8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Report of Ewing Commission
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if the Government have yet received the report from Mr. Justice Ewing on the administration of the Northern Territory, and if so, when it will be made available to Parliament ?
– I was asked a question on this subject last week, and stated then that so far as I knew the report had not then been received. I find that it had actually been received at the time I spoke, but it had not up to that time been considered even by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who was the first to handle it. I am unable to say when it will be available for publication, but I shall endeavour to inform myself on the subject with a view to giving the information to the Senate later on.
Position op Returned Soldiers at Port Darwin - Land Settlement. Senator BAKHAP.- -Iask the Minister for Repatriation if he has noticed a statement that appeared in the press this morning to the effect that the Repatriation Department is not represented at Port Darwin, and that various returned soldiers, married and single, who ave entitled to the benefits of the repatriation scheme, are practically stranded. They are living in expensive hotels, and it is asserted that there is no one at Port Darwin to represent the Repatriation Department and look after their interests?
– I did not notice the statement, and therefore hesitate to deal definitely with it. If the honorable senator infers from the newspaper paragraph that no steps have been taken to secure to returned soldiers in the Northern Territory the benefits of the Repatriation Act, the inference is incorrect. There are officials in the Northern Territory, and steps have already been taken to secure to returned soldiers there the benefits of Repatriation.
– I do not assert that the newspaper statement is correct, but I think it is one that should be considered by the Department, as the publication of such a statement is likely to do a great deal of harm.
– That is quite correct. Steps have already been taken, and have been in operation for some time to meet emergency cases. A more complete system is being developed there through representatives of the Government in the Northern Territory.
– On the 3rd March I asked the Minister for Repatriation a question relative to the amount and value of land made available for returned men. I have not yet received an answer to that question, and should like to know whether the Minister is now in possession of the information ?
– If I remember rightly, the honorable senator was informed that the information would be collected and made available as soon as obtained. That promise still holds. I shall endeavour to ascertain what progress has been made in collecting the desired information.
Promotion of Duntroon Graduates
– On behalf of Senator Gardiner, and at his request, I ask the Minister for Defence if he can now supply information in answer to a question asked by Senator Gardiner in connexion with the issue of an order dealing with the promotion of graduates from the Duntroon College?
– When Senator Gardiner stated in the Senate on the 22nd April that he was under the impression that an order had been issued to prevent graduates of the Royal Military College advancing beyond the rank of major, I gave an assurance that the Government was unaware of anything of the” nature indicated, and I stated that I would inquire if any such order had been issued by the military authorities. I am now in a position to state that no such order was issued by the Department in Australia. It is understood, however, that an order somewhat of the nature indicated was issued by the Australian ImperialForce head-quarters overseas. This order, I am informed, was to the effect that the college graduates should not normally be recommended for regimental command, but should be given as wide an experience of all duties as was practicable, with a view to their value as future officers of the Department being enhanced.Without commenting upon this order, I wish to say that the Government did not authorize or know of it. I have not yet been able to obtain a copy of the order, and before further search can be made, it will be necessary to await the return of the overseas records. All of these are now on the way to Australia, or are packed ready for transport. When the exact terms of the order are ascertained a further statement will be made.
The following papers were presented : -
Convention revising the General Act of Berlin, 26th February, 1885, and the General Act and Declaration of Brussels, 2nd July, 1890, signed at SaintGermainenLaye, 10th September, 1919.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act. - Orders of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with awards or variations of awards in the following cases: -
Arms Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia. (Dated 30th March, 1920.)
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Association and the Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association. (Dated 30th March, 1920.) (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Australian Letter Carriers Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Australian Postal Electricians Union. (Dated 1st March, 1920.) (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Australian Postal Linesmen’s Union. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Commonwealth Public Service Artisans Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920 - two cases.)
Commonwealth Temporary Clerks Association. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Federated Public Service Assistants Association of Australia. (Dated 9th April, 1920 - three cases.)
General Division Officers Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Line Inspectors Association - Commonwealth of Australia. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Meat Inspectors Association - Commonwealth Public Service. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Postal Sorters Union of Australia. (Dated 9th April, 1920.)
Audit Act - Regulations amended - Statutory
Rules 1920, Nos. 57, 59.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at North Preston, Victoria - For Repatriation purposes.
Papua - Ordinance No. 1 of 1920 - Land.
Public Service Act - Appointment of J. I. Connor, Department of Trade and Customs.
. -(By leave) - I desire to make a statement relative to some remarks by Senator Gardiner on the last sitting day, and based upon statements alleged to have been made by Mr. Kelly, formerly the honorable member for Wentworth, concerning the recall of the late General Bridges from his tour of inspection in Queensland and the Northern Territory just prior to the outbreak of the war. This matter is one primarily affecting the Defence Department, but honorable senators will recollect that, at the time referred to, in the statement made by Mr. Kelly, and repeated by Senator Gardiner, I was the Minister in charge of the Defence Department, and consequently was in touch with what happened. That there may be no mistake as to what Mr. Kelly is alleged to have said, I shall read a copy of the press report of his first statement, made in Sydney. It is as follows : -
When the war broke out, General Bridges was the man marked out by ability and office for the command of the Australian Army, yet I found him accidentally in Brisbane on the Saturday before the war broke out, under orders to proceed to Port Darwin on a trivial mission. I took it on myself to order him to return to Melbourne, and acquainted my colleague, the Minister for Defence, of my action. But for that accidental meeting the man who afterwards organized our glorious First Division, which set the standard that enabled the five to make Australia famous, would have been side-tracked at the very outset of the war.
It is quite clear that that was the impression gained, and probably intended to be imparted, by the statement made by Mr. Kelly, because the Melbourne Argus, which reported Senator Gardiner’s reference to the matter, used these words: -
The statement - referring to Mr. Kelly’s remarks - referred to the side-tracking of the late General Bridges and the existence of a clique at military Head-Quarters.
First of all I should like to refer to the series of facts which entirely dispose of that allegation, but before doing so I desire to quote another paragraph from Mr. Kelly’s letter. He mentions how he accidentally met’ General Bridges on Saturday, 1st August, and says -
General Bridges told me that he was under orders to proceed to Port Darwin to report on the military defences of that port.
From this statement there can be only one inference, namely, that some malign influence had been at work to spirit General Bridges away to some outlandish part at the very time when a crisis was about to break upon the world, and I trust that the press, which were rather careful to star this allegation, will give equal prominence to the facts I am about to relate.
The late General Bridges was InspectorGeneral, and therefore there was no one to issue orders to him as to where he should go. The responsibility was thrown upon him, by the Defence Act, to make his own independent inspections, and to go where he pleased. On the 17th June, long before the war clouds gathered on the horizon, General Bridges had prepared an itinerary of an extended tour which he contemplated throughout Queensland, and he informed the Secretary for Defence, whose assent, of course, was not necessary, of his intention. I may here add that I had a conversation with the late General Bridges before he undertook this tour. At that time he had just vacated his position at Duntroon Military College, and he told me that he felt a little run down, and wanted a holiday. He also stated that if he took the holiday then, there would be such an accumulation of work in front of him upon. his return that it would not be possible for him, later on, to pay his contemplated visit to the northern State. Therefore he suggested that he might kill two birds with the one stone; that is to say, the trip to the northern State would probably give him the rest he needed, and ne would also be able to carry out his official duties in Queensland, and afterwards discharge his inspectoral duties in the more populous southern States. Apart from that, General Bridges himself shaped his own course, -and left Melbourne of his own volition, and in pursuance of his plans on the 23rd July. I may here point to another matter, which at the time appeared trivial, but which, in view of Mr. Kelly’s statements, should be noted. As I have said, the late General Bridges left Melbourne on the 23rd July, and the then Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), . whose presence at the Seat of Government at a critical juncture should be surely as urgently necessary as that of any other man in the community, left Melbourne on the 2Sth July for a rather extended country tour in this State in connexion with the elections then pending. I submit that if the Prime Minister, with all the information available to him as to the probable course of events, deemed it safe to leave Melbourne on the 2Sth July, there was nothing remarkable in the fact that the Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Defence Forces left this same city five days earlier. The Prime Minister’s departure on the 28th July certainly suggests that, at that time it was not assumed that what was transpiring in Europe would have such a tragic effect upon the world. So much for the circumstances under which General Bridges went away. Mr. Kelly declares that he met him accidentally, and that but for that meeting the late General Bridges would have been side-tracked. These are the simple facts of the case. Mr. Kelly, who was then a member of the Government, and myself were the only two Ministers in Sydney at the time. It happened that His Excellency the Governor-General was also there, and when the first cables that indicated the trouble which was then commencing in Europe came to hand, Mr. Kelly and myself were the only two Ministers in touch with His Excellency. “We therefore had an opportunity of perusing the messages. In all probability Mr. Kelly knew what was transpiring even before the then Prime Minister, and therefore Mr. Kelly cannot claim to have been in ignorance of the facts. Those cables did not, until the very last moment, suggest to my mind or to the minds of others the view that matters were anything like as serious as they eventually proved to be. It was not until the last forty-eight hours that developments proneeded with dramatic rapidity, which landed us in that great catastrophe from which we have just emerged. Further proof of this is to be found in the fact that Mr. Kelly, who was a member of the Ministry, left Sydney to speak in Brisbane on the Friday before the outbreak of war. Would any one believe for a moment that a member of the Government would have left Sydney at that time if he had thought that the whole world was on the verge of a great eruption? Mr. Kelly’s departure from Sydney is further evidence of the fact that he shared my views and the views of others that this was a matter that would eventually be smoothed away by diplomatic means. The night Mr. Kelly left Sydney for Brisbane, the then Minister for the Navy was speaking in the Colac district, in this State. It must be admitted that I -was more closely in touch with the GovernorGeneral because I was in Sydney, but it cannot reasonably be assumed that Mr. Kelly would have left Sydney or the Minister for the Navy, whose head-quarters were in Melbourne, would have been absent from the Seat of Government, if they did not hold the belief that this was a matter that would be satisfactorily adjusted at an early date. Moreover, the first member of the Naval Board undoubtedly knew what was transpiring. As a matter of fact, even for the short time I was in charge of the Naval Department, I was able to learn that the Naval authorities often received their information before the Government, because they were in receipt of news over various wireless systems connected with the different branches of the Imperial services. I believe the Naval authorities received notification of the actual declaration of war by Great Britain before it reached the Government in the ordinary way. The first member of the Naval Board, with the knowledge that he must undoubtedly have possessed, left Melbourne for Brisbane on the 28th July; and to suggest that General Bridges was sidetracked to some outlandish place when he had arranged his own itinerary on the 17th of the previous month, is unreasonable. The first member of the Naval Board deemed it safe to go to Brisbane as late as the 28th July, a few days before war burst upon us.
I come now to the question of one or two allegations in Mr. Kelly’s statement in the letter read to the Senate that I can dispose of. It has been said that General Bridges was under orders to proceed to Port Darwin to report on the militia defences of that port. I have already informed the Senate that no one had authority to give orders of that character to General Bridges. Mr. Kelly states, “I happened to meet him on the Saturday, and his ship was to sail that morning.” He goes on to say, “ At any rate, the wire recalling General Bridges was despatched after the vessel which the General was instructed to catch had left Brisbane.” I direct attention to two points in Mr. Kelly’s statement. He said that the ship was to sail on the Saturday, and that my wire recalling him would not have reached him until the ship had sailed. I can dispose of that by reading General Bridge’s wire of the 30th-
Please inform Minister of my programme, and that I leave Brisbane for Thursday Island Monday, 3rd inst.
It was not on the Saturday, as Mr. Kelly alleges. These two days make a vital difference. The telegram, from which I have quoted is on the files of the Department, and clearly disposes of Mr. Kelly’s contention that any telegram sent by me as Minister, but for his action, would have been too late. Mr. Kelly has stated, quite correctly, that he sent me a telegram, informing me of General Bridges’ movements, and suggesting that I should recall him. I have already referred the
Senate to the cables that were received from the Imperial authorities, suggesting that the matter was not as grave as it proved to be, or that immediate action was necessary. Remembering how General Bridges, in conversation with me, stressed the importance of making a trip at that juncture, or not at all, it seemed to me that it was undesirable to act with undue precipitation and recall the General, as it might have proved to have been a mare’s nest, and have upset his arrangements without any corresponding good resulting. I sent General Bridges a telegram not to leave Brisbane, as I was anxious to see what later cables disclosed. When later messages indicated that matters were developing with increasing gravity I wired as follows : -
Wish you return Melbourne immediately. Inquire if I am in Sydney when passing through.
That was despatched by special arrangement with the Post and Telegraph Department, early on Sunday morning, in consequence of the news received on Saturday night. It is possible some may say that when the first cable was received from England it was necessary to take some precautionary measures, and that I should have recalled General Bridges. I repeat that, in view of what General Bridges told me, and that he had made a two days’ start, it appeared to me, as well as to others, that matters were not serious. I therefore did not see any harm in delaying for a period of twenty-four hours the sending of a message recalling him to head-quarters.
– Had General Bridges discretionary power to return if he thought it necessary?
– Yes. Mr. Kelly has alleged that General Bridges was under orders to proceed to Port Darwin, and I think I have already successfully disposed of that. This curious factor must also be considered. Although General Bridges prepared his own itinerary, showing his movements from the time he left Melbourne until his return, there is no mention whatever of Port Darwin; and the whole programme was made out until the 27th August, on which date he was to be back in Melbourne. Mr. Kelly states that his remarks are based on a statement of the General; but I cannot think for one moment that he ever made such a statement. It is conceivable that Mr. Kelly has misunderstood what he has been told, because I cannot understand General Bridges - having prepared his itinerary from the 23rd July to the 27th August - making such a statement. He had no intention of visiting Port Darwin, and it is to me inconceivable that he ever suggested anything about going there at the time.
– He could not have got there and back in the time.
– That is another point which the honorable senator’s local knowledge suggests to him. I mentioned a little while ago that the presence of the then Prime Minister at the Seat of Government was more important than that of any other individual. It was not until the Saturday - it might have been late on Friday night, when the Prime Minister was touring the State - speaking from memory, I think it was Saturday morning, that I wired the Prime Minister strongly recommendingthat he should cancel all appointments and come immediately to Melbourne. After consultation with the Governor-General, that gentleman also decided to return to Melbourne, leaving Sydney on Sunday night. It was more important to recall the Prime Minister even than General Bridges, and action in both cases was taken simultaneously.
Mr. Kelly makes reference to some clique down at the Defence Department, a clique which he suggests consists of senior officers who apparently will so work matters that only seniority counts, and merit is pushed on one side. It is rather extraordinary to me that Mr. Kelly should have made that statement, when he knew as well as I do who was advising me in Sydney. It was not the senior officer down here that I called to my aid when these cables began to come in. The officer I sent for, and who came over, was quite a junior - a major, I think. To-day he is General White. 1 do not know whether any one will suggest that any malign clique was influencing me, but, at any rate, it did not influence me to call the senior officer to me there. I venture to say that no one at this juncture will question the wisdom of calling General White to advise me at the time I refer to. I regret very much that Mr.
Kelly, a personal friend of my own, as most honorable senators here know, and a long political associate, has seen fit to take the responsibility of making these statements, but as they are inaccurate in certain particulars and impossible of acceptance in others I can only think that on this occasion Mr. Kelly has allowed a known animus to certain authorities of the Defence Department, and particularly to my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), to influence him. He has all along made that animus so clear that I can only conclude that in this particular matter, without any regard to the public interests or fairness to the individuals concerned, he has allowed that animus to outrun his discretion.
Major-Generals : Number and Salary
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What was the amount of salary paid to them -
What is the amount of salary paid to them -
– The answers are : -
Two at £1,500 each.
One at £1,050.
From war loan -
One at £1,200.
Of the three paid from Defence funds, the two at £1,500 are paid at rates fixed for positions irrespective of the rank of the holder of the position. The positions in question are, Inspector-General and Chief of the General Staff, and the same rates were payable prior to 1014.
The position paid at £1,200 from war loan will be vacated in June, the holder transferring to one of the two positions the fixed rate for which is £1,500. The present holder of this latter position transfers to one at a fixed rate of £1,200, at present held by a Colonel (Hon. Major-General).
- (By leave). - I move-
That the thanks of the Senate bo accorded to the officers, warrant officers, petty officers, and inert of the Royal Australian Navy for their heroic services during four years of war in the guardianship of Australia and her commerce from the attacks of a lawless foe, for their unceasing vigilance in the patrol of many seas, for their courage and skill in safely convoying their soldier comrades to the main theatres of operations, and for their efficient co-operation with the Grand Fleet of the Empire.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, and men of the Australian Imperial Force for their unrivalled courage and efficiency, their cheerful endurance of unexampled hardships, and their magnificent achievements throughout four years of strenuous effort, with their comrades of the other portions of the British Empire, in upholding the cause of human liberty.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Australian Air Force for their brilliant, daring, and conspicuous services over sea and land.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the members of the Australian Army Medical Corps for the skilful discharge of their humane office, and for the unprecedented success which attended their unremitting labours to preserve the armed Forces of Australia from the ravages of disease.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the women of the medical and other auxiliary services for their devotion in tending the sick and wounded and for other duties faithfully and bravely discharged.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the fathers, mothers, wives, and sisters of Australia’s sailors and soldiers, for their devotion, their service, and their sacrifices.
That the Senate records its deep appreciation of the efforts and gifts of the women, men, and children of Australia, for the mitigation of the hardships endured by sailors and soldiers, and for the alleviation of the sufferings of the sick and wounded.
That the thanks of the Senate be also accorded to the menwho enlisted for home service, the munition and war workers, the mercantile marine, theRoyal Naval Auxiliary Forces, and the Citizen Forces called up for Garrison Artillery work.
That the Senate acknowledges with deep reverence and submission the heroism of those whohave fallen in the service of their country, and tenders its profound sympathy to their relatives in the hour of their- sorrow and their pride.
That the foregoing resolutions be conveyed to the officers, men, and others referred to therein.
I submit this motion at the request of Senator Millen, whose right it would be, as Leader of the Senate, to submit it himself. With his characteristic regard for others, he has been good enough to say that, as I had during the war the stress of the Ministerial office which I now hold, he thought I should move the motion. I wish to express my appreciation of his action in that regard. I propose to take the opportunity of placing upon record in the official reports of Parliament the doings of the Australian Navy and Army and the Auxiliary Forces during the war. To-day, most of whatI shall have to say is familiar to all of us, but the time will come when some of these events will fade from people’s minds; and I think it will be well that in the records of the National Parliament there should be embodied, in concrete form, the story of the marvellous work done by Australia in the war through the medium of its fighting forces on land, on sea, and in the air.
– It should be there also for the sake of the rising generation.
– I think so, too. If some of what I shall have to say seems tedious, I ask honorable senators to remember my motive in putting it upon record.
Upon the imminence of war between Great Britain and Germany, but prior to its actual outbreak, viz., on 3rd August, 1914, the Commonwealth Government notified Great Britain of its readiness in the event of war to place the vessels of the Australian Navy under the control of the British Admiralty when desired. On 10th August (war having meanwhile been declared on 4th August), all vessels and all officers and seamen of the Royal Australian Naval Forces were transferred to the King’s Naval Forces for the period of the war. The ships in commission on the outbreak of war were - Australia, battle cruiser; Sydney, Melbourne, Encounter, light cruisers; Pioneer, small cruiser; destroyers Parramatta, Yarra, Warrego; submarines AE1 and AE2. Later in the war the light cruiser Brisbane and destroyers Swan, Huon, and Torrens were added to the Fleet, also the small cruiser Psyche, the sloop Fantome, and the sloop Una, late German Komet.
Just prior to the outbreak of the war, the Austraiian Fleet unit was on the Queensland coast. On the danger of war becoming apparent, the Fleet was recalled to Sydney to coal and refit. On 1st August, the Sydney, Tarra, and Warrego left Sydney for Thursday Island, followed a few days later by the Australia, Encounter, and Parramatta.
It was known that the Germansquadron was somewhere in the Pacific). In true British style the Australian Fleet went out to meet it. The German squadron then in our waters was no mean opponent to face. The Gneisenau and Scharnhorst were both armoured cruisers armed with 8-inch guns, possessed of considerable steaming power, and as waa subsequently shown in the fight off Coronel, they were a formidable fleet » to engage. Later on, the destroyers made a plucky raid right into the enemy harbor of Simpsonhafen, New Britain, but found no ships there. The enemy ships were heard of later, in September, off Samoa. The fleet, under Admiral Patey, continued to search for the enemy, but before finding it, was Recalled to- convoy transports - the New Zealand expedition . tol Samoa, and ‘an. Australian expedition to New Guinea. The. Melbourne was sent to destroy the wireless station at Nauru. Later, a combined Naval and Military Force of 1.500 men was landed in German New Guinea. Rabaul, the Seat of Government, was occupied without opposition, but in attacking the wireless station at Kakabaul, some miles inland, resistance was met with, and several casualties were sustained. It was during these operations that the German official yacht Komet was captured.
About the middle of September, the German Pacific squadron was sighted off Samoa. The Australia was searching the seas around Fiji. The convoying of expeditions was completed, which left the Australia free to sweep the Germans out of the Pacific. The Germans knew she was chasing them, for, after the battle at Falkland Islands, the diary of a German officer was found, recording that the German commander was afraid of meeting the Australia, and shaped his course accordingly. From Cape Horn, the Australia “ went to Great Britain to join the Grand Fleet, and in January, 1.915, arrived in English waters. It was all through the bad luck of the Australia to do the hard work without sharing in the actual fighting. Just before the battle of Jutland, she was unfortunate’ enough to be in a collision which prevented her from taking her share in that historic fight.
While the Australia was pursuing the Germans in the Pacific, the Melbourne and Sydney, with British and Japanese cruisers, left Albany with the Australian and New Zealand Expeditionary Forces for Egypt. On the way to Colombo, a wireless was received from Cocos /Island that a foreign warship was approaching the station. This afterwards proved to be the Emden. The Sydney went to investigate, and the result was the total destruction of the Emden. After safely delivering convoy in Egypt, the Melbourne and Sydney went to the Mediterranean, and were finally ordered to join the British North Atlantic squadron cruising up and down the coast of North America. It must ever be remembered to the credit of the British Atlantic Fleet that the enormous quantity of German mercantile shipping, which was subsequently captured by .the United States authority, was kept in port by that Fleet, and in that work the Melbourne and Sydney took part.
They reached American waters at the end of 1914, and remained there until the middle of 1916. When they reached British waters, in June, 1916, they became part of the Grand Fleet. They took no part in any naval action, but engaged on light cruiser duty in the North Sea.
At the beginning of the war the small cruiser ‘Pioneer was sent to patrol the Indian Ocean trade routes off Fremantle. At the end of 1914 she was called away to East Africa, and from early in 1915 to August, 1916, .she was acting with the East African squadron in various operations, such as (a) conducting South African Expeditionary Force to German East Africa, (6) bombardment of East African towns, and (c) the destruction of the German cruiser Konigsberg in the Rufigi River. “ Strangely enough, the Pioneer, obsolete and too light for anything but minor work, has been the most actively engaged vessel of the Australian fleet. She returned to Australia in 1916 and was paid off.”
Among the less conspicuous work of the Royal Australian Navy during the war may be mentioned - (a) exploration of German New Guinea waters; (b) patrolling the Australian coast; (c) despatch to Singapore to work with the China squadron in patrolling the waters of the Malay Archipelago and the Bay of Bengal, looking for likely raiders and illicittraders. Since June, 1917, all the six destroyers were engaged in hunting submarines in the Mediterranean.
On the outbreak of war we had two submarines of the “ E “ class. The AEl joined in the expedition to Rabaul and was lost in those waters. The AE2 had a more satisfactory career. She was one of the first submarines to go up the Dardanelles under German mine-fields, but, probably early in May, 1915, she was sunk in the Sea of Marmora.
With the exception of the SydneyEmden fight and the Pioneer’s operations, the work done by our fighting ships has been the hard and unexciting work of patrolling the sea routes. But the record has been one of which Australians might justly feel proud.
From 30th July, 1914, to 31st December, 1914, the ships of the Royal Australian Navy, on the aggregate, steamed upwards of 100,000 miles, and to enable them to do this, it was necessary to convey over great distances of ocean 76,000 tons of coal and 12,000 tons of oil.
It is worthy of note that not a port in Australia was attacked. On the other hand, German vessels aggregating 104,730 tons were interned, and eleven ships, aggregating 12,000 tons, were captured. Until the Australian warships left the Pacific or the Australian waters, they were supplied with fuel, stores, food and clothing for the men and ammunition from Australia. The Navy Department has also supplied every transport that has left Australia with all the stores and provisions needed for the outward voyage.
About 2,000 of the Auxiliary Naval Forces (Royal Australian Naval Brigade) were mobilized for various duties, which comprised -
The mercantile marine rendered most valuable service in -
Coming to the military side, it was early in August, 1914, that the Commonwealth notified Great Britain of its readiness, in the event of war, to despatch an expeditionary force of 20,000 men of any suggested composition to any destination desired by the Home Govern- ‘ ment, the cost of despatch and maintenance to be borne by the Commonwealth. During the war Australia enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force for service abroad 416,809, and embarked 329,883 of all ranks to the various fronts. The number remaining in camp in Australia at the signing of the armistice was 7,442. The constitution of the Force was five divisions, one mounted division, and portion of the Australian and New Zealand mounted division. There were also raised and despatched special technical units, such as flying squadrons, railway units, mechanical transport, tunnelling companies, siege brigades, and various administrative and training depots and formations. A wireless squadron was also maintained for service in Mesopotamia.
A small expeditionary force was raised and maintained for capturing, and subsequently administering, the German Possessions at New Guinea. The maximum number of this force was 762, of whom 286 are still employed. A Home Defence Force for guards, for the forts, for hospitals, and embarkation duties,&c., has been maintained at an average of about 7,000.
A few figures that may be of interest are as under : -
Number of Australian Imperial Force who died whilst on active service, including killed in action and deaths owing to wounds and disease, 2,854 officers, 56,404 other ranks; total 59,258.
Number of wounds received by membersof the Australian Imperial Force whilst on active service, 7,104 officers, 159,711 other ranks; total 166,815.
Number of decorations awarded to members of the Australian Imperial Force, exclusive of mentioned in despatches, but including Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force awards, 19,582.
Number of nurses who saw service in Salonika, 370.
Number of nurses who saw service in India, 330.
Number of Naval and Military Expeditionary Force who died whilst on active service, including killed in action, and deaths owing to wounds and disease, 5 officers; 31 other ranks; total, 36.
Decorations, included with those awarded to members of the Australian Imperial Force (as shown above), 9.
As soon as the possibility of the Australian Imperial Force being engaged in active operationsarose, it was deemed desirable that a base should be formed. The base for the Australian Imperial Force was established in Cairo on 13th January, 1915, and continued there until after the evacuation of Gallipoli, when the infantry divisions of the Australian Imperial Force were transferred to France. The base was then moved to England, the administrative portion being located in London ; the training portion on Salisbury Plain, with headquarters at Tidworth. A small base was left in Cairo to function for the mounted troops. .
On the date the Armistice was signed, the distribution of the Australian Imperial Force was approximately as follows : -
I have here a list of the principal battles in which the Australian Imperial Force took part. When I use the term “ principal battles,” it should be mentioned that in view of the magnitude of the operations, the numbers of men en gaged, and the ferocity of the conflict, a number of engagements omitted from this list were of such a character that in the account of any previous war they would be referred to as primary battles.
It may be of interest to know that during the war, from June, 1916, over 9,000,000 rounds of artillery ammunition were fired in these actions by the Australian Imperial Force.
The origin and development of the Australian Air Force (Flying Corps) forms a mostinteresting and thrilling story, but time does not permit me to dwell at length on this feature of the Australian Imperial Force. A few details, however, must be given on this occasion -
In addition to the personnel of the Australian Flying Corps it must be remembered that, prior to its formation, a large number of members of the Australian Imperial Force (as well as a number of civilians who went to England direct from Australia) joined theRoyal Air Force and theRoyal Naval Air Force (Imperial). These, in the majority of cases, performed most valuable work, and many gained special distinction. It is a noteworthy fact that almost invariably where Australians were in Imperial Flying Units, they were actual Flying personnel.
I should also mention, as factors which go to make up the story of the Australian Army, the efforts of those concerned in the provision, cooking, and serving of food, and the spirit in which the troopsaccepted - in camp and on shipboard - conditions of dietary so different from those to which they were accustomed at home.
Mention should also be made of the splendid services rendered by the ships’ staffs under dangerous and trying conditions, and the manner in which the troops adapted themselves to the necessarily confined conditions on board ship.
I might be allowed to say here that there were three incidents in this war of which Australia should ever be proud, because the conduct of Australian soldiers on those occasions rivalled that of the soldiers who went down with the Birkenhead. I refer to the sinking of the transport Southland in the Mediterranean, the sinking of the Barunga, and the sinking of the Ballarat. The Barunga was sunk by a submarine at the time when the Germans were sinking vessels “ leaving no trace “ by opening fire on the ships’ boats. In the case of the Southland, the disaster occurred in shark-infested waters of the Mediterranean, but in each case the coolness, steadiness, and bravery of the men of the Australian Imperial Force were unexampled and beyond all praise.
We should not forget to pay a tribute to that noble friend of man, the Australian horse, or overlook the judgment and efforts of those concerned in the provision of remounts, resulting in the Australian troops being probably the best mounted in the Allied Forces.
One feature which it can be claimed did something to create the Australian spirit, which was un- doubtedly the great asset of the Australian Imperial Force, was the fact that the Australian soldiers had a distinctive uniform. That contributed to the esprit de corps,., for which the Australian Imperial Force later became famed.
I should like to pay a tribute, as I am sure Parliament will, to those who did magnificent work in the garrison institutes and canteens in providing the facilities to purchase articles at low rates, which, were so much appreciated by our troops.
Now I come to the munition-workers, and I have to say that about the middle of 1916 a suggestion was made to the Imperial authorities that men should be sent from Australia to assist in the manufacture of munitions. It was at first proposed to manufacture munitions in Australia, but it was subsequently decided to send men to England for this purpose. A scheme was prepared under which the Commonwealth supplied the men and transported them across the seas. They were then taken charge of by the Ministry of Munitions and placed with firms and in localities where their knowledge would be of the greatest benefit to those engaged in the supply of munitions. The first, munition workers left Australia in September, 1916, and subsequently upwards of 5,000 men proceeded to England. Later on an urgent request was received from the British Government for labourers, and some 5,000 men responded to the call, and proceeded overseas under somewhat similar conditions to the munition workers. Upon the signing of the Armistice, the following cablegram was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies: -
As hostilities have now ceased, need for which Australian munition workers and Australian war workers came to England no longer exists. Men have done excellently what was required of them, and Minister Munitions desires to congratulate Minister of Defence, Australia, on the great success of a unique scheme.
It has been stated that the value of the output produced by the labour of Australian munition and war workers was estimated at £6,000,000, and it has also been admitted, in Great Britain, that these workers played a very important part’ in bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
Subsequent to the sailing of the last boat, carrying munition and war workers to Australia, the following cablegram was received: -
I am commanded by the King, on the occasion of the sailing of the last boat carrying munition workers and war workers to their homes in Australia, to ask you to convey His Majesty’s appreciation of the value of the services rendered during the war by the men from Australia who volunteered for work in the production of ships and munitions in this country. He understands that the excellent behaviour of these volunteers, and the sustained and steady application displayed by them in their work, has earned the highest praise.
It was in March, 1918, that opportunity came to the Australian Forces in. France to show the world the outstanding fighting capacity of the Australian soldier. In the last days of that month of profound gloom, the men of the Third and Fourth Divisions forced their way along the roads leading to the battle front against the struggling current of retreating transport and guns and heartbroken refugees. “With heads high and proud step, in full realization of their capacity to meet and overthrow the enemy, they marched to their appointed places before Amiens and formed a living wall, against which the German waves, sweeping up in rapid succession, broke in vain. Hope crept back to the anxious hearts of the French peasants miles behind the line, waiting to flee to the westward, and courage re-asserted itself in the broken units of the British Army, which had been too pitifully weak in numbers to withstand the terrific onslaughts of the overwhelming enemy masses. A fortnight later, in Flanders, the German flood at its height broke against the solid wall of the First Australian Division.
Not for a moment was there any misgiving in a single Australian heart. Our men knew themselves unconquerable, and their bravery soon began to bring back to all the defenders on the Western Front that indomitable spirit which has given our race its .predominance in the world.
Nor did our troops sit down and merely hold their positions; soon their intrepid individualism asserted itself in innumerable small offensive actions, until the enemy before them was in continual terror both by day and night. These minor affairs culminated in the larger attack at Hamel, so skilfully planned and so boldly executed that, for a total loss of about SOO, over 1,500 prisoners and many troph.es were brought home.
The methods adopted at Hamel formed the model for all subsequent actions against an enemy in fixed positions. But this action of the Australian troops at Hamel did more than that. It was the final touch in restoring to our Armies on the Western Front the belief in their own superiority to the Germans.
The success of the means employed made possible the victory before Amiens on 8th August. On that date the Australian and Canadian Corps hurled themselves forward in the early dawn, and shattered the whole of the hostile defences immediately in front of Amiens, penetrating to a depth of several miles. On that day these gallant troops added one additional name to the list of the world’s decisive battles. Ludendorff has stated that 8th August was “the black day of the German army.” The head of all the elaborate German organization recognised’ himself as beaten by that terrific onslaught of troops, and guns, and tanks. The Germans were never able to recover from the confusion of that day, when the whole of their carefully planned organization was shattered in a few hours on a front of several miles. For a total loss of 1,200 killed and wounded, large numbers of the enemy were killed, and over 8,000 prisoners, 173 guns, innumerable machine guns, and trench mortars, military vehicles, and war stores of all kinds captured by the Australian Corps alone.
From that day forward victory upon victory, and triumph upon triumph, marked their advance. Lihons, Chuignies Chuignolles, Bray, Herleville and names to be handed down to future generations.
The magnificent enterprise and boldness of the Second Division at Mont St. Quentin - a soldiers’ battle, won by the valour of the men and the valiant leadership of junior officers and noncommissioned officers - will remain to the glory of Australia for ever. Beside it, will be remembered’ the splendid endurance and hard fighting of the Fifth Division in the capture of Peronne, forcing the enemy to abandon hope and to fall back to the Hindenburg line, the final stronghold on which’ the German army, in its despair, (tinned its faith.
The capture of the first Une about Hargicourt, the attack and capture of the main system near Bellicourt and Bony, and the final sweep beyond the rear systems to Montbrehain and Beaurevoir will be the subject of Australian epics in days to come.
On 5th October the Australians fought their last fight, and on that day the German Government asked for an armistice.
What can we in Australia say to these men ? What word’s can express our appreciation of their valour in the terrific hell of modern battle ? How can we measure the value of their endurance in. the horrors of the trenches through four winters of northern European severity ? Always in their hearts was the thought of home, and always in their souls was the determination that “ Australia will be there.” Their sacrifices were for Australia. Their .faith at all times was in Australia. Without hope of gain or thought of Joss, they fought and they died for the glory and the freedom of Australia, their beloved home land.
It is fitting that, whilst in this resolution we record our pride in the glory of those who took part in this war, we should remember particularly the men who made the great sacrifice, and their relatives. We feel with them in their sorrow at the loss of loved ones, but they and their descendants must always experience a feeling of pride in the record of what those glorious men did, not only for their country and the Empire, but for civilization.
– I desire to second the motion which has been so ably moved by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). This is an occasion upon which language absolutely fails one to adequately express one’s appreciation of the work done by every branch of the Australian Imperial Force and Navy during the war. The Australian Navy did not have very much fighting work to do. but what work fell , to its lot was performed with remarkable rapidity and efficiency. We recall with pride the exploits of the Sydney when it met the Emden, and we have no reason to doubt that if the Australia had had a similar opportunity, she would also have given an equally good account of herself. Though many ships of the Australian Navy were not actively engaged in fighting, the work done by them was none the less exacting, because they were on patrol duty in the North Sea day after day, and month after month, in a most disagreeable climate. We remember with pride the achievements of our Military Forces. When war was declared, Australia, instead of breaking away from the Mother Country, sprang to her assistance, much to the dismay of Germany. Hundreds of thousands of men were only awaiting the opportunity to offer their services in the defence of their country. The Government offered the first 20,000 men, with the certainty that they would be immediately available, and likewise there was no difficulty in securing the required number, when they offered a further 50,000. The men who answered the call came freely and voluntarily, and in the short time at our disposal it is quite impossible to review all that they did during the five years of war. Some branches of the Service were not so’ much in the limelight as others, but, nevertheless, all the work was most effectively done. The Army Medical Corps, for instance, did excellent work under most trying circumstances. Perhaps the most attractive branch of the Service was the Air Force. At one time” applications for enlistment in this arm of the Service were extraordinarily heavy, and we have it on record that the services rendered by our airmen’ at the Front were most valuable. W© all recall with pride the fact that Captain Hawker, one of the Australian Air Force men, was the first to attempt the Atlantic crossing, and very nearly succeeded; and we are very proud that four Australian Air Force men - I allude to Sir Ross Smith and his companions - were the first to bridge the gulf between England and Australia. Then, too, we must not forget the clergymen whose painful duty it was to convey ‘information of bereavement to the relatives of soldiers who had fallen. I wish to place on record my appreciation of their work. Reference has ako been made to the part played by our womenfolk. Very many more than were ‘ required offered their services as nurses, and we all know how willingly they went, and what excellent work they did. Then we must not overlook those devoted women who spent so much of their time in the preparation of comforts for men at the Front. Their gifts were, perhaps, a good deal more acceptable to our soldiers than the rations which they received in the ordinary course of duty. There were, too, the men who left Australia as miners. It is reported, and probably with a great deal of truth, that their work was much more effective than- that of mining corps* attached to any other of the Allied’ Armies. I have no wish to labour the question, because I realize how impossible it is to adequately express the appreciation of the people of Australia for the magnificent work perf ormed by our sailors and soldiers, and all others who took part in the war. We can never forget what they have done for us. We owe our liberty to them. I am sure the motion will be carried unanimously, and, in closing, I express the hope that the obligation of the Commonwealth to the dependants of our deceased sailors and soldiers will never be forgotten.
Question unanimously resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators rising i» their places.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it insisted upon its amendment in clause 10, did not insist upon its amendment in clause 47 (a), but had agreed to an alternative amendment.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
T! at the message be taken into consideration! in Committee forthwith.
Clause 10 -
Subject to this Act. the members of the Commission first appointed under this Act shall hold office for the term of five years, and shall be eligible for re-appointment.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ five “ and insert “ three “.
– When the matters covered by this message were before the Senate on a previousoccasion, I asked honorable senators todisagree “with the amendment which proposes to substitute three for five years as the term for which the Commissioner!? shall be appointed. I then thought, as L think now, that it was only reasonable toprovide a reasonable tenure for thesegentlemen, in view of the considerablepowers to be intrusted to them. It is quite clear that in the opinion of another branch of the Legislature three years is sufficient. Although this Chamber has the same rights as the other branch of Legislature to stand by its decisions, it is, perhaps, unreasonable to endeavour to enforce our objections when matters of principle are not involved. I move -
That the Senate do not insist on disagreeing to the amendment, insisted on by the House of Representatives.
It appears that the clause as it left the Senate had much to recommend it, but, in view of the strong opinions expressed in another place, and the fact that a principle is not involved, I ask the Senate to agree to the amendment.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), in asking the Senate not to insist upon the retention of a period of five years during which the Commissioners shall serve, has not submitted any reasons for the proposed alteration. He has merely expressed his personal view that five years is not too long, but at the same time suggests that we should agree to the amendment made in another place. I am opposed to the suggestion of the Minister for Repatriation, because the Commission will have to perform work equally important to that of other Government Departments. The work conferred upon the Commissioners by the Repatriation Act is of a most important character, as they have large sums of money at their disposal ; and it is more than likely that they will be in office for a longer period than five years. I doubt very much if any one can figure, with any degree of accuracy, the time during which their services will be required. I am bound to confess that I cannot see any valid reason why the term the Commissioners shall serve should be reduced from five to three years. I have no doubt the Government gave the matter very careful consideration before asking the Senate to agree to a term of five years, and in the absence of any reasons why the Senate should reverse its decision, it is my intention to oppose the motion, as five years is a reasonable term. When the question was under discussion a few days ago, there was not a single suggestion that the term should be reduced to three years, and, merely because the amendment has been supported in another place, we are now asked to reverse our decision. I hope the Senate will insist upon being supplied with reasons, which apparently are good enough for the Minister, but which have not been supplied to honorable senators.
.- I fail to see how the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) can consistently ask honorable senators to support the amendment.- He has apparently changed his views, and is now asking us to do the same.
– I have not asked honorable senators to change their views. I have not changed mine.
– The only reason submitted is that because a majority in another place are in favour of a period of three years, we should agree to the proposal. This is supposed to be a Chamber of Review, where legislation is carefully considered; and merely because the House ‘of Representatives is insisting upon its amendment, we are asked by the Minister for Repatriation to change our previous attitude and support a term of three years. On a previous occasion the Minister submitted able arguments in favour of a term of five years, and his statements were so weighty that I recorded my vote in support of the Government’s proposal. I do not know whether the Minister intends submitting similar arguments to induce us to support the amendment insisted upon in another place; but I am still convinced, as I was on a previous occasion, that it is in the best interests of the Department that the term should be five years. We are not taking a very firm stand in this matter, and are being influenced by the decision of a small majority in another place. We are being dictated to as to the manner in which we should perform our- work, and I sincerely trust that honorable senators who previously opposed the amendment will adhere to their previous decision.
– It is very complimentary for Senator Foll to suggest that on a previous occasion here I induced him to change his views, but on this occasion I do not intend to undertake such an ambitious task. I have not changed my opinion, but there should be some compromise unless vital questions of principle are involved. The provisions of the Constitution framed to meet such cases are only expected to apply where important issues are involved, and I do not suggest that a question of three years instead of five years is one on which we should have a battle royal. I think it would have been desirable to have provided that the term of appointment should be five years, in une interests of the better working of the Department, but as the other branch of the Legislature takes a different view, we, as sensible men, should be prepared to concede the point. “What is the alternative ?
– Make it four years. «
– Have a double dissolution.
– It would possibly mean prolonged negotiations with the other branch of the Legislature. I do not propose to hold up the spectre of a double dissolution, and I do not think for one moment that Senator Foll would favour such a proposal before he would compromise on the point under discussion. Is it worth while to insist on the longer term? We think differently to honorable members in another place, but in view of the strong opposition, and the comparatively minor importance of the matter, I hope the Senate will support the Government.
– I agree very largely with the views expressed by the Minister that this matter is not of such consequence that we should enter into an engagement with another branch of the Legislature. The right term was fixed in the Bill originally submitted, and honorable senators generally were in favour of the longer term. I went to some trouble to combat the arguments in favour of a shorter period, and in the interests of the working of the Act I think it would have been better if the period had remained unaltered. I regret that another place has not seen fit to take that view of it, because the Commissioners will be intrusted with very important work. I do not agree that, ia three years’ time, the work will be ended. I wish I could persuade myself that it will be even very considerably reduced in that time. I think it will go on for very much longer than three years, and very much longer even than five years. The decision arrived at in another place is quite wrong in the best interests of the working of the Department. There are other reasons, although they come second, in my opinion, to the importance of satisfactorily working the Department. If there were any possibility of inducing another place to alter its decision, I should feel inclined to put up a fight, but as very likely that cannot, or will not, be done, .and as the matter is not of such vital importance, much as I regret the attitude that has been forced upon the Minister, who, being very largely a man of peace, does not want to enter into any argument with the numbers in another place, my opposition to the amendment will not take the form of calling for a division, or of voting against the motion if a division is called for. I am confident that the step taken elsewhere is a mistake, but as the Minister has expressed a wish to fall into line with another place, I am prepared to let my opposition to it go.
Motion agreed to.
Proposed new clause 47a -
The Commission shall, subject to the approval of the Minister, have power to assist soldiers in establishing industries on a co-operative basis, such industries to include the manufacture of boots, woollen goods, and clothing, tanning, woolscouring, fellmongering (and kindred industries), saw-milling, and other enterprises.
Bouse of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment not insisted upon, but the following alternative amendment made: - 47a. (1) The Commission shall, subject to the approval of the Minister, have power to assist soldiers by way of loan to the extent of pound for pound contributed by them in cash or war bonds for the purpose of establishing industries on a cooperative basis, such industries to include the manufacture of boots, woollen goods, and clothing, tanning, wool-scouring, fellmongering (and kindred industries), sawmilling, and other enterprises.
The regulations may prescribe the conditions upon which any loan granted in pursuance of this section- shall be repayable.
– In asking the Senate to disagree with the original proposition of another place, I pointed out the very considerable risk which would be incurred by the country in the. matter of money, and also the very great temptation there would be to soldiers to rush in and take advantage of the clause. Another place has apparently recognised the strength of some of those arguments by now providing that assistance shall be given only to the extent of £1 for £1. In other words, those who desire to enter into these co-operative enterprises must find half the capital to enable them to do so. That is not an -unreasonable compromise, and it offers a safeguard which was entirely absent, when the clause first made its appearance here. I move -
That the Senate agree to new clause 47a proposed as an alternative to new clause 47a previously passed by the House of Representatives and disagreed to by the Senate.
– I do not wish to oppose the amendment, because, in certain points, it should have excellent effects if the Government will come to the assistance of the returned men, as it probably will be able to do. It is proposed that the Commission shall have power to assist soldiers to establish industries, including the manufacture of woollen goods and clothing. It may have recently come under the notice of honorable senators that in the evidence given before the Basic Wage Commission, it was stated that Australian tweeds manufactured at Marrickville, and made available at the mill at 13s. per yard, were first of all taken into a warehouse, without being improved in any way whatever, and more than 5s. per yard added to the price, and then made available to some of the local tailors. It was said, further, that many of these tailors, denying that the Marrickville tweed was of local manufacture, boasted that nothing like it could be made in Australia, and charged their customers as high as thirteen guineas per suit for it. If the Government would be prepared to commandeer the output of the mills, and to supply it to the returned men or to other tailors practically at cost price, this would probably do more than any other single action could do substantially to decrease the present and everincreasing cost of clothing. It is a very serious matter to most men to find that suits that they could purchase in pre-war times for £5 or £6 now cost them at the very least twelve or thirteen guineas, and that some tailors ask very much higher sums. If it is intended under this clause that the Government should supply material from their own mills at Geelong at cost price to bodies of returned men, and also appropriate, annex, or commandeer the output of the woollen mills generally-
– Order ! The clause does not provide for what the honorable senator suggests. It provides for the establishment of industries, and not for the commandeering of their output.
– I think it will also enable the Government to get possession of woollen goods manufactured by companies.
– The clause does not provide for any such thing. It provides for assistance to soldiers to establish co-operative industries.
– It is a pity that the clause does not allow of what I suggest. If it did, it would enable suits of clothing to be supplied at a very much lower price, even after the makers had paid themselves very handsomely, than is now possible under the methods adopted by private enterprise. I notice also that it is intended to assist returned men to establish saw-milling and other undertakings. Probably the clause will enable the Commission, instead of waiting for private brick-makers and private timbergetters or saw-millers to meet its requirements, to engage directly in the production of these articles. The- clause is a very great extension of the provisions of the Act, and in that direction it has my approval. Many men have complained of the insufficiency of the Act in this regard, and, in my opinion, it would be very much better if provision were made for the Commission to lend money to any two or more men to enable them to engage in industries other than those to which they have been accustomed. Apparently the clause does not provide for that. It uses the words, “on a cooperative basis.” If those words can be understood to apply to two or more men, then undoubtedly the clause will meet the requirements of a considerable number of returned soldiers. A fair number of them have urged me to ask the Repatriation Commission to advance money to enable them to enter into businesses of which they had little or no previous knowledge. I do not know how many must be in any co-operative company which is formed to take advantage of this clause, but apparently, if a co-operative company is formed, it will be permissible for the Commission to advance money for the purposes named in the clause.
– lt does not appear that it is absolutely necessary that there should be a company.
– It does not so appear, but I should like it made quite clear that any two or more returned men who desire to engage in a business of which they had no knowledge, or only a very limited knowledge, prior to their enlistment, will be entitled to take advantage of the clause. Many men prior to enlistment were not in any particular business, and, when away from Australia for four years, in a manner of speaking, they lost grip of the situation, and find themselves enormously handicapped when they look for employment. Many of them believe that if they could get a small advance to set them up in a business they could make it a paying concern ; but up to date it has been against the Act for the Department to advance money to them for purposes of that sort. I should like the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to explain whether the clause will apply to a company consisting of two or more men. Many men would like to form themselves into a small company to undertake toy making or other things if they could only obtain an adequate advance from the Commission. I shall be glad if the Minister will explain whether that can be done under the new proposal.
– The honorable member of another place who moved this amendment has certainly been more fortunate in touching the Minister’s heart on this point than I have, for on no less than. three occasions I have asked in this chamber whether the Minister (Senator Millen) would consider a proposal to assist men starting in business on the £1 for £1 basis, and on each occasion the Minister h’as replied that, on account of the risk and the unfair advantage which would be given to a single man who- saved money while in the Australian Imperial Force over a man with dependants, the Department was not able to do what I asked. Evidently the Minister’s heart has been touched by the pleadings of the member of another place who moved the amendment. I should like to know from him whether the gratuity bonds about to be issued are to be included in this scheme. If they are, there is a possibility of the Commonwealth being committed to the spending of millions of pounds in subsidies ou the £1 for £1 basis. Three-fourths, or even four-fifths, of the money which is to be spent on the war gratuity may, for all we know, be put into cooperative industries, or soldiers’ limited liability companies, and a £1 for £1 subsidy sought from the Government.
– That is rather a big guess.
– The fact remains that there is the possibility of it, and I think I am doing right in drawing attention to the fact that the Government, in accepting the clause holus bolus, may be committing themselves to a liability of millions of pounds.
– The Minister is given power to turn any proposition down.
– That is so, but if the Minister has power to tell a favoured few that the Government are prepared to subsidize their industry, but that they will not subsidize another industry, there is not going to be a great deal of benefit to the soldiers in the clause.
– It is for the Minister to subsidize sound propositions and turn down those which are unsound.
– As the Government have agreed to accept the amendment of the House of Representatives, I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he will not go a little further and give some consideration to a proposal which I submitted when the original Repatriation Bill was under consideration, and also when the amending Bill was going through in the Senate. I suggest that a returned soldier desiring to start a small business in which to carry on his trade in the town in which he resided previous to going to the war should also be assisted on the £1 for £1 basis. The proposal contained in the amendment of the House of Representatives may suit men in cities and populous centres, where it would be convenient to start trading under a cooperative scheme, but a soldier in the position I have indicated could not hope to establish a large co-operative concern, whilst he might be prepared to put £100 of his own money into a business to be conducted by himself which it would cost about £200 to establish.
I direct attention to the fact that the adoption of the amendment may commit the Government to the expenditure of many millions in subsidizing these cooperative enterprises.
– I am glad that the honorable senator recognises that.
– I do recognise it, and I believe I should not be doing my duty as a member of the Senate if I did not point out the huge liability which might follow from the acceptance of the amendment. I understand that returned soldiers may use their war gratuity bonds for the establishment of co-operative enterprises under this amendment. It might be said that the £30,000,000 required to cover the war gratuity bonds may be regarded almost as spare cash, and a large number of returned men will perhaps be desirous of investing their savings in co-operative concerns for the establishment of new industries. It is very desirable that they should do that, but we should recognise that if only half the war gratuity bonds are invested in this way the Government will be asked to subsidize those investments to a similar amount, and so the Commonwealth may be committed under this amendment to a further expenditure of something like £15,000,000. I should like the Minister to explain whether these co-operative enterprises are to cover all soldiers’ limited liability companies, and whether, having gone so far as to accept this amendment, he will not go further and arrange to subsidize the individual soldier who desires to start business on his own account on the £1 to £1 basis.
– Senator Foll wishes me to do something which the highest flight of imagination could scarcely describe as easy. He wants me to set out a series of co-operative schemes.. I cannot do that. It will be for those who seek to take advantage of the proposed new clause to put their proposals forward.
– The honorable senator will have a very unpleasant task in turning some of them down.
– That is going to be an unpleasant task. I could point to a great number of wild-cat proposals which have been put forward by returned soldiers, in the best of good faith, as sound business propositions. This amendment, about which I have still very grave doubt3, is safeguarded so far as it is possible to safeguard such a proposal, because the Commission have first to be consulted, and then there is the veto of the Minister. It will be quite a nice job for the Minister to exercise his power of veto under this amendment. There is a further stipulation that the returned men seeking assistance under this amendment must provide half the capital required for the enterprise in which they propose to embark. I cannot say what view the Commission will take or what propositions will be made. I hope that those which are made will be a little sounder than some that have already reached the Repatriation Department. Parliament seems to be disposed to give power to assist returned men by making advances for the establishment of co-operative enterprises, and we can only wait to see what developments will take place under the amendment.
– “Unfortunately, . I was unable to be present during the whole of the time the Repatriation Bill was being considered by the Senate, ‘but I have noticed the action which honorable senators have taken in regard to this matter. I say that the amendment involves a conditional doubling of the war gratuity. If the whole of the war gratuity in the shape of bonds is devoted by the returned soldiers to the establishment of co-operative enterprises, the Commonwealth, under this amendment, will be committed to subsidizing the whole of that capital to the extent of £1 for £1. If the effort on the part of returned soldiers in the direction of co-operation extends to the investment of .£5,000,000 of the war gratuity in cooperative enterprises, the acceptance of this amendment mav involve the duplication of that £5,000,000 in the shape of assistance advanced from the Commonwealth Treasury.
If this co-operation should result in marked industrial success, I do not know that that would ‘be a bad thing. We know how we are beset by industrial discontent and distrust of the existing capitalistic system’. I shall not enter upon a lengthy discussion of that matter, but I believe that even gentlemen like Senator Fairbairn have spoken of co-operation as one of the possible remedies for a state of things* which we all deplore. Though this state of feeling in connexion with industrial matters may not be as acute here as it is in some of the countries of Europe, the fact that it exists at all here is a matter to be regretted, and if cooperation should to any extent ameliorate this outcome of the times, which causes industrial discontent, and should result in the mitigation of the ills which the industrial world claims that it is subject to, I think we can all heartily welcome co-operation.
Probably those who are not altogether of British descent are better able to appraise men of British extraction than they are themselves. Whilst people of the Anglo-Saxon race band themselves together for capitalistic initiative in joint stock enterprises, co-operation, as apart from the operations of joint stock companies, is not a characteristic feature Of the commercial enterprises of British descended people. Although the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) is justly anxious in regard to this departure, I am of opinion that no very substantial result will follow from the acceptance of the amendment. I cannot see a prospect of any very large number of returned soldiers banding themselves together and using their war gratuity bonds to embark in industrial enterprises by co-operative associations of which they alone shall be members. I may be doing them and the British race an injustice, as they, may develop with time capacities in regard to co-operation which I do not now dream of. 1 can only judge of things as I find them, and I am of the opinion that the enterprise of the British race in the industrial world will continue to proceed along acknowledged lines in the establishment of such capitalistic associations as are known as joint stock companies.
Under the amendment for what it is worth - and I hope it is worth a very great deal - the granting of assistance to any suggested enterprise will follow only upon examination by the Commission, and at the discretion of the Minister. I remind the Minister for Repatriation that under this amendment his discretion and that of his successors - and I hope he will not have a successor for a long time to come - will be absolute. If a man possessed of the business training and long experience of public affairs of Senator Millen gives his consent to proposals involving the Commonwealth in expendi ture to the extent of several millions, we shall have taken very great steps along the road to that industrial success which some dream can be achieved by cooperation.
– There is one thing which no Commission and no Minister can determine, and that is how far cooperation in work, as distinguished from co-operation of commercial interests, is going to succeed.
– The Minister will do me the credit of admitting that I have endeavoured to draw that distinction. I do not think that, after all, we need be very, much afraid of the operation of the proposed new clause, in view of the fact that each proposal under it must run the gauntlet of consideration by the Commission, and must secure the approval of the Minister. I venture to say that no Minister for Repatriation would readily grant his approval to a proposal under this amendment unless he is assured that it contains some of the elements of success. We may hope for some success from the operation of the amendment; and if the Commonwealth is committed to the expenditure of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 in the assistance of enterprises undertaken by returned soldiers which have in them the elements of success, something substantial will have been achieved. I do not think that Senator Poll’s fears will be realized.
– I am not opposed to the amendment; but I direct attention to the fact that its acceptance may involve the Commonwealth in huge expenditure.
– It seems to me that the whole matter has been very hastily conceived, and the proposed new clause very casually and haphazardly drafted. It is provided that the Commissioner shall, subject to the approval of the Minister, have the power to assist soldiers in establishing industries “on a co-operative basis.” What, . strictly, is “ a co-operative basis”? By cooperation is generally understood the banding together of a number of men, not necessarily in a registered company, to undertake something in the way of a distributing or producing business. How many are to constitute a co-operative society under the proposed new clause? Is a mere partnership between two to constitute a co-operation, or must the cooperative party be registered as a company? These are details which should be made very clear in connexion with any proposal of this kind. It goes on to specify the industries in regard to which Government assistance to soldiers on a co-operative basis may be given by stating -
Such industries to include the manufacture of boots, woollen goods, and clothing, tanning, wool-scouring, fellmongering (and kindred industries), saw-milling, and other enterprises
In other words, the whole range of industrial life is to be included. It would, I think, be sufficient if the Minister weregiven discretionary power, and there should be a clear definition of what is meant by the words ‘“on a co-operative basis.” The language of the clause should be shorn of its redundancy. We should know clearly what is meant by “ other enterprises.” All that is wanted is authority to assist any industry on a co-operative basis, the understanding being that there should be a definition as to what is meant by the word “ co-operative.”
Seeing that the Government have accepted the amendment in another place, we “ may presume that they desire this Committee to approve of it, but before we take that responsibility we should endeavour to make the position much clearer. I am not going to suggest anything to the Committee at this stage, but I invite the attention of the Minister to the suggestions I have made. If the industries to be assisted are legitimate, why include some and exclude others’? Every producing industry is important to the life of a nation, and if we are going to give co-operation a chance, let it be extended to every phase of industrial life. If, as some economists believe, it is going to be the cure of our existing ills, let us try it by extending it to all industries. With discretionary power in the hands of the Commission and a safeguard in the approval of the Minister, we mav assume that any industry that gets through these gates will have established itself to some extent as possibly a successful one.
– I agree with Senator Bakhap’s criticism of the verbiage of the clause ; but, without wishing to arouse the ire of my friends elsewhere, I suggest that the amendment itself is something in the nature of a placard. Obviously, the particular industries mentioned were inserted with a view to pleasing constituents whose repre sentatives introduced and supported them. Their inclusion is merely indicative. They do not exclude others. The general power to be given to the Commission, with the approval of the Minister, bo finance soldiers in co-operative enterprises is sufficient. It would have been just as well if the latter part of the clause had been omitted, but it is a question whether it is worth while doing that now.
– Is the Minister prepared to give a definition of the words “ co-operative basis “ ?
– That, I submit, is a matter for the Commission to determine by regulation. If my honorable friend persists in that line of inquiry, I am afraid there will be a considerable amount of work in front of him and this Chamber. There are dozens of problems in respect of which it will be the duty of the Commission to submit specific proposals for the approval of the Minister.
– I am afraid that there will be altogether too much extraparliamentary legislation in connexion with the administration of this measure. In support of this contention, I may submit as an illustration the position with regard to’ the tax sought to be imposed upon totalisator investments. The Commissioner of Taxation, in pursuance of his duties, defined the totalisator as a lottery, a definition which ‘has been rejected by the High Court. and because of his action the parliamentary representatives from my State were subjected to more ‘ opprobrium for what was alleged to be the perfunctory performance of legislative duties than in connexion with any other parliamentary enactment I can remember. We were told that we did not take care to1 protect the totalisator from the imputation of being regarded as a lottery, and, as a matter of fact, as much noise was made over this matter as if the fate of the nation had depended upon it. It is a fact that if a legislative chamber abrogates its responsibilities by allowing some outside authority to define certain legal phrases, the position thus created may press rather severely upon a number of people. With all due respect to the Minister, I submit that it is not the duty of the Senate to permit the Commission to define what is meant by the words “co-operative basis,” while I admit the cogency of the Minister’s argu- ment that many other matters must be defined by regulation.
– It seems to me that we should define in separate legislation what is meant by a co-operative society. The subject is important enough to deserve a special Act. It is not possible, I think, to include a definition in this Bill, unless we intend’ to include a favoured few and exclude others. I move -
That the motion be amended by adding the words “ with the following amendment to the clause, viz., leave out ‘ such industries to include the manufacture of boots, woollen goods and clothing, tanning, wool-scouring, fellmongering (and kindred industries), saw-milling, and other enterprises.’ “
– Senator Newland’s amendment is probably an improvement upon the clause, but, in view of the disinclination on the part of the Minister to give a clear understanding as to what is meant by the words “on a co-operative basis,” it would be a still greater improvement if all the words after “ industries “ were struck out. This would throw upon the Commission, with the approval of the Minister, the responsibility of saying to whom money shall be advanced. An advance could be made to one man, or to two. If the Committee agrees to the deletion of the phrase “on a co-operative basis,” the Commission will be clothed with greater powers, for the reason that the number of applications which may be entertained by the Commission are likely to be greatly increased. At present, although it is permissible to assist returned soldiers, it must be conditional upon the men concerned becoming associated as co-operative bodies. There are cases, no doubt, where men could work together in co-opeartive association, more advantageously than if they were to launch out alone, or to take one partner. But if a couple of returned men are prepared to get going in an industry, they should not be debarred owing to the retention of the words “ on a co-operative basis.”
– If they were not started on a co-operative basis, the chances are that they would be securing outside capitalistic assistance.
– I am not concerned about that, but with the point that the Commission should be empowered to advance money to one man or to two men seeking to engage in an industry. I ask
Senator Newland to consent to the temporary withdrawal of his amendment.
– I have no objection to doing so, but if the honorable member’s amendment is agreed to, I shall vote against the clause altogether. The effect of his amendment would be to open the door for every soldier to avail himself of the right to go to the Government for assistance in establishing an enterprise.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the motion be amended by adding the words “with the following amendment to the clause, viz., leave out’ on a co-operative basis ‘.”
If my amendment is agreed to, it will mean that one man, possessing the ability and experience, but lacking the necessary capital, will be enabled to approach the Commission in order to get a start for himself. What objection is there to that?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Government shall find half the money necessary to start one man in a woollen mill ?
– I have not the establishment of a woollen mill in mind. One man or two men might be desirous of setting up a toy-making establishment, and, in the absence of capital for the purchase of necessary machinery, they might not be in a position to get a start. They should be able to look to the Commission for assistance. Some time ago two returned men approached me, and said they were desirous of starting monumental works. They had been previously engaged in a monumental yard as employees. However, they had not the money, and could not get going for themselves.
– Is there not authority under the original Act to provide assistance, if deemed wise, in such cases ?
– There is power under the existing Act.
– I emphasize that, prior to enlistment, they had been engaged as employees.
– The power is contained in the Act to grant assistance, but the Commissioners, in their wisdom, do not always think it wise to furnish money.
– I do not think the Commissioners should have the power to refuse such a request as that of the two monumental workers. If two men enter into partnership to carry on some small concern, they are doing just as useful work as if they had formed a co-operative company. The Commission should be able to grant assistance without throwing upon the individuals concerned responsibility for establishing themselves as a company.
– But a certain sura may be advanced under the existing legislation.
– If, in the discretion of the Commissioners, no such assistance is furnished, it is not because of any disability in the Act.
– In all cases where assistance has been rendered the men concerned have been engaged in the same occupation as employers, prior to enlistment. But if they have been employees, apparently, they are debarred. Is it not competent for the Commissioners to advance money to individuals to engage in business, even though they may not have had previous experience as employers in. the same industry ?
– It is competent for the Commissioners to pass regulations to throw money about in any way they like.
– To enable- men to start in business in which they were previously employees?
– There is no power in the Act to prevent it, but the Commissioners may decide that it is not wise to render assistance in such circumstances.
– I take it, though, that it will be wise for them to do so if the men concerned first turn themselves into co-operative societies.
– No; but because the House of Representatives wanted it so.
– It is proposed in the clause to give the Commissioners power to take action when the applicants have formed themselves into co-operative concerns. Apparently, there is nothing to prevent the Commissioners from granting assistance at present.
– Nothing at all.
– Then, the proposal now exercising the mind of the Committee is a totally unnecessary matter?
– Quite unnecessary, but another place wants it in the Act.
– This Committee should decline to concur.
– It will not matter very much if the Committee does agree to the proposal, seeing that the Commissioners are already exercising their powers in a sensible and conservative fashion.
– Probably so, but if honorable senators support my amendment the Commissioners will have wider powers than they may possess to-day.
.- The clause is becoming quite a Chinese puzzle. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has already said that the last few lines merely amount to a placard and are quite unnecessary; and now we understand that all the power suggested in the first few lines are already contained in the Act. It becomes a question whether honorable senators are to bow down to the will of another place. The clause should be withdrawn and redrafted. There is much to commend the amendment of Senator Grant, so far as concerns the matter of securing a definition of these who may or may not be subsidized. The phrase, “ on the cooperative basis “ may mean nothing. Let me suggest, for example, that a cooperative grocers’ establishment is started. Members of the public residing in the neighbourhood become shareholders. All the shareholders dealing at such an establishment receive a rebate on their purchases, and at the end of the year, after the costs of the administration have been met, any surplus that remains reverts to the shareholders.
– But such businesses do not manufacture.
– Perhaps not, but the clause reads “ and other enterprises.” That may include a business of any sort, and as most businesses are regarded as industries, the clause as at present worded provides no limitation whatever. May I refer to a woollen mill at Geelong which returned soldiers contemplate starting ? I do not see how such an industry can be compared with a grocery establishment worked on a co-operative basis, because a woollen mill must be, more or less, in the nature of a huge limited liability company. For that reason, I think we should have some information from the Minister for Repatriation as to whether such establishments as woollen mills would be given the same consideration as a small grocery store conducted on the co- operative principle. Such, an industry as the Geelong “Woollen Mills might have a working capital of £500,000, consisting of war gratuity money, and those interested might approach the Minister and say that they wished to float the concern into a limited liability company with a capital of £1,000,000.’ “Would the Government, under such circumstances, be justified in opposing the proposition? The Government cannot be expected to subsidize very many industrial undertakings to the extent of £500,000, and, as Senator Bakhap pointed out, the clause is really without any foundation, because it does not show in which cases the money is to be advanced. It appears to m© that if we allow the proposed new clause to pass in its present form, we are placing too much power in the hands of the Commission, and Parliament would be neglecting its duty. if it allowed such a body the right to deal with public money as it thought fit. We should not permit such a provision to pass unchallenged without having a proper definition of what it means. We would really be handing the taxpayers’ money over to the Commissioners to deal with as they thought fit.
– Senator Grant’s amendment does not define anything. ‘
– Neither the clause nor any amendment that has been submitted appears to be of much value. In the first place, we do not appear to be able to satisfactorily define ‘ ‘ a cooperative basis,” and if we can do that, we will improve the clause. The Minister for Repatriation said that it merely appeared to be a placard that would benefit the constituents of some honorable members in another place. He also stated that the first part of the proposed new clause was provided for in another Act.
– The suggested new provision would suit the constituents of the honorable senator, and also mine.
– Whatever there may be in the interjection, I may say there is no place in the Commonwealth where new industries are more likely to thrive than in Queensland,
– But Queensland does not require any advertising.
– It is unnecessary. I hope the Minister will consider my suggestion, and that honorable senators will oppose the proposed new clause, and insist on it being redrafted in a proper manner.
– I think the peg on which the amendment from the House of Representatives is hung is co-operation, and some members of that Chamber are hoping that something may be derived from Commonwealth assistance. If we delete any reference to co-operation, I fail to see any reason for legislation of this character. I know that under our repatriation scheme, since the days of its genesis, assistance has been given to soldiers who believe themselves capable of conducting all sorts of enterprises. It must not be forgotten, however, that many soldiers working peacefully, quietly, and energetically in Australian industries have to a large extent repatriated themselves. I am not in any way belittling the work of the Repatriation Department, because I know how onerous the task has been, and how heavy a burden it has cast on the shoulders of the Minister controlling the Department. Our returned veterans of the Australian Imperial Force are, however, in a great measure responsible for the undoubted success achieved in connexion with their repatriation.
– I have acknowledged that.
– I know the Minister has, and I do not desire to detract from the meritorious “way in which the work of the Department has been performed. There has been a percentage of failures, as might have been expected and which will naturally result in connexion with industrial organizations even when conducted on ordinary lines. I know the Repatriation Department authorities have on their hands - I have been so informed by officials - quite a number of boats, because men who had a knowledge of the sea thought they would be successful in small shipping enterprises on the Australian coast. The Repatriation Department has financed certain persons, and these small craft have now been thrown back on the Department. This is an attempt to benefit soldiers, who will receive sums to which they are entitled in the way of a war gratuity, and who may insist on dissipating the sums represented by the bonds in enterprises doomed to failure, because they lack capitalization. If they are subsidized as suggested they will enter into a partnership with the ‘Government in the terms of the proposed clause. If these suggested undertakings are not conducted on a co-operative basis we shall have no innovation at all, and the work of the Repatriation Department should then be allowed to proceed in the ordinary way. I do not think the Government will stand in an invidious position, because of the intervening discretion of the Commissioners and the Minister. Because of the hope many worthy people repose in co-operation let us give the system a trial by allowing men collectively - I do not think many, because of smallness of capital, will do it individually - to invest their war gratuities in enterprises in which they think they will be successful. If eight, ten, or fifteen returned soldiers can see such virtue in co-operation as to invest the money coming to them in the form of war gratuities* and with the addition, perhaps, of the surplusage of their private finances, with a Commonwealth subsidy, something may be achieved. I am going to oppose the elimination of the words “ cooperative basis for the reasons I have given. I believe the whole spirit of this amendment consists, not altogether of a desire to assist the returned soldiers, but of (* desire partly to make use of it as a means of endeavouring to acquire some of the anticipated benefits nf thu application of the co-operative principle.
– It is just as well to know where we are leading in this matter. I understand that a co-operative concern is being formed in Geelong with, I think, a capital of £100,000, which is being subscribed by a number of returned soldiers who have banded themselves together.
– Do they suggest doing it, or has it been done?
– I believe it is an accomplished fact.
– The money is not all subscribed by returned soldiers.
– No, but it is to be a co-operative concern, and this amendment reads “ contributed by them in cash or war bonds.”
– Does that include gratuity bonds ?
– I suppose so. Under the proposed amendment, a cooperative concern would have power to come to the Minister and say, “We are subscribing £100,000 and we want you to contribute an equal amount.”
– Does the honorable senator know how much of that is outside capital?
– I believe it will all be advanced to the soldiers and placed in the concern as their capital. I am not quite clear on the point, but we will assume that the money belongs to the soldiers. In such a case I would like to know if the Government would have power to control such a company, because if they had not it would not be an ordinary business transaction. An ordinary business man would advance capital on debentures, but he would not find the money unless he had a voice in the management. We have also to consider how profits would be distributed under such a provision. If the Government advance money are they going to receive any interest?
– Well, it does not so provide.
– I presume that regulations would be framed to meet the position.
– I do not think it could be done by regulation. The proposed new clause clearly provides that if the Minister approves of the establishment of any co-operative concern the Government may advance a similar amount to that contributed in cash or in war bonds by the members of the society.
– Would the Government be in the same position as the shareholders in a smaller concern?
– I do not think so. If the provision is adopted in its present form I do not see how the Government can claim interest on the capital advanced.
– There may be some doubt as to what the clause actually means, but if I were Minister in charge of the Department, and the provision became law, I would expect the money advanced by the Government to be interest bearing.
– It is perfectly certain that if the proposed new clause is adopted in its present form we shall have a number of co-operative societies formed, and a demand made on the Government for one half of the necessary capital. If such is the case, the Government would have to subscribe money, but would not have any voice in the management. If a clause like this is to be passed, there should be clear definitions and safeguards on these points. It should be stated, to start with, what a co-operative society is.
– Do you think the projects you have mentioned have a legitimate business chance of success ?
– I should think the Geelong Woollen Mill Society has every chance of -success. It is being backed up by a good many business men to assist the soldiers to settle. That is the very sort of co-operative society we want. I understand that if the Minister approves of a co-operative society, he will be practically compelled to advance it an amount equivalent to the amount of cash or bonds that its shareholders have put in. Then, so far as I can see, the Government will have no say in the management, and will get no interest on its investment.
– I have here a very ambitious prospectus, launched upon the people of South Australia, for new army and navy stores, and the capital that is being asked for is £750,000. This concern is being established by the returned soldiers with their gratuity money, and will, no doubt, undertake trading, importing, producing, and every other class of employment that men can indulge in. The prospectus is very carefully drawn up, and, so far as I know, has met with a great amount of favour amongst the returned soldiers in South Australia. If this new clause is carried, with or without Senator Grant’s and my amendments. I believe there will be no need for the returned men to put their gratuity bonds into such companies. I understand that the South Australian company undertakes to give any returned soldier one-third cash for any gratuity bond that he puts in, and if the clause is carried that co-operative concern will be quite justified in asking the Government to see it through the whole business. I venture to think that that will be done, whether our amendments are carried or not”. The clause altogether seems to be a blunder, because it will relieve the returned soldier of the necessity of putting his own cash into these enterprises. We should do all we can to help the returned soldier to help himself. If Senator Grant’s amendment is carried, the method of financing themselves so far adopted by the army and navy stores ‘ in Adelaide, and by the Geelong company described by Senator Fairbairn, will be quite unnecessary, as they can simply fall back on the Government for the whole lot.
– After what has been pointed out, it must be plain that the amendment submitted by another place is much more far-reaching than was thought, and requires far more discussion than has been given to it. I ask the Committee to disagree with the House of Representatives’ amendment, with the idea that, before so important a matter is finally dealt with, a free conference shall be held between the two Houses. At such a conference the managers from this Chamber will be able to point out that the amendment will have very far-reaching consequences not contemplated or approved by the mover in another place, and involve an immense amount of money. We must see that we do not get out of our depth altogether, so far as finance is concerned.
– Another place may ask for a free conference, or it may not.
– We shall have done our duty if we ask for a conference.
– Do you believe in the principle of co-operation?
– Then it is our duty bo re-model the proposal to make it satisfactory.
– That would involve so many amendments that we would almost have to re-model the whole Bill. ‘The matter is quite important enough for a conference.
Amendment (by Senator Newland) proposed -
That the motion be amended by adding the words “ with the following amendment to> the clause, viz., leave out ‘ such industries to include the manufacture of boots, woollen goods and clothing, tanning, wool-scouring, fellmongering (and kindred industries), sawmilling, and other enterprises.’ “
.- If the Minister could see his way clear to force the issue of further consideration with another branch of the Legislature by a conference, the representatives of this
Chamber could advance very strong reasons which would materially influence the minds of those who have put forward this clause in another place. I see many possibilities of trouble to the Government from the clause. They are endless once you start. The Minister will be placed in a most unenviable position. Scores of applications will come in for money to subsidize the capital raised by returned soldiers, and even the capital raised by their friends who are not soldiers. How are we to define what a cooperative society is in that case? A dozen soldiers may be backed up by fifty civilian capitalists, and in that way raise £50,000 or’ £100,000. Are the Government to subsidize them with a similar amount? If another dozen soldiers form themselves into a company, and employ 50 or 100, or even 500 hands, will that be a co-operative society? If the Committee agree to reject the new clause, and seek a conference with another place, they will be very well advised.
.- The discussion indicated that the amendment moved by Senator Newland was necessary, yet it has been declared lost. I respectfully suggest that you, sir, should put it again.
– There is no doubt a certain amount of confusion in the minds of honorable senators over both the amendments, because the discussion clearly indicated that the majority were in favour of mine. As that has been disposed of, it is now a question of accepting or rejecting the new clause sent to us by another place. I ask the Committee to reject it, for the reasons which I have already given. It would not have been quite so objectionable with the words I indicated deleted. If the clause is -rejected, and another place desires to stick to it, the suggested conference between the Houses will doubtless take place. I trust that, if we reject the clause, the matter will be again debated in another place., and a more sensible and workable provision arrived at, as the result of a conference.
– Then we are to waive our functions of review for the sake of a conference?
– I am not asking that we shall waive any right. I am urging the Committee to insist upon the rights of the Senate. In any case, the Standing Orders provide for conferences between the Houses, although I have not known any to take place since I have been a member of the Senate. I urge the Committee to reject the clause because of its uselessness, and the danger it will be, not only to the soldiers, but to the Government.
.- In view of the possibility of the clause proposed by another place being agreed to, I move -
That the motion he amended by adding the words “ with the following amendments to the clause, viz., in sub-clause 2 after ‘ loan ‘ insert ‘ may be ‘ and after ‘ granted ‘ leave out the remaining words.”
Su’b-clause 2 provides for the framing of regulations for the repayment of the loan. There is nothing in the clause to provide for the payment of interest, and I think that the regulation should prescribe all the conditions upon which any loan is granted.
– I cannot help thinking that the amendment which Senator Earle proposes is an extremely desirable one. Ordinarily speaking, the Commission will have power to make regulations for carrying out the Act; but in this proposed new clause the House of Representatives has inserted a specific power of regulation, which is limited to the method of repayment,- and it might be urged that this would withhold from the Commission the power to make regulations as to the conditions on which a loan should be granted.
– The amendment is certainly ambiguous as it stands.
– That is so. I therefore, on behalf of the Government, accept the amendment moved by Senator Earle.
.- No doubt the amendment, so far as it goes, is harmless, and may be beneficial; but if there is any virtue in co-operation, and the Government is going to assist these enterprises, they should be placed in the position of a partner in them . Why should not the Government, as representing the people of Australia, be placed in a better position in connexion with this proposal than that of merely being assured that any loan advanced will be repaid ? Why should they not be placed in the position of shareholders in these enterprises ?
– My amendment will provide for that.
– Not if the word “ loan” is retained. If that word is retained, the Commonwealth Government will not be in the position in which I wish to see it placed - that of an actual partner in these enterprises which it subsidizes with public money.
– The proposed new clause, even if amended as proposed by Senator Earle, does not seem to me to provide for the Government taking shares in these enterprises.
– That is my point, and I say that if the principle of cooperation is to be adopted, the Commonwealth Government, as representing the whole of the Australian people, should be placed in the position of a partner with the returned soldiers in these subsidized co-operative enterprises.
– That would be of no use unless the Government had a controlling interest.
– I do not know whether the amendment moved by Senator Earle is to be the last submitted, but I should like to have something inserted in the proposed new clause to define the expression “co-operative basis.”
– Such an amendment might be moved as sub-clause 3 of the proposed new clause, but we had better get Senator Earle’s amendment out of the way first.
– I understand that the Minister agrees with me that the acceptance of Senator Earle’s amendment does not permit the Commonwealth” Government to associate themselves on a share basis with these co-operative enterprises.
– That is so.
– Then I say that that should be provided for.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the motion be further amended by adding the following words, vw.: - “Add the following new sub-clause: -
’ Co-operative basis ‘ shall mean assistance to an, unregistered association or partnership of not more than ten soldiers or a registered company the whole of the shareholders in which are soldiers at the time of registration.”
Any business man will understand the reason which animates me in submitting this amendment. One of the great difficulties in connexion with co-operation will be the combination of a number of men with sufficient knowledge of business affairs to keep books and so on. For this reason, I would limit an unregistered association or partnership to not more than ten soldiers. There might be some conflict between this proposal and the company laws of the different States, which, in the case of some, insist that if more than a certain number of individuals engage in any partnership, they must register themselves as a company. I understand, however, that Commonwealth legislation, in an arena which is constitutional, overrides State legislation when there is a conflict. Consequently my amendment would have legal force, notwithstanding the fact that a State enactment prescribed that a number of persons less than ten associated in any enterprise must register as a company.
– The honorable senator says “ not more than ten.”
– If more than ten or less than ten returned soldiers register themselves as a company, keep books, employ a secretary, and do everything in proper form, they can still secure the benefits of this legislation. But if they do not undertake to register themselves and observe the strict rules and regulations prescribed for the carrying onof the business of a joint stock company, the Commonwealth Government should not be. permitted to assist to any very material extent a numerous association that does not observe all the commercial requirements that are absolutely essential to the successful carrying on of any business. My attempt to define what a “ co-operative basis “ shall mean may be crude and unsatisfactory, but it is an honest attempt to safeguard the Commonwealth in assisting any loose association of returned soldiers who may not care to employ a regularly paid secretary, but may desire to come together to carry on a presumably promising enterprise on decent business lines. If two or more agree to register as a company, certain legal provisions will have to be observed in regard to balance-sheets and so on. In the case of such a company, the Government would have access to a properlykept set of books. I understand that at the present time, should we amend an amendment of this kind coming from another place, it is possible that the clause may be totally rejected, but I have submitted a proposal for the interpretation of the term “ co-operative basis “ whether the proposed new clause is finally adopted or rejected.
– The more this amendment is discussed the more clearly is it shown that it is one that cannot possibly be properly dealt with by the Committee either comprehensively or in the manner proposed by Senator Bakhap. The honorable senator has submitted an amendment intended to define the words “co-operative basis” in the proposed new clause, and I ‘direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that if they substitute for the words “ cooperative basis” the definition proposed by Senator Bakhap, the proposed new clause will be rendered nonsensical. Cooperation is a very difficult matter to deal with legislatively. This is a matter that involves the consideration of a number of different principles. It cannot be exhaustively dealt with in a single clause. Whilst the war was on, limitations were imposed with regard to increases of capital by companies, and investment of capital in certain enterprises, these limitations being subject to certain exceptions in the case of co-operative enterprises, or where it was intended to .convert an ordinary company into a co-operative concern. I know from experience that many attempts made to convert going concerns into co-operative enterprises, or to originate co-operative concerns, had to be most carefully scrutinized by officials on behalf of the Government, and at times I was called upon to render professional assistance in the redrafting and resettling of certain propositions. If we intend to inquire into the minutest details of co-operative principles, we shall be taking on a very big contract. 1 think, therefore, that the amendment should not be agreed to, and I am inclined, speaking generally, to negative the motion in order to open up the way for a fuller and freer consideration of the question of co-operation.
.- A time limit should be fixed for the operation of this clause, otherwise returned sailors and soldiers may be able to take advantage of its provisions for a great number of years, involving the Commonwealth in the expenditure of millions of pounds. I do not think that is the intention of the Parliament.
– I hope I am not misinterpreting the Minister’s attitude, but I think that only a spirit of loyalty to his colleagues has induced him to submit the motion for the adoption of the amendment from, another place. I judge his attitude throughout the debate to have been one of hostility to the amendment as a whole. I am not going to take up that attitude. The proposal has been somewhat hastily submitted in another place, probably as an advertisement for certain ideas, and to meet the exigencies of the moment due to a confusion of opinion between members of that Chamber; but there is something more involved in the principle than is apparent at first. I invite honorable senators to take stock of the industrial world, and note the discontent that is evident in every direction. Abroad we see thrones toppling, and social changesof a most far-reaching character taking place.
– If the honorable senator thinks I am opposed to the cooperative principle, I must correct him.. I am not.
– lt is not for us to be continually preaching the doctrine of co-operation, without availing ourselves of the chance to do something for the movement when an opportunity presents itself.
– I want to- do it in a reasonable way; not in the slipshod manner proposed in this clause.
– There can be no safer ideal than the incorporation of this principle in every important phase of Australian industrial life. Nothing tended to stabilize society in Australia more than the war loans .which were subscribed to so largely by men with small amounts of capital. I venture to say that, at the -present moment, notwithstanding all our disabilities and discontent, we are in a ‘ better condition of social equilibrium than people in any other country, because large numbers of hitherto discontented people have, in this way, become associated with the stability of our State. I say, therefore, that if we can get our returned soldiers right into the industrial life of the community, as partners with the State, a great deal will have been achieved. I am not going to lightly vote for the rejection of the motion.
– I am a strong believer in the principle of co-operation-
– You voted against it just now.
– I did nothing of the kind. The honorable senator is misinterpreting my remarks and actions, and so I wish to make it quite clear that I have. no objection to the principle of cooperation at all. My amendment was to give the Minister power to’ advance money to one or two soldiers. Senator de Largie voted against that proposal. In view of the statement made by Senator Fairbairn, I think the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) would be well advised to reconsider the position. His colleagues in the Ministry will not slay him, for they will realize that he is doing the right thing if he permits his supporters in the Senate to vote against the clause, so that it may receive further consideration in another place, or lead to a conference.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion; as amended, negatived.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President-
– I will resume the chair at 8 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 6.35 to 8 p.m.
– The question is, “That the Senate do now adjourn.”
– I call attention to the fact that a quorum is not present.
The bells having been rung,
– There being no quorum present, the Senate stands adjourned until 3 o’clock to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at8.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 May 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200505_senate_8_91/>.