8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk announced that he had received an intimation from the President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) that he would be unavoidably absent from the sitting of the Senate to-day.
The Deputy President (Senator Bakhap) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Senior presented the fifth report of the Printing Committee.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
What are the tonnage and value of metallic tin imported into the Commonwealth for the year ended 30th September, 1921, from (a) Europe;(b) America?
– The information is being obtained.
Expropriated Properties - Prospecting for Minerals.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
What is Australia’s share of the profits derived from Nauru and Ocean Islands during the last financial year?
– Figures are not yet available; but the business has made satisfactory progress under the British Phosphate Commission, and good results are anticipated.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister, representing the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The answers are: -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– All the wheat of the seasons referred to has been disposed of, with the exception of the season 1917- 1918, on account of which South Australia shows a balance on hand of 349,000 bushels. From, this, however, has to be deducted any losses. A statement of the 1915-1916 Pool overseas realization, and of its distribution among the States, has recently been published. The States will now announce the amount of any further payment which they desire to make. A statement of the . position of the other Pools will be made as early aspossible.
– What does “as early as possible” mean?
– The estimate is that each Pool will take about a month to clear up.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, am I to understand that as there are yet about five Pools to be cleared up, it will take five months before they are cleared up ?
– No, . not so long. Once we have dealt with Pools B and C it will be smooth sailing.
– Once B and C Pools are cleared up, it will be plain sailing, and it is hoped that they will have been dealt with within a month or two?
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Supply Bill, which was introduced yesterday, is for a total of £2,742,205. It is for ordinary services only, and does not contain provision for any items not already approved by Parliament. The amount asked for, in addition to the amounts provided in three Supply Bills already passed, provides for expenditure for November and part of December. Salaries are provided for up to and inclusive of the 9th December, and contingencies and other services generally up to the 20th December. The total amount provided by the three previous Supply Bills passed for the services of this financial year is £9,618,065, and the total appropriation under the four Supply Bills for this year is therefore £12,360,270. From this must be deducted interest and sinking fund payable to the British Government, £1,319,881 ; Treasurer’s Advance, £1,750,000; and arrears of overseas mails, £200,000, making a total of £3,269,881. This leaves a total for ordinary items of £9,090,389. This amount is about £1,900,000 less than the proportion of the votes for the corresponding period of the last financial year. The present Supply Bill includes an additional £250,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance, making the total in Supply £1,750,000, although only £1,500,000 has been provided for under this vote in the Estimates. It has been found impossible to avoid resort to this course on account of delay in passing the
Works Estimates. The Treasurer’s Advance has had to be debited with nearly the whole of the four months’ expenditure on these services. This condition will continue until the Bills now before Parliament for New Works and Loan Appropriation have been passed. When these Bills have been passed, the Treasurer’s Advance will, of course, be relieved of the expenditure referred to. With ‘ these brief references to the main features of the Bill, I submit the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time. .
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) whether the expenditure outlined in a statement laid on the table of the Senate yesterday is covered by this Bill. The statement to which I refer has not yet been considered by this Chamber; but reference was made to it in the press this morning, in which it was indicated that a research factory, and quite a number of governmental enterprises were about to be established. If we pass this Bill, will we be authorizing expenditure in that direction ?
– I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that he is dealing with a Defence matter, which can be discussed when the schedule is under consideration.
– I raised the matter on clause 4, because it refers to the limit of period of expenditure.
– Clause 4 has already been passed by the Committee.
The Parliament (£6,950), agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £51,810.
– Provision is made in this vote for the expenditure of £3,850 in connexion with the High Commissioner’s Office in London. I desire to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill’ (Senator E. D. Millen) what has been done in the direction of staffing the High Commissioner’s Office with Australians ? During a discussion in the Victorian Parliament a few days ago, the statement was made that people seeking information in regard to the Commonwealth at Australia House come in contact with officials many of whom have never seen Australia. Would it not be practicable to staff Australia House with Australians possessing a knowledge of the conditions prevailing here, so that visitors and those intending to settle in the Commonwealth could obtain all the information they desire, instead of being misinformed, as is very often the case at present?
– Officers are now being exchanged.
– That may be so; but I want the policy of having Australia House staffed with Australians to be firmly established, so that those seeking information concerning the Commonwealth can obtain all the particulars they desire. I am sure the Government realize that this is most essential, particularly if they desire to achieve the object for which the expenditure is being incurred. It has been said by public men that it is quite a common occurrence for visitors to Australia. House to be passed from one official to another, many of whom do not know anything concerning Australia and its possibilities. Our products should be displayed in London to the best advantage, and the actual conditions obtaining here should be described by persons who are fully conversant with all the circumstances.
– That is done to a large extent.
– I am expressing the opinions of those who have returned; to Australia during the last few days. One gentleman assured me that it was difficult to obtain any reliable information at the High Commissioner’s Office.
– Are there not any Australians there?
– Very few. I am sure the Government desire to achieve the very best results in this connexion, and I trust that immediate consideration will . be given to this phase of the question, particularly as the Government are now pursuing a vigorous immigration policy which will result in large numbers seeking information to which they are rightly entitled. If this expenditure in to be incurred, it is our dutyto see that those visiting Australia House are supplied with reliable information when they desire it.
It is generally admitted that we need a great many more people in the Commonwealth; but great care should be exercised in seeing that those who come here are experienced rural settlers. I am not prepared to support any expenditure on immigration unless, it is in the direction of encouraging country workers, because it will be useless to bring out artisans and city workers, and thus assist in further overcrowding our metropolitan areas.
.- It ‘ was my intention to briefly refer to the points raised by Senator Wilson, in regard to the staff at Australia House, andour immigration policy. A few weeks ago, when travelling from Port Darwin to Brisbane on a vessel which had come from Singapore, I came into contact with probably over twenty men of a desirable type who had either been rubber planters, or had been managing rubber plantations in the East., On account of the severe fall in the price of rubber, and the suspension of operations on the plantations, they were turning their attention, to Australia. Many of them were well educated ex-Imperial officers, and were likely to ‘prove desirable settlers. Some of them were wending their way towards Sydney, but I suggested that they should leave the vessel at Brisbane. I tried to persuade them to remain in Queensland, because of the great advantages that State enjoys over the more thickly-populated States of New South Wales and Victoria. There are more Crown lands available in Queensland”. I communicated with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) and with the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), asking whether something could be done forthesemen on arrival. The Government had been impressing upon us the desirability of encouraging immigration, and they were offering certain facilities in the shape of assisted passages from the Old Country. These men, however, were travelling at their own expense, and I could get absolutely nothing done for them by the Government. The only assistance rendered was that given by a private body, known as the New Setters League. I am not blaming Mr. Gullett or Mr. Mapleston, whom I saw in connexion with this matter, for the simple reason that they have no authority to assist people coming to Australia. I venture to say that those officers themselves do not know just where they stand. There has been no definite policy laid down so far in regard to immigration. I was under the impression that facilities for land settlement were available for ex-Imperial soldiers, the same as for our own returned soldiers. Our men, of course, have first preference; but I ascertained that the facilities for ex-Imperial service men had been cancelled, and that they were now entitled to no benefits under the Land Settlement Scheme. The men to whom I have referred informed me that in Singapore and other parts of the East it is impossible to obtain any information about Australia, although it is only a few days’ sail from those countries. The men told me that they could secure particulars about openings for settlers in Canada, Rhodesia, and other parts of South Africa. When I pointed this out to Mr. Gullett he agreed that it would be a good idea to have information concerning the Commonwealth made available in the East. There are hundreds of men in the East to-day who, on account of the failure of rubber, are turning their eyes towards Australia. Every boat from Singapore that calls at Port Darwin is bringing down a number of these planters. Some effort should therefore be made by the Immigration Department to meet these boats, and see that these men are welcomed to Australia. They would certainly make good settlers.
– What is the nature of the help that you suggest should be made available?
– Is it the policy of the Government to bring people into the country and leave them to settle themselves ? Assistance might be given in the matter of information, for instance. I would go further, and supply free railway passes to enable the men to look for land.”
– That is a matter for the States.
– The Commonwealth is going in for a policy of immigration in conjunction with the States.
– There must be coi-
Gperation or disaster.
– Yes; and the Commonwealth is equally responsible with the States.
– Are not passes supplied in Queensland forthe purpose of inspecting land?
– I believe that if a member of Parliament approaches the Minister for Railways, a pass will probably be provided; but there is no general policy laid down. It seems deplorable that no information- is made available to these men, who are not only paying their own expenses, but are already acclimatized to the tropics, and have had a good deal of colonial experience. New South Wales is offering considerable facilities for ex-Imperial soldiers.
– It is the one State that first of all definitely refused to deal with ex-Imperial soldiers’ until it had settled its own returned men.
– There was some announcement by the New South Wales Government in the matter. Western Australia is, I think, shaping better than any other State in connexion with immigration. The Minister for Repatriation will probably remember the correspondence which took place concerning the men to whom I have referred, and I wish to know if he will give instructions that information be distributed in the East for the purpose of advertising Australia.
– I was rather amused at Senator Wilson’s statement that no information concerning Australia can be obtained at Australia House in London, seeing that it is a fact that in the Australian Senate no information regarding Australia House is obtainable. I am confronted by a couple of responsible Ministers, and I wish to know when the Government are going to appoint a. High Commissioner, who is to be appointed to the position, and whether the appointment is to be made this year, next year, or never? What is the use of complaining of a lack of information in London when the people of Australia, and the members of the Australian Parliament, who are in touch with the Government, are kept in ignorance? If I drew a little on my imagination, I would say that the members of the Government party are in the dark on: this question. I might go even further and say that’ the members of the Cabinet can get no information, on the matter from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). The High
Commissionership has been vacant since 1st April.
– Keeping so many of us anxious !
– There are a great many people who are anxious. We should be desirous of seeing the position either well filled or abolished. I do not believe in any half measures, especially at a time like the present, when there is urgent need for economy. If we can. do without a High Commissioner in London from April of this year up to the present time, why not abolish the office altogether, and save the cost ? I would much rather have no HighCommissioner at all if the office is not filled by a responsible head. The Government appear to treat this matter as if it were one concerning themselves alone, and one in which, the people of Australia had no interest. This is a most discreditable attitude on their part, and it is no credit to the Parliament that it should continue a day longer. I hope the Government will*, without further delay, take the public into their confidence.
– But has not this always been the practice concerning- such appointments!?
– It is a most pernicious practice. Never before has there been so much secrecy about the filling of such a responsible position.
– Who, do you think, ought to get the appointment?
– I have no objection to offer to the suggested appointment of Sir Joseph Cook, whose name has been so often mentioned. I take a very serious view of the Government’s remissness in this matter. If they intend to appoint Sir Joseph Cook, they should do so at once. If, on the other hand, they do not intend to appoint him., then they have done him a grievous wrong, because for months he has been held up before the people of Australia as the gentleman who has been selected to- fill the position. What need is there for this secrecy,, which has given rise to all sorts of rumours ?
– The Government cannot very well prevent the circulation of rumours.
– Of course they can. All doubts can: be set at rest by a plain statement from- the- head of the Government giving the name of the- gentleman who is to receive the appointment, together with any reasons there may be for having withheld it for so long. It has been suggested, I know, that their position in the otherHouse is such that they cannot dispense with Sir Joseph Cook’s services at the present time. But that is all nonsense. If Mr. Burchell and Mr. Bruce could go to London, without affecting the position of the Government in another place, then Sir Joseph Cook also could leave Australia to fill the position of High Commissioner in London. The delay and secrecy concerning the whole business are working an injury to the people of Australia, and to the gentleman whose name has been so frequently mentioned in connexion with the appointment. No one can accuse Sir Joseph Cook of having given occasion for the circulation of any of these rumours about his projected appointment. The Government should take the people into their confidence. If Sir Joseph Cook is not to receive the appointment, there should be a Ministerial statement at once to that effect in justice to the gentleman mentioned. Is it possible the Government are fishing for some other candiate? Is the position up for sale to the highest bidder ?
– Do you intend to lodge an application for it?
– I would not mind going to £3,000 a year for it. I am discussing this proposal from the point off view of the impoirtance of the office. It should either be filled at once or abolished altogether. I do not know what Australia House costs, but, speaking from memory, I should say that it involves the Commonwealth in an expenditure of about £40,000 a year. If we can do without an official head for so long, then it is reasonable to assume that it could be done away with altogether. It might be said, of course, that we are represented by an Acting High Commissioner. That is quite true. That gentleman was appointed for six or eight months at an increase of £1,000 a year on his previous salary, and I presume that, pending the appointment of a new High Commissioner, the Government will be saving the official salary, but there should be none of this secrecy. It is possible, of course, that the Government are dangling the appointment as a bait to their followers - as an inducement to them to continue their support. Who knows how many people have been offered this post?
– Have you never dangled the carrot?
– Yes. The dangling of the carrot before gentlemen like my friend Senator Wilson is quite a legitimate practice for any Government.
– It is quite refreshing to hear that you are willing to fill the position.
– I am willing either to fill it or abolish it. The latter course, as . 1 have shown, would effect a considerable saving to the Commonwealth.
– But that would result in the closing of Australia House altogether.
– No. The premises could be leased, and additional revenue obtained.
– Would you support that policy?
– Certainly I would, at all events, until such time as our war debt is paid. Probably this is one of the means I would adopt to effect economy. Certainly it would be justified in view of the delay by this Government in appointing an official head.
– But the honorable senator knows that Australia must be properly represented in London.
– I do. Apparently, the Government think otherwise, or they would have taken steps long ago to fill the position that has been vacant since last April.
– Would you be agreeable to the Prime Minister taking the position ?
– I would not support any one taking the position. It is my business to oppose. My especial duty is to show good reasons why, in my opinion, the Government have made a mistake. My position in this Senate carries with it that responsibility, and in this matter I am endeavouring to show that the Government, by omitting to make this appointment, have committed one of the most grievous mistakes ever made by any Government - a mistake that will work lasting injury to the gentleman most intimately concerned and to the people of Australia.
– But he does not seem to be worrying very much.
– Whether Sir Joseph ‘Cook is worrying or not matters very little to me. I am concerned with the policy of the Government in relation to this position.
– No doubt he will be very greatly solaced to know that you are worrying.
– I have no doubt that. he will, and if Senator Pratten were present this afternoon - I do not like to speak in his absence - I might remind the Senate that this delay on the part of the Government is causing him a good deal of anxiety. Look at all the hope deferred, the prospective position in another sphere of parliamentary usefulness delayed, by the ineptitude of this Government, who say, apparently, “Oh, this High Commissioner business! What has Parliament to do with that? How does it concern the people of Parramatta ?” I find, however, that even the Nationalist party have called for nominations to fill the vacancy in the representation of Parramatta in another place, in the event of Sir Joseph Cook receiving the appointment, and, so far as my own party is concerned, well, on Saturday last we selected our candidate to contest the seat.
– You must know something, then.
– We are always ready for eventualities. In all seriousness, I ask the Minister to bring this question before his colleagues in Cabinet and have it finalized without further delay, or else, in the interests of economy, abolish Australia House as - at present constituted, and lease the premises to the State agencies, or any other tenant that may require them, thus saving Australia at least £40,000 a year. This is a reasonable proposition. There are only two courses open to the Government - either to make an appointment worthy of Australia and worthy of the position, or abolish the office altogether.
– Listening to the earlier remarks of Senator Gardiner, I thought the Government had, perhaps, been really remiss; but before the honorable senator had sat down. I was furnished with reason to doubt whether I had not formed a. hasty judgment. This change of opinion was due to Senator Gardiner’s candid admission that, whether the Government did anything or nothing, it was his job to demonstrate, or, at any rate, to assert, that they were in the wrong. I take his remarks to be sincere and genuine, and I compliment the honorable senator upon this rather sudden outburst of unusual frankness. I suggest, however, that he possess his soul for a little longer in patience. The Government have not been as idle, as remiss, as he thinks. As> for his comments concerning the “ secrecy “ of the Government, I can only say that that word was put to most unhappy and inappropriate use. Because a statement is not made concerning some specific matter the implication must not be accepted that secrecy is being observed thereon. The fact may be that there is nothing to tell. Are Ministers to be expected to announce each day, in the case of the Government doing nothing concerning a certain matter, that there is “ nothing doing ” 1 It is time enough to talk of secrecy when the Government have committed some act, and have withheld the communication of it to the country. There can be no secrecy when there is nothing to tell.
– Then the Minister will not inform honorable senators who is to be High Commissioner?
– If I did make any such announcement at this stage, I might be drawing upon my imagination. If I had not known Senator Gardiner foi” many years as a humourist - conscious or unconscious - I would have been staggered upon hearing him advocate the closing of Australia. House. In direct conflict with the proposal for its abolition, there are the observations of Senator Foll - indorsed, apparently, by honorable senators generally - that there should be more publicity, and not less, in- the interests of Australia. in England. There is ample scope to reinvigorate and reform all:airs, at Australia House; but, certainly, there is no warrant for its abolition, and I doubt whether Senator Gardiner would accept the responsibility of casting a vote in support of such a proposal.
– In view of the need for economy, I would vote for everything and anything that could be done without.
– Can Australia afford to do without publicity, either in England or elsewhere, abroad ? The trouble with Australia is not that she is being advertised too much. I know of no country where there is. such an unfortunate tendency on the part of its inhabitants to criticise its institutions. During my recent visit to Europe, I met Amercans who would reel out yards of figures to emphasize how great a country was theirs. When one got to know them more familiarly one would learn that they might have some doubts concerning certain of their public men and institutions; but, always to the stranger, these people from the United States of America took good care to convey the impression that everything was right with “God’s own country.” How can one be surprised that people overseas hold doubtful views concerning Australia in the light of the comments of Australia’s own. sons resident abroad ? My most painful experience was to find that Australians living in London were Australia’s sharpest critics.
SenatorFoll. - Were they criticising Australia or its Administrations?
– Both, and with equal freedom. But, in denouncing the Governments of the Commonwealth, they were depicting Australia as an undesirable place to live in. What is required of Australia House is its reorganization and not its abolition. Senator Wilson raised the question of what had been done there to bring about alterations in certain features which he regarded as undesirable. A great deal has been done. Upon setting out on my mission to England I was asked by the Government to examine the whole situation in order to learn what improvements could be effected. I came to the conclusion, after the first cursoryglance into Australia House, that it would be idle to devise reforms and then return to Australia leaving to some one else the responsibility of carrying them out. The only man who can undertake effective reform in. Australia House is the official who is given charge and responsibility, the man whose duty and obligation it is to see to the performance of necessary alterations and improvements. It was. that view which I placed before the Government upon my return, and one. of the earliest duties- assigned to Mr. Shepherd was that he should undertake a close investigation of the staff at Australia House, in order to learn how its work might be made more effective and valuable to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), upon his recent return, made a public statement which, in its essence, was parallel to that of Senator Wilson. The Prime Minister stated that he was surprised and disappointed to find at Australia House a large number of’ officials who had lost touch with Australia and its affairs. Steps are now being taken to see that the staff shall- be equipped to speak with the living voice1 of Australia; that is to say, with personal knowledge and experience- of conditions existing here in these times. That objective, however, cannot be brought about in a day. The changes and transfers must cover a somewhat lengthy period. At any rate, the whole position has to be recognised and appreciated by the Government.
With respect to immigration, I trust that Senator Wilson will not take exception to what I am. about to say, but it is a commonplace nowadays for one to assert that Australia needs immigrants but that they must be of the right type. Quite so! The trouble is not in getting men of the right type. The difficulty is at this end, in malting preparation for new citizens of the right type. There is no need to bother about securing them. If Australia were to hold up her hand in London she could gather, within fortyeight hours, more men of the right kind than she could ship out here and adequately provide for.
– And jolly good men, too.
– Yes. But there must be some prior organization, developed and active, to receive and absorb immigrants upon reaching our shores. It is of no use to dump them down, either in our cities or in the bush, and tell them to go ahead and make a living. Preparation, and the right kind of preparation, must be made beforehand. The principal form of such preparation is by way of land settlement; but that is a matter which is fraught with difficulties. We look to land settlement for the absorption of the great majority of newcomers. But Australia is struggling to-day to- provide land for her comparatively few soldier settlers; these latter number, in all, about 30,000 men.
Tremendous effort has been spent in adequately providing for the latter, and, because of the urgency of the task, it has. been carried out in somewhat more costly fashion than would have been the -case had more time been available. Further, with respect to land settlement, the whole undertaking is rendered more difficult because of divided authority between States and Commonwealth. That division constitutes a severe stumbling block. There are the States, with the land and with the land jurisdiction; and there is the Commonwealth, in control of immigration. The Federal Government have endeavoured - not without some measure of success- to agree upon a basis, with the States, for the inauguration of a system which appears1 to me to be the only safe and sound one, and by means of which it is hoped to maintain a. vigorous immigration policy. That is in the direction of developmental works associated with land settlement, thus placing ourselves in a position to honestly invite men to coane and settle on Australia’s soil. I would shrink from going on a platform in England to-day and asking men to journey to Australia., without capital, and without expectation or promise of being provided with land on which to establish homes and make a living for themselves and their families. There are many difficulties, with which honorable members are familiar, in settling people on the land. It is a difficult thing for men without money to get holdings in Australia.
– It ‘is a difficult thing in any country.
– I want to be practical. I am appealed to by the slogan, “ A million farms for a million farmers.” I would .be much more appealed to by a slogan, “ Two million farms for two million farmers.”
– If the Commonwealth Government put Sir Joseph Carruthers in charge of an immigration scheme, and gave him a free hand, he would settle the thing very quickly.
– If the honorable member believes that statement I must respect his opinion, but I prefer my own. Senator Guthrie has suggested that it is a difficult thing in any country to settle people on the land. I agree that it is. In my judgment, after having studied the matter, the difficulties in the initial stages of settlement are greater in Australia than in other countries. The advantages after the first stile has been overcome are infinitely greater here. The difficulties in the initial stages are greater in Australia, for instance, than in Canada. Much less money will set a man on his feet there than here, although, after the first two or three years, the balance is all in favour of Australia. But it is of no use shutting our eyes to the fact that there are difficulties associated with land settlement in Australia. Those difficulties spell money.
– The difficulties are 60 per cent, worse to-day than they were six years ago.
– There is .no difficulty with the men who come here with capital. They can acquire holdings. I take it that when we talk of immigrants we are not so much thinking of that limited class, but of the larger class who are looking for financial assistance from the Government. Take the example of the settlement of our soldiers. I cannot speak definitely, but I venture to say that the cost has not been less than £2,000 per man, taking the value of the’ land into account. How many settlers are we going to bring out on those terms ? Sir Joseph Carruthers has said, “ A million farms for a million farmers, at a cost of £30,000,000.” That .amount of money would not pay their passages at the present moment.
– Sir Joseph Carruthers’ statement does not mean that it would be necessary to pay £30,000,000 down, when the men go on the land.
– It might not be paid at once, but it would have to be paid.
– Does the Minister say that Sir Joseph Carruthers stated that 1,000,000 farmers could be settled on the land for £30,000,000?
– I must decline to say what Sir Joseph Carruthers said in detail, but the slogan on his banner is, “ One million farms for one million farmers for £30,000,000.” He himself must explain how he can get such wonderful results for such a comparatively small sum of money. To attempt to bring a million, or even half a million, farmers out here in any short space of time would spell disaster. A lot of preliminary work has to be done.
The day has gone by when we can bring a man to Australia and throw him into the bush with an axe and a shovel. Modern conditions are necessary for him to succeed. He must have a modern plant and a modern outfit.
– The high Protective Tariff has made a modern plant very difficult to purchase.
– Does not the honorable gentleman think that the subject of immigration is sufficiently complicated without introducing the Tariff?
SenatorFoll. - Is it not better to spend a lot of money on immigration, and get something for it, than a little for no result? It appears to me that a niggardly amount’ is being spent at the present time, and that no return is being obtained.
– It is quite incorrect to say that Australia is getting no return for the money that is being spent on immigration. A considerable number of nominated immigrants are being assisted to come out here. They are nominated by their friends, who undertake to look after them when they arrive. An appreciable number of these immigrants are coming to Australia, but nothing like the broad stream that we want. There is much to commend this system, because the immigrants come to personal friends, who take the responsibility of placing them in the industrial world. I merely indicate the view of the Government in the matter, that it is impossible successfully to bring people out to Australia unless some preparatory work is done before they arrive.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- There is one phase of the immigration policy in relation to land settlement which I have wished for a long time that the Government would deal with. I refer to those companies which, in the different States, acquire large areas of land, which they cut up and boom, and on which they settle immigrants, who have absolutely no chance of success. There is one such company operating in Western Australia, which has recently attracted attention owing to its advertisements of the sale of land. I do. not want to criticise that particular proposition, or others of a similar nature.
– There is every indication that the particular venture to which the honorable senator has referred is going to be a great success.
– That may be so; but . I have seen other ventures with similar indications that have worked out very badly.’ I know of a number of people who have come out to Australia, and gone on to settlements promoted in this way, who regretted that they ever saw Australia. I admit that the difficulties are great, from the point of view of the Government. If immigrants are brought to Australia, and by advertisement or other means are induced to take up blocks of land, they ought to be provided with some sort of Government certificate or Government recommendation on which they can rely. I would suggest that the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the States, might consider the introduction of such a scheme. I have in my mind one area that was cut up for orchard land, where, it was afterwards proved, there was never any possibility of the settlers succeeding. I know that as a result of this venture a number of people who otherwise would have come to Australia as good settlers were lost, and our fair name was dragged in the mud in two British-speaking countries, because of the bad deal the settlers received. I suggest that when large estates are being cut up, and offered under the terms and conditions that some of them have been offered, there ought to be an arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments, which control the land, whereby an investigation would be made by the agricultural experts of the States, and a certificate given which would be a guarantee that the land offered to a prospective purchaser was what it was represented to be. There is one man in Melbourne who says that he is prepared to sell land adjoining the property that has been referred to in Western Australia for 10s. an acre.
– That does not necessarily mean that the other land is no good.
– The Minister has said that it is impossible for a man in Australia to . obtain land.
– Did I say that it was impossible to obtain land?
– The Minister said it was impossible to obtain holdings in this country unless the settler had capital.
– Exactly; that is so.
SenatorFOSTER.- If the land adjoining the property in Western Australia can be acquired by the Government for 10s. an acre, and if people are settled on it and left to put on their own improvements, it would not be tremendously expensive to the Government, nor would it require a large capita] by the immigrant. If there are Crown lands unoccupied it should be the policy of the Governments concerned to see that they are made available for settlers before they are brought to this country.
– I did not intend to speak on the Department now under consideration, but the pessimistic . and “Doubting Thomas “ attitude adopted by the Leader of the Senate on the question of immigration impels me to say a few words.
– Does the honorable senator say that it is pessimism to point out the task ahead of us?
– The Minister did more than that. He threw a number of pails of cold water upon an immigration scheme which, after listening to his remarks, I am convinced he has not had an opportunity of inquiring into. I refer to the scheme put forward by Sir Joseph Carruthers, which has been indorsed by every section of the public in New South Wales that has had an opportunity of hearing the scheme explained.
– It is indorsed by the New Settlers League.
– I have no doubt that Senator E. D. Millen has not had an opportunity of hearing Sir Joseph Carruthers, of reading the literature explaining the scheme, or of acquainting himself with its essential features. Listening to the honorable senator, one would suppose that Sir Joseph Carruthers and those supporting him in his magnificent ideal had proposed to place a million farmers on a million farms in a few weeks’ or in a few months’ time.
– I do not care whether it is weeks or months. What is proposed cannot be done for £30,000,000, and I do not regard it as pessimism to say so.
– The attitude adopted by the honorable senator shows that he does not know just what Sir Joseph Carruthers’ scheme is. He does not know that it is proposed to co-operate with the British Government in this matter.
– I know that Sir Joseph Carruthers’ scheme is. simply the scheme I put to the British Government six months ago, and I know their answer regarding it.
– The honorable senator may have put a scheme before the British Government six months ago, and they may not at that time have looked upon it with the friendly eye with which, according to all reports, they now regard the scheme put forward by Sir Joseph Carruthers. Senator E. D. Millen must be well’ aware that in New South Wales there are millions of acres of Crown lands available for settlement and which might be settled very easily and in a very economical way under a scheme operating over a series of years. It is not proposed by Sir Joseph Carruthers that large sums of money should be spent in the repurchase of estates already privately held. Look at Renmark and Mildura as schemes of settlement. There are two settlements on our greatest river carrying thousands of families and paying handsomely.
– Does the honorable senator know the history of those two places ?
– Could we start a Mildura without money?
– There is room for a thousand Milduras and Renmarks in Australia. There is plenty of land available for such settlements.
– There would be no market for the produce of the settlers.
– It would not be necessary that all those settled upon such areas should grow fruit. They might turn their energies to the production of other things. The land is available, also the water for irrigation purposes, and a market might be found for the produce from such areas.
– Can the honorable senator tell me how much capital per settler was required at Mildura?
– I am not in a position to say. It is proposed that Sir Joseph Carruthers’ scheme shall cover a period of years. It is further proposed that it shall be operated on the group system, and the settlers will assist each other in clearing the land. Half the capital required is to be found by the British Government.
– The British Government flatly declined to advance the capital, and gave me good reasons for their refusal.
– -So far as I know, the British Government have not declined to assist the Sir Joseph Carruthers’ scheme; .1 believe that they are prepared to .support that scheme.
– Sir Joseph Carruthers has never said that the British Government will support his scheme. He has only said that he should be sent to London to ask them to do so.
– I do not know whether the British Government will accede to his request or will decline to do so, but assistance from the British Government is an essential feature of .his scheme. The scheme is sound enough, and there is no reason why the British Government should not co-operate with Governments in Australia for the settlement of British people in this country. I believe that the scheme can be carried to fruition. The land is there, and the money to carry out the scheme will be available if the British Government will stand in with Australian Governments. It should not cost the enormous sum to Australia which Senator E. D. Millen seems to imagine it will. We should give every encouragement to a scheme of that sort. We should not say that it is impossible, and content ourselves with pointing out the difficulties which must be overcome. Difficulties have had to be overcome in the carrying out of every big national project. In my opinion, every credit is due to Sir Joseph Carruthers and those associated with him in his great scheme for the work they are proposing to do, and the magnificent enterprise it is proposed to display. I wish them,’.personally, all kinds of good luck, as it would be entirely in the best interests of Australia should such a scheme bc carried out, even to half the extent of success which those supporting it desire. If we can get half-a-million settlers on halfamillion farms, or a quarter of a million settlers on a quarter of a million farms, under the scheme, “wh’6 will then .say that it is a failure ? The ideal is a magnificent one, and though it may f all short of complete accomplishment something well worth while may be done under it, and that will be infinitely better than doing nothing because of this and that difficulty in the way. That is not .the spirit in which to deal with the great question of immigration and land development in this country. We ‘should have large ideals, and .should refrain from belittling those who are animated by large ideals.
Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) [410. - :I did not intend to speak on the immigration question , .at this juncture. I hoped to do so at a later stage, when considering the paltry amount set aside by the Government in the Budget for immigration. I regret the pessimistic tone of the remarks made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen). I am one of those optimistic Britishers and Australians who have a great faith in their country, but who, realize that at the present time we are living in a fool’s paradise, because we are occupying one of the largest and richest countries on the globe with a handful of five and a half millions of people, and are not able to defend ourselves. We must realize that in other countries facing the Pacific there are hundreds of millions of people of other races jostling each other for elbow room who must by force of circumstances cast their eyes to unoccupied land such as this. The great menace to Australia, to the peace of the world, and to our Empire at the present time is the fact that Australia is dangerously large, rich and empty. It is therefore to be regretted that any honorable senator should, make remarks which, rightly or wrongly, might be construed by people outside to indicate that immigrants are to be induced tei come to this ‘ country who will not do1 well when they come here.
– The honorable senator will permit me to say that I was pointing out only what it is necessary to doi to receive them.
– I agree with the Minister that a comprehensive scheme is essential. There must be co-operation between, the Federal and State Governments, and the sooner that is brought about the better. I do not think it right to adversely criticise the splendid ideal of Sir Joseph Carruthers. I happen to be a. member of the New Settlers League, which’ is doing good work in welcoming settlers to Australia, and also endeavouring ; to formulate some scheme in. support of Sir Joseph Carruthers’ proposals to encourage those of our own race to come to this country. I maintain that the present Federal Government since the war lost, a golden opportunity in not having a scheme of, immigration and land settlement ready, and in not advertising the certainty of success to those who will try their lot in Australia. We know that hundreds of thousands of ex-service men have emigrated from the Old Country to foreign lands, and we have lost that stream of most desirable settlers whom we should have encouraged and welcomed with open arms. I was very glad to see from the press that a steamer arrived in Melbourne only to-day with 1,200 Britishers, and I welcome them heartily. I am glad, to say that the New Settlers League is doing very good work, and it should be encouraged by all who believe in our Empire. I do not see how we can continue to hold Australia unless we take immediate . steps to vastly increase our papulation. I agree that it i3 of no use to bring people here to stand about in the already overcrowded cities of Melbourne and Sydney. A comprehensive scheme of land settlement and developmental work is essential. Provided that the money can be obtained at a reasonable rate, it does not matter how much we spend on reproductive works, especially in the conservation and distribution of water. By the locking of our great rivers we can throw open to settlement numerous valleys which will carry large numbers of settlers. I think that fruit-growing is overdone, but there are other forms of production in which settlers in the valleys of the Murray and Mumimbidgee might be engaged, and those valleys could accommodate a greater population than we have at present in the whole of’ Australia.
– Is the honorable senator pessimistic- when he says that fruit-growing is. overdone ? I think he is not.. I think he is a practical man, as I claim to- be, in pointing out the. difficulties in the way.
– That is right. We should be careful about what we do. It is of na use to say that we can grow more fruit, but there are many other products which new settlers might produce with great advantage to the country and for which there is a market in the northern hemisphere.
– Senator Duncan says that there is room foa: a thousand Milduras.
– Yes, but the new settlers need not necessarily grow fruit. Mildura, is one of the finest object lessons in closer settlement to be seen in any part of the world. It is a town of unexampled prosperity and happiness. I may remind honorable senators that the annual increase of population of some of the countries bordering the. Pacific and occupied by coloured races is more than the total population of Australia at the present time. This discussion was started, I think, by a suggestion from Senator Foll that Australia should be better advertised than it is. There is no doubt that that is so. It has been my sad experience, in visiting other parts of the world, to find that there were quite a number of persons who did not knew where Australia was, and that was because we have not spent sufficient or spent it wisely, in advertising the Commonwealth and its vast resources. I support the suggestion that ex-Imperial service men should be allotted land on the same terms and conditions as are granted to ex-Australian soldiers, because in “Victoria, at present, there is a surplus of suitable land. Only the other day the Closer Settlement Board threw open for allotment, sixty blocks on the Mount Bute estate), and fifty blocks on the Mount “Violet estate, making 110 blocks in all, only twenty of which, were taken up.
– Was it a question of price?
– No; the price was right. In Victoria, at least”, the demand by ex-soldiers has been more than satisfied, and efforts should, therefore, be made to allot land to ex-imperial , service men on conditions similar, to those offered to our own men. The other day some land was offered at Pura Pura, in- the Western District, and a number, of returned soldiers travelled by train with the intention of inspecting it. A. drag was supplied to convey them to the spot; but when they alighted at the railway station a gale of wind was blowing, and the men asked the stationmaster if it always blew like it was blowing that day? The official informed them that it was a very windy place, and the men returned without even inspecting the land. It would appear that they were out merely for a “ joy ride.” Land is available for grazing and wheat-growing; but areas suitable for dairying are not easily procurable, because the dairying industry is very prosperous at present. As the demand for land in Victoria has been largely met, I cannot see any reason why ex-Imperial service men should not be allowed to secure blocks under the conditions I have mentioned.
– The Victorian Government estimates that there are still 2,000 returned soldiers awaiting land.
– I do not believe that. It may be difficult to obtain certain kinds of land, particularly that suitable for dairying purposes, because the dairying industry is in a very prosperous state, and blocks which can be utilized for that purpose have been over-applied for.
– If an exsoldier requires a dairy farm, we cannot force him on to a block that is suitable only for wheat-growing.
– I know that. The ex-Imperial service men have fought for the Empire just as our own men have, and they should be considered and allowed to settle here under favorable conditions. This question has been discussed by the New Settlers’ League, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) dealt with the matter in an able manner last night. Every honorable senator realizes the grave danger of holding such a rich land, possessing great possibilities, and which is sparsely populated. The Mother Country has protected us for 150 years. Britons discovered _ Australia, and Great Britain has peopled and financed it. Until recent years, we have been depending- on Britain; but now we are led to believe that the Mother Country can no longer assist us, because she has been bled white, in consequence of the terrible war, and cannot now maintain a supreme fleet. It is only right, therefore, that we should do all we possibly can to encourage the people of our own race to settle in this great country, because if we do not do that we cannot hope to hold it, and we will be judged by others as being unworthy of such an inheritance.
– In the Prime Minister’s Department there is an amount under Miscellaneous” for a contribution of £9,000 towards the cost of the Secretariat of the League of Nations, and I desire the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) to explain what period that amount covers.
There is also an amount of £12,000 for a shipping mail service to the Pacific Islands, and I desire to know if the amount is a recurring one.
I did not intend to enter into the discussion on immigration; but I desire to disabuse the mind of Senator Duncan, who believes that Mildura ‘and Renmark are wonderful examples of what can be done by closer settlement. It is just as well to realize that the difficulties which may be experienced in connexion with an extensive policy of immigration occurred in the early days at Renmark and Mildura. Those who are acquainted with the position will recall that in both instances the Government were appealed to, and I believe that in the case of Renmark, South Australia had to pay, approximately, £200,000 to assist the settlement in the early days. It is quite feasible to believe, provided the funds are available, that .a. large number of people can be settled in the Commonwealth ; but it isimpossible to do> it without the expenditure of a very large sum of money. Wewould be very ill-advised if we launched out on an immense immigration scheme which had not sufficient financial backing to insure its success.
– The honorable senator will be regarded as a pessimist directly.
– I do not call one an optimist who ignores the difficulties that occurred in similar circumstances in the early days. We have only to revert to the early history of the places that are lauded to-day to find that the statement of the Minister is amply confirmed. I do not suggest that closer settlement at these places should not have been undertaken, or that they have not been a great success. We had similar experiences in connexion with the village settlements along the River Murray, which have been held up as shocking examples; but they paved the way for the present success that has been achieved in connexion with the irrigation schemes along the Murray.
– Chaffey Brothers’ efforts have never been acknowledged by the public as they should have been.
– The honorable senator is correct. If it had not been for the pertinacity manifested by the Chaffey Brothers success would not have been achieved. These men were far-seeing, and had absolute’ faith in the ultimate success of the work in which they were engaged. I believe, quite as firmly as Senator Guthrie does, that there is an absolute need to people the vacant spaces in Australia; but we must exercise discretion in doing so, because we must not overload those who are already here, and thus bring every one down.
– The more people there are the lighter will be the burden.
– It would be possible to settle many millions in Australia; but it is impracticable to make them all cultivators of the soil- without incurring the expenditure of many millions of pounds.
– If we did not provide for them we would “ settle” them in another way.
– If they are nob provided for they will be settled in an entirely different way. It is well known by those who ‘visited the village settlements that it was estimated that 10 acres were required to settle a man on orchard land, and that to cultivate the block and bring it up to the stage at which it would maintain a settler would mean an expenditure of at least £200 per acre.
– And in keeping with the Minister’s statement it would mean £2,000 per man.
– Yes, that is to. bring it up to the self-supporting stage. It is obvious, therefore, that it is equally expensive to settle a man agriculturally as to settle one horticulturally. If we are to do it in a proper way we must be prepared to shoulder heavy expenditure.
– It did not cost £2,000 per man to settle the Mallee farmers, and many of them have made a great success of the work.
– The conditions are not what they used to be, and I can look back many years and recall the day when settlers in one of the healthiest and most prosperous districts in Australia made a success of their undertakings after overcoming numerous obstacles. I can remember the case of a settler who took his family 300 miles from Adelaide in a covered spring dray; which held all his belongings. Immediately he arrived at his destination he started to work, and in less than twelve months rented a section of land from a farmer who was settled there, and who was unable to cultivate the portion he leased. The area was taken up by the new settler under a deferred-payment system, and he had to fence and clear a certain area in five years. He had no capital on which to operate, and was compelled to work elsewhere, whilst others cultivated the land for him. He continued for five years, and in that time had earned sufficient to purchase land elsewhere for himself. That is not done to-day.
– No. Men require ready-made farms with, a modern dwelling.
– What I have mentioned was done in the early pioneering days; but that is not the practice at present. It appears to be the« policy to establish a man on a well-stocked, uptodate farm with a modern plant and a commodious dwelling. The demand now is for men to be established on the land on an altogether different basis, and if we are to bring people from England to take up farm work with all the privileges now expected we shall have to shoulder a very big responsibity.
– I can assure Senator Guthrie that if there is good country available in Victoria, with a reasonable rainfall, and the returned soldiers do not want it, South Australia, will be very pleased to oblige him with a few of its returned soldiers who are still anxious to settle on the land. It is useless to bring men from the Old Country simply for the purpose of peopling Australia. Australia must be developed on agricultural lines. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has told us that the Commonwealth scheme has been turned down, but the Government should not be afraid to make a second attempt at solving the problem. It is important to remember that a returned soldier must have an up-to-date plant, and good stock, if he is to make a success of farming. It is useless to start him off with two or three old horses and a number of indifferent cows. When men take up land in our outside country they must have big areas, and a good banking account. If they are to make good, it is essential to have a fair rainfall, land of good quality, and capital. I believe that in South Australia it is reckoned that a sum in the vicinity of £3,000 is necessary to start a man on a. farm. One of the difficulties throughout the country districts is to secure farm labour. It is almost impossible to get domestic help, without which it is unreasonable to expect women to rear families, and submit to the drawbacks of country life. It seems to me that if we could provide a sufficient number of domestic helpers that would go a long way towards increasing production.
– I protest against any remarks of mine being interpreted as decrying Australia, belittling its possibilities, or introducing a note of pessimism. I yield to no one in my belief in this country, but we should not rush after a flighty ideal without recognising the practical difficulties in the way of its attainment.I ask the Committee to realize that we have been talking of immigration in Australia for fifty years. We have spoken of filling our empty spaces, and getting the right type of people, but we have done practically nothing, for the simple reason that we have not made preparation for immigrants before inviting them to come out. I ask. Senator Guthrie to say, from his practical experience, what sum is necessary for the equipment on small holdings of the various classes of farmers whom he has in mind.
– It must be done, but it takes money.
– Yes; and as the majority of the people coming here must be men with very little capital, it means that we shall have to find money for them., if we are to settle them on the land. If we bring them out from England without giving them, some preparation for rural life, we run a tremendous risk. They must be financed and acclimatized. It means time, organization, and money. That is what weare trying to do under the arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States. It is best for us to dispense with slogans, and get down to bedrock, as an individual would do in prosecuting his own business. I ask honorable senators to accept my assurance that I believe they are behind me in this matter; but many of them, who are not from rural districts, do not see- the opportunities as I do. I notice them everywhere, but, standing between the opportunities and the men we wish to invite to Australia, is the one need - preparatory work and capital. If we grapple with this question successfully we can ask people from overseas to become citizens of this country. Senator Senior has asked me what period is covered by the contribution to the cost of the Secretariat of the League of Nations. It is not possible to give the period, because the accounts do not come in quite regularly, but the sum of £9,000 represents about four months under the old scale. A scale more favorable to Australia has been adopted, and it will make our contribution less in future. The item “ Shipping and Mail Service to the Pacific Islands, £12,000 “ represents a period of three months.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £103,700.
– I think all honorable senators are endeavouring to do away with the duplication of services, particularly in regard to the collection of taxes. Some people seem pleased that the Taxation Office in Western Australia has been abolished, and thatin future the Federal Government will collect both the State and Federal taxes there. After I had spoken on the Budget the other day, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) paid me the compliment of replying to one or two of my statements, but he omitted to take notice of what I regarded as the most important one. I quoted a statement made by the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Barwell) some time ago, giving a comparison between the State Taxation Office in South Australia and the Federal Office there. Mr. Barwell said thatin the Federal Office there were more than twice as many officers, and the cost of the Department was considerably more than twice that of the South Australian office. I noticed astatement reported in the Adelaide Advertiser some days ago by the Treasurer (Mr. Ritchie),, who amplified what Mr. Barwell had said. Mr. Ritchie stated that in the Federal Taxation Office in Adelaide there were 156 officers, and they collected something like £639,211, while in the State Taxation Office there were only 40 officers, and they collected £662,324. That means that- there are practically four times as many officers in the Commonwealth. Taxation Office in Adelaide as there are in the State office.
– Either the Federal office has four times as much work to do as the State office, or- there are four times as many men as are required to do the work1.
– I am getting those figures analyzed. I know of lads in the Taxation Office to-day who are getting wages that are a disgrace to us.
– But this is a case of over-manning.
– Those are ex parte statements.
– They are statements made by responsible men, including both the Premier and the Treasurer of South Australia. Notwithstanding that the Federal officers in the Taxation Department of that State are nearly four times greater in number than the officers in the State Taxation Department, they have to deal with a considerably less number of taxpayers. I hope the Minister will note what I have said, and vouchsafe some explanation.
.- I am pleased that Senator Vardon has brought this matter under the notice of the Minister (Senator Russell). I desire to supplement what he has said. I remind the Minister that, while the estimated revenue for this year from taxation is not quite 3 per cent, more than was. received last year, the estimated cost of the Department is 18 per cent, above last year’s expenditure.
– Is that for Australia as a whole?
– Yes. I obtained these figures a few evenings ago. At a later stage, I hope to have an opportunity of enlarging upon this matter. I mention it now in order to give the Minister an opportunity to obtain information to place before honorable senators when the Estimates* are being discussed.
– I understand that the taxation officials are a long way behind in their collections.
– But an increase of over 18 per cent, on the expenditure of last year seems, to be out of all. proportion.
– It must not be forgotten that some portion of that amount is due to increased wages, as the result of Arbitration Court awards..
– Some proportion, no doubt. But the Minister should make an investigation, and supply honorable senators with the information I have asked for in order to allay any feeling there may be outside this Parliament, especially among those who have to find the wherewithal to pay, that extravagance is being indulged in.
I desire now to mention another matter, namely, the administration of the Act for the payment of maternity allowances. The people are expecting some pronouncement by the Government as to future operations of this particular, branch of the Treasury Department. The time- has arrived, in the opinion of the majority of the people, for the Government to set their house in order. The Act which was passed several years ago was more or less in the nature of an experiment, those who supported it expressing the hope that the expenditure of such a large sum of money would be of material benefit to the community.
– Is the honorable senator advocating the abolition of the allowance ?
– I have never advocated that. Surely any honorable senator may criticise the administration of a Department without laying himself open to the charge of being an opponent of the principle ?
– The money is being paid as Parliament intended it to be paid - £5 to each mother.
– Yes; but I think that the experience of the Commonwealth has been a very painful one. I am glad to know that, in the majority of cases, the payment of the maternity allowance has afforded valuable aid to the mother and child, but in a large number of cases, the minority it is true, it has been paid to people in comfortable circumstances, and who have no need whatever of any assistance of this nature-. I. am. not opposed to the principle of giving assistance in cases where it is needed. If this £5, which is paid on the advent of every new immigrant to Australia, is not sufficient to meet the needs of any particular case, I would advocate making the amount £10.
– Do you. not think that every Australian baby is worth £5 ?
– I think good Australian babies are worth much more than that. But that is not the point of my argument. We are spending something like £750,000 per annum in maternity allowances. What for t
– It is a pity we are not’ spending a couple of million pounds per year, because it would mean so many extra babies for the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator would be quite right if, by the expenditure of that extra money upon the advent of so many more good Australian immigrants, we could also guarantee a reduction of infantile mortality. In such, circumstances it would be money well spent. I am opposed to the payment of this allowance irrespective of whether the recipients require assistance or not for the child. At present it is paid without discrimination. The intention of the Act waa to insure proper medical care and attention for the mother and child, but when it is paid to people in comfortable financial circumstances it is not serving its true purpose. Why should I, as one individual in the community, have to put my hand into my pocket and help to pay a maternity allowance to people who have no need of this assistance? I know it has been said that any attempt to confine the payment of this allowance to certain sections of people only would mean an inquisitorial investigation into the circumstances of the applicant. But do those who raise this objection forget that every application for an old-age or invalid pension means an inquisitorial investigation in order that the Department may be assured that the income of the applicant does not exceed a certain amount, and a very small sum at that? If it is fair for an inquiry to be made concerning any application for a pension, what objection can there be to a similar investigation prior to the payment of a maternity allowance? I want to make my position quite clear. I am not standing as an opponent to the continuance of the bonus. I am an advocate of its continuance, and, if necessary, I would have it made more liberal in certain cases. But I am not an advocate of its payment to people who do not need it. I think that the whole matter should be thoroughly investigated. We might get better results by making portion of the money available for the maintenance of some bush nursing scheme or the establishment of clinics, which might be helpful to the mother and child, and in necessitous cases it might be advisable to pay a sum exceeding £5. I am entirely opposed to the payment of this allowance for all time to people who have plenty of this world’s goods, and, therefore, have no need to dip into the pockets of the taxpayers, and take something with which, perhaps, to buy a present for the mother or child. We should see to it that the mother and child get the requisite attention, and endeavour, so far as possible, to reduce the infantile mortality rate. I intend, on every opportunity that presents itself, to protest against a continuance of the present system. There is more than .a modicum of truth in the statement that practically every mother claims the bonus to-day. There are, I believe, a few exceptions, but the great bulk of those who are well able to meet all maternity expenses lodge their claims with the rest, and receive it. This is not in accordance with the principle underlying the proposal.
– Upon the payment of maternity allowances, I differ somewhat from Senator Payne. From what I have been told by persons who are closely in touch with those mothers who are really in necessitous circumstances, and whom the bonus was intended to benefit, it is clear that the intention of the Act is not being carried out. Instead of the bonus being earmarked for the special benefit of the mother and child at lie birth of the child, in the majority of cases it is devoted to other needs.’ For example, ‘the husband, if he happens to be a drunken waster, gets it and spends it. It seems to me that the administration of the Act requires radical review. In no circumstances should the actual cash be handed over to the applicant. The Act ought to be administered in such a way as to insure proper medical attention for the mother and child at the birth, and there should be some provision for clothing for the child, I noticed in a report of the Children’s Hospital the other day that, notwithstanding the payment of the maternity allowance to all mothers, some of the children have been taken from the hospital with a piece of old blanket wrapped around them, and exposed to a tram ride in bitterly cold weather, with the result that pneumonia frequently supervenes and results in the early death of the child. I therefore suggest to the Governmen t that it should be disbursed through some organization which will insure that the amount of the bonus is properly spent, and that its benefits reach the proper destination. So long as the Act remains in force as it exists at present I shall not quarrel with the distribution of the bonus, no matter what may be the positions of those who apply for it. The bonus was offered deliberately to all, without distinction. The nature of that provision was, in my opinion, wrong. It should have been limited to mothers in necessitous circumstances. A change shouldbe made in that direction, and also the distribution should be through some charitable or philanthropic organization which could furnish, in each instance, medical attention to mother and child, and any other necessary assistance at the time.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Attorney General’s Department (£13,143), agreed to.
Home and Territories Department.
Proposed vote, £66,368.
– In connexion with the Home and Territories Department an item of £7,500 is set down towards the expenses of administration in Papua. I desire to deal with the subject-matter of a question asked by Senator Elliott to-day, as follows : -
Has the Governmentyet decided upon the policy it is to follow regarding the expropriated German properties in New Guinea, and when may a statement in regard thereto be expected to be made?
The Ministerial answer stated -
No. It has been decided, however, to sell the trading assets of the four large German companies in the Territory, namely, the New Guinea Company, H.S.A.G., Hernsheim and Company, and Norddeutseher-Lloyd, and the necessary data is now being collected with a view to inviting tenders throughout the Commonwealth for the purchase of the trading concerns.
The Commonwealth authorities have organized, and are running a concern known as the New Guinea Trade Agency, which has its head Australian office in Sydney. I wish to know if the reply furnished to-day means that the business being conducted by that Government agency is to be sold by tender to private concerns in the Commonwealth. The agency is purchasing the whole of the supplies required by the Government Departments and by the returned soldier settlers and other residents who may order Australian articles, and it is also selling in Australia the products of the Territory of New Guinea. I have had an opportunity to inquire into the ramifications of the agency, and I can say that, while there is a great deal to commend it in its work, and while I have nothing to say against the manner in which it is being conducted, particularly seeing that the agency is making thousands of pounds per annum, with the promise of its developing into one of the most prosperous trading concerns with which the Government are associated, limitations are being placed upon its activities, so that it is materially handicapped. The agency sells the copra, which is the principal product, and the money is remitted to the Territory.
– The Government own the four main German stores there, and I do not see why agents should be permitted to come in and make competitive profits. That remark applies, however, only to the Mandated Territories, and not to British Papua.
– But this agency is selling the products of the Papuan plantations on behalf of the Government.
– I do not think that the Government are interfering with trade in any way in British Papua.
– The term “ agency “ is a misnomer, because it is actually a Commonwealth service or activity. Its acting manager, Mr. Neill, knows his work well, and is doing his enthusiastic best, but the agency is not being given a fair chance.
– Very few sales of copra are being made to-day.
– There are big sales.
– The quotation has dropped from £40 to about £15.
– Only this week I saw a contract in respect of sales of copra, and the net price was £21 odd. Copra is bought and sold in Sydney at world’s parity prices1. One would suppose that the Government, having appointed an officer, and having made him responsible for the s*le of the whole of the produce- of the Mandated Territories, would undertake that he should be kept in touch with the world’s prices. The truth is, however, that if the manager wants to ascertain the parity he has to go to the only competitor of the Government, so far as copra is concerned - I refer to Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company - in order to ascertain the price. And his position is rendered the more unhappy in that this firm is frequently the one with which he is conducting a sale.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to prove that?
– I am prepared to prove every word. The conditions are not fair to a trusted and valuable officer. He should be provided with, necessary information to enable him to successfully compete with the Commonwealth Government’s competitors.
– 1 am surprised to hear the honorable senator’s comments, because the manager is a trusted officer who was sent around the world, examining documents and probing various conditions, to see that the Government were not being cheated through the Customs,
- Mr. Neill is one of the best officers in the service of the. Government.
– Has the honorable senator seen his instructions ?
– 1 am prepared to tell the Minister in private the full facts of the position; but it is wrong that this official should not be kept in touch with the world’s quotations for copra day by day. With regard to the purchase of supplies through this agency of the Government, it ought to be possible for the Administration of Papua to advise at least three months beforehand concerning the nature and extent of their requirements.
Mr. Neill would thus be given an opportunity to make inquiries with various firms and, if necessary, in various States, in order to get the very best quotations possible. But he is asked to forward a shipment, for example, of necessary medical supplies and chemicals, and he has only a few hours in which to make the purchases.
– But I suppose that he has had all. the prices tabulated months beforehand.
– As the Minister should know, the prices of these commodities vary from week to week, and often from day to day. If the officer in charge could be given longer notice of requirements, hundreds of pounds would be saved in the purchase of supplies.
– Is the honorable senator referring both to British Papua and to the Mandated Territories generally?
– My references are to the Territory, or Territories, for which the agency purchases its requirements. I know that Mr. Neill makes very considerable purchases, and that the agency is placed in such circumstances that it often has to pay very much higher prices than necesssary. That, I repeat, is due entirely to the system under which it is worked. It is not fair to the agency or to the officer in charge. The concern is making thousands of pounds per annum for the Government, but it would be possible for it to give still better results if conducted along lines of commercial intelligence and common sense.
– I wish to impress on the Government the vital necessity of hastening a pronouncement of policy with respect to the Mandated Territories. There are, to my knowledge, several parties of ex-soldiers who have been waiting for eight months and longer for permission to proceed to the Territories to prospect their timber and other resources. Certain promises that were held out to them, led them to believe that the policy of the Government would be definitely pronounced soon. Time has gone on, and they are sick, tired, and disgusted with the whole thing. The delay has given opportunities for other people to float companies. I know of one company which holds out definitely to proposed shareholders that the promoters have been to the Territories and have spied out the land. In the usm I manner of prospectuses, fortunes are promised to those who subscribe.
– I wish, the honorable senator would be specific, and give me the name of the companies that have been formed.
– I think the Minister will find that information in an answer given to a question asked in the Senate to-day. The Minister has definitely pronounced that the companies have no concession. That may put a spoke in their wheel. It is necessary for the protection of the public, and for the encouragement of the returned soldiers, who are anxious to pioneer the country, that the Government’s policy should be pronounced as soon as possible.
– To pronounce .the Government’s policy is not quite so easy as the honorable senator may imagine. I have ‘had a staff working on ten Ordinances for at least the last three months. For the past fortnight, “because of circumstances over which the Government has no control - a want .of confidence motion in the other House - no public business has been done. The Ordinances are complete, and are awaiting only Cabinet’s approval. In regard to the criticisms put forward by Senator Duncan, the Commonwealth Government took over the stores in the Mandated Territories. The position in Papua, I think, is different; it is under the control of the Home and Territories Department. When the Government took over the stores in the Mandated Territories, it found an army of fleecers putting up the prices. Practically two merchants in Sydney did all the business in Government stores. The Government stopped them, as any honest Government ought to have done. It established its own wholesale buying agency. At that time no population was allowed to go there, and the Government had to carry the responsibility of feeding the army. When the Government took over the stores it was itself a victim of the people who charged excessive prices.
– The Government has done good work.
– Senator- Duncan has referred to Mr. Neill, but I understand that the agency is controlled by
Mr. Harvey, who is temporarily in Rabaul. The action of the Government has effected a wonderful improvement; goods of a- better quality have since been obtainable at a cheaper price. For what has been done, I, as the Minister administering that branch, take the full responsibility. I know nothing of the position in Papua. Statements have ‘been made that certain companies were allowed to be formed. I do not know of any company that was .permitted to be formed. They have been prohibited from forming until the time when every man will get an equal opportunity. ‘ The mining Ordinances are ready subject to approval, which should be granted in a few days. Then all people will nave an opportunity to go to the Territory of New Guinea and engage in mining under equal conditions. The Government has been particularly hard and rough on the man who wanted tr- get in in advance. There are keener men than returned soldiers in Australia who desire to get in first. The Government wants to be able to say to every man and every woman that all will have an equal chance. I do not want to commit ‘the Government definitely, but I think that, in a fortnight or three weeks, the Territory will be ready for occupation. The Ordinances will include every form of activity. I do not think they will deal with oil.
– Has not the Government a special agreement! with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in regard to oil?
– Yes. The company is operating now.
– ‘Will prospecting for minerals other than oil be permitted?
– I think there will be all the ordinary Ordinances. They will be based largely on the lines of those operating in Papua, and should be proclaimed and gazetted within a fortnight. They will come into operation immediately they are proclaimed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £229,200.
.- I would like to take this opportunity to refer to a document which was laid on the .table of the Senate yesterday, and was reported in the press as ‘being explanatory of the Defence Estimates. It sets forth, amongst other things, that the Defence Department is establishing a research factory, and is going to spend a large amount of money in that direction and on ordnance stores. I would like to ask whether this Supply Bill commits senators in any way to that policy, or whether the Department will wait until the Estimates havebeen before Parliament and formal approval of the Government’s policy has been obtained.
– I am assured that there is no such item in the Bill as that to which the honorable senator refers.
– If we pass this Bill, I take it that we shall not be committing ourselves to the policy of the Government ?
– The question will have to come up on the Estimates. The Bill now beforethe Committee relates only to monthly supplies, and everything in it has been approved by Parliament.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Navy (£257,805), Department of the Navy and Defence (Air Services) (£7,650), Department of Trade and Customs (£93,010), and Department of ‘Works and Railways (£103,985), agreed to.
Proposed vote, £967,705.
– I understand that some alteration has been made in the day on which the English mails are brought over the East- West railway line. I believe that the change means putting the whole of the South Australian trunk line service into full operation. I have been informed that receiving the mails one day earlier will mean an additional cost of about £50,000 to the Commonwealth Government. I would like to ask the Minister whether that is correct.
– As I understand it, the complaint arises because of the inconvenient times at which the South Australian Government ran their trains. This caused a difficulty in handling the mails. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) returned from England he had to remain in Perth for 24 hours, because there was no train connecting with the boat. The train should depart within an hour or two of the arrival of the mail boat. I do not think the honorable senator is acquainted with the whole of the facts. The Government is trying to remedy the difficulty, so that mails will not be held up for 24 hours or more inFremantle.
– Senator Rowell may not, have the correct facts, but he has hold of the right end of the stick regarding the extra cost.
– That may be so. There are statements in the newspapers on the subject to-day, but I hope honorable senators will not accept them with- ‘ out reservation. I will ascertain the whole of the facts and place them before the Senate.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health (£9,950) agreed to.
Proposed vote, £430,929.
– I would like to hear the Minister’s “explanation regarding the item “ Expeditionary Forces, £100,000.” I thought that the Expeditionary Forces were now all at home.
– I think that this item refers to expenditure in the Old Country, and is probably the result of a cleaning up of the books there.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Refunds of Revenue (£150,000) and Advance to Treasurer (£250,000) agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 9th November, vide page 12517) :
Clauses 58 to 63 agreed to.
Clause 64 -
If an officer appears to the Board, after report from the Chief Officer, to be inefficient or incompetent or unfit to discharge or incapable of discharging the “duties of his office efficiently, the Board may retire the officer from the Commonwealth Service from a date to be specifiedby the Board, or may transfer him to some other position, with salary appropriate to such other position.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That after the word “Officer,” line 2, the words “ and full inquiry “ be inserted.
.- It seems to me that this clause will put the Board entirely in the hands of the head of the Department. The Board, having gone through the Department carefully and come to the conclusion that a certain officer is inefficient, incompetent, or incapable of discharging the duties of his office, will be absolutely helpless to get rid of him if the head of the Department does not choose to report to the Board that he is inefficient. That is certainly not desirable. If the Board is to have any power to make improvements in the Service, it must be permitted to form its own judgment of the capacity or incapacity of officers, and to dispense with their services if they are incapable.
– I do not see what is the use of the Board if it has not that power.
– That is the point I am endeavouring to make. I hope that the Minister (Senator Russell) will consider carefully the. effect of the amendment he has proposed.
.- I agree entirely with Senator Elliott. I should prefer to strike out the words “ after report from the chief officer,” and to make the clause read -
If an officer appears to the Board to be inefficient or incompetent, or unfit to discharge, or incapable of discharging the duties of his office efficiently, the Board may retire- and so on. The whole purpose of the appointment of the Board is to see that the Public Service shall be carried on economically and on business lines. It has been proposed as the result of a considerable amount of inquiry, and many reports submitted to Parliament. There has also been a demand from many quarters that the Public Service should bo placed on a business basis as far as possible.
– Does the honorable senator think that if one of his staff is inefficient, the head of a Department should not report the matter to the Board?
– Unquestionably it should be the duty of the head of a Department to report any incompetent officer to the Board; but there is no use in saying that the Board shall not get rid of an incompetent man unless the -head of the Department has first reported his incompetency. The Board should be able to get rid of him whether the head of the Department reports his incompetence or not. Under the clause the Board may not move in such a matter unless a report from the chief officer has previously been received. If the clause were amended as I suggest, that should not relieve the head of a Department of the duty of reporting an incompetent officer. If the Board is to be anything more than mere “ eyewash “ and something proposed to appease a public demand, it must be given power to take action without waiting for a report from the head of a Department.
– I am prepared to accept the. amendment suggested by Senator DrakeBrockman, and will ask leave to withdraw my amendment to enable it to be made.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the words “ after report from the Chief Officer” be left out.
– I have had brought under my notice the possibility of a public servant suffering injustice if the clause is permitted to remain as it stands. . It has been pointed out to me, that if the Board find that an officer is inefficient, he may be dismissed from the Service, or may be reduced to a lower grade. If his reduction to a lower grade, carrying a lower salary, should take place within a year or two of his having reached the age of retirement, he might lose very heavily. It is possible that his inefficiency might be due to no fault of his own. All men do not retain their mental vigour for the same period. One man may be as mentally competent at sixty as at fifty years of age, whilst another at fifty-five years of age may have lost much of his mental vigour. It is suggested that where a man has been reduced to a lower grade, because of inefficiency due to no fault of his own, he should, on retirement, have to his credit the term he served in a higher grade.
– And why not the wages also; following up the honorable senator’s argument ?
– It might often be better to continue the employment of a public servant who had become inefficient through -the cause I have suggested in a lower grade than to compel his retirement.
– If he is paid at the rate of the lower grade, why should he have the privileges of a higher grade 1
– A man may have done faithful service in the employment of a State and of the Commonwealth for thirty-five years, and, then, just before reaching the retiring age, he may be reduced to a lower grade because of inefficiency, due to circumstances over which he had no control.
– The honorable senator should givethe Board credit for a certain amount of “ savvy.”
– The Board would have no control over the treatment of an officer after his retirement.
– I understand that if a man is reduced to a lower grade within two or three years of his reaching the age of retirement his furlough and other privileges, on retirement, are based upon what he received prior to his reduction.
– That is what I am suggesting should be done. It seems unjust that a man reduced to a lower grade, for the reasons I have stated, within a few years of his retirement should have his privileges, upon retirement diminished because of his reduction in grade.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 65 (Leave of absence for recreation).
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be inserted after sub-clause ( 1 ) : - “(1a) In granting leave of absence for recreation, the Chief Officer may, in determining the duration of the leave to be granted in any year to an officer under the last preceding subsection, take into consideration any prolonged period during which that officer was absent from duty in that year.”
The proposed new sub-clause, of course, refers to what may be termed unauthorized absence, or to the absence of officers who may be away without permis-. sion.
– Is an officer allowed to be absent from duty without permission?
– Yes, in the case of sickness ; but if he abuses that privilege and remains away longer than is necessary, the time will be deducted from the leave to be granted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The Chief Officer may grant leave of absence with pay to any representative of an organization required to attend a conference called by the Arbitrator under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920.
. - I move -
That the words “a conference called by” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ any proceeding before “.
As honorable senators are aware, a Commonwealth Public Service Arbitration Court has been established, and when an organization desires its representative to prepare its case and attend the Court, that officer loses a certain amount of time and pay ; and we propose to grant such officer sufficient time, on full pay, in which to prepare a case for submission to the Court. There are ample restrictions to prevent any abuse of this privilege; and, as it is necessary, in the interests of the Department, to allow representatives sufficient time in which to do this work, I trust the Committee will agree to the amendment. Many of these men work in an honorary capacity, and, in such circumstances, I do not think their pay should be deducted during the period they are absent from duty.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following new sub-clauses be added:- “(2) The Chief Officer may grant leave of absence without pay, for such periods as are prescribed, to any representative of an organization for the purpose of the preparation of evidence* for submission on behalf of the: organization in any such proceeding.
The periods during which any officer -
is absent on leave granted pursuant to the last preceding sub-section; or section, absent on leave without pay in connexion with any proceeding before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or the Arbitrator, to which his organization was a . party, shall for all purposes be included as part of the officer’s period of service.”
A public servant who is capable of appearing in the Arbitration Courts should not be penalized, particularly as the work on which he may be engaged may occupy only a few hours, perhaps, every two or three years.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 67 -
– I move -
That the words “ shall forthwith “ in subclause 2 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “may”.
The sub-clause provides that if an officer, is ill for an extended period, and is unable to return to his duties, the Board may recommend the granting of an additional six months’ leave. That is only fair to an officer who has spent a long period in the Service. If at the expiration of this further leave the officer is still unable to resume his duties he may be retired.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the following words be added to subclause 2 : - “ and may direct that the retirement shall have effect as on the date of the expiration of any such further leave.”
That sub-clauses (3) and (5) be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the words “ Unless otherwise directed by the Board” be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 69 -
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia [5.59]. - I submit that leave of absence should be granted to an officer for whatever period he may be called up for in pursuance of the Defence Act. Why a limitation of twelve months should be imposed, and the matter left to thediscretion of anybody, I do not know. If any officer is called up under the Defence Act, he must serve in the Forces, and for the whole of the period leave should automatically be granted. If we ever had another war, which necessitated an Expeditionary Force being sent out of Australia, a provision identical with this should apply. We know that the Defence Act does not contemplate men being called up for service abroad, but provision should be made for any person joining an Expeditionary Force, authorized by Parliament, to be granted leave of absence as a matter of course, without the leave having to be sanctioned by any other authority. I wish to move -
That the words “ for a period, which shall not, unless the Board otherwise directs, exceed twelve months, may “, in sub-clause 2, be left out with a view to insert the word “ shall “.
– There seems to have been a mistake. No reference was made to overseas service, because formerly officers were granted leave for the full period of the war by the Act.
– Not by the Act, but by the grace of the present Government.
– They were granted full leave, and their service was counted as continuous. With the idea of having it clearly expressed that the previous practice shall be continued, I move -
That the clause he postponed.
Motion agreed to.
Provided that an officer shallnot be granted leave of absence to exceed a continuous period of twelve months at any one time.
– I move -
That the word “salary” (first occurring) in sub-clause 1 be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “pay”.
– What is the difference between pay and salary?
– There is a great deal of difference. Whatever an officer receives in lieu of, or in addition to, salary is pay. Salary would be the total amount received in cash, but pay includes certain privileges which are taken into consideration as part of an officer’s remuneration. Salary simply means the cash payment for services rendered. An officer does not receive salary if he is on sick pay. In many instances officers receive so much in salary, and also allowances in the form of fuel and light.
– Those are allowances.
– But those privileges are counted in fixing the salaries. Officers in South Australia, who were transferred from the State to the Commonwealth, had a number of privileges which they had to forfeit, and that is equivalent to a reduction of pay.
– They get allowances because they go to certain districts.
– No. The allowances are part of the pay. A postmaster in South Australia prior to 1900 received so much salary and quarters, as well as light and fuel. He got a certain commission on money received, by him on behalf of the State Savings Bank. Those additional amounts were not part of the direct salary. I want the privileges, which go to make up the salary, to be counted as pay.
– If a man is absent on leave, on full pay, do you contend that the coal and lighting allowance should be made up to him?
– An officer would howl about it if his leave was taken away.
– As part of his duties, he is supposed to be the servant of his Department, even when he is on leave. Would the honorable senator like his parliamentary allowance to be stopped if he were absent?
– I would be delighted if I did not get another cheque for my parliamentary duties. It would be better if none of us received payment.
– The honorable senator saysthat because he has other means of livelihood; but senators who devote the whole of their time to their parliamentary duties cannot be expected to bold that view. The difference between the salary an officer receives and the full amount of his pay is considered in connexion with seniority when promotions are to be made;
– Does not a man who is supplied with quarters receive the same sum as is provided under his classification, and does he not have a certain sum deducted for his quarters?
– There are some cases where privileges are granted because of the position in which an officer is located. A person transferred to the Northern Territory may be regarded as receiving a certain salary, whereas, in addition to that salary, he is enjoying certain privileges for being in a remote part of the Commonwealth.
– He receives privileges because he has been sent to the Northern Territory.
– In considering promotion, privileges should be counted in conjunction with salary.
– Would you add to that pay the value of the house in which an officer may be living?
– The salary only wouldbe calculated.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the words “ Governor-General may on the recommendation of the Board”, sub-clause (1), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Board may “.
Amendment (by Senator Senior) proposed -
That the word “ salary “, first occurring in sub-clause (1), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ pay “.
.- I can go with Senator Senior up to a point, but no further. Certain public servants receive allowances which are the equivalent of pay. These allowances, I think, should be taken into consideration in connexion with furlough pay.
– Ordinary allowances are not affected, because 7 per cent. of the value of salary is deducted where living quarters are provided. During the war, cost-of-living allowances, instead of increased salaries, were authorized in order to enable public servants to meet the abnormal advance in living costs. When the cost of living comes down, these allowances must be reviewed.
– I agree with Senator Senior that the allowances mentioned by the Minister ought to be regarded as salary.
– But these allowances will not be continued indefinitely.
– That is an entirely different question. I am glad to know that the Government purpose reviewing them from time to time; but while costofliving allowances are being paid, they should be regarded as salary. This is the position : Public servants were in receipt of a certain pay under normal conditions, and during the war the Government, believing that they should receive a fair salary in order to live decently, authorized the payment of allowances to meet the higher cost of living. What is the difference? If a man is paid £168 per annum, plus £62 per annum cost-of-living allowance, he gets £230 per year for certain services rendered to the Commonwealth. i maintain that, actually, he is in receipt of a salary of £230 per year. The Minister may call it what he likes - pay, salary, or allowances. a caretaker of a public building receiving £200 a year, with house, fuel, and lighting free, is in a totally different category. When he is on furlough, he is still entitled to the use of the house and the enjoyment of the other privileges mentioned. That is where i differ from Senator Senior. Those allowances should not be taken into account; but where the cost-of-living allowance is really equivalent to an increase in salary to meet the abnormal conditions of the times, it should be taken into consideration when furlough is granted, because a member of the Public Service on furlough still has to maintain his wife and family. Therefore, he should suffer no deduction. i take it that the good sense of the Committee will accept this interpretation of the term “salary”.
Progress reported. special adjournment.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11.30 a.m. to-morrow (Friday).
Senate adjourned at 6.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 November 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211110_senate_8_97/>.