7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Incomes From Personal Exertion
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he can supply information as to the number of persons in Australia who, from personal exertion, are in receipt of taxable incomes of from £2,000 to £3,000, from £3,000 to £4,000, and £4,000 to £5,000 and over, per annum?
– I am not aware whether information tabulated in that form is available, but I shall make inquiries, and, if possible, supply the information asked for by the honorable senator.
Suspension of Operations
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy whether the Government will reconsider their decision to suspend operations at the Naval Base, Cockburn Sound, until such time as the Admiralty expert arrives from Great Britain?
– The matter was fully considered by the Government, and I can hold out no hope of any alteration in the decision already announced to Parliament.
– On the 5th December, Senator McDougall asked me the following questions: -
I am now able to supply the honorable senator with the following information, in reply to his questions: -
Treatment of Blind Soldiers
– Has the Minister for Repatriation any information to give me in reference to the case of the blind soldier whose complaint concerning his treatment I brought under notice last week ?
– I read the newspaper paragraph referred to, and have obtained information regarding the man to whom inquiries point as being the individual referred to in that paragraph. The blind soldier, Billington, if he is the man, was discharged on the 8th September. He applied for, and has been paid sustenance from 30th September. His income now, inclusive of pension, is £2 2s. per week. He will be paid for the twenty-one days intervening from the 8th to the 30th September. He has lodged an application for a loan of £500 to develop and patent a new diving apparatus, also for a free passage to England in connexion with the same. The papers in his case will come before the State Board on Monday, and will be submitted later to the Repatriation Commission. Billington has refused any training in a blind institution.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he is in a position to give me an answer to some questions I asked about the Government’s option on the Blythe River iron deposits ?
– No further information has reached me on the subject, but I shall make inquiries and see whether it is possible to supply any further information before the Senate rises.
– On behalf of Senator Barnes I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he has any information to give in answer to questions submitted by the honorable senator in connexion with land set apart for soldiers’ settlements in Victoria?
– As I intimated that I would do when Senator Barnes put his question, I forwarded it to the Victorian Minister for Lands. I have received a reply from him stating that the information given is insufficient to enable a reply . to be furnished. Captain Bruce has telegraphed to Captain a’Beckett asking for particulars. Upon receipt thereof answers to the question will he supplied.
Principles of Gold Deposition
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In reference to the comprehensive reports issued by the Executive Committee of the Advisory Council of Science and Industry upon the factors influencing the “ Gold deposition in the Bendigo gold-fields,” will the Minister take into consideration the advisableness of instituting similar exhaustive inquiries in regard to certain gold-fields in Queensland, with a’ view to determining the principles which have led to the localization of payable gold, &c?
-Inquiries will be made by the Executive Committee of the Advisory Council of Science and Industry as to the problems of the goldmining industry of Queensland, with a view to considering the practicability of undertaking such an investigation.
Cost of Organization
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Weekly Average Cost - Repatriation -Payment of Demobilized Postal Employees
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Holidays in Celebration of Armistice.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers supplied by the Postmaster-General are -
Use of Collie Coal
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
In view of the answer given in the Senate on the19th November, relative to the use of Collie coal on Commonwealth steamers, is the Minister aware whether -
Whether, if the position is as stated, the Minister is satisfied, in the light of his reply to my question, that a fair and reasonable trial has been given to Collie coal on the steamers mentioned?
– The manager in Australia of the Commonwealth Government line of steamers advises me as follows : - 1. (a) Only a minority of the Strath line of steamers were purchased by the Government. Our superintendent engineer, who was with the Strath line, informs me that it would be more correct to state that they were occasional, and not regular, consumers of Collie coal.
We are not aware as to what quantity of coal was taken by the Strath boats during the four years mentioned.
Government Assistance to c a ne-gro wers.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Government are still awaiting advice from the Government of Queensland respecting this matter.
Punishment of Persons Responsible. (Senator LONG asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has he read the following extract from Mr. Lloyd George’s speech, reported in the press of Australia on 3rd December, 1918: - “ He did not wish to pursue a policy of vengeance after the war, but we must now make an example of the rulers who plunged the world into war. It was intended to make a fair but stern investigation into the authorship of the war, and this must be pursued to a final reckoning. The authors of submarine piracy must be punished, likewise those responsible for devastation in occupied territory”?
If so, have the Government sent their indorsement of that policy; and, if not, will early action be taken to assure the Imperial Government that the Commonwealth Parliament are in complete accord with the policy enunciated by Mr. Lloyd George?
– The answers are -
Approval of Licences to ExportTin Scrap.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Whether, since the embargo placed upon the export of metals, alloys, and minerals under the war powers of the Government - on 6th September, 1915 - all licences to export have been approved by Sir John Higgins, the Honorary Metallurgical Adviser to the Government; and, if not, by whom were the licences approved?
-The answer is -
Licences to export metals are issued by the Department of Trade and Customs on the ad- vice of the Attorney-General’s Department. The Honorary Metallurgical Adviser is consulted by the Attorney-General’s Department in some cases; and in some cases other Departments, such as the Treasury, the Munitions Directorate, and the Shipbuilding Office, are consulted. The decisions are, however, given by the Attorney-General’s Department.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government lay upon the table of the Senate or the Library all the papers in connexion with the tin scrap matter?
– The papers will be laid on the table of the Library as requested.
Punishment on H.M.A.S. “ Swan.”
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Wages of Sailmakers
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the sailmakers’ award came into operation on 29th August last; and, if so, will he take steps to insure that the sailmakers in the Defence Department are paid at the increased rates without further delay?
– Approval has been given for payment to be made on the basis of the award, as from the date of its operation.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to make provision for homes for Australian soldiers and female dependants of Australiansoldiers.
Report of Royal Commission : Purchase of Shaw Wireless Works
Debate resumed from 10th December, (vide page 8948), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper bo printed.
– I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to Senator Gardiner for his courtesy in giving way to me this afternoon for a reason that I think is perfectly obvious. At the very outset of my remarks, I would like to say that, no matter what explanation I may make this afternoon, it will never be able to overtake the highly misleading statements appearing in . the Commissioner’s report which have, through the medium of the press, been circulated throughout Australia to-day.
I wish, just for a moment, to invite the attention of honorable senators to paragraph 48 of the report of the Royal Commission, which reads -
The Commission has usedthese statements - the statements upon which its report is based - as a basis for inquiry only, and has not thought it proper to regard them as proof of the matters stated.
When it is remembered that the reputation and future of at least two public men are at stake, one would think that the members of the Commission would have assured themselves of the absolute proof, beyond the shadow of any doubt, of the truth of the statements made by the witnesses who appeared before them, before issuing broadcast the statements which have appeared in the press - statements which it would be impossible for one to overtake even if he had the opportunity and inclination to speak upon this question for a whole week. I, perhaps, have no right to dictate or question the manner in which the Commission carried out their work, or tendered their report. But by no stretch of imagination can it be regarded as fair to base the serious allegations which appear in the report of the Commission upon statements of which they say they had no proof.
My name appears very frequently in the report in connexion with the purchase by the Commonwealth Government - not the Navy Department, it will be observed - of the wireless works situated at Randwick. In order that the younger members of the Senate may understand, more correctly my position in regard to the gentleman who was the vendor of those works, I may be allowed to say that my relations with the late Father Shaw were of such a personal and confidential character that one is compelled to refrain from a full statement of them here. Suffice it to say that for five years the most intimate relations existed between us, and I do not think he had a trouble, either commercial, industrial, or financial, with which he did not acquaint me. Most of u9 here know that the late Father Shaw was a very brilliant and a very clever man, and that he possessed many highly scientific attainments, particularly in the electrical and chemical world. For his talents, I had the greatest admiration, and whatever I was able to do for him during the five years of our close acquaintanceship, I always did cheerfully. Whether the service which I was able to render him was big or small, it was always rendered without any hope, without any promise, and without any stipulation of. reward. Those members of the- Senate who, like myself, have been here for some eight or ten years, will recollect the frequency of his visits to Parliament House during the three or four years immediately preceding his death, and I venture to say that he was never seen in the company of any other member of this Chamber.
In order that the relations of which I have spoken may be better understood, I ask to be allowed to go back two or three years into the early history of wireless telegraphy in this country. In 1910 the Fisher Government came into power, and part of its announced policy was to link up Australia with, the outside world by means of a series of high-power stations. When they approached the matter definitely, however, it was found that the Marconi Company required a very considerable indemnity for permission to erect those high-power stations. The result was that the scheme was hung up for some little time. The late Mr. Charles Frazer was then Postmaster-General. I knew something: of the Shaw system of wireless, which had gained some notoriety in the wireless world for its success, in some long distance trials. I brought that system under his notice, and suggested that the matter of the linking up of Australia with the rest of the world by means of these high-power stations was too important to permit of delay, and that we ought to send the radio-engineer of the Postal Department, who had only just arrived from England, to New South Wales to investigate the Shaw system of wireless, and if it were found suitable for Commonwealth requirements we ought to adopt it, and go ahead with the scheme in spite of any opposition by the Marconi or Telefuncken Companies. I am pleased to say effect was given to my suggestion. The radio-engineer, Mr. Balsillie, visited the wireless works at Randwick, and thoroughly investigated the merits of the new system. He found it to be something which, in. his judgment, was quite new and distinct from any other known system of wireless, an opinion which was subsequently indorsed by possibly the highest wireless authority in the world, in the person of Mr. Swinburne. Mr. Balsillie’s report was of the most favorable character, and upon his return to this State he recommended the adoption of the Shaw wireless system by the Commonwealth Government. Effect was given to his recommendation, and the system was afterwards known as the Commonwealth system. Whether Mr. Balsillie had any real claim to be regarded as its inventor is quite apart from the question which we are now considering, and need not be discussed here. The fact remains that that system was adopted, and that a great deal of business was transacted by means of it during the remainder of the term of office of the Fisher Government.
When the next change of Ministry took place, and Mr. Cook assumed control, matters did not proceed so amicably with these works as they had done under the Fisher Government. A great deal of the work which was formerly done by the Shaw wireless was then diverted to what was known as the Amalgamated Wireless. The Shaw works found employment, for some 250 young Australians, who were getting a first-class training in electrical engineering, and more particularly in an industry the establishment of which was invaluable in connexion with communication around the coast. Late in 1914, or early in 1915, . there was a danger that a considerable number of these men would have to be dismissed. I had always held the view, and I think the party to which I belonged, had adopted the policy, that, in the manufacture of all its requirements, . the Government should have a complete monopoly. I suggested, therefore, that, in my judgment - which did not count for very much, I admit - these works would be admirably suited for postal, telephonic, and wireless requirements, and that the Commonwealth Government might take them over. I put that proposition to Mr. . W. G. Spence, who succeeded Mr. Charles Frazer, who had died some time previously. Mr. Spence, who, like other members of the party, viewed that policy with favour, took the necessary steps to have an expert Committee appointed, and he sent them over to New South Wales to investigate the suitability of those works for postal requirements. The investigation was carried out, but the then PostmasterGeneral, for reasons best known to himself, adopted the Committee’s suggestion, which was averse to the Government acquiring those works. I had several discussions with Mr. Spence over the matter, and so did the late Father Shaw. I wrote to Mr. Spence a few days ago asking him if he remembered the circumstances under which the proposition was submitted to him, and if he would commit to writing his recollections of our interview. Mr. Spence very kindly sent me the following reply - 4th December, 1918.
Dear Senator Long, -
Your favour of the 28th ultimo to hand. In reply to your question, I may state that whilst I was Postmaster-General, you asked that I should look into the suggest’ on made by yourself and others that the Department should acquire the Shaw Wireless Company’s plant at Randwick. I looked upon the idea with favour as I was anxious that the Department should manufacture as much of its material as was practicable. Also we intended making the use of wireless on Inter-State boats compulsory, and would in such case carry out the fitting, &c, at low cost if we made our own supplies. I engaged three experts to examine the plant, &c., as to its suitability for the work of the Postal Department only, and their report is in the Department.
Father Shaw called on me once- or .twice, and gave details as to what had been expended by his company. I have no hesitation in saying that no undue influence was attempted by any one to induce me to agree to purchase the undertaking.
Yours truly, (Sgd.) W. G. Spence.
I think I am justified in stating that on more than one occasion I approached the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) with the idea of the Defence Department acquiring those works for the purposes of that Department. On other occasions, I approached Senator Pearce in connexion with giving some work to the plant in question, and I think the Minister will probably remember that I had, in some little measure, helped to give a shellmaking contract to that particular firm. I have now read Mr. Spence’s letter, in which he states that no influence was attempted to be used by any one. I am sure that the Minister for Defence will say that never on any occasion did I attempt to influence his judgment, or his decision in connexion with the propositions which I put to him in behalf of Father Shaw or his company.
In 1914, in pursuance of the policy of which I have always been an advocate, in conjunction with other members of my party, I moved the following motion in the Senate- -
I will not trouble honorable senators with details of my speech; hut they will see that my interest in wireless and governmental control was not new found when the proposition was brought under the notice of the Navy Department.
Here I desire to say, in reply to the frequent allegations made in this report that I used influence on the Minister for the Navy to induce him to acquire, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, the works in which Father Shaw had a very considerable interest, that I stated to the Commission a number of times - and I say it to this honorable Senate now - that the same influence which I used on the late Postmaster-General, Mr. Frazer; the same influence which I used on Mr. Spence, when Postmaster-General; the same influence which I used on the Minister for Defence in connexion with a similar proposition, was the same influence, and no other, at any time or place, that I attempted to use upon the Minister for the Navy.
The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Jensen) was possibly the last man in the Labour Ministry whom I would have thought of approaching on any such subject, for reasons which one does not like to go into - being personal matters; but circumstances now compel it, and I have to say that Mr. Jensen and I have not been good friends for many months. I refrained from giving this information to the Commission because I thought that, it -being of a personal character, it would not be of any value or assistance to the Commission. The position is that Mr. Jensen promised me faithfully that among the first batch of nine lads to be sent Home to get training in submarine engineering, he would send my lad. My lad’s application went in, together with necessary credentials; but, for reasons best known to himself, the Minister for the Navy did not send the boy. A little while later, I told Mr. Jensen what I thought about it. A mutual friend put the proposition to him again, and Mr.Jensen came and saw me, admitted that he was quite wrong, after having made me a promise, and that he would include my lad among those fit and eligible to go. He promised me a second time that the boy should go. Mr. Jensen never kept that promise, and that was naturally the cause of very strained relations between Mr. Jensen and myself for some months.
If there is a shadow of truth in the allegation in the report of the Commission that I wanted to use influence upon a Minister, surely I had ample opportunity to do so in this branch of the Legislature, where there were then three
Labour Ministers - Senator Pearce, Minister for Defence, Senator Gardiner, then Vice-President of the Executive Council, and Senator Russell, who is now a member of the present Ministry. It was quite unnecessary for me, if I entertained any thought or desire in that connexion, to go to another House in order to interview the Minister for the Navy. May I point out. here, also, the absurdity of such an allegation - and I am sorry to have to use such strong language in respect to these Commissioners, but I am compelled to do so. I repeat that the absurdity of it must be apparent to honorable senators when they realize how utterly futile it would be, if such a scheme’ were ‘afoot, to hope to carry that scheme into effect by approaching a Minister who was only one out of ten or eleven Ministers at the time. If one desired to “ bring off “ anything like that, surely one would use his influence, not only with one or two, but with, at least, half the members of the Cabinet. And - more important -still - when a Government contemplates acquiring an industrial undertaking of that kind, it has got to be guided by its qualified official advisers. It would, therefore, be more important than trying to influence Ministers if one ‘ endeavoured to influence those advisers. No suggestion has ever been made that I attempted to influence those who were charged with the duty of advising either the Government or the Minister at that particular time.
I think I am justified in saying that on more than one occasion my honorable colleague, Senator McDougall, has spoken in very glowing terms of the works under reference, and of their suitability for Government requirements. If I am wrong, the honorable senator will correct me.
– On another occasion, Mr. “Ernie” Carr, who was then a member of the House of Representatives, adopted a similar course; and he endeavoured on more than one ‘occasion, by speeches in the House of Representatives, to induce the Government to acquire that very suitable plant. All these details which I have given were made known to the Commission fully, candidly, and, I hone, clearly. But I defy honorable senators to find in the report any reference to these statements, or to my very definite and real relations with the late Father Shaw. Honorable senators, if they will refer to the report, will notice that in very big type it is set out that Senator Long drafted the proposition to the Minister. That is perfectly true. I told the Commission that, myself. I told them of my connexion with it from beginning to end. In May, 1915, I think, the shellmaking contract with the Government had either concluded, or was approaching conclusion. Father Shaw happened to be in Melbourne, and mentioned the difficulties which he was undergoing at that time. He stated that, in view of the fact that war had broken out, and that the Government had to take control of wireless, and, no doubt, would want considerably more equipment than it had been using, and would not be able to import it, it would be a good -idea for the Government to acquire these works, and undertake manufacture. I pointed out to him that there was not much prospect of that being done, in view of his experience on previous occasions. He said., “Well, there is no harm in trying.” I said, “ Why not submit it in writing to the Minister ?” I went with Father Shaw into a room set apart for visitors to Parliament House and made a rough draft of the letter. There were no prices, or amounts included. I said that when he got his estimates and. quantities, and so on, he could include them and send the letter on. to the Minister. It was a very brief letter, and was sent on. No attempt was made by me to hide the fact. The Commission would never have known it had I not told them. They asked me if I had not been very friendly to, and helped Father Shaw, and I told them that I had ; that I had done everything I could for him ; and was only sorry I was not able to do more.
Evidence was heard before the Commission from people whom I need not describe. In this they said that Father Shaw told them in January, February, and March, of 1916, that Long and Jensen were working for him, and that the Government would take over his works. Those works were never engaged on a more profitable contract in the whole of their history than during the months I have mentioned, and no thought had ever entered Father Shaw’s mind, and certainly was never communicated to me, until in Melbourne, in May, 1915, that he again contemplated placing the works under offer to the Government.
I would remind honorable senators that the inquiry that has produced this report is the second that has been held in connexion with this matter. A person named Carroll, who lived at Essendon, had,so I am informed, attempted to blackmail the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Jensen). Hecame up and saw me, and wanted me to get him a good job in some Government Department. I did not know the fellow from a bar of soap, and told him in language perhapsmore forcible than polite to get out. When the Defence Commission was sitting, this man went voluntarily, I understand, and gave evidence before it. He stated there very fully all he knew, and all he did not know, about my alleged connexion with the works, the amount of money that I was supposed to get out of it, and the amount of money the Minister for the Navy was to get out of it. But subsequent events proved this person to be such an unmitigated scoundrel and liar that they swept his evidence out of consideration altogether - that was the evidence upon which the inquiry was based - and started the inquiry de novo. The statement I have used regarding this person is a very strong one, but I wish to submit a confirmation of it. Referring to this man, Mr. Starke said in reply to Mr. Cussen -
I think you will find all the cross examination: I submitted him to established that we could not rely upon him at all. The result is that I have not felt it necessary to call him before the Commission in any way. If Mr. Jensen wishes him to be called, I will call him, if I can find him.
He cannot be found, because he is in America,. Then Mr. Cussen said -
I do not want any liars called before the Commission .
Mr. Starke said
I was only just wanting to bring out that he was utterly untruthful; you could not believe him on his oath.
That man Carroll is the class of man who has handled the reputation of a Minister of the Crown, and of a member of this
Senate, and to whose evidence some importance was attached, because he said that Jensen was to get £2,000, and Long £2,000. He has a friend named Lynch at the works at Randwick, in New South Wales - a young fellow, who is, perhaps, somewhat irresponsible with the irresponsibility of youth. He stayed with Carroll when he came over to Melbourne, and, strange to say, Lynch was able to give the same information to the Commission, that Long and Jensen had got £2,000 each, and that Commander Cresswell had received £1,000. Carroll wrote to the Minister for the Navy for a good position. Lynch wrote to the Minister for a permanent position at these works, and neither succeeded in getting a permanent appointment. Hence those gentlemen put their heads together, and gave this evidence before the Commission. Lynch said further that Father Shaw sat down and discussed with him the details of what lie was to get for the works, and what he would have to pay Jensen ; what he would have to pay Cresswell ; and what he would have to pay myself. That appears in this evidence, and has been taken serious notice pf by the ^Commission. Is it thinkable that a man like Father Shaw would, even for a moment, if anything like what is suggested was under consideration, take a lad like Lynch into his confidence? Why did he tell Lynch those stories, and not tell Cornwell, the manager of his works ? It was stated definitely in evidence that he had never told Cornwell. Then there is a woman who used to visit Father Shaw’s house at Randwick, and whom it was alleged he was to marry. She came along with the same tale - that she had heard ‘that I had got so much, and that Jensen had got so much. There was splendid confirmation on the part of these responsible witnesses for the Commission to hang this report upon !
Paragraph 39 of the report is as follows : -
On the same morning, 10th August, 1916, Father Shaw called at Parliament House, and
Haw Senator Long. Senator Long, in his evidence before the Commission, stated that Father Shaw handed him a bundle of notes to the value of £1.290 as a gratuity in recognition of their friendship, and of certain hospitality which had from time to time been extended’ by him to Father Shaw. Senator
Long further stated that he had, at various times, lent Father Shaw small sums of money approaching, in the aggregate, about £300; but that the amount of £1,290 received by him was not in repayment of these loans.
The latter part is obviously an error. I made it perfectly clear that it was a repayment. Otherwise the above paragraph, is perfectly correct, and is in accord with the statement I made to the Commission, and that I reaffirm here and now.
Paragraph 41 is as follows: -
An examination of Senator Long’s banking account at the Commonwealth. Bank, Melbourne, shows that he paid into that account on the 4th September, 1916, the’ sum of £2,400. When questioned before the Commission, he stated that the £1,290 received from Father Shaw formed part of that sum of £2,400, and that the balance comprised winnings in betting transactions at race meetings held at Flemington and Caulfield on the 19th August, 1916, and the 2nd September, 1916; but he could give no particulars of the wagers or of the bookmakers with whom he had dealings. The Commission is of opinion that the whole of the £2,400 in question was received by Senator Long from Father Shaw as consideration for political influence used, or believed by Father Shaw to have been used, or represented by Senator Long to have been used, by Senator Long-
You can trace Mr. Starke very clearly in the phrasing of this paragraph - in connexion with the purchase by the Commonwealth of the Shaw Wireless Works.
The statement I made to the Commission regarding the amount of money I received from Father Shaw in the Senate clubroom on the 19th August is true in every particular. The statement that I made regarding my racing transactions, which the Chairman of the Commission promised would npt be made public, is perfectly true. Two years or more had elapsed. Every record - that one. does not keep more than a week or two, or a month at the outside - of these events had disappeared, and I had to rely absolutely upon my memory regarding those wagers. On the 19th August of that year, there was a race meeting at Flemington. I know it is a long time ago, and possibly Senator Russell may not remember what happened, but he may remember that on that day Ir and quite a number of other members of the Federal Parliament who speculate a little on horses, had somewhat of a decent win on a horse called “ Bridges.” On that day, I won some- thing like from £300 to £340. After the fourth race, I left with Mr. A. S. Baillieu in his motor car, joined the express train at Spencer-street, and travelled to Sydney. I remained in Sydney over the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, leaving there on the return journey on the Wednesday. I went , to Sydney with the other members of the Board of Trustees of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund to attend a meeting to be held there on the Tuesday. The Commonwealth Bank was opened on the Monday. The late Father Shaw saw me at the Senate clubroom on Saturday, 19th, August, at between half-past 11 and twenty minutes to 12. He handed me that money, but I had no more idea than any other member of the Senate what amount was in that roll. He said, and these are his words, “ I do not know what I owe you, Long, old man “ - or perhaps he said “ Jim,” I forget which - *’ but I think this will square it.” A minute afterwards he left the House, and I- never saw him again conscious. I went to the races at Flemington. I left in the afternoon for Sydney, and on my. return I made inquiries about Father Shaw, who was ill, and died a few days afterwards. Eight or ten days later there was a race meeting at Caulfield, and I had very good luck, as I backed Prince Bardolph in the Memsie Stakes. Coming back to town, Mr. Jack Kellow and some other friends had dinner at Hosie’s Hotel. On the Monday morning afterwards, 4th September, settling day, I quite openly took that money and placed it to the credit of my account in the Commonwealth Bank. I made no attempt to hide the fact that I had the money. If I had felt guilty of having done something improper I could easily have invested the money through some brokers. But I deposited in the bank all the money I had, less a small amount I always keep in my locker, and the whole of my monetary transactions were made available, without any hesitation, to members of the Commission.
I want now to say that I was in Sydney some time afterwards when the Commission t?as sitting there. The Chairman, who knew I was in the Commonwealth Bank building, called me into his room, and had what he termed “ a private conversation” with me. In the light of subsequent events, I know honorable senators will relieve me from the usual obligation attaching to private conversations, and permit me to mention this conversation .to the Senate and to the country. Asking me to sit down at his table, he said, “ I have sent for you to say this : We have gone very fully into all the facts connected with the disposition of that money drawn from the bank by Father Shaw on the 19th August. We have traced every penny of it, and we have come to the conclusion that you are making a scapegoat of yourself, for some other person, and I want to tell you that you are very foolish. I want to give you an opportunity of putting yourself right with this Commission, and stating the whole position in the light of new facta that have come to our possession.” I said in reply, “ Mr. McBeath, I have no statement to make to you other than that which I gave in my evidence before the Commission. I have nothing to reproach myself with. The only thing that is troubling me is that my betting transactions will be made public.” “Well,” he said, “ you can accept my assurance that that evidence will not be made public. It was taken only for the benefit of the Commission.”
The next day I found myself at the Randwick works, and I may say that I never went to Sydney without visiting the works, because I have a son in training there. During the day I got several telephone rings from an official in Mr. Cornwell’s office asking me to go up and see Mr. Cornwell. I made an appointment and went up. I have known Mr. Cornwell for about two and a half years, and regarded him as a close personal friend. Outside his managerial responsibilities I was just as much interested in the success of the works as he was himself, and just as anxious to see it prosper and justify itself as a governmental undertaking. Mr. Cornwell said to me, “ I wanted to see you. I have something very private to say to you. Come down to my office.” 1 went down to his office, and there, almost word for word, but with additions, he repeated to me what the chairman of the Commission had said. He said, “You know you and I are close personal friends. I like you very much. You have got your position to consider. Why should you sacrifice yourself for a person like Jensen ? It is no good him trying to deceive ‘the Commission any longer. They have ‘ got ‘ him, he is ‘ gone a million.’ I can tell you that. Now I want to say to you that you have got a chance to restate your position to the Commission in the light of things that have come into their possession. I am authorized to say to you that the worst the Commissioners will say of you is that you have been guilty of an indiscretion.” In reply, I said, “Who told you to say this to me, Corn well ?” and he replied, “ I am saying it to you merely on my own account, because I feel that you are not doing yourself justice. You have got yourself to consider. You have your future to study. Anything I am now saying to you is in absolute confidence. It is strictly between ourselves. No one else will ever know a word about it.” At that very time he had a shorthand reporter - an official - from the Commission behind the folded doors, taking a shorthand note of this “ confidential “ talk he was having with me. From the moment I got into the room, he never ceased a tirade of abuse against Mr. Jensen, the present Minister for Customs, and then the Minister for the Navy.He said that the Commission had run him to earth, and knew everything. He said they knew that I had met Father Shaw on the steps of the Senate - wherever they are - that I got four packets of money, one of which was for myself. He did not say one was for Jensen,but he said that one was for Senator Gardiner, and one was for Senator Russell. Under cover of a close friendship extending over two years, and under the cloak of absolute confidence, this man, hired by the Commission, endeavoured to extract an admission from me that a Minister of the Crown had done something improper in connexion with the administration of his Department, and that other members of the Government had also received some remuneration.
The Commission states -
Mr. Cornwell, with a view to protecting himself, had taken the precaution to have a shorthand writer in a position where he could record the conversation. The shorthand writer - from theCommission - produced his notes taken at the time; but these were found to be very imperfect, as he was unable to hear all that was said -
I do not speak in a low tone, and, surely, anybody could hear me at from 10 to 15 feet distant - and the Commission has eliminated them from consideration. The Commission, however, accepts Mr. Cornwell’s evidence of the conversation in preference to that of Senator Long where they differ.
Is it to he wondered at that the Commission accepted Mr. Cornwell’s evidence as against mine? He was obviously specially detailed by the Commission to subject me to the indignity and treachery which I had to suffer. The shorthand notes were not complete, though they were perfectly clear in passages containing denunciation of Mr. Jensen. But Mr. Cornwell wrote a record of the interview himself, from memory. I may be wrong, but for the life of me, I cannot conceive how Mr. Cornwell could have found himself in the position of a spy, unless at the special request of the Commission. There is no doubt that he had communicated with the Commission, because he admits as much in his evidence, and - one hesitates to mention other people’s names in connexion with this transaction - he was able to give me the names of men who could not possibly have had any improper connexion with this or any other proposal. In an endeavour to extract from me some information as to where the rest of the money had gone to, he did not hesitate to use the names of two members of this Senate, as well as the name of a member of the present Ministry.
I do not want to labour the question any further, except to summarize my connexion with the transaction in the following words: -
I was the confidant and close personal friend of Father Shaw.
I helped whenever he needed my help.
Never at any time didI stipulatefor or receive a promise of payment for my assistance.
I have never attempted to influence the judgment of a Minister or official of any Department, Navy or any other Government Department, at any time during my seventeen years as a public man, in an improper manner.
Never at any time, either in respect to negotiations with the Navy Department, Defence, or Postal Department, for the purchase of the Shaw Wireless Works at Randwick, New South Wales, was there a suggestion made that myself or any Minister or other person should receive pecuniary benefit asa result of such purchase.
And, finally, I say, with all the sincerity of which I am capable, that no Minister, member of Parliament, or other person, either through me, from me, or with my knowledge, at any time or place ever received one penny-piece in consequence of the Commonwealth Government having acquired the Shaw Wireless Works.
One feels such a position very keenly. One cannot realize that the statements contained in the report of the Royal Commission have gone broadcast to the world unsupported, without recognising their seriousness as affecting himself. I quite see that nothing I can do or say here to-day will enable me to overtake these statements, which have sunk into the minds and hearts of the people of Australia.
Mr. Jensen has been for some little time a political opponent of mine, but that will not prevent me, I hope, from doing common justice to him. I say here, with a full consciousness of the sacredness of truth, that if I never leave this Senate Chamber alive, that man and I never had one moment’s improper negotiation regarding the purchase of these works. Neither did that man in any way receive from me, or through me, or with my knowledge, one penny-piece as a result of the sale of the Shaw Wireless Works.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th December, vide page 8947) :
Clause 9 -
If the net profits of any person, firm,or company claiming bounty under this Act exceed in any year fifteen per centum on the capital employed in the business, the Minister may withhold so much of the bounty payable as will reduce the net profits for that year to fifteen per centum on the capital employed in the business.
Upon which Senator McDougall had moved -
That the word “fifteen,” line 3, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
– I do not desire that this amendment should be decided without saying a few words upon it. The Government propose that out of the people’s money a bounty shall be paid to firms engaged in this industry if they are making not more than 15 per cent. Senator McDougall has proposed that the bounty shall be payable only if those engaged in the industry are making notmore than 10 per cent. That, in my opinion, is a much fairer proposition. The Government are asking the already heavily taxed people of Australia to contribute, by way of bounty, to companies making dividends of 15 per cent. A man engaged in business on his own account, having invested a huge capital, and with a turnover of an immense amount every year, and making only 71/2 per cent., is called upon, under the Government’s proposal, to pay bounty to a company making 15 per cent. However honorable senators may vote on this proposal, they would not do such a thing themselves. They may consent to the country being called upon to do it, but in my view, the Government’s proposal will not stand the light of day. I think that in fixing the limit of profit even at 10 per cent., beyond which no bounty shall be paid, we shall be fixing it too high. Why should bounty be paid to companies making such profits? I do not want to delay a decision upon the matter, because I know the Government are anxious to get on with their business. But it is quite over the limit to askthat bounty should be paid to companies earning a dividend of 15 per cent.
– If they earn 15 per cent. they will not get any of the bounty.
– To put it in such a way as to avoid straw-splitting, I will say that if a company earns a dividend of 147/8 per cent., it will be entitled to bounty under this Bill. As the Minister for Defence seems to be in a reason- able frame of mind, I will ask him to accept Senator McDougall’s amendment as fixing a fairer limit upon the profit beyond which no bounty shall be paid. It is quite unreasonable to ask taxpayers who are not earning 10 per cent, profit to contribute to the payment of bounties to firms earning more than 10 per cent, profit. I heartily support the amendment.
– The Minister, in reply to my remarks in moving the amendment last night, quoted some figures which I do not think were altogether correct. But I will let them go. I believe that there is only one company in Australia that is going to manufacture these steel sheets. That company is now getting the benefit of a bounty on the primary production of , the steel from iron ores, and under this Bill they will be able to secure a bounty on the finished steel sheets. I believe that the industry will develop into a monopoly in Australia. It is practically a monopoly to-day. The manufacturers of wire fencing in New South Wales cannot get their supplies of steel from the company to which I refer unless they obtain them through a person who is not a bona fide agent of this company, but through whose hands the primary products of the company are passed for certain purposes. I object to this kind of thing altogether. Only one company will produce these steel sheets, and it will receive two bounties. The company is guaranteed a profit of 15 per cent, on its primary product under an existing Bounty Act, and the Government here are proposing to guarantee this company another 15 per cent upon a secondary product. I think that, in the circumstances, it would be quite sufficient to guarantee a profit of 10 per cent, on the secondary product. I feel sure that my amendment will not be accepted, but I have thought it well to say that, in my opinion, there is only one company that will be in a position to secure this bounty, and that company already receives a bounty on its primary product.
– I enter my protest against this proposal to guarantee that a company en- wa;e.d in this industry shall make a profit of 15 per cent, per annum. Many people in the Commonwealth to-day have to be content with a very much smaller profit than that. Under this clause, if a company engaged in the production of these sheets is not earning a profit of 15 per cent, bounty is to be paid to bring its profits up to that amount. 1 see no reason why. one set of persons in the community should be called upon to contribute in this way for the benefit of another. I am prepared to divide the Committee on the amendment. I personally think that to allow for a profit of 10 per cent, is to make provision for too high a profit.
– I hope .that, before the clause passes, the Minister in charge of the Bill will make some reply to the statements that have been made. It has frequently been stated during the discussion of this Bill, from both sides, that the machinery necessary for the production of these steel sheets is much less costly than is the machinery necessary to produce the bar steel from iron ore, from which these sheets are rolled. It has been assumed that on this account it Will be possible for many persons to enter upon the manufacture of these steel sheets. Are honorable senators prepared to agree that only one firm should secure the whole of this bounty! Itake it that they assume that the secondary manufacture for which this bounty is provided will be within the power of almost any one who cares to undertake it.
– No one else would be able to compete with the existing company*
– Others undertaking this industry will be in a position to share in the bounty with the firm to which Senator McDougall has referred. I know that, in connexion with the railway works in South Australia, they have had a roller mill for some years, though it has not yet been placed in position. It has been kept for the purpose of using scrap iron.
– It does not pay to set it up.
– If it will pay for using up scrap iron, it should be possible to make that roller mill pay in turning out sheet steel ready for galvanizing. There are several firms possessed of ma.chinery for wire drawing, the manufacture of nails, and of barbed wire; and I take it that these firms will not hesitate to undertake the manufacture of these steel sheets when they know that a bounty is payable upon their production.
– They will have +o get the material from which the steel sheets are made.
– The honorable senator refers to the primary product from which black sheets and galvanized sheets will be produced. It seems to me impossible that the Government could have contemplated that the same firm would secure two bounties - one for the primary product of sheet bar steel, and the other for the production of black sheets and galvanized iron sheets. I have been reminded by honorable senators opposite that already there is more than one person engaged in this industry. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether the statements which have been made by honorable senators opposite are facts, or whether they are merely the product of the vivid imagination of those who say that, under this Bill, immense sums of money will find their way into the pockets of only one firm.
– Senator Senior seems to think that by the payment of this bounty some company, other than the companies already in existence, will be benefited. Let us see how the position will work out. It is proposed to pay by way of bounty to the manufacturers of black steel and galvanized sheets, the sum of £200*000, at the rate of £40,000 a year. Now, obviously, the only company which can claim the bounty during the first year will be the company which is in a position to start rolling and galvanizing operations immediately. No other company will be able to provide itself with the requisite equipment in time to participate in the bounty during that period. It will thus be seen, that, under this Bill, we shall really be offering to a company which is already getting a bounty for the production of iron, a further bounty equivalent to 15 per cent, for the rolling and galvanizing of iron, lt is true that there are two distinct processes involved. But Senator de Largie will not dispute my statement that the company which is producing sheet bar steel is already getting a bounty.
– Has not galvanized iron been produced in Sydney by other than the company of which the honorable senator is speaking?
– It was produced in New South Wales for many years under Free Trade conditions. But Protection killed it. I know that my honorable friends opposite will laugh at that statement, but it is nevertheless true. The process of galvanizing iron was carried on by Messrs. Lysaght Brothers at Lithgow for some years, as has been stated by Senator McDougall. All this was done when there was not even a duty to protect the industry in New South Wales.
– Nor a bounty?
– Nor a bounty. Iri a country town, I have, myself, purchased good galvanized iron for between £16 and £17 per ton. While the war was in progress the price of this article bounced up to £80 per ton. But upon the day that the armistice was signed it dropped £23 per ton, and now, I suppose, its price will level down to about £40 per ton. Under this Bill we are going to grant to the manufacturers of this iron a bounty of £4 per ton, which is equivalent to one-fourth of its value only a few years ago.
– In the New South Wales Parliament did not the honorable senator vote for the granting of a bounty to Sandford ?
– We shall never know our indebtedness to Mr. Sandford in connexion with the iron industry. But we are also under a deep obligation to the wheat-growers of this country, and to our pioneer dairy farmers. Yet we are now asked to collect something from their hard earnings to make up this bounty. My political views are based upon political principles, and if a bounty is to be given to encourage a new industry, by all means let it be given only for that specific purpose. But Senator McDougall has made is quite clear that the man who is getting the bounty for the production of sheet bar steel, will, after he has rolled and galvanized it, also obtain this bounty. In other words, he will receive the two bounties.
– I cannot allow the statement which has just been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) to go out to the public without refutation. There is no bounty payable on the production of steel and iron to-day. That bounty has expired. Consequently, it is not true to say that those who produce this steel and iron will receive the bounty payable upon the production of black steel and galvanized sheets. Only one bounty will be payable, namely, that upon plain and galvanized iron.
– When did the bounty upon the production of sheet barsteel expire?
– This year.
– What is the total amount of the bounty payable under this Bill?
– It is set out in the schedule at £200,000.
– Is that £4 per ton?
– That depends upon the freight. As the freight falls, the bounty will vary. I ask honorable senators to accept my assurance that only one bounty will be payable. I would also remind them that this bounty will expire in 1923. The works for the manufacture of black steel and galvanized sheetshave yet to be established.
– They are established already. There is, for example, Moore, in Melbourne, and Messrs. Walter and Morris, in Adelaide.
– I may tell the honorable senator that Lysaghts is the firm which proposes to establish works to undertake the manufacture of these articles, and that is the firm which we anticipate will claim the bounty.
– There are other works in existence in Australia to-day.
– They mustbe very small ones.
– Order! These interjections across the table are disorderly.
– These works have yet to he established, and it will take some time - probably a year - to establish them. That will leave any firm embarking upon the industry probably a little over three years in which the bounty will be payable. Is it likely that, in that brief period, any firm will be able to make a profit in excess of 15 per cent.? But if it does become so firmly established that a firm is able to do that, I say, “Good luck to it.” We want to establish industries in Australia, and the only way in which we can achieve our object is to hold out to the people who arc willing to embark upon them some prospect of profit. These people are just ordinary individuals, and when they put their money into an industry, they naturally look to make a profit. If they get a return equivalent to 15 per cent. upon their capital, we should not cavil at them.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 13 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Defence) [4.47]. - I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clause 3.
The insertion of certain words in this clause was agreed to; and, without altering their purport, my desire is to amend the clause in a proper manner, so as to carry out what the Committee intended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 3 (as amended) -
In the event of such circumstances arising as would, in the opinion of the Minister, warrant the use of sheet bar steel, other than that made in Australia, for the manufacture in Australia of black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and galvanized sheets, the Minister may by regulation authorize that sheet bar steel to be so used, and the black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and the galvanized sheets made from that sheet bar steel shall be deemed to be black steel sheets and galvanized sheets for the purposes of this Act.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Defence) [4.49].- When this clause was originally under consideration, the words “ by regulation “ were inserted. The purpose was that when a Minister authorized imported sheet bar steel to be used, he should do so by regulation, which regulation would then be laid before Parliament, and either House could disallow it. It is not intended to alter that principle, but to give it proper effect. I move -
That the words “by regulation” be left out.
Subsequently, I shall move for the insertion of a new proviso, so that the same procedure shall be followed as is adopted in regard to all regulations laid upon the table of either Chamber.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South
Australia) [4.51]. - I understand that the proposal is exactly the same in its effect as the amendment which I succeededin having inserted.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Defence) [4.52]. - I point out that the Minister does not make regu lations. They are made by Order in Council. Therefore, it is proposed to give effect to the amendment in the ordinary and proper legal form. It will not in any way whittle down the principle set forth in the original amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Defence) [4.53]. - Imove -
That the following be added : - “ Provided that whenever the Minister authorizes the use of sheet bar steel other than that made in Australia, he shall within thirty days thereof cause a statement of the reasons therefor to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament if the Parliament is then sitting, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of Parliament, and if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such statement has been laid before such House disallowing such authorization it shall thereupon cease to have effect.”
– What is going to happen in the thirty days ? During that period shipments may arrive in unlimited number, and, before Parliament can act, Australia may be piled up with iron. This Bill seeks to give a high protection to firms which import sheet iron, and merely employ a man and two boys to pass the iron through a roller and corrugate it. I shall do all I possibly can to defeat the Bill. It will have no other effect than to benefit one or two firms in Australia. The Government have not been fair in this matter. They have not really told us what is behind it. There is a deep-laid scheme, but I do not know where it is. We have works in Australia prepared to supply the products’ in question, yet we have also a Free Trade Government trying to introduce a certain commodity into Australia, and a sum of £200,000 by way of bounty is to be expended on the business.
– I shall have to support the Government if they are a Free Trade Government. I must have been wrong.
– The honorable senator is wrong. I shall certainly vote against the third reading. I do not see the necessity for the Bill.
One question which has struck me is, why preference should be given to steel over iron.
– The Committee is not now discussing the matter of steel or iron, but an amendment dealing with regulations.
– Reference is made in the amendment to sheet bar steel
– Thi3 has to do with the procedure to be adopted in respect of Parliament.
– I point out that the amendment does not open the way to the discussion of the whole Bill.
– All I desire to know is why the Government should restrict the bounty to sheet bar steel, and not to iron.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments; reports adopted
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a, third time. In doing so I wish ‘to reply briefly to the point raised by Senator Gay as to why bounty is not to be applied to iron as well as to steel. For the past twenty years at least the manufacture of these products from iron has been practically discarded. Of the English manufactures, only 2 per cent, is from iron; the rest is all produced from steel.
.I a am taking the unusual course of speaking on the third reading of this measure, because, through no fault of my own, I missed the opportunity to speak on the second reading. I have supported the Bill right through, although not slavishly, as is suggested in a humorous interjection. I voted for certain amendments that I thought would improve the measure, but none of them, I am sorry to say, has been carried, and I did not support one amendment with which to a certain extent I agreed. One does not like one’s attitude on these matters to be misunderstood. While I support the granting of a bounty from the revenue of the Commonwealth under this Bill, because I believe it will tend to encourage a great Australian industry, I do so rather reluctantly, because I would have much preferred to see that industry belong to the Commonwealth and not to private enterprise. However, under present conditions, there is a Government in power which does not favour the nationalization of such a big industry, and. goodness knows when there will be aGovernment in power which will favour the nationalization of industries. I have, therefore, accepted the system of granting a bounty to private enterprise, because I believe it may encourage the industry I have mentioned. Senator Gardiner moved an amendment, the purpose of which was to bring about some part of the great principle in which I believe, but which I thought could not very well be applied to this Bill, if the Bill was to have any effect. The amendment was to provide that in the event of a bounty being paid out of the Commonwealth revenue, a return should be made to the Commonwealth in shares of a value equal to the amount of bounty paid. I voted against that, because I could see that if rt were carried the measure would be wholly a dead letter. The purpose of the Bill is to grant a bounty. If we believe that by granting a bounty we shall encourage Australian industry, we should do so. But if those who get the bounty in the shape, say, of £1,000 in cash must immediately hand over £1,000 in share value in return, they might as well get no bounty at all. That is why I voted against Senator Gardiner’s amendment. It- did not go far enough. The honorable senator is quite consistent, because he moved a similar amendment in other Bounty Bills. I hope some day to vote with him on the very much wider proposition that the Commonwealth shall take over the industry of producing iron and steel from native ores, and run it as a Commonwealth enterprise. I hope the day is not far distant when the whole of the iron and steel used in Australia will be turned out from a Commonwealth enterprise, and belong to private enterprise no longer. Private enterprise is, after all, always open to the danger of becoming a monopoly, which, in its turn, would be dangerous to other industries.
– This Bill is to give a bounty on imported iron.
– Pri Primarily it is to encourage the making of steel sheets from steel bars produced in Australia from native iron ores, although there is a proviso giving the Minister discretion to allow, in certain circumstances, steel bars introduced from abroad to be used.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill presented, and (on motion by
Senator Millen) read a first time:
Trans-Australian Railway: ballasting.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have received a telegram from Mr. Costello, the organizer of the Australian Workers Union, at Kalgoorlie, who desires to know whether or not the ballasting of the Trans-Australian railway will cease for an indefinite period after Christmas. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways make inquiries, and ascertain the facts?
– I am not in possession of the information, but will endeavour to secure it, and supply the honorable senator with it, if possible, to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 December 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181211_SENATE_7_87/>.