8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Norfolk Island.- Ordinance No. 2 of 1921 -
Executive Council (No. 2).
Public Service Act. - Sixteenth Beport on the Commonwealth Public Service, by the Acting Commissioner, dated 23rd September, 1921.
UniformRailway Gauge in Australia : Beport of Royal Commission; together with SupplementaryReport by the Chairman of the Commission.
Senator PLAIN, onbehalf of the Public Works Committee, presented a report from the Committee on the erection of automatic telephone exchanges at Ascot Vale and North Melbourne.
– I have to announce to the Senate that I have received a letter from Mrs. T. J. Ryan, widow of the late Hon. T. J. Ryan, K.C., expressing, on behalf of herself and her children, appreciation and thanks for the message of condolence passed : by the Senate.
Closing of Vestey Brothers’ Freezing Works
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories - (a) Is it a fact that Messrs. Vestey Brothers are closing down their splendid freezing works at Port Darwin ? (b) if so, do the Government realize the seriousness to Australia of such a retrograde step in the development of a necessary primary industry ? (c) do the Government intend to take any action to endeavour to encourage Vestey Brothers not to dismantle their works, or, generally, to protect employers in the Northern Territory, and in otherparts of Australia, from the persecution by certain unions ?
– I ask the honorable senator to be good enough to give notice of his questions.
– I ask you, sir, whether the statement that unions are persecuting anybody is in order.
– I have not yet seen the honorable senator’s questions. They will not appear on the notice-paper except in proper terms.
Prisoners - Inquiry into Ordnance Branch.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The respective offences, original sentences, and remissions granted are as follow ; -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are-
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What action does the Government intend to take with regard to the marketing of wheat for the coming season?
– This matter is at present receiving the earnest consideration of the Commonwealth Government, and a statement will shortly be made.
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Regarding the Industrial Peace Act 1920, which became law on 13th September, 1920 -
– The answers are -
Australian Representation at Washington.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When will the Government disclose to the Senate the date andnature of its intended action in regard to the permanent representation of the Commonwealth at Washington, United States of America, it having been previously disclosed by Ministerial statement in the Senate that the Administration had decided on an affirmative policy in this matter?
– The Government are not yet in a position to make a statement with regard to this matter, but hope to be able to do so at an early date.
Departmental Rules and Regulations
asked the. Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The reply reads as follows: -
Debate resumed from litt October, (vide page 11814), on motion by Senator E. D. Millen -
That the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1922, and the Budget Papers 1021-22, laid on the table of the Senate on the 11th October, 1921, be printed.
– Circumstances constrain me to bring my remarks to a somewhat speedy close. When the debate was adjourned last evening I was just about to deal with the momentous appointment of Senator Pearce, our Minister for Defence, as our ‘delegate to the Disarmament Conference at Washington. It is very much to the credit of the Senate, as a deliberative body, and particularly representative of the Australian people, as Senator Gardiner has said, that on an occasion like this the spirit of party should be so entirely absent as to enable Senator Gardiner, who is one of the leaders opposed to the Government, to get up in his place and most chivalrously and generously applaud the appointment of Senator Pearce, who is now on his way as our envoy to the gathering at Washington. The opinion was hazarded by some persons that the appointment of Senator Pearce would arouse a chorus of disapproval from the Australian people. I am glad to say that such a protest has been almost entirely absent. It was a predication falsified by the event. What better appointment in the circumstances could have been made? It is true that the representation of Australia by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) would have been acclaimed, and properly acclaimed, and would, perhaps, have had the very best results in regard to the proper presentation of Australian opinion to the delegates who will assemble at that great Conference. But the Prime Minister could not go, and such representative members of the Administration as Sir Joseph. Cook and Senator E. D. Millen, who so worthily acquitted himself in our interests at Geneva, also could not go. In the circumstances, therefore, what better appointment could have been made than that of Senator Pearce? The fact remains that he had the longest term of office of any Minister for War in any Government of the ‘ nations engaged in the great struggle from which the Empire and its Allies have so happily emer- ged. He was not Minister for Defence at the beginning of the struggle, for it must be said to the credit of Senator E. D. Millen that he, with consummate ability and great dash organized, equipped, and despatched the first 20,000 men as Australia’s contribution to the conflict. But the Ministry of which he was a member was defeated at the polls shortly after the outbreak of war. Senator Pearce then took the reins of office, and. held them until the struggle waa happily consummated. The magnitude of the effort made by the nations engaged in the struggle dwarfed everything that had hitherto been attempted by the greatest empires of the world. And let it not be forgotten that the effort put forward by the Commonwealth and the people of Australia, whom the Government represented, transcended altogether any previous military effort made by the British Empire, notwithstanding its great inheritance and glory. Senator Pearce sent more than 300,000 men from Australia overseas. No British Minister had ever equipped- or sent forth an expeditionary force of anything like the size of the Australian Imperial Force
– And never sent the men half the distance.
– As the honorable senator has reminded me, the greatest efforts made by the Imperial Governments ia any war, not- excepting even the Napoleonic wars, was the sending of 200,000 men as far as South Africa.
– And that, too, was when -the naval conditions were normal.
– That is quite true. There was no naval opposition on the part of the Boer Republics to the sending of British troops to South Africa.
– And no submarines.
– The honorable senator is quite right: Therefore I say that the dispassionate judgment of posterity will accord to Senator Pearce the merit at least of having been successful in his great effort, and success, as we know, is the touchstone by which his administration will be measured when other circumstances have been completely forgotten by the Australian people two or three generations hence. They will then be able to see in proper perspective the achievement of the man who held the reins of our war administration during the recent European war. I hope, and, indeed, I feel sure, that in his mission to Washington Senator Pearce will be accorded a full measure of practical, sentimental, and political support by the people of the Commonwealth.
As for the Conference itself, honorable senators will know that some years ago I took the initiative in this Chamber, which collectively most loyally supported me, in regard to the representation of Australia’s interests at Washington. I could see, to use a word which I am not particularly fond of, that the orientation of events, so to apeak, was towards the United States of America; that the United States of America, with its 110,000,000 of people, speaking the English language, occupying a territory rich in material resources, a people rich in technical skill, rich in racial energy, and rich in business ability, was destined to become one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Power in the world for all the generations that are likely to concern us at all events. Some years ago I suggested - in fact my motion was agreed to by the Senate - that if the exigencies of British diplomacy did not make it undesirable for Australia to have representation at Washington, the Commonwealth should be represented there by a gentleman of at least the status of a High Commissioner, who would be in touch with the people of the United States of America., and apprise them, of the Australian view point upon matters in which our common interests may be involved. If we had been so represented many of the difficulties that have arisen in connexion with Australia’s representation at the forthcoming Conference would have been avoided, because the American people would have been familiarized with Australian . ideals and aspirations in connexion with Pacific questions. Anyhow, the time has come, and I feel sure that the Administration, as disclosed by the answer .given by the Minister to my question, have determined upon a policy of representation of Australian interests a,t Washington. Without saying anything in detraction of the Mother Country, which is the prime factor in the British Empire, it is just as important that the Commonwealth should be permanently represented a.t Washington as it is that we should be permanently represented in London. Such a proposition cannot logically be gainsaid. I trust that the Minister will, at an early date, in connexion with the question, at least disclose what the policy of the Government will be,’ because a policy is very shortly to be disclosed as indicated by the favorable reply to my question, and it is to be hoped that it will be one that will be put into operation at the earliest possible opportunity. I do not suggest that it is essential to put the proposed policy into operation while the Minister for Defence is our representative at the Washington Conference, but thereafter. Australia should be represented at the capital of the United States of America by one of her proved and tried statesmen. We need not be too eulogistic, but I believe that the Commonwealth does possess men equal to any of the world’s best statesmen. Sections of the Australian press have been very hostile all along to Australia’s representation at Washington; but pressmen are only human beings, and, like politicians, are not infallible. I do not hold it against them as a crime .because they did not see the desirableness of it; but it must be to the credit of the Senate of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia that it had sufficient imagination and foresight to indicate to the Government its desire to have Australia properly represented at Washington several years ago. In regard to the Disarmament Conference, it may be that I am, as has been said of a French statesman, owing to advanced years, “ somewhat dry of soul and somewhat empty of hope.” I am not altogether empty of hope that the Conference may produce successful results; but men, whether as individuals, or races, or nations, are still full of jealousies and passions, and still possess envy and the desire to fight. Man is a fighting animal, and, although it will be exceedingly difficult to get anything very tangible in the way of results from the Conference, let us hope for the best. I know not what the results may be. I am not a prophet, but I hope for the best. Although I hope not for much, I fear not at all. But this has to be said: Unless this Conference is an unqualified success it will be a failure. It cannot be a partial success, because modified success will only retard the approach of the inevitable hour. Honorable senators and others who have conversed with me in private and in public know what I mean when I speak of the approach of the inevitable hour.
– It can be a step forward.
– It may be a. palliative, and may retard the approach of some great convulsion. It is held to the credit of the medical man, if he can preserve or prolong human life for, say, only a year-
– If it leads to a satisfactory agreement between the three great naval Powers, surely good will result.
– If that is done it will be a great success; but failing anything like an agreement between the great Powers of the earth it will do what it was never intended to do, accelerate the approach of the great convulsion that I think reasonable men fear. Let us hope that mankind, having been sufficiently -chastised during the recent great conflict, does sincerely long for a permanent peace. But the desire for peace is not as greatly iu. evidence as some philosophers would have us believe. If I were to attempt to tabulate the number of wars in progress, the rumours of possible wars, the many threats of the destruction of rapes and nations, it would be a difficult task. But let me say that all the evidence tends to show that after all the world is an abattoir. Man is a fighting animal, struggling for supremacy, and by some mysterious law he cannot at times help himself. Some nations and some men cannot refrain from fighting, and the desire seems to be growing. There is one nation to which I would like to refer, and towards which I have the most friendly feeling - I refer to Portugal. Portuguese territory is within two or three days’ sail from Port Darwin; and at Timor, of which Dilly is the principal port, it has been the custom for hundreds of years to moor vessels to trees. Can honorable senators imagine strong, virile nations being likely to- tolerate such a practice? We may talk about dispensing with war, but we will have something that will produce the same result as war. We will have conquests in one form or another; and, while other nations are progressing and increasing their populations, no nation will be allowed to remain in possession of a territory when it is content to moor vessels to trees instead of providing adequate and modern wharf accommodation. Portugal is to have representation at the Washington Conference. Honorable senators know that I am a strong Imperialist. I know the American Government has to recognise the British Empire as a diplomatic entity; but such important Dominions as Canada and Australia should have separate representation. I do not wish at this juncture to encroach, upon my privileges by dealing with the motion of which I have given notice; but the Australian Commonwealth has as great an interest as, if not a greater interest than, Portugal, or even Holland, in the Pacific and the settlement of those questions which are incidental to the consideration of Pacific matters. Holland has extensive territory to the north, which she has used very well. Australia has a very great concern in these matters, and as a virile people we should not only populate this continent, but in time extend our population to the Mandated Territories. In doing so it will be a most difficult matter for use to avoid a clash of interests with other nations.
The work of our envoy to the Washington Conference is most difficult. He has nothing to give away. He can consent to a procedure in regard to disarmament and * advise us that it is desirable to do certain things. But there are other. questions in connexion with which he cannot give anything away. All the people of Australia believe in the laudable ideal of preserving this continent for the white races of the earth, not with the idea of absolutely excluding the entrance of a coloured man, but so that the white races shall be protected from, too great an impregnation by coloured “people. In regard to the White Australia policy, I subscribe my adherence to what, after all, is a most interesting experiment, for maintaining what may be regarded as a human national park for the preservation of the white races. These questions are of the greatest human and scientific interest; and, as I have said, our delegate has nothing to give away. Therefore, let’ us understand how difficult his task is, and, as a minister of the gospel would say, “ Let us support him spiritually with our prayers.” Although I am allowed a good deal of latitude in discussing this motion, I think, Mr. President, you would bring me to task if I debated the terms of the motion of which, I have already given notice. I shall not incidentally discuss these matters, because it would be somewhat unfair, and would be talcing undue advantage of the wide latitude allowed on such an occasion as this. I hope, though, that the Administration will recognise that, in order properly to support Senator Pearce, there should be uttered, or issued, a sort of declaration of faith and rights on the part of the Australian people as represented by this National Legislature. We want to show to the nations our intentions, our desires our sympathies, in regard to this matter. We want to show them that we are willing to disarm, that we desire to be and to remain in friendly relationship with all peoples of the earth. We wish to indicate, at the same time, that our interests are to us as grave, as vital, indeed, as are the Pacific interests of any other nation. We want to show, further, that we have, as the Scotch preacher advised, “ a good conceit of ourselves”; for if Australia, with a population of nearly 6,000,000 white people, tamely submitted to the non-representation of its interests except in a roundabout fashion, while the interests of such a country as Portugal are to be represented at the Conference by a direct delegation, it would become indeed necessary that something should be said. While I am not an aggressive Australian, and do not wish to see the Commonwealth take up a jingoistic attitude, the Australian people can deservedly hold their heads high; and this Commonwealth Government - any Government of Australia - can do the same. That being the case, -let us see that we are not relegated, so to speak, to the wash-house, but that we are given the prominence which a nation of 6^000,000 English-speaking people - an almost unsullied white race - merits and can legitimately claim. I am most willing to withdraw my motion; it were well, indeed, that instead thereof the Government should accept my suggestion. I feel sure that the attitude of the Ministry is not hostile to the matters which I have been speaking upon. I emphasize that a kind of declaration of faith, intention, and attitude on the part of the Australian people would be one of the strongest factors which could be called into existence for the support of Senator Pearce.
– When I called “ Not formal “ to the honorable senator’s motion, I trust that the honorable senator recognised that I did so in no unfriendly spirit.
– I pay full recognition to the courtesy and kindness of the Minister. Senator E. D. Millen is too intelligent - and so, also, are his confreres - to fail to see the wisdom of Australia doing something by way of support of its delegate, if not in identical terms with those which I have suggested, then, at any rate, along the same lines.
In regard to what may be called the practical side of the Budget, honorable senators were speaking of the expensive tastes of modern -white Democracies in the course of yesterday’s debate. Reference was made to the tremendous number of functions which a Government is called on to perform in a country such as Australia, and to the continual requests and demands preferred which necessitate national expenditure. The same rule holds good with regard to the administration of a white Democracy as in respect of the ordinary domestic affairs of a member of such a Democracy. A Japanese Judge, a man of light and learning, would probably receive the equivalent of £60 sterling per annum in payment for his services upon the Bench. Who would think of paying an Australian Judge of the Supreme Court only £60 per annum ? We live more expensively than do the people of many other races. Our scheme of civilization, our tastes also, and our culture are more costly; although I do not say, in respect of the last named, that it is of a better quality. Of necessity, the cost of government in such a country as ours is immeasurably higher than elsewhere. A Government is, after all, only representative of the life of the units composing the nation itself. And, if it costs a white man and his family £4 or £5 per week to live, it must cost a white man’s Government proportionately the same to carry on, so that its functions can bear comparison only in1 regard to their magnitude with the cost of government of a civilization of a more economical character. We cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs. We cannot have what the Australian Democracy demands without calling upon that Democracy to draw pretty deeply from its pockets. We cannot have good government without paying for it - certainly not such government as the Aus- tralian people demand. Therefore, a good deal of the talk about economy has been and is very general. Economy is always desirable if it can be satisfactorily practised; but I, personally, would not be able to take the Budget and so analyze it as to be able to convince this Chamber that the Government could save millions of money without impairing the efficiency of our national services. It is all very well for various and differing organizations to pass resolutions in favour of economy without at the same time offering even one practical suggestion for the saving of as much as £100,000.
I desire to refer briefly to the proposal for the holding of a Federal Convention for the manifest and declared purpose of substantially altering the Constitution. I look upon the Constitution as being, on the whole, a highly satisfactory instrument of government. It is true that the progress of a couple of decades has disclosed that there are some difficulties in accommodating State and Federal func- -tions with respect to legislation and administration. There is ‘an occasional overlapping. Now and again a “Noman’sland “ has to be traversed, in which a succession of Judicatures has to be called upon to decide which are State and which are Federal functions of legislation. But that sort of indefiniteness is inseparable from the Federal system of government, and it was contemplated, indeed, when the Constitution was laid down. I do not say that there will not come a time when events will have so clearly crystallized as to permit us to perceive such defects, such disabilities, in the national Constitution as will appeal to the reason of practically all electors, and cause the Constitution to be remodelled, or, at any rate, altered to a certain degree, by the machinery which the Constitution itself provides. The great men who formed this instrument of government were called together by a Convention, it is true ; but that was necessary, for there was, at the time, but a very shadowy Federal body, namely, the Federal Council, and it possessed only very limited powers. But the instrument which that body conceived and recommended to the Australian people for adoption, carried within it machinery which can be -easily and satisfactorily operated by the Commonwealth Legislature to-day, and at any time, for the periodical amendment of the Constitution. Many attempts have been made” to alter the Constitution, although the Commonwealth has been in being for less than a quarter of a century, but few have been successful.
– Only one, I think.
– There were the alteration in regard to State debts, and the alteration . of the period for the election of senators - matters of expediency which were carried into effect without difficulty. Except for those matters, the Commonwealth Constitution has not been altered, although the people have been expressly appealed to, from time to time, by men who wish to alter the Constitution for their particular party purposes. To the good sense of the people of Australia, let it be credited that the people have always refused to have their Constitution altered for party purposes and for the purpose of securing party objectives, and I think they always will. I am fully sensible of the fact that there are certain difficulties, which seem to be more or less completely disclosed, in the Commonwealth Constitution. The time is altogether premature for the calling of a Convention, which, according to some people, who intend to get representation through it, will have for its task the complete re-modelling of Australia’s instrument of government. There is an organization which is called the Australian Legion, and which has in contemplation dictation to the States as to how many Chambers their Legislatures should comprise. Part of their Federal Convention programme is to have the States reduced to one House each.
– You speak ‘as though you were surprised at their moderation.
– What has that to do with the Commonwealth Convention ? While I do not completely commit myself to opposition to the proposal, I am afraid there will be an attempt by a certain gentleman to acquire the portfolio of the Treasury again; and if ever he gets into power, to reduce the payment which is being made to the States. Of such action I entirely disapprove. One of the best things for the Australian people to do is to use the State Parliaments, where then oan function more satisfactorily than the Commonwealth Parliament through being in direct touch with most of the secondary industries and interests. If I had my way, so convinced am I that Australia is too big to be wisely governed from one centre, that if I were called upon to do anything in the way of remodelling the Constitution, I would not give the Commonwealth more functions of government, but I would restrict the operations of this Parliament to four or five major matters only. What do we know of the troubles of the Northern Territory? It is too far away from. us. Australia is too big. Who can intelligently discuss the state of affairs in connexion with the administration of New Guinea? I know I cannot. Of the grievances of New Guinea I hear but the faintest echo. We have men here from other States who are going to make representations about the unsatisfactory nature of legislation, which there is very little doubt the Commonwealth Parliament is competent to pass. If we axe wise we shall be very careful before we pull down the great wall of our Constitution, which is now only green. Let the people govern themselves under the present Constitution for the next fifty years with such amendments as their Legislatures regard, and as the people indicate by referendum, as necessary. When all nations are combining, out of chagrin, and from their load of debt, to throw society into the melting pot, we in Australia. - this rock of safety under the British flag - should hesitate before we liberate the revolutionary forces which will try to do things to which we cannot agree.
– You will proa.bly have the majority of honorable senators with you.
– That is my view. I think I have sufficiently ventilated my attitude, and I will not further delay the Senate.
– This is a very opportune time, as we are not overburdened with business, to bring forward a matter which has already been before the Senate, and has been dealt with up to a certain point by a Select Committee. I refer to the matter of the officers of the Senate. We have a Public Service
Bill on the business paper, and I think the evidence taken by the Select’ Committee will be very useful to honorable senators when they are considering that measure. When I brought the matter before the Senate on the first occasion, very few of us had any great knowledge as to the kind of regulations those officers were working under. All we knew about the matter was that they were under the Public Service Act. Apart from that, neither the Senate generally nor the House Committee know very much .about the regulations governing our servants., I thought the matter would be discussed without trouble, and that honorable senators would be glad of the opportunity to clear up the doubt surrounding the position, but to my surprise a great deal of hostility was encountered. We were wrongly told that I was proposing the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the working of other Committees. I was informed that the Select Committee could do nothing, and that the Public Service Act would have to be altered. I knew the Act would, have to be altered, and it was in order to get evidence, which would put us in the position of knowing what alterations were necessary, and give us something to work upon with some degree of certainty, that I put that aspect of the question as clearly as I could. In spite of all I did, however, a personal element, for which I was not responsible, crept in. Had I known that there were so many obstacles to be thrown in the way, I would certainly have moved in a direction other than I did. I thought all I need do was to put a motion on the business paper, and that would be the end of it until the matter was investigated, but all kinds of obstacles were placed in the way. Even after the Select Committee was created no end of difficulty cropped up. I was sorry for that, because there was ample justification for an inquiry, and the position of ignorance in which the Senate found itself, was the very best reason for the appointment of a Select Committee. Another very suspicious aspect of the question cropped up. After the notice of motion to appoint the Committee had been discussed, there suddenly appeared a recommendation from the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. A most extraordinary communication was unearthed. We had not heard a whisper of it before. There had been no mention of it in debate, and no hint of its existence in the House. This document was put in very suddenly, as a paper, to be printed. It was a recom.mendation to the Government to provide that the control of the officers of the Senate and of the Parliament generally should be handed over to an outside body - the Public Service Commissioner. It was a most extraordinary volte face in connexion with parliamentary affairs. I should have thought that a proposition of that kind would have come from the President and Speaker to Parliament, and that we in this Senate would have been the first to be communicated with. There was no earthly reason why the Government should first be informed of these things. It was a matter for Parliament, and for Parliament alone. The officers of Parliament are not under the control of the Government, but of Parliament. Every Parliament in this country is undoubtedly in the same position. One would have expected that, if there had been any necessity for a change, there would have been less hostility to my proposition to have an inquiry. In spite of the recommendation which you, Mr. President, made, you gave my motion every possible opposition. You tried to prevent an inquiry being held upon a matter on which, it was evident, a great deal of ignorance prevailed. Later on, when we set to work on the Select Committee, and were taking evidence, we found that one officer after another was being prevented from coming before the Committee and giving evidence.
– That statement refers to officers under the control of the Joint House Committee, and not to those under the control of the Senate.
– I shall be able to show, later, under whose control they were. It is evident that the same “game” was going on all the time, and was being pushed to an extreme. Any other President who knew that his administration was being challenged would have been the last to take such action. He would have remained neutral, instead of trying to intimidate the lower-paid officers, and to scare them against giving evidence. These officers were threatened that if they did give evidence they would have to take the responsibility of their action.
Those tactics made me all the more determined to get to the bottom of the thing. I am sorry that in consequence of what was done the evidence was unduly circumscribed and forced into a narrow channel. The facts that have been disclosed, however, will be valuable to the Senate in framing future regulations or laws for the control of its officers. I do not know why any effort should have been made to hush up this business. It is a public matter on which Parliament and the public have every right to be fully informed. We know that unlimited criticism is hurled from time to time at the various Departments of the Government. One may attack the Government in any way in regard to any of its Departments, such as the Post Office or the Customs Department. Any charge may be made, and free criticism indulged in, against the Defence Department, and, perhaps even more so, against the Repatriation Department. These are all public Departments which are open to criticism, by any one, and rightly so. Then why, in the name of common sense, should this one Department of Parliament be excluded from criticism or inquiry? The Select Committee was treated as if it were a hostile body, and was told by the President, in a brusque sort of way, “ So far as these officers are concerned I stand in the place of the Public Service Commissioner, and the whole of the duties of Commissioner devolve upon me.” That may have been a satisfactory answer up to a certain point; but when we came to inquire into =the working of the Public Service Act as it affects the Senate officials, we found that about the only thing that the President had done to carry out its provisions waa to call himself the Public Service Commissioner. All the duties in connexion with the office were ignored. There was no scheme of classification, which is a very prominent feature of Public Service administration. No regulations had been issued for the control of the officers, so that they would know what their duties and rights were. They received no guidance from the President at all. During the regime of the three farmer Presidents, the House Committee occupied a position of responsibility, and was allowed to control the affairs to which I have referred. Had that practice been continued, there would not have been any need to raise this question. The President arrogated to himself a position that no other President had sought to occupy. He was the dictator, the autocrat who controlled everything. Neither the House Committee nor the Library Committee, as far as he could prevent it - which was not very far in the case of the Library Committee - was allowed to interfere with him in any way. He was the Public Service Commissioner as far as the Senate officials were concerned.
SenatorWilson. - The powers are vested in him.
– Then why complain? If I were President, I would do the same if I had the authority.
– I am not complaining that he had the authority. I am complaining that he did not carry out the duties, although he arrogated to himself the powers.
– You have just admitted that he had the authority.
– Then why say he “ arrogated to himself the powers “?
– He neglected his duties and responsibilities.
– That was not the opinion of the majority of the Committee.
-There was a majority of three to two. That did not matter very much.
– Did you not nominate the Committee yourself?
– I did.
– You evidently did not pick them too well.
– If it is in the minds of honorable senators that I fixed up the matter to suit myself, I think that, instead of chuckling over something as a victory , I ought to be complimented for my fairness in dealing with the matter as I did.
– It was bad luck!
– Not at all.
– Bad judgment, then!
– As far as I am concerned others can have all’ the credit they may get from “ rigging up “ a Select Committee to obtain a certain report. The reports of the Select Com mittee show that the three members opposed to me almost re-echoed what I said, but modified it. It was merely a question of degree, and not of drastic principle. I may have something to say about individual members of the Select Committee later on.
– There is nothing like being candid.
– I hope that I have always earned credit for being candid. I do not believe in any underhand work in connexion with public business, and I have always tried to do things in a fair and open way. So far as the duties of this position under the Public Service Act were concerned, all that the President did was to control a number of officers and perform various important functions without providing himself for the purpose with the machinery laid down by the Act. In order that honorable senators may grasp the position, I should explain that when the Public Service Act was under consideration in this Chamber, the first President of the Senatewas very insistent that Parliament should retain control of its own household. He desired that, above everything else, it should retain that power. But what could we do if the President failed to carry out the provisions of the Act to the letter, and to exercise the powers reposed in him under the Act? I am sure that the three first Presidents of the Senate recognised thatdifficulty, and they overcame it by leaving full powers to the House Committee.
– I did not know that the House Committee had any powers.
– The honorable senator is a new member of the House Committee, but, like some other members of that Committee, he did not know that it had the powers.
– And I do not know it now.
– I am not at all surprised at that admission. In the way I have suggested, all friction was avoided, and in the management of the officers of Parliament nothing in” the nature of a scandal ever occurred. Things went on in that way - the provisions of the Public Service Act being ignored and common sense being applied to the management of the officers of the Senate. Had that state of things continued, I dare say that there would have been very little comment about it, or objection taken to it. But we know that in time very grave alterations of practice took place, and very grave injustices occurred. Some officers who were in the service of the Senate for twenty years received practically no promotion, whilst others who had been here for twenty years were still temporary officers. I am pleased to say that since I moved in this matter some of these grievances have been removed, and, therefore, I take credit to myself, so far as the lower-paid officers at all events are concerned, that I have done some little good. There was also injustice done in another way, to which I am very sorry to be obliged to refer, because it reflects very little credit on those responsible. One officer who was employed in this building for ten years as a temporary officer was, perhaps, a little more insistent than others upon his rights according to the wages award fixed outside by the Arbitration Court. Because this officer asked for his rights according to the decision of an institution which this Parliament set up, he was victimized in the most cowardly way. He met the same fate as many members of unions in the past who stood out for their fellows and were the first to complain of their conditions. He was, the first to go. That did not end the matter. In order to build up a case against that officer we had the President of the Senate on the floor of this chamber dragging into the discussion upon the case statements which, according to sworn evidence, were not true.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that he or any one else may make any statements they please and no one may deny them ? That seems to me the case the honorable senator is putting up.
– I am putting up the sworn evidence of two individuals, against that of one privileged individual.
– The honorable senator is objecting to people coming here and denying statements which they do no believe to be true.
– I am simply repeating statements made on the floor of this Chamber by the President in regard to this man. When he said that this man carried lies to his mother about the time he was kept at work, his mother wrote to me a personal letter denying that statement.
– The honorable senator said that an employee was victimized in a cowardly way. By whom ?
– Surely the honorable senator does not desire that I should speak more plainly.
– The honorable senator said just now that he was going to be candid.
– My answer is - by the President. I did not think that Senator Wilson needed to be informed as to whom I meant.
– The Select Committee did not indorse that.
– The Select Committee cannot very well do otherwise than indorse it, for the simple reason that the statement is supported by evidence. I shall read for honorable senators the letter I received a considerable time ago in regard to this matter.
– I rise to a point oforder. I want to askyour ruling on the matter which Senator de Largie is now discussing. Some time ago this question was referred to a Select Committee of the Senate. The whole matter is still in the hands of the Select Committee, and its report will have to come before the Senate for adoption.
– Not necessarily.
– From the businesspaper I notice that the Select Committee is still constituted, and has not yet finished its labours. I should like to know whether Senator de Largie is in prder in anticipating a discussion which must arise when the report of the Select Committee is before the Senate for adoption. The honorable senator is prejudicing the whole position, and those of us who have already spoken on the question may be unable to speak again.
– Where is the matter mentioned on the business-paper ?
– The honorable senator will find it referred to on page 266 of the business-paper.
– Has the Select Committee reported yet?
– Certainly it has.
– Then why has not a member of the Committee moved the adoption of the report?
– That is for members of the Committee to say.
– I am exceedingly loath to interrupt Senator de Largie. I think that, since he has begun it, he should be allowed to complete his statement, especially in view of the fact that his remarks seriously reflect upon me, and I should be given a full opportunity to reply to bis complete statement, whatever it may be.
– Hear, hear !
– Although Senator de Largie is, strictly speaking, out of order, I hope that Senator Duncan will not press the point he has raised.
– In what way am I out of order?
– In discussing a matter which does not come properly within the scope of the particular motion before the Chair.
– I did not move any motion.
– The honorable senator is confined in his remarks by the terms of the motion which has been moved, which is that certain papers be printed. Unless his remarks come within the purview of the matters contained in the papers to be printed they are not in order. There is an opportunity provided to enable honorable senators to discuss matters not relevant to the motion before the Chair, and that is on the first reading of a Supply Bill. I ask Senator Duncan in the circumstances not to press his point of order, because I desire Senator de Largie to continue his statement.
– Very well. I shall not press my point of order.
– Ji there is anything in Senator Duncan’s point of order I do not desire to shirk the responsibility.
– The honorable senator may continue his statement.
– Let the honorable senator move that the report of the Select Committee be adopted.
– Senator Duncan may move ‘any motion he pleases. There is nothing on the business-paper to prevent me dealing with this matter now.
– The honorable senator might have let me know that he intended to deal with the matter.
– Why should I ‘ let the honorable senator know, in view of the discourtesy I received from him as a member of the Select Committee?
– I attended the meetings of the Select Committee as a fairminded man. The honorable senator did so in order to slaughter a man, but he was not able to effect his purpose.
– The honorable “ senator went there to do what he could in a certain direction. I have referred to a letter which I received from Mrs. Denholm. It was written on the 20th September, 1920, and is as follows: -
Dear Senator de Largie, -
I was very annoyed when I heard what had taken place in the Senate - Senator Givens’ statement that I wrote bitter complaints about my son making lying statements to him about his hours of duty. I can assure you that the statements are not only untrue, but unjust and cruel. Robert has always been a dutiful . son, and has never given me any occasion to complain. I can assure you there is no truth in Senator Givens’ statement. I would be obliged, Senator, if you would ask Senator Givens or any one else in Parliament House to produce my letter in the terms stated. I have never written or given authority to any one else to do so, and I strongly object to statements of that kind being made public. I would bc grateful if you would inquire into this matter for me.
The statements in that letter were supported by an affidavit by this lady, who was asked to give evidence before the” Select Committee. If I remember aright, she was asked to attend the Select Committee by Senator Duncan, but the honorable senator was not present when the lady came here for the purpose. As a result, we were without a quorum, and we had to take her affidavit instead of taking her evidence.
– I had a very good reason for my absence.
– Did we not have all this before?
– I think I remember the letter quoted being read before.
– No, that letter was never read to the Senate before. I defy the honorable senator to show that it was.
– Did the letter come before the Select Committee?
– No. The reason I did not produce it before the Select Committee was that I desired that the lady should give evidence. As she did not get an opportunity to do so, I am taking care now to have the letter put on record. The affidavit or declaration made by this lady is included in the printed proceedings of the ‘Select Committee. ‘ I ‘ cannot find it at the moment, but I do not think that any one will question my statement that this lady swore . an affidavit which was put in in evidence before the Select Committee. It was quite evident what would happen to the employee referred to as soon as an opportunity presented itself. During the time the Senate was adjourned this man was dismissed after being here for ten years, and without ever a complaint, one may say, against his work. According to the gene ral opinion of honorable senators and of honorable members in another place, who were acquainted with him, and saw him at his work daily, there never- was any occasion for a word to be said against him. He has been dismissed since then, and it is hardly necessary for me to fill in the reasons. I shall leave it at that, in the hope that the President will see the necessity of doing the _manly thing in connexion with this matter.
– You mean that he should do what you suggest.
– No, I leave the matter to the President himself. Inregard to the handing over of the parliamentary officers to an outside authority
– The honorable senator must not discuss matters contained in the Public Service Bill which is already before the Committee.
– I am not discussing the Public Service Bill ; I am discussing the report of the Senate Select Committee.
– The honorable senator must not anticipate the debate on the Public Service Bill.
– I am discussing, and I hold that I have a perfect right to da so, the pa.per that has been placed before the Senate. The recom”mendation concerning the transfer of control was placed before the Senate in a most mysterious manner and at a time when it was required to suit its purpose. We were told that it was dated many months ago. If so, we ought to have been informed, when we were discussing this matter on the last occasion, but we heard not a whisper about it. The President, flying in the face of the general opinion of the Senate, proposed an alteration in connexion with the control of its ^officers. . He proposed to hand control over to an outside body. All this he did without in any way consulting the Senate or Parliament. It is a well-known practice in the British Parliament that the Speaker shall be careful, at all times, to safeguard the rights of Parliament and never, at any time, to hand over control of any of its officers to any outsideauthority. Even the King of England has been fought on this issue, for there is on record a statement by one of the Speakers of the House of Commons that “ he had neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak, other than what the House authorized him to see and say.” But without consulting members in any way, the President took it upon himself to make a recommendation, behind the back of Parliament, to hand’ over the control of parliamentary officers to an outside body. His action, I am pleased to say, has been condemned by both sections on the Senate Select Committee; the general opinion being that Parliament should retain full control.
– The honorable senator must not proceed any further on those lines. He is now discussing what should or should not be done under the Public Service Bill. He must desist.
– Then, Mr. President, I should like to refer to the recommendation of the Select Committee that the House Committee should be restored to its old position of authority, namely, that it. and not the President, should have control of its officers.
– Was that a recommendation of three to two?
– The honorable senator was one of the three. He went there with his mind fully made up.
– No; the honorable senator did, though.
– I have had considerable experience as a member of the House Committee, for I was on the second Committee appointed by this Chamber, and I know what has always been the practice. I know that the first Library Committee, under the presidency of the then Speaker (the late Sir
Frederick Holder), controlled its officers, and that other Speakers have confirmed that stand.
– I do not think the Library Committee has any more authority than the House Committee.
– Not a bit; but only the Library Committee controls the business of the Library, whereas the House Committee has allowed the President to control everything. That is the difference. I was on the first Library Committee, and I know that its authority then was practically the same as to-day. No variation has been permitted by the several Speakers who have presided over that body. The authority of both Committees is identical. This being so, what is responsible for the change in regard to the House Committee? Members have become indifferent, or are unaware of their authority, and so they have allowed one thing- after another to be controlled by the President. According to the minority recommendation- Senator Duncan is not included - authority should be retained by the Senate over all parliamentary officers,” and an annual report should be submitted to Parliament by. the House Committee. This the President has failed to do. If reports were presented ‘annually, members of the Senate would know what was being done. The absence of these reports has resulted in a good deal of the trouble that has arisen. I hope, therefore, that in future, the affairs of the Committee will be carried out in accordance with the general view as to what is right, and that there will be printed regulations for the guidance of officers, who will then know just exactly what they are entitled to, and ito whom they may present grievances if grievances exist. At present they have practically no Court of appeal. As we have shown in our report, they cannot approach the House Committee. Officers who have been fined for trivial offences, and desired to go before the House Committee to explain their position, have been denied that privilege. We think that (the House Committee should know of all these matters, and. control the parliamentary officers. I hope, therefore, that honorable senators who are members of the Committee, will see to it that their rights are safeguarded in future, and not allow them to be set aside by any statement by the Presiding Officer.
– I thought you admitted that the President had authority in these matters ?
– If Senator Wilson is satisfied with the position in which he finds himself, I have no wish to disturb him in any way. If he is content to allow the House ‘Committee to be robbed of its rights, I have nothing further to say.
– I think those rights belong to the Senate, not to the Committee. I can only speak of things as I find them.
– We know that, all sorts of views have been placed before the Committee, whenever it has been convenient to do so, as to what has been done. When the dismissal of Denholm was being discussed in another Chamber, the position was entirely misrepresented, as will be seen from a letter which Sir Robert Best, in whose division Denholm lives, read during the debate. Sir Robert “Best, writing to Mr. Denholm regarding his dismissal, stated -
I read the enclosed statement,, and bad an interview with the Deputy Speaker. He informs me that the position is that the AuditorGeneral indicated that he could not sanction the funds for your temporary employment;
The Auditor-General. I may inform, honorable senators, came before the Committee and mo3t indignantly repudiated the statement that he was in any way responsible -for the dismissal of Robert Denholm - that the matter was essentially one for the President and Senate control; that he could not interfere in the matter, and did not see how the House of Representatives could do so; that the matter was referred to the permanent head of the Senate side (Mr. U’Ren), and that the dismissal was by the Public Service Commissioner. I regret, therefore, that there is nothing I can do advantageously on your behalf.
– There is nothing much in that.
– I think there is a good deal in it. The statement is made that Denholm was dismissed because the Auditor-General could not find funds for his employment.
– That is not the statement made to the House Committee.
– I do not know. I hope Senator Wilson will give us that information, because I should like to know. I say this in all sincerity. I hope Senator Wilson will throw some light on the matter.
– I think the House Committee will go into the matter; but I have no. desire to take any part in a. washing day here. Your statements are rather far-reaching.
– Let Senator Wilson state in public what he said to me privately, and I will be satisfied. Anyhow, the Auditor-General denied that he had anything to do with Denholm’s dismissal. Who was responsible for that statement, and how was it made in the Souse of Representatives ? These are things that I should like to know. Everything points to the fact that things have been done in an underhand way, and that this young man was denied an opportunity to place himself right before the people of this country in regard to his dismissal after a period of service covering ten years. An officer who had been so long as that in the Public Service had every right to be hoard. In consequence of the treatment he received, a cruel injustice was done; and although some honorable senators may think that it would add to the dignity of the proceedings in the Senate to allow such matters to pass without being ventilated, I do not intend to do so. I am anxious that Denholm should not be victimized in any way. He was occupying a humble position - he was just a working man - but he should not be subjected to any injustice on that account. If there are some honorable senators who are prepared to remain silent and allow the matter to pass without comment, they are free to derive what benefit they ear from their action or inaction.
– I do not think the honorable senator is justified in saying that. I know what happened, because I personally looked into the case.
– So long as I am a member of this Chamber, I shall endeavour to look after the rights of the staff, however humble their positions may be.
– The honorable senator has not a monopoly in that respect.
– I do not claim that I have. I am merely pointing out what ti consider to he my duty, and I do not wish to camouflage the position in any way. It has been my practice for forty years to protect the interests of those who cannot protect themselves ; and, as one who has been victimized, I feel it my duty and responsibility to protect those who need assistance. I would be a coward if I did not offer assistance merely because the person involved was occupying a humble position. I endeavoured to have the matter adjusted quietly when this employee was dismissed in the manner I have described, but I failed. I have, therefore, made my protest publicly. There are quite a number of other questions that could be discussed on this motion, but, as I have already taken up much of the time of the Senate, I shall not avail myself of the opportunity to do so on this occasion.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) [4.33].- After having listened to the venomous attack made upon me by Senator de Largie, I think I should have the opportunity to reply to the statements made. It seems to me highly derogatory to the dignity of the Senate that, after discussing questions of the highest international importance, the debate should descend to a wrangle over the dismissal of a lift-boy. Senator de Largie is entitled to ventilate his opinions at any time the opportunity is afforded, and I have no right to complain, but I cannot refrain from expressing the opinion that the discussion of such a matter is derogatory to the dignity of the Senate. The honorable senator has called attention to many acts which he says have never occurred before; but I desire to remind honorable senators that I have no recollection of an officer of the Government in this Senate - the Government Whip - continually subjecting the Presiding Officer to venomous and cowardly attacks apparently with the sanction of the Government. I have the right to assume that the Government father these attacks upon me.
– -1 ne Government have nothing whatever to do with it.
– I did not interrupt the honorable senator when he was addressing the Senate, and I trust he will allow me to proceed.
– I do not wish you to misrepresent me.
– Interjections are disorderly,’ and cannot be permitted. Honorable senators and the public would be entitled to assume that these attacks have been made upon me with the full sanction of the Government, and I would believe that such was the case if I did not know anything to the contrary. The Select Committee was appointed, and accepted office on the assumption that they were doing something which had the approval of the Government, and there are some members of the Committee present who will not deny (that. They assumed that [because the .Government Whip (Senator de Largie) was successful in moving for the appointment of the Select Committee, ; the Government desired it, and some members of the Committee consented to act only for .that reason.
– That cannot be said of me.
– The practice which Senator de Largie claims ‘I have been guilty of has been followed by my predecessors, and is based on legal enactments of this Parliament. Who has a better right to respect the will of Parliament than its Presiding Officer? If a Presiding Officer does not give effect to the expressed will of Parliament, he should do so. How can Parliament express its will more effectively, decisively, and emphatically than by Act of Parliament? That is the only way Parliament has; and I have obeyed the expressed will of Parliament as set forth in its enactment. Senator de Largie complains that .there are no regulations for the guidance and management of the officers of Parliament, and he also said that annual reports had not ‘been issued. During the .preceding thirteen years this has not been done, and I would like to know why no complaint has been lodged.
– Because the House Committee had control.
– The House Committee did not have control, because the responsibility rested with the President and Mr. Speaker, and if they shifted their authority they would be disobeying the expressed will of Parliament. If the will of Parliament has been disobeyed for thirty, or even forty, years, it does not say that such action is right. I was the first presiding officer to endeavour to have regulations framed ; but I found 1 that there were many legal difficulties to prevent its being done. The officers themselves found that they could not be framed in a way that would prove entirely satisfactory. The whole gravamen of .Senator de Largie’s charge is that I departed from established practice; but such is not the case, because I followed out the procedure previously adopted regarding the Library Department. I did not interfere with Mr. Speaker at all, and although deputy chairman of that Committee, I never expressed an opinion, when he asked for my advice, on any matter referred to .the Committee which I considered came within his responsibility under the Act, but refused to take part in the’ discussion and left the table. I was not prepared to take part in any illegal action, and merely obeyed the expressed will of Parliament. In regard to the Committee of which I am the chairman, I think Senator Wilson will bear me out when I say that on every matter placed ‘before the Committee, with the exception of that of salaries, I accepted the decision of the Committee. Parliament has saddled me with certain responsibilities, and I would be lacking in my duty if I placed those responsibilities on the shoulders of some one else. Senator de Largie has also said that I hampered the appointment of the Select Committee. All I did was to see that it did not act contrary to the rules of Parliament. The moment the Committee was appointed Senator de Largie, as chairman, issued summonses to several officers of the Library and Joint House Departments without asking the consent of the Joint House Committee and the Library Committee, which was contrary to parliamentary practice. Mr. Speaker and I therefore intervened. No request was made to Mr. Speaker or myself in regard to the attendance of any officer. The investigations of the Select Committee were limited to the officers of the Senate, not to those under the control of the two Houses. “ Senator de Largie did not have the intelligence to realize that plain, simple fact. I do not intend to discuss the whole of the report, which deals principally with the dismissal, of one man. Senator de Largie has said that Denholm was victimized, that I went out of my way to persecute him, that I treated him unfairly, and in a high-handed and tyrannical manner. As a matter of fact I did not act in the matter at all, either by voice or suggestion. I did not say that the boy’s services should be terminated, neither did I suggest that any action should be taken, because I had not the power under the Act to do so. Temporary employees are under the control of the head of the particular Department in which they are employed.
– You know that is not so.
– That is not a fair remark. The honorable senator may as well call the man a liar.
– Let him. fight his own battle.
– And you should play the game.
- Senator de Largie accuses me of placing the responsibility on the Auditor-General. It was pointed out that in consequence of statements made by the Auditor-General certain action was necessary. Temporary employees had, wherever possible, to be placed on the permanent staff’, or their services terminated. The AuditorGeneral was continually raising objections to temporary employees being illegally retained, because the officers of the Auditor-General’s Department found it exceedingly difficult to vouch for the expenditure if the practice were continued. It was because of that that certain action was taken. Senator de Largie said that I brought the termination of Denholm’s appointment before the House Committee. I did nothing of the kind. Senator Wilson was there and knows exactly what transpired. Certain rearrangements of the duties of the officers were suggested by the head of the Department, andincidentally Denholm’s position arose. The arrangement of the duties of the staff was a proper matter for the Committee to decide.
– I would like to hear Senator Wilson on that, because he would have an opportunity of repeating what he said to me.
– Senator Wilson, Senator de Largie, and I are all here, and I challenge a denial of my statement.
– Have not you the report, Mr. President, to read to the Senate ?
– The following is the report which was furnished when information was sought in another place: -
– Why did the Auditor-General indignantly repudiate the statement made concerning him?
– He did not repudiate any statements made by me, because I venture to say that if they were submitted to him he would indorse them. There were wild distortions of certain statements alleged to have been made by the Auditor-General, and ip was those misstatements which that official repudiated as he had a perfect right, of course, to do. Now, as to the matter of Denholm, Senator de Largie states that he was most diligent, attentive, and faithful in the performance of his duties. As a matter of fact, Denholm was not anything of the kind. The officers of this Parliament are required to sign a book showing the exact times of their coming to and leaving the building. Denholm, I know from personal observation, would sometimes come to work after 10 a.m., and would sign the attendance book as having arrived at 9 a.m. I repeat that I, personally, saw him on more than one occasion come in after 10 o’clock; yet he signed the book for that day as having arrived at 9. I emphasize that that is within my own knowledge.
– I believe that statement just as much as I do a good many others of yours, Mr. President, in regard to Denholm.
– I am indifferent as to the views, opinions, and beliefs held by Senator de Largie concerning myself. I merely state once more that I never at any time suggested to the head of the Department that Denholm’s services should be terminated. Indeed, I had not in the remotest degree referred to the matter, because, after all, Mr.
U’Ren, as head of the Department, is comparatively new in his position, seeing that he took it over only after Mr. Duffy had retired and certain necessary promotions had been made. I shall now proceed to read the report of Mr.U’Ren, which is as follows: -
Memorandum re R. Denholm, lift attendant.
As there appears to he much misapprehension with regard to the case of R. Denholm, I am placing upon record a short statement of the facts relating to it.
Denholm has acted in a temporary capacity as attendant in charge of the Refreshment Rooms lift since 1st February, 1915 - a period of about six and a half years.
Recently the Audit Office has several times called attention to the question of the employment of temporary officers in the Department of the Joint House Committee; therefore action in this connexion was necessary, and in order that the whole of the staff should be placed upon a proper footing, those on the temporary list who had satisfactory service to their credit, and whose duties were of a regular and continuous nature,were permancntly appointed to their positions.
Previous to his engagement as lift attendant, Denholmhad received casual employment in the Refreshment Rooms. On one occasion the steward refused to re-engage him, because his work was so unsatisfactory, on account of his “ being dirty and untidy, and not working’ in harmony with other employees, and being below the standard required for the proper working of the Refreshment Rooms.”
The words in the last sentence- appear in quotations. They are evidently extracted from the report made by the steward at the time. Mr. U’Ren’s report continues -
His conduct, however, was overlooked, and he was again employed in the rooms, and was afterwards placed on the lift, where for some time he carried out his duties fairly satisfactorily; but later on he became careless and unreliable - often unnecessarily rough in his handling of the lift doors, and neglectful in making proper provision for the working of the automatic appliances during his temporary absences, which were by far too frequent. He was also in the habit of marking his time of arrival as 9 a.m. in the attendance-book, although very often known to be late. He acquired a habit of gossiping, and has for some time past been more or less a disturbing influence, which, if allowed to remain, would seriously interfere with the control and work of the Department. He has been fined for an offence against discipline in charging officers of the Senate with robbing him of money that he considered should have been paid to him, and in refusing to apologize when called upon to do so; and I myself, in conversation with him in my room, have’ several times had to check him for incivility. It may be asked why he was allowed to remain here so long. The answer is that he has been very leniently dealt with, and his lack of regard for discipline overlooked to a much greater extent than, in my opinion, it would have been in other Departments.
Certain influential gentlemen have interposed on behalf of this young man. I think, however, it should ‘be acknowledged that officers whose duty it is to supervise and study the conduct and character of employees are in the best position to judge a case of this kind on its merits. This case having been so dealt with, it was considered undesirable to recommend Denholm for permanent employment. Further temporary employment not being permissible under the Public Service Act, was also out of the question.
In addition to this, before steps were taken towards terminating his period of service, it was found that, with some re- arrangement of duties, the permanent staff could, without any undue burden being placed on them, carry on the duties previously performed by the lift attendant.
Temporary officers, as such, do not acquire a right to permanency of position, and this particular officer has, in my opinion, reason to consider himself fortunate in having been dealt with so leniently and kept so long in continuous employment.
Being authorized by the Public Service Act to take all necessary steps in this matter as head of the Department, I did so. The following are the reasons which decided my action: -
He could not legally he furtheremployed in a temporary capacity.
He has proved himself unsuitable for permanent appointment.
His services as lift attendant are no longer required.
The course adopted was the only one open under the circumstances, which necessitated it in the interests of discipline and the proper observance of the provisions of the Public Service Act.
I neither obtained nor asked for the approval of the President of the Senate, which was not required. (Sgd.) F. U’Ren,
Secretary, Department of Joint
Parliament House, Melbourne, 5th July, 1921.
– Mr. U’Ren’s signature is upon that document all right!
– It is; and if the honorable senator is suggesting that I had anything to do with it, if he is even so much as suggesting that it was in any way framed with my assistance or at my direction, or that I put forward any proposal or observation with respect to determining the matter, I can only say that Senator de Largie is mistaken. As Mr.
U’Ren is here now in the chamber, I shall say, on his behalf, that I actually deprecated his taking so much notice of the whole affair as to consider the incident worthy of a memorandum. However, Mr. U’Ren insisted, for his own protection, and, as he thought, in fairness, that he should put his statement upon record at the time. Now, this admirable young man of whom Senator de Largie is so ardent a champion is not quite the character that even his warmest advocate may believe him to be. Recently a night watchman was appointed in connexion with the care and oversight of the parliamentary buildings. Among his duties it is required of him that he shall go the round of the premises several times through each night. Recently he reported that, in one of the rooms on the other side of the House, after 11 p.m., and when the buildings had been closed and no one was supposed to be within them, he found Denholm waking up from a drunken sleep. When the latter was charged by the night watchman with being illegally on the premises, Denholm had the meanness to say that he had been brought there by an officer of the House, and he named the officer.
– If you are going into the matter of the use to which the private rooms of the parliamentary buildings are put, I shall have something to say of your room. I shall give you the same treatment as you are giving to Denholm.
– Every official of this Parliament has the fullest right to use the rooms allocated to him as he deems fit and proper ; but a stranger has no right to be within the precincts after hours, and after the Parliament buildings have been locked up.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– These are the facts relating to Denholm.- As Mr. U’Ren’. report has revealed, before he had -ever been placed in charge of the lift, Denholm was adversely reported upon by the steward concerning the manner in which he carried out his duties while he was employed as a casual waiter. Despite the terms of that report, however, Denholm was re-employed. It would be interesting, perhaps, to learn what influences could have been brought to bear to give to that amiable and entirely suitable young man re-employment after he had been reported upon as being emphatically unsuited.
– Who were those influential parties ?
– I do not know. I have no notion.
– Neither have I,.
– But some influences must, undoubtedly, have been at work in the face of such strong condemnation of the character of his services. Only strong influences could have secured his re-employment.
– Denholm was appointed, I think, during the period of your control, Mr. President. You ought to be able to give honorable senators all the facts.
– I did not appoint him.
– Then, who did ?
– The head of the Department. I neither appointed nor dismissed the youth. I have not the power under the Act to do either; and, if the honorable senator claims to know the provisions of the Act, he should be aware of that fact.
– I do know the Act, and I know how you administer it.
– Only a little while ago the honorable senator displayed a most lamentable ignorance of its provisions.
– You have displayed something which is a great deal worse in respect of the whole of it, as revealed by your administration of it.
– Senator de Largie is wrong in asserting that I pursued Denholm with the utmost venom. Indeed, I acted in exactly the reverse manner. It was pure leniency on my part - and for that, perhaps, I am deserving of all that has followed - in having overridden the decision of the head of the Department. For, had the purpose of the responsible officers been secured, Denholm would not have remained so long in service in these buildings. When Senator de Largie practically says that I told a deliberate lie, in my statement that Denholm’s mother wrote a certain letter regarding the boy, and that he has in his possession an affidavit affirming that assertion, I can only say that if Senator de Largie really wanted to be fair- had he even so much as mentioned the matter to me, or to Mr. Monahan, or to Mr.. U’Ren - there were three or four persons who could have been called as witnesses, and’ who would have been willing to go before the Committee and swear that they had seen and perused such a letter.
– Why did you try to burke Denholm’s evidence at every turn, and up to the very last I
– The young man should never have been called as a witness, seeing that his position and his case did not come within the purview of the Committee’s inquiry.
– It was very inconvenient for you, no doubt, that he should have attended and given evidence.
– It did not matter a straw to me. The honorable senator obviously knows so little of the rules of Parliament that he cannot be expected to be aware of the irregularity of the procedure attaching to the calling of this young man before the Committee. But I again assert that there were three persons, at least, who could have, and would have, sworn, if they had been called, that they had seen and perused the letter in question . . I have nothing to say against Mrs. Denholm; I do not know anything or desire to know anything concerning the lady. Such a letter, however, was unquestionably written. It was not written to me, but it was shown to me. I read it. It was grossly unfair on the part of the young man concerned that he should have deceived or have attempted to deceive his mother. She wrote bitterly complaining that he had been kept on duty for such unduly long hours, and had been so badly dealt with, indeed, that his health had become impaired.
– I would accept the word of the mother and of the son against yours every time.
– It is not a question of weighing my word’ against that of Mrs. Denholm and her son.
– Then, produce the letter !
– I reiterate that it was not written to me; therefore, I cannot produce it. But it was written, and I read it. As for the innuendo that either I or the responsible officers of the Senate had any motive for our actions towards and treatment of Denholm, I dan assert that we had no motives. I feel rather strongly upon the whole subject, because I believe that it is due to personal animus that these continual attacks have been made upon me. They are such that I can only stigmatize them as being derogatory to the dignity of the Senate.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– It is within the competence of Senator de Largie, or of any other member of the Senate) now, or at any time, if he is of opinion that I have failed in my duty as Presiding Officer, or in my task of continuing to act in consonance with the dignity and in keeping with the business requirements of the Senate, to have me removed from my office. That can be brought about by way of a simple motion. I call attention to it as being a straightforward test and procedure for Senator de Largie to adopt. I venture to say, however, that he will not put the test into practice. I challenge him- here and now. If he will move a. motion, or place one upon the business-paper of the Senate, in conformity with the suggestion which I have just made, I shall be prepared readily to submit to it. I would suggest that the honorable senator should also, similarly, and at the same time, place his official position in this Chamber open to the decision of the Senate.
– I suggest to you, Mr. President, that you should not be too free with your challenges; otherwise I shall be moved to throw some light which will not prove creditable upon you and your actions, and, particularly, upon the matter of how you got the billet which you. are now filling.
– There is nothing which the honorable senator can say or reveal which I fear. I defy him to say anything ha may care to utter.
– If this business comes before the Senate again it will be thoroughly and effectively dealt with. I can promise that, so far as I am. personally concerned.
– If I am to be subjected to continual attacks by the Government Whip, I shall want to know what the Government have to say about the matter.
– Hear, hear! It amounts to an outrage upon the Senate.
– It is not in con. sonancewith the dignity of this Chamber that the Government should lend countenance to continual venomous attacks upon the Presiding Officer of the Senate. So long as I remain here, and in occupation of the office of President, I must continue1 to regard myself as the guardian of, and, indeed, as embodying the dignity and honour _ of, the Senate. From that moment in which. I shall have failed to retain the recognition of honorable senators as the repository and guardian of the dignity of this Chamber, I shall refuse to remain in this chair.
.- The motion is one upon which honorable senators naturally expect to deal chiefly with the finances of the nation, although, at the same time, opportunity is offered for them to debate any questions which they think affect Australia’s welfare. I shall not attempt to make an analysis of the Budget. If there is one question occurring in a deliberative assembly of which I am a member, which I like least, it is the discussion of finance, although I recognise that the financial affairs of the nation, are of most urgent importance1.
In a contribution by a previous speaker the Government was taken to task for excessive expenditure in *the direction of defence, and from that I propose, in a measure, to dissent. Until there is some better organization among the peoples of the world, some greater safety against the possibility of a recurrence of war, no greater question demands the attention of the Legislatures of Australia than that of defence. It was the continual cry for retrenchment and economy in the defence expenditure of the’ nation which led the British Government into the condition in which the Empire found itself on the fatal 4th August, 1914. The very men who were ever urging the British Government to economize in the expenditure for the defence of ;the Empire, sire represented in Australia to-day by the people we have clamouring against this Government and the expenditure of money for the defence of Australia. If the future should hold for us any such dire calamity as that which overtook the Empire in August, 1914, and we should find ourselves unprepared, defenceless, and perhaps on the verge of destruction, these very men who are now clamouring for economy would be the first to accuse the Government of lack of foresight in failing to prepare for the emergency. I wish to see the utmost judgment displayed in the preparation of the defences of Australia, but, at the same time, I have no sympathy with those who are always .clamouring for retrenchment in this direction. I hope I am optimistic enough to look forward to the time when the wisdom of the peoples of the world will he such that it will be unnecessary to make such comprehensive preparations for war; but that time has not yet arrived. Until it does, it would be little short of treachery to Australia were the Government not to make all necessary preparations to meet such an’ emergency.
Another grievance with a large number of economists outside is the cost of government. ‘I think I pointed out in a previous debate that the cost of government in Australia per capita of the population is very high indeed; but it is equally true that if our population were ten times what it is to-day, the actual cost of government would be very little more. There are now between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 people in the Commonwealth, and they demand the same effective system of government as would be required by 50,000,000 people in the same area. The proportionate increase in the cost of government for the larger number of people would be small indeed. There may be some directions in which more retrenchment might be made, but, in the aggregate, the saving which could be effected is very small if we are to give efficient service to the people. Those discontented persons who are always complaining of the cost of government should recognise that we have the same service for the 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 of our population as 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 would have were they here to receive it.
There is another grievance which is very widely expressed by a certain section of the community, and that is the heavy taxation which the people now have to bear. We hear all over Australia, and we read in a great many of the newsprints of the Commonwealth, serious complaints against the administration of this Government, because of what is termed the extravagant and extraordinarily high expenditure. There is- a failure to realize that a vast portion of this expenditure is an aftermath of the war. The majority of those who are now complaining are the very people who, during the war, urged the Government to leave no stone unturned in order that Australia might play its part in that terrible conflagration. The sentiment expressed by a previous Prime Minister, at the beginning of the war, that Australia was behind the Mother
Country “ to the last main and to the last shilling” was indorsed all over this country, and those now complaining, hecause they have to meet the bill, were loudest in their proclamations that they were behind the declaration made on behalf of the Australian people.
– They seem to be more concerned about the shillings than the men.
– Very much more, many of them. Some of the prominent newspapers of Australia are greater sinners than the average. Australia did wonderfully well in the war, and the men who represented us did marvellously; but Australia as a whole must foot the bill. The people must remember that they have received the goods. Had Australia not played its part in common with the other British Dominions, it is more than probable that we would not be governing this country to-day. Australia would then have been under the Government of a nation which would certainly have insisted upon the people being called upon to pay a great deal more than they are required to pay by the Governments that control the affairs of the Commonwealth from time to time. I want the people who are always clamouring against the expenditure, which is the result, of the part Australia played in the war, to remember that they not only received the goods, but they still have this Dominion to occupy. This important part of the Empire is still their own. They have their property, and they have the opportunity to make incomes in consequence of the expenditure of this money in the great efforts made by Australia’s sons.
– Do you know of anybody complaining of that?
– Yes, I do. Is not the greater proportion of our expenditure to-day a result of the war; and why are people clamouring against it?
– I do not think they are.
– We must differentiate between the amount of money spent upon the ordinary Civil Service and the expenditure which is due to the war.
– I do not believe anybody is complaining of that particular expenditure.
– If they are not complaining of that there is very little for them to complain of at all. We know that the taxation is high, but it is because of the enormous interest bill we have to meet on over £300,000,000, which was borrowed to enable us to play our part in the war, and, of course, in addition, to provide for those men who have played their par.t as soldiers of the Empire.
– Another trouble is that Parliament imposes statutory obligations on the Treasurer, and then grumbles at him for spending money.
– I am not speaking so much of the grumblings of Parliament as the grumblings of the taxpayers outside. I quite realize that it is an unpleasant thing to have to hand out one’s money. Many people in their advancing years have an opportunity, probably for the first time in their lives, to make provision for their old age, and it is very annoying to them to receive a demand from the income tax collector for a very substantial proportion of the money they might otherwise be putting away.
– I wish the people would feel the same against Customs taxation.
– In that case we are building up something. The money paid in income tax, apparently, is gone for all time. I feel that myself, but, when I pay income tax, I realize that I am meeting’ a debt I owe to the nation, and that I have received full value for the money.
– We ought to be thankful we can pay it.
– Yes, that is my view; but a great number of people, of course) will not share it. We would get on very much better if the people of Australia, instead of complaining and creating discontent in their own minds, and in the minds of their associates, would get their backs into the proposition, as the German people are doing at the present time, and thus rebuild our Empire and endeavour to make Australia what it is capable of being.
– Do you think there is anybody who is not complaining in Germany to-day?
– .”Not to any great extent: not as we understand it in Australia. This is a matter on which I have some first-hand information from a person who travelled through Germany and has only recently returned to Australia. He is a man of marked capacity for ob- servation, and he told me that it is simply wonderful how the German people are applying themselves to the rebuilding of their nation.
– The output of the breweries in Germany is said to be greater than ever.
– All sorts of industries are settling down to the pre-war standard.
There is another subject to which I want to refer. It forms the foundation upon which the prosperity of Australia depends. I mean the increase of population within our States. It is well known that the Government at the present time has in operation a system of immigration from the Old Country. That is all very well, but it seems to me, that something mora ought to be done. I am not altogether satisfied with the arrangements which have so far been made for the reception of the immigrants when they arrive from overseas. One of the worst things that the Government can possibly be guilty of is to induce people to come to Australia from far-away England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales without making sufficient preparations to enable them to earn a living when they get here.
– Those immigrants to whom you refer, I suppose, are nominated?
– No. The system of nominating immigrants has been carried on for a long time, but there is now in operation an ‘ arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States. I am not by any means satisfied with the arrangements made by the States for the utilization of these immigrants when they arrive in Australia. It is well known that there is a good deal of unemployment in Australia to-day, and’ the idea of bringing people outto this country to swell the ranks of the unemployed would be the worst thing possible. Looking through the Commonwealth Statistician’s YearBook for 1919, I find that there is an indication in the vital statistics for that year of a way. in which the Government can increase the population of Australia by an even more desirable class of settler than any from overseas, good though these may be. The year 1919 is the last full year for which statistics are available. I find that the death rate of infants under five years of age in Australia for that year amounted to 11,833; under one year, 8,464; and under two years, 10,172, In a healthy country like Australia, with a total population of only 5,000,000, those death rates are too high.
– Is there any truth in the statement of the teetotaller that if all people were temperate fewer would die?
– The temperance people are rather intemperate sometimes in their statements. As nosuch statistics can possibly be available, I am afraid the temperance people who made that statement are relying upon- their imagination for their facts.
– Are you prepared to say that there is no truth in the statement?
– I am not prepared to say that, but there is no authenticity for such a statement. It may be true, or it may be untrue. The Government of the day has provided in the present Budget for the expenditure of about £700,000 on maternity bonuses. This is not the first . time that I have raised my voice in opposition to this system, and I suppose it will not be the last I am fully convinced that the Government could expend this money to far greater advantage in the interests of tho people of Australia,and that if it was properly expended in the direction I am going to suggest, thousands of infants who are sacrificed in Australia yearly could be saved, and would make the very best pf residents. The native-born of any country are undoubtedly the best class of resident we can possibly have.
– How are you going to do it?
– I will tell the honorable senator. I do not know whether he has had the opportunity of watching the activities of an association ealled the Child Welfare Association. I believe there are such associations in nearly every State, but I have had the opportunity, particularly, of watching the operations of an association of that description in Hobart, Tasmania. 1 have seen nothing more practical or more helpful in the preservation and the building up of the child-life of a nation. The people connected with the association, by their energy and self -sacrifice, all of which is given in an honorary capacity, not only collect .money to pay for the provision of nurses to wait upon mothers and prospective mothers and advise them in the treatment and feeding of their children, but also to provide for infants milk which has been tested by a Government officer. If a mother at Hobart is not able to pay for the milk, it is provided free by the association. I say, without any doubt of the accuracy of my statement, that there are many children alive in Hobart to-day that would not be alive but for the activities of this association. If the Government were to enter into arrangements with the States;’ and to divide the money now given in “maternity bonuses pro rata, among the States, according to population, on tho understanding that it must .be spent in the establishment of child-welfare _ associations, a vast amount of good which is not attempted at the present time would be accomplished. The money might be given on the stipulation that it would be’ augmented by the States. Many of the bonuses now given are expended most ridiculously. An investigation which was made’ a short time ago, and information which was. obtained on sworn evidence, showed that in 99 per cent, of births in Australia the bonus was claimed. I have heard many stories of tho way in which the bonus has been expended. The other day I was told of a case in which a very popular young man became a ‘happy father, and in conversation with his friends .he said he was going to claim. the bonus. He was followed by a friend, and when he had received his £5 he was advised that he was wanted at Menzies’ Hotel. He went there, in compliance with the request. ‘What took place there I do not know, but subsequently he received a bill from Menzies’. Hotel for £30. The gathering had been drinking the baby’s health, of course. The facts as I have stated them in this case, I believe, are absolutely true. I know of other instances in which the bonus has been invested in Tattersalls, and others in which it has been placed to the credit of the child, to mature at a certain age. That was not the intention of Parliament when this system was enacted; and I venture to say that out of the. £?00,000 which it is proposed to expend during the coming financial year, at least £300,000 of it will bo paid to people who do not require it, and the balance, too often, to people who merely act as agents between the Government and the doctor. I do urge upon the. Government once again the desirability of entering into . negotiations with the Governments ‘ of . the different States to bring about an improved method for the expenditure of thismoney, so that better results and greater benefit to Australia will accrue. Although we require an increase of our adult population as quickly as we. can secure it, I should prefer to’ spend more money* on the preservation of infant life in Australia than to have it spent upon immigration. .
There is another question arousing considerable agitation in parts of Australia, and in none more than in Tasmania, upon which I desire to say a word. I refer to the operation of industrial arbitration. Where a practicable and sensible administration of the principle of arbitration is possible, I nave always’ been, and I am still, a supporter of it. But I recognise that in some cases wo have now got into a position which is absolutely untenable. As an instance in point, I can cite the case of -an industry in which Southern Tasmania is’ considerably interested. I refer to the timber industry and the effect upon it of the last award made by Mr. Justice Higgins. As a result of that award, the industry is at present paralyzed. I have very carefully read Mr. Justice Higgins’ report on the industry, and. from his view-point I am unable to confute his statements. I know the labour which men have to undertake in working in the bush, particularly in the southern parts pf Tasmania. I am not prepared to- say that the conditions laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins’ award would not be right if those engaged in the industry could afford to carry it on under those conditions. But what is the use of making an award for an industry if any- attempt to put it into effect must involve the closing down of the industry? Mr. Justice Higgins’ award proposes the payment of a weekly wage to bush workers; wet or dry the amount is the same. The position now is that the mill-owners find that - the men, and they are quite right, will not work, while it is wet, because-the award provides that under such conditions they shall be paid their wages even if they remain at home. They cannot work when it is windy, and, in the circumstances, to attempt to comply with the conditions of the award in the southern part of Tasmania would mean that those carrying on the industry would have to pay the men they employ a week’s wages for, on the average, two or three days’ work. No industry could be carried on under such conditions. The timber industry is not the only one in Australia which is in practically the same position, and unless the Judge administering the arbitration law will take into consideration the practicability of giving effect to his award, and its relation to other industries, we must do something with our arbitration system. I know that many people in Tasmania are agitating for the abolition of the principle of arbitration. I should not strongly object if that meant the abolition of the Commonwealth arbitration system and the substitution for it of some system within a State under which the local conditions of each industry might be considered. I recognise, however, that we cannot in Australia go back to the old condition of the survival of the fittest in industrial disputes. We cannot depend for their settlement on strikes or lockouts. Those methods belong to a past age. We must have for the settlement of industrial disputes a system which can be operated in a lawful and equitable way. Unless the men undertaking the settlement of such disputes will take into consideration the possibility of the industries to comply with their awards, the arbitration system must undoubtedly fail.
There are one or two small matters especially affecting Tasmania which I may mention. I refer to the light dues at present charged for shipping, in connexion with which I have had a very voluminous correspondence with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and the operation of the Navigation Act as it affects coastal shipping. I recognise that, in connexion with the operation of the Navigation Act, we are up against a very difficult problem. But with regard to the other matter, I maintain that in dealing with Tasmania the Government have been arbitrary and unsympathetic. By insisting on the payment of full duesby ships using practically only one light on the coast of Tas mania, they have prevented vessels calling at that State, although it would have been to its material advantage if they had done so; and the fact that they have not done so has meant a considerable loss to Australia. I have already explained all this to the Minister for Trade and Customs, but, so far, have been unable to enlist his sympathy. I desire now to say publicly that I still hope that the Government will reconsider the light dues charged in certain portions of Australia. Where ships derive the benefit of a considerable numiber of lights it maybe quite right to charge them full light dues ; but it seems to me absolutely ridiculous to charge full light dues to a ship casually calling at one port of Australia, it may be, to land or take up a few passengers or to take in stores, and carrying on practically no cargo trade with thatport.
I have a word to say upon another question which was touched uponby a previous speaker. I referto the Convention proposed to be constituted to consider alterations of the Federal Constitution. Perhaps I may more effectively express my views on this matter by quoting a letter which I addressed to the Prime Minister on 2nd December, 1920, just after an adjournment of this Parliament. I wrote as follows: -
Hobart, 2nd December, 1920.
TheRight Hon. the Prime Minister.
Dear Mr. Hughes.- As I believe you will during the present recess consider and decide upon the constitution of a Convention to consider and recommend certain alterations to the Federal Constitution, might I be permitted to make a suggestion re the appointment of such Convention.? I hold that it is more helpful to make suggestions before such a matter is considered by the Government than tocriticise and perhaps oppose a scheme after the Government are committed to it. Now, first let mo say that I am opposed to the election of a Convention in the ordinary way, for the following reasons:- 1st. Such an election would cost the Commonwealth at least £80,000, 2nd. We should have all the turmoil and disorganization of industry incidental to a general election. 3rd. If the delegates to the Convention were elected on other than the Senate franchise and electorates, they would not be representative of the whole State; if they were to be so elected, then, in practice, only wealthy men or members of the Federal Parliament could offer themselves as candidates. 4th. It is practically certain that at such an election the great majority of successful candidates would be members of the Federal Parliament, they being the betterknownmen, and the Convention would only be the
Federal Parliament in another form. 5th. There is no guarantee that the public men and women would support the recommendations of such a Convention at the subsequent referendum to the people, and without unanimity of support the people would surely vote no, and all the trouble and expense would result in nothing. It would be worse than useless to hold such a Conference or Convention unless it was so representative as to secure for its recommendations the united support of all parties at the referendum. Now my suggestion is that the Convention shall consist of thirty-five members, to be elected in equal numbers from the Parliaments of each State and the Parliament of the Commonwealth, that is to say, the Legislative Councils and the Legislative Assemblies of each State, and thu Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth, shall elect five delegates. Method of Election. - The two Houses shall sit conjointly, and Che President will call for nominations, which must he in writing and signed by not less than five members, no member will be permitted to sign more than one nomination. Nominations closed, the House will proceed to elect its five delegates under the proportional representation system now in operation in Tasmania. A Convention so elected would bo thoroughly representative of all classes of the people, and its recommendation’s would, I believe, receive an affirmative vote at the referendum. If in this I should be disappointed, and the people again voted “ No,” then the loss incurred in preparing the question would be comparatively small. That is a rough outline of my idea, and I submit it for your consideration.
To that communication I received no reply. I have not the confidence of the Government in the matter, hut it seems to me that they are determined to constitute a Convention by an electionby the whole people, similar to the way in which certain Conventions were called together priorto the establishment of this Parliament.
– A waste of time and a waste of money.
– I agree with the honorable senator. I believe that after having gone to the expense of an election for members of the Convention, the whole of it will be wasted unless we can secure, in regard to the recommendations of the Convention, the acquiescence of those menand women to whom the people look to advise them at election time, and that the vote, as in the case of all former referendums, will be in the negative. It is natural that people should hold conservative opinions on questions of this kind. If there is a difference of opinion amongst those who ought to know, and who are expected to guide the people, the decision will be to leave things as they are. Certain alterations should be made in the Constitution in order that the Government may function as directed by the people of the Commonwealth.
– It is not that we want so much greater power as more definite authority.
– And such an alteration in the Constitution is very desirable.
– We want to be able to say whether this or that question is in the Federal or State sphere.
– Quite so; but if there is any serious division among the leaders of public opinion in Australia, we shall never get an affirmative vote from the people for any amendment of the Constitution. We must have this unanimity prior to the submission of any question to the people. I am satisfied that by the selection of Convention representatives from all the Parliaments of Australia we shall secure the widest possible expression of public thought, because the whole of the Legislative Assemblies in the different States are elected on the adult franchise. Although in two of the States the Legislative Councils are nominated by Governments elected by the people, the Upper House franchise in the States is a property qualification. I do not approve of this system, but it certainly can be claimed that the representatives in our Legislative Councils speak for the most conservative section of the people. I am satisfied that a Convention selected in the way I have outlined would prove a satisfactory method for the expression of public thought as to the amendments of our Constitution, and I believe its recommendations would be accepted by the people. So convinced am I that it would be a sinful waste of money to hold a special election for members of the Convention, that I want to declare my opposition to it now. My proposition is worthy of consideration. If the Prime Minister thinks fit to throw it into the waste-paper basket, I feel forced to state my opposition to his views in regard to the election of the Convention. It may be suggested that the election could be held at the same time as the general election for members of both branches of the Commonwealth Parliament. That, again, would encounter my opposition.
– The honorable senator does not think that is suggested, does he ?
– Then it may be all right. I do not want to put up any skittles merely to knock them down again. I thought this course might be suggested, and, therefore, I wished to express my opposition to it.
I am satisfied with the Budget brought down by the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). I realize that in some respects considerable hardship must be imposed upon the people, and, as I said in the earlier part of my speech, “the people, having received the goods, must now be prepared to meet the bill. There are encouraging signs as to the attitude of the people towards their obligations. There may be occasional outbursts such as, no doubt, are occurring at the Workers’ Conference in Brisbane, but I believe the great majority of the people desire to settle down to the inevitable task of rehabilitating and reestablishing Australia in a better position than she occupied before the war. I need hardly reiterate statements I have previously made to the workers in this respect. If there is any foundation - and perhaps in some cases there is - for their belief that they are not receiving their due proportion of the wealth which they produce, there is ample opportunity in Australia for the workers to become producers on their own account. I have pointed out on other occasions that between 1913 and 1918 the workers of this country lost, from industrial disputes, in wages alone, over £10,000,000. Therefore, I urge upon those who are. discontented with the present system the wisdom of co-operation in production. Let them become their own employers. The world is wide. No difficulty is presented. There is absolute freedom in Australia. If they want to abolish capitalism, co-operation affords a convenient medium. By this means they may accomplish their ends quietly and lawfully. Let them by cooperation become capitalists, - and pay themselves from the results of their own industry. This is the only practical and true test of sincerity of purpose. We learn from the Trades Hall representatives, and from those who are sitting in the Workers’ Conference in Brisbane, that the workers are determined to destroy the present organization of capital and labour, to abolish wage payments, and, in short, to cast the whole social and industrial system into the melting-pot, and see what is going to result. I ask any of those who advocate this course of action what they are going to substitute for it. Not one can give the slightest indication. They are like a’ number of people, cast adrift in a boat, who decide to scuttle it, and then see what will happen. They are making no provision for the future, notwithstanding that in Russia to-day they have an example of what must inevitably occur if they adopt this course of action in Australia. Russia, a country of immense wealth, and with an enormous population, is so disorganized that at the present time millions of people are face to face with starvation, and hundreds of thousands are dying. Notwithstanding all this, there are still some people who urge that the workers of this country should try the same experiment. My last words to them on the present occasion are to ignore any such advice. Like everybody else, they must bend their backs to the burden in order to carry Australia through the difficult times that lie ahead. The vast majority did this loyally during the war, and now that we are in the aftermath, everybody, whether he be the humblest worker in the land or a citizen in the highest position, must accept his individual responsibility, and make his contribution in payment of the bill we have received in return for a free country with all the possibilities of becoming a very great nation.
– I do not intend to take up very much of the time of the Senate. My remarks in regard to the Budget will be more in the nature of questions. I am aware that it is customary to allow a good deal of latitude in debate on this motion, which deals with the raising and spending of £65,000,000, but it appears to me that the introduction of irrelevant matters such as have been mentioned this afternoon has the effect of bringing our parliamentary procedure very near the borderline of farce.
– It is the customary procedure to give opportunity for the redress of grievances before Supply is granted.
– I shovild like to express my gratification at the fact that Australia is to be represented at the Washington Disarmament Conference. I am quite sure that had a vote of the people been taken, it would have been overwhelmingly in favour of representation. I approve of the selection of Senator Pearce. Like many other honorable senators, I would have been pleased if the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) could have seen his way clear to represent the Commonwealth, but he could not leave Australia. Therefore, I join with other honorable senators in supporting Senator Pearce’s appointment. Any one who belittles, or attempts tp belittle, our representative, is indeed a “ little Australian.”
There are one or two matters upon which I desire information. I defy any honorable senator to speak at short notice comprehensively on the Budget. In my opinion, weeks of study are needed to comprehend it thoroughly. There are many items which we could not possibly expect to understand unless we had at our elbow some of the heads of Departments to enlighten us. The other day, in the South Australian Parliament, the Premier, referring to the proposed Convention for the amendment of the Constitution, had something to say about the cost of running Commonwealth, as compared with State, Departments. He said -
They knew from their own experience in Australia that control by State Governments was more efficient and more economical than control by the Federal Government. Taxation collecting was one example out of many that might be quoted. The Commonwealth employ a staff twice as large as the State to collect incomes and land tax from the taxpayers of this State, and the cost was very considerably more than twice as large, although the Federal authorities dealt with a considerably smaller number of taxpayers than the State authorities, because of the £5,000 exemption in the Federal land tax.
That is an extraordinary statement , to make, and I feel that we should be enlightened upon the matter. If it is true that the Federal authorities have nearly twice as many people to do the work of tax collecting some explanation should be forthcoming.
There is a number of items in the Budget figures which require some explanation. I notice, for instance, that in the General Division of the South Australian Taxation Office, nine as sistants were employed during the last financial year and that eighteen are to be engaged during the current year. The amount spent last year was £1,093, and the expenditure this year is estimated at £1,791. In the Clerical Division of the Western Australian Taxation Department the number of clerks is to be increased from nineteen to thirty-seven.
-brockman. - There has been an amalgamation of the State and Federal Departments in Western Australia.
– That may account for the increase. As compared with the number employed in the Tasmanian Department in 1920-21 there is a slight reduction. In perusing the Budget figures I notice that allowance has been made for a cost-of-living bonus based on Arbitration Court awards. I know, of course, that some time previously there was a strong agitation for increased wages, which were not granted; but to meet the difficulties confronting’ employees at the time the Government agreed to pay certain bonuses. This year there is a considerable increase over the amount voted in 1920-21, but I have learned since looking into the figures that the probable explanation is that the amount in the previous Estimates was to cover only a portion of the last financial year, whereas the present estimate is for a full year. That may or may not be the case; but it must be remembered that the cost of living is coming down. According to Knibbs, the cost of living in August this year was 20 per cent. lower than it was in August of last year. It is patent to every one that the cost of living is decreasing, and I am wondering why an amount should be placed in the Estimates for this purpose.
– I think the honorable senator will admit that although the cost of living is decreasing nearly every award given by the Arbitration Courts increases wages.
– That may be so ; but it does not affect my contention. Right through the various Departments special amounts are included to meet the high cost of living, the payment of which should engage the attention of the authorities. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) in another place said that he had a fine Budget to present; but the fact remains that while wehad a surplus last year of between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000, it is expected that at the end of this financial year that surplus will be reduced to an amount in the vicinity of £3,800,000, showing conclusively that we are going to spend £2,800,000 more this year than we shall receive in revenue. The Government would be wise if they went through the Estimates - we have had their assurance that they have been compiled most carefully - and pared them down so that we could balance the ledger.
– A less conscientious Treasurer might have done that.
– Would the honorable senator support such a proposal ?
– If the Government are prepared to do it they will have my support.
– The honorable senator can assist them by voting for a reduction.
– I shall do so when the time arrives. The Treasurer has said that, approximately, £7,500,000 in the form of income tax payments has not been collected, and the explanation is that certain taxpayers are at present unable to meet their liabilities. A business man in presenting his balance-sheet, or the chairman of a company in submitting his statements of accounts to the shareholders, would look upon such an amount as an asset. The Treasurer, however, says that he expects during the coming year to collect £690,000 of the amount outstanding; but a larger sum should be available. If I did not pay my income tax the Commissioner would distrain, and I would have to find the money. When there is such a tremendous amount outstanding a genuine effort should be made to collect it in justice to the other taxpayers.
– The Taxation Department does not distrain if satisfactory reasons can be given for nonpayment.
– I know an effort is made to meet taxpayers who are in difficulties.
In reading the Budget Speech I was very surprised to find that practically no mention had been made of the shipbuilding policy, and the intention of the Government in connexion with the running of Commonwealth steamers. During the war we did many things that would not have been done in ordinary times, one of which was to purchase ships. It was recognised at the time that a good “ deal “ had been made, but conditions have altered, and to-day, instead of ships costing between £30 and £40 per ton to build, they are being constructed for about £7 10s. per ton. In reading an American publication a few days ago, I noticed that the Government of the United States of America are about to cuttheir losses in regard to shipping and turn the whole business over to private enterprise. I believe that the Government would be well advised if they adopted a similar course, because they will not be able to compete with private ship-owners unless they are prepared to write down the capital cost of the ships to about £7 10s. per ton, and thus show a profit on the transaction.
In regard to our financial position generally I am sure we are all anxious to do the best that is possible in the circumstances. We know there has been a general outcry throughout the Commonwealth in regard to wasteful expenditure; but when such statements have been made to me concerning alleged extravagance, I have asked those making them to mention a particular item on which expenditure can be reduced, and it is seldom that they have been able to do so. We should, if possible, endeavour to square our accounts this year.
– Before the debate on this motion is concluded I should like to reply to some of the statements which have been made, and also to acknowledge the references which Senator Gardiner made to my colleague, Senator Pearce, who has assumed a great responsibility in representing the Commonwealth at the Washington Disarmament Conference. I am sure those who had the pleasure of listening to Senator Gardiner’s utterances will regard them as one of the bright spots in our political life.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I fully appreciate them, as I am sure Senator Pearce” will do when he learns what has been said of him in that particular quarter.
I now wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to the statement made by Senator Duncan in which it is quite clear he fell into a serious error, owing to the fact that he did not anticipate participating in the debate at that juncture, and consequently had not the opportunity to study the Budget figures very closely. Referring to the Defence expenditure, the honorable senator asserted that there was an increase in the cost of the Permanent Forces of approximately £300,000. If honorable senators will turn to page 124 of the Estimates, they will find that the explanation of that increase arises from the fact that previously items which were charged under several headings have been transferred to and are included under the one heading of “ Permanent Forces. ‘ ‘ Adding together the amount set against the Permanent Forces and the next line on page 124, it will be found that the vote for the administrative and instructional staffs has been cut down to £250,000. In reality, that amount was transferred to the heading of “ Permanent Forces,” so that whilst it has apparently increased the cost in that direction, there is a reduction to the extent of £50,000. One item alone, for allowances paid to married warrant officers of the Forces, absorbs £40,000. I do not know the views of honorable senators, but if there were any Government employees who were insufficiently paid it was the members of the Permanent Forces, who, considering the services rendered, have been in receipt of a most beggarly pittance. It seems to me that the men who do the work and incur the risk ought not to receive less than the ordinary wage paid to men, but slightly more. This vote does not pretend to place them on the same footing as those who obtain employment in the open market, but it is a modest effort to reduce the margin which hitherto existed. That brings the amount down to £5,000, and I have not had’ the opportunity to peruse the figures sufficiently to ascertain where increases have been made; but it must be evident that in a service incurring such a heavy expenditure the amount is very modest.
I desire now to refer to the speech delivered by Senator Bakhap, and I think the Senate will join with me when I say that we listened with considerable pleasure to his remarks on highly important subjects, with which he dealt in a profound way. It is. I think, a great pity that Parliament cannot find time or pro-
Senator E. D. Millen. vide an opportunity for the discussion of the important international problems that are arising almost every day, because sooner or later we shall have to acquire the habit of dealing with such problems which may affect us - possibly to our detriment - in the years that are ahead of us.
I desire to say a word or two now respecting the criticism which has been directed at the Budget. Senator Vardon made a common-sense remark when he mentioned that when people complain of the nature of the Budget he asks them to point out wherein its defects consist, and invites them to ooma down to details. He informed us that none of these critics had been prepared to do so. Owing to propaganda being conducted outside, it has become the practice for almost everybody to denounce the Budget; but if people are asked for any instance of extravagance, they are unable to point to a single example. The fact is that they do not study the Budget, but are misled by wild statements of newspapers and persons outside, and they merely repeat the criticisms of those parties and productions without examining the situation for themselves. I am bound to say that Senator Gardiner is not free from the liability of being charged in these terms. Senator Earle expressed moderate views, and gave his recognition to the fact that a pound .will not do any more for the Government than for a private individual. A pound note cannot be expected to do for the Government to day, any more than for a private individual, what it would have done a few years ago. It is idle to expect the Government to get back to prewar conditions when the community itself has not returned thereto. No one will say, of course, that somewhere or other a pound here and there might not have been saved. But I would remind honorable senators that it is impossible to insure an absolutely close scrutiny of each and every Department. The major fact is that the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) was faced with £2,293,000 of additional expenditure which had become obligatory, and which there was, therefore, no possibility of avoiding, unless1 Australia was to repudiate her obligations. There was, for instance, a payment due in connexion with the war debt which had been incurred in the previous financial year. Will anyone say that that payment could have been reduced? There was an increase of £1,469,000 by way of interest upon sinking fundi That sum was payable on debts incurred during the year preceding that with which the Budget has to do. Could the amount have been struck out without repudiation ? Then there is the matter of increase in respect of invalid and oldage pensions. Will any individual outside of Parliament, or inside, suggest that anything be struck off there?
– There have been very many suggestions that the allowance be increased.
– Exactly ! In respect of bank exchange there is an item of £105,000. That payment could not have been avoided. Of course, we could have avoided the transactions which occasioned the debt, but they arose out of just payments of obligations incurred in London. Will anyone suggest that Australia should tell financial London that we do not propose to, or cannot, pay our debts? Then, as for the basio wage, whether honorable senators may regard with approval or otherwise the action which has been taken by the Government, this Chamber having given its approval to arbitration and trade awards in preference to the bad old system of strikes and squabbles, will not say that the basio wage item should have been struck out. Next, upon the carriage of mails to Europe during the war there is a debt of £200,000. That is an obligation incurred in a previous year, which could not have been avoided and cannot now be repudiated.
– A matter of £100,000 might be saved upon the new mail contract by imposing poundage rates.
– The mail contract will come before Parliament for approval. The Government made the best bargain they could, and it will be for the National Legislature to set the seal of its approval or otherwise on the “ deal.” With respect to the per capita payments to the States, need I ask, in a House representative of the States, whether economy should be effected by the repudiation of the increased payment of 25s.to which the States are entitled ?
– All honorable senators are agreed that that line of expenditure could not be touched.
– Quite so; but the trouble is that all the economists outside are quite willing that the Government shall continue to carry on an expenditure which they themselves approve. They desire the practice of economy only in connexion with those sources of expenditure which touch somebody else. I make these observations in view of criticisms which have been made largely outside, but which have found their echo in the Senate. In addition to the items which I have just mentioned, there are still others, which go to compile a total of £4,000,000 of new expenditure. Some of this outgoing is consequent upon policy, but it is an expenditure which the Treasurer positively had to face and make. While paying out that increased
Bum of £4,000,000, of which fully £2,250,000 was obligatory and inescapable, the Treasurer has managed to present a Budget which shows an actual total expenditure amounting to £20,000 less than that for the year preceding. I hold that the Treasurer should be given credit for the display of a desire and a capacity to cut down wherever the operation could be practised without endangering the efficiency of the Public Service. It is idle, I repeat, to talk of an extravagant Budget when the Treasurer is carrying an additional load such as I have specifically mentioned and when he is budgeting to get through the financial year with a smaller outlay than in respect of the previous year and very much smaller than was the amount expended during the year before that. It is only fair to the Treasurer that I should say this. The vague and widespread criticisms which have been hurled at that Minister afford an evidence of the unfairness which, for political reasons, frequently attaches to Governments and Ministers. Had critics stated that the Treasurer gave some evidence of a desire to improve matters and presented a Budget which, allowing for various inescapable increases, showed a reduction upon last year’s expenditure, although there was still room for further specific savings, such criticisms would be welcome. Unhappily, however, there is a tendency to fall upon the Federal Treasurer tooth and nail, and to level at him the accusation that his administration of the financial affairs of the Commonwealth has been productive of nothing but squander and loss.
I have to do with a spending Department. Iread reports of speeches delivered outside of Parliament, and I peruse various statements published in the press. All these evince a great desire for economy, and denounce the Government for extravagance. Hard upon my reading of these particulars, however, it has often been my experience that the men who have made the strangest denunciations have pleaded with me for the continuance of some source of expenditure which the Government had proposed to cut down. I may cite, for example, the matter of vocational training classes. Occasionally these classes have become so reduced in numbers that there has been no warrant for continuing two or three of them in one neighbourhood, and they have been merged into one. Immediately, however, protests have been raised in the locality where a class consisting of three or four trainees has been disbanded and merged with others. The fact is that if any evidence of extravagance can be discovered by critics of the Budget, the chances are that those expenditures have been maintained because of some pressure brought to bear from outside sources ; and the experience has been that thispressure has been applied in most pronounced form by those very individuals who have been most eloquent and insistent in their demands for economy.
With respect to Senator Vardon’s inquiries upon shipping matters, the Government intend shortly to indicate their policy. I trust that the honorable senator will then be placed in possession of . the information which he seeks. There is a great cry raised everywhere concerning the fact of the Government continuing to build ships when vessels can be bought more cheaply abroad. I wonder if those who argue after that fashion would be prepared to apply their logic to everything imported into Australia. What is the Anti-Dumping Bill intended for? When there isa slump, and other countries are heaping their goods into the local market for sale at less than the cost of local manufacture, the cry about anti-dumping provisions is raised.
– But this matter of ship-building is world-wide.
– I invite the honorable senator to imagine the temporary development of a world-wide depression in the boot and clothing manufacturing trades. Would any one say that it was a shame for Australians to continue to make boots in Australia in view of the world-wide condition of the trade? No; they would plead the greater necessity for a Protective Tariff. The Government are entitled to apply to a Government industry the same measures of protection and assistance as are given to a private industry.
– Within reasonable bounds.
– When I remember the way in which the honorable senator voted on certain items during the Tariff debate, I want to know what he means by “ reasonable bounds.”
– The Minister knows that I was consistent in my efforts to bring about reductions of duties.
– It can be said that, upon certain items, every honorable senator pleaded the necessity for reducing the duties. No honorable senator can say that, on occasion, he did not vote for specific increases.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from, 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– I desire in the first place to thank the Government for permitting me to submit to-night the motion standing in my name. On some two or three occasions, in order to suit the convenience of the Government, I gave way at the request of the Minister when I could have gone on with the motion. I move: -
That in the opinion of this Senate, His Majesty’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth should, after the prorogation of the present Session of this Parliament, advise His Excellency the Governor-General to summon the next Session to be held at Canberra, the Federal Capital.
About twenty years ago, when the Federal Constitution was accepted, a contract was entered into between New South Wales and the people of Australia that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales territory. I mention this because there are some who are inclined to forget that such a contract was entered into. I feel that I can speak on behalf of the people of New South Wales in this matter, and say that they are disappointed at its non-fulfilment.
– Why not say exasperated ?
– I am extremely moderate, and I wish to put the matter as moderately as I can. There are some people who have not forgotten the con- tract, who know it exists, and who yet are opposed to. the transfer of the Seat of Government to the Federal Capital. The loudest opposition comes from Victoria, and particularly from Melbourne, and we are entitled to ask whether the opposition is based on patriotic grounds, or whether consciously or unconsciously the opponents of the transfer to Canberra are actuated by some selfish motives. We may reasonably inquire whether those people are afraid of losing a certain amount of prestige, or perhaps a certain amount of financial support, through the Seat of Government being removed from Melbourne.
– Or another seat in the House of Representatives.
– I cannot see how going to Canberra would affect the representation. I a3k whether they are actuated by patriotic grounds or by the question of the personal convenience of members and officials. It has been stated openly and publicly by members of this Parliament from Victoria, some of whom represent Victorian constituencies to-day, that they would not be able to go to Canberra because it would so interfere with their arrangements that they would either have to give up their business, or cease to be members of the Federal Parliament. It has been affirmed that in their case they would prefer to sever their connexion with the Parliament. Some three or four .months ago the Hon. James Page, whose death sent the Parliament into mourning, submitted a motion’ in the other House practically similar to the one I have just moved, and, within two or three days of the motion being presented, a leading article appeared in one’ of the principal metropolitan newspapers of Melbourne. I quite ad’mit that a leading article in a newspaper may be only the private opinion of the person who writes it, or it may reflect only the opinion of the proprietor of the paper, but 1 think we may assume that when such an article is written, either for or against a cause prominently before the minds of the public, the strongest possible arguments available to the writer for or against the question will be employed. The leading newspapers are wealthy organizations, and they are able to obtain the services of the ablest writers on the particular questions dealt with.
If we take the arguments used by the Age newspaper, which’ is one of the ablest, and certainly one of the bitterest, opponents of the transfer of the Federal Parliament to Canberra, I presume we shall be covering the strongest objections which can be raised to the proposal. It is stated in the article referred to that it is very desirable that those who object to the transfer should give full force to their objections. So I take it that in this article we have the full force of the objections raised to the Federal Capital being established at Canberra. It is a long article, which one may f airly say embodies those arguments. To begin with, we are told that there are difficulties in the way, apart from the cruelties it would inflict upon members. I might be permitted to pause one moment here, because this is the first time to my knowledge since Federation - and I have been a member of Parliament since the inception of Federation - that a single word has been raised in this particular newspaper as to any inconvenience that might be occasioned to members. Always, until this time, when anything has been proposed for the convenience of members, it has been denounced by the Age as extravagant.. Now, for the first time, this newspaper speaks very tenderly of the cruelty and inconvenience that might ‘arise through members being transferred to Canberra.
– Can you say that it is further from Melbourne to Canberra than from Sydney to Melbourne ?
– That is not so. I was, naturally, struck with the tender anxiety of the writer of this article, and being a little cynical myself I asked, “Why this sudden conversion?”
My chief object to-night will be to try to persuade the Senate to fix some particular date on which we shall transfer the Parliament to Canberra. It is extremely interesting to read the - history of the transfer of the capital in America from Philadelphia to Washington. The history of that movement shows how analogous to the position in Australia are the circumstances under which Washington was built. In the first place every objection was raised against leaving the place which was. then the Seat of Government to go into new, virgin, and neutral territory. Vested interests played their part, just as they are doing in Australia to-day. State jealousies were at work in the same way. At last an American senator submitted a motion practically similar to the one I have moved this evening, except that it did not deal with His Majesty’s Ministers. The senator simply moved that the President of theSenateshould summon that body to meet atWashington. Certain articles were written in the press of America’ at the time dealing with the cruelty of leaving the flesh-pots of Philadelphia in order to go into the wilderness of the Potomac. In fact, I am not quite sure that there was not a certain amount of plagiarism in the article which appeared in the Age on 13th April. This is what was published in an American article -
In. the last year of the century, Congress moved, bag and baggage, to its future municipal home. What it found there did not excite any very great enthusiasm. The surface of the so-called city was covered with scrub oaks, and the. shrubbery which flourishes in marshy places, of which there were only too many near the Capitol. The largest avenue (Pennsylvania) was in reality a morass covered with alder bushes. Streets were an unknown luxury. The solitary sidewalk, between the Capitol and the Treasury, was improvised of chips hewn from the public buildings, and the sharp fragments lacerated both the feet and the feelings of pedestrians. The Capitol, White House, Treasury, and War Department buildings were in process of erection or just completed, but there were no other buildings of size or importance, not even hotels. The disgusted members were obliged to lodge at Georgetown and to go thither by stages over very bad roads. The contrast was the more unhappy as many members had grown attached to the comforts and refinements of Philadelphia, which at that time boasted 50,000 inhabitants. In the end, however, this barrenness bore good fruit. The very obvious defects before their eyes made all men, whatever their previous theories on the subject, more favorably inclined to render the city at least habitable, if not elegant.
The Americans did that. . If we were called upon to move to Canberra tomorrow we would not have to put up with the inconveniences that the members of Parliament in America had to put up with. In proof of that statement, I have here the first report of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee, which, I think, has been laid on the table of this Chamber. There are some interesting things in that report, and one of them I would like to read. There has been a certain amount of work done at Canberra, and in regard to this the report says -
The. proportion of works unsatisfactory - but, in a measure, useful - is small. The actual capital loss on unsatisfactory works, in’ the opinion of the Committee, does not exceed 1 per cent, of the capital outlay thereon.
That, to my mind, is very satisfactory. I happened to be in another House when, strange to say, a Minister of the Crown at that time denounced some of our officials for the work done at Canberra. A Royal Commission was appointed, and some remarks of that Commission were not flattering to those who did the work. Some people had an idea that there had been a great deal of extravagance at the Capital, and I think it only right to read what this Commission, which was appointed by the Government, said.
– Were not some members of that Commission sitting in judgment on their own work ?
– There were two. The Commission consisted of Mr. John Sulman, Consulting Architect; Mr. E. M. DeBurgh, Chief Engineer for Water Supply and Sewerage, Department of Public Works, New South Wales; Mr. Herbert E. Ross, Architect; Colonel P. T. Owen, Director-General of Works, Commonwealth Works and Railways; and Mr. J. T. H. Goodwin, Commonwealth Surveyor-General. This report has been signed by the five members, so that three persons outside of Government officials have been good enough to indorse it. I have just read what the Americans had to put up with on going to Washington. We, on the other hand, find by this report that already -
An adequate and satisfactory water supply has been provided, including a weir and reservoir on the Cotter River impounding 380,000,000 gallons; an electrically-operated pumping station; 31/4 miles of rising pipe mains; pipe-head reservoir at Mr Stromlo (3,000,000 gallons capacity) ; 61/2 miles of gravitation pipe main toRed Hill; and a reservoir atRed Hill (3,000,000 gallons capacity). Special attention is invited to the attached detailed reports(vide Appendix “ C. “) adopted by the Committee, and already submitted with its Fourth Interim Report, of 21st April, 1921. In this report it is shown that the selection of the CotterRiver as a source of supply for the Capital has insured an ample and pure water supply, and that the works carried out in connexion with the pumping scheme are amply sufficient to meet the requirements of the Capital for many years to come, whilst facilities exist for the construction of other works for enormously increasing the supply . . .
Brickworks, with up-to-date equipment, have been built, and the manufacture of highquality bricks established on sound economic lines, which can be extended to meet future demands. The construction of concrete pipes has also been satisfactorily developed, and investigations have been made into the local sources of supply of other essential materials …
Railway connexion with the New South Wales ‘ system at Queanbeyan has been . effected and extended in the form of a constructional tramway, crossing the Molonglo River on a timber bridge, into the site for initial development, thus facilitating access and the transport of materials.
Engineering workshops are available to maintain a large stock of construction plant, and joinery works have also been set up.
A good deal of useful and satisfactory work has been done at Canberra in comparison with the work done at Washington before the senators and members of the House of Representatives of America went there. There are many more conveniences, and generally Canberra offers far greater advantages than did Washington. We have rattling good roads throughout the Federal Capital, water, a sewerage system, and electric light. There is Queanbeyan within 8 miles, and Goulburn and Yass within motoring distance, and we have motors and trains running right into the Capital. None of these things was possessed by the Americans when they went to Washing- ton. I noticed in a newspaper the statement that in one of the State Parliaments of America there is a blind chaplain who every day travels 35 miles there and 35 miles back, in order to attend the meetings of that Parliament to read prayers. We have a great many conveniences that the American members had not. History does not tell us whether the American legislators broke down under the many great inconveniences they had toput up with. I suppose that if they had done so, we would have been told of it. Washington to-day is testimony to the patriotism of the American legislators, who were prepared, in order to fulfil the Federal compact, to put up with the incidental inconveniences. I take it that we are not of softer clay or feebler fibre than the representatives of America. I have lingered a little bit over the question of the inconveniences that would accrue to members. I would be very sorry if the writer of the article in the Age should feel that we were having to put up with a great deal of inconvenience and hardship. As the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) indicated just now, it would not be any greater inconvenience for New South Wales members to go to Canberra than to come to Melbourne.
– Would it be any greater convenience?
– Personally, perhaps it would, but that is not the question. This is a matter of keeping a contract with the people, regardless of whether it is convenient or inconvenient to us personally.
– If the people made the contract, I suppose the people can breakit.
– Of course they can. The people of New South Wales have entered into a contract with the people of Australia. They ask it to be redeemed. They ask it to be dealt with, not merely as the Germans dealt with a “ scrap of paper.” They are asking . us to honour the contract we entered into.
– Was there any time fixed for its performance?
– A promissory note was given in which no time was stated. I ask whether honorable men should not deal with a promissory note within a reasonable time? Are we to say that because a promissory note has been given and no time has been fixed the people need not honour it?
– The absence of a time limit does not justify repudiation.
– Of course not. Twenty years have already gone by, and the promise has not yet been redeemed. In the Age article we are told that a contract was entered into between the people of Australia and the people of New South Wales, and they say that “No honest man would endeavour to break that contract.” I am very glad indeed to know that a newspaper which has been so bitterly opposed to the transfer to Canberra has stated in a leading article that no honest man would endeavour to prevent the contract being honoured. We are glad of that admission. It is something to help us along the way. But there are some objections to the transfer. We are told that we ought not to go at the present time, because of the financial stringency of the market.- I take it that this argument is being voiced by a number of people.
– There is a £2,000,000 deficit.
– We have a surplus of £3,000,000. There are people who say we ought, as honest men, to go some time or other, but that now is not the time. The Age goes on to say, “ Oan any honest man, inside or outside of Par- ‘liament, say that now is the time?” I have no hesitation in saying, even at the risk of being called a dishonest man, that now is the best possible time, even from the money stand-point, to go to Canberra. We ought to have gone years ago, when it would have been better from a financial stand-point than it is now.
– It would be a good time now to sell property in Melbourne.
– I am not talking of property in Melbourne. It would have been better to have gone years ago, because it would have cost us less to transfer. By every day that we delay we are adding to the cost of moving. Therefore, the sooner we can get there the better it will be from a financial standpoint. The continued expansion of the activities of- Parliament increases the cost of removal- every day. The longer Parliament stays here, the greater will be the activities associated with it. In this Budget there is a new Department created - the Department of Public Health. Immediately you increase the activities of government,, you must have buildings to put the officers, in, and you have either to rent or build them. If the time comP3 when you have to transfer the activities of government, the greater the number of them the greater the cost of the transfer. Consequently, I have no hesitation in saying that now is the best time, even from the financial stand-point, to move to Canberra. We could have had a better time in the past, but no time will be better in the future. We have a great asset in the Federal Territory - an asset of land that is not being utilized. Immediately we go to Canberra the land will bring in a revenue. There is a revenue being brought in now from the land we have resumed, and. it is paying for its cost already. If we started to create a city, people would go there ‘ and would build, land values would increase, as they do everywhere -else, and an annual revenue would be derived. ‘Instead of this being done, that asset is lying idle. Every day that we delay we are actually losing money. The Government could readily get a private company to put up all the buildings required if it were given the land.
– I should look for that company.
– I would not. The land at Canberra is a good asset, and I should not be prepared to part with it. If Senator Wilson had shares in a paying mine, he would not be inclined to hand them over to some one else. I do not suggest that, at the present time, costly buildings should be erected at Canberra, such as might be considered suitable for the National Capital of a people numbering 50,000,-000 or 100,000,000. The population of Australia is little more than 5,000,000, so that marble palaces are notrequired at Canberra ; bub we should have buildings there, it may be of a temporary character, but suitable for our purposes. It is a matter of indifference whether legislation is passed in a tent or in a marble building.- I venture to say that the mother who has to pay more for boots for her children because Parliament has imposed a duty on boots, is not concerned as to whether the duty was imposed in a tent or in a marble palace.
– The honorable senator thinks that it would be equally welcome to- her.
– I think that she - would prefer to have the duty repealed in a tent, to having it imposed in a marble building.
I am glad to find that the Federal Capital Advisory Committee do not, in their report, advocate the present erection of permanent buildings for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra. They say -
The erection of permanent buildings should be deferred until later stages of the city’s development. .The Parliament and Administrative buildings in the first stage should be of a temporary character
I quite: agree with that. I am sure that the people of New South Wales do not desire that the Commonwealth shall spend a’ lot of money at the present time in erecting costly buildings at Canberra.
They will be satisfied if the transfer of the Seat of Government is made, even though their Federal representatives should be called upon to put up with some of the inconveniences of pioneers. I gave notice of my intention- to submit this motion some three or four months ago. It may now be ‘impossible to erect the necessary temporary buildings in time to enable Parliament to be summoned at Canberra, when it meets after the next adjournment, unless the recess decided upon should be a long one.- I should personally be prepared to give the Government a recess sufficiently long to enable that to be done. I do not hesitate to say that, within twelve months, all the work really necessary for the transfer of- the Seat of Government to Canberra could be done. In connexion with one of the exhibitions held in America, the people of. that country, within twelve months, erected a hotel that housed 20,000 people.
– At what cost.?
– I’ do not know the cost, but I know the time within which the building was erected.
– Did not Ministers inform, the honorable senator that, according to the estimates of their advisers, it would take three years to complete the transfer ?
– That is according to the plans proposed by the Federal Advisory Committee.
– Was not that a special estimate obtained at the instance of Sir George Fuller, when Minister for Home Affairs?
– No, there appears to have been some misunderstanding in connexion with this matter. I was present with Sir George Fuller at a public meeting at Katoomba, some little time ago, at which a motion was proposed urging the transfer of the seat of the Government to Canberra. He made a statement at that meeting that, when he was Minister for Home Affairs, he had plans drawn up which would have enabled the transfer to be made in twelve months. I said that I was very pleased to hear his statement, and that when I returned to Melbourne I would ask for those plans. I haveasked for them and have been told that they are not in the office of the Department. I have wired to Sir George Fuller telling him what has happened, and I shall get his reply later. It may be that I: misunderstood what he said. But we all know that if people are determined to do anything it can be done. There is one general present who is a member of the Senate, and he could tell honorable senators what was done under pressure in time of war.
– We are still recovering from the effects of that.
– One of our generals told me the other day that our engineers built railways, and that marvellous works were completed within a very limited time during the war. Honorable senators have heard of Mr. Kirkpatrick, a very prominent architect of New South Wales’, who built the Commonwealth Bank, which every one who sees it will admit is a great credit to all concerned in its erection. I was speaking of it recently to Mr. A. E. Box, who was secretary to the High Commissioner some years ago, and who has travelled around the world, and he mentioned that, with the exception of one in New York, he knew of no bank building in any other part of the world to compare with the Commonwealth Bank. When I put a question to- Mr. Kirkpatrick on the subject he told me that if he were given a free hand he could put up the buildings necessary for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra within twelve months. I admit that he could not do so if he were to be hampered by the Public Works Committee, and we must abolish inquiry by the Public Works Committee so far as these buildings at Canberra are concerned-. There is a good deal to be said in favour of doing so. Surely the work of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee is not to be criticised by the Public Works Committee.
– The Public Works Committee must, inquire into all works estimated to cost over £25,000.
– We can abolish that . provision so far as works necessary for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra are concerned. Mr. Kirkpatrick told me that he could build everything necessary for the transfer of this Parliament to Canberra within twelve months, and I have mentioned the fact that a hotel accommodating 20,000 people was built in the United States of America within that time. The whole population of Canberra will not amount to 20,000 for a number of years to come. If we cannot do what has been done in other countries in the matter of building there must be something wrong with our engineers and contractors. Senator Elliott will agree that our soldiers compared favorably with the soldiers of Europe, our cricketers have humbled the Englishmen on the cricket field, and, if given a free hand, our architects, engineers, and builders cannot do what similar men have done elsewhere, let us introduce some people into this country who will be able to do it. Do not let us limit our immigrants to rural workers, but let us introduce also people who will be able to help us to build up a nation. Unless Parliament is prepared to give them a free hand and to tell them that it is necessary that they should do the work required within a certain limit of time, we cannot blame our officials if they do not carry out the work in the time required. I was much struck some years ago in learning from, a Queensland representative, I think it was Mr. Fisher, that when Sir Thomas Mcllwraith was Premier of Queensland he wanted the military Estimates cut down. He gave his officialsa certain time in which to carry out the reductions he required. At the end of a fortnight or three weeks, they came to him and said that they regretted very much that they were unable to cut down the Estimates. He then said, “ Very well, gentlemen, I give you another fortyeight hours, and if you cannot do so within that time, other officers will be appointed who will do what I require of you.” At the end of the forty-eight hours the Estimates were cut down in the way desired by the Queensland- Premier.
– How much more rapidly could they write them up as the honorable senator desires?
– The point I desire bo make is that if we want this done it can be done. -
I do not desire to take up time arguing the necessity for our going to Canberra. That is not a question for this Parliament to decide. It has already been decided by the people of this country, and the decision is a part of the Federal agreement. Honorable senators representing Western Australia will remember that when the Federal Convention was taking place there was nothing in the draft Constitution about building a railway from east to west. When the State Premiers of that day met they decided amongst themselves that if Western
Australia came into the Federation that railway should be built. That was not an agreement between the people of the different States of Australia, but an arrangement arrived at between the Premiers of the various States. Still I venture to say that it had a great deal to do with the construction of the railway, and had an important influence in the Senate and in another place iri inducing members of this Parliament to decide upon its construction. The New South Wales people honoured that part of the Federal bond. We are losing about £500,000 a year on that railway, and the people of New South Wales have to bear nearly half of that loss. If a bond entered into in that way by representatives of the people was honoured, there is all the more reason why a bond entered into between the people of the different States themselves should be given effect. I think that there are no people who should “be more ready to honour this bond than the people of Victoria. When the Conference of State Premiers to which I referred took place, and Mr. (after Sir George) Reid was anxious that the Federal Capital should be established in Sydney, that proposal was objected to by Sir George Turner. A compromise was arrived at, at the request of the late Sir George Turner, as a result of which the Capital must be at least 100 miles from Sydney. Consequently, Victorians should be the very last people to raise any outcry about a “bush Capital,” because, as I have shown, this provision was inserted in the Constitution at the instigation of the then Premier of this State. We all admit, of course, that we have been very generously treated by the Victorian Government and the Victorian people. For twenty yearswe have had the use of this building rent free, and a residence for the Governor-General has been placed at our disposal free of interest on capital cost.
-. - Fancy running aAvay from something that costs us nothing !
– Well, some people are prepared to honour a contract rather than evade it.
– And do not care to impose indefinitely on the generosity of others.
– That is so. We have been treated Avith great generosity by the Victorian Government and the people of this State. Whenever any temporary assistance has been required by any of our Departments, it has always readily been made available by the Victorian Government. For- that we are exceedingly grateful.
– Do you not think that some legislative advantage would follow the removal of the Capital to Canberra?
– I do, .and I intend to refer to that matter before I resume my seat. The removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra will mean something more than merely the convenience of the members of this Parliament. I hold strongly to the view that our legislation cannot be truly national in character until Ave are in a position to legislate in a Territory of our own, and free from the influences of a great city.
The people of New South Wales feel that they are justly entitled to the fulfilment of the contract. It has been said, of course, that many people of New South Wales are indifferent on the point, but “this is not true. I have quoted the opinions of the Melbourne Age. Perhaps I anay be permitted to allow a leading Sydney newspaper to voice the sentiments of New South Wales on the subject -
Wo are, in fact, impressing the marshalling of the very provincial forces to escape which the provision was made that the Federal Parliament should sit in a territory of its own, remote from .the selfish ambitions and greedy interests of a big city.
That applies to Sydney as well as to Melbourne.
If New South Wales is to be swindled out of the Federal Capital and the Constitution smashed, let us know where we stand. Let us at least have don© with the elaborate humbug that is going on.
In appealing to honorable senators to support my motion, I recognise that, however willing tho Ministry may be to expedite the transfer to Canberra, they are powerless unless Parliament is behind thom. But I cannot help feeling, and I am speaking as moderately as I can on *his matter, that we were not treated fairly by the Nationalist party, at least so far as two members of the Ministry are concerned, when the last test vote was taken, in another Chamber, because two Ministers of the Crown failed to record their votes.
– Their conscience pricked them, I suppose.
– Then they should have resigned from the Ministry, instead of scurrying away and not voting on this issue. To my mind, it is unfair for members of a Ministry not to take their full share of any responsibility. I leave it at that. We are entitled to expect the Ministry to be united and to be solidly behind us in this matter, because it is part and parcel of the Government policy. The Ministry are responsible for the Estimates, in which certain provision is made for the transfer to Canberra, and we have a right to expect that every member of the Government shall vote for the proposal. Every New South Wales member, whether Nationalist or Labour, has voted every time for the transfer of Parliament to Canberra. In Victoria every member of the Labour party also supported the proposal, which, as I have shown, was opposed by certain Nationalists and two Victorian members of the Ministry in another place. As a member of the Nationalist party, and anxious that it should succeed at the next election, I am concerned that people may ask why it is that while members of one party are pre- pared to honour the contract, there is hesitancy on the part of certain members of another party.
The Age article, to which I have already referred, goes on to say that there are dangers to Democracy if the. Federal Parliament is transferred to Canberra, owing to a weakened representation. All I can say is that there will be no weakened representation from New South Wales. It is quite possible that one or two distinguished representatives of Victoria, rather than sacrifice their business interests in order to go, would retire from the Parliament; but it does not by any means follow that, taking Australia as a whole, there would be any weakened representation at Canberra. The article suggests, also, that without the effective exercise of public opinion there will be an aggravation of machine government, and a wider separation of the Administration from the people. If that is true, then we have no right to go to Canberra to-morrow, or the day after, or, indeed, at any time. However, I shall not argue that question to-night. When Federation was an accomplished fact, the late Sir Edward Barton, whose name stands high in Australia and throughout the civilized world, the late Mr. Alfred Deakin, Sir George Turner, Mr. R. E. O’Connor, Sir William Lyne, Mr. B. R. Wise, and Sir George Reid, all were of the opinion that the Capital should hot be in some great city, but rather that it should be removed from ally such influences. With all due respect to the writer of the Age article, I think I can safely rest upon the opinion of these distinguished leaders in the Federal movement. I also note that the opinion of the A ge is not shared by many other journals throughout the Commonwealth. For instance, the Kalgoorlie Miner states! -
The policy of “magnificent construction works “ as a necessary preliminary to occupation, has simply played into the hands of those who wanted, and still want, to keep the Seat of the Federal Parliament and Government in Melbourne .till the last possible moment.
If a resolution is carried in both Federal Houses that the next Parliament meet in Canberra, even if the buildings for accommodating it as its dignity demands are still in nubibus, it is difficult to see how it can be disregarded. No Government, however reluctant, could wriggle its way past such a direct mandate. Therefore it is profoundly to be hoped that such a resolution may be carried. But it is certain to be bitterly fought by selfish and’ unscrupulous Melbourne influences, indeed by Victorian influences.
– Why make the censure so wide? You know this objection to the transfer is only a sectional movement in Victoria.
– Yet it caused two Ministers of the Crown to evade their responsibility in a test vote. I know, of course, that, irrespective of those views the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has always voted for the transfer. He has always been a staunch friend of the Canberra scheme.
– And so are all good Victorians. Do not blame us for the views of the daily press.
– I am sure Senator Russell will always be ready to help us to get to Canberra as soon as possible. I know it may be impossible for Parliament to meet at Canberra in the time stated in my motion, and, therefore, I would not stress the motion to breaking point by demanding that we meet there next session; but I think that-
– Make it in the “ sweet by-and-by.”
– No; I will not do that. I think we are entitled to have a definite date fixed for the meeting of the Federal Parliament at Canberra. If we do this - and it was done in America - then the Seat of Government will be removed to the Federal Capital on that date. Already we have a large number of conveniences there. It is near to Goulburn, Queanbeyan, and within motoring distance of Yass. We do not want elaborate buildings. Even some of the items mentioned in the report to which I have referred may, I thirds, be- cut down. For instance, there is the provision, £3,000 for taking the Prime Minister, the President, and Mr. Speaker across. I think it is possible to do that for less than £3,000. Therefore, we might save a little’ on that and upon other items. When the contract was honorably entered into twenty years ago, the people of New South Wales did not ask for a time limit. They trusted to ‘the honour of the people of Australia, as represented in this Parliament, and I am loath to believe otherwise than that the people’s representatives here are anxious to honour the bond as. soon as possible.
– After the official announcement yesterday that it was practically impossible for the Seat of Government ito be transferred to Canberra for at least three years, I am astonished to find ‘a motion such as that just moved being submitted to the Senate for serious consideration. When Senator Thomas was speaking, I intimated by interjection that the people who made’ the contract should have the right to alter it, and I repeat it. During a recent visit to New South Wales, I had numerous opportunities of discussing the question with prominent residents in Sydney, and I found that there is not any ambition on the part of the residents in that State to have the Capital transferred; but there is a strong desire on the part of some politicians for a move to be made in that direction.
– The same could be said concerning the proposed North-South railway.
– I thought that old argument would be “ trotted out,” and for the information of the honorable senator, I may say that at this juncture I shall deal with the construction of such a lineas I expect the Senate to treat the proposal embodied in this motion. SenatorThomas said that if a transfer had been made some years ago the expense involved, would have been considerably less than it would be at present. That is quite true. But the honorable senator must remember that when we return to normal conditions a transfer could be made at much less expense than would now be involved. Arguments have been adduced that by transferring the Seat of Government considerable expenditure in rentsnow paid in Melbourne would be avoided; but many of the offices established in Melbourne and in Sydney would still be required if the Seat of Government were transferred.
– We could not staff them there.
– I do not think we could. I have no desire to assist in repudiating any contract entered into unless it is the desire of all parties to the con tract. If it is the wish of a majority of the people to establish a Federal Capital, I am prepared to assist in honouring the compact at the proper time. What is our position to-day? We are labouring under a burden of taxation. Developmental work in every part of the Commonwealth is being starved owing to the high cost of money; and, notwithstanding this, there is the ridiculous and absurd suggestion that money should be expended in this useless manner. Let us consider for a moment the huge development that could take place, for instance, in the productive lands in Queensland by the expenditure of capital. I desire to conserve the interests of all States, and I trust shall never be charged with being parochial in matters which relate to the well-being of Australia. If the Age had not published the articles to which Senator Thomas has referred, he would have been robbed of his ammunition, as his arguments from beginning to end were based on quotations from ‘that newspaper. It has been said from time to time that it would be in the interests of good government to get away from the criticism of thepublic press and the environment of large cities; but I do not know how any Government can expect to, avoid press criticism. It would be regrettable indeed if it were thought that a transfer to Canberra would be the means of avoiding press criticism, which is necessary in the interests of good, government.
– It would be delivered by aeroplane every morning.
– That is quite likely. There seems to be no regard whatever for the circumstances in which this compact was’ entered into, and no com parison has been made with that time and the . present. Since the agreement was made, millions of pounds have been spent in the defence of Australia, and although no one desires to take exception to the expenditure which has been involved in defending our liberties, we cannot forget that our liabilities in this regard must further delay the establishment of the Federal Capital. A few years ago taxation was about £3 6s. per head of population, but to-day it is. about £12. When this proposal was discussed our total taxation was in the vicinity of £13,000,000 sterling, but to-day it is between £50,000,000 and £60,000,000. Notwithstanding the colossal burden which the taxpayers have to carry, and the enormous increase in interest rates, this ridiculous proposal is submitted for our serious consideration. Queensland has recently floated a loan at about 7 per cent., which is an indication of the ‘high cost of money. Does Senator Thomas suggest that the Seat of Government could be transferred to Canberra within, say, twelve months?
– And does the honorable senator realize that we could become established there at, approximately, the cost of one ship, and at less than the cost of two.
– If the honorable senator wishes me to indorse the expenditure incurred in connexion with our shipbuilding programme, I am afraid he will be disappointed’. Senator Thomas referred to the attitude adopted in Victoria, and in doing so was exceedingly charitable; but he had, little to say concerning Western Australia,. South . Australia, and Tasmania. I do not think that there is one honorable senator who would be convenienced by the transfer, and, as a representative of South Australia, I have a right to voice the opinions of the majority of the taxpayers in that State. The people outside are screaming for economy, and this is an instance in which expenditure can be curtailed. It is our duty to consider the cost of money and material before entering into such a huge contract, which will cost the people of Australia many millions. Are we to be accommodated at Canberra in tin shanties or tents? Although our pioneers who developed our vacant spaces were prepared to reside in such primitive structures, I do not think those who are responsible for the framing of our legislation would be willing to do so.
– The honorable senator knows what happened at Washington.
– ‘Canberra is far enough away for me, quite apart from Washington. My experience in public life has shown me that politicians are always anxious to take great care of themselves, and to secure those little comforts which make life bearable.
– I am beginning to think so from the honorable senator’s remarks.
– I am going to assert my right to demand, as a member of Parliament, some of the comforts that I enjoy in private life, and I shall be equally free in expressing my views and in doing what I believe to be my duty. I am never ashamed to do that. The suggestion that we should transfer to Canberra is untimely and uncalled for, and although a great deal of publicity has been given to the proposal by a certain section of the community - principally politicians - it is my intention to oppose the motion and to invite that far-reaching criticism which should be levelled at public men who advocate such extravagance.
– I support the motion so ably moved by Senator Thomas. The Senate cannot forget its responsibilities to the people of Australia in connexion with this matter, and although Senator Wilson referred to the transfer of Parliament to Canberra as being untimely and uncalled for, I may inform him that it is manyyears overdue. This question should have been settled more than ten years ago. Honorable senators should not misinform others as to the true feeling regarding the duty . of the Federal Parliament to keep the promise entered into at the inception of Federation. It is not only a politicians’ question in New . South Wales, because from one end of the State to the other there is a continual and emphatic demand for immediate action, and until the transfer is madethis Parliament stands condemned in the eyes of the people, because it has practically repudiated its con tract. The senior partner - New South Wales - which pays one-half of the taxation of the Commonwealth, was promised over twenty years ago that a transfer would be made, and up to the present that arrangement has not been honoured. For the first ten years there was reasonable ground for delay, because Parliament had not set its house in order or organized its work. There were many difficulties with which to contend, but for the last ten years not. only have the main difficulties beenovercome, but large initial expenditure at the Capital site has left it in such a position that theGovernment could be called upon to meet there within three months.
– During seven of the last ten years we have been engaged in war or the af termath of war.
– I realize that. Let us look at the matter from a financial point of view. If the Capital were established next month, there would be such a demand for land and increases in land values that it would be the best investment that the Government had entered into. Values would not increase by 10 per cent., but by 100 per cent., and as the land is the property of the Commonwealth, the whole question of finance would adjust itself from the day this Parliament was big enough - will I say true enough - to keep its promise to the people of New South Wales. I recall that there was once a close division taken in this Chamber concerning whether a railway should be built from South Australia to Western Australia. It was my personal view that the railway should have been constructed from Queensland through the centre of Australia to the West; but, because Western Australia had come into the Federation on the strength of a promise that the transcontinental line would be built direct, I voted in support of the project. I regarded the promise as a sacred one; and, as a representative of a State which had agreed tohonour the pact, I had no option but to vote as I did. This matter of the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra cannot be put aside as a simple question of personal convenience or otherwise. What does the Constitution provide ? What did the whole of the States vote upon, and what did the whole of the people of
Australia ratify ? Was not” this Commonwealth Legislature called into being with the specific contract for the establishment of a Federal Capital, in Federal territory, within New South Wales, set forth in the bond ?
– And was not that Constitution supported by the Melbourne Age?
– And urged by that paper for acceptance by the people. I know that but for the war the Capital would have been established at Canberra ere now. It cannot be said to-day that there is a shortage of money any more than it can be said at any time and at all times, that money is hard to find. If a loan were floated with provision for repayment out of the increased value of land in the Federal Territory its repayment would be assured.
– A loan for the purpose of establishing the Capital could be financed in New South Wales to-morrow without difficulty.
– I am assured of that. It may be said that, as a New South Wales representative, I am bound to support the project; but if I were a Western Australian or Victorian senator I would consider myself still in honour bound to do so. Senator Thomas stressed the point that had the Capital been built at Canberra years ago the job would have been carried out far more cheaply than to-day. Every day of delay adds to the cost. Will not this same difficulty of finance always confront the Government of the day? Will there. ever come a time when cash will be more plentiful?
– Does not the honorable senator remember when money was only half as dear as it is to-day?
– I do; but I do not look forward to its becoming much cheaper than at present for many years. Most of the costly work at Canberra has already been undertaken and completed. I refer to the water supply, to the electricity plant, to the preparation of the roads and sewerage, to the making of bricks for buildings and homes, to the supply of timber, and other things. Much money has been laid out upon those works, which are ready and waiting, and in respect of which there can be no return until the Capital shall have been established. The value of the city site will increase, perhaps, one hundredfold in five years. Its population will become assured when the Federal Government has been established there. I hope to live to see land which the Government originally purchased at £5 an acre become worth £500 per foot.
– An example in support of that may be found at Junee, where a selection offered a few years ago brought £1 an acre. What is that land selling for to-day?
– The Minister has provided a valuable’ illustration-. The Capital city will be built as a model, and it will ever remain the property of the people of the Commonwealth. It will more than repay the interest on its cost within twelve months of its establishment. In a few years thereafter it will give such an ample return that the only regret which any one will be able to utter will be that the transfer had not been accomplished long before. I am satisfied that the Federal Capital will be established a,t> Canberra within a very brief period. I would almost wish to see the present Government lose its opportunity to establish it. If a» Labour Government were returned to power it would be a matter of only some twenty-four hours before orders were issued for the meeting of the first Parliament under the new regime at Canberra. Even if the Labour Government were returned on a minority and knew that its first meeting of Parliament would be its last, that meeting would be held at Canberra; and I am positive that there would never again be another meeting of the Federal Legislature outside of Canberra. Almost all the work that has been done so far has been put in hand by Labour Administrations. Visitors to Canberra to-day may see in the visitors’ book a statement penned by an honorable member of another place, who is now a Nationalist. I refer to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who stated that he was satisfied that the Capital would never be established at Canberra unless by a Labour Government. I advise the present Government to move quickly if it wishes to deprive a Labour Government of the honour.
– I desire to say a few words upon one aspect of the subject-matter of the motion, which indicates the circumstances in which the next meeting of this Parliament should assemble.I propose to leave to my colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), the details of the reasons why it will be impossible for the Government to literally carry out the proposal. Senator Thomas has himself indicated that, with the lapse of time which has occurred’ since he first tabled his motion, a different complexion has been cast upon the situation. It would be impossible, short of an avalanche of financial assistance falling uponthe Government, for the next session of the Legislature to be held at Canberra.
– Ido not think it is a matter of money.
– I regard the motion as an expression of opinion that, at some reasonably early period, a definite move should be made in that direction. I wish to say a word, first, as to what I conceive to be the attitude of New South Wales. I would not like to ‘have it believed that that State is unreasonable, or lacking in a proper sense of what is due to the country at large, or unimpressed with the difficulties which confront the Government to-day. New South Wales has possessed her soul in patience: she has accepted the inevitable, and she would . not have been so vocal as she has been upon this matter but for one consideration. When it was obvious that efforts were being made - some of them finding expression in speeches delivered in this Parliament - to delay thetransfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra, New South Wales said very little. She expected such opposition. But what has aroused New South Wales to indignation is the obvious suggestion of repudiation now running through much of the opposition. New South Wales has considered the special circumstances of . thecountry due to the war and has been content to wait. She would even now consent to further delay if she were assured that at the end of a reasonable . period the promise would be redeemed. She has been warned, however, by the press of this city and by the representatives of this State, that it is not delay, but the cancellation of the contract, which is being sought. Senator Thomas rather surprised me when he read some extracts from an article published in the Melbourne Age. . The leader writer of that newspaper must have been at the time, like Jove, nodding, when he wrote that no honest man would repudiate the obligation. But who was it that called; the Canberra project a scheme to erect a “ bush capital “ ? It was the Age. If Canberra is a bush capital to-day, and if that is an objection to the establishment of the Federal Parliament there, it is an objection which will hold good next year and ten years hence. Has the Age ever described the proposition as a good one If Has the A ge ever said that the contract is one which ought to behonoured, but in respect of which there should be some little further reasonabledelay? No; the Age has referred to Canberra as”this bush capital “ and hascreated a prejudice in the public mind against it. Its arguments have not been for delay; its references to “a bush capital ‘ ‘ have not -been in the interests of reasonable postponement. They -have all been levelled at the abandonment of the project; which is exactly what the Age seeks. That newspaper has referred to a tremendous amount of waste incurred by creating a Federal Capital at Canberra when there is at disposal this magnificent city of Melbourne. That is an argument that will be as strong five years hence as it is to-day. It is an argument not for postponement, but one which suggests the wisdom of the abandonment of the contract. The Age . says the scheme is a danger to Democracy. If it is a danger to-day the argument is one directed against going there at all.I shall cite one other argument, namely, the reference of the Age to the discomforts which will have to be borne by members of Parliament. One is. disposed to smile. When the Greeks bring gifts take the liberty of becoming suspicious. In any -case, if the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra will prove a discomfort to members in 1922 or 1923 the journey will be equally as uncomfortablein 1933 or 1934. Here, then-, is another argument, not for postponement, but for abandonment. A great cry for economy has been raised in this State; but has it ever occurred to the public that -there is a very close connexion between that cry and the opposition of Victoria to the creation of Canberra as- the Federal Capital? I say that there is a very close connexion.
-It is quite obvious.
– If it entailed greater expenditure to remain here and would mean actual economy to go to Canberra, the hostility displayed in this State and city would not be lessened. There has grown in the minds of the people of New South Wales the thought that these arguments have not been advanced as pleas for postponement, but that they have all been levelled at the creation of a public feeling which will render possible the abandonment of the Federal Capital scheme. In spite of all the clamour of hostility, I take the liberty of doubting whether Victoria as a whole is opposed to the transfer. Of course, I could get no support in Collinsstreet, and possibly none within the four corners of the “ Block,” but I shall take Victoria as a whole. Victoria was a party to the original compact. She voted for the Constitution, in which the question of the Capital was left open. When the Constitution was amended Victoria was called upon to vote again. How did Victoria vote ? With a diminished majority? No; but always with the same uniform majority as on the. first occasion, and she voted for the amended Constitution, in which New South Wales was being conceded the privilege of having the Federal Capital established within its territory.
– On the second occasion, only 12,000 voted against it.
– I thank the honorable senator for reminding me of that. Victoria supported the amendment, well knowing the arrangement made. Senator Russell, who has been known on the platform as a supporter of the proposal on the ground that it was embodied in the Constitution, on one occasion told an audience that, being under age at the time, he was not one of . those who had made the compact, but he said the people of Victoria had made it, and, if they wanted anybody to help break it, it would be necessary to get somebody other than himself. So it does not look as though Victoria was so hostile as Melbourne metropolitan journals would lead us to believe. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) is a typical Victorian, who is well versed in politics. He was a member of the Hughes Government at the last election, and he went out as a supporter ofthe platform that the Government then submitted. The programme con tained adherence to the redemption of the Canberra compact. Mr. Watt had an easy win, and I have never heard anybody say that he was flying in the face of the public opinion of Victoria. There are certain sections in Victoria who, consciously or unconsciously, are moved by their own local interests, and they are doing all they can to create a public opinion so strong that it will hamper the Government . in its plain duty to redeem a pledge contained in the Constitution itself. Let me deal with one of the arguments addressed to the Chamber by Senator Wilson, because that argument also suggests repudiation. He said that those who made the compact could alter it. If he means that by submitting that question now, as an amendment of the Constitution, a majority of . the people of Australia could alter it, I beg to differ. Technically they could, but this is ‘a compact between the people of five States and the people of one State, and the compact cannot be morally altered -unless we get the consent, not only of the five States, but of the one also.
– In justice to Senator Wilson, I think he admitted that it would need the consent of New South Wales.
– If New South Wales agreed to it, well and good; but I thought he said he would not be content to take the vote of New South Wales in determining the matter.
– I do not think there is a feeling in any of the States in favour of abandoning the project.
– Then why denounce it in terms which, if they -mean anything, suggest that the project ought to be abandoned?
– There is no such feeling in South Australia.
– I do not know -that there is. Senator Wilson said that, of course, he wanted to honour the bargain in time, but he gave no indication of when that time would be. It seemed to me that he was talking ‘more of eternity than of time. He said he wouldagree to the proposal when we found all the capital necessary for the developmental work to be done in Australia. When -we have -found all the money necessary to develop our enormous stretches of empty country - the honorable senator . would proceed to honor the compact. In view of arguments of this kind, one cannot be surprised that New South Wales considers it time for her to wake up. There seems to be a set purpose, not only to delay the project until the financial position is easier, but until the project can be shelved altogether.
– Do you think it would be good for Australia if we had a, few more cities?
– I hear great cries for decentralization. We are appealed to , to do something in the country, and when we submit any scheme with that object the proposal is denounced.
– No. I agree with you. I want to see more people in the country.
– Then I wish to make it easier for that to be done. The establishment of the Seat of. Government at Canberra is certainly one method by which the congestion of population in the State capitals could be relieved. It would not make a difference in the number of buildings occupied, but, instead of all of them being, massed in the present Seat of Government, some would be at Canberra. The Government has plainly told the people where it stands. It does not for a moment give any encouragement to the idea, either of abandoning the project, or of postponing it so indefinitely that it will die of old age. On the other hand, while the Government is anxious to carry out the project, it has some regard for the financial positionof the country. So it has not asked Parliament to approve of what might be regarded as an extravagant expenditure on the Capital on this year’s Estimates. Rather than force some hectic pace, as is suggested when Parliament is asked to get to Canberra within twelve months,the Government has come to the opinion that better results would be achieved if expenditure proceeded in some measured way.
– In a leisurely way ?
– No, but. after due deliberation. The Government must shape its course by considering to what extent it can provide the money to proceed with’ the undertaking, and how far it can proceed so that for every pound spent there will be a reasonable asset. Those two considerations have shaped the Government policy, and it has put forward a proposal which it asks Parliament to approve, and which it thinks Parliament will accept. The amount of expenditure proposed is within the competency of the finances. It is not so large a sum as I, as a New South Wales representative, would like to see on the Estimates. It certainly will not satisfy the more enthusiastic advocates of the Federal Capital, but it will disarm all opposition from, those who desire to consider our financial position rather than see the ultimate abandonment of the project. I do’ not know that I can support the motion in its. present form, because it is not in the mind of the Govern- - ment to have the necessary buildings provided’ to enable the Parliament to go to Canberra for the next session. I rather fear the suggestion of Senator Thomas that the adjournment should be for so long a period as would be necessary to enable that to- be done. -As a matter of convenience, it is’ necessary for Parliament to meet at least once a year. If we ‘adjourned until next session to enable effect to be given to the motion, we would come into conflict with the Constitution itself. It will be realized that it is impossible for the Parliament to meet at Canberra within twelve months, and I suggest such an amendment as would represent an expression of opinion that efforts should be made for the Parliament to proceed there, and that Parliament, having regard to financial and other considerations, should endeavour to meet there at the earliest possible date.
– After listening to the mover of the motion, and to the speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Milieu), I do not know that it would make a great deal of difference whether I voted for or against the motion, but, if it is to stand as printed, 1 would certainly be sorry to give a silent vote. I, congratulate the mover on the thorough, concise, and clear manner in which he dealt with the subject. The Minister, although he will vote against the motion in its present form, has supported it. I recognise that Australia is committed to the Federal Capital. Wisely or unwisely - I am inclined to think unwisely - it has been included as part of the Federal compact that there should be a Federal Capital in New South Wales not nearer than 100 miles to Sydney. That being so, that compact will have to be honoured at the proper time. I have had the opportunity of viewing the site chosen, and, after thoroughly inspecting and studying the plans as presented by the engineer there, I am convinced that no better site could have been found for the purpose. If we are going to, have a Capital City, I think the site at Canberra is all that can be desired. I was very pleased with the layout of the City. It will certainly be a model city when completed. I am not nearly so optimistic as Senator Gardiner regarding the wonderful developments that are likely to take place there, and the enormous capital that he said would be created by the establishment of the City. I do not look with any hope to the Federal Capital ever being more than a model city. I cannot imagine that there will be a large settlement there. I cannot imagine that there will be industries to provide employment for people settling there. A Seat of Government will always carry with it numbers of the leisured classes. There is a certain prestige associated with a Seat of Government. There will be the officers necessary to carry on the governmental duties. There will also be the trades people necessary to attend to the wants of the community. I cannot imagine that land values are ever going to be £500 per foot, or even £10 a foot. They will not be that price in our time, anyhow, whatever may occur when the population of Australia is fifty, sixty, seventy, or even one hundred millions. If the motion is insisted upon as printed, I shall certainly oppose it, because now, of all times, whatever remissness has occurred in the past, whatever faults have been committed by previous Governments in not establishing the Capital before the war, is the most inopportune time for launching upon a large expenditure for the purpose. I ask honorable senators whether we have the money to spend ? The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Milieu) seemed rather to ridicule the statement of Senator Wilson that money was wanted for developmental works. Have we plenty of money for all those undertakings that are essential to the welfare of Australia Have we plenty of money for the defence of Australia. It will be no use having a Capital City if we lose Australia. Would Australia be one iota safer by the establishment of a Federal Capital? Have we plenty of money for the conservation of water, which is so essential to the prosperity of Australia?
Have we plenty of money for the hundred and one different enterprises which will build up the prosperity of Australia, make the people happier, and increase the population? If we have plenty, then let us build the Federal Capital. I have nothing to say about the jealousies - real or imaginary - of the people of New South Wales and Victoria; but I say that the people of Australia will not be one jot better off by the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra. There may be ‘a few people, of course, who would be associated with the Capital, and would be a little better off financially, but Australia would be no sounder than it is to-day. No better legislation would be passed at Canberra than would be passed in this chamber.
– Query !
– There is no query at all.
– They say the air is very rejuvenating.
– The air is very bracing. In Victoria there are many samples of weather, and if you do not like one kind you can have another. I ridicule the idea that members of this Chamber can be influenced, browbeaten, inveigled, or coerced into some -action that they would not be guilty of if they were in the isolated position of the Federal Capital. The suggestion is ridiculous” I remember, in 1917, when thousands of people were on the steps of Parliament House, howling and declaring that they would do this, that, and the other to members if they could not get what they wanted. Did it have the slightest influence on any member of this Chamber or of the other Legislature? Surely not. If any member were influenced, he would be unfitted for the trust that his electors have reposed in him. As far as legislation is concerned, it will not be altered by the fact that it is enacted in the isolated position at Canberra. While I want to assure the Senate that no influence can change my adherence to the contract, which I realize has got to be carried out, I am strongly opposed to any endeavour to force the Government to incur extraordinary expenditure at the present time. The agitation to break the contract, which has been referred to by the Minister, has no sympathy from me.
– . What is the difference between breaking it and not fulfilling it?
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that to break the contract would mean that the Federal Capital would never be erected. To delay its erection while the cost of material is 100 per cent, over the normal cost is another question altogether. I said some twelve months ago that, although there was then a certain amount of unemployment in Australia, I could foresee a day when unemployment would be more keenly felt, and when the Government would be very glad that they had one, two, or three millions of money to expend in finding work for the people. The carrying out of this work at Canberra is a consideration that might influence members to some degree, but I want to say that I am not going to vote for this motion as it stands. If a motion is proposed, setting forth that this Parliament has no sympathy with any agitation for breaking the compact entered into and embodied in the Constitution, I shall be in sympathy with it, and I will vote for it; but I will not vote for a motion calling on- the Government to expend money in the erection of a Capital which can be done without for a considerable time, when money is so badlyrequired for other purposes.
– Which side is the honorable senator on?
– The honorable senator is so uncertain of the position he occupies that I cannot say whether I am with him or against him. If he stands to his present motion, I am against him. If he will alter the motion’ by striking out “ the present . session “ and inserting “ 1930;” or if he will agree to insert some reasonably distant date, I will support it.
– Suppose I make it 1950.
– I am afraid that the- honorable senator would be too old at that time to care whether the resolution was given effect to or not. I think I have made my position clear to honorable senators, if not to Senator Thomas. I support carrying out the compact when the- time is opportune, but I am of opinion, that the present time is not opportune.
, - I would like to explain my position because, when the Estimates were before the Senate last year, I voted against the expenditure of £150,000 at Canberra. I did so, not because I had any desire to tear up a solemn obligation and a solemn compact entered into with New South Wales, but because I honestly and conscientiously believed that the time was not opportune. I differ to some extent from my colleague, Senator Wilson, and I may be taking my political life in my hands when I say that although I do not support Senator Thomas, although I do not believe in being rushed, into the building of this Capital, I support the Government in their wise, prudent, and cautious way of spending money by degrees on the Capital. After I had given my vote, I went to Canberra, andI am sorry to notice that many honorable senators have not taken the trouble to see it for themselves. I do not think Senator Wilson has been there.
– You are quite wrong I have been there, and am not anxious to go there again.
– You were therefor ten minutes when the Prince of Wales was there. I stayed there for a week, and found that £1,700,000 had been spent there. I found that all the spade work had been done, and that all. the statements that the newspaper press of Victoria and other countries have been circulating about the Cotter River being a trickle are lies. I found the Cotter a wide stream, containing the purest water in Australia. The Government has built a reservoir 50 feet deep, and extending for13/4 miles. I found that there was enough water at Canberra to reticulate not only the Capital, but, probably, the city of Melbourne. I found all these things actually in being, and I said, “Are we going to let the crows roost on this, apart altogether from our solemn obligation to NewSouth Wales?” found that a powerhouse and sewers had been constructed. I saw magnificent roads, far better than most of the- roads that we have in South Australia. I found a water supply, while practically nothing had to be done but to make the streets in the Capital, and to let public enterpriser select sites for business premises. I am sure that I am safe in: predicting that the result will be so good that the capital will pay for itself within a period of fifty years, which is a very short time in the history of a great nation. I was one of the senators who asked Mr. Hughes to construct the North-South railway. Mr. ‘Hughes very generously and justly promised to go on with the work, at once. In fulfilment of his pledge he sent a party to inspect the track right from Oodnadatta to the Northern Territory, Can we expect the New South Wales members of this Senate to vote for the North-South railway if members for South Australia tear up the contract in regard to the Federal Capital? The members for New South Wales will bear me out when I say that I have never approached one of them for a vote.
– Would the honorable senator say that they have not approached him?
– I neither went to them, nor they to me. I have such an intense admiration for the character, the ability, and, I might almost say, the nobility, of members of this Senate, that I believe that there is not one of them who would make an unholy bargain for any purpose whatever, much less for the construction of the Federal Capital or theNorth-South railway. I am sorry that I cannot vote for the motion in its entirety, but I support the Government in its suggestion to spend the amount stated on the Estimates for Canberra - I cannot recall what the amount is at the moment - because the construction of the capital is a high and solemn duty that we owe not only to the people of New South Wales, but to the people of Australia.
– The honorable senator is going . to supportthe Government, although he does not know the amount which the Government -propose to expend.
– I know . that the amount proposed is . moderate. Iunderstand that it is £200,000. I intend to support the Government in the matter because I regard that as a duty I owe not only to the people of New South Wales but- to the- . people of Australia generally, whocome within my purview as a legislator for the whole continent. I am not here to . ponder to suggestions which decline to recognise the force of that grand old maxim, “ Honesty is thebest policy.”
If, as Senator Wilson has predicted, I go down because the people of South Australia will be so opposed to my attitude in regard to Canberra, I shall do so feeling that I have gone down as an honest man, and, I hope, as a good Australian.
– I also do not wish to give a silent vote on this motion: I say at once that there is no idea in my mind of repudiating the contract entered into with New South Wales. We are all agreed that that contract mustbe honoured. At the same time I cannot vote for Senator Thomas’ motion in its present form. It is only twenty-one years since the Federationbecame an accomplished fact, and twenty-one years in the life of a nation is but a very small span of time. If I might make a suggestion, which, I think, was also made ; by Senator E. D. Millen a little while ago, I think that a time should be fixed within which we shall remove to Canberra. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that money is . particularly scarce at the present time, and if, within the next two or three years large sumsare to he expended at Canberra, the money will be diverted from enterprises which at present are more urgent. I think that we should say that we are going to Canberra within a specifiedperiod. If we do that, we shall get there.
– Hear, hear! Fix a date.
– I suggest toSenator Thomas that he anight alter his motion to make it read that we shallre- move to Canberra -within ten years from the present date.
Debate (on motion by Senator Russell) adjourned.
– I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
May I remind honorable senators, in order to prevent confusion, that on. the passing of -my motion theSenate will meet at 11 o’clock to-morrow morning, in view of the fact that, prior to our recent adjournment, we altered our Sessional Orders, and have not since reverted to the old . practice. Another reason for ask ing the Senate to meet to-morrow at 11 a.m. is that I expect the Supply. Bill will have Teached us. toy that time, and I shall seek the cooperation of honorable senators topass it in time to . permit of the payment of the Public Service at the usual time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 October 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211012_senate_8_97/>.