8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have to inform the Senate that I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a certificate of the ratification by the Queensland Parliament of the appointment of John Valentine MacDonald to fill the vacancy in the representation of Queensland in the Senate caused by the death of the late Senator John Adamson.
Certificate laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
– I have received from Miss Adamson, daughter of the late Senator John Adamson, a letter in which she expresses, on behalf of her mother and herself, her great appreciation and thanks to the Senate for the resolution of sympathy and condolence with the family of the late senator, and the expressions given utterance to by the various senators who spoke to the resolution.
– I ask . the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he’ is in a position to give me a reply to the second part of the question I asked last week, relative to the Taxation Department in South Australia.
– I am informed that the reply given to Senator Vardon when his question was put was a request for notice of it. I cannot now remember the particulars of the question, but I will see the honorable senator later in the day, and tell him how the position stands.
WAR service homes.
Sale of Timber Properties to Queensland Government.
– i ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he has yet received any communication from the Queensland Government with regard to the proposal made by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the taking over by the Queensland Government of certain timber properties in Queensland?
– The anticipated reply from the Queensland Government is not yet to hand.
Reduction of Weather Telegrams
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories if he has received the further details from the Government Meteorologist necessary to enable him to consider the matter of the partial discontinuing of telegraphic weather reports? If so, has he given the matter further consideration, and whatis his decision? If the further details have not yet been received from the Meteorologist, will the Minister take steps to obtain such information at an early date?
– I have received the particulars referred to. and have had them under consideration for the last two days. The particulars received have shown that the Government were absolutely justified in having an investigation into the meteorological telegrams despatched throughout this country. I am confident that by a revision of the weather telegrams sent we can secure an equally efficient service. Certain suggestions I have made are being considered by the Commonwealth Meteorologist, and certain negotiations and conferences are. taking place with the Post and Telegraph Department. These have not yet reached a stage enabling me to give a final de- cision. I can assure the honorable senator and the Senate that the matter will be pursued, and a decision, which I hope will be satisfactory to the Senate and the country, will be arrived at as soon as possible. I trust that it will be in the direction of economy as well as efficiency. unemployment.
– I ask the. Minister for Home and Territories whether he has noticed statements in the
Melbourne daily papers - (1) That there are 10,000 unemployed in Melbourne, including 646 returned soldiers. (2) That the registered number of unemployed in Queensland was only 3,173 in June, and that during the last six months the number of unemployed from Victoria and other States who registered in Queensland was 3,382?
– The honorable senator is making statements, and that is not in order in asking a question.
– I am giving the basis of my question.
– The honorable senator is not at liberty to make statements in doing so. Questions are asked for the purpose of eliciting information.
– I now proceed to ask whether the Minister will take steps to inform the Senate: - (1) The rate at which British unemployed under the immigration schemes are entering Melbourne. (2) The measures taken to provide them with suitable work so that they will not be forced to travel north, and probably increase the 3,382 unemployed from other States registered in Queensland in the last six months?
– My reply on behalf of the Government to the honorable senator’s questions is that I have not seen the newspaper paragraph to which he has referred.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the report of the Administrator of the Northern Territory for the year ended30th June, 1921, laid on the table on the 19th July, 1922, be printed.
The following papers were presented : -
Award of the Arbitrator (Sir Mark Sheldon) in the matter of the Arbitration between the Commonwealth of Australia and Sidney Kidman and others.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No.95.
Return to order of the Senate of 14th July, 1922 - Railways - Passenger and goods rates.
Lighting of Western Australian Coast
asked the Minister representing the Ministerfor Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What progress hasbeen made in carrying out the programme, as laid down by Lieutenant Brewis, for improving the light-house system on the Western Australian coast, also the northern coast-line of Australia?
– The answer supplied to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
The following statement indicates the progress made : -
Eclipse Island. - Provision made in forth coming estimates for purchase of optical apparatus and erection of tower for proposed new light.
Cape Leeuwin. - Apparatu purchased and fittings now being made for increasing length of flash and candle power.
Bathurst Point. - Fixed light converted toflashing light with distinctive character.
Cape Inscription. - Occulting light converted to flashing with distinctive character.
Jarman Island. - Fixed light converted to flashing light with distinctive character.
Gantheaume Point. - Occulting light converted to flashing light with distinctive character.
Cambridge Gulf, Medusa Banks. - Buoy established.
Fort Point. - New light established.
Emery Point. - New light established.
Marsh Shoal. - Lightbuoy established.
Henry EllisReef. - Lightbuoy established.
East Vernon Island. - Lightbuoy established.
RooperRock. - Lightbuoy established.
Howard Knoll. - Lightbuoy established.
Cape Keith. - Lightbuoy established.
Cape Don. - New light established.
Representation of Australia
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Arrangements for Coming Season
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Have any arrangements been made for the formation of a Wheat Pool for the coming season?
– The Government are prepared to co-operate with any State Government, or, failing action by. any State Government, with the farmers of any of the wheat-growing States, on the same lines as those on which the assistance granted last year was based.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to -
That Senator Henderson bo granted one month’s leave of absence owing to ill-health.
Debate resumed from 19th July (vide page 547), on motion by Senator Garling -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to: -
ToHis Excellency the Governor-General.
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.
– I have noticed that in the discussion on this motion the tendency so far has been to look at Australia in its present position and to forget that the difficulties surrounding us to-day are the aftermath of the war. ‘ The trend of the criticism has, I think, shown on the part of honorable senators a tendency to forget the extreme circumstances through which we have passed. Australia is not now, and will not be for a considerable time to come, in the same position as in 1914, before the war cloud broke. It may be well for us to recall some of the difficulties that have been encountered, and to note how well the Government, during the last five years, have done the work that has been intrusted to them. While we were engaged in war our whole attention was centred upon the question of victory. When we recall the fact that Australia, a comparatively small group of people numbering in 1914 less than 5,000,000, sent 400,000 soldiers to the Front, and when we remember how successfully they overcame the stupendous difficulties which confronted them and wrought for Australia one of the greatest achievements the world has ever seen, we may realize something of what we have passed through. Calm reflection on these facts should, in some measure, tone down the asperity of the criticism levelled at the Government, who had to deal with the effects of a convulsion such as the world has never previously known, and such as we hope will never be experienced again. The life of the community, from every aspect, was dislocated. There were the loving thoughts of relatives of soldiers in far off lands, and there was the constant dread, with the arrival of every mail, that there might be news that, some of those who had gone away had been seen for the last time.
Not only in our commercial intercourse had we to meet the ordinary perils of the sea, but the ocean was infested with submarines. There was danger in getting our troops and reinforcements to the field of war, and there was also risk in sending’ our produce to overseas markets. Had we been unable to dispose of that produce, there would have been nothing but bankruptcy staring us in the face. Our fields were tilled, and the reward was fruitfulness. Our flocks shared in the general prosperity. Not only had we huge stacks of wheat, but we also had what has been aptly described as a mountain of wool. Every other department of industry showed prosperity, but that fact would have been of no avail if we had been unable to obtain cash for our goods, or exchange them for the commodities we needed. In that operation of exchange lay the question of whether Australia would be a solvent nation or become an insolvent one. When we bear in mind that, apart from, the peril and the anxiety in the homes, there was the question of the stability of Australia as a nation, we must recognise that the Government, who successfully, guided the commercial activities in the Commonwealth, and successfully disposed of our produce to such an extent that our trading operations even showed an increase, are deserving of our keen appreciation. What force could it be that concentrated the attention of the people during , those troublous times, and enabled them to lose sight of the many dangers, and yet to achieve such success that Australia stood out brilliantly before the world as a prosperous nation ? It was because the Government placed before the people, and the people accepted, a policy to subordinate all things to the needs, of the Commonwealth and the Empire in the war, to strengthen the true Australian passion for liberty and security, to maintain with full support our already proved Army in its great task, and to help to achieve victory. The war history is eloquent with proof that the Commonwealth stood up to the high standard which it had set. In November, 1919, the Government appealed to the people again, and the verdict was an unqualified approval from ‘the electors. The Government received a mandate to carryon and grapple with those problems that have been created as the result of the conflict, and in the wider range of administrative activities they proved themselves quite equal to the task. What is the record of the Government during the period of the war? There were the* problems due to the isolation of Australia, the accumulation of our produce, the absence of shipping to transport pur products to meet the world’s needs, the condition of finance here, and the absence of foodstuffs in other parts of the world where it was so urgently needed to insure the satisfactory conduct of the conflict then raging. Parliament during those years made a valuable i contribution of historical and national service greater in importance and of more permanent value than, perhaps, during any other period in its history. The legislative work of this Parliament for that short span of five years will stand the keenest scrutiny within or without Australia. It may be regarded as a challenge to all critics, and as a monument to the very high ideal of the administration in most strenuous circumstances. The position in a political and administrative sense was unparalleled in the previous history of this country.
Political parties were torn asunder as we know. Old political landmarks were removed, and old friendships in many cases were severed, as with unwavering and unfaltering steps the Government pursued its course. Old political foes came together just as old political friends drew apart, and new combi nations were formed to face the new issues in the new political atmosphere. Thus came new ideals, and new objectives, bringing nearer a. brighter and better outlook for the community. It was then that we began to realize that we were one people. It was then that the Administration began to function, not for six loosely connected States, but for one State. It was then that Australia began to move forward as a nation to the position which her soldiers overseas and the administration of the Government in this country had won for her. The new situation involved the discharge of administrative duties never previously attempted. In the Defence Department, for instance, there was the obligation thrown upon the Government to properly drill, equip, and transport overseas between 300,000 and 400,000 of our fighting men. That task was well and faithfully performed. During all the time that the war raged, while the tide of battle surged to and fro, the conditions in Australia demanded the constant exercise of courage, initiative, alertness, and resourcefulness on the part of the Administration. No one can assert or truthfully attempt to assert that those responsible for the control of the Commonwealth failed to respond to the new movement, or to meet the stress and strain of that period. It is a remarkable fact that during those five years the whole aspect of our national life was changed, and from a loose political aggregation of States, Australia became fused into one nation fired with a true national spirit. There is now evident a national unity that was absent in times past. We act today as one people with one political purpose. It is a new experience, hut just as during the crisis of war we sprang to our post, so in the quieter realm of legislative administration is the same spirit animating the Government. We realize that the danger of war was common to the whole of Australia; that all, from the farthest point north to the lowest point south, were interested in the successful prosecution of the struggle - from the part where the sun first touches the shores of Australia in the East to the point in the West where it leaves us. We all felt that the danger over yonder was a menace to Australia as a nation.
It may be said that there were some who did not participate in the struggle, but they are. very few, comparatively, who were not thrilled at the position in which Australia was placed and the danger that confronted her. And just as, during the war, the spirit of unity animated the people to insure the security of this country, so during the last five years has the same spirit been applied to the development of Australia as a whole in an administrative sense. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in one of those apt phrases of his that mark the originality and resourcefulness of the man, said, on one occasion, that the National Ministry had sprung from the loins of war. Just as the National Ministry demonstrated its capacity to grapple with the problems that arose during the war, so by resourcefulness and initiative up to the present time have the Government met and dealt with all the subsequent problems. We have only to call to mind the difficulties that arose through the accumulation of the products of our wheat fields, the dispositions that were made in regard to our wool clips, and the administrative action rendered necessary in . connexion with our butter, our cheese, our surplus meat stocks, and other products. Australia had never functioned in this way before, and no Government has ever been called upon to exercise such authority in such varying directions . as this Government has. Notwithstanding the wonderful progress which has been made, and the successful administration of the Hughes’ Government, there are critics who say that all their ventures have been failures. Do the farmers forget what transpired during the four years of the struggle, and do they realize what their position might have been if some other Government had been in power, . and allowed matters of momentous importance to drift ‘ Do the pastoralists in the outback country forget that once or twice during the war period the situation became appallingly dangerous, and the possibility of disposing of their wool seemed very remote? All the efforts of the Government, notwithstanding the unusual conditions which prevailed, were successful. Some mistakes, of course, were made, but these were multiplied and magnified to an unjustifiable extent. Have we ever known of any man or combination of men in any period in the world’s history who, when confronted with such enormous undertakings, have not made mistakes? During the war period the Government established a record which will remain for ever on the pages of Australian history, and the transactions of this Government will be referred to with pride in the days to’ come by our children, and our children’s children. When peace was declared, and we began to welcome home those brave warriors who had passed through tho horrors of war, we were glad to find that active steps were being taken tq reestablish them in civil life. In connexion with the administration of measures arising out of the war, perhaps no member of the Government has been more severely criticised than the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen); but, insignificant as my appreciation may be, I wish to congratulate him on the excellent work he achieved under very adverse circumstances. The Minister was severely handicapped by not being able to command the services of the best men to help him in his great task, and if he had only had at his disposal officers imbued with the same spirit of enthusiasm which he displayed, the work would have been more successful than it was. No one could possibly blame the Minister for lack of ability or concentration in the great effort in which he was engaged, and the work of the Repatriation Department stands as a monument to his’ administrative ability.
We must not forget the thrilling moments experienced when the enemy was almost in sight of Paris, and when we were almost afraid to read the latest cablegrams reporting what was transpiring on the western front.
– Does not the honorable senator think that those dark days should be forgotten ?
– Not in the sense I am speaking of. We must always remember the dangers through which our men passed, because if we do, .we will not fail to assist in re-establishing them in civil life. The Minister for Repatriation, in launching his great scheme, had nothing to guide him, and those who have criticised his administration should remember the conditions under which he laboured. We owe much to our soldiers, and it is in consequence of their efforts that Australia has now the status of a nation, and enjoys independence and freedom which, without their efforts, we might not have possessed. It is only natural that some should prove failures;’ but many who are now referred to as ‘ returned soldiers and wasters- ‘ ‘ were the first to go over the top in the hour of danger. They never faltered, although the shafts of the enemy’s spears almost darkened the light of the noon-day sun. A number of gentlemen who considered themselves commercial managers and financiers are now saying that Australia is on the verge of bankruptcy; but I do not- believe them, because great care has been exercised in the expenditure of public money. Only the other day the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) showed very clearly that the amount on which savings could be effected was very small. It amounts to a sum of £4*000,000 or £5,000,000. He pointed out what Australia was absolutely committed to- war expenditure, pensions to soldiers, old-age and invalid pensions, interest on loan money, and other commitments, leaving only a very small amount in connexion with which, economies are possible.
– Does not the senator think that some of these “ commitments” are open to criticism?
– A “ commitment,” as I understand it, is a bond to which you are pledged. Take what we owe to the soldiers - we can never tear up that commitment as a “ scrap of paper.” Consider the money borrowed for soldiers’ homes - we cannot do away with that. Nor can we avoid the commitments with regard to war expenses and old-age or invalid pensions. When the sums that we must pay, if we are to be an honorable nation, are added together, they leave a very small ambit in which we can operate in making economies. What is economy ? It is not necessarily the withholding of spending. It is false economy sometimes to refrain from spending Would it be considered economy on the part of the farmer if he said, “ To keep seed wheat every year appears to be waste. I will throw it away.” That would not be economy. It is not economy to allow railway engines to get out of repair, to use worn-out rails that ‘ ought to be replaced, and to run trains over bridges that are unsafe.
Australia is faced to-day with the absolute necessity for developing her territory. It is not a question of whether we choose to do it or not. If we are not prepared to develop the country we must give it up to somebody else. Australia never faced a position in all her previous history when the possibilities of development gave such promise of true recompense. The markets of the world have been opened up to us as they have never been opened before. The question is whether we shall operate in such a way as to meet the demand from those markets by conveying to them that which Australia can produce. I can remember, in South Australia, when the opening of the Burra Burra copper mines changed the whole outlook of that State. Before that time everything .was at a stand-still, yet South Australian soil was just as prolific as it is to-day - the rains fell, the sun shone, and the seed germinated, but there was a feeling of despair. Another similar occasion was the opening up of the Broken Hill Silver Mine, and this again was almost the salvation of the State. Yet the conditions operating to-day were there then. It is the same with Australia to-day. It may seem that we are up against a time when difficulties are great, but great difficulties call for great effort, and if we make the effort then we shall certainly overcome the difficulties. It is a challenge to our ability and our intelligence, and it is when such challenges come in our history that, we have an opportunity to prove ‘whether we are men or mice.
There has been some severe criticism from honorable senators regarding how badly the farmer has been dealt with. When we come down to the hard facts, what do we find ? ‘ The farmer in Aus’tralia, speaking generally, has enjoyed a very substantial measure of continued prosperity throughout the whole of the seasons during which, this Government has been in power. During the period that we are surveying £189,500,000 worth of wheat was sold on behalf of the Australian grower, and yet we are told that nothing has been done for the farmer. The latest official summary regarding the shipment of wheat shows that 353,833,000 bushels have been shipped; and the equivalent of 63,390,000 bushels have been converted into flour and shipped; local sales amounted to 205,299,000 bushels, shippers’ stocks to 5,945,000 bushels, stocks adjustment to 1,467,000 bushels, and millers’ stocks to 9,198,000 bushels, making a total of 639,232,000 bushels. It is not necessary to recapitulate all the figures. The prosperity that they disclose did not all come in one season, but during the whole of the time that the Government was controlling, acting, supervising, and bringing out the final result. In 1921-22, there was an outcry against compulsory pools. The Government then stepped in and said to the growers, “ If you. will co-operate we will stand behind you.” They did so both in connexion with the 1920-21 and 1921-22 harvests.
There is one other matter to which I wish to direct attention. I have just been perusing the intensely interesting and earnest debate that took place regarding the Government’s purchase of Nauru Island. All sorts of evil were predicted by Senator Gardiner, Senator Pratten, and others on the same side of the House. The action of the Government was going to be ‘a disastrous failure; it was going to inflict great hardship on the farmer, and the Government were “ mad “ to go on with it. What has been the result? Any one who wishes to find out what the objections were can read them in Hansard. The total quantity of readily available phosphates in Nauru is estimated to be 84,000,000 tons, and in Ocean Island. 28,000,000 tons, making a total of 112,000,000 tons. This is equal to 224,000,000 tons of superphosphate, and yet we were advised not to touch it. The phosphatic rock obtained from Nauru Island and Ocean Island is of the highest quality known. That obtained from Nauru Island contains 85 per cent, of tribasic phosphate of lime, and that obtained from Ocean Island contains 88 per cent. This is practically pure phosphate of lime.
Now with respect to the price that has been paid by the three Governments interested for Nauru Island, I find that the total cost is £3,531,500. Australia’s share of this amount, 42 per cent., is £1,483,230. Great Britain’s share is the same; and New Zealand’s share, 16 per cent., amounts to £555,040. If we take the purchase price of £3,500,000 as the equivalent of 324,000,000 tons of phosphate, that means that for £3 10s. we buy 324 tons of superphosphate. Will any one here, farmer or otherwise, say that that is a bad bargain? Where are the Jeremiahs to-day? Where are those who croaked so loudly and told us that the purchase of Nauru Island was a bad bargain? If I remember rightly, Senator Guthrie was one of them. The opposition to the purchase was very keen, but no one will contend that it is a bad bargain to purchase 324 tons of available superphosphate for £3 10s.
– Iwas strongly in favour of the purchase of Nauru Island.
– Then the honorable senator should certainly have an interview with the Hansard reporters if that is so.
– I think you must be referring to the wrong Senator Guthrie.
– I think not, but it may have been the late Senator R. Guthrie who opposed the purchase.
– I never opposed the purchase of Nauru Island.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say so, because it seems to me that the purchase was one which could not very well be opposed.
With respect now to the returns ofthe three Governments, let me inform honorable senators that the Commissioners are paying 6 per cent. on the capital invested, and have established a sinking fund which will repay, in fifty years, the whole of the money invested. It will be quite impossible to exhaust the immense quantity of phosphatic rock in the islands within that time, and the balance will be clear profit to the Governments interested. The Governments were not concerned about making a profit from the purchase; their sole object being to guarantee supplies of the best and cheapest superphosphate for the farmers, and they look only for a fair rate of interest on the capital invested. In 1921, the total output was 394,051 tons, being 55,000 tons more than the Pacific Phosphate Company’s output in their best year, 1913, which was 338,961 tons.
– Where did the honorable senator get his figures as to the profits made?
– The figures have been supplied to me from an authoritative source, and they are absolutely reliable.
– That is very unsatisfactory.
– If the honorable senator has any doubt about the figures I give, I ask him to prove the contrary.
– Why any mystery about the matter?
– There is no need for any mystery. The figures have been supplied to me by the Government, to be used as I am using them now. I desire to have these particulars recorded inHansard. With respect to the demand for superphosphate, I find that in 1900 Australia received only 25,000 tons. In 1921, Australia received 265,000 tons. During the first eighteen months under the operations of the Commission, Australia received 357,496 tons, equal to 715,000 tons of superphosphate. These figures are unprecedented in the history of the Commonwealth. They show the extent to which the demand for superphosphate has increased, and this means in its turn an increase in the production of wealth in Australia.
With respect to the indirect benefits to Australia from the purchase with which I am dealing, I may inform honorable senators that 2,200 men are employed in manufacturing superphosphate. Over £230,000 worth of stores were purchased in Australia in the first eighteen months under the Commission. Over 10,000 tons of coal were consumed in the islands in the same period, and that coal was obtained in Australia. I now come to a matter which I desire to press home to the farmers who have been saying that the Government have done nothing for them.
– The farmer does not say that. That is said only by his self-styled representatives.
– This is a matter I want the farmer to listen to. The delivered price, including freight, in the past eighteen months was from 75s. to 80s. per ton for the raw material, or an average of 77s. 6d. per ton. The average price of the manufactured superphosphate to the Australian farmer is £6 per ton, and the quality is guaranteed by the Australian manufacturers. The world’s prices for equal and lower grade superphosphate during the past eighteen months have ranged from, £8 to £11 per ton.
– Superphosphates have never cost so much per ton.
– I am referring now to prices outside of Australia, and during the past eighteen months the world’s prices have ranged from £8 to £11 per ton.
SenatorFoll. - The honorable senator is comparing prices under abnormal conditions with prices under normal conditions.
– Thehonorable senator will not contend that freights are normal to-day. If we take the average world’s price at £9, whilst the price to the Australian farmer is £6 per ton, this means a saving of £3 per ton on 715,000 tons of superphosphate, or a saving of £2,145,000 to the Australian farmers, whilst Australia’s share of the cost of the purchase of Nauru Island is £1,480,000. So that in the last eighteen months there has been a saving to the farmers of Australia, in the price at which they have been able to obtain superphosphate, of more than the whole of the indebtedness of Australia for the purchase of the island. That will give some idea of what has been done by the Government for the farmer. Almost every action taken by the Government might be referred to in similar terms. They have during (the last five years put up a record of good services. All the members of the Government have stood out as men to be relied upon in the hour of trial, and men who have brought to the conduct of affairs ability, integrity, and initiative of a very high order indeed.
I desire now to touch upon an entirely different matter. I refer to the conditions obtaining in the Public Service in South Australia. It will be remembered that on the accomplishment of Federationthe State Departments of Trade and Customs, Defence, and the Post and Telegraph Department, were transferred to the Commonwealth, and the officers of those Departments were transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service at the same time. So far as possible, I shall not refer to matters already determined in the Le Leu case. A memorandum has been sent by the Secretary to the Public Service Commissioner to all the Departments concerned in connexion with the retirement of
South Australian officers, which differentiates between different classes of officers. Sometime ago I sought by correspondence to discover why the differentiation was made. I confess that I failed to do so, and as I reached a complete impasse, I did not pursue the matter further. I made up my mind, however, that on the first opportunity I would deal with the question thoroughly onthe floor of this chamber. The memorandum to which I refer is dated 12th October, 1921. The Secretary to the Public Service Commissioner writes as follows: -
I am directed to inform you that, following upon the decision of the High Court in the case of the Commonwealth ats Le Leu, certain officers transferred from the Public Service of South Australia to the Public Service of the Commonwealth under section 84 of the Constitution are not subject to retirement under sections 73 or 74 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
The officers to whom the decision applies are the following: -
Those transferred with the Trade and Customs, Defence, and PostmasterGeneral’s Departments at the establish ment of the Commonwealth who at the date of transfer were (a) classified officers, or (b) non-classified officers entitled to claim an allowance on retirement.
I would like the fact to be carefully noted - and I propose to prove it - that provisional and temporary officers were entitled to claim an allowance on retirement. The document continues -
The decision does not cover officers who were on the provisional and temporary staff under the State, at the time of transfer, in the cases of those transferred with the Trade and Customs, Defence, or Postmaster-General’s Departments, or at any time between 31st December, 1900, and the date of transfer in other cases, and these officers willbe subject to retirement under the provisions of sections 73 and 74 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act as heretofore. Officers transferred to the Commonwealth Service within the meaning of section 84 of the Constitution after 30th June, 1904, who may not be subject to the provisions of sections 73 and 74 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act will be required to retire at seventy years of age in pursuance of the South Australian Public Officers’ Retirement Act of 1903, unless they are retired for some reason other than age prior to reaching seventy years. It is requested that in future, in all cases of officers entitled to remain in the Service as shown in the foregoing, who are approaching the age of sixty-five years, a report be furnished by the Permanent Head to the Commissioner as to whether the officers are considered tobe capable of satisfactorily performing the duties of their positions. In the event of the Permanent Head reporting any officer as incapable of satisfactorily performing his duties, a Board will be appointed under section 65 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act to inquire into the question of his capacity. Any such officer found to be incapacitated for the performance of his duties will be retired on that ground. It is requested that the desired report he furnished so as to reach this office in each case three mouths before the date the officer attains the age of sixty-five years. Where an officer is retained after sixty-five years, a report should be furnished annually as to his capacity to efficiently perform his duties. A list is now being compiled of officers who are entitled to the benefits of the High Court decision, with a view to advising Departments concerned and to indicating such officers in the permanent staff list. Some time must elapse, however, before the list is complete, and in the meantime in any case of doubt as to the rights of tenure of an officer, and as to the necessity of furnishing the report of an officer’s capacity referred to in the preceding paragraph, reference should be made to this office. In the case of officers who must retire at sixty-five, and who may bo called upon to retire at any time between the ages of sixty and sixty-five, the annualcertificate of capacity given by the Chief Officer or Permanent Head is often based upon the fact that there hasbeen little appreciable loss of capacity by an officer in the preceding twelve months, and is given with the knowledge that the officer must retire at sixty-five. This liberal method of determining capacity should not be sufficient in the case of an officer approaching sixty-five years of age who was previously in the South Australian Public Service, and who has transferred rights as to tenure. It must he recognised that these officers are privileged, and it is ageneral assumption under Commonwealth practice that efficiency is not maintained after sixty-five years of age; it is due to the Commonwealth that every care should be taken that no officer should be retained after sixty-five unless he is fully capable, physically and mentally, of carrying out his duties. It should not bo sufficient that he may be counted upon to continue in his position without exciting adverse comment upon the prosecution of his duties,but he should be able to carry out the same volume of work with the same despatch and efficiency, and, if in a position of control, with the same powers of control and decision as those possessed by him before attaining the age of sixty years.
I have read sufficient of the memorandum for my purposes. I shall endeavour to show that the provisional and temporary officers in South Australia stood on exactly the same lines as the other officers. In every way possible the rights and privileges existing and accruing were pre served. The following are quotations from the debates at the Federal Convention held in Adelaide in 1897: -
Mr. Deakin (p. 1045). ; The Drafting Committee seem to have amply provided for those particular rights (pensions, gratuities, and retiring allowances) of public servants. But is it not also necessary to provide that any other existing rights of public servants should be preserved to them?
Mr. Deakin moved an amendment to the original clause in these words - “ And all other existing and accruing rightsof such officers as remain in the service of the Commonwealth shall be pre served.”
Mr. Barton suggested that the amendment would he wider if the word “other” were omitted, and Mr. Deakin, seemingly anxious that no right should be jeopardized, omitted the word.
Mr. Isaacs. ; I think it is highly important that we should have some provision such as is suggested by my honorable friend Mr. Deakin; I think it is important to put in the word “ accruing “… When we transfer men to the Commonwealth it behoves us to do them no injury. We ought to preserve to them not only their existing rights, but their accruing rights.
Mr. Trenwith. ; While it would he difficult for some time, as indicated by Mr. Gordon, to adjust the different conditions running side by side, it would be unjust not to maintain the rights already in existence. We should be doing different from what any conscientious company would do . . . If this is not done, there will be a manifest injustice to a very large number of citizens of Victoria, and, without imputing selfishness or a want of patriotism to civil servants of Australia, I have no hesitation in saying we shall be inducing a large number of citizens to vote against Federation in defence of their own rights and their living, and in defence of justice.
Mr. Barton. ; We may look a little higher than the question - although I agree with Mr. Trenwith - of whether the absence of provision for therights of civil servants will make this Bill popular. If there is one thing which must be paramount in framing a Constitution of this kind, it is that it must he just; and I take it this Convention would be doing a great injustice if it did not provide for existing rights. . . . These rights, however, will gradually die out under the Commonwealth, and there can be no continuation of them, because there are only one or two colonies where these contracts, as I prefer to call them, exist, and it will be very easy to ear-mark officers, say, from New South Wales or Western Australia, and say that they are subject to these existing contracts.
Mr. Deakin. ; I recognise the force of the honorable member’s contention, and trust he will give us his help to provide that substantial justice shall be done to all public servants, and that, substantially the rights and privileges they now enjoy will be preserved to them under the Commonwealth.
– Is this an attack on the Government for their treatment of the Public Service in South Australia?
– No. This is a legacy that has come from previous Governments, and the present Government have to face a position caused by the neglect of past Administrations. On account of what has occurred in connexion with the decision of the High Court in one case, I wish to point out that there are other officers who should be included.
– Did not these men on their transfer have anything in the nature of an agreement?
– The agreement was embodied in the Public Service Act, which repeats section 84 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act. Section 60 of the Public Service Act reiterates the exact language of section 84 of the Constitution Act, which states: -
When any Department of the Public Service of a State becomes transferred to the Commonwealth, all officers of the Department shall become subject to the control of the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.
Any such officer who is not retained in the service of the Commonwealth shall, unless he is appointed to some other office of equal emolument in the Public Service of the State, be entitled to receive from the State any pension, gratuity, or other compensation, payable under the law of the State, on the abolition of his office.
Any such officer who is retained in the service of the Commonwealth shall preserve all his existing and accruing rights, and shall be entitled to retire from office at the time, and on the pension or retiring allowance, which would be permitted by the law of the State if his service with the Commonwealth were a continuation of his service with the State. Such pension or retiring allowance shall be paid to him by the Commonwealth, but the State shall pay to the Commonwealth a part thereof, to be calculated on the proportion which his term of service with the State bears to his whole term of service, and for the purpose of the calculation his salary shall be taken to be that paid to him by the State at the time of the transfer.
We find that those very words are used in the Public Service Act.
In Hansard, of 1902, page 1084, Sir William Lyne, in moving the second reading of the Public Service Bill in the House of Representatives, said -
I wish to emphasize the fact that under clauses 51 and 52 of this Bill, and under section 84 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act, there is a provision to make it quite certain that no trouble shall arise with regard to transferred officers, and that all the rights which accrue to these officers who are taken over from the various States will be respected.
In the debate in the Senate as reported on pages 9226 and 9229, on the scope of the furlough clause, Senator Clemons said -
It appears that the rights not only of officers of transferred Departments, but of all officers who may be taken from any State Department and admitted into the Public Service of the Commonwealth, are preserved by the Constitution and also by the Bill we are now dealing with.
Senator Playford, a senator from South Australia, stated -
Under the South Australian Civil Service Act provision is made that, after twenty years’ service, an officer is entitled to a holiday of six months (actually eight months) on full pay. A number of officers have, been taken over by the Commonwealth with that right, and they are entitled to claim that holiday, whether we pass this clause or not.
Senator Sir John Downer, who as honorable senators are aware, was very learned in law, stated his opinion thus -
If this Bill departs from the Constitution it will be ultra vires.
He then read section84 of the Constitution.
There is the law. Nothing we can do will alter it. The law is simply that, as far as concerns transferred Departments or officers taken over from the States into the service of the Commonwealth, those officers are to be identically in the ‘ same position as regards pensions, retiring allowances, and other rights as if they had been retained in the service of the original State. These rights are to be preserved by the Commonwealth. . . . Therefore, we have nothing to do with the rights of officers taken over from the States. We have only to deal with the comparatively few men who will be taken on under the new arrangement. All officers of transferred Departments are out of it, and provided for.
Senator Ewing said ;
I do not agree with Senator Downer in the construction he has placed upon the section of the Constitution which he has read. I believe Senator Pearce’s views to be correct. There are three classes of civil servants who are, in the true sense, transferred from the States to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Constitution provides for them. We have no power to interfere with their rights,&c.
Senator Drake, while contending that furlough was not an absolute right under the State Acts, the granting of it being permissive, said -
We ought to legislate in such a way that transferred officers cannot be placed in a worse position than they would have been had they continued in the service of the State.
I want honorable senators to realize the position that has arisen. Tn order to do this I shall show that the Commissioner, in trying to place classified and unclassified officers in one class, and provisional and temporary officers in another, is doing a great injustice to the latter.
– Do you suggest that it is intentional ?
– I do not say that. 1 am merely drawing attention to the injustice which affects larger numbers of officers than are in the classified and unclassified list.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the Government are not treating these officers fairly?
– Not this Government. I am only blaming this Government for pursuing’ the same trajectory of previous Governments so far as these officers are concerned.
– Do you suggest that the Commonwealth Government is trying to avoid its obligations in this matter?
– I would not put it that way. The provisional and temporary officers transferred were not, as the Commissioner suggests, daily paid employees. They were on a fixed yearly salary and they were granted specific rights under the State law. If the salary of a provisional and temporary officer was over £200 per year it was specifically referred to Cabinet for approval.
It might be as well if I traced the history of these officers. I may mention that I am dealing with South Australian officers particularly. I go back to 1855, and I quote from “an Act to establish a Constitution for South Australia and to grant a civil list to Her Majesty.” Section 29 states -
The appointment to all public offices under the Government of the said province hereafter to become vacant or be created, whether such offices be salaried or not. shall be vested in the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Executive Council, except the .appointment of the officers hereinafter required to be members of the said Parliament, the appointment and dismissal of which officers shall be vested in the Governor alone: Provided that this enactment shall not extend to minor appointments, which, by Act of the Legislature or by Order of the Governor and Executive Council, may be vested in heads of Departments or other officers or persons within the said province.
An attempt has been made to show that these officers were appointed by the heads of Departments. That is not correct. I come now to the Public Service Act 1874. Section 15 provides -
Persons who have been in the provisional and temporary employment of the Government for a period of five years continuous at the time of the passing of this Act, or who shall bc, and remain for the like period, in the temporary employment of tho Government”, and whether remunerated by daily or weekly wages or salary, shall be non-classified officers of the Civil Service, and rank in the second schedule hereto. Every non-classified officer shall be eligible for promotion to that class of the fixed establishment, whether in the professional or ordinary division, to which his salary, if calculated by the year, would entitle him if he were a classified officer: Provided that the provisions of this Act, unless when otherwise expressly mentioned, shall not apply to nonclassified officers.
These non-classified officers are allowed to draw their salaries daily, weekly, monthly, or annually, and yet provisional and temporary officers who were in the- Department for a greater period and who were not paid daily, or weekly, or monthly, but annually, are said to be outside the provision of section 24 of the Constitution and section 60 of the Public Service Bill. Section 29 of the South Australian Civil Service Act 1874 states that the responsible Minister of any Department may, at such time as he may deem, convenient, grant to any officer leave of absence for recreation, not exceeding as a whole, three weeks in each year. Section 30 states -
The Governor may grant to any officer in the Civil Service, of at least ten years’ continuous service, not exceeding twelve months’ leave .of absence on half salary, or, at his option, six months’ leave of absence on full salary, or if of twenty years’ continuous service, twelve months’ leave of absence on . full salary; and in cases of illness or other “pressing necessity, such extended leave, on such terms ‘as he may think fit: Provided that nothing herein contained shall prevent the Governor, in case of pressing necessity, from granting leave of absence to any officer of less period of service for any time not exceeding six months1.
That controls the officers. I have quoted the sections of the South Australian legislation in order to show how the Civil Service in South Australia was built up. I turn now to the South Australian Civil Service Act of 1874 which repeals sections 15, 29, 30, and 32 of the Act of 1874. The, claim that the repeal of the 1874 legislation destroys certain rights of transferred officers cannot be sustained, for the amending Act of 1881 provides that the responsible Minister of any Department may, at such lime as he may deem convenient, grant to any officer leave of absence for recreation not exceeding, in the whole, three weeks in each year, and in case of illness or other case of necessity, such extended leave not exceeding two months. Section 3 of that Act provides -
The Governor may grant to any officer in the Civil Service of atleast ten years’ continuous service, not exceeding eight months’ leave of absence on half salary, or, at his option, four months’ leave of absence on full salary, or if of twenty years’ continuous service, eight months’ leave of absence on full salary; and in cases of illness or other pressing necessity, such extended leave, on such terms ashe may think fit: Provided that nothing herein contained shall prevent the Governor, in case of pressing necessity, from granting leave of absence to any officer of less period of service for any time not exceeding six months.
The Act of 1881 was amended in the following manner by an Act passed in 1890-
The last proviso to section 4 of the Civil Service Amendment Act 1881 is hereby repealed, and the said section shall he read and construed as if there had been added thereto, in lieu of the said proviso, the proviso following: - “Provided also that the amount of interest payable under this clause in any case shall not exceed the amount which would have accrued as compensation for service subsequent to the said thirty-first day of December if this Act had not been passed, and the officer had continued until his death, removal, or resignation to serve at the salary upon which his retiring allowance is to be calculated as aforesaid.”
Section 2 reads -
Part VII. of the Civil Service Act 1874 shall apply to all non-classified officers who may be entitled to claim an allowance on retirement.
Section 3 of the same Act reads -
Section 4 of Act No. 231 of 1881 is hereby amended, and the said section shall hereafter be read as if the words “ except misconduct or pecuniary embarrassment “ had not been inserted therein : Provided that in any such case the allowance to any such officer shall be liable to such deduction as the Government may think fit, and this section shall not apply to any resignation or removal which has heretofore taken place.
That simply deals with the amendment of the section without invalidating the power of the Government and the head of the Department in the cases concerned.
I now come to the question of leave of absence, and shall quote from Act No. 607 of 1894, which is an Act to amend the Civil Service Act of 1874 and the Civil Service Amendment Act of 1881. This Statute was in operation before the transfer was made; but I wish to show that when the transfer took place officers still possessed their rights and privileges.
– Were they privileges in excess of those enjoyed by officers in other States?
– No; it was merely a difference in the mode of treatment. An endowment fund to which the officers were compelled to subscribe at a certain rate according to the salary received was in operation, and similar funds were not in force in all States. There was also the right of furlough, which did not exist in other States. These rights and privileges were accorded because the officers were receiving a lower salary than was being paid by other State Governments. Later I shall quote the salaries paid to officers in New South Wales who were performing similar duties . in Departments handling the same amount of business as was being handled in South Australian Departments, and in doing so I shall show that the rates in New South Wales were higher than in South Australia.
– Does the honorable senator claim that there should be a differentiation shown in favour of South Australia?
– Not at all. It is clearly shown in the debates in Parliament, and particularly in the language used in the Senate, that the privileges and rights of these officers would cease when they retired.
– Is it not a question of unfair discrimination?
– Not at all. The late Sir John Downer and the late Sir Thomas Playford, in dealing with the question at the time, recognised these contracts, which they said could not be broken.
– Have they been broken ?
– Yes. I wish, however, to deal with the question of leave of absence, and in doing so shall quote section 1 of the Act of 1894, which reads -
Leave of absence may be granted pursuant to the Civil Service Act Amendment Act 1881 to any person in the employ of the South Australian Government, excluding persons in the service of the South AustralianRailways on the provisional and temporary list; but so that such leave shall only be granted on account of the service subsequent to the passing of this Act.
That provision was adopted to exempt the railway officers who were not working under similar conditions to other public servants, and who were not regarded as such. [Extension of time granted.]
– The railway officers were not taken over.
– No. That does not invalidate the position.
– The South Australian Parliament never intended that this burden should be carried by the Commonwealth.
– The interjection of the honorable senator proves that he does not understand the position.
I come now to the classification of the South Australian public servants, which is dealt with in Act No. 748 of 1900 in a measure to provide for a Public Service Classification Board. Section 2 of this Act reads -
For the purposes of this Act, all persons employed in the Public Service of Her Majesty in this province, excepting persons who are not continuously employed for at least one year, shall be deemed to be public servants.
That was before the officers were taken over. Any one employed in the Public Service for more than one year was deemed to be continuously employed, and when the Commonwealth takes over a Department with its officers it cannot be said that there has been any break in the Service any more than it could be said that South Australian legislators’ rights and privileges are affected because they cross the border in travelling from one State to another. My contention concerning the rights and privileges of transferred civil servants is supported by the sections of the Acts I have quoted. Although Departments were taken over by the Commonwealth, the service of the officers was continuous as on the 31st December they were in the service of the State, and on the 1st January they were officers of the Commonwealth, in the Commonwealth, and under the Commonwealth law their services are regarded as continuous. Their rights and privileges were secured under a contract, which cannot be broken without violating the spirit of the Act of 1902 and of the Constitution in which provision is made for protecting their rights.
– The honorable senator must not forget that the Commonwealth Government also have rights.
– I am not disputing that, but it has nothing to do with the point I am making. Here is another important section which is referred to in the memorandum which I read. In section 2 of Act No. 827 of 1903, which is an Act to provide for the retirement of public officers, “ Officer “ is defined in this way: - “ Officer “ shall mean and include all persons in the employ of the Government of South Australia, except the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Commissioner of Insolvency, and the Clerks of the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly.
Section 3 of the same Act reads -
On the 30th day of June, one thousand nine hundred and four, every officer who is seventy years of age or older, except the Commissioner of Audit, is hereby retired from the Public Service; and thereafter every officer shall retire upon attaining the age of seventy years. . . .
If those officers had remained in the Service they would have had the rights mentioned in that section.
I think I have now arrived at our present position. The public servants the Commissioner proposed to deprive of those privileges are officers whose salaries are fixed at so much per annum, although they were mentioned in specific lines in the Estimates under the heading of “salaries.” Those employed on day labour were dealt with under the heading of “ contingencies,” so that in every sense they were regarded as public servants.
– Should the rates fixed by the South Australian Government be observed by the Commonwealth Government ?
– There is no reason for differentiation between the provisional and temporary officers and the nonclassified and classified officers, as the names of these public servants were printed in the Official Blue-Book, and heads of Departments were shown in the same list as junior officers together with the date of their appointment to the Service and the positions they held. No single case is known where a provisional and temporary officer was treated in any different way from a classified officer as regards tenure of office. The practice of appointing to the “pro. and tem.” list became very general, and there was a gradual disuse of the classification provision of the Act of 1874, so much so that instead of the “pro. and tem.” list being the smaller it became the larger. It was not the tenure of the officer that was signified by the term “provisional and temporary,” but it was the classification. The classification of the officer was provisional and temporary, but he was a permanent officer, just as a classified officer was. This is a very important distinction.
– It was a little confidence trick worked by the South Australian Government on ‘ the Common.-* wealth.
– I hope the honorable senator will give South Australia credit for being as honest as he is himself.
– The business was all loaded up before the Commonwealth took over.
– It was not loaded up. The practice dates back to 1855. Frequently officers who were classified were advised of their promotion to “ pro. and tern.”, and although these were permanent men, their classification was provisional. A man would sometimes get as much as £20 a year increase in salary by going into the provisional list. If honorable senators wish, they may see the names of the officers in the Blue Booh. The provisional and temporary officers’ names appear side by side with those of the classified officers. There was no distinction when they were taken over.
Another thing that obtained deserves mention. I have a list of officers appearing in the Blue Boohs from 1876 to 1916. It covers the Departments of the Civil Service in South Australia, and I want to show how the number of officers known, as “pro. and, tern.” grew, as compared with the others who were classified. In 1876 there were 506 officers classified, and 203 in the “ pro. and tern.” list. In 1881 there were 799 classified, and 380 “pro. and tern.” The “pro.. and tem.” officers at that time amounted to not more than one-half of the classified officers. In 1900 there were 662 classified and 2155 “pro. and tem.” This means that by far the larger number of officers will lose their rights. That was never intended. In 1901 the South Australian service was taken over by the Commonwealth, and then the classified officers numbered 264, and the “pro. and tern.” officers 1,477. In 1911 the classified were 95, and the “pro. and tem.” 2,176. In 1916 the classified were 90, and the “pro. and tem.” 3,855. That strengthens my contention, that the v appointment of classified officers had ceased. The reason for it waa that during the year 1888-9 there was a Commission in operation in South Australia to investigate the Civil Service in all its bearings. It sat for several years, and during that time no officer was appointed to the classified list. Hence the “ pro. and tem.” list became very much larger pro rata. The effect of this is that while the Commonwealth Government, on the advice of their solicitors, are including the classified list, they are only including the minor portion of the Service, and leaving out the major portion. This was never intended, and was not the spirit of the South Australian Act.
I would have liked to have spoken of some other matters, but my time is exhausted. I thank honorable senators for their attention, and I hope they will see that I have tried my best to make it clear that it was no fault of the State or of the officers that the latter occupied the “ pro. and tem.” positions. They are in some instances occupying very important positions as telegraph stationmasters, and in the Customs Department and Defence Department.
– What does the honorable senator want us to do?
– I want the officers on the “ pro. and tem.” list to be included as classified.
– Which means that they will have a longer life in the Public Service than the public servants of any other State.
– Would that be unjust? Supposing the New South Wales Government had made a provision that a man serving for twenty years in the Civil Service of that State should have a bonus equivalent to, say, 5 per cent, of his salary. Suppose no other State had made that provision. What injustice would it be to the others for the Commonwealth to honour that undertaking? It would be no injustice at all, because the Commonwealth Government, in taking over the Service, pledged itself that all the rights and privileges the men had would be continued. The pledge did not apply to men who joined afterwards, but these men were servants of the
State. The Commonwealth Government were not bound to take them over, with their rights and privileges, but they did it, and, having done it, it surely cannot be suggested that there is any injustice to others.
– It will breed discontent in the Public Service.
– It will breed discontent in the Public Service if the solemn pledges given to the men are broken.
– The injustice to others is that they will have to wait a longer time for the positions these South Australians are filling.
– Generally in South Australia it ie the men from the other States who are filling the positions. We have not the opportunity that there is in Sydney and Melbourne for rapid advancement.
– We have not the “ pull.”
– I am not speaking of “ pull,” but there is not the opportunity.
– They are kept on until they are seventy years of age.
– If they were kept on under State control until they were seventy years of age, they ought to be kept on still, because a pledge was given’ ‘to them that they would be. Shall we break that pledge? Shall we tear it up as a “scrap of paper”? i have proved that since 1855 the South Austraiian officers have had these rights. They were taken over’ by the Commonwealth as officers, and not as daily paid men or employees. To say that these men on the “provisional and temporary” list were daily paid is nonsense, and to say that they were of a lower grade,than the others is to say what is not true.
– Have they not a legal claim?
– Yes., and every right the civil servants have had they have had to ‘fight for in Court. It is not a just thing that they should have to fight. We stand here to see that justice is done to all sections of the community. I have not raised the question of South Australia versus New South Wales, Queensland, or Victoria. Honorable senators know, as well as I do, that four days before the Service was taken over in Victoria an Act wa-j passed which gave the civil ser.vants additional advantages.
– They took a leaf out of the South Australian book.
– That is not so. In South Australia the practice was continuous from 1855.
– The only thing that was continuous was the alarming increase in the number of these probationary men.
– They were not probationary men. The same confusion exists in the honorable senator’s mind as existed in that of the Commissioners. To regard these men as “probationary” clouds the issue. It was not the ‘men who were temporary, but their classification, and I have pointed out the reason for it.
– South Australia would not classify them, but wants the Commonwealth to treat them as if they were classified. ‘
– The classification goes back a long time before the Commonwealth took over the Service. The reason for the increase in the “ provisional and temporary “ list was a severe drought in South Australia.. Some of the men suffered as much as 32 per cent, reduction in their salaries when they came into the Public Service of the Commonwealth. There was a drought in which every civil servant had 10 per cent, of his salary deducted. .There is not an officer in South Australia who has gained by coming under the Commonwealth. He has lost five years of his service. He enjoyed privileges previously which were not continued under the Commonwealth. He received commission on the sale of postage stamps, he had a free house and ‘lighting ; and he also had privileges in connexion with the Savings Bank, for the control of which he was paid a salary. These privileges were counted in South Australia as part of his income. I can point to instances in New South Wales in which the officers in charge of post-offices are paid £50 a year more than is paid to officers in South Australia doing exactly the same amount of business.
– New South Wales has always paid her public servants fairly well.
– I can point to the same kind of thing in Victoria. The men for whom I am pleading to-day are not asking for, something over and above what is paid to the public servants in other States. All that they are asking, and justly asking for, is that promises made to them shall be kept. On the strength of those promises they were induced to vote for Federation, and to come into the Federal Public Service. Those promises are written in the Constitution itself, and they should be kept now. The men to whom I have referred are asking only that their rights should be conceded to them, and that it should not be necessary for individual officers to apply to the High Court to enforce those rights. I thank honorable senators for their attention.
.- I should like to preface my remarks by adding my regret on the great loss suffered by this Parliament and the Commonwealth through the deaths of the late Honorable Frank Tudor and the late Senator Adamson. I will not now say more than .that they were* both good men and true.
I wish to add my congratulations to Senator Pearce on the splendid performance of his duty as the representative of Australia at the Washington Disarmament Conference. We have all done so from the bottom of our hearts. When Senator Pearce was appointed I felt sure that he was the right man for the job, and that has been very clearly demonstrated. The good work that he did at the Conference has been acknowledged throughout the Empire by the press and by public men.
Yesterday some honorable senators made some bitter attacks upon the press bf Victoria. The Victorian newspapers were condemned in the most drastic terms, and I think the picture of their, iniquity was rather over-painted. I do not know that the press of Victoria is any worse than the press of any other State.
– I think they are all alike. They all leave me’ alone.
– The worst ser.vice the press can render the honorable senator is to treat him with contempt. I would prefer to be abused by the press to not being referred to in their columns at all. I think that in the main the press do their duty, but I do object, and very strongly, to the continued attacks of the press on the Right Honorable the Prime Minister, Mr. William Morris Hughes.
– That is all I complained of.
– To my mind, Mr. Hughes is one of the greatest men in the British Empire. I consider that he. did magnificent work for the Empire during and since the war. He may have done so before the war, when I did not know his work so well. He has done magnificent work for the Commonwealth of Australia, and I do take exception to the continuous criticism of the right honorable gentleman by the press - criticism that is destructive and not constructive.
– Does the honorable senator not think that Mr. Hughes would feel very lonely if the press did not attack him ?
– I think that he is too great a man to be written out of power by the combined efforts of the whole of the press of Australia.
The programme set out in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is a very comprehensive one, and I should require to occupy as much time as was occupied by Senator Senior in order to deal with it as I should like to do. We are told in the Speech that the Washington Conference guarantees peace in the Pacific for- some time to come, and, therefore, very drastic reductions are contemplated in the votes for the Navy and Army. Whilst we all fervently trust that the deliberations of the Washington Conference will have the very much desired result of securing for Australia immunity from attack, we must at all times remember that we have in this part of the world a very rich and empty continent, which is surrounded by teeming millions of coloured people, whose natural net increase per annum exceeds our total population. I hope that in the circumstances the Government will- see that this country is in a position at all times to defend itself. We must have an adequate supply of up-to-date guns, uptodate munitions, and a highly trained staff with the nucleus of an Army to enable us to defend ourselves at any time should the necessity ‘arise. Honorable senators may have noticed in the press to-day that General Smuts has pointed a finger of warning and suggests that the results achieved may not be quite so satisfactory as we have been led to believe. We should be false to our trust were we not at all times prepared to defend Australia effectively.
There are many matters referred to in the Speech with which I agree, as well as many with which I rather disagree. I should like to specially stress the necessity for the Government spending a large sum of money on immigration and putting it foremost in their programme. To my mind the great need of the British Empire to-day is a redistribution of her white people. We have an extraordinarily and temptingly rich, and to a large extent undefended continent, and it behoves the Government to take advantage of the opportunities which now exist to attract to our shores a large number of people in the Old Country, who desire to emigrate. The Government should bring forward a comprehensive scheme to enable the Commonwealth to take advantage of the possible flow of British people to this country.
– That can only be done “by co-operation with the States.
– That is so. But there must be a large amount of money expended in propaganda work and in providing facilities, I suggest by the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers, to enable intending immigrants to come to Australia.
– The honorable senator would not ask for a large stream of immigrants if we have not the means here to absorb them?
– I think that we can absorb them. I am a member of the executive of the New -Settlers’ League, and I know that the great difficulty to be faced is to provide housing accommodation for immigrants in the country districts. We do not want to bring people to our cities that are already congested. We want to bring people here to develop and produce, and we have land available for that purpose. I think there was a great deal in Sir Joseph Carruther’s scheme of a “ million farms for a million farmers.” It was ridiculed by a good many people who, unfortunately, did not take a broad view of the possibilities of settlement in Australia. No less than 92 per cent, of the lands of Australia remain unalienated, and although it is said that these lands are unsuitable, I claim that they are adapted for settlement provided that facilities are afforded for transport and the country is opened up by the conservation and distribution of water.
– If the honorable senator has read the newspapers to-day he will have discovered that the Governmenthave already made the arrangements he suggests.
– The Government are doing very well in this regard, but not well enough to satisfy me. I am personally against the proposal made in several of the States to bring out boys. I would prefer the introduction of married couples with families, who would give us a flying start with the increase of our population. The difficulty which has to be confronted is to provide housing accommodation for them. There are far too many people in our cities, and centralization is one of the curses of the Commonwealth. We want, more people in the country districts, but there is not sufficient house accommodation for them. I should like the Government to announce some scheme by which houses could be built by farmers to accommodate married couples. A farmer may not be in a position to spend £300 or £400 on a house to accommodate a married couple, but he might do so if he were assisted by the Government in much the same way as we assist returned soldiers to secure war service homes. We must get more people, and I prefer the introduction of married people with families to the immigration of boys.
– If a scheme such as the honorable senator suggests were proposed to-day, seven out of every ten people in Victoria would drop dead from fright.
– I am not a pessimist. I have great faith in my country. I. know the possibilities of Australia from the productive stand-point. I know the difficulties we experience in Victoria in getting people to settle on the land and in inducing farmers and graziers to employ people. The chief difficulty is that they have no housing accommodation for them.
The Speech makes reference to the pro- posed appointment of a representative of Australia in the United States of America. I favour the appointment of a Trade Commissioner, and I commend the suggestion put forward by one honorable senator that a member of the Ministry should, if possible, keep in close personal touch with the Mother Country and with America. I know of no man in the Commonwealth more suited for the proposed appointment than Senator E. D. Millen, whose name has been mentioned in this connexion. He has had not only a business training, but a political training as well.
– The Senate does not want to lose the honorable senator.
- His loss to the Senate would be only temporary. He is the class of man we require to represent us in America. Americans like business men, and we know how well Sir Henry Braddon and Sir Mark Sheldon have done for Australia in the United States of America.
A reference is made to the fact that the revenue for the year has exceeded the estimate. I am sorry to say that I think that is due rather to heavy taxation than to economy in expenditure, I do not approve of petty economies, such as the cutting down of weather reports by the Meteorological Bureau. It may be that what the Government propose to curtail are weather reports that are useless. In the past, telegraphic information has come from coastal places which have been of little or no interest. It is of little use to learn that there has been rain at Cape Schanck, or in various metropolitan suburbs. What the producer desires to know is how the weather is shaping in the interior. They require to know whether they may expect rain or floods. In the past we have had absolutely ludicrous reports from places where there is only seaweed and sand.
– A daily telegram has been sent to Gabo Island giving the heights of water in the rivers of New South Wales.
– I am glad the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) is looking into the matter. Such reports are ludicrous and involve a waste of money. The Minister has shown by his speech on the Northern Territory that he is a practical man, and I am glad to have his assurance that, whilst money will be saved in the Meteorological Branch of his Department, the weather information supplied will be ample and practical.
I am glad that a Board of Appeal has been appointed to deal with objections to income tax assessments, but I take exception to the fact that the primary producers are not represented upon the Board. We are often reminded that the primary producers are the backbone of Australia. Unfortunately they are singled out for special taxation, even when they already contribute a large proportion of the taxes.
– You could not give special representation to one section.
– But they are the principal section of the community. Primary products represent 70 per cent. of the wealth of the Commonwealth. Sheep alone are responsible for onehalf of that wealth. Seeing that the primary producers are the main people, they should have representation on such Boards. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech the Government emphasize the fact that the Commonwealth depends on primary production. It has taken Governments a great number of years to awaken to that fact, and with all due respect to the present Government, of which I am a supporter, I must say that the producers have never received that consideration to which they are entitled. Our legislation has all been in favour of the cities. I refer to such measures as high Tariffs, which hit the men on the land in connexion with all their requirements. I believe in Protection to a certain extent, and I have voted for many protective duties, but I am glad to see the statement repeated several times in the Speech that the Commonwealth depends on primary production. I trust that the Government will prove by their actions that they mean what they say, because it is a lamentable fact that our rural population is decreasing year by year, and recent legislation is responsible for the further drift to the cities.
I realize that it is essential to link up the capital cities with a uniform railway gauge, but whether the time is opportune or not, is very doubtful. It is properly pointed out, in the report of the Royal Commission, that millions of pounds sterling were lost to the Commonwealth in the last drought, owing to inability to remove stock from drought-stricken areas to the favoured districts, and to carry fodder from places where it was reasonably plentiful to those parts where it was unobtainable. I myself suffered very heavy loss at Wagga through not being able to get fodder, which I purchased at Geelong, quickly removed there. It took five weeks, with the result that I lost heavily with my stud cattle and sheep. I do not think the time is opportune to go ahead with the complete scheme for the unification of gauges because we have not the money. I want to see the Government spend large sums, and spend them quickly, on preparing for immigrants, and on bringing them here. Experiments are being carried out with a third rail, and we have just noticed in the press that Captain Grieve has another device. I understand that a truck has been built in New South Wales, in which the inventor guarantees that, if permitted, he can travel from Brisbane to Perth. He asks for no royalty. As these experiments are in progress, and in view of the abnormal cost of railway construction; I hope that the Government will not rush into very heavy expenditure on this work at present, for there are other and more pressing needs which require a lot of money.
I am not one of those who are always harping upon economy. I am sick and tired of the Taxpayers’ Association of ‘ Victoria. It talks a lot of hot air. After all, the Government expenditure is, as we know, mostly on matters to which they are committed through the war. Whilst there may be, and probably is, a certain amount of extravagance, it is not nearly as bad as the Taxpayers’ Association and ‘ the daily press lead, or mislead, the public to believe. I would like to see large sums of money spent on such splendid works as the Government have already taken in hand on the River Murray. The Murray Waters Agreement is one of the most statesmanlike undertakings that have ever been entered into in Australia. We have a very rich country; hut we must conserve and distribute our water, and the valleys of the Murray and Murrumbidgee can carry a greater population in comparative luxury that now exists throughout this continent. By pushing on with reproductive works of this nature, the Government could provide a tremendous lot of employment for returned soldiers and others, and also for the immigrants it is proposed to bring out. I certainly would not advocate allowing the immigrants to swell the already overcrowded population in the cities. The work ‘of conserving and dis- ‘tributing water and the unification of the gauges on the main lines of railway should be regarded as reproductive, and a high rate of interest would fairly quickly be returned on the outlay. Without population we can neither develop nor defend Australia.
– If we do not have population here, somebody else will.
– Quite so. We have no more right than the Australian aborigines had to hold “ this rich continent, which has been ‘handed down to us by Great Britain, and kept for us by the power of the British Navy, unless we populate and develop it. One cannot help appreciating the extraordinary achievements of our pioneers. Look at the wonderful development that has taken place in a single lifetime. My father arrived here with sheep in 1S47, and I am glad to say that he is still hale and hearty at the age of ninety. What such men have done is truly remarkable. We should value the rich heritage handed down to us.
I am absolutely opposed to the NorthSouth railway being constructed by the direct route. Such a line would be of no use whatever to producers. It is stated by the advocates of that route that the line would open up country. I know of Central Australia fairly intimately, and. except for some good land in the vicinity of the Macdonnell Ranges, it is not productive; it is particularly poor. I have read the reports of explorers since 1872, and I have my own reports from men who have been over the stock routes with cattle since 1882, when my father pioneered the Northern Territory. I have no objection to the line going through the northern part of South Australia, but it should certainly be linked up with the railways in the western parts of New South Wales and Queensland. Thence it should cross the Barclay Tablelands, and go through the pick of .the Northern Territory. A direct, line through the dead heart of Australia would be useless from a defence point of view. It would enable an enemy landing in the Territory to go south, and if we wanted to send troops to meet them they would have .to be transported from as far north as Rockhampton and from Brisbane and Sydney, right around to Adelaide, before proceeding northward. Then they would have to be taken over a single line through the dead heart of the continent. Such a thing would be impossible.
– What about the contract with South Australia?
– That contract stipulates that the line should go through the northern boundary of South Australia. That condition could still be observed by branching off at Marree, taking the railway through Birdsville, and linking up with the Western Queensland lines. Then in case of attack we could pour our guns and munitions out from every populated centre of Australia; but never could that be done over a single line starting at a dead end in Adelaide and ending at a dead end in Port Darwin.
– Broken gauges at that.
– South Australia does not imagine that there should be one trunk linewithout feeders.
– The expenditure on the trunk line alone would be enormous, with the direct route, and it would be also necessary to extend the western lines hundreds of miles to connect with it, and every one of them would have to pass through a desert. The proper route is through Western Queensland, and through Camooweal. I am not now interested in that particular country.
– If you were, you would take a different view.
– I have now disposed of any interests that I had in the Northern Territory; but I challenge the pessimistic remarks of SenatorFairbairn with regard to that country. The direct route north and south would be dangerous and expensive.
It is stated in the Governor-General’s Speech that the Tariff Board provided under the Act passed last session has been constituted, and is performing its functions. I regret to say that, as regards one item, the Board is not doing so. I refer to maize. Last session I proposed an intermediate Tariff on maize of 2s. 6d. per cental, and a general Tariff of 3s. 6d. That was carried by the Senate, and approved in another place on the 30th October. Although both Houses agreed to the duties which Iproposed, unfortunately that duty has not been collected. On account of a reciprocal Tariff, maize has been imported from South Africa, which produces 80,000,000 bushels annually. It is all grownby black labour. Maize is pouring into Australia to-day, and local growers cannot produce in competition with it. The maizegrowers of the Commonwealth have been misled. The Minister for Customs assured the Australian producers that the duty would be 3s. 6d. per cental, and I, as well as other honorable senators, and members of another place, did likewise, but we find now that maize is coming in under a duty of1s. per cental. It is an extraordinary anomaly that maize, grown by black labour, should be able to threaten the industry of the Commonwealth in this way. The freight charges from Durban afford no protection whatever, being only 22s. 6d. per ton, whereas the freight from Gympie, in Queensland, where a large quantity of maize is grown, to Sydney, is 40s. per ton. Only last week a very large shipment of maize from South Africa was landed in this country. We have not kept faith with the growers, who were assured by this Parliament that the duty would be from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. per cental. Therefore I appeal to the Government to take the necessary action through the Tariff Board to see that this matter is put right. Something should be done without delay, because we have broken faith with the growers, and the industry is endangered. I have previously mentioned that people are being driven off the land, and that the evil of centralization is being continued. As the position with regard to the maize duty is very serious, I hope some action will be taken at the earliest possible moment.
I wish now to criticise the Government and the responsible Minister somewhat severely as regards the treatment of our limbless soldiers. I am a supporter of the Government, and I think that they have brought forward a most comprehensive, and, generally speaking, a good programme of legislation, but I take strong exception to the treatment meted out to our limbless soldiers, of whom there are just on 4,000 in the Commonwealth. The pensions paid to them at the start were simply cruel, and although I introduced a deputation to the Minister in July last, so far nothing has been done for them. I notice that a paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech admits that anomalies exist in regard to these pension payments, and that the matter is to be put right by the introduction of a Bill. But I want to know when this is going tobe done. The requests made by the Limbless Soldiers Association, representing men who have made extraordinary sacrifices for us and the Empire are, in my opinion, very moderate, and their behaviour right through has been very manly. I trust, therefore, that this matter will be set right without delay, because a limbless man cannot compete for employment in any walk of life with a man who has not lost a limb.
– What is their maximum request?
– It represents an additional expenditure of £36,000 per year.
– No. I want to know what maximum increase they are asking for, not the total cost.
– They are asking that a man totally incapacitated, blind or with double amputation, shall get 80s. per week.
– No; £8 per week. They are getting 80s. now, and they are asking for the pension to be doubled.
– I have received a letter to-day from the association setting out their requests in detail. I know the Minister says that if their request were granted it would cost the Commonwealth another £64,000 per , year. But what is that after all? They assert that it would cost an additional £36,000, not £64,000, and apparently they have gone into the matter very carefully, and have had their statement audited. But even granting the Minister to be right, and that the request would mean an additional cost to the Commonwealth of £64,000 per year, that would be 2¾d. per head of the population.
– I am not stressing the total extra cost, but you have made a definite statement, and I am saying they are getting what you say they are asking for. They are getting to-day £4 per week, plus a pension for wives and children, and they are asking for an extra 80s. per week.
– I think the Minister is wrong, because I have their request set out in black and white. It reached me only to-day. In 1920 the Government started off by paying a man who had lost an arm and a leg a paltry pension of 22s. 6d. a week. How could a man in such a condition possibly manage on a pension like that ! It would not have been enough to buy food then, as foodstuffs in 1920 were so dear. Then the man who had lost three limbs was paid the miserable amount of 30s. a week, which was criminal. A man could not exist on that pension. These men are not asking for charity, but for justice. A great many of them are in employment, and they are penalized for taking work. Under the Act the totally disabled returned soldier at the time got 42s. per week, and one who had lost an arm or leg was classified as only 75 per cent. disabled. One of these men had his pension reduced to 31s. 6d. per week. As I have said, they are penalized for taking outside employment.
– No, they are not.
– Well, cases have been stated.
– It is an absolute inaccuracy to say that any man is penalized in regard to pension payments because of anything he earns outside.
– He is penalized to this extent, that his pension is reduced.
– The pension is not reduced because of a man taking outside employment.
SenatorGUTHRIE.- Well, it is reduced because of his earnings.
– It is not reduced because of anything a man earns.
– Then why is it reduced? I should like the Minister to tell me that, because I only want to be fair.
– The pensions paid are fixed in a schedule to the Act.
– But the case is cited where a returned soldier in Sydney who had two legs and an arm received a special pension for a period, but this was reduced, to 42s. per week because he took a position.
– Yes, I have the particulars of that case. That man was getting what the Act provides for, namely, £2 per week. He represented himself astotally and permanently incapacitated, entitling him, under a special schedule, to £4 per week, but immediately afterwards he went to work at his old rate of pay.
– And good luck to him.
– He was not, therefore, entitled to the special pension payable to a totally incapacitated man.
– The present pension for a man who has lost two arms is 80s. per week, and the Association is asking for 80s., plus 40s., so that a man can have an attendant. How can a man with two arms off look after himself? Does the Minister say that the figures put forward by the Limbless Soldiers’ Association are not correct ?
– I say that they are incomplete.
– I am only asking that the limbless soldiers shall get a fair deal, and. I think their request is a moderate one. I shall read it for the information of honorable senators: -
Disability - Pensions Proposed.
Two arms amputated, 80s., plus 40s. allowance.
Two legs amputated and one arm amputated, 80s., plus 20s. allowance.
Two legs amputated above knee, 80s.
One leg amputated above knee, other leg amputated below knee, 70s.
Two legs amputated below knees, 60s.
One leg amputated and one arm amputated, 80s.
One arm amputated and one eye destroyed, 60s.
Two legs amputated and one eye destroyed, 60s.
One leg and one- arm amputated and one eye destroyed, 80s.
Two legs amputated and one eye destroyed, 80s.
Leg amputated above knee, 40s.
Leg amputated below knee, 35s.
Arm amputated above elbow, 40s.
Arm amputated below elbow, 35s.
Leg amputated at thigh, 42s.
Arm amputated at shoulder, 42s.
If the Commonwealth can pay to a man who has lost two legs for his country only £3 per week, then God help us ! i sincerely trust that the Government will bring in the necessary legislation to give these men what I think they are justly entitled to. Already they have been waiting for over a year, and as far as they tell me, and as far as I know, they have got nothing.
Now I desire to say something as regards the Northern Territory, because I have taken a special interest in that part of the Commonwealth all my life-time. Owing to the immensity of the area and its emptiness, the problem it presents is probably the most difficult that is confronting the Government of Australia to-day. This huge area of 523,620 square miles has a population of only 3,300 people, no greater than it was when my own father pioneered it with stock, which he took up there from the north-west of Victoria and the south-east of South Australia, in 1882. The attempts to develop the Territory so far have been almost a total failure, but I do not despair. I remember, many years ago, attending a dinner given by the Labour party - I do not know who was in power at the time - at a most fashionable hotel in Melbourne. Champagne flowed as I had never seen it flow before, and as the evening progressed the speeches became rosier. They started off by saying it was a wonderful country, but that the areas in which it was held were too great; that it was capable of closer settlement, and it was even suggested that it should be cut up into blocks of 320 acres. One gentleman - I think he was a member of this Chamber, too - declared that it had a wonderful climate capable of producing early tomatoes and early fruits for the Sydney and Melbourne markets ! I was asked to speak ; but having more modesty then than I have now, seeing that I was not even a budding politician at the time, I think I was the only one out of about 150 guests who did not speak. To my mind, money spent in the Northern Territory has been absolutely squandered. I do not say that this Government have been guilty of that, though I think that even the present Administration have been responsible for the squandering of a considerable sum on the experimental agricultural farms there.
– This Government have not spent any money on experimental farms in the Northern Territory.
– I thought the BatchelorFarm was established by this Government, but as I am assured it was not, Iapologize to the Government, and I am glad to think that a Government which I support have fewer sins to account for than I thought they had. I take a great interest in the Northern Territory, and am sorry to think that up to the present it has been very badly governed. I know, of course, that the difficulties are very great. Port Darwin is a very long way from Melbourne, and weakness has been displayed by past Governments ‘ in dealing with the extremists there: I think that even the present Administration are not free from blame in this matter. The absence of adequate means of communication has been responsible for a good deal of the apathy shown in connexion with the development and management of the Territory. Port Darwin is not the Northern Territory, but can be regarded as merely one dark spot where extremists run riot.
I desire to congratulate the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) on the splendid speech he delivered in the Senate last week, in which he referred to the possibilities which exist in the Northern Territory, and in which he outlined the policy which he intended to bring before Cabinet in connexion with its further development. I wish to combat, to some extent, the extreme pessimism exhibited by Senator Fairbairn, who has had extensive practical experience in connexion with the development of dry districts in Queensland, although -he has not perhaps had similar experience in the Territory. I have been directly associated with the Northern Territory for nearly forty years, and it is ridiculous for any one to say that the efforts of those who have attempted to develop it have ended in failure, because, as I have said, my father who took stock from. Victoria to the Northern Territory in 1882 made a pronounced success of his efforts, and the wool which he grew in the Territory topped the London market, as also did the prices realized in the Adelaide market for fat cattle and for merino sheep. It is outrageous to say that little success can be expected in that country, as there are vast possibilities of extensive and profitable production on the Barclay Tablelands alone. The coastal regions may not prove profitable, because they are not as good as the coastal regions of Queensland. The coastal regions are said to be poor.
– Large areas are locked up.
– Yes, the areas are too large; but I shall deal with that phase of the question later. I am endeavouring to combat the arguments adduced to the effect that the country is useless, because there is a huge area on the Barclay tableland capable of carrying millions of cattle, and some day ten mil lion sheep, and the wool produced there is equal to that grown in any part of the world. When my father first went to the Territory, .he was told by some that he was very unwise, but the sheep and wool produced on those rolling tablelands were as good or better than any he produced on his Victorian stations. The breeding of sheep, however, was discontinued owing to the labour conditions which prevailed. Moreover, the cost of transport on all foodstuffs and requisites necessary to develop the country was exorbitant, and the carriage on wool to the sea-board was so high that sheep-breeding was discontinued and efforts concentrated on cattle-raising. In one year 60,000 sheep were shorn, and if improved facilities had been available and the labour position was not so acute development in that direction would have been extended; but if the Government will give additional ^consideration to the settlers who are battling there, many of these difficulties will be overcome. The first thing that must be done to develop the Territory is along the line of least resistance, and that is to encourage the breeding of cattle, particularly on the Barclay tableland and along the Victoria River, as that country is equal to the best in any part of the world for breeding, growing, and the fattening of stock. Away from the coastal regions the conditions are particularly attractive, and not only do stock thrive, but the white settlers are particularly healthy. It is wrong for people to decry that great country, and to say that it is unfit for occupation by white people, because, during my experience, I have seen men develop to a remarkable extent and suffer less from prevailing complaints than those in other parts of the Commonwealth. The Government could render great assistance by putting down additional bores on the stock routes,- and I am gla’d it is the intention of the Government to proceed along those lines. What is really needed is security of tenure, ‘ long leases, and reasonable rentals, which average at present about 2s. per square mile. Although my father made a success of his work in the Territory, he was for thirty years battling against what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, and was for many years losing large sums of money. The tenure which the South Australian Government granted was for forty-two years at a rental of 2s. per square mile, and pastoralists need favorable conditions, because it is only men with a lion heart who can possibly develop the country. Doubtless the time will come when there will be increased transport facilities, a larger population, and improved means of communication, when the progress should be marked and the development would then proceed as it has in other parts of the Commonwealth. I am glad the Minister for Home and Territories emphasized in his speech that particular consideration would be given to the pastoral industry.
May I draw honorable senators’ attention to the fact that it was not many years ago that the press of Australia, and the Melbourne press particularly, ridiculed the idea of wheat being successfully grown in the north-west of Victoria, which is known as our Mallee country? It was said that it was useless con- ‘ structing railways, or conserving water there; but, notwithstanding the decided opinions expressed by some who were considered competent to judge, our Mallee lands are now producing wheat to an extent that was never then dreamed of. The development of the Mallee country was largely due to the lion-hearted efforts of that great optimist, Mr. E. H. Lascelles, who said the Mallee would eventually become a smiling wheat-field. I know the Mallee country, and can recall the time when land was sold at½d. per acre - land which is now worth from £6 to £7 per acre. The construction of railways, the conservation and distribution of water, and the provision of means of communication has made the country one of the richest provinces we possess. Although most people said that Mr. Lascelles was a dangerous optimist, and would be ruined, subsequent events have proved that he was right.
– In dealing with the leases in the Northern Territory, . the honorable senator refrained from touching upon one important point-
– I have not finished yet. We must encourage the pastoral industry, and it would be absurd to suggest that the Territory should be subdivided into small areas for agricultural pursuits or closer settlement. I trust that, before very long, the wonderful Barclay tableland will be carrying large numbers of sheep, and that the wool-growing industry will thrive, but first consideration must be given to cattle raising. On the less attractive coastal country, the risks incurred in consequence of cattle tick can be overcome by crossbreeding and inoculation. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) said that large areas were locked up, and I frankly admit that many of the leases are unnecessarily large. Our lease comprised 2,000 square miles, but I consider that 1,000 square miles is sufficient.
– How much did you occupy?
– Most of it; but our neighbour, who had 10,000 square miles, and who did not occupy one-tenth of it, did not employ one-fourth of the labour we did.
– The low rentals enable lessees to keep the land idle.
– I am in favour of reasonable tenures being granted, and the areas in some instances being reduced ; but when the conditions generally are under consideration, I trust the Minister will seek the advice of practical men, who will support my contention that it is necessary to have a long tenure at a low rental.
– How many years have the leases to run?
– The period varies from twelve to twenty-two years.
– How much of the Territory is suitable for sheep raising?
– The bulk of the Barclay tableland, and if a railway were constructed from the Territory to Camooweal it would be of great advantage. During the 1902 drought Queensland lost about 9,000,000 sheep, which could have been saved if there had been railway communication, because at that time the grass was knee high on the tableland, and there was an abundance of water. There were also thousands of fat cattle inthe Territory at that time which could not be moved owing to the absence of railway facilities.
– The wild dogs would be a considerable menace to sheep breeders.
– Not on the tableland. I know that on the eastern, and -western boundaries the wild dogs are very troublesome, but sheep are not raised in that part of the country.
– There are very few dogs in the open country.
– Very few, hut in the timbered country towards the ranges where the country is unsuitable for sheep raising, they are numerous. Magnificent horses are bred on the Barclay tableland, and there are also great possibilities in connexion with ‘ the production of cotton. It is pleasing to know that the Minister acknowledges that the pastoral industry has been able to make some progress without any assistance from the Government. Large sums have been spent in an endeavour to develop the mining industry in the Territory, but I do not know whether the possibilities in that direction are very great. There has also ‘ been considerable wasteful expenditure on experimental farms at Batchelor, where it cost more to clear the land than it is likely to be worth in 200 years. Vestey Brothers, who have invested a very large amount of capital in the Territory, and who were by far the largest employers of white labour, have not had a fair deal, and the wharfage accommodation, for instance, which should have been provided for them at Port Darwin, has not been made available. It is pleasing, however, to note that the Government intend to improve the facilities in that direction, as that will be one means of assisting the industry. It is a calamity to realize that an important firm such as Vestey Brothers, who’ have spent millions fighting the American Meat Trust, have been so unfairly treated that their works are now closed down. Tho Government have given them some consideration; but owing to the labour difficulties at Port Darwin, i’t has been impossible for them to carry on. I implore the Minister to take a firm hand in dealing with the- extremists there, and not to Allow a few Bolsheviks to domina’te the situation.
– They contributed to that to a large extent by the want of backbone in the early days.
– That has been said, hut their representatives have taken a very active part in the development of the pastoral industry in the Territory. I do not think that the treatment of Dr. Gilruth, when he was Administrator of the Northern Territory, was fair. In my opinion he was a very good Administrator. I regard the present Administrator as a good man, who is endeavouring to administer an awful situation. His report, published this morning, discloses a. chaotic state of affairs in the Territory. I exhort the Government to get hold of these scallawags and Bolsheviks, and to take them out of the country. They are giving the Territory a very bad advertisement, not only here, but throughout the Empire.
– That condition of affairs has gone, and many of those people have gone. The report published this morning is for the year 1920-21.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance of that. I have faith in my country, and even in the Northern Territory, and I want to see it developed.
– The powers that the Administrator asked for to deal with these people have been given.
– I am pleased to hear it. There is one way in which development can be fostered, and that is by the provision of wireless. At the present time it sometimes takes two months to get a mail. The other day I received a letter from, a friend in the Territory, and it was exactly two months in reaching me. I think relief can be given to the settlers, and encouragement to the brave pioneers who are developing the country, by the provision of wireless and aviation .
I shall not worry honorable senators much longer, but 1 notice in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that “ the works in connexion with the construction of Canberra are in progress in accordance with the reports of the Advisory Committee.” Later it is stated that “fur-, ther proposals will be submitted to you to secure the more rapid development and settlement of the Federal Capital and Territory.” “I am not going to mines matters regarding that. I think it is a criminal waste of the taxpayers’ money even to consider the expenditure of £500,000 away out in the bush at Canberra. I do not brins- this forward in any parochial way. I would be quite willing to have the Capital in Sydney next week. As proof of my sincerity in this matter, 1 may mention that, personally, I would benefit by the removal oxf the Seat of Government to Canberra, because the only freehold land that I own, outside of a small farm in Victoria, is within 100 miles of where the Federal Capital will be. That land would be increased in value by the removal of tha Seat of Government to Canberra. There has been no1 great public request or demand for the expenditure of this money. Honorable senators from New South Wales have promised the people, in their election campaign, that they would get Canberra built at once. I take off my hat to them as being very hard battlers; but it will be £500,000 absolutely wasted. There are far more pressing necessities than the expenditure of that money at Canberra. We might spend it usefully on immigration.
– The removal must come.
– Yes; it “must come,” just as the South Australians say the North-South railway “must come.”
– Surely the honorable senator would put us on a different footing.
– I cannot see that New South Wales should be put on any glorified footing as compared with South Australia. What justification have we for squandering millions of the people’s money on the building of a bush capital ? My vote will always be given against it. It is unnecessary. I would vote to-morrow for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Sydney, but I shall never vote for the expenditure of a large sum of money at Canberra. I object to that expenditure, especially at the present time, when the Government requires such am enormous amount of money for developmental works and immigration.
I do not wish to enter into all the details of the Governor-General’s Speech. I agree with the Government in many of its points, and trust that the programme outlined will be carried out. There is one part of the Speech which seems to me to be of very great importance to Australia and the Empire, and is, in fact, a vital matter at the present time. I congratulate Senator Pearce, as other honorable senators have done, upon the honour he achieved in taking part, as Australia’s representative at the Washington Conference, in bringing about such a desirable change in the attitude of the nations towards one another. The Conference was one of the greatest efforts that have ever been made, as far as history informs us, to bring the nations closer together, and to give them a better and clearer understanding of one another. I think future generations, if they understand the spirit of the present time and the outlook of the nations, will marvel at the work of that Conference. At the time Senator Pearce was appointed as Australia’s representative, there was a great deal of pessimism expressed, and there was some criticism of the Conference as a waste of time. The result, however, has been very gratifying. Apart from the good feeling that has been created among the nations, an immense saving of money has been made in the cost of building warships and other armaments. There is also a great saving in human labour,- which “will be turned from destructive efforts into avenues of production. Australia’s saving in that direction will help greatly to develop our resources, and to bring us up to that stage which Senator Guthrie, in a very interesting and eloquent way, has put before us. In the minds of a great many people, Japan occupied a prominent position at that Conference. At times it appeared that she would block the way, and there was doubt about her ultimate action. I am very pleased to say that she finally agreed, with the other nations, to carry out the programme laid down at the Conference. As an honorable senator said, Australia is close to millions of people whose natural increase by births each year is greater than the whole population of Australia. We always seem to have in our minds the idea that while we have a huge unpopulated continent in Australia, we have a great deal to be afraid of in Japan. There is some truth in that view ; but, personally, my misgivings are not so great as those of many other people. Before Japan went to war. with Russia, the Asiatic nations were looked upon rather as contemptible by the Western nations, but Japan’s effort in defeating Russia put her in a different position. She rose in the estimation of Asiatics to such an extent that she now puts herself forward as the mouthpiece of what is called the East. I think it was Great Britain’s recognition of her after the war that helped her to gain the position she occupies at the present time. I think a great deal of the unrest in the East has arisen as a result of the Japanese defeat of the Russians. That gave Japan a spirit of military aggression, and out of that she has developed wonderfully commercially. In the eyes of the nations at the present time, Japan stands more or less in the position in which Germany stood in Europe before the war. That, to Australia, is always somewhat of a menace, and no one can shut his eyes to it. But, taking that view of Japan, and looking at the East as a whole, it seems to me that there is another aspect of the question that’ ought to be considered. The situation is serious and important from an Empire point of view. “While we belong to the Empire, we have to consider Empire problems; in fact, we cannot escape them, and it is absolutely necessary that we should try to understand them. Recently we have had from India two visitors, who have put. before the people of Australia important facts relating to the people of that country. I refer to Mrs. Annie Besant and the Right Honorable Srinivasa S”astri, and I do not know two people who are more gif ted and qualified to place the position before us. Mr. Sastri came as the guest of the Government, and I trust that the Government will, at the earliest possible date, carry out the agreement arrived at by the Imperial Conference in reference to the few Indian subjects - numbering, I believe, under 2,000 - who are in the Commonwealth. These Indians were settled here before Federation. Our laws are now prohibitive of Indians settling here in any particular occupation, but in the case of those people who have been settled for years, and most of whom are married, it is only just, fair, and right that they should enjoy the full rights and privileges of citizens of the British Empire and the Commonwealth. These people are widely scattered throughout Australia and are not in any way a menace to the Commonwealth. It is only just that they should be given the full privileges which citizens of Australia enjoy. From a democratic point of view it is right that people in this country, fitted to be in it and outside of lunatic asylums, should enjoy the same privileges as the rest of the com.munity.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Indian demand will end at that?
– I am concerned about doing justice to these people who are in
Australia at the present time. We shall be able to take care of ourselves should further demands be made in the future. Our laws at present are very strict in preventing the admittance of Indians to the Commonwealth, and I am personally very strongly in favour of the policy which would keep Australia a white man’s land. This does not prevent me from desiring that justice should be done to Indians who are already in the Commonwealth. We should be just to those people regardless of demands which may be made in the future. The Commonwealth was pledged by our delegates at the Conference to which I have referred to give these people citizen rights, but the carrying out of the pledge has been delayed. To concede what they ask to these people would, in my opinion, have a good effect in India, which is a part of the great Empire to which we belong. It might be said that from the point of view of numbers, India is the Empire, because she has a population of 320,000,000. In doing this little act of justice to Indians within the Commonwealth we shall please the Government of India. Although the people of India consider that we are rather selfish in shutting them out, and are naturally more or less inclined to resent the slight we put upon them, they have, through their mouthpieces, admitted that Australia has the fullest right to develop her destiny according to Australian ideals. They do not challenge our right to preserve a White Australia, but they claim that they should be able to exercise the same power within their own country that we exercise in Australia. The intelligent people of India are claiming merely the right to govern India within the Empire, and to pass their own laws as we do in Australia.
– Would the honorable senator give them such rights at this stage, shall I say, of their civilization?
– That is rather an unfortunate phrase for the honorable senator to use in view of the degree of civilization that has long existed in India.
– I refer to the fact that the great mass of the people are uneducated.
– I admit that, but the intelligent people of India are not, I think, proposing a constitution which would give uneducated people in that country the suffrage as we have it in Australia.
– What would be the proportion of uneducated to educated people in India?
– I could not say. That is their business and not ours. I do say, however, that from the point of view of the Empire, and from the Australian point of view, it would be wise to concede to India full status as a country within the Empire.
– It would be very unwise for Australia to object to that.
– I would not interfere with it, but I would not urge it at the present time.
– We might take into consideration the way in which the British got into India. India has at times been conquered, but with the exception of the British, all the nations who have gone into India from the time of Alexander have been absorbed in the population of India, and have become Indians. The British is the only conquering race that has held power over the people of India and has not become one with the Indian people. All acquainted with the history of the British occupation of India will agree, that while the British have done a great deal of good in that country, they have also, in their ignorance, done a great deal of evil. We have to consider now that Indians have absorbed Western ideals of government. Macaulay warned the House of Commons that in making English the official language in India, the result would be that the people would absorb Western ideals of government, and the day would come when they would make the very demand which the people of India are making to-day. Honorable senators will agree that Mr. Sastri, who delivered a magnificent speech in the Queen’s Hall and many eloquent speeches throughout Australia, is a very fine example of what the educated Indian really is to-day, and they will be prepared to admit that with India in the hands of such men and the class to which he belongs, the Empire has nothing to fear.
– Does he represent as many people in India as are represented by Ghandi?
– Ghandi represents only what may be called the disaffected section. His power arose from his association with the Khalifate movement to resist the expulsion of the Turks from Europe. The Mohammedans strongly resented efforts made to deprive them of the control of what they regard as sacred edifices in Adrianople, Constantinople, and other places. The Mohammedans have used Ghandi to support their movement, and Ghandi has been using the Mohammedans to bring about reforms in India.
– Has the honorable senator read.The RisingTide of Colour?
– No, but I have heard of the book. On the surface it would certainly appear that Ghandi had a very large following.
– Much stronger than Sastri.
– That is not so.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I think I am correct in saying that it was the more ignorant sections of the population who were followers of Ghandi, although many members of the intelligent classes supported him enthusiastically in his attempts to secure self-government for India. It is difficult for a person with Western ideas to realize the position that Ghandi occupied in his own country. He was not only a political leader, but in the eyes of the ignorant people he was more a religious teacher who appealed to their emotions. He promised them that if they followed his instructions, which were quite of a peaceful nature, selfgovernment would be obtained at a much earlier date than if they were guided by the party led by others, such as Mr. Sastri. He told the people that, if they adopted passive resistance, success would be achieved on a certain date. When that time came, however, India was no nearer self-government than before. Ghandi continued to make excuses, but the people still believed in him. He was, of course, a mystic, and an idealist, who believed that by a certain mode of life certain results could be obtained. He became rather dangerous. He was really a Tolstoi anarchist. Finally he asked the people to pay no more taxes to the Government, and to boycott the British in every way. Lord Reading was exceedingly patient in his treatment of Ghandi, whose imprisonment was demanded, and I believe that the patience exercised on that occasion saved the situation. When Ghandi was put into gaol - I think for a term of six years - an uprising was ex pected; but, let it be said to the credit of the people of India, that therewas not the slightest trouble anywhere. It is one of the most extraordinary happenings in history that once Ghandi was put out of the way the people settled down peacefully to their ordinary occupations. Now the whole movement has collapsed, and India to-day is behind the party led by Mr. Sastri and others.
India is the mother of the Aryan race, which goes back thousands of years. With the exception of China, few nations can compare with her to-day in civilization, literature, and art. A great many people, ignorant of the history of the East, imagine the Indians to be a race of heathens who worship idols. I make bold to say that Western literature, with which I claim to be fairly well acquainted, is merely a copy of that which has gone before. There are sufficient educated people in India to take over the government of the country according to Indian ideas. The people would be loyal to the Empire because their one desire is to remain within the Empire so long as they are allowed to govern themselves in their own way. It would be an excellent thing if our Imperial statesmen would grant India the additional measure of self-government it desires, and stand by the country while it is learning to govern itself.I think Mr. Sastri isa very good sample of the present-day Indian legislator. The British are the only race who have gone to India without being absorbed ‘in the population. Despite what Kipling has said about the differences between East and West, I think the British nation is destined to be the bridge by which the East will go to the West, and the West to the East. In this way I believe we shall bring about one of the greatest Empires the world has ever seen. India is not an infant in its civilization. According to its literature, it furnished the race that populated Egypt. Egypt rose and fell, and from its borders sprang the people who occupied Persia. Persia in its turn rose and fell. This is the same race that populated Greece, and afterwards, Rome. Rome sent people to England; so it appears that in our present dealings with India we are going back to the mother of the race from which we have sprung.
There seems to be a Divine arrangement that the British should go back to the East, and co-operate with the people from which we have our origin, because India is the mother of the Aryan race.
– Have you sufficient scientific proof of that?
– Yes. The Aryans can easily be distinguished from the Mongolians.
– The beginning of the Aryan race takes us into the dim past. It is questionable whether the Aryans did not come from Europe, and then swing back.
– That is mere hypothesis.
– That may be said of the honorable senator’s contention.
– That is not so. The West does not like to be taught by the East. Eastern literature clearly proves up to the hilt to any impartial mind that the Indians are the root of the Aryan race. Europe was a mass of swamps and forests when India enjoyed a high civilization. If India and the rest of the British Empire were linked up it would make the greatest League of Nations that could possibly be secured. This would be the mould in which the real League of Nations could be formed. The British are the only conquering race that has gone to any country and helped its people to govern themselves. It must be remembered that we do not hold India by the power of the sword.
– Is that not largely because Indians themselves recognise the advantages of British rule?
– Yes, they recognise that British rule has given them more stability and justice from the highest to the lowest. It is because of this that the vast majority of the people of India wish to remain within the Empire.
– Would you not expect to find that feeling expressed in the vernacular press?
– Only a certain section of the vernacular is agitating for separation from the British Empire.
– In any case, if we need local evidence that the press does not represent the people, we have only to remember the attitude of a section of the press in the Commonwealth towards this Parliament.
– Yes. If one were guided by the tone of some of the Australian newspapers, and especially the Melbourne press,one would have a very false impression of the institutions of this country. The same may be said of a certain section of the Indian vernacular press, which certainly does not represent the majority of the Indian public opinion. Agitation is, of course, being carried on with the object of securing certain reforms.
– Does not Mr. Sastri represent only a small proportion of Indian public opinion?
– In comparison with the numbers of people in India, yes; but he certainly represents the great majority of the educated people of India, and it is they who sway Indian public opinion and desire to remain within the Empire. Mr. Sastri is well known as an intensely loyal Imperialist. The Liberal party, to which he belongs, is intensely anxious that India shall keep within the Empire. Only a small section of the people are making a demand for separation. When the position of the Sultan as the head of the Mohammedan religion, a religious question about which the Mohammedans of India are very much concerned, is settled, many of the present difficulties will disappear. The Mohammedans of India, who enjoy a great deal of freedom under British rule, have an exalted opinion of the Sultan, whereas Mohammedans under his immediate rule hold a somewhat different view. But once this question is settled - and it must be settled before long - the great body of the Mohammedans in India will be intensely loyal to the British Empire.
I know there is a feeling in Australia that if concessions are granted India will break away from the British Empire, but the intellectuals of India, and they are the people who really count, are not in favour of separation. I am satisfied that when this outstanding religious question is settled, and selfgoverning powers are granted to India, that country will take her true position as an integral part of the Empire, and the world at large will benefit immensely. From an Australian point of view, it is important that the present difficulties should be settled. Japan to-day is looked upon as the leading power of the East, but if India were restored to what I regard as her rightful place, as an integral part of the Empire, she would stand in the East as the true mouthpiece of Asia.
– You mean a united India.
– It would be a united India, because all the princes are intensely loyal to the Crown. None has any desire to break away from the Empire. The only thing necessary now is the restoration of self-governing power to India.
– What do you mean by self-governing?
– I mean the same form of government that we enjoy. India could then work out her own salvation in the same way as we have done.
– Do you not know that the great majority of the people of India are ignorant and not fit for self-government.
– I know that there are very many ignorant Australian people also, but we do not deny to them the right of the franchise on that account. In every Democracy a section of the people isutterly unfitted for the vote. Everybody knows that. It is probable that there are more of the illiterate and unfit class in India than elsewhere, but I repeat if India were granted selfgovernment, the intellectuals would be sufficiently influential to guide the people along safe paths to national salvation. The intention of the Sastri party is to start at the bottom, restoring the franchise to villages, and then extending the principle to the people of the larger towns and cities, and finally granting to them the parliamentary franchise. Just where they are going to draw the line I do not know, but no doubt that difficulty will be overcome.
– You are not contending that there was unity in India prior to British rule?
– No. I said that British rule brought to India many privileges and unity, and that it is because of these advantages that the better class of Indians desire now to keep within the Empire. With a united India within the Empire, we need have no fear of danger from Japan, because India would then become the mouthpiece of the East.
– With a right to her people to come in here?
– No. India, instead of Japan, would be the mouthpiece for the the expression of the Eastern views, and therefore the safety of Australia would be to some material extent assured, because India, as an integral part of the Empire, would represent about 320,000,000 of people, and would be the ruling Power in the East.
– Have you ever been there?
– If you had you would know that a great deal of what you are saying is not correct.
– Perhaps I know a good deal more about the Indian position than the honorable gentleman, who, I take it, has been there. It is not necessary to go to India to understand the Indian position.
– But your views are most extraordinary.
– Many globe-trotters come to Australia, and after spending a few weeks here write a book about the country, though, as a matter of fact, they know nothing about it.
– Apparently that is the kind of book you have been reading about India.
– It is possible I have read many books which the honorable senator did not know were in existence.
– That is highly probable, judging by your remarks.
– If India were restored to her true position Australia would have a true friend in the East. With India as an integral part of the Empire, Australia and India would be bound together, and there would be a mutual obligation to protect one another’s interests if Japan at any time menaced Australia. But, of course, I have not the slightest fear that Japan will ever do that, and in my case I am satisfied that no white nation would allow Japan to interfere in the affairs of Australia. I believe that the great Republic across the Pacific, about which we have heard so much of late, would take a hand. As a self-governing Dominion, India would be able to bring to the Empire many things that it lacks, and Australia would be secure to develop along her own lines those portions of the continent that at present are to some extent neglected. Senator Guthrie this afternoon spoke of the Northern Terri tory problem. I know a great deal about Queensland, the State I represent, and I believe that if we were freed of the burden of too much expenditure for defence purposes we could in time satisfactorily develop our great resources. In the interests of our personal safety we should do our utmost to help India occupy such a position, so that the constant dread of being overrun by people from the East would be removed, and we would then be safe within the confines of the Empire. As an Empire, we have a great duty to perform, and one which we have not yet commenced to realize. I can see a very great future before us, and I only wish I could command the language to express what I believe.
Certain Australian products could be marketed in India, and there is a splendid opportunity of an interchange of commodities between the two countries. From time to time, the Government are endeavouring to market our produce in America and other countries; but I am a firm believer in trade within the Empire. Although sentiment and flag-waving are supposed to be aids to civilization, trade between the nations is a greater factor. There are millions of people in India, including Anglo-Indians, who would consume many of our products, and it is the duty of the Government to see in what direction trade can be extended.
Interesting references have been made to the cotton industry, and to the possibility of its expansion in Queensland. The question of immigration has also been fully discussed, and I can indorse the remarks of Senator Guthrie, who said that large areas suitable for cotton production are available in Queensland. We have been informed that within five or six months after the land has been cleared and planted with cotton, returns are forthcoming, and the profit, after paying all expenses, varies from £12 to £15 per acre. What better avenue could we find for the profitable employment of those who are coming to Australia from overseas than cotton-growing? It is what can be regarded as a family industry, as the picking, which is easy work, can be undertaken by the planter’s family. The work is easy and healthy, because it is done in the open air.
– Is the profit of £12 to £15 per acre assessed on the basis of family labour?
– No. Little personal exertionis required after the cotton has been planted.
– It has been said that in Queensland, where these yields were obtained, nearly the whole of the cotton was planted by family labour.
– That may be soin isolated instances; but it is an industry we should encourage, because the labour problem in Australia is difficult to solve. We have set up a certain standard of living, and reference is frequently made to normal times, but I have never heard “ normal times “ clearly defined. Senator Guthrie is opposed to the unification of the railway gauges being undertaken until times are normal, and I suppose one has to infer from that that the cost of production is coming down.
– I am afraid that means that normal times will never arrive.
– No. Although it has been said that cotton production can be largely assisted with family labour, I do not wish it to be thought for a moment that I believe in members of a settler’s family indulging in the drudgery which is experienced on some dairy farms, where little ones have to rise at 3. o’clock in the morning and milk seven or eight cows before breakfast, and’ then perhaps snatch a little rest before they face the duties and responsibilities of the day. After the land is cleared, and the cotton planted, the services of the older members of the family could be utilized in picking the cotton, particularly during the holidays, and, as it would really be healthy exercise without degrading the children in any way, no harm would result. It is only a question of plucking a boll of cotton from the plant and placing it in a basket or bag.
– It would become very popular with the children if the cotton-fields were to become their playground.
– I do not know if the Minister is serious or not.
– I am endeavouring to ascertain if the cotton industry is to be built up on child labour or not.
– Certainly not. There is a lot of sentiment concerning child labour; and those who have read of the conditions which prevailed in factories years ago know how damnable they were. I know the slavery which prevails on dairy farms,because I have had experience; but I want it to be clearly understood that similar conditions would not prevail in picking cotton, because it is a healthy occupation performed in the open air, and lasts for only a few weeks.
-For three or four months.
– It depends, of course, on the quantity to be gathered. I am not advocating that the industry should be established with the assistance of child labour; but I know that the average child on a farm can undertake light duties during the school vacation without in any way interfering with its health or freedom. If we are going to settle the Commonwealth with industrious men and women, the children should recognise their duty to their parents and to the State. Certain precautions would, of course, have to be taken to see that the rights of children were not interfered with, because a boy or a girl cannot grow to healthy manhood or womanhood without a certain amount of freedom and recreation.
Unfortunately we have at present thousands of unemployed and there is nothing more disheartening to any man who has a wife and family to support than to have to unsuccessfully hawk his labour. It is because of the difficulty experienced by a large number of unskilled workmen in securing employment that I am in favour of the important work of unifying the gauges being undertaken. Much of the discontent and bitterness which prevails at present would be avoided if large reproductive works of this character were undertaken. Between Brisbane and Perth a passenger has to change trains no less than eight times, and every effort should be made to facilitate the speedy transport of passengers and goods. It has been said during the course of the debate that cattle have to be untrucked to bewatered; but at some of the break-of-gauge stations no watering facilities are provided.
– Yes, at Wallangarra and Albury.
SenatorREID. - There are some stock paddocks at Wallangarra, but there is very little water available, because supplies for the engines have to be carried from Tenterfield.
I trust that my remarks concerning India will be fully considered by honorable senators from an Empire point of view. They may be idealistic and optimistic, but they express my beliefs. Although we are not directly affected, we should consider this question impartially, and realize that we have something to gain as well as something to give to that great nation. We can decide what we like, and India realizes that we have, as a self-governing Dominion, the power to do what we will. I have always been in favour of a White Australia, and whatever the future holds in store for us I believe we are working on right lines in an endeavour to preserve this country for people of the British race.
– There are two or three matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech to which I shall refer; but apart from those I do not intend to speak at any length.
Senator Pearce, in the beginning of his speech, thanked honorable senators for their complimentary references to his work at Washington. Several speakers have since alluded to that work, but I am not going to allow that to deprive me of the pleasure of expressing my appreciation of the success of the honorable senator’s mission. The results of that Conference are of vital interest to Australia. I think it would be difficult to over-estimate the value to the Commonwealth of an agreement by which peace is assured to us in the Pacific for a period of at least ten years. I would also like to congratulate the honorable senator on the honour that has been conferred upon him by his appointment as a member of His Majesty’s Privy Council. Senator Pearce is one of several men in the public life of Australia who have, by their merit, ability, and application raised themselves from obscurity to positions of the highest importance in the State. I feel that their success should be an incentive to the younger men who have ability coupled with a laudable ambition to serve their country.
I came into this Senate as a supporter of the Government, and I am reminded that the Government led by Mr. Hughes has been in office for over five years. They have been five years of crisis - five of the most difficult years in the history, not only of Australia, but of the world. That statement may need some qualification. So far as Australia is concerned those years have been difficult for those in charge of the government of the country and, more particularly since the armistice, for those who guide and control our trade and commerce. Apart from the anxiety we all felt on account of the war, and apart, too, from the more personal and poignant anxiety felt by those who had sons and relatives at the Front, those years were not difficult for the great majority of our people, because work was plentiful and wages were good. Apparently our people were never more prosperous than during the war years; but there is no doubt that, during that period, the Government had to deal with problems very much more difficult and intricate than any of its predecessors in office had to face, and since the coming of peace our commercial men and bankers have had to grapple with problems of falling markets and financial stringency. Australia has come through the crisis remarkably well, and although we have certainly been blessed with a succession of good seasons, I, with my friend and colleague, Senator Senior, feel that the Government is entitled to take to itself considerable credit for having safely piloted the ship of State through very perilous seas. We have made a number of mistakes, but, considering all the circumstances, they were inevitable. We have now got into smoother water. We have - I am almost afraid to say it - simmered down somewhat to the normal. I feel now that it is the duty of the Government, and of Parliament, to retrace our steps to some extent, and, if possible, to undo some of the mistakes that have been made.
We bought ships, built ships, and entered into the shipping business during the war. We all remember the circumstances. At the time the action was justifiable. In 1916-17 we were in a state bordering on panic with regard to shipping. Each day we saw in the newspapers long lists of ships sunk by enemy submarines. It seemed more than probable that Australia would be isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. and would be unable to: ship her products to oversea, markets. America was in a very similar position, and, with, that customary energy of hers, set to work to build ships. America spent, I believe, something like £800,000,000 on her mercantile marine, but she is now paving the way to handing over these ships to a private company or private companies. I believe it would be a wise policy for Australia to follow suit. There is a paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech in reference to that subject. It says that the Government intend to bring in a Bill to make provision for handing over the Commonwealth Line to independent control and management. With that I agree, if we are going to retain the Line. It has been stated that the Government intend to dispose of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. Those mills are a highly payable proposition, but I agree with disposing of them, because I feel that it is not a right policy for the Government to trade in competition with its citizens, and I think, too, that it should restrict itself to the function of government, without engaging in trading. Why, however, dis. pose of a payable proposition, and retain one that is not, and never can be, payable? I believe that the five “Bay” class of steamers have cost something like £1,400,000 each. That statement was made in the press, and. has not been contradicted. Shipping men have informed me that for the first few years 10 per cent, must be written off the ships for depreciation. That .represents £140,000 a year. Interest will account for another £84,000. Each of these ships, therefore, will, have to earn £224,000 a year to meet charges for interest and depreciation alone, and, in addition, there will be other charges for wages, salaries, fuel, and so on. Competent authorities state that unless the vessels are written down to something like their present value it will be ‘impossible for the Line to show a profit. Up to the present we have had, as far as I know, no statement of affairs with regard to the Line, but I believe that such a statement is promised shortly. I feel that Parliament ought not to be called .upon to deal with any legislation affecting the Line before we have had a full statement regarding its finance.
There is another aspect of the matter that ought to be considered. I believe it would not be wise to antagonize outside shipping companies. I do not think we can depend wholly upon our own Line. British ship-owners have certainly catered remarkably well in years past for the Australian trade. They experimented with frozen produce, in which direction they spent a large amount of money. We know that prior to the war they were doing everything that waa necessary to carry the produce of Australia to the markets overseas. Recent events ought to warn us off the shipping business. We know what transpired in Melbourne and Hobart regarding the crews, and I am of opinion, that that condition of things will continue. It is notorious that the unions make a kind of “ set” upon any Government enterprise. It has been Suggested that the very threat of a Governmentowned Line is liable to prevent ship-owners building for the Australian trade. This is perhaps the most serious menace of all, and it is not a risk that we can afford to take. For my part, I feel that the Government would be wise, considering all the circumstances, if it decided, eventually at any rate, to dispose of the Line.
I want to say a word or two with regard to the question of ‘arbitration. Senator Earle, in speaking of it some days ago, dealt with it at great length, but I do not think he would have stated what was the intention of the Government if I had not made an interjection. He said that the Government were prepared bo endeavour to amend the Commonwealth Arbitration Act with a view to limiting to some extent the ambit of the Federal Arbitration Court. The Government says it wants to do it either by an alteration of the Constitution or by an arrangement with the States. I find that in the Conference of Federal and State Ministers held about nine months ago, an arrangement was made between the Commonwealth and the States. I do not want to read the whole of the agreement, but certainly there seemed to be a unanimous opinion amongst members of the Conference regarding what was to be done. Having got into a position where the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Premiers of the States- were in entire agreement, why has nothing been done ? I believe that the Prime Minister agreed to have a Bill drafted so that the matter could be dealt with before the end of the last session’ of Parliament.
– I think a draft of the Bill has been sent to the States,but none of them acted. Most of them intimated that they would not act. The leading opponent was the State which the honorable senator represents.
– I very much doubt that. I know that the Premier of that State expressed to me his disappointment that something was not done. I am not an opponent of arbitration. I have always been in favour of tribunals of some sort to regulate hours, wages, and conditions in industry. I advocated the establishment ofWages Boards in my State, and for something like ten years I served on a Board. I would not for any consideration go back to the old time when there were no tribunals of any kind to deal fairly with employers and employees. I do not think that the general public of Australia would permit such a thing. I believe our Arbitration Court is cumbersome in the extreme. It is eminently costly, and it has, on the whole, failed to prevent strikes and similar disturbances. Senator Drake-Brockman, speaking the other day on this question, showed that in the last five years something like 17,500,000 working days had been lost, in spite of our legislation to prevent strikes. I feel that the best thing we can do is to limit the ambit of the Court so that it will deal with purely Federal industries, such as mining, shearing, and shipping, while leaving all other matters to be settled by the States themselves. If we do that, we shall be doing far more good from an arbitration point of view than we are doing at the present time.
I would like to say a word or two with regard to the North-South railway. I am not concerned for the moment as to when that line should be built, but I am particularly concerned as to the attitude of the Government towards the agreement, entered into between South Australia and the Commonwealth. Recently the Public Works Committee went through the Northern Territory, and then crossed into Queensland and took evidence from people there as to the advisability of building the line through Queensland and New South Wales territory. The people of South Australia want to know what good purpose can be served by taking such evidence when there is an agreement between that
State and the Commonwealth which sets out quite clearly that the line must be built within the Territory to connect with a point on the northernborder of South Australia. There was a report from the Commonwealth Bank published a short time ago in which there appeared a map of what was called the proposed route of the north -south railway. It would be interesting to know on whose authority that map was published. I know, further, that quite recently an officer of the Commonwealth Railway Department has been in offices in Melbourne begging persons to go before the Public Works Committee in Melbourne, and give evidence in favour of the Queensland route. In view of these facts it is certainly due to South Australia that we should receive from the Government some definite statement as to the way in which they view the agreement into which the Commonwealth entered with South Australia so far as the route of the northsouth railway is concerned.
– Did I understand the honorable senator to say that an officer of the Commonwealth Railway Department has been doing what he mentioned ?
– The honorable senator understood me correctly to say that an officer of the Commonwealth Department has been in an office or offices in Melbourne requesting people to go before the Public Works Committee and give evidence in favour of the Queensland route.
– Well, that is as hot as mustard.
– I think it is even a little bit hotter.
I wish now to say something on the matter of taxation. The Government tell us in the Opening Speech that something will have to be done in this regard, but just what is to be done we do not know at present. I hope that steps will be taken to in some way simplify our taxation methods. Some little time ago I received the second report of the Taxation Commission. I have not had time to read it through and grasp all its details, but I should like to direct attention to the following paragraph of the report: -
Almost every witness who addressed himself to this subject pleaded for the introduction of a simple method whereby the taxpayer inexpert in calculations could easily ascertain the rate, and reckon up his liability without engaging professional assistance. The scales of the present Federal Act running into long decimals, and more particularly the geometrical terms of the property rates, were strongly condemned because of their complexity, which was represented as aggravated by the method in which the tax on composite incomes, consisting partly of income from personal exertion and partly from property, is computed. “ It is quite impossible for the average taxpayer in the first place to estimate what his tax is likely to be or to check the assessment as to its accuracy when it eventually comes to hand.” “ I have heard many taxpayers express the view that even if it meant paying a little more in the way of taxation they would prefer to do this, as long as they knew that what they were paying was the correct amount.”
These quotations express the views of a large number of witnesses, some of whom also urged that one rate, simple in application, be used for all individual incomes from whatever source derived.
I am quitesure that that expresses the feeling of people all over Australia. I send in my return to the Taxation Department, and when my assessment is received I do not know whether I am being charged too much or too little, though, of course, I have a shrewd suspicion that I am not being charged too little.
– I have always the feeling that I am being charged too much.
– In view of the financial position of the Commonwealth, and our need for money, I hope that some effort will be made to economize, particularly in connexion with our Taxation Departments. Whether taxation is collected by a State or by the Federal authority, some arrangement should, I think, be made whereby we may have only one tax collector. I think it is stated in the report from which I have quoted that at a Premiers’ Conference a year or two ago Mr. Watt, who was then Treasurer, offered the State Ministers that he would collect their taxes for one-third of what it cost to collect them at the time. Mr. McPherson, the Treasurer of Victoria, made a counter offer to collect Commonwealth Taxation for one-half of what it cost the Commonwealth. Judging by the figures given in the Taxation Commission’s report, itappears to me that the State authorities can do the work much more cheaply than it can be done by the Commonwealth. According to those figures the States collect £18,000,000 in taxation at a cost of something like £260,000, whilst the Commonwealth collects £20,000,000 of taxation at a cost of £513,000.
– The honorable senator should make some allowance for the wider area and the greater number of different classes of people from whom taxation is collected by the Commonwealth.
– That should tell more in favour of the States than of the Commonwealth.
– No; because our exemption is lower than that of the States.
– I grant that the Commonwealth exemption is lower than that of the States, but the Minister should bear in mind that the land tax exemption of the Federal authorityis £5,000, and it is the State Taxation Departments that have to collect taxation from all the small land-owners.
– Even of town and suburban allotments.
– Yes. The State Departments have to collect the small amounts of1s. 8d., 3s. 4d., and so on in the shape of State land tax. I think that if anything there is rather more work cast upon the State Taxation Departments than upon the Federal Department.
Let me add in this connexion that in my opinion more consideration should be shown to taxpayers than they now receive. Last year, according to the statement put forward by the then Treasurer, Sir Joseph Cook, there was taxation outstanding and uncollected to the amount of £7,000,000. One taxpayer told me that he had not received his assessment from the Federal Taxation office. The year passed by without his receiving it. He told me the same thing this year, and I said that he would get his assessment finally I supposed. He got both assessments on the one day, and was then asked to pay his taxation for two years at the same time, and no relief would be extended to him. That, in my opinion, was grossly unfair. He is a man who is not in a very big way of business, and it is decidedly inconvenient for him to have to meet two assessments at the same time.
– He was lucky not to be charged interest on the money.
– Very likely. I feel that some greater consideration should be given in cases of that sort. Representatives from South Australia in this Parliament have had secretaries of brass bands coming to them and making complaints that the Taxation Department now calls upon them to furnish returns, and pay taxation.
– Under the provision made for an entertainments tax?
– No. They are asked to pay income tax. They are required to send in returns of income, and. to estimate the value of their uniforms, stands, instruments, and so on. I regard this is an excess of zeal on the part of the Taxation Department. I understand that this has been done only during the last year, although if it was legal for taxation to be collected from these people in years gone by it should have been collected. I believe it is entirely wrong in principle. Many of these bands are a benefit to the communities in which they are established. They provide healthy recreation for the performers, and are of great use for patriotic and similar movements.
-For which they are paid.
– The payment they receive is only nominal.
– Then they would have no income tax to pay.
– They provide entertainment, and the money they receive is used for the purchase of band instruments, music, uniforms, and so on.
– And the instruments become the property of the corporation of the place in which they are established.
– That is so in some cases. The uniforms, instruments, music, and so on, are valued for taxation purposes as “stock in hand.”
– They should be valued as “instruments of trade.”
– I think the thing is altogether too small, and the taxation of these people should not be continued.
I have noticed that in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, no less than seven Boards of various kinds are mentioned. Some of them are already established, and the establishment of others is contemplated. Some Boards undoubtedly do good work. I thoroughly ap prove, for instance, of what the Customs Tariff Board is doing. It is at present in Adelaide, taking evidence on various matters. I am sure that the fact that the members of the Board go about amongst various sections of the community must have a good effect. I have advised several institutions to go before the Board and make known their complaints. I have advised them that the Tariff Board will go carefully into the matters brought under its notice, and will make such recommendations as it deems fit. In South Australia, representatives of the farming community have appeared before the Board and put their case for a reduction of the duties on agricultural implements. It has been stated, over and over again, that the Tariff is going to ruin, or considerably injure, the primary industries of South Australia. Whether that is so or not remains to be seen, but it must be admitted that we are dependent on the success of our primary industries. If they are not flourishing the secondary industries cannot flourish. In the circumstances, if the Tariff Board goes into the matter and recommends a reduction of duties on implements required by the farming industry, I shall be prepared to support such a recommendation.
I trust we shall have time during the session to deal with most of the matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech and that the proposals it contains, if carried into effect, will be for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
– I think that the Government have no reason to be otherwise than gratified with the general tenor of the speeches delivered on the motion now before the Senate. There have been some honorable senators who, because of differences of opinion, have not seen eye to eye with the Government in all things, but, speaking generally, the Government can congratulate themselves upon the comments made, both as to their administration in the past and their proposals for the future. I should, however, like to refer to one or two matters in connexion with which it appears to me that a representative of the Government should submit something in the nature of a reply to what has been said during the debate.
I think that I need make only one remark regarding the very important matter raised by my namesake, Senator John D. Millen, namely, the Wireless Agreement. In this connexion I need only remind honorable senators that, as stated elsewhere, the Government will not acquiesce in the action taken with regard to the directorate of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. .
Passing from that matter, I should like to say one or two words with reference to what has fallen from the gentleman responsible for one of the most picturesque addresses delivered in this Chamber. I refer to Senator Wilson. First of all, he made some statements that caused me to imagine, for the time being, that I was in Russia, or in some less civilized European country, 120 years , ago. He said that we were sticking up people who applied for passports until they had paid their income tax, and I think he mentioned - although not by name - two specific cases. I can readily conceive that he spoke in all good faith; but I should like him to give me the names, to enable me to look into the cases. In the meantime I can say that the Home and Territories Department does not withhold passports for that reason. As authorized by the Income Tax Assessment Act, the Income Tax Commissioner obtains a list of the people about to depart from Australia, and he requires them either to pay anything they may owe at the time, or satisfy him that they are leaving sufficient assets and sufficient authority for the payment of the taxes falling due.
– Where do they get that list from?
– From the Home and Territories Department. They possibly also ascertain from the shipping companies what people are about to leave Australia; and I can give an assurance that, judging by the experience of the Department, it is necessary to adopt that course. There is what appears to me to be a reasonable business precaution taken for the protection of the revenue of the country.
– There should be such a precaution, and I admitted that in my speech.
– I knew that the honorable senator would come to my way of thinking.
He also had something to say about the cottages erected departmentally at Canberra being huddled together, and being built on insignificant allotments, in defiance of town-planning requirements. I ask honorable senators to recall what is regarded as a reasonable allotment for a workman’s cottage in the magnificent cities of Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney. The areas of the blocks at Canberra run from 9,375 square feet to 11,200 square feet - a little less and a little more than a quarter of an acre. How many of the town allotments in the capital cities have such an area?
– But those cities have not thousands of acres on which to put houses.
– The honorable senator suggested that we were laying the foundations of slums;but I contend that a quarter of an acre is sufficient land for a workman’s cottage. The price of these houses was called into question. The honorable senator wished to judge the price by standards of his own city; but I would point out that prices in Adelaide and Canberra are not comparable. The best answer I can give is to point out that the cottages at Canberra have been built for some little time, and they were completed at a lower price than is tendered for the same class of house to-day. To say that a cottage costs £1,000 at Canberra, and the same class of house can be built in Adelaide for £630, proves nothing. The question is whether it cost the Department more to build it at Canberra some months ago than the price at which private contractors would build it there to-day.
Now I pass on to Senator Vardon, who made a statement which, if correct, is serious. He said that an officer of the Commonwealth Railway Service was going around collecting evidence in favour of one particular route for the north-south railway. If the statement means what it would, on first impression, convey, then it is a case for some inquiry by the Government. But it seems to me that it is possible that an officer has ‘been detailed to gather witnesses, not for one particular route, but on the question of the line generally. Some one has to organize the collection of evidence.
– Do you remember a circular being sent to Ministers some months ago?
– I decline to believe that any one connected with a Government Department would espouse one particular route, and would invite people to give evidence in “favour of that route alone. However, to-morrow I shall try to make myself acquainted with the facts.
Senator Vardon also made reference to the £7,000,000 income tax arrears. I do not know whether he regarded that as a cause for complaint or not, but I do think that those who are disposed to regard it as evidence of laxity -in the Department ought to remember why these arrears were permitted to accumulate. It was ‘because of a desire on the part of the Commissioner to extend consideration to those who were the debtors of the Commonwealth. If the Department had not exercised wise discrimination rather than demand its full pound of flesh at once, hundreds of people would have been ruined.
I now invite consideration of some of the statements made by Senator Guthrie in regard to the limbless soldiers’ pensions. I have frequently refrained from even pointing out the errors in statements affecting the pensions of our soldiers, because, whilst it is quite easy, and in a sense popular, to advocate some additional benefits for them, one is always liable to be misunderstood if he says that some claim or other rests on something which is not a fact; it is assumed that one is wanting in sympathy with these men. I express no opinion at all as to the merits or demerits of the present system, but I wish to put the facts before the Senate. Whether we think the present pensions high enough, or too high, we ought at least to represent fairly what Australia is doing, not only before the people of the Commonwealth, but before the world. When statements are made that seem to indicate that Australia is neglecting its obligations to its men, and is entirely turning its back , on the promises it made, treating those who fought for it with a niggardly hand-
– Nobody says that.
– Every newspaper talks about promises that have not been redeemed. I do not- object to an honorable senator saying that we ought to do more, but I do object to the suggestion being continually made that we are not doing a fair thing to these men. Although Senator Guthrie has explained the matter to me, I am rather under the impression that the House did not catch, as I did not, one very important qualification regarding the amounts which he said had been paid to crippled men. The figures he quoted, and which appeared to me to arrest the attention of the House, as they did my own, he now tells me were those of a bygone Act. As a matter of fact, the rates he quoted are not those prevailing to-day, but those under an Act which has been considerably liberalized.
– I was criticising the Government for the niggardly pensions to the limbless men. L stated what they are getting now, and what the present request of the association is.
– The honorable senator quoted 30s. for a man who had lost three limbs, but I would point out that that man now gets £4.
– I said he was getting 80s. altogether, and I say it is not enough for one who has lost three limbs.
– These figures have been long replaced by more generous ones. When we brought in our first Act, the amount was lower even than that mentioned by the honorable senator, and there was no outcry. It was .then regarded as a fair allowance. Then Parliament liberalized the amount by 50 per cent. Everybody still seemed to think that we were doing a fair thing. Then the Government liberalized the pension again by an increase of 100 per cent. Parliament said it was a generous act, and agreed to it. Again this Government have brought down proposals, which the Parliament has indorsed, to lift the pension to £4. This House accepted the original pension as a fair one. Even that squared with the best pension in the world at the time, and on three occasions we have increased the amount. Although it may be insufficient still, I claim that Parliament has done enough to show that an honest effort has been made to recognise the claims of these men. That effort represents something of which Australia need not be ashamed.
All of these unfortunate men who have had limbs amputated are entitled to become members of the Limbless Soldiers’ Association. Thus those who are engaged pushing the claims of these men, all of whom are not totally incapacitated, are basing their request for increases in pensions running right down from those who have serious amputations to those with what may be regarded as negligible amputations.
– That is not so. The list I handed in to the Minister shows the exact number of those with double amputations, single amputations, and so on.
– The list which the honorable gentleman quoted does not say so. I am stating what has taken place. I am dealing with the position outside. The Limbless Soldiers’ Association embraces not merely those half-dozen with double amputations, but hundreds of others.
– There are not only half-a-dozen double amputations.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– I handed in figures that showed the exact number of amputations. There are hundreds.
– Th ere are not hundreds. When the honorable gentleman speaks of hundreds one may assume that he means five or six hundred, and I say that his figures are quite wrong. Let me show just what is happening. The men who are so badly amputated - for instance, those who have had two legs or two arms off - are getting to-day a maximum pension of £4 per week. A meeting organized on behalf of these people was held in the Sydney Town Hall the other day, and one of the speakers said that men with double amputations got £4 per week, and asked, “Was that sufficient for a man to keep his house and maintain his family upon?” I do not suppose that it was done intentionally, but he was illustrating the case of a man with double amputation, and whose income was stated at £4 a week. Now let me tell the Senate that that man’s income was £4 per week, plus 18s. for his wife, plus 10s. for his first child and 7s. 6d. for subsequent children, or a total of £5 15s. 6d. per week.
That may not be sufficient, but I submit it is wrong to say that the Government are only allowing that man £4 per week for the maintenance of his wife and family when as a matter of fact he is getting £5 15s. 6d. It makes all the difference whether one states the whole of the facts or not. Let me point out, also, that the Government are making other benefits available to these unfortunate men. We have, as honorable senators are well aware, an educational scheme which provides for the children of these returned disabled men. It takes the boys, I think at thirteen years of age, and carries them on through the High Schools, or, if they so desire, they may learn a trade; and if the lad becomes an apprentice, it provides an amount sufficient to keep him during his apprenticeship when, in other circumstances, he might be forced out into the unskilled labour market. These are benefits which should be taken into account when we are considering what this country is doing for its disabled returned soldiers. There is another thing which we do, and that is to provide their dependants with a pension of £2 2s. per week. All this is something that should stand to the credit side of the ledger. Putting these things together, Australia has displayed a sense of justice or generosity, whatever we like to call it, towards these men that, compared with what other countries have done, leaves nothing to be desired. There is one other matter. I denied, by interjection when Senator Guthrie was speaking, that any pensions payments were reduced because of the earnings of a disabled pensioner; I repeat that, and say that the public have not been told the full facts by those who allow their kindly and very commendable sympathies to. champion the cause of these unfortunate men. Senator Guthrie pointed to one particular case. I know it well, because it was quoted from the public platform in Sydney. It was the case of a man who represented, perhaps in a bonâ fide manner, to the doctors of the Repatriation Department that he was entitled to come under this special schedule provided for those who were permanently incapacitated. Now, the Act defines that in this way -
That is a definite instruction which this Parliament, including Senator Guthrie, included in the Act. Now this pensioner, having obtained the special pension, found a week or two later that he could go back to his old job, and earn his old wage, whereupon the Commissioner informed him that he was ineligible for the special pension, and that, therefore, he must fall back on the old basic rate of £2 2s. per week, because he was earning, not merely a negligible portion of his former wage, but the full amount. So it was not the act of the Commissioner that deprived this man of his special pension. It was Parliament itself that stipulated it could not be paid. That man was ineligible because he did not fulfil the conditions which Parliament had laid down as entitling a man to the special pension.
The only other matter I wish to touch on in conclusion is that there are certain anomalies, particularly in regard to the more seriously injured men, and these will be rectified. As honorable senators are aware from the perusal of the Governor-General’s Speech, it is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill to rectify these anomalies, and remove certain defects which experience has disclosed. The Government’s intentions in that regard are clearly set out, and it will not be long, I hope, before I shall be able to bring in a Bill for the consideration of honorable senators. I am sure the Senate will acquit me of any want of sympathy for these unfortunate men, but I do feel that I am entitled to say that we are not neglecting our obligations towards them, but that, on the contrary, they are getting a fair deal. I think it can be said we have discharged our obligation fairly liberally, but that will not prevent us from taking any further action if desirable or necessary.
– As a personal explanation, I would like to say that when the Minister (Senator E.D. Millen) was speaking just now he charged me with having exaggerated the number of men who were suffering from serious disabilities owing to amputation. I said, by way of interjection, that there were hundreds of such cases. The Minister led the Senate to believe that I was wrong, and therefore I wish to give the exact numbers. They are as follows : -
Two-leg amputations below the knee, 30 cases; two-leg amputations above the knee, 28 cases; one-leg amputations and one-arm amputation, 9 cases; one-leg amputation above’ the knee, 613 cases; one-leg amputation below the knee, 1,100 cases; one-arm amputation above the elbow, 274 cases; one-arm amputatiotion below the elbow, 466 cases.
– You axe including the single amputations.
– I was dealing with amputations, and was making an appeal in support of the moderate demands on behalf of these men for increased pensions.
– Order! The honorable senator is proceeding to argue the case now, and that is not permissible in a personal explanation.
– There are fifty-eight double amputations, according to the honorable gentleman.
– As the mover of the AddressinReply, I intend in the course of my reply to touch upon only one or two matters that were referred to to-day. Senator Guthrie expressed approval of the reply given by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) with regard to the reduction in the number of telegraphic weather reports now being received. I cannot agree with Senator Guthrie in this matter. I think the discontinuance of the reports should have followed rather than preceded the inquiry which is to be made. It would have been infinitely better in the interests of the primary producers and of shipping if these weather reports could have been continued, at all events, till such time as the Minister had made inquiries to enable him to see if a. saving in expenditure could be made. We have had a distinctly alarming statement from the signal master for the Sydney Heads. He says, fallowing upon the statement that these reports are to be discontinued -
Coastal shipping and the lives of those aboard are going to be gravely endangered. Unless we can get daily reports from coastal centres it will be impossible for us to warn shipping of approaching disturbances. We must have it - that’s all.
Then Mr. Mares, who, in Sydney, is the head of the Weather Bureau, states -
In the case of a cyclone developing, say, at New Caledonia, and approaching our coast, the initial phase of it might be felt on the north -coast, but, according to instructions, the station which observed it will not be able to sound the warning to other centres and ports along the coast. Ships may venture to sea totally unaware of what is in store. In the same way warnings of floods cannot be flashed round country centres likely to be affected.
The Minister should have instituted inquiries to see if there were any justification for a reduction in the service, because at present the primary producers are at a disadvantage, and shipping is exposed to certain risks. I suggest that the Government should continue the present practice for at least a couple of weeks - that would not entail much additional expenditure - until the necessary inquiries have been made.
The only other matter to which I desire to allude has relation to the paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech dealing with those officers of the Defence Department who are to be retired owing to a reduction in Defence expenditure. I should like to emphasize “the remarks made by Senator Drake-Brockman as to the compensation proposed to be paid by the Commonwealth Government and the compensations being paid by the British Government to officers in India with only three and four years’ service as against, in the case of our officers, men who have spent practically the whole of their lifetime in the service.
– In the case of our officers the average term is from fifteen to twenty years.
– That is a big slice out of a man’s life.
– We should also consider the pensions which Indian officers get. Our officers are not entitled to any pensions.
– That may be so. I am nob saying that we should increase the compensation to the amount being paid in India; but the contrast is so tremendous that we should pause before we decide on any amount short of what is equitable. The Indian Army surplus officers are being dealt with in a more considerate way than are our officers. In the full text of the rules I notice the following : -
There is also in addition such full payleave as may be permissible under regulations, or two months’ leave on full pay of his substantive rank and appointment, whichever may be of more advantage to him. The rules continue -
It is important, therefore, that before we come to a definite decision as bo the compensation to be paid to retired military officers who, as Senator Drake-Brockman has said, have rendered valuable service, and who are retiring quite unfit to enter the ordinary avocations of life, we should give the matter further consideration to see how nearly -we can approach the example set by the British Government. I have no desire to detain the Senate any longer, but I thought it my duty to place these facts before honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
Th at the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President, and such honorable senators as may desire to accompany him.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday next.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to detain the Senate, but I desire to bring before the Chamber a matter of national importance.
– Of national importance !
– An undertaking in which £500,000 of public money is involved is certainly one of national importance. I refer to the agreement which has recently been entered into between the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and the Commonwealth Government, and to the statements made in this Chamber by Senator Wilson. I have before me a letter from a member of the Committee, whose action in connexion with the deliberations of that body was mentioned by Senator Wilson in the course of his contribution to the debate on the Address-in-Reply. I do not wish to read the whole of the communication, but for the information of honorable senators I quote the following: -
There are in this statement, apart from Senator Wilson’s picturesque comments, six allegations of fact of which four are absolutely without foundation in fact, and two are merely inaccurate. Dealing with those in the first category, I beg to assure you -
I did not have any hand act, or part in(a) preparing a report, and (b) submitting a report of any kind, verbal or in writing, to Sir Robert Garran.
I was not present when any such re port was considered (if it ever was considered), and thereforeI neither assented nor dissented.
I played no part whatever, good, bad, or indifferent in preparing such a report.
I was not even informed that such a report Was prepared or in course of preparation. Referring to the inaccuracies of Senator Wilson, I was one of a sub-committee which devoted some work to making the draft wireless agreement a good deal better from the Commonwealth view-point than we found it. But this was after I had expressed myself as unfavorable to such an agreement in any terms, and had more specifically declared in favour of some such scheme of Commonwealth control as that outlined by Senator JohnD. Millen, whose valuable work I have already acknowledged elsewhere. I intimated also to the Committee that I would probably furnish a minority report. Subsequent events seem to show that it was furnished atthe right time. As these real facts are susceptible of easy confirmation, will you kindly ask Senator Wilson to make an apology, and at the same time convey to Senator Foll my appreciation of his helpful interjections, designed to encourage Senator Wilson to repeat statements which, being baseless in the first place, acquired no better foundation by mere repetition.
That communication is from the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and I have read only a portion of it, which is in answer to the allegations made by Senator Wilson.
– I think it is somewhat novel to find a member of another place writing speeches to be delivered in this chamber, and I can only say that if our proceedings are to be carried on in that way, I do not know where we are going to end. In regard” to the comments made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), I may say that I have nothing to withdraw. I have certainly no apology to offer for uttering a truth, and if it is necessary for that gentleman to demand an apology for the truth, all I have to say is that he is looking in the wrong quarter. I have said that as a member of the Committee, I know of no occasion on which Mr. Brennan said that he intended submitting a minority report. That statement I repeat, and it can, I know, be supported by Senator DrakeBrockman. The honorable member for Batman was appointed a member of a sub-Committee of three to draft a report. The sub-Committee comprised
Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator John D. Millen, and Mr. Brennan. If I am in error, Senator Drake-Brockman will correct me when I say that I distinctly understood that the whole, or a part of the report, was submitted to the SolicitorGeneral (Sir Robert Garran) either by the sub-Committee as a body, or by the individual members, and it was not likely to have been submitted without Mr. Brennan’s knowledge.
– It was submitted by me, with the full knowledge of the other two members of the subCommittee.
SenatorWILSON. - The Senate will realize that the honour of one of its members has been challenged; but for what reason I do not understand, unless it is for political purposes, on the part of the honorable member for Batman. I remind honorable senators that when the minority report was submitted it was not known that any difficulty was likely to arise in connexion with the chairmanship. Immediately Senator John D. Millen learned what had transpired in regard to the appointment of a seventh member of the directorate, he submitted three questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen). The minority report had almost ceased to play any part whatever in the transactions; but the honorable member forBatman apparently seized the opportunity to use it for political purposes, with the result that ithas now played a very important part in the discussions in another place during the past three or four days.
– A very necessary part.
– When Senator John D. Millen learned what had transpired, he brought the matter forward, so that action could be taken to protect the Government and the country. So far as I am concerned, the compact has been broken, because, as Senator John D. Millen clearly and forcibly explained to the Senate, it was distinctly understood that the seventh member of the directorate would be an independent man. The mere fact that the word “independent” was not embodied in the agreement is of no consequence, because all parties to the agreement realized that if the Commonwealth was to have acontrolling voice the seventh member must be an independent man. I do not wish to discuss the matter at length, because I am sure the Government will do their duty, and clean the whole matter up; but I repeat that it is very regrettable that we have in our midst so many political “guinea pigs” ready to snatch at every straw in an endeavour to make political capital and to belittle the Government, right or wrong.
– Is it not a serious matter?
– It is a very serious matter for a member of a Committee comprised of eight reputable public men to misrepresent another member of the Committee, and to make statements for political purposes. It is serious to the country to think that we have men like him in our politics. A man who did that in the field of sport would be wiped out altogether, and in commerce it would be the same. In politics, it is a pity that he is even tolerated. If Mr. Brennan can get any change out of this “apology” he is entitled to it.
– I, too, was a member of the Wireless Committee, the report of whose proceedings seems to be causing some fuss in another place. I have a veryvivid recollection of practically all that transpired in connexion with that Committee. I remember perfectly well that at the first session of the Committee Mr. Brennan made perfectly clear the attitude of himself and his party regarding the control of wireless in Australia. I think he desired us to know that it was his opinion that it should be controlled by the Commonwealth, and not by any company at all; but he realized that Parliament had given us an instruction, and had decided that a certain form of control was to be established. Then he, like others on that Committee, said that, Parliament having decided the matter, they would proceed to get for Australia the best that could possibly be got out of the company with whom we were dealing. That was the attitude we all took, and Mr. Brennan was not the only man on the Committee who held strongly that the Government should control the business. We all, including, we thought at the time,
Mr. Brennan, worked very earnestly and well, in the interests of Australia, to get the best terms procurable f or Australia. That was what we were there for, and that was what we endeavoured to do. If I may say so, I think we did succeed in getting a most excellent agreement in the interests of Australia. Regret has been expressed.in many quarters that in one particular clause we did not stipulate that there should be an independent chairman. A certain amount of blame for that omission, if blame is attachable, is due to me. The sub-Committee that considered the agreement deliberately left out the word “ independent.” I say that with a full knowledge of what I am saying. The sub-Committee, consisting of Senator John D. Millen, Mr. Brennan, and myself, considered whether we should put in the word “ independent,” and we decided that we should not. . The reasons why we decided were these: We knew, and the company knew, that it was the intention that only three of those who had been associated with the old company should go on the new Board.
– Why does the honorable gentleman say the company “ knew “ that? Through what channel did they know it?
– BROCKMAN.Through the channel of Mr. Fisk, their representative, who had all the dealings with us.
– And they acknowledged it in black and white.
– That is so, and that document from the company was before the Committee when we were considering this matter. It was well known to the company and to the Committee. The. Committee never for a moment contemplated that more than three men who had previously been associated with the old company should be on the new directorate. The seventh man was to be appointed for a term of three years on the honorable understanding that no person who was a member of the old company should be appointed to that position. At the end of three years all the necessary machinery for the establishment of the company, all the necessary agreements that had to be entered into with the Marconi or other companies for the establishment of the works in Australia, would he carried out and finished.
We decided, during this deliberation, that it would be unfortunate, perhaps, in the interests of the company to exclude from the seventh directorship anybody -who happened to own shares in the company. That is the reason why we left out the word “ independent,” and I say that we left it out deliberately in this particular clause. If the company had stood by the honorable understanding that existed, that had been reduced to black and white, and that was contained in a communication received by the Committee from the old company, this situation could never have arisen. It is because the honorable understanding has not been observed that this unfortunate occurrence has come about in the appointment of Sir Thomas Hughes as seventh man on the directorate.
Let me come to the letter addressed to Senator MacDonald by Mr. Brennan. I agree with my friend, Senator Wilson, that the reading of the letter is rather an unusual procedure. It would lead to very curious results, perhaps, if members of this Chamber were to indulge in the habit of writing speeches and sending them to another place for the purpose of having them read there. I certainly think that practice,. as between one House and another, ought not to he encouraged.
– Is it usual for honorable senators to attack members of another place, as Senator Wilson did the other evening?
– BROCKMAN.That attack has been replied to by a very capable lawyer, who has taken full advantage of every technicality. He has said that he had no hand in the preparation of a report which Avas subsequently submitted to Sir Robert Garran. It is perfectly true that he had no hand in the preparation of a report. No written report was prepared; the only report that was made from that sub-Committee to the main Committee, and to Sir Robert Garran, was made by me personally, by word of mouth. It was the expression of the opinion of members of the subCommittee, and was given by me at their instigation. Moreover, it was given by me to the Committee in the presence of both the other members of the sub-Committee. No exception was taken -to it by Mr. Brennan or by Senator John D. Millen.
On the contrary, they both said, if I remember correctly, that it was a correct report of the proceedings of the subCommittee. Mr. Brennan said he took no part in the preparation of a report. The agreement, practically, was the report. The only report sent by theWireless Committee to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was a short document which, in effect, set forth that, “We have considered the agreement; we have altered it; here is our alteration.” Technically speaking, that is the report of the Wireless Committee; but actually speaking, the report is the agreement. Whilst Mr. Brennan is technically correct when he says that he had no hand in the preparation of the report, he is not correct except in the purely technical sense of the term. He had a very great hand in the preparation of the final agreement submitted to the Prime Minister by the Wireless Committee. The agreement, in its present shape, was drafted and prepared by the sub-Committee, consisting of Mr. Brennan, Senator John D. Millen, and myself. That agreement, I repeat, was shaped and prepared by us, and since Mr. Brennan and I were the two lawyers on the subcommittee, it may easily be imagined that we had the greater hand in the shaping of it.
– Mr. Brennan admits that. He says hewas one of the sub-Committee which devoted some work to making the draft agreement somewhat better.
– Of course, but where he dodges the issue is in not making it clear that the agreement is the report. Technically, it is not, but actually it is. Senator Wilson, when speaking of the report, obviously meant the agreement. What the honorable gentleman from the other House said is technically true; what he endeavours to convey is anything but true; it is entirely misleading.
Regarding the work of Mr. Brennan on the Committee, I wish to say that it was most helpful andmost useful, and that he, like all the other members, worked most harmoniously to get the best for Australia. We accepted our instructions from Parliament and retained our own individual opinion as to whether it was the right or wrong procedure. Within our instructions we did the best we possibly could in the interests of Australia.
– Does the honorable senator say that Mr. Brennan gave no notice of dissatisfaction with the agreement, or of his intention to send in a minority report ?
– BROCKM AN . - Speaking from memory, I think that Mr. Brennan at the first meeting of the subCommittee said he reserved to himself and to his party their own opinions as to the proper method of handling wireless in Australia. He was not alone in that opinion at that stage. He also mentioned that he presumed that liberty would be reserved to any member of the sub-Committee to put in a minority report if he felt so inclined. Of course, the chairman of the sub-Committee said that that was so. Obviously, it was so. As the proceedings of the Committee advanced, and we found that our varying ideas had been coordinated into one document, and that we had all come to an agreement regarding it, there was never . any thoughtin the minds of any of us that we were not unanimous in thatagreement. It came as a great surprise to me to learn that Mr. Brennan, who together with Senator John D. Millen and myself as sisted to shape the form of the document, was the only dissentient from the report submitted to the Prime Minister.
– He states that he intimated to the Committee that he would probably furnish a minority report.
– He may have done so in my absence, but I do not think I was absent from any one meeting of the Wireless Committee for a period exceeding five minutes.
– I was present at every meeting, and I will swear that he did not doso.
– Except, as I have already mentioned, that at the first meeting of the Committee he made his position clear in theway I have stated, as did some other members of the Committee. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 July 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220720_senate_8_99/>.