering motherly wing practically everything now done by the Prime’ Minister’s Department, and will become a very important Department indeed. My friend Senator Russell and Mr. Massy Greene will be the Assistant Ministers, and I urge them with all the power I possess to insure that responsibility rests upon some independent man, who will see that everything goes straight and well. Something has been said about the organization of industries. I can quite understand that it should bt. easy to organize wheat, wool, metal, or anything else that does not vary, but if the Government attempt to organize secondary industries they will be up against difficulties that are not experienced in the handling of primary products. My word, therefore, to the Government in this matter is to go slowly. You cannot pool boots the same as wheat. There are all sorts of grades and prices for boots, and jam, and biscuits, and milk, and commodities of that sort. While I may agree that the organization of monopolies in primary production is a statesman-like policy, similar action cannot be taken with regard to our secondary industries.
Just a word or two more. We are asked to pass a Supply Bill for three months, carrying the Government up to the end of June next. In this measure, there are many matters, some of them debatable, of which members have no personal knowledge, the items being covered by one line. Personally, I think.it is our duty at this juncture not to carpingly criticise the Government; not to keep nagging at them; but to realize the immensity of their obligations, and the difficulties of their administration. It is the duty of the Government also to realize the immensity of their task, and, having had intrusted to them these great obligations, on behalf of the people of Australia, it is their responsibility to see that everything is carried out in an efficient manner so that, when their time comes, they can at least say they have done their very best.
– We are asked, in the few hours at our disposal, to vote £5,068,404, which will carry us over to the end of the financial year, and I again enter my protest against the very limited time which the Government have allowed for discussion of these items without encroaching upon the time when the Civil Service must be paid.
– You have had these figures before you for some months. They were in the statement made here towards the end of last year.
– As a matter of fact, this Bill was only passed by another place a few hours ago.
– But all these figures were, covered by those other Bills which you have passed. They were set out in this Chamber at the end of last year, and there is a notice on the business-paper covering them.
– But this Bill only passed another House a few hours aso. The Government could have very well convened Parliament at least a week earlier in order that we might nave had an opportunity of going more fully into many of the items which we are asked to vote upon this evening. To my mind, the attitude of the Government is unfair.
We are asked to vote about £77,000 to pay for the rent of Commonwealth buildings. I should like to know why the Government do not find their own premises, instead of paying rent to some greedy, grasping landlord, mostly, I suppose, around the city of Melbourne. Why do they not, out of the funds at their disposal, erect the necessary buildings for their own accommodation instead of paying away public money year after year to landlords in Melbourne and elsewhere? Any Government worthy of the name would have looked into this matter long ago, and instead of paying rent would have constructed buildings for their own use.
We have been treated to a very illuminating address by SenatorPratten, who has informed us that he is in favour of what is known as the graduated system of taxation. I, for one, entirely disagree with him. I would not mind if we had a graduated income tax, or if we had no income tax at all. I would not, mind graduated death duties, or if they were wiped out altogether, but I think it is an entirely wrong principle to have a graduation in land taxation, and I am surprised that Senator Pratten should have enunciated such a principle on the floor of this chamber. We have no graduation in municipal taxation. In the city of Melbourne, for instance, there is no graduation in municipal taxation, although, in. my judgment, it is on the ‘wrong basis, the rate being struck on the rental value at so much per £1. If you go over to Launceston, it does not matter whether you are a large man or a small man, a woman or a child, you have to pay a poll tax of 2s. per head. That is, of course, an entirely obsolete system of taxation, and would not be tolerated for one moment in any other place except Tasmania. But it is not graduated, and they do not propose, even there, to impose a tax of 2s. 6d. upon one person and 2s. upon another. All persons, as far as I can understand it, by regulation of the Marine Board, are called upon to pay 2s. per head. It does not matter whethera person who goes to Tasmania lands in Launceston or not; if he merely journeys up the river and down again by steamer, he has to pay 4s.
– Does the honorable senator pay his 4s. ?
– The position is all very well for Senator Earle, for whom the Commonwealth pays the tax when he goes over ; and the of tener he goes the more the people of the mainland have to pay. I regard that system of taxation as entirely wrong.
– Do you pay when you go over?
– Does Senator Long pay? As in the case of Senator Earle, the oftener Senator Long goes over to Tasmania the more frequently the people of the Commonwealth have to pay the tax on his account. However, this tax has one good point - it is not graduated. I desire to offer my strongest objection to the idea of Senator Pratten that there ought to be graduated taxation; and I am pleased to say that, notwithstanding the views expressed by him and by others, there is to-day a very marked change of public opinion throughout the Commonwealth on this question. As I remarked, in municipal taxation there is no graduation. In New South Wales the local rates are struck at so much per £1 value. It does not matter whether an estate be large or small, or whether the owner be an absentee or not, the same rate for £1 in value is paid. That is a basis of taxation which meets with my approval, and which I should like to see incorporated in any system of taxation which the Commonwealth Government may introduce should they decide to seek for more revenue from the land-owners of Australia.
The next annual Conference of the Australian Labour party, New South Wales, which will meet in Sydney in June next, will be asked to discuss about tea motions on the subject. The Barrier District Assembly will move in favour of graduated land taxation on an unimproved basis, without exemptions, and special taxation of land owned by absentees. Paddington (Australian Labour party), in favour of land values being heavily taxed without exemptions, so as to stop the withholding of land from its proper use, this to be the first plank of the Labour platform. Rozelle (Australian Labour party), in favour of land values being fixed without exemption, to pay the interest on the cost of constructing railways and tramways, freights and fares to be proportionately reduced, say, 25 per cent.; this proposal to be made a plank of the Labour platform. Camden (E.G.), in favour of the imposition of a tax upon all land values, sufficient to meet the interest on the capital invested in the New South Wales railways and tramways, freights and fares to be reduced correspondingly, and also in favour of the taxation of land values without exemptions. Newcastle (E.G.), in favour of taxation on unimproved land values without exemption for the purpose of paying the interest on the cost of railways and tramways, fares and freights to be reduced in proportion to the revenue received in this way. ‘ St. Leonards (Australian Labour party), in favour of a uniform tax upon unimproved land values to raise revenue to pay the interest on the national debt. Kandos (Australian Labour party), in favour of a tax upon all land values, sufficient to meet the interest on the capital invested in the New South Wales tramways and railways, failes and freights to be reduced correspondingly. Goulburn (Australian Labour party), in favour of taxation upon unimproved land values, without exemption, for the purpose of paying the interest on the cost of railways and tramways, fares and freights to be reduced in proportion to the revenue received in this way. These motions indicate pretty clearly that, notwithstanding what honorable senators opposite may say, there is a growing feeling, at any rate in N6w South Wales, that the idea of a graduated land tax will be abandoned in the near future; and we may look forward to the platform of the Labour party making a pronouncement in favour of a straight-out land value tax without exemptions. In South Australia, where an election has just been held, with a magnificent victory for the Labour party, the platform of that party stands out boldly for taxation of this kind, and a similar attitude is adopted by the party in Western Australia. That is the system of taxation which the Commonwealth Government, if they desire to do the fair thing by the people, will adopt whenever they tackle the question.
We have heard something about nationalizing the tobacco and other industries, with the idea of appropriating the profits to supplement the national revenue; but such an idea should not be entertained fora moment. In Glasgow the astute aldermen, who are not elected by the men and women of the city, but mostly by the propertyowners, have municipalized the tramway system, and, despite reduced fares and increased remuneration to the employees, they are deriving such enormous profits that they are enabled to meet the whole of the municipal expenditure with the money thus wrung from the users of the trams. Such a principle, in my opinion, is absolutely wrong. The’ people who ought to pay the taxation in Glasgow are the people who own the place, and not those who use the tramways.
– Are the users getting value for their money?
– The owners of property in the outskirts, to which this cheap communication is provided, are advantaged by being enabled to charge higher rents, and the people who simply reside in the houses there are called upon to pay those rents. There are, as I say, people who advocate the nationalization of ferries and other utilities, in order that the profits may be passed into the Consolidated Revenue.
– Your reasoning is that the nationalization of railways is entirely wrong ?
Senator- GRANT. - I am not surprised at Senator Senior making that statement, because he is not able to take a complete view of any question whatever. I made no assertion of the kind.
– No; but that is your reasoning.
– It is not; I have said nothing whatever against services being nationalized, because I quite believe in nationalization.
– Are tramways not a service ?
– I have no objection to tramways or ferries being nationalized; what I object to is such utilities being carried on by the community and made to provide national or local revenue beyond what is required to carry on the services. These services ought to be undertaken for use and not for profit, and the people who own the country left to pay the taxation. Honorable senators seem to entirely ignore the fact ‘that the land of Australia to-day is worth £445,000,000, and that the owners of that land ought to be called upon to bear the taxation. But the reason why honorable senators opposite desire the tobacco and other industries to be nationalized is, not that commodities and utilities may be supplied cheaper or better, but in order that they may provide sufficient revenue to prevent the land-owners from bearing their proper share of the public burden. It is quite apparent to me that that is the object behind all these moves for nationalization. This, valuation of the land of Australia was obtained from data supplied by the War Census cards, and was stated in a return furnished to the Senate. According to the same return, there is £275,000,000 worth of land that pays no taxation whatever; and yet honorable senators wonder why we cannot repatriate our soldiers, or why people cannot obtain land. The wonder is that people can obtain any land at all under the circumstances.
– Perhaps these lands are Crown lands.
– There are Crown lands; but one might as well look for a fortune as for Crown lands in most, of the States of which I am acquainted.
I find that at the next- Inter-State Labour. Conference, to be held in Perth on 17th June, this question of land taxation will come up for discussion, and the business-paper shows that a very considerable number of branches of the Labour party throughout the Commonwealth have had the subject before them. At the Conference I have just mentioned, the Paddington Branch, New South Wales, will propose that land values be heavily taxed without exemptions, so as to stop the withholding of- land from its proper use; and this motion, if carried, will be the first plank in the Labour platform. These persons are of the opinion - and we all know that their opinion is well founded - that the lands of Australia are not being put to their most profitable use. Whether one goes to Hobart, Launceston, Perth, Sydney, or Brisbane, he will find that the houses occupied by the working men are situated upon allotments which are so small that they are a positive disgrace to us. The reason of this is that year after year private land-owners are allowed to hold areas without paying any taxation worthy of the name in respect to them. Yet we are frequently told that a land tax can be passed on. I hold that it cannot. In New South Wales there are two Houses of Parliament. The members of the Legislative Council are a shrewd lot of gentlemen. They ha*6 no hallucinations to the effect that a tax of this character can - be passed on. Around Sydney there are between 50,000 and 60,000 vacant allotments, which, under our Federal land tax are called upon to contribute nothing whatever to the revenue. Some time ago it was proposed that the basis of the rating for water and sewerage purposes should be altered from the taxation of property to the taxation of land values only. What happened?
– They immediately cut down the size of the allotments?
– - The statement made by the Minister for Repatriation is, as he knows, absolutely incorrect.
– It is absolutely correct. I can give instances in which frontages were reduced from 40 feet to 30 feet, in order to avoid the tax.
– The tax has not been imposed.
– For municipal purposes it has been imposed, and I am speaking of that.
– The statement of the honorable gentleman is so ridiculous and’ inaccurate that nobody with any knowledge of the matter will place the slightest reliance upon his word. He may know of one or two cases in which the frontages have been reduced; but I would remind him that under the old system of taxation in Sydney it has been necessary to resume large areas, to pull down the buildings upon them, and to reconstruct them on decent-sized allotments. Senator Millen, knows that many of the allotments around Sydney were so small that they were a menace to the health of ‘ its residents. The municipal council, at an enormous expense, was obliged to resume these areas, demolish the houses in them, and map out the districts into decent-sized allotments. Yet the allotments are far too small, even at the present’ time. Let honorable senators go to the district in. South Australia where Senator Senior lives. There they will find that the houses are jambed so tightly together that scarcely a breath- of fresh air can get between them. A proposal to alter the rates, so far as the water and sewerage business was concerned, came before the Legislative Assembly of
New South Wales some time ago. A measure dealing with the matter was passed by that body with very slight opposition, .because for many years it had been a plank in the platform, not only of the Liberal party, but also of the Labour party. But when the Bill reached the Legislative Council,, the astute old gentlemen there said : “ This is a proposal to make us pay more - a proposal to increase taxation.” Consequently, they threw it under the table. Recently, a similar measure was again put through the Legislative Assembly and the Upper House was once more asked to pass it. What happened ? The large owners of vacant land there strongly opposed it. Why ? Because they knew that it is impossible to pass the tax on. Sir Allen Taylor, Dr. Nash, Sir Thomas Hughes, and Mr. R.obson, all have a very shrewd idea as to who would pay this tax. How can a man who owns a vacant allotment of land pass on the tax? The measure to which I have referred is now hung up, with the result that a man who wishes to purchase a home site around Sydney is obliged to pay an enormous sum for it. I should like to know, how the ordinary workman can pay £150 or £200 for a block of land on which he may live. It would take him half a life-time to amass that sum. Honorable senators opposite suggest a graduated income tax for the purpose of securing more revenue. Why? Merely, because they desire to avoid the necessity for levying a tax on the laud-owners of Australia. It is high time that people were called upon to pay taxation for national purposes (proportionate to the land which they own. The St. Leonards branch of the Labour party affirms “ That a uniform tax be placed .upon unimproved land values, without exemption, to raise revenue to pay interest on the national debt.” The Lilyfield branch says “ That the £5,000 exemption should be abolished from the Federal land tax.” The Dunedoo, Kandos, and Annandale branches say “ That Conference abolish the £5,000 exemption in the Federal land tax.” The Goulburn branch affirms “ The imposition of a uniform tax of 3d. in the £1 on all unimproved land values to replace the present Federal graduated land tax; other taxes to be reduced, so that the total amount of Federal taxation may not be increased by the foregoing proposal.” The Lithgow branch says, “That the
Conference amend clause 17 (fresh taxation) by an increase in the incidence of the graduated land tax, and by the abolition of the £5,000 exemption.” All these branches are in favour of wiping out the exemption and imposing a straight-out flat rate. The Surf ace Workers Union in Western Australia suggests a somewhat similar proposal. A further proposal comes from the South Australian Labour party, “ That the £5,000 exemption on land values taxation be deleted, and an all-round land values tax be substituted to help to pay the interest on war loans.” I place these suggestions on record,, not as the opinions of the Labour party, but as the views of a very considerable section of that party, and with a view to showing that this question is receiving a very great deal of public attention.
In my opinion, the Government will do well to take notice of what is going on, and instead of asking us to pass a complicated income-tax measure, to recognise the proper method of raising money for national purposes. I have not the slightest faith in the repatriation scheme of the Government, unless it is accompanied by heavy land values taxation without exemption. In my opinion, nothing else will bring down land values to use purposes. ‘This is the only way in which we can make land cheap. Nobody knows that better than does Senator Millen, although for several years now he has remained as dumb as an oyster upon it. I think it is up to the Government to bring forward a measure such as I have suggested. I have given some consideration to the question of how the necessary money to meet the cost of the part which Australia has played in the war can be raised.
I disagree entirely with many of the things which are being done in connexion with the present war loan, and which have been done in connexion with past loans. It has to be remembered that the contributions to these loans are purely voluntary. We have not yet reached the stage when a compulsory levy must be made. So long as we can get sufficient money for these loans, I do not think a compulsory levy in any other direction should be made. It would be very much better if a larger proportion of the cost of the war was raised by means of direct taxation of the land, instead of being paid for out of loans. Even if the war terminated at the end of the current year, we should be faced with an annual interest bill on our war indebtedness of £10,000,000, and it is impossible to say how much more we shall require to raise on account of repatriation, pensions to returned soldiers, and allowances to their dependants. The only proper method of raising this money is that which I have indicated, and which is so clearly outlined in many of the resolutions which T have read
– I wish to reply to some of the criticisms that have been directed against the Defence Department.
Senator McDougall complained that certain men have been dismissed from the Cockatoo Dockyard because they had not signed the agreement in regard to shipbuilding, and he regarded that occurrence as an attack upon unionism. I should like to point out that the agreement they were asked to sign has been signed by the bulk of the unions engaged in the shipbuilding industry - that is to say, it was signed by them as unions, and not by the industrial members. It does not seem to me, therefore, that the honorable senator is justified in saying that the dismissal of men for refusing to sign the same agreement constitutes an attack upon unionism.
Senator McDougall referred also to the case of a German internee named Herman Hayman, who was recently sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in New South Wales on a charge of false pretences; and he said that, because of that man having been at large and having said in Court that he was the friend of the Commandant of the Concentration Camp, there should be an inquiry into the general management of the camp. The management of the German Concentration Camp was inquired into by the Royal Commission. I do not say that the Commission inquired into the Government policy of dealing with Germans, but Senator McDougall hinted that he did not think the business management of the camp was on good lines. All I can say in reply to that is that the Royal Commission, which, as honorable senators know, was fairly critical, reported favorably on the administration of the camp.
I have ascertained the facts as to how Hayman came to be at large. On the 23rd July, 1917, two medical officers at the camp reported that he was suffering from incipient locomotor ataxia, which was likely to become worse, and they recommended that, as his people were willing to support him, he should be released. The District Commandant approved of his release. Hayman is an unnaturalized German married to an Australian woman. When Senator McDougall raised this question in the Senate, I asked that a report and the papers referring to the case’ should be sent to me, and I attached a minute that Hayman should be watched and a further report made as to his conduct. A further report was made on the 27th September, 1917, in which the police said that Hayman was complying with all the requirements of the law in regard to the restriction of enemy aliens, that nothing objectionable in his behaviour had been noticed, and that any spare time he had when not working was spent in his own home. The police were instructed to report if any alteration in his behaviour occurred, and, so far as the file shows, nothing further has been reported. I presume there will be a further file in the district, because, as Senator McDougall has said, this man has since been convicted on a charge of false pretences.
Senator O’Keefe mentioned a telegram he had received from Launceston to the effect that Lieutenant Wills had refused Archbishop Cattaneo and another church dignitary permission to go on the wharf when the Loongana was leaving, although Eather MacNally, of Launceston, had a permit for them to do so in order that they might see some persons who were leaving by the steamer.
– I did not say that Archbishop Cattaneo was not permitted to go on the wharf. He had a steamer ticket, and had to be permitted, but Archbishop Delaney and Monsignor Beechinor were not permitted to go on the wharf, although Father MacNally had a permit from the Naval officer to do so.
– The honorable senator said that these two dignitaries were insultingly refused access to the wharf. Of course I am not in a position to know the facts except as Senator O’Keefe has stated them, but I have given instructions that a report shall be obtained. I wish to say now, however, that, even if these two dignitaries had no right to be on the wharf, there was no justification for their being told so in an insulting manner; and any officer who was guilty of such conduct will be dealt with. I have looked up the Naval instructions, and I find, this paragraph in regard to passes -
Books of daily passes will be issued from Navy Office to all district naval officers and sub-district naval officers (and to other persons who represent the Naval Department where there are no Naval officials), who will issue them to ship-owners or agents. Ship-owners or agents will issue these passes to persons who have to visit the ship on duty or business, and to passengers. Other visitors are not permitted.
It will be noticed that no person is entitled to a pass unless he has to visit a ship on duty or business, or is a passenger. It is obvious that that instruction does not cover persons who desire to go on the wharf merely to say good-bye to some other persons. But if a Naval officer did issue a pass, as Senator O’Keefe has stated, the Military officer should have recognised it.
– This pass was made out for Father MacNally and party. He and three others were admitted to the wharf, and then the car returned for the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Delaney, and Monsignor Beechinor, but the two last-named, on arrival, were not allowed to go on the wharf.
– All I can say at the present moment is that I will have inquiries made. I would not be a party to sheltering any officer who exercised even his proper authority in an insulting fashion. I may say that I have been blocked through not having a proper pass, but I was not treated with discourtesy. I went to the barracks on one Sunday, and was bailed up by the sentry, and asked for my pass. I said that I had no pass, but that I was the Minister for Defence. The sentry did not seem to know who the Minister was, or what right he had . to enter the barracks, and, although I showed him a number of letters in proof of my identity, he persisted, and quite rightly, in refusing to grant me admission, and it was only through the timely intervention of an officer that I was allowed to pass.
Senator Pratten raised several interesting points. In the first place, he referred to dissatisfaction in regard to the Defence
Department’s treatment of enemy aliens. I can quite believe that the Department does not please everybody in connexion with this matter, nor do I think it is possible to do so. I find that we not only displease people if we do not intern aliens, but we also displease men who are quite good Britishers if we do. Some aliens are no sooner interned than we find some quite loyal people are anxious to get them out again. Of course, the regulations are not administered for the purpose of pleasing everybody. They are administered with a definite object in view, namely, the protection of the Commonwealth. The rule I have always laid down for the Department to observe is that if information, of a definite or suspicious character in regard to any enemy alien is received, he is to be interned. If the case against him is not clear, the benefit of the doubt is to go to the country, and not to the alien. We have to administer these regulations through the agency of our Intelligence Staff throughout the Commonwealth, and their duty is to forward to us, after full inquiry, any information they gather in regard to enemy aliens. It may be that very often, as a result of inquiries, the Intelligence Staff become acquainted with facts which are not known to the man in the street, who may think that a certain alien at large is a danger to the community, and for various reasons we cannot let the man in the street know the facts.
– Did not the Minister mention the appointment of a magistrate?
-That was only to deal with persons of enemy origin employed in Government Departments. There is no part of the British Empire in which all enemy aliens without regard to their loyalty or disloyalty are- interned. We have been as careful in this matter as have the Governments in any part of the British Empire ; but it is a fact that there are in the Commonwealth persons of enemy origin who have demonstrated their loyalty. One cannot read any casualty list that does not include the names of men of enemy origin, and it would not be in accordance with British ideals if, when these young men have gone abroad to fight for the Commonwealth, their fathers, solely because they were born in Germany, were, ipso facto, to be ‘interned.
– There are others.
– There are; and, as I have said if there is any doubt as to any man’s loyalty, the benefit of the doubt is given to the country.
Senator Pratten spoke also of a German who, at a recruiting meeting, was sneering at the speakers. I should like to ask the honorable senator whether he reported that case to the Department.
– I did.
– And was no action taken?
– No; the Department questioned the accuracy of the information.
– I should like Senator Pratten to give me privately the name of the person to whom he refers, so that I may look up the file. The case must certainly have been investigated. We have found before to-day that persons will make charges about another man, but when the intelligence officer goes to them for particulars, they will not stand by their previous statements.
Another matter raised by Senator Pratten was as to the re-organization of the Defence Department. As the honorable senator knows, the Business Board has been definitely appointed, and its members are now ready to take up their duties. Before they formally do so the regulations have to be altered. For instance, the present regulations provide for a finance member of the Military Board. That will have to be altered. Then new regulations must be drafted also to give authority to the Business Board.
– Will that Board have complete control of the civil side of the Defence Department, subject to yourself?
– Yes, subject to Ministerial responsibility the Board will have complete control of the civil administration side. Senator Pratten also suggested that there should be sympathetic treatment of recruits in camp. I quite agree with him. There, however, the personal equation always comes in. We have to deal with human beings, and the trouble is that while, officially, every provision is made for the well-being of the troops, frequently, and unfortunately, we have officers who do not administer the personal equation, who do not mete out sympathetic treatment as they should.
– Would you be prepared to displace an unsympathetic man?.
– Certainly. The great bulk of the members of our camp staffs to-day are retired officers - men who have had considerable dealings with other men, and the camp commandants have full power to replace officers - to change their staffs. There are officers offering now, and there are, therefore, opportunities to pick and choose, which did not obtain in the early stages of the war.
On the question of enlistment for general service, Senator Pratten says that prior to the issue of that order there was never any shortage for any other unit but infantry. That is quite true. What is more, that is one of the reasons why we were Compelled to issue the order. That is to say, you have only to look at the fighting today to. realize that those who are bearing the brunt and sustaining the greatest number of casualties are the infantry units. If we were to continue to allow recruits to choose the arm of the service into which they desire to go we would be getting a surplus, probably, for the non-combatant arms, and would have men in camp month after month, doing nothing except training for long periods, while the infantry units went short of reinforcements.
– Is riot the point, either enlist them for special service or do not enlist many of them at all?
– I do not think so, because there has not been anything like a serious falling off in recruits since the General Service* Order was issued. The decline in recruiting has been practically regular. It is now, I am glad to say, going up again, and I hope it will increase by leaps and bounds. But out of 2,000 or 3,000 recruits we frequently find that we get only 200 or 300 for the infantry. If the great proportion of them were, to be recruited for such arms as the Army Medical Corps it would be just as well not to recruit them at all, because we could always get men for those units when we wanted them. And, if they would not go into any other unit they might just as well have stayed at home as go into camp. Numbers of men have enlisted and remained in camp for a year and more before being absorbed as reinforcements into their special units. That sort of thing is extremely costly to the country all the while. To continue it would be to cause unnecessary expense, while at the same time the infantry might be starving for reinforcements.
– But are the enlisted men not soldiers, and, therefore, bound to do as they are told ?
– Certainly ; but does not the honorable senator see that once a man was accepted and had entered military service on the understanding that he was to go into the unit for which he had enlisted, there would be no right subsequently to transfer him, say, from the Army Medical Corps which he had joined, into the infantry. When there was a surplus of artillery reinforcements, and we acted on the advice of General Birdwood, and proposed to transfer the surplus into the infantry, there was an immediate outcry, in which Senator Pratten tells us he joined. It is true that that situation was shortly afterwards overcome, because meanwhile there came a call for further artillery reinforcements. This action has been taken at the suggestion of General Birdwood himself. He found that in every ship we were sending Army Medical Corps and Army Service Corps and artillery reinforcements, but only a small modicum of infantry; whereas what he wanted was infantry, and more infantry. He had already a surplus in the other units. Therefore, he asked that we should enlist men here for general service, and that when they were sent overseas he should be allowed to draft them into the units most urgently requiring reinforcements. If a man conscientiously desired to serve his country he would surely be ready to be drafted into that unit where the need was greatest. Therefore, by enlisting recruits for general service, a man has an opportunity to serve his country; and the Officer Commanding overseas, who should be the ‘best judge of his own requirements, has the power to draft what numbers he can secure into those arms where reinforcements are most urgently wanted.
– There are seventy or eighty men at Caulfield Hospital who are anxious to go into the infantry, and who are not allowed to go. They are doing nothing else but scrubbing floors and washing dishes - which a woman could do - and they wish to go into the infantry; but are not permitted to do so.
– I am surprised, and if I find that such is the case, I shall make every effort to get them into the infantry at the shortest possible moment.
– It shows the ineptitude of the men running the show.
– It will require very little effort to draft them into the infantry. My own experience has been all the other way. I have received scores of requests by letters and otherwise, both from honorable senators and from parties outside, that recruits might be re-drafted from the infantry into such other units as the Army Medical Corps. I have never had the experience of a request for the transfer of men in the opposite direction. It certainly paralyzes me to hear this. The desire of themen referred to shall be gratified at the shortest notice.
– There are special circumstances in Australia not existing in any other part of the Empire.
– There certainly are, and because of those special circumstances it is all the more necessary that we should enlist the men for general service. If we had the compulsory system in Australia we would put men in that arm of the service for which they were most fitted, and where reinforcements were most needed. Any military officer will tell us that in the engineers and artillery they are always keen to get mechanics. If there were compulsory military service, men would be drafted as mechanics; but under the voluntary system we must take what we can get, and if there are not enough actual mechanics we must draft anybody whom we can secure.
– Do you suggest that in the kaleidoscopic changes of the war artillery and, say, Light Horse reinforcements, will not be wanted again ?
– I am not a prophet, and will not attempt to prophesy. The variations during this war have been astonishing. In the early stages we were told that Light Horse would be wanted; but when the Gallipoli campaign opened they were left in Egypt, and we were told that no more would be required. Nevertheless, we must meet the demand of the moment; and that demand to-day is for infantry, infantry, infantry - not for the Army Medical Corps or the Army Service Corps. And never have we had any difficulty in keeping up the supply of artillery or Light Horse.
– You will find recruiting greatly stimulated if you revert to the old order.
– No doubt; but are we recruiting simply in order to have a lot of men stored here in camp or in England? Surely not. We are recruiting in order to replenish the fighting divisions at the Front, with their various complements ; and if one arm is short and the others have not a shortage, it is our duty to try and fill up where the lack lies.
– Have any communications been made overseas with regard to the ease with which artillery and Light Horse can be recruited?
– Yes, frequently. They know the position absolutely.
– Do they know our position as well as we do ?
– Yes, they have been told, and they know it exactly. General Birdwood has been informed.
– Honorable senators who know anything of the practice of this House will exonerate me from any charge of discourtesy in not having spoken upon the subject-matter of the Bill in moving the first reading. It was suggested by Senator McDougall as a matter for surprise that I had not referred to the contents of the measure. The proper stage for doing so is upon the second reading, when the particulars of the Bill are ordinarily disclosed. Our procedure, being dissimilar to the other House, the first reading of a measure such as this is recognised as an opportunity for honorable senators to ventilate their grievances, and to bring forward anything they like. There is no occasion for the Minister introducing the Bill to make a single reference to it; and I have followed the practice, in conformity with the Standing Orders, which has been followed ever since the Senate was constituted. Senator Grant seemed to regard the introduction of these Supply Bills as a grievance. If there is any honorable senator who should hail them as a blessing, it is he, for they furnish him on each occasion with opportunity for giving us another of his well-known lessons on the virtues of land taxation.
– Which you have not learned yet.
– But we are learning;and if it were not for the introduction of Supply there would be fewer opportunities for the honorable senator to administer his lesson. The only thing wherein I can see that he has reasonable grievance is that SupplyBills should be introduced for terms of three months instead of being brought in every month.
Senator McDougall made some reference to matters which, I am sure, excite all our sympathies. That was a certain statement as to hardships being faced by a number of dependants of soldiers at the Front. We know that there must be individual cases ofvery great hardship and privation ; and to those who are suffering we proffer a full measure of sympathy. Having made that statement, and recognising that it is the duty of everybody, especially those charged with Ministerial responsibility, to see what can be done to alleviate the circumstances of those placed as I have indicated, I must point out that there is an obligation upon those who, like Senator McDougall, make these charges, to be at least careful as to their facts before they make them. The honorable senator said that the cases to which he referred seriously and pre judicially affected recruiting. That would be true if they were all authenticated ; but a much more serious effect is produced upon recruiting when gentlemen like Senator McDougall make and remake statements for which there is not sufficient foundation, because they tend to create the impression that these conditions of privation and want are general throughout the States. When the honorable senator some months ago first brought the matter up, he undertook to supply me with a . number of cases for which he said he could vouch. He did so, and I have had them inquired into. At the same time, quite independently of any action I was taking, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, moved, no doubt,by the honorable senator’s statements, sent members of its own staff to inquire. Without vouching for the literal accuracy of my words, I can say that they headed their column dealing with the matter with the line, “ Charges not Substantiated.” They had no possible inducement to do other than record the facts as they found them. I shall place before the Senate the facts of some of these oases. I do not want it to be thought that I am denying the existence of cases of hardship. They do exist ; but it is utterly wrong for any one to create the impression that they are general, and that every statement made in public is necessarily correct. I propose to suppress the names, and to refer to the cases by numbers, sothat Senator McDougall may identify them if he wishes -
I have a long list of similar cases, because Senator McDougall sent me quite a number. I have no doubt they were sent to him as genuine, and that’, prompted by sympathy, he assumed that they were all bonâ fide. All those I have here are cases he sent me himself. Will any honorable senator say that there is any evidence in the cases I have quoted of ungenerous treatment to these women? I do not know what views honorable senators take of the responsibility that rests upon us, but not one of these women can fairly say that she is financially worse off because of the enlistment of her husband. In every case I have shown that she is financially better off. Here and there, owing either to inability on the part of the applicant to present her case, or for other reasons, it is inevitable that from time to time cases of distress and hardship will arise.. That is an obligation which all these organzations have to endeavour to meet; but a series of cases of the kind I have quoted ought to be a warning to honorable senators to look closely into the facts before they take the responsibility of making public statements, and thereby creating an entirely false public impression.
– I will prove every word I said if you will give me a chance.
– During the honorable senator’s temporary absence from the chamber, I quoted a number of cases, and the honorable senator can get from me the names applying to each number.
– You sent men who were responsible for what I objected to to find out the facts.
– I did nothing of the kind. I am not referring to inquiries made in Sydney by the Lord Mayor’s Fund. Whoever made the inquiry, no one can dispute the correctness of the figures I have given.
– I refuted one incorrect statement to-day. I could have given a lot which were absolutely incorrect, but did not want to take up the time of the Senate.
– The figures I have given are the actual amounts paid to the women in every case. I do not quarrel with Senator McDougall bringing these matters forward, except that, living as we do in times when every word ‘of a public nian counts, either for or against our efforts to obtain recruits, there is a responsibility on all of us, while trying to right anything that is wrong, to refrain from creating an entirely false impression as to the condition in which these women are placed. Let me deal with cases of another type to which Senator McDougall referred. He mentioned the case of a woman in New South Wales whose sou had enlisted, and who claimed that she was dependent upon her son, and, as a consequence, obtained from the Defence Department the separation allowance, and subsequently applied to the Lord Mayor’s Fund. I am sorry to say there was no difficulty in getting police reports about this case. A few weeks before the son enlisted, this woman had gone to the police to know if she could not by law compel him to contribute to the upkeep of her house. She said he was hanging around and Would not contribute a shilling. When the son enlisted she came forward and signed a declaration that she was dependent on him.
Sena’tor McDougall. - She’ must have been dependent on him or she would not have asked.
– Then why did she ask the police to do something to make her son, who had been loafing about, contribute to the upkeep of her home?
– That was the proper course for her to follow.
– She could not, in the same breath, claim that she was dependent upon him, for she was not. I can well imagine that when a woman goes to a man like Senator McDougall she finds no great difficulty in persuading him that she is the most ill-treated person in the Commonwealth. While we have to administer our patriotic and repatriation activities with every sympathy, we must remember that some efforts will always be made to impose on the funds. The obligation is cast on those who administer them, while doing so fairly and generously, to see that the money contributed by the public, or voted by Parliament, is not handed out for any other object than that for which it is intended. All the inquiries I have made so far indicate that, while here and there there .are a certain number of cases that call for’ revision, the majority are on the basis of those I have quoted. I do not believe that in one case out of twenty I have inquired into, the woman is in receipt today of less income than she had before her husband enlisted, in addition to which most of them have had substantial grants out of the various funds.
I wish to have a word now upon a matter of very considerable interest which was raised by Senator Thomas. I desire to welcome the honorable senator to the ranks of the champions of the rights and privileges’ of this Chamber. Those who, like myself, were privilged to occupy seats here years ago, will recollect that we were sometimes beside ourselves with indignation at the echoes of Senator. Thomas’ denunciation of the Senate from beyond these walls. A sinner who turns from sin is always welcome; and I congratulate honorable senators upon having received this addition to the ranks of the champions of our rights and privileges. But let me say there is nothing to be gained in a practical assembly by trying to create a grievance where none exists. I should be as ready as any one else to interpose if any step were taken which might seriously impair the efficiency of this Chamber, or deter it from carrying .out the duties assigned to it under the Constitution. Whilst the Senate has its rights, so has the other branch of the Legislature,’ and the fact must not be overlooked that the Government have their responsibilities. The Senate on this occasion, as upon all others, was entitled to appoint a ‘Select Committee to make any inquiry which honorable senators desired to have proceeded with. But when the expenses of the Committee, as in this case, exceed the amount which has received actual, or implied, parliamentary approval, and an additional amount is required, the Treasurer who is asked to find the amount, runs the risk of having it refused by another branch, of the Legislature, fie is therefore bound to have some regard bo;bh for the amount required and the purpose for which it is required. If that were not so, the control of another place over the Ministry, or its control of the purse, would be a matter of fiction. Whatever Parliament has made available for a specific purpose can, of course, be dealt with; but the “money now being sought by the Select Committee referred to, has never been passed by Parliament, ana must, therefore, be provided out of the Treasurer’s Advance Account, and for every item so provided the Treasurer must justify his action to another place, as well as to the Senate. If the Senate regards the action taken as so serious as to represent an inroad upon its rights and privileges, it can give expression to its will at once by holding up the Supply Bill. The reason why it will probably not do that is that honorable senators will recognise that so drastic a remedy is not called for by the circumstances of the case. But if there were a genuine grievance, that would be the remedy in the hands of the Senate. In this matter, the Senate is in the same position as another place. If a Select Committee were appointed by another place, and a vote for its expenses came along here, we might refuse to pass it. We have that power. But to say that the Select Committee of another place would therefore become the creature of the Senate would be to use terms that would not fit the case. Senator Thomas himself offered the solution of what otherwise would be an apparent difficulty in a possible conflict between the rights of the Senate and of another place, and the responsibility of the Government. He gave that in the conversation he had with a professor. The supposition was that that gentleman ‘ said that a democratic Constitution would be worked by sane men. That is the solution. Our Constitution could not be worked upon any other supposition. If honorable senators believe that greater freedom should be given to the Select Committee, of which Senator Thomas is chairman, to prosecute its work, they can express their will to that effect, and the Government must take the responsibility of responding to, or refusing, the proposal made. No one seriously thinks that the rights of the Senate have been impaired by what has been done in this case. Nor does any one think that if honorable senators were firmly of opinion that this Committee should carry its investigation further, and travel over a greater area of Australia, it would be unable to make that view known, or that the Government would not treat the expression of such an opinion with the respect it deserved. We ail know these things, and therefore there is no reason to become heroic over a matter of this kind. I feel sure that honorable senators have not troubled a little about it. I have not fol lowed the very useful work, and I say advisedly the very useful work, of the Select Committee very closely. But now that the matter has been raised, I invite the members of that Committee to consider whether any additional evidence they would be likely to secure by further travelling would do. more than merely add to the volume of . evidence of the same kind which they have already taken. They will obtain more evidence if they travel further, but do they expect to obtain different evidence to that which they have already secured? I ask them to consider whether they have not already obtained evidence from such a variety of- sources, and over a sufficiently wide area, that they may regard it as indicative of conditions throughout the Commonwealth, and whether, in the circumstances, they cannot come to a decision on the evidence they have already obtained? If they admit that that is so, I submit that there is no need that they should proceed further with their inquiries.” If, after looking into the matter, they feel that they are entitled to ask the Government for additional provision, their decision to that effect should receive consideration. Judging by the newspaper reports of the evidence already taken by the Committee, that taken at one sitting appears to be practically a duplicate of that taken at a previous: sitting. The Committee has visited four of the States, and I ask them to consider whether they can expect that the evidence which they will secure in the other two would be fresh evidence, or merely a repetition of the. kind of evidence they have already obtained.
– They are the best judges of that.
– I admit that. I do not ask the Select Committee to do more than to consider the ‘ suggestion I now make, that they should look into that matter. I do not believe that the members of that Committee would run the country into unnecessary expense.
– I told Senator Thomas that that was what he was going to do when he asked for the Select Committee.
– I do not underestimate the importance of the work in which the Select Committee is engaged. No man in this chamber would look more shrewdly at the expense of an undertaking than would a business man like Senator Pratten, and I ask. him whether if the Select Committee have obtained in four of the States evidence of a similar character, it is not a fair assumption that by visiting the fifth or the sixth State they -would only get a repetition of that evidence ?
– I think we had a right to assume that before the Select Committee was appointed; but when it was appointed we should leave to it the responsibility of carrying out its duty.
– Exactly ; but I have a responsibility which I am now trying to exercise in inviting the Select Committee to consider the aspect of the case which I have submitted, and if, after doing so, members of the Committee come to the conclusion that it is necessary, for the effective carrying out of the duties with which the Committee has been charged, that they should travel over a wider area to secure evidence, that conclusion will be one which Ministers will be bound to consider. In the meantime, I invite the Committee to consider whether by travelling further it can do more than add to the bulk of evidence similar to that which has already been obtained. If they come to the conclusion that they cannot do more, then I think it is fair to suggest, that they should bring their peregrinations to a close, and proceed with the preparation of their report.
Question resolved in the .affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I propose briefly to give the Senate particulars of the amount set out in the Bill, and a very brief statement of figures showing the actual expenditure and revenue to date.
This Supply Bill is intended to cover ordinary expenditure on Government services to the end of June. The amount provided by the Bill is £5,068,484. This amount is based on the expenditure estimated by the Treasurer in introducing his Budget in August last.
In addition to providing for this expenditure the present Bill in the first schedule proposes to amend previous Supply Bills for this financial year to bring them in conformity with the final provision in the Estimates.
The total of each subdivision qf the Estimates is shown in the second schedule to the Bill.
The position at the close of the present financial year promises to be good. For the nine months ended the 31st March the revenue was £19,209,000, and the approximate expenditure was £22,953,000.
The estimated revenue for that period was £20,500,000, being £1,291,000 more than that actually received, and the estimated expenditure was £25,000,000, being £2,047,000 less than the approximate actual expenditure.
In arriving at the exact financial position for the first nine months of the year it is, however, necessary to take into account the sum of £2,077,427, which was brought forward from last year for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions. When this is done it is found that the deficit on the Consolidated Revenue Fund at the 31st March last was £1,666,573. This deficit will .be temporarily met by an advance out of the Notes Fund, for which parliamentary authority exists. It must, however, be remembered that almost the whole of the revenue from direct taxation is received during the last three months of the financial year, and it is highly probable, therefore, that moneys advanced from the Notes Fund will be repaid out of revenue, and that the year will end with a balanced ledger, or even with a surplus.
– That is outside of the notes and the war loans?
– My statement does not deal with the loan expenditure, but only with revenue and expenditure. The Treasurer has expressed the opinion that when the direct taxation is “received between this and the end of the financial year, which, for the reason I have already set out,’ will be much heavier for this quarter of the year than for the previous three quarters, the year will close with a surplus of a little over £750,000. These figures were given elsewhere by the Treasurer a few days ago, but I understand from him that the indications which have presented themselves during the “last few days .substantiate that estimate and justify him in saying that, at least, that will be the result at the close of the present financial year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 and the first schedule agreed to.
Port Pirie Wharf - Coal Industry Dispute - Trade between Australia and the East - National Association for Labour Legislation - Audit Office - Imperial Conference - High Commissioner’s Office - Taxation Returns - Cost of Taxation Office - Commonwealth Police Force - Unlawful Associations : Case of Mr. Wilson - Papua : Administration : Oil-fields - Uniform Electoral Rolls - War Census Statistics - Rent of Commonwealth Buildings - Federal Capital : Housing Accommodation - Pay of Temporary Employees - Tropical Diseases - Forestry - Enamel for Military Medals - Training of Aviators - Manufacture of Woollens and Linen - Arsenal - Commonwealth Factories - Rifle Clubs - Defence Administration : Business Board : Ordnance Branch: Treatment of Returned Soldiers : Staff-Sergeants Major and Honorary Rank: Reductions in Rank and Pay: Citizen Force Training: Expenditure on Camps and Ammunition: Soldiers’ Dependants - Postal Employees : Annual Leave and Pay - Commonwealth Line of Steamers.
– I should like some explanation of the item -
Administrative expenses, Port Pirie wharf - £2,000.
– The money is needed to provide for the installation of certain mechanical appliances for loading, and administrative charges connected with their erection and control.
.- The sum of £3,000 is set down as “expenses in connexion with compulsory conference on the coal industry dispute.” I fancy that I have seen this item in a previous Supply Bill. I ask the Minister whether it isa duplication of an item under the bookkeeping adjustment for which the Bill provides, or whether it is an addition? Then, in regard to the item -
Royal Commission to inquire into the matter of trade between Australia and Java, Singapore, and the East Indies- £500.
I wish toknow whether it is a duplication? Last year we voted £255 14s. 9d. under this head. I understand that two gentlemen were sent to the East.
– To the honorable senator’s first question my reply is that there has been no previous vote for the compulsory conference, the sum set down being the total amount involved. As to the Commission to the East, the sum provided for is the balance outstanding.
– Has a report been presented which is available to honorable senators?
– I cannot speak definitely, but I believe that there is a trade report which will shortly be made available to honorable senators, and a confidential report, the contents of which, of course, will not be made public. If the honorable senator will address a question to me on the subject a few days hence, I may be able to give him further information.
.- It is not clear what is covered by the item -
National Association for Labour Legislation -grant £100.
– The National Association for Labour Legislation is a body which meets in Europe periodically, and Australia has been heretofore represented there by the High Commissioner, and I am not clear that the money will be spent this year, because of the military situation.
– I ask the representative of the Government whether the Audit Department is to be added to, so that we may not have a repetition of complaints such as have been made by the Royal Commission on Defence matters and the Auditor-General. The Department is a very important one, in view of the huge expenditure of the Commonwealth, which is now five times as large as it was in prewar days. In fairness to the AuditorGeneral, he should be given every facility for carrying out his work efficiently and well.
– The matter raised by Senator Pratten and referred to in the Defence Commission’s report is now under the consideration’ of the Cabinet.
– I understand that the Commonwealth is shortly to be represented at an Imperial Conference. Is there any item in the Bill covering the probable expenses ?
– There is an amount of £28,575 set down for contingencies in the High Commissioner’s Office. That is a very large sum, and, if my memory serves me aright, a much larger sum than was voted last year. What is proposed to be done with the money?
– All the particulars embraced under the heading of “ Contingencies “ are set out in the Budget-papers which were presented to Parliament last August. Following the usual practice, certain items which occur regularly have been grouped. There is no innovation.
– Has any serious effort been made by the Government to make it unnecessary for taxpayers to fill in separate returns of income for the information of Commonwealth and State authorities? The present arrangements cause great inconvenience, especially to business men whose operations extend over more than one State. It involves them in unnecessary expense, and creates much irritation. Is the Government taking steps to provide that one return shall suffice both for the Commonwealth Taxation Office and the Taxation Offices of the States?
– What is desired by Senator Grant necessitates co-operation between the Commonwealth and State authorities, and, as the result of a conference, a Bill has been introduced into the other branch of the Legislature which will put us into a position to effectively co-operate with the States. It remains for the States to complete by their legislation the action that we have begun. Then machinery to enable one form to take the place of many will be set in motion.
Senator PRATTEN (New South to learn that ait last action is to be taken to simplify the complexity of the income taxation returns. I wish to know whether this amount of £197,606, set down for the Taxation Office, is to cover its cost for three months only.
– If the honorable senator will look at the abstract, he will see set down there the total expenditure of various Departments, amounting to £17,000,000 odd, from which has to be deducted £12,000,000 odd already voted. The expenditure on the Taxation Department will be in proportion.
.- Will the Leader of the Senate inform the Committee what was the cost, or what it is estimated will be the cost, df the Taxation Office for the year ended 30th June, 1917, and for the year ending 30th June, 1918? I ask for the information because this year the Taxation Office is arranging to collect the wartimes profits tax, and the figures will give us some indication of the cost of its collection. When the proposed taxation came under review in this chamber, there was a consensus of opinion that it would not produce as much revenue as honorable senators thought should be obtained, and that the cost of collection would be out of proportion to the amount collected.
– The total expenditure of the Department last year was <£197j981, as against an estimated expenditure of £214,909. Acting on the experience gained during last year’s operations, the Estimates for this year have been reduced to £197,606.
– That means that, so far as the Federal Taxation Department is concerned, there has been practically no increase this year over last year in the cost of administration, in spite of the additional duties imposed on the Department?
– That is so.
– I desire to repeat my protest of a few nights ago briefly, but I hope effectively, against the continuation of the wasteful and extravagant expenditure which has been incurred in connexion with the maintenance of a Commonwealth Police Force in the State of Queensland.
As I understand that this totally unnecessary force is under the control of the Attorney-General, it is my intention to move to reduce the amount which is set down in the schedule for the Department of the Attorney-General as an instruction to the Government that this force shall be discontinued.
– The honorable senator will pardon me if I point out that there is no amount included in the vote for the Department of the AttorneyGeneral for the payment of a Commonwealth Police Force.
– I had intended to move for the reduction of the vote for this Department by £3,713, which Senator Millen has informed Senator Needham has been the cost of maintaining the Commonwealth Police Force for the four months during which it has been in existence, but I realize that the forty-seven men who have been engaged must be paid until their services are dispensed with, and it is reasonable to assume that they will require some notice of the termination of their services. We have been informed that several of the members of this police force have already received three months’ notice of the termination of their offices, and as the cost of the maintenance of the force runs to £928 per month, it would be a fair thing to reduce the vote by such an amount as would provide for two months’ notice to the full staff. However, I shall adopt the procedure of moving to reduce the vote by £1 as an indication to the Government that the Senate requests the discontinuance of this police force. To-day we heard the President express the view that an item of £2 10s. , expended on tips- by a Select Committee during a visit to Tasmania, was unwarranted expenditure at a time like this, when every shilling counts. If every shilling counts, as we know it does, there is no justification for the continuance of an unnecessary police force in Queensland. As a representative of Queensland in this Senate, I desire to remove from that State the stigma which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), or his Government, have placed upon it. It is an unwarranted reflection on the people of Queensland. If the establishment of a Commonwealth Police Force was justified in that State, surely it would be justified in any other State. If it is true, as we were told the other night by Senator Pearce, and also, by way of interjection, by Sena tor Russell, that other States have been equally guilty with Queensland in the matter of refusing to comply with requests to inaugurate prosecutions in regard to offences against the price-fixing regulations, why has Queensland been singled out as the only State in which to plank down a number of police officers who are quite unnecessary ? Surely the establishment of a police force was equally warranted in other States. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has sought to justify the action of the Government by saying that almost since its inception the Commonwealth has had What might be called police officers in several of the Departments of the Commonwealth, for example, the Postal Department, the Department of Trade and Customs, and others. But I question whether those particular officers have been known as sub-inspectors, sergeants of the first class, or sergeants of the second class, or whether they have numbered forty-seven. Is it not a fact that this great increase in numbers has only taken place since the recent little trouble in Queensland ? However, as there is no necessity for continuing the extravagance or for further insulting the people of Queensland, I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to reduce the vote, “AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £77,130,” by fi.
If honorable senators agree to prefer this request, it can be taken as an instruction to the Government and to the Department of the Attorney-General to withdraw from Queensland, and abolish from the Commonwealth generally, what is known as the Commonwealth Police Force, a body which is as unnecessary as its establishment was unwarranted.
. 1 have already pointed out that no portion of the amount allotted in the schedule to the Department of the AttorneyGeneral will be available for- the payment of the Commonwealth Police Force. However, I do not desire to take a technical ground as to the point raised by Senator Ferricks, because we have recently had a discussion on the very matter when the honorable senator moved for the disallowance of the regulation under which this force was established, and there is little advantage to be gained in going over the ground a second time to-night.
– Let the matter go to a vote as soon as you like.
.- When we were discussing the question of disallowing the regulation under which the Commonwealth Police Force was established, we were told that if the motion having for its object the disallowance of the regulation were carried, it would not affect the position, and we were advised that the time for dealing with the matter was when the Estimates were before the Senate.
– The proper time is when we are asked to vote the money which pays the men. We are not asked to do so here.
– Out of what fund are these men paid?
– I should say they are paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance, a detailed statement of which has to be submitted to Parliament.
– Are we not to be told where this money is to come from?
– I do not question the honorable senator’s right to discuss the matter. If Senator Ferricks’ amendment is carried, the Government will take it as an intimation that the Commonwealth Police Force should be abolished. Let a vote be taken on the matter now.
Question - That the proposed vote (Attorney-General’s Department) be reduced by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am reluctant at this hour to take up the time of the Committee at any length, but I have a grievance which I desire to ventilate before Supply is granted. I wish to protest against the greatest infringement of individual liberty that has yet come under my notice in this country. As I see that the Government have a majority, and a division must have the same result as in the case of Senator Ferricks, I shall only briefly state the facts. A man named Wilson, found guilty of being a member of an unlawful association, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for six months. The case was brought under my notice, and, exercising the care that Senator Millen told us an honorable senator should exercise before making a public statement, I had supplied to me the press reports of the case. The worst point in the police evidence - and I stake my reputation on this - was that the man had taken thechair at a meeting of the Industrial Workers of the World, and had said that he believed in one big union. His sentence expired many weeks ago, but I understand that he is still detained. I sent a number of telegrams to the Department in reference to the matter, but received no reply. I telegraphed to Senator Grant, who was in Melbourne, to look into the case, and then I did get areply to the effect that no information could be given. In my communications I have taken the line of inquiring whether there was any serious reason why the man should be detained, because the evidence at my disposal showed that this man’s character was such that his employers, a reputable building firm in Sydney, with whom he had been for two years, had offered to re-employ him if he were released. I rest my complaint on the gravity of the action of the Government in detaining this man - who has others dependent on him - in prison after the expiration of his sentence. I do not think that there was any intention on the part of the Government to deport this man. Although he was not born in Australia, his parents had lived here before his birth, but had subsequently gone to New Zealand. As to whether he was born here or in the Dominion, the evidence is very vague. My protest is based on an infringement of individual liberty by Which a man, not of criminal record, and for what is practically a new crime under a new Act, is still detained, so far as I know, after having served his term. I do not think I could put the case any more clearly by speaking further. Icommunicated with the Department by telegram, and by letter to the Prime Minister himself, but received no reply except the one I have indicated. My impression was that there was something against the man if one might judge by the attitude of the Department; and I thought I was entitled to know the facts, so that I might not be led away on a false track. It is not often that I bring matters of this character before the Senate, and I only do so because, unless there is grave grounds to suspect criminality, this man should not be detained after he has served his term of imprisonment.
– I appreciate, as I am sure the Committee do, the intimation by Senator Gardiner that, while taking this opportunity to bring forward an important matter, he does not propose to occupy time by pressing it to a division. I have no knowledge of the case, because I hear of it tonight for the first time.
– Senator Gardiner referred to it last week.
– But the Minister has not had it brought officially under his notice.
– This is the first time my attention has been directed to the case, and I can express no opinion as to what action ought to be taken, beyond saying that, in view of the representations made, I shall undertake myself to bring it before the Attorney-General with a view of having it looked into as early as possible.
– The question raised by Senator Gardiner is of great importance, and if it has not been brought officially under the Minister’s notice, it was referred to by the honorable senator last week in this chamber. We have taken the unusual course of abrogating certain inherent rights of a British subject, and I have defended that course from my seat in this place in connexion with the abrogation of the right of the individual by habeas corpus to have his liberty established. We are in a time of war, and because everything is critical, we have to take extraordinary measures. However, the circumstances that have been related by Senator Gardiner are such as might invite the careful attention of the Government. I hope, at any rate, it will be realized that nothing has been done by this Parliament that will take away from the individual his rights, except in so far as is absolutely necessary for the protection of the Commonwealth, and of the Empire now engaged in the war. I accept the assurance given by Senator Millen that he will give his personal attention to the matter; and I hope, for the sake of Parliament as well as for the sake of the Government, we shall have some vindication of the action that has been taken.
– One would have liked to discuss that great “ white elephant “ of ours, the Northern Territory, but I suppose there will be other opportunities, because it is a matter well worthy of all the attention the Senate can give it, apart altogether from party bias. In this proposed vote, there is an amount of £16,000 for the development of oil fields in Papua. This represents a continuation of the policy that has resulted so far in the expenditure of £60,000, for work which, in the hands of an ordinary mining engineer, would probably have been done quite as efficiently for £10,000.
– Would it?
– Ithink I know a little of what I am talking about, and, unless a large amount, indeed, has been spent in plant, the Government has been excessively charged. For five years the men have been at work there, and, so far, have achieved nothing practical; and I enter my protest against the continuance of such a state of things. The Government have created a monopoly in Papua, and, while they will allow no one else to do anything, they are not doing the job properly themselves. I stress again that the discovery and production of oil in the Commonwealth territories is one of the most urgent matters we could be busied with; and I hope the Government will tackle it in a business-like way. If the present control confesses failure, let us call in some one else, and get ahead with the work.
I should, however, like to say a good word for the administration of Papua under Judge Murray. I understand that the net cost of Papua to the Commonwealth is so little that the Possession is almost self-supporting. During my several visits there, not only this year and last year, but years ago, I beard from the settlers and the white population generally nothing but good of the Administration. I hope that this Possession will be developed, for it will be one of the most valuable we possess in years to come; and 1 trust that Parliament will be broad enough to make some reciprocal Customs arrangements in this connexion.
– Very serious inconvenience is experienced at the electoral office in making it reasonably certain that electors are duly enrolled. It is necessary in nearly all the States to have two separate rolls, one for Federal electors, and one for State electors. A good deal has been said and written on the subject, and I believe some investigations have been made, but. so far, no practical step has been taken to avoid the necessity for publishing two sets of rolls.
– It is not necessary to have two sets of rolls. In 1905 this Parliament passed legislation which enabled the Commonwealth to co-operate with the States. The only State that has yet done so is Tasmania.
– The position in Tasmania is somewhat different from that in other States, because there the electoral boundaries of the Federal divisions are fixed, because of Tasmania being given more representation in the Federal Parliament than its population entitles it to. As the boundaries of Federal divisions in that State are not likely to be altered for some time, it is easy for that State to have the one roll for both Commonwealth and State purposes.
– The reason why it is done is that, under the preferential system of voting, we have grouped electorates.
– Apart from the grouped electorates, the fact remains that each Federal divisional boundary in Tasmania is the boundary for each group of electorates. That arrangement cannot be made in Victoria and New South Wales, because in those States the divisional boundaries may alter .according to the fluctuations of the population. In South Australia it is necessary to have one roll for Federal electorates, another for the House of Assembly, another for the Legislative Council, and yet another for the municipal councils. In fact, it is a continuous operation for an elector to insure that his name is kept on the four rolls. Some steps ought to be taken by the Government to see that this matter ‘ is brought to finality, and that once a man’s name is entered on the Federal roll it should automatically appear on the State roll, and remain there so long as he continues in that division.
In regard to the item for census and statistics, I should like to know whether it is intended to tabulate the whole of the information disclosed by the war census cards, or is that information to be pigeonholed in the Statistician’s Office? The cards contained a good deal of information that ought to be made available to the public, and I should like to know what has become of it.
I’ mentioned earlier in the evening that the Government are paying £77,000 per annum for the renting of buildings, and I would like to know if any steps are being taken to obviate that expenditure?
In regard to the Federal Capital Territory, I notice a number of new items in connexion with the repatriation industry, and I ask the Minister to say whether any steps are being taken by the Government to provide proper housing accommodation for the workmen employed at the Federal Capital. I have mentioned repeatedly the disgraceful accommodation that is provided for the ordinary working men there. The present Government should not follow in the footsteps of previous Governments, but should, at once, from the resources at their disposal, provide accommodation for the temporary workmen employed at the Capital. It is unfair that temporary employees should be required to provide their own houses, and then, when they are discharged, be able to get practically no compensation. The Government have no more obligation to provide accommodation for the officers than they have to provide it for the temporary workmen. I do not object to the provision of accommodation for the officers, but if the Government can find thousands of pounds to build a house for the Administrator, they should be able to find a little money to provide accommodation for their other servants.
– I take this opportunity of reminding Senator Grant and other honorable senators that, as far back as 1905, we provided in the Commonwealth Electoral Act an opportunity for the States and the Commonwealth to co-operate in the matter of uniform electoral rolls, and, so far as I know, Tasmania is the only State that has availed itself of that opportunity. If Senator Grant were resident in Tasmania, he would find his name on the Commonwealth electoral roll; and also on the State roll, without any separate effort on his part to register for either. The Electoral Act of 1905 has since been amended to the extent of obliging electors to register for whatever division they are in, and when they go from one division to another to notify the Department of their change of address. The result is that the Federal electoral roll in Tasmania is automatically, so far as the elector is concerned, kept pure. There is no obligation thrown upon the police authorities to keep the roll pure, as has been the case in several other States in the past. All Tasmanian senators will bear me out when I say that during the last thirteen years we have had in that State one set of officers and one set of rolls. Time after time we have been told by the Melbourne press that we are frittering away money by having a duplicate system of registration and control in connexion with- electoral matters.
– Victoria only needs to come into line to set an example to the others.
– If either Victoria or New South Wales desired to cooperate with the Commonwealth in this matter it could do so to-morrow. What is the use of Senator Grant casting on Federal Ministers a responsibility for obligations which they are not bound to shoulder ?
– But the boundaries in Victoria and New South Wales are not fixed as they are in Tasmania.
– Then why do not those States fix their boundaries? They are too slow to catch worms. Two States of the Commonwealth have done this, and the New South Wales and Victorian Governments could do it if they chose.
– I would like to know why they do not do it.
– The honorable senator must ask the New South Wales Government. He must not challenge
Federal Ministers on a matter for which they are not responsible. The Commonwealth is prepared to co-operate with the electoral organization of every State and make it practicable to have the same officers, the same rolls, and the same administration for both.
– I am in entire sympathy with the remarks made by Senator Keating. I believe that a very large majority of the people in Queensland would welcome the adoption of the course he has indicated. I may say also that there are many members in the Queensland State Parliament who would welcome a change from the present system, for the reason that at the last State elections there were between 20,000 and 30,000 more names on the State electoral roll than were on the Federal roll, and I am of opinion, although I have no proof of it, that there were more names on the State roll than there were voters in the State. It is time some action was taken to bring about the co-operation of the State and Federal electoral organizations.
Another matter with which I wish to deal is the reduction during the last few months in the salaries of temporary employees in the Public Service. I know of deductions which have been made in the salaries of employees in the Federal Taxation Department, but as I am not allowed at this stage to deal with Treasury expenditure, I shall apply my remarks to Commonwealth Departments generally. I enter my protest against any reduction being made in the salaries of temporary employees. At a time like this, when the cost of living is increasing, we should be considering the increase rather than the reduction of the salaries of temporary employees. In the Governor-General’s speech last year the Government announced their intention to economize, but I do not think any honorable senator, no matter what political opinions he holds, desires to see them economize at the expense of low-paid temporary employees.
.- Is the vote of £4,300 for the advancement of the study of diseases in tropical Australia connected with the institution at Townsville?
– I regard it as quite a laudable expenditure. I wish to congratulate the Minister on items regarding forestry appearing on the Estimates for the first time. The importance of this matter cannot be too greatly stressed, and I hope, the good work will be developed.
– Senator Grant drew attention to the expense incurred for renting premises. A good deal of this expenditure, so far as it is an increase, arises from the necessity for providing accommodation for those commercial undertakings which have developed in consequence of the war. The policy of the Government of the Commonwealth for some years has been to rent rather than to build in Melbourne, because of the anticipation, which some little time ago was general, that in a few years the Parliament would be moving to Canberra. Senator Keating has sufficiently answered the questions raised regarding electoral law. Senator Pratten, who raised the question of the oil fields, knows the policy being pursued so well that he is inclined to regard it as ill, but the representations he has made from time to time in this chamber have not been lost sight of. I have forwarded them on to my colleague who has control of that important Commonwealth responsibility. I can assure Senator Foll that he is quite wrong in regarding the reduction of the salaries of certain temporary employees in Queensland as part of a general policy. There may have been individual cases where the readjustment of some Department has brought about a reduction here or there, but generally speaking every move lately has been to increase salaries in the Public Service of the Commonwealth. I shall be glad if the honorable senator will furnish me with particulars of the cases he has in mind, so that I may look further into them.
this afternoon, in answer to a question by myself regarding the manufacture of enamel in Australia, stated that the. enamel made here was not good enough to be used for the purposes of military medals. This is an industry that will give a large amount of employment to returned soldiers. I have seen the enamel manu factured from the raw material, and seen the medals stamped out, and the enamel placed on them. I shall have great pleasure next week in showing the Minister the finished article, made in Australia by Australian workmen. I cannot promise to give him one, because they are made in connexion with the Red Cross movement, and cost a guinea each. If the enamel is not good enough, it is fair that the Government should make an attempt to perfect it. It should not be left to private individuals to introduce industries of that description, that would give employment to a large number of returned soldiers. It is a matter of repetition work, all done by machinery, on which the men could be given a standard w age. Most of these things are made today by female labour, which I have ob- ‘jected to for a long time unless the women receive the same pay as the men. I do not say the enamel is good for anything else, but it has been proved good for the purpose of medals. I hope the Minister will go beyond the decision of his expert, and look further into the matter. I have some knowledge of the industry, because in years gone by it was necessary to obtain annually a number of medals for a certain association, and I know what I am talking about. If the enamel is fit for the purpose of making medals it can be made fit for other things, and if that is done an industry can be established that will give a large amount of employment to returned men.
– Perhaps one of the most attractive branches of the Army is that qf flying. Has any request been made that the Government should train considerable numbers of aviators in view of the ample facilities existing here? If so, have steps been taken to give effect to the request? The establishment of the Woollen Mills at Geelong is one of the best things ever done by a Commonwealth Government. It is an industry that gives a great deal of useful employment. We ought to make a strong protest against the labour of returned soldiers or others being used to provide a lot of unnecessary trinkets. One would think we were a walking pawn-shop to see the number of trinkets some people display. This industry cannot be classed in that category. I am told that the price of many other softgoods has
Increased greatly since the war began; that the price of linen, for instance, has risen from 4d. to more than ls. 2d. a yard.
– Linen is not made in Australia.
– Still, the increase in price is not justified. It may not be possible at the present time for the Government to secure machinery for the manufacture of linen, but the matter should not be overlooked. I understand that because of the existence of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills at Geelong the Government is no longer at the mercy of private manufacturers in regard to supplies.
– The Minister has not told us what prices are charged by the Government factories.
– I understand that the cost of production at the Geelong factory being known, the Government is able to buy supplies from private manufacturer’s at prices which are, perhaps, slightly higher, but they are not at the mercy of those manufacturers. I should like the Government- to see whether it cannot manufacture linen as well as woollens. The rise in the cost of living and the price of clothing is a serious thing to those whose wages remain practically stationary.
I have made some effort to ascertain what is being done in regard to the proposed arsenal. On one occasion an honorable senator spoke for nine or twelve hours on end because one site in or near the Federal Territory had been substituted for another. I understand that after a few thousand pounds had been expended in preliminary work at one or both of these sites, a third site at Tuggeranong was fixed on. I ask the Minister for information on these matters. We should also be told what is being done locally to place us in a position of independence in regard to the manufacture of modern weapons of warfare.
.- As I do not wish honorable senators to miss their last trains, I shall be brief. Mr. Layton, who was manager of our cordite factory, is working with the Ministry of Munitions in England, and collecting information and data with the full consent of the Imperial authorities, with a view to the establishment of an arsenal here. Certain plant is being obtained, and the working out of plans, levels, and surveys is proceeding. It is proposed to locate the arsenal at Tuggeranong, where land has been acquired for the purpose. That is practically as far as we can go at this juncture. The intention of the Government is not that the arsenal shall be the sole establishment for the production of war material in Australia, but that it shall be the nerve or brain centre by which our industries shall be linked together. Leading hands and foremen will be given a course >of munition making in the arsenal, and will then go back to their respective factories. We hope to have scattered throughout Australia men. who, in time of war, will know how to carry out certain operations for the supplying of munitions. lt is not easy to obtain machinery at the present time. Senator Grant could not get machinery for woollen mills now if he were to offer ten times its value; but we intend to get machinery as we can.
– You propose to coordinate the intelligence activities of the Commonwealth in one centre?
– Yes. Instead of a big arsenal where all that we require would be produced, we intend to have an arsenal complete in itself, which will be a brain or nerve centre through which all the private factories suitable to munition making will be linked up.
– In view of the very fair reply of the Minister on the first-reading motion, I shall not keep the Committee long at this hour. It should be pointed out in fairness to the woollen manufacturers in Australia that, when the war broke out, they placed all their resources at the disposal of the Government.
– They were all placed under requisition, and prices fixed.
– Since then, they have been working day and night, and holidays, and have helped the Department materially.
– That is so.
– It is pleasing to have the statement of the Defence Commission that the factories of the Department are a success, particularly the saddlery and clothing factories. But the statement of profit and loss hinges entirely upon the charges made, and the credits given in the accounts of the factory. We should be able to compare the cost of the productions of the factories with the prices of private manufacturers.
– You will find that comparison possible from the reports laid on the table to-day.
– One other matter. I read the other day that a War Precautions Regulation had been issued which enabled the commandant of any State to displace the chairman or president of any rifle club.
– That was to deal with your friends, the persons of enemy origin.
– I am glad to hear it. On the surface the regulation seemed peculiar.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria.) [11.20]. - In view of the report of the Royal Commission which inquired into the administration of the Defence Department, some of the officers of the Department, who have proved to be incapable and altogether unsuitable for the responsible duties intrusted to them, should be dealt with in a way in which they would be dealt with if they were employed by a business man. To those acquainted with the ways of the Defence Department the discoveries made by the Royal Commission are not so alarming. It is what the Commission failed to discover that is alarming. There are conditions existing on the Instructional Staff with which the Minister is not familiar, but with which he should be familiar. That branch of the Department is not altogether a very happy family - a state of affairs which is, I think, brought about by the fact that a number of eligible men, who are kept at home, are regarded as indispensable.
The extraordinary feature of the whole situation is the direct and definite animus which is displayed towards returned soldiers, a fact which I have had brought under my notice on more than one occasion. One case in particular reflects very seriously on the administration of one branch of the Department. A returned soldier, who was employed in it for some months and was discharged, interviewed an officer with whom he had served at the Front, and in whom he had confidence. He explained his unfortunate position, and the officer told him not to be afraid to submit a report in black and white. The soldier did so, and an inquiry was held. It would be unwise on my part to wash dirty linen in public, or give great publicity to details, but if the Minister would look into the matter he would see that there are certain cliques in different branches of the Department who work in one with the other, not only for the purpose of neglecting their duty, but also, as has been proved, for the purpose of improperly appropriating and applying to their own use, not only the Department’s time, but also departmental material.
– To which branch is the honorable senator referring?
.- I can tell the Minister privately.
– It is rather unfair to make a charge like that, causing suspicion to rest on every branch, unless the honorable senator names the branch to which he refers.
.- I am prepared to name the branch. It is the Ordnance Branch, and in no antagonistic spirit I ask the Minister to lay on the table of the Senate the papers that were produced during the inquiry into the case which I have mentioned.
– What case?
.- I do not propose to give the name publicly, but I will supply it to the Minister privately. I amloath to bring the matter up. at a time like this and at such a late hour, but, knowing what I do, I cannot allow these things to pass without mentioning them in such a way, at any rate, that the Minister will feel compelled to take some action to have them remedied.
It is a notorious fact that returned men have very little chance of attaining high place or high pay in various branches of the Defence Department. It has been shown over and over again that nearly all the highest paid positions are occupied by men who have not been to the Front, or, if. they have been away from Australia at all, have only been on transport work. Men, also, on home service, with no previous military experience, are to be found occupying these highly paid positions. The Royal Commission has reported that there are bootmakers and shoemakers employed in the Pay Office. I am informed that one man who is at the head of a pay branch was a letter carrier before the war, yet he has been promoted to a commission, and given a high rate of pay.
– What District Paymaster was a letter-carrier before the war?
– Where is he Paymaster?
-Colonel BOLTON.-I understand that he is the Paymaster in the Third Military District.
– Indeed, he is not.
-Colonel BOLTON. - If he is not the Paymaster, he is a high official in the Pay Office. There are men there who, neither by training nor experience, are adapted for the positions which they occupy. It is not to be wondered that the Royal Commission reports that there is chaos in the office. There are men employed in it who have had no previous clerical experience, while there are amongst the returned men bank managers and others experienced in finance who are not permitted to get a look in.
– The Returned Soldiers Association have been informed that if they can send us along any accountants, there are vacancies awaiting them now. They cannot send them along, and you ought to know it.
.-There is anothermatter which, I think, I should bring under the notice of the Minister. Among the returned men are a number of the permanent staff, called staff sergeantsmajor, who volunteered for service, and have won high rank and great honour on active service at the Front. During the war period a number of men, no doubt for good reasons, have been promoted to the honorary rank of staff sergeants-major without going to the Front. These latter have the pay and duties of their rank, while a number of the staff sergeants-major who have returned, after doing splendid service, have been reduced from the rank they won on the field of battle to the rank of warrant officer, in class 2. It will be seen that a man who has fought for his country is reduced to non-commissioned rank on his return, while others, who have never been from Australia, are permitted toretain that rank, to which they have been promoted from that of warrant officer. This fact creates resentment amongst the men who have done their duty to the country, and is also seriously affectingrecruiting; and the Minister should take steps to in some measure relieve the situation.
– Do you know if there is any truth in the statement that the more efficient a sergeant-major is the less chance he has of promotion?
.-I believe there is something in what you say. Some reference has been made to reductions of pay in the service. Within the last fortnight I have had several letters from returned men, who were corporals and sergeants in the Army Service Corps and various branches, to say that, for reasons they do not know, they have been reduced to the ranks, involving a reduction of pay from 9s. to 5s. a day. A corporal at Seymour writes that, without any complaint being made against him, he has been reduced from the rank of corporal to that of private.
– In the Australian Imperial Force?
-I suppose he is one of the staff at the camp.
– There must be some reason for his being reduced.
– He is not the only one who has written to me similarly.
– Did you never find it necessary to reduce a man to the ranks ?
.- Yes; but such a man is tried, and knows why he is reduced. It seems to me that some explanation of these cases is necessary. Either the authorities are reducing the staff, or these men are being punished without a chance of defending themselves.
I observe an item of £337,960 under the heading of “Universal Military Training (Citizen Forces).” I was under the impression that it was the duty of the Government to devote all its energy, and all its military effort, to matters that affect the war. I now see that nearly half-a-million of money is expended on work that does not assist in any way to win the war. The training of the Citizen Forces is carried out under great difficulties, and is not, in any shape or form, of military benefit to the men. Infantry are sent into camp without rifles, and Light Horse without horses, and they hang about for eight days or so, wishing to God they could get out. There is no interesting work for them, and the whole thing has degenerated, not only into something that is unnecessary, but into something that is really harmful to the military spirit of the young men of this country. The same remark applies to the vote for the Senior Cadets.
I was in Tasmania some time ago,and had an opportunity of inspecting the camps there. It struck me that, considering the small number of recruits that are secured in Tasmania, an expenditure of £20,000 or £30,000 per annum on a camp is bad business management. There is plenty of room at Broadmeadows for the twenty or thirty recruits per week which are raised in Tasmania, and they could be in the Victorian camp in two days. It seems absurd to have so many small camps throughout the Commonwealth, with large staffs, doing practically nothing; and I suggest a little more concentration in this direction. Another proposed expenditure which I do not understand, but which the Minister may be able to explain, is that of nearly a quarterofamillion of money for ammunition. It is extraordinary that that amount should be required for this purpose, because, so far as. I know, very little ammunition is being manufactured here or sent out of the country.
I am convinced that the spirit that is apparent amongst the employees of his Department is one which, if it continues, will never give satisfactory results. I used to have a commanding officer who said, “ Show me a good captain and I will show you a good company,” and also, “ Show me a good company and I will show you a good captain.” The matter rests largely with the responsible officers in charge of the Department. If these men have not the initiative or backbone to do what is right - to have the courage of their opinion and discharge incapable men - we will not get a service that will do its work honestly, energetically,’ and efficiently.
– I would suggest to Senator Bolton that he has said some things to-night without having previously examined their full import. He started by making’ against the employees of the Department, as a whole, a serious and general charge of the misappropriation of Government property. Even though by interjection I was able to narrow his charge down to the Ordnance Branch, it still remains a serious accusation. The employees of the Ordnance Branch are in every State of the Commonwealth, and they deal with the very largest group of the Defence Department’s activities. Senator Bolton’s charge will appear in Hansard as having been levelled against the whole of those em ployees, because he did not particularize any set of employees. When the honorable senator reads in cold print what he has said, he will realize that it is unjust to make a general charge against the whole of the employees in a branch because he has heard of individual cases of misappropriation.
n-. - I did not refer to individual cases. I spoke of the whole branch.
– If Senator Bolton really believes that statement, he ought not to vote for the passing of this Supply Bill, but should move for a Royal Commission to inquire into his- very serious charge. Recently, a Royal Commission inquired into the Ordnance Branch, and, although they criticised it very severely, they did not report the discovery of any misappropriation such as the honorable senator referred to. Having regard to the fact that the Commission employed two highly-qualified accountants, who were independent of the Department, to investigate all the transactions and stocks in the Ordnance stores, and to make a very minute examination of the whole administration of that branch, Senator Bolton is pretty daring, to say the least of it, to make a sweeping charge of the character he has made to-night.
– If I were not sure of my facts, I would not have made the statement.
– The honorable senator has seen fit to keep his facts to himself. He never told me of these things. As a member of the Senate he has responsibilities to the public, and one of those responsibilities is the protection of the property of the taxpayer. If he has knowledge that there is misappropriation of Government property in the Ordnance stores, it was his duty to acquaint the Minister of that fact. But I hear this charge to-night for the first time.
– The Minister does not suggest that the Commission went though his Department with a smalltooth comb ?
– The Commission certainly went through the Stores and Ordnance Branch with a small-tooth comb. They were business men of very high reputation, and they took six months over the investigation. Senator Bolton has stated that he has the facts. I invite him to supply me with all particulars, so that I may ferret out these charges.
– I will do so with pleasure.
– Another sweeping statement made by the honorable senator was that no returned officer can get a highly-paid position in the Defence Department.
– I said that no returned soldier could get a highly-paid position.
– Is not an officer a soldier? Is not the honorable senator a soldier ?
– I referred to men of the lower ranks.
– Could we put a private into the position of Chief of the General Staff?
– No; my remarks have regard to the Pay Office.
– The highest paid positions in the Defence Department are not in the Pay Office. The highest military position in Australia is held by a returned soldier - General Legge - and the next highest position by another returned soldier - General Sellheim.
– What about General Stanley?
– He is not a returned soldier, because when the war broke out he was too old to go to the Front, but he has rendered valuable service to the country, and no senator should sneer at him.
– I question the value of his services.
– The Royal Commission which criticised much of General Stanley’s administration said that he had rendered valuable service.
– His crime is that he has grown old.
– Yes; and I would remind honorable- senators that some of those who sneer at the .old men who have been called back into the Department sneer also at the retention of the young men, and say that they should be sent to the Front. When we employ old men, our critics say that they are too old, and if we employ young men, we are told that we are har boring men who ought to be on active service
– The Royal Commission’s report is a tribute to the unsuitability of General Stanley for his. position.
– If the honorable senator will read the report again, he willfind that that is not so. So far as the Pay Branch is concerned, if Senator Bolton, or the Returned Soldiers Association, can produce before me to-morrow any men having accountancy qualifications, I can offer them well-paid positions in every Military District in Australia. We issued that invitation to the Returned Soldiers Association, and did not get a single response. I have in my bag at the present time a minute from the finance member of the Military Board to the effect that he has applied time after time to the Returned Soldiers Association for men with financial or accountancy qualifications, and has been unable to get them, and he has asked me to endeavour to borrow officers from other Departments, because he finds it impossible to get men with accountancy knowledge outside of the Government service.
– Will the Minister repeat that statement, because I would like it emphasized for the sake of other districts than Victoria.
– Not only in this district, but in every other Military District, there are well-paid positions in the Finance and Pay Branches in which any qualified accountant can get a job tomorrow.
– Does the Department require them to possess diplomas 1
– No; but we want a guarantee that they are able to do accountancy work, and do ft ‘well.
– I have been told within the last two or three days that a returned major who was a bank manager cannot get a position in the Defence Department.
– I cannot speak as to that individual case; but I have here the request of the finance member that I should ask the Government to compel other Departments to lend us the services of men having financial or accountancy qualifications. I do know that letters were sent to the Returned Soldiers Association asking that body to let us have the names of any qualified men. We have been compelled to secure the services of men from the various States who were engaged in businesses of their own. We have had to appeal to their patriotism to come forward. We have district paymasters coming to us for £600 or £700 a year, and leaving their own business where they were getting up to a couple of thousand. We have all along been understaffed with capable men in the Pay Offices, and still are.
– And they do not want to stop in those positions.
– Every one of them is willing to go out to-morrow if we can get a returned soldier to take his place. They are only staying in these positions for patriotism, and not for pay.
The question of the staff sergeantsmajor and honorary rank is a very difficult one. I do not complain of Senator Bolton’s criticism. It is an anomaly, and we are trying to find some way to rectify it. We had some 400 staff sergeantsmajor on our administrative staff. We could not let them all go to the war. We wanted them here to train our soldiers, but we agreed to let a certain percentage go. Those who were kept here wanted to go to the war just as much as . those who were allowed to go. Those who went had the chance of gaining commissions in the field or being killed. The men who were retained here asked if they could be allowed to obtain honorary commissions here if they qualified. We wanted commissioned officers for training purposes, and so we gave them every opportunity of gaining honorary commissions. A certain number did so. A certain number of those who went to the Front also did so. Now, those who have come back from the Front have to obey the rule by which rank in the Australian Imperial Force does not confer substantive rank in the Commonwealth Military Forces. This is a very sound rule, because we are trying to send them all to the war in turn, and they might all come back generals or colonels. We would then have a permanent staff consisting of colonels or generals.
– The turn of some is a long time coming.
– There is a very good reason why; and thereby hangs a tale. We cannot give all these men commissions, and those who have gained honorary commissions in the Commonwealth have done so on the distinct understanding that they must revert to their former position at any time at the will of the Department. They knew that when the commissions we’re granted to them.
– Why not revert now, and let the other men who have come back, and who have done their work, get the jobs?
-I am considering that point. There is a certain amount of justice in the contention; but I want to deal with the matter as a whole. Senator Keating brought up the case of one man, who not only gained an honorary commission, hut the military cross on the field. He comes back, and, on the distinct understanding on which he went away, reverts to his position as sergeant-major. That is not right on the face of it, and I am looking for some way to do equal justice to all. It cannot be done in the off-hand, slapdash style that Senator Bolton seems to approve. There are men still away, and men here who cannot be given an opportunity to go. Whatever I do must be just to the men who were allowed to go and who gained their commission, and to the men who wanted to go and were not allowed.
– Have not enough qualified men returned to enable the others to go ?
– I think we are reaching that point, and will be able to let the last batch go soon.
I do not know why the noncommissioned officer Senator Bolton referred to was reduced from corporal to private.
– There is no good and sufficient reason for it, so far as is known.
– -If the honorable senator will give methe name privately, I will find out if there was a good and sufficient reason.
Senator Bolton suggested that we might save the vote of £300,000 for the training of the Citizen Forces. That would mean suspending the operation of the Defence Act in time of war. So far from agreeing to that, the Government propose to extend it. They recognise that the present position of home defence is unsatisfactory. We propose to stiffen the Citizen Forces by enlisting men who are not eligible for the Australian Imperial Force between the ages of twentyone and fifty, and, if possible, to extend the time of training, because we cannot see what is going to come out of this war. There is the possibility that we may yet have to fight in this country, and we ought to have a force here able to deal with all contingencies.
– The point is that the training they are getting with that money is no good to them.
– We propose to extend it, and wiping out this vote will not accomplish that. We shall have to increase it.
The same remark applies to the question of ammunition. Does Senator Bolton say that in time of war we should stop the manufacture of ammunition in Australia ?
– I asked for information.
– The honorable senator said we might as well strike out the vote.
– I did not.
– The honorable senator distinctly asked what we wanted the item “ Ammunition “ for. We want it in order to keep a certain amount of ammunition in Australia in the event of the enemy, by any chance, being able to get here. We are, therefore, continuing the annual vote.
The honorable senator said we had too many camps. Already we have been concentrating them. Bendigo and Seymour have been abolished, and we have been concentrating at Broadmeadows. The same applies to the other States; but the recruiting authorities are now asking for more camps. They say we want camps where’ the people can see the training going on, as this will stimulate recruiting. If Senator Bolton’sproposal were adopted, and all the soldiers were brought to Melbourne, the people in the other States would never see the men training at all. When a soldier enlisted he would have to say farewell to his friends, as he could not be sent home to his own State for final leave.
– So he ought to if he wants to be a soldier.
– We cannot go on those lines when dealing with voluntary enlistment. Some respect must be paid to sentiment and to love of home and people.
– In reading the report on the administration of the Defence Department, I have not picked out the nasty parts, as some honorable members and many of the papers have done. I have also read the pats on the back given to the Department, and was very pleased to notice that special commendation was given to the administration of the Pay Office in Queensland. I believe it is well staffed by men who, with very few exceptions, conscientiously carry out their duties. Recently, however, a case came under my notice of a woman, named Rebecca Wright, who had two little children, and whose husband was at the Front. It was surmised by the District Paymaster that she had been receiving two allotments in- stead of the one to which she was entitled. She was accused of having drawn pay at two offices - at the Central Office at the General Post Office or at the Desmond Chambers office, and also in the Valley. An officer of the Department hearing this, stopped her pay pending inquiries. I saw the woman leaving the office in tears, and sympathetically asking the cause, discovered what had happened. The allowance to a soldier’s wife is little enough, and it is a very serious thing for a woman with two little children to be without money for a week, or even for a few days.
– The allowance should not have been stopped.
– Very many soldiers’ dependants are living from hand to mouth, the allowances to them not being as large as we should like them to be. Immediately I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister he had the pay restored. But, in the interval, had not assistance been given from the local Patriotic Fund, the woman would have been in a very deplorable condition. The point I wish to make is that, in cases of this kind, the Department should treat dependants as innocent until they have been proved guilty.
– They should be given the benefit of any doubt.
– Yes. It was subsequently discovered that there was no truth in the allegation that this woman had been drawing two allotments. Prior to the Minister’s interference, I sent a telegram to the Defence Department in Melbourne urging that payments be continued, and just as I was leaving for the north to take part in the referendum campaign I received a reply to the effect that that could not be done until certain inquiries had been made, and that the matter was before the Crown Law Office. I do not think that Senator Pearce knew anything about the case until I brought it personally under his notice. The officials in Brisbane were blameworthy for stopping the payments, to this woman ; but the authorities in Melbourne, who issued the instruction that, pending inquiries, the payments should not be recommenced, were still more blameworthy. I hope that the Minister will issue the instruction that, in cases of this. kind, payments to dependants shall not be stopped until it has been proved that wrong-doing has occurred, and that the Department has a just case.
– As I have stated, the allowance to the woman referred to should not have been stopped.
– On the vote now before the Committee, I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a state of things that has caused a great deal of discontent among the telegraphists at Brisbane. For some unknown reason they have great difficulty in obtaining their annual leave, and a large amount of ‘leave is owing to many of them. Their work is particularly trying, and therefore I urge the Minister to rectify this grievance.
Another matter to which I draw the Postmaster-General’s attention is the fact that unless the letter-carriers and many others in the employ of the Department in Queensland are members of the union they receive something like £2 a year less than others who are unionists and lose seniority. I have never said a word against unionism; in fact, I would persuade a man to join a union, but it is a serious infringement on the liberties of the employees on whose behalf I speak to compel them to pay compulsory levies. This union has struck a levy on its members to support the anti-conscription movement and to subsidize the Brisbane Daily Standard,. Many of them are entirely out of sympathy with both these objects.
– It is not the intention of the Government to deprive any one in any Department of the leave to which he is entitled under the Public Service Act. There must be some special circumstances operating in the case referred to by the honorable senator. Probably it is due to the fact that a number of telegraphists have gone to the war. In such a. case the holidays will be made up. to the men at a later date. I know nothing of the other matters to which the honorable senator has referred, but I shall see that they are brought under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral at the earliest possible moment.
– I know that in many cases the casual employment of temporary men in the Public Service cannot be avoided, but the practice has grown to such an extent that it may become dangerous to the efficiency ofthe staff generally. One weakness lies in the fact that a considerable portion of the time of the permanent employees is occupied in teaching temporary employees the work which they have to do. A temporary hand, after learning the business, may not remain in the position for more than a month, and then another temporary employee has to go through the same operation. It is time the Post and Telegraph Department took into serious consideration the whole question of temporary employees. In my opinion, it would pay the Department to increase the number of permanent men. It would make the work more efficient. It would lead to better supervision, and might prevent a great deal of the pilfering that is taking place. As a rule, the permanent employee joins the Department as a lad, and is under continuous notice in doing his work. In time he grows up to realize that he has some interest in the work of the Department and in its general efficiency. I have no desire to asperse the characters of men who are brought in as casual hands, but they come from no one knows where, they are generally unemployed who seize the opportunity . of getting work, and they are called upon to do something to which they are not accustomed. I know that the system applies generally, but it is time we adopted a policy of staffing each Department with men who know their business and have an interest in the work of the Department as a whole.
– Shortly after the outbreak of war, the Fisher Government determined that no permanent appointments would be made to the Public Service except in very exceptional circumstances. That rule was to apply for the period of the war. It was felt that those who went away to make sacrifices for their country should not come back to find themselves handicapped by reason of the fact that the positions which they previously held were occupied by those who had remained behind and had not made sacrifices. It may be true that temporary men are- not efficient, through lack of experience and training in postal work, but Australia should be prepared to put up with that lack of efficiency on their part in> order to give some little return for the sacrifices which are being made by those permanent men who have gone away to fight for us. Our ‘appeal for recruits would be useless if we had to tell the people that on their return they would not get an equal opportunity of securing positions in the Government service with those who enjoy the comfort of staying at home.
Sitting suspended from 12.16 to 1 a.m. (Friday).
– There is an item of £1,000,000 for the Commonwealth trading vessels, and I ask the Minister whether a balance-sheet will be laid on the table of the Senate in due course in regard to the trading of these ships, on the lines of the balance-sheets submitted in connexion with the Defence Department’s factories? I presume that in the item of £183 for contingencies in the Military Branch of the Defence Department there may be included some cab hire for General Stanley and Colonel Thomas. In my opinion, the first progress report of the Royal Commission conclusively shows that General Stanley is not equal to his job. I direct attention to page 7 of that report, where, speaking of the Contract and Supply Board, the Commission reports that, prior to the creation of that Board, the system of purchasing military supplies was “most unbusiness-like, and that there is strong evidence of much waste of money through the faulty buying by inexperienced persons in the employ of the Department.” I understand that General Stanley is responsible for this defect. General Stanley was an officer of Artillery in the Permanent Forces, and succeeded to a job which virtually put him in control of the whole of the business transactions of the Department.
– Do you say that the report states that he was unfit for his position ?
– I think there is a misunderstanding. The words I used, I think, were that, the report of the Commission was a tribute to the unsuitability of General Stanley for the position, and the accountants, in their reply, made a most scathing reference to Colonel Thomas, and said in the most definite terms that he was unfit for the position. I am completely satisfied with the reply given by the Minister for Defence, that the new Business Board will take entire control, subject only to his responsibility to Parliament, of the whole of the civil side of the Defence Department.
– That includes Colonel Thomas’ duties.
– Yes, and also the duties which General Stanley is intrusted with. I hope this will usher in a new era; and I only regret that the Minister did not make the announcement much earlier. I take it that the item 132 in reference to war pensions is merely a book entry, as is another item in connexion with the Department of Trade and Customs. I do not think I am in order ; but, on the question of commissions which I was discussing in connexion with the item of £1S3 for contingencies, I should like some information from the representative of the Government as to how the Business Board, or the Royal Commission, is getting on with regard to its report on Naval administration. I have a feeling that, under ordinary circumstances, honorable senators would much prefer to have more time to discuss such weighty matters as Supply. I quite recognise that what happened in another place rendered our present position inevitable; but I feel sure that, in the future, in connexion with
Supply Bills, the Government will realize the importance of allowing honorable senators ample time for discussion.
– The Royal Commission has completed its investigations of the Defence expenditure on the military side in Australia, and has proceeded some distance with its investigations of Naval expenditure. Owing to the resignation of one member of the Commission, the Government, on the advice of the chairman, have decided on the appointment of an additional member to complete the inquiry on the Naval side. A gentleman has been selected, and is being communicated with; but, as we have not reached finality in the matter, I am not in a position to state his name. He is a well-known business man in Sydney, with special qualifications for this work. When he has been appointed, the inquiry on the Naval side will be completed, and the Government propose to consider whether any further inquiry is to be made in regard to expenditure overseas, where, it will be realized, a great deal of our expenditure lies.
– What about the balance-sheet of which I spoke ?
– I understand that it is the intention of the Government to have reports dealing with all those trading concerns, on the lines suggested. Arrangements to that end are being forwarded as fast as possible, but the enterprise in regard to the trading vessels is a vast one hurriedly entered into, and the arrangements are only now being formulated.
.- The AuditorGeneral, in his early, report on the finances of the Commonwealth, draws attention to the incomplete accounts in connexion with the Commonwealth line of vessels. No complete accounts have ever been put before Parliament, and, seeing that those ships were purchased at least two years ago, speaking from memory, I think a reasonable time has elapsed, and some further information should be afforded to honorable senators.
– There are also the interned ships.
– I am speaking of the sixteen vessels originally purchased by Mr. Hughes during his visit to London. Those ships were purchased with public money, and have been trading at a profit. The transaction has turned out to be an exceedingly good one for the country, but I think that after two years has elapsed Parliament and the country are entitled to a balance-sheet.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-1-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday, 1st May, next.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I should like to redeem promises I gave earlier in the day to refer to two matters which were raised by questions. Senator Bolton asked for information in regard to the intention to hold a Public Service examination on the 26th April. Inquiries made this afternoon have resulted in this statement having been supplied by the Public Service Commissioner -
On that date the examinations are only for optional subjects, and the numbers of candidates required to attend are very small. The numbers in the various capital cities, except Brisbane, are as follows : - Sydney, 7 ; Melbourne, 12 (till 10.30, and then 6); Adelaide, 1; Perth, 1; Hobart, 1. At Brisbane the celebration of Anzac Day takes place on the 25th, and arrangements have been made so that the examination will not interfere with the convenience of those men desiring to be present at the celebrations.
asked a question with regard to the publication of the report of the Repatriation Trustees. In conformity with the terms of the Act which constituted that body, the report is to be presented to Parliament in a few days, and having been so presented will be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.15 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 April 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180418_senate_7_84/>.