7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Inquiry by Economy Commission - Appointments to Committee Staffs - Control of Official Functions - Public Accounts Committee - Members’ Right of Access - Commission’s Report.
– Before proceeding with the business of the day I desire to bring under the notice of honorable senators what I regard as a question of privilege. I have noticed in the first progress report of the Royal Commission appointed to consider and report on the public expenditure of the Commonwealth of Australia with a view to effecting economies, that at page 9 of their report, giving a list of additional matters which are being or to be investigated by them, they say-
Expenditure in connexion with -
Official Record of Parliamentary Proceedings (Hansard).
Other Parliamentary Services.
I wish to remind the Senate that the traditional idea of Parliament has always been that it is the supreme expositor of the people’s will. Parliament is and must be supremewithin its own house. It should not be subject to the Government in any way, and should not be a mere creature of the Crown.
By the Commonwealth Constitution the Senate, in common with the other branch of this Legislature, was endowed with every right and privilege enjoyed by the House of Commons. ‘ That is distinctly laid down in our Constitution. I think that the members of the Senate, individually and collectively, should be very jealous to preserve every one of its rights. If the Parliament of the Commonwealth is to be subjected to the direction of the Crown, or of the Government, without any consultation with the executive officers of Parliament or with Parliament itself, then its rights and privileges will disappear altogether. I understand that the commission authorizing the Economies Commissioners to conduct their inquiry was issued by the Governor-General some time in November of last year, and that they were commissioned to inquire into the administration of the Commonwealth Departments generally, with a view to their more economical arrangement. Honorable senators will have noticed in the press during the last day or two that Mr. King Salter, the head of a very important Commonwealth Department, namely, the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, complained in the most emphatic way that the Economies Commission had made a report concerning the dockyard without ever giving him an opportunity to be heard. Not only did they not give him an opportunity to present his, side of the case, but he knew nothing whatever of their investigations until he saw their report. The Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Russell) has informed us that the Economies Commission have reported upon the Defence Department under his control without his knowing anything about it.
– Were you, sir, consulted by the Commission?
– I am coming to that. I have conferred with Mr. Speaker, and I have found that the first intimation that either of us had that any such investigation was taking place, or was proposed, regarding the conduct of affairs in this Parliament, is that contained in the first progress report of the Commission. Mr. Speaker and I have come to the conclusion that we should resist this in the firmest possible way.
No authority has been given by this Parliament to the Government or to any one else to interfere with the conduct of its affairs. If, in the general terms of the commission’ issued to the members of the Economies Commission the Government have given them to understand that an investigation into the conduct of Parliament is within the scope of their inquiry, they have been guilty of a very grave misconception of what their duty to Parliament is. This Parliament is not the creature of any Government. It is supreme, and over and above any Government. To concede to the Crown or to the Executive the Tight to investigate the conduct of the business of Parliament would amount to an admission that the Crownor the Executive had a right to review and control. Any idea of that kind should, and will, be resisted to the utmost.
It is for the Senate and the other branch of this Legislature to decide what action shall be taken in regard to this matter. For my part, unless I am instructed to the contrary by the Senate, I shall issue instructions to my. officers to absolutely refuse to afford any facilities or give any information to any member of the EconomiesRoyal Commission, or to any one authorized by them. I shall myself absolutely refuse to give them any information or any facilities for the conduct of their inquiry.
Let me point out what otherwise is likely to happen. At page 9 of their first progress report, the Commission say -
With regard to the investigation into the working of other Federal Departments whose work is mostly of a clerical nature, the Commission has associated with it three .gentlemen who are experts in the systematization of office procedure. Two of these gentlemen (Messrs. J. C. Blair, of the Vacuum Oil Company; and J. Newington, of the Burroughs Adding Company), are from outside the Service; and they have associated with them Mr. Ingram, a qualified accountant from the Postmaster General’s Department.
If the members of this Commission are allowed their own sweet will we may have understrappers of private firms, merelyclerks employed by those firms, coming to this building to tell Parliament how it should conduct its business.
I regard this matter as of sufficient importance to bring before the Senate.. I think that the Senate will be very illadvised if it does not insist upon the ancient traditional right of Parliament to be supreme within its own house. So long as I occupy my present position, I shall always, as I have done heretofore, resist every encroachment by the Government or by the Crown upon the rights and privileges of Parliament. If this is permitted, the Crown may be encouraged to proceed to such encroachments upon the rights and privileges of Parliament as were disastrously attempted iri the centuries gone by.
I repeat that I have considered this matter of sufficient importance to bring it under the notice of the Senate as a question of privilege, and, unless, I am instructed to the contrary, the members of this Commission will be refused absolutely any facilities whatever, and their right to inquire into the conduct of the affairs of Parliament will be resisted no matter how the Government may insist upon it. So long as I occupy my present position I shall not allow the Government to exercise any control over this Parliament. On the contrary, this Parliament should have control over, the Government.
– This matter has been sprung upon me at rather short notice. I have not before me the terms of the Commission issued to the Economies Royal Commission, but they indicate in their preliminary report that they have been directed -
To consider and report upon the public expenditure of the Commonwealth . of Australia with a view to effecting economies.
That seems to me to be a very broad reference, and any difference of opinion that may exist in connexion with the matter may be in regard to the interpretation by the members of the Commission of the terms of the reference to them. Speaking entirely from memory, I understood that it was intended that the Commission should go through the Departments with a view to systematizing and improving office methods with the object of effecting economies. I do not suggest that the Commission touched upon matters of policy in my Department without consultation with me. I assume that they inquired with a view to systematizing and the adoption of modern business methods, and honorable senators will admit that there is a wide field for work of that kind in the public Departments.
I should like to say that the gentlemen whose names have been mentioned are not members of the Commission, and it will be admitted that men employed by outside firms may be men of first class business and organizing ability. . As I understand the matter, these gentlemen have been called to the assistance of the Commissioners as experts, and will not deal with any matter of policy.
I am inclined to think that there has been some misconception of the powers given by the Government in this matter, and the interpretation of those powers by’ the members of the Commission. I am not in a position to speak definitely .on that point. I shall take an opportunity of consulting with my colleagues, and will state the position as clearly as I can at the earliest possible moment. I have not had time for consultation with the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), who, I believe, was largely responsible for the appointment of the Economies ‘Commission, but I feel confident that there is no desire on the part of the Government to usurp any of the functions of this Parliament. I ask honorable senators in the meantime to withhold their judgment in this matter until I have an opportunity of putting before them clearly what the views of the Government are in regard to it.
.- I should like to suggest to the Acting Minister for Defence that when bringing this matter under the consideration, of the Cabinet he should direct special attention to the consideration of the view that His Excellency the Governor-General, the King’s representative, should be informed that the Economies Royal Commission is attempting an encroachment upon the ancient rights and liberties of Parliament. To my mind, the Commission should be withdrawn from those who contemplate an intrusion and trespass upon Parliament. I think that the President has very properly brought before us this, the most serious trespass and enTcroachment made by the Crown upon Parliament since Cromwell and a few of his friends were active.
I am more concerned at this trespass because, rightly or wrongly, I have had a foreboding for many months of an insidious attack upon Parliament. When 1 find that this attack is linked up with trusts outside, and that it is proposed that understrappers of those trusts shall tell this Parliament how to conduct its business, grave danger is suggested to me, and I think the first person to be informed of the matter should be His Majesty’s representative. I hope that the Government will consider this serious aspect of the matter, and that the attention of the King’s representative will be called to this flagrant attempt to trespass upon the rights of Parliament.
– The Senate is indebted to you, sir, for drawing attention to this matter at this juncture. In common with other honorable senators, I have realized that there is a tendency on the part of some people to substitute, if possible, government by commission for parliamentary government. I know there has been a disposition to ignore, perhaps not consciously, the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of Parliament. It became my- duty some few years ago to draw the attention of the President and Speaker to the circumstance that one of the public Departments of the Commonwealth was assuming the responsibility of interfering with Parliamentary Committees by making appointments to positions connected with them, such as secretary, clerks, messengers, and so on. I have also observed - I do riot know, sir, whether it is with your permission and that of Mr. Speaker - that on occasions when Parliament House has been used for certain functions its control has been taken over by officers of the Government.
– Especially military officers.
– No. I do not refer to officers of the Defence Department. I merely mention this matter in case your attention, sir, has not been directed to it. It is, of course, quite possible that you and Mr. Speaker have arranged that matters shall be thus handled. If that be so, this Parliament has nothing of which it can complain, because you and Mr. Speaker are its executive officers, and if you see fit upon certain occasions to allow the control of this building for any particular function to be placed in the hands of others, then Parliament, through you, has sanctioned that course, and you and Mr. Speaker are responsible to Parliament for the exercise of your discretion. I sincerely hope that the suggestion made by Senator Gardiner will be adopted by the Minister, and that the attention of His Excellency the Governor-General will be drawn to the fact that the intimation contained in the progress report of the Economies Commission is an intimation of its intention to intrude upon the domain of Parliament itself in relation to, not merely the privileges, but also the responsibilities of Parliament. Now, Parliament is the representative of the people, and for the exercise of its functions it is responsible to the people. It is not responsible to the Prime Minister or to Cabinet, but only to the people. No Prime Minister, no Treasurer, and no Cabinet can properly and constitutionally invest any body whatever with jurisdiction to enter upon an investigation of the matters which the Economies Commission has announced its intention to investigate. I cordially indorse the attitude which you, sir, have taken up, and I believe that in that attitude you will have the solid support of members of this Senate, irrespective of the political party to which they belong.
– I compliment you, sir. upon tlie action which you have taken. But I have risen chiefly to express my opinion upon the attitude which has been adopted by certain Government officials towards a duly appointed Committee of this Parliament - the Public Accounts Committee - whose duties are clearly defined by Statute. These officers have demanded that before the Committee considers the evidence of others the heads of Departments shall, be heard. Not only have they not assisted the Committee in its investigations, but they have interposed every possible obstacle in the way of those investigations. The Committee is a duly constituted body, consisting of members of both branches of the Legislature, and if its functions are not sufficiently defined it is the duty of the Government to amend the Act under which it was appointed, and to more specifically define them. But until then neither the Government nor any of their officials have the right to interfere with that Committee. As this is a dying Parliament, I hope that the difficulty will be rectified when the new Parliament meets. If the Public Accounts Committee is to be clothed with the necessary authority to enable it to conduct its investigation’s, it should certainly be free and unfettered in the discharge of its functions..
– You, sir, have fully justified the confidence expressed in you when you were elected to the Presidential chair. At that time I was politically opposed to you, being then one of the very few members of this Chamber representing the political party to which I belong. But when you,’ sir, were elevated to your present office I took the responsibility of assuring you .that I would zealously support you whenever you decided to express yourself in a way indicating that the privileges of this Chamber and of Parliament must be maintained. I am very glad that you have taken the action which you have taken. Although I am congratulating you upon the course which you have followed, that is not the matter which prompted me to make these few remarks. I specially desire to say a few words upon’ the subject which has been mentioned by Senator McDougall. The outside public may think that Parliament’ does not at all consider the question of how economies can be effected. But for some years there has-been in existence. a parliamentary Committee, consisting of members of. both branches of the Legislature, and of both political parties., to which has been delegated the duty of inquiring into the financial affairs of the Commonwealth. From time to time that body has reported upon various matters, and its reports, which, as Senator McDougall has intimated, are made under circumstances of some difficulty, are of great value, and ought certainly to receive more consideration from the -Cabinet than has hitherto been bestowed upon them. Senator McDougall has stated that this Committee has not been given the assistance which should have been rendered to it. It is not a paid Committee, and it was only with very great difficulty that its members obtained travelling allowances when their duties necessitated their visiting other States. In the interest of national economy and sound finance, the Committee’s functions should be amplified, and it should be given greater and more efficient means of carrying out its investigations in the field which has been relegated to it. I completely’ indorse all that Senator McDougall has said in this connexion, although he certainly did not say very much. As you, sir, and Senator Keating have very properly pointed out, Parliament is responsible only to the people. Much as individual members would like to remain here for a long time, we have to remember that we are more or less ephemeral creatures, but that the privileges which we enjoy have to be’ handed down to our successors, if not enlarged, certainly unimpaired. I rejoicethat you have taken early action in this Chamber. Parliament is an institution which came into being for the purpose of combating the executive power of des’potic kings. It exists for the purpose of creating delay ; contrary to the idea which is entertained by some people, who think that Parliament should be a machine for unremittingly turning out legislation. Instead, we are here to see that the privileges of the people are not encroached upon by the executive power. I rejoice to know that that spirit is not yet dead. For some time past, I have observed that Commissions, ostensibly appointed in the interests of . finance, have arrogated to themselves functions almost of a judicial character, and exercise those functions in a very unjudicial way. If it be true that the Economies Commission reported on the affairs of Cockatoo Island generally, without calling upon the responsible officer in charge there to give evidence, it had a strange conception of its functions, at least from a judicial stand-point. Whilst I do not wish to refer to a somewhat delicate matter, I have certain recollections of a gentleman who is very prominent in business circles, and. who was a member of the body which inquired into that comparatively sorry business, the Shaw Wireless purchase. In connexion with that inquiry, and in a matter in which the honour and political career of a member of this Parliament were concerned, this gentleman, I understand, in contravention of all the principles which are observed by men who exercise judicial functions, got the member of Parliament into an inner chamber, and therein endeavoured to induce him to .confess. That shows how far removed from judicial propriety are the ideas of these inexperienced men who are given positions which carry with them the exercise of judicial powers. The affairs of a country are a very different thing- from the affairs of a business. There is an Eastern proverb which says, “ A country cannot be governed by the yard-stick of the merchant.” I have quoted it before in this Chamber. Look at the legislation: of a social and ameliorate ry character which we have to pass. The people need to possess a better conception of what Parliament is. It has to discharge its duties with a sense of the psychology of the people, and of how far they are socially developed. Its operations cannot be judged by the canons of ordinary business finance. At the same time, finance is a very important thing in government. Parliament recognises’ that, and, therefore, jealously guards the power of the purse. But in appointing Commissions it is well for the Administration to take care that when gentlemen ar© given judicial powers they exercise them at all times in accordance with the rules of judicial propriety, in regard, for example, to the calling for evidence, and that they do not arrive at a decision before both sides have been fully heard. To come to a decision without hearing both sides savours too much of the methods of James I., who wanted to give judgment after hearing only one side of a case which he regarded as ‘being most conclu- sive. When, however, he had been induced to hear, the other side, he thought the arguments presented in its favour were so convincing that he determined to withdraw from the Court, and leave the matterundecided. I again congratulate you, sir, upon the stand which you have taken up. We already have in existence a Public Accounts Committee which deals with matters of finance, and I hope that the powers of that body, which is composed of some very able parliamentarians, will be so enlarged as to make it even a better instrument than it is for investigating the financial affairs of the nation in regard to which it has to report to this Parliament, and to nobody else.
– If no other honorable senator desires to speak, I wish to reply to one or two statements which have been made during the course of the debate. Senator Keating has said that in connexion with certain functions the control of the parliamentary buildings has been handed over to outside Government officials. That is not so, except in a very limited sense. The Government never have an opportunity of conducting any function in this building without the consent of Mr. Speaker and myself being first obtained. There are only three portions of the building which can be used for such functions, namely, the Queen’s Hall, the Senate Club-room, and the steps which lead to the front entrance. The use of the steps has been permitted for the purposes of a military review or a march past, and also for a memorial service in connexion with- the death of the late King Edward VII.; but on all occasions their use has been subject to the’ distinct condition that sufficient accommodation must be reserved on them for the members of this Parliament and the members of their families. The same remark is applicable to the Queen’s Hall. Beyond that, the Government have no privileges except those which are accorded to ordinary members of Parliament. I have here a copy of the .Commonwealth Gazette containing a copy of the commission which was issued to the Economies Commission, and I find that it is limited to an investigation of the expenditure of the Commonwealth Departments. This Parliament is, most decidedly, not a Government Department. .Parliament House is not specifically mentioned in the terms of reference, and, therefore, it seems to me that the Commission’ has arrogated to itself a right to investigate the affairs of Parliament without any regard to the scope of its commission. I am strongly of the opinion that the
Commonwealth Government should, at an early date, draw the attention of the Commission to the fact that it is exceeding its powers in attempting to interfere with the business of Parliament. Honorable senators will have noticed that the questions the Commission propose to investigate will include the expenditure in connexion with our Parliamentary Library, the Official Record of Parliamentary Proceedings, and other Parliamentary services. That covers the whole conduct of affairs in this House and in the other branch of the Legislature. If the GovernorGeneral, as representative of the Crown, or the Executive, as representative of the ^Ministry, have authorized such an inquiry, the appointment of the Commission is an assumption of the power to control this Parliament and an interference with the rights and privileges which properly belong to it. If we allow this we shall be abrogating our powers in a very marked degree. I have given instructions in accordance with the attitude I intend to adopt. I am not going to give the Commission facilities for conducting an inquiry into the business of Parliament.
– Seeing that the question of the privileges of Parliament, is before the Senate, I would like to ask -
– I do not know whether the honorable senator should be allowed to proceed, as I have already replied.
– I merely wish to ask, Mr.. President, whether members of this Parliament cannot, at all times, and on every occasion, claim the right to enter the precincts of this building.
– Certainly. That is unquestionably the right of every member of Parliament. ‘ When any function is being held in this building every member of Parliament has the right to enter it, and any refusal of admission should not be tolerated for a moment. Every member has the fullest right and privilege here, and so long as I am here permission will not be given to any one to encroach in the slightest degree upon the rights of honorable senators.
– In regard to the statements just made, and as a matter of privilege, I wish to state that on one occasion, when a function was being held in this building, I intimated to one of the officers of Parliament that I was not in possession of the ticket which entitled me to be admitted. The officer .remarked, in what T thought a jocular manner, that if I was not in possession of a ticket he could not admit me. I asked him if he meant it. He replied in the affirmative, and said that he had received instructions to that effect. I believe he regretted being placed in such a position. Fortunately I found the ticket, but I was informed by the officer that if I had been unable to do so, he would have had to refuse me admission, as he had received instructions to that effect.
– lt will be admitted that, in connexion with some functions held in this building, there are not sufficient officers to attend at all the various entrances, and others have to be employed. On such occasions members of Parliament are supplied with tickets to prevent any confusion or misunderstanding. Temporary assistants do not know who are members of this Parliament.
– It was an officer of Parliament to whom I spoke, and he would like the matter cleared up.
– Members of the staff have to carry put their duties, but of course, are allowed to exercise discretion. So far as I can remember, there has never been occasion to exclude a member, and there never will be, so long as I am President of the Senate. Honorable senators realize that in conducting important functions there must be systematic arrangements, and an endeavour is always made to overcome any difficulties in the best possible manner. Should any trouble arise, I am perfectly certain that the officers and myself would always do our best to see that the rights of senators are not in any way interfered with.
– Last Friday, when the report of the Economy Commission was available, I asked to be supplied with a copy of it, and one was handed to me, but when I returned to the Senate on Monday morning I was requested by a member of the staff to return it. There was an absolute demand for its return. I have not had an opportunity of perusing it, and up to the present I am not in possession of a copy. I wish to know whether honorable senators are to be treated in this way.
– We all have copies. They have been in our possession for two or three days.
– The copy I received on Friday was marked “ confidential,” and when I visited the building on Monday its return was demanded.
– The explanation may be very simple. The probability is that the honorable senator was supplied with the original copy which was laid on the table of the Senate, and, therefore, it could not remain permanently in his possession. The officer who handed it to him was perfectly justified in asking for its return, but that does not deprive him of the right to possess a copy, or two or three extra copies if he should require them.
– Has the attention of the Acting Leader of the Government been drawn to the fact that a deputation representing the State and Commonwealth Public Service Federation interviewed the Premier of New South Wales asking to be relieved of the burden of the extra cost of living. The Premier promised to give them every facility to submit their case to the Court, and said, “In addition, the Government would at once confer with the Public Service Board to see that no officer received less than a living wage.” Will the Government consult the Public Service Commissioner and arrange that no public servant shall receive less than the living wage laid down by the Board of Trade in New South Wales?
– My attention has not been drawn to the paragraph, but I shall bring it under the notice of the Government for consideration.
Recall of Dr. Ramsay Smith - War GRATUITY
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.With reference to the question I asked last night regarding the recall of Lt.-Colonel Ramsay Smith, I wish to ask the Minister if it is not a fact that the date on which Lt.-Colonel Ramsay Smith left Egypt was the day following the date of the inquiry, showing conclusively that he had not an opportunity of taking part in the proceedings? I also wish to ask whether the report of Surgeon-General R. H. Featherston has not pointed out these facts, which discount, and, indeed, render valueless the decision arrived at? I also wish to ask the Minister whether he will see that Lt.-Colonel Ramsay Smith is supplied with a copy of the evidence and report of the inquiry?
– -I regret that it is too late for me to ask the honorable senator to place the question on the noticepaper, but if he will supply me with a copy of his question, I shall endeavour to let him have a reply at the earliest possible moment.
– On the adjournment of the Senate last night I asked the Acting Minister for Defence a question concerning the proposed war gratuity to soldiers, but he was not able to give me a definite reply. In view of the statement made by the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), as reported in this morning’s press, I now ask whether the proposed war gratuity will be paid to dependants of deceased soldiers, such as widows or parents?
– On most of these matters I have a personal opinion, but I can say quite candidly that the Government have not yet gone beyond a general outline for a scheme. All these matters will be considered, but nothing definite has ‘been decided, apart from paying the gratuity to soldiers. I am sure this is an aspect of the question which will be given consideration.
– Is the Minister prepared te give his assurance that the matter will be brought up ?
– I am not prepared to say what I am likely to do in Cabinet, but the matter will be brought under the notice of the Government.
– Can the Minister say if, in the allocation of the gratuity, the amount to be paid in respect of a soldier who may have been killed or has died will be determined by the length of service up to the time of his ‘decease, or will other considerations be taken into account ?
– I regret I cannot give any further information. As I have already pointed out, the general outline of the scheme has been laid down by the Prime Minister, and the officials of the respective Departments are now conferring concerning this complicated problem.
– Will the Minister, before the Senate rises, submit to his colleagues a proposal that Parliament shall sit next week, so that we may be able to deal with the promise made by the Prime Minister, and give effect to it byAct of Parliament before the election?
– I cannot give a definite promise, though I may inform the honorable senator that the Government are quite prepared to sit until all the business deemed necessary for this Parliament to conclude has been disposed of. I will mention the matter to my colleagues.
– Has the Minister noticed that a certain Roman Catholic priest, Captain Chaplain O’Donnell, of the A.I.F., who was very conspicuous in every patriotic and loyal movement in Australia, and who volunteered for active service, has been arrested in Ireland by the British authorities?- He repudiates any charge of disloyalty and of improper conduct. He is at present in prison in Ireland, or under duress of some kind, and complains that no charge has been formulated against him. Will the Government take the matter into consideration, and, as a matter of grace and not of interference with the judicial process of the Imperial authorities, ask that the question of formulating a charge be attended to so that the matter may be proceeded with and adjudicated upon without any unnecessary delay, as a great many Australian patriots are interested in the welfare of this Roman Catholic chaplain ?
– I only know what has happened by the statements appearing in the press. The Government nas not received any official communication from the Imperial authorities. It seems a remarkable case, and the Government think it their duty to take all the necessary steps to inquire into the position to enable justice to be done.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate if, when the Government are returned to power - as no doubt they will be after the elections - an assurance will be given that before any Royal Commissions are appointed both Houses of Parliament shall have an opportunity of discussing the question of the appointment and also the proposed personnel of the Commission?
– I regret that I cannot give such a promise.
– Has the attention of the Government been drawn to the threat of the Vacuum Oil Company to the effect that, if a rise of ls. 6d. per case of kerosene is not granted, New South “Wales will be deprived of supplies? If .the War Precautions Act is still in existence, cannot this National Government deal with this alien- firm’ which is threatening to raise the price of oil?
– My attention has not been drawn to the matter; but the Government will not tolerate any company or individual acting in such a manner.
– When the Navigation Bill was under discussion last night, I asked who was the. Minister representing the Department of Navigation, and where the office to which seamen could go to have their grievances rectified was situated ? Can the Minister now inform the Senate?
– I said that no Department had been created.
– A Department was created, but the Director died.
– Owing to the war, action was delayed. The Director of- Navigation died, and the Government wisely exercised economy by’ not making a fresh appointment until such time as the Act was to be proclaimed. This, I hope, will be done at the earliest passible moment.
– Have the Government taken, into consideration the ques- tion of appointing a navigator as Director of .Navigation?
– When an appointment is made the Government will exercise that wisdom and common-sense which have characterized its appointments.
Vestey Brothers’ Income Tax Returns
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
With reference to a statement reported in the Ago of 23rd October, that Mr. Arnold, of Arnold Brothers, Sydney, solicitors for Vestey Brothers, had stated that Vestey “Brothers did not pay income tax in Australia, and that consequently Mr. Carey, while holding the position of Government Secretary at Darwin, had not prepared income tax returns for that firm, is the Minister aware whether Vestey Brothers Limited, the North Australian Meat Company, and the Northern Agency Limited are inseparably interwoven in the operations of Darwin meat works and pastoral properties in the Northern Territory, and will the Minister deny the allegation that Mr. Carey, while occupying the position of Government Secretary at Darwin, prepared taxation returns in connexion with the operations of Darwin meat works or Northern Territory .pastoral properties?
– I have no information in regard to the question asked, and, in any case, the Income Tax Act will not permit of my obtaining it. The Treasurer, however, will bring the statement referred to under the notice of the Commissioner of Taxation.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answer is- 1 and 2. Yes. Funds were made available under the Wheat Storage Act 1917, but were not availed of by Western Australia. This Act was a war measure, and, as the war has ended, funds for silos will not now be provided by the Commonwealth Government. The Treasurer informs me that no application for such money by the Government of Western Australia is traceable.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. No.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice - -
– The answers are -
Answers to Questions - Loss of Re mount Horses - War Service Homes: Lithgow Land: Major Evans - War Gratuity - General Election - ‘Cost of Living - Manufacture of Cloth - Mr. John Wren and Labour Party Funds - Supply of Sugar - Launch “ Francisca “ - Encroachment upon Wentworth Park - Me. Hughes’ Criticism of Labour Party - Aims of Labour - Failure of Revolutionaries -Post-War Conditions - Basic Wage - Arbitration - Substitute fob Petrol - Tariff Amendment - Indemnity from germany - Lt.-ColONEL Ramsay Smith - Northern Territory: Mb. Carey and Vestey Brothers : Royal Commission - Millaquin Refinery - . Separation Allowance to English Wives of Members of Australian Imperial Force - Cabinet Representation of Tasmania - Per Capita Payments - Pensions to Dependants of Deceased Soldiers - Shipping Control - Government’s Broken Promises.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a firsttime.
– ‘This is one of those Bills upon the first reading of which: we are entitled to discuss grievances generally, but I intend to dispose of anything that I may have in mind as briefly as possible, in order not to trespass too much upon the time of other honorable senators. My criticism of the present Government is that they have failed in almost every hing they have undertaken. At all events, they have failed to give satisfaction to honorable senators on this side of the Chamber. At the outset I may refer to the Ministers occupying seats in the Senate. I am sorry that two of them are away, and I hope that the complaints which I have to make will be remedied before we meet again. I refer particu larly to answers to questions, which for a long time have ceased to be satisfactory, the information supplied to honorable senators being altogether too vague and misleading. Recently I asked if a certain officer had received reports concerning an alleged loss of horses in connexion with the Remount Depot, and was told that no such report from any inspectors was in the possession of the DirectorGeneral of Remounts, Brigadier-General Ramaciotti. Before I go any further, perhaps it would he just as well if I set out in detail my questions and the answer given to them.
– I am in receipt of a report . from General Ramaciotti to the effect that he is not aware, and has never reported, nor has it been reported to him by his inspectors, that any horses arc missing or unaccounted for.
That is a fairly definite statement, but, thanks to the Minister, I was permitted to examine certain reports on the file, and though they may be regarded as more or less confidential, I feel I am at liberty to quote certain extracts from them in order to show that the answer to my questions was quite outside the mark. I have here a lengthy report of the DirectorGeneral of Remounts, showing that the answer I received was incorrect, and one that should not have been made to Parliament, though I understand, of course, that the Minister cannot be held entirely responsible if he is supplied with wrong information. Here is the report with respect to the horses : -
I take that to mean that there is no record of the disposal of the horses.
– Is that a reference to the New South Wales farm 1
– No, it refers to the Glenthorn Remount Depot, 4th Military District, South Australia. I have information, which I believe to be correct, showing that there was a serious loss of horses, to the number of about 1,800, although, when I asked my question, I did not state the number. I have since received a communication from the gentleman who gave me the information, stating that it was quite accurate, and that 1,800 horses were missing. I have been through the papers, which show that quite a number of reports have been made about missing horses, and therefore the answer given- to me was misleading. I may go further, and say that after perusing these papers very carefully, I find that there is a good deal that is most unsatisfactory with regard to. the Remount Depot, and I suggest that as between now and Christmas the Minister will have a comparatively easy time after this strenuous week in Parliament, and as the elections will be a mere incident in his life, he will be able to look very closely into this matter.
– I may inform the honorable senator that I immediately instructed the Business Board to investigate and report upon that matter.
– I am glad to hear that, although, as a rule, I have not much confidence in Business Boards. I realize that, in the closing days of the session, it is >not fair to make statements which, if the Minister had the opportunity in Parliament, might be capable of satisfactory explanation. My natural disposition is to be perfectly fair to everybody. The individual responsible for the answer may have had in mind that, having investigated the matter, he had fully satisfied himself that even these losses could be properly accounted for. I have no reason to doubt, that I have had access to all the reports which could have assisted me in fully informing myself upon the matter. I ask the Minister to realize that more care should be exercised in furnishing replies to honorable senators’ questions. I could considerably extend my complaint in this regard.
With respect to the building of war service homes there is very grave cause for dissatisfaction. I recall to the minds of honorable senators that offer of land at Lithgow - a valuable block which, in my mind, is worth about £5,000. Rates have been paid upon it for some years’, in a rapidly-growing centre of population, on a value of £3,600. The gentleman who offered that land to the Government as a gift to the -soldiers for the construction of homes has since died. I would like the Minister to state the exact position to-day. Will the Repatriation Department be in a position to secure it, if it should see fit to change its mind, now that tlie generous donor has died? This block at Lithgow was absolutely refused, but I have never been able to ascertain the reason. Following upon the remarks in this Chamber of Senator Millen, in which he indicated that the block was unsuitable. Senators Grant, McDougall, Maughan, and I paid Lithgow a visit. We assured ourselves that a grave blunder had been made when the authorities refused to accept it.
– The Minister for Repatriation offered an explanation which seemed to be satisfactory.
– The Minister’s explanation was to the effect that it was a piece of low-lying and swampy land. That view Was certainly not borne out by our investigations.
– Senator Millen said it was quite unsuitable for the purpose of erecting soldiers’ homes.
– That is not- in accordance with fact. The block is quite suitable for building purposes; in fact, it can be faithfully described as a valuable building block. It oan be easily drained by a creek Tunning right round it. It is within a few ‘hundred yards of the Lithgow railway station, and within 100 yards of the main street of the town, with very easy access thereto. The only reason why the land has been hitherto held back from subdivision is that the owner, having sold other properties to vendors under agreement that this particular block would be held back from private subdivision, faithfully kept that pact. A grave blunder has been made if that land has now been lost for all time to returned soldiers. I trust that Senator Russell will be able to say whether or not the War Service Homes Department can even now accept the offer. At least 300 houses could be built upon the block. A local Committee had made arrangements for the rapid supply of materials for road-making, and for securing, within reasonable time and upon reasonable conditions, the necessary building material. Altogether, this was a splendid offer, and it has. been treated in a manner which is not calculated to encourage generous people in making further public-spirited offers. The land was condemned as unsuitable for the purpose of building homes for soldiers, although everybody who is acquainted with the block, and all who have examined it, are convinced that it is in every sense suitable.
I shall refer only briefly to that allied grievance concerning the dismissal of Major Evans from the War Service Homes Department in Sydney. No satisfactory reason for his dismissal has yet been offered. The summary discharge of a public servant, as in the case of Major Evans, is a standing discredit to the Government. No worthy or adequate explanation has been made public. Certain statements were made by Senator Millen, in which he endeavoured to connect Major Evans with discredited company promoters; but all those incidents occurred after Major Evans’ discharge had been written out and was in the possession of the Commissioner. Major Evans has made frequent efforts to secure reasons for his dismissal, but he has not yet succeeded. I invite Senator Russell to make public those reasons. Had Senator Millen remained in this Chamber through the past few weeks I would have moved for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the whole of the circumstances; and I would have been pleased if every honorable senator on the other side had been appointed to that Committee, for they would thus have become convinced ‘that the whole of the information provided in respect to the Bexley Estate was absolutely misleading, and that the Government had been grossly misinformed.
Prompt action should be taken to carry into effect the measure which this Parliament agreed to last year for the housing of returned soldiers. It was, I think, on the 20th December last that the Federal Parliament hurriedlypassed the War Service Homes Bill. I doubt if more than one home has been built under the terms of that Act; possibly, one house has been completed. On the 17th July last, at the invitation of the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, the foundation stone of Mr. Baxter’s home at Belmore was laid. It was estimated that the structure would be erected within two months. If it has been completed it is probably the only home anywhere in Australia constructed as a result of the passage of that Act. If the measure is to be as useful as Parliament expected it wouldbe; new methods will have to be adopted. I understand that an amending Bill is to be introduced today, in order to provide, among other things, that munition workers and other war workers shall be afforded opportunity to come within the scope of the Act. I would willingly support an amendment to include the whole of the community. It is not as though any very special concessions were offered by this piece’ of legislation. It amounts to a hard business proposition; no great advantages are to be conceded to returned soldiers. They will be permitted to borrow money, and their land and home will be taken as security. In our growing centres of population such security will afford a certain safeguard to the Government. One especial hardship has been brought under my notice, in that only married persons, or those about to marry, may take advantage of the war service homes legislation. I understand that the Government are about to liberalize the Statute by permitting these war service homes to be occupied as places of business, combined with residences. But I call attention to the position of our war nurses. Although they have served so. splendidly during the past five years, they are not eligible to benefit under the Act.
– I have an amendment which has been drafted for the specific purpose of including nurses.
– I am pleased to hear that. The amendment will considerably broaden the scope of the measure.
Because I have so far referred only to somewhat minor matters, I trust honorable senators will not be under the mistaken idea that I have nothing of importance to complain about. The grave charges which could be levelled against the Government are so numerous that I would be compelled to occupy all the time available to-day, to the exclusion of other honorable senators, if I were to go into the accusations against the Government with anything approaching detail. I have not the time at my disposal to touch upon all the misdeeds of the Government - the things they have done, the things they have failed to do, the promises they have made and have failed to perform, and the undertakings they have refused to carry out. I desire, however, to deal at some length with the proposed gratuity to returned soldiers. The head of a great public school in Sydney, a returned soldier himself, recently alluded to . the corruption existing in public life at present. I do not know that he was confining his observations to Australia; possibly he was taking a world-wide view of the subject. But Mr. Sloman, head master of the Sydney Grammar School, stated that public life was more corrupt to-day than for centuries past. The Government are now about to appeal to the country with a proposition which means, in effect, the offer of a direct monetary benefit to thousands of people. This fact certainly lends colour to the assertions of Mr. Sloman. The Government would act wisely, even at this late stage, if, instead of hurrying the business of Parliament to a conclusion this , week they brought in a measure next week to give specific effect to their promise of a gratuity, and did not leave this monetary offer dangling before the eyes of the people as a bait to catch their votes. The Government lay themselves open to a charge of making a deliberate attempt to corrupt the constituencies of Australia. That aspect cannot be denied ; it is altogether sinister. Even at this eleventh hour the Ministry would do well to reconsider their proposed course of procedure and, by bringing in a Bill next week, remove the imputation - the more than suspicion - of dishonest practice. Let us do what we can to elevate, and not besmirch, the public life of this country. In what other light can this promise of monetary advantage be viewed ? It is a direct bribe to the elector. If the Government do not accept my advice, they will be smudging their own reputation and dragging down public life to a depth never before plumbed. It should instantly appeal to them that it would be infinitely wiser and cleaner to go before the people with something actually defined, instead of something in the shape of a nebulous promise. I am not making these comments in any hostile, party spirit. I keenly feel the tendency of the times. Australia to-day is in a more dangerous and difficult situation than during the darkest days of the Avar. The rocks of post-war problems are ahead of us, and it cannot be said that those rocks are not clearly and adequately charted. Yet the Government are. plunging ahead without making any effort at careful steering. The gravity of our problems of the next few years should have made even this Government realize their dangers and responsibilities. They do not appear, however, to have grasped the fact that, now that the war is over, Australia’s problems are even more difficult of solution than during the years of warfare. The whole of the cost of the war must be met within the next few years. That cost cannot be liquidated while our finances are so handled as to unsettle the business interests of the country. In the management of the big financial concerns off the country, apprehension must be aroused by the action of the Federal Government, which is calculated to threaten the financial interests, of Australia in the next twelve months.
Honorable senators are altogether free from any imputation of self-interest in desiring that the ensuing election should be postponed, because our term of - office does not end until -the 30th June next, whether there is an election in the meantime or not. The Government would have been much better advised if, ‘instead of stirring up all the bitterness of party strife, they had called both Houses together in order that we might fairly confront the difficulties that are- ahead of us, and look for a way out. They have not taken that course. They have preferred, as one of their supporters informed me, to “ win the elections whilst Mr. Hughes’ popularity stands.” Whether Mr. Hughes’ popularity stands sufficiently high to enable the Government party to win the elections, remains to be seen ; but it is clear that the elections must be held hastily, because the Government think that when what is happening becomes known, Mr. Hughes’ popularity will be dissipated.
The Government require a new lease of life, and for what purpose”? A sum of £20,000,000 is promised to the soldiers as a bribe to secure their return to office. They desire a renewal of their right to control the Government Departments and the business of the country for the next three years, and that is why they make this promise to the soldiers. I speak of it as a promise, because I have no confidence that the Government will keep the promise, any more than they kept that which they made to provide homes for returned soldiers. They rushed a Bill through this Parliament last year to provide homes for our soldiers, and the soldiers -will be able to tell us how many of those homes have been built. Mr. Higgs,’ in, another place; has made the calculation that if the soldiers are to wait until the homes which have been applied for are built, the man who put in the last application will be 5,000 years old before he enters his home. A few homes have been built, but many thousands applied, for have not yet been started. If we looK at the Works Estimates, we shall not find very much money appearing on them for the building of these homes. It is evident that the Government do not expect to spend very much money in -this way on the soldiers during the next twelve months. But a new offer is being made to them by a Government which, for the last three or four years, had the power to control profiteering, but under which, judging _ by the figures supplied by our statisticians, profiteering has increased by leaps and bounds. We have had increases of from 30 to 60 per cent, in the cost of the necessaries of life. What a splendid investment this will be for a Government supported by the profiteer. There is an offer made of £20,000,000, which the Government will take care shall come out of the hard earnings of the working classes, in order to enable the profiteers to accumulate each .year, not £20,000,000, but £100,000,000. They will be unhampered and uncontrolled in their exploitation of the working classes, the business men, the farmers, and every producing industry in the community. The profiteers have a very profitable bargain in giving £20,000,000 to secure a renewal of office for the present Government.
The soldier,, having done his share in the world’s war, finds, on his return to Australia, that, although the affairs of the country have been conducted by those who claim to be considered exclusively as his friends, when he takes off his uniform he has to pay £10 for a suit of civilian, clothes which he could have purchased for £5 before he left for the Front. The Government have doubled the price. There is not a member of the Senate who does not know that that is the absolute truth.
– The honorable senator can hardly say that when he is told that the mills are now working at full steam to turn out civilian material.
– The mills may be so employed until the day of the election, but after the election’, if the profiteers win, the civilian material will be sold to the merchants and profiteers, who will make their profit on it
– It will be sold to the Flinders-lane- people.
– Yes, and the returned soldier will not have much chance to get any of it at a reasonable price.
– He has a civilian suit given to him.
– Senator de Largie feels that if a returned soldier is given an official suit after he is discharged, he has nothing more to complain of. I think that one of the most discreditable things connected with our treatment of the returned soldier is that, after he returns to this country, he is charged for a suit of civilian clothes double the price which he could have bought it for before the war. The Government could have prevented that if they so desired. I do not intend to discuss the quality or value of the civilian suit which is officially supplied to the returned soldier; but I point out that in the Government Woollen Mills, in spite of the increased cost of wool, overcoats and other clothing for the soldiers were made more cheaply when the war ended than when it began. That being so, there should be no occasion whatever for the increase in the price of civilian clothing. If there could be a legitimate reason for the operation of the War Precautions Act, it might have been used to enable the men who were fighting for us to purchase the clothing they required on their return at prices obtaining in prewar times. The same thing applies to ‘ ‘ hats, boots, and everything else that the men require; and applies with the greatest force in the case of married men who have to purchase all that they require for themselves and their families at a greatly increased cost.
No fewer than 400,000 men are being demobilized, and they are being exploited to the extent of 20s. in every £2 they spend in connexion with their clothing. This will mean an expenditure by our returned men of £800,000 a year for clothing alone if the friends of the profiteers remain in power, as a result of the gift which they are promising the returned soldiers at the present time. The Government try to make out that the 1s. 6d. per day which they are promising is a splendid gift. The Minister has been questioned on the matter, but he has no detailed information to give. The dependants of a boy who went to the Front, and will not return, will, I suppose, be paid up to the date on which he was killed.
– Not even that.
– Very likely, not even that. The hardest cases will be neglected. The Government will have no authority to give any consideration to them. Putting it in the best light in which the Government can put it, their promise is, in reality, only a bid to secure that the profiteers shall still control this . country. I think that the bid will fail. Subjected to the test of common sense, the electors will find that the price offered by the Government is too small for the continuation in office of an Administration, which, though they had full power, did nothing to control the profiteer.
– What about Jack Wren, who is financing the honorable senator’s crowd ? Is there no profiteering there?
– I shall be most interested to hear Senator Guthrie speak of the gentleman to whom he refers. If he knows anything about him, he will have an opportunity of saying what he knows. Personally, I consider Mr. Wren one of our most decent and public-spirited citizens. Notwithstanding what is said of his reputation, because he is a sportsman, I am not ashamed, standing in my place in this Parliament, to say that, to my mind, he is one of our most reputable and public-spirited citizens.
– And finances the honorable senator’s party.
– I ask you, sir, to call upon Senator Guthrie to withdraw his statement that John Wren finances the Labour party. I regard it as a personal reflection, and ask you to compel him to withdraw it.
– I regard it as personally offensive.
– If Senator Gardiner, or any other honorable senator, regards the statement as personally offensive, I must ask Senator Guthrie to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it, 60 far as any individual is concerned, but not so -far as the Labour party is concerned.
– Is the withdrawal by Senator Guthrie sufficient?
– This is a free Parliament, and honorable senators are quite at liberty to express their opinions upon any collective body, so long as they do not say anything of an offensive character in regard to a member of the Legislature. If Senator Gardiner thinks that the statement of Senator Guthrie is a personal reflection upon him, I shall certainly require Senator Guthrie to withdraw it.
– I demand its unqualified withdrawal.
– I ask Senator Guthrie to withdraw his statement.
– So far as any individual member of the Labour party is concerned, I withdraw it; but, as applied to that party collectively, I cannot withdraw it.
– In pursuance of the ordinary practice, I cannot compel Senator Guthrie to withdraw a statement which has no reference to any individual member of this Chamber. If the honorable senator assures me that he did not apply his statement to any member of this’ Chamber or of the Parliament, no matter how grossly offensive it may be, I cannot compel him to withdraw it. I ask Senator Guthrie to give me that assurance.
– I have already given it.
– I realized when I asked for the withdrawal of the statement that I should get no satisfaction in this Chamber. Senator Guthrie has affirmed that a certain well-known gentleman finances the Labour party. His statement is absolutely false. It is made by a man who has not an atom of evidence to back up his charge. There has never even a shilling come to the Labour party from the gentleman to whom Senator Guthrie has referred. You, sir, say that you have not the power ho compel the honorable senator to withdraw his statement. Parliament has reached a pretty pass when a member of this Chamber is at liberty to, make the cowardly insinuation that the members of our party are financed by anybody. Senator Guthrie knows perfectly well that there have never been any funds worth mentioning in the Labour party: Not a shilling has ever been received from the source he has indicated,’ and he knows it. However, 1 suppose it is Senator Guthrie’s method.
– I will prove my statement.
– I hope thatthe honorable senator will try to prove it; and that he will lose no time in putting his case before the Senate. Such statements ought to be proved, or they ought not to be made. Whilst one is speaking, Senator Guthrie usually interjects something which is so far from the truth, and so absolutely apart from the subject under discussion, that it is calculated to draw one away from that subject. Having given an emphatic denial to the insinuation that even a shilling has come to our party from the source which he has mentioned - and I speak as one who has been closely identified withthe Labour party for ten years-
– I was connected with it for thirty years.
– Then I ask the honorable senator whether he ever knew any money to come to the party from the source he has indicated?
– Not until the conscription issue was raised. It came then.
– Then the honorable senator’s better judgment will show him that his statement was not only uncalled for, but absolutely untrue. When I was interrupted I was dealing with the cost of living, and was affirming that the profiteers are behind the political party opposite. ‘If honorable senators doubt that statement, let them carefully observe the side upon which the profiteers range themselves at the forthcoming general election. I have already referred to one case which recently came under my notice - a case in which supplies of a necessary commodity controlled by the Commonwealth Government were refused to a certain business man in the city of Sydney. We all know that, under an arrangement between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the Queensland Government, and the Commonwealth Government, the price of sugar has been fixed. Yet I learn from a gentleman who lives at Waverley that he has been refused supplies of sugar for his customers, which amount to about 2 tons’ per week. He was told by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to place his orders with their . agents. He went, to those agents and offered them his cheque, but they refused to accept it.
– That is a specific case, which ought to be remedied departmentally.
– It ought to be remedied departnientally, but it ought also to be publicly ventilated. I have handed this gentleman’s letter to the Minister, and as I have known its authorfrom his boyhood up, I am satisfied that every word which he ‘has written is true. His statement is very brief, but very clear. He points out that he went direct to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and asked for a supply of sugar. He was referred by the company to its agents.He went to the agents and tendered his money, but was refused supplies. I appeal to the Government, and to the people of this country, as to whether that sort of thing shall be allowed to continue. The very day upon which I received his letter I brought it under the notice of the Minister.
– And the Minister told the honorable senator that, because of the seamen’s strike, the company had to pay £52 10s. per ton for sugar imported from Java.
– I am not speaking of matters of ancient history. The shipping strike terminated weeks ago. But here is Australian sugar, which has become the monopoly of profiteers, who decline to allow a retailer to obtain supplies of it.
– The action of the company may have reference only to distribution.
– It means that one business man is prevented from obtaining a necessary commodity.
– The Government ought to investigate the case.
– The Government ought to go farther, and say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is contravening its agreement by preventing the free distribution of sugar.
– I would like to hear the other side.
– I should be delighted to hear it. I know that my statement is so astounding that honorable senators can scarcely believe it. Nevertheless it is a fact, and the same methods are operating in respect of commodities other than sugar. If Senator Thomas wrote to me upon any matter, I would have no hesitation in accepting his statements, because I know that they would be truthful statements. In just the same way I accept the statements contained in the letter which I have received from the gentleman to whom I have alluded, whom I have known from his boyhood.
– I do not for a moment doubt that, he has been refused supplies of sugar, but I should like to know the reason why.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company says that the normal quantities of sugar are in stock in Sydney, but are not being sold. I do not know whether the same condition of things obtains in Melbourne. But when a person in Sydney sends out for, say, 20 lbs. of sugar, he is able to purchase only 6 lbs. Yet there is plenty of sugar in stock. “We have a record of the quantity that is in bond.
– That may be unrefined sugar.
– I can quite understand Senator Pratten becoming uneasy when we get near his friends. The seamen’s strike has been over for weeks, and normal supplies of sugar are on hand. It is idle for honorable senators opposite to draw long faces, and to endeavour to make it appear that my statements are those of an alarmist. They represent facts, which apply also to commodities other than sugar.
– I think that the honorable senator ought to be specific, instead of general, in his statement.
– I have already handed to the Minister the letter from the gentleman who has been refused supplies of sugar. What more definite statement can be made than is contained in that communication?
– What is the date’ of the letter?
– It is dated about the day before yesterday.
– One cannot obtain 1 lb. of sugar in Melbourne to-day.
– Why ?
– Because the grocers have not got it. ‘I went to six of the biggest establishments in Melbourne yesterday in an endeavour to procure some icing sugar, but I could not get it.
– Let honorable senators make no mistake. There is a reason behind the action of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. That reason is that, in Australia, the price of sugar has been fixed, and consequently there is a bigger margin of profit to be made elsewhere. If the company can curtail the supplies of the people here, it follows that they will have a bigger exportable surplus.
-But the Minister himself is controlling the whole of that sugar.
– I am very glad that he is. I shall be delighted to learn whether, under Ministerial control, a man is obliged to close his business so far as one necessary commodity is concerned. What can be more irritating than for one individual to be refused limited supplies whilst another is permitted to purchase larger quantities?
– That is only one case, is it not?
– If I made merely a general statement, I should be asked to point to a specific case.
– The grocers in Melbourne have experienced the same trouble.
– There is scarcely a business, large or small, with the exception of those possessing a “pull,” which can obtain adequate supplies of sugar, although there are ample quantities in stock.
– The Government are controlling ‘the whole thing.
– Then they are controlling’ it badly. That is one of the complaints I wish to make against the Government. In regard to the cost of living and the reiterated complaints that are becoming more numerous every day, it must be remembered that there is a limit to the people’s patience in dealing with Governments, Combines, and those who control our food supplies. We have seen what is happening in New South Wales, which is one of the most important States, and contributes in taxation nearly one-half of the Commonwealth revenue. ‘ From that State, we find, taking such an item as potatoes, that, during, this year, whilst this Government was in power - a Government which had the power to control prices - that very necessary commodity has almost doubled in price. Honorable senators will say that there has been a drought, or some other trouble, but there have been droughts and other happenings in Australia before, and the price .at which potatoes were sold was never so high. I have seen potatoes sold at £25 per ton. In dealing with foodstuffs, we are touching the very life of the community. Meat has been sold by the Queensland Government at 3£d. per lb., while similar meat has been sold over the counter in Sydney at prices ranging from 8d. to ls. 6d. per lb. These matters may be of no concern to those honorable senators who are supporting the Government, and who are going out to the country with the alleged intention of combating the profiteer. Government supporters are making a pretence of attacking the profiteer, and yet the prices of commodities have been raised during a period when the Government have had full power of control. I can go further, and deal with the question of clothing and other commodities that affect the very existence of thepeople. We are frequently told that the workers of Australia are being well paid, but it must be remembered that the purchasing power of money has decreased by about 50 per cent.
– The cost of living in Queensland has been higher than in any other State.
– Until the operations of the Ryan Government were interfered with, the cost of living in Queensland - that is, until 1917 - was lower than in any other State, and the figures of- the Statistician prove that. During 1917, the Commonwealth Government took the control of prices out of the hands of the Labour Government, and the figures of the Statistician show that since that time there has been an enormous increase in the cost of living.
– What is the difference between New South Wales and Queensland ?
– I fully realize that Senator Senior is unable to appreciate the difference. As New South Wales (vas not under a Labour Government, no attempt was made in that State to keep the prices down. On the other hand, Queensland, being under a Labour Administration, reduced prices until the Commonwealth Government interfered. What has been referred to as a marked difference in the cost in Queensland has been occasioned because prices in Queensland, before the Federal Government interfered, were much lower than in other States.
– I have not discovered that from Knibbs.
– I do not think any one would expect Senator Earle to make such a discovery. No one would expect honorable senators supporting the Government to discover anything detri-mental to their leaders, who have failed miserably during the last three years.
– I have not discovered anything detrimental to the Government.
– I do not think Senator Earle will deny that the Federal Government had full . power to deal with the profiteer. His silence condemns him. If Senator Earle does not think that the Government have failed to exercise their powers, is. he prepared to allow the electors of Australia to give the verdict? I know that Senator Earle, Senator Senior, and others who have every confidence in the Government, consider this a mere trifle.
– Does the honorable senator seriously think that profiteering i3 responsible for the high cost of living ?
– i seriously do. Here is an instance. Two years after the outbreak of war, overcoats were being manufactured for 7s. less than during the pre-war period.
– The Government have not the control of imported cloth.
– I am showing that the Government are largely responsible for the increase in prices. The war did not materially increase the cost of production. I have been assured by one who has been supervising the production of cloth that, two years after the outbreak of war, the cost of overcoats was reduced by 7s. each. Surely that is an indication that the cost of production has not materially increased. Owners of mills were able, at the termination of the war, to add sufficient to their reserve funds to replace the whole of their machinery. In view of these facts, will Senator Earle claim that there has not been profiteering?
– I do not think that proves it.
– If that is not sufficient proof, I do not know what the honorable senator requires. I am prepared to produce evidence as to the cost of material, and of making up, and to show, as regards soldiers’ cloth, that it was produced two years after the war at a reduced rate. In view of this, it would be interesting to know why the cloth used by civilians has increased by 100 per cent.
– The cloth used by civilians was not manufactured in Australia, and that’ used for soldiers’ clothing was. That is the difference.
– The duty on cloth has been increased from 8s. to 28s.
– A suit made in Australia costs practically as much as one made from imported cloth.
– A good suit of clothes may be obtained for £5 5s. in Bourke-street.
– A suit made of Fox’s serge can be obtained at the London Stores at that price.
– These interjections are very interesting, but we cannot get away from the fact that a suit of clothes that cost £5 5s. before the war now costs £10 10s.
– The honorable senator is referring to suits made from English cloth.
– I ask honorable senators to go to the tailor they have been dealing with for years, and compare prices, and they will’ then not come here and make such ridiculous statements. The cost of civilian clothing is double what it was before the war.
– The honorable senator is alluding solely to imported material.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. I am prepared to offer a tailor £2 more- than I paid before the war, and if I can obtain a suit for less than another £2, I am prepared to give a similar amount to Senator Pratten.
-I will take you up.
– Honorable senators look upon this as a trivial matter, and are shutting their eyes to the fact that the people know the truth. The members of this community are paying 100 per cent. more for the necessaries of life than in p re-war days, and the bulk of the profit is going into the pockets of the profiteers, protected by this Government. The supporters of the Government are going to the country with the cry that profiteering is to be checked; but the men who are fleecing the community will still have a free hand during the busy Christmas season. Senator Senior may smile, but he is ignorant of the real facts.
– I am ignorant of the fact that this Government controls the world.
– If the Government controlled Australia satisfactorily, we would be satisfied.
– Wait until we have Mr. Ryan.
– Let the honorable senator make no mistake about that. It is a call from the people of Australia for a strong man that is bringing Mr. Ryan into the Federal arena. He will be here when Parliament meetsafter the election.
– Ryan and McDougall
– My young friend is prophesying; but I can assure him that I expect to see Senator McDougall and Mr. Ryan in the same Government. It is one of the things most likely to happen. It will not be the result of what we say, but what the people of this country desire. They have already realized that the Government areabsolutely incapable, because they have refused to exercise the powers they possess to control prices. There are families in Australia who have been living on the verge of starvation owing to the ineptitude of the Government.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.48 p.m.
– I have a few words to say on the Supply Bill, and a few complaints to make.
– On a point of order, Mr. President, I desire to state that the bells were rung at 2. 30. and I was the only senator present at that time. Standing order No.30 provides that if both the President and the Chairman of Committees be unavoidably absent some other honorable senator may be appointed to the Chair. As I was the only honorable senator here I could not very well appoint myself to the Chair-
– You were not the only honorable senator here.
– I was the only senator present when the bells ceased ringing. I ask if, in these circumstances, there being no quorum present then, the Senate must not stand adjourned until the next ordinary day of sitting?
– I must give my ruling against the honorable senator’s contention, for the simple reason that I was unable to resume the chair at 2.30, the appointed time, as I was attending a certain function in company with other honorable senators. As soon as the bells were started 1 gave instructions that they be stopped, and they were stopped. On other occasions the sittings of the Senate have not been resumed at the appointed time. At the luncheon adjournment I intimated that I would resume the Chair at 2.30 p.m., and it was entirely due to the circumstances I have mentioned that I was not able to be here at that hour. It would be improper, because I was a few minutes late, to deprive the Senate of the right of continuing with its business.
– Complaints were made this morning about the action of a certain Royal Commission. I have to make a similar complaint in connexion with the inquiry of the Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration into the charge I made concerning the purchase and sale of the launch Fran<sisca. When first I mentioned this mat ter the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) asked for the name of my informant, and as soon as I had obtained permission to divulge the name, I complied with the Minister’s request and furnished all information in my possession, and waited for the Commission to commence the inquiry. One day I was asked by telephone to appear before the Commission, and when I went down to the office I met one of the three Commission ers. . In the course of a casual conversation he pointed out to me that certain inquiries had been made, and that there appeared to be no chance of proving the statements, and so he asked me if I would mind if the matter was not gone into. I replied that as I had made the charge I preferred that it be investigated, and he then said I would have to get some other evidence. I said that I would do so, and I was waiting for further instructions when this report came out -
Statements of a serious nature in regard to the vessel were made in the Commonwealth Senate on the” 31st October, 1918, by Senator A. McDougall, and the Commission was subsequently asked by the Acting Minister for the Navy to investigate the circumstances. However, in giving evidence before us, Senator . McDougall stated that he was prepared to withdraw the allegation that the launch had been moored in a certain position with the deliberate object of bringing about her destruction by gales, and the documentary evidence submitted to us by Senator McDougall - and upon which he apparently based his statement in the Senate - did not support the allegation. Of the three officers immediately concerned in the purchase, we find that one is dead, one is residing in the United Kingdom, and the third is in ill health. In view of the foregoing, and of the fact that more than six years has elapsed since the launch was purchased, we consider that, although the launch proved an unfortunate investment . for the Department, no useful purpose would be achieved by further pursuing the matter.
Upon receipt of it I wrote to the Commission, and received the following reply: 1 am directed by the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration to forward herewiththe documents in connexion with the purchase of the launch Fransisca, which you handed in on the occasion of your attendance before the Commission.
In reply I wrote as follows, under date 30th April, 1919, to the secretary of the Commission -
Yours to hand, with documents handed in by me. I was of the opinion, that further evidence would have been taken, and had prepared as an exhihit a photo, of the vessel as she is now - one of the best on the Swan River. Should the Commission care to see it I will have it forwarded’ to you.
I received no reply. I do not mind that at all, but when the Commission, in its report, goes out of its way to say that I had withdrawn any accusation which I had made, I protest, because . 1 did nothing of the sort. The vessel was bought for £1,500, and was sold for £80. She is one of the best boats on the Swan River, and I do not think she could be bought to-day for less than £2,500. Whe’ther the officers who were concerned in the purchase are here or not, we have the same Minister and the same Government. I was quite prepared to go on and prove anything I have said in connexion with the matter, although any one reading the report of the Commission would come to the conclusion that I had run away from my charges, when, as a matter of fact, the opposite was the case. This is the same Commission that investigated the Shaw wireless charges, and Senator Gardiner has fully explained its action in connexion with that affair.
Another matter about which I have to complain is the action of the “Wool Board in robbing the children of Glebe and West Sydney of their only playground. I complained of this matter before, and said that the Board threatened, the trustees that if they did not give up Wentwork Park it would be taken away from them. - They frightened the trustees, and now the park is covered with buildings that could have been erected just as easily in some more convenient situation. The wool could have been stored at Liverpool, where there is plenty of land available, but instead of erecting buildings there the Board have despoiled this pubHe park, which is of’ such value to the people in the poorer quarters of Sydney. Many years ago we had to work very bard indeed, and without. Government assistance improved the vacant land now known as Wentworth Park, which has been the playground of all the children in that locality for so many years. I understand that the buildings are to remain there, because some day the railway is going through. It would be far better if the Government, instead of allowing any Board to encroach upon the recreation areas of the people, would demolish some of .the miserable. buildings in which people have to live, and provide more air spaces for the poorer, sections of the community.
I have also to complain of the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) during the last few days concerning those connected with the Labour movement. I can see him in my sleep waving his arms like a semaphore and spreading the “ glad news “ to the people of this country. . But he should be given to - understand that other people have brains, and are just as capable as he is of arriving at sound opinions concerning the events of our time. According to press reports, the Prime Minister has been telling the people that the present Labour leaders are saying “to the extremists, “ Shut up ; there is an election coming on.” The Prime Minister is telling, a falsehood. The extremists have put up men against me and my comrades at every election since I have been in the Federal Parliament, except when the double dissolution took place only. However, they could not find the £25 deposit for six candidates. And the extremists are running against us this time. Their candidates, have been duly selected. So these words of Mr. Hughes are but idle vapourings - frothy sayings, which carry no weight. He said the Labour Charter of the Peace Conference had been drawn up by the world’s great leaders of Labour, but that the Trades Halls had refused to send. a delegate to the Conference. That is absolutely incorrect. Some of the Trades Hals have, but others have nominated candidates. Mr. Hughes proceeded -
They alone of organized Labour in the nations of the world would not be represented, except perhaps Germany. They would not go. lilley would be lonely without their dear brother the Hun. They were not fit to speak for the people of Australia.
I have in my home a photograph of Mr. Hughes, taken at the time of the inauguration of the Commonwealth, posing as captain of a tug-of-war team of fifteen men. There is only one Britisher among them; there are two Scandinavians,; and all the rest are Germans. ‘That picture was taken at a time when William Morris Hughes took the Hun tq his breast; and that is the time when I refused to work with him. He forgets these things, and when he talks about my brother the Hun, he lies. There is no one in this country who has done more than myself, among all those concerned with the organization of trade unions, to keep that class of individual out of this country. The society to which I am attached refused to work with the Hun. We were attacked by. the press of the country because we took that stand.- But we were an organized body, and we were able to keep the Hun out of our ranks. We were able to compel them to go away, and they were sent away. Therefore, when Mr. Hughes speaks of the Hun as a brother of ours, his words are no more than the vapourings of a foolish mind.
I want to say a word now in relation to the former leaders of this country. There have been those who, from the very earliest days, have called themselves the saviours of society. Every one who has been in power has always spoken of those who desire a change of government, or a change in our social conditions, as anarchists, and all that sort of thing, while they have spoken of themselves as saviours of society. Sir Henry Parkes was a Democrat. He once fought for what the Labour representatives of today are fighting ‘for, namely, better conditions for the people. Those were his only aspirations. When Sir Henry Parkes first came to light in the political life of New South Wales, he was denounced by William Charles Wentworth as an anarchist and a leader of a band of murderers. He was denounced by members of the Government, and by the press. Sir Henry Parkes worked his way up to the leadership of political life; he became Premier of New South Wales. Then he changed.. He began to pour forth the vain vapourings of diseased minds after they have tasted a little bit of the blood of society. He forgot the class which he had left. When Parkes became Premier, he said the country was honeycombedwith a secret revolutionary society. He denounced the Labour party’s policy as revolutionary and reactionary, led, as it was, by such “ political mountebanks as Hughes and Holman.” Now we have the same Hughes and Holman denouncing the forces .of revolution in Australia that are going to tear down constitutional government ; and we are hearing their wild ravings about fighting these forces, that are so strong to-day. These men once preached the same doctrine as we preach to-day. ‘It is a doctrine that knows no class or creed; that knows nothing but the bettering of the conditions of the people. The great war taught leaders of thought throughout the world that no longer is labour a commercial commodity to be bought and sold at will, but that it is a factor among those things which go to the making of a nation. Before the days of Mr. Hughes and Mr. Holman there was Sir George Reid. He, in his earliest days, was denounced because he dared to speak in the following terms. On the ,22nd July, 1891, he said-
If you pay some regard to those vast commercial and industrial interests of this country, subject so often to the mania of speculation, abused so often by unprincipled swindlers, do you see any of those wise modern provisions of legislation intended to shield those who have too much confidence from those who have too little honesty? If you pay any regard to these natural treasures which are hidden in the soil, what do you see? You see that, whilst the struggling, honest miner works year after year, perhaps in vain, you have your priceless deposits of wealth made the sport of hordes of gambling speculators throughout Australia, and you see wealth which belongs to the people of the country going out of the country, never to return.
Those are the words of Sir George Reid, and they constitute exactly the kind of language that we are preaching to-day - nothing more, and nothing less. He then preached revolt from the form of government under which we were living. But he also changed. He, in his’ turn, denounced the leaders of Australia’s great Labour movement. It has been recently proved that these revolutionary spirits in our midst have not increased at all during the years since Australia has been a nation. What is their strength to-day? No more than it was at the time of Wentworths fears for constitutional government; no stronger than when Sir Henry Parkes denounced revolutionary secret societies;’ no stronger than when they were denounced by Mr. Hughes. We have been told that the I.W.W. and the O.B.TJ. people and others are eating the heart out of the social life of this country. The other day the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that the Labour party had no brains but his. Somebody else’s brains were behind the Labour movement when he was with us, and nobody knows that better than myself. There was never a better “ scissors and paste “ artist than Mr. Hughes when he was in our ranks. I know, because I worked with him. Now, he is like the rest of them. Now, he points the finger of scorn at those who dare to say a word. They’ are ‘Huns and traitors! But I tell him’ that there are as’ good men on this side of politics to-day as ever there were, and that there are as good men with us as were ever on the other side. In the electorate of Paddington, where there is no- thing hut revolution and disloyalty - according to our opponents - the revolutionists put up a candidate at a recent by-election. ‘ Here are the results -
Only 2 per cent, of the voters voted for the revolutionary section. And so it has been in every Senate election in New South Wales, as I will show by the following figures: - .
In 1914 the revolutionists disappeared from the scene because .they could not raise the necessary deposits.
This same cry has been heard ever since there has been constitutional government in Australia - “I am the saviour of society. Whatever you do, keep me in power. The other fellow wants to rob you, wants to break down constitutional government. ‘Stick to me; keep me in power, and all will be well.” This cry is taken up by the press. The dangers of revolution, disorder, and disloyalty are their catchwords, to scare the people into putting them back to power. Revolution simply means a change of Government, which, in Australia, means a change of policy.
As for Mr. Hughes, I have nothing to say against his good work; I freely admit it all. I remember the days when I used to stand at the door of a hall in Sydney, and take the tickets and collect the “bobs” and sixpences when he was to speak inside. That was many years ago, and I was one of his best friends then. In the Domain, while he was speaking, I used to go around with a hat, and collect; and I used to stick up bills for him. That was my humble duty in those days. Nat Gould, the novelist, who recently died in England, was at that time visiting Australia. He wrote a book, containing his experiences and im pressions. He made special references to the social orators in the Domain, and denounced them in the same terms as Mr. Hughes, who was one of those very orators, is now employing in denouncing the leaders of the Labour party to-day. He said - :
I once heard a Domain Socialist declare that Australia would never become a great country until every wealthy man in ‘it was made to disgorge his ill-gotten gains for the benefit of the masses. He failed to explain what the masses would do when they had secured these gains, also whether they would condescend to keep the men who had been compelled to disgorge.
No Prime Minister of any nation could, in the opinion of the Socialist orator, do as much for the people as he would if he had the chance. These men are much bigger fools even than the misguided folk who believe in their utterances; they burst with self-importance all the time they are preaching humility and the rights of man. There is no more conceited ass than a Domain Socialist. What a pity he cannot be brought to regard himself in this light!
That is what Nat Gould thought of ^ Mr. Hughes.
– Nat Gould added a lot to the literature of the world !
– I am not saying whether he did or did not; but I know that the Minister has read his books.
– I- have read every one.
– He has not added much to the literature of the world; and, seeing that Senator Russell has read all his books, it can be equally said that he has not added much to the Minister’s common sense. If Senator Russell has read all his books, his idea of suitable literature must, accordingly, be very low. But I have read all of Nat Gould’s books, and have derived great amusement from them. Here is one, from which I have just quoted, entitled Town and Bush. The Minister read that when he came here as a boy, and made a name for himself. He was a good disciple of those who taught him all he knows. This same novelist, writing in later days to the newspapers, referred to William Morris Hughes, Andrew Fisher, George Pearce, and another, as representatives of the great Australian nation, and bowed the knee to them in recognition of the great work they had done. Yet all four of those whom he commended in this way were amongst the Domain orators whom he condemned, in the way I have mentioned, years ago.
As time went on, these men were returned to Parliament, and placed in positions of power. They attained prominence in the social life of the country, and became affected, as all men do, by their environment. But they, should have learned how little difference there is “between those with whom they are now associated and those with whom they were associated in the early days. I am proud to belong to the Labour movement, and I shall say no word against anybody else. When I go on the stump, as I shall do shortly, no one will hear from me one word to the detriment of my political opponents. I have never indulged inthat kind of thing, and I never shall. I express my regret that Mr. Hughes should have fallen away so far from the principles which he held dear in his early days as to give utterance to the remarks to which I have referred. I did not hear him say those things, and I know that newspapers very often attribute to men statements which they have never m’ade. I do not think that Mr. Hughes, after the association I had with him for many years, would look me in the face and say of me the things which have been attributed to him. It -is possible- that he may have been tempted to speak in this way by the cheering and roaring of the crowd. We all know something of the fascination of a sea of approving faces, and in such circumstances a man may be carried away by the enthusiasm of his reception, and say things which, when he returns to his sober senses, he will regret. I feel sure that, in his calmer moments, Mr. Hughes must regret many of the things which he has said about the men in the Labour movement to-day.
No one can doubt that the war will be followed by a wonderful change in our social conditions. It has taught the nations of the world that there must be a revolutionary change in those conditions. I do - not mean for a moment to say that there will be murder and bloodshed, but there must be such changes as will make it no longer possible for one class to live in riotous splendour whilst the members of another class are starving. Men and women are born into this world and. go out of it on terms of equality. We know from the cables which from time to time have appeared in the press that the reckless expenditure of the wealthy in England is ten times worse to-day than it was before the war, whilst hundreds of those who fought for the liberty of the persons who are wasting money in this way are almost in a starving condition. We know that in New South Wales ‘recently many thousands of pounds were spent in an orgy of enjoyment and pleasure, and probably the same kind of thing will take place here in the course of a few weeks. I do not wish to interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of these people at all, but there must be some social legislation passed which will divert some of the money spent in this way to the support of those who have not sufficient to keep them decently to-day. I have been questioning Ministers almost every day in the effort to induce the Government to recognise the justice of paying persons in their employ the basic wage fixed by arbitration in New South Wales as the lowest for which men should ‘be asked to work. I have noted recently that an officer iri the Stamps Department, who has a family of seven children, is in receipt of a salary of only £156 per year Yet we stand by and permit the Government to refuse to give men £3 17s. 6d. a week in accordance with Arbitration Court awards.
I say that arbitration-has become practically a farce. In New South Wales to-day we have a Full Court of arbitration Judges. Men are appointed to the Bench of the Arbitration Court who have no knowledge of social conditions, amd not too much knowledge of law. The first arbitration law placed on the statute-book in New South Wales was passed at the behest of the unions, and for its duration of seven years’ unionists were loyal to it, and never wanted to strike. It did not suit the employers, and yet when the Labour party were’ removed from power their opponents did not dare to remove the Arbitration Act from the statute-book, though they passed one which the unionists never liked. In the first seven years of our experience of arbitration the Act was sympathetically administered by a good man- God rest his soul ! there are not many like him - in the person of Judge Cohen. With several others, I took him round and showed him the horrible and miserable conditions under which the workers, and especially women, have to live. When he’ saw, outside shops, men’s trousers marked- 7s. 6d., and suits marked 21s., and we told him that this was possible only at the expense of the life’s blood of the women who worked day and night to manufacture those clothes, he stood aghast and said, “ I never thought that such misery, could exist where the British flag flies.” For seven years he did his best to bring about better conditions.
Those who administer the arbitration law to-day are not in sympathy with it. If the unionists go to the Court and win their case, the decision is immediately appealed against, and they are, in New South Wales, referred to what some call the High Court of Labour. That is not what is wanted. We want an Arbitration Act in which the unionists will have confidence. Industrial peace cannot be bought and sold. It can only be brought about by compliance with the mandate of the Creator and by securing to every man, woman, and child in the community sufficient to live upon.
I regret that I have felt it necessary, to say what I have said, against my former leader. But I have felt it hard that he should point the finger of scorn at the class with whom he was once associated, when. I know that many of those with whom he !was associated in the early days still remain staunch and true.
– Does the honorable senator not think that Mr. Justice Higgins has been sympathetic towards the worker ?
– I have not said anything at all about Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Arbitration is all right, but our arbitration machinery is rotten.
– The Federal ^arbitration machinery is rotten. If ‘Mr. Justice Higgins were given the advantage of proper machinery, we should get good work from him, and from Mr. Justice Powers also, who, I believe, is even better and fairer than is Mr. Justice Higgins. The system of arbitration which we have is one with which we can have no sympathy at all, because under it the workers are not given a fair deal. We can expect no good result so long as the employers regard the workers as tools of trade, and when they have served their turn throw them aside. It is appalling to find an old man who has worked for over twenty years for the Government turned adrift without a shilling, I say nothing of the substantial pensions provided for judges, but it is a horrible thing to find men in other walks of life, after long and honest service, turned adrift without ‘a shilling of recompense in the closing years of their life.
– I think the honorable senator should give particulars of the case to which he refers.
– The Government have done the same in other cases. I recently brought under notice the case of a. young fellow who considered that he had been badly treated. I know that Senator Russell or some one else immediately instituted inquiries, because this young fellow got back to his job.
– That is why I say particulars should be given of any case of the kind.
– I am glad that this young man got back to work, but men should not have to come to members of Parliament to get justice done them. There are some who never get the ear of a member of Parliament, and some who are too proud to attempt to do. so. The condition of the working classes will not be what it should until they are given a fairer share of the world’s wealth.
I hope that the next Government that comes into, power in tlie Commonwealth will take a broader view of all that goes to the making of a nation. I hope they will be guided by the spirit which animates the great Labour programme of the Peace Conference. That great programme contains’ more than we ever asked for even in this country, and more than most of us dreamt would be asked for. If such a. programme is given effect we may well look forward to improved conditions. We may well expect that the sneering that is passed from one side to the other in this Parliament’ will cease for ever, and we shall all work together to better the conditions of the people. We can only make this a better country in which to live by bettering the conditions of our people.
No one loves Australia more than I do. I hope and trust that it will be kept for the white and the British race, and that before long we shall have a very rauch larger population than we now have. We need not fear the result. We must -be careful to build up our industries, and do nothing that would check their development. I have only recently put a proposal before the Government which, if adopted, would, without costing them one shilling, enable them to meet the present expenditure upon Papua three times over; I refer to the free admission of a spirit which is manufactured by a company that is prepared to spend £250,000 upon its production in Papua, and to market it here at ls. per gallon, if it is admitted duty free. This spirit has been tested in South Africa to be a satisfactory substitute for petrol, and is being used in that country to-day. As soon as the authorities in South Africa saw that this was going to be a marketable product that would bring .revenue to the country, they introduced a measure to permit its introduction duty free. We are to-day paying 3s. per gallon for petrol spirit imported from America. and the people to whom I refer are prepared to seE .the spirit which they manufacture at ls. per gallon, whilst all they ask is that so far as their product is concerned there shall be free trade between Papua and Australia. Let this spirit come in duty free and the people will be saved many millions of pounds annually which hitherto they have been obliged to pay to a company which has perjured itself in the Courts of this country, and which has remorselessly robbed the public. Every time it has asked for an increase in the price of the article which it supplies it has obtained that increase. Now it threatens that if an additional ls. 6d. per case is not forthcoming there will be no kerosene in Australia. I am very glad to -have been afforded this opportunity of addressing the Senate. It may be the last that I shall have. However, that does not matter. If disaster overtakes me,’ I shall at least be thankful to those who have given me ten years of political life.
– I desire to place upon record the performances of this Government as compared with their promises when in 1917 they were returned to power on a wave of popular enthusiasm. The electors who sent them here at that time were very enthusiastic about it. But I am of opinion that Ministers will go out with an avalanche of public execration. One of the measures which they promised most definitely was an amending Tariff Bill. They have had two and a half years if office, but they have never attempted to deal with the Tariff, and -they are now about to go to the country six months earlier than was necessary for the express purpose of exploiting the patriotic sentiment to which they appealed so successfully in 1917. We know perfectly well that Mr. Lloyd George did the same thing. When he appealed to the electors of the Old Country he promised them an indemnity of £50,000,000,000, and.- he told them that he would hang the Kaiser. As a result, he was triumphantly returned to office. The Commonwealth Government are pursuing similar tactics. They promised to amend our Arbitration Act to enable us to deal with industrial . disputes, and thus to permit of industry being carried on in a peaceful fashion. But they have never attempted to redeem that promise. They pledged themselves to repatriate our soldiers in a way that many persons thought they should be repatriated. There is no honorable sena- , tor who would not do anything to give effect to the promise made by the Government in this connexion. Ministers pledged themselves to the -erection of soldiers’ homes, and painted a picture of thousands of these homes springing up throughout Australia like mushrooms. But where are those homes to-day? Not one of them has been built. The Government also promised the people cf this country, through their spokesman, Mr. Hughes, that, in all probability, they would secure an indemnity of £100,000,000 from Germany. Yet, upon his arrival at Fremantle’, the Prime Minister expressed a doubt as to whether we shall get anything by way of an indemnity. Now he is hopeful that we may get £50,000,000. The Government are going to face the electors with the full knowledge that they are about to meet the public executioner. They now hope to retrieve their fallen fortunes by the promise of a gratuity to our soldiers of 25,000,000 shin plasters. According to the Prime Minister, the payment of this gratuity will be subject to our getting £5,000,000 by way of an indemnity from Germany. Honorable senators know perfectly well that there is no possibility of this pledge to the soldiers being fulfilled. The Government will break it just as cheerfully as they broke their promise in 1917 to protect the dependants of our soldiers from the profiteers of this country. They had the power to prevent those dependants from being exploited, but they studiously refrained from exercising it. Instead, only in May last, they repealed all the price-fixing regulations, and thus placed everybody at the mercy of the commercial wolves in our midst. Very cleverly the Government have arranged .for this Supply Bill to be submitted for our consideration only a couple of hours before tlie closing of the session. They have such a bad record that a week’s debate upon this measure in Parliament would have- meant absolutely the end of them. They realized that, and, consequently, they have brought forward .a Supply Bill for £5,000,000 when we have only two hours in- which to debate it.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [3.37]. - There are many matters upon which I could dilate, but as this is the last day of the session I intend to reserve my remarks upon them for a higher tribunal, namely, the electors of this country. However, I do desire to place upon record the facts connected with a matter Which I have pressed upon the attention of the Acting Minister for Defence during the past four or five months. It is not my fault that I am compelled at this stage of the session to make a statement in ‘ regard to it. I refer to the recall from Egypt of Lieu tenant- Colonel Ramsay Smith, for the sake of brevity, I have taken the trouble to collate the salient facts relating to this matter. Soon after the beginning of the war Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith left ‘ our shores in command of the 1st Australian General Hospital. After the hospital had been established at Heliopolis, in Egypt, it expanded in an extraordinary and unprecedented manner, to meet the necessities of the wounded and sick of Gallipoli and Egypt. Its 520-bed organization expanded to 5,500, or including convalescent hospitals, 10,600 beds. In about five months it dealt with over 15,000 wounded and sick, with, a death-rate over all of 0.8 per cent. It is acknowledged that it was this expansion that saved the medical situation in Egypt and the Dardanelles. All this was done under LieutenantColonel Ramsay Smith’s responsible and wide command. The skill and management shown in this expansion, which was probably unique in war or iii peace, was recognised officially, publicly, and privately in abundant testimony by the General Officer Commanding, and the Director of Medical Services, Egypt; the Director of Medical Stores, Australian Imperial Force; SurgeonGeneral Baptie, Colonel Sir Frederick Treves, and Colonel Mayo Robson, who were specially commissioned by theBritish Government to inspect, report, and advise; besides others, such as the Sultan, the High Commissioner in Egypt, and Mr. Venezelos, who took an active interest in the history and details of the expansion. Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith was personally responsible for giving effect to the principles and details of the administration laid down or suggested by the various authorities and officials in Australia, . Egypt, and England. In August, he was recalled to Australia by the Minister for Defence. No reason was assigned. No charge had been made that he knew of, or heard of, nor had any official or other inquiry been made so far as he knew or could ascertain by application to the Australian pr British authorities in Egypt. Until that time he had received only repeated official acknowledgments of, and testimony to, the genius, ingenuity, and resource displayed in what Sir Frederick Treves had characterized as a “monument of skill in administration.” On his return he saw the, Minister for Defence. The subsequent history connected with this matter is set forth in the correspondence that is in possession of the Minister. At the present time, Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith is still without any information as to the reasons for his recall, the circumstances that led to it, the inquiries, if any, that preceded or followed it, or’ the report that the Defence Department obtained from the British authorities.
– ‘One statement by the honorable senator is absolutely wrong. Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith was given the reason for his recall, and it was also given to the honorable senator himself. f Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay
Smith was recalled on the recommendation of the British Government.
– That answer was supplied only yesterday, whereas the statement which I am making has reference to the previous services of this officer. Until yesterday, LieutenantColonel Ramsay Smith had not been given the reasons for his recall. Yesterday a reason was supplied, but in a very vague way. Under the terms of his appointment, and according to the provisions of the King’s Regulations and Acts of Parliament, and of common law, Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith’s recall and removal from .the Australian Imperial Force were irregular, unjustifiable, and illegal. He does not know of anything having been- done by the Defence Department to ascertain any facts regarding his administration or his recall, nor of any effort having -been made or any advantage taken of opportunities occurring to reinstate him in his office of Principal Medical Officer of the 4th Military District. I have had an opportunity of looking through the file bearing upon this matter which the Acting Minister for Defence promised to let me see about four months ago. However, I was not able to see it until yesterday, though the correspondence was laid on the table of the Senate while I was serving with the Australian Imperial Force about three years ago. The general tenor of the report of the inquiry conducted into this matter is entirely favorable to LieutenantColonel Ramsay Smith.
– It is true that in a private conversation I told the honorable senator that he could have a look at the file, but if he thinks that private conversations should be mentioned here he had better make a formal application to me for information in the future. .
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.It was at an official interview with the honorable gentleman- in his office, that he stated that I could look through the file.
– I made the offer, but the honorable senator never came for the information.
– The honorable senator is about the most dilatory and evasive Minister with whom I have ever had anything to do. I have seen the file relating to this matter,’ and the report, I repeat, is entirely favor able to Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith in regard to his medical administration of the Heliopolis hospital. It is true that there are certain reflections made upon him concerning his inconsiderate and tactless dealing with some of his subordinates. I wish’ to know whether even at this late hour the Defence Department intends to do him justice. His case is exactly parallel with that of Sir James Barrett, who, I understand, is being reinstated in his old position simply because he was able to remain in Egypt and to fight the matter out. LieutenantColonel Ramsay Smith, having been bundled out of Egypt and sent home, still remains under this unjustifiable slur. I ask that the stigma which has been put upon him shall be removed, especially in view of the fact that he is one of the most “capable medical officers and administrators in Australia, as his record proves. I also ask the Minister why LieutenantColonel Ramsay Smith should not be restored to the position of Principal Medical Officer, which he has held for many years. It is true that in the report there are some remarks relating to a little friction between himself and his staff, but beyond that everything is most favorable to him. Lieutenant-Colonel Ramsay Smith is willing to allow bygones to be bygones so .long as justice is done to hi m.
– But for- the very important matter to which I desire to refer, I would not trespass upon the time of honorable senators at this late hour of the session. Yesterday I asked a question regarding a statement which has been made by. Mr. Arnold, who is a member of the firm of Sydney solicitors which represents Vestey Brothers at Port Darwin, to the effect that Vestey Bros. Ltd. did not pay income tax in Australia. I endeavoured to obtain the information from the Minister whether he was aware that Vestey Bros. Ltd., the Northern Australian Agency, and the Northern Australian Meat Company were, to all intents and purposes, the same corporation. I have been informed that when Mr. Carey, the gentleman who at present holds the position of Director of the Northern Territory, was occupying the position of. Government Resident there, he also held the position of
Deputy Commissioner of Taxation. I understand that, when occupying- that position, he prepared the basis of an income tax return covering the operations of the Port Darwin Meat Works. The return was submitted to him as Deputy Commissioner, approved, and forwarded to the Federal Commissioner of Taxation in Melbourne. That appears to be an anomalous position, but I believe that is actually what occurred. In view of these circumstances, I urge the Government to conduct a full and complete inquiry into the allegations which have been made. It is further asserted that when the assessment was submitted to the head office in Melbourne by Mr. Carey, as Deputy .Commissioner, the Taxation officials in Melbourne were not satisfied, and an investigation was ordered, with the result that the assessment was amended. I have been informed on good authority that a sum of money subsequently found its way into the Treasury, I suppose, through the Taxation Department, and that it represented the difference between the amended assessment and that approved by Mr. Carey. I am not going to Specify any amount, but, for the sake of argument, if it had been £5,000, and I had asked the Government whether such an amount had been paid, I would have received a negative reply, although the amount actually paid may have been £4,999 19s. 11¾d. I am not saying that this Government is different from other Governments in that respect, as such a practice is common with all Governments. There appears to be a desire, when answering questions, not only to avoid giving a direct reply, but to get back on the questioner. I am not blaming the Minister, but the system is in vogue in the different departments. If such a sum has been paid in - and I believe it has - it should be a basis for the accusations or allegations made in this connexion. I understand that when the responsible firm - whichever it was of the three I have mentioned - objected to the amended ‘ assessment, it was stated by the Taxation officials that they intended to add to the amount that the company should pay, with the result that an appeal was lodged. Quite recently that appeal was withdrawn. These points show the necessity for a full and unbiased inquiry into the whole situation. One of the worst features in connexion with this matter is that when the Government appointed Mr.
Carey Director of. the Northern Territory, this information was presumably in possession of the Minister for Home and Territories and the Taxation Department. Despite this, Mr. Carey was appointed to the position of Director of the Northern Territory. I do not wish the Minister in charge of the Senate to think that I am accusing him. of responsibility in this matter, but, as a member of the Government, I presume he must have known what transpired. I have no desire to heap troubles on the shoulders of Senator Russell, as, like myself, and other honorable senators, he has sufficient to do in meeting the responsibilities caused by his own misdeeds. If costs; were paid, and the appeal against which a protest had been lodged was withdrawn by the firm, it is reasonable to ask on what grounds. If the information given to me be true, this action should be investigated by a Royal Commission, as it proves a most seriou’s state of affairs under a system of responsible government. There may be the opinion expressed, that if a Royal Commission inquired into such matters, it could deal only with the past. I understand that such a feeling exists among the Port Darwin residents, and that ‘ their principal desire is to have better treatment in the future. They are anxious to have some form of self-government, or something approaching executive power. It is well known that there is a spirit of distrust among the people in the Northern Territory regarding the appointment of a Royal Commission or any other Commission. They had experience in connexion with the Barnet Commission, when Mr. Barnet, a Stipendiary Magistrate of New South Wales, was sent to Port Darwin to conduct an inquiry. It is generally admitted there that Mr. Barnet, in conducting an inquiry into the actions, of Mr. Jensen, the late Government Geologist, was not only Judge, but prosecutor as well, and that the evidence was framed from beginning to end. The Age recently suggested that a Commissioner should be despatched to Port Darwin without delay, and stated that if that were done the person appointed would be able to telegraph his findings to Melbourne within a week or two. I earnestly trust that no such course will be adopted. It is desirable that if any individual be sent there he shall be a man of the highest probity, and one in whom the people of Australia have the greatest confidence. According to the expressions of opinion in Port Darwin and elsewhere, there is no necessity to appoint a Royal Commission. This is not a Port Darwin or Northern Territory question, but one that affects the whole of Australia. I honestly believe that if a Royal Commission were appointed, comprising the right individuals, and set out to investigate the disclosures which have so far been made, not only would these be proved, but other irregularities would- be discovered. I contend that a Royal Commission, inquiring into legislative matters, should be composed of members of Parliament. I believe professional, politicians - as most members who devote the whole of their time to parliamentary work are named - are in the best position to judge as to what should be done. While holding that view, and, under ordinary circumstances objecting to the appointment of an outside Royal Commission, I believe that in this case the necessity is so urgent that the responsibility devolves upon the Government not to wait for the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission, but to handle , the matter promptly, and to appoint a Commission consisting of a person or persons of no less importance than a Judge of the High Court. I feel sure that tie allegations contain a good deal of truth, and when one holds that view, and has considered the responsibility of making such statements as I have made, it is reasonable to assume that much more could be said if one only cared to say it. The information given has been received from reliable sources, and, whilst I realize the difficulties -surrounding the position, surely the request for the appointment of a Royal Commission, with the widest possible scope, is a reasonable one.
– That will be granted, and a Judge, too.
– I differ from the opinion expressed in Port Darwin, to the effect that an inquiry should be made into the future and not into the past. The fear expressed is that some person may be appointed who will white-wash the misdeeds of the officials concerned. I am very pleased to have the Minister’s assurance that a Judge will be appointed to inquire into the whole question.
There is another matter on which I have questioned the Minister, and I regret that the Government have not yet seen fit to take action in the direction I have indicated. I. asked the Minister re- presenting the Minister for Trade and Customs if the Government would undertake to supply the Millaquin Refinery with sufficient raw sugar from the “local supplies to enable the refinery to continue operations until the beginning of next year.
– I was in communication with the Minister by telephone, and he informed me that the Millaquin mill matter was fixed up ‘ satisfactorily.
– The Minister for Customs may have “referred to the situation dealt with in the Minister’s answer to me. The Minister in this chamber agreed to send the output of the sugar mills in the Mackay District, representing about 10,000 tons, to Millaquin. In ordinary seasons that may have sufficed, because the Bundaberg district in normal seasons can produce sufficient raw sugar to enable the mill to carry on to its capacity. Under the agreement between the Commonwealth and the Colonial Sugar’ Refining Company, there is a stipulation that the tonnage of raw sugar to be treated at the Millaquin works must not be more than 25,000 tons per annum. The Bundaberg district is very prolific in sugar cane; but the season has been so bad that the condition at present is absolutely perilous, and instead of there being the usual output, it was estimated, a few months ago, that the production would be about only -7,000 tons. It is feared now that it will not be more than, about 5,000 tons, so there will not be nearly sufficient raw sugar to keep the refinery going, and in an interview the Minister for Trade and Customs said that he would endeavour to have 10,000 tons made available from the Mackay district. In view of the great falling off in production in the Bundaberg district, this additional amount from the Mackay cane areas will not be sufficient to keep the Millaquin refinery fully employed. Next year’s sugar season will be late, owing to the dry weather. It is feared in the Bundaberg district that the season will not commence until July, so that the refinery will not commence until about August, and as about 200 hands are em- ployed, the closing down of the Millaquin refinery from about the end of the year until July or August will be a very serious matter. Senator Crawford, a few days ago, admitted that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s allowance of £1 per ton for management expenses under the agreement with the Commonwealth Government was their profit, and I think it is a reasonable request that the Bundaberg refinery should be supplied with all the raw sugar necessary to keep it going, instead of the raw product being sent to Pyrmont, Yarraville, or Adelaide.
– But it has to be sent to those places in any case.
– Why should the the raw product be sent from the Bundaberg district, when there is not sufficient to keep the local refinery going?
– You might as well say the same of Brisbane.
– Quite so; but that refinery belongs to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and it is keptgoing; whereas the Millaquin refinery is to be shut up, because sufficient of the raw material will not be available. It is not fair that the Bundaberg district refinery should be closed down, seeing that Queensland produces all the raw sugar required for our refineries. I trust that the Government will look further into this matter, and see if something cannot be done.
– What special reason was there for establishing refineries in the south?
– I suppose they were established in southern ports because, when refining was commenced, heavy importations of black-grown sugar were made, and the refineries were, therefore, established in the more central positions.
There is just one other matter I would like to mention before I conclude. The other day Senator Reid suggested that I was very solicitous about the welfare of our returned soldiers, and I want to assure him that in connexion with the matter I am about to mention an unsolicited request has been made to me. Some time ago I asked if soldiers who were married in Britain prior to the 1st August, 1918, would receive the same separation allowance as those who were married after 1st August, and the Minister gave me an assurance thatthe matter would not be overlooked. I desire now to give publicity to a letter which I have received from Mr. G. L. Stedman, honorary secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Labour League, Bundaberg.
– I hope to be able to give a decision with regard to that, matter on Tuesday next.
– I am very glad to have that assurance from the Minister. The letter I have received is as follows : -
At a meeting of the Bundaberg branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Labour League, the following resolution was unanimously carried: - “That steps be taken to have separation allowance paid to wives of all members of the A.I.F. from the date of enlistment, or, if the soldier was single at time of enlistment, from the date of marriage, irrespective of where the wife may have lived.”
It was stated that no other Government made any distinction between wives of soldiers, on account of residence’ qualifications, and that a number of Australian soldiers had married in England and elsewhere in 1915, 1916, and 1917, yet, until the latter part of 1918, no provision was made for the upkeep of their wives or families (if any ) . On the basis of equal treatment for all, members claim that this allowance should be paid to bring their incomes up to that of women who resided in the Commonwealth. I am instructed to ask you to bring this matter forward, and endeavour to show the Ministry the unfairness of the position they have created. Trusting something can be done to at least give the subject publicity.
Am forwarding copy to Mr. Tudor.
Mr. Tudor received his copy, but said he would leave the matter in my hands. As’ I put the question to the Minister as far back as 28th August, it is. about time a decision was come to. I sent the Minister’s reply to the Bundaberg League, and I received the following acknowledgment from Mr. Stedman: -
Yours of 22nd ult. to hand, also further letter of 29th August, inclosing copy of question and answer given by the Acting Minister for Defence. Kindly accept the thanks of Bundaberg members for your action in this matter, and we hope that the agitation will result in the Government paying out the required amount oi cash. League members are taking an active interest in the forthcoming elections, and have some heavy accounts to square with the Wonthewar Party.
Wishing yourself and the party every success at the polls.
I may mention that Mr. Stedman is a returned soldier.
– One of Ryan’s mob.
– He is a one armed man, and applied for a position as secretary of the Loyalty League, or one of the anti-Labour organizations of Queensland, but was turned down.
– And then he joined the Labour League.
– No. He was a prominent member of the Carters Union before he went to the war.
Now as to the war gratuity. I trust the money to be paid to our soldiers will be raised, not by taxation, but by a wealth tax, and made retrospective. Those people who have made millions of money out of the war should be called upon to pay for it. They will then realize that, after all their jubilation and enthusiasm, war is not a luxury. But if, as in former times, they can shift the responsibility and cost on to the workers, of course they will be willing to have another war at any time. During the forthcoming election campaign, I intend to advocate the imposition of a wealth tax to meet the cost of the war gratuity, and that the amount shall not be raised by taxation.
– Then you and Senator Grant will differ.
– Quite possibly ; just as Senator Guthrie and I differ upon some matters. I have much more to say, but I shall reserve my remarks for the election campaign. The Government, with so much time for useful work ahead of them, were not justified in rushing to an election. You and I, Mr. President, will be able to thresh this matter out in Queensland shortly, with, I suppose, the gloves off, and I think, with so much material available, I shall be able to make out a very good case, at all events, from my point of view.
– On this, the final opportunity during the life of this Parliament to discuss various matters, I desire to say a few words concerning a subject of much interest to my State. One of the grievances which the people of Tasmania have against the Government is their non-representation in the Cabinet. For the last twelve months, since the Government found it necessary to relieve a Tasmanian Minister of his portfolio, my State has not had representation in the Government. It is not usual for supporters of the Government to “ wallop their own joss “ on all matters, or we should have had some pretty strong protests by Government supporters from Tasmania in the Senate, and I know that on this matter they feel as I do, although, perhaps, they have not voiced their opinions so strongly. This is a Federation, not a Unification, and at the outset it was held that each State should have at least one voice in the Cabinet, because at nearly every Cabinet meeting matters concerning every State come Up for consideration. If any State is left without a voice in the Cabinet, it cannot expect to receive fair play. When there was a crisis in Tasmania with regard to shipping, we learned that we could not get anything like decent treatment from the Government because of our lack of Cabinet representation. All shades of political thought agreed that we were not receiving “ a fair go.” It was mainly because our interests could not be voiced in the meetings of Cabinet that we found ourselves isolated.
– You really had the best of it, because when I was in charge of shipping matters, I conceded Tasmania half freights.
– The Minister cannot deny that my State has no chance of getting its dues when it is nob represented in the deliberations of the Government.
– Tasmania suffers from some disabilities because of its isolation.
– The reason for the non-appointment of a Tasmanian to take the place vacated by Mr. Jensen certainly cannot be that there would have been too many Ministers. There have been three Ministers away on the other side of the world. Only a few weeks ago, Senator Russell admitted, in this chamber, that he was being worked more heavily than any responsible Minister should be called upon to work ; other members of the Ministry have indicated the same troubles. In face of those facts, the Government, for some reason best known to themselves, have absolutely refused the request that another Minister should be appointed. In the Senate there are usually three Ministers, but for the past few weeks, and to-day, we have witnessed the spectacle of one Minister piloting a huge sheaf of Bills. . We have appreciated the position of Senator Russell; we have sympathized with him, and have refrained from that degree of. criticism which, otherwise, the Government would have been called upon to face. There are four supporters of tlie Government in this Chamber, any one of whom could, with credit to himself and the Government and the country, fill the office of Cabinet Minister. There are four Tasmanian representatives in another place - not counting Mr. Jensen - any one of whom could very worthily hold office as Minister. The people of Tasmania will be asking for reasons during the election campaign why no Tasmanian has been appointed to the Government. I am quite disinterested, for, of course, I could have no chance of being selected, seeing that I am not a supporter of the Government. One hardly likes to suggest that there may be a sordid reason. for the non-selection of an additional Minister; but people are saying that the members of. the Ministry do not care to appoint another, because they would have to divide with him the total amount of salary allocated to the Government.
I must mention another very important question concerning Tasmania. We had no definite pronouncement from the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Poynton) when he presented the Budget, whether the Government intended to go on with what Mr. Watt announced early this year at a Conference with State Premiers, when discussing the financial relations between Commonwealth and States. Mr. Watt’s proposition perturbed the State Ministers very considerably. He said it was his intention to introduce proposals for the reduction of the per capita grant, beginning next year. Within six years, according to his plans, the per capita payments to the States would be reduced from 25s. to 10s.
– Mr. Watt intimated yesterday, I think, that this matter would come before the Convention.
– That is not a sufficiently definite pronouncement.
– It will not do for any Government candidate in Tasmania to advocate the reduction of the per capita grant. We want it all.
– We want every penny of it. At & conference of the State Labour party in Tasmania some six months ago, a motion which I introduced, to the effect that Mr. Watt’s pro- posals were not acceptable to Tasmania, was unanimously agreed to. I trust that the Government will not seek to make to any Convention which may be appointed such a recommendation as Mr. Watt outlined. The smaller States, so long as they retain the functions of government, positively must have the money.
There is still one other matter over which I am- not at all satisfied. I have previously referred to the position of th dependants - mothers and fathers, invalid sisters, and others - of soldiers who have fallen at the Front. .Some of these are drawing as low a sum as 7s. a week by way of pension. ‘That is the assessed value of the life of their deceased relative. Owing to a technicality in the Act, our pensions system makes it mandatory that the pension drawn by dependants of a deceased soldier, other than his widow, shall be based upon the average amount which the deceased had paid to those dependants during the twelve months prior to his enlistment. The system is absolutely rotten. I have in my mind the case of an old man and woman who are living upon their old-age pensions. Their son was killed at the war. Because of circumstances over which he had no control, he had not been able during the year prior to his enlistment to give his parents more than 7s. a week. Those poor old folk could easily have stated that they had been receiving £1 or £2 per week from their boy; no one could have proved the contrary. But they were honest, and they are being drastically punished for their honesty. The duty devolves upon the Government to devise some fairer method of assessing the value of the life of a deceased soldier.
There is another matter worthy of the consideration of the Government. I was somewhat disappointed at the reply I received in connexion with it last night from the Acting Minister’ for Defence. It seems to me that, upon whatever basis the proposed gratuity to the soldiers is fixed, exactly the same gratuity, and upon exactly the same conditions, should be paid to the dependants of soldiers who have lost their lives. Surely that is fair. The man who has returned uninjured from the war is .able to do something for his dependants. His life has been spared to him, and from the sentimental point of view his dependants are better off than are the dependants of those whose bones lie in graves in Gallipoli and France. It will be a rank injustice if the dependants of deceased soldiers are not paid gratuity on exactly the same terms as are soldiers who have returned and are in a position to draw the gratuity themselves.
– That principle has already been conceded by the Government in other directions.
– I admit that that is so. I am disappointed that we have been able to obtain nothing definite as to the intentions of the Government regarding this gratuity. The Minister told us last night that the details of the scheme had not yet been decided. I mentioned to-day that the condition to which I have referred is a principle, and nota detail, and it should have been decided. The Minister says that it has not yet been decided. Mr. Watt has said nothing about it, and the Acting Minister for Defence is apparently unable to say whether the policy I suggest will be followed or not. It must ‘be followed if there is to be any justice in the scheme.
I believe that we have a measure coming before us in the dying hours of this Parliament which will be of great interest to Tasmania, because it deals with the further control of shipping by the Government, which, for a long time past, has not been what we expected it would be. That measure cannot be properly criticised, for the simple reason that nearly all the members of the Senate will have left for their homes before it comes up for consideration. I shall not touch upon any other measures of importance which have yet to be brought before the Senate, because there is no encouragement to do so: Most of the members of the Senate are leaving for their homes, and it is a farce that only a third of its members should be left to discuss these matters of vital importance. We have made our protests against this kind of thing, but they have been in vain. I have had sixteen years’ experience of the Federal Parliament, and I have never witnessed a more shocking example than we have before us to-day of the slaughtering of the innocents and the rushing through of important measures in the last few hours of a Parliament. We have had the spectacle in another place of a Supply Bill being put through in a few moments, and the Minister in charge of it saying, “ This must be done in a quarter of an hour.” Probably the people will have something to say about this method of conducting parliamentary business when they are appealed to.
The Government are going to the country to secure the indorsement of the people for their action, or want of action, during the last three years. I shall not attempt to prophesy, but, if I did, I should say that it is probable that they will receive a shock in many directions. I well remember the ambitious programme of Government measures of vital importance to the country with which this session was opened on the 25th June last. Many of us believed that the Government intended to carry out some of the things they then promised. This Parliament is about to close, and, looking along the track of the last ‘five months, there is nothing but a litter of broken promises. After the meeting of Parliament, we waited three months for the Leader of the Government to come back from the other side of the world. There were men here at the time who, with the majority behind them in both Houses, should have been able to introduce and pass some of the measures promised in the Government programme, but they did not do so. When the Leader of the Government came .back, we thought that he would get to work and do something, but apparently the only idea in his mind was how soon he could get to the country, because he believed that he was on a wave of popularity. He did not keep faith with the electors, nor did he carry out the mandate which they gave him two years ago last May to do certain work.
– Let the honorable senator see that he does not make any promises that he will not fulfill.
– I have never made promises that I have not tried to fulfill. I have sixteen years of Federal parliamentary life behind me, and am beginning to regard myself as a Federal veteran, and I can honestly say that I have always voted in the direction of giving effect to my promises. I .have, however, been only one member of a party. The Prime Minister has had a big majority behind him in both Houses of this Parliament, and he has done nothing. It is said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions; and if the Prime Minister and his party are defeated at the polls on the 13th December next, they will be able to say that the road to political defeat is paved with broken promises.
It may be worth while to remind, even the public who read Hansard, of some of the promises that were made by the Government. Some two years ago, the Prime Minister determined to shut up Parliament very hurriedly and unexpectedly. He had previously said that he would not have another referendum. In answer to Mr. Tudor, I heard him say that nothing important would be done while Parliament was in recess. A few weeks later, without consulting almost any, even of his. own party, he decided upon a second referendum. He decided to hold that referendum without passing a Bill through both Houses, as was done in the case of the first referendum. The second was taken by virtue of the powers vested in the Government under the “War Precautions Act. The Prime Minister was defeated at that referendum. During the. campaign, Mr. Hughes said that, if the Government did not get the powers they were asking for, he would not carry on the government of this country for twenty-four hours. He did not get the powers he asked for. He walked out of the front door, and a few hours later came in at the back door. There is no instance in the annals of Parliament of a Government promise being more flagrantly broken. The Prime Minister made a spurious pretence of resignation, and a few hours later was back at the head of the Government without a change in the Cabinet.
I can remember a very sensational incident which occurred in this Chamber in 1917. A. certain honorable senator resigned, and his resignation was read from the- Chair at 9 o’clock one night, and at 11 o’clock next morning there was a senator waiting on the door step to take his place. . Some very harsh things were said about that. A senator, who is not now a member of the Senate, made a statement to the effect that he was approached by the Prime Minister and asked to resign, and that he had refused When the matter was brought up. by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, what was Mr. Hughes’ reply to him when he asked for an inquiry into the matter. It was, “ You ask for an inquiry into the Ready business, and by God you will get it!v Did the Prime Minister give” that inquiry? A resolution in favour of the appointment of a Royal Commission, consisting of a Judge of the High Court, to inquire into that matter, was carried in this Chamber^ but nothing followed from it. In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister took the name of the Almighty to emphasize his promise that he would have an inquiry, he burked it. That was another broken pledge. From the time Mr. Hughes took office in the first stop-gap Government, and later on in the Coalition Government of to-day, the record of his Ministry has been a record of broken promises and pledges. It is for the people of Australia to deal with them. When I speak of Mr. Hughes, I do not speak of him personally. I know we have been charged with hating him. It is alleged that Labour members unite in singing a “hymn of hate” regarding him. Personally, I have the greatest admiration for Mr. Hughes. I admire his cleverness and his cunning.
– Does not the honorable senator admire his honesty ?
– No. If I could admire dishonesty, I should admire it in Mr. Hughes. I frequently laugh -when I read in the newspapers that every member of the Labour party hates Mr. Hughes. Why, for several months I lived in the same house with him, and he possesses a personality that one must like. It is his unscrupulous political record that I do not like. I speak of him, not as a man, but as a politician. It is because he is to-day the very antithesis of everything that he was for a number of years that I disagree with him. We must hate him politically.
– Why does not the honorable senator use the word ‘‘dislike” instead of “hate”?
– I have heard Mr. Hughes himself say that he is hated like poison by Labour men. He has allied himself with his lifelong political enemies, as have some other members who were formerly associated with the Labour party. It is for the public to judge between us. The electors did so judge upon one occasion since the coalition was effected, and they gave Mr. Hughes and his following a solid majority. But upon that occasion there was a number of influences at work which are not operating to-day. I believe that the people will not look at things at the forthcoming election in the light in which they viewed them two years and a half ago. They will study Mr. Hughes and his record. They will not forget the pledges which’ he has broken. If they do forget those pledges, they will again return him and his party to power with a majority. ‘Some of us may not have the honour of representing our State after 30th June next. As one honorable senator remarked at a convivial gathering up-stairs to-day, we all think that we shall come back. Personally, I am of opinion that I shall.
– But we all get a pain at times. .
– Exactly. Nevertheless, it is our duty to go straight ahead on the path which we have hitherto followed. If the majority of the electors of Tasmania do not send me back here after 30th June next, I shall not complain; but I have sufficient confidence in their good sense to believe that at the forthcoming election they will indorse, not the actions of the present Government, but those of the political party which is opposed to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Recognising as I do the absolutely nonsensical fashion in which this Bill has been thrown at us, I do not feel justified in attempting to criticise any of the items contained in the schedule to it. That is the only- reason why I propose to forego my right to discuss it. I wish the Government joy of their solid phalanx.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 4, Schedule, preamble, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Message received from the House of Representatives, intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate in this Bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure is a very simple one. Its effect will be to increase the old-age pension from 12s. 6d. to 15s. per week, and to authorize a. similar increase in cases in which pensioners possess property. In such cases, it will ‘be possible for pensioners to receive, from their pension and property combined, £65 per annum, or 25s. per week, instead of, as hitherto, £58 10s. per annum, or 22s. 6d. per week. The other amendment which the Bill will effect in the principal Act relates to the allowance in cases in which pensioners receive board and lodging. This will be increased from 7s. 6d. per week to 10s. per week. The increases are to take effect from 1st J anuary, 1920. We all sympathize with the recipients of these - pensions, recognising the good work which they have done on behalf of this country. I think, therefore, that honorable senators will cordially support the measure.
.- I very much regret that this Bill does not contain a provision to permit of blind pensioners and the inmates of our blind institutions earning, more than they are entitled to earn to-day. I recognise that, at this late hour of the session, it would be idle to attempt to secure an amendment of the measure! I know that an effort was made in another place to amend section 24 of the principal Act, so as to permit of blind pensioners earning up to 50s. per week without suffering a deduction from their pensions. There is nothing wrong in principle with that proposition. As a matter of fact, such an amendment would encourage these pensioners to produce more than they have hitherto done, and that is what Australia requires at the present moment. It is only because we are so close to the termination of the session that I refrain from moving in the direction I have indicated. I believe that these blind pensioners should be permitted to earn as much as they possibly can. The Government have never been asked to grant them a single shilling by way of additional pension. The Act allows a blind pensioner to earn the’ sum of only £52 a year without submitting to a deduction from his pension. I think that these blind persons, who are so industrious in their different callings of basket-making, mat-making, and broom-making, should be allowed to earn any amount without having their pensions reduced. The minimum amount which I suggest they should be permitted to earn before suffering a reduction in their pensions is £130 a year.
– They should not be in- the same position as others.
– There is no necessity for that. There may be objections to applying the same principle to all invalids. There are many invalids of whom it would be difficult to say whether they are malingerers or not,- yet they are drawing pensions. With a blind person it is quite different, as there is no doubt concerning his or her invalidity. It astonishes me to think that members of either branch of the Legislature should be prepared to resist an attempt to do what is only just. Many members of Parliament are enunciating a policy of increased production.
– Can the honorable senator not move an amendment to benefit the blind workers?
– It was my intention of moving in that direction; but business is being rushed through in such a manner that one is almost prevented from doing what is just.
– Why not indicate tlie amendment, particularly one of such importance ?
– Yes, I shall do it.
– The honorable’ senator cannot move such an amendment on the second reading df the Bill; that must be done in Committee. He can, if he so desires, indicate an amendment.
– Then I shall indicate an amendment I intend moving in Committee. It is my intention to add a sub-clause 1a to clause 24, to the effect that section 24 of the Invalid and Old-age
Pensions Act be amended by adding, “ except in the case of. persons invalided through blindness. In such cases the pensioner’s income from personal exertion and pension may amount to, but not exceed, £130 per annum.” The necessity for this provision is so apparent from all points of view that I cannot imagine it receiving any opposition.
– We all agree that the least the Government can do is to increase the rate at present being paid to old-age pensioners. We know that those in fairly good health have difficulty in making both ends meet. It seems particularly hard that many old Australian pioneers, through no fault of their own, have now to depend upon an old-age pension for their livelihood. We are glad to know that the Government, even at this late hour, have decided to make their lot more comfortable. I have no right to find fault with what has been done, or How members of this Chamber conduct its business; but it is regrettable that the whole day has been occupied with matters of very little consequence when business of vital im.portance has been delayed. The honorable senators in Opposition have taken up practically the whole of our sitting time with political “ swan-songs,” and used Hansard for .all it is worth, to place their views before . the electors. It will be noticed that those honorable senators who have occupied the time of this Chamber have now departed to their respective States, while others are remaining, . at considerable inconvenience to themselves, to conduct the business of this Chamber. Those who have left will probably appear before the electors as martyrs to duty, whilst those who are remaining to do the real work of the country. will receive little credit.
– There is not a solitary member of the Opposition now present.
– Not one. In the matter of old-age and invalid pensions, I wish the Government to take the view that many old persons - I have had quite a number brought under my personal notice - are able to do useful work. During the war period many elderly ladies were taken into the households of others as companions while the men folk were away. . In this way some old lady pensioners were able to earn wages varying from 5s. to 15s. per week, but immediately the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions became aware of the fact, their pensions were stopped, and they had to refund amounts already paid. Many such persons had not a penny to refund, and, in consequence, had to forego their pensions until the Government had recovered the amount paid. Many of them have been accustomed to a life of activity, and consider it their duty,so long as they are able, to earn , a few shillings to do so. The action of the Government in stopping their pensions absolutely discourages them. I know of a woman who had to refund £37, and of another who had to return £22 or £23, because she was being boarded and received a few shillings a week in addition to her pension. The Deputy Commissioners in the various States are not to blame, because they have to administer the Act. I trustthat when an appeal is madein such cases justice will be done.
– Was an appeal lodged ?
– Yes, in both cases; and they were turned down by the authorities. I know also of an elderly gentleman inSouth Australia who had been engaged in war work in America which entitled him to a war pension. But as soon as the Deputy Commissionerof Pensions ascertained that he was in receipt of such a pension the amount was added to his earnings, and he had to refund the sum he drew in excess of that allowed. If the Government were to place a fair interpretation on the Act they would not call upon persons who receive money for war services to refund such sums.
– Does not the Act compel the Deputy Commissioner to do thatl
– No. If a person is. earning over a certain amount, the pension is reduced. A foreign war pension is regarded as income, and if the pension and income make the total earnings beyond a certain figure the pension is reduced. The Deputy Commissioner should have more latitude under the Act. I am anxious’ that old people shall be allowed to earn a. little money to keep them out of mischief, because, so long as they do nothing and the pension continues,, they immediately cease perform ing usefu work. It is time the Government took a more common-sense view of the matter. There is another section of the community in which I am very interested, and to which Senator Earle has: referred - that is the blind workers. I am astonished that the. Government have not seen fit to include some provision in this Bill to benefit blind workers-. I am a member of the Board of the South Australian Institute for the Blind, and’ havebeen associated with that institution for some time. I have been making’ representations to the Deputy Commissioner and to the Treasurer in the endeavour to extend, rights to these persons, irrespective of their earnings. For a considerable time the Blind Institution in Victoria has been moving in the same direction. I have received correspondence from the South Australian Institute for the Blind and also from a Victorian institution, showing that some time ago the Melbourne authorities asked the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) to receive a. deputation on the question. The Treasurer was not prepared to do so, and a memorandum setting out what was required was forwarded. They were prepared to limit the earnings to £2 7s. 6d. per week, and if the inmates received that amount their pensions were to be reduced proportionately.
– Why should they?
– I do not know. God knows, a blind person should be allowed to earn as much as possible, as the sunshine of life has gone. The labour on which blind workers are engaged helps to lighten their burden. Our blind people are a charge upon the community, and we have no right to shirk our responsibility. Many blind workers have learned trades, and have become exceedingly expert-. The present arrangement means that the Government are making loafers of these blind people, because if they turn out goods which the community requires and receive payment in the way of wages in one of our institutions, the amount of pension is reduced accordingly until eventually it may disappear altogether. In Adelaide some- blind persons receive as small a pension as1s. 6d. a week. Many of these blind persons are young people in possession of all other natural faculties, and some of them desire to establish homes for themselves. But what chance hare they of marrying under cirsumstances such as these? We have not yet declared that no Wind person shall marry, hut this reduction in pension payments in certain circumstances is no doubt preventing them from marrying if they desire to do so. I understand that on Monday last representatives of the Blind Institution in Victoria interviewed the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) in connexion with this matter. Unfortunately, I was not here to represent South Australia, but several members of the House of Representatives presented the case on behalf of the Victorian institution, and I was told thatthe Treasurer received them sympathetically, and they were hoping that an amendment, in accordance withtheir representations, would be included in the measure now before the Senate. The ‘Commissionercan ascertain : to a penny what these people earn in Government institutions, but if : a blind man cares to go on the streets and hold out : a tin, or play a fiddle or other musical instrument, he receives very often a great deal more than blind persons who follow some -regular occupation, and as he isnot obliged to furnish an incometax return, nobody knows what he is receiving.Consequently his pension is not reduced. We are told that some of these men get as much as £4, £5, and £6 a week, and, in addition, get their full pension payment. There is no more pitiful sight than blind persons sitting on the pavements in our publicthoroughfares begging for sustenance which the Government ought to provide. I am disappointed that the Act is not being amended so as to provide that there shall be no reduction in the. pension paid to those persons who earn money by following some regular occupation.
– Itwas ruled out of order by the Chairman in another place.
– Well, , we can try to insert it here. Considering the representations that were made I was hopeful that this anomaly would have been removed, and had the Bill been brought on earlier in the session I certainly would have occupied much more time of the Senate than- at present in urging for this amendment.
– And you would have received a lot of support.
SenatorNEWLAND.- I am confident of that. I hope Senator Earle will move his . amendment in Committee, and that it will be carried. If, however, there are difficulties’ in the way I can promise that if I have the good fortune to come back after the . elections, I shall take a very early opportunity of endeavouring to amend the Act in the direction I have in- . dicated. .
– I trust that Senator Earle will not press his amendment in Committee.
– Because if we delay too much at this stage there is a possibility that the position of the oldage pensioners will not be improved. I am not the Minister controlling the Department concerned, and I had no knowledge of the grievance which has been ventilated this afternoon, but I may -point out that if an amendment is inserted in Committee the Bill will haye to go to another House, and I . cannot guarantee that the Government will be able to keep the House together to get all these Bills through. If I thought that there was reasonable prospect of . an amendment being considered in another place, I would be prepared to favorably consider’ the amendment indicated by Senator Earle. But I am not confident that. we would get the Bill back. ‘Senator Newla-nd, I understand, was at the railway station this afternoon on his return to South Australia, but kindly returned in order to help the Government to dispose of the business in the Senate. . In . another place, members are very anxious to get away.. When the new Parliament reassembles there will be . ample opportunity for the review of our social legislation, but for’ the present we have done our best, and I urge honorable senators not to risk losing the . extra 2s. 6d. per week for the blind by pressing the amendment at this stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
– I should like to know why the Act cannot come into force on the 1st
November instead of the 1st January? I do not want to endanger the Bill by moving an amendment in this direction, but I point out that if the Act does not come into force until the 1st- January the old-age pensioners will be receiving the reduced amount to the end of the year.
– Exactly the same argument applies. I have no objection to an amendment as suggested, butI cannot guarantee to get the Bill back.
– If the Minister says that absolutely, then I shall not press the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Limit ofpensions).
.- Since my remarkson the second reading, I have made inquiries as to the course of the Bill in another branch of the Legislature, and I have ascertained that an amendment similar to that indicated by me was ruled out of order on the ground that it would mean increased expenditure, and consequently another message would have been necessary to appropriate the additional money. There, fore, it is absolutely useless for me to move an amendment, although I believe the Committee is almost unanimously in favour of the course I indicated. However, I shall co-operate with Senator Newland in the new Parliament if he gets back - and I hope he will - in seeking to amend the Act.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23rd October (vide page 13875), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill he now read a second time.
– Doubts have been raised- whether the Deceased Soldiers’ -Estates Act 1918 applies to the estates of soldiers who died before the commencement of the Act. The object of this Bill is to make it quite clear that the Act does apply to those estates. A long debate occurred upon the measure last night, but only, one line of objection was taken, namely, that it was to be retrospective. The purpose of the Statute of 1918 was that it should apply to every soldier killed at the war. Unfortunately, due to the manner of its drafting, a doubt arose whether the Act would apply to the estate of any soldier killed at the war prior to its passage. It would have been sounder to make the Act retrospective, because the deliberate intention of Parliament was to legislate for the benefit of the dependants ‘ of all deceased soldiers. Owing to the technical mistake which I have just indicated, I am now threatened with legal action. Any number of . cases’ which the Department has already dealt with, up to 5,000 or 8,000; may become involved. Retrospective legislation should only be resorted to in extreme circumstances; but I am able to state that, as the result of a conference between Senator Keating and myself, it has been decided to permit this onecase which has been referred to to go on ifthe parties desire to proceed. In Committee, I intend, to introduce a new clause, having to do with “ the saving of certain rights.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That the following new clause be added - “ 5. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to affect the rights of the parties to any proceeding pending at the date of the passing of this Act.”
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a second time, and passed through all its stages without amendment.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
Motion (by Senator Russell) . proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I desire. to enter my strongest protest against a piece of legisla- tion being rushed through the Legislature in these dying hours of the session, when it contains a provision such as clause 7, which sets out that the Governor-General shall have power to make such regulations as may be convenient to the Government, and which will not even be submitted to Parliament.
– Of course; they will be submitted to Parliament.
– The only qualification in clause 7 is that the regulations shall not be inconsistent with the Bill. Parliament will never see these regulations.
– There is the same provision in this Bill with respect to the regulations that ordinarily appears in our Bills.
– Regulations under other Acts are submitted to Parliament, but regulations under this Bill will not be submitted to Parliament.
– Yes, they will.
– There is no provision in this Bill for that. I protest against any regulation being made which will not come before Parliament.
– The clause to which the honorable senator objects is in the usual form. The compulsion to submit the regulations to Parliament is contained in the Rules Publication Act.
– It is not, because we are here passing a definite Bill. The regulations are to be published in the Commonwealth Gazette, a copy of which honorable senators are denied the right to receive. I shall not further take up the time, but I put my protest on record against any regulations being made that are not to be brought under the notice of Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill he now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to define what is meant by “ the termination of the war.” There have been various de finitions adopted in different measures which we have passed. The War Precautions Act is definite, and its operation is to terminate three months after the termination of the war. There are other Acts in which the expression is used with a different meaning. This Bill is practically a copy ‘of a measure passed by the Imperial Parliament. In Great Britain there was some conflict of opinion as to when the war would terminate within the meaning of some of the Statutes which were passed. A Committee was appointed to deal with the question, and subsequently the Imperial Government decided to define the date of the termination of the war, which would apply to all legislation. It is in this Bill proposed- that a proclamation shall ‘be issued by the GovernorGeneral asnearly as possible at the time of the exchange of ratifications of the Peace Treaty.
Honorable senators will remember that we have passed a measure extending the operation of the war precautions regulations affecting wool, metals, and flax, and they have now become ordinary Acts of this Parliament, and will not cease to operate until the period fixed by that legislation.
– Peace was signed on the 28th June, at Versailles.
– Peace has not yet been finally declared. It is here provided that the termination of the war will be when ratifications have been exchanged, that is to say, when all . the. documents bearing upon the Peace are finalized by., the parties engaged in the war. The passing of this Bill is necessary to avoid possible litigation and annoyance to a great many people.
– I wish to mention a specific case which has come under my notice. A man signed on in Australia in connexion with the wireless service for the period of the war and three months afterwards. I ‘ have been trying to arrive at what that really means, and the best legal advice I can get is that the war was over on the 28th June, when the Treaty of Peace was signed at Versailles. This Bill will upset the whole arrangements made by this man, and by all who have signed a similar agreement. Are we going to penalize these persons by passing a Bill to” provide that the termination of the war will have arrived only upon the issue of a proclamation ? The Navigation Act, which was passed in 1912, was to be declared in operation upon the issue of a proclamation, but no such proclamation has yet been issued. The same thing may happen under this Bill, and the proclamation for which it provides may not be issued for the next ten years. The introduction of such a Bill at the last moment of the session is ridiculous, and does not reflect any credit on the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages, without amendment.
– I move -
That this Bill be. now read a second time.
I ask the special attention of honorable senators in moving the secondreading of this Bill, because there has been some confusion of thought in connexion with it, and it has been suggested that it represents an extension of the War Precautions Act. It is true that it will extend certain provisions which will be in the nature of an Act. It will extend the operation, for instance, of the enemy shareholders’ regulation. Honorable senators will remember that, during the period of the war, we determined that no enemy aliens should be permitted to be shareholders of public companies, and particularly of companies engaged in the production of materials necessary for the war.- The shares of such people were placed in the hands of a trustee. Quite a considerable amount of money is involved, and it is necessary to give time to the public trustee to wind up the affairs of these shareholders.
In regard to the land regulations, we prevented the transfer of land to an alien enemy, and I do not suppose that any member of the Senate desires that we should allow that at the present time. Another provision prevents aliens getting control of our mines, and places them in the possession of British shareholders. The shipping regulations are also dealt with by the Bill. Every one must recog nise the crippled position we are in in regard to shipping. One can quite conceive that if the regulations were removed at the present time, many of the ships on our coast would be at once removed from our waters, and Australia would be in a very bad position indeed. There was practically unanimous approval of these provisions in the past by people and Parliament, and I believe there is a ‘ desire to continue the operation of these powers.
– The Shipping Board has not met since last January, and the honorable senator is a member of it.
– I do not know what can be wrong with Senator Guthrie. I am not a member of the Shipping Board. I may say that it is eighteen months since I was a member of that Board.
– The Minister knows that there has bean no meeting of the Board since January.
– It is to be very much regretted that a measureof this character has to be discussed in a thin Senate, and is intro- duced at the fag-end of a session of a practically “defunct Parliament. . Some very great principles are involved in this measure. I have before taken objection to the projection into peace-time of what I call the sequela) of war legislation. The war will terminate whenthe GovernorGeneral issues a proclamation, and that proclamation is expected to be issued when ratifications have been exchanged between certain Powers who were signatories to the Peace Treaty. For some three months after that, according to legislation . already on our statute-book, the existing War Precautions Regulations will have validity and force. I question whether, if the matter were tested, it would be found that they have validity.
– This Bill will make certain regulations an ordinary Act of Parliament.
– That is so; but I question whether this Parliament has the power to pass an ordinary Act of Parliament of this description.I contend that it has not constitutionally the power to prolong what is practically war legislation and practice for such a period as will certainly extend to about nine months after the exchange of ratifications in connexion with the Peace Treaty. But dismissing the constitutional aspect of this matter, I must say that the merit of these regulations is very closely questioned. I have looked at the mining regulations very carefully, and, as the result of ‘ my scrutiny, I- am of opinion that no harm would accrue to the Commonwealth if they were repealed forthwith. They are of a hampering character, and, as we have now arrived at a state of peace, I think we should immediately revert to peace conditions in connexion with the mining industry.
– Then the honorable senator has no objection to handing over some of our mines to aliens?
– There are aliens in our midst possessing a nationality which ranks them with our Allies. Such responsible bodies as the Chambers of Commerce in Tasmania have communicated with Tasmanian senators protesting, against the continuance of the shipping control. It must be conceded that maritime communication is particularly essential to the well-being of that State.
– If Tasmania is not very careful, she may lose the ships which are already trading with her.
– We hear a good deal to the effect that the shipping of Australia is in a great hurry to get out of Australian waters into other seas. I very much question whether the statement is accurate.
– We do not want to risk it.
– We shall have to risk it in the immediate future. There is no possible chance of Australia being prejudiced by the immediate repeal of the shipping regulations. My own experience of any very great centralized control is that it is particularly vexatious. Why do the Government still insist upon the exercise of their powers in regard to the formation of companies? No later than last night I was talking with a man who is veTy prominent in financial circles, and who estimated the damage which has been done to our producing interests as the result of thecontinuance of regulations governing the formation of companies at millions of” pounds. I favour the immediate repeal of those regulations. It is not right that, at a time like the present, a man should be compelled to go cap in hand to the Treasurer for permission to float a company. I doubt whether any great injury would be done to the Australian people if the shipping regulations were repealed forthwith. Even such an authority as Mr. Boyd has protested very vigorously against their continuance. Surely he cannot be accused of being hostile to the shipping interests of the Commonwealth?
– I do not know that he possesses special qualifications to judge Australian shipping.
– Be has very frequently been quoted as an authority on shipping, and certainly anybody who holds a conversation with . him will speedily come to the conclusion that he does possess a special knowledge of that subject.
– Was he the man who owned the John Murray?
– I do not know; but I do know that he has protested very vigorously against the continuance of these shipping regulations. I cannot accept the responsibility of supporting the extension of these regulations for a period of twelve months, especially when I know that by many persons they are regarded as vexatious and obnoxious.
– I do not pretend to know what may be the contents of this Bill. I have merely been able to read its title, because it has been in my possession for only a very brief period. But I rose for the purpose of stressing one point which has been touched upon by Senator Bakhap, namely, the desirableness of removing the restrictions which have been imposed upon the formation of companies.’
– This Bill does not deal with that question. It merely provides that enemies shall not hold shares in companies here.
SenatorNEWLAND. - I do not object to that. If this measure does not provide the machinery necessary to bring about a very considerable relaxation in the conditions imposed upon the formation of companies, I hope that such machinery will be speedily provided.
– This Bill does not deal with that matter.
– The regulations to which I refer are unquestionably hampering industry. Consequently, I ask the Minister to see that if they are not immediately repealed they shall at least be considerably relaxed in the near future.
– The prolongation of regulations having the force of law - regulations which were promulgated in pursuance of the defence power of the Commonwealth - may involve very large issues indeed. The proposal to continue the shipping control, for example, impresses me as being one of the most debatable questions which can well be imagined. We possess the power to extend the period during which those regulations shall operate, merely because Peace has not yet been officially proclaimed. But the period to which any extension shall apply raises a very serious question indeed from a constitutional stand-point, for if we can continue them in operation for eight or nine months after Peace has been declared, why cannot we continue them in operation for years? To my mind, the question is a very intricate one, which may have to be decided by the High Court. Now, the subject of shipping control is of very great importance to Tasmania, because that State has to depend entirely upon shipping transport to enable it to reach its chief markets in Australia, and if it cannot obtain such transport, it will be placed in a very grave position. I have considerable doubt whether the prolongation of the period during which the Comptroller of Shipping may exercise his present powers would prove beneficial to Tasmania.
– I doubt whether Tasmania would get a single ship to go there if all vessels were free.
– I admit that this is a question which the Government and the people of Tasmania have to con-: sider fairly. I conceived it to be my duty to make the two bodies representative of commercial and shipping interests in Tasmania acquainted with the proposal of the Government to continue the shipping control till next year. I invited the views of the Launceston and Hobart Chambers of Commerce on the matter. To my request the latter body forwarded the following reply: -
Your cable re shipping control considered by Hobart Chamber.This Chamber is of opinion that the sooner Government releases InterState control the better, presuming satisfactory arrangements regarding shipment and marketing next two Australian wool clips.Overseas control should not be extended.
The Launceston Chamber of Commerce is rather more emphatic in the expression of its views. Its reply reads -
Wire received. Launceston Chamber strongly oppose Government control shipping and recommend that strong effort be made to induce Government to relinquish control of the whole if possible, experience having proved unsatisfactory.
– The ships might clear out of Australian . waters twenty-four hours after we had relinquished control over them.
– As the result of being a member of ; this Senate, and of occasionally interviewing the Comptroller of Shipping, as well as Ministers, I have been able to appreciate the difficulties with which they are confronted. I think that the Shipping Department has done its best for Tasmania. But the views of the two Chambers of Commerce in Tasmania are adverse to the continuation of the shipping control. I shall have to accept responsibility for exercising my own judgment in this matter, and, consequently, I should like to hear the views of the Minister upon it, particularly in relation to the effect which an extension of the shipping control will have upon Tasmania.
– I am quite aware of the difficulties of Tasmanian senators, in view of the protests from the Chambers of Commerce in that State. I do not think the members of those Chambers understand the position.
– They understand their own business.
– They do not understand the shipping business, or the telegrams that have been read in this Chamber would not have been despatched. I have been asked to produce positive proof that if the control were withdrawn shipping would not leave the Australian coast. It is obvious that there is not an. unlimited number of steam-ships, and the commercial trade of Tasmania would be paralyzed if more vessels were allowed to leave. We could not do any business
– Has not the Minister seen a statement that there is more shipping available now than before the war?
– In a newspaper paragraph-
– I trust that we have not reached the stage when the Government of - this country is to be influenced by what appears in newspapers, and I do not accept every newspaper statement as reliable. We have evidence of the fact that ships would leave Australia because definite application has been made for permission to send them elsewhere, but when permission was sought not a single application was granted. There have been occasions when vessels worth £20,000 or £30,000 could have been sold overseas for four orwe times, ‘ and, in some cases, ten times, that price. If the restrictions were removed the vessels would leave the Australian coast. If Senator Bakhap were a ship-owner, and had a free hand in this matter, would he- not sell to the highest bidder? I know what I would do. But as a Government we have to take a broader view. The Government are dealing with national interests, and knowing the position of a State such as Tasmania, we have endeavoured, to the very best of our ability, to conserve her interests. There have been some complaints concerning the system of control, but Tasmania has been treated more generously than any other State.
– The Tasmanian authorities used to despatch telegrams ordering ships to arrive within twenty-four hours, and they would have been sent had they been available. Owing to her Isolation, Tasmania has been generously treated, and in the matter of wheat the Government have paid from the Commonwealth Treasuryone-half of the freight. The position in Tasmania has been brought about largely by her own action.
– Very necessary action.
–I am not condemning the action, but when vessels in South Australia, for instance, were to be despatched to Tasmania, they had to be quarantined at Portsea for a week or so, and, after lying outside at Hobart, it would ‘usually take five weeks to. make the round voyage. During a portion of the time the Government were faced with the difficulty of transporting soldiers, but I am not blaming Tasmania for that.
The unfortunate position of the island State was brought about largely by the influenza epidemic; it was more a question of delays caused by quarantine restrictions than lack of shipping. The national interests are of more importance than the interests of private ship-owners, and it can be said that the war is not over so far as available shipping is concerned. Although the tonnage is increasing, it will be a number of years before the position is normal. I know a shipping man who chartered a vessel at £10 per ton for three years, and who is to receive a reduction of 10 per cent, in the third year; so those who are hopeful that the shipping difficulty will be overcome within a few months are labouring under a misapprehension.
– This Bill, which is to project regulations into the future, will be only a drop in the ocean in the alleviation of the situation.
– Yes; but it is better than nothing.
– We have had too much of centralized control.
– If the honorable senator took the risk of providing shipping, in the absence of regulations, I think he would find that Tasmania would be without , the necessary tonnage. I would not take the risk in regard to my own State.
Question resolved- in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Continuance of Land, Mining, Shares, and Shipping Regulations).
– I have listened to the Minister with great interest, and my interest has been heightened by the fact that the matter under consideration concerns the State I represent. The Minister must- concede that men such as those who constitute the membership of the Chambers of Commerce in Launceston and Hobart know something of shipping. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the members, including Mr. Ashbolt, manager of Jones and Company, and Agent-General designate of the State of Tasmania, in place of the late lamented Sir John McColl. Mr. Ashbolt is a very competent shipping authority, and I do not think the telegrams sent to Senator Mulcahy would have been despatched without Mr. Ashbolt being consulted.
– I do not doubt that; but he is an interested party.
– Most decidedly. I am an interested party, because I represent the State of Tasmania, and am particularly interested, because of its isoation.
– He represents the private interests of Jones and Company.
– I am speaking of the interests of the whole of Tasmania. The gentleman to whom I have referred is at the head of a huge trading concern, the ramifications of which, in a short time, will extend to three continents. I contend that Mr. Ashbolt has some knowledge of the shipping position, despite what the Minister has said. I know the Minister was in charge of shipping, and rendered good service; but that does not disprove the fact that inconvenience arises from highly centralized control. There is no reason why shipping should be controlled from one centre, when the interests of the whole continent are involved. To-day I had evidence of the fact that great difficulties present themselves in this connexion, and that keen dissatisfaction exists. For some time past the tin smelters have been idle, owing to coal supplies not coming forward from Newcastle. The gas. works also require coal; and I have been bombarded with telegrams and insistent letters dealing with this particular matter. I communicated by telephone with the ‘Comptrollerof S hipping, and to-day received a courteous intimation that the steamer Weir had been ordered to load coal at Newcastle for Launceston, where there is an accumulation of cargo forback loading. I have no complaints to make concerning Admiral Clarkson, who has always been most courteous to me; but the fact remains that it is necessary to make persistent applications before the Tasmanian people’s requirements are complied with. Consequently, they are up in arms against centralized control, and feel that the position could not be worse.
– Admiral Clarkson regulates the cargoes almost to an ounce, and pressure similar to that from Tasmania is coming in all directions. Does the honorable senator think that vessels are distributed according to the political pressure brought to bear?
– I would not be so unjust as to suggest that; but it seems to be necessary for Tasmanian public men to band themselves together to get what they require. The impression is abroad in Tasmania that there have to be continual and persistent effort on the part of public men before any attention is paid to the needs of that State.
– Western Australian and South Australian representatives are doing the same thing.
– Has every State representative to be perpetually drawing attention to the difficulties under which his State, is labouring,as a result of centralized control?
– If you left it entirely to the Comptroller of Shipping, the result would be the same.
– I realize that the actions of the Comptroller are not influenced by anything I may say; but I believe that public men are sometimes able to present a phase of a question that has escaped that official’s notice. I have always refrained from making statements in Parliament concerning officials when they are not present to answer them. I think the Minister’s fears in regard to the shipping position are not well founded.
– We have had written applications for permission to send ships away from Australia.
-Have not freights fallen?
– No, they have increased.
– According to Australian trade journals, the freights have fallen by 40 or 50’ per cent.
– As Minister controlling the Wheat Pool, I suppose I am as well acquainted with freight rates as any one._
– Does the Minister think that theRotomahana and Loongana would be withdrawn if the control were removed?
– Possibly the Loongana would be placed in another trade.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– During the dinner adjournment I gave very serious consideration to the observations made by the Minister, and I feel sure that he has stated the position as he believes it to exist. Even had I any prospect of carrying amendments to the Bill or securing the rejection of the contemplated projection of the present position to the end of 1920, I would not attempt to do so after the Minister’s remarks concerning the shortage of shipping in Australian waters. I may say that I am- entirely -in agreement with those other honorable senators who commend the Minister for his considerate leadership of the Senate. He is very amenable to reason in connexion with this matter, and has communicated to me certain information which influenced my attitude. I do not think that I can now take the responsibility of attempting to have the regulations annulled. My concern is to see that Tasmania gets her full share of such shipping service as may be available, and I ask the Minister for an assurance that very careful investigation will be undertaken by the administration, in conjunction with the Shipping Comptroller, of the whole position, and that Tasmania, by reason of her insular position, will receive special attention in this matter. If the Minister will give me the assurance, notwithstanding that I think that the regulations are vexatious and will greatly retard the progress of this country, I will not now take the responsibility of asking the Committee to delete them. Before I sit down I wish to draw- the Minister’s attention to the following statement which. appeared in this evening’s Herald : -
Adelaide Steamers Solo.
Sufficient guarantee having been given by the Adelaide Steam-ship Company that vessels disposed of will be replaced by larger and more up-to-date tonnage, permission to sell the steamers Allinga, Morialta, and Rupara to foreign ‘buyers has been granted by the CommonwealthGovernment.
The nationality of the purchasers was not stated officially, but it is understood that the deal was made with Chinese buyers. The Allinga is 2;242 tons gross, twenty-two years old; Bupara, 1,368 tons, thirteen years old; and Morialta, 1,848 tons, eight years old.
In place of these vessels the Adelaide Steamship Company as said to be placing a large, modern, well-equipped cargo and passenger steamer on the coast at an early date. The company recently sold the passenger steamer Willochra, which was replaced by a standard steamer built in Great Britain.
That does not indicate that the shortage of shipping is as acute as the Minister honestly believes it to be.
– I think it does.
– It indicates that shipping is being built for the Australian trade.
– You must remember that the Adelaide Steam-ship Company is one of the most up-to-date firms in the world. Evidently they had an opportunity of getting rid of obsolete vessels and replacing them with modern ships.
.- I have nothing to say against the statements made by our friends from Tasmania, but I remind them that the northern part of Queensland, which has a much longer coast-line than Tasmania, is in a much worse position as the result of the shortage of shipping and the recent strike.
– A good number of ships go along the northern coast of Queensland on their way to other countries, and that is not so in the ease of Tasmania.
– They are Eastern steamers, and are not allowed to trade in Australian waters unless they comply with Australian conditions. There is no land communication with places north of Rockhampton, including Thursday Island. The shipping strike paralyzed the whole of the sugar industry. Some of the mills had to shut down, so that the loss to the sugar-growers was very serious indeed. Tasmania has not been the only sufferer on account of the shortage of shipping.
– Our smelting works were shut down’ for lack of coal.
– The Cloncurry works, which are as large as Mount Lyell, were closed down because they could get no coal or coke from Newcastle. The position in the northern part of Queensland is’ worse than in Tasmania, and yet we have not made half the noise that the Tasmanian people have been making. In addition to the shipping strike, the position in our State was complicated by the strike on the Queensland northern railways.
– Why do. you not make a noise if you are suffering un- justly?
– That would do no good. The whole of the time this morning in the Senate was wasted with the ventilation of grievances, and %hose who were responsible for the delay have gone home, leaving only Government supporters to complete the business of the Senate. Honorable senators from Tasmania should get their grievances redressed privately, and not waste time here.
– Surely this is not a Chamber of suppression ? ‘
– Of course it is not,but the honorable senator could go to the Shipping Comptroller, and, as the Minister pointed out, Admiral- Clarkson will see that shipping is distributed as fairly as possible to all parts of Australia. The shortage of shipping has been just as acute in Queensland as. in Tasmania, although we did not stick up ships for seven days by means of quarantine regulations.
– But you quarantined our soldiers.
– That was only at Brisbane. I repeat that .’the inconvenience and loss to northern Queensland owing to the shortage of shipping have been much more serious than in Tasmania, which State, I believe, has been better looked after than the northern part of Queensland.
– As I intimated in the. secondreading debate, it is a moot point what is best for Tasmania, and possibly for the northern end of Queensland; whether shipping control should continue until the end of next year, as proposed, or whether control should, cease with- the expiration of the regulations under theWar Precautions Act. The Minister, I think, has advanced some strong arguments in favour of the retention of the regulations for the period mentioned in . the Bill, which, after all, will be only a few months longer than would be the case if the regulations expired in the ordinary course. The Tasmanian people might fairly ask the Minister responsible to give an undertaking that the island State shall not be overlooked. I have pointed out, over and over again, that shipping is a matter of most serious concern to Tasmania. We Tasmanian representatives have rarely occupied the time of the Senate during this session to ventilate our State’s grievances. We’ have certainly gone to the Comptroller of Shipping, and occasionally to the Minister directly responsible, and sometimes to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt); and our general experience has been that we have met with a disposition to do us justice. ‘ If the control of shipping in Australia is to be maintained for months longer, Tasmania should have an assurance from the Government that her interests will be properly, safeguarded.
– I do not wonder at the anxiety of the Tas.manian people in this matter. When similar difficulties arise in other parte of Australia there is almost always the continental railway system on which to fall back for the transport of freight. I point out, however, that we sent about 200,000 tons of shipping from our coastal services. We are getting an odd ship or two released by the British Government from time to time, but’ our vessels are not being returned to us with sufficient rabidity. I remind Tasmanian senators of the really ridiculous regulations made by their Government, which had the effect of holding up shipping between Tasmania and the mainland.
– They were not ridiculous. They kept influenza out of Tasmania for a long time.
– I did not use the expression with any desire to apportion blame. I congratulate Tasmania, indeed, upon having kept the epidemic for so long out of her territory. Th© fact remains that when I sought to secure ships to take Tasmanian soldiers to their homes I was faced with this difficulty: If I sent shipping there it meant that the vessels would be hung up for a matter of five weeks; it was possible to transport two or three cargos around our coasts during that same -period. Thus, it would have been ridiculous at a time of shortage to divert vessels for weeks of practical idleness in Tasmania. Those difficulties and restrictions have now been done away with, however; the epidemic is over. But, following upon that came the seamen’s strike. Honorable senators will recall the serious effects of the cyclonic visitation, in portions of Queensland last year, when, a loss amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds was sustained in regard to the sugar crop.
As an outcome of the seamen’s strike, sugar to-day is stacked in Queensland ; and -since the stormy season occurs ‘about Christmas time, we are endeavouring toget the stocks out of Queensland as soon as (possible. We have not yet been able to secure sufficient ships, and the people are still compelled to use brown sugar. It must not be lost sight of that the maintenance of shipping in good condition is a very important factor. The cost of keeping a vessel in order is extremely heavy, as is also the cost of keeping a ship in active commission. Tasmania has felt the pinch, because the same tonnage as prior to the war has not been available to her. I am confident that the Shipping Department knows of every ton of cargo in every port in Australia. It may be taken for granted that Tasmania will get her fair share of the tonnage available. Being an island, Tasmania, no doubt, deserves special consideration. I will undertake to get into touch with the Comptroller of Shipping. I will bring under his notice the peculiar position of the State to-day, and ascertain what help can be afforded. I believe conditions generally will now rapidly return to normal, with respect to not only Tasmania, but Northern Queensland also.
Reference has been made to the vessels of the Adelaide Steamship Company. Since the. outbreak of the war we have had repeated application, for vessels to be sent to places not far distant from Australia’s shores. It has been the experience that when a ship has been sent only a comparatively few hundred miles away she has become virtually three, and four, and five times as valuable as if she had been retained upon the Australian coast. That suggests that ship-owners have been practically denied opportunity to make the full profits open to them. It is at any time a serious thing to interfere with a private individual’s legitimate opportunity of dojng. the most profitable business at his command; but, of course, we were at war, and- the interests of the nation had to be placed first. The Adelaide Steamship Company is one of the best-managed concerns in Australia. When its directors realized that the war was drawing to a close they took steps, I understand, to purchase seven new vessels for their fleet. They are now asking permission for a couple of their ships to be released, and it is their intention to replace these with a superior class of boat. Their new purchases are fine, uptodate vessels, while some of those now in their fleet are twenty-two years old. The company is to be congratulated on its enterprise in getting rid of the old craft and making modern additions. Cargo-carriers in the future must be, before everything else, of. ample tonnage and very fasti
– There now exists in Australia an incentive for shipping to come here. The company has not an incentive to take its vessels elsewhere.
– I had hoped that shipping would become more plentiful, and that freights would be cheaper after the signing of the armistice. But shipbuilding is one of the slowest businesses in the world. As the maritime situation eases in Europe we shall secure the return of the balance of our 200,000 tons. Shipbuilding, also, will have become normal, and the world’s tonnage generally will have grown more adequate to requirements.
– I thank Senator Russell for his assurance. Nevertheless, I believe that this measure is ultra vires, and that the projection of these regulations, whether they may be beneficial or obnoxious, cannot -be constitutionally . authorized by this Parliament-
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4, 5, and 6, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23rd . October (vide page 13879), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The Government are to be complimented upon the proposed extension of the provisions of the Act to munition workers and other classes of war workers, and for seeking to liberalize the Statute in various other directions. This is a further evidence, if any were required, that the Government are anxious to make repatriation substantial, . and not merely nominal. The amendment foreshadowed by Senator
Russell, to provide for the inclusion of nurses, is one which will give general gratification. These noble women have done splendid service during the war, and now they are to have the opportunity to establish homes and hospitals in which they will be able to earn a livelihood in the amelioration of suffering, which was the divine task to which they devoted themselves at the scene of war. I think that I had something to do with this myself from the fact that I have been very persistent in interviewing the Repatriation Department, the War Service Homes Department, and also the Minister, with a view to having such a measure as this introduced, and having the provisions of the original measure liberalized in this way. I do not wish to detain honorable senators, but as 1 have taken so much interest in this matter, I thought it was only fair that I should say how much I appreciate the action of the Government, and how much I think the people will appreciate it. The introduction of this Bill is a proof that, as the test of experience suggests the necessity for the amendment of our repatriation legislation, the Government will be found prepared to make such amendments as are shown to be necessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 4 of the ‘ principal Act isamended ….
– I move -
That after paragraph (a) the following para- “ graph be inserted: - ” (aa) by omitting the definition of dwelling-house ‘ and inserting in its stead the following definition: - “ ‘ Dwelling-house ‘ includes a house, or a building used or to be used, by a person who is included in paragraph (b) or(d) of the definition of . ‘ Australian soldier ‘, as a hospital, sanatorium, or nursing home, and appurtenances, necessary outbuildings, fences, and permanent provision for lighting, water supply, drain- age, and sewerage of the house or building, but does not include any land;”.
A difficulty has arisen from the return of a number of nurses. Several of them have desired to co-operate in order to establish private hospitals. It would be difficult to imagine a better way of providing for the repatriation of nurses who have rendered such good service during the war than to enable two or three of them to co-operate in carrying on the business in connexion with which they have done such good work during the war..
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the following clause be inserted after clause 3 : - “ 3a. Section 18 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following proviso: -
Provided that where a dwelling-house is sold to two or more persons jointly under subsection (1a.) of the next succeeding section the total cost to the Commissioner may exceed Seven hundred pounds but shall not exceed the sum of the amounts which the Commissioner could have expended if a house had been sold to each person separately.’ “
Clause 4 -
Section 29 of the principal Act is amended . . ‘. .
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed, to -
That the following paragraph be inserted before paragraph (a) : - “ (aa) by inserting after sub-section (1.) the following sub-section: - (1a.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, where a person is included in paragraph (b) or (d), of the definition of ‘Australian soldier’ in section four of this Act, and is not the owner of a dwelling-house . within Australia or elsewhere, the Commissioner may sell to her either alone, or jointly with other persons similarly eligible under this sub-section, a dwelling-house acquired or erected in pursuance of the last preceding part, together with the land on which it is erected:
Provided that, in this sub-section, the word dwelling-house ‘ means a building to be used by the purchaser as a hospital, sanatorium or home.”
Clause, as amended, agreed, to.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the following clauses be inserted after clause 4: - . “ 4a. Section 20 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - (2.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section the Commissioner may, upon application in writing, make an advance to a person who is included in paragraph (b) or (d) of the definition of ‘Australian soldier ‘ in section four of this Act, on the prescribed security, for the purposes specified in the last preceding sub-section:.
Provided that for the purposes of this subsection any reference in the last preceding sub- section to a dwelling-house shall he deemed to be a reference to a building used or to be used as a hospital, sanatorium or nursing home.’ “ “ 4b. Section twenty-one of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (1.) the following proviso: -
Provided that where an advance is made under sub-section (2.)’ of the last preceding section to two or more persons jointly the amount of the advance may exceed Seven hundred pounds but shall not exceed the sum of the amounts which could have been advanced if the advances had been made separately.’ “
Clauses 5 to 14, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - Vice-
President of the Executive Council and Acting Minister for Defence) [8.48]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure is rather a small one, but it deals with a very important principle. During the period of the war, certain regulations were passed prohibiting legal actions being instituted against various individuals because of the steps which they had taken to protect the interests of the State. Prior to the establishment of the Wheat Pool, late in 1915, a considerable number of contracts of sale had been entered into in connexion with wheat. Many of these sales had been effected at very low rates. When the Wheat Pool was established, a promise was made that most of the States would legislate in regard to this particular matter. That Pool was not created under the War Precautions Act, pure and simple, though most people assumed that it was. They imagined that we had commandeered all the supplies of wheat. As a matter of fact, the fear engendered by this mistaken assumption proved more efficacious than the law itself. As a result, every wheat-grower put his wheat into the Pool and nobody attempted to withhold it. In New South Wales particularly, early sales had been made of wheat which the
State railways afterwards declined to carry, because it was recognised that the farmers would not have sold it at the prices which they agreed to accept for it had they ever anticipated the establishment of the Wheat Pool. The railways, I repeat, refused to transport wheat on behalf of those individuals who desired to trade privately. In one instance, I know that , a man obtained damages against the Railway Commissioners of a State for refusing to discharge their functions as common carriers. Under this Bill, such actions cannot be brought without the consent of the Attorney-General. It is not desirable that they should be brought when the regulations to which I have already alluded have ceased to operate. Those regulations are set out in the schedule to the Bill. In the absence of legislation of the character which is now proposed, it is quite possible that many a man who thinks he has suffered injury, and who has not taken action in our law Courts, may be induced to doso, and that is a condition of things which is not desirable. Then, again, some clubs, associations, companies, and even trade unions, have excluded from their membership men of German birth. These eases are covered by the Bill, and prosecutions against such organizations will not be permitted. It is desired to continue this law in operation for all time, because, so long as many of these men live, they will cherish bitter feelings towards the organizations in question. Seeing that the people comprising these bodies acted in the best interests of the nation, it would not be right to allow any of them to bear a personal responsibility for their actions. Many things have been done under the War Precautions Act During the war, a good deal of work was performed by Defence officers, for which it would not be right to saddle them with, a personal liability. Briefly, the. Bill is intended to prevent innocent persons from being dragged into Court because they did the collective work of the nation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its- remaining stages without amendment
Sitting suspended from 8.57 to 9.15 p.m.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Railways Act 1917. - Report on Commonwealth Railways for the year ended 30th June, 1919.
Economy Royal Commission: Further replies by Audit Officers to First Progress Report.
Wool: Supplement to Statistical Bulletin No. 1, Wool Season 1917-18, issued under the authority of the Central Wool Committee.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
It had been hoped that a statement could be made, before the rising of Parliament, showing the result of the surveys, made at the request of the Australian Wheat Board, of the stocks of wheat held by the- various States. Unfortunately, the surveys have not been completed in New SouthWales and South Australia, but results are available for Victoria and Western Australia. The estimated loss in weight in Victoria on the 1916-17 Pool is 2,019,000 bushels on total receivals of 50,407,000 bushels. This is subject to a claim to be made against the Imperial Government for loss in weight which is estimated to have resulted from weevil attacks in ear-marked stacks. In addition to this loss, there will be a certain quantity of under f.a.q.’ wheat, which may be estimated at about 5,500,000 bushels. It is impossible to give any accurate indication of the amount of loss which will have to be borne in consequence ofthis inferiority, as the wheat is of all classes, being worth from1s. 6d. a bushel to within a few pence of f.a.q. The 1917-18 wheat is not expected to show a loss ; on the contrary, it is reasonable to expect a gain of about 1/2 per cent, on the whole of thereceivals. The 1918-19 wheat is in splendid condi tion, and there is every reason to assume that there will be a substantial gain in weight when it is finally cleared up. The whole losses in Victoria are, therefore, limited to the 1916-17 Pool; and, . on the other hand, the 191.5-16 Pool showed the substantial gain in weight of 728,000 bushels. Western Australia, which had a gain in 1915-16 of 61,000 bushels, suffered to a limited extent in its 1916-17. Pool, the estimated loss being 249,000 bushels on a delivery , of 13,822,000 bushels.For 1917-18, it is anticipated that there will be no loss, and the indications are that on 1918-19there will be a satisfactory surplus. These surveys cannot be regarded as stock-takings. They have simply been made with the view of affording as closely as possible in the- difficult circumstances an indication of the losses which have ‘been borne. The most experienced men available were intrusted with the surveys. New South Wales and South Australia hope that the surveys in their respective States will be completed, and results ascertainable, within a week or two.
We have now come to the end of what might be termed a fairly strenuous session, and this is our last meeting before the general election. In looking round the chamber I think I can conscientiously say that we all hope to meet one another here again after that event. On behalf of my absent colleague (Senator Millen), and on my own behalf, I wish to thank honorable senators for the courtesy they have always extended to us. I feel sure that I am expressing the sentiments of my colleague, who, unfortunately, had to go away because of ill-health, when I say that he appreciates from the bottom of his heart the kindness which was extended to him by. senators generally. I offer them my best thanks for the assistance which they have given to me. As a young Minister I have felt my duties somewhat arduous, especially during the past few days, but with the assistance and kind co-operation of honorable senators, I have succeeded in getting done what we had to do. On behalf of my colleague and myself, Mr. President, I express a deep sense of gratitude to you for the kindly help you have at all times rendered. Without, compromising the neutrality of the Chair, you have been very helpful to me during the past few months, and I know you have always been willing to give as- sistance to honorable senators when they required it. I thank the officers of Parliament who have, as usual, performed their duties in a very satisfactory manne’. To the *Hansard Staff I wish to express our appreciation of their labours. I feel sure that I am voicing the opinions of honorable- senators when I say that- the language in which they transcribe our speeches frequently makes us proud of our utterances, and their accuracy is such that I have almost given up reading the proofs supplied to me for correction. One makes mistakes at times’, but when this occurs, and I recall the fact, I generally find that the necessary correction has been anticipated in the report of my remarks. We appreciate their assistance. While they may vary the language, they never depart from the substance and effect of the statements’ we advance.
Although the members of the Opposition are not present, I wish to express my appreciation of their efforts in assisting to conclude the business.
The officers of the Senate generally have been of assistance to us, and honorable senators appreciate the kindnesses shown in helping us . to perform our duties. As the leader of the Opposition is not present, I shall ask Senator de Largie, as the senior member present, to support what I have said in this connexion.
– Senator Russell has been very generous in his references to the officers of Parliament, which I indorse; but I think there is another to whom bur thanks and appreciation should be extended, and that is the Acting Minister for Defence himself (Senator Russell) I have ‘been in the Senate for a considerable number of years, and during many very strenuous sessions I have seen manyMinisters break down under the prolonged strain of. their parliamentary work. I cannot remember, however, that any Minister has been subjected to a heavier strain than that to which Senator Russell has been subjected during the last few weeks.
– - No other man in Parliament could have done what he has done.
– Knowing that a few months ago certain danger signals were held out, I am surprised to find that he has pulled through. There has been no slovenly work, and the responsible duties devolving upon him have been carried out in a highly satisfactory manner. He has given a clear exposition of all the measures that have been introduced. In my opinion, Senator Russell has raised himself in the estimation of all honorable senators for the conspicuous ability that he has shown in conducting the work of the Senate during the last few weeks. Realizing this, we should be prepared to express our appreciation of his efforts. You, Mr. President, have endeavoured to lighten our burdens so far as lay in your power, and the way in which you have performed your responsible duties reflects great credit upon you. I second the motion.
– I wish to congratulate you, Mr. President, on the manner in which you have always conducted the business of the Senate since you have occupied the presidential chair. You have always been painstaking ‘ and zealous, and have carried out your duties in a free and impartial manner. I can indorse all that has been said by ‘Senator de Largie regarding the conspicuous ability displayed by Senator Russell as Leader of the Government in this Chamber. He ‘has sue”cessfully accomplished a. herculean task. The number of Bills handled by the Minister during the last forty-eight hours was phenomenal, and the ability he displayed has raised him very much indeed in the opinion of the Senate, and I might add, throughout Australia. As an officer of the Senate myself, I may be permitted to thank the permanent officers for the assistance they have rendered to me in the discharge of my duties. I agree with Senator Russell that we are indebted to members of the Hansard staff. If our remarks were printed as delivered I am afraid that not very many people would care to read our parliamentary debates; but however poor an attempt one makes, members of the Hansard staff are equal to the occasion, and make the speech presentable and intelligent. If I should not be. in the next Parliament, and that is probable, I trust that you, sir, will be here to carry on your good work in the interests of Australia. .
– I join in all that has been said of a congratulatory nature. At the end of a session we are in the habit of expressing appreciation in regard to the services performedby the permanent officers of the Senate, and offering our thanks to members of the Hansard staff for their treatment of our sometimes not very deliberate and not very well-balanced utterances. I am pleased to know that the work performed by Senator Russell, . who is a young Minister, has been recognised by the speakers who have preceded me. To the young all things are possible. I hope that Senator Russell, whose method of conducting the business in this Chamber compares not unfavorably with that of older politicians, will come back to this Chamber.
HonorableSenators. - Hear, hear!
– I feel confident that, as experience ripens his judgment, he will become one of the best parliamentarians we have ever hadin the Senate, because he seems to possess a quality which is frequently, absent in older and supposedly more experienced parliamentarians, whose unbending spirit very often seems to suggest that with them it is a point of honour to get measures through Parliament just as they emerge from thehands of the draftsman. They appear to think, many of them, that, they suffer some loss of prestige if (the Senate exercises its undoubted right to amend a measure. Now, that is an altogether wrong attitude to adopt, because this Senate is a deliberative and critical Chamber, and cannot be expected to accept every line and every syllable of a measure that comes before it. I wish Senator Russell every success in his campaign, for I believe his defeat on the electoral battlefield would be a loss to this Chamber and the nation. Not a great deal has been said about you, sir. You, too, have to go out on , a political battlefield, where there will be the slain and the wounded in the conflict. When you were elevated to the presidential Chair by the votes of your fellow senators, I knew very little about you ; but, as a result of my association with you in this Chamber, I acknowledge you to be an impartial and able President. I hope that you, too, will be successful in your campaign. Although’ it may be said that we are, perhaps, too selfcongratulatory to-night, I feel sure that- had members of the Opposition been present, they, through their Leader, would have indorsed my remarks, which, after all, are only just to you as an impartial, painstaking, and dignified President. There is only one thing I miss, and which, I think, would add to your dignity as President. There is in me a strain of Conservatism, a regard for tradition in connexion with our parliamentary institutions, and so I hope that, if you return successful from the political conflict, and if, as I believe will be the case, you are again honoured with the confidence of your fellow-senators by being elevated to the presidential Chair, you will don the presidential wig and robe. That, by the way. To-day you have markedly shown your zeal for the preservation of. the privileges of this Chamber as a branch of the Australian Legislature. It is acknowledged, I think, that man, as an-‘ individual, attaches some importance, and in my judgment rightly so, to forms and ceremonies, to the robes and other insignia of office, and so, if you come back, as I hope and believe you will, and once again sit in the Presidential chair., I trust you. will not discard the wig and robes of your high office. I do not suggest, of course, that by accepting my suggestion you will gain in wisdom. I feel sure that with wig or without it, with robe or without it, you. will administer the affairs of this Senate with that same impartiality which you have so conspicuously displayed since your elevation to the presidential Chair.
.- As a young member of this Senate, I desire to offer my thanks for valuable assistance received from Senator. Russell, and I particularly wish to express appreciation for the manner in which he has conducted the affairs of the Defence Department since he became its acting head. I get a good many requests from returned soldiers and their dependants in Queensland, and, although Senator Russell is an exceedingly busy man, on every occasion that I have gone to him he has been able to spare a few minutes to inquire into cases I have brought under his notice, however trivial they may have seemed. During the time he has been in charge of the Defence Department, Senator Russell has proved himself a true friend of the Australian soldier, and on their behalf I express my sincere appreciation of. his tactful handling of the many requests which I have had occasion to refer to him, as well as for the assistance he has rendered to me;
– On the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, on the last day of the session, it is usual, and, I think, very proper, for Ministers and honorable senators to express appreciation of the services rendered by the officers in the conduct of the business. Before putting the motion, I desire, on my own behalf, to tender to honorable senators generally, irrespective of parties, my acknowledgment and thanks for their unvarying courtesy. I have been for a considerable number of years in occupation of the presidential chair; and, while, my task might have been made both onerous and unpleasant, if honorable senators had been disposed to make it so, I am glad to be able to say that I can look back upon the whole of my career as Presiding Officer in this Chamber with no other feelings than those of pleasure. I have had nothing but kindness, sympathy, and sup-; port from all honorable senators, and that consideration has made what otherwise might have proved an onerous and sometimes unpleasant duty, one which any man might be proud to have to discharge. Mine, indeed, has been a task which has never been unpleasant.
I have to thank Senator Russell, Senator de Largie, Senator Bakhap, and Senator Shannon for their very kind references to myself. I have at all times done my very best to maintain the honour and dignity of this Chamber. I have always endeavoured to be absolutely fair and impartial to every honorable senator; and if I have leaned at all to any side, I hope that it has at all times been to the side of the weak, and never to the side of the strong. My aim and object have ever been to preserve the rights of every individual member of this Chamber, and particularly to protect the rights of the minority. In my experience, honorable senators of both sides of political parties have been in the minority in this Chamber ; and, if a ballot could be taken of the opinions and experiences of all those honorable senators, through all the years in which I have been Presiding Officer, I think their judgment would not be unfavorable to my conduct.
I rather appreciate the references of my friend, Senator Bakhap, to a certain loss of dignity which I have sustained by not wearing, the usual wig* and gown. As Senator Bakhap says, there is a very good reason why I should wear a wig - a reason which is plain to every honorable senator. However, the wearing of wig and gown, or otherwise, is altogether a matter for the Senate itself to decide upon. This Chamber, like every other deliberative assembly, has the privilege, as well as the duty, of deciding upon what shall be the rigid procedure with respect to every function discharged here. When I took the presidential chair, I was vain enough to believe that I could uphold the honour and dignity of the Senate, and maintain a reputation as its Presiding Officer, without being called upon to wear wig and gown.
-But wigs were out before you came in, sir.
– As a matter of fact, several things are carried on in regard to the procedure of the Senate without any regularly constituted authority at all. There are: several matters which would astonish honorable senators if I were to make mention of them- matters which I have carried out without any resolution of Parliament. I would not like -to refer to some of those matters publicly, but the fact remains.
However, that is all by the way. I am deeply sensible and appreciative of the kindness which I have received from every honorable senator; and it is the greatest possible satisfaction to myself - the greatest pleasure that could be felt by any one occupying such a position as this - to know that one’s efforts to do the right thing in respect to the conduct and maintenance of this office have been so cordially appreciated as has been indicated this evening. My task has been lightened not only by the unfailing consideration and courtesy of honorable senators, but also through the consistent kindness and the assistance rendered by the representatives of the Government in this Chamber. Senator Millen, Senator Pearce, and Senator Russell are old and tried friends. I expected, when I took the position of President, that I would, at all times, receive their unfailing help and consideration, and I am glad to say that that expectation has been in no sense disappointed. I very greatly appreciate it.
The Chairman, and Temporary Chairmen have always fulfilled their duties in a manner satisfactory to the Senate, and in a way which has afforded no anxiety whatever to myself. I tender to them sincere thanks for the hearty assistance which I have always received from them.
I also desire to refer very cordially to the officers of the Senate and its servants generally; to the Clerk, the Assistant Clerk, the Usher, and the members of the Hansard staff. The officers of the Chamber have always placed themselves cheerfully at the service of honorable senators and myself. I hope they will be able to make the fullest use of the holiday which now opens before them, and that they will return like giants refreshed when their duties shall have re-commenced. The officers and staff are in a different and considerably better position than most honorable senators present. They will be free to enjoy their holiday without any fears as to their fate, without any doubt concerning their return to these precincts. We, however, are to. be called upon to face the hurly-burly of a strenuous election campaign, in which, perhaps, there may be some of us slain.
In thanking the officers and servants of the Chamber, I desire to make an announcement which, I think, will be gratifying, at least to the lower-paid officials. Mr. Speaker and I, in considering their position - especially in view of the increased cost of living during the past few years, which we hoped would be automatically reduced by the cessation of warfare, but which has only been continued and in some cases actually accentuated - thought that those servants who are on what may be called the living line should be given some especial consideration. With respect to the higher-paid officers, the whole position is being reviewed by the Government, I understand, in view of the fact that certain recommendations with regard to the classification of all the officers in the Public Service, including the officers of Parliament, have been, or are being, made ‘by the exPublic Service Commissioner, Mr. McLachlan. Mr. Speaker and myself do not feel ‘that we would be justified in reviewing the salaries of those officers until we have been placed in possession of Mr. McLachlan’s report. That, I understand, is to be made available almost immediately. We have decided that all those lower-paid officers who receive salaries up to the £204 mark shall receive a bonus for this financial year amounting to £15 each; the half of that sum to be paid on the date of the last payment of salary in December, and the remainder to be disbursed at the last payment of the financial year.
– Why stop at £204 ?
– If the honorable senator’ will allow me to finish my announcement, he will find that there is not cause for complaint in that regard. With respect to those officers who receive more than £204 per annum and not more than £216, a bonus will be granted in order to increase their salaries to £225.- At that mark we stop for the present, for the reason that, over and above that amount of remuneration, we would begin to deal practically with the classified officers, or with men who are in a somewhat better position than those to whom a bonus is . to be granted. I am pleased to add that I have received an intimation from the Treasurer that the first halfpayment - that is, to the end df December - has been approved, and the money will be then, disbursed.
– What about honorable senators ?
– The matter of their remuneration does not come within my province. I desire to explain, ‘ further,” that those servants who are employed on half-time will receive half the amount of the bonus. That is to say, if they are paid upon the basis of £204 per annum, they will receive £7 10s. Also, with respect to those temporarily employed, a bonus at the rate of one-twelfth of the bonus will be granted for each month of service. In carrying out that scheme, Mr. Speaker and I have endeavoured to proceed without running the risk of ‘being regarded as unduly generous with the -taxpayers’ money; without, in fact, laying ourselves open to the charge of extravagance. If the public . understood the position, I am confident that they would approve of what we have done and Would not in the circumstances complain.
I now desire to express the hope that every member of the Senate who has to fight an election during the forthcoming weeks will be favoured with good fortune as an outcome of his campaigning. It does not much matter on which side of political opinion wo may be ranged, I think we all regard each other as good . friends, and, to a certain extent, indeed, as “pals.” No man desires personally, no matter what he may desire politically, to see a “ pal “ turned down. That is the feeling with which I personally, regard every member of the Senate. I try so far as I possibly can to separate my personal from my political feelings. I fight as hard as I can politically when the occasion demands, but I hope that I never allow my political views to interfere with my personal relations or feelings towards any individual.
I thank honorable senators generally, and I thank, personally and on behalf of the Senate, the officers of the Senate, the Hansard Staff, and the whole of the staff of the Senate. I hope that they will all have a happy time, and that we shall all meet here again after the elections with renewed, strength : that, like the great classic wrestler who when he was thrown always gathered new strength from his contact with the earth, those of us who have to contest the elections will, after our contests in the consituencies, return to this Chamber with the renewed strength and authority which the continued confidence of the electors will give us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19191024_SENATE_7_90/>.