8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Statement by Minister for Repatriation.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if it is his intention, before the session closes, to make a statement regarding the operations of the War Service Homes Commission.
– I look for an opportunity to do so when the Estimates covering that Department are reached.
Carriage of Mails to Vancouver
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice-
– T - The answer supplied is - 1 and 2. There is no contract for the conveyance of mails between the Commonwealth and Vancouver.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That Senator John D. Millen be appointed to fill the vacancy at present existing on the Library Committee.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That standing orderNo.68 be suspended up to and including Saturday, the 10th instant, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past ten o’clock at night.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th December, vide page 13781) :
Department of Defence - Military.
Proposed vote, £1,623,000.
.- The debate on the Estimates for this Department so far has shown some considerable differences of opinion with regard to our present system. The Defence Department was created for, and charged with, the defence of this country. Being a small community, with a very large area to defend, we are naturally unable to bear the financialburden of providing what might be regarded as a sufficient, if not necessary, force for that purpose. That being so, it seems to me that the obvious thing to do is to direct our efforts to the consideration of matters essential to the defence of the Commonwealth. What are the essentials of our defence? One might say that the first essential is man power. We have that, equal in quality to any tobe found in any part of the world. The next essential is elementary equipment of that man power. Previous discussions have shown that we are not so well provided in that respect. The efforts of the Department and the resources at its command should be directed to furnishing, as far as possible, our man power with the means of carrying out the duties with which it is charged. The next essential is the creation of a nucleus of technical branches so necessary in the co-ordination, administration, and management of large bodies of men. Are we provided with these? A statement was made yesterday to the effect that the Defence Department is topheavy, and it was suggested that it is not desirable that we should have such high commands as have been created recently. There is a very informative account of the Military Forces of this country to be found in the report for this year of the Inspector-General of the Forces. He sets out in detail how we have arrived at our present state of organization. First of all, he says that at the beginning of the Commonwealth the problem was to amalgamate the six different defence schemes existing in the States. That was undertaken by Sir Edward Hutton. The second phase arose in 1911, when the universal training system was introduced. The present stage, which the InspectorGeneral speaks of as the third stage, is that of 1920-21, when following a Conference of all the senior officers in Australia, who had taken an active and important part in the great war, it was decided to adopt the present system, which consists in organizing units on the lines of the Australian Imperial Force formation, based on experience gained in the war. Thus, we have, to-day, an organization of two divisions of cavalry and five other divisions. It is true that the organization is largely nominal, but the commands have been created; and, advisedly so, if it were only for the reason that there has been created a position which is very desirable. Centralization has always been a great disadvantage under our military organization. This decentralization will throw new responsibilities on many more capable officers. I rather think, therefore, that the move is one in the right direction. The higher units and their organized staffs can be availed of to provide an all-essential trained nucleus.
I support the principle of the universal military training of our manhood, but I have always strongly opposed the military training of youths between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. In my view, such training is of no military value. It is not an asset to the Defence Department as a factor in its military responsibilities. It is really a burden, in that it places upon the Department the task of doing a great many things which are not within its ambit; that is to say, which are not compassed in its responsibility for the defence of this country. The Department has a big enough burden, and a tremendous responsibility. It should confute its efforts to the mobilization, equipment, and training of Australia’s manhood, rather than dissipate its energies, its time, and public money in the training of lads.
– But the honorable senator approves of the cadet system, just the same?
– I - I do, in a modified form; that is to say, carried out through other organizations; through the Education Department, for instance. Never have finer results been secured than were gained by the Education Departments of the various States in the training of school boys.
– But what should be done with the lads who have left school and are between the ages of fourteen and eighteen ?
– In that critical period of their lives they have a very serious matter to decide for themselves.’ I refer to the question of the business which they will adopt as a means of obtaining a livelihood. The cadet system has considerably interfered with, thousands! of lads whose interest and attention should have been turned in a more profitable direction. I remind honorable senators of the desire and intention of most of the States to encourage and expand technical education. Where the young lads of Australia who have left school cannot be reached in the day-time, the advantages of technical education are being widely offered to them at night. There should be no inducements or excuses afforded to youths to get away from these opportunities, which can be made so potent an influence upon their careers. I say that with special emphasis, having just expressed the opinion that the military training of our lads is of no military advantage or value to the Defence Department. In his report, the InspectorGeneral refers to the fact that the Department is short of sixty-seven instructors to-day. He deals with the results of his inspections, and states that he placed under the heading of “ Satisfactory “ only 31 per cent, of the trainees whom he inspected; under the heading of “Fairly satisfactory,” 44 per cent.; and, as “Unsatisfactory,” 25 per cent. There was not a greater percentage of satisfactory returns because of the shortage of instructional staff. Another factor had to do with changes of staff, and two other considerations were lack of supervision and want of knowledge - both due, really, to the initial shortage of instructors. The Inspector-General explains that, since the Armistice, a number of the best instructors have been promoted to positions which have taken them immediately out of the sphere of direct instructional work; for which reason it has been necessary to increase the Instructional Staff by the establishment of training schools, and the appointment of virtual recruits. A military instructor cannot be turned out in a few months, or a few years. His training involves a long process. An old Army Service man explained to me how instructors were trained in the British Army. It would take a man from three months to six months, first of all, to have his voice trained to the enunciation of words of command. He would begin at a distance of ten yards, and would have to go back gradually as far as 200 yards, merely calling words of command at ever increasing distances. Every week or fortnight his voice would be virtually torn to pieces, and he would be put in hospital until he had recovered. Then he would have to start again, until he was cured. That kind of preparation cannot be undertaken in the Australian Forces. A drill instructor in the British Army is a perfected machine. Certain schools of instruction have been established here, but more money might well be spent in that direction. There is an item of £173,800 provided for the Senior and Junior Cadet training which, to my mind, might with very great advantage, both to the Defence Department and to the people generally, be devoted to a more useful pur-, pose. It is not possible to do anything in that direction on the present occasion ; but I earnestly suggest that the Government should reconsider the question in the ligiht of our great financial burden, and review the matter of Senior and Junior Cadet training with a view to, possibly, applying the money now spent upon it more advantageously.
– It seems to me that the compulsory training for youths, especially between the ages of 14 and 18 years, is of very little value. I am not speaking with regard to the report of the InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces, but as a result of what I see myself. Very often I fear there is a considerable lack of discipline rather tihan an Miculcation of discipline among the lads? When passing the parade grounds in the various States one notices very different conduct from what was customarily observed years ago. The boys appear to be having a frolic, and making . a farce of their training. This seems a serious waste of time and money. We can only attribute it to the spirit of the age. This is a new age - the age of Democracy. It is interesting to trace the growth of this Democracy through the modern era of nationalities. This period has been marked by three great convulsions, which turned the minds of civilized men towards peace. The Thirty Years’ War produced the Peace of Westphalia; and the system of independent nationalities in Europe, and also Grotius and the science of international law. The next convulsion followed the Napoleonic wars, the Treaty of Vienna, and the Holy Alliance. That was a sincere, though misguided, attempt to achieve something in the regulation of the conduct of the nations of Europe, and haw peace in accordance with their conception. The third great convulsion was the last victorious attack on the stronghold of Autocracy in the Great World War just concluded. We may briefly review, during the period mentioned, tihe advance and spread of democratic government. England has moved along from the doctrine of the divine right of Kings toi the divine right of the Commons representing popular rights, through the revolution of 1688; through the civil war over the rights of British subjects known as the American Revolution; through Chartism and Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Bill of 1832, the franchise extension of 1867, the abandonment” of the King’s veto power, and the establishment of the people’s right. France;, in her own way, with much action and reaction, has travelled towards the same goal. Through a reign of terror, her amazing defence of the first Republic, the restoration of the Bourbons, the assertion of iher right to choose her own king in 1830, and the assertion of her right to dispense with one in 1848, the plebiscite and the second Empire, she has grown in stability and capacity for democratic government. The same story may be told of the East. Japan has stepped out of a military feudalism and has entered the arena of civilized nations with a constitutional government.
Thus we have, in the East and West both, a change in the political and social conditions of national life. We have now the assured continuance of this process of development of Democracy, and on this we may forecast some of the events in the womb of the future.
It must be remembered that the ethics of Democracy are opposed to militarism in any sense, and tihe Conference at Washington is only a natural outcome of the shaping of a great movement which no Power can control. The substitution of Democracy for Autocracy removes the principal force which led nations to disrupt the world’s peace. The mind turns back to examples of the aggression of
Autocracy in history, and. rests on the war of the Spanish Succession, which drenched Europe in blood and ended in the Treaty of Utrecht, only when Louis XIV. was exhausted. it was a war that had for its only purpose the settlement of the question as to which royal house should have its glory enhanced by a marriage which would enable it to control Spanish destinies. A further example may be cited of the Austrian War of Succession. Wars such as these would be impossible under Democracy, where the whole tendency is towards the reduction of the possibilities of international wrongdoing. An essential distinction between Autocracy and Democracy is that while Autocracy is superior to law, the Government of a Democracy is subject to the law. The conception, therefore, of international law being binding on the peoples of the world is natural to the people of a Democracy.
The continual training of all citizens in the qualities necessary for the carrying out of democratic government is the very attribute necessary for an understanding and respect of international rights and liberties. The day is coming when less armaments and less military preparations of all descriptions will be demanded, and when we shall have to depend more on international law. I do not say for a moment that we should dispense with armaments immediately. We should have our munitions in proper order, and we should undoubtedly have a thoroughly trained nucleus of a defence force. But we can surely dispense with a considerable proportion of the expenditure voted by the other Chamber for the purpose of carrying on universal military training, especially of persons under eighteen years of age. If we are prepared to act in our own little way upon what appears to be the findings of the Conference at Washington, we can materially reduce these Estimates. If a considerable proportion of the money proposed to be spent on defence were devoted to immigration it would help to fill our waste spaces. We should then be in a better position from a defence point of view, no matter to what extent we trained the men now in Australia. We have not got the numbers, and we must have the numbers. We must prepare the country for them, because it is no use bringing people here unless we have made some preparation. A considerable amount of money could be usefully spent in making the country ready for satisfactory immigrants who, if properly settled, would make Australia a greater Democracy than she is at present.
– I understand that the Government has gome as far as it possibly can in the reduction of the Defence Estimates, but there are two items which recur in the different Departments upon which I would like some information. They are, “ Cost of Living Allowances under Arbitration Court Awards,” and “Basic Wage Allowances, ‘ including Child Endowment.” In the Defence Department these items amount to something like £65,000. I understand that some time ago, instead of increasing the wages of civil servants, the Government granted allowances to meet the higher cost of living. The cost of living is now coming down, but the items still appear throughout the Estimates.
– I assume that honorable senators are aware of the decision given by the Arbitration Court, by which provision was made for allowances to meet the increased cost of living. I cannot say for the moment whether that decision applies to the Public Service.
– It - applies to tlie civil Departments, but not to the military Department.
– I assume that these allowances are for the civil employees of the Defence Department. The child allowances were made as a result of the findinsr of the Commission over which Mr. Piddington presided. The Government found it impossible to accept the whole of the findings of .the Commission. The Government’s intentions in the matter were disclosed in another place, which approved of making allowances in respect of the children of’ public servants.
– For how much longer will the payments be made t
– I c I cannot predict the future, but it is quite clear that it is the intention that the payments shall continue for the present financial year.
Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) 111.34]. - There are a few items in the Defence Department Estimates upon which I would like some information, but’ I think to explain them will tax even the ingenuity of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen). I notice that there is our old friend the Royal Military- College, for which a sum of £57,029 is provided. One wonders whether that is- the total cost of the College. “While provision is made for salaries for professors, lecturers, librarian, members of the executive, and warrant and non-commissioned officers, the commandant and other commissioned officers of the staff are not mentioned in this division. They are shown under the Central Administration Staff, butT maintain that a good deal of the expenditure in connexion with these members of the Central Staff should rightly be debited to the Royal Military College.
– The whole of the members of the permanent and Instructional Staffs of the College are included in the instructional corps.
– That is- so, and because they are in the instructional corps their salaries are debited to the Central Administration, which is responsible for that corps.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the staff of the College is an important part of the instructional corps?
– Even if that is so why should the College not be debited with the cost of those members of the instructional corps who are employed there? Unless that is done it is impossible to arrive at the cost of the College.
– There is no more reason ‘for doing what the honorable gentleman suggests than for debiting the cost of a musketry instructor to Queenscliff oxsomewhere in. New South Wales,
– I disagree with. Senator Bolton entirely. The College was established, for a definite and specific purpose, and is part of the general defence scheme for building up an instructional staff and for making efficient officers. I, at least, am unable to arrive at the total cost of the College xinless I know how many of the members of the instructional corps are engaged there. It is useless for Senator Bolton to say that because thes8 men are employed on the instructional staff the cost of employing them should not be debited to the College. If the College did not exist there would be no need for them to be employed. What
I desire to ascertain is the amount’ which should be debited’ to’ the College that is now charged to the instructional corps. While there is an item of £10,029- for salaries, &c, there is also an item’ of £47,000 for contingencies. The* G6mmittee ought to be provided with some further information’ as to how that £47,000 is made up. I do nott like to pass an item, as large as this just because somebody says it is all right. Included in tihe item of £47,000 is a sum of £35,283 for “ general expenses and upkeep, including sanitation, stationery and books-, apparatus, ammunition; travelling expenses, fares, freight and transport, printing, examination fees, wages, upkeep of grounds’ and buildings, rifle- range, rations, fuel and’ light, forage and remounts; and all’ other expenditure incidental to the College.” That may be all right”, and .we are asked’ to say that’ it is all’ right, because it is sent to us in that form. It is impossible to assert that there- is- anything wrong with it, but more information ought to be given with regard to such a large item. In several places in the Estimates there are amounts for fares, freights, travelling allowances, and the’ like. I: notice under the heading “ General Contingencies and Services “ the items” “ Fares, freights, and steamer- hire, £30,000”; “ other travelling expenses, £16,000”; and ‘“expenses of removal of personnel, £4;830.” Under the heading of “ Central Administration “ there is another £10,000 for travelling allowances, fares, freights, &c. Altogether these items make- a- total of about £60,000: I do not think the Department should’ be asked to render an efficient arwmnt of itself unless we provide it with the sinews of war, but, from what I know of the Defence Depajrtment, a matter of over ,’£1,000’ a wieek for freights and fares is a little bit over the fence. Perhaps, some satisfactory explanation, can be given. These items are put to us in a general way as being necessary expenditure, but I think we are entitled to seme further information.
Senator Bolton referred to the position of the non-commissioned instructional
Cifficer3 on the staff! A number of the3e men have been permanent soldiers for over twenty years, and to-day are getting from £25t)’ to £280 a year. That is not the sort1 of encouragement to- give to men who, despite all that may be said in favour of the commissioned ranks, have done more real work in building up the army in Australia, than any one else, from the Chief of the General Staff downwards.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– I am glad the honorable senator agrees’ with me, because he speaks from long experience, whereas I speak as a young man and, of course, with not the same knowledge of the Defence Department. But I do know that, at the outbreak of war, some of these men were really responsible for moulding the Australian. Army intoi that state of efficiency which made it possible to achieve such splendid results in the various theatres of war. Is it any wonder, in view of the poor salaries paid to therm, that there should be complaints of inefficiency? The Inspector-General says, I believe, that 25 per cent.” of these men are unsatisfactory. Can we be surprised at this ? Men who are strong enough to take command in the absence of oommissioned officers and handle large bodies of men will, naturally, be dissatisfied. “We pay our sergeants of police £400 a year, and yet a non-commissioned officer, holding a. responsible position in the Commonwealth Military Forces, can only expect to get about £6 a week after twenty years of service. Duntroon graduates get decent positions, and we can pay our captains, majors, and colonels very good salaries. I am not saying that our commissioned officers are getting too much, but while there is such a discrepancy between them and the noncommissioned officers on the Instructional Staff - men who are not of the socially elect, because they ha,ve the crown on the arm instead of on tha shoulder-strap - it is not likely we shall get the best service from them. I complained of this matter when the Estimates were being dealt with last year, and was told then by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that a re-arrangement had been made, and’ that increased pay had been given to the staff all round. I know two or three members of the Instructional Staff with over twenty years’ service in the Permanent Forces, and I find that this increase works out, in their case, a.t from 2d. to 5d. per week. Is it any wonder, when they see commissioned officers getting all the “ plums,” while they, who. do all the delving and are really respon sible, are so poorly paid, that they feel they are not getting a fair deal?
– They cannot all be commanding officers.
– I am not suggesting that they can, but I think, from what Senator Bolton has said in regard to the training that is necessary to make a first-class instructional officer, we should make it worth their while to remain in the service.
– I am. not suggesting that they should get the pay of a colonel, but it is ridiculous to go on paying them salaries of from £3 3s. to £6 per week after twenty years’ service. If we get the right type of men for this position we should be prepared to pay them a decent wage.
Some time ago the Department, at the instigation of the soldiers themselves, decided that preference should be given to returned men for these positions. Some have proved very good, but others never did have the makings of first-class instructional officers. The InspectorGeneral, I understand, has classed them as entirely unsatisfactory.
– I think the honorable senator misunderstood me. I was referring to the trainees, not the Instructional Staff.
– I was under the impression that the honorable senator spoke of a certain section of the Instructional. Staff as being unsatisfactory. In any case, I think that if some of tlhe trainees have proved unsatisfactory it necessarily follows that a percentage of the instructors must be in the same category, because the best men get the best results. We shall never get first-class men to take up instructional work unless Ve are prepared to give them a fairer deal than they have- received from the Defence Department in the past.
– I recognise the reasonableness of the request made by iSenator Foster for further details in respect of the several items to which he ‘has referred. He said, quite fairly, I think, that whilst he, does not expect, metaphorically, to make the Senate a bookkeeping department, he thinks that fuller information should be available concerning items in the Bill. He is perfectly right in saying that the item Royal Military College does not include the salaries of the Instructional Staff. I can supply that information, but may I incidentally mention that the Estimates for the Military College show a reduction of £5,700, which, in these days of rampant economy, should be welcomed. The amount paid to officers outside the amount set against the Estimates is £11,500. In addition, some works and buildings, which figure under the Works Estimates, passed a few days ago, have to be included, making the total £73,000. I have endeavoured to obtain some information in regard to expenditure involved in transportation; but at present I am not in a position to supply it. The item, however, broadly speaking, represents the necessary travelling expenses incurred by officers going to camps apart from the removal of permanent officers from one State to another, for which there is a special item. The main amount, however, represents the travelling incidental to camps.
– I did not think there were any camps last year.
– I - I am not quite clear on that point. If the Committee wishes, I am prepared to postpone the passing of this item until I can secure the information, but in the meantime, of course, honorable senators may, if they desire, continue the debate.
– How many cadets are there at Duntroon?
– I understand that there are eighty-three, but there are some from New Zealand in respect of which the New Zealand Government make a payment to us.
– How much per head does it cost the Commonwealth to train cadets ?
– I am beginning to despair of satisfying Senator Wilson on this or any other matter, but I am making an honest effort, and have already stated that the cost of the items indicated is £73,000, which represents the annual upkeep of the College.
– Exclusive of the salariea of officers?
– No, it includes them. The Estimates show an expenditure of £57,000, but in addition there is £16,000 for repairs, maintenance, &c, making a total of £73,000. That, as far as I can ascertain, represents the annual cost of maintaining the institution. In addition to that, there is certain capital expenditure which was included in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, and which amounted this year to £21,000. The capital expenditure, of course, is not a recurring item, and we are justified in saying that the College is costing £73,000 per annum for its upkeep, against which amount there is a payment from the New Zealand Government in respect of their own cadets.
– Is not that pretty “hot”?
– It is, but it would be useless to continue the College on other than an efficient basis. The cost is less per annum than is incurred by similar institutions in other countries.
– I am not in a position to judge on that point; but it is extravagant all the same.
– It may be costly, but not necessarily extravagant. If an institution is .essential it must be efficient.
– Is it essential?
– If our Defence Forces are to be of any service at all, a training college is essential, and I do not believe in the economy of chopping everything off with an axe, irrespective of consequences. If this country is to maintain any sort of a Defence Force it would be absolute folly not to pay attention to the brains which have to control it. The Military College was established as part of the Kitchener scheme, and for a specific purpose, and if it is to be dispensed’ with we might as well do without a Defence Force at all. I hope Senator Wilson does not favour the closing of the. College, because that would be a fatal mistake. If it is necessary to keep the College going, and I say it is, it must be kept in the highest state of efficiency. That it has been of great service, and has been conducted on an efficient basis, is proved by the records of the cadets who have passed through its portals. They have achieved results of which any college - particularly such a young institution - might be proud. The fact that the College is costing less this year than last is some guarantee that those responsible for its control have had economy in their minds. If there waa an increased vote, honorable senators might be critical* but seeing that it has been reduced, I submit that the , Committee might pass the proposed vote, knowing that everything has been done to keep the cost within a reasonable limit
– I should be glad if the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) would explain Item No. 1 of Subdivision 4, “ Maintenance of W. M. Cann, ex-trainee at Anzac Hostel, Western Australia, £457.”
I have made a careful search through the schedule, and cannot find any reference to the Army Legal Department established last year to which, according to the newspapers, certain appointments have been made. I would like some information concerning those appointments, and what the Department is expected to cost this year. ^Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) [11:57]. - It was not my intention to complain concerning the cost of the Military College, but I would like the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to explain a point which to me is not clear. There are eighty-three cadets a,t the Duntroon College, costing £73,000 per year, which works out roughly at £879 per head. A footnote on page 131 reads., “ Includes provision for New Zealand cadets, for each of whom the Dominion Government pays £377 10s. per annum to the Commonwealth Defence revenue. . . .” If .the New Zealand Government pay £377 10s. for what costs us £879, we are losing approximately £500 per head for every cadet trained there.
– I should say it is not correct. Of course, tha larger the number of cadets trained the lower the cost per head : but it is not conceivable that the New Zealand cadets can be trained for less than our own.
– Naturally. If there were eighty-five cadets instead of eighty-threei, the extra cost would net be taken into account, because the overhead expenses would have to go oni just the same. If it really costs £879 per annum for each cadet, and we receive only the amount named from the New Zealand Government, we are training their cadets at a much lower rate than we. are training our own.
.- - I should like to say a -word or two upon this subject. Reference has been made to costa and efficiency in connexion with Duntroon College, and I want to say definitely that if we are not going to keep this College up to the very highest state of efficiency, we had better abolish it altogether. When we are considering the education to be given at a military college we should bear in mind that we are dealing practically with a university. Let honorable senators consider the qualifications of the professors in our universities, and the professors in our Military -College should certainly not be men of inferior calibre. When we consider that we have eighty-three students in Duntroon, and that there must be some 3,000 students attending the Melbourne and the Sydney Universities, it; is easy to understand that the cost per head of students in Duntroon must be comparatively high. We must have as efficient men on the training staff of the Military College as we have in our universities. We must also have the very best equipment we can possibly get. If we are to provide such equipment as will enable students of the Duntroon College to be turned out well, we must have better equipment than is to be found in many of the .universities of Australia. The science equipment of many of our universities might be greatly improved. The Duntroon Military College should have the best science equipment that the world can supply. I would not support the reduction of the vote for Duntroon by £1 if that would in any way impair the efficiency of tjhe College.
– The expenditure upon Duntroon Military College appears to be very high, but it should be borne in mind that when the College was established Parliament approved of a very ambitious scheme of defence. We were full of enthusiasm! concerning the result of the cadet training system. We recognised that we were going to have a very big citizen army, and knew that a very considerable number of well-trained officers would be required for its command. If we are going toi change that policy, we must review the whole of our ideas in connexion with defence. ‘This may be possible after the Washington Disarmament Conference, and perhaps some other conferences Jmve completed arrangements for national disarmament, but I cannot see ‘How, .if our Defence’ system is to be worth anything at all, we can make radical reductions at present in connexion with the Military College at Duntroon. Only a few years ago we were boasting of the magnificent Defence system of this young Democracy, and I know that in the Old. Country Australia” was held up as a fine example of what was possible in a Democracy in that ccoinexioai. If we now decide on a less expensive and more simple system, it will take some time to make the change. Only a few years ago it was said that the Duntroon Military College would rival the great American College at West Point. We set out with a very grand scheme, and now, to use a colloqualism, some persons are “ whipping the cat “ because of the cost. Under a new system of defence it may be possible to do without this institution altogether, but that cannot be settled during this discussion. Our steps must be gradual, and any one watching the proceedings at Washington .must recognise the difficulties which any nation has to face in reducing its Defence .Force. These things should be borne in mind, and the Military College, cannot be criticised merely from an £. s. d. point of view.
.- There is something in what Senator de Largie has said, but he should remember that when our present Defence scheme was formulated we were in a very different position. The burden of taxation on the people at that time was not a fraction of what it is to-day. We have passed through a very strenuous period, and all the nations of the world are now considering how taxation can .be reduced. Because of the heavy burden of taxation, Federal and State, unemployment is increasing in the Commonwealth and business is suffering. 1 will not say that the vote for the Duntroon Military College should be reduced, because it must be efficient if we are to continue it. The figures quoted to-day show that it costs something like £800 a year for every trainee of the College, and it is important to know “what becomes of those trainees after they leave the College. I understand that a number of the lads, after completing their -course at Duntroon, resign from the Defence .Force and are never heard of by the Government.
-Bhockm-an. - The honorable senator will find that occurs in connexion with every university. “
– But in this connexion, the Duntroon College cannot be compared with a university where the expenses of the’education of the students are borne by their parents. The cost of fitting Duntroon students to be staff officers is borne by the taxpayers of Australia.
– The Government have a claim on their services for a number of years.
– I should like some statement as to the cause of the resignations which take place of trainees ‘Of Duntroon College, as also of the Naval College at Jervis Bay. If the Minister will make inquiry he will find that there have been resignations of Duntroon trainees.
– Their prospects in the Defence Force were so poor that they have not cared to follow up their profession.
-Bkockman. - Is the honorable senator aware that several men who resigned because they thought they could do better outside the Service, have since tried to get back ?
– I was not aware of that, but it does not affect my contention that if public money is expended on the training of these lads for several years they should not, after their training has been completed, be allowed to leave the Defence Department at once. What benefit will the taxpayer derive from the expenditure on Duntroon College “if students of the College “throw in the marble” as soon .as they have finished their training ?
– The percentage of resignations is not high. It is not more than 10 per cent.
-.Brockman. - It is not as high as 10 per .cent. There were only a few lads who were badly affected by the war who resigned on their return.
– I find that in 1920-21 the vote for the Permanent Forces was £375,537. The vote this year for the Permanent Forces is £666,951. This is a tremendous increase in the expenditure for the .Permanent Forces, and I should like to have some explanation of it.
– Two staffs have been put under one heading this year, which previously were .shewn under separate headings. If the honorable senator will add the amounts voted for each, he will find that the increase is not so great as he has suggested.
– That is so, but there is still a considerable increase in the vote. Several honorable members have spoken of the present method of compulsory training, and in view of the opinions expressed I should like to know if it is the intention, of the Minister to make any reply to the representations that have been made. I consider that an^ opening now presents itself for reviving- the system of volunteer regiments. There is much to be said in favour of that system. In Great Britain, compulsory military training was taken up at the commencement of the war, but as soon as peace waa declared they went back to the volunteer system.
– During the war there was nothing but denunciation of the volunteer principle in the Old Country.
– The honorable senator is making a, mistake, because the records of some of the volunteer regiments are second to none. In pre-war days we had a very small percentage of men who knew anything, even of the first principles of military training and the handling of a rifle. But at the present time we have over 300,000 trained soldiers1 ready to take their place in the firing line at a few minutes notice.
– The state of inefficiency in Great Britain when the war began was simply disgraceful.
– Does the honorable senator not think that it would be better that our returned soldiers should follow civilian -pursuits and forget that they were soldiers ?
– I have no doubt that they will do so, but should the occasion arise they will all be soldiers again, and ready to put the rifle on their shoulders as they did before.
– I do not dispute that.
– ‘Very many of them have said that they would never go to a “ something “ war again as long as they lived, but directly the call comes I have no doubt that they will respond to it just as the men who took part in the South! African War responded to the last call. My point ia that while we have a vast amount of useful material already trained, very little use appears to be made of it. I referred to this matter in ques tions which I put yesterday on the subject of appointments to the Air Force. When honorable senators ask questions they receive replies which have been framed by heads of Departments. The information which, is sought cannot always be fully obtained, however, if those heads are not prepared to make the particulars available. I do net desire to introduce names, but I assure honorable senators that men have been overlooked in connexion with selections for the Air Force in Queensland who are well qualified and have had considerable experience. I desire to cast no aspersions upon the successful officers; but, among those who did not succeed - some of whom, indeed, were not even accorded the courtesy of an acknowledgment of their applications - were flying men who had undergone considerable active service experience. I may be allowed to cite the case of Lieutenant V. Rendle,- of Brisbane. I have been provided with a list of the machines flown by this officer. They are as follow : -
Sopwith Two-seater, Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Pup, Sopwith Snipe, Sopwith Dolphin, Sopwith Comic, Nieuport Two-seater, Nieuiport Soout, Albatros D5, Hannoveraner, De Havilland 4, De Havilland 6, De Havilland 9, De Havilland 9a, M.!F.S.H., M.F.L.H., F.B.26, B.E. 2c, 2d, 2e, and 8a, R.E. 7, E.B. 8, S.E. 5, and 5a.
His commanding officer, Major O. J. W. Darwin, in providing Lieutenant Rendle with a reference, stated : -
Second Lieutenant V. Rendle was an instructor in the squadron under my command. He was a sound, hard-working instructor, and had distinct success in turning out Two-seater Sopwith pilots. During the time he has served under my command I have found him to be an excellent pilot, both on scouts and passengercarrying machines, and he is, in my opinion, thoroughly competent to fly passenger-carrying machines anywhere.
The chief instructor at the School of Navigation at Andover stated: -
The above-mentioned officer has been through a short course at this school in dead-reckoning navigation, and I consider that his knowledge is very sound, and that he is quite capable of navigating a machine over a long distance by dead reckoning. I
Numbers of others among the disappointed applicants flew for hundreds of hours under active service conditions at the Front, while some of those who were successful were never up in a machine m France. In view of the huge expense involved in training airmen, and remembering the need for the best flying officers possible in Australia, I hold that the services of every applicant should be most carefully studied before appointments are made. Although, in the replies -which were furnished to me, it was set out that the appointments were made by the Air Board, I happen to know that the procedure was different. The Queensland officers were selected as an outcome of one individual being sent to that State who, for some reason or ether not apparent, chose those whom he considered personally the best.
– I have endeavoured to obtain particulars from departmental officers in reply to various queries raised in the course of the debate. Senator Foster introduced the subject of travelling expenses. I have been informed that the item having to do with “fares, freight and steamer hire,” against which the sum of £30,000 is debited, covers the cost of fares for all staffs, permanent and citizen, throughout the Forces travelling on duty. The fares are mainly for Area Offioers and instructors travelling around areas for the purpose of instructing trainees. The freight is in respect of the transport of stores and equipment to and from Ordnance Stores. The item of “ other travelling expenses, £16,000,” concerns travelling allowances, under regulations, for officers and others travelling on duty. With respect to the line, “ Expenses of removal, £4,830,” this ‘has_ to do with the transfer of members of the” Permanent Forces from one State to a no thter. “ Cartage and horse hire, £1,985,” is for cartage contracts for removal of stores and equipment to and from Ordnance Stores.
Another point to which Senator Foster referred had to do with the difference indicated in the average cost ‘of cadets at Duntroon, and the charge accepted by the New Zealand Government. It would appear that there is a discrepancy in the figures somewhat favouring New Zealand ; but the overhead charges at the military institution would be just the same if the ten New Zealand cadets had not been at Duntroon. That consideration, I assume, was in the minda of the Commonwealth Government in treating with the New Zealand authorities. There was a laudable desire also, no doubt, that there should not be created any feeling that the Commonwealth was seeking to make a profit out of the training of New Zealand cadets.
asked a question concerning the Legal Department. Only one appointment has yet been made. That relates to Lieut. -Colonel Brissenden. This officer receives the pay of his rank, namely, 37s. 6d. a day, and the maximum number of days on which he can be on duty is sixteen.
– I had noticed that a Judge Advocate-General had been appointed.
-Bkockman. - That is Lieut.-Colonel Brissenden.
– Senator Elliott also asked a question concerning a trainee in Western Australia. This youth was injured rather badly, unfortunately, when on duty. Apart from any legal obligations, the Commonwealth Government undertook to look after him. One of the sums shown in the Estimates has tol do with arrears, the amounts not having been paid promptly. Certain legal expenses were involved in the case. The item of £250 is the sum actually required for the maintenance of the lad for this year.
Senator Foll has invited me to enter into a discussion of cadet training. It may be easy to express the thoughts which occasionally course through one’s mind” upon this subject; but I am not prepared to express myself along the lines of a review of the national policy, or to venture suggestions or point to directions in which that policy should be altered. Three or four honorable senators have spoken thoughtfully and critically upon the subject this morning, and have questioned whether the country is getting from ° the system of cadet training the benefits which were originally anticipated. I am not prepared to pass judgment, but I feel it to be my duty to bring the remarks of honorable senators under the notice of the Government and of those responsible for the conduct of Defence matters. In dealing with highly technical subjects, one is liable to fall into the danger of generalizing on the basis of insufficient knowledge and experience.
Senator Foll referred to a matter which has rather perturbed me. He states that certain answers given him yesterday, in response to inquiries, were not correct.
– No; I said that the answers provided ‘ only half the information that I wanted.
– One can tell a lie by suppression. Answers supplied departnientaUy ought not to be misleading. I am not prepared to believe that the particulars furnished to Senator Foll were incorrect, but, since Senator Foil has stated that they were wrong, I promise that I shall sift the matter to the. bottom. I think Senator Foll must be under some misunderstanding. But, at any rate, I shall not be the medium by which any Department may wilfully mislead the Senator.
– I have given a specific instance, showing how an officer of very considerable experience was not given the courtesy of an acknowledgment of his application.
– That is, of course, a matter which must ‘be probed. But what Senator Foll may regard as superior qualifications may not be so considered by officers having the responsibility, for making selections. It is wrong of Senator Foll, merely because the particular applicant on whose behalf he is interesting himself has not been selected, to say that appointments have been made unfairly and without due consideration for- experience.
– If I could show the Minister that men have been appointed who saw no active service, while among the disappointed applicants whose communications were not even acknowledged there were officers who had flown for hundreds of hours at the Front, would he not admit that I have some cause for complaint ?
– There might well be serious cause for protest in such circumstances. But I am more seriously concerned with the remark of the honorable senator that an answer to one of hi3 questions was wrong. I have already taken steps to secure an explanation, and to ascertain whethier an acknowledgment of the application in question was- forwarded.
– No acknowledgments were- received by about twenty applicants.
– Then, it should be the easier for me to learn the reason. There may have been a very good reason. But if it is alleged that, either through discourtesy or neglect, these twenty men were ignored, the charge is one which must be fully sifted. I shall look into the matter, and let the Committee know, . at the earliest possible moment, the result of my inquiries.
– I am afraid an effort is being made in the wrong place to effect economy when the Defence Estimatea are selected. If there is one direction in which a considerable expenditure is justified, it is in connexion with Defence matters, as long as the money provided is wisely used. I propose to direct attention to the importance of maintaining our Defence system on an efficient basis. The vote for military defence amounts to £1,623,000, and for naval defence £2,340,43 S. The total is, roughly, £4,000,000, and for a population of about 5,200,000 it represents about 15s. or 16s. per head. Compared with similar expenditure in other countries, that is not an excessive sum for making Australia secure against all comers. Judging by the clamour in the newspapers, the Defence Estimates are excessive. The newspapers are becoming- too assertive in telling Parliament what it should and should not do, and it is time they were put in their propei1 place. Public men can take a very effective hand in doing that. The cry has gone forth that economy must be practised. I am prepared to economize in any direction where it can be shown that the public are not getting full value for the money expended, but if there is one country that needs defence it is Australia. In the other Chamber, apparently, it was considered that £4,000,000 is an extravagant sum to devote to Defence. Prior to the war Great Britain was prepared to expend 32s. per head of its population ; Germany, 30s.; France, 28s.; and United States of America, 14s. The latter country is impregnable, and yet it was ready to spend as much, on Defence as it is proposed to appropriate this year in the Commonwealth. Canada’s expenditure is only 4s. or os. per head, but that Dominion is really sheltering behind the dead hand of President Monroe. Australia, of all British Dominions, (has the most to lose from a successful enemy attack. We may be told in consequence of what is happening at Washington that the world is- approaching the millennium ; but in the meantime we slioulcl maintain such a sysHem of defence, in skeleton if not in active form, as will be sufficient in a time of peril. A large reduction appears to have been made in the amount voted for instructional work. It would be an insane policy, if we had not an adequate instructional staff for the training of troops. Our people have the fighting spirit, but, if we have not the directing genius of a Csesar, even in miniature, to mould the fighting material into an effective striking force it will be” a mistaken policy. I notice that the proposed vote for rifle clubs is £60,000. This i3 the same amount as was voted last year, when only £33,206 was expended. I do not know whether the saving of about £17,000 has gone to swell the surplus of £800,000. If so, there is no credit due to the Government in that connexion.
– Suppose the money for rifle clubs was not all applied for.
– The expenditure should not have been reduced, unless there was failure to apply for some of the money. My experience of rifle clubs wasthat applications were frequently made,, and the invariable reply given was that there was no money available.
– I agree entirely with Senator Lynch in his statement that, for every 20s. spent on defence in Australia, we should get full value; but I am afraid that on account of the supposed economy to be practised, that result will not be obtained in future. Any system which is inefficient will’ result in an absolute waste. The only effect which the cutting down of the Defence Estimates has had up to the present has been to make the system less efficient, and consequently the expenditure of the money provided will result in less benefit to the Commonwealth. Senator Foll appears to think that any money spent on defence in Australia will be wasted, seeing that we have 300,000 highly trained ex-soldiers in Australia. He wishes to know why more use is not made of them, but he seems to have overlooked the fact that these men are getting older, and’ are becoming less efficient every day. They do. not trouble to keep up their training, despite all the efforts of those who, like myself and others in< this Chamber, give their services to the country in a purely voluntary capacity. We cannot get the ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force to take an interest in this question of our future defence. But I feel satisfied, with Senator Foll, that if the call came during their period of usefulness all of them who are physically fitwould be available, and many who are not physically fit would offer themselves. The spirit of the Australian Imperial Force is still there, but that does not provide for the future defence of Australia, although it may provide for immediate defence. Itmight provide the personnel of an army if Ave were going to create divisions tomorrow, but no matter how fit, gallant, and well trained these men may be, unless we have the weapons to put in theii hands they are quite useless as fighting units. It appears to me that most of- this cut into the Defence Department’s Estimates has been in the direction of restricting munitions of war. Any cut of that kind ,is a. cut against the efficiency of defence in Australia, and consequently, in my opinion, is greatly to be deplored. I can understand those men who say that they waait to wipe out expenditure on defence altogether. We know where we are with them; they are the idealists who believe they can depend on the brotherhood of man for the protection of Australia. For my part, I prefer to depend on the. good right arm, well, developed, with plenty of muscle behind it and plenty of munitions of war with which to exercise it. They are carried away by their foolish ideas. But there are other men who are not obsessed with such “tommy rot,” but who still cut into the Defence Estimates. They do it entirely in the wrong places, and thus impair the efficiency of the Defence scheme that we are endeavouring to establish. They are the quintessence of everything absurd and stupid. I understand that some criticism has been levelled at men in high places in the Military Forces of Australia. I am not going to say for a moment that everybody iu permanent employ in the Military Forces is all he ought to be, but I do say that it is very desirable that inefficient men, when they are discovered, should be dispensed with. Under our present system it is practically impossible to get rid of them. A man who has devoted his whole life to soldiering, but is not a proficient soldier ; who has made a mistake in youth by starting out to become a soldier; who did not realize his limitations, and did not have them pointed out to; him, cannot be thrown out on the streets. The dignity of Australia demands that some provision shall be made for him if we get rid of his services in the Defence Department. Therefore, I say.it is desirable not only to get rid of these men, but also to provide for them. The sooner we establish in Australia a system of pensions for members of the Permanent Forces the better it will be for the defence of Australia. That is a matter which the Government ought to take into consideration at the earliest possible . moment. Whether a pensions scheme is brought in for the whole of the Public Service or not, one for the military service: - where efficiency of the highest quality is essential - ought to be introduced .
Senator Lynch has criticised the Government for not using the whole of the money provided for rifle clubs last year. I regret to say that from my military’ experience I cannot indorse Senator Lynch’s remarks regarding the usefulness of rifle clubs as portion of the Defence system of Australia. My experience - for what it is worth - is that rifle club training for practical military purposes has very little value. It may be a most admirable recreation for men in the rural parts of Australia, and if Parliament’s object is to provide that sort of recreation for men who desire it, well and good ; but if the object is the efficient defence of Australia, money provided for rifle clubs is of little use.
– Did not. winning the war largely depend upon rifle club members as sharpshooters ?
– BROCKMAN. - Certainly not. That claim has been made by rifle club men without properly appreciating the meaning of the word “ sharpshooter “ and the value of the sharpshooter in the war. During the stationary periods of the war there was very little use for sharpshooters, but during certain phases of the campaign on Gallipoli it is true that sharpshooters on both sides were useful. On those occasions we found some very good shots amongst’ rifle club men.
– Most of them were kangaroo shooters.
– BROCKMAN. - There were more kangaroo shooters than rifle club men. I do not know whether Senator Lynch has ever been to the ranges of rifle clubs when shooting has been in progress. If he will take the trouble to look at the men who are there he will find, almost invariably, that those who take the keenest- interest are the men who are beyond military age. That fact probably explains why we did not get a large percentage of useful men from the rifle clubs.
– What is the military age for a sharpshooter?
– It is identical with the military age gene- rally.
– I have in my mind two men who are sixty-one and sixty-three years of age respectively. Both were at the Front in 1916 as sharpshooters.
– BROOKMAN. - That is quite possible. I have known other men sixty years of age who were sharpshooters, and were qirite capable of putting up with the hardships of the war. It was the .long marches with heavy packs that knocked but most of the old men. When men ‘get on in years they cannot stand the strenuous exertion of long marches.
– In enlisting sharpshooters, were they taken from the ranks of the ordinary men ?
– ‘BROOKMAN. - Yes, and mostly they were kangaroo shooters rather than rifle club members.
There is one other thing that I want to mention in connexion with defence. We have already been experiencing the utmost difficulty in carrying out an efficient system of training on the amount of ‘ money provided. We cannot hold schools and camps of instruction to the extent that we would like on the expenditure allowed, and consequently we canndt train officers and non-commissioned officers in a way that those who hold responsible positions in the Defence Forces should be trained. Those conditions obtained before the cuts were made into the Defence Estimates, and now we are going to be hampered more than ever. Again I come back to my earlier statement that these cuts have very seriously impaired the efficiency of the training that can be. carried out in Australia. In this direction we are penny wise and pound foolish.. We are spending £1,600,000 on Defence, and for the sake of a few more pounds we are eliminating a great deal of efficient training. Truly, it was done with a meat-axe, without consideration to the actual effect it would ha,ve on the training of the soldiery of Australia. I agree with another honorable senator, who said that the training of junior cadets might very well be dispensed with if it were necessary to curtail expenditure,,
– - I draw the honorable senator’s attention, to the fact that the time allowed to him by the Standing Orders has expired.
– I find on inquiry that Senator Poll’s statement is not correct that an applicant to whom he’ referred, Lieut. Rendle, had not been communicated with by the Department. The information supplied to me is that he was infoimed by letter on the 1st August, 1921, that his application had been rejected, and he was written to on the 5th September, 1921. Regarding Senator Lynch’ s inquiries as to rifle clubs, I understand that the saving last year was due to the fact that it was not known until nearly half the year had gone what amount would be available. The Estimates were late, as they are now, and it was not until they had been passed that the Government was in a position to spend the money, or the rifle clubs to know what “they were to receive. There was only about seven months’ expenditure in last year, but the Estimates provided for twelve months. There was, in addition, a reduction in the grant to members of metropolitan rifle clubs. The efficiency grant was originally 5s., but for metropolitan clubs it was cut down to 2s. 6d., on the ground that, as they were using military ranges, they were put to no expense for the upkeep of their own ranges, as is the! case with country clubs.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
Department of the Navy. Proposed vote, £2,340,438.
.- The Navy Estimates, owing to a reduction made elsewhere, are slightly less- than last year; but it is interesting to note that while there has been a decrease in the sea-going personnel there is an increase in the Central Administration Staff, the total last year being 191 as against 214 for this year. The sea-going personnel is only 4,689 as against 6,350, and the estimated expenditure is £90,000 less than last year. I should like to know the reason for this increase in the Administrative Staff by twenty-three. As I said during the debate on the Loan Appropriation Bill, I am not out for economy at the expense of efficiency. I put safety first, whatever it costs; but we are justified in asking that the money voted, be the amount small or large, shall be expended judiciously.
– I do not know whether, at this stage, we can enter upon a full discussion of Navy administration. If so, I think it would be possible to effect a considerable saving in expenditure of this Department. Prior to the war Military and Naval administration was in the hands of one Minister and one set of civil officers. We could very well go back to that position now. The Minister for “the Navy and his staff, as well as the Naval Board and Secretary, could be dispensed with. I do not pretend to have any accurate knowledge, but as we form our opinions as we go along I have been forced to the conclusion that in war time we would be in a better position if we were without the Naval Board and ‘Secretary. I indorse what Senator Foster said as to the need for efficiency. No one will claim that this Department is efficient. No doubt this is due to the fact that it was created during the war as an expedient to relieve the Minister for Defence of a great deal of added responsibility at that time”. That load of responsibility is very much lighter now ; and I think that if, prior to the war, the Minister was able to attend to the affairs of the Navy he could very well do so now without any sacrifice of efficiency in either Department. The public demand economy, and it is the duty of this Government and this Parliament to cut down expenditure wherever possible. As for the Naval College, I would suggest that the lads at present in training there be placed on board the battleship Australia. They would probably keep the vessel in better order than it is at present. Although it is said that the ship is obsolete, I have my doubts on tbat point. I know that naval authorities are building bigger ships, right up to date; but I think the Australia is too valuable an arm of defence to be allowed to rust.
– What is being done with it now?
– I do not know, but it is on the reserve list, and that looks as if it will soon be regarded as one of the old naval derelicts. The lads from the College, if placed on board the battleship, could be sent to sea frequently and get the proper kind of training. Altogether their life would be much more pleasant than at Jervis .Bay. As for the College itself, an expenditure of anything from £30,000 to £100,000 would convert it into an attractive resort for seaside visitors. I do not want it to be thought that I suggest the Government should go into the business of hotelkeeping. It certainly would not be economy to allow buildings to the value of £20,000 or £40,000 to go to ruin, and from what I know of the place, I think there would be very little difficulty in getting some one to take up the scheme and convert the College into a seaside hostel. Economy, is- urgently required in administrative expenditure. If I had my way the principal cut would be iri regard to Defence expenditure generally. If, within the next ten yeara, Australia is called upon to fight we shall have a large number of officers and men ‘trained in the best school.
– sThey will be too old then. i-Senator -GARDINER. - Not at all; ten years hence they will not be within twenty years of the age Senator Cox was when war broke out, and he was not too old then to go :a considerable distance and render good service to his country. We could not select a better time than the present for a substantial reduction of our expenditure, for the reasons I have given. A i few years hence, when, perhaps, many of ; our present financial troubles are behind us, we will be in a better position to begin training again. If unfortunately war : broke out to-morrow, and Australia were involved, the men who would command our .armies would not be drawn from the Permanent Forces. They would come from, the ranks of those who were trained in actual fighting in the recent war. There may be some brilliant men in the Permanent Forces, but if there are they were overlooked during the war, because they did not see very much active service, though this may not have been altogether their fault. Men trained on active service during the war will prove more efficient than men trained under peace conditions.
-brockman. - The honorable senator knows uhat those men are not coming back into the service now.
– Perhaps it is because there is«not room for them.
-Brockman. - Yes, there is, but they are not coming back. I have room for very many men. in my command, but I cannot get them. i
– Probably that is only tei be expected of men who know all that active service means.
– .But their services could be utilized to instruct other young men who are coming on.
– I know that, but, perhaps, they have (had quite enough of the Army. In my opinion the Defence Estimates, Military and Naval, afford us a good opportunity for the exercise of economy in expenditure. If* these Departments do not lend themselves to economy in expenditure, there is no other Department in the Commonwealth that does.
– The discrepancy in the personnel of the sea-going services . and the administrative staff mentioned by Senator Foster is more apparent than real. The increase of £.13,000 is accounted for in this way : Provision for tlhe salaries of certain officers borne for pay under other votes, 1920-21, £4,700; provision for full year instead of eight months’ basic wage allowance, including child endowment, £1,000; provision for full year for permanent clerks (returned soldiers) appointed during 1920-21, £1,065 ; increments under awards and regulations, £2,965; and provision for permanent clerks in lieu of temporary clerks at present employed, £4,000. That vote for temporary employment appeared under contingencies for war services. In the re-organization of the Department it has been thought desirable. to appoint a number of these temporary clerks to . permanent positions. Though there appears to be an increase under this item, as a matter of fact it is a transfer from an- other branch of the .Service. Senator Gardiner’s suggestion that the Defence and Navy Departments might be brought again under one Ministerial head is no doubt the result of his own experiences in- the Department. I have not the slightest doubt that in the reconstruction of the Cabinet and the re-allotment of Ministerial duties the suggestion will not be overlooked. I cannot say more than that. As to the suggestion of the honorable senator that the Australia should take the place of the Naval Training College 1 shall not express an opinion. But in this matter we can surely look with confidence to other countries where we find, for instance, that Great Britain, which we can safely follow in naval matters, has not adopted such a policy. If she had, there would no cboubt be an excellent reason for transferring the College, but that has not yet been done. Personally I cannot see what advantage would be gained, and I hesitate to believe that Great Britain, who has held the supremacy of idle seas and has been supreme in all naval matters, would not have adopted that course, if it had been thought desirable. I do not know if itwould result in economy. We have been told by Senator Gardiner that the establishment at Jervis Bay had cost from £20,000 to £40,000.
– And there is more to be spent.
– I am not referring to proposed expenditure. If I had the difference between Senator Gardiner’s estimate, taking the higher amount, and the actual expenditure, I believe, I would be able to show a capital account of over £300,000. I believe the amount spent there actually totals over £400,000. It is not a matter of allowing that capital expenditure to remain idle or turning the College into a tourist resort, but one of efficiency.
– The Minister realizes that that was not a serious suggestion, but one that only occurred to me on the spur of the moment. Senator- E. D. MILLEN. - Exactly. There are reasons which occur to a layman why we should not transfer out training to the Australia from the Jervis Bay College. Possibly Senator Gardiner has visited the institution,, and knows the advantages it possesses. There is an indicacation on every hand of the boys being comfortably housed in a pleasing situa tion; and if Senator Gardiner has had’ experiences similar to mine in ocean travelling he will realize that, apart from the superior accommodation provided for senior officers, that available to others is not all that could be desired. Naturally, the construction of a vessel of war - seriously limits the accommodation, and1 I can recall an incident which occurred when I .was associated with naval matters, and when a proposition was submitted for establishing land barracks. It was thought that men could be trained ashore for the work they would have to perform at sea, and in connexion with the proposed institution it was suggested that the cubic contents should be limited to an appallingly small degree. I compared the space which was suggested with that provided under the Navigation Act, and to my horror found that that contemplated in the barracks was less than one-half of what we had stipulated in the Navigation Act. In the proposal put to me it was said that a more liberal allowance was being made in the proposed barracks than existed on the ships at sea, and all I can say is that while I admire our sailors who ‘ ‘ go down to the sea in ships,” I am not at all anxious to join them under such conditions. The cubic contents of the accommodation proposed was about 400 feet to 8.00 feet, which was insisted on for merchant ships, and if we are to train boys in that way more accommodation than that suggested at that time should be provided. Further, I think it is highly -desirable that naval cadets should have the opportunity of indulging in shore sport and exercise such as is carried out on the land. There is more for a naval cadet to do than acquire the art of splicing ropes and heaving up anchors, and the best place for him to be thoroughly trained is, I believe, in a Naval College ashore. If Great Britain and other countries, with all their experiencei should call such a system into question, Australia will be quite prepared’ to consider the suggestion submitted by Senator Gardiner; but until that is done I shall be the last to- suggest that we should fly in the face of the experience of countries much older than our own.
– We have heard Senator Gardiner’s usual valuable contribution to the debate, and had it not been’ for tha honorable aiid responsible position he- occupies, it would be well for the
Committee not to pay too much, attention to it on its face value. But remembering that he is a representative of the party which is aspiring to political supremacy, , and we are considering that arm of defence which shields the life of this country from a foreign enemy, we must add to his remarks, the significance which properly attaches to it. If the honorable senator had been here earlier in the day he would have heard figures quoted to show that the Commonwealth, instead of paying an excessive amount for defence purposes, is proceeding in a most modest way when compared with other countries. The honorable senator will realize that there is no country in the world to-day that is more vulnerable, and has so much to lose in comparison with the freedom it enjoys as Australia We have a coastline of approximately 12,000 miles; but to that must be added the total coastline of the late German Possessions over which we have a Mandate, ‘which stretch out to such an extent that I do not know what our length of coastline really is. It may be that we shall have to protect these Mandated Territories from aggression, and guard a greater stretch of coastline than we ever previously calculated on or imagined. Even if an attack is made on one of these islets, which have recently risen from the bosom of the ocean in that group, the responsibility of. defending it will be ours, and it will be just as necessary for Australia to preserve and defend those islands from aggression as it is tol defend any part of the coastline of the mainland. Our only means of protecting these people far afield is by naval effort, and when a protest is made by an accredited representative of Labour that we are spending extravagantly, we must attach that serious importance to the statement which is deserved. If we compare our expenditure in pre-war days with that of other countries, including Great Britain, Germany, and the United States of America, we find it is exceedingly small, and really on a most moderate scale, and I am sorry that the Government yielded to this manufactured economic “ stunt,” which has been raised in this country, and has found final expression in a fatal reduction of this allimportant and vital vote. What is the sum to be expended ? For land defence £1,600,000 is proposed, and, according to some, that amount is excessive. For naval defence we are asking for only £2,600,000, thus making approximately £4,200,000 out of a total expenditure of £65,000,000, or £1 for every £15 in order to insure the safety of this country. If we deduct the expenditure for war services we get down to the net expenditure of something in the nature of £30,000,000, and by striking out all the expenditure involved in connexion with the war, and the aftermath of war, as represented by the £30,000,000, all this country seeks to spend to insure its freedom, for its right to live, is about £1 in every £7. Is that too much? Unfortunately, this insane tide of retrenchment, which originated in the newspaper offices of Melbourne, has succeeded, and I am sorry to say that in consequence of weak -kneed action of this Government there has been a heavy reduction. The result to-day is that on the figures submitted, with a population of 5,500,000, we are spending only 15s. per head. In 1913 Great Britain was spending 32s. per head, Germany was spending* more, and France 28s. America was spending 14s. per head in pre-war days, as against 15s. here.
– What is America spending to-day ?
– I do not know. Senator Bolton. - About 48s. Senator LYNCH.- Possibly so. When we, as elected representatives of the people, examine these figures, we have to consider what* we are doing to keep this country safe. Quite apart from what is happening at Washington, we have to be careful. This economic “ stunt,” manufactured by those goggle-eyed gentlemen in the newspaper offices in Melbourne, is largely responsible for the circulation of statements that have no justification in fact. Let us take the material value of this country. We cannot set a price on it. We cannot place liberties in the one scale and gold, silver, or precious, stones in the other. The freedom of a people cannot be adequately measured, valued, or sized up. Are all to be censured because we do not reduce the expenditure per head on defence below 15s.? The material worth of this country is somewhere in the neighbourhood of £2,000,000,000. I am not merely looking at the sordid aspect of the question when I mention our material worth; but for the purposes of insuring it we propose to spend a paltry £4,000,000 this year.
It is about time we rubbed our eyes, and asked whether, these people are not seeking to coerce Parliament < against its will to betray the trust reposed in it by the electors. I have said before in this Chamber that I am not a native of this country, but I value it and its freedom so much that it is very difficult for me to express my appreciation of it in words. -Another reason why I say that is because I have sampled other lands and their form of freedom, and have returned to this as incomparably the best.
There is no country on the face of the globe in which I could enjoy greater freedom than I enjoy here. But though we have that freedom in Australia, there are still, some who will cavil at defence expenditure. Senator Gardiner referred particularly to the vote for the Navy. If this were a land-locked country like Switzerland, I could understand the honorable senator’s opposition to that vote. But Australia is an island continent, and for this reason a special effort must be put forth for its naval defence. To suggest that £600,000 is too much for this purpose, passes my comprehension. We may find consolation and some hope for our security in the future from the happenings at Washington. But things are in a very shadowy state there at present, and we can do little more than point to the fact that some pious aspirations have been indulged in at Washington which may pave the way to something better later. Whether or not the tentative agreement about which we have heard, aud which is in such a very embryonic stage at present will so materialize as to provide some tangible security for the safety of this country, is one of those things which may be described in the stereotyped phrase as being “on the lap of the- gods.” We do not know what will happen as the result of the Disarmament Conference at Washington; and without taking too much notice of what is occurring there, we must make the best effort in our own defence of which we are capable. I have previously said that this country stands to lose more than does any other country on the face of the globe, if we take into consideration the freedom we enjoy in Australia, and the opportunities that are afforded here to men to make an independence and a home, under conditions which cannot be found in any other country. In the circumstances, I say that the 15s. or 16s. per head of population which it is proposed we should expend in our defence is rather too little than too much. I support the Government in their defence proposals, and my only regret is that they did not stand up to those who have called out for retrenchment, ‘and suggest to them that it would have been better if they had directed their attention to extravagance in connexion with any other Department of the Government.
I referred at an earlier stage to an item of expenditure for the Instructional Staff, which was struck out in obedience to the insane cry for economy. “What was the purpose of this expenditure? It was to preserve to the utmost of our ability the vast and rich experience gained during the war by the men in command. We are allowing that to be lost. We cannot imagine a person engaged in a private business dreaming of doing such a thing. He would seek to husband to the utmost even a fractional part of any experience gained. We have gained a lot of experience of value to the nation as a result of what was done in the great world’s war, and we are asked to set that aside under the direction, not of the electors who sent us here - they never told us to do anything of the kind - but of people in musty offices in Melbourne and elsewihere, who use the euphemistic title “ we “ and pretend to direct public opinion in this country. It is about time that we rose to the occasion and said to these people, “ You mind your own business. Get out your newspapers, and extend your pages for further advertisements. That is your business. You are in it only for what it will pay. You should bear yourself with becoming seeming. Keep your place, and do not try to run this country by dictation.”
– They seem to have an influenoeupon the honorable senatorv
– Of course, they have. I go in fear and trembling all the time because of the newspapers ! One of the nightmares of my existence is dread of what the newspapers will say of me! Honorable senators know what Napoleon said about newspapers, and they know that it was not complimentary. We all know what Mr. A. J. Balfour had to say about them . I do not think that I could repeat here what he said of newspapers and their influence. It was so metaphysical that, perhaps, it would not be entirely understood. He is the foremost speaker of the British nation to-day, and he has spoken of what newspapers are capable of doing, and of the .little influence they have upon him. Yet we have these gentlemen in their rooms saying and thinking of themselves, “ We are the ordained teachers and shapers of human destiny.” It is about time we called a halt. In this Parliament we have I’ll men chosen from the people of this continent, as the result of the careful scrutiny of its freeborn citizens, because they were believed to be the most able, most upright, and the best intentioned persons to whom might be intrusted the destinies of the country in a legislative sense. The members of this Parliament are not hap- hazard persons.
– The time allowed the honorable senator by the Standing Orders has expired.
- Mr. Chairman-
– Continue for a little while, and let Senator Lynch finish his speech.
– Order ! Senator Bolton is not in order. An honorable senator is not permitted to defeat the intention of the Standing Orders in that way. His remarks must not be made as a subterfuge to enable a previous speaker to resume his discourse.
– I do not entirely agree with Senator Lynch on the subject of economy at the present time.
-brockman. - The honorable senator’s party swallowed that policy as a whole.
– I propose to speak for my party, and as forcibly as Senator Gardiner has spoken for his party.
– I thought the honorable senator was Senator Gardiner’s secretary.
– Senator Cox has been so often misled in this Chamber that I am not astonished that he should be again in error. Economy may be lightly treated and become a by- word, but in connexion with the Navy and every other Department, 10s. well spent is better than £1 foolishly spent.
– The reverse applies also: - £1 well spent is better than 10s. foolishly spent.
– We might carry -that to an absurdity. Economy ceases to be economy if it is practised at the expense of efficiency. I have previously said that I consider it my duty to support whatevei” expenditure may be necessary for the defence of Australia. But there is, in my opinion, a great deal of room for improvement in the administration of the Navy Department. I speak of a matter about which I know something. I was privileged, a little time ago, to be in a position to make inquiries, and I say without hesitation that it is a mistake that shipbuilding should continue to be carried on at Garden Island. I discovered, and Senator Reid will bear me out in this statement, that there was evidence of antagonism between Government Departments which must tend to a great deal of extravagance. I found that one of the Government Departments would persist in this work, of shipbuilding, whilst at the same time a highly equipped dockyard had been established ait Cockatoo Island at great expense to this country, which might carry out all the shipbuilding work that has to be done for the Government. I freely admit that the evidence of experts on the matter did not agree, and certain of the experts were of opinion that the workshops at Garden Island should be continued for work in connexion with the Navy. Still, in my opinion, the balance of evidence was distinctly in favour of carrying out all the shipbuilding required by the Government at Cockatoo Island dockyard, and that the workshops conducted at Garden Island should be done away with. With this idea in view, tlie Government very wisely appointed a new Board of management, and if Senator Lynch wants an illustration of what can bo done by effective economy, keeping efficiency always in view, he will gat it in a most practical form in what has taken place in connexion with the two Departments to which I have referred. ‘ Since the new Board has put the business on a practical basis, tha result is a saving to tlie Commonwealth of £373,250 per annum.
-brockman. - That is real economy, and the Government have accomplished that.
– It is real economy, and it is my justification for saying that direct inquiry into all the Government Departments is necessary. I have not this in black and white, but I 3m assured that the new Board has done no work for -tihe Government. The reason is that Government Departments are not loyal to each other. One is fighting the other, and the taxpayer has to pay for both. That is a -disgraceful state of affairs. The reconstruction at Cockatoo Island has had one result, which stands to the credit of the unions and the men employed there. It is officially stated that the piece-work prices, which, have been arranged with the unions, will result in a saving of approximately £40,000 on the 12,500-ton boats, and a saving of £16,000 on the 600-ton boats. That result has been brought about because the new Board has been able to put things on a business basis. We should be1 able to depend on the loyalty of Government Departments to make shipbuilding in Australia practicable. Statements have been made in the press to the effect that it is not possible for Australia to build ships. Under the conditions previously existing, I agree. If a sjhip. cost £30 or £40 a ton to build eighteen months or two years ago, there is no evidence available to deny that under the new conditions a ship will not cost considerably less to-day. No one can say how much construction will cost ; I believe, however, that a considerable reduction will be shown in the cost of shipbuilding in Australia. I do not know if honorable senators have noticed, a list which has been furnished with respect to Cockatoo Island. It shows that soon after getting into operation the authorities were able to do away with twelve foremen.
– I thought that the Committee was dealing with the Navy.
– The question of the Na.vy cannot be separated from that of shipbuilding generally. In all Public Departments a greater measure of firmness in administration is necessary. During the inquiry of the Commission of which I was a member, I became dissatisfied concerning the revelations about administration. I want to know the attitude of the Government regarding the duplication at present existing. I wish to be informed if it is to be continued, or whether the Government will be firm enough to say that work which can be done must be done at the cheapest place. We can only carry on one big shipbuilding concern at Sydney, and that one can do the whole of the naval work neces sary. I trust that this country will receive 20s. for every £.1 spent upon the Na.vy. I doi not know that we are getting that to-day, however. I understood that at the administrative head-quarters in Melbourne there is considerable overstaffing. A person whose word I can take, and whom. I regard as reliable and authoritative, likens head-quarters to a lot of rabbits running about a burrow. I do not ask that this man here or that man there shall be “ sacked.”
– Does the honorable senator know the facts?
– I regard the information given me as being correct, but it is no part of my duty to make inquiries in any -particular Department without having been given authority by the Senate to do so. Surely I am permitted to use my own judgment, to place my own value upon statements made to me, and to make use of such information as I may consider reliable. I think there will be a long continuance of peace. Even so, I am not one of those who think we should scrap our efficiency. I would keep efficiency at the very highest pitch : but there are matters -which are undoubtedly wrong, and the Government should exercise firmness in putting them right.
– ‘On behalf of the Government, I express gratitude to Senator Wilson and appreciation of the admissions which he has been frank enough to make. He is a professed apostle of economy. Therefore, I take his assurance that savings have been effected by the Government as a very fine certificate.
– Hear, hear !
– The Government have effected the economies to which the honorable senator refers, although I point out that they were in progress before the Commission of which he was a member had completed its labours.
– I admit that, lt wasi Sir Joseph Cook who got to work and “ shut things down “ at Cockatoo - -to his everlasting credit, be it said.
– Even so, it would not be right for the honorable senator to suggest that the Government were forced to take steps at Cockatoo Island because of the investigations of the Commission.
– I do not think I conveyed that impression.
– The idea of placing a new authority in control at the Island had been approved by the Government before “ the Commission was appointed. The first answer which tihe Government gave when the claim for the appointment of a Commission was urged was that they did not think it necessary; seeing that they had just created a new Board, it would be well to ascertain what came of its activities. However, pressure in the direction of appointing a Commission was maintained, and the Government acquiesced. Economy has now been effected, and the evidence that the Government have brought about economy should go for something in these days, when thoughtless people are repeating all sorts of statements tending to discredit the Government in respect of their control and administration of national finance. When persons take the responsibility of saying that certain Departments are overrun like a rabbit warren, they tend to feed a sinister impression already fanned by f outside “ interests. Responsibility rests with these persons. to learn whether uhere is- any substance in the allegations. /
– How could such an investigation be made ?
– I would not consider it my duty to repeat every statement made to me.
– How am I to satisfy myself ?
– If the honorable senator is satisfied of the correct- ‘ ness of a statement made to him, he should be prepared to say, “ I charge this Department with being so overstaffed that it reminds me of a rabbit warren.”
– I will not do that. But I got my information from a reliable source - a source of which I take notice. That is the only kind of information that can influence me. If I am to follow it up, will the Minister indicate bow I should go to work?
– If I could not place myself in possession of information supporting a statement of the kind I would not see fit to make it. Hewever, the remark is typical. I am accustomed to hearing public Departments referred to by outsiders as being filled with drones. No one will say that, here and there, there is not a surplus officer or an inefficient man upon a staff. But the sain© holds good of any and every large commercial establishment. It is bound to be true in regard to the Public Service, since members of Parliament are so careful to insure that public servants are not worked unduly. On the whole, however, the Commonwealth Departments are doing a fair thing with only reasonable numbers of hands upon the various staffs. Many branches, indeed, are suffering from understaffing. I refer, particularly, to the Taxation Department. With a larger staff available, that Department would not have been so far in arrears as it is to-day. If honorable senators cared to devote some attention to the sheaves of representations which have been made by responsible heads they would be impressed by the repeated recommendations for additional assistance.
– The Commonwealth Government undertook to reply to a statement made by the Premier of S»utn Australia to the effect that, where there were four officers in the Federal Taxation Department, there was only one in the State Department. I have not heard any. effective reply to that charge.
-There O might well be four members of the Commonwealth staff compared with, one State officer, particularly in the case of the State which the honorable senator represents. The Commonwealth Department assesses a number of taxpayers whamo the States do not deal with. I suggest that we should, a,t least, be fair to our own Departments.
– The statement of the Sou tih Australian Premier has not been replied to. It should receive an answer.
– A reply will bo furnished, no doubt; but it cannot be provided in a matter of a day or a week. It may be necessary to devote many days to a thorough examination of details in order to offer an effective reply.
– And, meanwhile, the difference of staffing - as pointed out - will have been remedied.
– The honorable senator is not justified in making a suggestion of that kind in respect of the Taxation Commissioner.
Concerning the continuation of operations at Garden Island, the honorable senator spoke emphatically of the ad- visableness of closing that establishment, and having all necessary work done at Cockatoo Island. The honorable senator is not a technical expert, any more than I am; but he remarked that there were certain high naval experts who had urged the continuance of the present system.
– Just as there were others who advised closing down.
– Whe When it is admitted that a considerable weight of expert opinion supports the maintenance of activities as they exist to-day, an uninformed member of the Federal Legislature is surely somewhat reckless in denouncing such authority and sweeping it aside.
– I tried to weigh the evidence.
– All scales do not weigh accurately. If the honorable senator made an honest effort to weigh such evidence as was placed before the Commission, it may be taken for granted that other persons also made equally honest’ efforts to do the same ; and there is no reason why each and all should not have come to different conclusions. Is there any justification for the indignation - simulated, I feel sure - with which the honorable senator denounced those who had arrived at conclusions differing from his own?
– Would the Minister wish me to believe that there is no departmental friction ?
– C Certainly not. I would not ask the honorable senator to believe that there is no departmental friction in any avenue of business, private or public. But experts, while recommending the continuance of docking activities at Cockatoo Island, have pointed out certain advantages arising from having certain fittings, gun-placings, and the like, done at Garden Island. Such work is undertaken there by ships’ artificers. These are men who will be attached to naval vessels in case of war, and who will be sent away with those craft in the event of naval activities developing. This provides employment for them meanwhile, and furnishes an opportunity for them to keep up their training. These things, the Naval authorities agree, provide justification for the maintenance of the refitting establishment at Garden Island.
The Government also feel that this course is justified. There is no duplication in the work carried out in these establishments. At Garden Island the work is of a highly-technical nature, and commercial ship-builders, who are not trained for such work, cannot do it efficiently.
– The Commission took a lot of evidence on that score.
– I I do not know that the volume of evidence counts so much as the quality of it.
– All the best men in the service gave evidence.
– I have no doubt that the honorable senator would like to hold the Government responsible both for the quality of the witnesses and the evidence they submitted.
– Senator Lynch seemed to ridicule the idea of objecting to the expenditure of a mere 15s. per head of the population on the defence of Australia. At the inception of the Commonwealth we were told by the framers of the Constitution that the whole cost of Federation would be only 2s. 6d. per head.
– But you and I did not believe them then.
– We were told that the cost -per head would be the sum required to register a dog.
– Was the war anticipated at that time ‘(
– No; but we are anticipating war now by committing the country to an expenditure of £4,000,000. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) suggested that if Great Britain trained its men in colleges there was no reason why Australia should depart from that policy. Half-a-dozen fast cruisers could patrol the coasts of Great Britain daily; but to provide sufficient ships to properly patrol the Australian coast would impose a financial burden that the people could not possibly bear. Although the British Navy during the recent war certainly protected Great Britain, it never proved itself to be an effective force. The British Naval authorities were never able to give the military leaders a guarantee that Germany could not land a force somewhere on the British Isles. - On that account, throughout the war, there were always in England 3,000,000 men of military age. Even in the disastrous days of 1918 that was the position, and one of the chief reasons for it was that the British Navy acted merely as a spectator of the war. My contention is that Australia should concentrate its attention on defence on land. We should continue to manufacture rifles. If we found ourselves at war we would not have a sufficient supply to carry us on for six months. The manufacture in Australia of the material required for defence should he our first consideration.
-brockman. - It is a very important matter.
– With our limited population we could never dream of establishing a naval force sufficiently strong to defend the whole of our coastline. I would scrap, not the effective parts of the Australian Navy, but the Administrative Staff. Senator Lynch has criticised the newspapers for the attitude they have adopted; but I would remind him that the press is reflecting the views of every man in the street. It knows that Australia is confronted . by a very serious financial problem. To obtain real economy we need efficiency. The Training College, as at present organized, was justified when called into existence. Now, however, we have many men in Australia who have had experience of actual warfare, and have had a better, training than any college could. impart. The ships of the Australian Navy are always found where the wealth is. That is, near the capital cities, and very little protection could be afforded to our island Territories. While I desire to have the most efficient naval force possible, I would reduce expenditure in connexion with the Administrative Staff. One branch writes to another, it seems to me, simply for the purpose of giving it something to do. I know a case where’ a man employed ab Cockatoo Island almost lost his position because he refused to leave some important work in order to furnish a report which was demanded at a moment’s notice.
– Fifty-three clerks have been sacked there, so that ought to improve matters from your point of view.
– If there were proper organization there would be no need for any unemployment in Australia. My objection to the Navy is that I can see no security to be given by it, as at present organized, whereas there are immense possibilities in the direction of land defence. Here is an opportunity to exercise economy. My criticism need not be interpreted as a condemnation of the Government.
– Is the honorable senator implying that the Minister is angry with my criticism?
– He is angry with the press criticism. The Government and Parliament must wake up. The time for economy is here. The cost of governing this country has exceeded by a hundredfold or more the estimate of cost made by the statesmen who brought this Parliament into existence. We pay £20,000,000 interest on war loans. We were not told of that expenditure when asked to come into the Federation. In spite of all .the increased cost, I venture to say that we are acting to-day as in prewar days. I do not blame the Government any more than Parliament, or Parliament any more than the people. We are not making any effort to realize that things are not as they were prior to 1914. I am only touching the fringe of this question. Instead of going into recess, Parliament should go into session to consider how to deal with the financial position, and to bring about economy, not by a vote cast in ten minutes, but by a decision that would be for the good of Australia. The Government brings in the Estimates, and gets them through in the same old way, as they are, of course, able to do with the majority they have behind them. But they are missing their opportunity. I suppose it will.be our opportunity next, and then, perhaps, we will do the same.
– I would like to refer to one or two points mentioned by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in reply to Senator Wilson. I am not backing my opinion against that of experts at Cockatoo Island or in the Navy Department. I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that there is machinery worth hundreds of thousands of pounds lying, idle at Cockatoo Island. It is principally there for the use of the Navy, and unless work is done at the Island the machinery stands idle. It is a waste of the people’s money. I am told that the feeling between the Navy Department and those in charge at Cockatoo Island is the same as it was before the recent inquiry was held. That is to say, the Navy officials are quite sure that they are the only people who can carry out naval repairs. Statements to that effect were made by all the Navy witnesses, from the Admiral down to the bottom of the ladder. On the other hand, we had evidence from those who had been in the shipbuilding business all their lives that Cockatoo Island is well equipped for carrying out naval repairs, and can do the work satisfactorily. The Minister made a remark about officers of the ships doing repairs. Minor repairs can be done by the officers of the ships, but there are many larger repairs which can be done at Cockatoo Island. This would avoid the keeping of two staffs. There are many things done at Garden Island which can only be done there. I give all credit to those concerned for the magnificent saving of £493,790, which has been made in a few months. Those responsible deserve the thanks of the Government and the Parliament. I understand that in making that saving efficiency has not been sacrificed, and that the same amount of work is now being done with fewer hands. The Government, the Naval authorities, and the shipbuilding authorities ought to give serious consideration to this matter, with a view to coming to a definite agreement whereby the machinery can be used and effective work done.
I do not want to go injo the question of the defence of Australia, but I wish to express a pious hope that the Washington Conference will be a landmark in the evolution of humanity. As far as I can gather, it will be one of the greatest blessings that has come to Australia from a defence point of view. We are everlastingly being told that our enemy is in the East. Everybody knows what that means. If the English-speaking world can come to an agreement with that Power in the East, then the immediate danger to Australia vanishes. No other Power represents any danger to. Australia. I have the sincerest faith still in the Washington Conference. I do not think the Eastern menace is what people represent it to be. I have not the “ Japanese fever,” if I may use that term. I am not in the least degree troubled as to what the,Japanese may do in my lifetime or the lifetime of my children, and I think it would be foolish to work up any scare on the subject.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Departments of Navy and Defence (Ant Services).
Proposed vote, £100,000.
– I noticed in the press this morning some comment by the responsible head of the company that is running the air mail services in Western Australia, and a reply to his allegations by the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie). A statement was made that proper landing grounds had not been prepared. I have been given to understand that a great deal of the preliminary work in connexion with the location of sites, surveys of routes, and the preparation of landing grounds has been done by private individuals associated under the title of the Aero Club. Much of this work waa done prior to the inauguration of the Department’s air services, and it’ is said that there has been practically no recognition by the Department of this work, but that the Department has claimed all the credit for it. I regret that the Estimates do not furnish any particulars regarding the personnel of the air services or the details of the expenditure. I remember that Senator Pearce, when introducing a special Bill to deal with civil and military aviation, referred to the estimated cost for twelve months. Half of that time has gone, and the Estimates are submitted to the Committee in such a way that we are unable to form any idea of how the expenditure will be allocated, or of what the staff will consist. . A sum of £77,000 is set down for “ pay,” and -£30,000 for “ general expenses,” but beyond that we know nothing. Is there any possibility of the Air Service Force getting into closer contact with the associated companies or the Aero Club, so that the Department may not only avail itself of all the information which these people have collected in their private -capacity, beyond that which they have already supplied to the Department, but that it may also give them due credit for the work they have done in coordinating the efforts of those who are trying to establish the flying business in Australia. I had hoped, in common with, other honorable senators, that a Ministerial statement supplementary to that made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) would have been made regarding the Air Force. I offered some criticism at that time regarding the value of the gift aeroplanes from the Imperial Government. I said that while not in any way wishing to decry the value oi the gifts, I wondered whether the effect of the reports to the press, and of the statements made by members of the Government, had not been to give the people an inflated idea of their value. It waa stated that we would ‘be told when the Estimates were brought forward exactly how some of the machines were going to be used. I think it was Senator Pearce who made that promise, but beyond the bald statement of the. amount of money necessary for the Force, we have received no information.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £745,357.
.- I should like some information about the items - Bureau of Commerce and Industry, £6,025 j the Australian Trade Commissioner in China, £7,340; and the .Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, £16,007. Is the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in a position to say what are the actual results from inquiries made by the Bureau of Commerce and Industry during the past financial year? I find that £2,200 is set down for temporary assistance, and up to the present I have not heard of anything that should justify a total expenditure of over £6,000 for the Bureau.
– Its work in connexion with the organization of the woollen industry will more than justify its existence for the next twenty yea.rs.
– That was done before the establishment of the Bureau at all.
– I presume that the activities of the Australian Trade Commissioner in China are linked up with the work of the Bureau, and in connexion with this matter, I should like to state that, as the result of faulty information supplied by the Bureau, considerable inconvenience and expense were caused re cently to a Tasmanian company. It appears that information was desired as to the price at which sleepers could be supplied to China. The details were duly forwarded by the Bureau, and later a reply was received from the Trade Commissioner in China to the effect that the tender was useless, because the price was f.o.b., whereas it should have been c.i.f. This information should have been supplied to the Tasmanian company at the outset. Subsequently, the amended tender was forwarded, and a reply was received from the Trade Commissioner stating that the cable was unintelligible. This was a most extraordinary state of affairs. The first cable was sent in the same code, and, apparently, it was intelligible, because the Trade Commissioner replied asking for an amended tender, and the second, cable, we must presume, was sent in the same code. Altogether the transaction was most unbusiness-like. The Bureau is supposed to foster Australian trade as much” as possible, instead ‘ of which, in this instance, the people concerned were placed in an entirely false position, and were put to’ considerable expenditure and inconvenience.
– Having despatched the cable, I -should think the responsibility of the Bureau would cease.
– At all events, the trouble would not have arisen if, in the first instance, the Bureau in Melbourne had furnished full information as to the nature of the tender required.
Turning now to the Institute of Science and Industry, I find that the estimated expenditure this year is £16,007. Last year the vote was £15,000, and the expenditure £16,042. I am quite” convinced that we are not getting value for our money, and I should like the Minister to give us an assurance that the Institute will be placed on a more effective basis at the earliest possible date. The anticipations as to the value of its work are not being realized. It has been suggested that one reason is that the Institute has not been furnished with all the necessary appliances. We have a Science Institute in name, but not in fact. It is reprehensible that we should continue spending such a large sum of money on a body which could be made of great service* to Australia, but which, because of the lack of certain material, is not able to fulfil its functions.
– The Institute is carrying out important investigations for the manufacture ol paper on a commercial scale, using 66 per cent: of local timber.
– I am not suggesting that the Institute is not doing its best under the circumstances. “What I am “saying is that if more appliances are required they should be supplied. We were given to understand, when this Institute was created> that it was going to. be a most valuable one. It was never anticipated that we should be spending £16,000 a year upon it, and that for the lack of the necessary equipment it. would be unable to do what was intended of it.
– How much more money do you want to give it?
– I do not want to vote any more money for the work that is being performed.
– Investigations are . being made with a view to the destruction of prickly- pear, tick, and the manufacture of paper pulp. All these are highly important.
– That is not a very lengthy list. Probablyj it is very much smaller than it would have been if the Institute had been furnished with the appliances which, I understand, it needs urgently.
– Several scientists are voluntarily co-operating with, the Institute in the solution of the problems I. have mentioned. It has been found possible, I understand, to destroy a certain variety of the prickly- pear, but as there are several varieties, the work as yet is incomplete.
– The bulk of the expenditure, apparently, is accounted for by the administrative charges of the Institute. If it could be made of greater value to the people, additional expenditure might be money very well spent.
– I think that Mr. Knibbs and one clerk constitute the head office.
– I notice an item of £2.000 for temporary assistance. This, taken in conjunction with a similar vote under the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, makes a total of £4,800 for temporary assistance in these Departments. I think we are justified in expecting better results for all this expenditure.
– Some time ago, the Government advertised for a number of clerks for appointment to the staff of the Australian Trade Commissioner in China. Can the Minister say if any appointments were made?
– No. For the present, we are going slowly. The Prime Minister intends to make an announcement as to the Government’s policy this session, and will give an opportunity for full discussion on that subject.
– Could not some intimation be made, to the hundreds of applicants? I know- of a large number who applied and. who are awaiting, some public- notification.
– There were 800 applications for one position, and no one has been selected.
– If only one is to be appointed it is time a selection was made, because every one is wondering whether the consideration of the applica- . ti ons has been indefinitely postponed.
– I anticipate being able to supply information within a few days.
– I am extremely disappointed with the results achieved by the Institute of Science and industry. I do not wish to enter into a serious criticism concerning its work, because I know it has been faced with grave difficulties, but I was surprised at the outset to learn that Mr. Knibbs had been appointed Director of the Institute. . There is not the slightest doubt that he is a most estimable gentleman in his. own particular sphere, but it appears to me that for controlling an Institute of this nature we should have secured the services of a fully qualified scientific man, even if it meant going abroad. I do not think any honorable senator could say .that it was not work which called for special qualifications, both administrative and scientific, and it is to be regretted that a man such as Mr. Knibbs; who has undoubtedly rendered good service to Australia in another sphere of activity, should have been selected. I would not for a moment question his abilities in an administrative capacity, or as a statistician, but his scientific qualifications are not at all satisfactory.
– He was not appointed as a scientist, but as ‘a business organizer.
– Very well. But who could organize the work better than a properly qualified scientist? This job calls for scientific qualifications, and it is not a question of business organizing ability, because there is not any business to organize. According to the Minister, Mr. . Knibbs has the assistance of one boy.
– Mr. Knibbs has been in the other States, and as a result of has visits there is now co-operation.
– Is it not obvious that if we had had a man with special scientific qualifications he could have organized those things which are of consequence to Australia?
– No. I have been associated with such management, and found it impossible to clean up the business paper.
– Then you had the wrong men. If the Government could not have secured a good man in Australia they should have gone to other countries and procured the best scientist available. The conditions in Australia demand that.
– I was referring to an honorary body.
– Voluntary service is a totally different proposition, and no one anticipates receiving very material success from a voluntary Board. In this instance we are dealing with an Institute established under Commonwealth law, and I say definitely and clearly that it was the duty of the Government to have secured the services of the best scientist available, even if it meant sending to other countries. - The problems confronting us are of such importance that we should not refrain from spending money to secure the best men.
– I hardly agree with the criticism of Senator John D. Millen concerning the Director of the Institute of Science and Industry. His remarks remind me of what happened when Mr. Knibbs was appointed as Commonwealth Statistician.
– He was a much younger man then.
– The same arguments were used, but in another way, because it was then said that he was a scientist and not a statistician. I was a member of the Government when Mr, Knibbs was appointed Commonwealth Statistician, and the criticism then was that he was more suited for scientific work.
– What scientific experience has he had?
– He was professor 0 in science.
– And a professor of physics in the Sydney University.
– That is not so.
– That is the information I have, and I have verified it. Mr. Knibbs’ reputation as an. administrator and his scientific qualifications should enable him to carry on the work of that Department with the greatest degree of success, and although it was supposed to be work to which he was unaccustomed, I venture to say that when his record as head of the Bureau of Census and Statistics is compared with corresponding work in other countries, it will not suffer in the slightest. In his new office, I am sure he will discharge his duties with equal distinction, provided he has the support of the Government and of the Parliament. It would appear that the Institute of Science and Industry and the Bureau of Commerce and Industry have done very little up to the present, but that is probably due to the fact that there has been some uncertainty on the part of the Government as to whether Parliament would provide the necessary funds. These proposed votes are before us some time after the Department has been brought into existence, and if there has been any feeling, on the part of the Government or heads of the Departments that Parliament would not- adequately provide for all requirements, I can understand that they have not shown very much activity or yet demonstrated their usefulness. If that is the position, I trust the Government will take an early opportunity of explaining the situation, because the Institute is a very important one to Australia, and I doubt very much if we are likely to make a success of it unless we spend a fairly large sum.
– That is so. We called for applications for a full Board of three, two of whom were to be scientists, but Parliament refused to find the money.
– It would be appalling if we did not have sufficient means to enable the Institute to function successfully. I should like some assurance from the Minister as to whether he considers that what we have provided here, if passed by this Parliament, will enable the Institute to work up to. the limits indicated in the measures passed by this Parliament. I am inclined to believe that there has been a halt because of the uncertainty of the financial provision Parliament would cjnake. Eeference has been made to the fact that applications have been invited for positions in the Institute, and although the advertisements appeared six months ago, so far as I can understand no selection has been yet made. I trust that before this Bill is disposed of we shall have same assurance that the work of these institutions is not likely to be hampered owing to the uncertainty of financial support, and that tho.y will be able to get to work without any further delay and thus justify the existence of the establishing Statutes which Parliament has passed and the appropriations now sought.
– I quite agree with a good deal that has been said by Senator John D. Millen and Senator Keating in connexion with this matter. But the present position is not altogether the fault of the Government, because the proposal to appoint two scientists to the Board was received in a hostile manner. Mr. Knibbs was appointed to perform the administrative work, and was to have the assistance of two scientists, ‘but Parliament was not willing, on the grounds of economy, to support such a proposal. Although we advertised for scientists abroad, no appointments have’ yet been made, but it is the intention of the Government to make a selection when circumstances permit. In regard to the Bureau of Commerce and Industry I should be glad if honorable senators would visit the office, in order to gain some idea of the volume of international correspondence handled. Manufacturers from all parts of Great Britain and other countries are continually seek ing information concerning the possibility of establishing industries here. A request was received from Queensland for the Director to visit that State to organize the woollen industry, and, as a result of his work, which extended over two months, woollen mills valued at £200,000 have been established there.
– Does the Minister seriously suggest that the Bureau of Commerce and Industry could supply information regarding manufacture in Australia that the Chamber of Manufactures could not?
– I am not suggesting that ; but the Director -has assisted in organizing manufactories in Australia. I have seen the correspondence in connexion with the work done in Queensland, and letters of thanks have been received for the assistance given in placing the industry on a sound footing. There are probably hundreds interested in the Queensland woollen mills who do not know anything concerning the manufacture of wool, and the help and advice rendered by the Director has been of great value. In Victoria the woollen mills at Warrnambool. Colac, and Bendigo have been assisted, and before very long we shall have eight or ten mills in Victoria, in which probably £1,000,000 of capital will have been invested. The Director of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry has Ibeen largely responsible for stimulating this important work. A good deal of voluntary work is being done in connexion with the Institute. Nearly all the universities in Australia are linked up with it, and the professors give their services freely. I remember that when we were confronted with the mice plague, the best scientists were brought from the Old Country to help us to cope with the difficulty. A man like Dr. Lefroy was brought from Great Britain to assist us with all his Indian experience, and yet it was left to a South Australian, I am glad to say, in the person of Professor Hargreaves, to invent a system for the destruction of wheat weevil at a cost of less than £d. per bushel, whereas it had cost us from 3d. to 4d. per bushel to deal with the weevil plague under the old system. I shall not be- surprised to learn that, as a result of that discovery by a South Australian scientist, we have saved wheat to the value of £200,000 since 1915-16.
– Was the scientist re- . numerated for his- discovery?
– I am glad’ to say that both the South Australian and Victorian Governments voted £200 each to this gentleman, and defrayed the cost of the publication of his book describing experiments made in the handling of wheat: We should take off our hats to a man like that. He not only saved our wheat when its destruction was threatened, but he taught us to preserve it by the cheapest system known in the world today. By following his advice, in the construction of. silos with light frames covered with malthoid, and the introduction of the gases necessary to prevent the development of the weevil, it costs only about id. per bushel per annum to preserve our wheat. As the British Government were paying us ^d. per bushel per month to watch their wheat, honorable senators will “see what a valuable discovery this gentleman made.
– And he was given only £200?
– I think ‘that he received £200 from each of the State Governments of South Australia and Victoria. I do not think that he received by any means adequate remuneration for the service he rendered, and I should personally have been glad to support a proposal that the Commonwealth Government should do something in the matter but for the fact that we do not own any wheat. I think the New South Wales Government might have contributed to the remuneration of this gentleman, as, since they possessed the largest quantity of wheat, they derived a greater advantage from his discovery than did the Governments of Victoria and South Australia. The Institute of Science .and Industry is not a greater success because we have been unable to provide sufficient money for its operations. If we were to vote £20,000 or £25,000 a year for the Institute, it would be given a chance to carry out valuable work. Although the “ expenditure would ultimately be repaid ten times over, money is not now readily obtainable, and we cannot vote as much as we should like to do for this purpose. In a modified way, the Institute is doing useful work, and is laying the foundation of what should one day become a great scientific university. We do not want to be behind the rest of the world.. The methods adopted in our farming and other industries are not up to date. Jam has been exported, from Australia which has injured our reputation. I regret to say that some of our millers have allowed, flour to go out of this country which should not have been exported. Such things injure our trade seriously, and I bitterly resent the exportation of inferior products.
– The Wheat Board should not have sold bad wheat to the millers.
– The Central Wheat Board didcot sell a bushel of it. The State Governments of South Australia and Victoria sold it.
– But the honorable senator was. blaming the millers.
– Yes, because they should be the best judges of the quality of the wheat they use.
– They could not make good flour out of some of that wheat.
– I do not desire to ‘ specially refer to individuals in this matter. Its importance transcends the interests of individuals; and,, speaking generally, it may be said that the. man. who exports* a ton of bad flour, badly canned fruit, or inferior jam, is an enemy to Australia. We want scientific men who are able to show us how to carry on our- industries on up-to-date lines. Our fruit-growers are finding it difficult to dispose of their, fruit because of the prejudice created against our products during the war by the faulty packing of jams, in bulk and’ in the ordinary 2-lb. tins.
– Will the Instituteof Science and- Industry deal with such questions as that?
– Yes. It can experiment in these matters. I have known men coming here from California who could tell honorable senators anything they might wish to know about the fruitcanning industry. Fruit is perfectly, packed there, and is well advertised by the adoption of most attractive labels. We require to introduce men of experience to teach our people how to develop their industries.
– Does the Minister mean to say that we are unable to can fruit in Australia as well as the Americans do it?
– We may be able to do so, but there is evidence that it has not always been done. In connexion with the manufacture of jam, I have seen vegetable marrows and glucose used in the manufacture of jam instead of fruit and sugar. That kind of jam is bound to injure the reputation of the Australian industry. Honorable senators have recently seen press reports of what went on at a factory, not 3 miles away from here. Those controlling that factory did immense injury to our jam trade, and finished up by going insolvent. Honorable senators have no doubt seen the controversy that went on between Mr. Lawson, the Premier of Victoria, and the jam-making company to which I refer. It is a good job that it has gone out of the business, but itf did a lo.t of harm to our trade. I hope that the little scientific organization that we have will be kept going, and that when times become more normal the vote for the Institute will be, not twice, but ten times as’ much as we are now able to afford. There are many problems facing the primary producers of Australia in connexion with which we require the aid of scientists. We must have their aid in the investigation of hookworm and of nodules in beef. The British Government have placed an embargo on the importation of shoulders of beef in which there are nodules. It is said that these are not harmful, but in this way Australian producers lose many thousands’ of pounds every year. When our wheat was affected by mice and weevil, Americans sent experts to this country to investigate the plagues.
The’ TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Buzacott) . - The honorable senator has exhausted the time allowed him by the Standing Orders.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) (“4.40]. - I wish to refer to a small matter connected with the Trade and Customs Department which was brought under notice by the Auditor-General in his report for last year. He refers to a quantity of dressed rice removed from bond by Parsons and Company to Parsons’ Excise warehouse, in Melbourne, free of duty, under the authority of the Customs Department, for the purpose of being manufactured into starch. Later on the starch was sold, but the duty which should have been collected on the rice under the Tariff was nob collected. The Auditor-
General brought the matter under the notice of the Trade and Customs Department, and also under the notice of the Attorney-General’s Department. The Attorney-General’s Department declared that the duty should have been collected, and mentioned the fact that the uncollected duty on rice of this description entering into the manufacture of starch involved a sum of £3,000 up to date. He wrote to the Trade and Customs. Depart- -ment on the subject fully three months before the Auditor-General’s report was published, and yet no answer was supplied. I direct .attention to the fact that there appear to be two authorities interpreting differently the regulations of the Trade and Customs Department. The Trade and Customs Department, by a liberal interpretation of its regulations, decided that no duty should be collected on this rice, whilst the Crown Law Department is of opinion that -duty should have been collected upon it. Do the Customs regulations require re-drafting to enable this duty to be collected? The sum of £3,000 is a .fairly respectable sum to allow the manufacturers of starch to keep if the regulations say that it ought to be paid into the Treasury.
With respect to the Institute of Science and Industry, if the Government are influenced by feeling in the Senate, they will not be very chary about submitting an adequate vote for this all-important branch of the Trade and Customs Department. If we are to hold our own we cannot afford to ignore the teaching of science in the carrying on of our industries.
– Why is the chemical, research Department separated from the Institute of Science and Industry?
– That must be due to a lack of organization. o
– It is proposed to link up the Institute of Science and Industry with the Board of Trade.
– These are allied forms of government activity which should be under one head. A vote of £16,000 is, comparatively speaking, a paltry vote for this most valuable purpose. Wherever we look in the fields of production in Australia, whether of stock or crops, we find that our industries are attacked on every side by pests and diseases, which require close scientific research if they are to be’ overcome. In connexion with stock, for instance, it is found that horses cannot be used with advantage in the tropical parts of this country. That remark indicates a valuable field of investigation. There are serious troubles which afflict horned stock and sheep. The blowfly is responsible for the destruction of, perhaps, 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 sheep annually. Then, with regard to wheat and fruit, each of these lines of produce has its own problems and troubles, minor and major, which, in the aggregate, involve a serious diminution of the wealth of Australia. I read, some years ago, an article published in the Age, under the heading of “ A Romance of Science.” Its purport was that the Bureau of Science in the United States of America had sent a professor to make investigations all along the eastern coast-line of Asia. He returned after two years, and introduced to the blizzard-swept western and northern States a variety of clover, the spread of which was the direct cause of increasing the value of enormous areas of land from so many cents to so many dollars per acre. The Government may be assured that tlie Senate will approve of any expenditure in directions such as those.
– The Minister (Senator Russell) remarked that the millers of Australia had placed themselves in a position of illrepute for having sent flour overseas which was not fit for human consumption. The Minister should not have made quite such a sweeping condemnation, for it is hardly fair to the milling firms concerned. They were being besieged by customers, on the one hand, who desired their flour, and, in response, they themselves, on the other hand, were besieging the Wheat Board authorities to let them have wheat for gristing. All they could get was second-quality wheat.
– There was only enough first class wheat for home consumption.
– Exactly ; but if there was any blame attachable, it should have been shared by the people who sold the millers the wheat.
– But it was the millers who made the inferior flour, and who knew what they were selling abroad.
– Those who sold the wheat were aware of the class of grain which they were selling for gristing. I repeat that the Minister should not say that the millers were entirely responsible.
– I referred also to those who had exported inferior jam3 and canned fruits, and my remarks in respect of those people were just as scathing. If I had my way I would prosecute any person who sent goods out of Australia which were not according to description.
– I appreciate that; but there is scarcely any excuse for exporters of canned fruits sending away inferior stuff.
– There is no excuse.
– If tiie Institute does nothing more than improve the standard of the goods exported, it will have rendered valuable service.
– I understand that the new rates of duty in respect of sewing machines are to become operative from the 1st January next. That, at any rate, was provided for by Parliament. I have heard, however, that such will not be the case. I want to know if the new duties will come into operation from the beginning of the New Year, or whether there is to be a further postponement? If the latter course is adopted, it would be well for the Government to make an immediate announcement to that effect. Injustice will be done if” certain parties are given an opportunity to secure undue advantages.
– I quite agree with the views expressed by Senator Gardiner. I understand that there is tg be a further postponement because the Australian manufacturers are not yet ready to begin upon the active production of these machines. I shall place before the responsible Minister the question of making an announcement at the earliest possible moment.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Works and Railways. Proposed vote, £810,911.
. -The sum of £280,000 is sought to be provided for working expenses in connexion with the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway. I want to know what is the total amount of debt consisting of loan money upon that system.
– The line was chiefly built out of- revenue.
– I understood that some loan money was raised, either for the completion of the line or for necessary works. I cannot find’ any reference iri the schedule to any charge which has been made against Consolidated Revenue for interest upon any such sum of loan money as may have been expended.
– The money is probably being provided from revenue. The east-west railway has never paid, although an improvement has been recently shown. Most of the money spent in connexion with the railway system was borrowed from what was known as the Trust Loan. That was raised on the security of the surplus gold held in the Treasury. Work upon the line has not yet been completed. Ballasting is still proceeding, and cottages are being erected for workmen, to replace bag huts. In addition, uptodate workshops are being constructed at Port Augusta, so that all necessary repairs may be carried out on the spot. In that direction considerable savings will ultimately be made.
– My references were to the cost of the line. The total loan expenditure upon the system to date is set out at £6,040,000. I want to know where the interest upon that money is shown to be charged to revenue. Are we not paying interest upon the expenditure, even though the money may have been raised on the strength of Commonwealth resources? Or are we paying interest upon loan money out of loans? No matter where the money may have been borrowed from, the interest- upon it should be shown by some method of book-keeping.
– I understand that it is provided out of special appropriations.
– From revenue or from loan ?
– From revenue. Loan money is never used for payment of interest in any direction. The estimated interest upon Commonwealth Inscribed Stock is £131,765. That has ta do with a special appropriation out of revenue to meet a debt upon the railway. The capital cost is being paid out of money raised by inscribed stock.
– Does not expenditure covering the payment of interest appear in the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure?
– The expenditure is set out in the Estimates, which, as Senator Foster pointed out, totals £280,000.
– That is the sum estimated for working expenses.
– It is not the practice to re-vote the amount of interest payable, for the reason that this is a permanent appropriation, which i9 carried on until the debt has been paid.
– But it would have to be provided for out of the revenue of the Commonwealth.
– The interest shown under special appropriations is in respect to loan expenditure in connexion with the railway.
.- I do not quite understand the explanation given by the Minister (Senator Russell). No matter what interest we have to pay, it ought to appear in the Estimates, because I presume it comes out ofi revenue. If an appropriation is provided for by special Act, that would explain the position.
Last year the loss on the working of the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway was estimated to be £23,500, and the actual loss amounted to £30,861. This year we are asked to provide sufficient to meet an estimated loss of £53,115. Cannot some means be devised whereby the loss on this line .may be kept at a stationary figure?
– -Extend the line to the Macdonnell Ranges.
– We are entitled to know the reason for the increasing loss.
– The loss occurs on that part of the line between Quorn and Port Augusta, over which the east-west railway traffic passes. Relaying of the rails has been found necessary.
– It is possible that South Australia is getting the best of the bargain through Commonwealth rails being laid on a South Australian line, and I would like that suspicion removed from my mind. Is it a fact that South Australia will not maintain its portion of the line in a sufficiently good condition to carry the east- west express traffic?
– The Commonwealth took over this line from the South
Australian Government. It is Commonwealth property; and 40-lb. rails have to be replaced by heavier rails.
– South Australia has received so much from, the Commonwealth in the past, and the CommonWealth has had so little in return, that we should be careful that it does not get more than a fair deal.
– A wild statement such as Senator Gardiner has just uttered may be very misleading. The line in question is part of the trans-continental railway. Does Senator Gardiner imagine that steel rails will not wear out simply because the Commonwealth Government happens to take over a certain line from South Australia? He should not give vent to his suspicions, unless he can show that he has some justification for them.
– - I do not desire to be misrepresented. I rose for the purpose of having a suspicion removed, and the Minister (Senator Russell) was able to remove it. When I said that the .Commonwealth had given so much’ to South Australia, and had obtained so little in return, I had in mind various deals between the Commonwealth and the State in which South Australia got the best of the bargain. I think it is not only the right, but the duty, of any honorable senator who sees that large sums of money are being expended, to insist upon the fullest details being supplied. This is ‘ particularly so if it is known that the State in which the money is to be spent has been getting much, for little in the past. I am referring particularly to the Northern Territory and the Oodnadatta railway deal. The amount paid in connexion with’ the Oodnadatta railway was preposterous. I accepted the Minister’s explanation with satisfaction. I think it is better, even for South Australia, to be outspoken in these matters ‘ than to be harboring suspicions that are not justified. I am glad to know that the Commonwealth Government has control of this railway. I admit, in reply to Senator Senior, that iron and steel really do wear out.
– I am not satisfied with the “explanation given by the Minister (Senator Russell) in connexion with this matter. Any expenditure on replacing or renew ing rails, building new bridges, or reballasting track, ought not to appear as a loss on the working of a railway.
– In connexion with a Loan Bill recently, before the Senate money was voted for putting in the new rails.
– I understand that the sum of £53,115 represents actually the loss on the railway, without taking ‘into account replacements or renewals. It seems to me incredible that such a loss as this should be incurred, considering the very limited* service given to the people who use the railway. From Maree to Oodnadatta they get a train once a fortnight, .unless there happens to be a special stock train-. On half the section between Quorn and Oodnadatta the people get only one train a fortnight.
– I - It is quite clear that the sum of £53,115 is the loss on the working of the railway.
– The section of the railway between Port Augusta and Quorn might, for all practical purposes, be cut out. I do not think there can be much loss on that particular section. In view of the great loss on the line as a whole, it is quits evident that further economies are necessary. We have to remember that since last year there has been a very considerable increase in the wages paid to the staff. It is an expensive railway to work, because gangs of men to work the trains have to be taken along with them. Attached to every train is a vehicle in which the men who are off shift sleep. Some means ought to be devised to reduce the loss, and the most effective way would be to extend the railway into the country farther north, so that additional traffic would be obtained, and better returns secured.
– The interest on loans amounts to £67,150, which is the annual charge on the purchase price of tlie railway. The contribution to sinking fund, under the South Australian Act, No. 648, of 1896, is *£4,400, and the loss on working is £53,115. For 1922 the loss on the working of the line was estimated by the South Australian Railway Commissioner to be £62,915, which, included a provision of £36,000 for special maintenance works.
– That is capital expenditure.
– Working expenses are not capital, expenditure. The provision for special maintenance works was subsequently reduced to £13,616. The anticipated loss was therefore £40,031, but it was greatly exceeded. Heavy flood repairs, high rates of pay, and the inclusion of debits belonging to former years, are responsible for most of the excess.
– Is there anything included in the item for renewal of rails?
– That conies in incidentally. The transcontinental express runs over part of the line. When the Commonwealth took over the line, 40-lb. rails were laid on it. These are worn out, and it is a danger now to run the express over them. They are being replaced with 80-lb. rails.
– Is the cost of rails included in the item of £53,115 ?
– No. The item refers only to working expenses. Legitimate repairs have to be carried out to keep the line in order, and there is a special vote of loan money for renewal of rails. If a flood causes damage, it is not fair to charge the cost of repairs to capital account unless the damage is very extensive.
.- It appears to me that more details might have been given by the Minister (Senator Russell), so as to allay the justifiable suspicions of some honorable members that the annual loss on this section; of the railway has been allowed to grow ; greater and greater without any effort having been made to stem the tide. The sum of £53,115 is almost equivalent to the total amount of interest that .has to be paid on the loan-money spent in purchasing the line from the South Australian Government. It is a very alarming proposition. If £40,000 of the money has been expended because some unforeseen calamity occurred, it should have been shown separately, so that. honorable members might have known what the annual loss on working the railway would normally amount to. If it was necessary to put down heavier rails to carry the Port AugustaKalgoorlie express over a section of the railway,- surely, from the point of view of public policy, the Port AugustaKalgoorlie line should be debited- with a share of that expenditure. The Port AugustaOodnadatta line would be justified in debiting to the KalgoorlieiPort Augusta line an annual sum for wear and tear caused to that section of the line over which the Kalgoorlie express runs. A greater loss is shown on this particular section than is justified by the facts, and it will probably militate against any proposal to increase the revenue in future by extending the line.
– The Committee may be interested in the figures that are quoted in the report of the Commonwealth Railways for the” year 1920-21. The Port AugustaOodnadatta railway is run by the Railway Commissioner of South Australia for the Commonwealth Government, and we have to accept his figures. On the 30th June, 1919; the excess of working expenses over revenue was £55,075; on the 30th June, 1920, it was £37,481; and on the 30th June, 1921, it was £60,460. Apparently the Commissioner of South Australia has not succeeded in getting good results from the operation of the line, and the transfer of control to Commonwealth management is now under consideration. That may give us better results -in the future.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £7,455,533. : Senator NEWLAND (South Australia) [5.32]. - I should like again io direct- the attention of the Minister (Senator Russell) to the great need there is foi”’ an extension of telephonic facilities in the out-back areas, and especially in Contra] Australia. Recently I had the privilege of travel”ing over a very considerable portion of the interior, and found that the people there were more interested in getting telephone connexion than railway facilities, because they realize that railway connexion in some instances is out of the question. Those who have been living in Central Australia, as well as in the north -western . portious of Queensland and northern parts of Western Australia, deserve the very best consideration it is possible to give them. It is time the Government made some provision in the way of telephone connexions, in order that they may be able to communicate with their nearest neighbour in case of accident or distress of any kind.
– I have already sent on to the Department a copy of tihe- honorable senator’s speech upon this subject made during the debate on the Works Estimates.
– I hope the Department will give careful consideration to all that I had to say on that occasion, and that some scheme to link up these isolated districts will be the outcome.
.-5-I indorse all that Senator Newland has said as to the need for improved telephonic and postal facilities in our country districts. Unfortunately, these conveniences have been cut down in recent years. In one district iri my State the people had a better mail service seventy years ago than they have to-day. In some districts a service twice daily has been cut down to once daily, and in others a daily service has been replaced by a service only three times a week.
– Are there as many people there to-day as formerly?
– Yes. The district I have in mind is one of the most thriving agricultural areas in Australia. I am continually getting letters complaining of the lack of these facilities. I have just received a communication from one of our best producers in the middle north. He informs me that he went to all the expense of putting up telephone poles through his own paddocks to get connexion with the departmental line, and expected that, as the departmental men were connecting other places in the district, ‘his property would also be connected. He states, “ I did not pay, because tihey did not ask me,” but it appears that the Department has laid it down that only those who lodge pay ment with their application will get a connexion. This gentleman would, of course, have paid had he been asked to do so, because he is a man of substance, and a few pounds would make no difference to him. He simply says that he did not pay because he was not asked to pay, and as a result it isa likely that the departmental linesmen will 6a leaving the district without giving him a connexion.
– If the honorable senator will give me the particulars I shall have an immediate investigation.
– I can assure the Minister that when I get a case like this I go right on. People in the country want more consideration than they are receiving at the hands of the Department. It is all very well for honorable senators to think that we who more directly represent, country constituencies are always harping on this matter. I can assure them thalj- the circumstances demand repeated statements as to the need for improving the telephonic and postal facilities in our country districts. Nothing can be gained by unwise economy in this Department, because it is revenue producing. If the Senate had any authority to increase the vote for this Department I would favour that course.
– I can promise the honorable senator that we want to straighten out cases such as that which he has just mentioned.
– I shall accept the Minister’s assurance that he will assist me in this matter. The vote for the Department should be increased, because the lack of these essential facilities is retarding the development of this country. The statement made recently by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) that many thousands of people who want telephonic communication will be disappointed, even at the end of this year, is an alarming one, and it is up to the Federal Parliament to see what can be done to remedy the position. c
.- Conditions similar to those mentioned by Senator Newland as existing in the Northern Territory obtain in the north and north-west of my State; and I hope that the Government will remember them in any proposals that may be made to extend telephonic communication in the interior. Queensland is suffering another disadvantage in that there is no direct telephonic connexion between Brisbane and Sydney, as is the case between” the other capital cities of the Commonwealth. This would pay from the outset, because it would connect up the whole of the Queeusland system with Sydney and the other States. I should like to know how long it will be before this work will be put in hand.
.- It is probable, I think, that not many honorable senators have noticed the enormous increase in the estimated expenditure this year, as compared with last year, for the conveyance of mails over the railway systems of the various States. In view of the criticism - sometimes not altogether justified - that is so frequently directed against the Federal Parliament for what is termed extravagance, it is as well that the critics should know that the State railway authorities are, to some extent, responsible for the enormous increase in expenditure in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department this year. I understand that a demand was made on the Federal Government not long ago by the whole of the State railway authorities for a substantial increase in the sum paid for the conveyance of ‘mails over the railway lines.
– A Bill was introduced to give effect to an arrangement.
– Yes; but it was not proceeded with, so I take it that there was a conference of the authorities directly concerned, and that the increased vote under this heading is the outcome. The following figures showing the estimated expenditure this year as compared with the actual expenditure last year will be of interest to honorable senators: -
This shows an increase in the estimated expenditure for 1921-22 over the actual expenditure for 1920-21 pf £149,694. It is just as well to make this public, because it will be an answer to some of the States when criticism is levelled against the Federal Government for alleged extravagance. I do not know what arrangement has been arrived at, but I understand this amount .was agreed to as a compromise.
– They asked for more. The actual expenditure last year was £256,000, and the estimated expenditure for this year is £405,000, showing an increase of £149,000.
– And that is about one-half of what the States first suggested.
– I suppose the explanation is that freights and wages have considerably increased, and that, in consequence, the rates must be higher. Does the new arrangement provide for mail matter to be carried at a fixed rate, or on a poundage basis?
– I understand that mails were previously carried on a poundage basis, and that the same system is to apply this financial year.
– I desire to direct attention to a matter which is of interest to every State, and one in which more businesslike methods should be adopted. According to the schedule, the cost of printing telephone directories and lists this year will be, in New South Wales, £13,000; Victoria, £8,000; Queensland, £2,000; South Australia, £1,200; Western Australia, £750; and Tasmania, £450; or a total of £25,400. I believe that many snterprising firms in Australia would be prepared to print these directories and lists free of charge if they were given the right to insert certain approved advertising matter. I am not finding fault with the estimated cost, but the Government should seriously consider such a proposal. I have been assured that the bulk of the telephone directories would not be increased, but possibly reduced. I understand an offer has already been made to supply telephone directories to all States in a more convenient form than they are issued at present. The American directories, of which ours would be equal to only a section, contain a large number of subscribers, but they are not cumbersome; and it is time an effort was made to improve the present publications. It seems unreasonable to spend £25,000 a year on a work from which we receive practically no revenue, and I trust the Minister ‘ (Senator Russell) will bring my suggestion under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise).
– I shall do so.
– As the Minister (Senator Russell) and honorable senators are doubtless aware, frequent references have recently been made to the desirableness of establishing a better system of radio communication for Australia. It has been stated that an agreement which Parliament will be invited to consider has been tentatively arrived at between the Government and some outside body, and I should like to know from the Minister, in -view of the expressed and evident determination to rise this week, whether it is intended to consider that proposal before we adjourn. T understand this matter is of great urgency because of the increasing number of high-power stations which are established throughout the world, all of which adopt what is known as a wave length, peculiar to each particular station, and partly by which a station .calling is identified by other stations. The reason largely why a particular highpower station) appropriates, so to speak, its particular wave length., is that if it happens to adopt the wave length of any other station those two stations are at a considerable disadvantage, and, because they cannot’ be accurately heard, are prevented from carrying on proper communication. The resrilt is’ that when two stations are .using the same wave length their efficiency is considerably diminished, and in order to secure the best possible result, it is necessary that every station shall have its own wave length. When that has been adopted, it is recognised by every high -power station in the world. There has been, as honorable senators have seen from the propaganda received through the post, a considerable increase in the number of high-power stations, and with each new station established, the opportunity for effective high power work becomes lessened. -If the’ Government seriously intend entering into long-distance wireless telegraphy, which I believe they doi, it is absolutely necessary, in the ^ight of reoent development throughout the civilized world, that prompt action should be taken. An announcement has been made concerning some competitive proposal, but it ia the company in respect of which a tentative agreement has been entered into that we are to deal with’. If we are to adjourn for a few months, I can assure ‘the Minister that the position at the end of that period may be very different than what it is to-day. The ‘ agreement mentioned is in print, and has been circulated among the members of both Chambers, and I presume honorable senators have had the opportunity *of realizing its purpose and effect. If the matter comes before Parliament, it cannot be said that it has been suddenly sprung upon us. During the last twelve months I have received through the post so much matter relating to wireless tele- graphy that it has been impossible for me to read the whole of it. I have not been able to read the whole of the literature sent to me, in common with other honorable senators, on this subject, but what I did read interested me very much, and showed me that every other civilized country in the world is .up and doing in connexion with wireless. There is no country in the world for which wireless would form such an important asset as it would for Australia. Here we are at the very antipodes, in relation to the heart of our own Empire, and we need more frequent and fuller communication with Great Britain. The best, most efficient, and ready-to-hand means for securing that more frequent and fuller communication is a system of wireless telegraphy. It is true that we have cables, but they can carry only a limited amount of traffic. Whilst the charges for cabling have been considerably reduced as the years have gone by, it is
Btill a very costly means of communication, and if we are to reduce the cost of cabling so as to bring it within the reach of the ordinary individual,, that can only be done by the competition which wireless communication will afford. I hope that the Government will invite the consideration of both Houses to this matter before we disperse for the year. If .a contract has been entered into or the Government propose to enter into a contract, such as that a copy of which was circulated amongst honorable senators last week, I trust that both Houses of this Parliament will be invited to discuss and either, approve or disapprove . of the Government’s proposals in connexion therewith. The matter is of the greatest urgency and importance not alone to Australia, but to the whole of the Empire, of which Australia is a part.
– I am sorry that I cannot be -as definite on this matter as I should like to be, particularly in view of the enthusiasm which Senator Keating, as a good Australian, has displayed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) made a full statement on the subject of wireless, recently, in another place, and he issued a report upon it. It was his intention to obtain a decision of Parliament on the matter at the earliest possible moment. We may be said to have reached normal times now, and Par- liament should be consulted before the ° Government enters into these contracts. So far as I understand the matter, it is proposed that the Commonwealth Government is to be a partner in the undertaking, with practically the power of veto in regard to the expenditure of capital for extensions without our consent. It is not correct to say that the Commonwealth is to be represented by a majority of directors, but it is to be endowed with powers sufficient to safeguard our interests. What is suggested is not the system which was favoured in Great Britain. As that system carried no rights or privileges outside the British Empire, it is considered that it is .not good enough for Australia. We wish to be able to communicate with any part of the world. After consideration of rival schemes and suggestions, the Government .have decided to recommend to Parliament the adoption of a particular scheme. The Prime Minister has already given publicity to the matter in the statement which he made in another place. I am confident that he intends that the proposals made shall reach finality ; and I believe that he desires that before we break up for the session Parliament shall be given an opportunity to express an opinion upon the proposals. I will consult with Senator iE. D. Millen on the .matter, and see in what way the Senate may be given an opportunity to consider the proposals as they will be submitted in another place.
– They might be submitted to both Houses simultaneously, if they are not embodied in a Bill.
– I cannot be more definite upon the matter at the present time, but I hope after fuller inquiry to be in a position to report to honorable senators on it to-morrow.
– The Minister has not answered my question as to when the telephone trunk line between Brisbane and Sydney is likely to be completed.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. The vote for the work referred to is not included in this Bill, but in the Loan (Works and Buildings) .Appropriation Bill. I am informed that the work is proceeding very rapidly.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £108,568.
– The amount voted for this Department last year was £108,395, but the expenditure amounted to £112,932. I want to ask the Minister (Senator Russell) if it is anticipated that the vote set-down for this year will be ample to meet the requirements of the Department, in view of recent developments. Tha honorable senator is aware that there has been an outbreak of bubonic plague in Queensland, and, according to recent information, ej, bubonic patient, or, at all events, bubonic rats, have been discovered in Sydney.
– There have been two cases of. the plague there.
– I suppose that when this vote was suggested it was not contemplated that we should have to deal with bubonic plague.
– It was not anticipated that it would be necessary to cope with an epidemic.
– Then the vote may be taken to be considered sufficient to cover the ordinary normal expenses of the Department. I should like to know what is the position of the Commonwealth and the State Governments when discoveries are made of bubonic patients or bubonic rats. Honorable senators who! come from Tasmania are naturally very much interested in this question. For some years’ past, and at about this time of the year, (there has been interruption of communication between Tasmania and the mainland. I should like to know whether the Health Department has in view the adoption of measures tol prevent the spread of bubonic plague that may seriously interfere with communication and transport between the one island State and the rest of the Commonwealth. There is considerable apprehension on the part of ‘ those who, because of bitter and repeated experience, know what it is to go through a maritime strike at this time of the year. I should like to have some assurance from the Minister that Tasmania’s many sufferings in this connexion in the past are not likely to be added to by any action which the Commonwealth Health Department may take in the near future. We recognise that it is necessary that the health of the whole community of Australia should be preserved, but we hope that in any arrangements to be made the Government will see to it that Tasmania shall suffer as little as possible. That
State has suffered in each of four years i through being cut off from communication with the mainland.
– la it not the purpose of a Health Department to prevent suffering?
– That should be its aim,, but we know ‘ that on previous occasions seme Health Departments in Australia have inflicted actual suffering and loss on residents of Tasmania altogether out of proportion to, and unjustified by, the objects they had in view. I hope that in this regard the Commonwealth Government will be mindful of the interests of the different States, and particularly of Tasmania, in considering the inhibitions which it may be deemed necessary to impose on Inter-State commerce and communication by sea.
– I am informed by the head of the Health Department that quite recently an Inter-State Conference was held to consider the present position. The Commonwealth Department is offering advice and assisting the State Departments of Health as much as possible. Special consideration has been given to the importance of continuous cbmmunicatlon and transport between the States. A programme has been specially drawn up, and it i9 ‘hoped tha? the organization will result in increasing, rather than diminishing, the facilities for transport. The interruption of shipping and railway transport due to quarantine regulations is a very serious matter, and we hope that we shall’ not in this regard have a repetition of the experiences of the past. The whole of the State Departments are now well organized, and if they stand up to their responsibilities they may confidently look for the fullest co-operation pf the Commonwealth Health Department. We cannot guarantee what the State Departments will do, But I have confidence that they will co-operate to meet the common danger. We all earnestly pray that there will be no serious extension of the. plague, and in the meantime we shall do cur best in the interests of Australia.
– I notice that in connexion with this Department the expenditure for the Northern Territory and Queensland is under the one heading. I presume that the reason is that the Quarantine Depart- 0 ment in the Northern Territory is controlled from Queensland, but I rather regret that the expenditure in each place is not kept separately, so that we might ascertain tihe cost of health admini- stratton in the Northern Territory. I am reminded that, in company with, several others, I had the misfortune to be detained for nine days unnecessarily and unjustifiably, I believe, at the Quarantine Station, near Port Darwin. While I do not take exception to the quarantine law, I do find fault with the arrangements. Several sites were suggested originally for0 the station, and all except one were on the mainland. It was decided to select an island in the bay, and a more unsuitable place could hardly be imagined. This island is about 12 miles from the Port Darwin jetty, and in stormy weather it is impossible to approach it. The buildings are well equipped, and no exception could be taken to the treatment which we received there from the quarantine officials. Throughout my sojourn on the island the weather was uniformly good. A sick lady who was detained at the station had to be removed to and from the motor launch in a dingy. A small one was employed to convey people from the rocky beach to the launch. An attempt has been made to construct a jetty, and it has been placed in the wrong position. The sick woman almost died of fright as she was being removed from the island. Darwin is recognised as the front door for the East, and, in the event of any epidemic being introduced from Asia, great difficulty would be experienced in transporting people to the Quarantine Station. The island itself is a barren, rocky place. One could not walk for more than 100 yards in any direction. Recreation for those detained there is out of the question. Sand flies and mosquitoes are very troublesome. I hope the Government will immediately do something to improve the conditions at the station. Instead of one or two ships a month calling at Darwin, as at present, I hope that in a few years there will be thirty or forty. At present it is quite impossible to go to or from the Quarantine Station quickly and comfortably. The station should be removed to . the mainland, where it would be more convenient, and where ample precautions could be taken to isolate the people under detention. The station at Thursday Island is far more conveniently situated.
– I snail see that the remarks of Senator Newland are placed before the authorities who deal with quarantine matters.
Proposed vote agreed to.
War Services Payable Out of Revenue..
Proposed vote, £8,969,513. Divisions 146 to 155a agreed to.
– The remaining divisions under the heading, “ War Services payable out of Revenue,” are under the control of the Department of Repatriation. I am anxious that an opportunity shall be afforded for a discussion on the work of the Repatriation Commission and on the War Service Homes. I, myself, wish to make a statement in this connexion at some length, though I hope at not undue length. J suggest that progress be reported at this stage. I shall move later that the standing order which places a time limit -on the speeches of honorable senators be suspended, in order that there may be a’ “full debate.
Progress reported. Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– (By leave.) - The Government conceives it to be its duty at the earliest opportunity to inform the Senate of the contents of a cablegram which has been received from the Imperial Government by the Governor-General, and which reads as follows:–
Articles of Agreement for the settlement of the Irish question were signed this morning.
Article No. 1 reads as follows: - Ireland shall have the same constitutional status in the community of nations known as the British Empire, as the Dominion of Canada, Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa, with a Parliament having powers to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, and an Executive responsible to the Parliament; and shall be styled and known as The Irish Free State.
Under subsequent Articles the relations of Ireland to Great Britain are to be those of Canada in practice as well as in law, subject to certain special exceptions, such as facilities for Navy.
The’ oath is amplified to include allegiance to King, fidelity to the Irish Constitution as by law established. Commonwealth citizenship with Britain and membership in the British Commonwealth of nations.
The Irish share of national debt and war pensions is referred -to arbitration; arbitrators must be British subjects.
Subject to further consideration five years hence of Irish claims to coastal defence, and protection of Customs and Fisheries, defence of British coast is permanently referred to the British Navy, together with all powers in peace and war essential thereto. Strength of military forces controlled by the Irish Government is limited by the ratio of Irish to British population. ‘
Ulster may maintain a militia subject to the same limitation, Ireland secures absolute control of Customs and Excise. Ships of Great Britain and Ireland will enjoy equal rights in each other’s ports.
Compensation is provided for officials and police retiring by reason of the changes proposed.
Ulster is given complete freedom of choice between two alternatives - either she can retain her existing position under the Government of Ireland Act or she can enter the All-Ireland Parliament on terms which are left to herself to negotiate. If she elects to remain apart, anomalies in existing* conditions are to be rectified by a Commission, having regard to the wishes of the local population and geographic and economic conditions.
Minority rights in North as well as South are protected by an Article invalidating laws which interfere with free religion or education, or with endowment of schools.
The rights of Southern Unionists are fur- “ ther secured by an understanding made between their representatives and the Irish signatories to the Treaty as to representation of minorities in constituencies, and in the Upper House, which will be embodied in the Constitution when drafted.
Effect will be given to the Agreement when ratified by Parliament and the Dail by legislation, pending which a provisional Government will be established for Southern Ireland by Orders in Council. In effect, the Irish leaders will become Ministers of the Crown as soon as Treaty is ratified.
I think that matter is so momentous in the history of” our Empire that I may take this opportunity of expressing the great gratification with which I am sure the Senate has heard the message which I have had the honour to read.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) [8.4]. - I have to announce the receipt of the following message from the House of Representatives : -
Message No. 96.
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act relating to Duties of Customs,” and acquaints the Senate that, having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of tlie Tariff, and pending the adoption of Joint Standing Orders, the House of Representatives refrained from the determination of its constitutional rights or obligations in respect to the Message No. 97 received from the Senate in reference to tlie said Bill, and resolved to consider the said message.
The House of Representatives, again requested by the Senate to do so, has now made original requested amendment No. 56.
The House of Representatives, requested by the Senate to do so, has made requested amendments, as modified bv the Senate, Nos. 41, 43, and 82.
The House of Representatives has now made, with modifications, as shown in Schedule No. 1 hereto, original requested amendments of the Senate Nos. 33 and 34.
The House of Representatives, though again requested by the Senate to make original requested amendments Nos. 26 and 91, has not made such amendments, and has not altered the “modifications already made, as shown in Schedule No. 2 hereto.
The House of Representatives, though again requested by the Senate to make original, requested amendments Nos. 11, 31, 32, and 85, has not made such amendments, as shown in Schedule No. 3 hereto.
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 6th December, 1921.
I would like to call the attention of the Senate to the fact that the message is in somewhat unusual terms. It is preceded by a resolution of another place which appears to cast, doubt on the right of the Senate to press its requests on a Bill that the Senate may not amend. On every occasion hitherto the Senate has exercised that right, and on two occasions has pressed the right, and the requested amendments have been accepted by another place without any protest. As the House of Representatives has seen fit to cast such a doubt upon- the undoubted power of this Senate, I think it would be fitting of the Senate to agree to a resolution, before dealing with the message, re-affirming its undoubted right under the Constitution to take the action which it has taken. r
] [8.7]. - I move -
That message No. 96 of the. House of Representatives in reference to the Senate’s requests on the Customs Tariff be taken into consideration forthwith, this House affirming that the action of the House of Representatives in receiving and dealing with the reiterated requests of the Senate is in compliance with the undoubted constitutional position and rights of the Senate.
That motion is the same as one which was moved when a similar set of circumstances presented themselves for consideration in this Chamber some time ago. If this Chamber will agree to the motion, aa previous Senates have agreed to a similar motion, we shall have done all that is necessary to re-affirm the right of the Senate, to press its requests for amendments, not only once, but as often as it deems fit.
.- I am glad the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) has moved this motion. It needs no support from me, but as some people may not know the grounds on which the Senate is standing, I will quote the Constitution. It says -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government..
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed, charge or burden on the people.
The Senate may, at any stage, return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, tlie omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
That provision is so clear that I am surprised the representatives in another place can find grounds even for complaint. We have the Constitution behind us. When this matter was debated before the Convention, the question of whether we should send requests more than once war threshed out and settled.
– I do not rise for the purpose of. delaying the Senate in accepting, as I trust and believe it will, the motion proposed by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen). As the honorable gentleman has pointed out,, a similar set of circumstances arose previously in con- nexion with, the Tariff. “The first- occasion was in 1902, when a message * was received from the House of Representatives, somewhat similar to .that which the President has read. Upon the receipt of that message a resolution was -passed by the Senate, couched in terms similar to those now proposed by the Minister. ‘The procedure was repeated in 1908, in connexion with the 1907-1908 Tariff. What we are now asked to do is to re-affirm what the Senate said in similar circumstances in 1902. No one realizes more than I do how important it i3 that this ‘ Tariff shall be disposed of as early as possible. The House of Representatives, in its message, expresses its realization of the urgency of the master. It would ill -become me or the Senate to delay the Tariff by any unnecessary constitutional discussion, but it is desirable that we should assert our position again, as it was asserted before. I believe, with Senator Gardiner, that the Constitution is behind us in the attitude we take up. As the President has stated, on at least two other occasions in the past the Senate reiterated its requests to another place to insert amendments in a Bill which the Senate could not constitutionally amend, and the other place acceded to these reiterated requests, without even a protest or a suggestion of difficulty such as is embodied in the message now under consideration. Therefore, I think that, apart from the Constitution, the practice between the two Houses is established in relation to Bilk which stand constitutionally in the sapie position as a Tariff Bill. Any one who reads the debates at the 1891 and 1897-8 Conventions upon this particular provision of the Constitution, clause 53, or the corresponding provision in the original draft, will see that the position of the Senate was sought to be secured, and was believed to be secured. I think the position of the Senate was actually in law and in fact secured by the framers of the Constitution.
– Members in another place very carefully abstained from referring ‘to the debates on this particular matter in the- Conventions.
– The debates in the Conventions, and the notes which were supplied upon the financial clauses by the late Chief Justice of the Common wealth, who was a member of the 1891 Convention,-.but not of the 1897-1898 Convention, clearly show that the object which the majority of the Conventionists sought to achieve in regard’ to financial clauses, was that this Chamber should not stand in the position of any second Chamber in Australia as the Parliaments, were ‘then constituted; that in regard to money matters the Senate should have powers far beyond those enjoyed by Legislative Councils in the State Parliaments, the fundamental reason being that it was to be a Chamber popularly elected. It was to be a Chamber in which the States, especially the smaller States, would have unbounded confidence, because of its power to prevent their finances from being seriously interfered with by any legislative action- of this Parliament. I agree with the motion submitted by the- Minister, and congratulate him upon the course he has taken. I sincerely hope that the Senate, without a dissentient voice, will adopt the motion.
– I hope the Minister will make it clear that any action taken on the message willmot involve the waiving of the constitutional privileges of the Senate.
– The object of my motion is to secure what Senator Bakhap has just indicated: Reference having been made to one very important matter determined by the framers of the Constitution, I should like to mention that when the rights of this Chamber were under review an attempt was made to provide that the Senate should- have the right “ once “ to request the amendment of a measure such as this Tariff Bill.
– That matter was not referred to during- the debate in another place.
– And I do not blame honorable members there for not mentioning it. It is because of their failure to do so that I refer to it now. The proposal that the Senate should have the Tight “once” to request an amendment of a money Bill was specifically struck out. It is clear, therefore, that the framers of the Constitution had in mind just such a set of. circumstances as has larisen. The defeat of the proposal in the Convention was eloquent testimony to the ‘truth of this statement. May I make one other observation? The adoption of my motion will not dispose of the matter, lt seems to me’ that, if we delay consideration of this difficulty until some important matter is actually in dispute, there will be very little hope of any final settlement. It would be infinitely better, in my judgment, if, at a time when there is no important principle ‘ aj issue, the two Houses should confer in an endeavour to arrive at some definite solution of what is an important difference of opinion. 1 shall endeavour, so far as it lies with me, to see that, when the Houses re-assemlble, early in the new session some steps are taken by which an arrangement such as I indicate may be arrived at, clearly setting out the respective rights of the toyo Houses.
– Another small constitutional convention of the two Houses ?
– One thing at a time. It seems to me to ibe unwise to wait till an actual dispute has arisen before we seek to determine what our rights are.
– What is the Senate likely to gain from any such conference ?
– The Senate is not looking for trouble. Neither, I presume, is another place; hut I suibmit that it would be better, by means of some such conference, to have a definite acknowledgment of the rights of the Senate. . The method provided in the Constitution is extremely faulty and cumbersome; it is like using a steam hammer to crack a nut. I shrink from the final possibilities of a continued dispute .between the two Houses. A deadlock must lead to a dual dissolution.
– The Minister in another place seemed to think that a solution might be reached through our joint Standing Orders.
– Joint standing orders cannot govern the Constitution. I refrain from questioning the soundness of my colleague’s views on the constitutional issue; but I am not at all certain that our Standing Orders can override constitutional rights.
– A joint standing order providing for the appointment of mana gers of a conference should lead to the more effective working of the Constitution.
– Yes, if honorable members of another place were brought to see the error of their ways, and recognised the merit of our contention, as set out so clearly in the Constitution. I think, however, that the suggestion I have made will be more effective, and that the two Houses should meet, as did the framers of the Constitution, in communion to see if the difficulty that has presented itself cannot be removed.
– They claim that the section of the Constitution quoted by Senator Gardiner is framed in ambiguous language. They deny its clarity.
– There is nothing ambiguous about the section.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural maohinery and implements, n.e.i…… ad val., 22£ per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - Ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.
Not made when first requested.
Bouse of Representatives’ Message -
The following modification now made : - Duty made 20 per’ cent. British preferential Tariff.
– I trust honorable senators will pay some attention at least to one portion of the resolution passed by the House of Representatives, namely, ‘ ‘ having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of the Tariff.” The other House recognises fully and ir&nlcly the need for an early finalization of the Tariff, and the Senate, its constitutional rights not now being involved, should adopt the same attitude. We sent down eleven requests. To three of them the House of Representatives agreed absolutely, to others it agreed with certain modifications, and to six it disagreed. There has been substantial gain for the views of this Chamber by the interchange of communications’, and I think those honorable senators who supported the requests may congratulate themselves upon the result of their efforts. I propose now to ask the Committee, in view of the fact that several of its requests have ‘been agreed to, to no longer press the remain- ing points in dispute. It will be necessary, in order to conform with the procedure of this Chamber, to deal with the items seriatim; but I think it would simplify matters if I informed the Committee of the general terms of my motion, and that is that we should no longer press the points outstanding between the two Chambers. In this item the Senate requested a reduction in the British preferential Tariff from 22-^ per cent, to 15 per cent., the intermediate Tariff from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent., and the general Tariff from 35 per cent, to 30 per cent. The House of Representatives has now made the British preferential Tariff 20 per cent., and has agreed to the Senate’s request in the intermediate and general Tariffs. I move, therefore - That the modification be agreed to.
– I am reluctant to be in opposition to another place, especially on the first item. These duties relate to agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery, and the British preferential Tariff now is only 2£ per cent, lower than as originally fixed by the House of Representatives, whereas this. Committee requested a reduction of 1 per cent. If the British preferential rate of 15 per cent, remain?, that is ample protection for local industries. We ha.ve to remember that it is protection against our own kith and kin, against our own race, and protection against the articles which Britain produces. We ha.ve to consider Australia first; but when it becomes a question of protecting Australian interests, we shall have to look after the whole of Australia, and not only one portion. The primary producers do not get any protection from the Tariff, and should be allowed to trade where they like within the Empire at a reasonable rate. If I were advocating my Free Trade principles on this occasion, I would not expect much support; but I am not going to that extent this time. Surely 15 per cent, for Great Britain is ample, seeing that it is more than the Protectionists asked for in the first, second, and third Tariffs, and it is only now, when Britain is getting back to normal, that we are going to make trade more difficult. If ever there was a time in history when conditions of trade between Great Britain and Australia should be made easier it is now. I shall «all for a division, if I stand alone, so that the limelight may again be thrown upon me. The difference between 20 per cent, and 12 per cent, is not great, and that between 22£ per cent, and 15 per cent., is of little account when we view the distance that goods have to be brought. This is the first shot, and I shall be interested to ‘ see how some act under fire.
– I do not think the schedule circulated to honorable senators makes the position very clear. The original, duties passed by the House of Representatives were 22£ per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent, respectively, upon which we requested a reduction to 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. The House of Representatives did not accede to that request when first made, and this modification ia now submitted, “ Duty made 20 per cent. British preferential Tariff.” We asked for a reduction to 15 per cent.
– The modification is 20 per cent, in lieu of 15 per cent.
– So. the rates now are 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent, respectively.
– I do not intend to “ back and fill “ on this matter. The question has already been fully debated. Sinoe the Tariff was last before us, I have discussed this item with a large manufacturer in the Commonwealth, who is satisfied that the rates suggested by the Senate are fair. Senator Gardiner has said that the difference is not great, but a difference of 5 per cent, is too much, particularly when one realizes that much of the plant mentioned in this item is imported from Great Britain. Many imported machines must be used by agriculturists; because better results ere achieved, particularly those used for destroying insect life. The pests in some districts are causing such destruction that machines to eradicate them should be admitted free of duty, not only to benefit those directly concerned, but in the interests of the whole community. I am not adhering to my previous attitude with the idea of creating difficulties between the two Chambers, but in an endeavour to do what I consider right.
. - I am sure a thrill of pride passed through every honorable senator when the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) made his hold declaration, which was a credit to the Chamber and also to himself, that we should, like the rock of ages, stand firm to our constitutional rights and privileges; but in the next breath he asked us to stand on that rock in a limp and helpless fashion. If the Minister had given us a couple of days, we might have forgotten his first utterance; but his latest attitude now robs his first declaration of its chivalry and boldness. This is an important item, and I direct attention to the fact that what we are asked to agree to is a preference of 5 per cent, between the duties to be imposed on goods coming from the Old Country and those which may be imported from other countries by means of reciprocal relations under the intermediate Tariff. There is a difference of only 5 per cent., which is certainly a striking departure from the policy previously laid down when a wider differentiation was agreed to. Honorable senators realize with regret that the outlook for primary producers is anything but favorable, and the position is even worse than it was when we first discussed this item, because the value of farm products has fallen considerably. In view of the unsatisfactory conditions prevailing, and the hard times generally being experienced by primary producers, there is no occasion to further burden them by unnecessary Tariff imposts. I believe, with Senator Gardiner, that we should stand firm and support the Minister on the constitutional aspect in connexion with this item. Surely this gives us an opportunity to do what the Minister invited us to do. In relation to certain other items to follow, we may not have the same justification for^ standing behind the Minister. This is where we should make our stand, and support the Minister in his bold and statesman-like declaration.
– The merits and demerits of this question have been well discussed, and on its merits the Committee has already arrived at the decision. The position is exactly as it was when the item was last before us; and as our previous decision was a well-considered one, we should adhere to it. Senator Lynch said that the outlook for the man on the land is even worse than it was when we first considered the imposition of high duties on implements required by those engaged in our rural areas. I wish to -direct attention to one sentence used by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) when asking us to give way on this item. He said that the early adoption of the Tariff was desired. The other House has pointed out that the early adoption of the Tariff is desired, and it incorporated those words in the message sent here for our consideration. I^too, believe that; and if honorable members in another place held that opinion the way was perfectly clear. They had merely to give way and the Tariff would have been adopted; but instead of doing that they are standing fast, and are not even prepared to compromise.
– Yes, they have compromised.
-BROOKMAN.- We have compromised all the way.
– They have accepted our requests on some items.
– BROCKMAN. - They should have gone further, and not insisted on their rejection of our requests, when all argument would have been at an end. I trust, if there is to be any variation in the determination that the Senate deliberately came to, that it will be by means of a compromise arranged at a meeting of managers representing the two Houses. That is the proper and only way in which we can meet the situation without any loss of dignity.
– We cannot do that without joint standing orders.
– We can request such a conference at this or any other stage. An early adoption of the Tariff is necessary, in the interests of the whole community ; and that is desired by this Chamber, and, I am sure, by another place. If the course I suggest is not followed, we should be determined to adhere to what we consider are fair duties.
– Can what ydu suggest be done?
– I am sure there is no difficulty in the way at this stage. It is competent, I believe, for the House of Representatives to appoint managers, and for the Senate to do the same, for the purpose of conferring upon matters in dispute. The other House could have agreed to that while the Bill was in their possession, but uow it is before us it is our duty to make such a suggestion.
– I differ from Senator DrakeBrockman, and I intend to support the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) in his attitude towards the Senate’s requests which have been sent back to us by the House of Representatives. It seems to me that we shall be very foolish indeed if we deliberately provoke a quarrel with another place. We have just emerged triumphant from a difference of opinion with the other House, and if we are to continue to press requests which honorable members in another place have decided not to accede to, our differences of opinion may develop into an unseemly wrangle, perhaps with disastrous consequences to both Houses. There is no reason why we should provoke a quarrel between the two Houses.
– Is the honorable senator g5ing to give way on all these requests ?
– Then, of course, there will be no quarrel so far a3 he is concerned.
– Most of our requests have been agreed to by another place, and others have been sent back with modifications, which, if we are men of ordinary intelligence and sagacity, we shall agree to. The other House has met the Senate in a compromising spirit, and it is our duty to meet another place in a similar spirit. It is our duty as sensible members of a Legislature not to provoke a quarrel with the other House, but to accept its modifications of our requests with which it has not agreed. I support the attitude of the Minister, not only in regard to the item now under consideration, but in regard to the other requests of the Senate with which the House of Representatives has- disagreed.
– I appeal to honorable senators to consider that another place having, as we have contended, recognised the powers of the Senate, and having decided hot to assert its own from a mere wilful desire to do . so, we should not further press our requests with which the House of Representatives has disagreed. Whatever powers the Senate or any other parliamentary Chamber possesses, they will be continued to it by the people only if they are well and wisely exercised. If the Senate exercises its powers in the spirit by which the nigger pilot was animated when he told the crew of a vessel to let down the anchor merely in order to have the pleasure of ordering them to pull it up again, the common sense of the community will soon deprive it of those powers. There is no question that the other House has recognised the right of the Senate to make requests, and having exercised that right there is no reason why we should now refuse to consider the views expressed in another place. The bi-cameral system can only be operated on the assumption that both Houses will endeavour to exercise their powers in a reasonable spirit of compromise. I say that another place has gone a good way to meet us, and honorable senators should now display a similar spirit. I wish now only to mention some additional .reasons why honorable senators should, accept the motion I have submitted. I direct their attention to the fact that the proposal which another place now asks us to accept does not represent an increase of duty on the articles included in the item under consideration, because 20; per cent, is the duty “which has prevailed in connexion with this item since 1914, and I am not certain that it was no.t in operation prior to that date. All that another place asks in this matter is that we should not reduce the measure of protection previously enjoyed by the manufacturers of these implements in Australia. I think that I may, with some prospect of success, appeal to Senator Gardiner in this matter, because the honorable senator was one of fhe Ministers who introduced the Tariff of 1914 under which these implements were made dutiable at 20 per cent.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear that the honorable ‘ senator approves of that duty.
– I will explain.
– If I were the honorable senator I would not offer an explanation in reply to a mere statement of fact that he was a very distinguished and energetic member of the Government that introduced the Tariff of 1914. I am aware that that Tariff -was not discussed by either House of this Parliament, but that does not relieve the members of the Government of that time of the responsibility of introducing it. It must be quite clear to honorable senators that every item in that Tariff was placed under a powerful magnifying glass by the industrious Senator Gardiner, as well as by other members of the Cabinet, and that, as submitted to Parliament, it embodied Senator Gardiner’s firm conviction that 20 per cent, on these implements was a reasonable duty to impose. The House of Representatives in this instance is not, 1 think, asking too much when it invites this Committee to continue the rate of duty on this item which was adopted in 1914.
– As I have to consider my future I cannot allow Senator E. D. Milieu’s references to my past to pass without some explanation. I occupied in the Government to which the honorable senator referred exactly the same position as Senator E. D. Millen occupies in the present Government - a Free Trader in a Cabinet, the majority of the members of which were Protectionists.
– The only difference is that the honorable senator owns up to it, and Senator E. D. Millen does not.
– It must be remembered that when the Tariff of 1914 was introduced there’ was a war on, and as it was more important that I should remain a .member of the Government for war purposes than for anything else, I remained in the Government. The Tariff was, at the time, a matter of comparatively little importance, and neither House of this Parliament discussed it. I frankly admit that if the party to which I belong were in power to-morrow the
Ghances are I should be doing what Senator E. D. Millen is doing now. But the question which we have to consider is whether we should compromise -with another place on this item. The original proposal of the House of Representatives was to give Great Britain a preference of 1% per cent, against, possibly, Canada and New Zealand, under the intermediate Tariff, and of 12£ per cent, against Germany and outside nations under the general Tariff. If we accept the amend ment now proposed by another place, Great Britain will be given a preference of only 5 per cent, against the Dominions taking advantage of the intermediate Tariff and of 10 per cent, against Germany. There are still a few persons who believe in giving consideration to Great Britain, but if the Committee accepts the amendment now proposed, Great Britain will be worse off in connexion with this item than honorable senators desire according to their original request.
– Is the honorable senator willing to withdraw the original request? That would give the difference between the British, intermediate, and general Tariffs which the honorable senator desires.
– I believe it would be better to withdraw the original request of the Senate so far as Great Britain is concerned. The Minister wants sweet reasonableness to prevail between the two Houses, and I should like to know what his idea of sweet reasonableness is. On the hundreds of items included in the Tariff we sent ninety requests to another place. I venture to say that a majority of those requests covered amendments which were desired by the Government. I will not say that they were moved by the Government, but we know that Senator Pratten, who, unfortunately, is not now a member of the Senate, submitted requests which the Government gave him to submit. When our requests were sent back a second time how were they treated by another place? Any reasonable body of men would say that as the Constitution gives the Senate certain rights it is surely entitled, particularly in dealing with a Tariff of so much importance, to suggest amendments in twenty items, especially in view of the fact that those items concern the primary producers. We are dealing now with a primary producers’ item. It is the implements the primary producer uses that are to be taxed, and I ask the Committee to stand to its twice expressed opinion. I hope that honorable senators will view this matter from the primary producers’ point of view, and will not give way upon it.
– ‘Suppose another place adopts the same attitude - that having said a thing once, it is not to be shifted - there must be a deadlock between the two Houses.
– Exactly. But surely a Blouse that had its own way in respect of about 470 out of 480 items would be in the worse position if it decided to stand by the last ten.
– The Senate has agreed to all the items but those which are now in dispute.
– Honorable senators agreed to many only from a desire to meet another place, but here is an item on which they should stick to their guns. Senator Wilson has told us that a manufacturer of these implements claims that the protection we hare offered is sufficient, and, of course, we know that it is. I hope that honorable senators, having twice voted in the same way on this item, will continue to do so.
– When the Senate agreed to 460 or 470 items of the Tariff passed by another place, it must be admitted that we treated its proposals respectfully. A difference on ninety items constituted the measure of difference between the two Houses, and of that number, in the case of a majority of a most insignificant character the requests of the Senate were accepted by another place. The Minister has mentioned that we must determine this matter to set the mind of the business community at rest. We must consider it in a reasonable frame of mind. We have done that on several occasions, or we should otherwise have stood firmly by our original requests. I hope that we shall be given credit for that. That conciliatory spirit in connexion with many items brought this Chamber much closer to the other. I say that we should stand firm on an item like this, though, as I have said, I shall be prepared in connexion with some items yet to be considered to again adopt the conciliatory course and alter my mind.
– I wish to say how much I appreciate the consistency of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen). I have not forgotten that when I asked the honorable senator whether he proposed to support all the proposals sent from another place, he said that he did. Honorable senators will recollect that the Minister asked the Committee to agree to the course adopted by the House of Representatives in connexion with every one of our original requests. But I find that many of the proposals upon which honorable senators in their wisdom insisted were subsequently accepted by another place, which goes to show that the Minister was wrong in the attitude which he took up. Honorable senators must have been very much surprised at Senator Benny’s appeal to “ sensible “ members of the Committee. That is my reply as to who are the “ sensible “ members of this Committee. Many honorable senators have given a great deal of consideration to the Tariff, and have been able to bring to bear their practical knowledge of the agricultural industry, so it is too late in the day to say that we have not dealt with the question in a business-like way. lt has been a fight against great odds, and the Minister has been our greatest stumbling block. I appreciate his advocacy, and, had it not been for that, the other Chamber would not have achieved as much as it has. I shall not follow the Minister on this occasion, but shall adhere to the decision which the Committee has twice previously arrived at after thorough consideration.
Question - That the modification be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Adamson, J. Benny, B. Bolton, W. K. Buzacott, R. Cox, C. F. Crawford, T. W. Earle, J. Elliott, IT. E. Foster, G. M. Givens, T. Glasgow, Sir Thomas Henderson, G.
Keating, J. II . Millen, E. D. Newland, J. Payne, H. J. M. Plain, W. Reid, M. Rowell, J. Russell, E. J. Senior, W. Vardon, E. C.
Teller : Foll, H. S. noes.
Drake-Brockman, E. A. Gardiner, A. Lynch, P. J.
Wilson, R. V.
Teller: de Largie, II.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion agreed to. Item 162-
Chaff cutters and horse gears; corn shelters; corn huskers; cultivators n.e.i.; harrows; ploughs, other; plough shares; plough mould- boards; scarifiers, ad val., British, 22* per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
Not made when first requested.
Mouse of Representatives’ Message. - The following modification now made: - Duty made, 20 per cent. British preferential Tariff.
– In view of the vote just taken, I suggest that it be regarded by the Government as a guide in dealing with the subsequent items.
– This item is practically a duplicate of the previous one. The original duties were the same, the Senate’s request for alteration was the same, and the other Chamber now offers the same modification. I therefore move -
That the modification be agreed to.
The same arguments apply, and I hope the Committee will deal with the matter without another division.
– It is useless to discuss these items again at length. I realize that the Caucus has come to its decision, and it is hopeless to fight the machine.
– This item is on all fours with the previous one, and we are invited to follow the lame and spineless policy of accepting everything put before us. We are first told to hoist the flag of constitutional independence, and then in the next breath we are asked to haul down that flag. The reduction of duty requested by the Senate was carried in opposition to the Minister in this Chamber (Senator E. D. Millen). I can recall instances where the Minister in the other Chamber (Mr. Greene) said he proposed to accept the requests of the Senate. We have to go to the other House to get a champion of the Senate. We have not a champion in the Minister in this Chamber. There were occasions when the Minister in another place moved that the requests of the Senate be agreed to.
– That was done in their desire to come into agreement with’ this Chamber.
– The Minister may qualify it as he likes. I intend to call for a division again. Honorable senators should stand to their guns. I hope the day will come when the present Government will be hurled from the Treasury benches for this iniquitous Tariff, and I say that despite the fact that I have supported the Government. I hope the Government . will be tried on this issue, because they are absolutely ruining 4he industries of Australia. The Tariff as brought down, and the declared intention of the Government as pronounced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at Bendigo, are as like one another as the darkest night resembles the noonday sun. There were reams of references in the speech at Bendigo to the necessity for rural production, and there was only a brief reference to the necessity’ for a Protective Tariff ; but here we have a Tariff which, in its incidence, gives au average protective duty which is heavier than the economic and industrial conditions of the Commonwealth warrant. Population is constantly drifting from the countries to the cities. Protective duties have been passed in the interests of industries which have never asked for such protection. I say again that I hope this Government - Nationalist Ministry though it is - will have to stand its trial, and will be removed from the Treasury benches for what it has done in connexion with this Tariff, and I am prepared to assist in the Government’s undoing. ‘Western Australia, which I represent, and which has sacrificed so much in the past, is -given no advantages whatever - completely ignored. I recognise the necessity to make a reasonable adjustment; hut when privilege after privilege is given, unasked and unsolicited, to certain industries, the’ Government ought to pay the full penalty. Although on some minor items I am prepared to give way, there are several vital matters in connexion with which the Senate should stand resolute. I shall not be a party to swallowing the whole of the Government’s proposals.
.- No one can have appreciated Senator Lynch’s attitude mort than I have. As I voted in opposition to him on the last division, I desire to explain, in justice to myself, that I am not one to hoist the flag to-day and haul it down to-morrow. I profess to have a reasonable amount of common sense. When this item first came before us for consideration, the aggregate duties were 87£ per cent. We sent- the schedule back to the House of- Representatives, with the aggregate reduced to 70 per cent., and the modification now made by the other Chamber is . that the duties should total 75 per cent. What more can we hope to gain if we press the requests and obtain a conference? Even at a conference neither side can maintain its ground, and it is only possible to get an agreement by a compromise. I consider that we have received an offer of a very satisfactory compromise, and that is the reason why I reversed my vote on the last division. I stood with Senator Lynch on this item in the early stages of the Tariff discussion, but when a compromise is offered which gives us more than we can possibly get at a conference, we ought to accept it. I felt that, in justice to myself, I ought to explain why I have supported the Government to-night. Senator Lynch must recognise that the Minister cannot carry his motion unless he . has a majority of the Committee behind him.
– I have certainly changed my view of the matter as a result of listening to the remarks that have fallen from Senator Lynch. It is with him more a matter of opposing the Government than of supporting any particular item. The Government has not made any of these items a vital question.
– I do not think it is necessary to announce that at this late stage.
– It needs to be announced when Senator Lynch’s opposition to the items is dictated by antagonism to the Government rather than by the merits of the question. If items are to be opposed because of antagonism to the Government, the position becomes ridiculous. No Government could have given, more latitude to its supporters than the present Government has given in connexion with the Tariff. I am not going to support opposition of that kind.
Question - That the modification be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Adamson; J. Bennyj B. Bolton, W. EL. Buzacott, R. Cox, C. F. Crawford, T. W. Earle, J. Elliott, H. E. Foll, H. S. Foster, Gr. M. Givens, T.
Glasgow, Sir Thomas
Henderson, G. Keating, J. H. Millen, E. D. Newland, J. Payne, H. J. M. Plain, W. Reid, M. Rowell, J. Senior, W. Vardon, E. C.
Teller: de Largie, H.
Drake-Brockman, E. A. i Teller: Gardiner, A. Wilson, R. V.
Lynch, P. J.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion agreed to. Item 136-
Iron and steel -
And on and after 9th July> 1921 -
Senate’s Bequest. - Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; wire, other, .per ton, British, 44s.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Requested amendment made,, -with the following modifications: -
Sub-item (e) (thrice occurring) omitted, and the following inserted: -
And on and after 3rd November, 1921 -
House of Representatives’ Message. - Original requested amendment of the Senate not made, and modification of the House of Representatives not altered.
– The Senate requested, with regard to wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, that the duties should be British preferential, 20 per cent., instead of 25 per cent. The other House has accepted that. The other proposition was that the coarser wire should be 44s. per ton, as against 52s. As the other House has accepted one of our requests, and has declined the other, and as the one it has declined would have placed the same duty upon the manufactured article as upon the raw material, I think the Senate made a mistake in connexion with that item. I move -
That the request be not further pressed and the modification be agreed to.
Motion agreed to. Item 424 -
Vessels, including all fittings imported therewith, viz. : - .
And on and after 1st January, 1923 -
Inter-State, or otherwise employed in Australian waters for any continuous period of three months, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; inter-. ° mediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent.
Senate’s Request.- That, “ 1923 “ be left out, and “1925” inserted.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Made with the following modifications : - “ Sub-item
Senate’s Message. - Modification not agreed to. Request for amendment pressed as originally made.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Original requested amendment of the Senate not made, And modifications of the House of Representatives not altered.
. - This Stem deals with the postponed duty on vessels built outside Australia. The date on which the duty was to be imposed was set down in the measure as it first reached .the Senate as the 1st January, 1923. The. Senate requested that tlie date should be two years later. Tihe other House met us by making the date 1st July, 1923, which was an extension of six months on their original proposal. In dealing with this item in another place, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) stressed the fact that it was merely a postponed duty, and that if circumstances justified a further postponement the machinery was in existence by which the postponement could be effected. In view of tlhat I beg to move -
That the request be not further pressed and that the modification, and consequential amendment, be agreed to.
– As the mover of the original request from the Senate to the House of Representatives, and also as the> mover of the repeated request, I hope that the Senate will press this request. I take this course quite consistently and logically. I moved originally for the extension of the date, and the Senate, on that occasion, passed the request . unanimously, with the concurrence and consent of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen). I have voted tonight as I voted previously, and I cannot be charged with inconsistency.
– Is the honorable senator appealing to the sensible menibers of the Committee?
– I am appealing to the Committee to do what it did unanimously when it made the request, and what it did by a large majority when’ itrepeated the request. When the original request reached another place, the Minister in charge (Mr. Greene) proposed to accede to it. The Government persisted for a long time in support of the request, but they were defeated. The original request came back to the Senate, not assented to by the House of Representatives, and we repeated it again on my motion.
– How is the position affected by the statement of the Minister that machinery exists for arranging a further postponement ? I have not heard tfaat statement before.
– It was mentioned when this item was first before the Committee, and I pointed out on that occasion that there was some misconception as to how the Tariff Board would function in regard to these deferred duties. The original decision was that the duty should become operative on the 1st January, 1923. The Senate unanimously, with the concurrence of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), requested that the duties should become operative on the 1st January, 1925. It may be said that the House of Representatives met us by deferring the operation of the duties, not for two years, but for six months. The history of the original proposal, and the ‘ requests with regard to it is, I think, sufficient justification for the Senate now insisting upon its request.
– Although not a representative of one of the smaller States, I appeal to other honorable senators, and especially those representing States that are not well served by coastal railway systems, to realize what these prohibitive duties mean to the primary producers whom they represent. It will be almost impossible, once these duties become operative, to get vessels at a reasonable cost for the carriage of our primary products. Of course, it may be said that we oan build the ships in Australia, but I remind honorable senators of the significant statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) only a few days ago, that the cost of building ships in Australia is about £24 per ton, speaking from memory, as against £12 in other parts of the world.
– He did not say that ships could be built elsewhere at £12 per ton. He said that they could be bought at that figure. That is to say, vessels could be dumped here.
– I wish other countries would dump our harbors full of ships. Our primary producers would then be able to get their primary products marketed at a reasonable cost. New South Wales is well served by a coastal railway system, linking up the producing areas with the great centre of. Sydney; but South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania are not in such a favorable position. Tasmania is especially at a serious disadvantage. It is about time the Government of that State took steps to become independent of the Commonwealth Government so far as shipping facilities are concerned. I hope honorable senators will support Senator Keating. We want cheap vessels for the conveyance of our primary products to the best markets. The policy of this Government, as indicated in this Tariff, appears to be to protect the secondary industries at all costs, even at the expense of crushing the primary producers. Unheard-of duties have been imposed; but on no occasion has any concession been given to those engaged in primary production.
– Cheap vessels will not solve the difficulty. Commonwealth ships are lying idle at the present time.
– As Senator de Largie has pointed out, at the present time Commonwealth vessels are idle in our ports for the simple reason that their capital cost is too high to permit of their being employed at a profit.’
– The same conditions prevail all over the world.
– But the Prime Minister’s statement, made within the last forty-eight hours, indicates that the shipbuilding industry in Australia is in a precarious position. What is wanted in this country is cheap and efficient means of communication between the outlying centres and the most profitable markets.
– Why is shipbuilding so dear in Australia f
– I am not concerned about that issue at the moment. We want to take stock of the position, and to keep the lines of communication open, and as cheap as possible.
– The high running cost is responsible for the laying up of so many ships.
– That is the cause of the trouble. The time charters are an important feature in our_coastal trade. I understand that vessels are bringing down .sugar from Queensland on time charters, and that, if these exceed three months, -the vessels will be dutiable as if they were imported. The same conditions prevail in the Western Australian coastal trade, and as the cattle trade in the north-west runs into a period of six months, at least, the difficulty there is very pronounced. Until we have an absolute assurance that vessels can be built in Australia on a profitable basis, this Parliament is not warranted, by means of these Tariff duties, in compelling shipowners to get their vessels built here.
Question - That the request be not further pressed, and that the modification and consequential amendment be agreed toi - put. The Committee divided.
Adamson, J. Benny, B. Bolton, W. K. Buzacott, B. Cox, C. F. Crawford, T. W. de Largie, H. Earle, J. Elliott, H. E. Foll, H. S. Givens, T.
Foster, G. M. Gardiner, a. Keating, J. 1-1. Lynch, P. J. ayes.
Glasgow, Sir Thomas Henderson, G. Millen, E. D. Newland, J. Plain, W. Reid, M. Rowell, J. Senior, W.
Teller : Vardon, E. C.
Payne, H. J. M.
Teller : Wilson, R. V.
Russell, E. J. Drake-Brockman, E. a.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion agreed to. . Item 52 -
Fresh fruits, viz. -
House of Representatives’ Message - Not made.
– It is hardly necessary for me to remind the Committee that the Senate’s request was to’ make the duty on bananas id. per lb., and that the House of Representatives ‘ considered that bananas were worth Id. We have twice pressed our view9 upon another olace, and I now intend to ask this Committee, in view of the very large majority by which honorable members in another place re-affirmed their decision, to refrain from further pressing the request.
– But it” is the numbers here that count.
– That is quite true if the honorable senator wants to press the rights of this Chamber.
– Oh, no! You have the numbers.
– If that is the case I shall sit down. I move -
That the request be not further pressed.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [9.441. - I do not want to reiterate the arguments that were used against the proposal made by the House of Representatives on the two previous occasions. Members of this Chamber hold representative positions, and I am satisfied that if anything will appeal to their constituents it is consistency on such matters as this. I regret very much that there is- a disposition to give way, but- 1 am not going to lecture the Senate, on that issue, though I think they would, preserve the dignity of this Chamber if they stood by their former decision. We know that the duties imposed by another place have already lost to us the trade of Eiji at a time when trade is very badly needed. I cannot understand honorable senators supporting a proposal which involves sacrificing our trade with the islands, and that is what we are doing by refusing to take their products in return for ours. While we continue to do that, we cannot expect to progress ; but, as I suppose the present action is in accord with the policy of the Government to destroy trade, it is all we can expect.
– Again, I do not intend to support the proposal of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen).
– With a duty of 4£d. per lb. on prunes, I suppose the honorable senator considers himself quite safe.
– That duty has already been fully debated on its merits, and the honorable senator knew when he made the interjection that the proposed duty on bananas affords greater protection to banana growers than the duty on prunes does to the growers of that fruit.
– The honorable senator is treating it as a joke.
– I do not intend to treat this question in. a- jocular manner, because^ it is of great importance to the people or Australia, particularly those located in States distant from, the source of production. I am speaking on behalf of the people I am sent here to represent.
– Is not the honorable senator considering those represented by honorable members in another place, who ha.ve twice affirmed the higher duty 1
– I %m speaking on behalf of those who sent me here. As the duty on bananas has been freely discussed since the Tariff was first introduced, I have made it my duty to test the supplies available, and to ascertain the price at which fruit is being sold to consumers. I have found it extremely difficult to purchase first-class bananas in South Australia, and I know that people in Western Australia are in a worse position than those in the central State.
Senator Drake-Brockman informed us the other day that -we could not obtain good bananas because they are removed from the stem,, and packed in cases, and instead of receiving eatable fruit we are supplied with miserable little specimens which are really like the butt end of a stock whip handle. Last week, Senator Rowell purchased bananas in Adelaide with the intention of eating them in the train, but they were totally unfit for. human consumption, and had to be thrown out of the window. Senator Foster said that good bananas could be purchased at sixteen for ls., but when I endeavoured tol confirm his statement, I received a rude shock, because the fruit supplied was of the worst conceivable type, and totally unfit for use. Reference has been made to the trade on the Queensland coast, and with Fiji, but it should be remembered that the trade with Fiji is as important as is trade with the northern. State, because without an interchange of products we cannot hope to prosper. In order to protect a Queensland industry every section of the community is being unnecessarily burdened. ‘ During the last twenty years bananas have been extensively used, and they are now looked upon as a necessity, and not a luxury; but if. this prohibitive duty is imposed, the best bananas will be available only to those who> are in a -position to pay an exorbitant price. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) requested the Senate to stand fast by its constitutional rights, but, immediately after, he asked us not to insist upon our original request. Is he following his own suggestion 1 Senator Crawford referred to the duty on prunes; I should be glad to receive an order from him for a few hundred cases at 6s. 6d. per case, which is less than the Protective duty proposed.
– We have imposed a duty of 6s. per cental on green prunes.
– What use isi that? If we receive 4s. net for our apples, we shall be exceedingly fortunate.
– You have a duty of 6s. per cental on apples.
– Yes; and it would be just as well to make it 50s. or . 100s. per cental, because apples are not imported.
– On one occasion, 100,000 cases of American apples came to Australia.
– Yes; when there was an absolute shortage, and those who purchased them had to pay an excessive price. We are being asked to agree to a duty which is considerably higher, than the cost of producing other fruits. How are those in the gold-fields of Western Australia to secure bananas if this pro– hibitive duty is imposed? Bananas packed in cases after being removed from the stem are unfit for use.
– They are. sent down in bunches. °
– We are gaining further information, because we were recently informed that they would not ripen on the bunch.
– I thought the honorable senator was a. representative of the primary producers: this is an instance in which he could help them.
– I am endeavouring to do so. I believe in Protection, and not prohibition.
– ‘Bananas have been produced without a duty.
– Yes; the industry was well established before such an outrageous rate was suggested. I am not, as Senator Crawford suggests, treating this as a joke, and in connexion with this and other items I do not intend to give way in the slightest degree.
– Without a duty the prune industry would thrive.
– I do not think there is any doubt about that. The duty on prunes is operative only on dessert prunes, which are imported from France, and are used by very few people. Having been in the trade for twenty years, I can speak with some confidence of the quantities imported into Australia, and they could all be carted away in a handcart.
– Because of- the prohibitive duty.
– No, because the people of Australia do not use dessert prunes to any extent. I am content to leave the matter now. I have made my position clear, and am prepared to vote on this occasion” as I have done in the past.
– I do not propose to speak at length on this item, but I do desire once more to characterize this proposal as one of the most iniquitous of the many iniquitous proposals that have emanated from another place. Senator Pearce, over in America, has only recently been outlining the policy of Australia, and one of the things he particularly stressed was our desire and deter- mination to develop trade with the Pacific Islands. This duty represents the way in which some persons are prepared to manifest that desire. It represents absolute prohibition of the importation of bananas from Fiji or Java. I have explained that Western Australia does not obtain bananas from Queensland, but from Java. I can understand the attitude of honorable senators representing the northern State on this particular item.
– If is time that some consideration was given to Queensland. It has had none yet.
– BROCKMAN. - I say that Queensland has been given more consideration in every respect than has been given to the State that I have the honour to represent, although per head of population Western Australia contributes more to the revenue of the Commonwealth than does any other State. When I ask for a little consideration for the people of that State, who desire to obtain bananas, I am told that they must be denied that consideration in order to bolster up an industry which was already well established and flourishing under a duty less than one-fourth of the duty now proposed. That is what representatives of Queensland desire, and it is being connived at by the Government of Australia. The Government is prepared to tax the people of the State I represent in order to placate the banana-growers of Queensland. Queensland senators, the Government, and the House of Representatives do not care what becomes of the trade between Western Australia and Java,, or between Australia and Fiji, although Senator Pearce has assured the people of America that it is our determination to foster and develop trade, with the Pacific Islands. I shall vote on this item as I have done throughout the consideration of the Tariff, as I have not heard one argument to justify the Committee in altering the decision it previously expressed.
.- I take up the same attitude on this item as I have taken before. I do not wish to go over the ground covered by Senator Drake-Brockman, but honorable senators will remember that I previously deprecated the attitude proposed for this Parliament of saying to the people of Fiji that we do not desire to trade with them any longer.
– We have never said that.
– We have practically said to the people of Fiji, “ We will prohibit the importation of your bananas into Australia, although in return we secured trade with you to the value of £500,000 annually in our commodities exported to Fiji.”
– We imported sugar from Fiji to the value of five times the value of the bananas we imported from that country in the last few years.
– That may be so; but we have it on the authority of the Chief Resident of Fiji that insistence upon this prohibitive duty on bananas must have the effect of diverting to New Zealand trade hitherto given to Australia.
– New Zealand imposes the same duty on bananas, although bananas are not grown there.
– Senator Payne. should sit down after that.
– The honorable senator who suggests that I should sit down was a member of a Committee of which a majority visited Java recently, I take it, with the object of increasing trade between Java and Australia.
– Are many bananas imported from Java to Australia?
– We have been assured by Senator Drake-Brockman that the whole of the bananas consumed in Western Australia are imported from Java. He has said that there is no other place from- which Western Australia can obtain bananas. The people of that State cannot obtain Queensland bananas because of the distance and difficulties of transport.
– Yet bananas are going over from Queensland to Western Australia every week.
– The statement I have repeated was made in all seriousness by Senator Drake-Brockman, and he insisted that Western Australia must rely upon Java for its supplies of bananas.
– The honorable senator is a good old black-labour advocate.
– I throw that back in the teeth of Senator Foll. I am not an advocate of black labour. I a,m opposed to levying unnecessary burdens on. the people of Australia. That this particular burden is unnecessary” is proved by the fact that, as originally introduced by the Government, the Tariff proposed a duty of 2s. 6d. per cental on bananas as against the duty of ls. 6d. per cental under the previous Tariff. When the increased duty proposed was jumped up in the House of Representatives to 8s. 4d. per cental, honorable senators were perfectly justified in asking for further consideration of this item. This Committee submitted a reasonable compromise, and suggested that the duty should be fixed at 4s. 2d. per cental. Our request was returned without any modification. I am prepared at any time to meet another place if it offers a fair compromise. We could expect no more if a Conference was held between the two Houses. But honorable members in another place have decided not to compromise on this item and to insist on a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental, which will impose an iniquitous burden on the people of Australia for the benefit of the banana-growers of Queensland. I am satisfied that they never anticipated that such a high duty would be imposed.
– There are more bananas grown in New South Wales than in Queensland.
– I include the growers of bananas in northern New South Wales. I have been informed that they were as much surprised as the Queensland growers ‘ when the House of Representatives agreed to a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas.
– Does tha fruit industry of Tasmania require these Protective duties?
– No, the ordinary green fruit industry in Tasmania can hold its own.
– Though it has to sell its product in the world’s market.
– That is so. I will not be a party tq imposing on the people of Australia such unnecessarily high duties, at a time when it is as much as they can do to make ends meet. I am able from experience to indorse what was said by Senator Wilson concerning the quality of bananas which are to be obtained to-day. I have bought some which looked well, but were not fit for consumption. I point out that the cultivation of bananas does not demand the persistent care and attention that is demanded for the cultivation of apples and pears. I shall again support the duty of 4s. 2d. per cental to which the Committee agreed, especially in view of the fact that on a very much lower duty the banana industry was established and carried on successfully for many years in New South Wales and Queensland.
Question - That the request be not further pressed - put. The Committee divided.
Adamson, J. Benny, B. Buzacott, R. Cox, C. F. Crawford, T. W. Earle, J. Elliott, H. E. Givens, T.
Glasgow, Sir Thomas Henderson, G.
Millen, E. D. Newland, J. Plain, W. Reid, M. Rowell, J. Senior, W. Vardon, E. C.
Teller: Foll, H. S.
Bolton, W. K. de Largie, H. Drake-Brockman, E. A. Gardiner, A. Keating, J. H.
Lynch, P. J. Payne, H. J. M. Wilson, R. V.
Teller : Foster? G. M.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion agreed to. Item 158-
Wire netting, per ton, British, 68s.; intermediate, 85s.; general, 105s.
Senate’s Request. - British, 55s. ; intermediate, 75s. ; general, 95s.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– The duty on wire netting was twice pressed and twice declined by the other Chamber. I ask the Committee to refrain from again pressing its request.’ It was with the concurrence of this Committee that the duties on the raw materia] from which wire netting is made were imposed. I move -
That the request be not further pressed.
Motion agreed to. Item 159-
And on and after 11th June, 1921,
Senate’s Bequest. - British, 44s. House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– I hope this item will be treated, in the same way as the previous one. I move -
That the request be not further pressed.
Motion agreed to.
Explosives, viz. : -
Senate’s Bequest. - Amend sub-item to make it-
– 1 think that the reason why the other Chamber declined to accede to the request of this Committee is because the duties proposed represented a very considerable tax on the mining industry. I therefore move; -
That the request be not further pressed.
.- I am firmly of the opinion that this item ought to be further considered. The Ministry desire explosives from Great Britain to be admitted free. If there is any industry that deserves some consideration it is this one. I listened with admiration to the speech of Senator Lynch regarding the action of the other Chamber in reducing the Defence Esti mates, but the wiping out of th« duty on explosives, which are the very materials required for defence, leaves this industry to the mercy of foreign competition. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) has put forward the plea that the mining industry of Australia must be considered.
– And very sensibly, too.
– T - The Government t are afraid that, by giving protection to this industry, the miners would to some extent be penalized.. Where, I ask, are the- -advocates of the primary producers of Australia? Surely they will not remain silent oar this one item! I agree with those honorable senators who declare that the mining industrv must be protected as far as the safety of the miners is concerned, but- there is ample evidence that the explosives produced in Australia are oxf a quality which makes them perfectly satisfactory. If the only objection to granting a duty on this industry is that it would penalize miners, it is a lame argument, indeed. The Tariff offers encouragement to practically every other industry, and why should protection be refused in this instance? If Australia had to defend itself, it might be shut off from supplies of explosives, apart from those manufactured in this country.
– Why, * not give the miners a subsidy?
– If the quartz miners are the only peoole who stand in the way of this duty being granted, let them be subsidized. It is an extraordinary attitude for a Government to decline to protect the manufacturers of explosives.
– How much are they manufacturing now?
Senate* PLAIN.- That is not the point. We have given protection to other industries irrespective of their dimensions. Explosives would be the lifeblood of the nation in the event of war. I think that I would be justified in forcing the Committee to a division on this question.
– Why / not subsidize the explosives industry, rather than the miners ?
– I do not mind which. is done so long as the industry is encouraged by the granting of some measure of protection.
– Will you move an amendment ?
– I shall leave it to tihe good judgment of the Committee. .
– With wages at £4 a week, how can the industry compete with countries having cheap labour?
– The industry cannot compete against the cheap labour in South Africa without some protection. -That is the reason why we asked for protection for this industry, as for others. I think I have- voted fairly consistently for protection for our industries.
– You went back on that attitude to-night.
– I did’ not. I have voted not only for a reasonable, but for a high protection. In’ this case I am asking for a reasonable protection, and a promise from the Government that the matter will be considered with the view of securing a continuance of the manufacture of explosives in this country.
– I agree with the view expressed by Senator Plain that we should make every possible effort to secure the stability of this industry in Australia. 1 do not wish to run the risk of an absolute deadlock between the two branches of the Legislature. It may, of course, ultimately lead to a double dissolution, and an expenditure of, probably, £100,000 on an election. I do not desire to go to that extreme. I realize that it is most important to have explosive factories in Australia, not only in connexion with the defence of the country, but al!so in the interests of the miners, on- whose behalf some- honorable senators are advocating the abolition of the duty. In discussing these questions, orie cannot know what duty is- really necessary to- keep the industry going. We are assured - by those rotho are interested in ‘the industry, I .admit - that a duty is absolutely imperative if the industry is to continue to exist. The only satisfaction I have is that an inquiry will be held by the Tariff Board to ascertain whether it is imperative- that those duties shall be continued. I do not quite understand the position of the other branch of the Legislature if the statements nhat have been made are correct, that one of the most important industries to any nation will be abolished by their action. I do not want to be too emphatic in my protest against the decision of the other branch of the Legis ts]- 2 * lature, and I desire the Chairman’s direction as to- whether I can move to amend our previous request. We ihave given way to all the demands made by the other ‘brandh of the Legislature except this, and it is reasonable to suppose, I think, that if we show a spirit of sweet compromise by reducing the requested duties by 5 per cent. , which is certainly material, the other branch of the Legislature will acquiesce. The proposal will not embarrass the Government or Parliament very much. I recognise that it is the wish of Parliament to rise at the end of this week, and that members are reluctant to continue the cross-fire between the two Houses. It should be remembered that if this industry is discontinued the miners will have to depend upon the imported article. They will have to take what they can get, and pay the prices demanded. We have no control over the manufacturers of South Africa or of any other country where explosives may be made, but we can exercise control over a manufacturer at Deer Park. Seeing ‘the importance of the industry to Australia, I believe the other branch of the Legislature will agree to- an amended request. I desire to move that our request be amended by making the duties in the first sub-item, British preferential, 10 per cent., intermediate, 15 per cent.; and general, 25 per cent., and that explosives not elsewhere included, shall be subject to duties of British 1 per cent., and intermediate and general 12^ per cent. The House of .Representatives, by recognising our right to repeat our request, have .acknowledged that we have that^ right.
– They have bluffed us, and we have backed down.
– They have not. The Speaker, I believe, gave expression to the opinion that the Constitution did ‘not provide, for the reiteration of a request by this Chamber. There is no doubt in my mind that the Speaker was wrong. At any rate, the other place decided by resolution that they would receive our repeated requests, and would deal with them forthwith. I can see no reason why they should not again receive our further request and deal with it in the same spirit.
– The honorable senator mav attempt to achieve hie end by moving to leave the word “not” out of the motion now before the Committee. He has indicated the objective that he desires to secure. Therefore, those honorable senators who wish to assist him in securing it can vote with him, and if the word is left out he may insert such modified duties as he thinks -will meet the occasion.
– I move - That the word “not” be left out.
I move that amendment with the object of inserting other words providing for the duties which I have indicated.
– Before dealing with Senator Earle’s amendment I wish to have a ruling as to how far I would be in order in asking that our request be modified to the extent of striking out “10 per oent.” in the intermediate Tariff, and “ 15 per cent.” in th« general Tariff.
- Senator Earle has notified the Committee of his intention. If he is successful with his amendment, then; of course, the question as to whether Senator Lynch desires higher or lower duties than Senator Earle, would have to come before me for decision as to which amendment should take precedence. If the word “ not “ is struck out, the duties can be dealt with according to the desires of honorable senators.
– It is only in the event of Senator Earle being successful in striking out the word “ not,” that there will be a chance of the Committee modifying the duties?
– Quite so. Senator Earle must be successful for the Committee to have any chance of making a modification.
– I think that ruling Will circumscribe the actions of the Committee very much.
– The honorable senator will see that if the majority of the Committee is against Senator Earle’s amendment, then the sense of the Committee must be in favour of the motion. The Committee is simply asked to decide now whether an avenue shall be opened for a modification of the previous request.
– The contingency may arise that there may be a majority of members of the Committee in favour of altering the duties, but that a majority may not vote for Senator Earle’s amendment.
– It is simply a question of the greater including the less.
– There will be no possible chance of an amendment on the lines I suggest if the word “ not” is retained.
– None whatever.
– As far as I can recall the debates that took place on this subject on a previous occasion, there were two main questions. The first was whether we could manufacture the article in Australia, and the second was whether the duties would place an undue burden on the mining industry. . As to the first point, I am assured that we actually manufacture, sell, and supply from 58 to 60 per cent, of the explosives used in the mining industry in Australia.
– Whoever told you that is not in a position to prove it by any means.
– I am assured that they are in a position to supply the whole of the explosives used in Australia. Prior to the war, when the consumption of explosives was very much greater than it is to-day, there was a proposal to remove the Factory from Footscray to Sydney, in order to conduct operations on a much greater scale,- but owing to a decline in the mining industry that project has fallen through. I am assured, however, that the Factory at Footscray is able to cope with the whole of Australia’s demands. By dividing the item, we have fairly met ‘ the criticism that the gold-mining industry would be unduly oppressed. As the item came to us originally, it was “ Explosives, n.e.i.,” free in the British preferential Tariff, and 5 per cent, in the intermediate and general Tariffs. We requested that it be split up by placing coal-getting explosives in the permitted list with duties ad valorem 15 per cent. British, 20 per cent, intermediate, and 25 per cent, general; and explosives, n.e.i., free British, 10 per cent, intermediate, and 15 per cent, general. I cannot understand why the Senate’s request was refused by another place, because the requested duty is a very moderate one, and would have no possible adverse effect upon the coal-mining industry. In fact, I think there would . be no increase at all in the cost of explosives of any kind. When this item was last before this Committee, a great point was made of the fact that the Australian explosives had never been properly tested.
Since then the company have sent explosives to England, and I now produce a certified copy of the certificate under the seal of the Secretary of State, in the following terms: -
This is to certify that A2 Monobel of the following compositions: - manufactured, by the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, at their factory at Deer Park, near Melbourne, Australia, was tested on the 15th and 18th days of August, 1921, and passed the official test laid down by the Home Office memorandum of May, 1912, for inclusion in the list of “permitted explosives’” in the first schedule of the Explosives in Coal Mines Order of the 1st September, 1913, regulating the supply, use, and storage of explosives.
A copy of the definition and conditions as to use under which, if so desired, it would have been included in the said first schedule are attached hereto. (Signed) A. Cooper-Key, Major,
H.M. Chief of Explosives.
Home Office, Whitehall S.W. 1, 23rd September, 1921.
There is a similar certificate in all respects with regard to the explosive Austral Viking and Viking Powder No. 2, specifying the different compositions in each case and a schedule of the conditions under which they would be permitted to be used. This is precisely the same certificate as that under which explosives manufactured by the South African Company are imported into this country, so there is no longer any point in the objection that the Australian explosives have never been properly tested. Apart frofh this, there is the important question of preserving this keystone of our Defence system.
– A German keystone.
– We should preserve these industries. Many thousands of pounds are invested in this industry, which -provides employment for a large number of people who will be thrown out of employment if the duties are not made operative.
– There is no duty at present. The Senate has requested certain duties.
– I am assured that unless these duties are imposed the industry will be forced to close down.
.- At the risk of delaying the Committee, I intend to put the case from the other point of view. Were the matter not so serious - it is a question of life or death to our Australian miners - I would vote with those who want to have a “ cut “ at the other House on this issue. I object to the proposal to compel Australian miners to use the product of a German companyp In order that the facts may be known, I shall quote from the report of the Inter-State Commission which inquired into this subject, and presented a report in May, 19i6. This report states -
Appllication was received from Mr. K. O’Brien, of Melbourne, agent for the Cape Explosives Works Limited, “ that the 5 per cent, duty °n mining explosives, the product of the Cape Province, South African Union, be removed.”
This application was supported by Mr. W. Karri-Davies, engineer, of Perth, Western Australia, and by Mr. P. C. Howard, of Adelaide, managing director of . the Broken Hill South Silver Mining Company No Liability.
This application was opposed by the manager of the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, Deer Park, Melbourne.
The explosives referred to in the application are those of the n’itro-glycerine class (dynamite, gelatine dynamite, gelignite, and blasting gelatine ) .
The value of importations of these for the five years 1909-13 were: -
Thu principal countries of origin of importations for the year 1013 were: - United Kingdom, ?LS4,500; Germany, ?84,850; South Africa, ?30,430.
There is only one company making this class of explosives in Australia. This is called the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, of Deer Park, Melbourne. This company, which has a very small output- in 1913, only 200.000 lbs. out of a total consumption of 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 lbs. - is dominated by the Nobel’s Dynamite Trust Company Ltd., which is an offshoot of, or is in close association with, the Dynamite Aktiengesellschaft, of Hamburg. Mr.G. A. Evans, manager of the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Ltd., stated: -
Our company is .purely Australian, hut we are financed by the Nobel’s Explosives Company. We would not be in existence if we were not financed by them. . . . It evidently pays the Nobel’s Explosives Company to keep us going. They hav? carried it on in the hope it may turn om to be profitable. At the present time it is a bonti, fide industry. We do not show much profit. There are several very interesting features in connexion with this investigation which are deserving of special consideration.
In the year 1908, the trade in Australia in high explosives was dominated and practically entirely controlled by a combination of British and German manufacturers. The circumstances, under which the Capo Explosives Works Limited entered into competition against this combination was explained by Mr. F. C. Howard, managing director of the Broken Hill South Silver Mining Company No Liability. Mr. Howard said: -
In 1908 we were paying to the Nobel Company, Glasgow, gelignite 35s. 6d. pcT case, gelatine dynamite 41s. 6d. per case, blasting gelatine 49s. 6d. per case. ^ Wo then called for tenders, and theo two Nobel Companies, Glasgow and Hamburg, both quoted 50s., 61s. fid., and 67s. 8d’. for those three items. The increase was so excessive that it caused a revolt in the mining concerns throughout, the whole of Australia.
The result of that was that a circular was issued by the whole of the large mining companies of Australia and New Zealand, which resulted in a meeting being held in Melbourne, at which every State was represented. A committee was formed, which resulted in an. invitation being sent to the South African company to come into this field. After long negotiations they sent their managers here, and a contract was the result. The contract was for five years, with the right of renewal for a further five years. . . . These companies were not so much out for profit, as they wanted a larger output to reduce their working costs. . . .
At the presenti time, mainly owing to the reduction of freights, we are paying 44s. 7d. and 57s. 9d. (for gelignite and blasting gelatine). .’ . . The consumption of our company is in the neighibour- hood of 5,000 cases a year of these two explosives combined.
Our action in purchasing from South Africa broke up Nobel’s combination. We consider the mining industry is under a great debt to the Cape- Explosives Works Company. … It would be a calamity to us from a mining point of view if South African explosives were kept out. Mr. Walter Karri-Davies, engineer, of Perth, who supported the application for preference to South Africa, said: -
I have no personal interests in the matter at all. My main object is to foster good relations and trade between here and South Africa. … I know there is a combine of manufacturers in Europe. The terms on which the De Beers people supply their dynamite to South Africa and Australia is that they charge a small interest on the capital expended in the factory. Whenever there is a saving the consumers get the benefit. De Beer? are not in the combine. … I lived in South Africa for about twenty years, and so know the conditions of things there. . . .
If this preference were given, it would mean a reduction in freights, as the vessel that would bring explosives here could take back a cargo to South Africa. The trend of the present trade is very much in favour of Australia as against South Africa, and we should do all we can to foster return freights, especially in goods we do not produce. The competition by the South African Explosives Companies has been an indirect benefit to Western Australia, as it has forced the combine to brins; down its prices of explosives. In this way Western Australia has benefited very largely.
Mr. A. C. Crapp, manager of the Explosives department of Harris, Scarfe, and Company Limited Adelaide, agents for the ‘Cape Explosives Works Limited in South Australia and Broken Hill, submitted a statement of quantity of Cape explosives forwarded to the Broken Hill mines and the Port Pirie smelters from 1st May, 1909, to 30th April, 1914:- 1909 - 5th May to 31st December, 4,274 cases 1910 - 1st January to 31st December, 5,752 cases. 1911 - 1st January to 31st December, 7,545 - cases. 1912 - 1st January to 31st December, 8,670 cases. 1913 - 1st January to 31st December, 9,798 ? cases. 1914- 1st January to 30th April, 4.220 cases.
Mr. Crapp stated : “ There are only two mines in Broken Hill that we do not supply - the Central and Zinc Corporation. About seven-eighths of the Broken Hill business is done by us.”
In a statement submitted by this witness, of reasons why the duty should’ be abolished, it is mentioned: -
The reduction would be passed on to consumer, and thereby render service to a primary industry.
The present duty prohibits us from computing successfully for business outside contracts with mines.
The duty paid amounts to dynamite, ls. 5d. and ls. (id. per case; gelignite, ls. 9a. per case; blasting gelatine, 2s. 5d. per case.
Mr. Kirk O’Brien, of Melbourne, agent and attorney for the Cape Explosives “Works Limited, South Africa, also gave evidence, but I have read sufficient to show that the information given is as much in favour of a reduction as anything that could be found.
Mr. George .A. Evans, manager of the Australian Explosives a,nd Chemical Company Limited, of Deer Park, Melbourne, stated - ‘ I ajii also chairman of the High Explosives Trade Association in Victoria. That is an association for regulating the prices of explo-. sives in Victoria. 1 am opposing the. application for British preference to be extended to.. South Africa, or opposing any alteration in the Tariff which will give a preference to South Africa.
The association consists of six or seven members, Nobel’s Explosives Company .Limited, Glasgow: Dynamite Aktiengesellschaft, Hamburg; The .”British Explosives Syndicate, Glas^ gow; the New Explosives Company, England; Kynoch Limited, Birmingham and South Africa; Curtis and Harvey, England; and the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, Victoria.
Our company is purely Australian, but we are financed by the Nobel’s Explosives Company. Wo would not be in existence if we were not financed by them. . . .
Besides this Combine and the Cape Explosives Works Limited, there are no others supplying nitro-glycerine, i.e., high explosives, in this market.
I oppose the granting of the preference on the following grounds: -
We are in. competition with the Cape Explosives Works Limited on lines that we cannot compete with. By “ we “ I speak only of the Australian Explosives Company. 1 can only speak for costs in so far as the cost of my own company is concerned. ‘We are all on one price with the British companies, but the Cape company competes with us.
Until last year our local company hits been losing money annually for a long time. With regard to the association, we do not each lose our individuality. We have to make a profit or lose. x
It evidently pays the Nobel’s Explosives Company to keep us going. They ha.ve carried it on in the hope it may turn out to be profitable. At the present time it is a bond fide industry. We do not show much .profit. . . .
I believe that the other members of the Combine are making little profit, judging from my costs. . . We arc at present making a slight profit in competition with Nobel’s and the other companies without any protection at all. The members of the combined companies arc strongly in competition with sach other, after fixing the prices, on equal terms. I admit the competition as to the price is eliminated. . . .
I cannot say who is the chairman in each of the other States of my association. I have no communication with them whatever. 1 have no idea of the instructions that they have received from the Combine as to the prices they must charge in each of the other States. I never correspond with the .representatives of the association in the other States as such, I may correspond with them without knowing they are the representatives of the association. . . Each company has its agent in this State, and they meet me, and we decide as to what .prices shall be charged. I get instructions from London to call a meeting, and inform them fcha.t the price shall be a certain ‘figure.
I nm constantly corresponding with headquarters in London, but do not get - instructions regularly. We discuss the letters which come advising the prices, and if we have any reason to consider the prices unwise or unreasonable we make our objections, and refer the question to London for reconsideration.
I would point out that I represent a company which could quite well split off from the Nobel Dynamite Trust. It is true that the Trust owns our company, as they bought it. They nin our company. I get my instructions from the Australian Explosives Company in London. . .
I now wish to bring forward the question of the employment of black labour in the Cape Explosives Works Limited. I cannot give the rates of wages paid in Glasgow to men, women, and boys. The wage paid to bb.ck labour in the mines on the gold-fields in South Africa ivaa 51s. 9d. per month. I do not know if they were fed and lodged in addition. . .
Briefly, my objection, is that the price at which the Cape Explosives Works Limited has taken a contract in A^ictoria was below our Australian cost at that time. I cannot say how much it. is, if any, below the Glasgow cost though. The contract I refer to was with the Birthday Tunnel, Berringa.
Unless the Cape Explosives Works Limited improve their manufacture, I shall raise another objection to preference being extended to them on that ground..
They are using a material in the manufacture of gelignite at the present time which is a material that is not put into explosives by any other company trading in this market.”
In reply to comment on the qualitv of the rival product, Mr. Kirk O’Brien stated - “ The explosives supplied by the Cape Explosives Works ‘Limited are passed by the Government inspectors before lea.ving Africa, and before delivery in Australia they pass the standard tests, and are officially approved. Our contracts undertake they will” pass. There was an embargo placed on them in Western Australia over a technical matter, but that was removed three months ago. That embargo only referred to gelignite.”
The Commfssion then stated -
A reference to the Registrar-General’s Office, Melbourne, afforded materials for the following outline of the history of the Australian
Explosives and Chemical Company Limited. As far as can be gathered from the papers filed, the company seems to have begun operations in or about 1S75.
The first title of the company was the Australian Lithofracteur Company (Kreb’s patent) Ltd. The original capital of the company was £30,000, in 6,000 shares of £5 each.
The original subscribers to the memorandum of association were the following: - Thomas Tolley Jones, merchant,
London . . . . . . 500 shares
Henry Wheeler, Clapton . . 200 Daviid Fowler, London . . 100
Jacob Engols, Kalk . . . . 50
Fried. Krebs, Deutz . . . . 60
In 1S97, the names of the directors were - Richard Harrold, Samuel Loveridge, Henry Wheeler (of England), and Thomas Tolley Jones, of Melbourne, who appeared to be the active agent.
Its original object was apparently to work certain patent rights (Kreb’s), with sufficient scope to take up chemical manufactures.
For tlie twelve months ending 31st December, 1003, the company seems to have ‘had with the Nobel Dynamite Trust Company Limited, a loan account of £10,000. This loan account appears to have grown year by year.
In 1906, the loan account was £12,000, the current account £170, making a total of £12,170. iOn 31st December, 1912, the loan account with the Nobel Dynamite Trust Company Limited was £1S,000, the current account with the Trust £753, making a total of £.18,753. lim business in this year showed a loss of £3,737. ‘
For the year ending 31st December, 1913, the loan account was £18,000, and the current account £1,048, making a total of £19,048. There was a profit in this year, of £1,690.
In 1914, the loan account was £25;000, and the current account with the Trust £1,710, jinking a total of £26,710. In this year there was an account to Nobel’s Explosives Company Limited of £1,070. The net profits for 1914 are shown as £1,023.
It is apparent from the evidence of Mr. G. A. Evans, manager of the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, of Melbourne, an’d chairman of the High Explosives Trade Association in Victoria, that the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited is kept in existence by the Nobel Dynamite Trust Company Ltd., and in the opinion of the Commission it is so kept in existence for the sole purpose of giving colour to the idea that there is an independent Australian industry. Its output is trifling. It is contended that its products enter into competition with the products of the great explosives manufacturing firms who constitute the High Explosives Trade Association. Its prices a.re regulated by that association, and thfcy must not exceed or be less than those charged by the world’s greatest manufacturers. The relative ens-tsi of production at Deer Park,
Melbourne, at Glasgow, and at Hamburg were not permitted to enter into consideration of the question.
In the opinion of the Commission, the local factory is not a bond fide effort to establish an Australian industry. It would appear to be kept on foot merely for the purpose of imposing on the minds of the authorities the presumption that competition from South Africa might vitally affect an Australian industry. There is at present no Australian industry of high explosives in existence which answers to the ordinary acceptation of the term. This question of the supply of explosives is of supreme importance to one of our chief primary industries.
The number of persons engaged in mining in the Commonwealth, 1901, 1907-12, was- 1.901 .. .. 113,462
1907 .. .. .. 121,551
1908 .. .. .. 108.457
1909 . . . . . . 102’.526
1910 .. .. .. 1.00,251
1911 .. .. 94,702
1912 .. .. .. 91,843
Notwithstanding the immense mineral resources of Australia, and the great possibilities in the development of our mining industry, the above figures disclose a regrettable decrease - which has been persistent for several years - in the number of persons employed.
In the cost of mining, particularly in respect of miners who have but little capital, tlie question of the price of explosives is a most serious consideration. Whilst the Explosives Combine, known as the High Explosives Trade Association, controlled the Australian market, the prices compared with those since the inception of competition by the Cape Explosives Works Limited were excessive, and there can be no doubt of the truth of the statement that the local “ mining industry is under a great debt to the Cape Explosives Works Company,” and “ that it would bo a calamity to us from a mining point of view if South African explosives were kept out.”
The present discriminating rates of duties are to the advantage of the European Combine, and to the disadvantage of the miner. The Cape Explosives Company Limited is. hampered to the extent of 5 per cent., which is a serious handicap in the face of fierce compe- tition. As a co-.operative effort in supplying explosives a,t a fair cost, the company should not be under any disadvantage.
At present it can only do business in Australia when large contracts are obtainable, and it may be anticipated with certaint.y that, if this independent competition is destroyed, the prices for explosives will be immediately restored to their former high level.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
ISenator ELLIOTT (Victoria) [11.10]. - Senator Gardiner said he would be prepared to give his support but for the document from which he has just read. The honorable senator omitted to inform the- Committee that the report isoat least six or seven years old. Immediately the war broke out the German capital invested in the industry was withdrawn, and it has since been replaced by good Australian money. The people employed iti the industry are all Australians, and there is not the slightest possibility of a German Combine ever deriving any profit from the industry or of dictating prices in any form. It is an Australian company, standing on its own bottom, and we are endeavouring to protect it from the products of black labour in South Africa, as has been done in other instances. We are asking for a duty of only 15 per cent., although, in some instances, 50 per cent, has- been imposed. Under the request submitted by Senator Earle, the rate will be reduced to 10 per cent., and considering all the circumstances, that cannot be regarded as excessive.
– Did not that companv undertake to spend £750,000?
– That was when the Commission was sitting.
– No; quite recently, since the -war.
– At any rate, it was at a time when the demand for explosives justified them in increasing their plant, but the present- demand would not do so. The plant at Deer Park is capable, I am instructed, of supplying the whole demand of Australia to-day, and it is, in fact, coping with from 58 to 60 per cent. oE that demand.
– Is it not a fact that the southern miners have objected to using the explosive because of the flame that it produces in the coal?
– I have no information on that point.
– If that be a fact, would you insist on its use ?
– Unlike the honorable senator, I am not an expert in mining matters; but if the Government established a testing station, it could insist on any modification of the composition of the explosives that might be thought necessary, though in any case the company would not put on the market an article which would endanger the lives of its customers.
– I wish to finish the report” of the Inter-State Commission on explosives, which I was reading when interrupted just now. It was ordered- to be- printed in May, 1916 -
The Australian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited is owned an8> controlled by the Nobel Dynamite Trust Company Ltd., in respect of which it was cabled to the Melbourne press from London on 11th August. 1!US, that-
The Nobel Dynamite Trust Company, with the sanction of the British Government, has arranged to sell the company’s German assets to the Norddentsche Bank, in consideration of the bank surrendering 1,800,000 of the company’s ordinary shares, or paying compensation for any shortage. Nobel’s German assets consist mainly of a large holding of shares in Nobel’s Explosive Company, Glasgow, and investments in the Alliance Explosives Company, and the Australian Explosives and Chemicals Company. The directors, therefore,!: recommend that the Trust be wound up, ann the British assets transferred to Nobel’s Explosives.
Whilst the interests of enemy ownership may now have disappeared, the combination known as the High Explosives Trade Association remains, and it must be obvious from the evidence taken in this investigation, that any Tariff encouragement which will tend to benefit and strengthen their monopoly must be accompanied by corresponding loss and injury to the Australian mining industry.
The lever which has been used up to the present time in opposing the extension of British preference df 5 per cent, to South Africa is the “ black labour “ question. It would appear that only a proportion of the labour employed is coloured labour. But, even so, the question is one in which the decision should be guided by the best interests of Australian industry. We want cheap explosives for the purpose of developing our mineral resources, and we also desire to extend a preference to every bond fide industry conducted in the United Kingdom. If, however, such preference, as it appears to have been in the present case, has been utilized by means of a Combine for the purpose of unduly inflating prices to the disadvantage of an Australian industry, then there appears to be no justification for its continuance in its present form.
In the opinion of the Commission, the Tariff disadvantage (5 per cent.) to high explosives from South Africa is detrimental to the interests of the mining industry of Australia, and lessens the chances of return freights for our export trade with South Africa, and it is therefore recommended that the preference now extended to the United Kingdom on high explosives may also be extended to South Africa.
This is a matter of life and death to the coal miners, and only a fortnight or so ago there was a strike because certain men wished to use the local explosives, and others wo;ild not work with their.. I should not have read from the report at such lengtli had. I not felt the importance of showing that, in this matter, the miners themselves are the best judges.
Senator E? D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation; [11.16]. - The Committee must recognise that I cannot accept the amendment, lt is well that the history of this proposal should be known. The Government, m framing the Tariff, imposed a duty on explosives on the assurance of the company that it was prepared to spend £750,000 in putting itself into a position to practically supply the demands of Australia, but it has since done nothing.
– It cannot be blamed for that, because the Tariff- has not yet been settled.
– It said that it would do that with the amount of protection imposed, but it has not made a move.
– Were they promised a duty if they did that?
– They saw what was in the Tariff.
– What would be the good of the company spending that amount of money if the demands for explosives did not justify the exjiendituie ?
– The honorable senator has just told us that the company could supply the whole Australian demands, and that it is supplying nearly 60 per cent, of it. If it- can supply the whole demands, why is it supplying only 60 per cent, of it?
– Why did it make this offer?
– Why, rather, did it not carry out its undertaking ? Whatever may be the fiscal faith, of honorable senators, the relation of duties to two industries which they may affect must, be considered, and in this case we have to ask- ourselves whether the benefit which might result from applying a stimulus to the explosives industry will not be negatived by the prejudicing of the mining industry.
– Did the Government give the company c, pledge?
– It put a duty on the Tariff, which was, I think, the strongest evidence of a desire to encourage the industry, but the Government expected the company to do something.
– Duties are imposed by the Tariff on the materials which enter into competition, with explosives.
– During Ihe debates, a number of honorable senators have revealed themselves to be very warm supporters of primary industries, and I think that I may appeal successfully for their votes, because if there is any duty affecting a primary industry, it is this duty on explosives.
– I contend that it is in the best interests of the primary producers that explosives should , be manufactured in Australia. If they are not manufactured here the primary producers will have to depend on the importers for the explosives they require. Senator Gardiner made a pathetic appeal which must have touched honorable senators. He has suggested that the locallymanufactured explosives are dangerous to the lives of miners.
– Because we have no testing plant.
– If Senator Gardiner could produce any evidence in support of his statemeut I would vote with him on this item. But I say that there is no such evidence. .It is absurd to suggest that men would manufacture an article which would be fatal to those who used it. Why could not the Government, if that be necessary, establish a testing station to prove the quality of the locallymanufactured explosives ?
– The Government have a means of testing explosives now.
– Then, why are not these explosives submitted to the test? It is the duty of the Government to preserve the lives of miners and others who use these explosives. I hazard the opinion that these explosives are tested, and are .not permitted to go into consumption until they have passed the necessary test.
– I think that Mr. Charlton said something concerning the inferior quality of these explosives.
– I read Mr. Charlton’s speech on the subject, and, while he said that he had heard that the local article is not so good, he did not say that it is ‘dangerous. I repeat that it is in the best interests of the primary producers that explosives should be manufactured in Australia. It is equally important for the defence of Australia that they should be manufactured here.
– That is the argument which counts with most of us.
– If this great factory is closed down as a result of the decision on this item, and the internal supply of explosives ceases in Australia, no one will be able to state that I did not do my part in trying to prevent such a calamity. It is all very well to say that we should do what is reasonable in this matter, and should not throw the responsibility on the other branoh of the Legislature. I think that we shall not have done all that we ought to do until we have exhausted every means of inducing the Parliament to arrive at a decision which we honestly believe will be in the best interests of Australia.
.- I could not follow the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in the statement he made on this item. I should like to know why the Government singled out this particular firm and submitted conditions to them which were not submitted to any other manufacturers. Before the Tariff was introduced they asked the members of this firm if they were, prepared to duplicate their plant, at a cost of £200,000 or £300,000, if the Government promised them a 15 per cent, duty. The firm said that they were prepared to do that, and I must say now that if I were a member of the firm, judging by the action since taken, I should feel that I had been deceived by the Government. The Government are not giving this firm the support that they have extended to other primary industries. Senator Gardiner attempted to camouflage matters by creating an impression that we are dealing, in this case, with a German monopoly. -
– That was the finding of a Royal Commission that was appointed to inquire into the matter.
– I agree with the honorable senator that if the manufacture of explosives were carried out in Australia by a German monopoly it would bo a danger to the community, but we know that German capital and control in this company is at an end. We have at present a small population in Australia, and it is possible that in a few years’ time, if we develop it on right lines by affording necessary protection to the primary industries, the population will be so increased that the demand for this article will have increased threefold. There will then be room for other companies to start in this industry with British or Australian capital. If it was their desire to support a, Free Trade policy, and to challenge the right of the manufacturer to live, I could understand the attitude which the Government have taken up in this matter. In this one instance, for no reason that I can imagine, the Government say that they are determined that this industry shall not live another day. Apart from the use of explosives in mining, it is necessary that they should be manufactured here to provide ammunition, which is essential to the defence of the country. Do honorable senators propose to say to the South African people who manufacture explosives by the !employment of black labour, that they may send us ammunition or not as they please at a time when it is necessary for us to defend the country? The argument put forward by the Government throughout the consideration of the Tariff has been that Australia must be self-contained, and must manufacture every essential article that it requires. I quite agree with that policy; and I say that it cannot be denied that we should manufacture our own ammunition. Senator Lynch, in an able speech which we all admired, extolled the efficiency of our Australian soldiers, and regretted extremely the demands made in another place to cut down defence expenditure in. such a way as to lessen the efficiency of our Army. I hope that the honorable senator will confirm the view he so eloquently expressed by asking the Government to give protection to this industry in order that our soldiers in time of need may be able to secure the ammunition they will require for the defence of the country. Of what use is it to train a man as a good soldier, and give him a rifle, if we refuse to provide him with ammunition? The honorable senator cannot in one breath insist upon expenditure to make our Army efficient, and in the next deny to our Forces an article essential to effective defence. Therefore, it is our duty to see that we manufacture our own ammunition, so that, when the time comes, if it should come, which is quite possible when danger threatens us, we, or our sous, will be in a position to protect this country.
– Senator Gardiner has attempted to contest the validity of certain certificates quoted by Senator Elliott. The samples of explosives tested were taken from the bulk, not by the company here, but by an officer appointed to take them, and they were sent to England and subjected to every test to which English explosives have to submit.
– Why were they not tested here ?
– Because there are no .means of doing so. When 1 quote the certificate of the British Board of Trade Senator Gardiner still declares that the Australian explosives are not safe. If his declaration is correct, then the explosives manufactured in Great Britain and submitted to the same test cannot be regarded as safe
– Senator Gardiner’s argument is controverted by the fact that such a large quantity of Australian-made explosives is used here.
– In regard to the point submitted by Seuator Plain, no Government factory would be able to produce sufficient ammunition for the defence of Australia if we had to .meet an emergency, as Great Britain recently had to do. If the private explosives factory is crushed out of existence and its employees are dispersed and have to seek employment in other lauds, we may find that, when danger threatens us, although our soldiers may have- rifles we cannot give them sufficient ammunition.
– These people are not manufacturing explosives for ammunition. They are manufacturing mining explosives.
– I know that quite well ; but surely the honorable senator is not so simple as not to know that if explosives are manufactured in this way by chemists the services of those chemists can be applied, if necessary, to the manufacture of every kind of ammunition. Senator Gardiner is a defender of labour, but not the labour which is “employed in Australia at an average wage of SA 5s. 6d. for adults. He would rather champion the cause of labour which is earning- an average wage of £1 per week in South Africa. The honorable senator claims that the Australian manufacturers of explosives have not extended their business as they promised to do, but it is well known that since the war mining for metals has been greatly reduced owing to the fact that production was so extensive during the war, and there was a large quantity in hand at the Armistice when the demand fell away. Yet, evidently, this company is expected to double its capital in order to be prepared to meet a demand from mines that are at the present time not working.
– It was the company’s own suggestion to the Government.
– But that suggestion was made when the mines were doing their utmost to produce metals. It is unfair to expect this company, which has not been in a position to pay income tax since 1916, to double its capital at a time when the demand for its output has considerably decreased.
-; - Did not the manager of the company say that it was only a bogus concern?
– The honorable senator knows quite well that he might just as well denounce the Colonial Metal Company as a bogus company, seeing that it has taken over the business of the German metal company.
– What did the InterState Commission say as to how the defence system was affected by this company?
– I am not troubling about what the Inter-State Commission reported. I am more concerned in having means of manufacturing explosives m here up to the fullest standard of our own needs. We must not only have rifles; we must also have ammunition to put in them.
– Strange to say. that aspect of the case did not occur to the Inter-State Commission .
– I understand that the Commission did not take evidence in Melbourne. I am not pleading for Nobel’s or any one else. I am pleading for the protection of Australia. What is the use of spending millions on de- fence if we are to be weak in the matter of ammunition? We axe told that we should consider the mining industry. How long will the price of explosives remain, as it is to-day, without competition?
– It has remained where it is for a good many years.
– Would the honorable Benator advance that argument with regard to any other matters?
– The probability is that in other matters the position would be different.
– The whole purpose of our Protective Tariff is to increase production in Australia, so as to bring prices down. We have a 15 per cent, duty on the nitrates from -which the explosives are made, and those nitrates constitute from 60 to 70 per cent, of the explosives. We cannot expect the company concerned to make bricks without straw.
Question. - That the word proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Eable’b amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Elliott, H. E. Glasgow, Sir Thomas Payne, H. J. M. Plain, W. Reid, M.
Senior, W. Wilson, R. V.
Benny, B. Buzacott, R. Cox, C. F. de Largie, H. Drake-Brockman, E. A. Foster, G. M. Gardiner, A. Givens, T. Henderson, G.
Earle, J. Noxs. ‘
Keating, J. H. Lynch, P. J. Millen, E. D. Millen, John D. Newland, J. Vardon, E. C.
Teller: Foll, H. S. Pair.
Bolton, W. K. Adamson, J.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted. Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 December 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211207_senate_8_98/>.