8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
. - (By leave). - As honorable senators are aware, since we last met, death has taken from us, not a member of the Senate, but one who, in every sense of the word, was entitled to be called a fellow member of ours. He was one of the original members of this Federal Parliament, and in the course of his distinguished and honorable career made as many friends amongst members of this Chamber, and stood as high in the esteem of the Senate, as of the House of which he was himself a distinguished member. It is unnecessary for me to say very much concerning him, because he was so well known to every one. His large heartedness, his manly character, and his never failing sympathy entitled him to the friendship which I am sure he received. No member of the Senate, whatever differences ofopinion he might have had politically with the late honorable member for Maranoa, ever felt towards him in any other way than as a friend, and I am perfectly certain that if the late Mr. Page were here to speak for. himself it would be found that the friendship extended towards him was fully reciprocated. I have no hesitation in submitting, as a proper motion for the consideration of this Chamber, the following resolution : -
That this Senate records its sincere regret at the death of the honorable member for Maranoa, the Honorable James Page, and expresses its profound sympathy with his bereaved family in their great sorrow.
– It is with feelings of the deepest sorrow that I rise to second the motion. Closely associated as I was with the late Honorable James Page for many years in our party, and frequently com ing in close contact with him, I fully appreciated his largeness of heart, his earnest and sincere nature, and his absolute unselfishness. His efforts on behalf of the people he represented were without limit, and it might be said that he was brought to a comparatively early grave by the manner in which he threw himself into his” duties as a public representative. I associate myself with all that the Mininister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has said in submitting the motion. I trust that it will be consoling to the members of the late Mr. Page’s family to know that the Senate, composed of representatives of all parties, sincerely regrets the passing away from us of one who so worthily represented in the Australian Parliament the sentiments of the Australian people.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I am certain that I express the wish of honorable senators if I request that you, Mr. President,will convey the resolution passed by the Senate to the members of the late Mr. Page’s family.
– That will be done.
– I have to announce to the Senate that I have received from Mrs. Guthrie, widow of the late Senator R. S. Guthrie, of South Australia, a letter expressing her appreciation of and deep gratitude for the resolution passed by the Senate conveying the sympathy of the Senate to herself and family in their great bereavement.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, intimating that Mr. Jackson had been appointed a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Public Works to fill the vacancy caused bythe resignation of Mr. Atkinson.
Senator PLAIN presented reports, together with minutes of evidence, from the Public Works Committee relating to the proposed telephone trunk line between Brisbane and Sydney; proposed erection of ordnance and other defence buildings atKelvin Grove, Brisbane; and proposed establishment of. automatic telephone exchanges at Albion and Newmarket, Queensland.
The following papers were presented: -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 1 of 1921. - Australian Postal Linemen’s Union.
No. 2 of 1921 (Basic Wage, &c.).- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association, Post and Telegraph Association, Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association, Australian Letter Carriers’ Association, Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association, Postal Electricians’ Union, Postal Linemen’s Union, Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association, General Division Union of the Trade and Customs Department, General Division’ Telephone Officers’ Association, Postal Sorters’ Union, Line Inspectors’ Association, and the Meat inspectors’ Association.
No. 3 of 1921. - Commonwealth Medical Quarantine Officers’ Association.
Audit Act -
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1920-21- Dated 11th May, 1921, 1st June, 1921, and 22nd June, 1921.
Transfers approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council of Amounts from any Item to any other Item of the same Subdivision of . the Estimates of Expenditure 1920-21- Dated 15th June, 1921.
China - Correspondence respecting New Financial Consortium. (Paper presented to British Parliament).
Customs Act. - Proclamations -
Dated 12th May, 1921.- Revoking Previous Proclamation relating to the Exportation of Meat.
Dated 17 th May, 1921-Revoking Previous Proclamation relating to the Exportation of Butter.
Dated 17th May, 1921- Prohibiting Exportation (except under certain Conditions) of “Buck” Currants.
Defence Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 86, 94, 95, 96, 99, 100, 103, 108, 113, and 114.
Income Tax Assessment Act. - Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 112.
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired for Postal Purposes at Berri, South Australia.
New Guinea. - Ordinance No. 6 of 1921. - Expropriation.
Northern Territory - Annual Report of Acting Administrator for year ended 30th June, 1920.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 6 of 1921.- Supreme Court.No.(2)of
Papua. - Ordinances of 1920 -
No. 10. - Justices.
No. 11. - Registrations (Nationals’ Property).
No. 12.- Health.
No. 13. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 3)1919-20.
No. 14.- Trust Fund Advances.
No.15.- Criminal Code Amendment.
No. 17.- Customs (Export) Tariff.
No. 18. - Private Tramways.
No. 19. - Post and Telegraph.
No. 20.- Supply (No. 3) of 1920-21.
No. 21. - Appropriation 1920-21.
No. 22. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1920-21.
Post and Telegraph Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 64, 72, 83, 90, 91, and 82.
Public’ Service Act? -
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Attorney-General’s Department - R. S. Browne, G. M. Evans.
Department of the Treasury - C.H. Brown, F. G. Duesbury, R. R. O’Brien, H. W. Waters, P. A. Edwards, S. F. Whittington. Department of Trade and Customs - W. H. Brewer.
Postmaster-General’s Department -
Taxation. - Seventh Annual Report of the Commissioner, Years 1916-17 to 1919-20.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 109.
War Service Homes Act -
Land acquired -
New South Wales - Alexandria, Balmain, Goulburn, Granville (three notifications), Greenwich, Kiama, Tam worth, Waratah (three notifications) , Windsor, Wollongong, Yass. Victoria- Beech Forest, Carnegie.
Senator J. D. MILLEN presented a report from the Public Accounts Committee on the purchase of sawmills and timber areas.
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– These questions should have been addressed to me as representing the Treasury. The answers to them are as follow: -
These nurses, in common with Australians who served in the British Army, received the Imperial War Gratuity, as well as a grant from theAustralian Government at the rate of £50 per annum for the period of their services in. the British Army. After full consideration of all the facts, the Government has decided not to seek an amendment of the Act to enable the Australian war gratuity to be paideither to the nurses of the Queen Alexandra Nursing Service or to other Australians who servedin the British Army.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and. Customs, upon notice -
What are the annual value and quantity of the following goods exported from Australia: - Boots and shoes, leather, woollens, hats and caps, agricultural implements, and other machinery?
– The answer to this question will involve a good deal of work, but the Department has promised to furnish the reply to-morrow.
– It promised to supply the information at the close of last session.
.- I move-
That statutory rule No. 80, of 1921, being Commonwealth Public Service Regulation (Sixth Amendment, 1921), be disallowed.
My reason for submitting the motion is that I desire to re-establish the principle which has always been recognised under our Constitution, viz., that Parliament should exercise supreme control over the public purse, that is to say, over the funds which are at the disposal of the Ministry of the day. Of course, during the war period, it was inevitable that things should require to be done summttttttttarily and suddenly, so that legislative authority couldnot always be obtained, and, consequently, great laxity arose in regard to the expenditure of public money. It was absolutely impossible to avoid that. The war had to be conducted upon practically autocratic lines,’ and, consequently, Parliament had to acquiesce in summary action being taken. But three years have elapsed since the signing of the armistice, and, in my judgment, it is high time that we returned to what” is unquestionably the constitutional position, namely, that no money should be expended by the Government unless the expenditure has first been considered and approved by Parliament.
SenatorWilson. - Would not the honorable senator limit the amount to be expended without parliamentary authority?
SenatorFAIRBAIRN.—I holdthat no money should be expended without legislative authority.I understand that there is a fund from which the Treasurer may pay small amounts.
– That is the Treasurer’s advance account. .
– Yes. Such an account is, of course, very necessary in the case of the Commonwealth. But the regulation to which I am directing attention seeks to establish a new Department, namely, the Department of Public Health. Before agreeing to the creation of such a Department, Parliament ought to know all about it. We ought to be informed ofwhat it is goingto cost, and of whatis the necessity for it. We ought also to know whether the Department will conflict with the six State Departments of Public Health which are already in: existence. All these things should be known to us, and I am very, pleased to learn that the- Leader of the Government in this chamber intends to announce that the Ministryview this question from the same stand-point as I do. I understand that he is prepared to. give a promise that nothing will be done under this regulation before the matter has been considered by Parliament when the Estimates come under review. I shall be entirely satisfied with such an assurance. Whilst looking into this matter, I visited the splendid serum laboratory which has been established at Royal Park, where the serums required in cases of diphtheria and typhoid are being manufactured. I am glad to know that South Africa, Java, and Singapore, as well as the whole of Australia, draw their supplies of serum from that laboratory. This fact is a splendid tribute to the good work which has been done, by Dr. Cumpston.
– Apart from its financial side.
– The Minister, with a joyous .smile, has reminded me that this Government undertaking is actually more than paying its way. 0
– That is quite a novelty.
– Yes. I wish that more Departments were doing so at the present time. Nevertheless, I hold that each honorable senator is responsible for learning how the public funds are being expended. As I have already intimated, if the Leader of the Senate will make a statement to the effect that Ministers share the opinion which- 1 have expressed, I shall not press the motion. In such circumstances, the proper time to discuss the matter will be when the Estimates come under our consideration. We shall then be able to go into it thoroughly, and having satisfied ourselves as to its soundness, we shall be in a position to vote the requisite funds in the proper constitutional way. When the Minister has made his statement, I shall ask the leave of the Senate ta withdraw the motion.
– Before bringing this matter under the notice of the Senate, Senator Fairbairn, with his characteristic courtesy, informed me of the action which he contemplated taking, and of the reasons which, in his judgment, warranted that action. As a result,. I have been able to confer with my colleagues upon the matter, and to give him the assurance that no appointments will be made in continuance of the policy indicated in the statutory rule to which he has referred until Parliament has been “afforded an opportunity of considering the whole question upon the items which will appear in the Estimateswhen they are presented. That promise, I think, will meet Senator Fairbairn’s wish so far as it goes. When the timecomes to debate this matter, I think I shall be able to show that there were good and sound reasons for the Government proceeding in the way it did at the time, it did. The question can stand over for the fuller debate I have mentioned, but I should not have agreed to allow it ta stand over with the impression remaining that, in some blind and reckless way the Government had, without justification, -proceeded to take the action to whichSenator Fairbairn has drawn attention. However, no other steps will now her taken until the. two Houses have been, placed in a position to express their approval or disapproval of the proposal.
– Before Senator Fairbairn carries out his intention to withdraw the motion, I would point out that this is an excellent opportuntiy for us> to discuss whether, at the present time,.. another highly-paid official should be added, to the particular branch of the Public Service mentioned. I take it that that is what the regulation -means, if it means anything. I find it provided that “the persons for the time being, holding the several offices named, shall be permanent heads: of Departments,” and then follows a list, of heads, including the Secretary of the. Prime Minister’s Department, the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, the Secretary of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, the: Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, the Controller-General of Customs the Secretary of the Department for Defence, and the Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral. If the Senate is going, to consider whether another departmental head should be added to that list, it would ‘ be an opportune time to consider it now. By “ now,” I do not mean exactly to-day, but before the subject comes up on theEs’timates. I have had some years’ experience in this Chamber, and, to my mind, the most unsatisfactory opportunity for discussing any subject is on the Estimates, for the simple reason that there are thousands of subjects to be discussed then, and each honorable senator, being interested in the matter about which he is most particularly concerned, puts that matter before the Senate, with the result that “anything, of real importance gets scant courtesy. It would be a great deal better, if the Government intend to take this step, to have a debate on it. The Government are sure to win, and then we can let the thing go.
– Are you sure?
– Quite sure. Ho one can dream that the Government are going to be interfered with by their own followers in making appointments to carry out their policy.
– Then why waste time?
– I. do not think it could be termed a waste of time, unless ‘ Senator Wilson is anxious to get back to the Cockatoo Island Dock Commission. I merely rose to emphasize the fact that no opportunity is afforded to honorable senators to give to matters of this kind that ample consideration which should be given to them.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad that Senator Fairbairn agrees with me in that. I should like the Government, instead of taking the matter as settled by putting on the Estimates the salary for this office, and letting us discuss it then, to give the Seriate an opportunity to have a proper say in it by introducing a motion affirming the desirability of what they are going to do, or by introducing a Bill to deal with it in a thorough manner. Senator Fairbairn has raised an objection to the regulation mentioned, and has now agreed, very wisely in the circumstances, to withdraw his motion, because, when all is said and done, if the motion went to a division -this afternoon and the Government won that would probably be the end of it. I hope, if there is any intention on the part of the Government to add to the already large expenditure of the Commonwealth, that the Senate will be given a better opportunity than is offered by the Estimates of -considering whether it is wise to do so.
– What about the next Supply Bill?
– We shall have that Bill before us this afternoon, and an opportunity will be offered of discussing the subject then. My difficulty is that I have not very much knowledge of the objects of the appointment.
– A new Health Department.
– I do not know exactly -what the duties of the new Health Department will be. Although there are Health Departments in every State, I still recognise that it is essential for the Commonwealth to have one of its own. I should like the matter dealt with under so full a motion that the Senate will have an opportunity of going into the value of the new Department - not merely into the value of the salary attached to the officeand of knowing all about it. The Government would be wise if they put forward a motion inviting the Senate xi consider the constitution of a new Health Department, if that is what this means, and put before the Senate all the particulars which are necessary to show whether at the present time, when money is so scarce, the proposed step should be taken.
– I am taking a sympathetic note of the honorable senator’s remarks.
– If my remarks are received with sympathy by the Leader of the Government in the Senate it is time for me to sit down.
– I ask the leave of the Senate to withdraw the motion. I am glad to have heard the Leader of the Senate say that he is taking a sympathetic note of Senator Gardiner’s wise suggestion, because I agree with Senator Gardiner that the consideration of the Estimates is a very inconvenient time to deal with a great question of this sort. If we are to do any real good with preventive medicine - which, I understand, is to be the great idea of the new Health Department - the subject will need the most serious consideration. Senator Keating has suggested that it can be dealt, with on the Supply Bill.
– I thought that the expenditure referred to might be included in the Supply Bill, and that in passing the Bill we might be committing ourselves to it.
– I donot think the Minister is in a position to put the matter clearly before Parliament,even within the next day or two.
– There is nothing in the Supply Bill which touches this question.
– Probably the matter could not be debated properly at such short notice. I support Senator Gardiner’s suggestion that the proposal ought to be made the subject of aseparate Bill. It is a great departure for the Commonwealth to take up a new sphere of action, and we. must see that our -Health Department does not conflict with existing State activities. If’ we are to fulfil our duties to the people we represent, we must know what it is -going to cost, and all about it.
– We want as much information aboutitas about the Air Service.
– We do, and evenmore.Ihope the Governmentwill see theirway toset apart time for a thorough discussion of- this matter, -and, indeed, of all matters involving the further expenditure of money.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
War Gratuity - Note Issue - Tariff - cockatoo Island , Dockyard - High Commissioner - Defence Bill - Manufacture of Munitions-Treaty with Japan - WarService Homes Commission - Economies CommissionNew South Wales Postal Administration - Immigration - Dr. Barnardo’s Homes - Economy in Administration - Treatment ofReturned Soldiers -Queen Alexandra Nursing Service - Representation at Washington.
Bill received from theHouse of Representatives.
Motion(by SenatorE. D. Millen) proposed-
That this Bill be now readafirst time.
.- This is One of those measures on the first reading of which we are ableto discuss any grievance, but at thisjuncture mygrievances are not many. I should like to hear astatement fromthe Leaderof theSenateas to whether it is the intention of the
Government to fulfil their promise that one-third of the returned soldiers’ war gratuity would beredeemed in cash in May last. I understand the Governmenthave cashed the bondsofa certain number of ex -soldiers who may havepurchased land or insured theirlives, and these persons have been placed ina more fortunate position than a good many others who were under the impression that one-third of the value of their bonds would be available to them in May of this year. If one peruses the Sydney Morning Herald, particularly a Saturday issue, he will find advertisements forthe purchase or sale of war gratuity bonds, notwithstanding that their sale or purchase hasbeen prohibited by Act of Parliament. A distinct and definite promise was made to the holders of the bonds that one-third of their value would be payable in May, 1921, one-third in 1922, and the remainder at the end of the term. At present, quite a number of bond-holders who were anticipating the payment of one-third in May of this year are very disappointed.
– Is the honorable senator contending that the Government promised to pay one-third of each bond or one-third of the totalamount?
– One-third of eachbond was promised.
– That is what the bond-holders expected, and now that a differentinterpretationhas been placed onthepromise of the Government, I shall have to take thetrouble of going further into the matter. If the Government will now state that they had no intention of paying each bond-holder onethird of the value of the bond, I am prepared to accept their statement ; but there are quitea number of bond-holders who were under the impression that they would receive one-third of the value of their bonds in May.
SenatorDuncan.-I have not met any, and I come in contact with a number.
- Senator Duncan claims that he has not met any whowere under that impression, but, of course, he does not meet many. A number of men were expecting toreceive a one-third payment in May and now find that they cannot getit.
– I do not think the whole of them understood that, although I believe some did.
– Quite a number of distinct promises were made - some in this chamber - that one-third of the value of thebonds would be paid in May, 1921, which has now passed. The Govern-. ment may have cashed bonds in necessitous cases, but the real point is. that all those who are holding bonds expected to receive one-third in May, but now find that the money is not available. That, distinct promise was made a little more than twelve months ago.
– By nearly every member of the Cabinet. Of course, the Minister can say that the Government cannot pay one-third of the value of each bond, but what justice is there in it if the holder of one bond can receive payment and. the holder of another cannot? Those who have first-hand information may receive payment, whilst others cannot.
– One may require the money, and another may not. That is the point the Government took up.
– That is quite true; but what if both required it? I do not intend to shirk theissue. I have not full information before me at present, because I did not intend to speak at length on this measure.
– It is the first time a statement has been made to the effect that the Government promised to pay a percentage of each bond before maturity.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that, because it is the first statement we have had of a definite character that the Government did not intend to pay one-third to the holder of each bond. It makes the position worse for the men who have not received payment. Some in necessitous circumstances have been paid, and I am quite aware that there have been many instances in which the Government have done good by paying persons in cash because they were urgently in need of money. But that does not prevent the Government doing still better by paying, as promised, onethird to persons in equally necessitous circumstances. Any one perusing the stock and money column in a Saturday’s issue of Sydney’s leading paper will see thereadvertisement after advertisement inserted by persons anxious to dispose of their bonds. To me it is a serious position, and if the Government are unable to keep their promises in full - torn-up scraps of paper discredit Governments- I think it is time consider ation was given to the advisableness of making these bonds negotiable, because they are being bought and sold at present contrary to law, with; the result- that many who are compelled to sell are being defrauded of large amounts. It would not be a very difficult matter to pass a Bill permitting war gratuity bonds to be placed on the market with war loan bonds. If that were done the Government would have no need, to be afraid.
– There is quite enough on the market at present.
-That is the point I am leading up to. Honorable, senators may say that it would affect our stocks, and future loans; but it would not, do anything of the kind. If from £14,000,000 to £16,000,000 has still to be paid, and the bonds were made negotiable by Act of Parliament, the position would be much more satisfactory. These bonds have to be redeemed in 1924, and if the Government promise is carried outunless it is side-stepped as this one has been - there is to be a further part payment next year. But if they were put on the market, and. made negotiable, they could be handled as war bonds are, which would be a benefit to the men holding them, and would not be injurious to any one. The Government must redeem the bonds in 1924-unless they have not fully explained the position, and are not prepared to dp so. According to the terms under which the bonds were issued, they will have to be redeemed in 1924, and that year is not far ahead. In 1925 another big loan will have to be redeemed, and I am not sure, but I think we have to repay more money in 1923. If these bonds were on the market at present they would be as valuable as war bonds, . which, after interest has been paid, are worth about £90 10s. for every £100 of nominal value.
– That is the 1925 bond.
– At 41/2 per cent.
– Yes; but with the advantage that the interest is not liable to income tax. If the war gratuity bonds were placed upon the market, earning interest at 5¼ per cent., they would sell at a higher rate than £95, although they might go down to £90.
– Are they taxable?
– No. If they were to bring £90 or £95 there would be no objection to placing them on the market. If the Government are so short of money that they cannot find it for the soldier, possibly the public may find it. There may be £14,000,000 to £16,000,000 worth to he redeemed in 1924. If this country has the good fortune within the next year or two to have a Labour Government in office-
– Did the honorable senator say the good fortune?
– That would not improve the value of the bonds.
– I am surprised that representatives of South Australia and Tasmania should talk to me about the valueof bonds when the States which they represent are governed by antiLabour Governments, which find it more difficult to raise money than does the Government of New South Wales.
– I thought the honorable senator was better versed in the facts than to make a statement of that kind.
– The day is young yet, and the honorable senator will have an opportunity to reply to what I say. I realize that it is sometimes hard target at the truth in these matters.
– The honorable senator handles the truth so peculiarly.
– My method of handling the truth may appear peculiar to Senator Wilson, because the straightforward handling of facts is something to which the honorable senator is not accustomed. I, do not wish to be led away into an argument concerning the comparative value of the stocks of South Australia, Tasmania, and New South Wales. I was pointing out that within the next twelve months or two years it might be the good fortune of the Commonwealth to have a Labour Government, and we can then expect the prosperity which has always followed the accession to office in this countryof a Labour Government. On every occasion when Australia has bean governed by a Labour Government its prosperity has reached highwater mark.
– Not a Government representing the Official Labour party.
– I remind the honorable senator that Australia has been governed by the Watson Government and the Fisher Government, and I believe that the honorable senator waa himself a distinguished member of those Governments, who raised the credit of this country to such a high level. He should not take exception to my statement of facts.
– There is not the same Labour party now.
– The Labour party with Senator Pearce as a member of it differed very little from the Labour party without the honorable senator.
– The Labour Governments to which the honorable senator refers were notbound by the resolution passed by the last Labour Conference.
– I am aware that it is contended that we live by resolutions, but when the Watson and Fisher Governments were in power they met with as much opposition as a Labour Government would meet with to-day, and there were the same predictions of disaster as the result of resolutions adopted by the party. I was saying that if it were the good fortune of the Commonwealth Government to be governed within the next two or three years by a Labour Governmentwe might reckon on a high tide of prosperity. The finances of Australia would soon be placed in a much better position than they are in at the present time. There would be all the difference between efficiency and inefficiency, and between real economy and extravagance.
– If a Labour Government gains office, will they pay cash for the. war gratuity bonds ?
– They will find the cash, and pay cash for the bonds. I think that was one of our promises.
– They may not find cash, but they can print notes.
– A great deal has Been said about the printing of notes, and it is important to remember that it was a Labour Government which introduced the first measure for the printing of Commonwealth notes. At that time politicians holding views similar to those held by Senator Crawford pointed out all the disasters that were to occur to Australia from a Commonwealth note issue.
– They were called Fisher’s “flimsies.”
– Yes, and it was said that they would not be worth 15s. in the £1.
– That is all that they are worth, is it not?
– I think they are worth about 14s. in the £1.
– Goods to the same, if not of greater, value, can he purchased in Australia for an Australian note than can be purchased in any other country with the notes of that country. I read a statement a little while ago by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) to the effect that our note circulation is now less than it was two years ago, and I mention the matter in order to say that, though we now have a lower note circulation than we had two years ago, our notes to-day will purchase twice as much as they could purchase two years ago. If I had had a bullock to sell two years ago, I could have got £25 for it, whilst to-day I could get only £12 10s., though our note circulation has beenreduced. I may be told that the note circulation does not affect the value of bullocks, hut the same argument may he used with regard to the value of sheep.
– What about the value of a suit of clothes?
– I was going to say that within the last two years there has been a distinct drop in the cost of a suit of clothes, notwithstanding the fact that there is now a lower note circulation than there was two years ago.
– Let the honorable senator apply the argument to the cost of labour.
– I cannot undertake to develop the argument to suit the different opinions of different honorable senators. I find it sufficiently difficult to develop it in such a way as to suit myself. I believe I can show that, although we have a lower note circulation now than we had two years ago, according to Mr. Knibbs, we can buy more sheep, cattle, clothing, and groceries with our notes than we could two years ago.
– We cannot get any -more posts and rails split.
– The honorable senator means to say that we cannot now get men to work for lower wages, and I am very glad that we cannot. That is the whole point at issue. One set of men desire to reduce wages, not in order to make conditions better, hut in order that the employing class may earn greater profits. We can with our notes to-day purchase more of the things which we need than we could purchase two years ago, with a higher note circulation. Despite all the condemnation of the note issue originally, there is not a member of the Senate who, when the war and its disasters overtook us, was not glad that we had established a note issue. It was established in the teeth of the antiLabour party, but it gave results which enabled the Labour party in the two first years of the Avar to do things which it would have been impossible for a Labour or any other Government to have done if its establishment had not been an accomplished fact. The Acting Prime Minister, either in Parliament or in the course of an interview for the press, referred with pride to the fact that there are so many million pounds’ worth of notes less in circulation to-day than there were two years ago; but if we look at the trade returns we shall find that there has been a revenue of £32,000,000 derived from Customs during the year. This indicates a huge trading business greatly in excess of that done two years ago, though we have now a smaller note circulation. One of the things that we need to-day - much as some honorable senators may fear it - is easier money.
– What has our note issue to do with our oversea trade?
– I think I ought not to be called upon to go into a detailed explanation of that. I say that the Customs revenue is increasing by leaps and bounds, and the quantity of materials we buy is surely a fair indication of the tradeof the country. The figures show that it has reached a very high level. Since the close of the war, our import trade has greatly increased, as every sane man knew it would. Trade is being restricted by the restriction of the note issue, and we have tight money and hard times because of it.
– While ships are coming from England, and other places, only half -loaded, or without any load at all.
– I know. The Government are responsible for that.
– But the honorable senator’s argument is blown out by it.
– So far as idle shipping is concerned, the answer is that, by our Tariff, we have increased the cost of purchasing goods from Great Britain by from 10 to 50 per cent. We are calling upon people here to find more capital before they can buy goods from England. We allowed our Australian boys to die for England, but we will not allow our people totrade with England. We shall be called upon to discuss the Tariff next week, or next month, and I shall not further refer to it now. I was dealing with the financial position and the enormous development of trade since the close of the war. There was a great restriction upon trade during the war, and it required only common sense to foresee that, as soon as the war was over, our trade would at once increase. The Government have put up a Customs barrierranging from 10 to 100 per cent. to stop trade. I do mot say that they have done so with the deliberate purpose of preventing trade, but every man with a knowledge of trade knows that heavy Customs duties restrict it. The Protectionists say that they desire to restrict the importation of goods in order that similar goods may be manufactured here.
– That is the main flank ofthe Official Labour party’s platform.
– I am afraid that I could not better myself by doing what Senator Thomas has done in leaving the Labourparty, because it appears tobe the main plank of the Nationalist platform also.
SenatorReid. - What about the gratuity bonds.
– In view of the fact that my time is limited, I thought I had said sufficient about the gratuity bonds.
– Wesympathized with what the honorablesenator was saying about them,but he did not finish his statement.
– I thought I had done so. I pointed out that it was understood that each gratuity bond would be paid in cash last May to the extent of one-third, and I got from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) the statement that that promise was never intended to apply to the cashing of bonds for individuals.
– What I said was that the Government had never made the promise referred to.
– I want to he perfectly fair in dealing with the matter. I said further, that if we have the good fortune to get a Labour Government in the near future; the soldiers will be paid cash for their bonds, and that promptly. Pending thereturn of a Labour Government, there is no reason why the present Governmentshould not accept good advice and put the war gratuity bonds on the market in the same way as war loan bonds.
– Have the farmers in New South Wales been paid the advance of 2s. 6d. per bushel on their wheat which the Labour Government of that State promised them?
– As far as I know, the farmers have been paid the whole of that money. If the soldiers’ war gratuity bonds were placed upon the market to-morrow an immense benefit would be conferred upon every bond-holder,and the Government would suffer no loss. It. cannot beurged that the placing of the bonds upon the market would depreciate -their value.
– And it would protect the men who aredisposing of them from the imposition whichthey are at present suffering.
-No man who has got rid of his bond has any right to grumblebecause another man sells it upon the market openly and fairly.
SenatorCrawford. - Free trade in bonds !
SenatorGARDINER. - Exactly. Why shouldnot gratuity bondsbe placed upon exactly thesame footing aswar bondsandpeacebonds? Whyshould notthesoldierbetreatedatleastaswell asthespeculator ?
An Honorable Senator. -Because it is necessaryto protecthim.
SenatorGARDINER.- There isalways a reason advanced whenacomparison is instituted between two different classes of men. I have used the illustration a dozen times in this Chamber, and I shall use it again - the illustration of the man who went to fight overseas, and of the individual who invested his capital in our war loans. Only the other day I was talking to a man in the town of Scone. He was just about to go shearing in some of the earlier Queensland sheds. He threw off hie shirt, and showed me quite a number of little patches upon his body where shrapnel had struck him. Whilst we were talking a rich squatter and a great patriot drove past in his motor car - a gentleman. who had invested £60,000 in war loans. How do we treat this man? We give him £3,000 a year interest upon his money, and concede to him the right to dispose of his bonds whenever he may wish to do so at the market price. To the soldier, however, we merely give a gratuity bond, not of a very great amount, and we impose the condition that no matter how badly in need of money he may be, he cannot sell his bond.
– Hecan sell it with the consent of the Government.
– But he cannot get the consent of the Government.
– Yes, he can.
– Probably the honorable senator has some inside information upon the matter.
– I have bought some of these bonds within the past week.
– The war gratuity bonds should be placed upon the same footing as the bonds which are held by the war speculators. I have no desire to belittle the man who put his money into war bonds. It was well that he did so. But that is no reason why the individual who put his life in the balance should be treated differently. It is this difference betweenthe treatment of the men with moneyandofthosewho actually fought upon the battlefield of which I complain. I demand that the sameconsideration shall be extended to our soldiers who possess these gratuity bonds as is extended to the capitalist who invested his money in war bonds or peace bonds. The former should have the same right of buying and selling as has the latter. I know that the Government will say that they wish to protect the soldiers from the men who desire to make money out of them. But they do noto desire to protect the individual who has put his money into war bonds or peace bonds. He can look after himself, and they know it.
– If the gratuitybonds were placed upon the market, it would mean the flotation of another loan of about £15,000,000.
– Yes. But surely nobody will say that the flotation of such a loan would injuriously affect Australia’s credit.
– The purchasers could not redeem the bonds until the due date, so that the Government would have to find the money.
– If these bonds were placed upon the market to-morrow, there are any number of people with money who would relieve our soldiers of them.
– If the honorable senator knows of anybody who is prepared to take up war gratuity bonds, the Government will allowthose bonds to be cashed.
– There is quite a lot of trouble involved in cashing them. Time after time men have come to me, and asked how they could get their bonds cashed. It is a most difficult matter for them to obtain cash, even from the Government. If it were hot so, the- whole of the bonds would have been cashed ere this.
– Eleven million pounds worth of bonds have been cashed by the banks, and by employers, apart from what the Government have cashed.
– Have the Government cashed one-third of the bonds?
– The Government have cashed about £3,000,000 worth. Roughly, £16,000,000 worth have been cashed altogether.
– That makes the positionfor which I am contending much easier for the. Government, because there are very few million pounds worth of bonds left, which could be placed upon the market to compete with loans raised for other purposes. Surely it is a fair requestthat the soldiers’ bonds should be placed upon the same footing as the speculators’ bonds?
– What. I said by way of interjection meets the honorable senator’s point that the man who is hard up for money cannot get it.
– If, by this day week, I bring to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) ten bonds, whichare held by ten different persons, who . are really hard up, will he guarantee to give me cash for them.? .
– Are the persons in necessitous circumstances?
– Who is to be the judge of that - the honorable senator or the Treasury officials?
– As far as Commonwealth officials are concerned, I make it my business to allow them to attend to their business. I interfere with them as little as possible. But here is a concrete case. A woman whose husband is out of employment and ill, desires to get his gratuity bond cashed. She visited the War Gratuity office in New South Wales, but could get no satisfaction there. She then came to me, and I told her that I did not know what I could do in the matter.
– The authority to which the honorable senator has referred consists of three returned soldiers, one of whom is nominated by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League.
– The Government may close their eyes to the immense amount of dissatisfaction which exists on account of the war gratuity bonds - not being negotiable even in real cases of necessity, but it is nevertheless a fact. I base my opinion upon the statement of people who come to me unsolicited and who ask me to do something for them. In the future, however, I shall say’ to them, “ Give me your bonds and I will take them over to Senator Pearce and get him to cash them for you.” If I cannot then obtain . cash for them, the matter will be heard of in this Senate.
– If the position is as stated by the honorable senator, he will be bringing a few thousand bonds over next week.
– That may . be so.
– How can the honorable senator logically ask for the full payment of one individual bond when he says that the Government are under an obligation to cash a percentage of each bond ?
– I hold that the Government are under an obligation to cash a percentage of each bond. I also complain when the Government refuse to cash the bonds of persons who are in necessitous circumstances. I have put forward a proposal which, if adopted, would afford relief to our soldiers. The gratuity bonds which they hold should be made negotiable, and but for the fact that we have party government they would be negotiable.
– Do not say that.
– But for the fact that the Government have put their back up against the proposal, the thing would have been done.- Now Ministers say that to make the bonds negotiable would embarrass them in their finances.
– The Government say that it would increase the cost of living. . .
– I know how careful the Government are about increasing the. cost of living. In order to show a little better balance-sheet they did not hesitate, in May of this year, to turn adrift from Cockatoo Island some 3,000 or 4,000. employees. They did this to avoid having to pay them wages for the closing months of the year. Perhaps I am anticipating the report of the Commission which has recently investigated this matter; but, so far as I can see, there was no other reason for putting these men out of employment and allowing millions of pounds’ worth of plant to lie idle.
– Had not the amount voted by Parliament for Cockatoo Island been already exceeded?
– Yes. Butmy idea is that when an appropriation has been exceeded Parliament should be called together to pass the requisite legislation authorizing a further expenditure. That legislation could.be passed - as. this Supply Bill will be passed - within a period of twenty-f our hours. I submit that it would have been real economy on the part of’ the Government to have kept the valuable -plant installed at Cockatoo Island working and producing, and to have retained the men there in their employment. Why were these men dismissed ? Merely in order that the Government might show upon paper, at the close of the financial year, a less expenditure than they could otherwise have shown.
– Does not the honorable senator think there is something to be said upon the other side?
-I have no doubt there is a great deal to be said upon the other side. But I am here to speak on behalf of the men -who, at a time of unparalleled distress, and at a time when the Tariff is interfering with employment, were cast adrift.
– I thought that the Tariff was intended to provide employ.ment,
– The Tariff burden has been increased by millions of pounds during the past twelve months.
– Most of the Labour representatives in another place are supporting that policy.
– But the Government and its followers introduced it. Whilst the Government were in office they might have given Britain a chance as well as Australia.
– A number of members of the honorable senator’s party would have censured them had they done so.
– No doubtMany members of our party resemble myself in that they would censure the Government in any circumstances. It is because we feel that we could do the job so much better ourselves that we are continually censuring them.
– The honorable senator is not very convincing in hi3 arguments.
– I do not like issuing challenges, because the challenger sometimes comes down with- a flat dive, but I am prepared, before any meeting of soldiers, to debate with Senator DrakeBrockman this question of the desirableness of making war gratuity bonds negotiable. I am willing to give him his own audience of the men who served under him.
– Have I not already intimated that I thoroughly sympathize with the honorable senator’s assertions?
– But the honorable senator has just interjected that my arguments are weak.
– I was doing my best to keep the honorable senator upon the subject of the gratuity bonds.
– I began my address with a reference to that subject, because to me it is a most important one. If honorable senators were well advised, they, too, would realize ite importance.
I come, now, to the question of” the’ Royal Commission which has been inquiring into the administration of Cockatoo Island. Perhaps I should withhold my comments upon this subject, seeing that the Commission’s report is not yet avail-! able.
– The matter is sub judice.
– If Senators Reid and Wilson were the judges, I certainly should refrain from offering any comment at this stage.
– We will have you up before the Commission if you do not.
– A member of the Senate cannot be called before a Royal Commission appointed- by His Majesty the King. If I know anything that will assist the Commission, the proper place for me to say it is in Parliament, which is the tribunal that constitutes Commissions. This is the (High Court for Commissions. Here we speak, not as members of a Commission appointed by a Government responsible to Parliament, but as members who make Governments in the highest Court in the land; that is, the High Court of Parliament. If Senator Reid issued a request for me to go before the Commission I should tear it up. and see what he would do. He would find that he could not compel a member of this Parliament to come before a Commission constituted by His Majesty. We are exempt from interference by the King in what we do and what we say. Two of the members of the Commission represent the Senate, and I have enough pride of comradeship to know that if members of the Senate are on a Commission they will do their duty as well, if not better, than others, because of the company from which they come. I shall make no further comment on the Commission, much as I should like to say something for the workmen who, I believe, were thrown out of employment in the last month of the financial year in order that the Government might be able to show a little less expenditure, although, in so doing, the Government threw idle a plant worth over a million pounds. I shall await the Commission’s report with a good deal “of interest, and when it is tabled I shall discuss it.
The question of th© war gratuity bonds is most pressing, because hundreds, if not thousands/ of our soldiers are anxiously waiting for their money, and would sell their bonds iri the open market with great advantage to themselves if they were allowed to do so. It is most urgent1 that the Government should make the bonds as negotiable as war loan bonds are.
I do not know what the Government intend to do with the Defence Bill, but I hope they will not send it to another place in the form iri which it has passed this Chamber. I trust that they will bring in a new Bill, wiping out all references to the British Army Act, and send it to another place in that form.,.
– The Army Act is wiped out, except in war time; that is, in the existing Defence Act.
– I am trying to give the Minister a little advice. In a time of peace, only a few people in Australia come under the Defence Act, and then only for a short, period. Therefore, if there is anything wrong with the British Army Act - and the Senate practically said there- was, because it would not apply that Act to Australia in peace time - it will surely be a great deal more wrong to have it in operation when hundreds of thousands of our men are serving under it ? If the Defence Bill goes to another place in its present form, that part is almost sure to be knocked out of it. The average man will say, “ If the Senate did not think it good enough to apply the Army Act to the men who are being trained in Australia at the present time, it is evidently not good enough to apply it to Australians when they are outside Australia, and under the control of authorities over whom Australia has no hold.”
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– I can see that if one were only alert enough he could find a means of disputing your ruling, sir; but as I am not sufficiently alert to do so, I shall accept it, particularly as I have said practically all I want to say on that subject.
The Mdnister did not give us much information -about the Bill now before us. As we have the opportunity of discussing grievances ‘on the first reading, I think that if the Minister would adopt the system of telling us on the first reading how long ite wants Supply for, and giving- .us other information as a sort of introduction to the debate, he would give the debate both a tone and a direction’ that would be helpful to members of ‘ the Senate.
– The Minister would be out qf order, then.
– Is that so, on the first reading?
– We hear that from you every time.
– If one keeps persistently pegging away, something may be done some day to effect improvement.
One might say something at this stage about other matters a little further away than our own shores. The Prime Minister is representing Australia in Great Britain at the present juncture. There have appeared quite a number of comments in the British as well as the Australian press hinting that it is his intention to remain in England as High Commissioner.
– He “floored” that little kite.
– I do not think it is the Prime Minister’s’ intention to remain there. The question of who is. to fill an important office like the High Com.missionership of Australia - that is, if the Government have any intention of filling it - is not necessarily one that should be kept secret from the people of Australia. The post has been vacant since the 21st April, on which day the extension of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher’s tenure of the office expired.
– Will . the honorable senator take the job if we fix it up for him?
– I am inclined to think, that if the position were offered to me I would sacrifice my immediate love for Australia in order that an Australian might represent this country- in Great Britain. That would be the only consideration . which would influence me. Apart from personal ambitions or desires - and it is a most laudable ambition for any man to aspire to represent his country in London - my hands have found work to do’ in Australia which is more important than even the High Commissionership, and that work will be done. The position of High Commissioner is so important and concerns so many interests that it should not be regarded merely as the plaything of a Government. Actual injury is being done to the . Commonwealth and to the position itself by holding it, as it is being held at present, as a matter for the Government to keep to themselves. Probably not one member of the Government’s own party knows what is going to be done in that regard. If the Government were going to introduce a Bill to repeal the High Commissioner Act, and save money in that way - I believe that £150,000 a year could be saved by that means-
– No. We would still have Australia House to think of.
– Australia House is right in the heart of London, and would surely bring in more than its value in rents. Even while the position is vacant, there is not a great deal being saved. It is still a huge cost to Australia, and yet the Government can keep it vacant for months and never say a word about who is to fill it. There is a good deal of guessing and press comment and a good deal of speculation and anticipation in the community, all of which is to the disadvantage of Australia. If the position is of the importance which Parliament thought it was when it created it, it should have been filled as soon as it became vacant. It is of a great deal more importance to have it filled than to hold it in abeyance, and allow the public to assume that the Government are waiting to see whether it will suit the tastes of one particular man. The Government would be well advised to take the public into their confidence, and tell them what they intend to do. It is a high office, and its occupant is our highest officer, as the connecting link between Australia and Great Britain. Yet at present that officer does riot exist. The matter is sufficiently serious for the Government to be asked to decide at once whether they will repeal the Act, abolish the office, and save money, or appoint some competent person to fill it.
– Would you be satisfied if they told you who was to be appointed?
– If the Government said, as they should, “ We have decided amongst ourselves that in October next Sir Joseph Cook will take the position,” I would say, “ He will fill the job, and do the work well,” because no one can gainsay the thorough manner in which ha has done the work of every job which he has had since I have known him, and that is a long while. If the Government intend to take that step it is a little degrading to the gentleman who is to be given the position that the press should be allowed to make the continual comment that somebody else is going to take it if it suits him.
– No power on earth can stop the press from’ commenting.
– They must have so many columns filled every day.
– It is the duty of a Government which is leading the public life of this country to lead the press in the right direction also, and not to give them an opportunity to go astray. If the Government have already decided that Sir Joseph Cook is to be the next High Commissioner, why not say so, and be fair to the gentleman concerned?
– They may, after the encouragement you have given them today.
– Just at the time when Senator Wilson was thinking of joining the Country party, or had just left it - I am not sure which– and the Senate was likely to meet, and there was some possibility of a change of Government, I heard quite a number of our people say, “ If the position has been promised to Sir Joseph Cook, we will give it to him.” That shows that there is not much political feeling so’ far as that position is concerned. It is too important to be allowed to become a sort of. stop-gap with which to fill paragraphs in the press, when by a simple, plain, straightforward statement to the public, who are most interested, the Government could remove all doubt.
SenatorFoster. - Does not the honorable senator think that Mr. Shepherd has done well by appointing Australian officers?
– The point that strikes me is that it is highly undesirable that the late Secretary to the Prime Minister can be sent to London to fill the job, with power to appoint or dispense with officers. I do not approve of heads of Departments having such authority, because I think that, when changes are to be made, the incoming High Commissioner, who knows his policy, should make the selection, because he knows the type of man he requires.
– I was suggesting that Mr. Shepherd apparently knows a little more than the High Commissioner.
– I happen to know both gentlemen, and I do not place Mr. Shepherd on the same plane as the late High Commissioner. Mr. Andrew Fisher has been seriously harassed, and has had to put up with a good deal of inconvenience and annoyance, which has been occasioned by men such as General Ramaciotti visiting Australia House with authority from the Government to inquire into the working of his Department. To me the giving of that authority is one of the most degrading things the Government could have done.
– If Mr. Fisher was a strong man, he would havethrown in his cards.
– He was a strong man, because the reports of the gentlemen appointed by this Government had no effect whatever upon him.
– The report of General Ramaciotti was not made to the Government, He had the same authority to inquire into Government Departments as was possessed by the members of the Economies Commission, which inquired into the working of Government Departments under Ministerial control. He acted under instructions from the Economies Commission.
– Fancy sending a man such as General Ramaciotti ! What did he do when he inquired into the working of military Departments? He showed what improvements could be’ made, but what were they? He merely showed how’ the mistakes he had made could be rectified.
– The honorable senator is not correct, as General Ramaciotti went to England on his own account, and being there, carried out certain inquiries on behalf of the Economies Commission.
– If that is the position, the Minister can split straws better than any one I know.
Senator- Thomas. - Do I understand that General Ramaciotti made his inquiries at the request of the Economies Commission ?
– When inquiries were being made into the working of Government Departments under Ministerial control, Senator Gardiner did not protest. As General Ramaciotti was going to England, he was asked by the Commission to report on the working of Australia House.
– Now we know where we are. The Government selected the man they thought most suitable for the responsible position of High Commissioner.
– This Government did not select him.
– I was a member of the Government which selected him, and. during the thirty years I have been in public life, I have never met a man who was more suitable for the position than Mr. Andrew Fisher.
– That should not exempt his office from inquiry.
– The working of his Department was inquired into, and the reports were published in the press.
– The same thing was done here in regard to other Government Departments.
– The Government must be coming down a long way if they cannot manage their own Departments. If they cannot do that, it is time they made room for those who can.
– Have Ministers read what Mr. Webster said of them?
– I have. The Government now say that General Ramaciotti was not appointed by them, but by the Economies Commission. If the office of High Commissioner, is to be worthy of Australia, and if it is to be continued, it is time it was freed from the pettifogging interference of people who desire to- get some official standing, by inquiring into the working of a Department that is being very capably administered.
– The Economies Commission was not allowed to report on the working of the Senate staff.
– No ; we have a stalwart President who will not allow the liberties of the Senate to be taken away.
I think Mr. President has, however, backed down ; but I may not be permitted to discuss that further at this juncture.
I again ask the Government to take into serious consideration the announcement of their policy in connexion with this matter. If they have decided to appoint the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), I think he will perform the work as well as any other member of the National party. If he is to go to London it is only fair that he should be protected from continual public comment; and if he is not, an announcement should be made as to who is tofill the position. If the Government have come to a decision in the matter, what reason is there’ for allowing the position to remain vacant for months? I can quite understand that, with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) away, it is necessary to have a gentleman of the character and attainments of Sir Joseph Cook to conduct the business of the Government in another place;- but if they, have decided that the Acting Prime Minister is to be High Commissioner when the Prime Minister returns, surely a pub- lic announcement to that effect can be made, because it would not injure any one, and would remove the injury which now prevails.
– It is said that the Prime Minister is the only one who knows who is to be the next High Commissioner.
– I believe that is so. The Prime Minister may decide to take the position himself; but I do not think he will, because there are more attractive fields for his ability than the High Commissionership. The. right honorable gentleman’s field of activity is in Australia, because I believe he will have the opportunity before very long of leading the Opposition in another place, when the present Government is defeated. Work of that character would be more attractive to a gentleman of Mr. Hughes’ temperament than that of the High Commissioner, particularly when his administration might be inquired into by persons appointed by the Government. If a Labour Government were to instruct General Ramaciotti to inquire into the working of Australia House, I believe the present Prime Minister would order the doors to be slammed and the windows closed, and that the General would be glad to have the opportunity of crawling out the best way he could. The Government are playing with the position, as the office is one of the most important we have the opportunity of filling.
– What comments would the honorable senator have to make if the Prime Minister did take the position?
– I have held the view for four or five years that that gentleman is somewhat erratic, and although genius and madness are nearly allied, I believe the right honorable gentleman has gone over the mark. But I was in close touch with the Prime Minister for some time, and one cannot overlook his ability.
– The honorable senator’s kindly reference to Sir Joseph Cook prompted me to ask what he thought of the Prime Minister.
– It does not matter how heated we may be in political fights, I never allow party bitterness to warp my judgment of the abilities of the man I am fighting, because there is no greater mistake than to under-estimate the capacity of one’s opponent. I trust the Government will make a statement by Friday, or before this Bill is through, concerning their intentions in this matter. The Leader of the Government has an immense amount of work to perform, and if he is to be appointed as Australia’s next High Commissioner, it would be only an act of justice if he were to be shielded from the irritating comments being made at present. If the Government cannot decide until the Prime Minister returns, that is another question;..but seeing that the position was vacant before he went away, they are overlooking their duty if they have not made the necessary arrangements to fill the office. I am inclined to think that the Government have decided that when the Prime Minister returns, Sir Joseph Cook will take up the duties of High Commissioner, and having decided that, I think it would be to the advantage of Sir J oseph, and to the office of High Commissioner, if an announcement were made one way or the other.
When the schedule is under consideration, there are one or two matters concerning defence to which I wish to direct attention. I saw quite recently that a request had been made by a returned soldiers’ organization to establish an arsenal. That is most urgent and highly necessary.
If thiswork is notundertaken promptly, itis useless wasting money in paying high salaries toofficers or in training men. What is the use of havingtrained men if they have no munitions to fight with? I do not think wewill have to fight.From the presentattitudeofJapanherintent tions are peaceful and honorable, butwe haveto realize that in the year preceding 1914therewere men likeme who weresaying thesamethingconcerning Germany. I do not think that Japan meansfighting, because she has sample scopefor her development, but men possessing similar opinions have been wrong. Itisessential, however, leaving Japan out of the question, that if Australia has to fight, there shall beguns andmunitions to fight with.That is the first step. I read quite recently a mostinteresting article on defence bySir John Monash, published in the Sydney Sun, wherein, I think, he placed the training of men third on the list of requirements. If Australia lifts todefend herself we must have munitions and arms. Sir John Monash pointed out the speed with which our men could be trained, and when we consider our Naval, Military, and Air DefenceForces., and the enormous sums that are being expended in supporting them, we must come totheopinion that it is time the Government got to work on the establishment of an arsenal. I thought one had been built. When I was a member of theGovernment, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) intended to have oneestablished. That was in war time, when we were confrontedwith real dangers, and the difference between then and now is thatthen we were actually engaged inwarfare, and now we are confronted with immediate dangers. I know one firm which was prepared to manufacture guns ifthey could get a continuance of their contract for the manufacture of military waggons. I have been sorry ever since that that contract was not made. If it had been made we should at least have had one plant established in Sydney for the manufacture of a particular class of gun. The chief consideration at the time was that the Government intended to establish a factory of their own, and if that were done noprivate concern would think of establishing a similar factory. Five or six years have gone by since then, but I do notthinkthe Governmentare onestep nearer to theestablishmentof a plant of this kind forthemselves. Duringthe war we frequently found that “ top late” spelled disaster,andalthough I say emphaticallythat Iamnot anticipating war, I still believe that before we spend one-shilling on the training of menforwarweshouldspendpounds, in securing a supply of munitions which our men can use when they aretrained. I have left to the close of my remarks amatter which I consider most serious and urgent, and that is the necessity for the Defence Department manufacturing the munitions andarmament necessary for the defence of the country.
– I disagree with SenatorGardiner’s statement that a great many returned soldiers havebeen under the impression that the Government promisedto cash each gratuity bond to the extent of one- third of its amount. Ibelieve that the general impression wasthat it was the intention ofthe Governmentto pay in cash one-third of the total sum represented by the gratuity bonds.
– I was a member of the deputation which made the arrangement with Mr. Hughes, andI can assure the honorable senator thathe is right as to the promise which the Government made.
– There is one matter in connexionwith the payment of gratuity bonds which should be attended to. I understand that the Government are dealing with necessitous cases, and, speaking of the experience in New South Wales, it is found that it oftentakes a considerable time to secure a decision as to whether a particular case is necessitous or not. I am aware that the Department must make a number of inquiries, and I know that the delay in the settlement of these cases occurs chiefly in connexion with applications from country districts. The Repatriation Department has its. own inspectors in the cities who can make the necessary inquiries as to the bona fides of applicants for the payment of gratuities in cash. In the country districts in New South Wales this work of inquiry is handed over to the New South Wales police, who, while they are doing very good work in this connexion, must obviously give their first attention to their duties as policemen. The result is that in many cases a delay of three or four weeks takes place before a particular application is reported on by the police. I confess that I am at a loss to suggest how this delay can be prevented, because I recognise that it would be impossible for the Repatriation Department to have its own inspectors carrying out this work all over New South Wales.
– In each of the cities a Local Board deals with these cases.
– That is so, but in the country districts the work of inquiry in connexion with them is left to the police. I find no fault with the way in which the police carry out the work, but in connexion with one or two cases which I have submitted to the proper authorities, though the applications were granted, some considerable delay took place; I think, for the reason I have suggested.
The time has arrived when one ceases to be surprised at anything which the Government may do, but I confess to having been surprised on seeing a statement in one of the newspapers to the effect that an Advisory Board or another Commission was to be appointedto deal with the work of the Wax Service Homes CommissionI quote the following statement which appeared in the press: -
The Acting Minister for Repatriation announced to-day that the Cabinet had approved of the immediate appointment of an Advisory Business Board to examine into the entire organization of the War Service Homes Department.
– What is the date of the newspaper from which the honorable senator has quoted?
-It is some time ago.
-It must be months ago.
– We were told that this Board was to be appointed to bring about increasedefficiency and economy in. administration, and a thorough organization of all branches of the War Service Homes Department.
-That Board was appointed months ago, when I was in England.
– Ithink that the statement I have quoted appeared since then.
-No other Board has since been appointed. The Board referred to was appointed, I think, in the early part of the year.
– Is that Board still working ?
– Yes, it is.
– My object in referring to the matter is to remind honorable senators that there is now before the Senate a Bill proposing the appointment of a Boardof Management to deal with the whole of the Public Service. We have been informed that it is the intention of the Government to appoint to this . Board some of the ablest business men in the community, whose duty it will be to supervise the activities and administration of the various public Departments.
– The honorable senator is referring to the Board proposed to be created under one of the Public Service Bills now before the Senate.
– That is so.
– We have not come to that yet.
– The Government areproposing the- appointment ofa Board of Management that is to do all these wonderfulthings. I understand it is to be apermanent Board, and willbe in a position,not only to report upon the working of various Departments, but also to follow up its reports. Yet we have here the appointment of another Board to. deal with the operations of one of those Departments. It seems to be that it would have been just as well if this work had been handed over to the Board of Management to be created for the Public Service. That would have savedthecost of one more Board or Royal Commission We are having too many Royal Commissions appointed at the present time, and if many more are to be appointed they will exhaust the population, and we shall have tocall upon people from other countries to carry on the work of the community.
I wish to say a word or two concerning the. Economies Commission. Over two years ago the Government appointed this Commission, and; we may now reasonably ask what has been the resultof its labours?
– What did it cost?
– I understand that it has cost about £7,000. In addition to its cost, it has to be borne in mind that two very able public officials, Mr. Haldane,the Chief Accountant pf the Post and Telegraph. Department, and
Mr. Templeton, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Queensland, have been withdrawn from their official duties to work on this Commission, and their official work has had to be performed by others. The Commission consists of two business men, together with Mr. Haldane, and Mr. Templeton has been brought in as a sort of sub-Commissioner or investigator on behalf of the Commission. The investigations of the Commission have led to a very great deal of bitterness and friction in the public Departments. That is one side of the ledger, and I should be very glad if the Minister, in replying to the debate, will let us know what is . on the other side, and will say what economies have been brought about as a result of the labours of the Commission. I do not “say that the Economies Commission is to be blamed for the friction to which I have referred, because I am not in a position to say whether its criticism is justified. But I do say, on behalf of the public Departments, that some of the procedure of the Commission does not appear to be quite fair. I confess that it was only this afternoon that, in common with Senator Gardiner, I learned that the Economies Commission had sent General Ramaciotti to investigate the High Commissioner’s office. I was always under the impression that the Government had sent him. But, according to the report of the Commission, Mr. Templeton had a private conversation with the Acting Public Service Commissioner, as the outcome of which a certain report was presented. The Acting Public Service Commissioner, in referring to that conversation, says that his remarks were quite misunderstood. The unfortunate part of the matter is that one, if not two, Ministers have since quoted what was reported to be the substance of that conversation. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) for example, when introducing the Public. Service (Board of Management) Bill, quoted what the Acting Public Service Commissioner was alleged to have said despite the latter’s denial of the accuracy of the statements attributed to him. Apparently, he had not read the reply of the Acting Public Service Commissioner. In another instance the Auditor-General was severely criticised in the report of a SubCommittee appointed by the Commission. Upon that Sub-Committee there was a young man of twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, who was employed in the capacity of a postal clerk, and who was in receipt of a salary of £160 per year, which, together with his allowances, amounted to £220 a year. Ha was sent into the Auditor-General’s Department in order to ascertain what was wrong there.
– Sent by whom ?
– By the Economies Commission. I am not here to say that he did not properly criticise the administration of that Department. I am not opposed to youth. I understand that Pitt was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister of England when he was. only twenty-three years of age. I know that Napoleon, too, did a lot of work when he was quite a young man, and that Wellington also was . a young man when he won many of his victories. Consequently I do not despise youth. At the same time, I can quite understand the feeling of resentment which the Auditor-General would naturally experience at a young fellow of the age I have mentioned being sent to criticise his work. This young man’s report, I repeat, may have been thoroughly justified. I do not know sufficient of the AuditorGeneral’s Department to say whether it was or not. But if it were justified, I hope that the young fellow will not be kept in a subordinate office in the Department, but will be given a position commensurate with his ability.
There is another matter in the Commission’s report which appeals to me very strongly as a representative of New South Wales. The report of a SubCommittee of that body severely criticises postal administration in New South’ Wales, and particularly the administration of the Deputy Postmaster- General (Mr. Young).
– I thought that all. that trouble was brought about by the economies which were practised by the late Postmaster-General.
– No. That is altogether a different matter. Thereupon Mr. Oxenham, the secretary of the Postal Department, took up the cudgels upon behalf of the administration in New South Wales, and replied to the strictures of the Sub-Committee in question. At this stage, I may be permitted to remark that Mr. Templeton, who is the Deputy Postmaster-General of Queensland, is the officer who made this particular investigation in New South Wales. In his reply to the criticism levelled against the administration, Mr. Oxenham says -
It is known that Mr. Templeton is ambitious to be the Deputy Postmaster-General of New South Wales.
The inference is that the criticism which was hurled against the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of New South Wales, and against the administration there, is due to the fact that Mr. Templeton wished to become the Deputy Postmaser-General of that State.
– There is nothing wrong in the ambition itself.
– I am not suggesting that there is. The inference is that Mr. Templeton’s criticisms were practically the result of a vendetta, and that they were prompted, not by any inefficiency in the administration of the Sydney Post Office, but merely because his ambition had not been gratified. Those criticisms were accepted by the Economies Commission, of which Sir Robert Gibson, Mr. Turton, and Mr. Haldane were members. If Mr. Templeton was animated by feelings such as I have suggested, those gentlemen must have been absolute putty in his hands. If .they were so exceedingly plastic, it does not say very much for the ability of business men, of which we have heard so much. We have been told that business men would be able to run this Parliament, as well as the Army and Navy, much more efficiently than these institutions are being run at present, and that it is only because of the absence of business men that things are not as they ought to be. I come now to Mr. Templeton’s reply. Upon page 16 of the report of the Economies Commission he says -
In this connexion I may mention that in January, 1009, when I visited Melbourne, the then Secretary of the Department intimated to me that lie was greatly dissatisfied with Mr. Young’s administration, and that I would have to take charge of the Sydney office - a suggestion to which, however, I demurred. Subsequently, on ‘ seeing the Deputy PostmasterGeneral for Melbourne (Mr. Bright), his first words of welcome- were that >I was “booked” for the Sydney office. Again, in August, 1918, the late Postmaster-General, accompanied by the Chief Inspector, visited Brisbane, and Mr. Webster prepared the way for what is stated in the next succeeding paragraph by discussing with me the question of my treatment of officers over sixty years of age, when I intimated to him’ that, so long as such officers performed their duties with reasonable satisfaction, and their conduct waa satisfactory, I did not recommend their retirement until they attained the age of sixty-five years, and, further, that I would be no party to recommending the retirement of officers merely because they had reached the age of sixty years, at a period of their life when many of them would be unable to find a new means of livelihood. Mr. Webster informed me that I was “ too liberal,” and at the same time intimated that Mr. Young, Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, was then sixty years of age, and he had informed him that he was occupying his position “ on sufferance.”
On the following day, prior to the departure of the Minister and the Chief Inspector from Brisbane, the Chief Inspector approached me and intimated that it was the intention of the Department to retire Mr. Young in March, 1919, when he would attain the age of sixtyone years; that he would be sent on six months’ furlough; and I would be ‘asked to take charge of the Sydney office with a view to permanent appointment thereto. I demurred to this proposal; firstly, on the ground that the rate of pay allowed to Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, was entirely insufficient; secondly, that I had no desire to leave Queensland for New South Wales; and, thirdly, that such a transfer would entail upon me substantial monetary loss. Mr. Woodrow then remarked, “For God’s sake do not refuse to go if you are asked; sec what it is likely to lead to. If you had been in Sydney while the war was on, you could have saved a quarter of a million of money.” I then told him that I was not favorable to such a proposition, hut that I would deal with the question when it arose.
I do not know whether Mr. Templeton’^ statement, or Mr. Young’s statement, is correct. But if Mr. Templeton’s statement be true, Mr. Young ought certainly not to remain in the Sydney Post Office. In this connexion the exPostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) has issued a pamphlet entitled Comments on Final Report of Economy Commission on Federal Services, in the course of which he say3 : -
On page 16 of the report, one of the Commission’s investigating officers sets .out a conversation he alleged he had with me, to the effect that I had discussed the subject of the retiring age of public servants with him at Brisbane, in 1918, and also credits me’ with saying that the Chief Officer of the Department, in New South Wales, was over sixty years of age, and was merely occupying hia position on sufferance. The whole of his statement is untrue. No such conversation ever took place. The whole paragraph, in so far as it applies to myself, is a base fabrication, and there is no truth in it.
I am nothere to take sides, either with Mr. Templeton or Mr. Young. But if Mr. Templeton’sstatement he true, that Mr.Woodrow alleged that the exPostmasterGeneral made the statement attributed to him, Mr. Young ought not to remain in charge of the Sydney General Post Office. If he is inefficient, he ought to be removed. Upon the other hand, if Mr. Templeton has not told the truth, and Mr. Webster alleges that, so far as he is concerned, that officer’s statements are absolutely untrue - he ought not to occupy any longer the position of Deputy Postmaster-General at Brisbane, because everybody knows that it is the Deputy Postmasters-General, who really control the Department in the different States.
– How will the honorable senator prove who is speaking the truth?
– I do not know. I will say for Mr. Young that the matter ought not to rest where it is. It is only fair to him that the Government should tell him whether they believe Mr. Templeton’s statement or not. Mr. Templeton has brought in Mr. Bright’s name, Mr. Webster’s name, and Mr. Woodrow’s name. I hold no brief for either. I had the pleasure of being PostmasterGeneral for a while when Mr. Templeton and Mr. Young were Deputies, andboth were loyal to me. I found them both good officers. I do not want to stand here as taking Mr. Templeton’s or Mr. Young’s side, but in a great Department like the Post Office it is a very serious thing for a statement of that kind to be made about one Deputy PostmasterGeneral by another, and, in my opinion, the Department ought not to be big enough to hold both of them in the circumstances. There is a good deal of public criticism of the Department in New South Wales, and particularly of the telephone service. I do not indorse all of it, because some people are unnecessarily impatient with the telephone, and I believe a little of the fault lies with the public as well as with the telephone branch and the telephonists. In any case, this public criticism has to be met. The fault may be due to lack of material, or to want of efficiency on the part of those at the head of affairs. If we had an inefficient Deputy PostmasterGeneral, no matter how much material was provided, we should still have ineffi ciency. The Government ought to go into the question I have raised, and decide itone way or the other.
– I shall be glad of a practical suggestion for clearing the matter up.
– Have another Royal Commission.
– I shall make no suggestion. Mr. Webster has already stated definitely that he never made the statement. Mr. Woodrow has said that he did not make it, and Mr. Bright has said that he did not make it. The Government should now hear Mr. Templeton’s side of the case, and: they should decide.
– On that evidence, you, knowing the men as as exPostmasterGeneral, ought to be able to express an opinion.
-I shall do no such thing.
– The honorable senator has practically said that the Government should decide the straight-out question, “Which is the liar?”
– Exactly. If the Government are unable, when a statement of that sort is made, to discover on which side the truthlies, it is rather a hopeless outlook forthe country. If the Government cannot settle a little question of that sort, how can they solve the great problems which face Australia ? If, after what has been said, the Government think that both those gentlemen ought to remain in the Department, that is the Government’s funeral, and the public of New South Wales will suffer.
– Perhaps they are both liars.
– If both are wrong, then they should both go. When we discuss the Public Service Bill and the proposed Board of Management, a great deal will hinge on the question of efficiency; but we can have ali our systems, and all our Acts of Parliament, and if we do not have efficient mento carrythem out they, will be of no use. The irritation that has crept into the Department isa very serious matter. I should like honorable senators to read the report of the Economy Commission and the replies to it. My experience is that when a Royal Commission goes into a Departmentto investigate its affairs, all it does in every case is to leave friction behind it, and not one economy is carried out. I hope that the Minister, in his reply, will tell the Senate what reforms the- Government have brought about as the result of the Economies Commission’s report, and what savings have been effected by it.
One of the greatest .problems that Australia has to face is the overcrowding of its cities, and the empty spaces in the country. The ‘Government have gone in for an immigration scheme, and J should like the Minister, when replying, to tell us the number of officials appointed in connexion with the scheme, who .they are, what their salaries are, how many immigrants, they have sent out, what work they have already accomplished, and how many of the immigrants who have been sent, out have found employment here. There is one way - -although it is only a side issue on the immigration question - in which the Government could help materially. There is in England a very large charitable institution known as Dr. Barnardo’s Home. One part of its work has been to help children to emigrate to British Dominions, and I understand that 70,000 children have been sent by it to Canada. Most of these have been skilled mechanics, or trained for domestic duties. All -the reports from Canada show ‘that the percentage of successes in those cases has been enormously high. It is stated that 98 per cent, of them have made a success in their new surroundings. Many people all over the Empire have contributed to Dr. Barnardo’s Home, and agents have come to Australia and collected for it. Eight thousand children are kept in the home, and on account of the increased cost pf everything, a good deal of money is required. Efforts have, therefore, been made throughout the Empire to obtain funds, and a very capable lady was recently sent to Australia by Dr. Barnardo?s representatives for that purpose. When she came here, she was asked, “ Why not start a Dr. Barnardo’s Home here?” She fell in- with the idea, and an effort is being made by a number of people in New South Wales to establish a depot for the reception of a certain number of children from the London institution.
Sir Arthur Rickard is the president, and Sir Denison MilleT, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, is .the treasurer of the New South Wales Committee.
– Is ,the idea to send the children from England to be trained in the home in New South Wales ?
– Yes. The home has been established in- a suburb of Sydney, and arrangements have already been made for a number of children to come out. I believe that some are already on their way. The first batch will- consist of war orphans between the ages of eight and twelve. They will be carried free through the agency of the British Overseas Settlement Scheme, but, of course, in time .the home will not be able to take advantage of that.
– The offer of the British Government to find, free passages ceases at the end of this year
– Before the war 1,000 children a year were going from Dr. Barnardo’s Home to Canada, and the people of that country have been very pleased with them. and have received them with open arms.
– Are they sent to Canada as children, or’ after they have been trained in England?
– I believe they are sent there after they have ‘been -trained. Nearly 11,000 Barnardo boys served in the great war, 670 laid down their lives for the allied cause; 22 army commissions were granted to old Barnardo boys, 11 became lieutenants, 3 ft captains, and 2 majors. Thirty-one decorations came their ‘way, and of ;four Anzacs, mentioned by General Sir Ian Hamilton for bravery &t the ^Gallipoli landing, three were originally Barnardo boys. Two pf these were later awarded the Military Medal for bravery in France. We have had some Barnardo boys in this country, and one -of them was known to us all. The Senate ,to-day passed a resolution regretting the death of the “Honorable James Page. Every one of us feels that Australia waa the richer because James Page came to this country. He was a Dr. Barnardo boy, and was proud of the fact, Perhaps very few members of the Senate have had more private conversations with him than myself, and I can assure honorable senators that again and again he spoke with the highest respect of D:r. Barnardo, and of the home and his treatment there. When the late Mr. James Page was elected to Parliament a statement appeared in the press that a gentleman in Western Australia who had done very well and who at one time was also under the care of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, had written saying that he believed he was in the institution at the same time. The Western Australian gentleman thought that probably Mr. Page did not possess much money, and he said that if £2,000 or £3,000 would be of any service he could have it. We all know that our late friend did not need financial assistance, but it is gratifying to realize that such a spirit of friendship existed between boys who had been inmates of the same institution. If the Government were prepared to find funds to help the Committee here, the authorities in England would be willing to send boys here at an early age. A committee in New South Wales is now working in the direction of giving assistance to such youths, which I believe will be a help to emigration, and I would like to know whether it is not possible to have a portion of the immigration vote devoted to this particular work, because I believe it would be beneficial. Immigration is likely to be a very serious problem to Australia, because every day we are being told of the necessity of placing people on the land. But the people who are born here are leaving the land and coming into the over-crowded cities, and I know of no greater problem than that of relievingthe congestion in the large centres of population when those who are reared in the country are leavingit. When we are building up our city industries, where men are paid high wages for forty-four hours’ work per week, with no work on Saturdays, and the men in the country are working six or even seven days a week for lower wages, there is a likelihood of rural workers leaving the country. Rural workers in England are never at a great distance from a city or village, and, naturally, have the privilege of spending their Saturday afternoons or evenings at places of amusement, but if they should come to Australia and were placed in country districts they would be many miles from the attractions which are provided in cities or large country towns. If our own boys are abandoning rural life it may be difficult to encourage people from overseas to settle on the land. Canada has benefited by the work done by boys and girls from Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, and there is no reason why Australia should not also derive advantage. The idea of the Sydney committee, to which I have referred, is to encourage the emigration of Dr. Barnardo’s boys, and probably consideration will later be given to the question of finding employment for girls from the same institution. I again ask the Government to seriously consider whether it is not possible for the New South Wales committee to receive a subsidy from the Government under the immigration or some other vote.
.- Early in the debate Senator Gardiner referred to the cashing of war gratuity bonds, and I think it is only fair to say that the Government in imposing restrictions on the cashing of gratuity bonds were actuated by a very good motive, namely, that of protecting a certain proportion of our returned men so that the money would not be squandered. Every honorable senator has, I believe, received complaints from returned men in regard to the cashing of bonds. Personally, quite a number have been broughtunder my notice, some of whom, after making representations in regard to their necessities have convinced me that the money would be useful to them. But, the Department could not do anything under the existing regulations. There are many instances in which the payment of cash would have resulted in the money being wasted; but, fortunately, they are in a small minority. There is, however, one class of returned soldier who seems to have a very good case, and that is the man who has to bear the responsibilities of maintaining a wife and children and who finds that he cannot get his bond cashed by the Department, because, in its opinion, his is not a necessitous case. Another soldier, perhaps in the same street, who is single and who desires to marry, may have his bond converted into cash if it is his intentionto marry.
– But he must marry first.
– Yes. But the already married man with the responsibilities cannot secure the cash, and many cases of this kind have been brought under my notice. I rose mainly to place before the Minister the necessity of the Department being relieved of a good deal of responsibility, and this could be done if Senator Gardiner’s suggestion were adopted. The suggestion has my support, because I believe that if the bonds were made negotiable, and placed on the market as war bonds are, the holder would get full market value for them. So far as I can see, such a procedure would not affect the Treasury in any degree whatever. I do not know the value of the bonds still to be redeemed. o
– They would not get full nominal value.
– No. But if the owner of a 5 per cent, war bond, maturing in 1923, desired to dispose of it for £100, he would get £95 or £95 7s. 6d. nominal value. Gratuity bonds redeemable in 1924 bear interest at 5i per cent., and in the open market they would, I believe, realize £94 per £100. If that is so, it would give many returned soldiers, particularly those desirous of starting in a small business, an opportunity of doing so without prejudicing the Government. Many citizens of repute have to get authority from the Treasurer, and in many instances the delay is irksome, both to the proposed lender and to the borrower. I trust that when the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) replies to the statements made during the course of this debate he will be able to show why such a proposal cannot be given effect to.
– Would the honorable senator rather have the other alternative: that the soldier should show that it would be to his advantage to cash the bond?
– I do not see why any barrier should be raised if it is not going to inconvenience or embarrass the Government, from a financial point of view. When the men returned, I know that it was a wise precaution for the Department to provide that the bonds would not be redeemable until 1924,, with the exception of those whose holders who were in necessitous circumstances. I know of many eases to-day in which men would put the money to the best advantage where they would not have done so immediately after the bonds were issued. The object aimed at by the Department has been achieved, arid the interests of the men will never be further protected by allowing the restrictions to continue. Surely sufficient time has elapsed to afford all the protection we can hope to give to the man who would recklessly spend his money.
– Most of them have got the money by some means.
– I do not think that if the restrictions were in force for another two years, any great advantage would be achieved. There is a fair proportion of men who would have wasted their money, but they have now sufficient common sense to use it in the interests of their wives and families.
– Men who would recklessly spend their money to-day would do so in two years’ time.
– Yes. I indorse the suggestion made by Senator Gardiner that the war gratuity bonds should be made negotiable, either by Act of Parliament or by regulation; but I do not approve of the comparison made by that honorable senator when he said that we allow the holder of a war bond to negotiate it, although he has not “ done hia bit,” whilst we withhold that privilege from the man who had fought for his country. We must give credit to the Government for having made such a protective provision at the outset.
Senator Thomas referred to the Economies Commission, and perhaps I may be permitted to add to what that honorable senator said, because there is no doubt that people who have to find the money for public expenditure are very desirous of seeing some practical result of the wort . of that Commission. No matter where one travels in the Commonwealth, he will hear charges, some without foundation and some well founded, of extravagance in the administration of public affairs. There is a general feeling which, to some extent, is justified, that we are spending more in the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth than we ought to spend. The taxpayers know that some money has been spent to enable the Economies Commission to carry out its investigations, . and to make its report, and people are wondering what effect is to be given to its recommendations. It would be good policy on the part of the Government, if Ministers were in a position to do so, to refer, in replying to this debate, to some.economies effected, or proposed to be effected, as a result of the work of the Economies Commission. .1 think that the remarks on this subject of the honorable senator who preceded me were opportune, and any reference to such economies will be highly’ appreciated by the public generally.
There are matters dealt with in the schedule to the Supply Bill to ‘which I should like to refer, but I will leave them until the Bill is under consideration in Committee. I hope that Ministers will be able to see their way to adopt the suggestion with’ regard to the payment of gratuity bonds which was made by Senator Gardiner, and is indorsed by myself, or that if they cannot do so, some definite reasons will be advanced why such a scheme as has been proposed cannot be put into practical operation.
Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) [5.431.-In view of .the feeling through. out Australia on the question of finance, I think it is* incumbent upon every honorable senator to give expression at this time to the opinions he holds on the question of public economy.. We cannot stress, too much the necessity, for economy. I do not desire to attack the Government, or to criticise their administration of public affairs. I recognise the very great difficulties with which they have to contend. I know that they are faced with a legacy of expenditure arising out of, the war and war conditions. . I realize that if, at the present time, they were to cut off public expenditure in the way some people desire, the result would be trouble and difficulty, not only for the Government, but for the very people who ‘ most profess a desire for economy in public expenditure. It is worthy of notice that those who are loudest in their call for economy are the very last to suggest the direction which economy should take.
– Especially if the direction lies their own way.
– That is so. One section of the community calls for economy in one direction, and another in another direction, and were all the suggestions which are made given effect to, we should have economy carried to such a ridiculous extent that Government expenditure, would be reduced to practically nothing; the industries of the community would be. shut up; and our affairs would be left in such a chaotic condition that we should’ be obliged practically to put up the shutters. But without .going tosuch lengths, we can stress the necessity on the; .part of the Government, and of every Department of the Government, of getting full value for every £1 expended. It is often wise to expend money to increase business, and. if the Government spend money in that way, there is .not much to be said against it. But I know, m common with other honorable senators, that in some cases public money is expended for which we are not receiving full value. Whilst the public, I think, are agreed that the Government are doing fairly well, there is a general feeling that more might be done to meet the wishes of the community in this, connexion.
Passing from that, I wish ‘to deal with one or two questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition ‘(Senator Gardiner). I am- sorry that the honorable senator is not here, because I do not like to criticise - the utterances of any honorable senator in his absence. I must reply to one statement which he made concerning returned soldiers. Before to-day the honorable senator has stood here as the champion of the returned soldiers. It is not often that such a claim is put forward by ‘a member of the political party to which the honorable senator belongs. On the contrary, we find members of the Labour . party going out of their way on every possible occasion to attack the returned soldiers and their organizations.. We have seen this particularly in New South Wales, the State which I have the honour to represent. There we have a Labour Government with full power to do everything it desires to do for the returned soldiers, but up to date it has done nothing fox them. On the contrary, this party, which Senator Gardiner would have us believe is so friendly to the returned soldiers, has either taken away every privilege which the National party gave to the returned soldiers in New South Wales, or else proposes to take away the few that still remain. We have heard Senator Gardiner himself declaring in this Chamber that whilst he believes that preference to unionists is a magnificent thing, he considers preference to returned soldiers an iniquitous principle which should not be followed by the present or arty other Government. In the circumstances, it is somewhat amazing to now find the honorable senator taking up the cudgels on behalf of the. returned soldiers. and criticising the administrationthe present Governmentas it affects their interests. I feel sure that neitherthe returned soldiers nor their organizations will look to Senator Gardiner, orthe party to which he belongs to champion their rights or redress their wrongs.. They are looking particularly to the present Commonwealth Government, which they helped to create, and I say without fear of contradiction that whilst the Government have made mistakes, and in one or two instances pretty big mistakes, in their treatment of returned soldiers, it may still besaid that, on the whole, returned soldiers and their organizations have received more sympathetic consideration from the Federal Government than from any other Government in Australia..
I agree very largely with what Senator Gardiner has said on the subject of cashing gratuity bonds. I think the time has come when it should be possible for us, without disturbing the money market to any great extent, or depreciating materially the value of the bonds, to make them negotiable on the Stock Exchange or elsewhere.
– Does not the honorable senator see that to make gratuity bonds negptiable, would be equivalent to the floating of a loan for £14,000,000? Does he not think that that would depreciate the value of stocks?
– I do not think that it would be equivalent to a loan for as much as £14,000,000.
– Unless there are buyers for the bonds, it would be of no value to the returned soldiers to make them negotiable.
– But the Minister will agree that there is a large number of returned soldiers who are, fortunately, in a position to hold their bonds until they are redeemed at the due date. They believe that in their bonds they havea good security upon which they are getting a reasonable rate of interest. There was a section amongst the’ returned soldiers who wanted the money at once, that they might have a good time. There were others in need’ of the money to carry out some work, or wipe out some outstanding debts. Most of these men have already made arrangements for the cashing of their bonds. Ever since the bonds were issued people outside and financial institutions have been cashing them.
– Bonds to the value of £14,000,000 have been, cashed.
– I venture to say that nearly all the men who most needed the cash, and those who, if given the cash would not have used it wisely, have already been met. The majority of those whose bonds have not yet been cashed are men who are prepared to hold them, and if the Government were to make the gratuity bonds negotiable to-day, a very; large percentage of returned soldiers who. hold those bonds would not throw them upon the market, because they would have to sell them at a discount..
– Then they do not need that they should be made negotiable.
– There are some who really want the money. I have endeavoured on several occasions to secure cash for gratuity bonds for people who have been in necessitous circumstances. Men and women who have really needed money, as. I knew from inquiries I made, have had their applications for cash for their bonds turned down by the Gratuity Board. I have appealed against the decisions of the Board in several cases without success. In many cases hardship has been inflicted upon people by the refusal of. the Gratuity Board in New South Wales to cash bonds for returned soldiers or the dependants of returned soldiers. It is not good for the Government or for the Commonwealth that there should be disgruntled people going about, feeling that they are suffering gross injustice. If they cannot get money for their gratuity bonds when they are really in need, of what use are the bonds to them?
– The money will be handy when it falls due.
– If the honorable senator had to wait until 1924 for a feed, of what use would it be to him?
– This is not a feed, it is a gratuity. The honorable senator knows that.
– It must not be forgotten that the war gratuity was not given to our soldiers as a charity.
– It was certainly a gift.
-If a gift has no negotiable value, it is worthless.
– I would like a few gifts of the same kind.
– That is quite all right. The Minister would like a few gifts of the same kind, because he could afford to wait until the bonds mature.
– -Fifty per cent, of our war gratuity bonds have already been cashed, and, consequently, it is fair to assume that the necessitous cases have been dealt with.
– But if only 1 per cent, of necessitous cases has not yet been dealt with, we are inflicting an injustice and hardship, upon the holders of these bonds.
– I would like the honorable senator to cite one necessitous case which has been turned down by the Government.
– The Government have not turned down any case.
– Then what has the honorable senator to grumble about?
– The honorable senator knows that it is the War Gratuity Board which deals with these matters. I have a number of cases before that- Board at the present time, some of which have been outstanding for months, and yet I have been unable to get a decision upon them. It is idle to say that this Board consists of returned. soldiers who ought to have the sympathy of returned soldiers at heart. Certainly I am not satisfied with the treatment which I have received in regard to many applications for the cashing of bonds which have been made to the Board in Sydney. It frequently happens that the members who constitute that body are so rushed with business .that they are unable to give to each application the consideration which it merits. In the earlier stages, I would have opposed the payment of cash to our returned soldiers. I believe that the indiscriminate granting of cash then would have been a most unwise procedure. But the time has now arrived when we should see that those who really need money for their bonds should b”e able to get it if they so desire. If the bonds were made negotiable, their holders could go upon the open market and obtain cash for them, provided that they were willing to sell at a discount.
There is just one other matter to which I desire to address myself. It relates to the answer _ given by the Minister for Repatriation this afternoon to a question which I put to him regarding the payment of the gratuity to nurses who>were recruited in Australia for the Imperial Army, and who left here to nursewounded Tommies upon the other side of the world before we sent our own nursesoverseas. These nurses have been, tosome extent, sympathetically treated by the Commonwealth Government, inasmuch as, -they have received an allowance of £50 for the period of theirservice in the British Army. But Ministers declare that the war gratuity cannot be paid to them, inasmuch as they were not members of the Australian Imperial Force. I do not think that the. Government should shelter themselves, behind that plea. These nurses wereraised by the Commonwealth Government for the Imperial authorities. In other words, the Government acted aa agents for the British Government in enlisting them. The Defence Department was responsible for sending them abroad.
– We made the arrangements.
-The nurses -were Australian girls, who did their duty upon the other side of the world equally with the nurses in our own Forces. They havereturned to Australia, and have been granted some little consideration. But I hold that they should be given the equivalent of what has been given to the nursesin the Australian Imperial Force.
– Would not the honorable senator’s argument apply to the munition workers also ?
– It does not evenapply to the Australians who served in the British Army.
– The Minister has now drawn another distinction, which shows the difference there is between the nurses of whom I speak and Australians who enlisted in the British Army. The Defence Department was not responsible for the enlistment of any Australian in the British Army. The Government did not act as agents for the Imperial authorities in that connexion.
– Where is the difference between these- nurses and the Australians of whom the honorable senator speaks ?
– The Australians did not enlist here. But the nurses to “whom I am referring did enlist here in response to an appeal by the Defence Department upon behalf of the British Government. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) cannot see a difference between the two cases, I can.
– There is a difference, but it does not establish the honorable senator’s case.
– I think that further consideration should be given to the position occupied by these very worthy girls.
– How many are there?
– There are 126 who were attached to the Queen Alexandra Nursing Service. I do hope that the Government will recognise the necessity which exists at the present time for carrying on the affairs of this country as economically as possible. There ls a big feeling outside the Parliament in favour of economy, and the movement is one of which we must take some cognisance. Particularly is it necessary for the Government to exercise economy in view of the very serious financial obligations which will confront us in the near future. We have enormous commitments connected with very heavy loans falling due, and we want, as far as possible, so to conduct the affairs of the Commonwealth that we shall be able, not merely to pay our way, but also to show a very considerable credit balance.
. -I rise to address myself to two questions, which are of paramount importance at the present juncture, not only to the people of Australia, but to the people of the Empire. I am, of course, reluctant to take part unnecessarily in any debates of a controversial character; but, as this is an opportunity to ventilate opinions which are of moment to the people of the whole Empire, I do not feel disposed - even in deference to parliamentary tradition - to deny the people of the State which I have the honour to represent a voice upon what I believe to be the most momentous questions now under consideration in the councils of the Empire. The two matters to which I intend to refer are probably being considered at this very moment by the Imperial Conference, or the Imperial
Cabinet, or the Imperial body of Consultation, whatever we may choose to term it. I would not have alluded to the matter to which I am about to address myself but for the fact that the Acting Prime Minister referred very flippantly the other day to what I understand has been a matter, not merely of Cabinet consideration,but of Cabinet decision, viz., the representation of the Commonwealth at Washington, the capital of the United States of America. Upon two occasions, to my knowledge, this Chamber has affirmed the value of Australian representation in that city, if it were given diplomatic form and force - subject, of course, to the freely expressed consent of the Imperial authorities. I repeat that in another place, a day or two. ago, the Acting Prime Minister alluded to this matter in what I am sorry to describe as most flippant terms. He intimated that it was not a question of pressing moment, and that it might be worth consideration when this young nation had attained a greater stature - say, twenty years hence. He made this declaration notwithstanding that the representative of the Government in this Chamber had months before assured me that the Cabinet had taken the matter into consideration, and had affirmed the necessity for Australia being represented at Washington. If what has been told us by cable of the somewhat tentative deliberations of the Imperial Conference, be correct, the Imperial authorities have already consented to the representation of Canada at Washington, which has been decided upon by the Dominion as a matter of high national policy. The proposed representation of Canada has been welcomed by the Administration of the United States of America. I am not in the habit of allowing myself, to be diverted from opinions which I have long entertained by flippant remarks on the part of any individual, no matter how highly placed he may be. During the past few days honorable senators have doubtless noticed how essential it is that there should be a British propaganda in the United States of America. We have witnessed the spectacle of an American admiral, who is admittedly well disposed towards the British Empire, and who is loyal to his own country, being recalled and taken to task for a very mild pro-British utterance. If that does not indicate the existence of a state of affairs in which a thoroughly competent representative of Australian opinion could exercise an ameliorating influence,I do not know what does. The British Empire, although for practical purposes very little more than an unwritten alliance for purposes of national defence, is very dear to me. Just as there is a medium through which light is supposed to be transmitted, and which cannot be exactly described by scientists, so there is something which cannot be accurately set down upon paper, but which indicates the living principle which binds together the various portions of the British Empire. I repeat that the Empire is a society of nations which exists practically only for purposes of national defence. Each individual factor within the Empire which is not a Crown Colony - and in some cases even Crown Colonies have been granted this privilege - can erect a Tariff against importations from the Mother Country. We frame our own laws; once we havegained the right, we can alter our own Constitution; and only by permission ofour highest body of Judiciary does there lie an appeal to the Privy. Council of the Mother Country. With that single exception, , I. challenge anybody to demonstrate that the British Empire, so. far as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa are concerned, is anything more in a practical sense than an association of nations between the members of which there exists an unwritten understanding in regard to purposes of national defence.
– There is a common Monarch.
-There is, of course; but the King is the symbol of the very principle which I am endeavouring to enunciate. Although theoretically the BritishParliament has power to legislate for us, has not the Minister for Defence taken notice of the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister that, although he acknowledges that the principle nominally exists, there has passedaway for ever and for ever any question that it would ever be exercised, except at the request of the self-governing units which constitute the British Empire? For practical purposes, therefore, the only bond and union to-day is an unwritten understanding - horn of sentiment, born of language, born of belief in a common effort to bring about the wellbeing of all the factors constituting the British Em pire - that providesf or Imperial defence. We can legislate forour selves, andIventure to say that the Imperial Parliament will never endeavour to legislate for us except at our solicitation.
– Would you have an Australian Ambassador at Washington?
– Yes. Are such countries as Denmark, Holland, and Portugal as important as the population of Australia in the world’s affairs at the present time ? Yet they have Ambassadors.
– Did you readwhat Mr. Hughes said about the Dominions having Ambassadors at Washington?
– Yes, butI have differed from Mr. Hughes, with the approbation of the people of Australia, on many important matters. The question of the representationof Australiaat Washington is just as important to the British Empire at this juncture as any other question to which any public man in the Empire can address himself. Australia, speaking of it as an entity, is more suited to the purpose of acting as a British or Imperial propagandist, an Imperial ameliorator, amongst the population of the United States of America than is Canada. It would be a good thing for the Empire, and. a good thing for Australia, if the Australian Government spent £100,000 or more a year in Imperial propaganda in. the United States of Amenca, for there are propagandas that are anti-Imperial, antiBritish, making head in America every day, and being usedto the detriment, perhaps to the vital detriment, of the British Imperial principle.
-What will the Taxpayers League have to say to that?
– The Taxpayers League is right enough in connexion with questions of domestic economy. Nobody at any time has anything to say against the assertion of the principle that national affairs ought to be fairly economically conducted, but in connexion with Imperial questions we shall have to think beyond the confines of Australia if Australian interests are to. be carefully protected. I say, therefore, that I regret very much that the Acting Prime Minister saw fit to speak interms of flippancy of the proposal that Australia should be represented at Washington. Australia has a population of 5,500,000 ; and let it be remembered that Canada, which has been granted by the Imperial Government diplomatic representation atWashington, that has been welcomed by the United States of America, has a population which certainly is not twice that of the Commonwealth. This Senate has, after careful deliberation, affirmed the principle on two separate occasions to my knowledge of Australia being represented at Washington ; and, that being so, it ill-becomes the Acting Prime Minister to have alluded most flippantly in another place to the urgent necessity of Australia being so represented.
– The Acting Prime Minister is so very rarely flippant !
– He wasflippant enough in connexion with this matter. He managed to arouse laughter regarding it.
– Amid all his worries you might allow him a joke or two.
-I hope he was jesting at the expense of those who were opposed to the principle.
It sometimes occurs to me. that the interests of the British Empire are not always seen most clearly ‘by men of English extraction. They are sometimes seen in a clearer light by those who for other reasons are able to look at the matter from a different angle from that from which it is viewed by the ordinary English-speaking and Englishdescended man. The British Empire is very dear to me. I recognise that it embodies and exemplifies a principle of freedom without which a man like myself could not have secured a seat in. this chamber.I do not know of any other flag, except that of France, under which I could become a member of a body of such importanceand consequence as the Australian Senate. That being so, I hope that, all other considerations set aside, honorable senators will give me the credit, of speaking that which I feel and that which I believe in connexion with this matter. I am speaking in the interests of English-speaking men and of the British Empire itself. Although that Empire may exist in a form that cannot be clearly described, it is to me so valuable that I will do anything within my power to see it expanded, to see it given effect to, to see it continued, because I believe that the continuation of the British Empire, anomalous and singular though its form may be, is for the benefit of mankind generally. I should not intrude at this juncture except that opportunity hashardly beengiven for the discussion of this question in this chamber. The matter has had fairly full discussion in anotherplace, but the Senate has either not been provided with, or has neglected, the opportunity for its discussion. My honest belief, well-wisher as I am of the British Empire - and, I hope, loyal subject as I am - is that the very best thing that could be done in the interests of English-speaking men at the present juncture is that an Australian representative should be sent to Washington at least as fully accredited as is therepresentative of the Dominion of Canada. I believe that out of that nothing but benefit to the wholeof mankind could issue.
There is another matter so important that honorable senators will have noticed that in Japan newspapers are being suppressed for alluding to it, although it is one of the subjects set down for discussion by what may be called the Imperial Conference. That may be all very well for the Japanese, but it is one of the glories of the British Empire that in times of peace men may at least speak freely. Of course, it is necessary that at all times, whether in, peace or war, men should speak with discretion; and I do not intend to overstep the limits of discretion in alluding to what isa matter of the greatest concern to the people of the British Empire. Not only is this a matter of the greatest concern, but it calls for the nicest discrimination, the greatest delicacy, and the best balance of judgment : I allude to the Anglo- Japanese Treaty, and the question of its proposed renewal. At the time that Britain allied herself with J apan, she was threatened - and he would have been a very remarkable man who did not believe that the threat had something of substantiality in it - by two great Empires, Germany andRussia, each constituting a menace to some part or other of the British Empire, and, in respect of Germany, at least, to the whole of it. I think the statesmen of Great Britain did very wisely, and acted with judgment which reflected great credit on them, in entering into an alliance with the Empire of Japan when they did. But that alliance, to a certain extent, has crippled the statesmen of the British Empire at certain junctures in the Imperial history of the last few years. I notice that one of the great arguments put forward the other day for the renewal of the alliance was that Japanese warships had escorted Australian troopships during the early part of the war, and even when it was well advanced. That was very well known to me, even when the news was suppressed, so far as Australia generally was concerned, because the Chinese laundrymen and Chinese gardeners in Hobart could tell me of the fraternizings with them of Japanese men-of-warsmen who were manning ships that had put into Tasmanian waters for the purpose of escorting Australian troopships to the European scene of action; so that I very much question whether at any time the suppression of news effects very much, after all.
– The captain of the Emden found that it did.
– It may be useful in some cases, as in that instance. No one denies the fact that Japan did render, so far as naval operations were concerned,, as far east as the Bay of Bengal, and later on in the Mediterranean) substantial assistance to the Naval Forces of the Allies. It must not’ be forgotten, though, that China was, to all intents and purposes, an Ally and co-belligerent in the war that so happily ended with success for the allied arms. The Japanese, taking them as a race and nation, did not make one-tenth part of the sacrifices which the Chinese made in the cause of the Allies. The German possessions in China were besieged and rapidly reduced by Japanese forces. The Japanese occupied the Caroline and Marshall Islands; and that operation may colourably have taken on a military character, but, strictly speaking, the occupation of the Caroline and Marshall Islands was a naval operation. Outside of the reduction of the German possessions in China, it could not be said that the Japanese forces during the war engaged in any military operation. Japan’s operations were entirely of a naval character. How many men did Japan lose during the war ? How many men did the Chinese lose in connexion with the manning of the mercantile marine of the British Empire? China lost thousands. It is an established fact that, outside the people of the British Dominions, the only race willing to man British merchantmen, transports, and so on, which were continually coming into Australian waters to take our troops and goods away, were Chinese sailors. On torpedoed British vessels no fewer. ‘ than 3,000 Chinese sailors lost their lives. How many Chinese were in France? My friend Senator Duncan interjects that there were tens of thousands of them. That is quite true,- for there were many tens of thousands of them there. The number ran into figures in the vicinity of “100, 000. I saw only the other day that a great deal of work such as repairs to motors and tanks was done by the Chinese, who, in many cases, were the mechanicians. It is said that those employed by America were on one occasion armed by an- American general, who was in charge of the line where the Germans were breaking through, with ordinary trenching tools, picks, and shovels, and that they assisted the American “regular troops in turning back the German advance. The Chinese- are just as much deserving of consideration as the Japanese when it comes to a question of renewing this Treaty. China, of course, is mentally or actually parcelled out by the Great Powers into spheres of influence, and those who say there should be an open door to China, should also say there should be an open door to Japan. Why is J apan one of the Big Five ? Simply because she is a big naval and military power. Nobody speaks of the British sphere of influence in the Islands of Hondo and Yezo, or the (American sphere of influence in the Island of Saghalien. The Japanese sphere of influence is treated by the Japanese as they think fit because they have power and will use it. If China had one-tenth of the power of Japan, who would speak of spheres of influence in China ? Would not the Chinese be treated as a militant people with as much deference as the Japanese ? I have been in China, and I know what is going on in the East. There is nothing that is done by Japanese that cannot be done better by the Chinese if they are taught. China, with’ her eighteen provinces, is as large as the Commonwealth. Chinamen are fighting Chinamen to their shame, just as Russians are fighting. Russians, and as Frenchmen fought Frenchmen when their country was in a state of revolution. Aeroplanes are being used by different factions, which shows that it would not take the Chinese long to learn the art of war, and they would make good sailors. We should be careful in this matter. I have previously spoken in. terms which my fellow senators understood and I think I have for years predicted what is now taking place, and that is that the next struggle will take place on the Pacific between two Powers needless to name. Does anybody now question the conclusions which, long ago, I arrivedat? We have been told that the world is so sick of war that we. will have no more of it. But the world worships force; and if it did not, Chinamen would be occupying as high a position in the world’s councils as the Japanese now are. The reign of force has not yet come to an end, and there is to be yet again the trial by combat. That is inevitable. It is marked on the dice of destiny. The box will rattle, the dice will be thrown, and the conflicting and combating forces will abide the hazard of the venture, as they have done through the ages.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I have declared that, in my opinion, certain happenings are inevitable. Nevertheless, any prophet hopes that his opinion in such instances as this may be falsified by events. Never was there a prophet who hoped more than I do that my opinion in regard to the clash of arms between the races resulting in slaughter may. be falsified by events, and that humanity may at least be saner than I believe it to be. I hope that the time has arrived when we can hang the trumpet in the hall, when there will no longer be a state of war, and we shall have such an era of peace that the great and good men who believe that the human race has arrived at the millennium will be justified in the holding of such an opinion. Unfortunately I am one of those fish which love the mud, and which do not rise to fancy flies. There is no necessity for an Australian senator to be mealy-mouthed when a Commander - Carlyon Bellairs - of the British Navy has said that great Powers had built, and were still building, ships to fight, and that, if necessary, these ships will be scrapped, and others built in their place, notwithstanding the expense. I have quite recently extracted from an international magazine this statement -
Before the war there were twenty-six States in Europe, and to-day there are thirty-five. The making of new States certainly does not encourage peace.
I am drawing attention to this to show that, in my opinion, the millennium has not arrived, and that we are not justified in entertaining any hopes of it. The statement continues -
Reports recently prepared for the American Government, which may be taken to be accurate enough -
The American Government has its eyes open - show that nine active wars are now in progress, nineteen territorial fronts are strongly held for fear of attack. Four frontiers are actively sensitive, while civil war exists, or is likely to exist, in seven countries.
That is the position of the peace-loving human races.
– When was that written ?
– A few months ago. I admit that it is not right up to date, because I extracted it from a publication last month, but I do not think the situation has been altered since the publication of the periodical from which I made the extract.
I am no alarmist. Of course, if a person honestly tells the truth, and publishes his belief in regard to matters of importance, in connexion with which, to some degree, he may be regarded as a custodian, he will always be accused of being an alarmist. The late Lord Roberts, who urged upon the British Government the necessity of preparing against an invasion by the German power, was made so much the object of opprobrium, that some people desired that he should be discharged from the Army. He was accused of being unworthy of his position, and of being an alarmist; but all the time he was a great, genuine, and tried patriot, who was endeavouring to warn the people of the dangers which threatened the Empire. I have no reason - God knows - to be antagonistic towards alien or coloured people. If ever there was a man who was a cosmopolitan, a man who had divested himself of racial, religious, and political prejudices, I am his fellow. There is no doubt about that, and I say it without egotism. I do not care what a man’s colour, nationality, or creed may be; if he is a decent fellow, I ask nothing more of him. I am speaking in. the interests of this Empire which, to ‘my mind; stands for freedom to all races, to such an extent . that it would be a great disservice on my part if I did not express my opinions. Ah important Conference is. being held in London, at which great decisions will be reached. I may agree with those decisions, or I may not; but if I delay before publishing my opinions it may be said that I was waiting to see what conclusions were reached’. I am going to express my opinion on the AngloJapanese alliance without fear or favour, and if a British commander, a “Naval man of repute, is exempt from criticism when he expresses his opinion, I, as an Australian senator, representing an Australian State in this, the latest of the world’s Democracies, claim a similar privilege. What advantage are we to derive at the present juncture from the contemplated renewal of the Alliance? I admit that there are advantages. It can be shown that there would possibly be advantages, but if we grant them we have to admit that the world has not arrived at a state of peace, and that we are still close to a state of war. In fact, as I have said, in many theatres of action war is actually proceeding. An alliance between the British Empire and the Japanese Empire, which is contemplated, . pre-suppose and indicates at all times the existence of a state of war, and, therefore, any suggestion that the millennium has arrived is futile, and goes by the board. The advantages, once, were many, but the honours are now easy, and ,let it not be said that the British Empire would be ungrateful if it refused, through the medium of the Old Country, or because of the actions of the oversea Dominions, to renew the alliance. The British Empire is not ungrateful, feecause it kept a ring while Japan and Russia were engaged in a mortal conflict. What return did we receive?- We received, I will admit, loyal service from Japanese naval vessels during the .recent war. If, in a friendly spirit the British Empire now said to Japan that it was undesirable or unnecessary to renew this- alliance, I do not think that Japan could offer any objection, because Great Britain did all that could be expected of her during the Russo-Japanese war. But the British
Empire, because of the alliance with Japan, has suffered materially in its trading interests, particularly those connected with the Chinese Republic. Where is Germany? Down - I will not say out - but she no longer possesses a Fleet capable of aggressive action. What has become of Russia, and the Russian Fleet? Russia may be a danger to the interests that Japan possesses on the mainland of Asia, but a Russian attack cannot be made against Japan proper. Are the Japanese building their fleet for the purpose of overawing the naval might of China? I think that the Chinese do not possess more than two or three second or third-class cruisers. CarlyOn Bellairs says that the Japanese ships are being built to fight. I leave honorable senators in the exercise of the discretion and judgment which I am sure they possess to make their own deductions as to whom those ships, are being built to fight, if fighting should, Unfortunately, in Japanese opinion turn out to be necessary.
It is said that the Japanese may be of great assistance to us in .regard to the retention of our Indian Empire. I have described the British Empire on many occasions, perhaps ad nauseam, so far as honorable senators are concerned, as a tutelary, empire; as an empire built to a certain extent, on force, culture and other features. In regard to India, it cannot be denied that in the last resort, our Empire is an Empire of force. We maintain our control over the various Indian national, racial, and language groups by force, in the last resort. If those people will not willingly, because of culture reasons or reasons of progress, endure the continuance of our Empire, we must retain it by might, if we wish to retain it: ‘ If in order to do so, in the ultimate issue, we have to call in the Japanese to maintain our Empire over India, what will that Empire be worth? Honorable senators will not forget that in their school days they’ read of the wars between Rome and Greece, and that a Roman Consul proclaimed the freedom of Greece. The infatuated Greeks believed that they were really free, forgetting that the hand that gave could also take away. If we can retain our Indian Empire only by the exercise of Japanese might, how shall we retain it? We shall retain it only oh sufferance. So that that argument is not worth very much.
If we renew our alliance with Japan at the present time, not having Russia., Germany, or any other Power of note within sight opposed to us, and notwithstanding the fact that the great Powers of the world are at peace, what shall we gain? Can any honorable senator tell me what of a substantial nature we shall gain? I should very much like to know. We shall probably incur, at least the trade hostility, and, perhaps, in a certain resort, the martial hostility of 300,000,000 or 400,000,000 of men. I am not greatly concerned about Chinese integrity, independence, or anything else. Thousands of conquerors have lorded it in a certain formal fashion over the Chinese. “ Where are they now ? History has hardly recorded their names. No one will conquer the Chinese, for very long. Ten or twelve years ago there was a Manchu dynasty in China which had existed for 200 or 300 years. The Chinese say, “ What does it matter to whom we pay our taxes ? Let them alone, if they do not interfere with us.” At all times, the Chinese have been willing to endure’ a formal rule, but they will never endure an oppressive rule. Where are the Manchus to-day, and where is their language? No one speaks it. It is as dead as Sanscrit. If the Chinese have lost control over certain portions of their territory it is their own fault. That is the fate of all people who are weak because of internal dissension. That is the natural punishment of weakness and dissension, and why should not the Chinese suffer their punishment as well as any other people? They can, if they like, be strong, and may repel their foreign enemies. If ‘they do not care to be strong, let them suffer the consequences of their weakness. The meek may inherit the earth, but the weak certainly will not. Let the Chinese learn that. They will certainly learn it, as they have learned many other lessons. I am, not arguing because of their case, but because I believe that there devolves upon every man occupying a public position in any Parliament of the King’s Overseas Dominions the responsibility to do his best for his own people and his own Empir.e
If we form an alliance with J apan at this juncture,’ when there is no active European enemy of note in sight, do we not leave it quite open to the great American Republic to form an alliance with the Chinese? Of course, we do. What brought China into the war as one of our most useful co-belligerents? Austrian and German ships now trading along the Australian coast were seized by the Chinese Government in Chinese ports. The Chinese- took a very active part in the War in many ways. It is true that they did not send troops to Europe, but they sent hundreds of thousands of men to Europe, as is well known to Australian officers who served in France.- It is open to America to form an alliance with China. The Chinese went into the war because the Americans gave them the lead. They did not declare war against the Powers opposed to us until America had done so. The Chinese .followed the American . lead. Despite the American policy of refusal to be associated with foreign Powers or to enter leagues, with foreign Powers’, circumstances and destiny in conjunction axe going to be too great for America. She has oversea possessions in the Philippines and at Honolulu. She had to intervene in regard to the wireless station at Yap. She has given hostages to fortune, and must come into the great vortex of world politics in spite of herself. If we form an .alliance with Japan it requires no great stretch of the imagination on the part of those who are able to read between the lines tq believe that it will not be pleasant to . America and that Americans will not relish it.
When the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) went Home as the Australian delegate to the Imperial Conference, he took the nation into his confidence, and while he said that he would plead for a renewal of the alliance with Japan, I understood him to say that the alliance must be entered into in a spirit which will be gratifying to the people of the United States of America. Why should we mince matters in dealing with this question ? I do not say that the British Empire is not as great to-day as it ever was. It is greater. I do not say that it is incumbent upon it to go on its knees to America. Nothing pf the sort. I say that America is as much a daughter nation . of the United Kingdom as is Australia. It includes within its boundaries’ 100,000,000 of English-speaking people, and it is not infra dig. for us to say that we shall not set any consideration above that of being upon the best of terms, written or unwritten, expressed or unexpressed, with the people of the great Republic of the West. Consequently I say it is a most dangerous thing for us to renew the alliance with Japan. Because it is the renewal that is in question. The alliance was fit and proper in certain circumstances, which havebeen outlived.. I really believe that it would be fatal before many decades to the continued existence of the British Empire if we were to renew the alliance with Japan or actively operate it in defiance of the opinion ofthe people of the United States of America.
Unfortunately, though not so in the opinion of some philosophers, the world is too much given to the worship of force. Perhaps, after all, it is force that counts. It is force that swings the planets around the sun, and other planets around other suns in other systems, andit may be that force, after all, is the great thing. Yet the people of the world are too much addicted to the worship of force. An illustration is at our hands. Japan is a nation of 50,000,000 or 60,000,000 of people. If we include the Formosans and Koreans, the Japanese will represent nominally about 70,000,000. souls. But at the present time the true Japanese population is about 40,000,000 or 50,000,000, and not greatly in excess of the population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Because they are a military people, have cultivated the old feudal military spirit, and put it into operation, defeating European troops every time they have been pittedagainst them, and because they have defeated every foe against whom Japan has set her face during modern times - what they say goes. What better illustration could there be of the worship of force? China, once an Empire, now a Republic with a population of some 400,000,000, has always governed her outer dominions in a perfect spirit of home rule. The Thibetans, the outer Mongols, the people of Turkestan, of Tonquin, and of Korea have had home rule, subject, of course, to their being considered within the ambit of the great Chinese Empire. The Chinese always extended to their dominions the same kind of privilege of self-government that the British Government, in its wisdom and in its generosity, has extended to us. They are about the only people who really believe in arbitra tion. They are the great supporters of the Hague Tribunal. But who has any respect for them ? Because they have no guns,not enough disciplined men, not. enough aeroplanes, and a navy insufficient to overawe their neighbours, they do not count. There is another illustration of the worship of force which Australians had better mind. We shall not hold this continent unless we are willing at all times to exercise force, and sufficient force, in defence of what we consider to be our rights here. The same thing applies all round. Do not talk to me of the League of Nations bringing about an era of sweet reasonableness. I say that the League of Nations presupposes a condition in which force must be resorted to to bring about peace. If we eould induce Japan, China, America, and Great Britain to form an alliance, outside or inside the League of Nations, I care very little which, these matters might be very easily determined. But we know that two Great Powers on opposite shores of the Pacific are not atpresent disposed for anything of the sort. They have made no step in that direction. America steadfastly refuses to join the League of Nations. Because of her opposition to entangling alliances, she refuses to negotiate treaties of defence and offence with other Powers. But she keeps on making her right hand strongShe keeps on building her navy. Japan is doing exactly the same.
It is all very well to say that in renewing the treaty with Japan, we can include a provision to the effect that in no circumstances are we to be called upon to engage in active hostilities against’ the United States of America. So far so good, and to a certain extent such a provision might be said to disarm criticism. But what about the interests of the British Empire? While China continues to bean exploitable field for foreign trade, why should Great Britain not have her share? What has Great Britain done that she should tie her hands in regard to herowninterests while China is being exploited by another Power - completely exploited - coerced if you like? I ask honorable senators to remember that there was plenty of coercion applied during the war, when the Allies could not speak, and when their interests had to go by the board, because they had not the arms of a cuttlefish. At that time they had to direct all their power to the conquering of Germany. As a result, China suffered and they suffered. Yet we find journalists here who ask, “ Why should not Japanese interests in China be considered and protected?” The Japanese have lived alongside the Chinese for thousands of years. Where were Japanese interests long ago ? How recently has Japan acquired those interests? Where are the Chinese interests in Japan ? Why should the Japanese be given special privileges in regard to the protection of their interests in China? The Japanese have interests in Australia. They have commercial interests here. But do we give them the privilege of protecting those interests upon our own soil ? Certainly not. We believe in holding the balance evenly. We deal with a Japanese- trader if he transgresses, or if he is transgressed against, in our Courts of law. But we do not give any Japanese naval authority power to come here and interfere with our internal affairs in the interests of Japan. Any such action would engender a feeling of hostility in the breasts of Australians which would cause them to reflect, and to understand exactly how the Chinaman feels upon these matters. Let us ponder well upon the situation. The AngloJapanese treaty has outlived its usefulness. Other things become outworn just as do treaties. This -particular treaty has served its purpose. It served the purpose of the Japanese when their interests were threatened, and it served the purpose of Britain when her interests were threatened by a common foe. Our erstwhile ally, France, it is true, possesses great Eastern territories. There is, for example, French Indo-China, and .there are French interests in Siam extending over thousands of miles. There are also certain French interests in the extreme south of China. It is true that if we do not renew the alliance with J apan there may, in certain contingencies, be a prospect of the French allying themselves with that country. But the position in Europe i6 such that I cannot conceive of the French Republic allying itself with any foreign Power to the possible detriment of the British Empire. France is the only European Power of note which could possibly adopt a Japanese alliance if we decided to forgo the contemplated renewal. I admit that the Asiatic possessions of many European Powers cause them to feel very much in clined to succumb to the temptation of a Japanese alliance, in the hope of more or less substantially protecting those possessions. That fact, however, does not trouble me very much, because when the day arrives that a European Power cannot hold its Asiatic possessions without the express and direct assistance of Japan, those possessions will exist only in name. The European Empire in the East will then cease to be of any effect. If it cannot be maintained by the strong arm of the European Power concerned, if it exists only upon sufferance on the part of an Asiatic Power, it will have gone by the board .i It may be that that position has already arrived, and that that is the determining influence in the minds of British statesmen. I do not say that it is. . But if, unfortunately, that should be the case, if the British Empire is unable to maintain the possessions it has acquired - which I do not believe - all measures of this kind will merely retard the approach of the inevitable hour when the dominion of the European over the Asiatic must pass away. It has been said that it is always the European who conquers but always the Asiatic who survives. The Asiatic has survived. At times he has been the conqueror of the European, but occasionally the European has conquered him. Alexander the Great once succeeded in penetrating as far as the banks of the Indus, and there were Greek kings who once reigned in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. But who can remember their names? Only a few persons who possess a skilled knowledge of coins can recall them. To-day nothing remains but the mere name of King Alexander the Great to denote that he once reigned there. It is possible that such a thing may happen again. But it will not happen so long as European power is strong enough to maintain itself. After that the prolongation of its rule is absolutely hopeless. Therefore, we must address ourselves to the consideration of the other side of the question. I identify myself with all honorable senators. They aredescended from British people. The population of the Commonwealth is the most purely British population in the world. J. am of it for good, or for ill, and I am speaking in a spirit which I believe to be in the interests of all Englishspeaking people. We have in Australia a
Continent, lt is inhabited by a white race. We have decided ethnologically to preserve this Continent for ourselves. Of course, there must always be some slight mingling of foreign blood with that of the people of this country. We cannot always insure the existence of an absolute racial filterpress, But if our present policy.be continued for five or six decades, Australia will then possess 50,000,000 or 60,000,000 people of purely British stock, much more British than are the people of the United Kingdom. The people of .Wales, we must remember, and of other portions of the Old Country, have their separate languages and racial hatreds. In fact, it is one of the wonders of the world that, with such a diversity of races, the people of two small islands have accomplished so much. Yet one cannot call the people of Great Britain as united -a race as are their descendants in Australia. Consequently, I speak to honorable senators as the representative of one of the really British peoples in the world. The people of New Zealand are not nearly so purely British as are those of the Commonwealth. The former have to absorb about 100,000 Maoris. They cannot kill them. Consequently, the New Zealander of the future will have a fair percentage of Maori blood’ in his veins; whereas, if we maintain our present policy, the inhabitants of this country will be purely British - as pure as they humanly can be. Consequently, it is the future of the British race that we have to consider, and the future of that -race is naturally oriented towards the future of that other great English-speaking race of the world, which has a population of 100,000,000 souls. Are we going to throw away our advantages in regard to friendly relationship with them? Are we going even to imperil those advantages ? The people of the United States entertain only the most friendly and fraternal feelings towards Australians. Of course, I am not now speaking of .Tariff barriers. We impose a Tariff because we desire to develop certain industries in our own country. But these Tariff barriers are the only bars between the people of the United States ando ourselves. There is, therefore, nothing to prevent the most friendly relationship existing between us. The Prime
Minister of Canada has been wise enough to note that there is not the same antipathy between certain sections of the United States and Australia as there is between* the United States and- Great Britain; Because I believe it tq be wise and expedient, in the interests of America and of the British Empire, that Australia should be represented at Washington, I deem it equally unwise and inexpedient, at the present juncture, to renew the Anglo-Japanese Alliance,- which has certainly outlived its usefulness. I have spoken thus because just now .the Imperial Conference is sitting in London. I may have to mention this matter’ again. Whenever I have touched upon it previously, I have been very guarded in the expression of my .opinions. But, knowing what I” do, and being the recipient, as I am, of confidences from hundreds of British naval men as well as from British Governors, I would not be doing my duty to the people of Australia if I failed to record my opinion that, in the interests of the British Empire, it is unwise for the alliance to be renewed at the present time.
– Certain remarks by Senator Gardiner lead me to interpolate a few observations before the Leader of the Government replies to the criticism which has been offered. My remarks will have reference to the manufacture of munitions. I would not like the observations of Senator Gardiner to go forth to the public without some statement accompanying them to show that the Government are seised of the importance which the supply of munitions plays in any effective defence scheme. We agree with what he has said, viz., that at this juncture it is more important that Australia should be able to manufacture munitions than thai we should spend a large sum of money upon training operations. I can assure Senator Gardiner, and honorable senators generally, that during the past year our Defence policy has, been based upon those lines. Training has been cut down to a minimum, to a point far below what, in the opinion of some persons, it should have been reduced to. As a matter of fact, one-third of our total Defence expenditure has been upon our munitions supply branch. That represents an infinitely greater proportion of our defence expenditure than was incurred at any period prior to thewar. I have here a little demonstration ofwhat is being done in this matter. I hold in my hand a fuse for an 18-pounder shell. In the early stages of thewar, when the British Government were very hard pressed for the supply of munitions, they appealed to the Dominions to assist them to the utmost of theircapacity. Accordingly, we brought together the most skilled men we could get, both in this city and in Sydney, and we. got them into touch with the manufacturers of thiscountry, . with a view to the manufactureof shells. We did succeed in manufacturing a considerable number of shell cases. But, although we had the specifications for its manufacture, we failed toget a single response from any person in Australia who was able to manufacture this particular fuse, notwithstanding that, apparently, it is a very simple article. I say that “ apparently it is a very simple article,” because only when it has been taken to pieces does one realize how complicated it really is. As a matter of fact, it is almost a piece of clockwork. In the later stages of the war we were able to obtain a special plant for the manufacture of this article. We have that plant to-day, and the fuse I hold in my hand is the first one which was turned out in Australia. Without that fuse, the manufacture of the case, and of the explosive, and of the cartridge, is absolutely useless. We have demonstrated that we are able to make the shell case. The process by which we were manufacturing it became obsolete owing to the inventions of the war, and the shell cases were made by new processes, but we have the machinery for their manufacture by those new processes in the possession of the Department to-day. Before the war, we could not make the big gun cordite by which the shell would be propelled. To-day we can make it. That has been, done during the war. Before the war, although we could make the small armsmunition cordite, the main constituents of it had to be imported. To-day we make the greater part of those constituents, indeed, prac tically all of them, in Australia, from raw material obtained in Australia. Trinitrotoluene, the explosive with whieh these shells wouldbe filled to make them high explosive shells, was not made in Australia before the war, although during the war we were able to supply the United Kingdom with toluene, from which T.N.’T. is made, in considerable quantities, but we now have the plant by which we can make T.N.T., and proposals in this direction will, I hope, shortly come before Parliament. I indicate these things so that the Senate may know that the Department is alive to that essential section of defence preparations, and is taking active steps in the direction of enabling Australia to produce ite own munitions. One of the revelations of this war has been that in munition manufacture the most essential thing of all is a brain centre - a centre where chemists and other experts may be able to get that degree of accuracy in manufacture which is not obtained in the ordinary industries of a country, such, for instance, as the making of agricultural implements. The particular article which I hold in my hand comes into about half-a-dozen separate pieces, which have to be so truly made that, if 10,000 of these parts were mixed upon the floor, each piece could be picked up and fitted into the other parts with absolute accuracy.That is a feature in practically all munition manufacture. In time of peace there is no industry that applies itself to attaining that high degree of skill, and, therefore, the line of policy that the Government have adopted is to endeavour to create, not so much an arsenal as an arsenal staff of highly skilled and equipped experts who in time of war would be able to produce the jigs and gauges and other machinery by which the ordinary peace industries could turn over to the manufacture of munitions, and have at command that skill whichwould enable us to produce munitions in large quantities. That, in a few words, is the line of policy which the Government is endeavouring to work out. It all comes back to the question of money. Any honorable senator who has studied the financial position of the Commonwealth knows very well that the amount of money which is at any time at the disposal of any Government for these objects, however desirable they may be, is limited, but I can assure the Senate and the country that the Government is endeavouring, within the- amount” of money at its disposal, to do its utmost to make Australia self-sufficient for these essential features of defence.
. - I shall, I think, express the opinion of the Senate when I say that the opportunity which the first reading of a money Bill affords this Chamber has been very happily utilized on this occasion, judging by the speeches to which we have beep treated.
I listened with a great deal of surprise, surprise so great that at first I thought he was indulging in the rôle of a humorist, when Senator Gardiner said that he understood that the promise of the Government as to the redemption of the war gratuity bonds meant that a certain percentage of each individual bond should’ be cashed on certain dates. My surprise deepened when I became convinced that the honorable senator was at least speaking with an appearance of seriousness. I have never heard that suggestion put forward before by any other person in a position of knowledge or authority. I have in the meanwhile looked up the records to see exactly what was promised. Reading through the speech which the Prime Minister delivered in the other House on introducing the measure, I find it quite clear that the original conception which I had of what was promised was entirely justified. All through that speech is the clear indication that the aggregate represented by the total of the bonds- issued was dealt with, and not the individual bond. Running through it, too, was the idea, and machinery was created to carry out the idea, of priority of selection, in determining which bonds were to be cashed first. I understand that Senator Poster was present when the deputation from the Soldiers League interviewed the Prime Minister. The honorable senator has been good enough to say, by interjection, that his recollection of what took place at that interview entirely confirms the view which I am putting forward now. I need not detain honorable senators by reading extracts from the debate, but I draw -attention to the fact that the idea of priority, of selecting the most necessitous cases, was not only embodied in the
Prime Minister’s speech, but is set out in the Act itself, which actually prescribes the order of priority. It is also, I am sure, generally understood outside. The Act sets out various classes. The widow comes first, and then in various degrees of relationship and necessity other cases are. dealt with. This is supplemented by the promise of the Government to cash bonds whenever they are presented in cases which axe adjudged to be necessitous, and the decision in that matter has rested with what are known as War Gratuity Boards, which were created in each State specially to deal with these matters. Returned soldiers have been appointed to these Boards.
A suggestion was made by Senator Gardiner, and indorsed by two later speakers, as to the wisdom of making the war gratuity bonds- negotiable. Senator Gardiner spoke as if their non-negotiability represented some handicap or hindrance which the Government had imposed upon the holders of the bonds. I submit that that is not a fair view to take of the case. What the Government did, with the concurrence of Parliament, was to present a nonnegotiable bond to the soldier. It did not present a bond and make it non-negotiable afterwards. It said that it desired, in view of the very fine services our men had rendered, to give them a gratuity, but that it was not in a position to pay cash, and for other reasons did not feel free to give them negotiable bonds. It presented them with bonds which were clearly known at the time to be non-negotiable.
– One of our soldier representatives suggested the nonnegotiable bond to the Prime Minister because the Prime Minister said that the Government could not find cash at the time.
– That is only another evidence of the fact that 1me soldiers, when they speak officially, as they did in that case, have always shown a keen regard for the prime interests of this country. When the bond was given, well deserved though it was, it was’ still a gift of a non-negotiable character. It is therefore unfair to say that we placed upon it a condition which in itself constituted an injustice. Let me go beyond that and see .what the effect of making the bonds negotiable would be. Weare not yet out of the financial wood. The Treasurer will very shortly be under the necessity of floating another repatriation loan for the purpose of continuing the redemption of our promises to the soldiers. I do not take an unduly pessimistic view of the situation, but it is clear that the Australian market is not as buoyant or as well supplied to-day to meet Treasury requirements as it was a few years ago. Without being unduly pessimistic, it is also clear that the loan will require all the efforts of all the well-wishers of this country to make it a success. What will be the effect if the war gratuity bonds are made negotiable? There are outstanding about £14,000,000 of them, and to throw them on the market at once would create an inevitable slump. Senator Gardiner compared them, very fairly, with the bonds quoted to-day at about £90 or £91, but the bonds which are being sold to-day at that figure are not being thrown on the’ market in parcels of £14,000,000 worth at a time. Many of them are sold in small parcels, but if £14,000,000 worth of them were thrown on the market at once, does any one suppose that they would bring £91 five minutes afterwards? How far they would fall I cannot say.
– And they are 6½ per cent. bonds as against the 5¼ per cent. war gratuity bonds.
– At any rate, instead of bringing £90 or thereabouts, the war gratuity bonds would bring far less if £14,000,000 worth were thrown on the market by a number of men, some of whom would be reckless, some of whom would need money, or think they did, and some of whom would be too impatient to wait for the time when they would be paid face value, and would be prepared to sell them for what they would bring. That would have a serious effect, not merely on the bonds themselves, but on every other Commonwealth security, and would spell disaster to the loan which the Treasurer will shortly have to float. If those £14,000,000 worth of bonds were thrown on the market and people could purchase them for £70 or £80, what response would there be when the Government asked the public to pay £100 for the new bonds which it was seeking to float? The object of the new loan is to enable the Government to go on redeeming the pledges it has made to the soldiers, all of which have not been redeemed, and to make these bonds negotiable would render it almost impossible for the Government to do this. In an attempt to give an additional concession to the mento whom the war gratuity bonds were given we should, if it were done in that way, be rendering ourselves impotent to help those other soldiers to whom our promises are still outstanding. I ask honorable senators to think, not about the mere cashing of the bonds themselves, but about the effect it would have upon the whole financial position of the Commonwealth. The Treasury undertaking to find the cash in necessitous cases still stands good. Bearing in mind the Government’s financial obligations and the very serious load of debt which it has to face, I think in the circumstances the Government have gone in this case as far as it is safe to go.
– Will there be an opportunity to convert the war gratuity bonds in connexion with the new loan?
– I am not yet in a position to explain the prospectus of the new loan, but in past loans there has generally been some concession of that kind. That, however, applied to war gratuity bonds; would not give the Treasurer what he wanted - that is, cash. It would be merely issuing one bond in exchange for another.
– That has not been the practice. You havehad to take up £ 100 of the new loan to convert £100 of a previous loan. .
– If the honorable senator’s suggestion were carried out, the Treasurer would not get the cash which he requires to go on helping the soldiers in land settlement, housing, and other directions.
Senator -Payne. - A great deal of the dissatisfaction that is felt would be removed if anarrangement could be made whereby the soldiers could get their bonds cashed by private individuals. At present, face value has to be paid.
– Does the honorable senator mean to permit the sale, providing that the present market rate is paid?
– I shall put that view before the Treasurer without. at the present stage, expressing any individual opinion concerning it.
Senator Thomas, referring to the Economies Commission, spoke of its cost as being an item on one side of the ledger and he desired to know what was on the other side- to balance it. The Commission’s report provides the balancing factor. As for the recommendations of the Commission the responsibility of the Government was to read and study them. The Government are not called upon to adopt every suggestion contained in every report of every Commission. Where the suggestions of the Economies Commission appeared to fee good, they have been largely embodied in this Bill. The Government have, embodied in the measure not necessarily the specific views and recommendations of the Commission, but a line’ of action based on the Commission’s recommendations. .No Government would say beforehand that they would fee prepared to accept every line of every report. A Commission makes its inquiry and presents its recommendations, and the Government take responsibility for accepting the report wholly, or in part, or of rejecting it.
Senator Thomas referred also to immigration. I am sure every honorable senator will echo his sentiments concerning the welcome waiting in Australia for a stream of newcomers . of the right type. The honorable senator made a suggestion concerning a home which has been started in Sydney somewhat on the lines of the famous Dr. Barnardo institution. During my recent stay in London I met a member of the Canadian Government, namely, .Sir George Foster, and the Canadian High Commissioner. Both spoke eulogistically of the results which have accrued .to Canada from its efforts to attract Barnardo boys as settlers. I was given an outline of the scheme which has been adopted for receiving these youths, for training them upon farms, and for placing them eventually with individual citizen:?. I should like to see some plan of the kind established in Australia. Canada’s experience is encouraging; and, from what I was told, not only by the Minister and the High Commissioner, but fey two or .three leading Canadian officials also, these Barnardo trainees may be regarded as being among the finest types of citizen. They go out to Canada at an impressionable age, having little to unlearn; and the percentage of .those who turn out badly is negligible. We might do well ito seek citizens from the same source. For, without desiring to rob Canada, we are not forgetful of our own needs. I shall take an early opportunity to press the point for the consideration of our immigration ‘ officials. Senator Thomas asked me to furnish particulars concerning officials in the Immigration Department, together with a resume of their duties and an indication of the number of people who have been brought out to Australia during the past few months. I ask the honorable senator to give me notice of his requirements in the form of a question, since I have not had time to procure the information.
I listened to the remarks of Senator “Bakhap, as I always do, with great interest. The question of the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance is how being discussed at that important gathering which, for lack of a better name, is termed the” Imperial Conference. With the honorable senator, I would like to see some good understanding, very definitely expressed, with the great American Republic. I hope that nothing may- arise in connexion with the Anglo-Japanese alliance which will put such an expression beyond the realms of probability. There was something practical and timely in a suggestion made to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) before he left for England, regarding an understanding between Great Britain, the United’ States of America, and Japan. _ If that could fee ‘brought- about, it would represent an ideal which we in Australia would regard as the best thing possible for all the world. I trust also, with Senator Bakhap, that, whether the alliance is renewed or not, studied efforts will be made to create good relations with Australia’s -Asiatic neighbours. Foolish things have, been said about the latter, which, if we were in the place of those nations, would arouse resentment. I should add, in fairness, that some also of those “^nations have not been altogether free from similarly unwise utterances and actions. We should make every effort to suppress hurtful criticism, for it does no good, and may lead to grave injury.
Good understanding mli grow, I trust, until Japan perceives that we are not seeking to exclude her people on any such ground ais that of alleged inferiority or because of any prejudice, or for any reason, indeed, other than the desire to keep this country racially pure. I trust that Japan will recognise that out policy ia a
Bound one, and that she will publicly and frankly admit that recognition. When she does so accept the situation, and refrains from .putting forward her continual demand for racial equality, there should be no- reason why Australia and Japan should not live forever as extremely good friends and neighbours.
Question resolved ia the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 9.2. p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210628_senate_8_96/>.