8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m.,and read prayers.
Report by Senator the Right Honorable G.F. Pearce.
– I beg to lay on the table a report on the Washington Conference on the limitations of armament, and I move -
That the paper be printed.
I do not propose to speak to the motion otherwise than to say that I am giving notice of motions regarding the ratification of the Treaties signed at the Washington Conference, and the consideration of those motions will afford an opportunity for the discussion of the report, as well as of the Treaties referred to therein.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 12 of 1921 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks Association.
No. 13 of 1921 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans Association.
No. 14 of1921- Radio-Telegraphists Institute of Australasia.
No. 15 of 1921 (Special Allowance to officers in the State of Western Australia) - General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia, Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers Association, Australian Common wealth Post and Telegraph Association, Federated Public Service Assistants Association, Commonwealth Public Service Artisans Association, Commonwealth Postmasters Association, Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association, Line Inspectors Association, Postal Sorters Union of Australia, Australian Letter Carriers Association, Australian Telegraphists Union, Australian Postal Linemen’s Union, Professional Officers Association.
No: 1 of 1922 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers Federation of Australia.
No. 2 of 1922 - Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
No. 3 . of 1922 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 4 of 1922- Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
No. 5 of 1922 - Professional Officers Association.
No. 6 of 1922 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
No. 7 of 1922 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers Association.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 53.
Audit Act -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 234; 1922, No. 33.
Transfers of amounts approved bythe Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1921-22- Dated 3rd May, 1922; Dated 14th June, 1922.
Beer Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 29.
British Phosphate Commission - Report and Accounts for the year ended 30th June, 1921.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act- Regulations amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 226; 1922, Nos. 7, 22, 49.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Aggregate Balance-sheet of Commonwealth Bank of Australia at 31st December, 1921, together with Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1921, respecting Contract Immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth,. &c.
Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1922, No. 74.
Customs Act -
Dated 14th December, 1921, revoking previous proclamations relating to the exportation of goods to (late) German New Guinea (in lieu of proclamation dated 16th November, 1921).
Dated 12th January, 1922, revoking on and from 1st August, 1922, previous proclamation relating to the importation of goods manufactured or produced in or brought directly or indirectly from Germany, AustriaHungary, Turkey, or Bulgaria.
Dated 22nd February, 1922, prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Gold Specie or Bullion.
Dated 22nd February, 1922, prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Metals, Alloys, and Minerals.
Dated 10th April,1922, revoking previous proclamation relating to the exportation of Wheatand Flour.
Dated 31st May, 1922, revoking previous proclamation relating to exportation of Wheat and Flour to places other than the United Kingdom.
Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 6, 21, 24, 47, 48, 60.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos.229, 235, 236, 237, 238; 1922, Nos. 14. 15, 16. 17,18, 30, 31, 32, 41, 56, 57, 58, 50, 68, 69.
Electoral Act -
Joint Electoral Rolls in Tasmania - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 61.
Reportsand Maps, furnished by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the following States into Electoral Divisions for the electionof Members of the House of Representatives, viz. : -
New South Wales,
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act - Regu lations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 9.
Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 225; 1922, No. 13.
High Court Procedure Act - Rule of Court - Dated 17th May, 1922.
Immigration Act - Return for 1921 respecting persons admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Industrial Peace Acts - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1921, No. 223.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -
For Defence purposes -
Geraldton, Western Australia.
Nilli-bubaca Well, on Broome to Derby telegraph line, Western Australia.
Northampton to Hamelin Pool telegraph line, Western Australia (three notifications).
For Postal purposes -
New South Wales - Darlinghurst;
Queensland - Albion; Bell; Home Hill; Jandowae; Malanda; Wynnum.
South Australia - Cleve ; Paskeville, Semaphore.
Tasmania- dlurnic. .
Victoria - Stanhope; Trafalgar.
Western Australia - Boyup Brook; Cor-
Tigin; Denmark; Wyalcatchem.
Nationality Act - Return of persons to whom naturalization certificates were granted during 1921.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 66, 239; 1922, Nos. 8, 38, 67, 70, 75, 76.
Navigation Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 241; 1922, Nos. 1, 23, 34, 35, 39, 40, 64, 71, 72.
New Guinca -
Ordinance of 1921 - No. 23 - Serviceand Execution of Process.
Ordinances of 1922 -
No. 1 - Expropriation.
No. 2 - Mortgagors’ Protection Ordinance Repeal.
No. 3 - Statutory Powers.
No. 4 - Treasury.
No. 5 - Roads Maintenance.
No. 6 - Quarantine.
No. 7 - Stamp Duties.
No. 8 - Appropriation Ordinance 1921- 22 Amendment.
No.9 - Education.
No. 10 - New Guinea Antiquities.
No. 11 - Judiciary.
No. 12- Police Force.
No. 13- Fisheries.
No. 14 - Public Service.
No. 15 - Native Labour.
No. 16 - Succession Duties.
No.17 - Land.
No. 18- Timber.
No. 19 - Mining. Norfolk Island -
Foreign Marriage Ordinance 1916 - Regulations.
Ordinances of 1922 -
No. 1 - Importation of Opium, Morphine, Cocaine and Heroine.
No. 2 - Administration.
No. 3 - Sale of Shares.
No. 4 - Immigration Restriction. Northern Territory -
Ordinance of 1921 -
No. 16 - Food and Drugs.
Ordinances of 1922 -
No. 1- Necessary Commodities.
No. 2 - Mineral Oil and Coal.
No. 3 - McMillan Mortgage Validating.
No. 4 - Darwin Town Council.
No. 5 - Supreme Court.
No. 6 - Darwin Town Council (No. 2).
Northern Territory Acceptance Act, and Northern Territory Crown Lands Act (of South Australia) - Sketch showing portion of the Alice Springs Telegraph Reserve, not required for the purpose of the Post and Telegraph Department, resumed by Proclamation appearing in the Commonwealth Gazette dated 22nd December, 1921.
Papua - Ordinances of 1922 -
No. 1 - Superannuation.
No. 2 - Native Taxes.
No. 3 - Forfeiture (Leases and Licences)..
Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives Account - Statement of the Transactions of the Trustees. 1920-21.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 182, 196, 197, 205, 209, 219, 224, 227, 240; 1922 Nos. 11, 12, 20, 28, 54,62, 77.
Public Service Act -
Appointments, Promotions,&c. -
Attorney-General’s Department- G. B. Gunson, A. G. Bennett, H. Morgan.
Department of Health - D. Grant, N. Osborne, E. Raven, H. C. Clayton, J. S. Freeman, B. G. Walker, A. Richardson, D. G. Robertson, F. G, Tranter,.
E. H. Hutchison, F. T. Wheatland, K.
R. Moore, J. Brown, G. M. Heydon, R.
Department of the Treasury - W. L.
Devitt, A.H. Jeffery, G. L. Gresson,
Raftery, G. E. Richards, T. H. Wells,
G. Gratton, R. H. White.
Department of Trade and Customs- M.
B. Drummond, J. W. Roach, R. A.
Russell, K. J. G. Smith, M. J.
Department of Works and Railways -
W. H. Pritchard, W. H. Robinson, R.
S. Shannon, P. S. Williams.
Home and Territories Department - A.
R. Peters, J. F. Murphy.
Postmaster-General’s Department - L. B.
Fanning, A. L. Jones, F. W. Price, H.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 222, 231, 233; 1022, Nos. 5, 10, 45.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1021, Nos. 186, 187, 230.
Railways Act - By-law No. 21.
Report of the Acting High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom for the year 1021.
Report on the administration of Nauru during the Military Occupation and until 17th December,1920. Report on the administration of Nauru from 17th December, 1920, to 31st December, 1921.
Report to the League of Nations on the administration of the Territory of New Guinea from September, 1914, to 30th June, 1921.
River Murray Waters Act - Regulations in relation to tolls.
Service and Execution of Process Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 52
Spirits Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 51.
Tasmanian Mail Service - Agreement between the Postmaster-General and Huddart, Parker Limited, and the Union Steam-ship
Company of New Zealand Limited, for conveyance of mails between Melbourne and Launceston and Melbourne and Burnie.
Taxation - Second Report of Royal Commission, together with Appendices.
Telegraph Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 190.
Territory for the Seat of Government - Ordinances of 1922 -
No. 1. - Trespasson Commonwealth Lands.
No. 2 - Industrial Board.
No. 3- Industrial Board (No. 2).
Treasury Bills Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 44, 68.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act- Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 232; 1922. Nos. 36, 65,66.
War Gratuity Acts - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 43, 46.
War Service Homes Act -
Land acquired in New South Wales at -
Adelong, Albury (two notifications), Armidale, Arncliffe, Ashfield, Auburn,
Concord, Corrimal, Double Bay (two notifications), East Maitland, Enfield, Goulburn (two notifications), Grafton, Hamilton (five notifications), Kempsey, Kiama, Lismore, Manly, Mayfield (four notifications), Merewether, Neutral Bay, Newcastle, Randwick, Richmond, Rockdale, Rozelle, South Grafton, Tenterfield, Waratah (five notifications) , Weston.
Revocation or partial revocation of notification of acquisition of land in New South Wales at - Hamilton, Wauchope.
War Precautions Act Repeal Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 216.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921. No. 210; 1922, Nos. 3, 42.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) if the Government are prepared to grant the request of the Limbless Soldiers’ Association of Australia, in regard to allowances to limbless soldiers, as placed before the Minister for Repatriation nearly twelve months ago; and if not, why not?
– I direct the attention of the honorable senator to a paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech, submitted yesterday, where the intentions of the Government are outlined.
War Ser vice Homes.
Senator BOLTON brought up the fifth Progress Report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts relating to the construction of War Service Homes in Victoria.
Senator NEWLAND brought up copies of the following reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together ‘with minutes of evidence : -
The construction of a Hostel at Canberra, with the necessary engineering and other services.
Proposed construction of main intercepting sewer from the centre of the city at Canberra to connect with the main outfall sewer.
Water supply at the Federal Capital and distributary works within the city area, Canberra.
– Pursuant to standing order No. 31, I hereby nominate Senators R. Buzacott, J. Newland, W. Plain, and J. Rowell a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees .is absent.
– Pursuant to standing order- No. 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications : - Senators G. Fairbairn, A. Gardiner, Sir T. “W”. Glasgow, the Hon. J. H. Keating, P. J. Lynch, J. V. MacDonald, and W. Senior.
Privilege : ADDRESS-IN-REPLY
Order of the day for the consideration of the Governor-General’s Speech having been read,
The works in connexion with the construction of Canberra, are in progress, in accordance with the reports of the Advisory Committee. It is anticipated that reports on the works referred to the Public Works Committee will be available at an early date, and thereupon resolutions will be submitted forthwith to the House of Representatives.
I think the resolutions that will be consequent upon that action, if any, should be submitted, not to the House of Representatives, but to Parliament. I only raise this matter at this juncture because we are proceeding to the consideration of His Excellency’s Speech, and I desire that, before it is finally disposed of by this Chamber, that aspect of the matter shall be considered.
– (Senator the Hon. T. Givens). - My attention was directed to this matter by Senator Keating before the Senate wet. On the face of it, the paragraph referred to is a plain statement of the Government’s intentions; that is to say, on receipt of a report from the Public Works Committee. the Government intends to submit certain resolutions thereupon to the House of Representatives. Of course the Public Works Committee do not merely report to the House of Representatives. They report to Parliament, and,although the Government may intend to submit resolutions to the House of Representatives, I remind the Senate that any resolution submitted to the House of Representatives, and passed by that House, even ‘though passed unanimously, can have no effect unless ratified by the Senate. I think that Senator Keating has brought this matter very properly before the -Senate. On various occasions attempts have been made, perhaps inadvertently, to overlook and override the rights and privileges of this Chamber. I think all senators should very zealously guard those rights which they possess. It may be a mere inadvertence on the part of the Government. I think that Senator Keating’s contention is absolutely correct, and ought to be upheld by the Senate; that the resolutions, if submitted at all, should be submitted to Parliament, and not to one House, and that that- should have been so stated in the speech which the Governor-General delivered to us as being the intention of his Ministers.
– I think both Senator Keating and you, Mr. President, have overlooked the fact that we are governed in this case by an Act of Parliament which the Senate itself assisted in passing. The words appearing in paragraph 34 of the Governor-General’s
Speech axe strictly in accord with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act. It will be seen from section 15 of that Act that the resolutions, upon the report of the Public Works Committee having been made, are placed before the House of Representatives only. There is no provision for the resolutions being placed before the Senate. Section. 15 reads -
Provided that the House of Representatives may, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, resolve that the report of the Committee shall, for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the Committee; in which case the Committee shall consider the matter of the new reference, and report thereon accordingly.
Section 16 states -
If the resolution of the House of Representatives declares that it is not expedient to carry out any proposed work, no proposal for a public work’ in substance identical with that work shall.be submitted to the House of Representatives until afterthe expiration of one year from the date of the resolution unless the Governor-General, by writing under his hand addressed to the Committee, declares that, in his opinion, and in view of the public interest, it is desirable that any such proposal should be re-submitted to the House of Representatives.
It will therefore be seen that the words in the paragraph referred to are strictly in accord with the law which the Senate has helped to make. We say that it is anticipated that the reports will be available at an early date, and thereupon resolutions will be submitted to the House of Representatives. That is exactly what the law provides. When the Works Estimates come before us the Senate will have the power to stop the proposed works or alter them. I therefore contend that no question of privilege has arisen.
– I heard the GovernorGeneral’s Speech as it was read yesterday. No copies’ were circulated, and I knew that it would be necessary to refer to the Act which has just been quoted. I was not prepared to dogmatise, but’ I thought it my duty before we considered the Speech to raise this matter. I am very pleased that the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) has brought under our notice the peculiarly relevant provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act.
.- I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to : -
To Sir Excellency the Governor-General,
May it please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
It is with some pride, more pleasure, and a great deal more trepidation that I rise to address this Senate for the first occasion - pride not for personal reasons, but because the honour done me is an honour to the great State which I, with other honorable senators, represent; pleasure because having read the report of the Speech I can adhere to the main principles that it contained; and trepidation because I realize that for the first time in my life I am addressing, not a body of electors, but of experienced men whose training and tradition naturally lead them to be somewhat critical . I desire to thank you, Mr. President, and honorable senai tors for the very cordial way in which you I and they have received me. It is this warm ! reception that makes it a little easier for i me to-day, perhaps, to take without too much shivering the plunge that one must take in delivering his first speech in Parliament. I ask that you grant me your indulgence, and in return I hope that in the course of my address I shall be able to live up to the traditions which this Senate has established. I promise that I will not trespass upon the good nature of honorable senators, either in respect to the length of my speech, or the introduction of any matter which is C011.trary to the usages of this Chamber.
May I, in the first place, express the sympathy I have with those who have been bereaved by the death of Mr. Tudor and Senator Adamson? I did not know either of those gentlemen personally, but am aware of their valuable services to their country. The toll which death has taken of members of the Commonwealth Parliament in recent years is a tragic circumstance, and it should bring home to many critics among the public of Federal parliamentarians the fact that these men have had to sacrifice, not only their health s but their lives, in the performance of their public duties. The people outside pay too little attention to that factor, which plays so great a part in the public life of this country.
I do not propose to advert in detail to the whole of the subjects mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. I shall -deal, in the first instance, with paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, which refer to the Washington ‘Conference, and to certain proposals relating to Defence. In connexion with these matters, may I, not as a senator, but as one who has so recently come from the people, pay a tribute to a distinguished member of this Chamber, the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), for the manner in which he upheld the best traditions of Australia at that great Conference, where he was pitted against some of the finest brains that the nations could produce. It was with a great deal of pride that we rea’d that, at the close of the -Conference; the members of the British Delegation went out of their way to compliment our Australian representative upon the manner in which he had performed his duties.
As the Speech indicates, the resolutions of that Conference are some guarantee that war is unlikely in the Pacific for some years to come. I would not go so far as to say that the Conference has made war impossible in the Pacific - more improbable isi the term I would use. In this storm-tossed world, which ia only now in a state of reformation, it would ba too much to expect that peace has been restored to us. For that reason, I would say that while I am ir agreement with the Council of Defence simply because it is constituted of professional men, in the use of the pruning knife in cutting down expenditure on defence, yet we should be exceedingly careful to see that we do not reduce such expenditure below the stage of efficiency. We are a young country, surrounded by perils, and we must always keep one eye upon the possibiliti.es of the future. Therefore I would say that while, owing to our financial position, we must pull in our horns with regard to expenditure generally, we should remember that preparedness is our best insurance against war.
I do not know what is going to happen, but I should like to make an appeal, in the interests of sentiment and tradition, for the preservation of the Duntroon College. I sincerely hope that the scheme for the reduction of our Defence expenditure will not deprive us of that College or cause its removal from its present position to a site which strikes most of us who consider the matter as utterly unsuitable. The Duntroon College has given us traditions of which we are justly proud; and if it is only a question of pounds, shillings and pence, surely its traditions are more worthy of consideration’ than the mere financial aspect of the institution. I have not seen the entire provisions with regard to Defence expenditure, but I sincerely hope that the Duntroon College will not entirely disappear. If it is a question of - making the College to some extent pay for itself, I am in a position to say that the Government of New South Wales is prepared to contribute portion of the expenditure necessary for the maintenance of the institution in a measure as an. agricultural college. This view has already been stated by one of the New South Wales Ministers, and it might very well be taken into consideration by the Government.
I turn now to the fifth paragraph in the Speech, which deals with the most important problem confronting us in Australia to-day. I refer to the question of filling our empty spaces - the question of immigration. This is a matter which, I think, is very largely misunderstood. There is a good deal of confusion about the terms ‘ ‘ immigration ‘ ‘ and ‘ 1 land settlement.” By many people, they are regarded as synonymous, but as a matter of fact they are not, though they are correlative terms. The argument very often, put forward by those who oppose the forward movement in immigration is that it is our duty first to settle on the land those landless men seeking land already in this country. If we waited till that time arrived, we might as well wait till we have no longer the poor among us. Immigration and land settlement are not synonymous terms, but, as I have already said, they are correlative. We cannot carry out any big scheme of immigration, except by a system of land settlement. I mention this because of the doubt that exists in the minds of many people - at all events, in New South Wales - when they come to deal with this important question of immigration. Immigration does not, in the first instance, mean land settlement.’ What we have to consider is how we are going to build up within our shores a white population strong enough to defend this country should ever the occasion arise. At present we are holding, with 5,500,000 of people, a continent containing nearly 3,000,000 square miles of country; a continent 400,000 acres larger in extent than, the United States of America, and we are claiming that within these boundaries there shall be in force the principle of a White Australia. But what use are we making of this great continent to justify us in the adoption of the slogan of a White Australia? We have in proximity to us nearly 1,000,000,000 people of the coloured races, occupying countries largely landlocked and largely overpopulated. I take Japan, the most warlike and most advanced of those countries. I mention Japan, not in any hostile spirit, but simply as an illustration of my argument. Japan, with its population of 61,000,000, has 376 people to the square mile, whereas Australia, with its 5,500,000, has less than two people to the square mile. Nature alone demands an outlet for Japan. But where can Japan look to find an outlet for her population ? If she turns to .China, she is up against a stone wall, with many more millions of people within it and many more people to the square mile even than in Japan. If she turns to Siberia, she sees a country not fitted for Japanese settlement, because the Japanese people are not fond of extremes of heat or cold. If she looks to her mandated islands, she will find herself in the position that she must settle her people in torrid climes. There is but one territory which offers itself to that particular country, and Australia was readily seized upon as a continent which offered an outlet for her teeming millions. So much so that in Japan, in 1919, there was prepared a most instructive map used as an argument in favour of Japanese proposals for the withdrawal of the colour line. The map showed that, in Australia, within 250 miles of the coast-line, there is sufficient space for the whole of the countries of Europe, with, the exception of Russia, with their teeming populations of 310,000,000, whilst we are saying to the world, “Hands off Australia. We want it for our 5,500,000 of people.” ‘ We cannot expect the sympathy of the other nations of the world for this “ dog in the manger “ policy of ours unless we are prepared to help ourselves, and make use of this great heritage in the way intended by the Almighty. If we do not do so, we shall be treated eventually as we treated the people who were here before us. We dispossessed them because they did not make the use of this country that waa intended. What do we do in the case of large landholders, whose lands support two or three people when they might support scores of people. We say to them, “ Make use of your land as it is fitted to be made use of, or get out, and let others do so.” That is the problem we are facing here, and that is why we must face this question of filling our empty spaces with a population strong enough to enable us to support the White Australia policy, of which we are. so proud, and which we intend to maintain. We by our past actions brought upon ourselves the hostility of these Eastern nations. We stirred the East out cf its sleep of centuries, and we must face the consequences of our action. We have in the past looked on the , Eastern nations with a contempt which their Eastern culture never justified. That is not an attitude which we can afford to assume towards them unless we are prepared to back it up by the only force which the world recognises, and that- is the force of people with arms behind them. The problem becomes exceedingly important from this point of view. We are not peopling this country by the increase of births over deaths. With our present rate of increase of 15 per 1,000, it would be centuries before we would be able to build up a population capable of holding this continent. There is but the one way left to us, and that is immigration. We must encourage the introduction to this country of oura of some of the stock who were our pioneers in the past, and build up here a strong British race, as British as our population is to-day. Thank God, the position with us to-day is that we are 98 per cent. British in, this continent. Why may we not hope to continue that position ? We can only do so in one way, and that is the way suggested in His Excellency’s Speech, namely, the encouragement of immigration, and as an aid to that of land settlement.
Now. the opponents of the scheme’ urge (hat we have already, so far as suitable land for settlement is concerned, picked the eyes out of Australia. It may not be known to honorable senators that only 8 per cent, of the Crown lands of Australia ha,ve been alienated. Ninety-two per cent, of the area of Australia is represented by Crown landa to-day. Some will say, “ Yes, but of that 92 per cent., what percentage is there that can be made use of for settlement purposes.” Our position in this respect can be gauged by the fact that, on the authority of a man considered well qualified to know, I refer to Professor Griffith Taylor, who is not a supporter of the policy of immigration, 59 per cent*, of the land in Australia can be classed as farming and grazing land. For the -purpose of comparison, I may say that according to recent statistics it is estimated that in the United States of America only 43 per cent, of the country is classed as farming and grazing land. There is an answer to the pessimists who say that we have no land here for the settlement of immigrants. We have the land, and the figures I have given should be some guarantee that there is really a tremendous opening for settlement in this country.
– We need to stir up the State Governments.
– The State Governments will require stirring lip. I was about to refer to that in my next remark. I wanted to show first that this matter can be managed better by the Federal authority than by the Governments of the individual States. When the matter was first taken in hand the dangerous aspect of the situation was very quickly perceived by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). He called a Conference of State Ministers, and put before them certain proposals which they were to consider, when they could come before him again with concrete schemes. The State Governments have unfortunately hung back. But one State has acted upon the suggestions made by the Prime Minister, and to-day we see in that State a forward immigration movement which bids fair to put it from being in the rear of the States of this continent in the front of them, because it faces and is nearest to the countries of the world, eastern and western to which our trade goes.
– Western Australia has set. a very good example.
– That is so, and I am proud to say that it has been followed by the State I represent. Wc have recently laid before the Prima Minister proposals indicating that millions of acres of land in New South Wales can be made available for immigration.
– For a million farmers.
– My friend remarks, “For a million farmers.” But why should we not hope for that million farmers in years to come. By that slogan it was never intended that we should land a million farmers next year, or the year after, or in five or ten years, but realizing that each farmer supports three other units of the population it is not too much to suggest that in the next ten or fifteen years we may have a million farmers, supporting with- their wives and families an additional 14,000,000 or 15,000,000 of people.
Others again in objecting to the scheme say, “When we have all the people on the land, what are we going to do with what they produce?” My last remarks indicate that those who will come here will not be producers only. Every one will also be a consumer. The man. who settles in the North as a producer will be a consumer for men settled in the South, East, and West, and so on. The farmers introduced will bring with them or otherwise maintain, it is assumed on the basis of statistics, at least three additional units of population; and they will be all consumers. In this way we shall build up the most reliable market in the world, and that is the home market. It is not generally known that 92 per cent, of the products of the United States of America are consumed by the people of that country. There is a guarantee that we have nothing to fear from over-production. I may say, in further confirmation of this statement, that a Select Committee’, appointed by the Legislative Council of New South Wales, inquired into thos matter and wentexhaustively into the question of overproduction. They took evidence from 400 or 500 witnesses, and came unanimously to the opinion that the fear of overproduction was a bogy. This being disposed of, we are left with practically only one source of opposition.
This leads me to the point that the question of immigration is a national one, not in its political aspect, as referring to the National party, but a truly national question, which should be taken up by all parties in the interests of this country, and to make it safe for posterity. So far there is one party which has held aloof. I refer to the Labour party. Most people will tell you that the Labour party is hostile to immigration. But I think that is a mistake. In my opinion the attitude of the Labour party towards the question of immigration is better described as one of suspicion. It is not an unnatural suspicion, because the members of that party look at the question from the point of view that the introduction of a large population by means of immigration is calculated to increase the volume of labour seeking employment beyond the opportunities afforded for employment. I consider that the members of the Labour party regard the matter from too narrow a point of view. They overlook the fact that the type of man sought to be intro duced into this country is not a labourer, but a man who is going to carry a labourer and two or three others on his back. There is no possibility of making a system of immigration successful, except by means of developmental works and the opening up of the country into which the immigrants are going. I point this out to members of the Opposition here, and through them I would appeal to the Labour party, to look at the matter from this point of view, and to realize that the men who will first put money into their pockets in connexion with an immigration policy will be the labourers, the men engaged in the opening up of railways, in water conservation, and bridge work in the lands in which we propose to induce settlement, and thus there will be a great absorption of the unemployed.
I pass from this question to the seventh paragraph of the Opening Speech, relating to the proposal for the appointment of an Australian Commissioner to the United States of America. Some exception is taken to this proposal on the ground that it is only necessary for us to be represented in the United States of America by a Trade Commissioner. I dissent entirely from that view. I think that our relations with that country are not merely relations of trade and the almighty dollar. I say that we must look to the United States of America to help us in the coming fight - we do not know when if. is going to come - between the East and the West. We must look to the United States of America to support us in our policy of insuring the freedom of the Pacific, for these reasons alone I say that it is not sufficient merely to send forth a Trade Commissioner to the United States of America. We must have a man there, not necessarily one of our present statesmen, but a man capable of handling the situation, both from .the point of view of trade, and also from the point of view of statesmanship.
Paragraphs 8 and 9 refer to the hope, if not the certainty, that the revenue for the year will be larger than was anticipated, and also to the fact that, having regard to the war and its heavy burdens, it is necessary to exercise the most rigid economy in the Public Service. It is gratifying to realize that our revenue has kept up even better than in the’ previous year, and that from a financial point of view the outlook is more favorable than was anticipated. But I say it would not be right to permit the electors to think that because of this we can reduce taxation. It is right that we should keep our expenditure within bounds, and we can possibly reduce it to some extent, but I do not think we should hold out a hope to the electors that taxation can be reduced, nor do I think that we should yield to any unreasonable clamour for its reduction immediately, because when we compare the taxation of the Commonwealth with that of New Zealand and Great Britain, it will’ be found that our position is infinitely better than the position in those countries. The total Commonwealth and State taxation of Australia per head is £12 lis., as against £18 lis. Id. in New Zealand and £24 2s. 6d. in Great Britain. That is sufficient to show that it should be pressed home to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth that taxation is not as burdensome as some pessimists would make it appear. Having regard to a recent publication, it is not generally realized that the whole of the direct taxation imposed by the Commonwealth Government is devoted to obligations resulting from the war. Figures supplied by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) show that the estimated revenue from direct taxation for the current year ended 30th June, viz., £21,150,000, is only just sufficient to meet interest and sinking fund on our war loans, estimated at. £21,082,555. Itwill be noted that no reference is made in His Excellency’s Speech to the probability of any immediate decrease in taxation, and I think this is but right.
Paragraphs 10 and 11 state that consideration has been given to the reports furnished , by the Royal Commission on Taxation, and legislation will be initiated to place the taxation laws of the Commonwealth on a more satisfactory basis. A Board of Appeal for dealing with objections to income tax assessments, as provided for by the Income Tax Assessment Act passed last session, has been appointed. It will be of great satisfaction to a large number of taxpayers to know that consideration has been given to the report furnished by the Royal Commission, and that efforts will be made by the Government to place the taxation laws of the Commonwealth on a more satisfactory footing. ‘ In this connexion two or three points have been considered which have not received attention in the past, two of which are the simplification of the returns and provisions for readjustments. I understand that the report favours the introduction of a system to enable taxation in certain cases to be levied on the average income over a number of years. But these reforms alone will not suffice, and it will be generally admitted that more sympathetic administration could be adopted in carrying out some of the provisions of the Act, and if time permitted I could give illustrations from my own professional experience of how unsympa(thetic the Taxation Department has been in dealing with some cases. I have before me particulars of a case which I intend to bring before the Minister in which a taxpayer has been waiting two years for a definite statement from the Department, and who was led to believe that an amount of £534 which he had been asked to pay as war-times profit tax could be. regarded as being wiped out. After the matter had been submitted to the Appeal Board, and nothing done during a period of two years, he has now been asked to pay the amount stated. Mr. Justice Starke, in a case recently before him, referred to similar action as a scandal, and it is in this connexion and also in other respects that more sympathetic administration is necessary.
Reference is made in paragraph 13 to the fact that the welfare and progress of the Commonwealth depend upon primary production, and that a successful policy of land settlement is intimately associated with the provision of means of communication, including telegraphic and telephonic facilities. I do not propose to read the whole paragraph; but it is sufficient to say that no system of land settlement, by the Commonwealth or the States, such as is referred to in the paragraph, will be of any value which does not recognise the positive fact that the primary producer is the back-bone of the country, and is entitled to preferential treatment. Many things have to be done to keep a man on the land when he is once there, and what he is looking for and is fully entitled to is that fair treatment which we told him he would receive if he engaged in rural pursuits. Speaking for New South Wales, the men on the land have not in the past had the consideration due to them, though the new State Parliament is about to deal with SuKgestion for the amelioration of their lot. There are some Commonwealth activities which can be administered in the interests of the men on the land, one of which is the Post and Telegraph Department. Rural settlers can be assisted considerably, and their occupation made much more congenial and profitable than at present by an extension of telegraphic and telephonic communications. The opinion of some is that government utilities should be conducted at a profit, but I do not- think that either the Railways1 Departments or the Post and Telegraph Department should be administered on that basis. Such Departments are public utilities which in. a young country have to be used in its development. The Post and Telegraph Department should provide the facilities required, and profit should be a matter for secondary consideration. In the matter of telegraphic and telephonic facilities there is ‘ much that can be done by the Department to assist men on the land, and I would suggest that something in the nature of a group system of telephones with tele.phonette connexion be established, so that settlers in out-back districts could be connected on the one line, and thus, at small cost, be enabled to keep in touch with the market and merchants, and also to obtain the services of a medical practitioner, when necessary, without any undue delay. There could also be an extension of the telephonic night service, which is greatly massed in country districts, which extension, I believe, could be made without incurring very heavy additional expenditure.
The operations of the “Bureau of Science and Industry could be extended in directions which up to the present have not been touched, as there are many matters in connexion with industry which a.rp “Federal in their incidence. For instance, diseases in stock and vegetation could be handled by the Bureau instead of being controlled by the six States, as at present. The tick pest does not make any distinction between Queensland and New South Wales, and it was allowed to cross from the northern State to New South Wales merely because there was conflicting control. According, to a statement made by a Mr. Rae, who gave evidence before a Select Committee in New South Wales, this pest is likely to find its way into Victoria, and, in the absence of Federal control, there does not appear to be any adequate method of dealing with it. There are also other pests which have no regard to State boundaries. The standardization of products should also come under the purview of the Bureau of Science and Industry, and greater effort should be made in research and scientific work in connexion with the eradication of pests generally. In Canada and the United States of America they have a Federal Department of Agriculture, which deals with these matters as Federal activities.
Paragraph 14 relates to the question of a uniform railway ‘ gauge for the main lines of the Commonwealth; and. as a representative of the State of New South Wales, I accord my general approval to the scheme. This work should have been undertaken many years ago, and it is one which if further delayed will mean incurring even a higher cost than at present. I do not intend to commit myself in connexion with the details of the report, because, looking at it from the point of New South Wales, where the actual cost of the work to be carried out in connexion with unification will be £1,600,000, it_ is proposed” to debit that State with £7,000,000. I therefore reserve the right when- this matter comes before us to deal with it from the point of view of the State which I have the honour to represent. The opponents of a uniform railway system base their opposition largely upon the fact that the only disability experienced owing to the number of gauges is the inconvenience caused to the travelling public; I regard that as a slight inconvenience. If that were the only disability, I do not think the heavy expenditure would be justified. When we look at the facts and consider the matter of the transport of fodder and other commodities, we have to realize that the transhipment at Albury, for instance, is exceedingly heavy. I find that in. February, 1920, it was approximately 30,000 tons, and in like extent in other months, apart from the tonnage of coal transhipped at Wodonga, the maximum of which in one day in 3920 was 1,800 tons, and for the whole year 258,000 tons. In 1920, approximately 200,000 head of stock were transferred, and the maximum number dealt with in one day was approximately 10,700. It is not only the cost of transhipment that is involved, but the coat of delays and an examination of the figures of one or the break-of -gauge stations recently showed that waggons had been delayed as long as eighteen days. These facts should be in the possession of those who oppose unification; and I trust that when the matter is submitted . for consideration and decision the fullest significance will be given to the facts as they actually exist, with a view to having sympathetic attention paid to this great question, which affects all the States.
In paragraph 16 reference is made to the linking up of the more remote parts of the Commonwealth with the centres of population by subsidizing civil aviation companies formed to promote regular and speedy services. Two extracts from a magazine which I quote speak for themselves in illustrating the point I wish to make. The first concerns a white family pioneering in Torres Strait, and reads - Fever took her right away out there, remote from doctors or any white folk. A pearling lugger manned by a Japanese crew put in for » water. Mrs. Zabel went down to the beach and asked the diver to take bar and her sick child to Thursday Island and the doctor. For three days she lay unconscious in the dreadful little cabin, with her dead child clasped in her arms.
The second extract is as follows: -
At Iiandia, a sheep ‘station 32 miles from Longreach, the infant daughter of the manager, Mr. Joliff, became seriously ill. Owing to heavy rain, it was impossible to get out medicine or send the little sufferer into town. After communication was established with the Aerial’ Services Limited, Lieutenant McGuinness left for liandia in one of the company’s planes, and the patient and the mother .were safely landed at a Longreach private hospital in an hour, none the worse for their fast tripIt needs no words of mine to point out how necessary it is that there should be this extension of our State activities in the direction that is indicated in that clause of His Excellency’s Speech.
In reference to paragraph 17 of the Speech, relating to. works under the River ‘ Murray Agreement, . may I say ‘that the activity which is displayed by ‘ New South “Wales utthe present time in connexion with the large question of irrigation and settling the River Murray district is worthy of commendation ? The question appeals to me from one aspect, because it is the first serious blow which has been given to that evil of provincial jealousy which is in. our midst to-day, and which, keeps us ‘apart .and semi-hostile as Sepal rate States. This action by New South Wales surely calls for a reciprocal return from those members who, up to the Present time, have been disinclined to act with New South Wales in her claim for the fulfilment of the contract for the removal of the Federal Capital. I put this before honorable senators as an instance in which some reciprocal return should be given. It is costing a large sum of money to carry out these irrigation and other developmental works, and thiB money is being spent with the full knowledge that the trade which will be opened up will flow to Melbourne or to South Australia. Nevertheless, having regard to the fact that the expenditure is in the interests of this continent, New South Welshmen are prepared to undertake these works.
Paragraph 18 of the Speech refers to the proposals for an early amendment of the Constitution to enable Parliament to cope more adequately with the national problems of Australia. There is no question but that the States are all in agreement that there is overlapping and uncertainty with regard to the true functions of State and Federal legislation. I believe that the States are quite prepared for some amendments of the Constitution in directions which will be mutually satisfactory to Australia and the States. My only suggestion is that before we try the referendum again the matter should be put before the various State Parliaments to see how far we can go in the direction of altering the Constitution without appealing to the people at a time when probably State prejudices and party prejudices will be sufficiently strong to prevent the necessary referenda from being carried.
In regard to paragraph 19 of the Speech, I am sure that it will be a cause for general satisfaction to know that the Government of the day do not propose to do anything in the nature of compulsory Pools and activities of that character. Their proposal is simply to give aid to the primary producers and the manufacturers and encourage an extension of the co-operative movement. Though much has been said against “ Government interference,” the primary producer, or at all events the wheat-grower, has little enough to complain of as regards Federal administration, because the only result which has accrued to him from the control of the various Wheat Pools by the National
Government has been a higher price for his wheat. Notwithstanding all that has been said in the pastabout London parity, it was shown, as the result of an inquiry before the High Prices Commission in Victoria, that the price realized when the Pools have been wound up will give to the primary producers £10,250,000 more than they would have received if they had had London parity. So much it is necessary to say in answer to those who speak contemptuously of “Government interference “ in these matters, having regard to the abnormal conditions then ruling.
I pass on to paragraph 20, which refers to assistance to stock-owners. The only remark I wish to make is that the action of the Government was taken at the request of the stock-owners, and I also wish to emphasize the fact that at no time has the Government interfered by means of compulsory Pools or otherwise exceptat the request of those engaged in the industries which were affected by the Government’s action or inaction.
Paragraph 22 states that “ The Tariff Board provided by the Act passed last session has been constituted, and is performing its functions.” Hero I would simply throw out the suggestion that when the Board is making inquiries as to the incidence of taxation it should go to the primary producers, who need protection more than those engaged in any other industry, to learn from them to what extent they are being affected by the Tariff and the Tariff Act and if possible suggest relief.
It is proposed to place before both Houses of Parliament reports regarding the Redistribution Act. Speaking as I do for New South Wales, I have only to say that, muchas one regrets’ the position in which Victoria finds itself under the operation of the Commissioners scheme, it is only what the Constitution lays down. That New South Wales is getting an advantage is due solely to the fact that she has the population. I am supporting the report of the Commission with an open mind on some of the details, but I merely say that it is a matter in which we can hardly help ourselves, inasmuch as the Constitution makes provision for the redistribution on certain set lines.
Regarding sections 26 and 27, which deal with the War Service Homes and Repatriation Acts, I desire to express the greatest satisfaction at knowing, as the
Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has told us to-day, and as the Speech by His Excellency has already set out, that it is proposed to make amendments in. the Repatriation Act, particularly as affecting the more seriously incapacitated soldiers. I would appeal to whatever Minister may be in charge of that measure not to allow himself to be led by the clamour outside on the question of cutting down expenses so far as this problem is concerned. We cannot cut down expenses when we have to deal with these limbless and sightless men. Their demands upon us are debts of honour, which we have to pay. It is not a case of a civil contract in which they can get redress in a Court of law. No man can gauge what these men have gone through, and the public must be led to understand that their needs are such that increased expenditure must be found . The public must realize that it has to submit to this expenditure. We called upon these men in time of need to do their duty, and they having done their duty, the public must paycheerfully the debts of honor which have been incurred. May I here pay a tribute to a distinguished member of this . House, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), who has had to carry out what, in my opinion, has been the most difficult task that has been imposed upon any man during or since the war ? The task placed upon” the, shoulders of tie ex-Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) was difficult enough, and well enough he carried it out. We know that our men who went to the Front were the best paid, the best equipped, and the best fed soldiers there. We also know that they achieved for themselves the reputation of being the best soldiers there, too. But they had to pay a great price for what they did, and they returned to civil life more or less unfitted by reason of wounds, shell shock, and other causes to settle back in their places. In this respect the aftermath of war has brought with it the most unique and complex problem that any Minister has had to face. It took a man of courage, of initiative, and of conscientious purpose, such aswe fortunately found in the Minister for Repatriation, to tackle the job. People say mistakes have been made. Good God! What a miracle it would have been if there had been no mistakes) Is it not a wander, rather, that more mistakes have not been made? Cannot we take this thought home to. ourselves, and bring it home also to the people and the grumblers in this country ? Giving in all tile mistakes that have been made, and which must be rectified,, the welfare of the returned soldiers has, nevertheless, been better looked, after in Australia than in any other part, not only of the British Empire, but of the world. Men who have returned from the United States of America have told me that, although the Government of the United States is looked upon as being the very acme of efficiency, the soldier’s lot there is poor as compared with the lot of the men returned to Australia. The burden of the task of repatriation and of criticism thereupon has been borne practically by one man, who has had to stand up against attacks all round. As a new member of the Senate, and as one who has seen some of- the troubles and difficulties that the Minister has had to contend with, I offer him my tribute for the great record of performance he has put up.
It is proposed in paragraphs 28 and 29 to do what is only an act of justice, by providing for superannuation for the Public Service. It is, however, a case of noblesse oblige. The man who is going to be superannuated, who is going to have his position made more permanent and more comfortable, has to learn what some of our public servants have not yet learned, namely, -that he has to give honest service. The mau who does not give this service stands in the way of, and prejudices, the large majority who do. I therefore hope that, side by side with this measure of justice to the man who deserves it, there will be introduced . into the Public Service a system which will insure that we shall get from all our public servants that honest work which alone should entitle them to security of tenure and’ superannuation in their old age.
Paragraph 33 is one upon which I shall make only a few remarks. Undoubtedly the matter of industrial arbitration is a burning and most difficult problem to handle. I am not one of those who would scrap industrial arbitration. I do not- think we have yet given it all the trial that it needs. I am glad to know .that further consideration is to be given to this complex question, and I am satisfied that, if we set ourselves to the task, we shall solve it. I suggest, however, that we should solve it rather in the direction of establishing Wages Boards, which have worked so satisfactorily in Victoria, than by continuing the present complicated system.
Paragraphs 34 and 35 call for some comment. I would only say that we in New South Wales merely ask that the Commonwealth and the other States should keep the contract entered into with regard to the establishment of the Federal Capital. I consider that the work which ‘ is going on at Canberra is not being done satisfactorily. There should be more continuity. The reason for the lack of continuity lies not so much with the Administration as with Parliament. The Parliament of this country will not face its manifest obligations under the contract. If Parliament said, “ We will get ahead with this scheme,” I am satisfied that, with continuity of work, we would be able to settle in the Federal Capital somewhere about the year 1924. I am going to make a suggestion, as a representative of New South Wales, and that is that a Commission of capable men, chosen because of their .capacity to dothings and do them efficiently, should be appointed to carry out the scheme. We should pass a measure which would give such a body authority, without parliamentary interference, to go right ahead with the work. We should at least give them a free hand to proceed with and finish so much of the work as is necessary to enable the Legislature to be removed to Canberra within a reasonable time. One of the reasons for peoples’ lukewarmness on the Capital city project is the existence in the Queen’s Hall of two caricatures, in the shape of paintings, purporting to represent Canberra. Any visitor looking at those painting3 would exclaim., “ Great heaven, is that where the Capital city is to be ! “ The pictures ought to be in a vault. They are no more like Canberra than my face is like a cherubim’s.
Referring to paragraph 38 of the Speech, I would say, as a professional man, that the proposals forecasted will be of the greatest benefit, not only to my profession, but to trade, industry, and commerce generally, if effect is given to the standardization of legislation in the direction indicated. I would conclude by describing the programme PUt before us as a forecast of constructive legislation and administration. The length of the Speech has been objected to, but it contains much matter. Objection has also been taken that it outlines far more legislative work than this Parliament is capable of, or intends, handling. . Let me suggest that the splendid record which the present Government have established during and since the war should be evidence that, if in that period and under most difficult, circumstances they were able to carry the immense burden which was put upon them by reason of problems then absolutely unprecedented, and were able to establish such a record of constructive statesmanship, it is not too much to say that by Christmas-time effect can be given to the whole of this present programme. I have to thank you, Mr. President, and honorable, senators, for the patient and chivalrous way in which you and they have listened to me, although my remarks must have been tedious at times. I spe.cially include the members of the Opposition, who have with the utmost chivalry refrained from interruption, and have enabled me to carry on and conclude without the feeling of trepidation with which I began.
.- It is my privilege to second the motion so ably proposed by the honorable senator from New South Wales (Senator Garling), who expressed some trepidation in addressing a trained and critical audience. Experience, I think, will show him that a comparison between the callous criticism he will receive outside and the warm friendship and associations he will discover within this Chamber will be all in favour of the Senate.
I have to congratulate the Government upon the extent and character of the legislation they have prepared for Parliament’s consideration. The programme includes many measures of vital importance to the people. The first matter referred to is the Washington Conference. I would like to add my hearty congratulations to the Hon. the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce). I am sure that the people of Australia realize that he carried out his mission with honour to himself, credit to his country, and gratification to his many friends. The results of that Conference are directly concerned with the welfare of the Commonwealth. Speaking broadly, they place Australia in the happy position, without fear of disturbance or disruption for some -period, at any rate, of being able to carry out the great task that lies at her hand - the building of a great nation.
Following upon the Washington Conference came an inevitable reduction of expenditure in connexion with our Navy and Army. It may be doubted rf the reductions in connexion with the Army have been made in the right direction. For some considerable time there has been a suggestion that all was not as it was hoped it would be with our universal training system, and it seems to me that now is an opportune time for Parliament to review the whole situation. I. do not intend to dwell on this subject at any great length, because my views upon it have been expressed on other occasions, but it seems that, when reductions are inevitable, some further reduction should be made- in connexion with a system that has proved so unsatisfactory. The cadet movement has very largely interfered with the civil life and social conditions of our youth. It has given dissatisfaction to many parents, and it is very questionable whether there has been any corresponding advantage either to the country or to the individuals directly concerned. As to the retirements in the Defence Department, I trust that Parliament will view the matter in its proper light, and deal with the retiring officers in a generous manner. Turning to the other branch of our Defence organization quite another situation arises. If the people are ever to realize their national aspirations, there must be what I would call a determination to cultivate a sentiment of the sea. This is an island continent. Our future will largely be associated with the seas which surround us, and the obvious and necessary thing to do at the outset in the making of a great nation is to inculcate that sentiment which will create conditions essential to success and security. There should be an expansion of our mercantile marine, and due regard should be had to the training and equipment of an adequate proportion of the men for naval service: That is only the natural and necessary outcome of our geographical position and our commercial relations with the rest of the world.
Immigration seems to be the solution for many of the problems mentioned in the Speech. One having but a casual knowledge of world conditions to-day must be conscious of the fact that it is a menace for a. small community, such as ours, with only 5,500,000 people, to hold an empty continent. From that viewpoint alone immigration becomes one of the first of the great questions Australia must face. As to how to proceed with this matter there is much room for debate. One aspect that should receive consideration is the necessity to create such conditions as will encourage the expansion of the home and’ family life of the people. The question, of getting married is a very serious one for any young man to consider at the present time. There is the initial difficulty of getting a home. ‘ Undoubtedly the best means of increasing the population of this country are to be found within its borders. It is most important to create conditions that will encourage the people to go in for an expansion of the home and family life, and not be driven into flats and other undesirable conditions that are a menace to the future of this country. It is eminently desirable also that, if possible, the immigrants to this country should be men and women of our own race. It is, of course, somewhat difficult to reconcile the policy of immigration with the present unemployment problem, but employment is intimately connected with the problem of centralization. Therefore, any scheme of immigration should have regard to the satisfactory settlement of our waste lands. The people introduced, must be of a type that will go out into the highways and byways, andi open up our undeveloped areas. We must give consideration to the construction of roa’ds ‘and railways, and the provision of facilities for communication, such as .telephones, telegraphs, and postal services. All these things are comprehended in the problem of immigration and land settlement. In addition, there is the question of the proper method of placing people upon the land. Recently I visited various settlements, including soldier settlements, and I found conditions that cannot be justified. There has been a lack of that wise understanding of what, is necessary, and consequently the obvious precautions to make the conditions of settlement acceptable to the people have not, in every case, been taken. I know cases of men who have been from eighteen months to two years in virgin mallee country without water services having been made available to them, or arrangements made for telephonic communication. I know a community of between 200 and 300 men and women living, up till quite recently, under the most undesirable conditions, which, in my opinion, could easily have been avoided. If people are to be encouraged to settle on the land, it is essential that adequate provision should be made for them. For instance, the country should be prepared, roads and railways constructed, provision made for water supply, in order that a man and his wife may take up a. block of land, and begin at once on the serious business of production. Proper regard for this aspect of land settlement will undoubtedly make country life attractive, and insure the success of our immigration policy. Without it, I am very doubtful of its success. Such a policy will probably involve heavy expenditure, but I am one of those who believe that, in the great task that lies before this country in opening up its waste spaces, some of the burden should rest upon the shoulders of posterity.
I was. glad to notice reference in the Speech ito the proposal that certain permanent works in the Postal Department are to be constructed out of loan money. Where so much has tq be undertaken by a small community, some of the burden and responsibility should be carried by posterity.
I was glad to notice in the references to the finances that the estimates of receipts is likely to be exceeded. It must be very gratifying to the Government to realize that the dismal prophecies of some of Sir Joseph Cook’s critics have not been realized. I was glad also to see mention of the contemplated amendment qf the Electoral Act, because I believe that many abuses are possible under the present electoral system.
With regard to repatriation, which Senator Garling briefly mentioned, I agree that that was probably the most difficult problem arising out of the war. From my study of. what has been done in other countries, and from my knowledge of what has been done in Australia, I think we have every reason to be well satisfied. When the Repatriation Bills were under consideration in this Chamber I crossed swords frequently with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen). Like many other honorable senators, I did not realize then the magnitude of the task that was being undertaken by the Government. But I appreciate it now, and I submit that, whatever faults or failures have been charged against the administration, they cannot properly bc attributed to this Parliament or the Government. They are due entirely to the colossal nature of the undertaking, and to those human imperfections that are common to all humanity. I hav» travelled the States of the Commonwealth from end to end. I have seen, human wreckage of the war strewn over its entire area. 1 have met men who, with hot resentment burning into their very souls, have declared that they were being neglected by the Government, and that nothing waa being done for them. It is inevitable, having regard to the great undertaking, and also bearing in mind the imperfections of human nature, that there should be individual cases of hardship. No power short of that of the Omnipotent could avoid them : and I want now to pay my personal tribute to the Minister for Repatriation for his devotion to his task and the sacrifices he has made on behalf of the soldiers of this country.
Turning now to the paragraph in the Speech referring to the Public Service and the projected Superannuation Fund unlike Senator Garling I have unqualified admiration for the Public Service of the Commonwealth. I doubt if the people of any other country in the world are better served than are the people of Australia in their Public Services, either State or Commonwealth. Legislation which passed this Chamber last session will largely help to improve the conditions within the Service, and I commend the proposal for a Superannuation Fund. A contented Service makes for efficiency. Much of the criticism that is levelled at the Public Service from time to time entirely ignores the great problems that have to be dealt with. We are a small community covering an immense continent, and in order that we may successfully compete with the rest of the world we have to be equipped with all that modern science can provide for us in the expansion of our commerce and trade relationships. We also have the additional burden associated with the development and opening up of new country. When we realize that Australia is as large as the United States of America we may gain, some idea of the duties that are imposed upon the State and Commonwealth Public Services. The criticism to which T have referred can. serve no useful purpose. Its only effect is to irritate members of the Public Service and depreciate the value to the people of what is, in my opinion, a very efficient Service.
I do not propose to deal in detail with the references in the Speech to arbitration and industrial matters, but I should* like to emphasize that one thing which Arbitration Courts and industrial laws cannot provide is moral courage in the people to face the situation as they find it. What is essential can be described in two words, “work” and “thrift.” If the people of this country would only realize that, and put it into practice, it would go a great deal further towards solving our industrial troubles than all our Arbitration Courts.
Some reference appears in the Opening Speech to Canberra. I see that it is proposed .to accelerate a movement in the direction of the carrying out of works at the Federal Capital, and in this connexion I should like to suggest that it would be a very gracious and patriotic attitude for the people of New South Wales to take up, if they were to say that, having regard to the financial stringency in Commonwealth affairs at the present time, they would be willing to postpone any further expenditure at Can; berra for , ten years.
Having congratulated the Government on what they propose to do in the coming session, I should like to say a word or two about what the Government have done during the last five years ‘of their administration. I find .that, in the Senate and in another place, every care is taken that we should have a true and accurate record of the proceedings of Parliament; but in speaking to some of the people of this State recently, I was astonished to learn Low little they knew of what Parliament did. I noticed at the same time their dismay when they realized that a statement of plain facts was withheld from their knowledge. Thismatteris of vital importance (to the people of Australia. In my opinion, Democracy is today on itstrial, and if the people of the country are unable to obtain information of the proceedings of Parliament, and what Democracy is doing for them, it is a very regrettable circumstance indeed, and such a state of affairs should not be permitted to continue.
– Hansard provides the information forthem, but they will not read Hansard, though it can be obtained in every School of Arts in Australia.
– That is just the situation.
– It is the fault of the people. The information is provided for them.
– Of course, I know that any person may obtain for1s. a copy of the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, setting forth every £1 of . revenue received, and how every £1 is expended; but how many buy the paper ?
-For 2s. 6d. a year, any person may have Hansard sent to his house.
SenatorLynch. - Let the honorable senator attack the Government, and he will get a column and a half in the Melbourne press to-morrow morning.
– I can inform the honorable senator that I am not looking for a column and a half in the Melbourne press, but am endeavouring to perform what I conceive to be my plain duty.
Before I refer to what Has been, done by the National Government in the last five years, I should liketo deal for a moment with the composition of Parliament as we find it to-day. It consists of the members of three political parties. When I first entered the Senate, there were only two parties - the Official Labour party and the National party. It could not have been expected that the Official Labour party would have much influence in the affairs of the country after reading and understanding its history for the year before. I do not wish to say anything offensive about theOfficial Labourparty, but I do say that it demonstrated that it failed, and failed miserably, in its conception ofits duty to the people. At that critical time events drove all men and women in this country in one direction in the effort to protect themselves against a common danger. Out of that gathering together of men and women who sunk all their small differences, and threw aside their selfish interests, to give effect to a singleminded purpose, we got the National party, and the National Government was the legitimate offspring of that party, of that sentiment, and of the circumstances which arose at that particular crisis. That is how the National party was able to achieve a record in the last five years which, in generations to come, history will point to as the record of the party which laid the foundations of the great Australian nation. These are things which I believe the people of Australia ought to know. The unusual circumstances which made it possible for the conservative and wealthy men to stand shoulder to; shoulder with the working men in this country in. the general interest of the whole nation should not be lost sight of. I say that was a, most desirable condition of affairs, which should be maintained, because it is evidence that their political interests and ideals are national, and for the benefit of the whole community, rich and poor alike. When we look forward to what such a combination of political interests and power can achieve, we have before us the evidence of what it has done in the last five years in securing to the utmost limit all those things which are in the interests of the people of Australia, and securing from the civilized nations of the earth a free charter to the people of this country to work out their own destiny.
We do not often realize the immensity of the undertaking before the people of Australia.. This country is one of five continents in the whole world. This is a continent as big as the United States of America, and nearly as large as Europe, a continent whose people speak one language from north to south and from east to west, and a continent that is all under one flag. We should think of the great work that is to be done, and the great opportunity that we have. With a comparatively few men and women we are laying to-day the foundations of a great nation, and we should remember the way in which the foundationstone was laid. It was laid by the soldiers of Australia on the 25th April, 1915. Had we not had the National party, our soldiers might have made their sacrifices and have died in vain. But, because we had the National party, and because the great mass of the people were joined together in the one honest intention to be strong in the time of trouble, we were able to create and furnish the country with a Government that was in a position to obtain the price which our soldiers have paid in their service and in their sacrifice.
I have little more to say. I am glad to have this opportunity of seconding the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. I trust that the legislation outlined in the Opening Speech will, after receiving the consideration of Parliament in the Senate and in another place, be dealt with in such a manner that the best interests of the people and the welfare of Australia will result therefrom.
Debate (on motion by Senator MacDonald) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the Senate; at its rising, adjourn until 11 a-m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– We have received a copy of the Supply Bill, and I should like to ask Senator Pearce whether he can indicate to honorable senators when the measure will be dealt with in this Chamber.
– So far as the intentions of the Government are concerned, we hope that the Bill will be dealt with in the Senate to-morrow. One month’s Supply is all that is being asked for, and, consulting the convenience of honorable senators, the Government left the introduction of the measure as late as possible. It is necessary that some payments should be made to-morrow. That is the awkward position in which, we are placed.
– Have you not until the 15th August?
– Not for our ordinary accounts. The Government hope to be able to receive the Supply Bill by tomorrow morning, but at present it is only a hope.
SenatorKeating. - Is the Supply Bill to be disposed of before the debate on the Address-in-Reply is proceeded with?
SenatorPEARCE.- Yes, if the Supply Bill is available.
– Is the Treasurer’s Advance exhausted?
– I believe it is.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 June 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220629_senate_8_99/>.