7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
) - I desire to make a short statement on a matter which I regard as of importance to the people of Australia generally, and of Victoria in particular. Following on the surrender of Turkey, honorable senators may have seen a press notice to the effect that the Imperial Government are taking action to insure a visit of the Imperial Graves Commission to Gallipoli in order to arrange for- the proper care and protection of the last resting places of many of our glorious dead. The military operations of Australians on Gallipoli were practically confined to the area known as Anzac, between Gaba Tepe and Suvla Bay, but there was a period between the 6th and 17th of May, 1915, when the 2nd Brigade of Victorian Infantry were operating at Cape Helles,. some 14 miles south of Anzac. I am sure that the Imperial Graves Commission will not meet with any difficulty in the identification of localities at Anzac, but I have very good reason to believe that, unless some action is taken by the Government of this- country, there is serious danger that hundreds of our gallant Victorian heroes now lying at Cape Helles may sleep in unknown and unmarked graves for all time.
In order that honorable senators may understand and appreciate this danger, I may briefly review the facts. In connexion with the general- operations on Gallipoli early in May, it was considered by a high authority that an immediate attack was necessary on Achi Baba. Expected reinforcements for the 29th Division not having arrived, a request was made to the Australian Division to assist by detailing troops for this proposed attack. It was finally arranged to form a composite division, consisting of the 2nd Brigade, Victorian Infantry, a Now Zea-: land Brigade, and two or three battalions of the Royal Naval Reserve. This composite division was placed under the command of the General Officer.” at Cape Helles. On the 5th May, the 2nd Brigade of Victorian Infantry were transported from Anzac by gunboats and minesweepers to Cape Helles. They landed there on the morning of the 6th May, and moved immediately to a rendezvous some 3 miles from the enemy’s position. I am giving this explanation in order that honorable senators may see the reasons for the anxiety I expressed in the early part of my statement. The line occupied by the Allies extended from the Aegean to the Dardanelles. On the .left flank there was the 29th Division, and on the right French troops. The right flank was not. so far advanced as the left flank, and, before beginning, the attack on the whole line, the General Officer Commanding decided it was necessary to bring the right flank into line with the left flank. “Consequently, on the 6th and 7th May, very heavy fighting by the French troops took place. These brave troops secured their objective on the night of the 7th May, when the alignment was completed, and preparations made for the general attack on the following day. On the following -morning, 8th May, the 2nd Victorian Infantry Brigade were moved up close to the rear of the front positions occupied by the Allies. The ground- allotted to them was in the centre, between the French and British Divisions. ‘ It covered a front of about 1,000 yards, and was clearly defined on each flank by a small creek. It formed a tableland that was uncovered and without protection, with the exception of here and there a few small trees.
Preparation was made for the general attack by the naval guns and artillery on shore at 5 a.m., and at 5.30 a.m. the whole line was ordered to advance. It is well known that tha 2nd Victorian Infantry Brigade, owing, no doubt, to the fact that the ground they occupied was uncovered, advanced much more rapidly than did the general line to a considerable distance both right and left, and this brought them under very heavy and destructive enemy fire. During a few short hours there were very heavy casualties in that brigade, including the brigadier and the whole of his staff- killed or wounded. During the night, some confusion naturally arose, until these facts were ascertained, and the next senior officer took command. It was found that the whole of that plain area of 1,000 yards front, for a distance of nearly half-a-mile back from the front line, was littered with dead, dying, and wounded Australians. The advance they made was held up within 300 or 400 yards of the enemy line, where our men dug in under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire by the enemy during the whole of the night. This involved very serious difficulty in dealing with the dead and wounded on the Saturday night.
I shall never forget the heroic work of the Army Medical Officers and the Army Medical Corps, leading to the death, amongst others, of that brilliant officer, Captain Mathews, who was not obliged to be there, as his place was 2 miles back from the front, but who, knowing the great demand for medical services, came up and rendered what aid he could. That was on the Saturday night, and on the following Sunday night attempts were made to collect and bury the dead. During the daytime, it was impossible for any one to move on that exposed ground. During the night, the enemy were quite aware of the fact that we were establishing ourselves in that position, and every few minutes they lit up the whole area with star shells and flare lights, so that honorable senators can realize the difficulties that had to be encountered in gathering the dead and relieving the wounded. The dead were collected in groups of from 70 to 80, each group being buried in a large grave. The difficulty of collecting the personal belongings of the men can be readily understood, seeing that the work had to be carried out in the dark. The personal effects of the men, as well as their identification discs, had to be taken from they… Directly a light appeared those engaged in this work had to fall flat on the ground in. order to escape the machine gun fire. Thus, they could work only during the few moments of darkness. On the night of the 12th- 13th May this Brigade was relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers.
In collecting the dead under the conditions I have described, obviously no action could be taken to mark the graves in which the dead were buried. On the evening I have, mentioned, the Brigade retired to its base some 3 miles in the rear, and on the 17th May it left Cape Helles altogether. The scene of the actual burial of our dead was therefore practically known only to persons attached to the 2nd Brigade. A few days after this Brigade had been relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers, the latter were driven out of that position, which again became enemy territory. It is probable, therefore, that there is very little to indicate the exact spot where these graves are located. But there are two officers alive to-day - I believe that one of them is in France - who were detailed on that occasion to raise the burial parties, and I feel sure that unless some action be taken by the Government to obtain the services of one or other of these officers, who have a personal knowledge of the. work done on that Sunday and Monday night, there is a very grave risk of serious mistakes being made. I consider it is the duty of the Government to take every step that may be necessary to insure direct identification of the graves on this particular spot. I should like the Ministry to take some action-
– Order ! What the honorable senator would like is not in the nature of a statement for the information of the Senate.
-Colonel BOLTON. - I consider that it is my duty to lay these facts before honorable senators in order that they may realize the true position, and in the hope that it may lead to some action being taken by the Government.
– I rise to a point of order, and in doing so I trust Senator Bolton will understand that I am not taking exception to his action in bringing this matter before the Senate. My desire is that for our future guidance we shall understand precisely what the position is. I believe that the standing order which permits of statements being made by honorable senators is standing order No. 408, which reads -
By the Indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature, although there may be no question before the Senate; but such matters may not be debated. 1 have always understood that statements other than those indicated are statements referring to the business before the Senate, or to matters to be dealt with by the Senate. Honorable senators are afforded an opportunity upon the motion for the adjournment of the Senate to raise other matters’ not necessarily connected with the business of this Chamber. A matter such as that which Senator Bolton has quite properly brought forward might well have been raised on the motion for adjournment, and if it had been dealt with in that way other honorable senators would have been enabled to express their’ opinions upton it - opinions either of a similar or of a different character. It would also have permitted the Minister concerned to reply to the statement. The_ point I am now raising is whether the statement made by Senator Bolton comes within standing order 408, or any other standing order. I think it is necessary that I should take this point because/ when an honorable senator asks permission to make a statement, it is usual for honorable senators to at once grant that permission, assuming that the statement will be of a personal nature in regard to some action of the honorable senator which has been misconstrued. Standing order 408 was framed to protect honorable senators, and with only that object in view. It seems to me, therefore, that we ought to know whether the statement made by Senator Bolton is to be regarded as a precedent, seeing that the matter with, which he dealt is one which might well have been brought for- ward on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. The statement was- in no sense of a personal character. Senator Bolton, I am sure, will understand that 1 am raising this question only with a view to ascertaining what is the position for our future guidance.
– There is a good deal in the contention of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) about the inconvenience arising from honorable senators making statements which are not of a personal character. But the Senate can always protect itself in cases of that kind, because it can refuse the required permission to make any statement. I understood that Senator Bolton was going to indicate the nature of his statement, and that would have been the proper course for him to pursue, because honorable senators would then have been in a position to judge whether the requisite permission to make it should be granted. Ministers themselves frequently ask leave to make statements. The matter is always one entirely for the Senate to decide. But upon a strict interpretation of the standing order, I must say that the Minister for Defence is correct in the view which he has expressed. If standing order 408 be strictly interpreted, no statement that is not of a personal character can be made by an honorable senator. I did not think it was necessary for me to interrupt Senator Bolton until he began to venture into the region of argument rather than of statement. However, as the point of order has been raised, I shall be more strict in my application of the standing order in the future. The Minister, I repeat, was entirely right in his contention. A strict interpretation of the standing order will limit statements by- honorable senators to matters of a personal nature, or to the business before the Senate.
The following papers were presented : -
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1918. Nos. 283, 292. Inter-State Commission Act 1912. - Prices Investigation Reports - No. 8. - Farm Products Grow). - Further Report dealing with Milk, Butter, Cheese, Bacon, and Condensed Milk in New South Wales and Queensland. No. 9. - Boots and Shoes. Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 12 of 1918. - Supreme Court. Public Service Act 1902-1917. - Promotions of J. W. Armstrong, Attorney-General’s Department.
The War (Papers presented to British Parliament) -
Coal Trade : Report of Departmental
Committee appointed by Board of Trade to consider position after the War.
Imperial War Museum : Report, 1917- 1918.
Peace Treaty signed at Brest-Litovsk beween Central Powers and Ukrainian People’s Republic, together with Supplementary Treaty thereto.
Ministry of Reconstruction -
Civil War Workers Committee : First (Interim) Report.
Housing in England and Wales : Memorandum by Advisory Housing Panel.
Legal Interpretation of term Period of the War “ : Reports of Committee appointed by Attorney-General.
War Precautions Act 1914-1916. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 191, 200, 238, 247, 262.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
How many of the 190 commissions, as per list laid on the table of the Senate by the Minister for Defence, on 16th October, 1918, were granted -
Of the latter, how many were granted to combatant and non-combatant services respectively?
– The answers are : - 1. (a) 23.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 31st October, vide page 7295) :
Clause 11 - (.1) An Advisory Council, representing science and the principal primary and secondary industries, shall be appointed in each State, and shall advise the directors with respect to the affairs of the Institute.
– There is no provision for the State Advisory Councils or for the directors of the Institute to appoint advisory committees on special subjects. Some provision of that nature should he made, and this appears to be the most convenient place for it. So far the Bill has dealt purely with the scaffolding, and we have done nothing towards the erection of the building itself. There is nothing before us to show the mind of the Ministry on the number of members to constitute the Advisory Councils, the length of time for which they should be appointed, or even what their duties are to be. The clause is delightfully vague, and its vagueness will probably destroy its usefulness. In the old land there are special committees working under the Advisory Councils, and dealing with such special subjects as food grains, jute cotton wool and other fibres, hides and tanning material, gums resins and essential oils, drugs tobacco and spices, oil, seeds, and timber and paper material. It is very necessary at this juncture in Australia to pay the closest attention to the fibre question. Australia uses a large quantity of jute for bags and other pur poses, and it would be most opportune for the State Advisory Councils, in conjunction with the directors, to establish branch committees dealing with that and other subjects. A committee on fibres could deal with wood, rope or paper fibres, from the point of view of the extension of our trade. Another committee could do good work on the questionof obtaining new tanning materials. A large quantity of shrubs growing aroundour coastline have been rejected as tanning materials because their juices contain a large quantity of dye which stains the leather red; but recent investigations have proved that the stain can be removed by verysimple processes without destroying the tanning properties. For many years we havebeen using wattle bark. Recently we have even been importing it. But some such committee as I have suggested would find suitable work, and might have a large field open for investigation, with respect to the use of other products for tanning purposes. Only in this morning’s paper I read that objection has been raised to Australian leather on the ground that it was largely tanned by wattle bark, and that it became very porous and so was considered to be inferior to certain other leather which also had been imported, and was, as an actual fact, Australian hide, but not tanned in Australia. Other countries have used our Australian hides, but not our system of tanning. We have materials in Australia with which we could accomplish the same result as is achieved elsewhere with regard to this important industry.
My object in giving this specific instance is to make the Bill as perfect as possible while we are putting together the necessary machinery. I would like the Minister to say whether he can see his way clear, in connexion with the formation of advisory committees, to introduce a clause which would provide power to form committees upon special subjects.
– What about the clause dealing with “ powers and functions of the directors ‘ ‘ ?
– That would merely refer the matter back to the directors. If the Advisory Councils are to be composed of men engaged in the principal primary and secondary industries, as the
Bill indicates, they should have power either to delegate certain of their number to form special committees, or there should be some other machinery -which would permit of the formation of special committees among individuals possessing the necessary training and knowledge, but who may not be members of any one of the Advisory Councils. If we are to continue on the lines hitherto adopted the formation of these advisory bodies will simply mean the appointment of representatives from such institutions as chambers of manufactures, schools of mines, and universities, and they will constitute committees in name only,- without practical vitality or power.
– The various State Advisory Councils have not been set forth specifically as to numbers, nor do we desire to specify numbers, because, I trust, we shall not allow any of our scientists to be wasted. Wherever we can secure suitable men we shall have no hesitation in increasing the numbers on a council, if necessary, so as to include! them. It may not be requisite for each State to have the same numbers upon a council. ‘ In Tasmania, for example, five scientists might form a very suitable body, and might include practically the whole of the trained men available upon a specific subject. But in a large State, like New South Wales, where there are so many more primary and secondary industries, it might be well worth while for a council to consist of a dozen, and even more; members, thus embracing all the trained minds available in that State upon the subject at issue.
The purpose of the Bill is really to create special committees for special work. This is establishing a job for specialists, and there is no need to clothe them with statutory powers or to hamper them with too close a definition. At present we are making experiments in one particular direction, and these are being carried on by merely two or three specialists. But, in investigating tick and prickly pear, it may be quite possible to have much larger committees, so as to cover work done in ! various districts upon different varieties of the pest. The different species of prickly ‘ pear are almost innumerable.
There are certain varieties that can be effectively dealt with to-day, but there may be seventy others concerning which it would be well worth while to appoint special branches of committees to do particular work.
– Where is the power under the Bill to form committees?
– Where is the direction not to do so? The powers of the Minister and the directors under the Bill are practically .unlimited, and if we are given authority to do a certain job, it must be quite apparent that all necessary powers are implied, if not specifically stated.
Each committee will probably bc established by what is known as Executive Council Order. There is not to be one general order to cover the personnel and powers and duties of all committees, but a specific order will relate to the appointment and powers and nature of the work of each -special committee. A committee may be composed of one man, or three men, or twenty; but the appointments should be left to the discretion of the directors, after investigation, and acting upon the advice of the State Advisory Councils. The special committees, with their particular tasks, are, in fact, the whole. Bill. They are the men who will really do the work under this measure. If a special committee is appointed, consisting of experts who for years have studied the subject of the prickly pear, we shall not permit them to wander over every subject or any phase of a subject. Their particular information and attainments will be concentrated upon the one especial task. Therefore, the powers under this Bill are almost unlimited. They are limited only by the amount of money which Parliament may vote for the carrying out of any specialized section of the work.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [3.39]. - The Minister has just stated that the Bill is clear in every regard. I direct attention to subclause 2 -
The members of ths Advisory Council in each State shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral and shall receive fees and travelling expenses as. prescribed for attendance at meetings.
After reading that, I turn over the pages of my copy of the Bill to see if there is a schedule, where one would expect to find the fees and travelling allowances specifically set out. But there is no schedule. Parliament itself should prescribe the fees which the directors are to receive for attendance at their meetings. Parliament determines the travelling expenses and fees to be drawn by the members of the Public Works and Public Accounts Committees, and surely Parliament could prescribe, in this Bill, the fees and travelling expenses of the scientific investigators. I am not speaking in a parsimonious spirit. I think it would be unwise to leave it to the Governor-General, or, in other words, the Government of the day, to say what each member of the Advisory Council in each State shall receive, and what amount of travelling expenses shall be allowed. 1 suggest that these amounts should be stated in, the measure itself.
– Practically what the honorable senator suggests will be done, as the regulations governing the fees and travelling expenses must be laid on the table of the Senate. It is impossible .to state in this measure, what such amounts shall be. At present, we are investigating the tanning problem, and have favorable reports from Western Australia. If the directors ask a special committee to visit Western Australia in connexion with this matter, such committee might comprise one expert from Western Australia, and, possibly experts from Queensland, New South Wales, or Victoria. Obviously, it would not be fair to allow the representatives of Western Australia travelling expenses in anything like the same proportion as the amount allowed to experts from Queensland, or the other States. A similar difficulty will arise in a hundred and one other ways. Inquiries are at present being made in the scientists’ spare time at the Melbourne University, and some of them are receiving no expenses at all, but are doing the work in the interests of science. These special committees, when appointed, will have to travel-, and, necessarily, they should be recompensed in accordance with the time involved and work done. As I have already indicated, the amount of travelling expenses and allowances will be determined by these circumstances, and a regulation governing the amounts to be allowed will be laid upon the table of the Senate, so that Parliament will have the right to criticise any amounts proposed to be paid to these committees.
– I thank the Minister for his explanation. It appears that the amount will be determined by the circumstances surrounding each particular investigation.
– I am still in want of information. I cannot see power in this or any other clause for the appointment of these special committees. In the latter part of the clause we are told that the functions of the State Advisory Councils will be to advise the directors with respect to the affairs of the Institute, and naturally I turn to subsequent clauses, and I find that clause 13, which deals with the powers and functions of the directors, contains no definite provision to enable these special committees to be appointed. I find also that once a year,, at least, the directors shall visit the State Advisory Councils, and I judge, therefore, that advice from these bodies will be tendered to the directors once a year. My fear is that the clause is not definite enough to make the operations of the Institute successful. We are at a very critical juncture in the affairs of Australia. We must pay special attention to the development of our primary industries, and we must bear in mind, also, that unless we can develop our manufacturing enterprises we shall be left behind in the race. For that reason I am anxious to see more definite provision made in this clause. The Minister tells us that the directors will have full power to do all these things, but this will be legislation by regulation, and not by Act of. Parliament. We are responsible for the moulding of this measure, and we should see to it that the functions of the various scientific bodies are clearly indicated. Otherwise we shall have an amending Bill almost before the. ink is dry on the measure now before us.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council [3.48]. - I am glad to be able to say that what Senator Senior regards as indefiniteness iu the Bill is really its strength, because it confers practically unlimited powers upon the directors of the Institute.
– You mean that the more the functions are defined the more the Institute will be limited in its sphere of usefulness?
– That is so. As an illustration, I may say we have these Advisory Councils in operation already, butwe are limited practically by a pledge to Parliament that the expenditure shall not exceed £17,000 this year. The directors, I presume, would ascertain the amount available and the problems - which are unlimited - to be solved, and probably they would decide that it would be wiser to concentrate attention upon one particular problem than to spread a small amount of expenditure over several. For instance, in Victoria there is the problem of utilizing our vast resources in brown coal. This is of supreme importance to the industrial life of this State. If this brown coal could be profitably manufactured into briquettes, a magnificent future for the industries of Victoria would be opened up. In Western Australia, also, the development of the immense timber resources of that State might be considered. It is possible that the directors would request .a special committee in Victoria to concentrate upon this question of manufacturing brown coal briquettes. I would say that they should give their best attention to that problem. In the case of Western Australia, I would say that they should concentrate upon the problem of making the best use of the byproducts of forestry. I understand that, at the present time, nearly 33 per cent, of the timber cut in Western Australia goes absolutely to waste.
– Western Australia is not alone in that regard.
– That is so. These by-products of the timber industry are of great value, and we should make an effort to prevent this waste. In the case of Queensland, if only a limited sum is available, there are three obvious prob lems to be considered, namely, the prickly pear, the blow-fly, and the tick pest. I should say that the authorities of the Institute should concentrate themselves upon the vital problems first, and should not spread their inquiries over a hundred different questions. They will work in co-operation with the State Advisory Councils, and, when they receive the advice of those Councils, they can determine their action, and then draw up a campaign and appoint specialists to try to bring about practical results on practical lines. Under this Bill, the powers proposed in regard to scientific development are practically unlimited.. I think that .is advisable, because the man who would limit the inquiry of the scientist would be a fool.
– Has the wasp been caught at Roma?
– I hope it has. It is not a joking matter. It may mean millions to the people interested. It may be of immense benefit, “ not only to the pastoralists, but to consumers generally, by bringing about cheaper meat. I know nothing whatever of the wasp referred to, beyond what has appeared in the press, but I hope that a similar success on other lines will be attained. The Bill gives very wide powers, and if the necessary cash is provided by Parliament, I believe that good results will follow from its operation.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
). - I move -
That the word “ Minister “ be left out.
It is my intention, if the amendment is carried, to move the insertion of the words “ Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner.” We know that, during the last two or three years, the activities of the Commonwealth Government have been extended to something like twenty-three new Departments, which have been’ placed under the direct control of different
Ministers. I venture to say that it is a mistake to place all these new Departments under the direct control of Ministers. The measure we are now discussing is well intended, and the Department it proposes to create should do good work in Australia. In my view, such a Department should have been established long ago, but I am afraid that, under clause 15 of this Bill, there may be some danger of political patronage and political influence. Many years ago, this Parliament, in its wisdom, passed the Public Service Act, thereby placing all Departments of the State under the control of the Public Service Commissioner. I, personally, hold the opinion that the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has too much power. He holds in the hollow of his hand the destinies of thousands of Commonwealth public servants. I do not think he should possess this power; but, as that is the law, it is in my opinion, wrong to place in the hands of a Minister the power to appoint persons to such positions as those we are now considering, or to positions in connexion with any of the new activities undertaken by the Commonwealth Government. It may be in order to mention some of the commercial activities recently undertaken by the Government. They include the Commonwealth Bailway Department, Northern Territory Administration, Commonwealth Line of Steamers, Central Wool Committee, Commonwealth Shipping Board, Ship Construction Branch, Australian Metal Exchange, Central Coal Board, Munitions Directorate, Bureau of Commerce and Industry, Institute of Science and Industry, Commonwealth Winter Butter Pool, Commonwealth Film. Censorship Board, Australian Wheat Board, Wheat Storage Commission, Price-fixing Branch, Leather Industry Board, Flax Committee, Sulphate of Ammonia Board, Commonwealth Serum Institute, and Repatriation Department. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) is aware that I have supported this Bill throughout, but I do object to place in the ‘hands of a Minister the power to appoint the members of these various bodies, because I see in that provision a danger of the operation of political influence. I do not say or suggest that in connexion with any of the Boards to which 1 have referred any -df the members have been appointed as the result of political patronage; but I say that under the policy which has been adopted, the door has been left open for the. appointment of members to those Boards as the result of political influence. That, without labouring the question further, is the reason why I submit my amendment.
– I think that the amendment submitted by Senator Needham should be accepted by the Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell), , because, presumably, the Institute of Science and Industry would be a permanent Department. I feel very sure that it is certain to be housed in a magnificent suite of offices in Melbourne. We shall never find the Directorate of the Institute going into the prickly-pear country of Queensland. Appointments to this new Department will be keenly sought by persons inside and outside the’ Public Service. Under the clause as it stands, the Minister will no doubt have to meet innumerable deputations of persons wishing to urge upon him the claims of certain gentlemen for these positions. I do not say .that the Minister would not be likely in most cases to make these appointments as well as the Public Service Commissioner could make them, but I do not think that it is work which the Minister should be called upon to do. The Public Service Commissioner has been specially appointed to deal with applications for positions of this description. In these times, when a number of people are excedingly anxious to economize in every direction, if these appointments are to be withdrawn from the Public Service Commissioner, it will be held that there will be justification for abolishing the offices of the Public Service Commissioner and his deputies, and leaving the appointment of all public servants in the hands of Ministers. So far, no reason has been given for the proposal to leave these appointments to the discretion of the Minister. The amendment is worthy of consideration,, as, if passed, it would relieve the Minister of a good deal of annoyance, and give greater satisfaction to the public generally than will the provision contained in the clause as it stands.
– I do not intend to support the amendment, because while the Public Service Act contains the very objectionable, and, to me, repugnant provision governing the employment of temporary assistance. I should far rather see appointments to positions in the Public Service in the hands of Ministers than in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner. I have no doubt that a great deal of temporary assistance will be required in carrying on the work of the Institute of Science and Industry, and, in my view, it is objectionable and unwise that men should be appointed to certain positions for six months, with a three months’ extension, and when they have become familiar with the work, and of use to the Institute, should have to get out to allow some other person to get in. If that provision were excised from our Public Service Act, I would support the contention of Senator Needham. But while it remains operative I will not place in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner ?mandatory power to compel a temporary employee, the moment he has become of use to this country, to forgo his employment. I have always been opposed to that provision, and I always will be.
– I agree with a good deal of what Senator Needham has said in regard to -the Public Service Commissioner and those under him. But the position of persons appointed under this Bill will be entirely different from that of officers appointed under our Public Service Act. Under this Bill specialists will do the real work of the Institute, and they will do that work wherever their researches require it to be done. The clerical staff of the Institute will probably consist of only one or two typists. Let us suppose that in connexion with an investigation into any .particular industry it is necessary to engage the services of scientists for, say, six or twelve months. If the power of appointing them were vested in the Public Service Commissioner he would be bound to select scientists from “within the Public Service itself. If he wished bo- go outside of it, it would be necessary for him to certify that there was no officer within the Service capable of doing the work required of him. Under this Bill practically the whole of the employees will have appointments of a temporary character.
– That will not apply to the board of directors.
– Certainly not.
– Only to the ordinary workers, of course.
– They will not be ordinary workers. It may be that there will be ordinary work attached to camp and field work; but, as a rule, the men employed in these investigations will be chemists and analysts - professional men. Where ordinary clerical work has had to be performed, it has been usual to appoint men from within the Public Service. For instance, the secretary of the Institute is a public servant, and the typists are public servants. Then, the secretary of the Wool Pool was formerely an officer in my own Department. He has proved a wonderful success in his new sphere.
– That is no answer to my contention.
– Under this Bill the men employed will be required to do work in which our public servants have not “been specially trained. I trust, therefore, that the greatest freedom will be given to the directors, so that they may be able to secure the services of the best trained individuals for the special jobs which they will be required to undertake.
– Senator McDougall said that he would support my . amendment but for the- obnoxious provision in our Public Service Act relating to temporary employment: The honorable senator ought to have gathered from my remarks that I do not altogether approve of our Public Service Act. But, I stated, that while it is the law of the land, we should take advantage of the provision to which reference has been made. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has practically adopted the same line of reasoning as did Senator McDougall. I say that if our Public
Service Act is at fault we should either end it or amend it.
– “Which would the honorable senator rather do?
– I would rather that the members of Boards were appointed under our Public Service Act than by the Minister. That is my case in a nutshell. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that some members of our Public Service are secretaries of the Boards which I enumerated a moment or two ago. But that is no answer to my contention. I am not concerned with the secretary of this Board, but with the men who may, as the result of political patronage, be made members of it.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the Central Board?
– I am protesting against the Minister having power to appoint members of the Boards of the proposed Institute. I hold that they should come under the Public Service Act.
– Directors as well?
– The lot. The only answer given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is that there are some members of our Public Service who are now filling positions as secretaries of Boards. I say that the appointment of the Board of Directors itself should come under our Public Service Act. That is why I have moved the deletion of the word “ Minister “.
.- In his desire to prevent the Minister having the power to make these appointments, Senator Needham has argued rather against himself. T know that he is in favour of the Bill, and that he desires to get the best results from it; but with that end in view, he could not adopt a more unwise course than to seek to make the appointment of these officers subject to our Public Service Act. What qualification has the Public Service Commissioner to choose a scientist?
– What qualification has the Minister?
– The Minister will be in actual touch with the work of the Institute. He will have to preside at meetings of the Board; he will be required to sign papers, See., and in that way he will be brought into close touch with it. The
Public Service Commissioner will be entirely out of touch with it.
– And the Minister will not?
– The Minister will be very much more in touch . with it than will the Public Service Commissioner. The latter is merely a specialist in the matter of making appointments to the Public Service. The Minister will be in actual, touch with the work of the Institute, and will have a much freer hand. If the honorable senator wishes to kill the measure, he cannot devise a more effective method of achieving that object than by making the appointment of the scientists, whose services will be required under this Bill, subject to our Public Service Act. I know that there is nothing more hampering to our Public Service than our Public Service regulations. The effect of their operation is to squeeze all merit and special ability out of our public servants. I shall vote against men who possess special abilities being brought within the scope of those regulations. It might suit Senator Fairbairn to see the Bill killed.
– I do not wish to kill the Bill.
– In my judgment, that is ‘what the honorable senator’s amendment would accomplish. If anything has proved a curse to Democracy,- it is the paid bureaucracy which we have created under Statute. That is one of the most serious dangers we have to face, not merely as a Parliament, but as a people.
– And this Bill will extend it.
– No. If we are to get the best results from this measure, we must secure the services of the best men available, and allow them a free hand, subject to the control of the Minister, who is more or less subject to the will of the people.
Senator SENIOR (South Australia) [4.181. - I regret that I cannot support Senator Needham’s amendment. The clause reads -
I naturally turn to the definition clause to ascertain the meaning of “officer”. There I find that it means, “ any person employed by the directors under this Act.” Manifestly, the Public Service Commissioner, if he desired to make the measure work smoothly, could not recommend the appointment from the Departments of persons who would conform to that definition ; but the Minister who will superintend the working of this Bill, and who will know exactly what sort of man is required to fill a certain position, is obviously better fitted than is the Public Service Commissioner to recommend to the Governor-General the name of the individual to be appointed. In other words, the Minister will seek for the man who can efficiently fill the office, whereas the Public Service Commissioner would seek for an office in which to place the man. In my judgment, Senator Needham’s amendment, by taking the power of appointment from the Minister, and vesting it in the Public Service Commissioner, would weaken rather than strengthen the measure.
– My first object in submitting the amendment is to secure the deletion of the word “ Minister.” Then, if honorable senators will assist me to fill the blank thus created, I shall be quite prepared to do that. Senator Reid has spoken of a paid bureaucracy; but there will be a paid autocracy about the Board which is to be appointed under this Bill. If Senator Reid, with hispowers of observation and his championship of State Rights, would look about him; he would see that a paid autocracy is in power to-day, and it is that paid autocracy that I am trying to block. I ask Senator Senior to vote with me to leave out the word “ Minister,” and then to give me his assistance to fill the blank.
Question -That the word proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 (Discoveries by Officers).
– I do not know where the head offices of the Institute are to be established, but I feel confident, from the debate that has taken place, and the keen interest displayed in the Bill, that this is going to be a very important Department. I shall look forward with interest to see how it develops, and in particular to see what the directors and officers will do. I hope they will be successful in some of their efforts, and will justify the huge expenditure we are about to lavish upon them.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 22 and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Sitting suspended from4.30 to 4.55 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had made the Senate’s requested amendment.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed) -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
. - I desire to take the opportunity to express my deep regret that theGovernment have laid themselves out to severely tax that section of the community which is least able to bear additional taxation. This measure is to tax the amusements of the people, and, particularly, those of the younger folk. The Government have taken this action without first exploiting existing sources of taxation to their legitimate ends, and without endeavouring to place additional responsibilities upon the shoulders of those best able to bear them. The untold wealth of this country is, apparently, to be left free of any additional imposts, so far as profits made out of the war are concerned. But the children are to be called on to pay more than their share. The Minister (Senator Pearce) may say that it is intended to mitigate the severity of the measure by freeing Saturday matinees of this levy, so far as concerns children apparently under twelve. But is there one child of such tender years who goes to a picture show unaccompanied by an elder? Members of the family will still be taxed.
Why the Government should have adopted this method of taxation is quite apparent. It is the fact that they were created for the one purpose of winning the war. I am very happy to say that the war is nearly won.
Honorable Senators. - Hear; hear!
– When I listen to the cheers of honorable members opposite I can only say that if I belonged ,to a party which, eighteen months ago, said its Government had been elected to win the war, and I found that the most effective way in which that Government had gone about winning the war was to tax the poorest section in our midst, I would be too much ashamed to cheer. The imposition of this tax will stand out .as one of the things which the Government did to win the war. They taxed the amusements of the working classes of this country. Let honorable senators cheer. This is all they have to cheer about. . This is all I can see that their party has done to win the war.
– What about the Perth Conference winning the war?
– The peace proposals of the Perth Conference compare very favorably with President Wilson’s peace proposals. When I read those conference proposals to this honorable Senate, Senator Earle said there was nothing- wrong with them, if we could get Germany to accept them. That remark is on record in Hansard.
This Bill displays the Government and their supporters in their true light. It is the work of a Government which, up till the last moment, avoided, taxing the rich interests of the community; which, as far as possible, avoided doing what they should have done straightway, to prevent the rich interests from exploiting the working classes. It is this same Government who now are readily, and almost hastily, passing a measure to collect pennies from the children. I congratulate the Government on the only thing I can see that they have done to win the war. I congratulate, also, the supporters of the Government. This measure reaches the high-water mark of- their ability to grapple with problems concerning the war.
– We have won the war, anyhow.
– No doubt the honorable senator and his party feel- that they have Hone so, but there are a good many people who will doubt what that party’s efforts have amounted to, in the direction indicated. This measure is something that the people can see and will feel. It will simply mean that two or three children in a family, who have been in the habit of visiting a picture show, or some such place of amusement, now and again, will be deprived of that pleasure. And all because a National Win-the-war Government had not the courage to tax the people who possess the wealth, for the reason that they are tha people who have the power. It is easy to tax the poor. The wealthy people insist that taxation shall be placed with the .people who> cannot resist it - the people who can least afford it.
– Is there not a super income tax this year, amounting to 30 per cent. ?
– It has not come along yet. This measure is being rushed through; but the other can wait.
– No; this measure will apply to only portion of the year. It cannot be retrospective. But the Income Tax Bill will apply to the whole financial period.
– We all know the retrospective legislation of this Winthewar Government. There is the wartime profits tax. That is still retrospective; and what a lot is being collected under it!
– We are collecting now, and. have collected nearly a million.
– I am delighted to hear that the Government have collected even that much out of it. But what about the bachelor tax? How much have the Government collected by means of that? This Bill to grab the children’s pennies is to be rushed through by the same Government who were to have insisted on the bachelors paying their tax. But the Government found that that was a different proposition, and that it was a great deal safer and wiser to throw that impost overboard, and collect the children’s pennies. The Government had the authority to collect the bachelor’s tax; and it was the Government’s duty to do so. But it was realized that that would be dangerous. Bachelors have votes, and wealthy bachelors would have to pay a lot of money. Therefore, the wealthy bachelor gotto work, and this cowardly Government held their hands. Then they looked around for some other source of taxation which would be less dangerous to their interests. It is the old method of national parties since ever they have been governing this country, and it matters not under what name they have worked, the method has always been the same, namely, to enable the wealthy people really controlling the power to avoid their fair share of taxation, and to place the burden on the shoulders least able to bear it.
This war has compelled the Government to more heavily tax certain interests, but if they would only tax the wealth of the country inthe same proportion as they seek to tax the children’s amusement tickets, there would be no need for loans.
– Why did not the honorable senator bring in something practical along those lines when he was in the Government?
– Because we had such a number of “ rats “ and renegades that we could not go very far with our proposed legislation. We had the honorable senator, and the like of him opposing us upon every Bill that was introduced
– That is absolutely wrong.
– Every Bill we brought down had to run the gauntlet of the opposition of such gentlemen as
Senator de Largie. I enter my protest against a system of taxation which is unworthy of a National Government. In time of war, . or even in time of peace, there are certain forms of taxation which can well be introduced and exploited, and which will not bear harshly on any section of the community. The Government could have stood by income and land taxation. The land tax offers to any Government the fairest form of taxation possible. Yet, with such an avenue for securing money, which is practically untouched, so far as interests below an annual value of £5,000 are concerned, we see the Government hastening after the children and their pennies. If the Government were to take unimproved land values - values created by the energies and by the needs of the peoplethey would find an avenue of taxation which would provide ample funds to meet many of the needs of government at the present time. But it is preferred that the little boys and girls should be taxed. They can afford to pay taxation, and so save the great National party !
If the cost of living had been kept within reasonable bounds, it might have been said with reason that the people were living under the same conditions as in pre-war times. But every one knows that the profiteer and the exploiter have not felt the war in any real sense, because their businesses have grown as the needs of the community have become more and more pressing. Luxuries of life are altogether beyond the reach of the humbler classes to-day. Speaking for New South Wales, I can say the people there are paying more for their meat than are the people of Queensland, under a Labour Government.
– Because they stole it.
– I do not care how they got it. Senator Reid says that meat is cheap in Queensland because the Government have stolen the meat. If that were true, all I can say is that it would be more manly to steal from the wealthy squatters of Queensland than to steal from the children of the working classes; from the wives and children of soldiers who are fighting for them. Talk about stealing!
– This is good gallery, stuff.
– .Senator Reid talks about stealing when the interests of the squatters are affected. Is it not stealing when the wives of soldiers have to pay ls. per lb. for meat, which, before their children’s fathers went away, could be got for 6d. ? What about that kind of stealing? That does not appeal to Senator Reid ; but he quickly talks about the losses to squatters, who, after all, are paid a fair price for the stock they raise.
– But this cheap meat in Queensland is only made available for a certain section of the people.
– Ryan has rammed that lie down your throat- half-a-dozen times.
– Order !
– -I ran quite understand that Senator Reid should feel called upon to support his new-found friends, and to .repeat what they say. They say that when the Government of Queensland entered into this contract for the purchase of stock, they were stealing from the squatters.’ The fact, however, is that it is only in Queensland, and under a Labour Government, that the interests of the people are being protected.
– Order! This discussion is becoming most irregular; and I must ask the honorable senator not to pursue it further.
– I hope I may be allowed, Mr. President, to mention these facts as an illustration for my argument against the taxation of the children of the poorer classes, instead of taxing the wealthier people of this country. I can quite understand that the range of the debate is extending; but, at the same time, these are the facts. It is true that in only one State of the Commonwealth have any steps been taken to protect the interests of the people in this direction.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable senator not to continue that line of argument.
– Then, Mr. President, if I cannot do so, I cannot do justice to my subject.
– We are now in the last lap, and 1 desire to say a few final words. The Minister (Senator Pearce) said that we were raising a plaintive cry on behalf of the children, but he himself inserted a concession intended specifically for the children. I rose, however, to reply to some statements made the other day by the Minister in answer to my assertion that this tax, on a precentage basis, would operate unfairly. What I said was that, while people who paid 10s. for entrance to a race-course would be called upon to pay 10s. 10d., on the basis of this Bill children paying 10s. for admission to picture theatres, would pay a tax of. 3s. 4d. ; and, in view of these facts, I urge that this is not the fairest method of taxation. The Minister also said that a . certain amount of revenue had been lost owing to the curtailment of racing, and I tried to point out that there was now more racing than ever. I find I was perfectly correct, and that, although there has been a falling off in revenue from this source, there has not been any real curtailment of racing at all. You have only to go 40 miles outside of Sydney or Melbourne to prove this statement. On one occasion recently there were five trainloads of passengers from Sydney and three from Newcastle to a certain race meeting, and instead of forty-five bookmakers on the course, there were no less than ninety-six. I hope that when the war is over the Government will take early steps to repeal this obnoxious legislation, which places the burden on the poorer classes. I- would feel ashamed to belong to any party that indorsed this proposal to tax a 3d. entertainment ticket. I suppose I will be out of order, but I would like to say that if the Federal Government would only pay their valuers a fair wage, they would get twice as much revenue from the land-owners in this country as they get to-day. The State valuers of New South Wales and the City Council valuers receive £200 and £300 a year more than is ,paid to the Federal valuers, and under these conditions good work cannot be expected from the latter, and revenue is lost.
– When the Minister (Senator Pearce) submitted the request which the other place has agreed to, he said Unit Saturday was a children’s day, and there was a suggestion from this side that the Government should also include public holidays. It is quite true that on Saturday there is no school, but this miserable concession, which has been wrenched from the Government, should be extended as I have indicated. It is well known that, on public holidays, the father of a family, as a rule, takes his wife and children out for the day, and, therefore, the same concessions should be available to them as on a Saturday afternoon.
Senator Reid, by way of an interjection while Senator Gardiner was talking, said that Mr. Ryan, the Premier of Queensland, had stolen the meat from the squatters of that State.
– Order! I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss that question.
– I am only replying to a statement made by Senator Reid. I will not-
– Order ! Senator Reid was out of order in introducing the question, and the honorable senator will be equally out of order if he pursues the argument.
– I only want to say that Mr. Ryan did not steal the meat.
– Order ! ‘ The honorable senator must not evade my ruling.
– Very well, Mr. President. I only want to point out that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), by interjection, said that Mr. Ryan had been exploiting the British Government over these meat contracts. That lie was nailed down by Mr. Ryan.
– Order! The honorable senator must withdraw that expression. It is distinctly out of order, and contrary to the usages and practice of the Senate.
– 1 withdraw it, and will say it is a fact that Mr. Ryan did not steal the meat, and he did not exploit the British Government.
– Of course, he did.
– I regret that, in Committee, the request was not amended in the direction I have indicated.
– I was delighted to hear my colleagues from New South Wales (Senators Gardiner and McDougall) so ably advocating that, instead of taxing the children’s entertainment tickets, the Government should levy taxation on the land values of the Commonwealth,’ and I hope that when Ave again have a majority in Parliament, they will not fail the party. I know it is quite a correct thing for the National Government, from their view-point, to place taxation on the shoulders of those least able to bear it. I fully expected them to do that. Unless I am very much mistaken, Ave shall have further taxation in the same direction in the very near future.
– They will not be there.
– It is never safe to prophesy; but I hope that, on this occasion, the honorable senator is correct, and that, when our party once more have the reins of government in their hands, Ave shall not fail to place taxation on the people who are best able to bear it.
– Would you advocate the £5,000 exemption being abolished?
– I would; but I am a member of a party which advocates that people Who have less than £5,000 land values should pay no Federal or State land taxation whatever, and, as a member of that party, I could not vote against it at the present time. Unfortunately, the Government of which the honorable senator is such a vigorous supporter now, has not brought forward a proposal in that direction. Members on the Government side-
– Order! The honorable senator is perfectly entitled to refer to land values taxation as an alternative proposal, but not to discuss the merits of the question now.
– I merely wish to point out that members on the Government side are not bound by any platform, as are members of the Labour party, to exempt land values of £5,000 from taxation, and they are allowing £345,000,000 worth of land in the Commonwealth to escape taxation altogether, while, at the same time, they ask us to approve of a proposal to place a tax of Id. on every child apparently under the age of twelve years who dares to enter a picture show. This method of taxation is a mean, shabby, and contemptible way of getting money. It is only paralleled by the State of Tasmania, where visitors are taxed 2s. per head at Launceston before they can get in or get out.
– It is, perhaps, futile to expect the Government to drop this proposal and > bring down a measure of taxation which will reach the wealthy people of the country, but I appeal to them; even at this late stage, to abandon this miserable Bill, and look in other directions for revenue from taxation. I should like to know why in August last year the duty then existing on imported picture films was reduced. Was it in order that the wealthy importers of these films should escape taxation, and is this proposed entertainment tax intended to make up the deficiency in the revenue caused by the removal of that duty ? If that is the case, it is not to the credit of the Government. I hope that they will abandon this proposal, and will impose taxation upon those who can well afford to pay it, and not upon the poor children of the country.
– It is always refreshing to hear Senator Gardiner after one of his long absences. He seems to bottle up steam while he is away, and when he returns it is with new vigour, and. we are, of course, all very glad to hear him. The honorable senator is, however, under the disadvantage that he does not know what has been already said. We would not” expect him to go through the agony of reading Hansard.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I read every word of it.
– If the honorable senator has done so he must have found that everything he has said this afternoon had been already said by his valiant supporters on the other side, and effectively replied to. For instance, he has made an impassioned appeal this afternoon for the little children. A similar appeal was made by his supporters, and it was met by the invitation to honorable senators opposite “ to walk down Bourke-street any afternoon, stand opposite one of the picture theatres and count the number of children coming out of it. They would find that the number attending any one performance might be counted on the fingers of a hand, but, if they went inside, they Would find that there were hundreds of other persons present.
– Bourke-street does not represent Australia.
– It is well known that the bulk of the persons attending the continuous picture shows in the cities long ago reached the age of maturity, and, judging by their attire, . they will be well able to pay the penny tax provided for under this Bill.
Senator Gardiner has told us that the wealthy are not being taxed by this Government, but I pointed out during the course of the consideration of this Bill, and now repeat the statement for the illumination of Senator Gardiner, if he needs it, though I do nob think he does, that we are taxing the wealthy of this country. Practically the whole cost of the war, so far as it is being borne out of revenue, is being borne by the wealthy people of this country. There is probably no other country in the world where taxation due to the war is being borne in the same proportion bv the .wealthy as it is in this country. Practically none of the war taxation introduced by the Government since the beginning of the war has been imposed upon those who may be called’ the working classes. If Senator Gardiner will analyze the returns of the income tax, he will find that an enormous proportion of the revenue derived from that tax is paid by what are called in Australia the wealthy classes. As regards the taxation proposed by the Government this year, the war-profits tax which the honorable senator spoke of with such scorn is expected to contribute £ 1,S00,000 to the revenue this year. This revenue will be derived from excess war profits. Seventy-five per cent, of “the excess war profits will be paid into the revenue by those who have made profits in excess of what they made prior to the war.
– The consumers continue to pay higher prices.
– The consumer in Australia is in the position that he is living under the cheapest conditions prevailing in any of the countries engaged in the war to-day. The cost of the principal articles of food and clothing is lower in Australia to-day than in any other country engaged in the war.
– Does the honorable senator include New Zealand in that statement?
– Yes, I do include New Zealand.
– I think that is not correct.
– Senator Long should look into the facts before he commits himself to that statement. If he does he will find that the cost of living is cheaper in Australia than it is even in New Zealand. I could mention one item in particular, and that is sugar, the cost of which is dearer in New Zealand than it is in Australia. I could mention other items.
– Sugar is cheaper in Australia because of the action of the Labour Government of Queensland.
– I was going to refer to that matter.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that question.
– I was going to say, in regard to the cost of sugar, that Australian consumers have to thank the Commonwealth Government that it is cheaper in Australia than elsewhere, because the Queensland Labour Government attempted to increase the price of sugar.
– The honorable senator cannot discuss that question.
– The Queensland Government had an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government which en- abled them to fix the price.
– The cost of living varies in different parts of Australia, but I have been speaking of Australia as a whole. The last returns issued by Mr. Knibbs show that the greatest increase in ihe cost of living in the last quarter took place in Queensland. The cost of living has not increased at the same rate in Australia generally. Mr. Knibbs is careful to point out that in other States the cost of living .has not shown the same increase as in Queensland. Prices have been regulated by the Commonwealth Government, and it is for this reason that the cost of living is lower in Australia than in any of the other countries engaged in the war on either side.
The facts are, first of all, that we are taxing the wealthy classes of the country, and the greater proportion of the revenue charged to the war is being contributed by them. In the next place, as regards the consumers, the cost of living in Australia is cheaper than in any other country engaged in the war. In view of these facts, what becomes of the harangue we have had from Senator Gardiner this afternoon, and which was merely a repetition of speeches we had from other honorable senators on the opposite side last week? I invite Senator Gardiner when he next retires - I do not know where the honorable senator goes to during his disappearances - to take with him a volume of the statistics of Australia and of other parts of the world, and when he again visits us in this chamber he will not be likely to m’ake such a speech as that which we had from him this afternoon.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 12th November.
The reason for this motion is that, as honorable senators are aware, the greater part of the legislation proposed for the present sittings of this session must necessarily be introduced in another place, as the greater number of the Bills to be introduced are money Bills. Many have already been introduced, and there is at present some congestion of business in another place. We hope that ‘ next week we shall have some Bills coming up to the Senate from another place. The Senate has dealt very expeditiously with the business that has come before it so far. There has been no delay here, and we have had before us some very important business. With the exception of the Electoral Bill, which largely affects the voting for honorable members in another place, the chief Bills to be dealt with are financial Bills, and, necessarily , these measures are introduced there. I ask the Senate to meet for an additional day next week in order that we may be able to deal with any Bills that come forward, and that all the Government measures may be disposed of before the Christmas adjournment.
.- I ask the Minister for Defence not to press his motion. The Senate has in the most expeditious way assisted the Government in the transaction of their business since they have held office. There has never been any delay on any occasion in the Senate, and there is no reason to anticipate that there will be any delay here in dealing with business. It is most inconvenient for honorable senators to be called back here a day earlier than usual in the week whenno notice of the proposal has been given. I can give an instance of the way in which it affects honorable senators from New South Wales. Senator Grant, after consulting with me, made an arrangement that we should attend a function in the form of a send-off to Mr. Con. Wallace, a member of the House of Representatives, who is going away with reinforcements. If we are to be called back here on Tuesday next we shall be prevented from attending that function. I recognise that our parliamentary duties are of more importance than are these functions, and if there were any urgency for calling us back here on the Tuesday I should raise no protest. I believe there is no urgency, and to call us back on Tuesday will not put our business any further ahead.
– It is worse still in the case of representatives from Tasmania.
– I admit that. I have merely cited one illustration for the purpose of showing that honorable senators enter into certain arrangements on the understanding that the Senate will meet upon the days usually set apart for its sittings.
– But the honorable senator is not often here.
– I am very much obliged to Senator Henderson for his reference to my absence, and I sincerely hope that the cause which prevented my attendance here will never keep him away from the Senate.
– I hope so.
– The honorable senator ought to be the last to mention such a matter.
– I do not know what has kept Senator Gardiner away; but I do know that he has not been here.
– The honorable senator has a perfect right to comment on my presence or absence from the Senate, but never have I been absent from its sittings when my health permitted me to be present. To have such a taunt thrown across the chamber at me is just what I would expect from Senator Henderson. Honorable senators are suddenly called upon to come here a day earlier than usual next week, notwithstanding that we are now asked to close up for two days this week because there is no business for us to transact. The Minister for Defence has assigned no valid reason for the course which he has proposed. Are we to meet on Tuesday next to close up on Wednesday of that week ? Will our meeting on Tuesday put us any further forward on the following Friday if we are forced to assemble a. day earlier - than usual by the Government? Are the resources of the Government so limited that Ministers expect to gain time by calling upon us to meet here at 3 o’clock on Tuesday next, instead of 3 o’clock on Wednesday next? If, at the caprice of the Minister, the sittings to which honorable senators are accustomed are to be changed without any valid reason being assigned for the adoption of that course, I fear that the harmony which has hitherto characterized the conduct of business ° in this Chamber may give place to resistance on the part of some honorable members of the .Opposition. Is there any pressing business to be brought forward which will warrant our meeting on Tuesday next instead of Wednesday? Has the Minister any assurance that Bills now occupying the attention of the other branch of the Legislature will be ready for our consideration ? I would not complain if we were asked to sit six days a week, so long as I knew before leaving Sydney that we were going to sit six days, because I would then be in a position to make my arrangements. But I protest against the
Minister, without notice, and without assigning any reason for the alteration, submitting a proposal of this kind. What is the difference between meeting at 3 o’clock on Tuesday next and 3 o’clock on Wednesday next?
– Twenty-four hours.
– It is a matter of only five hours, so far as the sitting of the Senate is concerned. I think that the Minister for Defence underestimates the capacity of honorable senators upon this side of the chamber if he thinks that we cannot fill in that five hours.
– Let us show that we are anxious to do some work.
– Because there is no business for the Senate to transact, we are now asked to adjourn after having sat for less than three hours. Many honorable senators have travelled a considerable distance in order to attend to-day’s sitting. Yet they are now called upon to adjourn until Tuesday next. If there be anything of an urgent character to claim our attention, why should we not sit tomorrow and on’ Friday ?
– The guillotine is to be applied iri another place.
– It may be that there is an election coming on in Victoria. It may he that the Government think they can “ gerrymander “ that election by hurriedly passing an Electoral Bill through Parliament. Let me tell them that they can do nothing of the kind. To my mind, it would be quite an outrage on the practice and on the constitution of Parliament, to have members- sitting in this Parliament tinder different electoral laws - to have one representative elected under one electoral law and another representative elected under a different electoral law. The Government should pause before they attempt, for party ends, to rush an Electoral Bill through Parliament.
– Was not that Bill suggested long before a vacancy was created in the representation either of Western Australia or Victoria in this Parliament ?
– I do not say that the Electoral Bill was not on the business-paper before either of those vacancies occurred; but I submit that when a Bill of that description, altering our electoral system, is passed, the whole Parliament should be elected under it.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we should go to the country?
– Most certainly. As soon as the Electoral Bill has been passed, we should go to the country. What can be more reasonable ? What sort of a mixed Parliament shall we have if some members of it are elected under one Electoral Act and others under a different Electoral Act? In such, circumstances, we may have Mr. Corboy sitting in the Commonwealth Parliament as the representative of a minority, and another man. taking his seat under an Electoral Act which precludes the possibility of the representative of a minority being elected. If the Government are speeding up the work of Parliament with that end in view, their action will recoil on their own heads. Parliament will not sanction it; and the Government will be making haste slowly if they say, “ Because we have met and put our heads together in Caucus, and because a majority of the Caucus has said that we can get this Bill through in time to make it apply to an impending election if the Senate meets on Tuesday instead of Wednesday next week- “
– But honorable senators opposite have received their instructions from the Argun.
– What is the Argus?
– It is the journal’ which gives my honorable friends opposite instructions as to how they shall act. In the election for Swan the Government found their nominee only third on the poll. This National Government, after their splendid exploit in winning the war, actually found that their National candidate was able to secure only third place on the poll. That result may be repeated in Victoria, and to avoid it, the Government wish to rush an Electoral Bill through Parliament. With this end in view, they desire the Senate to meet on Tuesday, instead of Wednesday next. I want Ministers to understand that they will not expedite matters in that way.
– In other words, you will obstruct?
– I have not said anything of the kind. Even the Minister must recognise that up to date we have not obstructed the Government in any way whatever. If we are to blame at all, it is that we have allowed Ministerial measures to pass the Senate without devoting to them that consideration which perhaps should have been devoted to them. In other words, we have afforded the Government every opportunity to give effect to their policy of winning the war. But if Ministers think that such consideration justifies them, without consulting the reasonable wishes of honorable senators, in submitting a motion . of this character, they are very much mistaken. Apparently they believe that they can treat us as so many puppets. Some of us have travelled 500 miles in order to attend to-day’s sitting of three hours. We shall have to travel another 500 miles to attend here on Tuesday next. If there be any legislative proposal of an urgent character demanding our consideration, by all means let us sit to-morrow and on Friday to deal with it. If the Minister believes that there is a possibility of business reaching the Senate in time to warrant us in meeting on Tuesday next, he has not shown it. Indeed, anybody wEo takes a reasonable view of what is occurring elsewhere must conclude that there is no such possibility. Ministers are merely pretending to be in a hurry - pretending, as Senator de Largie put it, to do some work.
– I did not say that. I said that we desired to show that we were anxious to do work.
– The honorable senator said, by way of interjection, that we should show that we are anxious to do some work. What a contemptible quibble it is to say that we are anxious to do work when the motion before us is to close the Senate for two days this week.
– Because we have not the work to do.
– I recognise that the conduct of business in this Chamber must conform to the progress that is made in another place. But I object to the Government Whip saying that we require to show that we are anxious to do work when we are being asked to adjourn over two ordinary sitting days and to meet a day earlier than usual next week. Senator de Largie objects to my saying that this is “ pretending to do work.” I say that it is nothing but the shallowest of pretences - the facts are too plain. I am strongly opposed to the Senate making a move in the direction indicated when everybody knows that it is merely a pretence. We shall accomplish nothing by meeting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday next week. If there be any real hurry, the Government can meet the situation by allowing the Senate to sit to-morrow and on Friday. Members of the Opposition have not delayed the Government for a single hour since the latter came into office, and it is treating us with scant courtesy to suddenly spring upon us a motion to increase the number of our ordinary sitting days. If the business which Ministers desire us to transact is of a pressing character, and if it is honest business, let them say what it is. But if they attempt to rush through Parliament a measure to affect an impending election, the “public will understand precisely what they are doing. The public are honest, no matter what their representatives may be. No Government whose members have rushed a measure through Parliament with a view to benefiting themselves have ever been able to avert defeat immediately they went to the polls. The public have always resented their action in the most emphatic manner.
– Then you ought to hasten that end.
– The credit of this Parliament is of more importance to me than party victories, and it should be more important to every honorable senator. The fact that we would gain by allowing the Government to go their own wrong way, if the experience of the past is repeated, would not justify us in refusing to warn them. If they go their own wrong way after they have been forewarned, their blood is on their own head. We shall not be responsible for it, and our hands will be clean, because we are telling them that if they think they can stampede legislation through Parliament with a view to assisting them in electioneering matters, they are making a grave mistake so far as the outside elec tors are concerned. It may be that that is not the important business that Ministers will bring up next week. The Victorian by-election may be a mere myth that I am introducing. I hope the Minister, when he replies, will give us the assurance that no attempt will be made to push through a special Bill to deal with a by-election in one State. If the Government do attempt it, it will be a scandalous thing. I trust that my mention of it will give the Minister an opportunity to inform the Senate and the country immediately that my suspicions are groundless. I shall be very pleased if they are. If the Minister thinks he will gain time by calling the Senate together a day sooner for the purpose I have foreshadowed, I assure him that practices of that kind will be resisted.
– The motion is very unusual. I have no recollection of anything like it at this period of a session in my twelve years’ experience. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) had been honest in telling the Senate the reason for the proposed meeting next Tuesday, I might have supported the motion. I would not mind if the Government called us together on Saturday, or even on Sunday, to deal with business of real importance to the country, but it is a well-known fact that, in another place, the guillotine is at work on ascertain Bill, and will drop at a certain hour. It is because of that fact that this motion has been moved.
– If we can only get your head under the axe,” we shall be pleased.
– I am not bothering much about my head, or the honorable senator’s. I am referring distinctly to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. I pointed out by interjection that the Argus has called the tune, and the Government are now dancing to it. That newspaper this morning Published a leaderette demanding not only the hurried” passage of the Bill in question, but the introduction of a special Bill to provide for preferential voting, so that the Corangamite seat might be retained by the National Government. If the result of the Swan by-election, under the old law, had been the return of the nominee of the National Government - the party hack - we should not have been asked to meet next Tuesday, because there would have been no need to hurry the Electoral Bill through. Its urgency has only been discovered because of the awful thing that has happened in Western Australia. That great State, which voted on two occasions for conscription, and rejected all Labour candidates at the last election, has now returned an Official Labour candidate to sit for Swan. .
– An Australian Labour candidate.
– I was quoting the name given to the party by the press. The Swan electorate has returned a member of the Australian Labour party to the National Parliament. Because the Government’s nominee was defeated there in the absence of preferential voting, the Government demand that the Electoral Bill shall be put through so that Corangamite may not fall into the hands of the same party. That is the position, and it is as well that the people should know it. It is a well-known fact that Mr. Hedges, who was third on the poll for the Swan election, was the direct nominee, not only of the National Government, but of the National’ Labour party. The National Labour party of Western Australia called for nominations, and Mr. Thomas, ex-member for Bunbury, was announced as a candidate. When they saw that the National Government had selected Mr. Hedges-
– Order! I do not think the honorable senator can associate that election with the motion before the Senate.
– I say distinctly that the object of the motion is to hurry the Electoral Bill through. Mr. Hedges was defeated. At the last moment the National Government threw him over and asked the Premier of Western Australia to decide between his claims and those of Mr. Murray. If there is urgent legislation for us to handle, I have no objection to sitting from now until midnight on Saturday, and coming back on Monday morning, but the Minister has not stated the real reason why we are asked to meet on Tuesday. With all due respect to him, I venture to say that I have stated the reason, ,and I have done so because I think the public .should know why we are to be hurriedly called back next week.
.- I express no opinion as to the object animating the Ministry in presenting this motion to call the Senate together a day earlier than usual. I hope there is no foundation for the suggestion of Senators Gardiner and Needham, that the real motive actuating the Government is the desire to pass the Electoral Bill through quickly for certain specific reasons. But in proposing to call the Senate together on Tuesday for whatever special business he has in his mind, the Minister (Senator Pearce) has probably overlooked the very great disadvantage at which he .must necessarily place the representatives of Tasmania. There are no available means for them to leave Tasmania until Tuesday, and it will, therefore, be quite impossible for them to reach Melbourne until Wednesday morning. Senators who are anxious to go to their homes in that State must be absent from Tuesday’s sitting, or they must remain here over the week-end. Unless the proposals which the Government have to bring before the Senate are exceedingly important, and they may be, for. all we know, the Minister ought to show some consideration to Tasmanian senators. I .am sure the Minister has moved the motion without thinking of the difficulties and inconveniences that it will cause us. I agree with Senator Gardiner that if the business was so urgent as to necessitate the Senate meeting a day earlier than customary, all honorable senators, including those from Tasmania, would willingly put up with the inconvenience in the interests of the country; but unless urgent reasons do exist, I ask the Minister to show us some little consideration by withdrawing the motion and reverting to the ordinary sitting days.
– I wish, also,- to enter my protest against the proposal to meet on Tuesday. Nobody can throw at me the insinuation that I am not here to do my duty. In these very busy times, it is im- possible to get travelling accommodation from Sydney at short notice. Since I heard of this arrangement, I have been in communication with Sydney, and find that we cannot get accommodation to leave Sydney on Monday night so as to be back here by Tuesday. Probably we shall have to stay in Melbourne. That is unfair and unjust to us. It is punishing honorable senators “who are always here to do their work, and it will not forward in any way the business of the Government. I atn confident that when these facts are placed before the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. “Watt), and he sees that the motion not only inconveniences members of the Senate, but does them an injustice, he will reconsider the decision which was arrived at, I suppose, in Cabinet this morning. I am not saying that there is any ulterior motive behind the proposal. I do not know what the urgency is, but, if there is urgency, notice should be given, so that we may have plenty of time to make arrangements. If the Minister wants the financial measures put through before the end of the session, let him give us notice now that Tuesday sittings will be necessary, beginning with the week after next. I protest against the alteration being made without letting honorable senators know anything about it until the eleventh hour, thus disarranging whatever plans they have made, in the belief that ample notice would be given to them of any change in the days of meeting.
– I felt somewhat inclined, after having made an interjection to Senator Gardiner, to apologize to him, because I thought from Senator McDougall’s. remark that I had probably misinterpreted the position of Senator Gardiner, who had been absent from the Senate time and again.
– You do not stress so emphatically the absence of other people on your own side.
– I have no personal feeling in the matter. Some of us cannot go to our- homes in twenty-four hours as Senators Grant and Gardiner can.
– Your home is in Melbourne.
– I contradict that statement emphatically. Our home is not in Melbourne. The place of the man who is elected to the Senate is here when the Senate is sitting, no matter what day it may be.
– You did not take that view when you were a well-paid officer of the Senate.
– I take that position always.
– You do nothing of the kind. ‘ You ought to be the last to reflect on any member who is absent.
– So far as I know, other than in cases of sickness, I have never been absent from the sittings of the Senate for one day during the many years I have had the privilege of attending it.
– The President was kept in the chair night after night, because there was no deputy present to relieve him. That was when the honorable senator was in Western Australia, and he knows it.
– Nothing of the kind. I say emphatically that, other than in case of sickness, I have never been absent from a meeting of this Senate on one occasion.
– You went away before the session ended that time, to see the Perth Cup.
– I did nothing of the sort. I thought that, perhaps, I was wrong in the interjection which I made to the honorable senator; but, after hearing his speech, and particularly his concluding remarks, I felt perfectly satisfied that I was not wrong at all, and that, therefore, he is most uncharitable in the position he has taken up, seeing that there are members of the -Senate who are not placed in the same easy circumstances as himself, and that the sooner we close the session the better it will be for those who are under greater disadvantages than he is. The honorable senator ought to assist in securing the cessation of our work at the earliest possible moment.
. - I am one of those honorable senators who will be inconvenienced by the Senate meeting on Tuesday next. I do not return to Tasmania every week-end; but I had arranged to attend a function in Hobart on Monday next. I shall not be able to do so now, however. I had intended to leave Melbourne on Friday, reaching Hobart on Saturday night, and departing again on Tuesday morning. Our duty is to be present in the Senate when there is business to be done; and- in that light I would not object to the proposal of the Minister. But he should have told us exactly what is the nature of the business which the Senate is to be- asked .to conduct on Tuesday next. If the Government wish to push the Electoral Bill through within a certain time, it would be proper for the Minister to inform us of the fact. I trust he .will do so in the course of his reply. Probably, the Government desire to get that Bill passed as speedily as possible; and, seeing that they have the numbers, there would be nothing lost if the Minister were frank, and informed the Senate and the country that that is the reason for asking honorable senators to meet on Tuesday next.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence^ [6.15]. - I am sorry if the proposal of the Government will inconvenience any honorable senator; but, to listen to certain honorable gentlemen, one would think we had months ahead of us in which to conduct our business. Practically, we shall have only about sixteen actual sitting days after re-assembling - if we are to adjourn in time to allow honorable senators to return to their distant homes.
– It is the fault of the Government in not having the business ready for us.
– I am not saying whose fault it is,- but that that is the position.
– Why not say that we shall meet every Tuesday?
– I wish we were to meet every Tuesday. The Government do not desire to take advantage of any honorable senators. I promise the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), and others who have objected, that the second reading of no Bill which may come before the Senate on Tuesday shall be agreed to upon that day. Honorable senators know very well that the early stages in the passage of Bill’s are merely formal, and if they cannot attend on Tuesday, they will not have missed their opportunity of speaking to the second reading of any measure.
– What is the advantage of meeting on Tuesday, then ?
– We gain that day. If we are able to clear the formal stages of certain measures on Tuesday, we shall have the next day free to debate them on their second readings. Honorable senators opposite would be the first to protest against the Government proceeding with a Bill through all stages upon the one day, and would request adjournments. If that were done at our meeting on Wednesday, it would mean that that day would be lost, and we would have only the Thursday and Friday of next week for actual work.
– The Standing Orders could be suspended on the Wednesday, and Bills could be passed through all their stages.
– There would immediately be a request that the measure dealt with should not be pushed beyond its formal stages. To any honorable senators who may have a particular Bill in mind, I repeat, that the measures to come before the Senate shall not pass their second-reading stages on Tuesday.
– Will the Minister indicate what are the Bills to be dealt with next week ?
– I indicated a number of money Bills. There is also the Electoral Bill. I pointed that out in my first statement. I said there were a number of Money Bills which could only be introduced in another place, and that all have been introduced. There is the Electoral Bill also, which primarily affects the other House; and, therefore, that measure is being introduced there. Those are the reasons why we wish to meet on the extra day next week ; and * I have already assured honorable senators that they will lose no opportunity of debating any of those measures.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the’ affirmative.
Commonwealth Line of Steamers : Wheat Freights and Wheat Prices - Naval Administration : Position of Mr. Jensen - Tattersall’s Sweeps : Tax on Winnings - Electoral Bill:
CORANG amite By-Election- repatriaTION : Sydney Fruit and Vegetables Fund - Anzacs’ Graves on Gallipoli.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I ask the Minister in control of the Wheat Pool (Senator Russell) whether it is a fact that the steam-ships purchased by the Labour Government in 1916 have already been paid for, and, if it is true, that they have been paid for chiefly out of the earnings of the farmers - the Government charging them more than 4s. per bushel freight on wheat from Australia to Great Britain, whereas, in prewar times,it was less than1s. ? Previously, private ships carried wheat, in some cases, at the rate of 6½d., and in others at 10½d., per bushel. I am natu rally pleased that the ships purchased by the Government have already paid for themselves; butI am very much disposed to think that the primary producers have been called upon during these years of war, owing to the drastic action of’ the National Government in enormously increasing freights, to pay more than £2,000,000 for those ships. Mr. Hughes has said that the actual cost has been paid, and that there is £15,000 in hand. Will the Government consider the fact that, the ships having been paid for, 4s. and more is now being charged to carry the farmers’ wheat to Great Britain? A reduction of 2s. in freight would enable the fanner to get 6s. 9d. per bushel instead of 4s. 9d. for his wheat. This is a perfectly reasonable request, and if the Government would do something in this direction they would really be helping the farmers.
There are one or two other matters to which I should like to refer. I have noticed in the press of late that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen) ceased to perform the duties of his office because of some statements that were made on information given to a certain Committee. I should like to know who comprised this Committee which has interfered with the duties of a Cabinet Minister, and who are responsible for statements that have resulted in the removal of a Cabinet Minister, responsible to Parliament, from his office. ‘If I understand our parliamentary system at all, the Ministry are the Executive Committee of Parliament, and responsible only to Parliament, and if any suspicion attaches to the administration of any Minister he should immediately refrain from exercising the functions of his office. But this Committee, I understand, does not represent the Government at all. and I hope the Government will take into consideration the effect of these inroads into our parliamentary system. Does the Committee represent the voice of the National party? By whom was it appointed ? What would be said if the executive of the Labour party appointed such a Committee, and brought about the suspension of a Labour Minister in this way ? I venture to say it would be regarded as such an outrage on parliamentary government that it would be head-lined in the press right throughout Australia. This Committee was not appointed by this Parliament. If it was, I knew nothing about it. It was not even a Royal Commission appointed in the ordinary way by the Government. Was it appointed at the instance of the big business interests ? The Government and their supporters are sitting down complacently, and saying, “Yes” to what, the big business interests of this country have decided, even to the suspension of a Minister of the Crown, responsible to Parliament. The Minister, it seems, has lost the confidence of his colleagues and is no longer administering his Departin “-it. I say that immediately any suspi ion arose he should have immediately resigned his office. There can be no other course under parliamentary government as I know it, and if we are to maintain the high standards that have obtained hitherto. Ministers hold their various offices by virtue of the confidence reposed in them by Parliament, and not at the will of some Committee. Who comprised this Committee? If ‘ I were to ask any two senators on the Ministerial side they could not give me the names. Most likely it was a Departmental Committee, appointed as the result of Cabinet deliberations and recommendations by a Minister to have an investigation into certain business arrangements. I can quite understand the necessity for this course because, owing to the business incapacity of the Government, they are unable to manage the affairs of the country satisfactorily, and look for some way out of a difficulty.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– There is one other matter which I should like to mention at this stage, and that is the tax that has been, levied upon money won in Tattersalls sweeps. I understand this Win-the-war Government, who were elected to Parliament on a definite policy, have now decided to recognise Tattersalls sweeps by collecting 10 per cent, of the winnings.
– They recognise the money, but not the sweeps.
– I understand Senator Bakhap’s attitude. He is a sup porter of a Government which refuses to send letters through the post addressed to Tattersalls, but is prepared to take a percentage of the winnings. However, I do not wish to be drawn off the track. It seems that the Act under which this money is being collected is made retrospective, and quite a number of people who have won small amounts within the past year or two are nOw being called upon to pay a percentage of their winnings. I should like to know from the Minister, as early as possible, just how far back the retrospective action of this legislation goes. If it is to go back to 1914, when the war began, it will certainly inflict a hardship upon men who, a few years ago, won small amounts in Tattersalls sweeps.
– It is a bad principle, and we should not have agreed to it.
– I agree with the honorable senator. Retrospective legislation is bad in principle, and should never have been agreed to. Complaints have been made lately, particularly by those who have had small winnings in Tattersalls, that they are being called upon to pay a percentage on their winnings. They do not know whether it is legal or not, or why the collection is being made. One man told me that it is two years ago since he has had a win in Tattersalls, and yet he had received a notice to pay. I said to him that he was lucky to have had a win, but he told me that he was no better off, as he had spent the money, and now he had to pay the tax. I am anxious that the fullest publicity should be given to this aspect of the question, so that people will know whether they can be called upon to pay or not.
– The Commonwealth law makes investments in Tattersail’s illegal.
– What ‘ I want to know is, how far back this Act is operative, because if a man with a small income is suddenly called upon to pay a percentage of a win which he had a couple of years ago, it will be a hardship. This question should be carefully considered by the Government. I know, of course, that money is important.
– I should think that the collection is being made under the Income Tax Act.
– If that were so, it should be operative for only one year. There can be no mistake about the fact that back money has been called up in this way, and when I was asked about it, I was unable to explain the reason. I dare say the Minister himself could not offer a satisfactory explanation, and say definitely how far back the Act is operative. 1 do not want to complain, but it seems strange that while the Government will not allow their post-offices to be used for the delivery of letters to Tattersalls, they are ready to participate in the profits by taking a share of an investor’s winnings. The collection, I believe, is being made illegally, and it should he stopped. In my opinion also, the Postal Department should deliver all letters to the addressees. If the postage is paid, the Government should not inquire into the nature, of the business, particularly if, afterwards, they participate in the profits of a sweep.
– In the course of the debats this afternoon, I mentioned that the reason for bringing members back on Tuesday was that the Government want to win - not the war, but the Corangamite bv-election.
The “PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. “ T. Givens). - Order! The honorable senator must be aware that, under the rules of the Senate, he cannot attribute motives.
– Very well, -Mr. President. But there is no getting away from the fact that the Government want to put the amending Electoral Bill through as quickly as possible. Am I imputing any motive in saying that? They are anxious to get the Bill through in time to have the preferential system in operation for that by-election. ‘
– And a very laudable aspiration, is it not?
– I am not complaining about it; but I say that had the Swan by-election been won by a nominee of the National Government, we would not have been required to come back on Tuesday next to consider certain legislation. I know for a fact that the Government had nominated Mr. Hedges as their candidate for the Swan by-election, and that when they learned that Mr. Hedges could not win, Hurried counsels were taken. Communications were- entered into with Mr. Watt (the Acting Prime Minister) with a view to arbitration as to who should be the National candidate - whether it should be Mr. Hedges or Mr. Basil Murray. It is also well known that the National Government threw Mr. Hedges’ to the wolves, absolutely threw him overboard, because, when a certain Mr. Stewart sent a communication to the Acting Prime Minister asking him to arbitrate between Mr. Hedges and Mr. Murray, he suggested that Mr. Lefroy, the Premier of Western Australia, should act, although, prior to that, they had given their imprimatur to Mr. Hedges’ candidature.
– What about the Prohibitionist ?
– That opens up a very interesting question, and I would say to those who are advocating wartime prohibition that they have their answer in the Swan by-election, because out of the 19,033 votes cast, only 884 indorsed war-time prohibition.
– - Then the Swan electorate does not want water.
– I ‘ have no objection to our electoral law being made as perfect as possible; but why should the Electoral Bill be rushed through both Houses of this Parliament just because there is a by-election pending?
– So that its provisions can be applied to that election.
– What is good for the goose should be good for the gander; but because the existing law proved to be bad for the National goose in the Swan election, it is desired to make the law good for the National gander in Corangamite.
– Is the honorable senator afraid of the position the Government are taking up ?
– I am not afraid of the Government, but I think they are afraid of themselves, and that Senator Henderson is beginning to b§ ashamed of supporting them.
– No, not by any means
– If we meet on Wednesday in the usual way, we can conduct our business as expeditiously as usual. The Senate does its work very expeditiously, and very intelligently. I cannot - see why the Government should bring us back next Tuesday unless it be to get the Electoral Bill through, so that its provisions may be applied to the Corangamite election.- I have said that the guillotine has been started in another place, and it will drop at 3 o’clock next Friday afternoon in that chamber. It is because this has been done, and there has been a Cabinet meeting at which this was determined upon that we are being called Back next Tuesday. Honorable members in another place carried the guillotine proposal some weeks ago, and it is significant that the first measure to which it is to be applied is the Electoral Bill. The man who runs may read the significance of this. This is why I say that it is because of party action, and to gain a party victory at a by-election, we are being called together next Tuesday.
– There is a grievance which I -desire to bring under the notice of the Government. If we were meeting to-morrow, I might not refer to the matter now; but I consider it of great urgency, and this is the only opportunity that I have of ventilating it, and I would rather wait till the Minister for Repatriation is present. It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that on numerous occasions when the Repatriation Bill was under consideration I championed the. Fruit and Vegetable Fund for Fighters’ Families, established in Sydney. It is now proposed by the Repatriation Board in New South Wales that this Fund shall be deliberately closed up. I make an appeal to the Government, now that the war has almost ended, to let the Fund continue, as it has done for some considerable time, to assist distressed wives and children of soldiers at the Front. This Fund was started by a gentleman who has a home in the Blue Mountains. He grew a lot of fruit and vegetables, which he could not use himself, and he brought the surplus to Sydney, and dis tributed it from his place of business. The demand for the goods became so large that he appealed to his neighbours settled in the Blue Mountains to assist him by supplying fruit and vegetables. They responded nobly to his appeal. The demand continued to increase, and he was forced to appeal to the public, and the State Government supplied him with a depot. He has now 1,000 families on his books receiving gifts of fruit and vegetables twice a week. The authorities of the Red Cross organization came to him and asked him why he did not come under their wing. He replied that he was content to come under any one’s wing to help the people whom he was endeavouring to assist. He came under the Red Cross organization, but because of certain interference he was compelled to separate from that organization again. It is not necessary that at this stage I should go into the details of his difficulties with that organization, but I will say that this gentleman was shabbily treated by that body. He started on his own again, and collected money wherever he could get it, and fruit, vegetables, and other produce were sent to him from different parts of New South Wales. The New South Wales Government carried this produce free, and assisted the Fund with a little money. The object of the Fund is to assist the wives and families of fighters, men who are really at the Front; and these people assert that they cannot be catered for bv any .other body in Sydney, and they are perfectly content to continue to receive assistance through this Fund. The men and women conducting the Fund do not receive a threepenny-bit for the work they do. They are satisfied to continue to operate it, but the Repatriation Department now says that they must not do so. If the Department adopted a similar policy in dealing with other funds, I should not complain; but they do not. There are other bodies in Sydney raising money for the assistance of the wives and families of soldiers that are not interfered with. Theatre parties, regattas, and all sorts of entertainments are held to raise funds for these bodies, but the gentleman who has established the Fund to which I am referring has received an order from the
Repatriation Board that he must not collect any more money for his Fund, though he may continue to collect goods. If this order is enforced he will have to close the distributing depot. I am consequently making a last earnest appeal to prevent this being done. I appealed to the Minister on the subject before, and it was referred to the Repatriation Council in Melbourne, who referred it to the State Board, and they have decided practically to close up the Fund. In view of the fact that the war is nearly over, I again appeal through the Minister for Defence to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to permit this Fund to be continued. In a letter sent to me to-day, the honorary organizer of the Fund writes as follows: -
This Fund is administered by a number of men and women in New South Wales, under the supervision of the State Auditor-General. I need not give the names of the executive, but they include ladies of all classes, members of Parliament, and Sydney business men, including public auditors. No one connected with the executive of the Fund receives any payment for work done in connexion with it.
The following letter was received by the organizer of the Fund from the Deputy Controller of Repatriation in New South Wales: -
Your application for permission to raise funds by appeals through the press, inc., on behalf of the above Fund was before the State Board at the last meeting, and I have to inform you that the Board, after considering your application, will not sanction any appeal to the public for funds or cash; but there i3 no objection to you receiving gifts in kind, on behalf of your Fund.
Yours faithfully, A. G. Farr
Deputy Controller. .
I propose to read for honorable senators a report of the operations of the Fund, which I think should be placed on record to give some idea of the great philanthropic work that is being carried on by the organizer and those associated with him. The report reads -
In submitting my report for the year ended 30th June, 1918, it is to be regretted that the need for the work of this fund continues to be of such pressing necessity. Unfortunately, so long as the war continues, and the same conditions prevail here, the work of the fund must be maintained. The operations of the fund were carried on during the year in much the same way as they have been hitherto, with the notable “exception that larger quantities of women’s and children’s clothing were received, and were much appreciated by the families. If anything, owing to the increased cost of living, the need for assistance to the soldiers’ families has been more acute, but, fortunately, the depot has been able to afford a fair measure of relief. The number of families receiving help from the depot has fluctuated from time to time between COO and 700 to 1,200, whilst the number of children being provided for has varied from about 2,f(in to about 5,000. The strike which occurred in August, 1017. had a disastrous effect on the work of the fund, through transportation difficulties. We were practically unable to get any donations of goods by the rail or boat, which meant that we wore forced to buy everything. The effect of this increased buying was so serious that at one stage the fund’s financial credit balance went right down to 3s. lid. Whilst being able to provide for all the families with three children each and upwards, numbering about !!00 families, we were compelled during this period of stress, to put off over 300 families with two children each, and, unfortunately, through lack . of supplies, it has not been possible to put these families back on the list again. There are at present somewhere between 700 and- 800 families with two children who have applied to the depot for assistance, but whom we have been, so far, unable to do anything for.
An important development has taken place in connexion with the public schools since my last report. At the instance of the UnderSecretary, a committee of the teachers in the metropolitan area has been formed, with Mr. Ed. Webster as convener. The objects for which this committee was brought into existence were to properly organize and stimulate patriotic effort on the part of public school pupils throughout the State. This movement was inaugurated towards the end of 1917, and a special rush appeal was made to provide Christmas cheer for those receiving supplies from the depét. The success of this initial effort was splendid. Since the beginning- of 1918 the organizing of the schools’ efforts has gone ahead rapidly, and the fund has received very material help therefrom. This will be better understood when I say that prior to the formation ot this committee the total number of schools helping the work of the fund was twentyfour, whilst for the six months ended June, 1918, this number had increased to 124, the value of whose help amounted to £447 10s. 2id.
Since the last report was presented to you, the Railway Commissioners have granted the fund free carriage; this came into force on the 1st January, 1918. I am also pleased to report that Frank Cridland, Limited, have been good enough to arrange free cartage of consignments for the fund from the railway, boat, &c.
In March last, at my request, an officer from the Auditor-General’s Department thoroughly investigated the whole of the fund’s books, accounts, &c, and issued a certificate to the effect that everything was in satisfactory order. Again, since .the close of our year, another officer has gone through the fund’s accounts, and his certificate will be noticed on the balance-sheet presented with this report, whilst the report to the Government reads as follows: - ‘“I have examined the books and accounts of the above fund, which have already been subjected to the audit of a public accountant for the year ended 30th June, 1918. A clear certificate as to their correctness was given, and my examination enabled me to give an unqualified endorsement thereto’. The figures’ appended show that the ratio of administrative expenses is low, especially as the value of goods in kind received and distributed has been taken on a very conservative basis. - A. C. K. Mackenzie, Insp. of Pub. Accts., 12/8/18.” .
The total donations in cash received during the year amounted to £1,693 12s. 7d., which added to the balance brought forward at the beginning of the year totals £1,843 12s. 9d., whilst the total expenditure in ‘goods, &c, totals £1,578 ls. 10d., leaving a credit balance at 30th June, 1918, of £205 10s. lid. As during the previous years, careful records have been kept of gifts in kind received, and a conservative valuation of these (including over seven tons of jam made on the premises) amounts to £3,610 lis. 9d., which makes the total supplies distributed during the year £4,961 19s. lOd. The only items in the balancesheet which are chargeable to cost of administration are postage, £55 lis.; printing and stationery, £9 19s. 6d. ; sundries (telephone, cleaning room, &c), £38 5s. These total £103 15s. 6d., equivalent to only 2 per cent, on the fund’s total operations for the year.
I have read that statement because it has been said by some persons connected with the State Repatriation Committee - indeed, I interviewed one of them myself - that I ought to have nothing to do with Mr. Pontey, the organizer of this Fund, who was a bounder. I only hope that.. I may be associated with such bounders for the rest of my life. He has sacrificed time, money, and business in order to carry on this Fund, and he is now fighting for the right to get donations from the public amounting to a paltry £840 a year. But the State Repatriation Committee have come down upon him with the guillotine, and have said, “ You must close up. But you may receive gifts in kind.” What is the value of gifts in kind if the man cannot get money to cover the cost of postage and other charges incidental to his work? He only asks that his expenses shall be recouped to him. When we passed the Repatriation Bill, giving the State Committees power to cut down these funds, we never anticipated that they would attempt to stem the efforts of a man who submits his balancesheet to the State .Auditor-General, or the endeavours of the noble-hearted women who have manufactured on the premises the quantity of jam I have indicated. It was never intended by any section of this Parliament that such an arbitrary power should be placed in the hands of anybody. Now that the war is nearly over, I appeal to the Minister for Repatriation to allow this man to continue his labours. As I have pointed out, 124 schools have contributed £447 to the Fund. Yet this man is now obliged to say to the school children, “You must not contribute to it,” and to the school teachers, “ You must not help me because the Repatriation Committee has forbidden you to help these people.” Certain trouble exists between these private associations with which, however, I am not going to deal here. But if I did, I am satisfied that my disclosures would surprise honorable senators. “I appeal once more to the Minister to allow’ this man to continue the good work upon which he has embarked. Then, when the history of the war comes to be written, we shall not be able to say that the Government declined to allow people to assist families of our fighters while they were absent at( the battle front.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [8.30]. - Referring to the subject upon which I made a statement earlier in the day, I would like an expression of opinion from the Government as to the probability of any action being taken by them. Now that hostilities with Turkey have ceased, it seems to me that the proper care of the graves of our troops -who were buried in Gallipoli, demands urgent attention. In the press recently an. announcement appeared to the effect that these graves had been very much neglected and disfigured, and in my statement this afternoon, I pointed out that there was considerable doubt as to the identification of many of the graves. It is, I submit, a sacred duty on the part of the Government to take such steps as will insure, not merely the proper . protection of those graves, but that no effort should be spared to identify every one of them. Indeed the Government should endeavour to secure some vested rights in the areas covered by the battlefields in Gallipoli. They are battlefields which will be historical so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and, in my opinion, they will become places of pilgrimage for Australians for many years to come. I hope that action will be taken by the Government to commemorate the first great work done by Australians in this war.
.- -In reply to the remarks of Senator Gardiner upon the question of wheat freight, I desire to say that, in my opinion, he was somewhat unjust in instituting a comparison between the rates of freight at the present time and the rates of freight which obtained prior to the war. Surely he would not have us believe that he is un- . aware of such a thing as war risk, or of the higher cost that is involved in working ships now, as compared with the cost of working them before the war. Yet, this afternoon, he actually instituted that comparison. I have not the figures relating to the rates of freight before me, but I have seen them quite recently. My recollection of them is that in this particular class of cargo, Australia has the cheapest freight of any wheat-growing country ‘in the Southern Hemisphere. I am confident that the rate of freight from the Argentine is very much higher, in proportion to distance, than is the rate from Australia. Therefore, nothing is to be gained by the honorable senator attempting to rouse the passions of .the farmers of this country by endeavouring to make them believe that they are not getting a fair deal from the Government.
As a matter of fact, several Governments have dealt with this question. I think that the scheme was first propounded by a Labour Government. But all Governments have encountered the same difficulty - the difficulty of getting freight. Indeed, it has been a real difficulty to obtain freight at any price.
– But the statement has been made that the Commonwealth vessels paid for themselves in less than two years.
– I do not know whether that statement is true or not, but it is a fact that the Commonwealth vessels have earned a considerable rate of profit. That, however, is true of all shipping all the world over. I know, too, that our ships have been carrying cargoes other than wheat.
– The information was cabled to this country that Mr. Hughes said that in less than eighteen months the vessels had paid for themselves, and that there was £15,000 over.
– That merely shows, that their purchase was a good bargain. It does not show that the vessels were purchased at the expense of the wheat-growers of Australia. There is no doubt that the purchase of these ships led to a larger number of vessels coming to the Commonwealth than would otherwise have been the case. The present Government have endeavoured to do their best in the interests of the producers of this country. That they have not been able to give the farmer better conditions is not due to circumstances within their control, but to circumstances of a worldwide character.
In regard to the other matter mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), there is a very good’ reason why I should not follow his’ example by .discussing it. I refer to the question which he raised in reference to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen). The matter is at present sub judice, being still the subject of inquiry by a Royal Commission. That is a sufficient reason why I should refrain from discussing it.
I noted the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the tax upon prize moneys won in Tattersalls sweeps; and I have had the matter looked into. I find that in the Income Tax Act 1915, sub-section 8 of section 14 includes in taxable income “ a cash prize in a lottery.” That Act was passed when Senator Gardiner was a member of the Government, and it has been embodied in every Income Tax Act that has been passed since.
– What date was the Act passed?
– In 1915. The facts in regard to the particular matter mentioned by ‘the honorable senator are that no tax was collected prior to 1915, but that in their returns for 1915-16 and subsequent years certain persons who had won cash prizes in Tattersall sweeps did not include them. The Taxation Department has now obtained a list of prize winners in those sweeps, and by this means has discovered the persons who did not include the amounts thus won in their returns, and it has taken action accordingly. I do not think there can be any reasonable complaint of that. There is the law. It distinctly states that cash prizes won in lotteries shall be included in taxable income. These people did not include such prizes won by them in their income tax schedules, .and they are now being called upon to comply with the law. It will he seen, therefore, that this is not retrospective legislation.
– Will a person whose income, together with the prize money won by him in a sweep, did not render it necessary for him to send in a return for 1915-16, have to pay income tax upon such prize money? _ Senator PEARCE.- I am not sufficiently a lawyer to answer that question; but I take it that where a substantial prize has been won, the fortunate individual will have to pay. In 1915, 1 think that the minimum taxable income was £250. It will be seen, therefore, that if a man earned some income, and on top of that won a cash prize in a lottery, his income would probably exceed the minimum taxable amount.
– But the incomes of some persons added to the cash prizes won by them- would not exceed the taxable amount. For instance, a man who received a cash prize of only £10 is called upon to pay taxation upon it.
– If there are individual cases of that kind, they should be represented to the Taxation Commissioner.
In regard to the question raised by Senator McDougall, he, of course, recognises that it concerns the Repatriation Department. I know that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has given consideration to that matter, and also to a number of other matters. He recognises that it is necessary to secure some uniformity, and, with- this end in view, to lay down certain guiding principles in regard to the funds which shall be allowed to operate throughout Australia. Nobody can justify allowing a fund to exist in one particular locality, and refusing to sanction the establishment of a similar fund elsewhere.
– If the Minister will insist upon uniformity I shall be satisfied.
– I will undertake to see that the honorable senator’s remarks under this heading are brought under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation.
In regard to the question raised by Senator Bolton, as to the graves of our troops who died in. Gallipolli, we are all agreed that it is one in respect of which a strong sentiment exists throughout Australia. The honorable senator will probably remember that very early in the war this matter did receive the attention of the Government, and that we made certain representations to the British Government concerning it. But it was not then possible to do anything of a practical character except to appoint a Graves Commission, representative of the United Kingdom and of all the Dominions - a Commission of which the Prince of Wales is Chairman. This Commission has been working ever since its appointment to obtain as complete a register as possible of the graves of all the Empire soldiers who have fallen in every theatre of war. In regard to the greater part of Gallipoli, I know that a very complete register of the graves there is in existence, and a similar remark is applicable to the graves in Egypt. I can quite understand that in the circumstances related by the honorable senator earlier in the afternoon, this was not possibleat Cape Helles. I shall see what has been done, and shall be obliged if the honorable senator will give me the names of the two officers who, he says, can furnish complete information on the subject, although, probably, I should be able to ascertain them in any case. I can assure the. honorable senator, and the Senate generally, that we are giving the matter out best attention, and that it is the intention of the Government to do everything we can.
We shall certainly make representations about reserving the land on the Gallipoli Peninsula in some way. We cannot say what the ultimate destination of that land will be, but weshall endeavour, through the British Government, to secure that the spots where our countrymen are buried shall remain sacred for all time. We have not lost sight of the matter, and whatever arrangement is come to as to the future destination of the Gallipoli Peninsula, we may be able to have some stipulation mode that the graves shall not be desecrated in any way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 8.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181106_senate_7_86/>.