8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator J. D. MILLEN presented an interim report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts on transactions of the War Service Homes Commissioner with Mr. J. T. Caldwell.
Bill presented,, and (on motion by
Senator Pearce) read a first time.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act -
Appointment of T. S. Lipscombe, Department of the Treasury.
Promotion of S. Rankin, PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
Statement relating to the declaring null and void of the appointment ‘ of LieutenantColonel Walker as War Service Homes Commissioner.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether, in view of the fact that on the one hand sugar is dear because it is scarce, owing to not enough of it -being got out of the ground, and on the other that butter and other household commodities are scarce owing to the willing soil not being asked to yield sufficient quantities-
– Order! The honorable senator has been sufficiently long a member of the Senate to know that questions, whether put on notice or without notice, are only to be asked for the purpose of obtaining information, and must not contain either statements or argument. So far as I have heard the honorable senator’s question, it transgresses the rule in both respects, since it contains statements and argument.
– The Minister may be unable to know what I am driving at unless I am permitted-
– That does not matter. The honorable senator’s question is not in order.
– In saying that sugar is dear, I have merely stated an incontrovertible fact.
– Under the Standing Orders an honorable senator is not permitted to make statements in putting a question.
– This is a matter of public importance on which I wish to enlighten the Senate.
– The importance of the matter is not in question.
– I can assure you, sir, that if the Standing Orders do not permit me to ventilate this grievance on the present occasion, I shall take an early opportunity of doing bo in some other way.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-
If the Government will take into consideration’ (now that the Empire is in a state of peace with all great foreign Powers) the constitutional propriety of proroguing Parliament when long recesses are in contemplation, instead of merely adjourningits sittings for a prolonged period?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “ Yes.”
Duty on Fordson Farm Tractors.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the amount of duty, if any, charged on the Fordson farm tractors imported into this country?
– I am unable to say, because the amount of duty to be charged depends upon the price of the machine, but the rates of duty on tractors are - United Kingdom, 27½ per cent.; General Tariff, 40 per cent.
Amount Paid to Inmates of Institutions
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has any increase been made to the amount of pocket-money allowed to the old people in the homes and institutions since the matter was discussed in the Senate last year?
– Pensioners in benevolent asylums receive pensions of 2s. per week. The question of increasing the amount payable to these people was carefully considered last year, but it was decided that the rate should not be altered.
asked the Leader- of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
What action do the Government intend to take to prevent the spread of disloyalty alleged to have been displayed by several persons in high positions in the Commonwealth of late?
– This matter is at present receiving consideration by the Government.
Appointments since 30th June, 1920.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What appointments have been made to the Federal Service since 80th June, 1920, in excess of £350 a year - with names and duties?
– The answer is as follows :-
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Defence Act 1903-1918.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to consolidate and amend the law regulating the Public Service, and for other purposes.
Business of the Session.
Debate resumed from 6th April (vide page 7177), on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) -
That the paper he printed.
– In addressing myself to the question that the paper be printed, which I take it the Leader of the Government in the Senate has put in that form in order to give us an opportunity of discussing, not only what appears in his statement of yesterday, but also what should appear there, I think I can join with the rest of the community in congratulating Senator Millen on the success of his recent visit to the Old Land.. I understand that he has carried out all the business that was intrusted to him to the satisfaction of those who know its f ull details. My personal information on the subject is somewhat scant, and was gathered from newspaper statements and reports which I believe the honorable senator is himself inclined to think were not as’ ample as they should have been. It was only to be expected that the Minister representing the Senate, who went abroad as an ambassador for Australia, would carry out his duties and functions in a highly satisfactory manner.
– He did his work well.
– His work was well done; and I do not think it is necessary for me, as the Leader of the Opposition, to attempt to find fault.
The statement submitted yesterday was a brief one concerning the business of the Senate for the remainder of a session which has been in existence for many months. I am going to offer a suggestion to the Government, and it is that, as the business does not appear to be extensive, I hope arrangements will be made for our work to be proceeded with from day to day, but not necessarily with the idea of bringing honorable senators long distances merely to sit for a couple of hours, and then return to their respective ‘States.
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister’s “Hear, hear!” convinces me that he thinks as I do. There are matters connected’ with the papers that have been laid on the table of the Senate that, I think, call for discussion. For instance, there is a report from General Ramaciotti that I have not yet had an opportunity of considering. I am not, therefore, in a position to discuss it to-day, but I may have something to say about it later.
I am not at all satisfied with the handling of the Wheat Pool, as a result of which the consumers of Australia, whom I have the honour to represent, have to pay more for their wheat than German consumers ‘are called upon to pay.- I do not wish it to be inferred from that that I am at all opposed to the Government entering into trade relations with Germany..
– Is the honorable senator sure that what he says is correct ?
– Yes. As soon as peace was declared it was the duty of the Government to see that a real peace was established, and opportunities given for trade between all nations.
– Is the honorable senator sure that Australian wheat is being sold to German consumers ait a cheaper price than it is made available to local consumers?
– I may be assured that such is the case by the answers given to questions.
– The answer to that question1 was postponed.
– Do not we object to goods being sent from ‘Germany and sold here at a cheaper price than they can be obtained for in that country?
– If I were a German I would complain; but the point I wish to make is that wheat grown in this country- immediately after we have experienced one of the richest harvests on record - is being converted into bread and sold at a price which is the highest on record. These facts are worthy of consideration. Here is an occasion when we have a statement - I say it unhesitatingly, and if I am wrong, the Minister will inform me - showing .that the difference between 7s. Id., the price at which wheat is sold to the Germans, and 7s. lid., the price at which it is sold to Australian millers, is the difference in the price of wheat at the present time. The Minister, of course, will be in a position to correct any misapprehension if these figures are not correct.
– It only goes to show that in the past our wheat has been sold at too low a price.
– Nothing of the kind. Only a few months ago, we were discussing the question of the necessity of the Australian farmer getting the world’s parity for his wheat, and the representatives of the Australian Labour party, at their conference laid it down as a sound proposition that the Australian farmer should get a fair profit, hased upon the cost of production. At that time we had Senator de Largie, and other honorable senators, claiming the world’s parityfor Australian wheat because the ruling price in other part’s of the world was exceptionally high. But the world’s parity at present is, approximately, 5s. per bushel.
– The honorable senator is rather late in the field in advocating world’s parity after five years.
– We were always the advocates of the farmers getting a fair profit based on the cost of production, and our records will prove that. Senator de Largie and Senator Wilson were anxious that the farmers should get the world’s parity when the price overseas was high; but now the markets are falling, we are not likely to hear much about it.
– The farmer did not get the world’s parity.
– Probably not.
– The Australian farmers were £12,000,000 short of that.
– No doubt the honorable senator has been the means of assisting the farmers in the ‘State he represents by the Bill he helped to get through this Chamber dealing with the erection of wheat silos in Western Australia.
– That measure has not done any harm.
– This is an’ excellent opportunity for the Minister to tell the Senate how much money was put into that undertaking.
– The work has not yet been started.
– If that is the case, why was this Senate asked to go on with the business of making attempts to lighten the responsibilities of a few individuals gathered together in that State, when months have gone by without the money made available being, required ?
– The Western Australian State Government thought that this Parliament was not sufficiently liberal.
– It is only one of the concessions which the farmers receive.
– Perhaps it is intended to start the silos when the Labour daily newspaper has been started in Sydney.
– Will the Government advance us money to get on with that project?
– Does not the honorable senator think . that we have enough pests at present?
– When the Australian Labour party wanted a Labour daily, we never went to the Government for assistance, but raised £100,000 ourselves, and that spirit of independence could be well adopted by the farmers of Australia.
– They have not been so liberally paid as the people the honorable senator represents. They’ have not the money.
– That is not so, as many of the farmers are in a very satisfactory position. There are others, who could have gone shearing on a profitable basis.
– Not many of them are doing it, although they are free agents.I rose with the intention of discussing several matters, but, in view of the frequency of the interjections, it would’ appear that the “ spell “ of four months has not broken honorable senators off what I regard as a bad habit. It is impossible for me to address the Senate if I am to be continually interrupted ; and,, under these circumstances, I shall reserve what I have to say until some futureoccasion.
– There are two items to which I wish to address myself, and one is in connexion with the rraining of our Citizen Forces. I wish to bring under the notice of the
Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) the desirableness of making special provision for the youth of Australia to attend technical schools rather than compelling them to undergo military training for such long periods. I want the Government to understand that I am an uncompromising believer in the military training of the youth of Australia for the defence of the Commonwealth. There are a great many people who, after the experience of past years, are rather prone to think it better to abandon all semblance of war preparation. I would remind them that if they desire to live at peace in Australia, if they wish to continue to own this continent, they must be prepared for war. Such preparedness is our only guarantee against war, and this will continue to be the position so long as human nature is constituted as it is. With those persons who object very strongly to the continuance of compulsory training in connexion with our Citizen Forces, I have no sympathy whatever. But I have considerable sympathy with those parents who are anxious that their boys should be permitted to continue to prosecute their studies at technical schools in the evenings, and should not be prevented from so doing by the obligation imposed upon them to attend military drills. In this connexion, I have received a letter from a man whose calm judgment I respect very much. He points out that it is impossible for his boy to attend at the technical school upon the evenings necessary to qualify him for certain examinations. Now, it is quite competent for the Government to exempt from military drills those lads who are obliged to attend technical classes. There are two armies which have to be trained for the success of this country, namely, the military army and the industrial army. We must have trained men to carry on our industrial activities, and it is just as much in the interests of the Commonwealth that students attending technical institutions should be afforded every opportunity to become proficient in various trades as it is that we should become proficient in all matters relating to the defence of Australia. I do not think that the exemption which I suggest would materially affect the training of our citizen soldiers. ‘
– Does the honorable senator suggest that lads attending technical schools should be afforded complete,, or merely partial, exemption from military drills?
– If these military drills could be held without unduly hampering these lads in their technical education, no objection could be urged to them. But in the case which I have cited, the particular boy concerned is placed at a very considerable disadvantage. My correspondent affirms that it is necessary for his son to attend a technical school upon three evenings each week, otherwise he will be prevented from sitting for examination, and the demand made upon him by the military authorities will thus have a far-reaching effect upon his future career as a draftsman. If, after a forty-eight-hour week in his trade, and three nights spent at the technical school, 75 per cent, of his Saturday afternoons is to be absorbed in military drills, in addition to one or more night drills., the boy will be subjected to undue hardship.
– Is that the case of a man in Hobart who has written concerning his boy ?
– Yes. He informs me that he has despatched a similar letter to the Minister for Defence upon this matter.
– And a suggestion has been made which will overcome the whole difficulty.
– Has a similar suggestion been made to other parents? Is it generally known to them that their children may attend’ technical schools and be exempt from military drills at night?
– The suggestion which has been made is that the boy should join another unit. But the father will not agree to that.
– This particular parent claims that his boy is overworked, and I think that his claim is a reasonable one. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
– But the miliary drill is recreation for him. It is a change from study.
– The honorable senator would not care to take his recreation under compulsion.
– I have done so..
– The average boy likes to map out his own recreation, instead of being compelled to play at soldiers. In saying this, I am not opposed to military training, bub I do not believe that such . training should be permitted to unduly interfere with the technical education of ourboys.
– The honorable senator is arguing against too much compulsion.
– Only where compusion interferes too much with technical training. I desire that our boys shall be afforded every opportunity to learn the various trades to which they may devote themselves. It is just as important that we should have a skilled artisan population in Australia as it is that we should have an efficient military force.
The other question with which I desire to deal has reference to the answer which I received from the Minister for Defence this afternoon. Honorable senators will recollect . that prior to the Christmas adjournment a good deal of discussion took place in this Chamber concerning the allowance which is being made to old persons who are inmates of our various public institutions. I am sorry that Senator Pratten is not present, because he took a very active part in that debate. Upon the occasion to which I refer it was pointed out that it was in the interests of the community generally, and of old persons in particular, that the latter should become inmates of these public institutions, in which their personal needs could be properly cared for. Apparently, the policy of the Government is to drive them out of such institutions or to prevent them entering them if possible. All old persons in Australia are entitled to a pension of 15s. per week if they live privately - that is to say if they remain outside of the institutions which the various States have provided for them. But if an old man goes’ into an institution, and it may be desirable that he should do so, then he gets no pension. He is not recognised as a pensioner. He is more recognised as a pauper on the ‘State, and after the Commonwealth provides a certain amount for his maintenance in the institution, it gives him a couple of shillings per week pocket money. When the principle of old-age pensions was established, and the pension was fixed at 10s. per week, the State received 8s., and the old people received 2s. per week pocket money, with which the old men bought tobacco or other little comforts, while, I suppose, the old women spent it in some other way. Now, although the pension has been increased by 50 per cent, to the pensioner outside, there has been no increase in the pocket money allowed to the old people inside the institutions. I strongly disapprove of the Government’s policy in this regard. It is not fair, and it is not in the interests of the general community. We should, if possible, encourage those old people who have no private means to go into institutions.
– Did I understand the honorable senator to say that the State institutions received the same amount ?
– I do not know.
– They receive more.
– Then it is the honorable senator’s contention that the Federal Government is making money out of them?
– I do not say that, but I am confident that the Commonwealth Government is not paying 13s. per week for the maintenance of these old people in the institutions. I have no proof that that statement is correct, but I hazard it, feeling quite sure- that the Commonwealth Government makes a few shillings per week out of the old people who remain in the institutions, as against those who live outside. I should like the Government to reconsider their policy in this regard. It may be a small matter, but it is important. Many of these old people were the pioneers who prepared the country for our existence in Australia to-day. Probably they have not been thrifty in the general sense. They have not accumulated anything to maintain themselves in their old age; but are we to condemn them on that account? There is no question that they have rendered a service to the State, the extent of which many of us are prone to undervalue. In consideration of the services which they have rendered to the nation, we ought to do all we can to make comfortable their remaining years, which after all are few.. I have had letters from one old chap in Ballarat and another in Tasmania, giving their age as eighty years. Surely they cannot last much longer, and surely the Government might relax their almost parsimonious policy, and relieve the conditions of these old people a little by increasing their pocket money to at least 5s. per week.
– Does the honorable senator know the exact position now ?
– I know that they are still receiving only 2s. per week for pocket money, or the same amount as when the old-age pension was 10s. per week, and the pension is now 15s.
– Is the balance of 13s. going to the State Governments?
– I have hazarded the opinion that it is not. Perhaps the Minister representing the Treasurer can tell us; but I am confident that I am correct’ in saying that the Commonwealth is not paying 13s. per week for their maintenance.
– Then the total oldage pension for these people is not 15s. per week.
– The Government do not recognise them as old-age pensioners. They are inmates of State institutions.
– But they would be old-age pensioners if they were outside ?
– Yes, and that is where the policy of the Government is wrong.
– And they were oldage pensioners before they went in ?
– Perhaps some of them had not reached the qualifying ‘ age ; but they certainly would be old-age pensioners if they remained outside. The policy of the Government is rather to drive them out of the institutions than to encourage them to go in where they are properly cared for by trained people and kept , clean and comfortable. A certain stigma is placed upon the old people in present circumstances by their being in these institutions. The old-age pensioner outside can hold up ‘his head and claim to be receiving that which is his due. There is no charity about it. He draws his pension as something which the Government of his country owes to him for services rendered during a long life; but when he goes into a State institution he does not become an old-age pensioner. He has to depend upon the State for certain charities in connexion with his care and maintenance, and as a further charity the Commonwealth Government gives him a couple of shillings per week. We all know how far 2s. go in purchasing the general luxuries of to-day. It is cut out in tobacco straightway. He is a very moderate smoker who does not smoke. 2s. worth of tobacco in a week.
– After buying necessaries, how much has the old-age pensioner outside left for luxuries on 15s. per week 1
– He is better off than if he had nothing at all. I do not argue that 15s. per week is enough for the maintenance of a man or woman. It was never contended’ that the old-age pension was sufficient to keep a man or woman in reasonable luxury. It is merely to assist them, and it does alleviate in some degree the suffering which they would endure through poverty if they did not receive it at all. ‘ The pensioner outside is really in a better position, both in his status as a citizen and as regards the amount of money he receives, than those who are residents of the different homes or institutions. Those are the .two questions to which I want the Government to give further consideration. No doubt it is a very small item for a Commonwealth Government to deal with, and I am rather surprised that they have been so reluctant to make a small increase in the expenditure of the nation by providing these old people with a little more ready money.
– I indorse Senator Gardiner’s remarks regarding Senator E. D. Millen’s mission to London. Senator Millen did a great service to Australia, and we, as senators, appreciate to the fullest extent the work that he accomplished- on the other side of the world. We all realize that in him, as Leader of the Senate, we have one of the most able parliamentarians in the Commonwealth. During his absence we noticed in the daily papers that he was to be appointed this, that, and the other ; but I am sure that we, as a Senate, are exceedingly pleased on re-assembling to find him in his old position. Personally, I feel that we would have lost a tower of strength in the Senate if we had been deprived of Senator Millen’s services, and
I am sure that all honorable senators join with me in appreciation of all that he’ accomplish ed for Australia at the time when Australia most needed the assistance he was able to render. I also support Senator Gardiner’s remarks, indorsed by Senator Millen, that We should push on with the business, sitting daily, if necessary, until we complete it, and not be brought here from all. parts of Australia merely to sit a few hours two or three times a week, thus putting all to a great deal of inconvenience. Outside there is a feeling that members of this Chamber should (be sitting to earn their salaries, but the taxpayers should realize that un- 1 ess” there is work, and profitable work, for the Senate to do, it would be a waste of money for honorable senators to be called together simply for the sake of assembling. We can do much more useful work in our own States. I1 trust the Government will facilitate business, and bring us here for longer periods, if necessary, in order that we may accomplish our duties expeditiously. This course would be appreciated by all those honorable senators who have to travel long distances.
Something has been said with regard to the Wheat Pool, the position of which, in my opinion, can only be fairly discussed when taken over the whole period during which the Pools have been in existence. It is unjust and unfair simply to view the position at a time like the present, when there seems to be a decline in the markets of the world. The history of the Pools shows that wheat for home consumption has been previously released at considerably below the world’s parity. I was one of those who, when .the price for home consumption was fixed last year, thought that it Was a mistake to fix it over such a long period of time. It would have been much better had the position been reviewed quarterly, or if a sub-committee had been appointed to reduce the price if necessary. But as the Wheat Board, on which the Commonwealth Government are represented, fixed the price for home consumption at 9s. per bushel for the current year, a compact was made and it cannot now very well be broken. It is, however, a question for the State Governments concerned. If they think it advisable to reduce the price in order to provide a cheaper loaf for the people, this burden should rest on the entire community, and not on the farmer alone. If this were done, nobody would suffer to any great extent, and .the right course would be pursued. I feel, confident that those in authority over the scheme will adopt this policy, and not allow the loss to fall upon the farmer simply because a bad bargain may have been made for the Commonwealth. Senator Gardiner persists in saying that the farmers all through have had a wonderfully good deal, and that the people whom he has the honour to represent are carrying an immense burden. He seems to lose sight of the fact that, if the farmer is to make his industry pay he must work double the time at present worked by the men that he represents. Any man who attempted to farm his land, especially land in outlying areas, such as the Mallee country, on the eight-hours-a-day principle, would not be able to pay Ss. in the £1. For this reason, I think it is only right “that a compact having been entered into with the farmers, with regard to wheat prices, it should be honoured.
– The honorable senator is now advocating both a guarantee and a subsidy.
– I think we have got beyond the question of a guarantee and a subsidy altogether, as we have absolutely entered into a sale, seeing it was arranged that for the ensuing twelve months wheat should be taken from the Pool for home consumption for 9s. per bushel. I am sure the Government will not now be a party to the breaking of a contract with any section of the community. “ I was pleased to hear Senator Pearce’s statement that it is not intended to go on with the seventy days’ military training. Much has been said about the danger to a boy’s morals in a camp for continuous training.
– Hear, near!
– I tell the honorable senator that I have only one boy, and I am not frightened of his morals being corrupted in any camp. We must not think that we are going to turn our military training camps into Sunday schools. Give a boy a- good home training and he will be well fitted for any environment and for any of those experiences that so often are necessary to make a man of him. I appreciate the point raised by Senator Earle about the danger of continuous training interfering with a boy’s industrial or technical education ; but I realize, from the Minister’s statement to-day, that he is fully alive to the position, and does not intend to ask more than can be reasonably expected from the young men of this country.
I come now to the position of the Senate and the duty of honorable senators in their own States. Like many other honorable senators to whom I have spoken from time to time, I feel that an attempt is being made - I will not say vindictively - to ignore the Federal representatives, and I ask Ministers to, as far as possible, protect the position of senators in their own States. Matters of State concern, in my judgment, should be brought before the Federal Government through the medium of honorable senators. I am not going to say that all those subjects that are brought before the Federal Government by the States Premiers should be introduced by senators, but it is anomalous that as representatives of the States we should get information as to so many such matters only through the medium of the public press ; that, in fact, we should be virtually left out in the cold as to what is going on between the States and the Federal Government.
– I do not think that is the position generally. At all events, it is not so in my State.
– It is very much so in Western Australia.
– I can only speak for my own State. I remind honorable senators that we can only justify our position when we can live up to it. If, as senators, we are prepared to do what we can for the State we represent, the Federal Government should assist us by requiring that matters concerning the State should be introduced by honorable senators, or, if district matters, by a member of the House of Representatives.
I hope that the suggestion made with regard to the sittings of the Senate will be adopted. It would- greatly increase interest in our affairs if we were to sit daily, and would enable the public to become more fully conversant with the business transacted in this Chamber.
During the last few months we have constantly seen in the newspapers - which, again, is our only medium of information, although we are senators - that Soandso has been appointed to a particular position in the Public Service. We have learned that many appointments, running into big figures, have been made, and I think that we should be made conversant with all the appointments that are made. I do not know whether the question which I put yesterday was stated broadly enough to cover the higher-paid officials who have been appointed within the period to which my question referred ; but I was, and am, desirous of securing a complete lis’t of the whole of the appointments made during that period of officers receiving remuneration in excess of £350 or £500 per year.
– Do I understand that the honorable senator is suggesting that the list I supplied to-day is not satisfactory?
– I am suggesting that it does not cover the field I wish to cover.
– The honorable senator requires information as to appointments, not only to the Public Service, but outside the Service.
– I want information concerning all officers who are paid by the Federal Government.
– If the answer supplied to-day does not give the honorable senator the information he wants) I can assure him that I will take steps to obtain it.
– I greatly appreciate the honorable senator’s assurance. In common with other members of the Senate, I am anxious to make myself conversant with what is going on in the Federal arena; and the list supplied in answer to my question to-day is not as complete as I desire.
– There is an implication in the motion submitted by the Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) yesterday that the business to which he then referred is practically the only business which the Government propose to submit to this Chamber pending the disposal of the Tariff in another place. I wish to express the hope that the attention of the Senate will be directed, and its consideration invited, to some matters in addition to the few mentioned by the honorable senator.
A measure was introduced into this Chamber some few sessions back, and occupied its attention for many weeks. It was a Bill for a Commonwealth Bankruptcy Act. The need for it was then great, and the need to-day is still greater.
– And as time goes on will become greater still.
– That is so. Foi many years the several .States Parliaments have hesitated to bring their bankruptcy legislation up to date, because they have believed that it was the intention of the Commonwealth Government, at no distant date, to introduce a measure that would unify the law with regard to bankruptcy throughout the Commonwealth. I do not wish to be pessimistic, or to pose as a prophet of evil, but it is quite possible that, owing to the altered condition of things, the need for somethink like a uniform bankruptcy law throughout the Commonwealth will be stressed considerably in the near future. Since the Commonwealth came into existence some twenty years ago, trade and commerce between the States has multiplied enormously, and now there are business enterprises which have their original home in one State and have repr esentatives, or agencies in one or more of the other States. Trade and commerce are- not now, so much as they were before Federation, bounded by the limit and governable by the laws of a single State, but they are bounded to-day, if at all, only by the limits of the. whole Commonwealth. One can readily understand that if in future some large trading firm carrying on operations in several of the States became so involved as to make it necessary for it to take proceedings for sequestration the difficulties of those dealing with that firm would be considerably aggravated by reason of the fact that they would be operating in different States under different laws. During the recess, I ventured to bring this matter under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). I had a communication from him in which he assured me that the matter was receiving attention. He suggested that, on my return to Melbourne, I should get into touch with the Attorney-General. I did get into touch with Mr. Groom, and he gave me to understand that the matter was proceeding, so far as the Government was concerned, with a reasonable amount of speed. After that, Mr. Groom left Melbourne for New South Wales and Queensland, and since his return I have again seen him in connexion with this matter. Although I am unable to say that he expressly said so, I received the % impression from my conversations with him that, early this session, the Senate would be invited to consider an uptodate and complete codification of bankruptcy law throughout the whole Commonwealth. I hope that Ministers wil» give this matter consideration.
There* are other subjects of legislation which might be introduced, and which are not of a political party character, but which if dealt with by legislation for the whole of the Commonwealth would be very advantageous to trading and the development of the Commonwealth generally. There are numerous powers given to the Federal Parliament under section 51 of the Constitution, some of which we have not so far attempted to exercise. Many of these matters might be dealt with in a noncontroversial spirit, and I invite the consideration of the Government to the possibility of dealing with them. I remember that during the session of 1905, when another place was very busily engaged, this branch of the Federal Legislature gave considerable attention to patents, designs and trade marks, and other matters of that character, in respect of which legislation could hardly be considered of aparty or controversial character.
One matter to which I wish to refer is that raised by Senator Wilson. He takes exception to what he considers the ignoring to some extent of the members of the Senate as representatives of their States as States. I was very pleased to hear the honorable senator do so, because I have taken the same exception on the floor of this Chamber times without number: Going back to 1904 or 1905, in the early days of the Federation, when the first Premiers’ Conferences were held, 1 directed attention to the fact that the Senate was being ignored, and. that if it did not protest it would be ignored more and more as the years went on. There has been a disposition on the part of successive Governments in dealing with, the States, either as a whole or individually, to deal with them as though there were not in the Commonwealth Constitution and machinery a House’ which was representative of the States as States. I say with due- thought and care that that disposition has been very much evinced by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). There is a disposition to get into direct communication with the Government of a State and to treat the Senate as absolutely nonexistent. I feel that the Senate, as tha States’ House under our Constitution, has not always received the recognition that it should command. Whilst honorable senators are very often approached by the Governments of the States they represent to deal with matters pf peculiar interest to those States-
– The Western Australian Government very seldom does that.
– That is not the case with the Governments of all the States. There is one feature of this matter which chas to be remembered, and it is that when there is kudos to be gained out of whatever arrangement is proposed, the communications of the Federal Government are generally direct with the States. But if there is obloquy to be incurred by reason of the fact that a State does not fare as well as the people of that State think it should in its dealings with the Federal Government, the. intercession of honorable senators representing the State is generally invoked. This is an actual fact. I do not say that in every instance .the Commonwealth Government, when dealing with a State as such, should communicate directly -with the State Governments, but I do say that a little more regard than has been paid in the past should .be paid to the fact that the Senate is the States House, and that there are six senators from each State concerned in the adjustment of matters between the State and the Commonwealth, and chosen directly by the people to represent the State in its Federal relations. Without specifying particular instances, and speaking only generally, I trust that the Leader of the Government in the Senate will bring this matter before the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for consideration in connexion with future relations between the Commonwealth and the several States.
– I should like to add -my meed of praise to that already bestowed by Senators Gardiner and Wilson on the worthy Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) for the magnificent work he did overseas. We have had rather scrappy information through the press as to what that work was, but I hope that the honorable senator will take an early opportunity of giving us a review of the work he did. We know that one thing he did was to consolidate the floating debt to the British Government of £40,000,000, on which interest was to be paid at from 3i to 5 per cent. That alone was a magnificent achievement. I am sure that I voice the views of every member of the Senate when I say that we should like to obtain from Senator Millen a consecutive statement reviewing the work he did abroad. If he makes such a statement I feel sure that the Senate will unanimously resolve that he has clone his work worthily and well. From what I heard Senator Gardiner say to-day I feel sure that the whole of the Opposition will SUp- port such a resolution, and that would establish an absolutely unique record. We all knew when Senator Millen went away that he was going upon a most important mission. The press was never tired of pointing out how important it was, and I hope he will give us the review of his work some day, when I am satisfied, from the information we have already had, that the Senate will be prepared to pass a resolution of commendation, and assure Senator Millen that he has rendered magnificent service to this country.
Senator Wilson, who is the only farmer in the Senate, has, I think, submitted a practical solution of the very vexed and difficult question of the price of wheat for local consumption in Australia to-day. It is not a question of what the farmers are getting to-day. I was very much struck by a letter which appeared in the press recently, signed by Lemon and Company, from which I propose to read’ a few extracts to give a complete view of the whole position. The matter is one of great importance. At first blush it does seem a terrible anomaly that the Germans and the Chinese should be getting our wheat cheaper than our own people can obtain it. As to the com- parative prices per bushel, this correspondent states - and I hope that if it is incorrect our farmers’ representatives will say so - that for the season 1915- 16 the, overseas price was 4s. 9½d. per bushel, and the price for local consumption 48. 1lld. Apparently, the farmer received the best of the deal during that year. The figures for subsequest years for overseas wheat and wheat for local consumption were as follows. - 1916- 17, 5s. 1.3d., 4s. 4.76d.; 1917-18, 6s. 8.81d., 4s. 11.69d.; 1918-19, 6s. 9. Id., 5s. 2.8d.; 1919-20, as far as sales up to August the average price was lis. 9.50d., and since then, if anything, has averaged more, while the fired price for local consumption was 7s. 8d. per bushel. I am not in a position to say whether the figures are accurate or not ; but they must be fairly correct, as up to the “present they have not been contradicted. These figures quoted by this correspondent show that if we take the average local consumption for Australia as 34,000,000 bushels, for the 1915-16 season the Australian public subsidized the farmer to the extent of £283,333 6s. 8d., but for the following four years the farmer subsidized the Australian public to the extent of £11,887,412. That is an .enormous amount, and apparently the Australian consumers have done remarkably well over a period of years. We have also to recollect that if the Government reduce the price, the reduction would have to be borne by the farmers, including those in New South Wales who have just passed through a terrible drought, and for the benefit of whom the New South Wales Government floated a loan of £3,000,000 in order to save them from starvation. It is impossible for producers so circumstanced to recover their position in a moment, and it would be unreasonable to again penalize them by reducing the price for local consumption. In my opinion, it would be cruel, because by the time these men pay back their loans to the New South” Wales Government for wheat obtained, and mike up the losses incurred in other directions, they will not be any further forward than they were prior to the drought. All these points have to be taken into’ consideration, and we have also to think of local consumers, such as dairymen and poultry raisers, who have to purchase bran and pollard, which is costing; approximately £10 per ton. It must be remembered that there are many returned soldiers who have taken up poultry raising. The position demands consideration, and I think the suggestion made by Senator Wilson would meet the case. I am not aware of what it would mean to the Government if it were to contribute about ls. 4d. per bushel to bring the wheat up to its present oversea parity. The price is now 9s., and the present oversea parity is about 7s. 6d., so there is a difference of approximately ls. 6d. per bushel; but what that would mean for the remaining period I am not prepared to say.
– Would it not be reasonable to give them the £11,750,000 that they have been underpaid ?
– It might take a long time to do that. I do not suggest making any reduction in the price to be ‘ paid to the farmer, as an arrangement has been already entered into, and it is one that would be difficult to alter. I think the general community might be asked, through the States, to make up the balance, so that such industries as dairying and poultry raising might be placed, on a better basis, and bread supplied to local consumers at a more moderate price. I am not fully conversant with the whole situation, but I think the suggestion made by Senator Wilson is one that might be considered. If that policy were adopted, we would not be penalizing the farmer, who in the past has had to face adversity, particularly in New South Wales, where many have been on the verge of starvation. If the burden is not too great - which I am not prepared to admit at present - I think it might be a good way out of the very troublesome position in which we are placed.
– Before the policy debate has been disposed of, I desire to refer to one or two subjects which have already been mentioned, as well as some others which have not been dealt with. With all that has been said concerning the successful mission to Great Britain of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) I fully agree. I believe he kept the “ end “ of this country well up in the highest councils which he had the rare opportunity of meeting at Geneva. He had the responsibility of taking up the burden which was dropped - and which should not have been dropped - and straightening out the tangle, and he did his work to the satisfaction of the keenest critics to be found in the country. In connexion with the proceedings at the Geneva Conference, I have noticed that the Minister for Repatriation keenly watched the financial position, and, according to newspaper reports, he kept an Argus eye on expenditure. He was the watch-dog of the nations when the expenditure of money was being considered. I trust that he will adopt that policy in ‘this smaller sphere of action, and I will show why there is reason for doing so.
We have heard something about shipbuilding of late, and consternation has been caused in New South Wales in consequence of the suspension of operation? at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, which has been responsible for throwing a large number of men out of employment. I am sure it is a matter of regret to any Government to be responsible for throwing men out of work; but any one who looks at this proposition squarely, ascertains the truth,” and considers the reasons which actuated the Government in bringing to a stand-still a very important branch of industry such as the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, will admit that the action taken was justified. It needs to be stated quite plainly what the reason wa3 for ‘taking such action; and, in my opinion, the dockyard should have been closed previously, if only to give a lesson to the men engaged in that industry. The Government of the country, as the custodians of the taxpayers’ money, should zealously guard our interests, so that £1 worth of work should be obtained for every £1 sterling expended. In this regard, I am pained to . think, in looking over what has happened there, not only during the time this Government has been in office, but while other Governments have been administering the affairs of the Commonwealth, that the taxpayers have not been getting a fair deal. A member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts that was constituted before the present Committee gave me his experiences of what hi: saw in passing through that dockyard. I do not wish to give his name, but I believe he would be quite willing that I should disclose it if I were to approach him. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton^ was Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee at the time, and the member of the Committee to whom I have referred said that they found on inquiry that a rivetting crew in those works was only putting in seventy rivets per day. It must be plain to the casual observer, that a big public undertaking cannot be carried on on that basis and succeed. No Government or managers who are responsible for such a condition of affairs are worthy of their salt, or of an hour’s confidence.
– Do I understand that only seventy rivets a day were placed in position?
– Yes, by a rivetting crew. It is quite plain that not only this Government, but’ other Governments, have not of late (years been getting anything like a fair deal, and in turn, of course, the taxpayers suffer. The reason why I want this Government to insist upon a fair deal is because they were elected to see that the interests, of the taxpayers were conserved in such a way that they would get £1 worth of work for every £1 sterling expended.
Certain warships have been turned out. I perused the particulars in order to refresh my memory, and I found that the Sydney and Melbourne were purchased in the Old Country at £385,000 and £405,000 respectively. The Brisbane, which was constructed at Cockatoo Island, cost £770,000, and, according to the figures which have recently appeared in the press, the Adelaide will cost, approximately, £1,151,000.
– Is that the total cost when the Adelaide is completed?
– Yes, to put her in & seaworthy condition. I asked certain questions in this chamber as to costs to ascertain if there was any justifiable reason for the difference either in rating, in armoury, or anything that goes to the make-up of a warship. I was informed, in reply, that there was no practical difference between the three ships, two of which were constructed in the Old Country and one in the Commonwealth. 1 desire to direct attention to the difference intime in which the Sydney . was handed over to the Commonwealth, and the time required to complete the Brisbane. There was not much difference in either the cost of the material or the wages bill. It cost the taxpayer over 100 per cent, more for the Brisbane than for the Sydney; but if we take the estimated cost of the Adelaide into consideration, we find that the cost has trebled, or, in other words, we could get three ships of the capacity of the Sydney for the price which the Adelaide will cost. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has said that the cost of shipbuilding in Great Britain has doubled; but in this case it has trebled. The average cost of the Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane is about £390,000, but the Adelaide is to cost £1,151 000. We can make allowance for the high cost of material and the increased cost of labour, but there is still another allowance which must be made. To counterbalance the items I have mentioned there is the increased efficiency that is claimed for the Australian workmen over British workmen , and the modern technical appliances which are now employed in the construction of the Adelaide as compared with the other warships. These should be sufficient to counterbalance the points I have mentioned. The policy of this country is generous in the matter of giving encouragement to local industries. For the boots and clothes we wear, the food we ©at, the ploughs with which we till the. soil, and the machinery we employ in our industries we are prepared to allow 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. ; but when it comes to warships we pay 100 per cent. The people at Cockatoo Island, and those behind them, are asking too much from an overburdened people.
– We are paying 200 per cent, more for a suit of clothes now than we paid in pre-war days.
– I am dealing with the time when the Sydney and the Brisbane were delivered from the manufacturers. In the case of the Adelaide the position is still more aggravated. I do not know that the statement which has just been made by Senator Gardiner is correct. It. is true that in these days, we hear a mightly lot about the high cost of living; but, as I have previously remarked upon many occasions, I am afraid that instead of the high cost of living being the cause of all our ills, the cost of high living is at the root of them. We cannot walk outside this building without striking a theatre or a picture show which is crowded with people. Then look at the savings per head of our population. There has been a positive increase in these over the entire period during which the people are supposed to have been completely downtrodden. The workers’ balance-sheet shows that the savings per head of our population are infinitely more to-day than they were before this cry of the high cost of living was manufactured. In most cases it is not the high cost of living which afflicts us, but the cost of high living, and this is to be found amongst the workers themselves. Df course, I know how my words may be twisted, but I presume that I shall have an opportunity of explaining. If that opportunity . be denied me, the people may put whatever construction upon them they please, and treat me just how they will. I have said upon man/ previous occasions that we are a well-off community. We are well clothed and well fed, and during the war period there vas no country in the world ‘n which the cost of living was so low.
– And every man has his own picture show.
– Of course he has. We cannot be a downtrodden people and at Ihe same time put more money inti the banks then we ever placed there before. Fair play is bonnie” play. Let us fac« the position squarely. The high cost or riving in this country is contributed to largely by the loafing which takes place amongst our workmen - the loafing which is encouraged by the Official Labour party. Any honorable senator who cares to take up the records and peruse them may learn from Knibbs that there has been a gradual increase in the cost of our production - Ihat a suit of clothes costs ever so much more to-day than it did fifteen years ago. The men who have adopted the “ go-slow “ policy are to be found in Mort’s Dock and in every other dock in the Commonwealth. But the farmer cannot go slow. He is the man who is working double time in this ‘country There is nothing which teaches men s” much as does experience. X have my neck in the collar, and I know what it means. Let those who preach this obnoxious doctrine of “go slow “ take up an orchard, a farm, or a fishing area, and they will soon discover the truth of my statements. There is not a single man in our cities who is possessed of a small capital who should not be. engaged in rural production. The single man who walks the pavements of our streets, and idles away “ his glorious youthful prime,” as Bobby Burns puts it, in a country in which there is so much opportunity for him to make a home and an independence for himself, ought to be shot. That is the very point which I was about to make when you, sir, in the exercise of your discretion, pulled me up. I repeat that we cannot go on paying 100 per cent, increase in the cost of our warships or of our wheelbarrows, whilst we are satisfied to pay only an increase off 30 per cent, upon the ordinary commodities of life. I was very much a Protectionist once; but I am a sane Protectionist to-day ; and when the Tariff fs under consideration I intend to see that those who desire Protection shall receive just that bare measure of it which is necessary to enable them to successfully compete with articles from overseas, and not a fraction more. Coming to Government Department?, if the Government do not got down to work and give the taxpayers a fair deal I shall not be a supporter of theirs, any longer. The closing down of Cockatoo Dockyards did not come a day too soon. Action in that direction should have been taken long ago. The men who adopt the “ goslow “ policy should be made to feel their position. Other individuals have had their physical figures deformed by hard work whilst these men were loafing. The time is ripe for a reckoning, and if the Government do not ransack the Common- > wealth Departments for the loafers, I shall be no longer a supporter of theirs. When I filled the office of a Minister of the Crown for about five minutes I took steps to tell my subordinates that they would have to put up a pound’s worth of work or they would not be paid £1 for it. I believe in giving them the “ straight griffin.”
The questions which I was about to ask the Government when you, sir, in the exercise of your discretion intervened, read -
It is very difficult to make some persons understand unless one gives them the “ straight griffin.” But any honorable senator who cares to do so may turn up Knibbs, and he will there learn that in the output, not merely of gold, but of our manufactured articles, there has been a positive declension which can be accounted for only by the insidious and paralyzing doctrine of “ go-slow “ which is abroad. That spirit is dominating one of the finest movements that ever originated in this country - I refer to the Labour movement. In this connexion, I may be pardoned for telling a little story. There was a certain member of Parliament in New South Wales, a most estimable man, although he did not know much about politics. He was a rattling good fellow - a kind of half-squatter. He owned a station in the State to which I have referred. A representative of the Australian Workers Union called round one day and said to one of his employees, “How is old Mac treating you?” In reply he was told that “ Old Mac was all right.” “How is he observing the log?” was the next question put to him. “ Oh ! all right” was the reply. “Is the food all right?” he was asked. “Oh! yes” was the answer. “ And are the living conditions all right?” “ Tes” was again the reply. “Well,” remarked the Australian Workers Union representative, “You must not be contented like that. What you need to do is to get as much as you can, to do as little as you can, and always to look upon the boss as a blooming blamed blackguard.” That is the spirit which is abroad to-day, and it is up to every sane man to resist such a pernicious doctrine. When men talk about going slow, I put this proposition to them : “ If you can make two pairs of boots in a day, for 10s. per pair, and you listen to the evil adviser who is bossing many of our labour unions to-day, and as a result, reduce that output to one pair of boots per day, how can you sell that pair of boots except at double the price? And if the consumer has to pay that double price, who is responsible for it?” The slacker who goes slow merely because he listens to the voices of men who have come from countries in which they could riot get their own grievances remedied - countries which are not as good’ as Australia, where every man who does a fair day’s work is assured that he will get a fair day’s pay.
This brings me to the position which obtains to-day in regard to certain necessary commodities of life. Take sugar as an example. In the State which you, sir, represent, and of which I have the happiest memories, I have walked’ along the littoral, and as far as the eye could reach I have looked upon acres and acres of land upon which sugar was being or could be grown. Any quantity of sugar could be raised on those lands. Even the limited areas so far devoted to the cultivation of sugar cane have enhanced greatly in value. I, was shown sugar lands worth £60 per acre. I recalled my own domicile in the semi-arid interior of Western Australia, where land would not fetch more than 10s. per acre, and thought “What a happy lot these people are!” I inquired into the surroundings, and found that sugar workers there were getting 30s. a day. I say, “good luck to them to get it, so long as they do not do so by putting somebody else in the mud, and impoverishing other people.” But that is what they are doing, because .they have forced the price of sugar up in this country to an inordinate figure. Those men are getting that high wage in Queensland, but the wheat industry of Australia, except in the last few years, has never been in a position to pay anything like those rates, although it employs some 230,000 adults. Various Governments, including the one of which Mr. Hughes is the head, have flung a protecting arm around the sugar industry. This Government increased the price of sugar to £30 a ton. Once it was only £14 a ton, then it was increased to £21, and now it is up to £30. The excuse was made that sugar had to be bought at even higher rates from overseas, and certainly it had to be, but the imperative facts remain that here we have the land, and here we have th6 people, and at the same time bigger wages and profits are given in that industry than in the sister industries. My contention is that while that is the case, we are not warranted in giving higher rates for the sugar industry than what the equity of the situation demands, namely a wage and a profit equal to that obtaining in the sister industries.
– Last year the Government imported 100,000 tons at a price which was £25 a ton above the Australian price.
– I am aware of it, but the sugar industry of Australia could not live for a moment if the protecting arm of the Customs House was not thrown around it. The honorable senator is not going to trade on that while there are other industries in this country, where the value of land has decreased instead of increasing, and where the labour employed cannot be adequately paid. The honorable senator is hot going to be allowed to have certain petted industries, such as sugar producing and coal producing, without my calling attention to the fact and casting a vote against an illbalanced arrangement by which some industries are pampered and others are allowed to languish. The coal industry in my own State, is another petted industry. In saying that, I am showing that I am fair, because I do not point to my own State as being free from all spots and stains. The coal industry in Western Australia is another coddled industry, and all such coddling should be at once discouraged. Last year I took a spell, for the first time, I think, during the term of my natural life. I chose North Queensland, because I believe that is the only place in the Commonwealth where a person can loaf without attracting public notice. On my way up to Cairns I landed in Brisbane about the time the Prince of Wales was expected, and I saw there what I never saw before in my life, and never thought I would live to see. As accommodation was hard to secure, my daughter and myself left our luggage’ at the railway station and went around to find a place to stay at for the night. I got back to the station at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and passed in my check for my left luggage. A young fellow came languidly forward with the air of one who would’ ask, “ What the devil do you want?” I passed in my check, and he talked back to somebody else. I looked past him and there I saw three officials, two of whom were in uniform, playing cards. This was at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, in one of the principal cities of Australia! These were the downtrodden civil servants in the’ Queensland railways, drawing public money for the time they were supposed to be at work. I got my luggage from these gentleman, but only by being very courteous, and all the time three of them continued’’ the game. How can we run a country on those lines? If that sort of thing is happening in the main city. of Queensland what is happening away back in the country? A thousand miles inland, I presume, the bottle is on the table, and they are playing half the day. At Cairns I saw the wharf labourers, who looked at me as if they thought I never did an honest day’s work in my life, attempting to work. I remember on one occasion seeing men who were supposed to be working for the Federal Government at the Henderson Naval Base, and there I took the first occasion to point them out to ‘the engineer-in-charge. I asked him if they were supposed to be working. When I was told that they were, I said I thought they were posing as statues, like those in the Fitzroy Gardens, because they were so motionless. The wharf labourers at Cairns were the last word in working. They had sweat rags on, to wipe the sweat that never came. Those rags were spotlessly clean - probably the cleanest things they had on. I will leave the description at that, only saying that if the wharf labourers or any other body of men think they are advancing their cause by giving that sort of service in return for a day’s pay, they should be told that they are not only injuring their own cause, but taking the first long stride towards bringing their country to ruin.
– What would happen if a wharf labourer looked into this Senate occasionally ?
– I do not believe in fouling my own nest. Beyond’ Kuranda, on the line inland from Cairns, lie the
Atherton tablelands, one of the most fertile belts of country in Australia. A number of men are struggling there to start the dairy industry, but they cannot get labour. Several of them told me this was because the wages paid around the coast were so high that men would not go inland. I know the conditions of the industries around the coast. There are, for instance, the wharf labourers, with, their close preserve. They will not let a man in if they think he will be an extra competitor. There is also the sugar industry which, by virtue of what the Government have done for’ it for years, is able to give more for hired’ labour than its sister industries in Australia can afford to offer. This means that the poor “ cockie “ in the dairy industry in the interior has to break down the forest, fell his own trees, bum his own rubbish and milk his own cows, because the coddled industries of the Commonwealth will not allow him to obtain the necessary help. When we came back to Sydney, a place that wants sobering up pretty badly, my daughter and I stayed at a friend’s place. The first thing we found was that we could get no butter. This was after we had learnt that the Atherton dairymen could not get help, and, I suppose, the same thing was happening in the magnificent Northern Rivers District of New South Wales. When I found I could not get a pound of butter, I had to resort to artifice to obtain it. W© could not buy it at Anthony Hordern’s because there was a notice displayed there - “ No butter for sale.” So we went down to the Rocks, which was my haunt many years ago. I asked for butter in one of the shops, and was told that I could buy only ¼lb., so I paid down 7-kl. for that quantity. My daughter asked for a fib. also, but the shopkeeper said he could not serve her if she was my daughter. She had to go to another shop and purchase another Jib. for 7-Jd. This is in a country where no labour is available for the dairying industry. The secret of it all is this : We have ‘ our big, overcrowded cities, and our policy is directed to keeping population there, while our country areas are neglected. The effect is to send up the cost of living; whereas, if the population was distributed on something like an equitable basis between the cities and the country, we should not hear so much of the cry about the high cost of living.
Senator Gardiner interjected regarding the Senate. There was a time when the party of which he now claims to be the crême de la crême,, recognised that the Senate was a legislative body which it ought to gain and hold at all costs. The years passed on, and it was found that Senator Gardiner’s party was very sparingly represented in this Chamber. Then the opinion of the Labour party changed, and instead of the Senate being almost, a holy of holies in their estimation, it sank to such a level that they regarded it as a legislative incubus. The same party that once cried, “ Preserve the Senate as the custodian of our liberties and the bulwark of our freedom,” now says, “ Away with the Senate; it is of no use.” I do not wonder at Senator Gardiner doing and saying what he is told. At one time, he was taught to think that the Senate was a necessary part of our legislative system,, and he said so.Now, he is taught to think and say that it is a useless encumbrance.
– All I said was. that criticism of the workers for going slow comes very ill from this Senate.
– The Senate is here for what it is worth. Let Senator Gardiner clear the little patch in front of his own door before he starts to wipe up the front of anybody else’s door. I say that having in mind his speech this afternoon.
I wish to address a few words to the newspapers of this country, and particularly . to one in this city. I have often read remarks in that paper that would lead me to think that I belonged to a Chamber to which no credit attached. That view has been put forward consistently by that paper for a number of years. All I can say is that, so far as I have been able to judge of the very continental sentiments which it ought to breathe and express, it has never expressed anything savouring of a broader nature than is confined by the boundaries of Victoria. It claims to be Australian in sentiment, temperament, and sympathy; but it is nothing of the kind. Its circulation is confined to Victoria, and it speaks and acts only in accordance with the fact that it depends for its bread and butter on subscribers within Victoria. It says that the Senate is a legislative nullity. The Senate is not brought . together by a haphazard process. Its members are chosen by the free and, I hope, intelligent, expression of opinion of the electors scattered over the mighty area of the ‘Commonwealth. When the people of the seventy-five constituencies in the six States come together at election time and choose from amongst themselves the men of the best standing and the best equipment, mental and otherwise, to represent thom in this National Parliament, it ill-becomes any provincial newspaper, whose articles are written in a dusty back room in Melbourne, and whose editor has, possibly never been beyond the kerbstones of Collins-street, to throw mud at a body of men constituted in that fashion. I say that with a due sense of my responsibility as a representative of the people and a man not above criticism. Any one who regards himself as above criticism is taking the first step in that movement which resulted in the downfall of angels as well as of men. Let us be criticised, in the name of Heaven, when we do wrong ; but not subjected to this senseless and relentless criticism of which 1 speak, more particularly when those who are posing as our critics are so ill-equipped for the job.
I come now to what I regard’ as the most important item in my discourse this afternoon, and that is the absence of any indication in the policy of the Govern- ‘ ment for the proper development of the northern part of this country. I feel I am speaking a platitude when I say that if we do not fill the north of Australia, as it is our duty to do, we run the risk every moment of our national life, so long as it is empty, of some one -else stepping in to fill” it for us. I must make it quite plain, before I deal further with this matter, that I am not speaking in the interests of my own State. I cannot be accused of that. I want honorable senators particularly to note the report tabled by Mr. Hobler, one ‘of our Commonwealth engineers, dealing with his extensive tour last year through the north-west of Australia, a’nd it is my intention to mention just a few facts to bring home to honorable senators an appreciation of the enormous area of country we have there, and the slight effort that is being made to turn it to practical account. In his report, which was placed on the table of the Senate last year, Mr. Hobler dwelt upon the vast stretch of country which he had passed through, approximating 230,000 square miles. Probably members of this Chamber know little about two important rivers in that part of the country, namely, the Fitzroy and the Ord Rivers, and for their information I wish to make a few comparisons- The Fitzroy River, which is only part of the immense terra incognita of which I speak, drains an area of 50,000 square miles, and the Ord River an area of 20,000 square miles, or a total for the two rivers of 70,000 square miles. In the whole of that vast country there are only 700 or 800 people, while within a few days’ sail lie3 Java, with le3S than 60,000 square miles and a population of 33,000,000 of people. But, in addition, there are other big river systems in the north-west, such as the Gascoyne River, draining an area of 31,000 square miles; the Ashburton River, draining 24,750 square miles ; the Forte-cue River, draining 19,600 square miles; and the De Grey River, draining 25,750 square miles. These are all’ on the north-west side, and do not include the true northern watershed of Western Australia.
– But is the lana* as fertile as the land in Java?
– In reply to the honorable senator I will read a paragraph from Mr. Hobler’s report if, by so doing, I do not weary honorable senators or overburden my own remarks. Mr. Hobler states -
With proper systems of water conservation on the Fitzroy and Ord Rivers, sufficient water could be made available to irrigate large areas of first-class agricultural land on both rivers, and institute industries giving a yearly turnover of several millions of money, besides providing the means of deer settlement ‘which, as also in regard to pastoral industry, would mean the tremendous enhancement of the value of the country, and. consequently, its great utility in making railway and other means of development pay.
I particularly emphasize the fact that these two river systems drain a larger area than the whole of Java, which carries a population of 33,000,000 people, and that they are only part of Western Australia; and that there are other river systems combined or individually draining a similar area of country. Not enough is known of these immense fertile areas, even by the citizens of Western Aus tralia, and naturally less is known by the people in this part of the Continent. I sum up by stating that Queensland hae made rapid and wonderful development as the result of a vigorous public works policy, and has reached a stage of highly successful production. The part of Western Australia I refer to is the ward, so to speak, of a small community of 350,000 . people, and to develop it properly is certainly beyond their power. The first step that should be taken by the Commonwealth towards peopling and providing Australia with the best credentials to hold the country is to build a railway line that will connect its own system with those in Western Australia, and in turn with the Queensland system, thus making defence easier, as well as attracting a large and prosperous population. The proposed railway line to link up with the Western Australian system at Meekatharra will be 1,030 miles in length, and running in a circular direct:on it could connect with the transcontinental railway, which I hope soon to see constructed from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. It might be said that this line would mean a big bill for the Commonwealth, but construction can be carried out for about £5,000 per mile;: and, after all, th:s is the only way iri which we may develop the area and expect to hold it.
I am not pleading for Western Australia at all. Some people say, “You have your Western Australian railways.” Of course we have, but I remind those who advance that argument that before it was built the Premier of Western Australia was quite willing to build our portion of the railway towards the border, but South Australia did not fall into line. I am simply proving the-‘ bona fides of my own State by showing that out of our slender resources we were- quite prepared to build our portion of the transcontinental line if the Commonwealth, did not care to undertake the task. Unlesswe people this vast area the matter will probably come up at a sitting of the-
League of Nations or elsewhere, but particularly at the League of Nations, and we might have the question put to us, “ Show us your map. Draw a line across it at a certain latitude. How many people- have you got there ?” We want our answerto be that we have so many people already settled there, and that3 we are spending- so much, money in its proper development, instead of devoting our attention to southern areas and the land adjacent to the eastern coast-line. We want to be in a position to say that we intend to hold the north, and that we are doing something for it. It is up to this Government to get a move on, and, by negotiation with the Western Australian Government, ascertain if, in the terms of the Constitution, they are prepared to build the line to develop that country. In the interests not of Western Australia alone, but of this vast Continent, which we feel is good to live in, we must do something to people and develop our north-western areas.
– After the breezy and common-sense remarks to which we have just been listening, I feel inclined to apologize to the Senate for coming back to a matter of administrative detail; but Senator Earle, when speaking this afternoon, made statements to which it is just as well I should reply. I understood him to urge that in the arrangements for Citizen Force training, provision should be made to prevent night parades- clashing with instruction given to night students of technical schools. I may tell the honorable senator that instructions have been issued to every area officer that, in making up a syllabus of parades, this fact should be borne in mind. But as Senator’ Earle continued his remarks I realized that he was dealing with a particular case in Hobart, a case which does not fall within this category. He was referring to a lad, a member of an engineering unit, and who is studying at a technical school with a view to becoming an engineer. Naturally he would like to be associated with an engineering unit, but, unfortunately, the nights fixed for the ‘parade of the unit clashed with the nights fixed for his technical education, although the parade night is suitable for all the other members of the unit. A suggestion was therefore made by the military authorities to the father that the lad should transfer to another unit, still a technical unit, though not an. engineering unit, but to this the father strongly objects, so that after all it appears to be a case of the private declaring the rest of the company out of step. The father demands that the boy should be retained in the engineering unit, and that the night fixed for the parade, although suitable for all the other trainees, should be changed to meet his particular wishes.
– In such a case, why not exempt the boy?
– Because there is no necessity to do that. The father admits that the parade nights fixed for the other technical units are suitable, and do not clash with the boy’s technical education, and it seems to me that he should accept the suggestion made by the military authorities, for while it is the duty of the authorities to do everything to meet the wishes of the individual, there is a duty laid also upon the individual to do something himself to meet the requirements of the law of his country. In this case, the lad could comply with the law without inconvenience. There is no particular hardship in night parades for the Citizen Forces, and for the Senior Cadets night parades have been done away with. Parades are held in the daytime, and they are largely of a recreational character. I can’ assure Senator Earle that what he asks for is already being done. Definite instructions have been sent out that every military officer shall, so far as he can, arrange the syllabus of training so as to interfere as little as possible with the educational work carried on at night in the technical schools. Every effort is made to convenience the boys.
– Where that cannot be done could not the policy be adopted of exempting from training boys attending technical schools ?
– I do not see why, because a boy attends a technical school, he should be exempted from military training. As a matter of fact, in the halfyear there are only eight home training parades for the Citizen Forces. Can any one say that that represents a real interference with the career of boys attending technical schools?
– Parades on only eight nights during the whole halfyear,?
– Yes; we are havin an eight days’ camp, and eight home training parades are arranged, for, during the half-year. These parades are not all held at night. Some of them are held on the Saturday afternoon. The difficulty is that the boy referred to by Senator Earle desires to continue a member of a particular unit, and wishes that the whole of the other members of that unit may be inconvenienced to suit him-. That is not reasonable. I suggest to Senator Earle that he might advise the father of the boy that whilst the Government has some obligation to him, he has ako a little obligation to the Government, and he might meet his obligation by agreeing to the suggestion that the boy might be trained with another unit,” which would enable him at the same time to continue his technical training.
.- I wish to refer to the time-honoured practice of a senator who has been honoured by the Senate by being placed in the position of its Chairman of Committees not taking part in any very controversial debate. But the Ministerial statement contains certain matters of a nature which lifts them high above party considerations, and I feel sure, therefore, that my fellow senators will not regard it as a transgression on my part if I have a few words to say on the motion now before the Senate.
I have a full appreciation of the very grant work performed in the interests of the Commonwealth by Senator E. D. Millen at the Geneva Conference and at various other Conferences which need not be particularized, but attendance at which was incidental to his duties as our representative in Europe. He had, so to speak, to pick up the threads of a spool, which, if not exactly thrown down, ha4 at least been laid aside, and he did his work very well. How onerous it was probably no one but himself knows, but we at least can have some appreciation of it, although we had not the closest possible knowledgeof it, and do not possess that knowledge even at the present time. “We know, without being told, that he had to pit himself against gome of the keenest intellects of the world and of the Empire at the Geneva Conference, and, despite anything that might be said to the contrary, I have no hesitation whatever in asserting that Senator Millen has done Australia a most notable service by the work he has performed.
The Ministerial statement says that this is to be a Tariff session. The nature of the Tariff is of very great importance to the domestic economy of Australia. I am not going to say very much about it, except that the professed fiscal policy of this country is a Protectionist one, and any assistance I may give in regard to the deliberations on the Tariff in this Chamber will be on Protectionist lines. I am not a fanatical Protectionist. If I were sure that we were going to have a couple of hundred years of peace, I should in all probability be a Free Trader, but the millennium is not at hand, and we have to consider, in regard to the domestic economy of Australia, that because of possible contingencies in regard to our national life many things must be produced in this country which may have to be produced at a greater cost than attends their production m other countries. A very simple illustration may be given to indicate our position in the economic field. We might have rifles, munitions of war, and many other things, produced in other countries and imported to our shores at a less cost than we could produce them for on Australian territory ; but it would be the very counsel of foolishness in an extreme degree to say that we must always be dependent on oversea sources for the guns and munitions with which to protect our shores should fateful times come upon us. If we could get cartridges, guns, and other things necessary for our defence [rem abroad at 95 per cent, less cost than that at which they could be produced here, nevertheless we must produce them here. Just as man does not live by bread alone, so we do not live by cartridges and guns alone, and there are thousands of things such as galvanized iron, wire, and almost every article enumerated in a Tariff that are necessary to our civilized existence. Because of the fact that the world has not yet reached the millennium it is necessary that a community like ours inhabiting a continent down in these southern seas, should have at its hand, and in its own markets and industries,, the capacity to produce all that is necessary for our national needs. Consequently, I am a Protectionist. I am aware of the beauties of Free Trade as a theory. I am aware of the fact that FreeTrade mav be an excellent thing in certain circumstances, for a country, for instance, like the United Kingdom ; but thefact remains that, in ‘ our present circumstances, and with the contingency of world-wide disturbances ever present, it is necessary that the Commonwealth of Australia, claiming as it does one of the world’s continents, should have a Protectionist policy. Therefore, in no fanatical spirit I declare myself a Protectionist for the purpose of establishingin this Commonwealth all that may be necessary to make it as self-contained as possible, because of the troublous times that, in my view, may still be ahead of us.
I do not propose to discuss many matters of domestic policy, for, after all, what does thesize of a man’s overdraft in the bank matter to him if he is going, to be executed to-morrow? Imperial questions of very great import are- mentioned in the Ministerial statement, and, when we consider another phase of the subject, vhich has been so interestingly dealt witi by Senator Lynch, viz., that probably lot more than 5,500,000 people claim excusive possession of this continent, at last in some degree, and in relation to ; certain races of the world, we have to adlress ourselves to. the important points of low we are likely to maintain our position, how long we are likely to maintain i’, and what means we must employ to seure to . ourselves that exclusive possession tf the territories of this Commonwealth which practically every Australian demands.
It maybe laid down as a self-evident proposition that if 5,500,000 people at any time claim possession of a whole continent, the shoulder tremendous responsibilities in regard to what might be called the oin ions of outside mankind, and they mst justify themselves. The very same rgumenfc, as Senator Lynch very proper! indicated, will be applied to us as wein our daily ecofiomic life apply to thi squatter. We say to the squatter, “ “lou are a land monopolist. You have lare areas of land which were acquired in te early history of the continent. Thos areas are- now fit for closer settlement, ‘he nation, in its exigency and in conseqence of its modern development, asks yu to consider the necessity of your landbeing acquired in the interest’s of theiation for subdivision and settlement byreturned soldiers, if you please, or by dier persons who may care to go on the hd.” That is the principle we obserj in regard to men who have held larg areas of land- in this country, it mabe for decades only, but that is the pr.ciple which will be ap plied to the 5,500,000 people of Australia when they claim practically exclusive possession of one of the world’s continents. , .
SenatorE. D. Millen. - The principle’ of effective occupation.
– Yes, “the principle of effective occupation,” as the Minister very cogently interjects. It may be that, taken as a whole, our country is not as productive or fertile as. some believe, but in. view of its vast extent and the fact that it is so thinly populated, the question of our external relations and our Imperial relation, the question of how we can buttress ourselves in our position in the British Society . of Nations, becomes one of paramount importance to us. ‘ Therefore, without any very great discussion of what may be called our immediate domestic affairs, I wish to say a few words on that part of the Ministerial statement in which it is explained that honorable senators are possibly aware that a Conference has been called at which important matters will be discussed by Imperial Ministers and the Prime Ministers of the various self-governing Dominions in June next, and that it . is the intention of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to make a full statement on the subject in another place, which the Senate will be afforded an opportunity to discuss.
No doubt that course will be adopted, and I have no wish to anticipate what may be said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), but rather than in the spirit of the plagiarist follow what may be said by others, I wish, of my own volition and independent judgment, to make a few remarks on this overwhelmingly important matter. Senator Earle and other honorable senators have necessitated some remarks in reply from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) in regard to some small incidences of our defence policy. We have been told of seventy days’ camps, and that they are going to corrupt the virile youth of Australia. I have no hesitation in saying, whether itloses me votes or gains votes for me, that I regard the whole business as so much humbug. We must defend this continent. It is not a question of a seventy days’ camp, but whether this continent is at any time to be occupied by an enemy camp. That is the real, question. To. those good-natured and probably excellent individuals who believe that the millenium is at hand, and that, because of the projection of the League of Nations, we are going to secure a prolonged period of peace, I say that we must take into consideration what human nature is. It is, perhaps, almost a platitude to say that human nature changes or improves with almost inconceivable slowness. This is the Senate of Australia, and I am not going, as Senator Lynch very properly says we should not do, to depreciate the abilities of honorable sena- tors collectively or individually. I believe that, with all the defects which may be attributed to men who represent rough and ready pioneer communities, the mem- “ bers of this Parliament, and of this Chamber in particular, will compare favorably with any similar number of men, elected by a similar selective process, in any other nation of the world.
– In spite of Viscount Bryce?
– Yes, in spite of Viscount Bryce. Honorable senators will remember that in the discussions which took place during the war period, when 1 was advocating certain efforts on the part of our people and thepeople of the Empire generally as necessary to preserve our Imperial existence and bring about that victory which was essential to its preservation, the name of Mr. Asquith and other names which do not loom so large to-day, were continually dangled before me, as the names of gentlemen, eminent in Imperial circles, who did not hold the same views as I did. Their names were quoted to “ squash “ me, and Telegate me to outer darkness in connexion with the discussion of Imperial questions. I said I never feared the dangling before me of the great names of other men who had been honoured by the electors of a Democracy, and who had been placed in such a Chamber as this. They were entitled to the full and free expression of individual opinion for what it waa worth. I have lived to see my views adopted by the supreme Council of the Empire, rather late in the day, but, nevertheless, adopted, God be thanked ! at a time to insure their triumph by a narrow margin, and to achieve a victory which prevented us from experiencing ‘that defeat which would have been fatal - to our national and Imperial existence. Viscount Bryce is a very great man, and he, of course, would lament, and does lament, the absence from our councils of men with University training - men who have some knowledge of the lore possessed by the Latin and the Greek - but that is not all. Many of us possess something vhich Viscount Bryce may not like; I think we do. Viscount Bryce, eminent man as he is, and prominent writer as he may be, is not, I think, sufficiently broad a philosopher to understand the problem which we as Australian senators havs to face.
– Viscount Bryce saw our defects, but hedid not see the defects in his own class in his own country.
– Exactly. And he does not see those virtues which we possess. Human nature changes very slowly, and, in fact, it changes with inconceivable slowness. I have spoken of the ability which I feel sure.some nonorable senators possess in no sn’all degree; but, at the same time, to ilhstrate my point, and to indicate to those people that the millennium is not on the point of arriving, and that no such thing is likely to happer, I will show that the members of hat august body, the Roman Senate, differed very little from ours. At any rate, our Senate does not differ greatl’ as regards individual passions and anbitions. It differs, if anything, to theadvantage on this point of the members who compose this Chamber. In regard tomere literary culture, probably Cicero ws more than the equal of any man that/the whole of the Australian Parliaments’can produce. Lepidus, Caesar, Crassus, Gto and Bru-. tus were men of ability an power. Perhaps allthese men were infnany respects of higher intellectual statu and capacity than any of our own. Isay perhaps, because they have come down to us through the shadows of hat antiquity which forms a background, and their abilities, through mere perspective, loom somewhat larger than thecapacity of our contemporary men. Nevertheless, they were great men, and I would not, allowing for modern conditions, care to say that members of the Australian Senate are the superiors of anequal number of men in the ancient Roman Senate. I make this point to illustite the fact that human nature does nothange, or if it does, it is, as I have dd, with inconceivable slowness: That,being so, man is a warrior still, and our racial and social ambitions are going to find expression, not only in the language of the diplomats but in action.
It is because of the fact that many national and racial aspirations are going to find expression in action Very soon - honorable senators know I have always held this opinion - that the discussion of the question of defence is fraught with great issues and almost beyond the imagination of the statesmen of this Empire. It is one of the ‘ principal factors for immediate consideration, as it involves the whole of our national interests. Ours is _ the Host singular Empire of which history has any record. Ali Empires wl:i ch we know of have or had one or more of three characteristics. There is th( Empire wholly founded on force, the Empire of culture, and the Empire of colognization. Ours is an Empire having all these three characteristics. As it is one of force - although, perhaps, to a small degree, at least in intention - it is also one of culture and one of colonization. We hire in Australia are evidence beyond all doubt that it is an Empire of colonization. We have evidence, that it is an Empire of culture. It is also a tutelary Empire, as it attempts to do what it considers necessary for inferior races. It is an Empire, it is true, founded on force, but Imperial existence has reached the stage thai it claims to dispense as far as possible with the exercise of force. In that respect i is unique. This Empire is very young w.en we take into consideration the pei id over which the Roman Empire exten&d, or when we consider the periods over which the Chinese, the Japanese, the Assyrian, or the Persian Empires have extended. Our Empire in regard to life is merely a child. There were certain economies which came to England as the devry of foreign princesses. We did not posess a single colony, I think, until the Cromwellian period, when I believe we acquired Jamaica. Our Empire has attaine its present position very rapidly, and very largely from the fact that it has beel a colonizing Empire, as its Dominions overseas have been largely colonized by people of its own race. It is true that it is till an Asiatic Empire. India is a portion of the Brit:sh Empire, and we maintain partly by force, partly by , culture, and partly by tutelary inten tion in connexion with the lives of the Indian people. The white people of the Empire have to maintain it, and only 60,000,000 or 70000,000 are available. In this jealous, ambitious world men are still inclined to reconstitute a kind of abattoir. We possess an Empire that is upheld only by the force of 60,000,000 or 70,000 000 white people, all of whom are not fighting units. We have reached the point where we deprecate the use of force. We profess to be an educated Empire. We give our own people almost complete selfgoverning powers, so complete that there are now serious discussions proceeding in the public press; concerning our entering into Imperial relations on the basis of an acknowledged international, status. A university professor has said that the , Commonwealth being a signatory to the. Peace Treaty is now an independent power. Another gentleman, the Chief Justice df Victoria, who was long asso.ciated with the political life of Australia, has said that our status has not altered in the eyes of the other nations of the world, and that as an Empire we are still a diplomatic entity with one diplomatic voice. He has said that if we attempted diversion we would be bailed up by the limitations of nations. The true position is really to be found between these two statements, and an accurate diagnosis of the case would show that our relationship within the Empire carries an unexpressed but real power to exercise some form of exterior representation while willingly retaining our grouping as a member of the Imperial family. The whole position is in a state of flux, and of indetermination; It would be unfortunate, indeed, if the Commonwealth thought fit to appoint a diplomatic representative in the kindred Anglo-Saxon country, the United States of America, and the Imperial authorities said, “ You must not do that.” I do not think they would. They would give permission to exercise that measure of independence in at least semi-diplomatic action, and allow us to have our own representative in Washington. I have always held - as honorable senators are aware - that such an appointment would be beneficial to the Empire, because Australia .is a nation within the Empire, and we are, I think, on excellent terms as a people and as a Commonwealth with the citizens of the
United States of America. The appointment of an Australian High Commissioner would, I feel sure, do a lot to remove the differences existing between the United States of America and Great Britain, in connexion with matters which I do not intend to particularly mention, and honorable senators know why. I have always advocated the representation of the Commonwealth at Washington, because I feel that if Canada, which is within the Empire,” has a diplomatic representative at Washington, Australia would be allowed similar representation.
– Representation has been granted, but no appointment has been made.
– Quite so. So delicate is the whole situation, and so careful must we be concerning our relationships within the Empire, and our status outside, that we must select the best means, in. all circumstances, and at all times, for Australia to be represented in the councils of the Empire,It may be that our present and particular system of Empire may run its course more rapidly than circumstances would for the moment indicate, and that the bond which holds us, or rather the link which binds us, to the people of the Old Country may be a comparatively slender one. It is true that the Imperial Parliament has authority over us legislatively, which I feel sure it would not exercise except with the greatest discretion and after consultation with our responsible Ministers. But it still has that power. The whole situation is most delicate, and we must address ourselves to as complete an adjustment as is possible in the circumstances.
I desire to repeat that I do not think 5,500,000 Australians will be permitted to hold this continent and be protected unless we remain a unit within the British Empire. I see no hope for us otherwise. If we attempted to go upon our own account, we should be ridden over just as cavalry ride over a broken square. It is Only bythe associated protection of the other units of the Empire that we can hope to hold the territories of this Commonwealth. So delicate is the position that Ican only refer to certain features of it very, very vaguely. I must address honorable senators as if they individually knew all my opinions, and had been admitted into the very recesses of my mind. I take it for granted that most of them do understand me in that way; and if I make allusions which cannot always be understood by the general public, I feel sure that honorable senators generally will not be able to accuse me of uttering anything which is either obscure or indefinite. A position which I have long foreseen, and to which I have referred in other circumstances, is very rapidly maturing. We, who are within this Empire, have to remember that to a very large extent it is an Asiatic Empire. The Asiatics in the British Empire overwhelmingly outnumber the other populations. If we are just to the other peoples of this Empire,, that fact must colour all our relationships with them. It must determine to a certain extent our policy and our attitude within the Empire, and towards the other white units of that Empire. A very grave position is hastening to its climax. There is likely to take place in thenear future the consummation of a situation which is of momentous importance I cannot be more particular in dealiig with this matter, but honorable senators will understand what I mean. I addressed them upon it a year or two ago, and I have no reason whatever b vary the opinions which I then expressed, to retract anything which I tha said, or to modify the philosophy which I hold, the principles of which I beliee clearly indicate the progress ofevents. The opinions which I have hell during the last year or two of certaintendencies towards certain events have not been relinquished, but are, rathe, being held with even greater force. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I hope, is going Home. Let evey Australian forget, for the moment, all asperities, all little petty political feelings, and think of theresponsillities in the way of decisions whith the Prime Minister must make a’ the Imperial Council table. I was edcated in a different political school fom the Prime Minister. In regard to iany matters of domestic policy, I freely dmit that I am prone’ to examine any iroposals which emanate from him. ver minutely, and, sometimes, even, very suspiciously. But when he goes Home to the Imperial Conference, I have unreserved confidence in him as a man who is a true Imperialist, and who will do everything in his power to buttress to the utmost extent, everything within the Imperial circle, and particularly those ideals which the Australian people hold dear to them. Whilst listening to me, honorable senators may perhaps think that I am a dreamer and an idealist; but I would like them to remember that in the course of the past few years not many of my predictions have lacked verification. There are men who have a singular capacity, so to. speak, for examining national events, and clearly discerning national issues. The other day I read, for the second or third time, a book by Professor Crambe on the relations between Germany and England. The Professor died the year before the outbreak of war, yet we have in his book a clear exposition by a professorial and brilliant intellect of what he saw would come to pass..
– His forecast was wonderfully correct.
– It was correct to the extent of 95 per cent. He said what has been said by Napoleon and other possessors of great intellects in a hundred different ways, but what is always true, namely, that in the course of human affairs there are certain events which happen in spite of the factors that would fain check the influences which bring them about. He said that there were plenty of men in Germany, in England, and in different countries of Europe - men of intellect, ability, and of good meaning, who hated the idea of a European war, of this tremendous crash, this Armageddon.i But he said that it would take place :all the same. We know that it did take place. So, too, events which will determine for good or for ill the history of Australia, and of the kind of people who will inhabit this country 300 or 400 years hence, will happen in spite of all our desires for peace, in spite of our abhorrence of seventy-day camps, and in spite of our dislike of the cost of armaments. This trial of strength, either by moral or actual physical combat, between certain great forces, is about to take place, and I fear that it will take place very soon. If that be so, let us one and all - Australian legislators and Australian citizens - give our hearty support and our best wishes to the Prime Minister, irrespective of whether we like him personally or not; let us give him every chance to go Home, and by the full exhibition of his powers, which I am sure are not decadent, do the best he can in the Imperial Council circle to bring about decisions which may favorably affect our children and children’s children to the very latest generation.
– I desire to add my compliments to those which have already been extended by other honorable senators to Senator E. D. Millen for the very fine work which he did recently whilst representing Australia at Geneva, and in London. I do hope that we are going to hear from him as full an account as he is able to give - having regard to all the facts - of the work which he accomplished and attempted. The matter to which I particularly desire to refer is very closely associated with the speech which has just been delivered by Senator Bakhap. Since I entered public life, I have made many endeavours to fully inform myself on international affairs. But every step I take in that direction is hampered in a most extraordinary way by secrecy. Honorable senators may have noticed a letter by Professor Harrison Moore, which was published in the Argus of the 30th April last, in which he complained that certain documents which were available in Canada and South Africa, and which had been fully published there, were not yet available in Australia. I hold his letter in my hand, and I intend to read out the documents to which he referred. They are the documents which I have endeavoured to secure from time to time since I became a member of this Senate. It is strange that they are not yet available, although we are expected to take an intelligent interest in international affairs. We have been told that, by virtue of the Treaty of Versailles, and of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which was drawn up during the labours of our representatives in Paris, the status of the Dominions of the British Empire has been entirely changed. That is a vague statement, which may mean a lot, or which may mean very little. At all events, we have not had an opportunity of examining the documents which are said to so vitally affect the status of Australia, with a view to enabling us to decide what is the exact position. Nor, indeed, have we ever had anything from the Government except very general statements in regard to this matter. It is peculiar that both Ministers and Departments should be so obsessed with this extraordinary desire for secrecy. A very good illustration of what I mean in this regard may be found in the action of certain permanent officers of the Defence Department. The gallant and distinguished members of the Senate who were with me upon active service will remember that, from time to time, documents were issued to officers in the field marked “ Secret.” They were generally, in the nature of comments upon military operations, and stressed the lessons to be learned from various phases of the war. They were issued to all officers down to platoon commanders, and copies of them were forwarded to Australia and the other Dominions in order that those Dominions might profit from the lessons which had been learned, and that those lessons might be passed on to the recruits who were being trained in Australia, with a view to subsequently joining the Forces already in’ the field. I am.” however, credibly informed that these documents are still in safe custody under lock and key, and that they have never seen the light of day. Yet they were distributed to all officers in the field in France down to platoon commanders. The same extraordinary secrecy which has been observed in regard to these documents is also indulged in by Ministers and Departments Upon matters which are of great interest to the members of this Senate. I propose to read a list of the documents which we ought ‘to have in order that we may gain an intelligent view of what happened at the Peace Conference, and form intelligent conclusions as to whether there has been any alteration in the status of the Commonwealth of Australia,’ and, if so, what it is. According to Professor Harrison Moore, these’ documents are -
I am informed that they have been published in Canada and South Africa, but they have not been published in Australia, and they have not even been made available to members of this Chamber.
– They are in Duncan Hall’s British Commonwealth- of Nations.
– It is true that one can get them if one goes to the necessary expense and trouble, and happens to know that they have been published, and ‘where. Unless a member of this Chamber happens to know these things, he has- no opportunity of informing himself on the very important matters contained in these papers. I am certain that there is only one, or perhaps two, men in the whole of Australia who have a full knowledge of international affairs, and who could give, on behalf of Australia, a well-informed and intelligent decision. One is the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and,, possibly, the other is the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen). Is that a proper state of affairs? Is it right that there should be only two men in the whole of Australia sufficiently informed on international affairs? Should there not be more men capable of giving a decision or an intelligent opinion on those subjects?
– Or capable, at any rate, of forming an intelligent judgment.
– And, of course, forming an intelligent judgment, as the honorable senator suggests.
When the Constitution of Australia was originally drafted, it was not contemplated by the gentlemen- engaged in that work that. Australia would for many years be in a position to enter into international contracts or treaties with other nations without the consent and concurrence of Great Britain. It was deemed then that all those matters would be entirely controlled by the Government of Great Britain, and although our Constitution was in great measure moulded on the Constitution of the United States of America, provision in that regard was not incorporated in it, as it had been in the American Constitution. In the United States of America the President has power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Senate there, as here, represents the various “States, which were, and are, sovereign States, just as the Australian States are sovereign. It is clearly set out in The Federalist, written by Alexander Hamilton, that it was deemed necessary that these sovereign powers of the sovereign State of America delegated to the Federation should be controlled in the House which represented them. I submit, therefore, that as this Senate represents the sovereign States of Australia, it is the proper House to have control of the international affairs of Australia. In order that there may be in it men sufficiently informed on international affairs, there should be in this Chamber, as there is in the United States Senate, a Select Committee for International Affairs. It should have access to every document that comes to Australia - under the seal of secrecy, if honorable senators like. Every communication- between the Government of Australia and the Imperial Government, and every communication on international affairs that comes to the Governor-General for the information and guidance of the Government, should be placed before that Select Committee, so that we may have not merely one or two men in the public life of Australia with a proper knowledge of international affairs.
– Do not the Cabinet as a whole see the whole of those documents ?
– I think not. Even if they do, the Cabinet is mostly drawn from another House, which is elected’ fer three years. If there is a change of opinion in the country, every one of those men, with the information that is so essential to Australia, goes out of public life, whereas” if the nen intrusted with that knowledge, and acquainted with the action that should follow on that knowledge, were in the Senate, they would at all events be here for six years, and much less likely to be wiped out of political existence by a change of public opinion. If we’ had a Committee of six senators, three of whom held their seats for three years and the other three for six years, even if at the next election the first three went out, we should still have three who had made it their duty to keep themselves fully informed on international affairs, and who had studied international and constitutional law. Three more out of the newly-elected senators could then be chosen to co-operate with them. In that way we should secure continuity of knowledge and continuity of policy. This is a matter which the Government ought to consider earnestly at an early date.
The documents to which I have referred should be placed on the table of the Senate, and printed and distributed amongst members at once. The absurd secrecy in which the Government have indulged on these questions should end, and we should have, at all events, sufficient information made available to us to enable us to form an intelligent opinion upon international affairs. At present we do not get that information from the Government or through the press. The press of Australia, unfortunately, at the present time, particularly the press of this State, pays much more attention to <: tiddly- winking “ affairs than to international affairs. Every morning we see great headlines about political situations that exist only in the imaginations of the men who write the articles. If the press devoted that space to educating Australian opinion on international affairs, they would do much more good than by trying to stir Up political strife. If Viscount Bryce had been here this afternoon, and listened to some of the speeches made here he “would have realized, I think, that the intellectual attainments and the mentality of the members of the Senate, and the education of some of them who spoke this afternoon, reach a very high standard. “I would impress on the Government also that the members of the Senate possess a standard of ability that justifies their being placed in possession pf information which will enable them to form intelligent conclusions on the very important international situation now existing. This is an important question, and I shall follow it up again and again. This is the second time I have referred to it on the floor of this Chamber. My last outburst was caused through an illustration of the ‘striking want of knowledge on the subject of one of the best informed senators in this Chamber. If that gentleman was without the information then, he is still without it, because those papers have not been made available to him.
When war was declared, a scale of pay for the various ranks of the Australian Imperial Force and a scale of pensions for the widows and orphans of the various ranks, were decided upon. I do not know what the Government had in their minds when they fixed one scale for the private, another for the subaltern, another for the captain, and another for the major, but I should imagine that they thought that the officer on active service was going to run greater risks than the men in the ranks, and that the proportion of officers to be killed was going to be greater than the proportion of men in the ranks. I assume that this was what the Government had in their minds. The facts are certainly borne out by the assumption I make that when they offered greater pensions for persons of higher responsibility and higher commands they did so with a view to getting the best men to offer themselves, on the principle that the greater the risk the greater the pension. It was decided, I think in 1914, that the widow of a private should receive £1 per week, the widow of a subaltern £1 15s., and the widow of a captain £1 18s. 9d., plus 10s., 7s. 6d., and 5s. for three children. I need not go any further, because this serves to illustrate what I mean. Nor need I touch upon what happened between 1914 and what now obtains. Today the widow of a private with children receives £2 2s. per week. In other words, her pension has been a little more than doubled, and properly so, on account of the high cost of living, and because the original pension fixed was too low. But there has been no proportionate increase in the pensions paid to widows of men in other ranks; so that a subaltern or a captain’s widow receives £2 2s. per week, and a major’s widow £2 4s. 6d., only because, in the latter case, this amount was fixed originally. Is this lair? If it was right to make a difference in the first place on account of the varying risks to be taken - and I presume that was the reason why it was done - is it fair now not to give some relative increase to the widows of subalterns and men of the higher ranks? I appeal to the Government to take this matter into consideration, and once again reVise the pensions scheme. Not very many widows would be affected, but at present it is felt that they are being unfairly treated, and that the undertaking given to their husbands before they went on active service is not being honoured.
– Is it not a fact that representatives of returned soldiers were responsible for the alteration?
– I do not care who was responsible. The Government must accept the responsibility for having adopted the altered scheme. If it was right in the first place to make any distinction in the pensions allowance, their relatives are entitled to the proportionate increases now.
These are the only two matters T desire to refer to this afternoon. There are a number of other subjects to which I might direct attention, but, after the eloquent address by my fellow senator- from Western Australia (Senator Lynch), I am afraid that I might weary honorable senators. May I say, howeve, before resuming my seat, that I appreciated very much the sentiments given expression to by my friend, Senator Lynch
– ] do not intend to detain the Senate lon, but I desire to refer to certain remaks made in the course of the interesting! discussion this afternoon. First of all, let me say how much I value the very kindly references ma’de by Senator Gardiner concerning my trip to Europe. I appreciate his remarks the more because between the honorable senator arid myself, unhappily, there occasionally arise lorne slight differences of political opinio.. I also gratefully acknowledge similar remarks made by other honorable senators concerning the same subject.
Ok statement made by Senator Gardiner’ rather surprised me, and I refer to i now because similar remarks have beer made elsewhere. He , said that the Sen.b had not been informed of the reason f>r my visit to Europe, and that he had ally a nebulous idea of the purpose for which I went abroad. I remind the honorable gentleman that prior to my departure from Melbourne the Prime Minister ‘Mr. Hughes), in the other House, mate a full statement as to the matters to which I should direct my attention in Eu»;e, and, therefore, it is not the fault of hi Government if honorable senators wes lot fully informed upon this point.
I quite agree with Senator Gardiner’s suggestion as to the conduct of business in the Senate, and seeing that the Government propose to confine honorable senators ti a discussion of the Tariff, it is likely and indeed. inevitable, that there wil bi a considerable interregnum in the WOK112 period of this Chamber during the present year. However, I shall endeavour to do what I can to see that we WOK airing .working hours, and adjourn wlm here is no work to do, and in this mater I feel that I am entitled to ask for the cooperation of all honorable senators. I remind them that frequently when a Bill brought up, not a very important mease perhaps, in order to avoid calling hon,able senators together the following week it becomes necessary to ask the suspension of Standing Orders to take the first and the pro forma second-reading stage in one day, if there is a desire to crowd our business into a reasonable time. When occasions of that nature arise the Senate should not be unduly detained by protests against the suspension of the Standing Orders to which I refer.
– But if the Standing Orders do not permit of our doing business in a businesslike way, why not alter them ?
– Because our Standing Orders have been framed for the protection of the Senate, and in the ordinary course of business they are necessary. Only when an emergency arises is it desirable that we should not be slavishly bound by them, and then it is the privilege of the Senate to suspend them.
I would now like to say a word or two regarding the price of wheat, to which Senator Gardiner directed attention this afternoon. First of all, I take exception to a very widespread tendency to assume that - whether the price fixed is right or wrong - I am not dealing with that now - the responsibility rests upon the Commonwealth Government. I challenge that statement at once. It may have been wrong to fix the price of wheat at its present figure; but I point out that the existing machinery which controls the wheat is not under the authority of the Commonwealth Government. The wheat farmers themselves primarily, and the State Governments, are the responsible authorities. The wheat is the property of the farmers. The Commonwealth Government are associated with the machinery for the proper reason that the Government are financially interested in the scheme. They have given a definite guarantee that a certain price shall be received by the farmer for every bushel of wheat he has produced, and, therefore, as the guarantor of this big account the Government are bound to keep themselves informed as to what is going on, and, if necessary, to have some final vote if it is thought that the interests of the Commonwealth, as the guarantor, are being jeopardized. The question seems to resolve itself into the consideration of two things, namely, the world’s parity, and are our farmers to get it or not. To me it appears obvious that we cannot have the world’s parity one day and object to it the next. If it is to be a world’s parity to-day it must be a world’s parity always. Some exception has been taken to the fact that our people are now being charged more than world’s parity for their wheat, and to those who demand world’s parity to-day I say that Lt is only fair to pay it right through. Are they prepared to do that? When this agreement to pay 9s. per bushel for wheat for home consumption was made, world’s parity was 10s. 10 1/2 d. If the farmer is to be content with world’s parity now - assuming that parity has fallen below 9s. - are those who now clamour for world’s parity prepared to make it retrospective? Senator Wilson suggested that the better, plan would have been to appoint some committee to make re-adjustments from month to month or quarter to quarter. Probably that would have been a useful plan, but, in my judgment, the fixing of the price for a long period was expected to give greater stability, and because of the long period, the price was fixed at something below world’s parity. Had the price been fixed from month to month on; the basis of the world’s parity, it is quite clear that up to the present the Australian consumer would have paid more than he has paid to date. I have no doubt that,’ like everybody else, the consumer likes to get his requirements supplied as cheaply as possible, but. I feel satisfied that objection is now being urged entirely with a view to creating political prejudice.
Let us turn now to the question of the sanctity of agreements. When this agreement was made the wheat was then, as it is now, the property of the growers. They had their Board, on which they were properly represented, and when the question arose as to what the Board would charge each State for wheat required for local consumption it might have fixed the price ar, world’s parity - 10s. 10 1/2 d - but instead it was agreed to fix it at 9s. On the basis of this agreement a definite quantity was bought for a definite price.
What would have been the position if the price had gone up? Would we have had any demand that, as the price had increased the fanner should get more? Are we to suppose that these people who are now clamouring to have the price brought down would then have heated a deputation in the interests of the poor wheat farmer, and would they have said, “ It is quite true that the farmer’s wheat was sold to us for 9s. a bushel, but the price has since gone up, so here ii another 2s. per bushel extra for the poor devil.” Of course, no one can imagine such a position arising.-
I say that a bargain was made, that 30,000,000 bushels of wheat have been sold, and that there is now neither a moral nor a legal right to ask for ay reduction. It might be advisable fo; certain reasons, and to meet the varying conditions of different sections of the.community that the position should be econsidered, but again I say that it cannot be reconsidered as a matter of right., I repeat that the Commonwealth Government are not involved in the matter. ^ those who are clamouring for a reduction in the price of wheat appeal to the State Treasurers to secure a reduction of price they can only do so by withholding frei the farmers some portion of the money which under the agreement they ought to receive for the wheat which they grew, r by making up the difference out of public funds.- ‘ i
I pass from that subject to say a word in reply to Senator Wilson’s remarks about new appointments to the public Service. I do not know whether ti list supplied by me was complete or no but I hope the honorable senator will accept my assurance that it was thought the a sufficient answer to his question. If he will point out where it is defective ! shall see that the defect is remedied.
Senator Keating suggested tint we might occupy some spare time in dealing with a Bankruptcy Bill. The honorable senator will pardon me for saying ;kt I had almost forgotten that measure. . shall consult the Crown Law authoritiest see if it is possible to find the Senate . Little more work to do in the direction suggested during the time we are waitui for the Tariff.
– Could not tb government also consider a Commonwealth Companies Law.
– I shall look around to see if it is possible > find some work to meet the keen desire amongst honorable senators to do business which has evidently been created by Senator Lynch’s speech.
Referring to Senator Lynch’s remarks, I want to say how heartily I agree with him, as I believe every member of the Senate does, that something more than mere material prosperity is required, and that the permanent safety of this country rests upon a great developmental and immigration policy.
– Not the immigration of Bolsheviks.
– No, immigration of the kind referred to by Senator Lynch.
Senator Bakhap in a moat thoughtful speech referred to the coming Imperial Conference in June. There will be a debate on that subject very shortly, and the honorable senator will therefore pardon me if at present I make no further comment upon his remarks except to say how much, in common with other honorable senators, I appreciated them. ,
Senator Drake-Brockman made some observations about the non-publication of documents. If the honorable- senator will allow me to say so, I think’ he somewhat exaggerated the bogie of secrecy. On examining the list of documents, which at a glance m,ay appear to be a tremendously formidable one, it will he found that nine-tenths of them are not of great moment. One, for instance, is an, inquiry as to the channel through which an Executive minute reaches His Majesty the King
– I did not exhaust the list, by any means.
– The honorable senator did not, or he would have strengthened my argument. The publication of many of these dcuments would not add to the general knowledge of the matters with which they deal. They may be of interest to men like Professor Harrison Moore and others concerned as historians with constitutional history and methods, hut their publication would he no great help to the people generally What “does it matter to the general public that a document in reaching the King is carried through a particular” door by messenger A, or through some other door by messenger B ? The Government have no desire to withhold information which may be properly published : but with the present Government, as with others, there has always been a restraining influence due to the fact that many of these documents deal with matters which are not solely tho concern of the Commonwealth
Government. They have had a natural hesitancy to publish papers dealing with matters in which other Governments aro concerned, It may be in this case that some inquiry should have been made as to whether other Governments were willing to consent -to publication, lt may bo that the Canadian and other Governments published the papers without asking that question, but I feel confident that the Government of the Commonwealth have no desire to withhold from members of this Parliament information which might be safely and properly put’ before it.
– Am I to understand that we shall get the papers I referred to ?
– That I cannot say. All I can say is that I will represent to the Government what has been said here. Although I am not master of the situation, I venture to say that these documents will bo forthcoming now that attention has been drawn to the matter.
Senator Drake-Brockman suggested the establishment of a Committee corresponding to the American Foreign Relations Committee. He suggested that such a Committee established here should have full access to, and control over, these papers. There may be something in the idea, but I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that there is one very fundamental difference between this Senate and the American Senate. We have responsible government here, and it does not exist in America. There may bo persons who do not appreciate what responsible government means, or its great value, and the way in which it is interwoven into our system of government; but I do say that so long as responsible government is maintained here we cannot with safety adopt some of the institutions that are part of the American Constitution. Further, when the honorable senator contends that tho Senate should take, control over international affairs, I venture to remind him that such a proposal will not square with the views held by our Democracy outside. The view the honorable senator has expressed would receive no countenance from the Australian’ public, nor would the idea receive a very long shrift if whispered within the walls of an adjoining chamber. Senator Drake-Brockman will, I think, find upon further consideration that whilst his idea might possibly embody some advantage, it is almost impossible of attainment. I wish to join with the honorable senator in expressing my appreciation of the most interesting debate with which the proceedings of the Senate this afternoon have furnished us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210407_senate_8_94/>.