8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Customs Act. - Proclamations, dated 24th August, 1920, revoking previous proclamations relating to the exportation of -
Sheepskins and Woollen Fabrics and Yarns.
Declaration modifying Agreement of 10th
September, 1919, between the Allied and Associated Powers with regard to the contributions to the cost of liberation of the Territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. - Signed at Paris,8th’ December, 1919.
Papers relating to the purchase of the properties of Messrs. Lahey Brothers and ‘ Mr. J. F. Brett, of Queensland, by the War Service Homes Commissioner.
Public Service Act. - Appointments ofL.J. Dickenson and R. S. Skerritt, Department of the Treasury.
War Service Homes Act. - Easement acquired over land at Cheltenham, Victoria.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if he is in a position to answer the questions which I asked some time ago on the subject of annual leave in the General Post Office, Sydney ?
– On the 2nd September the honorable senator asked the following questions : -
I promised that the information would be obtained, and I am now in a position to supply the following reply: -
. - (By leave). - I have very much pleasure on behalf of the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) in announcing that the subscriptions to the Second Peace Loan already in hand total £25,156,850. In addition, judging by experience of the past, it is almost a certainty that, in process of transmission by mail, there are still further applications to come in from the more remote districts of Australia, and a further addition to the amount subscribed is known to be assured by intimations from some rather large subscribers who, for some reason or another, have not formalized their applications up to date. I think I am entitled to say that the Commonwealth is to be heartily congratulated upon the magnificent response to this “further appeal to the patriotism of its citizens.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he is now in a position to answer the question I asked some time ago on the subject of the importation of calcium carbide?
– On the 15th September, Senator Earle asked the following question, upon notice -
What quantity of calcium carbide was imported into the Commonwealth during the years (1st) 1913; (2nd) 1919; (3rd) the first eight months of 1920?
I stated at the time that the information would be obtained, and I am now in a position to furnish the following reply : - 1913, 288,195 cwt.-, . 1919, 52,634 cwt.; first eight months of 1920, 68,482 cwt
Persons Qualified to Vote - Accumulated Deficit
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What is the number of persons qualified to vote under the Commonwealth electoral law in the Northern Territory -
What is the accumulated deficit of the Northern Territory for the last five years - giving each year separately?
– The answers are -
The Acting Administrator estimates the number of persons who would be qualified to vote ‘ under the Commonwealth electoral law in the Northern Territory as follows: -
Receipts and expenditure in connexion with the Northern Territory, from the date of transfer to the Commonwealth - 1st January, 1911 - are shown on page 106 of the Treasurer’s Budget Statement 1919-20, which was presented to Parliament on the 8th October, 1919. These figures will be reprinted, with the addition of the actual receipts and expenditure for 1919-20, and the Estimates for 1920-21,. in the Treasurer’s Budget Statement for 1920-21.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to -
That Senator lynch be granted leave of absence for two months,on account of urgent private business.
Assent reported to the following Bills:-
Industrial Peace Bill. Audit Bill.
Institute of Science and Industry Bill.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) announced the receipt of a message intimating that the House of Representatives had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in .this Bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the passing of the Bill through its remaining stages without delay.
– I am rather sorry to object to the suspension of the Standing Orders. I understand that it is the desire of the Government to pass this measure to-day, although it has only just been introduced into the Senate.
– I shall be quite content if we get it through to-morrow.
– I understand that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) is anxious to pass the Bill to-day.
– If we can pass the second reading-stage to-day the Senate might be asked to .deal with the Bill in Committee to-morrow.
– If that is the intention, I have no objection to ‘offer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation [3.12]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Supply already granted by Par.liament covers the ordinary payments for a little more than two months. The present Bill provides for the ordinary requirements of the Commonwealth for one month. This Bill will, therefore, enable the Treasurer to meet payments until a little beyond the end of September. The totals of the three Supply Bills are: - No. 1 (July), £1,838,847; No. 2 (August), £2,367,826; No. 3 (September), £1,729,915; or a total of £5,936,588.
The total of the present Bill is made up as follows: - Ordinary expenditure, £1,111,515; war services payable from revenue, £268,400; refunds of revenue, £100,000; advance to the Treasurer, £250,000; or a total of £1,729,915.
The amount provided under “ Advance to the Treasurer “ is chiefly required to carry on new works which were in hand last year, and for works of a recurring nature. This is in accord with the usual practice in regard to works. The Budget will be submitted to the House of Representatives on Thursday next, and I do not now propose to anticipate the Budget proposals by referring at length to the present financial position. I desire, however, to inform the Senate that the Post-‘ master-General has placed before the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) some proposals which he considers should be at once approved in order that the Postal Department may carry ‘out its obligation to the public to provide satisfactory and efficient services. There are difficulties in the way of securing material for post-office works, and it is necessary that tenders should be called for some time in advance in order that a fairly continuous supply of material may be secured. The Treasurer proposes, therefore, to agree to the PostmasterGeneral accepting tenders for material which will be paid for during this financial year, so lone as the amount provided on the Estimates for the year is not exceeded. In addition, he proposes to agree to tenders being invited for material to be paid for in 1921-22 up to a total of £500,000. At the City Manual Telephone Exchange, Sydney, it is at present impossible to render satisfactory service. The position is so serious that it is proposed to agree to the acceptance of tenders for the extension of the City North Automatic Exchange, Sydney, to permit of the connexion thereto of 1,420 new subscribers’ lines. This involves an expenditure of £81,785.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania) 3.M]. - I do not think that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) indicated in the statement he has just made how the amount required compares with the Supply granted for the corresponding period of last year.
– Then we may take it that there is no indication of any decrease in the expenditure. During the last year we were, so to speak, under the shadow of the war, and involved in financial obligations undertaken during the war period, and which, in their incidence, extended beyond the actual termination of hostilities. A great deal has been said concerning the need for economy and increased production, and one would have expected that there would have been some indication of reduced expenditure - even though the Budget for the current financial year is not before us - in certain directions. I am glad, however, to have the assurance of the Minister for Repatriation that it is not his intention to push the Bill through its concluding stages to-day, or, at any rate, that he is not disposed to do so if there is any inclination on the part of honorable senators to consider the measure more in detail to-morrow. This measure came to me as somewhat of a shock, and we had passed the firstreading stage - the opportunity which enables honorable senators to have a general discussion - before I realized that we had a Supply Bill before us. It was only after the first-reading stage had been passed that the Bill was circulated amongst honorable senators. I had i already been supplied with a copy of the Bill this morning with my other papers, but I was not aware that it had been dealt with in another place. However, if relevant discussion in Committee is not to be limited, honorable senators will have an opportunity of addressing themselves to the various items of proposed expenditure. Had the firstread.ing stage not come upon me so suddenly, I would certainly have referred to several matters which I consider are important.
– As the honorable senator is a young member, I can quite understand him being caught in that way
– In view of the fact that the Budget will be tabled at an early date, and that we shall have a motion before us that will allow us to discuss the financial proposals of the Government at some length. I may, in common with other honorable senators, possess my soul in patience. I understand that the Minister for Repatriation will be satisfied if the second-reading stage is passed. If an adjournment is then granted, honorable senators will have an opportunity of comparing the items with those of la6t year. Honorable senators then will be able, if they think it desirable or necessary, to address themselves at some length to the various items in the schedule.
– Senator Keating has referred to the fact that the Senate refrained from availing itself of that most elastic opportunity, under our Standing Orders, of entering into a discussion on the first-reading stage. I do not think that the attitude adopted by honorable senators was accidental, but assumed it was an exhibition of good behaviour. I take it that it is their desire to economize in time and to get the Bill through as rapidly as possible, in view of the fact that this week I anticipate presenting the Budget papers and the motion to which Senator Keating has referred. When that time arrives honorable senators will have an opportunity of fully discussing the financial position of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £1,729,915).
– Of course, the Senate will understand that I am only too anxious to go on with the Bill; but if there is any desire on the part of honorable senators to delay its passage, in conformity with my earlier intimation, I shall be prepared to do so. In view of the fact that the Budget statement will be presented during the week, I ask honorable senators to allow the discussion upon the Bill to proceed. Of course, I am entirely in the hands of the Committee, but unless there is a general desire for the Postponement of the debate, I should like it to continue.
– If we adopt the course which is suggested by the Minister, shall we be swallowing the Bill in globo?
– No. The honorable senator will be at liberty to move to alter every line of the Bill after this clause has been carried.
– I think that the consideration of this clause should be postponed until the schedule has been dealt with.
– Very well. In the circumstances, I move -
That the clause be postponed.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 3 (Sum available for the purposes set forth in schedule).
– It appears to me that this clause covers everything that is contained in the Bill, and there are just one or two small matters which, I think, should be dealt with in Committee, and to which I propose to make a brief reference. In the first place, I would direct attention to the fact that the measure contains a large Defence vote. Under this heading 1 desire to point out to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that on the 11th November next two years will have elapsed since the signing of the armistice, whilst on the 9th of that month five years will have expired since the sinking of- the Emden by H.M.A.S. Sydney. It would be fitting, therefore, if the Minister were to take into his favorable consideration the question of releasing all members of the Australian Imperial Force who still remain in prison.
– A lot of the sandbaggers ought to stay there for life!
– I hold that the war itself was productive of an environment which possibly contributed to a defective mental condition in many of the men who committed military offences. In some of these cases clemency has already been extended to the culprits. But I know that time and again innocent men have been obliged to suffer terms of imprisonment. In this connexion I would recall the conspiracy case to which I invited the attention of the Minister some time ago. The honorable gentleman promised to look into it, and immediately he did so the prisoner’s sentence was considerably reduced. Subsequently that man had all his honours restored to him and was granted a- clean discharge. As a matter of fact, when ho saw me in July last, he was quite hopeful of obtaining his war gratuity. I have satisfied myself that that man was absolutely innocent of the charge upon which he was convicted. There are several other cases in which military law has not worked satisfactorily. Surely two years after the war has terminated the Minister might well release the members of the Australian Imperial Force who are still in gaol. I do not desire to dwell at any great length upon this matter, but I submit that there are cases in which the penalties imposed have been altogether disproportionate to the offences committed. I therefore ask the Minister to issue a general order setting out that these men who fought for King and country overseas shall not be subjected to further imprisonment. Their crimes were not committed in this country, but in other countries and under conditions which might conceivably have made criminals of any of us. Probably their minds were deranged as the result of the difficult conditions under which they were living, and this fact ought to be taken into consideration. Two years after the termination of the war is a fitting time for the Minister to again review their sentences. I need scarcely add that the friends of these men are suffering even more acutely than axe the prisoners themselves. I hope, therefore, that in the near future the honorable gentleman will release all members of the Australian Imperial Force who are at present undergoing terms of imprisonment.
– I quite sympathize with the spirit in which Senator Gardiner has put forward his suggestion, but my reply is that all the cases to which he has referred have already been reviewed from the very stand-point that he has outlined. Further, the members of the Australian” Imperial Force who are at present in prison are not undergoing sentences for military offences, but for criminal offences, many of them criminal offences against their own comrades. There are some cases in which prisoners have lain in wait for their comrades, have laid them out, and robbed them, and in two instances at least have inflicted injuries which resulted in death. Whilst I have every sympathy with men who unwittingly fall into evil, there is evidence in some of these cases of a disposition to do evil deliberately and by force, and to inflict even death upon their own comrades. To release men of that character after they have served a sentence of only two or three years’ imprisonment would be altogether a distortion of justice. They deserve to serve such sentences as are commensurate with the heinousness of their crimes. Realizing, as Senator Gardiner puts it, that the atmosphere and environment of war ave different from those in which the ordinary civilian lives, these cases have been reviewed with that difference in mind. It is incorrect to assume that the sentences which the men are now serving are simply those awarded by military courts-martial. In every one of the cases the whole of the papers and the whole of the evidence have been reviewed by the Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth, who has been guided by the principle that he should have regard to the environment, surroundings and circumstances in which the crime was committed, that he should make allowance for the very things that Senator Gardiner has put forward, and take into consideration the men’s previous records.
– Are there many of them ?
– Not a great many. If a man’s previous record had been good, or if he had a good fighting record, the Solicitor-General took the fact into consideration with a view to the mitigation of the sentence. In practically every case a substantial reduction has been proposed, not, as the Solicitor-General continually puts forward in his memorandum, that the sentence at the time and in the circumstances in which it was imposed was excessive, but that, having regard to all the matters I have mentioned, a reduction was advisable. The offenders have had the benefit of that, and many of them, who were sentenced in the first place to very long terms of imprisonment, have been released. An amnesty was also granted at the time of the declaration of peace, and twelve months was taken off all the sentences. Instructions have also been given to the State authorities that full consideration should be given to, and full account taken of, the behaviour of the men imprisoned, and that they should be given full credit for any good behaviour, and their sentences correspondingly reduced. In all these ways we have tried in these cases to temner justice with mercy. I have personally instructed that every month the remaining cases should be brought under my notice with the reports of the gaol authorities, and with any subsequent circumstances that may arise justifying review, in order that full consideration should be given with a view to releasing the men if the circumstances justify it. Having regard to the nature of the crimes committed by those now serving their sentences I could not recommend the Government to act on the suggestion the honorable senator has put forward. It is only just and right that I should say that some of these men, who write to their friends to urge them to take action with a view to their release or a reduction of their sentences, tell their friends outside that they were put in for such and such an offence - I have been struck by this fact, and gave Senator Gardiner one case in point in reply to representations he made to me - but very seldom give the real facts upon which they were sentenced. In one instance a man, in representations of this sort, made it appear that he was sentenced to a very long term of imprisonment for striking an officer, whereas as a matter of fact he had a very bad criminal record, and had time and time again committed criminal offences of a very heinous character. I have hitherto refrained from giving to members, and to correspondents, the exact military record of these offenders, because I felt that it was only harrowing the feelings of relatives to let them know the exact crimes that had been committed. But in view of the continued reiteration of demands for consideration, I have felt compelled at last to let members and correspondents know where they have been misled by giving them the exact reasons for the sentences imposed, and now being served, in order that they may see that the men are not being punished for comparatively small crimes, as they generally endeavour to make out. The policy of the Government in connexion with these men has been to strain mercy to its utmost. It has not been vindictive, but we feel that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, a crime of the character of which many of these crimes partake deserves, and should receive, such punishment as will act as a deterrent in future. I can only say that we shall continue to review these cases from time to time, and if sufficient justification on the merits of the case can be put forward in relation to any on© of them, the Government will, in future, as it has in the past, temper justice with mercy.
.- Will the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) give me. some information regarding the recent deal in Queensland by which the War Service Homes Commission has purchased certain timber areas and mills? I should not indulge in any criticism of the transaction, because, on the facts and figures presented by the Minister, in reply to a question put by me the other day, it appears to be a good one. I wish to know what principle is to be adopted in distributing the output of the mills. In Queensland, timber is the most important factor in house building, although it does not play such a big part in the southern States, where brick, concrete, and other materials are used. Is it the intention of the Department to give the Deputy Commissioner for War Service Homes’ in Queensland first call over all the timber produced by the Government mills, or is only a certain amount to be allotted to Queensland in proportion to the number of houses that are to be built there? For instance, if the total number of houses to be built in Queensland represent 10 per cent, of the whole, does that mean that for the present, at any rate, 10 per cent, of the total output of the mills will be allotted to Queensland, or, in view of the facts that timber is the essential commodity for building in that State, that there is somewhat of a shortage of timber there, as there is in other States, and that this commodity is produced there mainly for the requirements of Queensland, is it the intention of the Minister to give the Queensland requirements first call on the output of the mills recently purchased?
Senator THOMAS (New South Wales)
T3.38]. - A little while ago I asked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator’ E. D. Millen) whether returned soldiers in the Commonwealth service had been prevented from joining certain Public Service associations because of the strong attitude of those associations against conscription, and if they had thereby been debarred from the financial benefits of arbitration awards. I based that question on a statement which appeared in Mr. McLachlan’s report, and asked the Minister whether he had seen it. I next asked him if it was correct, and my third question was: “ If so, are the officers still in the Service ?” I did not expect the Minister to be in a position at the time to know whether the statement was correct or not, hut the replies I ultimately received were, 1 “ Yes “ - that meant that the Minister had noticed the statement in Mr. McLachlan’s report - “ 2 and 3 Officers referred to are granted benefits by Order in Council equal to those prescribed by arbitration awards.” The Minister did not say, in his reply, whether the statement was correct, that some persons in the Public Service desirous of joining unions were prevented from doing so. I understand that the Government have passed an Order in Council practically asking what men were not getting the benefit of the award. But what I wanted to get at was whether Mr. McLachlan’s statement was correct, that some who were desirous of becoming members of an association within the Public Service were debarred, arid for that reason were not getting award rates. The Minister does not state whether the statement is correct or otherwise, and I should like to know. If it is correct, I shall be glad of information as to the unions referred to.
. - I venture to draw the attention of the Committee, and incidentally your attention, sir, to the fact that apparently we are drifting .back to that stage of the Bill which the Senate unanimously agreed to pass a short time ago. But as two matters have been mentioned, I may perhaps be allowed to join with the other offenders in breaking the Standing Orders in order to deal with them. First of all, Senator Foll wants to know whether the output of the timber mills purchased in Queensland by the War Service Homes Commissioner is to be apportioned on something like a State basis. I cannot say anything more than that the Commissioner will utilize the timber to the best advantage. It is absurd to say that a certain quantity should remain in or go out of the State, especially when one remembers the enormous size of Queensland.
– Let us have Free Trade within the States, at all events.
– The areas in which the timber mills are situated are in the south of Queensland, and it might be advisable to utilize the timber resources there for New South Wales as well as the southern , part of Queensland, and purchase other timber for the requirements in the north of that State
SenatorFoll. -I do not want to see Queensland running short, at any rate.
– Senator Foll need not be disturbed on that point. Generally speaking, it is contemplated to supply all the Queensland and New South Wales requirements with this particular class of timber, but it is not possible or wise to say that Queensland shall always retain a full percentage of the output, because that policy might necessitate sending enormous quantities of timber from the south to the north of Queensland. It would be better in the circumstances to send the timber over the border into New South Wales for use there, if it is required, and purchase supplementary supplies for the northern portion of Queensland.
– Will this timber be used exclusively for the erection of war service homes ?
– Undoubtedly. The Government have no authority to purchase it for any other purpose.
– You might sell it.
– It is all required for war service homes. I have laid the papers in connexion with, the purchase of these mills on the table of the Senate; and, speaking frommemory, I think it is anticipated that from these mills the Commissioner will be able to supply all his requirements for New South Wales and Queensland in that class of timber, and I may add that, having now an assured supply, he will be very materially assisted in his operations.
Senator Thomas has drawn attention to the failure, in the case of . an answer furnished to him, to reply definitely to a question which he placed on the noticepaper testing the accuracy of some statement contained in Mr. McLachlan’s report. I think the honorable senator will appreciate the difficulty of the Government in saying whether Mr. McLachlan’s statement is correct or not, unless we have another inquiry or Commission to ascertain whether the late Commissioner had drawn correct deductions from the evidence placed before him. I assume that Mr. McLachlan made his statement on well-found information, but if Senator Thomas will give me an opportunity
I will bring his question specifically before the Public Service Commissioner or the Prime Minister’s Department to see if they can supplement the information already supplied.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Divisions 1 to 12. Proposed vote,
– Under this heading there is one matter which. I think, will be of general interest to- the Committee, namely, thesalaries paid to the attendants of Parliament. I do not know quite under what Department these men are paid, but I have a very strong feeling indeed that the whole of the Public Service of the Commonwealth is underpaid, in view of the greatly increased cost of living since Federation was established. We all want to do our best to- rectify this state of affairs. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that in New South Wales there is a basic wage of £3 17s. 6d. per week, and it is more than probable that early next year this basic wage will be increased. I have no knowledge as to the wages paid to our attendants, but I should like to ask the Minister if the information can be obtained, and whether the Government will take thi6 matter into sympathetic consideration ? I do not suggest that our attendants ‘ are not treated well, but I suggest we should see to it that in the future, at all events, in view of the difficulties confronting married men with families because of the high cost of commodities and rent, this matter should receive the sympathetic consideration of the powers that be.
– The attendants of Parliament are under the control of the President and Mr. Speaker and the Joint House Committee. I can give Senator Pratten no information as to the individual salaries paid, but if he will leave the matter with rae, I will endeavour to have the particulars supplied to him. The President informs me that he is prepared to give the information now.
– I should like to remind honorable senators that they must not take the salaries paid last year to parliamentary attendants as the salaries now in force, because considerable increases have been granted on the Estimates for this financial year. The practice adopted bv Mr. Speaker and myself, as the commissioners who control the officers and servants of Parliament, is to accept the decision of Parliament itself. This, I think, is the right course to adopt. We, the presiding officers of Parliament, above all others, should pay the greatest possible respect to the expressed will of Parliament, and the expressed will of Parliament . a9 regards Public Service salaries is that all persons in the Public Service should have recourse to the Arbitration Court if they feel that they are not getting sufficient. It has been stated previously that the officers and servants of Parliament did not have an opportunity of appealing to the Court. They have every opportunity. Mr. Speaker and myself will not put the slightest obstacle in their way.
– But the honorable senator is aware that they are not organized; and they cannot take action until they are organized.
– There is no necessity for that. Without their organizing or taking any trouble. whatever, decisions pf the Arbitration Court are immediately applied to them. When any decision is given by the Arbitration Court affecting officers of the general Public Service, Mr. Speaker and I have applied it to the officers and servants of Parliament, and have interpreted it in the most liberal way. As a matter of fact, every officer of this Parliament is receiving at least the utmost that has been awarded through the Arbitration Court to any members of the Public Service in a corresponding position: and, in most cases they are getting considerably more. We have most liberally interpreted awards of the Court, and, in exceptional circumstances, such as unusually long hours, or anything of that kind, we have given more than the award where, in our opinion, the circumstances have justified the adoption of that course. If we have erred, it has ‘been on the side of liberality. The servants of this Parliament are entitled to the fullest consideration, aud have received that consideration ; but I do not think it would be desirable or wise to place them in a specially favoured position as compared with officers of the general Public Service. They are all equally entitled to justice, and, so far as Mr. Speaker and I are concerned, the officers of this Parliament receive & full measure of justice, and even generous treatment.
– I should like- to refer to some of the difficulties under which officers of Parliament labour at the present time. Senator Givens has informed the Committee that our officers are entitled to all the benefits of the Public Service Act. ‘That would be’ quite true if they were organized; but the honorable senator knows full well that they are not organized, and that that places them in a disadvantageous position. To give honorable senators some idea of the difficulty in which they are placed, I may recount an incident which occurred some time ago. One of the officers of Parliament had a fine of £2 inflicted upon him for an offence which he declares he did not commit. He objected to the fine, and desired that the matter should be explained. He asked to be allowed to go before the House Committee in order to put his position before it. He was, in a very brusque manner, told that he could not appeal, and he could get no redress, so far as an appeal to the House Committee was concerned. His request to be heard by the House Committee was turned down time and again. Though Senator Givens has sa;d that officers of Parliament are entitled to the benefits of the Public Service Act, I may point out that it provides for an appeal board; and if officers are charged with any offence, and believe they suffer from any grievance, they are given an opportunity to state their case before an appeal board. In the case to which I refer, this particular officer was point-blank refused any hearing of his case time and again. He asked that it should be brought before the House Committee. I have seen the correspondence, signed by the secretary, on behalf of the House Committee, and yet I understand that the House Committee has never considered the matter, and no opportunity has ever been afforded the officer of bringing his case before the Committee. I think that this is vert high-handed action. If any man is charged with an offence, he has surely a right to ‘be heard in his own defence, and to be given an opportunity to set his statement against that of his accuser. That opportunity has been refused to the officer to whom I refer. This sort of thing should not, I think, be tolerated by the Senate or any reasonable body. If the House Committee, having heard this officer, decided that he had committed an offence for which a fine of £2 was a proper penalty, there would be same reason for the infliction of the fine. This officer has asked, up to the very last,’ to be allowed to state his case to the House Committee, and he has paid the fine only under protest. This is an instance of a disability to which officers of Parliament are subjected, and it should be removed by the House Committee - and not alone the President and Mr. Speaker - taking these matters in hand. The House Committee should have a say as to whether an officer of this Parliament shall be fined under an apparent order of the Committee when the members of the Committee have never been given an opportunity to hear him.
– Does not the House Committee deal with such matters’?
– I understand that this officer asked time and again that his case should be placed before the House Committee, so that he might give his explanation, and put his side before the Committee, and that his request has been consistently refused. Whether the House Committee has considered the matter or not I do not know, hut I have the word of the officer in question as to what has occurred. He has shown me the correspondence he has received, and has assured me that he can get no redress.
– In doing that he violated the provisions of the Public Service Act.
– How ?
– In showing the honorable senator the correspondence, and running to him with his tale.
– Surely he has a right to come to some one when he is denied justice. When Senator Givens acted in that high-handed manner, and refused to give him justice, he had a right to aproach me, or any other member of this Parliament, in order to obtain justice. Surely we do not refuse justice to an officer because he happens to occupy a humble position. That is a most extraordinary attitude for Senator Givens to take up.
– How long ago did this take place?
– The matter has been going on now for some months. The lapse of time involved does not affect the justice of this officer’s request. 1 think that he should have been given an opportunity to place his case before the House Committee. If the Committee heard -him it would be for it to decide whether a fine should be inflicted upon him or not.
– It is absolutely impossible for any sense of duty or discipline to be maintained, amongst officers if the provisions of the Public Service Act are to be ignored, and members of the Public Service are to be continually running to members of Parliament to exercise political influence. Under those conditions all discipline and good conduct would be practically at an end.
– Good old gag!
– Senator de Largie, reminds me of many other persons, who . are absolute failures at their own job, but are experts at managing the business of every one else.
– I have not tried to manage the business of any one else, but I am trying to look after this boy’s interests.
– I propose, before I have finished, to show how much Senator de Largie knows about the Public Service Act. In the first place, let me repeat what I have already said, that when Parliament has expressed its will in a Statute it remains for members of this Parliament, and particularly officers of the Parliament, to respect that expression of its will. If a law passed is bad, it should be amended. If it is defective, the defects should be remedied ; but while it remains upon the Statute-book it should he respected and upheld, particularly by officers of the Parliament.
There is a boy or a man employed here who was fined by the head of his Department. I want to point out to Senator de Largie, and to the Committee generally, that this was in strict accordance with the terms of the Public Service Act. Senator de Largie has said that there was no appeal, that this officer appealed to the Joint House Committee, and could not get a hearing from the Committee. The Public Service Act provides that every officer of this Parliament is subject to the provisions of the Act, the only difference being that Mr. Speaker, and myself as President, are in respect to officers of Parliament in the position of the Public Service Commissioner. There is not a word in the Act to show that the officers of this Parliament are in any way under the control of the Joint’ House Committee.
– Then, why should the secretary to the House Committee sign correspondence on their behalf?
– Simply because he is head of the Department. He signs correspondence for the House Committee as secretary in just the same way that correspondence from the Prime Minister’s Department may be signed by the secretary of that Department.
The Public Service Act gives the head of any Department the power to fine for certain offences, and there is no appeal from the exercise of that power in the case of minor offences and the infliction of minor punishments. Honorable senators will find the section of the Act in which this matter is dealt with at page 913 of volume II. of the Commonwealth Statutes. After setting out in section 46 of the Act the course to be followed in dealing with offences, it is provided in sub-section 3 of that section, that -
On consideration of such explanation, if any, the Chief Officer, if of opinion that the alleged off once has not been committed, may remove such suspension, or if of opinion that the alleged offence has been committed by such officer, but is not of so serious a nature that an investigation thereof should be made by a Board of Inquiry, may reprimand, or caution such officer, and remove the suspension or, in his discretion, fine him any sum not exceeding Ten pounds.
It is only where a fine over that amount is inflicted that an officer is entitled to appeal to a board of inquiry.
– Who inflicted the fine?
– The head of the Department, the secretary to the Joint House Committee. He inflicted the fine upon this officer for gross insolence to the paying officer when he was being paid his salary.
– Which he denies.
– It does not matter whether he denies it now or not; he admitted having used the words complained of at the time. I had nothing to do with it. Unless a serious offence were committed, the matter would not come before me for action at all. I may point out that it is within my own knowledge that this boy would have been pardoned provided that he apologized to the officer to whom he was insolent, and he refused to do so. He was willing to give a general apology. He admitted saying what he w.as charged with saying, but he stated that he did not say it to the officer. Though he said it in the officer’s presence, he claims that he said it to the surrounding atmosphere. He was willing to apologize to the surrounding atmosphere.
– He said nothing of the kind. I will prove that.
– Honorable senators will accept my assurance that what I am saying is an absolute fact. I ask the Committee to say whether it was too much to ask of this boy that he should apologize for his insolence. As he refused to apologize, a fine of £2 was inflicted upon him by the head of this Department. With the infliction of that fine .1 am in thorough accord, and I give the officer imposing it my fullest support for (having done so. Unless some means are taken to enforce discipline, we cannot expect good service, and we can have only a disorganized service and no satisfaction.
I want to point out further to the Committee that this boy has been running to members of this Parliament on both sides with lying complaints. I say, advisedly and deliberately, that he has made lying complaints, and if I had done my full duty I should have dismissed him long ago. Not only did he go with lying statements to members of this Parliament, but he made lying statements to his mother, because of which she wrote bitter complaints about her son being kept here until 11 o’clock at night, when he was getting off mostly at 4 o’clock every afternoon.
If complaints are to be made in this way by officers of the Parliament I shall be compelled to take more drastic action for the due enforcement of discipline amongst them than I have hitherto feltcalled upon to take. I regret that this matter has been brought up, hut I can say, so far as the officer at the head of the Department is concerned, that all those under his control have been treated with justice, consideration, and generosity.
– Senator Givens has not thrown very much light on my inability to look after my own business. I have not attempted to look after the business of any one else, and I am at a loss to understand why the -honorable senator should have made the statement he did. I have as good a right to speak on behalf of the officer as Senator Givens has to speak against him. He has seen fit to make charges on the floor of this Chamber against an officer who has been refused an opportunity to have his case heard. I say that that is a contemptible action for any public man to be guilty of. Senator Givens has made charges against this boy, and it is the depth of meanness to take up an attitude pf that kind with respect to a boy who has been refused an opportunity to put his case in the only place where he can get a fair deal. With respect to the statement that this lad said what he did say to the “surrounding atmosphere,” Senator Givens must have been present at the time, when he is able to assure the Committee that his statement is an absolute fact.
– I have the boy’s own word for what he did. I have told the Committee what he says he did.
– If that is one of Senator Givens’ absolute facts, the honorable senator might have explained the circumstance when he spoke. As I have been told the story by the boy, when he went into the room to the officer, there were two other officers present, and it was to them, and not to the head of the Department, that he made the remark. Those officers” are prepared to come forward and give evidence that the remark was made to them, and not to the head of the Department. I have independent evidence for what I am saying. He said he made the remark, but that it was directed to two other persons, who are prepared to give evidence on his behalf. He admits having used the words, and he apologized for doing so; but he refused to apologize to the officer who was not addressed. It is a question of whether the remarks were directed to this particular officer or not. He says they were not, and it was on that account that he appealed against the fine. He was anxious that the House Committee should hear what he had to say. I think it is only fair that, when a communication comes from the secretary of the House Committee, that Committee should be responsible for the communication. It is useless for Senator Givens to refer to the provisions of the Public Service Act, because that Statute does not apply to parliamentary officers, because they are not organized. If the House Committee is to _take the place of an Appeal Board, and is to control the officers of Parliament, that Committee should take the responsibility, and not Mr. President or Mr. Speaker. I believe this youth had a just grievance, and the fact that he went to the Committee and submitted his case should be taken into consideration. I regret that Mr. President refused to give the young man a hearing.
– When I made a few general remarks upon this subject I did not expect that the debate would have proceeded in the channel it has. To bring it back to the point I was trying to make, I understand that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has promised to give some information concerning the salaries of the parliamentary attendants. After the remarks made by Senator Givens, it would appear that the. parliamentary attendants are directly under the control of the House Committee.
– That is not correct.
– They are under Mr. President and Mr. Speaker.
– Then “I understand that they are the heads of the House Committee. I believe that the salaries of some of our old attendants in the Senate have not been revised since the inception of Federation, although some of them have been here the whole time. I desire to remind the Government - although they may not need reminding of the fact - that the salaries of members were originally fixed at £400 per annum, were then ‘ raised to £600, and have more recently been increased to £1000. That may have something to do with the agitation, and ‘ I shall he glad if the Minister for Repatriation will, at a later date, supply the Senate with the names of the attendants, the wages they were granted when first appointed, the period they have been employed, and the wages they are at present receiving.
– It was not my intention to refer to this matter at the present juncture, but, as Senator de Largie has mentioned the case of one particular employee, and Senator Givens has been good enough to reply, I desire to make a brief reference to the matter. It is somewhat awkward for me to discuss the matter, as I am a member of the House Committee, particularly as the notification has been signed by the secretary of that Committee.
– Who was the secretary of the House Committee?
– The present Clerk of the Senate. In looking into the matter it . would appear that this messenger could not appeal against the fine under the Public Service Act unless the fine amounted to £10. I object to the secretary of the House Committee despatching the communication concerning the fine, and it is not sufficient to be informed that he signed the communication as secretary of the Committee just as the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department would sign a communication. The secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department would sign communications relating to that Department, and in my opinion the letter in question should have been signed by Mr. Monahan as a Clerk of the Senate, and not as secretary of the House Committee. If it had been signed by Mr. Monohan as a Clerk of the Senate it would appear that the House Committee would then have had nothing to do with the matter. The House Committee is not controlled by the Public Service Act, and if an employee is to be dealt with by the House Committee he cannot come under the provisions of that Act. Parliament has handed over the control of its officials to Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, who act as the Public Service Commissioner. The Public Service Act does not apply to the House, Library, or any other Committee. This communication has been signed by the secretary of the House Committee, and it was because of that that the attendant asked to come before the Committee to state his case. That seems only fair; but if Mr. Monahan, signed the letter he should have done soas a Clerk of the Senate, and not as secretary of the House Committee.
– He was gazetted as Controller of the Joint House Committee staff.
– If a person can be fined by the secretary of the Committee without me, as a member of that Committee, having a voice in the matter, I am not likely to remain a member of that body. I do not suggest for a moment that if I resign, the work of the country or the Committee will be interfered with in any way. It certainly places the House Committee in a most invidious position if its secretary has the power to fine an employee without consulting the members of the Committee. I am not saying that the boy should not have been fined.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he has a right to be heard?
– If a fine is to be inflicted by a Committee of which I am a member I should have a voice in the matter.
– How often does the House Committee meet ?
– I have been a member for only six weeks during which time we have met once. It was not my intention to brins this’ matter forward, and. without breaking any confidences. I may say that the question was considered by the House Committee at my suggestion. It must be remembered that when Parliament is sitting it is difficult to get the members of the Committee together, and that on this occasion the work of the Committee was not dealt with as fully as it would have been if we had had an uninterrupted sitting. Senator Givens has said that if the person in question had apologized to the officer concerned he would not have been fined. I understand that the boy said that he was not addressing the officer who complained.
– He said he was speaking to two others who were present.
– I think it only right to read the apology which is as follows : -
Tn compliance with your request for an explanation of my conduct, of which Mr. Broinowski complained, I beg respectfully to state that the expression was not directed to him, but to two messengers who were in the room at the time. 1 felt at the time that, as I waa not receiving the same amount as others, I was suffering an injustice, and made use of the expression in that feeling. After reflection I felt that, under the circumstances, I should not have spoken in the manner I did, and 1 very much regret it. I apologize for the expression used.
– Surely that is sufficient.
– It seems a fair apology; but I admit that I am not acquainted with all the details of the case, although it was discussed before the House Committee.
– To whom was the apology addressed ?
– I presume it was addressed to Mr. Monahan in answer to the communication received.
– He was fined after having made that apology 1
– I understand he was; but I cannot go into details. He did not come before the House Committee, and when the matter was discussed both sides were not represented. It has been said that if he had apologized he would not have been fined, and it seems only fair to read the apology tendered.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 13 to 20 (Prime Minister’s Department), £24,723, agreed to.
Divisions 26 to 33. Proposed vote, £51,195.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether any movement has been made towards an amalgamati’on of the Federal and State Taxation Departments ? For five years an effort has been made in this direction, but so far no finality has been reached. Is another meeting of Premiers to he held for the purpose of discussing the question ? Every candidate at election time declares himself in favour of the adoption of the course which I have outlined, and yet nothing definite ever seems to come of it. I would like the Minister to inform me as to the precise position which obtains at the present time.
– Senator Fairbairn is quite correct when he says that this matter is long over due for settlement. To me it seems strange that the criticisms in regard to the existing system are always directed at the Commonwealth Government, as if it were to blame for the delay which has occurred in securing the much needed adjustment. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth ha9 long ago held out the hand of co-operation to the States, which alone are responsible for blocking the reform, just as they are blocking the adoption of a uniform electoral roll. Yet the Commonwealth is being continually lectured for the absurd position which exists to-day. I repeat that the Commonwealth is in no way to blame. As a result of its efforts, I am pleased to say that an agreement has been reached under which three gentlemen, namely, the Federal Taxation Commissioner, the State Taxation Commissioner of Victoria, with the Hon. James Ashton as chairman, have been appointed a Committee to prepare one form of income tax return which will meet the needs both of the States and the Commonwealth. The adoption of such a schedule would confer a tremendous advantage upon those whose money matters cause them a good deal of trouble in the preparation of their income tax returns. As a matter of fact, it would be a. considerable aid to a person of modest means like myself. I think I can promise Senator Fairbairn that in his Budget statement the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) will make some reference to this matter which will be in entire accord with the views he has just expressed.
– I am very glad to hear that steps are afoot for the purpose of bringing together the Commonwealth and State Taxation Departments in order that the citizens who have to pay both State and Commonwealth taxes may be convenienced in the preparation of their returns. Quite recently taxpayers were called upon to furnish income tax returns both for the Commonwealth and the States. From the point of view of the citizen, I must say that the return which one has to fill in for the State is immeasurably easier than is that which he is required to furnish for the Commonwealth.
– So far as Western Australia is concerned, I do not agree with the honorable senator.
– I am not familiar with the Western Australia form of return, but I know the schedules which have to be furnished in two other States, and I say unhesitatingly that the work involved in the filling in of those returns is infinitely less than it is in the case of the Commonwealth.
– That is not so in Western Australia.
– Then the Western Australia form must be very bad indeed.
– It is almost impossible to write upon the forms which are supplied by the Commonwealth Taxation Department.
– Exactly . and if one is writing by artificial light, it is almost impossible to read the writing. The Federal “form contains so much matter that it is a work of art to get one’s figures on the respective lines upon which they should appear.
– If the figures run into more than three there is -no room for them.
– That is so. In addition, there is an amount of duplication upon the Federal income tax return which is very misleading to a taxpayer. The citizen may fill in particulars under one heading, only to find subsequently that he has to supply similar information under another heading. The result is that he is then obliged to direct the attention of the Commissioner to the fact that the two amounts represent the same thing, and that the form of the schedule is alone responsible for the duplication of the information. I am certain that the present Federal income tax return could be immensely simplified without any sacrifice of revenue.
I know that, upon previous occasions, Senator Fairbairn has stresssd the desirableness of adopting a uniform roll for the States and the Commonwealth, and of amalgamating the Commonwealth and State Taxation Departments. I thoroughly agree with him. But I also agree with the statement of the Minister foT Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) that criticism of the existing system is frequently launched at the Commonwealth instead of at the States. Time and again a wave of criticism sweeps over Victoria, and attention is drawn to the glaring inconvenience to which the public are subjected, consequent upon the lack of a uniform electoral administration and of an amalgamation of the Commonwealth and. State Taxation Departments.
In connexion with electoral administration, may I point out that, as far back as 1905, this Parliament made statutory provision which enables any one of the States to come in and work with the Commonwealth. After that Act became law, I had the pleasure of convening a conference of electoral officers representing both the Commonwealth and States, for the purpose of devising some scheme under which co-operation could be established. But Tasmania was the only State which availed itself of the legislation which we enacted. In that State, for some years, there has been one electoral roll for both Commonwealth and State electors, and only one set of electoral officers, notwithstanding that, during the whole of that time, the Commonwealth system of voting has been different from the State method. There, an elector is required to register only once to be registered both for Federal and State elections. We all know that, in appointing’ electoral officers, the Commonwealth invariably utilizes the services of postal officials and of other officers who come into daily contact with the people. But in most of the States one has merely to go to any suburb to ascertain that, for State elections, shopkeepers and others act as electoral officers. I repeat that there is nothing to prevent any of the States from taking advantage of the joint administration of the electoral law to-morrow, even though they may have adopted a different system of voting from that in force in connexion with Commonwealth elections. I do not think that this fact can be published too widely.
– The electors ought to possess the same qualification and the same franchise.
– Yes. But if there is a different qualification, the fact can easily be indicated on the electoral roll. For more than twelve years the electoral system in Tasmania has been administered under a uniform roll, and neither the public nor the Department would care to revert to the old conditions.
.- This question cannot be ventilated too often, because for some years it has been! recognised by those whose opinions are worth anything that we have been spending a larger sum of money than is necessary in the duplication of our electoral services. From the point of view of convenience to the general taxpayer, every effort should be made by Parliament to bring about the abolition of that duplication, and especially do I refer to the duplication which exists in connexion with the collection of income tax. The majority of our taxpayers are very much exercised in mind over the preparation of their taxation Teturns, and there seems to be no valid reason why one schedule cannot be framed which will meet the needs of both State and Commonwealth Taxation Departments. In Tasmania, the form which one is required to fill in by the State Taxation Department is quite different from that which he has to fill in for the Commonwealth Taxation Department.
– The Tasmanian form is very largely based upon the Victorian income-tax schedule.
– It seems to me that the difficulty which has been stressed this afternoon is not an. insurmountable one. The matter has been dealt with by successive conferences, but if the States would only co-operate with the Commonwealth the trouble could be very speedily settled. After all, the taxpayers ought to receive consideration.
– Why do they not compel their State Governments to give them consideration?
– I understand that the question has been discussed at Premiers’ Conferences time and’ again, and that it has also been debated with Federal officers. I cannot understand why any objection should be urged to the amalgamation of the Federal and StateTaxation Departments. For the past five or six years, this matter has been pressed in the Tasmanian Parliament, and yet no finality has been arrived at. I hope that the time is not far distant when the present system of duplication will be abolished. The adoption of a uniform schedule for both the Commonwealth and States would effect an enormous saving.
In regard to electoral administration, I would point out that for some years Tasmania has been working with the Commonwealth roll.
– The electoral divisions for the State were made to fit in with the electoral divisions for the Commonwealth.
– Yes. That was a common-sense proposition. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to the adoption of one schedule for both Federal and State taxation purposes, and I trust that the outcome of this discussion will be a step towards the attainment of that goal.
– I gather that one of the principal stumbling-blocks in the way of the adoption of a uniform schedule both for State and Commonwealth taxation purposes, is that in the case of New South Wales and Queensland the taxe3 levied upon incomes derived from investment in public companies are collected at their source, whereas the Commonwealth collects from the individual who receives the dividends from the various companies. It seems to me that that would affect the return, as, under the present law, dividends from public companies would not be included in State returns, whereas the taxpayer would have to set them out in a Commonwealth’ return.
– You put them in as income in one instance, and as deductions in the other, if the tax has already been paid.
– That would mean, although the forms may be similar, that the taxpayer would have to make out two returns. The argument seems very much in favour of the course followed by some of the States. No doubt a considerable saving would be effected if the Commonwealth and State Taxation Departments were amalgamated, but one feature of even greater’ importance in connexion with the collection of income tax is the large number of people liable to taxation who always escape. Nothing like the number of returns of income are received that ought to be made out from year to year. While the girl in a fixed situation, drawing £2 per week, has to pay her £1 a year towards the revenue, tens of thousands of men earning more than double that escape the payment of taxation. There has been too great an effort on the part of the Commissioner of Taxation to keep down the percentage of the cost of collection. I am convinced, from my personal knowledge, of a number of men who have never sent in an income tax return, although liable to taxation under the law, that it would be good business if the Taxation Department could get in another million pounds per year, even if it had to spend 25 per cent, of that sum in obtaining it. The Taxation Department is understaffed, and too great an effort has been made to keep down the percentage cost of collecting the taxes.
– I was very pleased to hear Senator Keating say that the Tasmanian people had taken so common-sense a view that they had amalgamated the Federal and State Electoral Departments. We heard what Mr. Justice Isaacs said the other day on the state of the rolls in the Ballarat electorate. They were in such a deplorable condition’ that he made severe comments on them. A friend of mine, who recently stood for the NorthEastern District of Victoria for the Legislative Council, the roll of which is controlled by the State Department, told me that the roll was simply in a shocking condition. I am sure that the electoral rolls in Victoria, both Federal and State, are in a state of absolute chaos.
– I assure you that that is not so in the case of the Commonwealth rolls.
– I am sure it is. Mr. Justice Isaacs said the Ballarat rolls were in a shocking state, and ordered a new election on practically no other ground.
– He said the officers made a bit of a mess of the election, but he did not complain about the roll.
– If the officers do not put a man’s name on the roll, that bears out what I say.
– What Mr. Justice Isaacs commented on was the way in which the officers received the votes.
– That was during the conduct of the election, but my personal experience of many contests in Victoria has shown me dozens of cases where people who ought to have a vote have not been able to exercise the franchise. It often seems that the man or woman who lives a long while in a district is most liable to be struck off the roll. Surely Victoria can exercise as much common sense as Tasmania. Victria is supposed to be a more progressive State, yet Tasmania is the first to amalgamate the electoral offices. Although I am in touch with these matters I assure the Minister that I could not find the electoral office for the district of Fawkner, or any of the others. Goodness knows where they are hidden away.
– Your committee know where they are.
– The committee can find them, but think what we have to do. We have to see that our names are on the roll for the State, and then go to another place to find if they are on the Federal roll. If they are not on that, we are liable to be fined. Is that not too much to expect? Surely the Minister can have these things rectified? Let us have all these offices in the one building in the electorate. That could easily be done, but for some Teason or other - I do not like to say what I think it is - they are kept apart. I spoke to the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth about . this matter five years ago, and he said they were on the eve of bringing them together.
– We held a conference, and they agreed. The Bill has been waiting for five years for the States to avail themselves of it, but they have not done so, and they will not.
– Then the matter should be brought before the public. It is an extraordinary situation. The Federal Parliament made the initial error when it started different Departments where the States had Departments already. The States had Taxation Departments long before the Commonwealth started one, and the common-sense plan at the time would have been to use them to collect the revenue that the Commonwealth required, instead of which we launched out and had a great Department of our own.
– What if the State Department had stuck to the money?
– That could easily have been arranged by legislation. This was about the time of the expiry of the Braddon Blot, and the Federal Treasury was bursting with money. The Government did not know what to do with it, so they started these fresh Departments, which cannot now be stopped. I urge the Minister to look into the matter of the electoral offices and rolls, because the present arrangement is terribly inconvenient to the people. There is no doubt that one office in each district would do the job perfectly well. It would be known all over the district where the electoral office was, whereas now it is hidden away in all kinds of inconceivable places, and people are confused.
– I should be glad to know from the Minister representing the Electoral Department whether he proposes to bring in any amendment of the Electoral Act. In answer to a question I put some time ago, the Minister informed mc that a Mr. Garland, who stood at the last election in New South Wales for the Senate, and obtained over 315,000 votes, lost his deposit, whereas Mr. Falkiner, who obtained 110,000 votes, had his deposit handed back to him.
– And Mr. Conroy, who polled about 15,000 votes, did not lose his deposit!
– I did not think the thing was so bad as that.
– Did Mr. Garland receive his total votes on the same count?
– He received them in the same election, anyhow.
– It shows the absurdity of the Act we passed.
– It shows the absurdity of that section, at any rate. As I pointed out some time ago, there was absolutely no reason for framing the law in that way, because Senator Gardiner, as Leader of the Opposition, pointed out, when the Bill was going through, that what has actually happened would happen. The clause was handed back to the officer in charge, and we were assured by the Minister that the provision was fixed up all right, but when the election took place we know what happened. If Mr. Garland’s deposit has not been paid back to him, it is about time it was, and it is about time also that something was done to amend that part of the Act.
– I agree with Senator Thomas that the deposits ought to be repaid, and that it is time they were repaid. I cannot say whether they have been or not, but I shall make it my business to suggest, if payment has not already been made, that the Treasurer should immediately remedy the omission.
– What about amending the Act?
– That is a matter on which I am not prepared to speak, except to say that I agree with the honorable senator that, it ought to be amended.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 37 to 43 (Attorney-General’s Department), £7,960, agreed to.
Home and Territories Department.
Divisions 44 to 55. Proposed vote. £83,310.
– I notice a set of items totalling £8,000 for rent of buildings for the Departments of the Prime Minister. Treasurer, AttorneyGeneral, Home and Territories. Navy, Military, Trade and Customs, Quarantine, Works and Railways, and Post and Telegraph. That sum for a month means close on £100,000 per year. Does that represent the rent paid in the centre of administration, or is it for offices spread throughout the Commonwealth?
– I am informed that it is throughout the Commonwealth.
– Can the Minister state the amount of rent paid for central administrations in Melbourne ?
– I cannot give the honorable senator the information now, but am under the impression that it was supplied to Parliament a little while ago.
– I know the amount goes up and up.
– I am afraid it is the inevitable tendency of things to rise. If the information is not on the records, I shall endeavour to obtain it for the honorable senator.
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) [4.481. - I think, speaking from memory, that the rental of buildings for central staffs in Melbourne is very considerable. If it does not reach the amount mentioned by Senator Keating, it goes some way towards it. A sum approaching £100,000 would mean, capitalized, considerably over £1,000,000. This has a direct bearing on the question of how soon we are to go to Canberra.
– I think the rental of buildings in Melbourne amounts to £23 000.
– There is some diversity of opinion on that subject in this Chamber, but I expect that at the proper time that aspect of matters will be placed before Parliament, so that some decision may be registered at an early date regarding the Seat of Government. This matter comes directly under the Home and Territories Department, and perhaps after the Budget is presented, aud the subject comes before this Chamber, some of us will be able to put before the Senate facts and figures whereby I am hopeful to show how a liability now existing at Canberra can be turned into an asset.
– A report furnished last year by the Public Accounts Committee dealt exhaustively with this question, and I think it showed that the total amount paid for rent in Melbourne amounted to £23,000.
– Do your figures include the interest upon the money expended in buildings by the Commonwealth Government?
– No ; they represent only the annual rental of premises in Melbourne. The figure for Sydney was, I think, about £13,000. but the same accommodation would be required there even if the Federal Capital were transferred to Canberra. This question of rentals is one that ought to be considered very carefully. The conclusion I came to as a member of the Public Accounts Committee was that it would be very good business on the part of the Government to erect as quickly as possible all the buildings required in Melbourne and in the other capital cities of the Commonwealth for the accommodation of the Commonwealth Public Service.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 56 to 82. Proposed vote, £90,055.
– I should like some information concerning the vote for the Aviation Instructional Staff. There is an item - “ Pay, £3,000; contingencies, £1,000,” making a total of £4,000, so it would appear that for the current financial year the total required for the payment of the Aviation Instructional Staff will be £36,000. I should like to know what stage has been reached in the development of this staff, because if honorable senators will glance lower down the page they will/ find that the vote for the
Administrative and Instructional Staffs totals for the month £11,500, being made up of pay £10,000, and contingencies £1,500. This does not seem a very large amount when one considers that £3,000 is being set aside for one month’s pay for the Aviation Instructional Staff, or else the Aviation Staff must be of considerable dimensions to compare, in pay, as three to ten with the Administrative and Instructional Staffs. I should like to know what policy may be anticipated’ during the current financial year, for which this item is one month’s provision.
– I hope to make a statement early next week outlining the policy for the current financial year. The vote to which Senator Keating has referred is for maintaining the existing personnel of the Aviation School at Point Cook. The item is perhaps not correctly stated, and may, therefore, be somewhat misleading. It really is the amount required for paying the whole of the Aviation personnel. Tn one sense all the men employed are instructors, because as yet we have no personnel in the nature of fighting -squadrons. We have only an Instructional School, which includes the personnel required for the proper maintenance of the machines already there and those which are being received from the Old Country. The total vote, I think, comes to about £40,000 for the year. Senator Keating must be aware that in a Supply Bill it is not usual to set out all the items in detail. If this were done, every Supply Bill would be as big as the Budget. For the purpose of convenience and economy in printing, the items are grouped under general headings, which are not necessarily strictly accurate. For details of this or any vote honorable senators must turn to the Estimates. The cost of the. men referred to by Senator Keating represents one-twelfth of the total annual expenditure for the aviation unit. Next week, I hope to be able to outline the Government’s proposals for the future in regard to aviation.
– I should like some information concerning the Woollen Cloth Factory, for which there is a vote for £120 for the month. Is it the intention of the Government to establish,” in connexion with this factory, a Trust fund as in the case of the
Cordite Factory, the Small Arms Factory, and other Government concerns ? We should know whether the Woollen Cloth Factory is paying for itself or not, and if it is not, what loss is being incurred in each financial year. So far as other factories are concerned, the sum to be appropriated is paid to the credit of a Trust fund. As it would appear that this is not being done in connexion with the Woollen Cloth Factory, I assume that no separate Trust account is being kept.
– The parliamentary papers which the honorable senator has received contain a report as to all Government factories, including that to which he has referred. This factory,. I may add, is one of the most profitable under the control of the Government. Indeed, recently we were subjected to a certain amount of criticism, and it a-s suggested that we had been profiteering. The Woollen Cloth Factory is operated in exactly the same way as are the other factories, namely, by a Trust fund. If the honorable senator will peruse the report he will find that it is on exactly the same basis.
– Then why a difference in the Supply Bill schedule ?
– Probably because no payments on account of the Trust fund are required for this month, owing, I presume, to the profit we have been making.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 83 to 96. Proposed vote, £203,090.
– I should like information about the item, .” Maintenance and repairs, including victualling, naval and ordnance stores, coal and oil fuel, also labour and stores in connexion with His Majesty’s Australian ships of war, and vessels used as auxiliaries to the fleet, £75,000.” Pome press statements have been made recently about the scrapping of the Australia. Other statements have appeared to the effect that the Australia is to be converted into a training vessel, and that the Melbourne or some other cruiser will take her place as the flagship on the Australian station. There is another item, “ Radio service, pay £500, contingencies £1,000.” Are we to understand that the Department of the Navy will continue to operate the radio service, or is it intended to transfer it to the Postmaster-General’s Department. If so, does this item indicate that the transfer has not yet been completed, or are we to understand that even when transferred to the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Navy Department will operate a radio service of its own?
– It is impossible for me to answer the honorable senator’s questions fully just now, because, if I did so, I would be trespassing upon the information contained in the Budget, as both his questions involve matters of policy; I can only say that it is not intended to scrap the Australia, but I understand there is to be a review of the use to which the warships are to be put, and information, on this matter will be contained in a statement to be made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith). This matter has not been finalized yet, so I could not give any information to-day, and, naturally, the Minister for the Navy will expect to make any statement concerning the Department for which he is responsible.
– The suggestion )that the Australia has become obsolete has caused some alarm to a good number of people.
– The honorable senator, who has had experience as a Minister, must know that the newspapers would be empty sometimes if they did not make certain statements in order to elicit answers from a Minister, and thus provide copy for their leaders.
– And, having got the answers, they frequently fall foul of the Minister.
– Senator Keating is well aware of the procedure. With regard to the radio service, I understand it is to be transferred to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, but this has not yet been done. Information on this point will also be set out in the Budget speech.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister the case of Captain Strasburg. whose application for the war gratuity has been refused. In order to make the position clear, I wish to read the following letter which he received from- the Director of Navy Accounts : -
Finance Branch (Ledger Section), Liverpool Buildings, Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, 2.5th August, 1920.
With reference to your letter of the 17th August, 1920, it is desired to inform you that, as you were not a member of the Commonwealth Naval Forces, you are not entitled to the Australian war gratuity.
I want now to state briefly a few facts in connexion with this case^ Captain Strasburg went to Eabaul on the Berrima as a member of the Expeditionary Naval Forces, rendered valuable service there, and was favorably mentioned in despatches. It is altogether incorrect to say that he was not a member of the Naval Forces. I am in a position to prove that he had the rank of an actinglieutenant, and, with others, he faced all the dangers of war service at Rabaul. The Government, therefore, should not seek to escape their liabilities, particularly if it is a small item. I shall endeavour to show, not by own statements, but by communications placed at my disposal, that Captain Strasburg was a member of the Expeditionary Naval Force to Rabaul, and rendered excellent service there. The following is a copy of a document issued by the Naval Expeditionary Force, and dated at Rabaul 1st February, 1915: -
Acting Lieutenant J. Strasburg, R.N.R.
This officer joined the H.M.A.S. Berrima on 18th August,1914, and produced the following statement from Lieutenant-Commander Caley, dated Garden Island, 15th August, 1914: - “ The Naval Board has approved of Captain Strasburg’s services being utilized on board H.M.A.S. Berrima. He will receive a commission as acting lieutenant R.N.R.”
No communication whatever was received from the Naval Board direct regarding this officer. He subsequently having asked me what rate of pay he would receive, I conferred with Commander Stevenson on the subject, who agreed to my promising Acting-Lieutenant Strasburg £25 per month, plus pilotage, whilst serving in the Berrima.
From the date the Berrima returned to Sydney, 4th October, 1914, Lieutenant Strasburg was employed under the administration, but has been retained on the books of the naval section , of the Expeditionary Force. (Sgd.) A. T. B. Liversay.
Here is a copy of a Government Gazette notice, dated Rabaul, 15th December, 1914: -
The services of Lieutenant Strashurg, the Master of the Maklong, were invaluable, and his navigation of the difficult waters of these islands relieved me of all anxiety as to the safety of our ships.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) W. Russell Watson,
Lieut.-Colonel Commanding the Expedition.
In the papers laid on the table of the House, respecting military operations against the German Possessions, there is another reference to this gentleman. All the references are of the same character. In a report from Government House, Rabaul, dated 25th October, 1914, Major Heritage says amongst other things : -
I have the honour to report that I took command of the armed ship Nusa on Friday,16th inst., and a detail of fifteen soldiers with one machine gun. Captain Strasburg, master mariner, had been appointed navigating officer.
Almost at the conclusion of his report Major Heritage says: -
The expedition came to anchorage at Rabaul early Friday morning, 23rd inst. The services rendered by Captain Strasburg were very valuable, and it was his localknowledge which enabled the captured ships to be found so quickly.
In the report there is reference to the fact that the vessels Siar, Matupi, and Sente were captured by the Expedition. I do not intend to speak at length, but I say that, when this man joined the Forces here in the Berrima, and participated in all the dangers, if there were dangers, at Rabaul, and his services were recognised by so many officers, the fact that he is now told that . he was not a member of the Service and so is not entitled to war gratuity requires only to be mentioned to induce the Minister to inquire into the matter. I shall let the case remain there.
.- This is the first time I have heard of this case, -but, naturally, I should like an opportunity to investigate it before expressing any opinion on it. . I shall ask Senator Gardiner to let me- have a proof of his speech in order that I may make the necessary inquiry.
– I shall do so.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Trade and Customs Department.
Divisions 100b to 115. Proposed vote, £58,870.
– I notice a vote of £390 set down for the Inter-State Commission. If I remember rightly the Inter-State Commissioners were appointed some years ago, and their appointments expired, I think, in August of this year. Will the Minister inform the Committee whether any action has been taken to re-appoint any of these gentlemen; if so, how many of those who at present constitute the Commission, and what are the functions now being discharged by it? Since the decision of the High Court, soon after the appointment of the Inter-State Commission, with regard to the constitutional scope of their functions, it has appeared that the Commission has not the power to deal with a great many things, which, when it was constituted, Parliament thought it had power to deal with. Since that time there has been relegated to the Commission a number of inquiries, of a minor character in comparison with those with which it was thought the Commission would be charged, and with which it was charged under the Act constituting it. As the period of the original appointment has, I understand, expired this year, I should like to know if any of the original members have been re-appointed, and what it is anticipated that the future functions of the Commission will be?
– Perhaps I can best answer the honorable senator by saying that it is the intent’on of the Government shortly to submit to Parliament proposals regarding the future of the Inter-State Commission. When the announcement is made it will cover in great detail and more definitely the inquiries of Senator Keating than I am in a position to do at the present moment.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 118 to 128 (Works and Railways Department), £84,880, agreed to.
Divisions 130 to 139. Proposed vote, £502,625.
.- My colleague, Senator Crawford, intended to refer to a matter under the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, but as he has, unfortunately, been called away I must do my best to deal with it. I wish to bring’ under the notice of the minister representing the Postmaster-General, and the Committee the unsatisfactory position ‘ that we are in in Queensland owing to the lack of d.rect telephone communication between Sydnev and Brisbane. This matter has been the subject of a great deal of energy on the part of Queensland senators and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cameron), but up to the present we have been unable to obtain a satisfactory reply from the PostmasterGeneral. I am given to understand that the work of making this connexion was well in hand in 1916. According to my information, the line at present extends to Wallangarra, on the Queensland side, and there is a line from Sydney to Tamworth on the New South Wales side. Consequently, the amount of material, labour, and money required to complete the connexion should not be very large. Senator Millen in moving the second reading of the Bill said it was necessary to get the measure through with expedition, because it included items to cover new works in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department. I hope that the telephone connexion between Sydney and Brisbane will be one of the first jobs undertaken by the Department. At present, there is communication between Adelaide, which is a far less important city than is Brisbane, and Melbourne. The fact that there is no telephone communication between Sydney and Brisbane is the cause of a great deal of annoyance and inconvenience to business people in Queensland. This matter has been trifled with by the Post and Telegraph Department for years. In view of what has already been done, and what is practically useless at the present time, it should not be a big job to complete the connexion. I trust that the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral will bring under the notice of that gentleman the necessity for the completion of this job without any further delay.
– Some time ago, I asked a question as to the number of persons throughout the Commonwealth awaiting telephone communication. That question was answered in detail, and, summarizing the answer, I may say that I was informed that there are over 8,000 persons throughout the Commonwealth in city, suburbs, and country areas awaiting telephone communication. Some of them, to my own knowledge, have been waiting for two years. Over 5,000 are awaiting telephone communication in New South
Wales, and just over 2,000 in Victoria. Tn another place, an answer was given to a question to the effect that, so far as new telephone connexions are concerned, the majority made during the last few years were made in Melbourne. This question of telephonic communication is an extremely urgent one for those of us who come from New South Wales. I took the trouble to estimate the actual amount of money that I had paid for two telephones that I have been using for a considerable number of years. I found that, in 1914, my private telephone cost me a sum of about £6, and last year, for the same telephone, with probably the same amount of business going through, it cost me the sum of £12.
– The honorable senator has had very many more people to talk with since 1914.
– That explanation will not apply to the cost to me of my business telephone.
– Yes; because the honorable senator has more communications through that telephone now than he had in 1914.
– I find that, for the year ending 1915, my business telephone cost me £9 12s., and for 1920 the same telephone, in the same place and the same office, has cost me £18 7s. 6d. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the cost of telephones to the people of Sydney and suburbs has been, roughly, doubled during the last five or six years.
I am coming now to the sort of service that is given. Before the war, the Sydney telephone service was reasonably efficient, but to-day, and I have said it before in this chamber, that service is in an absolute state of chaos. We are being charged to-day for a practically inefficient service double what we were charged before the war for a “service that was efficient. I am making these remarks to enable the Committee to attempt some analysis of the causes of the present very unsatisfactory state of -affairs. In a cursory way, and at first glance, one is apt to blame the telephone officers, the telephone girls, or the service, “but my inquiries show that that is not the real position. Before the war, it was the policy of the engineers of the Department to estimate the development of the service for three, four, or five years ahead, by laying cables and accumulating telephone material, including the miscellaneous equipment for the extension of exchanges and connexions. Before the war, spare cables were laid, and exchange connexions were always available. The work in this direction was ahead of public requirements, and was kept in that position by capital expenditure. We can clearly see that it is only by a grant from the Treasury that this developmental work can be kept in a satisfactory position. Since the outbreak of war, the Telephone Branch of the Postal Department has been continually squeezed by the Treasury; but I desire to give credit where credit is due, and to say that most emphatic objections to this policy were raised by the late Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster). Had I been a member of the Cabinet, and been treated as he was by the late Treasurer (Mr. Watt) in connexion with the administration of the Post Office, I would not have stayed at the job.
– Does not the honorable senator think that everything was required for the war?
– I will come to that point, and show that war-loan money has gone in other directions not nearly so urgent as keeping the Postal Department efficient. The service was literally starved to death, and those extensions that had been made before the war were taken up, and no vote was provided to extend the telephone service beyond the lines actually in operation. To-day, telephone subscribers are applying for connexions at a quicker rate than the Department is able to supply them, including even those telephone applications which are two years old. In addition to the telephone shortage in Sydney, which has been brought about by the shortsighted policy of the Treasurer, the present congestion is naturally reflected in the service rendered, and operators in many cases are being asked to do more work than they can humanly perform. There is no working room for improvement in the matter of assistance, and from the stand -point of efficiency good service is impossible. It is extremely bad policy to starve this most essential of all Commonwealth services - the Post and Telegraph Department.
I come now to the announcement made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator
– That is so, and asks authority to purchase material that will not he paid for until next year.
– In addition to the £500,000?
– I am glad to hear that. The Postmaster.General has stated that during the last six years his Department has asked for £7,484,000 for new works, and the money granted, including the large additional sums mentioned during the last f ew months by the Treasurer, falls short of that amount by £2,927,000.
– I wonder how much the Defence Department asked for, and yet fell short.
– I am not dealing with the Defence Department, but am endeavouring to make an analysis of the chaotic condition not only in the Telephone Branch, but, to a lesser degree in the Telegraph and Postal Branches as well. We know it is the custom for a business man, who desires prompt delivery of telegrams, to pay double rates; but although this is done, the delivery of messages, in many cases, is not in any way facilitated. The reliability of the Postal service is much disturbed, and the public mind is not what it was ten years ago, when a person who posted a letter was sure that it would reach its destination on the due date. Many delays occur at the present time; but, in fairness to the Department, it must be said that many trained officers enlisted for service abroad, and their places were taken by temporary employees. To carry out the necessary work an expenditure of £500,000 is not sufficient.
– Could it spend more if it had it?
– I have a table issued ‘by the Postal Department showing that in 1917-18 it asked for £1,000,000, and received only £670,000.
– Does not every Department ask for a great deal more than it receives?
– Not necessarily. In 1918 the Department asked for £749,000, and received only £463,000. In 1919-20, £1,270,000 was required, and only £564,000 was granted - less than half the amount required. I am prepared to state, as a rough approximation, that, had the amount asked for by the Postmaster-General been granted, our telephonic and telegraphic services would have been much more efficient, and probably £1 out of every £2 expended in material now would have been saved.
– Could the material have been obtained if the money was available?
– I am prepared to go back to the first two years of the war and say most emphatically that plenty of material was available. And I know of my own personal knowledge that a good deal could have been manufactured, and can still be manufactured, at the copper wire drawing works at Port Kembla. When the position was extremely critical, the late PostmasterGeneral visited those works, and was negotiating for wire, which was then for the first time being manufactured in Australia. Whilst I am a member of this Senate I shall always object to the Post Office being conducted in a cheese-paring and mealy-mouthed way, in order to show a profit.
– I do not think there is any necessity for me to reply to Senator Pratten, except, perhaps, that I should do so as a matter of courtesy. It seems that he has indicated the reply by his own comments. ‘He has pointed out that what he alleges, rightly or wrongly, to have been the policy has been created by short supplies and niggardly finance, and that is, more or less, true. The answer was given by me to-day when I said that provision was being made not only to . allow the Department to pick up the slack of its work, but also to enable the Postmaster-General to place contracts for supplies required next year. By adopting such a businesslike course, it is hoped that much will be done to remove the disabilities under which the Service is suffering at the present time.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 149. Proposed vote, £268,400.
– I am somewhat at a loss to know in what way the Treasury is financing some of the outside expenditure that is being incurred. I have been informed, in answer to questions in the Senate, that a sum of money, about a million odd, which is the Commonwealth’s share of the purchase of Nauru and Ocean Islands, has been charged up to or provided out of war loan money.
I have also been informed in the Senate that a sum of money paid, particularly to New South Wales, under the Wheat Storage Act of 1917, for the erection of silos and wheat storage accommodation, has been found out of loan money.
We are dealing merely with an item relating to war services, and I am not quite sure that the people of the Commonwealth understand when they are subscribing to war loans that some of the money is being expended in the directions I have indicated. It is a matter that will have to be considered in connexion with the general financial policy of the Government, and I am merely drawing attention to it, and not anticipating a reply.
– A week or two ago I placed a question on the notice-paper to ascertain how many war service homes had been built by the Commonwealth Bank and how many by the War Service Homes Commissioner. The question was submitted for the purpose of eliciting exact information, and I am sorry to say that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) - he must take the responsibility - answered the question in such a way that it was not possible to ascertain how many houses had been erected up to the 31st July by the Commonwealth Bank, and how many by the Commissioner.
There should be no secrecy in this matter.
– It is not a matter of secrecy.
– Then why cannot an honorable senator receive an accurate answer to questions placed on the notice-paper, and ascertain the exact conditions obtaining in a Department. The Minister either directly refused, or gave an answer that is not true. I have not the slightest hesitation in characterizing the reply given as untrue, although I am not suggesting that the Minister knew that it was untrue. Surely there can be no reason for not correctly stating the number of houses constructed by the Bank and the number erected by the Commissioner ?
There is another matter that has created some interest in another place. I refer to the huge sum of money that is to be expended in connexion with the purchase of saw-mills in Queensland. I do not know whether the whole of the facts were laid upon the table of the Senate by the Minister to-day; but, as one who is acquainted with the nature of the plant that is required for saw-milling purposes, I am amazed at the magnificent plant which, the Government must have purchased for the expenditure that is involved in this deal.
– Surely -the honorable senator does not think that the whole of the purchase money, or, indeed, any considerable percentage of it, has been expended upon the purchase of plant?
– I have been wondering what it has gone in. When we reflect that in every soldier’s cottage there is about £100 worth of timber, we shall see what a long way this purchase will go towards the erection of war service homes. I am not carping at the purchase if it be a good one; but no matter how good it may be, it should not have been finalized without the consent of Parliament. The entire business transaction should have been placed before the members of both branches of the Legislature. When the War Service Homes Bill was under consideration in this Chamber, I remember how tightly we bound the Commissioner down so as to prevent him purchasing any large quantity of material without the consent of the Minister. The latter was particularly careful to stress the point that the Commissioner’s responsibility to Parliament should be maintained. It is the Minister’s responsibility to see that, before that officer expends one shilling in excess of the limit imposed by the Act, he shall secure the approval of Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that every shilling, the expenditure of which requires the Minister’s consent, should come before Parliament for its approval?
– Yes. That is the reason why Estimates are prepared upon which Supply Bills are based. If once we countenance a system under which the Government are allowed to enter into huge contracts upon the anti.cipation that Parliament will vote the necessary funds, our control of the finances will have vanished. It is useless for us to make a fuss over wrongful expenditure after we have been irrevocably committed to that expenditure.
– The honorable senator is talking as if this money had not been voted.
– If it has been voted, it should have been voted with a clear statement as to how it was to be expended. It is not good enough to vote money under the headings of “ Contingencies’’ or “Advance to the Treasurer,” and to subsequently find that it has been used in some speculation which may not meet with the approval of Parliament. I believe that the way to the cheaper erection of homes for our soldiers lies in the direction taken by the Government. But that is an entirely different proposition from permitting them to enter into huge contracts without Parliament being first consulted. The patriotism of the people who control our supplies of building material is so high that they are evidently determined that our soldiers shall get the least quantity of material for the largest sum of money which can be squeezed out of them. Consequently I can understand that desperate remedies are needed. But there is no occasion why those desperate remedies should be unwise remedies. Without having had time to peruse the papers which were laid upon the table of the Senate to-day in reference to this matter, I think it is most unwise for the Government to enter into speculations involving an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds without first consulting’ Parliament. The fullest details should1 be given to the Legislature, particularly when a new system is being introduced. After all, this is a new system, and I ‘believe that it is a necessary system. In order that we may be able to construct soldiers’ homes at a reasonable price, I am of opinion that the Government will yet have to take over the control of the supply of practically all building materials.
– They should have done that long ago.
– They will have to take over brickworks, timber mills, cement works, and other sources of supply to enable them to erect cheaper homes for our soldiers. I have no fault to find with a proposal of that kind, but I object to any Department using either large or small sums of money for purposes of which Parliament has no knowledge.
– The first allegation of Senator Gardiner centres round the statement that he has been supplied with incorrect answers to questions. He was good enough to say that he does not hold me responsible for the alleged inaccuracies. I thank him for that, and I shall be glad if he will point out where the replies of which he speaks are inaccurate, because I should be as prompt as he to resent the supply of incorrect information.
– I intend asking certain questions to-morrow which will afford the Minister an opportunity of learning the truth.
– I have not much difficulty in anticipating what will be my explanation. The honorable senator has frequently been prompted by outside persons, who have a particular objective to gain, to put questions to me with a view to eliciting answers which would place my Department in a wron? position. I am not going to give the answers which are sought for that purpose. The sole object of the questions put by Senator Gardiner - whether he is aware of it or not - was to show how much better Messrs. Kirkpatrick and Son had been in erecting war service homes than had the Commissioner.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable senator admits it.
– I do not admit it, but that would be quite a legitimate filling to know.
– And it is equally legitimate for me to refuse to supply to an adroitly worded question an answer which may put the Commissioner in an entirely fake position.
I turn now to the question of the purchase of the property to which reference has been made. What has occurred during the past few days has been a great relief to me. Nothing has been more of a nightmare than the belief that Parliament had thrown upon my shoulders the whole responsibility in connexion with large purchases under the War Service Homes Act. Anybody who would wilfully take the responsibility of giving a decision upon a proposed purchase of any magnitude, unless he felt that it was a duty intrusted to him by Parliament, would be a fool. I shall be very glad to know that Parliament will, in the future, accept this responsibility. Certainly I shall take no more responsibility in connexion with any of these deals. Within the next few days I intend to issue instructions that not a single brick or plank shall be purchased except through the ordinary trade channels until Parliament has expressed its view upon this point. I do not know whether my interpretation of the War Service Homes Act is correct or not. We are all likely to take different views of Acts of Parliament. But in connexion with this matter it must be remembered that Parliament has adopted a certain course, owing largely to the urgency and peculiarity of the problem with which it was confronted. It voted a lump sum of money and instructed the War Service Homes Commissioner to build and buy soldiers’ houses with it. It did not say how, when, or where he was to build or acquire them. It simply voted some millions of pounds, and said, “ There now, you may buy land, purchase materials, and build homes for our soldiers.” It left him free to say how he would do it. Nobody questions his right to build these homes, either upon contract or by day labour. As a matter of fact, he is doing it by both methods. Whether he should build them by day labour is a question of policy. Does anybody suggest that the Act does not leave him free tomake his own choice? Certainly not. That is an illustration of the freedom which Parliament gave to him to carry through his job. He has purchased - as the Act authorized him to do - thousands and thousands of pounds’ worth of building material. Nobody questions his right to do that. It is incidental to the policy which he is carrying out. Having the right to purchase timber from a saw-mill here or elsewhere, and the right to employ men and buy tools with which to set them to work on that material, will anybody say that to affirm that he can also purchase that same plank in the log, and. cut it up by day labour, is a stupid construction of the Act? Going a step farther, if he has a right to purchase the log which is waiting to be sawn up, he has the same right to purchase it when it is standing perpendicularly in the paddock .
– Suppose that he sent an agent to the Baltic to buy a shipment of timber, would that proposal have to come before Parliament?
– As a matter of fact, the Commissioner has bought a considerable quantity of timber in bulk from the Baltic - timber with the sides squared off. The sum of £64,000 was involved in its purchase, and the current value of that timber at the time he purchased it was £84,000.
SenatorFoll. - Why was a provision inserted in the War Service Homes Act limiting the power of the Commissioner to expend money to £5,000?
– I am really surprised at the honorable senator harping upon that question. Only a fortnight ago I told the Senate that, owing to a mistake in the original Bill, that amount represented the limit placed upon the purchase of land by the Commissioner, and I brought forward a proviso making that limit applicable to the purchase of material. But the Commissioner can purchase supplies of material in excess of that amount with Ministerial sanction, and he had that sanction. I shall not endeavour to shirk my responsibility by saying that he had not. What has been done was done with Ministerial sanction, and I am prepared to shoulder the full responsibility for it. I took all the precautions which seemed to be necessary to safeguard the public interest, and, not satisfied with that, I took the matter to Cabinet, and asked it to determine whether my judgment was right or wrong. Senator Gardiner has said that matters of this sort ought first to come before Parliament for its approval. That is a matter of opinion. I shall not argue the question. If I were called upon to deal with another proposition of a similar character, in view of what has happened, I should certainly bring it before Parliament. But I submit that the interpretation which I placed upon the Act was at least a reasonable one. If honorable senators will look at section 5 of the Statute, they will see that it gives the Commissioner power to acquire and hold lands, goods, chattels, and any other property which may be required for the purposes of the Act. It is admitted that the Commissioner has the right to purchase material, and when that right is read in conjunction with the section which I have mentioned, it is not an unreasonable interpretation to put upon the section to say that I was at least armed not only with the authority to sanction this purchase, but, unfortunately, with the responsibility of deciding whether I should do so. I do not know that I need say any more upon that particular point. But I would like to confirm what Senator Gardiner has said, namely, that, in view of the peculiar circumstances by which we are surrounded, we must make up our minds whether we are going to tear ourselves free from some of the preconceived ideas which have shaped our course of conduct in the past. I have never believed in these Government enterprises. To my mind, they are associated with many weaknesses which seem to make them undesirable for us to touch. But one’ could not remain long in the Department over which I preside without realizing the utter impossibility of our obtaining through the market building materials at fair prices, or without coming to the conclusion that we shall either have to devise other methods of obtaining supplies at a cheaper rate, or, as the result of purchasing those supplies in the ordinary market, have to provide our soldiers with homes so costly that nine out of ten of them will never be able to pay for them.
I do not doubt, in spite of prejudices that people may have as to these Government enterprises, that they will decide that the only course for us to take is to see if we cannot secure to these men houses at a price which their means will enable them to compass.
– This deal does not mean the nationalization of the industry. It is only foryour own requirements.
– That is all. There is no authority under the Act to buy for any other purpose. The mills are not intended to do anything but supply the Commissioner’s own wants. We have already in the State of Victoria a small timber proposition, which was acquired. The policy came up there, as it confronts us now with these larger deals in Queensland, of how to work them. The alternatives were either to put them under a manager and work them by day labour, or to invite a contract for some one to come in and harvest the crop for us. The small area of hardwood that we have in Victoria is let under contract to-day. The Commissioner purchased it and then let a contract to a man to cut the timber for him atso much a hundred feet. The result of that deal, speaking from memory, has been that, whilst the market rates for timber to-day in Victoria are anything from 25s. 8d. to 54s. per 100 super, feet, the Commissioner is getting his timber at from 15s. 9d. to 32s. or 33s. The figures are so startling that, even if I have inadvertently, or by a misconstruction of the Act, exercised an authority which Parliament did not intend to place upon the Minister’s shoulders, I am confident that, so far as these business deals have gone, they are bearing out the anticipations which justified my action in approving of them. If the Senate generally is going to approve of this policy, some other means must be devised both of checking the propositions before they are finalized, and of controlling them. I think it will be my duty to invite Parliament to consider the creation of machinery for the purpose. A Commissioner has been appointed to constructhouses for returned soldiers, but if much is to be done in the direction I have indicated, it is clear that we shall have to devise some means for the effective business control of these propositions. There is too much work for any one man. to do there. I am only suggesting now that it will be necessary to think over that portion of the problem, and if I am privileged to do so, I shall try to put before my colleagues and the Senate some ideas in that direction. For the present, I merely indicate the necessity, leaving to a little later the possibility, of suggesting a means for overcoming the undoubted problem which confronts us.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [5.541. - Recently I put some questions, and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) objects to my saying that I got an untrue answer to them. The Minister practically says that I asked tricky questions. They were as follow: -
Here are two sets of people building; houses. What is there tricky in wanting to know what each set has done? It is my business to find out. That is part of what I am sent here for.
– Where are the answers wrong ?
– The second set of questions is not answered. The information at my disposal shows that there has been a large exaggeration of the number of houses actually completed by the War Service Homes Commission. I shall put a question on the notice-paper to ascertain where those houses are.
– Will you put the same question as to where the houses built by the Commonwealth Bank are, because we cannot get the information from them?
– The Minister should be able to get it from them, and they should have no reluctance in giving it. I hope the Minister will not endeavour to make out that I am doing something tricky for the sake of somebody else. If I had wanted to put the case for Messrs. Kirkpatrick and Son I need not have asked those questions at all. I could have made a statement here from information which I have every reason to believe is correct. I was told that out of 737 houses constructed, Messrs. Kirkpatrick and Son were responsible for 700, and the Commission for only 37. Rather than make that statement, I put a series of elaborate questions in order to get exact information. The answers to the questions dealing with Kirkpatrick and Son are all jumbled together instead of being given separately. This is the part of the reply I received - 4, 5, and 7. No agreement was entered into by the Bank with Messrs. Kirkpatrick and Son for the erection or purchase of homes, &c, but the Governor of the Bank made an arrangement with this firm to carry out all architectural work required, such as the preparation of plans and specifications and supervision of the construction of the dwellings.
Question 5 was, “ How many homes did the firm complete up to 31st July, 1920 ?” Will the Minister say that the answer I have just read gives the information asked for in that question?
– You firs: asked if we had an agreement with Kirkpatrick and Son. To that we say “ No.”
– That is a separate question, and could have been answered by itself. I am not blaming the Minister for that, but if I put a series of questions which are straightforward and not tricky, it is a great deal better for all concerned if exact answers are given. I do not want the answers given that suit Kirkpatrick and Son. They have nothing to do with my questions. I happened to get some information about what they had done, but I doubted it, and sought to obtain exact information from an authentic source. My question asking how many houses were constructed by the firm is not answered.
– Did not the Minister say there was no contract with Kirkpatrick and Son?
– I quite agree that there was not, but ,an arrangement was made with them by the Commonwealth Bank.
– “We made no agreement with Kirkpatrick and Son, yet you asked what the date of the agreement was.
– I do not object to that part of the answers, but exact information showing the number of houses built by Kirkpatrick and the Bank, and the number built by the Commissioner, would have been valuable to. the Senate. The Department alone was in a position to give that information when the questions were put, but did not give it. The Minister went out of his way to jumble questions 4, 5, and 7 together in such a fashion as to make one answer do for the three. _ lt would have been much less trouble for him to give the exact number of houses built, and it would have been a great deal more useful to myself and other honorable senators. I shall put a question on the notice-paper as to where these houses are. There should not be much trouble in getting that information. I have been told since the questions were asked that the houses said to be built here by the War Service Homes Commission did not exist on that date.
– That is a serious statement.
– It is serious, and, therefore, I will put on the noticepaper the question I have indicated. If the Minister can show where they are, and that they existed at the time mentioned, I shall stand up and admit that I was wrongly informed.
– I will tell the honorable senator in which States the houses are. I can give him that information to-morrow morning, but that is probably as far as I shall be able to go on that branch of the subject. The honorable senator rather misunderstands the effect of the answers given to him. He asked whether an agreement had been arrived at with Kirkpatrick and Son, and whether, consequent on that agreement, certain things had happened. The answer, which covered all three questions, was that no agreement had been made, but, seeing what was in the honorable senator’s mind, and with an evident desire to tell him how the position stood, the Department stated that’ the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank had made some arrangement with that firm. I do not think there was any attempt there to deceive the honorable senator. It was rather an attempt to inform his mind on the subject, because the fact that he spoke of an agreement with Kirkpatrick and Son showed that he had only a nebulous idea of where that firm came in, or that he had been misinformed. We could simply have stated that there was no contract with the firm, and left it at that, but we went a little further and told the honorable senator what had really taken place. We are, therefore. not open to any charge of misinformation. The honorable senator has now made the much more definite statement that, from information supplied to him, he does not believe that, on the date on which these figures were given, the houses were actually in existence. I am glad to get so definite a statement made by a responsible man, and shall immediately take steps to obtain a reply. If Senator Gardiner says that he has definite information on that point, and if my officers can show me to-morrow - as I think they can - that the information they have given me is correct, unless I find that they have misled me, which I do not anticipate, I am entitled to say that it is Senator Gardiner’s duty to tell me the source of his information.
– I shall certainly tell you. I would not mind telling you now.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 35, refunds of revenue, £100,000, and division 36, advance to the Treasurer, £250,000, agreed to.
Postponed clause 2, preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that the House of Representatives had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate on the House of Representatives’ amendment No. 3.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
If, as a Democracy,we desire to progress and live in amity and peace, we must he prepared to extend constitutional rights and privileges to all sections of the community. I appeal, therefore, to honorable senators not to be influenced by prejudice in connexion with recent incidents in the Northern Territory in their consideration of this measure, the purpose of which is to extend to that portion of the Commonwealth certain representation in this branch of the Legislature. We all hope that some day the Northern Territory will so develop as to become a most important part of Australia. If we are to keep this country for the white race - and this is avery desirable aspiration - we can only hope to do so by insuring its satisfactory development in every part. The history of the Empire shows that progress may only be expected along the lines indicated in this measure.
– Why not give the Northern Territory representation in one of the State Parliaments?
– That may be one way out of the difficulty; and if what the honorable senator suggests were done, it would be a practical attempt to solve this problem. But the Territory is now under the control of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Parliament of South Australia having realized that its satisfactory development could more properly be undertaken by the National Parliament. The Bill provides for the election of a representative for the Northern Territory in this Chamber. The representative to be chosen will have all the ordinary powers of any other senator, and will be able to voice the opinions of the people.
– But he will not have a vote, and that is most vital.
– He will have a voice in the deliberations of this Chamber, and be able to speak for people who, in a sense, have hitherto been in the wilderness.
– But why not give him a vote, also?
– The honorable senator may, if he wishes, take action in that direction at the proper stage of the Bill. Perhaps he will find that I am as liberal and as generous in that respect as he is.
I was about to point out that the system of delegation of government has never been a success in any part of the world; and although the people of the Northern Territory represent a very small minority, it is felt that they are entitled to some representation in this Parliament. I may point out that the United States of America has been acting on this principle, and that for a number of years there have been in the House of Representatives fourteen members who have not the privilege of voting upon general questions.
– Did you say in the House of Representatives?
– Not in the Senate?
– I refer the honorable senator to Barnes’ Federal Code for further information on this point.
– I am wondering whether the representation was in the Senate or in the House of Representatives in the United States of America.
– I ask honorable senators who are prepared to jeer and sneer at the Northern Territory-
– Nobody is jeering at the principle, but at this rude attempt.
– Well, if honorable senators can suggest a better alternative we shall be glad to have it.
– Why not give him a vote ?
– The honorable senator was once associated with the administration of that portion of the Commonwealth, and I do not think that he made much of a success of it. But I am not blaming the honorable senator.
– It is an easy way out of the present difficulty to propose to bring a man down here without giving him a vote? If that is your idea of governing the Territory, well, it is not likely to be satisfactory.
– All I can say is that those honorable senators who condemn the measure are invited to submit some other definite proposal. We do not want destructive criticism. We want practical help in the settlement of this difficulty. If honorable senators will render us assistance I have no doubt that we shall arrive at some settlement that will enable us to do better by the Northern Territory than we have done in the past.
– Why not’ give the people there a vote for a South Australian or Queeusland senator?
– They had voting privileges at one time for two representatives in the South Australian Parliament, and the result was not very satisfactory.
– Did they do any good for the Northern Territory then?
– The position was much better then than it is now under Commonwealth administration.
– I think that system contributed to the general harmony, and, perhaps, influenced the Commonwealth Government in taking over the Northern Territory. However, I now invite honorable senators to give their most favorable consideration to the measure under review.
– Can a senator for the Northern Territory be appointed under the Constitution?
– Yes. It is a matter for regret that hitherto every attempt to meet the difficulties that have arisen in the Northern Territory has failed, the principle reason being, I believe, that nobody has ever clearly recognised that under present conditions, money spent there is, to a large extent, being wasted. The satisfactory development of the Northern Territory is not a problem involving the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds, but of millions, and we must be prepared to face the difficulties on a big scale, otherwise we might as well give up altogether.
– We all agree with you there.
– It is futile to expect people to settle on land in the Northern Territory without adequate means of transport, and, unfortunately, during the last few years, owing to war conditions, the Government have not been successful in their attempts to place the affairs of the Territory on a satisfactory basis.
This principle of representation is regarded as a vital one with Britishers all the world over, and though in the Northern Territory the people may represent, in point of population, an exceedingly small minority, their claims, nevertheless, deserve sympathetic consideration. If it had a population of 30,000 or 35,000, there would be no objection to a demand, for representation in this Parliament, but the people in the Northern Territory, although few in number, are entitled, by reason of their geographical position, to ask for this privilege. I take it that a similar demand will come from Papua, and subsequently from Rabaul, as . time goes on, in order that their interests may be adequately represented in the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
I believe the measure will give satisfaction to the people in the Northern Territory because, if it is passed, they will have some voice in this branch of the Legislature. I can imagine how some of my honorable friends in this Chamber would feel if they were one of a ‘community that had no representation in Parliament. It may be all very well to say that in the Northern Territory the people have had a Local Council and an advisory body. These have not been sufficient. Unfortunately, during the last few years, there have been no opportunities for Ministers to visit that portion of the Commonwealth. I think that if members of this Parliament had been able to inform themselves at first hand of local conditions there, a better feel ing would have been created, and altogether the position would have been much more satisfactory. To a certain extent we have neglected the Northern Territory.
– Not so far as ex”penditure is concerned. We have poured money into it.
– That may be so. But how many of us have been in a position to know its requirements intimately? I must plead guilty myself. I admit that I had to depend, for my information, unon reports and opinions of other people. We have made mistakes, no doubt, but I think we can be freely forgiven, because of the peculiar circumstances due to the isolated position of the people in that portion of the Commonwealth.
I have said that no success has ever followed the delegation of the powers of government within the British Empire. It is true that the Mother Country has been singularly successful in the government of certain inferior races in this way, but, generally speaking, Britishers demand, and have a right to expect, a fair measure of representation. The withholding of this privilege led to war in South Africa, where Britishers felt that they could not tolerate waiting five years before enjoying the right of representation. I believe the passage of the Bill will lead to a better feeling, and result in a more satisfactory development of the Northern Territory. If we are to encourage the settlement of people there we must offer reasonable inducements. The member to be elected will hold his seat for three years, this period being determined upon so that re-election will coincide with elections for the House of Representatives. If the representative selected by the people succeeds in . making the problems in the Northern Territory better understood he will have the respect of the whole of the peopleof the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the representative of the Northern Territory would be able to do more good if he were in the House of Representatives, and had the right to vote?
– I am speaking of the representation of the Territory in the Senate. I am not aware of any stronger argument that might be used for its representation in the House of Representatives, with the right of its representative to vote, than can be used in support of its representation’ in the Senate, as proposed by this Bill. I think it would be a mistake if the representative of the Northern Territory were to be a person whose attention might be restricted to local questions. We want a bigger type of man to represent the Northern Territory, and one who will be free to consider questions from the Australian point of view.
– He would be able to inform a greater number of members in another place than he can do in the Senate.
– He might be able to inform a greater number of members in another place, but not more intelligent members than are to be found in the Senate. In a matter of this kind, mere numbers should not be the only consideration. Though the representatives of the Northern Territory will represent only about 2,800 white people, less about seventy-six foreigners, it is not uncommon for a small constituency to give a more intelligent vote in the return of a candidate to Parliament than is given by a much larger constituency. Compared with some of the other States, Western Australia is a small State, but Senator Gardiner will recognise that the members of a Government, of which he was a member, were accustomed to consider Western Australia the most intelligent State of the lot since it returned six members to the Senate in support of that Government.
– The flattery must have turned their heads.
– I do not know about that, but I know that Senator Gardiner and I, when associated in the same Ministry, greatly appreciated, as I do still, the solidarity with which representatives of Western Australia supported the Government.
I admit that the number of persons qualified to record a vote in the Northern Territory is small, but are we, on that account, to reject this proposal and do nothing in the matter of the parliamentary representation of the Territory? It is time that we did something in the matter.
– If there is not a member of the Ministry capable of doing something for the Territory, it is time that some one was included in the Ministry who could do something.
– There was some one in the Ministry before who failed to do anything for the Territory, and no member of the present Ministry was responsible for that failure. What we require for the Northern Territory is a constructive policy which will bring about the development of agriculture and mining, and increase the population. We cannot look for that under existing conditions, because, with a discontented population, it is impossible for the Territory to progress.
– What section of the’ Constitution gives the Government power to introduce this legislation to make provision for the parliamentary representation of Territories?
– I can only say that, as a layman, I can express no opinion upon our power to carry legislation of this sort; but, the best legal advice we can obtain is that we have the power to pass this legislation.
– It is contained in the Constitution, in express language.
– The best legal advice we can get is that there is no doubt at all as .to our power to provide for the parliamentary representation of Territories of the Commonwealth. I ask honorable senators to approach the consideration of the Bill without prejudice, and if they are not prepared to accept the. proposal of the Government to submit some alternative proposal to meet the difficulty. It is easy to say that it is necessary to develop the agricultural, pastoral, and mining interests of the Northern Territory, but without a contented population we cannot develop any part of this country. It is, if possible, to bring about content amongst the people of the Northern Territory, without injury to the Commonwealth as a whole, ‘that this measure has been introduced.
– I do not know whether I had better support or oppose the Government in connexion with this measure. When the Bill gets into Committee, we might decide that, instead of giving the Northern Territory one representative in the Senate without a vote, we shall give it three representatives in another place, each having a vote. Under those circumstances, the Northern Territory would be in a position to look for the support of a political party, as its representatives would not only have the ear of Ministers, but, before long, would probably have Ministers by the ear. I assume that, under the Constitution, we have the power to admit to this Chamber a representative of the Northern Territory, but, if we do admit him, why should we not give him a vote?
– If he is admitted, he will very shortly clamour for a vote.
– Would the honorable senator propose to give the representative of 1,500 people a vote when the smallest quota for a constituency represented in this Parliament is over 30,000?
– The difference between the Northern Territory and Tas mania in this connexion is not much greater than the difference between New South Wales and Tasmania. I realize that, under the Constitution, representation in the Senate is not according to the population of the States. If honorable senators will look up the records of the past, they will find that a representative of Tasmania was returned to the Senate on a poll of less than 2,000 votes.
– That was a part of the original contract, according to the Constitution.
– Of course it was. It is a part of the original contract, I believe, that we can give representation to Territories of the Commonwealth.
– When the Parliament thinks fit - not as a matter of right.
– The wisdom of Australia decided that representation of the States in the Senate should not be according to population, and we have to accept that position. Why should the difference between the population of New South Wales and of the Northern Territory affect us any more than the difference between the population of New South Wales and Tasmania? The proposal of the Government is to give the Northern Territory one member in the Senate without a vote. What I object to is that the representative of the Northern Territory should not have a vote.
– Tack the Territory on to a Federal constituency, and so give it a vote; or tack the Northern Territory on to South Australia, and in that way give its representative a vote in the Senate.
– In the same way we might tack Tasmania on to Victoria.
– The honorable senator forgets that Tasmania was a signatory to the original contract.
– Much might be done by having the Northern Territory represented in this Parliament, but I realize that a representative of the Territory in the Senate, who would hold a position which would not make him the equal nf other members of the Senate, would not be able to express his views with the same authority that he would have if he were invested with the full rights and privileges of a member of this Chamber. I ask leave to continue my speech on the resumption of the debate.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Examination of Senator
– I wish to refer to a matter of privilege. I desire to give evidence before the Sea Carriage Select Committee appointed by the House of Representatives. I understand that it is necessary that I should obtain the consent of the Senate before I can do so. I ask honorable senators to give me the necessary authority to appear and give evidence before the Committee referred to.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That Senator Crawford have leave to attend and give evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Representatives on Sea Carriage if he thinks fit.
Senate adjourned at 6.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 September 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200915_senate_8_93/>.