8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Railway Policy : Statement of Administrator - Report of Royal Commission
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
– I have seen and read, with considerable astonishment, the reported utterances of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. I am not in a position to say whether he has been correctly reported or not, but I do want to say that, in my judgment, it is not within the province of any official to express himself in those terms.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether the report of the Judge appointed as a Royal Commission to inquire into the affairs in the Northern Territory has yet been presented? If so, when will it be available to honorable senators and the public generally. I desire also to know whether it is the intention of the Government to publish the whole of the evidence taken at the inquiry?
– The report has not been received so far, and until it is received, I shall not be in a position to answer the remainder of the honorable senator’s question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
British immigrants that they are welcome to come here and help in the development of our sparsely populated continent?
– I have read the statements referred to, and not without disgust. I express my regret that any one getting his living in Australia should so attempt to libel this country and. its opportunities. I shall bring under the notice of the Government the advisability of taking steps with a view to answering the statements referred to, but it appears to me that Mr. Appleton has rather effectively dealt with them himself.
– I present the report of the Printing Committee, and desire to move that itbe adopted.
– The honorable senator should give notice of his intention to submit that motion at the next sitting. Honorable senators are entitled to an opportunity of seeing the report before it is adopted.
– Then I give notice thatI will submit the motion on the next day of sitting.
The following papers were presented-: -
Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany - Index. (Paper presented to British Parliament).
Royal Commissions - Personnel, and Cost : Return to order of the Senate of 25th March, 1920.
– I -wish to ask the Minister for Defence what arrangements have been made concerning the graves of Australian soldiers in France? A circular has been sent out, signed by the Minister, that if it is desired to add additional words to inscriptions on the monuments over soldiers’ graves, the relatives of the deceased soldiers must pay for them. Does the Minister consider that it is fair to men who have died in the interests of this country that relatives should have to pay for the inscription of additional words on their headstones?
– I do not think that the honorable senator has quite correctly stated the position. I suggest that he give notice of the question so that I may ascertain the facta.
Non-Commissioned Officers’ Pay :
asked the Minister for Defence upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence upon notice -
– The answers are -
AERIAL Mail Services.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster - General upon notice -
W-hat is the policy of the new PostmasterGeneral as regards aerial mail services for the outback parts- of Queensland and other States?
– The policy is to Utilize aerial services for postal purposes as soon as such are commercially available.
Motion (by Senator Crawford) agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Ferricks on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Lands Acquisition Act 1906-16.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3.
If the motion is agreed to, it is my intention to move an amendment to that clause to include in the benefits of the Bill any person who was attached to a battle unit and was frequently under fire while carrying out his duties. I do not think there will be any objection to the motion.
– I do not propose toraise any objection to the recommittal of the Bill to consider a specific amendment, but it must nob be taken as an indication that the Government will support the amendment when the Bill is in Committee.
Question - That the Bill be recom- mittted - resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 3 -
– The honorable senator must submit his amendment in the form of a request.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend clause 3 by inserting the following new paragraph : - “(g) any person who was attached to a battle unit and was frequently under fire while carrying out his duties.”
There are a number of men who performed very valuable work in the interests of their country and who incurred as great a risk as any fighting man. I am referring to those who performed Y.M.C.A. work on the battlefields in the fighting zones. There were, I understand, about 200 of these men, sixtyseven of whom were detailed to work with battle units. During the time their unit was under fire they incurred as great a risk as the soldiers with whom they were working. They had to obey the orders of the military officers, but they did not possess any of the privileges enjoyed by the fighting men, who received deferred pay and various other concessions. They took the same risks, but when they returned to Australia they did not receive monetary privileges of any kind in the form of sustenance allowances, or even a suit of civilian clothes. Many of them vacated good positions, which they found impossible to regain on their return to Australia. I have been informed by the highest military authorities - and they should know the service these men rendered - that they are strongly in favour of the Government acceding to the request I am making. The amendment will apply to only sixty-seven of the total number of men who were so engaged. I understand that some of them are finding it difficult to become reestablished in civil life. Three of these Y.M.C.A. officers were killed and fifteen were wounded, and that is surely evidence of the factthat they experienced the same dangers as the fighting men. I believe the authorities have already recognised their services, as sixty-seven have been granted war medals identical to those worn by ‘the fighting men.
SenatorFairbairn. - What were their duties ?
– They were in the fighting line, and, I believe volunteered as stretcher-bearers. In many instances they performed work similar to that of the soldiers, with the exception that they did not go “over the top” when a charge was made.
– They were not members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– No, they were members of the Young Men’s Christian Association staff, and it is generally recognised that theyperformed very necessary work. The fact that they have been granted medals is sufficient to show that they rendered very useful service, and it is extraordinary if there should be any objection on the part of the Government to granting such a reasonable request. If a man risks his life for his country he should be entitled to the privileges enjoyed by others who take similar risks. I cannot understand why they have not been included in the Bill, and can only assume that proper representations have not been made on their behalf. I know the Government had difficulty in deciding where to draw the line, but I cannot imagine that any reasonable excuse can be given for the exclusion of these men. I do not, therefore. anticipate any objection to the amendment.
.- Senator Barnes is wrong in assuming that this matter was- not considered by the Government. Representations were made to the* Government, and- the matter was fully considered. I am not going to say a word in> derogation of the splendid services rendered by the Young Men’s Christian Association. There were 206 representatives sent abroad. In Prance five were attached to each division, practically one for each Brigade Headquarters, one to tha Artillery Headquarters and- other arms, and one to Divisional Head-quarters* As there were five divisions that would make twentyfive at a time, but with reliefs there may have been sixty-seven employed altogether. It can be said that they were more or less employed in battle areas,, but it must be remembered that whilst* it may be claimed that they were attached to a battle unit at Divisional Head quarters, t:ho3e Divisional Headquarters would be well away in the back areas,, although they were certainly under shell fire a.t tiroes and possibly also subject to bombing; by aeroplanes.
– Were the men enlisted or given commissions ?
– They were granted Honorary commissions to give them a status because- they had to deal with, military officers, but they were not enlisted. In Egypt one was attached’ to each brigade” for’ a period not exceeding’ three months. Honorable senators- will see what a difference there was between them and the ordinary soldiers. Seventy were employed in this capacity altogether. The total casualties were three killed, ten. wounded and ten died from other causes than battle casualties. Altogether 110 were granted the relative and honorary rank of officers, but many of these were employed at the bases and im England. With regard to the statement that representatives of the Young Men’s Christian Association acted as stretcher bearers, itis quite possible that individuals on occasions did do so, but, it must not he thought that in this capacity any individual of the Young Men’s Christian Association was expected to, or did, go “over the top “ in an attack. I have obtained these particulars from an officer who was himself in the battle line, and he tells me that on occasions- he has seen not only members of Ohe Young Men’sChristian Association, but the cooks and. batmen, act as stretcher bearers, and that he- himself has so acted, when a casualty occurred ki. the back- areas from a- shell or bombs. No doubt there have been occasions when the Young Men’s Christian Association representatives have undertaken the task, but it must not be assumed from tthis thats they were expected to do it, or that it was part of theirduties, or that they were recognised asstretcher bearers. There are recognised stretcher- bearers in every Army Medical Corps Unit and- detail, whose duty it is-‘ to go “over the. top” with the troop* in an attack, to pick up the wounded’, and in some cases to go out into- “na man’s laud “ for that purpose. This was not part of the duties of the members of the Young Men’s Christian Association, nor did mv informant know of any occasion when it was done by. Young Men’s Christian Association representatives.
– That is, there were occasions which he did- not know of.
– He said he knew of occasions when not only the Young Men’s Christian Association representatives, but the representatives of the Comforts Fund, acted as stretcher bearerswhere a casualty occurred behind the lilies. Anybody .in the vicinity would be prompted, by feelings of humanity to> kelp in that way, whether it . was his duty or not.
– That might apply te* the representatives of the Salvation. Army and. others.
– It might apply tff anybody. We could not justify the inclusion o£ the Young. Men’s Christian? Association in the benefits of the war gratuity without also including- the Red Cross workers and those who represented) the Australian Comforts Fund.’ There is this point to- be borne in mind : that all those people- were employed without any financial liability to the Commonwealth Government. The Red Cross workers and the Comforts Fund representatives, generally speaking, served their organizations in an honorary capacity, but I am informed that the Young- Men’s Christian, Association representatives received pay from their association, so that, on the ground of what they have received, the Comforts Fund men and the Red Cross workers have an even stronger claim than the Young Men’s Christian Association men to inclusion.
– This amendment would embrace them if they were in the battle units.
– I do not think we should include those people. The following is the document signed by every Young Men’s Christian Association worker : -
Mr. , of ,has been accepted by the Minister of State for Defence for service with the Australian Imperial Force as a representative of the Young Men’s Christian Association.
Then follows a description of age, height, &c. : -
The conditions governing this acceptance are -
Similar conditions applied to the representatives of the Comforts Funds and the Red Cross, so that they and every Young Men’s Christian Association representative left Australia on that distinct understanding. This gratuity is a gift from the people through the Parliament and the Government to the fighting Forces of the nation. These are the noncombatant Forces, and the Government felt, in considering the matter, that they were not entitled to the benefits of this measure. Another practical difficulty in complying with the amendment, as it has been moved, is that, as has been pointed out here, a man may have been attached to a battle unit, and yet have taken no more risk than if he were in England, because some of the battle units may have had their head-quarters away back on the English Channel, and quite outside the actual fighting area, except so far as they could be reached by bombs from aeroplanes. The amendment is so widely drawn that it would include not only the Red Cross, the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Comforts Fund, but also persons such as the members of the Federal Parliament who visited the Front and came under fire.
– They kept well out of fire.
– No. They visited parts of the battle line that were under fire. One honorable senator informs me that he fired a French . 75, and therefore must have been within reach of the enemy’s fire when he did it.
– But they were not attached to a battle unit. .
– Yes, they were. No person can go into the war zone unless he is attached to some unit. That unit becomes responsible for him. Otherwise people could drift about the battlefield as they liked, and in this way you would throw yourbattlefield open to the spies of the enemy.
– Were you in the trenches?
– No, except after they had long been vacated. I am happy to say that the battles were well over before I got there. I seriously believe that the amendment would include every person who went to the battle line during the progress of the war, because every such person was attached for the time of his visit to a battle unit. I hope that the Committee will not agree to the proposed extension of the clause. Again I desire to stress the point that if the amendment be adopted it will be difficult to see where we can stop, and how many men we should have to include within the four corners of the Bill. Senator Barnes has urged, as one of the grounds for his claim, that some of these men are in necessitous circumstances by reason of the sacrifices which they made in proceeding to the war zone. That may be a fact, but it is rather an argument upon which to base a claim to the Repatriation Department for assistance to rehabilitate themselves in the civil life of the community. It is certainly not an argument in favour of the granting of a war gratuity. We all know that towards the end of the war all sorts of persons were attached to battle units. Let me give a few instances. Press correspondents who were not official war correspondents frequently went to France and were attached to Australian battle units for various periods. Artists went there for the purpose of painting battle scenes, some of which will ultimately find a place in our war museums. Official photographers were there to take photographs of actual battle scenes, and, as a matter of fact, did take such photographs from the front line. I have seen films taken by Australian official photographers in which one could see (the shells exploding within a short distance of where the photograph was being taken. It is obvious, therefore, that there is a very wide range of persons who actually came under fire other than those specified in the amendment. Consequently, I ask the Committee not to accept it.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales [3.33]. - The arguments advanced by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) incline me more than ever to press for the adoption of this proposal. I feel sure that Senator Barnes will be prepared to accept an amendment of it to limit its application to Hie 67 men whom he desires to include in the list of those eligible to receive the gratuity.
– Why should it be limited to them 1.
– Because he has moved the request with that object. The Minister himself has admitted that of these 67 men, three were killed and fifteen were wounded. If the argument of the honorable gentleman is to carry any weight, and if these men are to be denied consideration because their inclusion would open the door to the claims of others, by all means let us have a clear-cut issue limited to these 67 men. The Minister has stressed the fact that they could not be enlisted for health reasons, and that each of them had to sign a statement that the Government were not responsible for him. Need T remind the Minister that this Bill clearly lays it down that no soldier has any rightto’ the gratuity ? That is a gift of the nation. But Senator Barnes has put forward a claim that this Committee should recognise the work of these 67 men who were attached to the battle units, and who accompanied those units when they were under fire. Let this matter be decided upon its merits. Last night
I referred to a distinguished Australian officer who had used the term, “ brave as a stretcher-bearer.” I may as well mention his name now - it was SurgeonGeneral Howse. His remark struck me as being a tribute to our stretcherbearers, and one to which too much publicity could not be given. Let us upon this occasion have a clear-cut issue as to whether these 67 men, some of whom were unable to enlist because of their health, should not be eligible to receive this gratuity. Of course, it was very amusing for the Minister to point out that certain members of this Parliament got to the front line on the battlefields of France, and that one of them - I presume he referred to Senator de Largie - actually fired a French .75 light field gun. Senator Pratten, too, in the early stages of the war, did exceedingly good Red Cross work, so I suppose that he also should be included. However, I have no desire to debate the subject in a facetious manner. The matter is a serious one. Here are 67 men who, their associates say, were continually under fire with their battle units, and who, I believe, are entitled to this gift by the nation. The adoption of the amendment will not add to the total amount involved in the payment of the gratuity bv more than £6,000. If the fact that they served with their units under fire, that some of them were killed, whilst others were wounded, is not a justification for their inclusion within this clause, I do not know what is. I believe that the phrase “brave as a stretcher-bearer” will become a household one throughout Australia, and with the object of doing these men only a bare measure of justice I intend to support the amendment.
Senator O’LOGHLIN (South Aus tralia [3.40]. - I should like to see every officer of the Young Men’s Christian Association who served during the war receive this gratuity. I believe that every one of them is entitled to it. I want to1 bear uncompromising testimony to the good work which these officers did on transports and in military camps on behalf of our soldiers. Anybody who was in Egypt, and who knows the Ezeliekiah Gardens there, an establishment which was placed at the disposal’ of our soldiers, must acknowledge the splendid services rendered by the Young Men’s Christian Association to them. By a self-denying ordinance, a majority of these officers lay no claim to consideration under this Bill.
But there are some 67 of their number who were continuallyunder fire and who were exposed to the same dangers as were the boys inthe fighting line. These men undertook that work voluntarily, some lost their lives, others were wounded and have since died, and surely it is not too much now to ask that the remainderbe included in the provisions ofthe Bill.
Question - That the requestbe agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill reported without further amendment; reports adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– The fact that I permitted the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the Bill to pass through its remaining stages without delay indicates that I have no desire to obstruct the passage of the measure, but I cannot allow the third reading tobe taken without expressing my extreme regret at the obstinacy of the Government in adhering to hard-and-fast lines in regard to the persons to whom the gratuity shall bo paid. I am satisfied that the claim for the inclusion of the Naval Reserve men, members of the Australian Garrison Artillery, and those members of the Young Men’s Christian Association to whom reference has just been made, is stronger than that of the men who merely went into camp. However, the Bill has passed, and the Government and their supporters must take full responsibility for their action.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I know honorable senators opposite welcome this statement, and so I repeat that they must take a full share of the responsibility. If we have another election within the next three months–
– Let it come.
– I know the Senate is secure for a good while yet, but if there is another general or a byelection for members of another place, we shall have the sorry spectacle of large bodies of men playing a prominent part in it. No man will regret that more than I, but if the Government and their supporters had taken their courage in both hands, and despite the financial strain which it might have involved, had arranged to pay the gratuity in cash, it would have been much better for the country and our returned soldiers. A contentious question has been introduced into the public life of this country, and no matter how much we may desireto keep it out, it will present a serious obstacle to our securing the real will of the majority upon any question of pressing importance submitted to the electors. Taking that view during the consideration of this Bill, I endeavoured to have the line drawn so that there should not be in this community any one section of men who offered to serve, did serve, or were willing to serve, in a position to say to another section included in the measure that though they had a better right to inclusion, they yet were excluded. I have tried during the passage of the Bill to remove those distinctions which make it obvious that injustice is perpetrated under the measure. The Government and their majority have thought otherwise.
– Where are the coldfooters whom thehonorable senator supported ?
– Senator Guthrie should specially provide for the cold-footers whom he is always talking about. I, as an Australian, am more than satisfied with the response of Australia in connexion with the war, and, in my view, the man who blatantly talks about cold-footers is indirectly doing this country a great injustice. Australia stand’s first in the sacrifices she has made, and bears very favorable comparison with any other country engaged in the war. The much-talked-of cold-footers exist chiefly in the- imagination of men who used tie war sentiment in a way so discreditable to them that I do not knowwhat, will become of them when the. war sentiment ceases to be a paying- political principle.
– The honorable senator did- not go to the war.
– I did not, and I d’id not offer to go.
– The honorable senator was eligible to go.
– I was not eligible, and the honorable senator knows it.
– Yes, the honorable senator was.
– Senator Guthrie is now stating what he knows to be untrue. I do not- wish to exhibit my age as a reason why I was not’ eligible, but when the war started I was years older than the service age. If I had not been, I may say that when the war started I’ was-doing what my party and my country considered more valuable service as amember of the Government. My inclusion in any war gratuity is not’ required to prove my record of service. I can claim a record in the handling of the supply stores of the Defence Department to which: no exception could be taken, even by a man possessed of the enmity to me which Senator Guthrie always exhibits in his remarks across the floor of this chamber. He never at any time challenged’ what I did or questioned my administration when I had control of the Defence Department supplies.. I claim that I- did my share at that time to the satisfaction even of Senator Guthrie.
But I: am discussing the third reading of a Bill in the consideration of’ which an opportunity was afforded to this Parliament to lift the gratuity out of the position of being a bribe paid for votes, and to remove it from consideration in the public life of this country. I regret, that it is still there. I regret that because of the decisions of the Government it will remain there until after the next, election anyhow, and that at every byelection between the present time and the next general election we shall have this question coming up to influence voters. That might have been avoided if the
Government had h’ad sufficient courage: capacity, and foresight to say, “Here is a.- large body of. most deserving men in. this country who gave their services- to the country, and to whom we made thepromise that the nation would- grant them a gratuity, not as a right, but as- a’ gift in recognition of their services, and we. shall give effect to that promise.” So. far from doing, that, the. Government, shirked their responsibility to say: to those men who - made much money, during, the war, to. those who, by profiteering, made huge fortunes, and used war conditions to> make money, “Here is an- opportunity for you people who were preserving’ yourbusinesses, and used your opportunities, during the war to make huge fortunes,, to supply the money to pay the nation’s.gift.” To my mind one- of the most discreditable features: of civilization - and. I do” not now speak , of our. own. country alone’ - is: that when millions of’ men flocked, to the standard of the different na-tions, and offered, their lives, if” need, be”, as sacrifices’ in: the interests of their, countries, these harpies- in the big busi- ness houses, and the men behind the bigfinancial schemes of this and other, countries, used their position to- make money out of the want and- suffering of. the wives and- children of the men who were fighting. The Government had an opportunity to deal with these people, but it is not profitable for them to offend their friends. They know that - they are supported in their election campaign by this class, and that it is from these people- - they derive their political funds-. The Government, with their ‘ wellorganizedparty - and I do- not blame them for their organization, as I should like myself to be a member of a Go vernment with such an organization - say that the line’ drawn by them is to be the line adopted, . and the Senate has no right to alter it, to- make it more elastic, to slacken it in. one place and tighten it in another. No matter iIi. what direction amendments, were moved, they were met in the same spirit by the Government, and. the majority in- another place, as well as in the Senate!,, acted accordingly.
I am not here to lecture honorable senators opposite, nor shall I.- try to do so. . But I do say that so far as our finances are concerned, there is sufficientwealth in this country, if the Government had been willing, to have enabled them to pay this gratuity in cash. This is the last opportunity I have to enter my protest against this Bill. I do enter it as the protest of a man who feels most keenly about the manner in which the Government have permitted the debate on this measure to proceed. It has been a one-sided debate all through, and no matter how deserving may have been the claims of persons sought to be included in the measure by amendments submitted, those amendments were at once squelched by the organized Government majority. I object to this measure going through in its present form, and I enter my protest, here and now, against the way in which the Government and their supporters have so unjustly and unfairly treated sections of our men who did volunteer for service, whose time was occupied by the Government, who were willing to go to the Front, and whose services were given to the State, and particularly the large section, concerning whom Senator Barnes submitted an amendment, many of whose members offered themselves for service, and some of whom were killed. I have nothing further to say.
– I do not want to delay the passage of the Bill, but I wish to say a few words in reply to ‘the charge made by Senator Gardiner that the payment of the war gratuity was used by the party on this side as a bribe to secure votes at the last general election. It is a well-known fact, as the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has already stated, that the payment of a war gratuity was under consideration by the Government many months before the election was thought of. Negotiations with representatives of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League had been commenced long before the election loomed in sight. It is well known, also, that practically the final arrangements for the gratuity and the terms upon which it was to be paid were fixed up long before there was any talk of the election. It was not honorable senators on this side who made the payment of the gratuity an election cry, but honorable senators opposite who, in an endeavour to gain votes at the expense of the party on this side, tried to outbid the National party for the soldiers’ votes. Senator Gardiner and his party saw an opportunity to offer a sop for the votes of the returned soldiers, and they immediately endeavoured to go one better than the National party. They told the electors that long before the election the National party promised that, if they were returned, a gratuity would be paid to the returned soldiers in bonds, but that they would go one better and pay the gratuity in cash if the soldiers would give them their votes. Why did not Senator Gardiner and his party, during the many months they were in opposition before the elections came on, advocate something in the nature of a war gratuity ? We never heard one honorable senator on the other side say a word about the payment of a war gratuity. If they were so anxious that the returned soldiers should receive a war gratuity in cash, why did they not, long before the elections came on, advocate in this chamber the payment of a cash gratuity? No, they simply waited to see what would be the result of the negotiations between the Government and the representatives of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, and then, when the elections came on, they went one better than the Government, and offered to pay the gratuity in cash. Senator Gardiner knows that at the recent State elections in New South Wales in which he took part, the members of his party who have now secured possession of the Government benches in the State Parliament, as a result of securing the votes of 23 per cent, of the total voters on the State roll, are where they are through offering sops of this kind.
– The honorable senator must not discuss State politics. They have no connexion with the Bill.
– I shall not carry the matter any further, but I thought it well to show the inconsistency of honorable senators on the other side.
– It would have been more dignified of honorable senators on this side had they left the lecture which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has delivered go without any reply. It is not always wise, however, to permit the publication in Hansard of statements such as those made by the honorable senator without offering some reply to them. It is not my intention to take up much time, but I should like to tell Senator Gardiner, if it were ‘parliamentary to do so, that what he has said this afternoon was,, in my opinion, an impudent thing for any honorable senator to say. I believe that honorable senators opposite were honest, in their attempts to amend the Bill, but honorable senators on this side were as free to vote for amendments submitted by the Opposition as for the Government measure, if they thought these amendments practical and proper. The Committee of the Senate has considered the Bill, and now when it is at its final stage honorable senators are challenged by Senator Gardiner and told, in effect, that they are cowards, and that they had not the courage to stand up to the Government, and support any amendments he moved. Honorable senators on this side - and Senator Gardiner knows it - have just as much courage and manliness as he has. They are just as much determined to see justice done to the returned soldiers and their dependants. I deny, absolutely.the statements he has made to the. effect that honorable senators on this side are not as courageous as he is, or are not as keen in the interests of justice and fair play to the returned soldiers. Senator Gardiner may please himself , but”! hope he will take some advice from a man who is just as keenly interested in the returned soldiers and in the welfare of this country as he is himself, and will refrain f rom lecturing honorable senators on this side as he has done this afternoon. I trust Senator Gardiner will take this in the kindly way in which it is tendered. I resent very much what he has said this afternoon, and on every future occasion, when lie attempts to lecture honorable senators on this side, as he has done this afternoon, I shall take the opportunity of contradicting his statements, and of informing him that we are as keenly alive to the welfare of the soldiers and their dependants as is the honorable senator and those associated with him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 2lst April, vide page 1360) :
Clause 4 -
Hie fi nui shall be vested in and placed under the control of the trustees appointed by or under this Act.
Upon which Senator Newland, had moved -
That the words “ trustees appointed by or under this Act “ bc left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the Repatriation Commission.”
– I am rather sorry .the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) is not in the chamber, as I was rather amused to think that he considered Senator Newland’s amendment as a compliment to the Department under his control. Senator Newland is to be congratulated on having moved a practical amendment to provide that organizations already in existence throughout Australia shall distribute the money proposed to be placed in the hands of a Trust. I think we should have a quorum. * Quorum formed.”]* I am glad the Minister for Repatriation is now here, because, as I have already stated, I was amused to think that he regarded the amendment of Senator Newland as a compliment to the Repatriation Department. Senator Newland’s amendment was moved because it was a practical method of placing this fund, which has been created by the whole of the Australian soldiers, in the hands of a Department which has branches in every State. It is not therefore a matter of complimenting the Repatriation Department, but a means of employing existing organizations instead of creating another body. I have nothing whatever to say concerning the personnel of the proposed Trust, but I believe the position will be better met by adopting the amendment that has already been moved. Notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, the canteens were established by the non-commissioned officers and men, and the funds have not been contributed to in any way by other ranks.
– That is incorrect.
– I am prepared to put my knowledge against that of the Minister, as I believe the officers obtained their supplies from their mess.
– The honorable senator is confusing the canteens with the officers’ mess.
– The canteens were used by the non-commissioned officers and men, and there were no accumulated funds belonging to the officers.
– The officers obtained their stores from the canteens.
Senator -GARDINER.- There may have been rare occasions when purchases were made.
– The officers obtained’ tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes.
– The officers obtained rations the same as the men.
– It is probable that occasionally an officer purchased a packet of cigarettes, but the whole organization devolved upon the noncommissioned officers and men, and the fund was created with their .money. Are the officers to have more representation than are the men ? Senator Newland’s amendment is a .practical one, as it gives representation to all of the States, and takes .away the representation from Melbourne. Although Senator Newland has quite recently lectured me, I am quite prepared to vote with him on this occasion. The proposed Trust is to handle funds for the benefit of soldiers and their dependants in every corner of the Commonwealth, and there is no organization in existence that can give those in outside districts better representation than the State Repatriation Boards. Some senators argue, that the money is likely to be distributed within six months, but the Minister knows that it will not be disposed of in that time, as provision is made in the Bill for the submission of annual. reports and an annual* examination of the accounts by the AuditorGeneral.
– The Bill covers other funds.
– And that is an additional reason why the Repatriation Department should be intrusted with its control. The Minister for Repatriation sta ted that some people did not know the difference between repatriation allowances and pensions, and I venture to say there should not be any difference, as the authority that deals with repatriation should also’ deal with pensions. All matters relating to -soldiers should be concentrated under the one control, so> that a soldier or his dependant could bring his case before the one authority.
– We have been doing that so far as public money is concerned.
– The Minister for Repatriation stated that there would be a suspicion in the -minds of the people that the soldiers’ money was being used to meet liabilities that should’ be met with -the funds provided by .the -.taxpayers. We -know very little of the administrative ability of lite members :*f the proposed Trust, :and the interest they are likely to show in connexion with ; the, work is -an unknown quantity.
– The honorable senator should not -say that.
– If it is considered too drastic I will withdraw it, and submit something worse. We have Repatriation Boards in every .State in the Commonwealth, and these bodies have a real knowledge of the necessitous cases requiring assistance. The question of scholarships will be covered by regulations under which there will doubtless be an endeavour to secure an equality of opportunity ; but .is any honorable senator prepared to say who as likely to receive these scholarships ? The -whole matter will be in -the hands of - a Trust sitting in Melbourne, .and the ‘Government .are -still of the opinion that Melbourne is Australia. This is emphasized very strongly by the fact that the Trust is to comprise Victorians only, notwithstanding the fact that it has ‘to administer -a “fund totalling hundreds of thousands o’f pounds in -the interest of soldiers and their dependants in every part of Australia. .1 intend supporting Senator Newland’s amendment, not because I believe the Repatriation Department has done all it should do, but because the necessary machinery is- already in existence. The slowness of the Repatriation Department is certainly no recommendation, but I .am hoping that it will improve in its methods, and that instead of taking months to deal with cases, it will take weeks, and eventually days. If this amendment is carried, and the administration of the fund placed under the control of the Repatriation Boards in thevarious States, there will be no objection to the money being distributed by the Central Commission in Melbourne. The Government seem to shrink from their responsibility in this regard, because it is not Government money. But surely it is better to have it under the control of the Repatriation Boards which are so closely associated with the soldiers.Much could be said of the Repatriation. Department. I do not complain of the work that it has done, but of what it has left undone. I know of a young man who attended the Hawkesbury Agricultural College after his return, from the war; a-nd who, during his course of training,, was working in the blacksmith’s shop,, when a. small piece of steel entered his eye. Many months have elapsed since* the* accident occurred, but no assistance has been forthcoming. If he had! been in private employment he would have received some- compensation, hut under the Repatriation. Act he merely waits until he sometimes wonders whether it is worth while bothering about it, or “whether the loss of an eye is merely an incident in the life of a Minister or official’ of the Repatriation Department. I would not support the proposal to put this work on the Repatriation Department if I thought it. could not cope with it. I realize that the officers of the Department work hard, and I believe that, with all the faults, and criticisms, and sins of omission that we can bring against it, it is still the only organized Department with branches throughout, Australia whose business it is to deal with a purely Australian question, such as this question is. I support the amendment.
– I wish honorable senators to understand that one of the results which I am sure will follow from the carrying of the amendment is that the money from the McCaughey trust will not be handed over to the Repatriation Commission. That money, although bequeathed by a citizen of New South Wales, will, if handed to the Trust named in the Bill, be spent for the benefit of the whole of the soldiers throughout Australia. If that Trust is not appointed, what Sir Samuel McCaughey’s trustees will do is a matter for themselves to decide. They are responsible for the money, and we have no control over it. They have said that they are quite content to hand the money to the Trust named in the Bill, if it is constituted, for the purposes they have indicated. That is a point which the Committee, in the interests of the soldiers and their dependants, should consider. If the amendment is carried, the only money handed over to the Repatriation Commission to administer will be the sum of £4.80,000 odd, representing the accumulated profits of the canteens funds. I must ask the Committee to remember that, in regard to all -its other functions, the Repatriation Commission has lines laid down upon which to act. In no. case has it to distribute funds. That is no part of its duty. The duty proposed now to be- handed over to it, will be quite foreign to all the rest of its functions. I am sure that if the Commission were called on to distribute this money, it would lead to endless confusion and bickering. Senator Millen drew no fanciful picture, but indicated an actual fact, when he said that, a great number of the people of the Commonwealth who are recipients in one form or another of the assistance provided by the Repatriation or War Pensions Acts, are not, able to differentiate, or at any rate do not differentiate, us regards the Department which is responsible, or as to the class of case dealt with by each Department. A good deal of my correspondence is really on matters affecting, not the Defence Department, but the Treasury or the Repatriation Department, and relates to. soldiers’ dependants.
– Will the appointment of the proposed Trust obviate all that?
– I think it will. It will prevent, at any rate, these continual applications to me. This matter is quite distinct from any governmental activity. No governmental activity has distributed, or is distributing, money inthis way. I appeal to the Committee not to support the amendment, which will make the whole scheme unworkable, lead k> confusion, and lessen the usefulness of the Trust. If the amendment is carried, we shall have to- reconsider the position, because the whole aspect of the question will be entirely changed.
.- -When I first, read this Bill, I was rather in favour of accepting it as it stood. I do not think any Minister can. say that, I have been an unfair critic of the Government since I have been here.
– We do not say that of the mover of the amendment.
– I have generally, if not on practically every occasion during the last three years, voted with the Government. I read the Bill naturally with an open mind, with the idea of supporting the Government, not only in its principle, but in its details; but since
Senator Newland moved his amendment, I have listened with a good deal of interest to the debate, and, although when the debate started I was rather in favour of the Bill as it stood, I confess that I have come round to the support of the amendment. I have been influenced in that direction not so much by the arguments of those who have spoken in favour of ‘the amendment as by the speeches of those who have opposed it. The first to oppose it was Senator Earle. He said that if it had been Government money he would have been in favour of Governmentcontrol, but that as it was the soldiers’ money he felt that the soldiers would prefer to have it under the proposed Trust. Unlike Senator Gardiner, I think that on the whole the Repatriation Department lias done wonders. It has made mistakes, but, after all, to err is human. It was carried on at first to a large extent by men acting in an honorary capacity. Finally the soldiers clamoured for the appointment of three paid commissioners, and, although the Department did most excellent work with honorary service, the Government bowed to the clamour, and the Senate passed a Bill introduced by the ‘ Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), to appoint three paid Commissioners, and do away with honorary assistance.
– I direct attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I apologise to those honorable senators who have been called in. It was not my fault. I listened with keen interest, as I always do, to Senator Henderson, who said he was against the amendment because in Bulli years ago an honorary committee was appointed to administer a relief fund, but the committee, instead of doling out the money, started to pay themselves, and made the thing last for a very long time, until the New South Wales Government had ultimately to step in and take the fund over.
– But who appointed that honorary committee?
– The point is that the Government had ultimately to step in.
– That is to say, when the money has not been spent for the purpose for which’ it was raised, the Go vernment come along and commandeer it for other purposes.
– However that may be, the money was certainly not raised to find billets for people. Senator Henderson’s argument was directed against that particular committee which was started voluntarily and which ultimately had the fund taken away from it.
I listened with great attention to the Minister for Repatriation. If any senator -can put up a case for a Bill, it is he. I had no objection to the personnel of the Trust nominated by the Government. I go so far as to say that if the scheme of the Bill is to be carried, it would be better to have those named as the Trust rather than to appoint persons from all over Australia. Although I am not a Victorian, I do not want to make any bother about its being, a Victorian body. I believe that every person named is competent and well worthy to be on the Trust. If we had. an honorary committee with representatives on it from the other States, they would have to come here, and the expense of bringing them here and keeping them here would have to be met. It seems to me that, even under this proposal, there is going to be added expense, and I am in favour of handing the fund over to the Repatriation Department. Senator Millen said he took it as a great compliment that honorable senators were prepared to take that course. I think highly of his Department, but it is not a very fine compliment to hand the control of £500,000 to a Department which will ultimately be called upon to spend £30.000,000 or £40,000,000. By handing the fund over to that Department to administer, we should save the expenses of administration. The money has been raised by the soldiers through the canteens, and has to be distributed in a specific manner, and the least the Government might do is to see that it is administered without any expense at all to the fund. When Senator Millen and I were in the New South Wales Parliament, the Miners’ Accident Relief Bill was passed’, and the Government arranged to pay the whole of the administrative expenses. It does seem to me that this can be accomplished by the Repatriation Department taking over the control of the fund. The Minister for Repatriation has told us that his Department cannot .possibly do this, because it is already working at terrific pressure upon six days a week. I understand that no holidays are observed by his Department, and I do not know whether there is even an adjournment for lunch. In listening to him I came to the conclusion that his officers had no time to read the newspapers. That is, doubtless, a very good testimonial to give them, but I cannot believe that,- with a little additional effort, this fund could not be administered by the Repatriation Department. In a very short time three paid Commissioners will be appointed to carry on the work of that Department, and they may well be charged with the administration of this fund. I take it that the Government will lay down specifically how this money is to be expended. The Repatriation Commissioners would have to carry out the provisions of the Bill as distinct from those of the Repatriation Act. If the administration of this fund were under the same control as the Repatriation Department itself, instead of a recipient under this measure experiencing difficulty because he might not be able to understand exactly the difference between one Department and! another, he would experience no trouble whatever. Senator Millen has complained that he is obliged to work in a small, cramped, dirty office, because he cannot obtain suitable office accommodation elsewhere. But the trustees whom it is proposed to appoint under this Bill will require to have offices as well as a secretary, a typist, and an attendant to answer the door. Thus do Departments grow, and grow. As the late Sir Henry Parkes remarked, “You start a fellow with a table, a chair, a bottle of ink and a blotting-pad, you go away, and when you come back, six months hence, you find a tremendous Department with a suite of offices.”
I should be sorry to see this money handed over to the Repatriation Department to be used for repatriation purposes. It must be expended in a specific way. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has told us that if we do not agree to constitute the proposed Trust there is a sum of £450,000 which the trustees of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey will refuse to hand over to a Government Department. We ought to inquire the reason for their action. Senator Millen has also told us that he has received letters from persons who are willing to contribute money for various purposes, and who have forwarded it to the
Minister because they knew of no outside organizations to which they could send it. I understood him to say that, in their communications, they had inquired if there were any organizations to which they could forward it. The inference was that they would have preferred to send it to outside organizations.
– They were animated by the fear that, if it were given to the Government, it would be used in substitution of public moneys. . That is clearly stated in certain cases.
– If persons have that idea. I can quite understand they would refuse to contribute money. But, if we let them know specifically that there is a branch of the Repatriation Department whose express duty it is to deal with this fund, I am inclined to think that they will prefer to send their money to the Government rather than to private trustees. When a man makes his will, he usually prefers to leave his estate in the hands of a public trustee rather than in the hands of a private company. He has his estate handled by private trustees only when he is prevented from placing it under the control of Government trustees. Consequently, I favour the amendment of Senator Newland, and I am prepared to incur the risk of which the Minister for Repatriation spoke just now,
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I had almost concluded any remarks. Even though the Repatriation Department is so overworked at present, I think that this additional work could be performed without adding very materially to the present staff.
– I listened last night with feelings of great admiration, mixed with pity, for the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), whom I commend upon having under his control a staff of officers of whom he can speak as enthusiastically as he did. He gave them a splendid character for industry, and I quite agree with him that he has a good set of officers. Although in the past I have had occasion to complain of the methods of his Department, I am quite convinced that to-day it is capably conducting its affairs, and conducting them with a great deal of satisfaction to those concerned. I am sorry that the honorable gentleman is obliged to work in the miserable office which he described, because I know that he is a grafter in every sense of the term.
– Not in every sense.
– Not in the full American sense of the term.. We all know that he is a hard worker, and I am very sorry that he has not provided himself with an office in which he would be more comfortable. The Minister for Repatriation has stated that, if the amendment be carried, not an hour of the time of - his paid staff can be devoted to administering the funds to which this Bill relates. He told us that his staff is fully occupied, and cannot do anything in the direction of making inquiries regarding applications for assistance, and, generally, of helping in the disbursement of this fund ; but he also informed us that the proposed Trust will have the full assistance of his unpaid staff. There is generosity indeed.
– Will the honorable senator pardon me? That is quite a wrong view of what I said. My statement was that to impose additional work on a staff which was already sufficiently taxed would mean the appointment of extra officers to do that work.
– That is practically the same statement. The Minister says, in effect, that his staff cannot undertake this work unless additional appointments are made. He further intimates that the Trust which it is proposed to constitute under the Bill may send requests for information to any portion of Australia, and the local Repatriation Committees will make the necessary inquiries. I do not expect that the Repatriation Department could do this work without extra assistance, because if it could, the’ Minister’s statement about the staff being hard pressed already, would not be borne out by the facts. For that reason I am anticipating that, if the work is handed over to the Repatriation Department, it ‘will be necessary to increase the staff to some extent. If, on the other hand, it is carried on by trustees to be appointed under this Bill, some considerable expenditure will be incurred in the renting of suitable offices and the appointment of inspectors and office staff, because we could not expect the trustees to work under conditions which the Minister has told us obtain in his own office. It will be necessary, also, for the trustees to obtain offices in each of the’ States, because the Minister has stated that the Deputy Commissioners could not be expected to devoteany of their time to the distribution of the Canteens Fund. We can see, therefore, that with the appointment of trustees there will be a danger of multiplying the avenues of possible expenditure, and that in two or three years’ time a great deal of the money might be swamped in rents and salaries to the staff, leaving very little for the disabled returned soldiers. Senator Henderson’s suggestion, of course, would get over the difficulty. He said, in effect, that it would not take long to ascertain the number of widows, widowed mothers, orphans, and other dependants of deceased soldiers, and that it would then, be merely a matter of dividing the whole amount up between them. I am sure, however, that the Minister and the Government are not thinking of doing that. In South Australia there is what is called the South Australian Soldiers’’ Fund, subscribed by the people of the State., and controlled by a Board of trustees, somewhat similar to that proposed to ‘be appointed under this Bill, and quite a ^number of complaints have been made concerning the disposal of that fund. I have rft> personal knowledge of the work done by that Board, but, judging from the complaints that have been made, the condition of things is anything but satisfactory. The Minister has told us that the trustees of the McCaughey bequest will not hand that money over to a Government Department; but I may point out that when the bequest was made the Government had no intention of appointing Repatriation Commissioners, and I take it that there is now nothing whatever to prevent the McCaughey trustees handing the bequest over to the Commission. It is no longer a Government Department, seeing that a few weeks ago we passed a measure practically removing the whole of the Repatriation work from the interference of Parliament, the Commissioners being responsible only to the Minister. For this reason, there may be no point in the Minister’s objection that the money from the McCaughey estate could not be handled by the Repatriation Commission. In any case, it will be controlled by some Trust under similar safeguarding provisions as are contained in the amended Repatriation Act. I feel, therefore, that there need” be no fear in the minds of honorable senators about any difficulty in, regard to the McCaughey bequest, if the amendment is carried. After all, the Minister was merely expressing his own opinion, and. I am expressing mine. I feel sure that under the altered conditions the McCaughey trustees will not object to hand the money over to the Repatriation Commissioners for distribution, and accordingly I ask the Committee to support the amendment in the interests of economy, and so that the fund may be more satisfactorily disbursed.
– It is not often that I find myself in a dilemma as to how I intend to vote, but after the discussion that has taken place, I am on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand I feel that as this money belongs to the soldiers, it may be necessary to dissociate those charged with its distribution from any connexion with a Government Department; while, on the other hand, the Senate is a States House, and, as a member of it, I am not at all satisfied with the constitution of the proposed Trust. The Government have deliberately set out to centralize the administration of the fund by the appointment only of Victorian representatives, and’ if anything like the law of averages obtains with regard to the distribution of the money, the probability is that a larger proportion will be distributed in the State I represent than in Victoria. I am sorry that the Government have excluded representatives of the other States from the Trust. If they will not review the position, and give some sort of promise that there shall be at least one representative from each State on the Trust, I am afraid that, looking at the matter from the angle of New South Wales, which, on the law of averages, should get two-fifths of the money to be disbursed, I shall have to vote for the amendment, on the ground that it will effect a more reasonable distribution amongst those entitled to the money than can be expected from a Trust of Melbourne citizens. I approve entirely of the appointment of Mr. Lockyer as the chairman of the Trust.
– Does he belong to Melbourne ?
– Yes, but he is a, man of wide Australian sympathies. I may add that every one of the proposed members of the Trust is a reputable and trustworthy citizen. The Minister has told us that the money belongs to the soldiers, and that if it is distributed through the Repatriation Department the thought might arise in. the minds of beneficiaries that Government money is being saved. How can it be distributed fairly otherwise, because already the Repatriation Department is organized right throughout Australia? Recently ‘we amalgamated the Pensions Department with Repatriation and War Service Homes activities, and authorized the appointment of three Commissioners to carry on the work of the Repatriation Department; and a little while ago the Minister said that the back of the repatriation problem had been broken. That is what I gathered from his observations.
Let us visualize what is going to occur if we pass this Bill as it is presented to us. We are going to set up another Trust, and to some extent to duplicate an organization already, set up through much stress and sorrow. There is no limitation with regard to the expenses of this Trust. It may, or may not, go on for years. It is, however, the expressed intention of those who own this money, and they are the Australian soldiers themselves, that it should be given to their dependants and their less fortunate mates. I take it, also, that it is an unexpressed but honorable understanding that the Trust shall not take too long about distributing these funds. This Bill will place the trustees in an unassailable position to do exactly as they like. They cannot distribute this money without excessive expense in its distribution unless they take advantage of organizations already set up by the Government for the deliberate purpose of finding out who are distressed and who are in need of relief. For all practical purposes, whether the amendment is carried or the Trust is created, the work must he done through the Repatriation Department and Repatriation Committees; otherwise the information available for the proper distribution of the money cannot be obtained.
I have no objection to a Trust being created for the distribution’ of this money, particularly if we have confirmation of the statement that the McCaughey bequest of £450,000 will not in any circumstances be paid to an organization that has any connexion direct or indirect with a Government Department. I should be the last to take up an untenable position in this Chamber, by which the soldiers would lose the benefit of such a large sum of money, which practically doubles the fund obtained as profits from the canteens. Whether this is so or not, I do not know, but we may assume, if the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) asserts that it is so, that there can be no doubt about the matter.
– I have not said that the soldiers would lose the benefit of the McCaughey bequest. The trustees of that bequest would no doubt make other arrangements, but they will not, in any case, hand the money intrusted to them to the Repatriation Department.
– I thank the Minister for the correction. In view of what he has said we can assume that a Trust of some sort must be set up to administer the McCaughey bequest. We have to ask ourselves whether it would be wise for us to give the distribution of this fund to a Trust appointed to administer the “ McCaughey bequest in order to avoid further duplication of organizations for its distribution. I admit that I am on the horns of a dilemma, but I propose to vote for the amendment for the reason that on the proposed Trust set up by the Bill there is no representation of States other than Victoria. It is to consist exclusively of honorable and highly placed Melbourne gentlemen, although the bulk of this money, if these funds are to be fairly distributed, must be given to claimants outside Victoria. There should be some provision in the Bill to give .representation on the Trust to States other than Victoria.
– There is to be a State Advisory Committee in each capital city, and these committees will be linked up with the various committees spread throughout Australia to which the honorable senator has referred.
– The Bill does not say so.
– I said so in introducing the Bill, and I said again in Committee that that was to be the machinery used in the distribution of these funds.
– The Bill says that the trustees can do exactly as they like, so long as they distribute this money within the four corners of this measure. If it is intended that there shall be Advisory Committees in each State centre-
– I read the memorandum of the proposed Chairman of the Trust, Mr. Lockyer, in which he said that what was proposed was to have an Advisory Committee in each capital city, and that they were to utilize the services of existing organizations in every hamlet and town in the Commonwealth-.
– If the Minister will put that into the Bill, my objection that States other than Victoria are not represented on the Trust will very largely fall to the ground.
– That will increase the duplication.
– The duplication will still continue. My own State is not represented, and South Australia is not represented on the proposed Trust, and if I vote for the amendment submitted by Senator Newland, I shall at least secure representation of New South Wales through the Repatriation Committee in that State. If I oppose the amendment, and it is defeated, I must look to what the Bill actually says. It provides that nine or ten very estimable citizens of Melbourne shall constitute a Trust for the whole of Australia, and so long as they confine themselves to carrying out their duties to the best of their ability throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, they will have done what the Bill says they should do.
With regard to the benefits under the Bill, it must be obvious to the merest tyro that the members of no Trust in Melbourne will be able of their own knowledge to properly distribute these funds without the co-operation, in many cases, of country and State Committees, the members of which will have personal knowledge of the circumstances of applicants who came to these trustees for benefits from these funds.
– The proposed Trust is a smoke screen.
– If the Minister in charge of the Bill will assure the Committee that the Trust will work through the Repatriation Department in some way or other-
– Will the Repatriation Department work with the Trust?
– If the Trust will work through the Repatriation Department, and procure thereby the knowledge of the repatriation organizations throughout the States, I shall be very much better satisfied than I am in being asked to vote for the Bill as it stands, which practically proposes the duplication of the existing organization.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I listened with great attention and interest to the remarks made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) yesterday evening. He suggested first of all that the average man in the street is placed in rather a dilemma because of the number of different Government Departments, but, as I fail to see how the creation of this Trust will improve his position in that regard, I do not think there was any force in the Minister’s argument. The honorable senator then referred to a doubt in the minds of the returned soldiers as to whether these funds were to be supplementary to, or in substitution for, the funds of the Repatriation Department. There should be no doubt in the minds of the soldiers that these funds have been created by the profits derived from the traffic of the canteens, and have no connexion with the funds of the Repatriation Department. The Minister seemed to me to contend that there is no machinery established for distributing money, and that the work of distributing this money would be foreign to the work of the Repatriation Department. If I have not misunderstood the Repatriation Bill which we recently had under consideration, the distribution of these funds is not more foreign to the work of repatriation, or the payment of war pensions, than is the work connected with the erection of war service homes. By interjection, I alluded to the proposed Trust under this Bill as a smoke screen. It is, in effect, put forward to satisfy the mind of the returned soldier that he is not to he deprived of money . that should be his. We all recognise that these funds belong to the soldiers. The Minister for Repatriation stated that a person leaving money for the benefit of returned soldiers would not be prepared to hand it to the Repatriation Department for distribution, but I think that statement needs some qualification. It would not, of course, be handed over to the Department to be disbursed in the form of repatriation allowances, but I do not think for one moment that the trustees of the McCaughey bequest would object to the Department distributing that money, in conjunction with the canteen profits. I desire to stress the point raised by Senator Pratten. Supposing the Bill is passed in its present form, and the Trust created. That Trust will not have one iota of information as to who are desirous of receiving assistance, and it must immediately commence to collect information. The Minister for Repatriation has stated that the necessary particulars required by the Trust will be at its disposal, and yet we are being asked to appoint a body that will have to utilize the information already in possession of the Repatriation Department. The officers of the Department know of every man and his needs, and it would be a simple matter for it to effectively dispose of the funds on the most economical and effective basis. The Minister for Repatriation really strengthened the need for adopting the amendment when he said that it was the intention, when the Trust was formed, to have certain gentlemen in different districts to act as a medium through which the Trust will work. It is unreasonable to make additional- appointments and to create another body when we already have a Central Commission, State Boards, and Local Commit-less dealing with our repatriation work. The appointment of a Trust is nothing more than a “ smoke screen “ to convince people that this money is supplementary, and not in substitution of that paid by the Repatriation Department. Are we to be guided by sentiment, or are we to take the common-sense and practical view ? Should we not allow the effective machinery already in existence to be utilized in meeting the needs, in a supplementary sense, of the men. and their dependants who are to benefit? There is nothing in the Bill, apart from the appointment of the Trust, that cannot well be carried out by the Repatriation
Boards and Local Committees, including the handling of any bequests that may he made from time to time. The proposed Trust would be of a temporary nature, whilst the Repatriation Department is a permanent body, quite capable of economically ‘and effectively distributing the money.
– At first Senator Newland’s amendment seemed to be rather an attractive proposition, but after listening to the debate and recalling my own experiences in connexion with applications to the Repatriation Department, I am convinced that it is desirable that this money should be distributed by a separate body. If Senator Senior has had any experience in connexion with applications for repatriation allowances, he will surely realize, as I do, that nine-tenths of the trouble in connexion with payments by the Re-i patriation Department has been caused by the lack of knowledge on the part of applicants in filling in the necessary forms.
– The creation of another body will merely intensify that trouble.
– It will not do that. If the assistance that is to be given in this direction is to be controlled by a separate authority much confusion will be avoided. The soldiers’ organizations have stated, and the Minister for Repatriation. (Senator Millen) stressed the point, that the men do not desire this fund to be in any way associated with the Repatriation Department.
– They do not wish it to be confused with the repatriation payments.
– A majority of the soldiers will think that the payments are in substitution for those of the Department, and although we are quite clear on the point, there are many outside who are not.
– Why did the men ask for a paid Commission instead of an honorary one ?
– Because they thought the work could be performed more expeditiously than by an honorary board. My experience has shown that applicants for assistance from the Government have considerable difficulty in correctly filling up repatriation or old-age pension forms. If the administration of the fund is to ne in the hands of the Repatriation Department many of the soldiers and their dependants will think that the money they are receiving is being paid by that Department and not out of a separate fund. It really resolves itself into a question of whether the fund shall be administered by an honorary Trust or by the Repatriation Department, because, as stated bv the Minister for Repatriation, the records of the Department will be at the disposal of the Trust.
– The Minister also stated that his Department could not do more than it is doing at present without assistance.
– Some one has to do the work, and as the State Boards and Local Committees are in possession of the necessary information, it would ‘be an easy matter to place it at the disposal of the proposed Trust.
– Then why not allow the Department to deal with it straight out ?
– The only point in dispute is as to who shall have the final disposal of the money, and I prefer a Trust, as provided in the Bill, because it will be clear to the applicants that they are receiving a portion of the profits from the Canteen Fund. I would like to emphasize the point raised ‘by Senator Henderson that we have a definite number of soldiers, widows, and children, and that number cannot be increased.
– Yes, it can, because the soldiers have not all returned.
– Practically all the incapacitated soldiers are in Australia.
– If this money is to Be of any real assistance it should be distributed at the earliest possible moment, whether it be by the Department or by the proposed Trust, as there are many little children who- are needing assistance, and prompt action on the part of the responsible authorities will be the means of relieving a good deal of distress. Reference has been made to the possibility of the trustees of the McCaughey estate declining to hand over the fund under their control to the Government for distribution. I was interested in a voluntary public effort in Queensland, and when the members of a Trust were approached for a grant they said they would not contribute one penny if it was to- be handled by the Government, because they did not believe in the muddling methods adopted.
– Is thehonorable senator referring to the present Queensland Government ?
– It does not matter what Government it was, but the fact remains that philanthropic citizens are not disposed to place money in the hands of a Government for distribution. It is quite possible that the McCaughey trustees arenot prepared to allow this money to be handled by the Repatriation Department.
-We should have a definite statement on that.
– It would be an advantage. The trustees of the McCaughey estate may probably be in a similar position, and we should notdo anything that is likely to hinderor prevent the soldiers and their dependants receiving immediate assistance, because it will mean the creation of another Trust to carry outthe purposes of the McCaughey bequest to the soldiers.
– This Bill does not deal with that matter. It deals with the Canteens Fund.
– But we have been told officially that that money is to be handed over to the Trust to be appointed under this Bill. Senator Pearce has shown what a serious position will be created if we do anything to interfere in any way with that munificent gift. The creation of another Trust to administer it will swallow up more money. Senator Millen told the Committee that his Department is full up now, and that, if additional duties are given to it, he will need an extra staff and extra rooms. The place his Department occupies now is a disgrace. The extra rooms that would be required by the proposed Committee would be no more than would be required by the Repatriation Department.
– You must anticipate a very costly staff to work this Trust if you think it will make so much difference to the Repatriation Department.
– I do not know how many extra hands the Departmentwould require,but it would certainly need some. The proposed Trust will be able to work with a very small staff, because all the detailed information will be sent in to it, and all it will have to do is to indorse the action of the Local Committees. What will the Repatriation
Commission do except to indorse the recommendations of the Local Committees ? To say that the Trust as proposed is a Victorian body is a very small argument, because the Repatriation Commission, or this voluntary Trust, will be simply guided by the information forwarded to them.
– Whether that information is right or not? Should they not make personal inquiries?
– The honorable senator cannot seriously suggest that the Repatriation Commission, or any other central body, can make a specific examination of local cases. If you have a representative Local Committee, you accept their evidence. No Department can do any thing else, unless it is suspected that the Local Committee is making some proposal that is quite out of place.
– Why should not McCaughey’s trustees carry out the distribution of his money themselves ?
– Because they are not appointed to do so. Their duty is to hand over certain moneys to certain Trusts, according to the will. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) says that the trustees have notified their willingness to hand the money over to the proposed Trust. We now learn that they object to hand it over to the Repatriation Department. It is much clearer and better, for the sake of the soldiers and their dependants, to create an independent Trust outside of the Repatriation Department. This course will give more satisfaction, and afford the soldiers an assurance that they will be getting their own money back again. I support the Bill as it stands, because it is the best arrangement that we can possibly make.
– I should not have spoken again but for the way Senator Reid emphasized Senator Pearce’s statement regarding the bequest from Sir Samuel McCaughey. If ever anything should not have been said, Senator Pearce’s remarks should never have been made. The McCaughey bequest must go to the soldiers, in any case, as provided by the will. The executors of the estate cannot take any other course. But Senator Pearce stands up, and does not mind decrying his Government, by showing that the Government have created such a general distrust amongst business men that there is a reluctance to put anything in their hands. My complaint is that the McCaughey money is being mixed up with the CanteensFund. It is such a magnificent bequest, made in such a magnificent way by so great a man and for such a splendid purpose, that it could well have stood by itself. It would have been only doing justice to the memory of the man who left the money to allow the bequest to stand by itself. If this amendment would force the Government to have the bequest administered separately from the CanteensFund, that is an excellent argument for it. Senator Pearce practically made a threat to the Committee that if we did not carry the Bill as it stood the soldiers would lose the McCaughey money. That is a most regrettable attitude for the Minister to take up. No Minister should say that if we do our duty some disastrous result will follow. I am annoyed beyond imagination at the way in which the Minister has put the question before the Committee.
– The officials of the Trust have sent a letter here stating that they will not give the money.
– We are not children to be threatened in that way, although I can see that Senator Reid is quite concerned. In fact, I felt that so many Government supporters were likely to vote against the Government that I ought to go over and vote with the Government, and I was almost afraid to call for a quorum on the second occasion, lest we should find that there were not enough senators present to see the Bill through. The method Senator Pearce has used to influence the Committee is not worthy of the honorable senator, let alone of the Senate.
SenatorFoll. - The trustees must have been approached first.
– I do not think the trustees imagined that anything they wrote or said was going to be used as it has been used here. I do not know them, but I know that the will of Sir Samuel McCaughey stands to-day as a magnificent record of his greatness. The way his bequest has been used by Senator Pearce to influence the Committee is beneath the dignity of the Committee, and I strongly protest against it.
Question - That the words proposed to be left outbe left out . (Senator Newland’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The following persons, that is to say - The President for the time being of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia,
Mrs. Alfred Deakin, of WalshStreet, South Yarra, Victoria,
Nicholas Colston Lockyer, Esq., C.B.E.,
The Hon. George Swinburne,
Major-General Sir Cyril Brudenell
Bingham White, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.,
Percy Whitton, Esq., I.S.O., and
Harold Percival Moorehead, Esq., formerly a member of the Australian Imperial Force, shall be the trustees of the fund.
. -I wish to raise two other questions regarding the Trust. The first is that under no setof circumstances can. the Government displace any member of it until he resigns or dies. Some elasticity should be given to the question of the continuity in office of the trustees. The Trust should continue, if the Bill is passed. in its present form, only at the pleasure of the Governor-General. The second point is that it is exclusively a Melbourne body, and will have the responsibility of disbursing probably at least £1,000,000. I feel strongly that every State concerned should be given representation upon it. I therefore move -
That after the word “ Force,” line 15, the words “ together with a representative of each State other than Victoria “ be inserted.
– I have a prior amendment.
– Then I ask leave to temporarily withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the words “The President for the time being of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ One representative of the ex-service men elected from each State in Australia.”
The Returned Sailors aud Soldiers Imperial League may be fairly representative of the returned soldiers of Australia, and yet the president of that organization may be elected as the result of a very close conflict in respect of some business connected with that League. Under this Bill it is proposed to constitute a Trust to control a very serious matter, and those who have had experience of various organizations know that very frequently a party contest within an organization results in the election of a president who is the least fitted to hold that particular office. To appoint to a Trust charged with administering large sums of money a person who may not be chosen because of his fitness for the position would be a grave mistake. If. my amendment be adopted, we shall certainly add to the size of the Trust, but we shall also give the soldiers adequate representation upon it. Only the other day, Senator Foll read a statement which showed that there are 42,000 Victorian members of, the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, and only 22,000 members in New South Wales. ‘Upon that basis 42,000 soldiers would elect their president here, because we know the attitude of Victorians towards the rest of Australia. They regard Melbourne as Victoria and Victoria as Australia. With them New South Wales does not count. New South Wales has at least one-third more returned soldiers than has Victoria, and yet if Senator Foil’s figures are correct, these men would have no chance of representation on the Trust or on the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League.
– Assuming that all the returned soldiers in Victoria are as small-minded as are some people from New South Wales.
– I realize the littleness of my outlook, and that outlook has been decreased since I entered this Parliament. When I came to Melbourne I took as wide an Australian view of matters as did any other honorable senator, but to-day I am convinced that with Victorian people it is a case of Melbourne first and all the time. If honorable senators will turn up my earlier speeches in this chamber, they will find that in those days I spoke for Australia, but Victoria has absorbed everything that she can absorb. So far as New South Wales is concerned, including returned soldiers, she possesses about one-half of the revenuepaying population of Australia. I really believe that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is right. That State is so huge and so important- that it ought never to put in claims for these petty things. It ought rather to let such favours go to the other States which have to live upon what they can get out of the Commonwealth. The previous amendment having failed, if the Trust proposed to be constituted under this Bill be appointed, there is no guarantee that the person who will be elected president of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League may not be quite unfit for his office.
– The honorable senator might say that about any ex-official appointment.
– This is not an ex-officio appointment.
– The honorable senator does not give the soldiers credit for much common sense.
– I am giving them credit for common sense. I wish to endow them with the right to elect six members, one for each State of the Commonwealth.
– Senator Gardiner can see great virtues in elections at times. Upon other occasions he can also see great evils in them. From his stand-point, when an election is to he held for the presidency of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, the soldiers are certain to make a bad choice. They are going to elect a man who has no qualifications for the office. But when they are afforded an opportunity of electing members of this Trust they will select men who are Al at Lloyd’s. They will have no misfits, but just the right men. I need say no more upon that aspect of the matter. But if the amendment be carried, shall we not be using a steam hammer to crack a nut? If we are to have an election for the Trust we shall require an electoral roll, and the Government will be obliged to conduct the election. We shall also require polling booths, and the whole matter will cost as much as would a Senate election. All this would need to he done for the purpose of insuring that a portion of the £500,000 at present in the fund should be handed over tothose who are entitled to receive it. The amendment is too ridiculous for serious consideration, so I do not propose to waste further time upon it.
– I move -
That after the word “ Force,” line 15, the words “ together with a representative of each State other than Victoria” be inserted.
The absence of representation upon this Trust from States other than Victoria is not fair. To place such extensive arbitrary and final powers in the hands of a Trust for the benefit of the whole of the soldiers of Australia without giving reasonable representation to the soldiers and their dependants from the other States is- quite “unreasonable. I do not propose to repeat the arguments which I advanced upon a previous clause of the Bill. I agree with Senator Gardiner that the tendency of some acts of administration is to make every one of us from the other States smaller Australians than we would be but for the concentration which is constantly going on in Melbourne. I represent a State which has the largest population and the largest trade and commerce of any State in the Commonwealth. It also pays the biggest amount of taxation. It is the State which contains the biggest city in Australia - a city which has suffered, and is suffering, indignities and disabilities in connexion with the administration of Commonwealth affairs which are positively heartbreaking. I am merely asking that that State shall have one representative on the Trust to insure that every deserving dependant of soldiers shall get a share of this fund, and. also to safeguard its effective administration. There can be no objection to my proposal, save that it will necessitate members of the Trust coming from the other States to- Melbourne. But whatever may be their out-of-pocket expenses, their services will be worth infinitely more. They would not only represent their own States but would; also take full responsibility. It is our bounden duty to do what we can to protect everybody, even to the remotest parts of the Common wealth.
– This is nob a question in which the States appear as States; it is an Australian question. The distribution of the money will not be as between State and State, but as between individuals living in the various States. Western Australia, for instance, may have twice as many widows as New South Wales, and, consequently, in the distribution of the fund, a larger sum will be apportioned to the widows of that State. The trustees will be able to get all the necessary information concerning applications that come before them through the State Advisory Committees, which will be appointed to assist them in the discharge of their duties, and this will secure all that the honorable senator is desiring to obtain by his amendment. Let. us. see how his amendment will appear as a working proposition, and for the purpose of argument let us assume that representatives are appointed from each State, including Western Australia. Can Senator Pratten say how often the trustees are likely to meet?
– I do not think it would be necessary to meet very often so long as the State organizations are effective.
– Would they meet once a fortnight?
– This is the first time we have heard of any State organization at all in connexion with the scheme. I do not think the trustees would meet once a fortnight.
– Well, let us assume, then, that they would meet once a month. How many citizens of Western Australia would be able to travel continuously for twelve months in connexion with this work?
– Could you not nominate your colleague, Senator Lynch, to represent Western Australia?
– If we did that we would be nominating a representative of Western Australia who happens to be living in Melbourne, and that practically is what has been done in connexion with the appointment of trustees, because not more than one-third of them are Victorians in the t’<rue sense , of the term. The trustees appointed happen to be living in this State because their positions keep them here.
– But a parliamentary representative would be responsible te the electors of his State.
– Still he would be just as much a Victorian as General White is, because General White’s State is Queensland, though his business keeps him in Victoria. If we appointed Senator de Largie as a trustee, he would foe a resident of Melbourne.
– But do you not think Western Australia would then be adequately represented ?
– That State will be adequately represented by the State Advisory Committee. Such committees are to be established in all the States.
– There is nothing in the Bill about the appointment of State Advisory Committees.
– The machinery of the Trust will be created by regulation, and State Advisory Committees aTe to be provided for. I cannot accept the amendment, but I am prepared to accept an amendment as regards the removal of trustees, and I have here a draft which I propose to submit at a later stage.
– I regard the Trust to be created as a most important body which will probably last our time, at all events, because not only will it be called upon to disburse the Canteens Fund of £500,000, but also the magnificent McCaughey bequest of £450,000 ; and it is probable- that other generous citizens will bequeath amounts for the benefit of soldiers and their orphans and dependants. I am not asking for the appointment of special State representatives, who may be called upon to travel all the way from
Brisbane or Perth to Melbourne to transact the business of the Trust, but I cannot conceive any objection to the appointment of, say, Senator de Largie as representing Western Australia on the Trust, because, to a great extent, he would be particularly responsible to tie soldiers of Western Australia. I am very glad the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has made the position clearer by stating that provision is to be made by regulation for the appointment of State Advisory Committees. If we cannot carry this amendment, which I am unable to withdraw, in justice to my own State, I hope that the acute position we are now in, with an entirely Melbourne Trust, will be very much improved.
– I do not think that much more remains to be said. Senator Pratten’s amendment is somewhat similar to mine, submitted at an earlier stage, the only difference being that mine aimed at the appointment of soldiers’ representatives from each State.
– And elected.
– Well, there is not a great deal of difference between the two amendments. I support Senator Pratten, because I agree with all that he ha* said. This Trust will be a very important body; so important, indeed, that if I could rely upon sufficient support I should move to delegate its duties to the Inter-State Commission, which is a representative Australian body, and responsible to the Government. Senator Pratten’s amendment seeks to give Australia an interest and responsibility in the administration of- these funds. For a long time there has been altogether too much centralization in Melbourne, and this Bill is another instance of Melbourne influence. Senator Pearce, however, now states that, under the regulations to be promulgated, it is intended to establish State Advisory Committees.
– In my secondreading speech I referred to the State Advisory Committees.
– I listened to the Minister attentively, because I had to follow him, and I was looking for a ray of hope as regards the trustees; and when he sat down I drew attention to the personnel of the Trust. The Minister now talks of the narrowness of the Australian outlook suggested in the amendment. That is just what we have been combating all along, and that is why I am supporting the amendment. The intimation that Advisory Committees are to be created by means of regulation suggests that, after all, the Bill only deals with one-half of the problem. I do not pretend that I have been able to make myself acquainted with all the details of the measure, but I have read it carefully, and I find no reference in it to the appointment of State Advisory Committees. Senator Pearce stands up and says that there is a reference in the Bill to such Committees.
– The Minister did not say that there is a reference to Advisory Committees in the Bill, but that he informed the Senate that they would be created by regulation.
– I have been here long enough to know something about the principles under which regulations are drafted. No regulation can be drafted to bring into existence something that is not provided for in the measure under which it is framed. There must be something in the Act under which a regulation is framed to warrant it. Senator Pearce may draft a regulation to set up State Advisory Committees, but it will have no force if such Committees are not provided for in this Bill. If the Minister can, by regulation, create State Advisory Committees in each of the capital cities there is no reason why he should not as Senator Foll has suggested, create committees in every hamlet in the Commonwealth.
– And each with a staff.
– Yes, each must be equipped with a staff. The work must be done, and well done. I venture to say that, seeing that there is no provision in the Bill for State Committees, a regulation under this measure pretending to bring them into existence would be at once ruled out of court. The suggestion that such Committees are necessary shows that the Minister for Defence (Senator Peace) has realized the injustice he is doing in this Bill to the members of the proposed Trust in not supplying them with necessary avenues for the collection of information to enable them to carry out the duties they are called upon to perform. I know that nothing I may say is likely to assist Senator Pratten, but I hope the honorable senator will call for a division on his amendment, as I should like to know which honorable senators are anxious that the States they represent should be without representation on this Trust.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Pratten’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Foll) agreed to -
That the Paper, “Royal Commissions - Per sonnel and Cost: Return,” laid on the table of the Senate to-day be printed.
In Committee :
Clause 5 (Trustees of the Fund).
– I move -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (1a) The trustees shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. “
That meets the point raised by Senator Pratten that the Bill does not provide the necessary power to remove a’ trustee if it became necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 10, postponed clause 2, and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Question (by Senator Millen) proposed
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive1 Council if, after inquiry, he is able to give any information regarding the apparent differential treatment meted out to Tasmania in connexion with sugar supplies?
– I have been unable to obtain a definite statement from the Minister controlling sugar supplies, but I shall endeavour to obtain the necessary information before the Senate adjourns.
.- -To-day I asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) how many officers from the Duntroon College served at tho Front, how many reached the rank of major, and the number promoted above the rank of major. There must be some explanation why these young men - possibly the best-trained young men in the world - were not promoted above the rank of major. I am under the impression that during their period of service an order was issued to prevent promotion beyond a certain rank. These men had the advantage of being well trained in their profession, and if the position is. as I have stated, it is a gross injustice to them. I believe it was our proud boast that every man who went abroad had the commission of a general in his knapsack, and if I am right in my conjecture, the officers of this particular branch of the service were only allowed to go so high and no higher. If that is so it is an injustice that can never be removed. It may be said that they were young men, and were not entitled to high rank, ‘but merit alone should have been the basis upon which promotion should have been given. It is a remarkable fact that other officers were promoted beyond the rank of major.’
– In one or two instances.
– I remember on one occasion, during the absence of the Minister for Defence from the . Defence Department, seeing _ a statement prepared by responsible military officers which was creditable to these young men, and I venture to say that the officers who received their training in Australia were in every way efficient for the important work they had to perform. I introduced this matter because I have heard it stated that they did not reach a higher rank than that of major, because they were prevented, and there must be some substantial reason for this action if that be true. Judging by the reports I have seen, it is remarkable that these excellently trained young men were allowed to reach a certain rank, and that not one of them was permitted to go beyond it. If my statements are correct, I would like the Minister for Defence to give an explanation, or submit some information later on, as it is a question that should be settled.
– I join with Senator Gardiner in his admiration of the officers trained at Duntroon. I have been assured by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) that at the time he vacated the office of Minister for Defence at the outbreak of war, he was not aware of any such order having been issued, and I am certain that no such order has been issued by any Government since that time. I am astonished to hear that such a rumour is current, and if there was such nil order it was certainly never issued by the Government or wilh their knowledge. I shall have inquiries made to see if the General Officer Commanding has any knowledge of the matter.
– Or any military authority ?
– Yes; but I can hardly believe that anything of tho nature indicated would be done without the knowledge of the Government. There could be only one motive, and that is, that it might inconvenience the Government or military authorities to have junior officers returning to Australia with high rank. But that is disproved by the fact that one sergeant-major returned with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Senator Keating can probably bear me out in that, as the man in question came from the State ho represents.
– There is a good deal of suspicion, and there must be some reason for tho Duntroon officers not getting beyond the rank of major.
– Although it may be somewhat significant, it does not prove that such an order was given, but rather the likelihood of no such order having been issued. If it would embarrass the
Government for a commissioned officer to come back with high rank, it would be ft greater embarrassment in the case of a non-commissioned officer. As a rumour ia current, I shall take the earliest opportunity to contradict it, because it would be disastrous to the Duntroon College if it were thought that the Government or the military authorities were preventing the advancement- of brilliant young graduates from that institution. I shall have immediate inquiries made to ascertain if the military authorities issued such an order, and I can give the honorable senator tuy assurance that the Government have no knowledge of anything of the nature indicated being done. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate- adjourned at 8.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 April 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200422_senate_8_91/>.