25 June 1919

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

The. President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 10009



– With reference to the vacancy in the representation . of the State of Tasmania in the Senate occasioned by the resignation of Senator the Hon. J. J. Long, which I reported to the Senate on 20th December last, I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral a certificate of the election of the Hon.. Edward Mulcahy as a senator to hold the place in the Senate rendered vacant by the resignation.

The Clerk then read the correspondence as follows : -

Commonwealth of Australia,

Governor-General’s Office, 21st January, 1919.

Memorandum for

The Honorable

The President of the Senate.

The Governor-General forwards herewith to the Honorable the President of the Senate a despatch received from His Excellency the

Governor of Tasmania, . dated 15th. January, 1918, on the subject of the appointment of the Honorable Edward Mulcahy to hold the vacancy created in the Senate by the resignation of Mr. J. J. Long,

M. Ferguson,

Governor-General. [Copy.] Government House,

Hobart, Tasmania, 15th January, 1919.

Your Excellency,

I have the honour to transmit herewith two copies of the proceedings which took place at Parliament House, Hobart, to-day, in connexion with the appointment of a senator for the State of Tasmania, vice Senator James Joseph Long, resigned.

I have the honour to he, Sir, your Excellency’s most obedient, humble servant,

A. Newoeqate,


His Excellency the Governor-General,

Federal Government House, Melbourne. [Copy.] .

Legislative Council,

Hobart, 15th January, 1919.

His Excellency the Governor.

Your Excellency, - In reply to your Excellency’s message, addressed to both Houses of Parliament, transmitting copy of a notification from the President of the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament that a vacancy had arisen in the Senate through the resignation of Senator James Joseph Long,I have the honour to inform your Excellency that the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly met together in the House of Assembly Chamber this day and sitting and voting together chose

Ron. Edward Mulcahy to hold the place in the Senate rendered vacant by the said resignation.

I have the honour to be,

Your Excellency’s obedient servant, (Sgd.) Tetley Grant,


page 10009


The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of the following message from the Governor-General, intimating that His Majesty the King had graciously received the address agreed to by the Senate on the 12th November last (vide page 7647).

Commonwealth of Australia,


The Honorable the President of the Senate.

The Governor-General forwards herewith, for the information of the honorable members of the Senate, copy of a despatch received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies intimating that the address agreed to by the Senate has been very graciously received by His Majesty.

R, M. Ferguson,


Federal Government House,

Melbourne, 24th March, 1919. [Copy]

Commonwealth of Australia. No. 32.

Downing-street, 23rd January, 1919. (Sir, - I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s despatch No. 400 of the 15th November, 1918, forwarding addresses presented to you for submission to His Majesty the King by the. Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, together with a copy of your reply.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,


Governor-General His Excellency the Right Honorable Sir R. Munro Ferguson, G.C.M.G., &c, &c.

page 10010


Assent to the following Bills re ported: -

Iron and Steel Bounty Bill.

Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2).

Income Tax Bill (No. 2).

War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2).

Chief Justice’s Pension Bill.

War Precautions Bill.

Appropriation Bill 1918-1919.

War Service (Homes) Bill.

Deceased Soldiers Estates Bill.

Naval Defence Bill.

Public Service Bill (No. 3).

Defence Bill (No. 3).

page 10010


The PRESIDENT announced that since the last meeting of the Senate be had received replies from Mr. Douglas H. Reid, Lady Forrest, and Mrs. J. C. Manifold, to addresses of condolence on the occasion of the death of Sir George Reid, of Lord Forrest, and of Mr. J.C. Manifold, respectively.

page 10010


The PRESIDENT announced that he had received a true copy of the aggregate balance-sheet of the Commonwealth’ Bank to 31st December, 1918, together with the Auditor-General’s report thereon.

page 10010


Senator MILLEN:
Minister for Repatriation · New South WalesMinister for Repatriation · NAT

– (By. leave.) -

Upon the re-assembling of Parliament, I desire on behalf of the Government’ to make an announcement as to the business of the session and other important matters.

  1. Until the protracted deliberations of the Peace Conference were approaching finality, it was considered inadvisable to summon the Houses for the discussion of public business. Even now the information at the disposal of the Government as to the terms of peace is not sufficient to warrant the submission of the matter to Parliament, and it appears probable that it will have to await the return of the Australian representatives.

Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook are expected to leave Britain this week, and, as soon as practicable after they reach Melbourne, the Peace Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations will be presented for the consideration of honorable members. The Government appreciates the momentous importance of the decisions of the Conference, which, in addition to far-reaching territorial, racial, and economic determinations, involve such vital questions to this young nation as disarmament, indemnities, and the destination of the former German Colonies in the Western Pacific.

At the request of the Imperial Government, Executive authority was conferred upon theAustralian Ministers to sign the Treaty on behalf of the Commonwealth, but the adoption or otherwise will be dependent on the will of Parliament.

The Government feels that the powerful and sustained, efforts of the Prime Minister for the preservation of Australia’s interests entitle him to theunqualified approbation of the people and Parliament.

  1. It will be noted with, pleasure that the demobilization and return of our armies is now proceeding, notwithstanding the inherent difficulties, swiftly and satisfactorily.

Up to 31st May, 1919, approximately 169,000 members of the Australian Imperial Force had returned to Australia; 3,300 had been discharged at their own request overseas, 18,000 were en route to Australia, leaving about 79,000 still to be repatriated. If the present shipping provision is maintained, all our troops, except the Depot and Head-quarters Staffs, will have embarked for Australia by the end of next month.

The success which is attending this great task amply confirms the steps taken by the Government in placing the work in the hands of a responsible Minister in London.

We record with gratitude and pleasure the return of the Australian Navy to its home station after its splendid services overseas.

  1. With no lessons to be drawn from experience, either here or abroad, the Department of Repatriation has been established.

To the end of last month 94,036 applicants presented 177,478 applications for assistance under all headings; 150,350 were granted, 42,470 men were placed in employment, and 7,513 allotted to vocational training, of which number 2,466 have completed their courses and been placed in employment.

Extra facilities now being provided will enable up to 15,000 additional men to be thus trained.

Notwithstanding the serious effects of the influenza epidemic and the strike upon employment, the number on the books of the Department awaiting employment is only 6,810 (inclusive of 2,500 men who have been thrown back on the Department by the influenza epidemic and the strike), being 3.S6 per cent, of the total number discharged.

The total expenditure incurred in direct assistance to returned men and their dependants is £1,023,939.

The powers of local repatriation committees have recently been greatly ex- tended, and it is anticipated that this der centralization will insure the treatment of applications with a minimum of delay.

With a view to making more ample provision for returned soldiers desiring to settle upon the land, the Government recently undertook to advance to the States the money necessary to make available the requisite number of holdings, and for railways and other works necessary to their successful occupation. It further agreed to provide an advance up to £625 per settler. The total liability of the Commonwealth in respect of land settlement is estimated at between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000.

The “ spade work “ in connexion with the housing scheme for returned soldiers, which was authorized by Parliament in December last, has been heavy and surrounded by many difficulties. The initial stages are complete, and the operations of the Department are now being entered upon. It is intended to extend the provisions of the housing scheme to munition and other workers who undertook war service abroad under contract.

The Government has given careful consideration to the question of employment of returned soldiers and sailors in the Public Service, and has, in their interests, modified to a considerable extent the conditions of employment, both temporary and permanent.

Although much general repatriation work yet remains, and experience is continually pointing to fresh activities and new methods, it may fairly be said that the repatriation machinery is running smoothly, and the system, considering its magnitude, has already achieved gratifying results.

  1. The influenza epidemic in our midst has caused regrettable loss of life and widespread distress.

Although quarantine is in the hands of the Commonwealth, important health powers still reside with the States.

When an outbreak of this disease appeared probable, the Government, with a keen desire to unite all the administrative forces of Australia in its attack, entered into an agreement with the States which provided for complete concert and cooperation.

This agreement was abrogated by several State Governments, who, in defiance of constitutional rights, imposed their own quarantine measures on land and sea traffic.

The result was a lamentable disorganization of the shipping services, occasioning serious shortages of food supplies and fuel in many parts of the Commonwealth, and grave delays in the debarkation of our returning soldiers.

The futility of suck methods was, however, gradually recognised by most of the States, and nearly all the local regulations have since been withdrawn.

  1. The Government has prepared and forwarded, for the consideration of the Governments of Britain and the Dominions, a scheme providing for the administration, conversion, and extinction of the war debts of the Empire.
  2. A large number of the fleet of steamers which are owned in Australia is still under. Imperial requisition, but their release is expected within a few months. The vessels remaining in Australian waters are requisitioned under powers conferred under the War Precautions Act; As a result of the governmental control of Inter-State shipping,. Australiahas, during the war, enjoyed more favorable freights and fares than any other belligerent country. The urgent question of maintaining, after the present control expires, the cheap coastal services in the face of the tempting rates earned by tonnage in other waters, is at present engaging the attention of the Government.

During the past year the shipbuilding policy of the Commonwealth has been energetically pursued. Two steel vessels have been launched in Australia, ten more are under construction, and contracts have been entered into for another ten.

The contracts for wooden ships in Australia have, for the most part, been cancelled. It is the intention of the Government, when opportunity offers, to dispose of similar ships built on the Pacific coast of America.

The policy of the Government’ is to continue the Commonwealth line of steamers, and to build larger and faster vessels for our oversea trade, so that the producers of our exportable primary products shall be assured satisfactory shipping facilities at reasonable rates. Negotiations in this direction are at present in progress.

  1. As indicated to Parliament in December last, Admiral Viscount Jellicoe is at present visiting Australia to consider and advise upon our future naval requirements. It is expected that his report will be received during themonth of August. The Government is grateful to the Lords of the Admiralty and the British Cabinet for making available the services of so eminent an authority as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet of Britain.
  2. In pursuance of a promise given to Parliament that the expenditure of the Commonwealth would be carefully reviewed during the recess, aRoyal Commission was appointed to report on the whole field of Commonwealth expenditure. The Commission’s first progress report, which is now in preparation, will, it is hoped, be of material assistance in effecting reductions of expenditure in the Public Departments.
  3. It has been found impossible to dispose of the unsold portions of our wheat upon anything like reasonable conditions-. Shortage of tonnagehas intensified the difficulties, so that, in addition to 870,000 tons which are still held for the Imperial Government and other buyers, the Australian Board has on hand stocks of over 2,000,000 tons, carrying an overdraft of £18,800,000.

Representatives of the wheat-growers now sit on the Australian Board, and have publicly expressed approval of the efforts made on behalf of the producer.

In furtherance of its policy of assisting our primary producers, the Government has placed before the dairy farmers of Australia a scheme for the better organization of their industry and the standardization of their products. If, after full consultation with those concerned, a workable scheme acceptable to the great body of dairy farmers is evolved, the organization of producers in other lines of primary production will be considered.

  1. The abrupt cessation of hostilities, and the vast accumulations of metals which are no longer required for warlike purposes, have exercised a paralyzing effect upon the metal markets of the world. It is feared that no substantial Improvement is possible until those accumulations have been absorbed in peaceful arts and manufactures.

Vigorous efforts have been made by the Prime Minister to make sales of lead, copper, and tin with the Imperial Government, but, so far, without success. Negotiations are still proceeding. The zinc position is more fortunate, as the contract is for a period of ten years after the war. In the hope of maintaining the output of the copper mines and smelting works, the Government arranged to make advances to producing companies in respect of copper produced up to 31st March last.

It is the intention of the Government to make proposals to the Governments of the States which are calculated to relieve materially the stagnation arising out of the unfortunate stoppage of production.

The reduced demand for rare metals has induced the Imperial Government to terminate many of its contracts, and, at present, proposals to cancel certain shortdated agreements are the subject of correspondence between the Imperial and Commonwealth Go vernmen ts.

  1. Notwithstanding the elaborate legislation and machinery designed by the Commonwealth and the States to prevent or settle industrial disputes, Australia is even at this critical time faced by. grave domestic troubles of this character.

The seamen, who obtained increased wages and improved conditions under an award by the Commonwealth Court in January last, have struck, and thrown idle practically the whole of the InterState shipping. The Government intervened with the object of averting the disorganization of the industry, but the seamen declined the mediation of the Court. The Government has, in order to conserve light and power for essential needs, im posed restrictions on the consumption of fuel.

The seamen’s strike is already causing much unemployment in dependent industries, but as the attitude of the union constitutes a challenge to the authority and laws of this Parliament, the Government can offer no concessions. Unless wiser counsels prevail amongst those responsible, grave suffering to innocent industrialists and to the community must supervene.

  1. With the exception of the control of a few commodities respecting which contracts exist with the British Government, or financial obligations have been incurred by the Commonwealth, the Government has withdrawn the orders made under the price-fixing regulations and has wound up the organization of the Prices Commissioners.

It was considered advisable to gradually release these restrictions, and thus allow trade and commerce to adapt itself to normal conditions, rather than continue this form of control to the date when our powers would automatically come to an abrupt termination.

As the Commonwealth has not, in time of peace, the constitutional authority to deal with price-fixing, the exercise of such powers must now revert to the States.

There is indubitable evidence that during the abnormal conditions created by the war the operation of the Pricefixing Department has saved the consumer many millions sterling, and has prevented those tragic increases in the prices of goods which have been registered in every other country engaged in the great conflict.

  1. In the spirit of the promise made to Parliament, the Government has repealed a considerable number of other regulations made under the War Precautions Act, and has removed or relaxed many restrictions operated under the Defence Act3, including censorship.
  2. Some months ago, having ascertained that the coal industry was in an unsettled and critical condition, and that the stocks of coal in many parts of the

Commonwealth were dangerously low, the Government called the employers and employees together in conference. After full consideration, it was decided, in order to prevent a serious dislocation of industry, to authorize an increase of wages as agreed upon by the employers and employees, and a corresponding increase in the selling price of coal and coke.

  1. The programme for the session will embrace the following: -

A Supply Bill covering the first two months of the new financial year, which will be the first measure tabled.

Bills for the supersession of the War Precautions Act, as indicated during the debate on the extension Bill last year. These will provide protection, in relation to wheat, wool, dairy produce, and some other commodities which have been specially dealt with during the period of the war. Other matters of importance arising out of our war activities or experience will also be submitted.

The Peace Treaty and its attendant covenants.

A Tariff Bill, designed, firstly, to insure the preservation of those manufacturing enterprises inaugurated during the war, which are already being subjected to fierce competition ; secondly, the encouragement of new undertakings which are basic, and upon which our national safety depends; thirdly, the extension and diversification of existing industries; and generally the development of Australian production and manufacture.

A measure to facilitate and expedite the decision in industrial disputes, and improve the methods of the operation of the Arbitration Acts.

Financial measures dealing with loans and taxation and . the relations between the Commonwealth and the States.

Legislation dealing with naturalized subjects and aliens, with a view to the better safeguarding of national interests.

Amendments of the existing law providing for a closer inspection and control of immigrants, which the experience of the war has rendered necessary.

A Bill in relation to the method of voting at elections for the” Senate.

A Bill to amend the Inter-State Commission Act.

The Bill to establish the Institute of Science and Industry, which has already passed the Senate.

A measure to establish the Bureau of Commerce and Industry.

A Bill to amend the Navigation Act, which must ere long be proclaimed. This amendment is necessary to bring the present Statute into line with more advanced legislation.

Several other measures, including Bills dealing with Customs, Defence, Lighthouses, Posts and Telegraphs, Estate Duty Assessment, Land Tax Assessment, Aviation, Kalgoorlie to Port AugustaRailway Lands, Quarantine, Lands Acquisition, Trade Marks, Shipbuilding and’ Shipping, and other matters.

This programme promises an arduous session, and the Government invites honorable members to co-operate in the consideration and passage of measures having for their object the welfare of the people of Australia. I beg to lay the statement on the table of the Senate, and move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.

page 10014


The following papers were presented : -

Agricultural and Fisheries Board. - Wages and Conditions of Employment in Agriculture -

Vol. I. - General Report.

Vol. II. -Reports of Investigations.

Agricultural Wages Board. - Report of Committee appointed to inquire into financial results of occupation of agricultural land, &c.

Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911 -

Awards of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with plaints submitted by -

Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association (Award dated 14th March, 1919).

Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia (Award dated 31st March, 1919).

Meat Inspectors’ Association - Commonwealth Public Service (Award dated 27th March, 1919).

Orders of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitrations, and other documents, in connexion with variations or further variations of awards in the following cases: -

Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Association (dated 16th December, 1918).

Australian . Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers’ Association (dated 18th December, 1918) - (2 cases ) .

Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association (dated 16th December, 1918).

Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association (dated 18th December, 1918).

Australian Letter Carriers’ Association (dated16th December, 1918) - (2 cases).

Australian Letter Carriers’ Association (dated 18th December, 1918) - (2 cases).

Australian Telegraph and Telephone Construction and Maintenance Union (dated 3rd March, 1919).

Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association (dated 16th December, 1918).

Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association (dated 18th December, 1918).

Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association (dated6th March, 1919).

Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association (dated 6th March, 1919).

Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia (dated 16th December, 1918) - (2 cases).

Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia (dated 18th December, 1918) - (2 cases).

General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia (dated 16th December, 1918).

General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia (dated 18th December, 1918) .

General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia (dated 6th March, 1919) .

Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia (dated 10th December, 1918). Audit Act 1901-1917-

Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 47, 52,60.

Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council. - Financial year 1918-19 -

Dated 26th March, 1919.

Dated 30th April, 1919.

Dated 28th May, 1919.

Dated 6th June, 1919.

Australia. - Report on Trade for year 1917 by H.M. Trade Commissioner in the Commonwealth.

Bolshevism in Russia. - Collection of Reports.

Coal Industry Commission. - Interim Reports (2) by certain Members, and Report by certain other Members. (3 papers.)

Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 11, 88.

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1900-1915 - Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 57.

Commonwealth Government Small Arms Factory. - Report for year ended 30th June, 1918.

Commonwealth Railways Act 1917 -

By-law No. 9.

By-law No. 10.

Contract Immigrants Act 1905. - Return for 1918, respecting Contract Immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.

Criminal Law Amendment Bill and Sexual Offences Bill. - Report, &c, from Joint Select Committee of House of Lords and House of Commons.

Customs Act 1901-1916-

Proclamations Prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of - Cheese containing Margarine or other foreign fatty substance (dated 30th April, 1919).

Condensed Milk (dated 5th March, 1919).

Goods per Parcels Post (dated 8th January, 1919).

Russian Rouble Notes.

Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 41, 86, 87, 137, 138.

Death and Invalidity in the Commonwealth. Committee concerning Causes. - Report on Diphtheria.

Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Act 1918. - Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 67.

Defence Act 1903-1918. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 319, 320, 321, 322, 333, 334; 1919, Nos. 6, 10. 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 26, 33, 38, 39, 42, 48, 49, 50, 54, 61, 64,65, 66, 72, 73, 74, 91, 92, 95, 104, 105, 111. 114, 121, 122, 126, 127.

Demobilization and Resettlement. - Regulations made by Military Service (Civil Liabilities) Committee.

Dye Industry. - Memorandum by Board of Trade re State Assistance.

Emigration Bill 1918. - Correspondence.

Entertainments Tax Assessment Act 1916. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 299; 1919, No. 51- No.68.

Excise Act 1901-1918. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. US.

Gold Production Committee. - Report.

Immigration Act 1901-1912. - Return for 1918, showing (a) Persons refused admission to the Commonwealth; (6) Persons who passed the dictation test; (c) Persons admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test; (d) Departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth.

Indian Industrial Commission, 1916-18. - Report.

Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land acquired at -

Currie, King Island, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.

Fairy Meadow, New South Wales - For Federal Capital and other purposes.

Five Dock, Sydney, New South Wales - For Repatriation purposes.

Kangaroo Point. Brisbane, Queensland - For Repatriation purposes.

Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.

Lithgow, Now South Wales - For Defence purposes (3 cases).

North Sydney, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

North Sydney, New South Wales - For Repatriation purposes.

Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes (2 cases).

Port Pirie, South Australia - For Defence purposes.

Port Pirie, South Australia - For Customs purposes.

Redfern, New South Wales - For Repatriation purposes.

Rosemount, Queensland - For Defence purposes.

Westernport, Victoria - For Defence purposes (casement over land).

Ministry of Reconstruction -

Advisory Bodies - Statement re Appointment.

Building Industry after the War - Report of Committee.

Civil War Workers Committee - 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Interim Reports.

Education in the Army - Second Interim Report of Adult Education Committee.

Electric Power Supply - Report of Committee of Chairmen.

Employers and Employed, Relations between - Final Report of Committee.

Engineering Trades (New Industries) - Report of, Committee.

Machinery of Government Committee - Report.

Rent Increase and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Acts - Report of Committee.

Work of the Ministry - Report for period ended 31st December, 1918.

Naturalization Act 1903-1917. - Return of Persons to whom Naturalization Certificates were granted during 1918.

Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 1, 2, 3,18, 19, 58, 62, 63, 110, 135.

Northern Territory. - Ordinances - 1918, No. 13- Real Property.


No. 1. - Interpretation.

No. 2. - Bush Fires.

No. 3. - Jury.

No. 4. - Bank Holidays.

No. 5. - Workmen’s Dwellings.

Northern Territory. - Report of Adminis trator for year ended 30th June, 1918.

Papua. - Ordinances -

1918- .

No. 11. - Native Taxes.

No. 13. - Health ( Venereal Diseases ) . 1919-

No. 1. - Native Plantations.

Patents Act 1903-1909. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919. No. 14, No. 30.

Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1910.- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 327, 330, 335: 1919, Nos. 22, 37, 56, 124, 131, 132, 133, 136, 146.

Public Service Act 1902-1918-

Appointments, Promotions, &c. -

Prime Minister’s Department -

Department of the Treasury -

Attorney-General’s Department -

Department of Defence -

Postmaster-General’s Department -

Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 312; 1919, Nos., 17, 25, 27, 40, 59, 93, 94, 99, 109, 120.

Seamen’s Compensation Act 1911. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 139.

Spirits Act 1906-1918 - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 69.

Territory for the Seat of Government. -

Ordinances of 1919 -

No. 2. - Timber Protection.

No. 3. - Fish Protection.

No. 4. - Cotter River.

The War-

Aust ro-Hungar ian Government - Note addressed to Governments of all Belligerent States.

Cost of Living - Increase since June, 1914, and counter-balancing factors arising under War conditions. - Report of Committee.

Emergency Legislation passed by Parliaments of the Empire - Summary.

Emergency Legislation - First and Second Reports from Select Committee.

Germany -

Conditions of Armistice signed 11th November, 191S.

Convention prolonging Armistice. Economic Conditions prevailing, De comber, 1918, to March, 1919 - Reports by British Officers.

Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey - Terms of Armistices.

German Colonies - Correspondence relating to wishes of Natives as to their future Government.

Imperial War Conference, 1918. - Extracts from Minutes of Proceedings, and Papers laid before the Conference.

Insurance - Preliminary Statement of Results of Government War Insurance Schemes.

National Expenditure - Select Committee -

Memorandum on Sixth Report.

Ninth Report, with Appendix.

Tenth Report.

National Relief Fund. - Report on Ad ministration, up to 30th September, 1918.

Peace Treat between Germany and Finland, together with Commercial and Shipping Agreement.

Prisoners of War -

Combatant prisoners of war and civilians. - Agreement between British and German Governments.

Employment in Coal and Salt Mines of British prisoners in Germany - Report.

Treatment of British prisoners in Turkey - Report.

Treatment by Germans of prisoners taken during Spring Offensives of 1918 - Report.

Treatment by Gormans of prisoners taken during Spring Offensives of 1918- Further Report.

Shipping -

British Hospital Ships Kawa, Glenart Castle, Guildford Castle, and Llandovery Castle - Torpedoing by German Submarines - Circular Despatch to His Majesty’s Diplomatic Representatives in Allied and Neutral Countries.

Merchant Tonnage and the Submarine - Supplementary Statement showing, for period August, 1914, to October, 1918 - (1) Merchant Tonnage losses by Enemy Action and Marine Risk; (2) Merchant Shipbuilding Output; (3) Enemy Vessels captured and brought into Service; together with Diagrams.

Women - Employment in the United Kingdom during the War - Report of Board of Trade.

War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 326, 331, 332; 1919, Nos. 4, 5, 8, 29, 34. 36, 46,53, 70, 71, 112, 113, 116, 128.

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-1915. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 134.

Wool: British Government’s Purchase of Australian Wool Clip, Balance of Season 1916-17. - Appraisement and Disposition Statement; Statement of Wool scoured on account of Imperial Government; Statement of Wool scoured on account of Russian Government; Statement of Wool reclassed and/or repacked on account of Imperial Government; and Contraries and Oddments Statement.

Report by Surgeon-General R. H. Fetherston, Director-General, A.A.M.S., on (1) Australian Army Medical Services Overseas; (2) The Medical Service of Great Britain and the Allies; and (3) Re-education and Reestablishment of War Cripples in America, Europe and India - February-November, 1918.

page 10017



Senator KEATING:

– I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) if his attention has been drawn to a report of the death of a returned soldier who was found drowned in Hobart, and, if so, will inquiries be made into the matter? According to the evidence in the papers, it appeared that the deceased soldier had recently applied for vocational training, and bad been refused by the Repatriation Board. In the course of the inquiry, some caustic comments were made by the coroner.

The President:

). - Order! The honorable senator must not make statements when asking a question.

Senator KEATING:

– I am merely repeating the statements in the report to which I am drawing the Minister’s attention. I ask him if he will instruct that inquiries be made.

Senator MILLEN:

– I noticed the paragraph, also the caustic comments of the coroner, and I immediately telegraphed to Hobart for information. The report supplied to me was to the effect that the unfortunate man had applied for vocational training, and had been informed that he would get it. His case was merely pending the formal decision by the Board, when his unfortunate death took place. In view of these facts I takethis opportunity of suggesting that even important individuals like coroners should learn the facts before they indulge in the luxury of caustic comment.

page 10018


Continuous Session of Parliament

Senator PRATTEN:
New South Wales

– I desire, as a matter of privilege, to draw attention to the position which, it appears to me, is created by the continuous session of Parliament. This question is probably a quasi legal one, and certainly somewhat constitutional. The business-paper before us leads us to assume that our meeting to-day is a continuation of the second session of this Parliament, which has lasted now for about two years. As this matter affects the rights and privileges of the members of the Senate through the Standing Orders which have been framed in accordance with the Constitution, I hope you, sir, will bear with me if I go back to the circumstances under which it was adopted. The draft Constitution was submitted to the people for their approval, and there was then published an annotation made by Mr. (now Sir Robert) Garran in connexion with the particular clause that bears upon the postion. The draft Constitution that was placed before the people stated, in Part I., section 6, that “ there shall be a session of the Parliament once at least in every year, so that twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Parliament in one session and its first sitting in the next session.” The annotation to this was that “ there must be at least one session a year.” It did not say that there shall be continuing sessions, ot a half session, but there must be one session a year. It seems clear that the intention of the provision in the Constitution was, firstly, that, should exceptional circumstances arise, Parliament might not be prorogued indefinitely; and, secondly, that no single session should be longer than a year, or else as near to that period as could reasonably be arranged.

In going back through the history of Federation, I find that the first session of the first Parliament occupied about seventeen months. The second session occupied only five months; but the beginning of ‘that session was well within twelve months of the first. In the second Parliament, the first session occupied nine months, and the second session six months, while the third occupied approximately four months. In the third Parliament, the first session occupied one day; but well within twelve months of that the second session commenced, and occupied eleven months. The third session commenced on the 16th September, 1908, and closed within three months of that date. There was a fourth session in the third Parliament, so that, so far as those Parliaments are concerned, twelve months did npt elapse between one session and the next. In the fourth Parliament, circumstances were somewhat similar. The first session occupied five months; the second, three months; and the third session, six months. But, again, twelve months did not elapse between one session and another. In the fifth Parliament we had two sessions in practically one year; but when the war occurred the then Government - of which an honorable senator opposite was a member - brought about what was. to my mind, an extraordinary state of affairs. Whenthe war started we had no longer one session a year, and in the last Parliament, from 1914 onwards, we had a long continuation of the one session. The same thing has appertained to this session of the present Parliament.

Having shown the exact position of the Parliaments since the inception of

Federation, I desire now to draw your attention, Mr. President, to the Standing Orders which bear upon the present situation. But for the Standing Orders under which our debates are carried on it would not matter very much whether the Parliament had been prorogued and a new session started, or whether, a3 is actually the case, the Houses were adjourned and we were continuing to-day the second session, of this Parliament, which has already lasted nearly two years. Standing order No. 133 reads -

No Question or Amendment shall bo proposed which is the same in substance as any Question or Amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the Order, Resolution, or Vote t>n such Question or Amendment has been rescinded.

Under that standing order, it appears to me that if we go on as we are doing, practically making the whole of our parliamentary term one session, the effect will be that honorable senators will be debarred from referring, for instance, to the subject of repatriation, in connexion with which Senator Bolton moved the adjournment of the Senate last year. I shall be prevented under that standing order from referring, for example, to the metal question ; and other honorable senators will be similarly debarred.

Senator Millen:

– If that is the effect of that standing order, namely, that it might interfere with the honorable senator’s rights and privileges, does he not think it would serve those of other honorable senators?

Senator PRATTEN:

– I am not speaking in a personal manner, but am endeavouring to draw the attention of the Senate to what may occur within the next six or nine months. The Minister has just read a long list of legislative subjects which the Government have notified that they intend to place before this Parliament; and I can conceive of a good many matters arising out of that proposed legislation wherein it will be reasonable and fair and proper for honorable senators to make reference to debates that have occurred in the previous years of this Parliament. I call attention now to standing order 413 -

No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.

If the strict letter of that standing order were kept, in its connexion with the continuation of the second session of this Parliament on which we are now entering, no- honorable senator would be able to refer, for example, to the debate which took place in this Chamber last year on the War Precautions Act. No honorable senator would be able to refer to debates in connexion with defence administration; nor would any honorable senator be able to refer to the debate on the Wartime Profits Tax Act which took place nearly two years ago. Standing order No. 414 bears also upon this matter -

No Senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other Documents, except Hansard, referring to Debates in the Senate during the same Session.

Standing order No. 416 also bears upon the subject of sessions, and is as follows : -

No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the current Session in the House of Representatives, or to any Measure impending therein.

In other words, the strict interpretation of this standing order in connexion with the procedure now being adopted so far as sessions are concerned, would prevent any honorable senator from referring to the debate upon the Budget which occurred in the House of Representatives nearly two years ago. No honorable senator could refer, either, to matters which arose in another place in connexion with the Shaw wireless operations. It seems clear, therefore, that if this present meeting of the Parliament, and our sittings for months onwards are to be regarded as a continuation of the session, and if you, sir, strictly enforce the Standing Orders, the rights and - privileges of honorable senators will be most seriously interfered with; and, according to the strict rules of debate under our Standing Orders, we shall not be able to refer to many matters-

Senator Millen:

– Who interfered? The honorable senator states that our rights and privileges will be interfered with. Who interfered with them?

Senator PRATTEN:

– I am drawing attention to a position which may arise in connexion with our future work in this Parliament, and under the Constitution I question very much whether the Government can constitutionally call this a continuation of the second session, seeing that we have been going on for two years. If they can do that, the Standing Orders must be amended to preserve the rights and privileges of honorable senators. It seems to me that the Standing Orders were clearly made on the understanding that there would be a session of Parliament in every year. If you, Mr. President, hold that this is a continuation of the second session, and an honorable senator refers to debates in another place or to matters dealt with in this Chamber even two years ago, another honorable senator, by raising a point of order, may question his right to do so under the Standing Orders, and you must rule against the honorable senator being permitted to make such references. I draw attention to the position which has arisen out of the course which has been taken. I am not blaming the Government. This procedure was followed by the Government of the Parliament of 1914 as well as by the Government of the Parliament of 1917. But peace was signed yesterday, and whatever reasons there may have been for the departure from precedent, and, in my opinion, from constitutionality, I think that honorable senators should now refuse to agree to any arrangement by which their rights and privileges might be curtailed. I feel sure that in dealing with the legislation which this Chamber will be called upon to deal with during the current session, honorable senators will, in spite of the procedure which has been adopted, insist, upon the freedom of debate which is their right and privilege.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . - I may be allowed to explain, on the point of privilege raised by Senator Pratten, that whatever complaint the

Senate may have in the matter - and I recognise that certain disabilities are imposed on members of both Houses of this Parliament because of the procedure adopted - it is not the Government that is responsible, but it is Parliament itself. The Senate is responsible for the procedure adopted in this chamber. As a war-time precaution, the Senate assented to this practice of its own motion, and I remind Senator Pratten that he was himself a consenting party to the adoption of this practice, and that if the privileges’ of honorable senators have been interfered with he has been one of the guilty interferers himself. The honorable senator asks if the Government are justified in regarding this meeting as a continuation of the session of Parliament. It does not matter whether the Government are entitled to so regard it or not, the fact remains that it is a continuation of the session, because the last motion passed in this Chamber was that the Senate at its rising adjourn to a date to be fixed. The date fixed was to-day, and the Senate meets to-day in continuation of its last sittings. . I should like to congratulate Senator Pratten upon the study which he has evidently given to the Standing Orders during the recess. The practice of continuing a session from the beginning of the Parliament until itsclose was assented to purely as a’ war measure, and now that the war is happily over, I trust that it will disappear. I should like to remind Senator Pratten that some of the disabilities which he hasenumerated, such as inability to refer to debates in another place, have always existed. If this were a new session, and honorable senators . had been called together to-day by proclamation of the GovernorGeneral, that disability would still exist. Honorable senators find methods by which they may allude to debates in another place, but it is not my business to point out what those methods are.

Senator KEATING:

– We all recognise that the continuance of the session of one year into the next has necessarily involved certain limitations of the privileges of honorable senators in. debate. But as you, sir, have pointed out, the continuation of the session from one year into another has been the conscious and deliberate act of the Parliament itself. On each occasion, instead of going away after a prorogation, the Houses have assented to a motion for. an adjournment to a date to be fixed.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– Order! I find that before the matter can be discussed it is necessary, under the Standing Orders, that an honorable senator bringing forward a matter of privilege should conclude with a motion. I must, therefore, ask Senator Pratten to submit a motion.

Senator PRATTEN:
New South “Wales

.- I move-

That the matter complained of, and the interference thereby with the privileges of honorable senators, be referred for the consideration of the Standing Orders Committee.

Senator KEATING:

– I was about to suggest that we should not allow the discussion to terminate without referring this matter to the Standing Orders Committee. I have always regarded the provision in the Constitution to which reference has been made as designed to prevent a Government keeping Parliament from meeting for a period of twelve months. It does not necessarily mean that every year there shall be a separate session. The object of the provision is to prevent a Government from carrying on for twelve months without meeting Parliament. The section reads -

There shall be a session of the Parliament once at least in every twelve months, so that twelve months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Parliament in one session and its first sitting in the next session.

That was passed to prevent government without Parliament. “With regard to the matter of privilege, I shall refer only to standing order 447, which reads -

Except so far a3 is expressly provided, these Standing Orders shall in no way restrict the mode in which the Senate may exercise and uphold its powers, privileges, and immunities.

The spirit of that standing order is that our Standing Orders are intended to serve the purposes of the Senate, and that the Senate is not to be a slave to the Standing Orders.Seeing that we have adopted this new principle, at any rate for the period of the war, and there may on some other occasion bean extension of a session from one calendar year into another, it is very desirable that the Standing Orders Committee should consider what Standing Orders, if any, are requiredto meet a state of things which was clearly not in contemplation when the Standing Orders were originally framed.

Senator MILLEN:
New South “WalesMinister for Repatriation · NAT

– I do notat all object to this matter being referred to the special Committee constituted to deal with such questions, but it is somewhat anomalous that exception should be taken to the continuation into this year of the session commencing last year on the ground that it interferes with the rights and privileges of honorable senators. The action taken to continue the session was taken to conserve those rights and privileges. Honorable senators were informed at the time that the reason for the course taken was that, inview of the position when the armistice . Avas signed, everything being extremely vague and nebulous, it would interfere wilh the rights and privileges of honorable senators if there were occasion to call Parliament together on an emergency arising. In order to give the Government an opportunity of consulting with honorable senators should the necessity arise suddenly, and to give honorable senators an opportunity to attend in their places, this course was adopted.

Senator Keating:

– The honorable senator means the course of adjournment instead of prorogation?

Senator MILLEN:

– Yes.

Senator Keating:

– It was eminently desirable that that course should be adopted.

Senator MILLEN:

– It was done to preserve the rights and privileges of honorable senators. If I did not know the versatility of Senator Pratten, I should be more surprised at his action than I am, but it has appeared a little strange to me that he should attack the course which has been followed, and to which he subscribed, on the ground that it interfered with the rights and privileges of honorable senators, when, as a matter of fact, it was to preserve those rights that we agreed to adjourn rather than to be prorogued.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 10022



Senator FOLL:

– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he has any information to give, or can make available any of the correspondence which has passed between myself and the Acting Prime Minister, and also between the Queensland Government and the Acting Prime Minister, on the matter of the closing down of the Mount Morgan Copper mine in Central Queensland?

Senator MILLEN:

– I have no knowledge of the correspondence, and necessarily none of its contents. If the honorable senator will ask his question tomorrow, I shall make inquiries in the meantime.

page 10022



Senator MAUGHAN:

– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether it is a fact, as reported in the Herald of this afternoon, that peace has not been signed ?

Senator MILLEN:

– I have no other information than that which reached the Acting Prime Minister yesterday, and was given to the public. It was to the effect that peace had been signed. As possibly some misunderstanding may arise from this reply, I may state that when I began to speak I was not aware of the nature of the report which is apparently in circulation. When I stated that peace had been signed, I think I should have said that the message received by the Government was to the effect that the Germans had agreed to sign the Peace Treaty - not that the signatures had actually been attached to it.

page 10022




– I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) whether he will place before the Cabinet the desirableness of marking the advent of peace after the great war in which we have been engaged, by this Parliament meeting at the Federal Capital next session?

Senator MILLEN:

– In view of the timethat would be occupied in erecting the necessary buildings, I fear that the matter brought forward by Senator Pratten this afternoon would assume an even more serious aspect if any attempt were made to give effect to the honorable senator’s suggestion. The requisite buildiugs could not be erected within twelve months.


Detention of Paul Freeman.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– I have received from Senator Grant an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate in order to call attention to a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The detention in custody of Paul Freeman without a trial.”

Senator GRANT:
New South Wales

. - I move -

That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 2 p.m. to-morrow.

Four honorable senators, having risen in their places in support of the motion,

Senator GRANT:

– Probably there is no question which has caused so much agitation, not only in New South Wales, but throughout Australia, as the treatment which has been meted out to Paul Freeman by the military authorities in Australia. It appears from the reports which have been made public, that this workman was suddenly arrested, that no charge was laid against him, and that he was summarily placed on boardan out-going vessel. He was refused permission to land in America, and was subsequently returned to Australia. He was deported a second time, and was again returned to Australia. This treatment seems to me to constitute an outrage, which ought not to be passed over without the severest condemnation. Efforts have been made to secure a trial for this man, but without avail. On the 2nd instant, after we had considered the matter at some length, the following wire, signed by myself, Mr. Mahony, and Mr. West, was despatched to the Acting Prime Minister: -

Meeting of Federal and State members urge you to take immediate action with a view to prevent the death of Paul Freeman. Urge immediate removal to hospital.

At this time Paul Freeman was confined on board the Sonoma. He had determined that rather than leave Australia for the third time, he would adopt what is known as a hunger strike. On the 5th instant, the following reply was received from the Acting Prime Minister: -

Re telegram from yourself and Messrs.

Mahony and West, of 2nd; arrangements made for Paul Freeman to be disembarked from Sonoma and placed under detention, pending institution of inquiries with a view to definitely establishing nationality.

Prior to this action being taken, very grave disturbances were narrowly averted in Sydney. It is a most serious matter for any Government, no matter how powerful they may be, to arrest any man, to place him in custody, and to propose to deport him without laying any charge whatever against him, and without giving him to understand why he is being dealt with in this summary fashion. I repeat that the peace of the city of Sydney was very nearly disturbed in quite a drastic manner by the action of the Government. Later on, after Freeman had been removed to the Victoria Barracks Hospital, the following wire, signed by ma and Messrs. Brookfield and Blakeley, was despatched to the Acting Prime Minister : -

We have interviewed Paul Freeman to-day. He has started on another hunger strike, and his condition is very low. Freeman fears deportation without trial. Will you release Freeman on bail and allow us to put him in a private hospital? We are prepared to go bail.

Some time after that - I think it was on the 11th June - the following telegram was received from the Acting Prime Minister: -

Your telegram re Freeman to hand. I have sent it on for consideration to the Acting Minister for Defence and on receipt of his advice will communicate with you.

An effort was made to get into communication with the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell) by telephone, but it was not too successful, and on the 10th inst. the honorable gentleman wired -

Reference your telephone message re Paul Freeman suggest your request be put in writing or forwarded by telegram.

The following wire, signed by myself, Mr. Brookfield, and Mr. Blakeley, was then sent to Senator Russell : -

Will you release Freeman on bail and allow us to put him in a private hospital? We are prepared to go bail.

Then, on the 13th inst., Senator Russell, who appears to have taken at least two days to consider the matter, despatched the following wire: -

Pending result of inquiries from United

States authorities as to reasons for refusing Freeman admission to America, Cabinet has decided that he shall be detained in custody.

As most senators are probably aware, Paul Freeman is a miner by occupation, and, as the result of certain information supplied to us, the following telegram was sent by Mr. Blakeley to Mr. Theodore, Acting Premier of Queensland : -

Paul Freeman Committee elected by Annual

Labour Conference have instructed me to approach you with view to protect Freeman’s interests claims Cloncurry district.

I am informed by Mr. Blakeley that a reply has been received from Mr. Theodore to the effect that he has taken the necessary steps to ‘ protect Paul Freeman’s interests. This case has assumed a degree of importance entirely apart from Freeman himself. So far as I can gather, Freeman is an ordinary workman, who follows the avocation of a miner. He is a man who is not very much inclined to work for an employer. As soon as he gets a few pounds together he strikes out on his own. That type of man, I submit, is an exceedingly valuable asset to Australia. The individual who is prepared to strike out on his own, to go into the bush and make a living fur himself apart from any employer, commands my very warmest approval. We find that Freeman, after working for certain employers for some time, decided to strike out for himself. Ho went westward from Cloncurry approximately 80 miles, to somewhere near the source of the Leichhardt River. He took with him a few horses, some sets of harness, certain necessary implements, some food, and some mining tools. Altogether he estimates that these were worth, approximately, £500. Having commenced prospecting operations, he discovered one claim, which he christened “ The Four Slaves.” He then went further along to another spot, where he thought the prospects were good, and this he designated “ Just a Chance.” Still further along he pegged out another small claim called “ The International.” None of those claims, so far as I can gather, was of very much account, but later on Freeman discovered ore in such quantity that he christened this new claim “ Freedom.’’ When he was arrested suddenly one evening, by means of two policemen, a blacktracker, and some dogs, he was making from this mine at least £3 per day. Apparently he was then very far removed from any habitation, so if he were inclined to make any remarks at all, there would be nobody to hear him. So far as I know, he made no remarks of any kind, nor was his behaviour such as to justify the Department in attempting to deport him, at least without a trial. If the Department had any information against the man, it is surprising to me, and certainly it was unfair to Paul Freeman that he was not faced with his accusers. He. was suddenly arrested at 11 o’clock at night. He was ordered to come out of his tent, but he declined to do so, and instead, he invited the policemen inside. They entered the tent, and I understand Paul Freeman quietly submitted to arrest, and was suddenly removed from that locality. He had only a limited time to give instructions with regard to his horses and other property, and I believe he has heard nothing about them from that day to this. He had also at grass about £100 worth of copper ore, and does not know what has’ become of that either. To my mind, such treatment would not be’ fair to any man, and certainly it is very unfair to a man prepared, as Freeman was, to strike out on his own account and actively engage in a useful occupation. We have been told repeatedly, not only by this Government, but by all the Governments of Australia, that what is required in Australia is more production.

This is a statement which we hear from almost every public speaker, and which is reproduced almost daily in the press of Australia. Owing, no doubt, to the agitation that took place, the Government did not attempt to deport Freeman a. third time, so he is now confined in what is termed a hospital in the Victoria Barracks, Sydney. I visited him on several occasions, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the company of others. When first 5 saw him he was certainly in a very low condition, because he had then commenced a further hunger strike; but believing there was a possibility of a trial , he agreed, prior to my . departure on the occasion of my second visit, to take some liquid refreshment. .1 have seen him since then, and he appears to be gradually being restored to normal health, though he is a long way off that yet. The hospital ward in which he is confined has very much the aspect of a prison, there being bars to the windows, bolts to the doors, and all the necessary adjuncts of a gaol, including, of course, the sentry marching up and down. His room faces the south, so no sunshine can enter, and altogether it is much different from rooms in other portions of the hospital building. It appears to me that this man is not receiving fair treatment. If the Government have anything against him, why are they apparently afraid to grant him a trial ? So far as I can learn, he has been at least ten years in Australia, and, according to his own statement, he has never been in the hands of the authorities before. I contend that, like every other citizen of Australia, he was entitled, when arrested, to have an opportunity of confronting his accusers, and to have a free trial. That is all he wants, and anything less will not be justice. Of late years a considerable number of men. have been arrested and placed in gaol without trial, while others have likewise been deported. I do not know their history. I do not profess to know the history of Paul Freeman. I am speaking only upon information supplied to me; but, so far as I know, there is nothing against him. He invites a free trial, so that he may be faced by his accusers, and he is satisfied that if this is granted to him, he will get justice. Ac- cording to the cabled information, Peace is about to be signed, and in view of the fact that, so far as we know, there is no definite charge against Freeman, we are doing him, and probably many others, a very great injustice by keeping them in custody. I have, therefore, moved the formal motion of adjournment so as to bring this matter prominently before the people, and in order that Freeman may have a free and open trial.

Senator RUSSELL:
Acting Minister for Defence · Victoria · NAT

.- The story told by Senator Grant would be an interesting one if it were altogether correct. Immediately information reached me concerning Paul Freeman I ordered a full and complete inquiry, with the result that it was definitely ascertained that he was not permitted to land at San Francisco by the United States Government. Then, recognising that it was useless to send him back until we had settled the question of his nationality, I ordered that he be removed to a military hospital in Sydney. The Government ordered his deportation in 1918. He had stated that he was a native of Mount Vernon, in the United States of America, and, therefore, the Government attempted to deport him to the country which he claimed was the land of his birth, but the American Government refused him admission on the ground that his citizenship had not been established. I have offered every opportunity to Paul Freeman to establish that he is an American, and not an enemy citizen. He has been unwilling to do that. It has been stated, also, that he has never been in the hands of the authorities before; but the inquiry instituted by the Government proved the fact that he was before the. Court in Cloncurry, in June, 191S, and, apparently, had been under observation for some time.

Senator Gardiner:

– What was he before the Cloncurry Court for?

Senator RUSSELL:

– He was charged under 9V. I take it, that that wa3 for non-registration as an alien, and that he was not complying with the laws of the country.

Senator Fairbairn:

– Had he been naturalized ?

Senator RUSSELL:

– No. He was registered as an alien under the War Precautions Act. The opinion of the Government is that Paul Freeman is not an American citizen, but a German subject, and that he registered as an American for the purpose of avoiding internment. I do not wish to make any statement to the injury of any individual. I merely make this statement in defence of the action that has been taken.

Senator Gardiner:

– But I think we ought to know his history.

Senator RUSSELL:

– I am obliged, as a Minister of the Crown, to administer the laws passed by this Parliament, and I find that an order made in 1915 reads -

  1. The Minister may order the deportation of any alien and any alien with respect to whom such an order is made shall forthwith leave and thereafter remain out of the Commonwealth.
  2. Where an alien is ordered to be deported under this order, he may, until he can, in the opinion of the competent Naval or Military authority, be conveniently conveyed to and placed on board a ship about to leave the Commonwealth, and whilst being conveyed to the ship, and whilst on board the ship, until the ship finally leaves the Commonwealth, be detained in such manner as the competent Naval or Military authority directs, and, whilst so detained, shall be deemed to be in legal custody.

In 1915 Parliament deliberately created the Cabinet a jury to determine questions of alien citizenship. I take it that Parliament thought it wise to do this for the preservation of this country during the war, and in order that men suspected of enemy sympathies could be kept under observation or deported. The Cabinet are still of the opinion that Freeman must be deported; but we are willing to make any and every inquiry, and will assist anybody to help Freeman to clearly establish who he is and what he is.

Senator Gardiner:

– Will you give us the reason for his deportation?

Senator RUSSELL:

-I do not propose to go into all that this afternoon.’ That is not my particular function. I point out again, that the jury, in Freeman’s case, was the Government of Australia.

Senator Lt Colonel O’loghlin:

– Has he had an opportunity of meeting his accusers?

Senator Millen:

– Did honorable senators opposite grant a trial to the men they locked up?

Senator RUSSELL:

– Parliament invested the Cabinet with the authority of a jury with regard to these cases during the period of the war, and we are now trying to ascertain Paul Freeman’s citizenship. If honorable senators, or Paul Ereeman himself, will cooperate, every opportunity will be given to establish his claim to American citizenship. I only want to say, in conclusion, that Paul Freeman was treated in a perfectly humane manner. If he did not have the services of a military doctor in the early stages of his confinement, it was because the ship’s doctor did not desire it. Freeman was never at any time in danger of dying of starvation, because he was well provided with concentrated food and raisins. According to the latest report in the hands of the Government, he is now doing well. We are treating him in a humane manner. He has made a statement which has been furnished in a brief report, the effect of which is that for three years Freeman was a member of the American Army.

Senator Lt Colonel O’Loghlin:

– Did not the ship’s doctor protest against his treatment?

Senator RUSSELL:

– Not to me. Naturally, the ship and its doctor would be glad to get rid of a man whom that vessel had carried twice across the ocean in such circumstances.

Senator Millen:

– Nobody seems to want him. America does not want him. We do not want him. The ship’s doctor did not seem to want him.

Senator RUSSELL:

– That is the position. We are now in touch with the United States Government, which is trying to establish the man’s citizenship. When that has been established Cabinet will again deal with the matter.

New South Wales

– I am exceedingly sorry that the Minister has seen fit to withhold from the Senate information to which we are entitled. We desire to know when the case of Paul Freeman came before Cabinet, and what are the grounds for his deportation. No member of this Parliament who participated in the enactment of the War Precautions Act and its regulations would have dreamed that under that Statute such an outrage upon individual liberty could be perpetrated as we have witnessed in the arrest and deportation of Paul Freeman. I have never seen the man, but if the Government are going to do this thing outside of the law - and I am saying this just as I stated it before a large public meeting the other day - if the Government will brush the law on one side and appeal to force, then we shall meet them at their own game. Let the Government realize that this is what they are stirring up. We are now living in a time of peace; and surely, such being the case, the Courts of this country can deal with any man against whom there is either a charge or the suspicion of an offence. In the present instance the Minister informs us that Cabinet acted as a jury, and sentenced Freeman to deportation. This is a Parliament of free men representing free men, and if the Government essay to deliberately brush aside all the safeguards of our laws, then we shall teach them that they cannot do such things.

Senator Guthrie:

– But you agreed to that particular regulation.


– I did nothing of the kind, in so far as it furnishes power to do such a thing as this ; and I challenge those who shelter themselves behind the War Precautions regulations, which were intended to safeguard this country during a time of war, and not to force men out of the country merely because they had a good copper find-

Senator Millen:

– The honorable senator himself locked men up, and without any trial.


– That was done during a time of war, and in similar circumstances we would do the same thing again. We did not intern any man without the fullest inquiry and the most careful consideration of the possibility of danger to this community. I might add that there were few other than enemy subjects interned during my connexion with the Administration. But is it to be thought of that the Government should withhold from the public in these altogether different circumstances the grounds for their action, and the information upon which they based their arrest of Paul Freeman? I do not know the date on which the Government dealt with the man. I have asked for it. The fact that he was “ brought up “ in June, 1918, on the ground that he had not registered as an alien may indicate that it was after the war had ended - that is to say, after the armistice - that he was arrested. Will any man pretend that an individual who is away out in the interior of Australia, toiling as a working miner, can be regarded as a menace to the safety of this country?

Senator O’Keefe:

– He may have had an aeroplane.

Senator Guthrie:

– No, but he might have had a penny-halfpenny stamp.


– One’s mind can conjure up all manner of dangers if theman had had his liberty. The Government may know of something, but when the matter is raised in Parliament, in the interests of the whole community, the people are entitled to be informed whether or not there was anything serious against the individual in question. The public will not permit a Government to ride rough-shod oyer our country’s laws, and to send a man out of Australia without any knowledge of his having committed an offence. The Government say they constituted a jury, and that it was upon their finding that Freeman was sentenced to, deportation. It is, I think, a little over 700 years since the signing of Magna Charta.

Senator Millen:

-It is only four years since you passed the law that has been read.


– Yes ; but it was passed for common-sense men, not for a lot of idiots to administer; and I warn the Government that if they appeal to force and apply force they will get it back. I warn them to make no mistake about that. At the meeting to which I have already referred [ mildly suggested to that body of citizens in Sydney that if the Government would not properly administer the law we should hang one Cabinet Minister a week until the Government come to their senses. When a Government, sworn to administer the law3 of the country, are seen to be trampling them under their feet - trampling upon something which should be sacred, namely, the right of an individual who has been charged with an offence to have a full, free, and open trial - then trouble must inevitably follow. During the war certain people were interned in the interests of the safety of the community. That was an eminently wise and proper course; but will any man now say that, the war being over, the safety of the community must be protected by deporting a particular individual? The only reason which the Government can give for taking a miner away from his mine appears to be that the Cabinet themselves are the jury. The Cabinet evidently had certain information which justified them in sending that American back to America; and it seems that they are going to send him back once more, as soon as they are satisfied that America is his place of birth. All this is not happening in war time, nor is it for the protection of Australia from spies and dangerousmen generally. It is because the Government have picked this man out for purposes which the Minister has not seen fit to make known. If Paul Freeman were the greatest criminal who had set foot in Australia, that would furnish all the more reason why he should be given an open trial. We are a free people who believe that the vilest criminal should be put upon his trial before being condemned. Take such criminals as De eming and Butler. Those men committed crimes in Australia and made for America, whereupon the whole force of the law was put into operation to bring them back and give them a fair and open trial. But here we see a grand jury of Cabinet Ministers secretly sentencing a man to deportation, with the additional spectacle of the country to which he has been deported refusing to receive him, whereupon he is compelled, to he rocked to and fro on the ocean until the shipping company involved takes notice of the situation and gets the capitalistic press to move the Government of Australia to take the man off the ship. No man on suspicion alone should have been deported from this country at such a time as this, when the war is virtually over. Australia has been built up by men of all nationalities.

Senator Guthrie:

– Unfortunately.


– I say, for Australia, fortunately. In the/ State of South Australia, even the subjects of our late enemy in chief accomplished very creditable pioneering work, and in Queensland it has been the same. But Paul Freeman is not an enemy subject. Obviously the Cabinet believed that, in that they sent him to America, the country of his birth - to America, one of our Allies-

Senator Fairbairn:

– He said he Avas an American.


– And the Government accepted his statement. We are told that he is a subject of one of our Allies. Suspicion can rest upon the fairest reputation in the community. If an American citizen resident in Australia has a charge levelled against him, surely we have not reached that stage where our Government can 6end that person back without trial to America. Senator Grant has stated that Freeman has been for ten years in Australia. If that be the case, the position of the Government is all the worse when they hold that such a man can be picked up from his peaceful employment in- the interior of Australia and sent back quietly to America. What is the good of the Government pretending there is any military danger in regard to this individual? Our War Precautions Act and Regulations were not intended, surely, for friends of the Government to be able to move the Government to get them a mining show which they could not secure by any other means. The Government may be in the possession of information that would damn this man in the eyes of the public. Bub- the more damnatory their information the greater need is there for a trial. Freeman protests his innocence, and the people are sufficiently fair-minded to demand, not only for an innocent man a. fair trial, but the same meed of justice for a guilty man.

I am able to draw a distinction in regard to internees against whom there hasbeen only suspicion. It fell to my lot to have to order the internment of certain individuals who were deemed to constitute a danger to this country in time of Avar. Any party so regarded wasinterned in order that he might have no. further opportunity to assist our enemies, and endanger us. It Avas right that every such precaution should be taken,, even where there Avas only suspicion against the person concerned. The onecorrect course of action Avas to promptly place him where he could do no harm. But Paul Freeman is not being given a. fair deal to-day. His treatment is unBritish and un-Australian, and the sooner the Government realize the danger of’ goading the people into resistance of their actions, when such actions are not based upon the law, the better. My blood boils at the thought of a decent working man toiling away miles out from the outposts of civilization, and being suddenly taken by order of the Government, and dragged away from his occupation as a miner, wherein - we are assured by Senator Grant - he could earn £3 per day.

Senator Fairbairn:

– Who has the mine now ?

Senator Maughan:

– You- will have to give notice of that question.


-! do not know. I know that he communicated Avith the Acting Premier of Queensland to see that his mining interests were protected.

Senator Grant:

– And Mr. Theodore replied that he was looking after his interests. *


– The point I am trying to make is that this man Avas in the country before the war, and, according to the Minister, the only charge levelled against him was that of not reporting as an alien. He was brought upat Cloncurry on that charge. The Minister, in reply to Senator Grant’s statement that he Avas never in the hands of the authorities, mentioned ‘that he was brought up on the charge of failing to report as an alien in June, 191S. The war had then been raging for nearly four years, and, according to the admission of the Minister, there was nothing against this man but the charge of not reporting himself. There was clearly no evidence against him, or the Government would surely have given it, to show that he was a danger to the community. It is the merest pretence for the Government to say that in this casethey are carrying out the law with regardto aliens who may be a menace to the country during a time of war. I asked what was the date on. which the Government dealt with this case. The Minister refused to give the information, or, at all events, he did not give it. But if this man was brought up in June, to take the Minister’s own words, it must have been considerably after June when the Government dealt with his case. We know that the armistice was signed in November, and for the life of me I cannot see any honest reason why the Government should desire to keep this man in prison - for he is in prison at the present time.


– The honorable senator’s time has expired.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– The Acting ‘ Minister for Defence (Senator Russell), in replying Ito Senator Grant, said that, while he had told a very interesting story, he had, unfortunately, not given allthe facts. I tell the Minister that, while he has given an interesting reply, and a quotation from the Act of Parliament under which action was taken in this case, he did not give all the facts, and his statements may mislead the country. He quoted the words of the War Precautions Act, and charged SenatorGardiner with being a member of the Parliament and of the Government responsible for the passing of that Act.

Senator Russell:

– I made no such charge.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– The statement has come freely from the other side, and it is a fact thatthe War Precautions Act, under which this man has been dealt with, was passed by a Government of which Senator Gardiner was a. member. Senator Russell quoted from the War

Precautions Act to show that the Minister ‘administering it may order the deportation of aliens, and thereby left it to the country to believe that he is satisfied that this man is an alien. Later on in his statement he admitted inferentially that he is not yet satisfied as to whether the man is an alien or not. I think I am right in putting that construction on the Minister’s reply. The Government believe him to be an alien-

Senator Millen:

– He claims to be an alien.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– He claims to be an American.

Senator Millen:

– That is an alien.

Senator O’KEEFE:

– We mean an enemy alien. Senator Millen need not attempt to split straws. The honorable senator knows that although Americans are aliens, there are thousands of them in this country whom the Government would never dream of deporting. Senator Russell’s reason for the action of the Government is that they believe Freeman to be a German. The weakness of the Minister’s position is that the Government have refused to give this man an opportunity of proving that he is not a German. I do not know Paul Freeman, and have never seen him. I know nothing of his case beyond what I was able to read in the newspapers when I was in another State. I have only the interest in Freeman which, I think, should be held by every public man in Australia: I wish to see that every citizen of this country gets a fair trial in the Courts before he is dealt with in this way. We know that there have been other cases in which men have been allowed to remain in gaol, and though they have pleaded for a trial, and an opportunity to face their accusers and prove their innocence, they have been denied that opportunity for several months when it should have been afforded them at the outset. This kind of action is repugnant to the spirit of freedom which I believe to be inherent in every Australian, no matter what his political colour may be. Neither this man nor any other should be deported from Australia without being given a fair trial. Unless the Government are absolutely certain that Freeman is a German, and that his presence here would be a menace to the. safety of the community, he should not be deported. The Government have not proved that he is a German, an enemy alien, but they tell us that they believe he is. If he is, the country should know it, and the man should be given an opportunity to prove that he is not if he can do so. I put it to the Government to say whether it is in accordance with the feeling of the people of Australia that, even before the war was over, any man should be held for month after month in an internment camp, or should be deported, without a trial in an open Court. According to the information which we have been able to glean from the press, it has not been proved that Paul Freeman is an enemy subject. He is being deported only because the Government believe him to be a German, and they will not give the public the reasons for their belief. What has happened to Freeman may happen to any other man in this country to-morrow, and I am sure that Australia will not stand for that kind of thing. In this case the procedure adopted is absolutely irregular and unfair, and I am satisfied that it is against the general wish of the country. Paul Freeman may be all that Senator Russell, who has to administer the War Precau-. tions Act, believes him to be, but the members of the Government will themselves agree that neither he nor any other man should be condemned as guilty until he is given an opportunity to prove his innocence. The Government in this matter have reversed the usual order of things. It is a well-known maxim of British justice that a man is supposed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty. The action taken under the War Precautions Act in this case is a violation of that maxim. The Government say that they believe Freeman to be guilty, and the onus of proof is upon him to show that he is innocent, while at the same time they do not give him an opportunity to prove his inuocence. I have risen in defence of the principle that no man should be interned for any longer than is necessary to prepare for a trial of his case, and no man should be deported until he is given an opportunity of showing why he should not be deported. If upon trial the verdict of the Court is that if set at liberty he would be a menace to the country, let him go back to the internment camp.

Senator Lynch:

– Has he been sent out of America?

Senator O’KEEFE:

– That is what we want to know. We want to know why he was sent out of America. The facts, or alleged facts or statements, on which action has been taken should be made known, so that the people may know as rauch as the Government know of the matter.

Senator Lynch:

– Is it a fact that the American Government would not admit Freeman ?

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I take Senator Russell’s statement for it that it is a fact that the American Government reEused to re-admit him on the ground that he had not established citizenship.

Senator Lynch:

– Was that the only ground ?

Senator O’KEEFE:

– I do not know of any other. If there are other reasons, and if the Government are in possession of them, they should let the people of this country know why the American Government would not re-admit Freeman. He is a citizen of some country, and if the Government can prove that he is a citizen of Germany, or of any other enemy country, they should do so in open court. The public should not be left under the uneasy feeling that at any time the Government may put their hand on any man and say, “ You must go out of Australia.” If he asks, “What for?” the Government say, “ Never mind what for; out you go.” There is no party politics about this matter, and it is up to the Government to let the country know what reasons they have for believing Freeman to be of German origin, and that his being allowed to be at large in Australia would be a menace to the country. They should let us know why they insist on his deportation, and why they refuse him a public trial, which would show what prompted the action they have taken.

Senator McDOUGALL:
New South Wales

– I did not intend to take up time on this question. But I would like to inform honorable senators from otherparts of Australia that this is not a question of party politics at all. Quite recently a committee was formed in Sydney, representative of all classes of the community, and these people are appealing for fair and just treatment to this man. They include the heads of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, as well as Miss Rose Scott, who, as long as I can remember, has been connected with every organization in this country which has had at heart the welfare of her fellow men and women. If any man is disloyal to the country he lives in, nobody would be more pleased to see him deported than I would. But if Paul Freeman has been unjustly treated, as he affirms, the Government should promptly remedy the injustice. If Freeman went out into the bush amongst the mosquitoes, flies, and other insect pests which worry mankind in the back-blocks, and discovered wealth there - wealth which will prove beneficial to this country as well as to himself - it is an outrage that he should be torn away from it and deported unless he is guilty qf some crime. Upon a matter of this kind there is no need for the Government to adopt secret methods. They can confidently appeal to public opinion. They can prove to the people, “ This man is not loyal, and therefore we wish to deport him.” But the persons whose names 1 have mentioned have banded themselves together for the purpose of fighting for Freeman’s liberty, and I certainly think that the Government ought to consider their representations. I was present amongst an enormous crowd in Sydney when the threat was made that if the Government did not take Paul Freeman off the Sonoma the people Would do so; and, had it not been for the wire which came through from Melbourne, and was read to the meeting, they would have taken him off the vessel. Even then, it was not the Government which took him off; it was the ship’s officers, who carried him ashore. It is a singular circumstance that upon every occasion on which the Government come into conflict with a State they are defeated. Even the State of New South Wales took their army from them when they had placed it in quarantine, and marched it out to the Sydney Cricket Ground. Thus, the great military power possessed by the Commonwealth proved to be valueless. Something should certainly be done in this matter. Paul Freeman should be given a fair trial. If he is guilty of disloyalty to this country nobody would be more pleased when lie left it than I would.

Senator GRANT:
New South Wales

– I listened very carefully to the reply of the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell), and I confess that I was entirely disappointed with his statement. He knew perfectly well that Paul Freeman has been detained in custody, and naturally I thought that the Government must be in possession of some very definite information against that man. But the honorable gentleman has entirely failed to disclose that they possess any such information, or, indeed, any information which justifies them in the action that they have taken. In the past, many individuals and many Governments have made mistakes, and if the present Government, in carrying out the multifarious duties which have devolved upon them during the past year or two, have made a mistake in this instance, it i? not too late for them to admit it and to retire from their untenable position. That is the proper and honorable course for them to pursue. They have no information whatever against this man. Senator McDougall has referred1 to a committee which has been formed in Sydney for the purpose of endeavouring to secure justice for Freeman. He mentioned a few of the names of those who constitute that committee, and, perhaps, I may be pardoned for placing the whole of those names upon record. By so doing, I shall be able to demonstrate clearly that there is nothing whatever of a political character in the agitation which is gathering strength daily for the immediate release of Freeman. Rather is it a purely spontaneous and humanitarian movement, which will grow in volume until either some definite information is supplied by the Government against Freeman or he is released. The committee consists of the following: - The Reverend Dean Talbot, Reverend Father O’Reilly, Miss Rose Scott, Miss May Matthews,

Mrs. Locke Burns, Messrs. P. Brookfield, M.L.A., G. Cann, M.L.A., William Kearsley, M.L.A., J. P. Cochran, M.L.A., and E. Judd. The honorary treasurers are Mr. William Lowe, a well-known business man in the city, and Mr. J. P. Minahan, another well-known business man. The constitution of this committee affords pretty conclusive evidence that there is no intention whatever of making any political capital out of the present agitation. It is merely an agitation to secure justice for a man who. is being seriously wronged by the action of the Government. While it is recognised that on this occasion Paul Freeman has felt the heavy hand of the military authorities, it is equally recognised that any other unoffending citizen may be similarly pounced upon at any moment. In conclusion, I may say that whilst Freeman complains very bitterly of the treatment which he received from the warrant officer whilst he was in his prison cell he speaks very highly indeed of his treatment by the nurses and doctors who attended him at Victoria Barracks. At the same time, I think he should be removed from there, and that he should be given some sunshine during the period that’ he is kept in custody. I ask the Government either to bring a direct charge against this man or to set him at liberty.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 10032


Housing of Railway Employees and Port Pirie Smelting Employees

Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

New South Wales

– I take this opportunity of mentioning a little matter which I regard as of urgent importance: I refer to the want of adequate housing accommodation for the workmen on the transcontinental railway. Having just had a look at some of the hovels in which these men are compelled to live, I think it is up to the Government, through the Railways Commissioner, to see that decent living accommodation is provided for these employees. I do not propose to discuss the housing question from the stand-point of State management, although it is apparent that the leading States are now giving close attention to it. But quite recently, in connexion with the outbreak of influenza, we learned a lesson that we had never learnt before, namely, that a great proportion of the working men of this country are not housed as they should be. I am pointing this out, because it is a Commonwealth matter. At the present time we have good workshops in Port Augusta, which are intended to do good work in connexion with our transcontinental railway. But it is impossible for the Railways Commissioner to retain the services of good men in those workshops, because they will not submit to the inferior accommodation that is provided for them in Port Augusta. I endeavoured to ascertain why some private individual did not undertake the erection of suitable houses there, because it appeared to me to be a paying proposition. The place is a permanent one, and if we are to keep good men in the workshops at Port Augusta, it is necessary that the Government should provide that accommodation. I consulted the municipal authorities on the matter, but they say that it is not their duty to provide it. It is certainly somebody’s duty to see that these men in the employ of the Commonwealth at Port Augusta and other places have decent housing accommodation. In this connexion I have a suggestion to make to the Government. I know that they are attempting to cope with this evil, but the efforts they are making are entirely inadequate. We all know that things are not as bright as they used to be at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, and the Government have, therefore, purchased at the former place some twenty houses which they have transported to and erected in Port Augusta, in order to provide some of the urgently required housing accommodation. My suggestion is that they should establish a model village on their own land, close to Port Augusta, in order that the employees in the railway workshops there may be comfortably housed, and that those who con- trol those workshops may bo able to retain the services of good workmen. We know that a large sum of money was expended at Canberra in the erection of houses which were intended for the reception of German prisoners who were to come from Singapore and other places. Those buildings were never used. I do not know that the houses intended for these prisoners would be suitable for occupation by our railway employees, but I am told that the residences which were erected for those who were to guard the prisoners would be very suitable indeed. These dwellings could be shipped to the water front and landed almost on the site I have suggested. Would it not be a great deal better to utilize these residences than to allow them to rot at Canberra ? I trust that the Minister who is responsible will make inquiries into this matter, and see if something cannot be done to house our own workmen under better conditions than obtain to-day at Port Augusta and other points on the transcontinental line.

Senator O’LOGHLIN:

-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [5.9]. - I desire to supplement the remarks made by Senator McDougall, particularly in regard to my own State. I have not been to Port Augusta very recently, but Senator McDougall has only just returned from there, and I think we are all prepared to accept his statement that the accommodation which is provided for the workmen on our transcontinental railway is very inadequate indeed. Personally, I claim to know a good deal about the conditions which obtain at Port Pirie - a larger centre than Port Augusta, and one in which the lack of housing accommodation is very acutely felt. I connect the men employed on the smelting works with the Commonwealth Government by reason of the fact that during the war they were largely engaged in the production of materials that were used in war work. ‘ The Acting Minister for Defence will doubtless remember that last year I asked whether the Government could not insist upon better housing accommodation being provided for these workmen at Port Pirie by reason of the fact that they were indirectly engaged upon Commonwealth work. Only a few months ago I attended a meeting, convened by the Mayor at Port Pirie, for the purpose of considering the acute condition of affairs with regard to housing accommodation there. Certain resolutions, which I think were sent on to the State and Commonwealth Governments, were passed. There is an immense number of men employed there, and the accommodation is utterly inadequate. Men are paying up to 15s. per week for the use of one room, and in some cases two and three families are crowded together in a small house owing to the fact that not only are rents so high, but that dwellings are practically unobtainable - people are obliged to congregate in small tenements almost like savages. I take this opportunity of reiterating what has been said upon this subject, and while I am not so intimately conversant with the state of affairs at Port Augusta to which Senator McDougall has referred, I supplement his remarks so far as concerns the state of affairs in Port Pirie.

Senator RUSSELL:
VicePresident of the Executive Council · Victoria · NAT

– I can assure Senator McDougall. that the Governmentare in completesympathy with his Temarks, so far as the housing accommodation at Port Augusta or any otherpart of Australia is concerned. We recognise that this is one of the big problems which Australia has to face in the neaT future. There seems to be somedoubt about the feasibility of Senator McDougall’s suggestion that houses should be transported to PoTt Augusta;’ but I will bring this matter under thenotice of the Railway authorities, and see if something can be done to meet the existing difficulty.

Senator McDOUGALL:

– They are transporting houses over the line now.

Senator RUSSELL:

– Perhaps they arenot being transported rapidly enough. The Commissioner has supplied me with the following reply to a statement made by Senator McDougall through the press a few days ago with regard to overcrowding at Port Augusta: -

The men spoken of in the paragraph are probably not all railway men, butmost likely include wharf labourers, men from the Salt. Works and others. The Commonwealth. railways could only provide residences for its permanent employees, and quite a number of the men at present engaged are upon temporary work which will “peter out.” The provision of homes for such men and their familiesseems one for the State Government, Town Council, or private enterprise. The Commonwealth Railways own some seventy-six residences, occupied toy its employees, and another ten are in course of erection. When the line was opened right through it became necessary to transfer a number of men from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner offered to bring over material of their houses free, and to let them have an allotment at Fort Augusta at a peppercorn rental if they would erect houses, and made asimilar offer as to allotments at peppercorn rentals to men already at Port Augusta. Money for erecting homes is obtainable under the South Australian Housing Act at 4) per cent. Commonwealth railways have not had much assistance from local authorities at Port Augusta, and have to provide their own water supply, electric lighting and power, and part of fire protection.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 5.14 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 June 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.