8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. (Hyena) took the chair at 3 p.m., and. read prayers.
Officers Entitled toWar Pensions.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence -
– The Defence Department does not control war pensions, and I suggest that the honorable senator’s questions should he addressed to the Minister for Repatriation.
– The questions affect officers of the Defence Department, and are questions which I think, with all due respect to the Minister for Home and Territories, should be answered by the Defence Department.
– The honorable senator asked practically the same questions yesterday.
– My questions refer to the position of officers of the Defence Department as well as to war pensions.
– If the honorable senator will give notice of his questions we shall be able to decide to whom they should be addressed.
– I give notice of the questions.
– In response to a request made yesterday, I lay on the table a report by a sectional Committee of the Joint Committee on Public Works on matters affecting the Northern Territory other than the North-South railway.
– The Minister might move that the report be printed in order that it may be discussed.
Ordered to be printed.
War ServiceHomes, South Australia.
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow: -
Broken Hill Mail Contract
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral intimates that inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
Release of Arbuckle Pictures
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow : -
– The questions which appear in my name on the subject of the disposal of Commonwealth Factories are not exactly in correct form, and, consequently it is possible that the answer prepared to the first question may be other than it would be if submitted in the form I desire. I. should like to know whether I am at liberty to amend the questions?
– If the honorable senator’s questions are not in the form he intended, he has a Tight to amend them to express what he desires.
– I wish to ask whether the Government intend to dispose of the Harness Factory, the Clothing Factory, or the Small Arms Factory; and, if so, whether it will communicate its intention to this Chamber in the same manner as that in which it communicated its intention to the other Chamber in the case of the proposed sale of the Commonwealth, Woollen Mills?
– The answer supplied by the Minister for Defence is as follows : - 1 and 2. The Small Arms Factory, being part of the nucleus organization of the Munitions Supply, must necessarily be retained by the Government. If conditions should make it desirable to dispose of either the Harness Factory or the Clothing Factory, Parliament will be informed in due course.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That, for the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Tuesday shall be a meeting day of the Senate, and that the hour of meeting on that day shall be 3 p.m.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator. Pearce) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Earle) read a first time.
. -I move -
That, from the 29th September, for the remainder of the session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the noticepaper except questions and formal motions.
The object of this motion will be fairly obvious to honorable senators who are at all observant of the happenings in this and the other branch of the Legislature. Business is increasing, and even if the motion is adopted, it does not mean that Government business will necessarily take precedence at all times, although we will have the right to place it before other business. It will not apply to this evening.
– Can the Minister give us the date of the election, so that we may make our arrangements?
– Is the honorable senator worried ?
– I am not worrying, but I think the Senate should be shown some consideration.
– If the honorable senator is not worrying, his countenance certainly conveys that impression. If honorable senators will peruse the notice-paper they will see that the quantity of private business is not very extensive. One motion which is set down for discussion has not. been dealt with, and the one following should be disposed of to-night. It will be seen, however, that it is necessary for the Government to. have a little extra time in order to keep pace with another place, which, as honorable senators will have noticed, is proceeding at a rate which is somewhat unusual. We are not frequently inundated with measures as at present. Two Bills have just been introduced, and as others are to come forward it is advisable that the Government should have more time in which to deal with their business.
– I have no objection to offer to the motion submitted by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), because I feel sure that private members’ business will receive reasonable treatment at the hands of the Government. I think, however, that there is something in the suggestion that we should be advised as to the probable date of the general election, because those who have to contest their seats will find the extra sitting day somewhat burdensome. If it is the desire of the Government to expedite business,it is only fair, more especially to those who are directly interested, to announce the date. I take it that the Government supporters have been advised, and, if that is so, the members of the Opposition are entitled to be in possession of the information. If the information is given, the Government will, at least, have a better reputation for fair play.
– The supporters of the Government do not know any more than the honorable member.
– I do not know.
– That statement is usually made by Government supporters, and it is one which I have heard on similar occasions ever since I have been in -politics.
– I, too, have frequently made inquiries in a similar direction.
– Possibly so. It appears that this motion has been moved in consequence of information in possession of the members of the Government, and concerning which the members of the Opposition know nothing.. I am prepared to believe that the Government supporters know very little of what the Government are doing, and probably they know as much as they are entitled to.
– Will that not also apply to the Opposition!
– Yes. The members of the Opposition know very little, and the Government give them as much information as they think they are entitled to. Senator Senior, who has a very large constituency, would not, of course, be concerned if he had only a fortnight in which to conduct the campaign. The Senate is entitled to the information sought, and the sooner it/is given the Setter..
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) rS. 19]. - The motion moved by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) is one which inevitably makes its appearance before the end of every session, and one which is invariably introduced at a fateful period in the lives of public men. I can quite realize the position of those persons who have to face the storm; on the one hand duty stands, and destiny on the other. But I would remind the Minister that the faithful performance of duty hae a material effect upon their destiny, and the work to be performed in this Chamber will have no little influence, I hope, on their future. I do not happen to be up for execution just yet. I do not know whether I am fortunate or unfortunate in that, but I am inclined to think that I am, perhaps, not fortunate- There are three private members’ motions on the business-paper, and I think the Minister will agree with me that, up to the present time, there has not been any serious encroachment upon Government business by private members’ motions. Therefore, I think a little latitude should be given to those who ‘avail themselves of the opportunity of discussing important matters under the head of private members’ business. I have a little ewe lamb myself in that list. I did not want any special extension of the debate, because I thought the motion would commend itself to every member of this Chamber. The Government thought otherwise, and desired time to consider the matter. It had a week to consider it. I do not wish to have this item crowded out. I would like an assurance from the Minister that if the motion is not definitely disposed of to-night he will provide me with a short opportunity - I do not ask for more than half-an-hour- later on in the session. I support the Government on the present occasion, in the hope that the Minister will give me that promise. It is the smallest compass that I can compress my request into.
– I wish to add a few words to the remarks of my Leader (Senator Gardiner). It is useless to oppose the motion, but I consider that members of this Chamber should certainly be given some information aa to when the elections will be held. The elections are the ostensible reason for pushing forward with Government business.
– Will the honorable senator suggest a date?
– While I was absent in another State I read in a Melbourne newspaper that the elections would be held on 9th December, and that the Senate would adjourn on 7th October. Uncertainty in a matter such as this harasses members very considerably. If this Government were an ordinary Government I would treat that definite newspaper statement as idle wind, but we know that we are suffering from an autocratic type of Government. We shall probably be told, if the remarks made by Ministerial supporters and members of the Government to-day are to be taken notice of, that the decision rests with one man. These press statements are evidence in support of the presumption that the lack of definite knowledge is due to this cause. Apparently some one has the ear of the head of the Government, and is “ going nap “ on a private statement. I have had experience of such Governments. I remember at one time in this city that the head of the Government was so irresponsible that pressmen used to follow him about, because he would, apparently without consulting his colleagues, rap out at any moment important statements of policy which he had stored up in the recesses of his mind. We are suffering from this sort of government at the present time. Senator Reid has suggested that I am worrying about the date of the elections. That is not so, but it would be fair to members of the Senate to inform them whether the elections will take place this side of Christmas or not, so that they could make their arrangements accordingly. The imparting of such information is a. courtesy which should be extended to us.
– Would the honorable senator like to be with us for Christmas?
– I hope to be with you for several Christmas es, but whether I shall be here until Christmas, or until two months afterwards, is a small matter by comparison with the value of the information which should be vouchsafed to us. The Minister would be rendering a service to members of this Chamber if he would make a definite statement as to whether the newspaper announcements are worthy of notice.
– Senator Lynch asked for a definite promise that the Government would provide an opportunity for his motion to be disposed of. I regret that I do not feel justified in doing so. I have purposely exempted to-night from the terms of the motion in order to give the honorable senator an opportunity. I see no reason why we should not finish all the private members’ business to-night. It may mean a late sitting, but that is the alternative to this motion. I do not connect the motion, as some perturbed minds seem to do, with the possibility of an election. It is quite an ordinary motion. It has been moved during every session when I have had the honour to be present. As the session proceeds and business commences to accumulate, this Chamber, which sits very easily in the early days of the session, has to face the alternative of adopting a motion like this or having late sittings. Honorable senators, as a rule, hold the opinion that late sittings are not desirable. The alternative is to make the most of the hours that axe available to us. The Senate can have its choice. We cannot have Bills coining from the other House and piling up on our business-paper while the other House is waiting to get them back. The Senate must ask itself whether it will sit late - not to convenience the Government, but to discharge its duty- or adopt the motion now submitted to it.
I think honorable senators will agree entirely with me in saying that we should do what we always have done when business is accumulating, and appropriate forGovernment business the time which, under ordinary conditions, would be available for private members’ business.. I direct special attention to the words “ unless otherwise provided “ in the motion. Those words would mean that if, in the course of a few weeks, Government business is not so pressing, the Senate will be able to allow private members’ business to take precedence. I ask the Senate to adopt the motion, and let future circumstances determine whether we need to take advantage of it or not.
– What about the elections?
– They have nothing to do with this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I move-
That the word “ now “ be left out and that the words “this day six months” be added to the motion.
I do not wish to go over the arguments previously traversed. Whatever I have said on former occasions might be repeated now with emphasis. The Bill is not in any sense needed in the circumstances.
– I second the amendment. I realize that, if carried, it will kill the Bill. The further this debate has been taken the more satisfied I have become that the Bill is quite unnecessary,* and would achieve nothing. Yesterday the Minister (Senator Pearce) laid stress on the report of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. On looking up that report, I find that the Administrator used the following words: -
There was, and is, one form of grievance which may be considered as genuine, and for which sincerity may be claimed by its exponents, and that is taxation without parliamentary representation, which latter is held here to be the inherent right of every British subject. who is subjected to taxation.
To give the Northern Territory a representative at a cost of £1,000 per annum, and at the sama time deprive him of a vote, would not meet the wishes expressed in the report, and the Minister was not justified in using it as an argument in favour of the Bill. I also oppose the measure on the grounds of economy. The public are told of the necessity for stringent economy. We have men in Parliament quite willing to watch the interests of the Territory.
– Do you not think that a law-maker here is better than a law-breaker at Darwin ?
– I am not anxious to see a law-breaker or a law-maker from Darwin brought to this Parliament. Yesterday I stated that I had some ambition to make myself conversant with the whole of Australia. I am not. alone in thi9 matter. Only last year I prompted a letter to be sent to the Government asking that I should at least have the right of transit through the Territory on the occasion of the visit by a Parliamentary Committee.
– Did you have anything to do with the- petition forwarded to the Government about this Bill?
– I do not think so.
– There were twenty signatures.
– The Minister might at least let honorable senators have a look at the petition, now that he has introduced the subject. I would be astonished if my name was on it. Months have passed since then, and’ why should any honorable senator, even if he did sign a requisition to the Government asking them to give representation to the Northern Territory, be regarded as committed to support any Bill that the Government choose to bring in f
– This was the Bill.
– I have not been in the confidence of the Government in this and many other matters.
– Is there any reason why honorable senators who signed the requisition should not change their minds?
– A scrap of paper !
– I resent that remark. Honorable senators are not prepared to tear up “ scraps of paper.” Does the Minister say that at the time the requisition was signed the present Bill was in existence? We have a perfect right to look thoroughly into . Bills placed before the Senate. Is any honorable senator prepared to say that this Bill will satisfy the intelligent people in the Territory ? The representative that is contemplated by this measure would be no more than a political spruiker.
– Did that petition ask for any particular form of representation ?
– Yes, representation in the House of Representatives.
– Who signed it?
– Twenty members of the Senate.
– We might be told their names.
– The Ministry are evidently anxious to bludgeon the Bill through. If they propose to use a document signed, perhaps, ten or twelve months ago, they ought to produce it. I do not remember signing it, and several other honorable senators do not remember seeing it. If the Government have the document, why do they not bring it forward? That sort of conduct will only tell with men who have very little backbone. Senator Gardiner spoke yesterday about Canberra.
– Norfolk Island, as well.
– There are three or four other Territories that could also claim representation. Once such a Bill’ as this was passed it would open a door that could never be closed. The personnel of the present Parliament is sufficient for Australia in view of the present economic position. I am not prepared to go any further in that direction. There is another side to this picture. The Government have never yet considered the carrying out of the compact with South Australia. The people of the Northern Territory have not asked for a representative who will be merely a spruiker and whose business it will be to give members information! that is already available to every man if he wants to get it. What we want, and what the people of the Territory want, is some practical move for the development of the Territory. I admit that the present Minister (Senator Pearce) is doing much good work, but I say, unreservedly, that this Bill is only so much political bluff, which will not satisfy the people of the
Territory. It will open the door to an increase in the personnel of this Parliament, and I object to it. No senator can claim that he is overworked. Personally, I could do a great deal more if the opportunity were presented to me. This proposal will merely add to the burden of the taxpayers without any ultimate good result, and altogether it is most objectionable.
– I ask Senator Lynch to withdraw his amendment. Since I spoke on this subject yesterday I had an opportunity of consulting with my colleague (Mr. Poynton), who was Minister for Home and Territories when the previous Bill was introduced. He has informed me that after, that measure had been rejected by the vote on an amendment moved by Senator Wilson, a deputation of senators waited upon him to urge the Government to provide means for the representation of the Northern Territory in the Federal Parliament. When he pointed out that this had already been attempted and that the Senate had rejected the Bill, they informed him that they believed the measure had been defeated on a misapprehension and that if it were re-introduced, it would be passed by the Senate. He said he could not recommend the Government to again introduce that Bill unless he had some evidence that a majority in the Senate would favour its passage. The deputation left, and later came back with a petition which, he assures me, contained the names of twenty senators asking that a Bill be introduced to allow of the appointment of a member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives without a vote.
– What are the names of those senators ?
– I cannot say. Senator. Benny. - But you have just told us-
– I shall be obliged if the honorable senator will allow me to make my remarks in my own way. I am telling this Senate the facts, if honorable senators think that I am not doing
– I do not think that for a moment. I only wanted to know the names of the senators. Senator PEARCE. - I have just said that, at the moment, I do not know.
My colleague told me that he had asked the deputation to take the petition to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). They did so, and the Prime Minister gave them a promise that he would recommend the Government to introduce a Bill in accordance with their request. Mr. Poynton has not got that petition. It was left with the Prime Minister, and though he has returned to Melbourne from Sydney, I have not yet been able to get in touch with him. The petition is not in the Home and Territories Department. Mr. Poynton assures me, however - and he is confident on the point - that it contains twenty names, because he stipulated for an assurance that there would be a majority in the Senate in favour of this form of representation. I asked Mr. Poynton if he could remember the names of the honorable senators who had signed the petition, and he said he could not. He informed me, however, that Senators Newland and Foll, together: with Mr. Jackson, a member of another place, who had been to the Territory as members of the Public Works Committee, were moving in the matter. These are the facts a3 given to me by Mr. Poynton.
– The Minister’s statemerit is likely to influence votes to-day. Is it not possible to get that petition?
– ‘Cannot we adjourn the debate until we obtain a copy of it?
– It is possible that the Prime Minister may not have retained the document. The usual course, after a petition had been dealt with, would be to send it to the Department concerned, but in this case that was not done. I have had a search made in the nome and Territories Department, but the petition is not there. I do not know what has become of it.
– Can the Minister say whether the petitioners asked for independent representation, or whether they should be incorporated with the division of Grey, as was the case up till 1911?
- Mr. Poynton is quite clear on that point. He said there was not the slightest doubt ‘that the petition asked that the Northern Territory should be represented in another place by a member elected by the people of the Northern Territory.
– And you think that a man should not change his opinion if he sees .the error of his ways?
– I am not saying that at all. I only know that the petition, when it came before Cabinet, asked for a representative for the Northern Territory with a voice but without a vote. :
– Can you give us an assurance that the people of the Northern Territory will be satisfied with the form of representation (provided in this Bill.?
– Yes; I have that assurance. There are, in this building, two petitions signed ‘by a large number of the residents of the Northern Territory, asking for this form of representation. These petitions were sent across from the Department in the belief that one was the document which I had been asking for. There are, in addition, a large number of letters and the statement quoted by Senator Fairbairn from the report of the Administrator to show that the people of the Northern Territory, in the absence of a representative, feel a sense of grievance, and that this proposal would tend to remove that feeling. ,
– They want a parliamentary representative; but what would this man be?
– Senator Wilson takes that view of the proposed representative, and I ask him to read the speech made by Senator Lynch, who considers that this man will have too much influence; so much, in fact, that the proposal will result in the practical disfranchisement of the north of Queensland and the northern parts of Western Australia. He gave us a picture of the proposed representative of the Northern Territory sweeping members of the House of Representatives off their feet with his eloquence, and doing infinitely more harm than he could possibly do if he were given a vote. Senators Lynch and Wilson are on the same side in opposing the Bill, though they hold diametrically opposite opinions.
I seem to be pursued by some illfate. I find that’ my officers have sent the petitions to, which I have referred back to the Department, but I shall have them here before the debate is concluded, as I presume I shall not be the last speaker on the motion, and will lay them on the table, where they oan be inspected by honorable senators. It is not necessary that I should repeat what I said last night, but I believe that the passing of this measure will prove to be a step in the right direction, and will help to make for contentment in the Northern Territory.
.- I desire to say a few words on this Bill. I can bear out practically every word that has been said by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce). On the return of the Sectional Committee of the Public Works Committee from the Northern Territory, they were so convinced, when discussing the matter with every person with whom they came in contact, of the advisability of giving the people in that part of the Territory parliamentary representation, that one of the first things they did was to make overtures on the subject to the Minister for Home and Territories, who at that time was Mr. Poynton. Senator Newland, Mr. Jackson, Senator Guthrie, myself, and some others, including the representatives of one of the big interests in the Northern Territory, waited upon Mr. Poynton in the Minister’s room in Parliament House, and urged him to ask the Government to introduce a Bill providing for the election of a representative of the Northern Territory without a vote.
– Did the honorable senator suggest that the people of the Northern Territory should be included in the division of Grey, as they were up to 1911?
– No; we did not.
– Such a thing was never mentioned.
– The people of the Northern Territory recognise that they are residents of the Commonwealth, and they have no desire to go bade to the position they occupied in 1911. Mr. Poynton reminded those who waited upon him of the Bill that had been introduced to provide for a representative of the Northern Territory in the Senate, and of its fate as the result of the carrying of an amendment submitted by Senator Duncan, and which, I understand, was, in the opinion of the Crown Solicitor, unconstitutional. He told us that he would not recommend the Government to introduce another Bill to provide- for the representation of the Territory in the Senate unless he was satisfied that it would meet with a very different reception. I said that, as the result of conversations with honorable senators and others, I was of opinion that a Bill to give the Northern territory a representative in another place would be passed. I forthwith drew up a petition to’ the Prime Minister asking that the Government should introduce legislation to provide for a representative of the Northern Territory with a seat in the House of Representatives but without a vote. That petition was signed by a number of honorable senators, and, amongst others, by one whose name I need not mention, but who has shown himself bitterly opposed to the measure under consideration to-day.
– Does the honorable senator refer to me?
– If honorable senators do not remember what they sign when making such a request as I have mentioned to the Government, I am very doubtful whether they are fit and proper persons to represent the people of Australia in this Chamber. The petition was for legislation exactly on the lines of the Bill now before us, and I venture to say that had it not been for the fact that that petition led the Government to believe that such a Bill would be passed, a measure dealing with the subject would not have been submitted in view of the way in which the last Bill introduced to provide for a representative for the Northern Territory was treated.
– Does the honorable senator hold that a man who signed that petition in a sort of star-chamber way, has not the right to change his opinions when the matter comes up for consideration here?
– That is merely a quibble. I say that when representatives of the people in the Senate have signed their names to a document asking the Government to introduce a certain Bill, and, as a result of their representation, the Bill is introduced, in common decency they should support it. If they subsequently changed their minds, they should, knowing that the Bill was to be introduced, have notified the Government that they would not support it.
Senator Wilson in the course of his remarks made some very extravagant statements which I thought the Minister would take up. He referred to this measure as *’ political bluff “ and “ political camouflage.”
– Hear, hear!
– I may tell the honorable senator that, in my opinion, the political bluff and political camouflage have been displayed by some of those who are opposing the Bill. Senator Wilson and other honorable senators from South Australia have at all times posed in this Chamber, and also in their own State, as foster-parents of the Northern Territory. One has only to go to South Australia, as I did recently, to hear more from the people there about the Territory, what the Government should do for it, and the money that should be spent there, than they will hear from honorable senators representing any other States.
– We want work and not talk.
– Yet, when these honorable senators are given the opportunity to do something to meet the wishes of the people of the Northern Territory, and grant them citizen rights which are enjoyed by people in other parts of Australia, we have these political humbugs of the type of Senator Wilson standing up in protest.
– Order! That statement must be withdrawn.
– If the honorable senator calls me a humbug I say he is a damn fool.
– Order 1 I must deal with one thing at a time. I ask Senator Wilson to withdraw hia remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I now ask Senator Foll to withdraw the remark he made.
– If I said anything that offends Senator Wilson I withdraw it. I suppose that “political humbug “ is hardly a term which one honorable senator should apply to another, but there are times when one feels inclined to give vent to his feelings. The rules of parliamentary procedure prohibit me from saying all I would like to say on the subject about Senator Wilson, but knowing me well, the honorable senator probably knows what my expressions would be were it not for the Standing Orders.
– I know what value to put upon them.
– /Senator Wilson and other honorable senators have said that they do not think this Bill will give much satisfaction to the people of the Northern Territory. I do not agree with them. I believe that many of the grievances existing in the Territory at the present time would be removed if the people there could feel that they had the same citizen rights as are enjoyed by people in other parts of the Commonwealth. It is . probable ‘that in isolated places in tho Territory, including Darwin, grievances become more magnified than they do in the big cities of the south. Parliamentary representation is a burning question in the Northern Territory, and when we were at Darwin, the citizens, one after another, were going to gaol for refusing to pay Commonwealth taxation. I believe that many did so because they considered that they were denied a right to which, as Britishers, ‘they were entitled. I shall not .do anything to deny the franchise to any citizen of this country; although some of these people would not, as I have said, pay their taxes under any circumstances. I believe that this Bill will satisfy the demands of most of the people of the Northern’ Territory. As we went through the country we were met at almost every place we stopped at with a statement of grievances, which we afterwards submitted to the Minister. The people of the Territory have not the opportunity given to people in other parts of the Commonwealth to bring their grievances under the notice of a Parliamentary representative. Their chief complaint was that they had no one to fight their battles in this Parliament. Senator Wilson has suggested that any one who knows anything about the Territory could represent the people there as well as a direct representative, but we know that what is every one’s business is no one’s business. Representation is not being asked for a small place, because ‘the Northern Territory is 500 miles wide by over 1,000 miles long. It is not thickly populated at the present time, but we hope that parts of it will be thickly populated some day, and we should do nothing that would retard its progress. I think we should pass this Bill to give the people of the Northern Territory a right enjoyed by citizens of other parts of the Commonwealth.
– Since I made my speech on the second reading of the Bill, advocating the granting of this request from the people of the Northern Territory, two things have happened. When I. spoke I had in mind that the passing of the measure would placate people who are undoubtedly suffering under a grievance. Since then, Senator Gardiner has delivered a speech, in which he has made it quite plain that this Bill will not satisfy those people, and their sense of grievance will remain. I have the greatest sympathy with the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), and the Administra-. tor of the Northern Territory (Mr. Urquhart), who believed that the granting of this request would satisfy the demands of the extreme wing of the Labour party in the Territory. We are assured by the Leader of the Labour party in the Senate (Senator Gardiner) that’ this will not satisfy those people. That shook me in the position I had taken up. I was also shaken in my position by the remarks of Senator Drake-Brockman, who pointed out that a much wider question is involved than merely pacifying the people of the Northern Territory. He has explained that if this request is acceded to it will bo followed by similar requests from other Territories of the Commonwealth. Canberra will be the next, ?md.i perhaps, Norfolk Island will later have to be considered. We should then have three of these strange beings in our midst, and there is no doubt that they would be continuously agitating for fuller powers than are proposed to be given under this Bill to the representative of the Northern Territory. There would be, probably, 1,200 electors who would vote and who might- exercise undue and undesirable influence. The Government must, of course, look at the matter from the standpoint of how they are to relieve the agitation which exists in the Northern Territory, and they are of the opinion that this measure will be the means of placating the people. We have been assured, however, by some honorable senators that it will not do so. We have also to consider the possible result to the whole of the people of Australia if there were eventually three Territorial representatives, as has been suggested. The proper thing to do is to attach the people of the Northern Territory to one of the existing electorates.
– The SolicitorGeneral has said that we. cannot do that.
– I differ from my learned friend in that respect.
– There are three lawyers in this Chamber who do not agree with the SolicitorGeneral.
– That may be so; but that appears to be the proper course to adopt. Until my mind can be disabused on the points I have mentioned, I am sorry to say I cannot support the Bill.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [4.81. - I am indeed sorry if my support of the Government has been the means of some of their followers deserting them. Before, the division was taken I remained sitting on the side opposite to that on which I intended to vote until the last second, because I felt that there are some in this chamber who, having seen on which side Labour is voting, quite naturally record their votes on the other. That being so, I think I had better change my attitude to enable Senator Fairbairn to record a different vote. It has been said by some that probably Mr. Nelson would be the first elected representative of the Northern Territory, but we have to remember that every qualified adult in the Territory will have an opportunity of exercising the franchise, and, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) stated that 95 per cent, of the people voted on one occasion,, it is improbable that a Darwin representative would be elected.
– Ninety-five per cent. !
– Ninety-five per cent, of the people voted on the conscription issue, and that is the biggest vote ever recorded in any part of the Commonwealth.
– I am not particularly keen on whether the Government win or not, but I support the Bill because it will do a little for the Northern Territory, . although not nearly as much as I should like. Those who refuse these people this small measure of representation are not acting wisely, because it is the duty of Parliament to see that conditions which cause disagreement in any section of the community are not allowed to continue or to be intensified. State ments have been made in this chamber that only persons with Bolshevik tendencies, or who represent the extreme section of the community, are advocating representation; but it must not be forgotten that a number of ‘ those who participated in the agitation spent twentyone days in prison, and later paid their taxes, to show that they felt they had a just grievance. If there is any man in this chamber who ought to endeavour to’ prevent small grievances growing into large ones it is Senator Lynch, because, in Ireland for the past 100 years the people have sufferred from the domination of distant government, and the people there cannot even now agree among themselves as to the form of government they really require. Although -the population of the Northern Territory is small, any one who has watched the happenings there during the past five years cannot be satisfied with the present conditions, and although this is granting them only a little, it will at least show them that the Federal Parliament is willing to hear their complaints. If we are not willing to hear them, we are placing the Northern Territory in the position the Crown Colonies were in when controlled by a distant Government, which would not listen to the views of the people. Even if their grievances are only imaginary, we have to remember that imaginary ones are more difficult to contend with than real complaints, because the latter can be remedied. These people are compelled to pay taxation and Customs dues as we do, and we should not intensify the position. Some say they should not be allowed a vote, but with that view I do not agree. As far as this Bill is concerned, and remembering the defeat of a similar measure some time ago, I feel sure that honorable senators will give it their support.
– Do you think the people will be satisfied ?
– Nothing will satisfy them entirely if they are a progressive people, and if this Bill becomes law, they will have other requests to make. This is only a small concession, and it should be our endeavour to refrain, as far as possible, from intensifying their dissatisfaction. We should not fan the flames of discontent in directions where they have never yet burned. Since the Commonwealth, has had control of the Territory there has been good reason to complain.
– The first three names on one petition are those of reverend gentlemen.
– That is enough to make me vote with Senator Fairbairn. I think it is understood, however, that it is my intention to support the Bill, although I am afraid its passage is not assured.
.- - The discovery of the petition mentioned at this late hour is somewhat extraordinary. It is nearly twelve months since the petition that the Minister (Senator Pearce) says bears the signatures of twenty honorable senators, which represents a majority in this Chamber, was signed. I do not know whether I signed the petition or not.
– Is it not twelve weeks?
– No, it is nearly twelve months. The Minister approached me in regard to this Bill and asked for my support, but I told him that I had an open mind, and that I wished to hear the arguments for and against the measure before I came to a decision. That was the only reasonable attitude which I could adopt. Although I signed the petition nearly twelve months ago, I. have since heard arguments for and against the measure, and have decided to oppose it. My friend and colleague Senator Newland said last night that some South Australian senators did not consider the residents of the Territory worthy of representation in this Parliament. That i3 hardly fair; I should like to see them represented.
– As in 1911; no more and no less.
– The Administrator in the Northern Territory is in constant touch with the Government, and he should certainly encourage the residents there to take their grievances to him, so that they could be placed before the Government.
– The Administrator tendered an annual report of thirty-seven pages, and the Government have more information concerning the Territory than they have in regard to portions of Queensland and Western Australia.
– That may be so. I am not quite sure whether I signed the petition, but in view of all the circumstances I still feel I must oppose the Bill.
– I would not have risen on this occasion had it not been for the fact that Senator Fairbairn, to whom I looked for support, has changed his attitude. I have not the right to object to an honorable senator changing his opinion on any legislation introduced in consequence of arguments adduced; but I am rather surprised that he should have done so in, consequence of something said by persons who have never been in. the Territory in their lives. Practically every one with whom the members of the Public Works Committee conversed - very often spending, the night in their homes. - favoured representation in this form. We have told the Senate that the people whom we interviewed were satisfied with the proposal of the Government. On our return we saw the then Minister for Home arid Territories (Mr. Poynton), who, after talking the matter over with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), agreed to introduce this Bill, on’ condition that we gave him an assurance that there would be a majority in favour of it. The result is that this Bill has been introduced. Notwithstanding this, there are some honorable senators who prefer to take the word of men who have never discussed these questions with those vitally interested. It is deplorable to realize that men should change their opinions on such unreliable evidence. I pointed out yesterday the conditions under which these men live. If they were foreigners and not white men who had gone from the South, the Senate could not treat them worse than some of them propose doing. The most excellent type of Britisher that can be found anywhere is the man who has gone out pioneering in Australia.
– Can the honorable senator say that of the people of Darwin?
– Darwin is like a ghost in a graveyard to some honorable senators. It is true that we do not propose to exclude the residents of Darwin from the provisions of this Bill, but the town and district of Darwin are but a “flea bite” by comparison with the rest of the Territory. The residents of Port Darwin are living in comparative ease and comfort, and I am not pleading for them, but for those who are living in the back country on. damper and beef, sometimes “relieved with a piece of goat, from one year’s end to another.
– Will the carrying of this Bill make them any better off ?
– It will; but whether it will or not, it will certainly make members of this Senate no worse off. If we can do anything to lighten the burdens of these people it is our business to do it, I say that they want this representation, and when I ask for it at their request, little notice is taken of me; but when a man blurts out his own opinion, without consultation with any person who has lived in the Territory, his words are accepted as though they were gospel. Honorable senators who know no better act on the empty sentences of men who have no knowledge of me views of the residents of the Territory on this matter. I believe that unless this measure’ of justice is given to the people of Darwin they will feel that they have been thrown aside and cut off utterly from every interest in the south, and I am satisfied that the people in the Northern Territory will be so disgusted and discouraged that they will feel amply justified in being less law abiding in the future than they have been in the past.
– The Northern Territory has been nothing but a sink for Commonwealth money since the Commonwealth took it over.
– I do not know that to refuse the people of the Territory this measure of reform would make any difference to that. In any case, they are not responsible for the fact that the Northern Territory is a sink for Commonwealth money. I believe the representative of the Territory in this Parliament would be able to point out many ways in which money could be saved.
– What will the Administrator do then?
– His duty will be the same as it is now. Does the honorable senator think that he goes through the country, or through Darwin, looking for complaints to send to the Minister1 in Melbourne ? He has his own duties to perform. We get a report from him once a year, and I dare say that quite a number of us do not read it. I want a man to come here with reports from Darwin four or five days a week, and not only from Darwin, but from the Northern Territory.
– I am glad the honorable senator has corrected himself. He has been speaking of Darwin, but he now mentions the Northern Territory.
– Is there any harm in speaking of Darwin 9 I am notspeaking for Darwin ‘any more than for any other part of Australia. These interjections by honorable senators are merely instances of. the way in which drowning men clutch at straws. If an advocate of this Bill drops a word it is seized upon with avidity, and he is shaken as a terrier shakes a rat. I deplore the raising of these little points by interjection when such a big subject is being considered. The question is whether a vast continent, with its deserving residents, shall get some representation in this Parliament. If the Bill is not carried the people of the Northern Territory, from Charlotte Waters to Port Darwin, and from Wave Hill to Camooweal, will feel both discouraged and disgusted. The least we can do for these sturdy pioneers, who are doing such splendid work for Australia, is to give them this little measure of consideration, for which they have so earnestly pleaded. I can assure honorable senators that they have asked moat earnestly for it. They said that it would satisfy them, and the Public Works Committee, after visiting the Territory, has asked the Government to give it to them.
– Had it not been for the extraordinary and extravagant language indulged in by Senator Newland and Senator Foll in their attempt to foist upon the Constitution an absolute anachronism, I do not think I would have troubled to speak. My mind revolts against giving this piebald class of representation to any section of the community. Honorable senators have been talking about a demand for British justice and the granting of full representation. It ia absolutely absurd to make such claims on behalf of this measure. Senator Newland has made it abundantly clear that it is the citizens of Darwin that want this representation.
– I rise, to a point of order. The honorable senator is misrepresenting me, and I cannot allow that.
– The honorable gentleman will be able, subject to the indulgence of the Senate, to put himself right if he is misrepresented. I was not listening to what Senator Gar ling said, but, unless he said something that was personally offensive, he should not have been interrupted. If Senator Newland regards the remark as offensive, I must ask Senator Garling to withdraw it.
– What I did say was that it was abundantly clear from the arguments of the senators who preceded me - Senator Newland and Senator Foll - that the representation to be given by this measure will be given to the people of Darwin.
– That remark is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I do not think the remark can be regarded as offensive. Senator Garling has stated the inference which he has drawn. Whether that inference is justifiable or not is another matter.
– He accused me of making that statement.
– He did not do so in his last sentence. I cannot prevent the honorable senator from drawing any inference he pleases, provided that it is not offensive to other honorable senators.
– Senator Newland has worked himself into an extraordinary passion in connexion with this matter. He seems to think that honorable senators are not entitled to comment upon his views.
– The honorable senator should try to tell the truth.
– I am endeavouring to tell the truth, and it is up to the honorable senator to pull me up if I do not do so. I gathered from the arguments of the two honorable senators that Darwin would get this representation. When they point to the hard-working pioneer outback, who is living on a diet of damper, they forget that it is not he who will get the representation, but the loudvoiced proletariat of Darwin. It is all very well to say that the representative will collect the votes of the people of the whole Territory. Even if that is so, he will be a man without any responsibility, who will simply fan the flames of discord all the time. What opportunity will the Minister (Senator Pearce) have for carrying out those very beneficent reforms which were outlined in his speech a few weeks ago? If he tries to give effect to his programme, he will be torn to pieces by the representative of the proletariat of Darwin.
– What right have we to assume that any particular type of man will be sent here?
– We cannot but assume that where the volume of population is, the big vote will be. The vote at Darwin will not be given in the interests of the pioneer, and that is why I oppose the Bill. We ought not to centralize votes in the big towns and cities. It is one cause of the failure of our present system of representation that the large towns and cities have too big a vote in comparison with the vote given to the primary producer. The representative of the Northern Territory will be a man who will pin-prick the Minister and Parliament all the time the is here, and he will not be steadied by the fact that the has a vote, and has to take the responsibility of his vote. He will stir up others to do what he has not the power to do himself. He will be in a position of irresponsibility. I have not the slightest hesitation in declaringhow my vote will be cast. I was not here on the occasion of the second reading of the Bill, because I paired with Senator Guthrie for one day only, and it was distinctly laid down that the arrangement was for Wednesday only.
– The honorable senator did not sign the petition.
– I signed no petition. The Government has sprung nothing upon the House in bringing this measure down. Some such measure was outlined in the Governor- General’s Speech. I moved the adoption of the AddressinReply to that Speech, and I supported the Speech in the main. I say “ in the main,” because I could not support every item in it. Amongst the items that I did not touch upon was that relating to the representation of the Northern Territory. The reference to it was so vaguely worded that I was unable to ascertain from reading it whether it was intended to give these people what I really think they can get- the representation which they would receive by being tacked on for representation purposes to Queensland or South Australia - or to give them the direct representation that is proposed in the Bill. If it had been suggested that they should have a piebald representation without any vote, I would have said, “ What rubbish !” Why tinker with the Constitution ? Let us deal with the matter boldly and give them a vote if we intend to give them anything at all.
In reply to the Minister (Senator Pearce). let me say, with all respect to the Solicitor-General, that I agree with those legal members of this .Chamber who have already spoken that the Constitution Act enables Parliament to give the Northern Territory representation “ to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.” I do not know that we could have wider words than those to indicate that it is possible to grant them representation, if it is necessary, by associating them with Queensland or South Australia. I would be willing to follow either of those courses, but I believe the solution of the difficulty lies in supporting the Minister in the common-sense programme that he outlined some weeks ago, which, in my opinion, will be absolutely hamstrung if we bring into Parliament a representative of the Northern Territory, who will be appointed, not by the section to which -the Northern Territory looks to be lifted from the slough of despond, but by the loud-voiced crowd which, for the last three years, has kept Darwin in a ferment, and brought upon the Northern Territory a disgrace which it does not deserve.
– I should not have risen had it not been for the remarks of the last speaker. It often happens that when we want to believe a thine? we use words that will convince us that we ave right. Senator Garling wishes to believe that if a man comes from the Northern Terri.tory he must necessarily hail from Darwin. Let us consider what did occur’ when the Northern Territory had representation in the South Australian Parliament. One of the last gentlemen who represented the Territory there prior to its being handed over to the Commonwealth was Mr. Thomas Crush. He lived at Brock’s Creek, which is 80 miles from Darwin, and he was one of the best representatives the Territory ever had. The second representative at that time resided in Adelaide. He had been a storekeeper in the north, and had a fair knowledge of the Territory. Neither of those representatives had characteristics that would correspond with what was in the honorable senator’s mind. The two representatives who preceded them wore Messrs. S. J. Mitchell and V. L. Solomon. Mr. Mitchell now occupies a very honorable position in Adelaide as a stipendiary magistrate. I have enumerated the representatives as far back as 1904. I would like Senator Garling to place himself in the position of residents of the Territory who once had a vote in the South Australian Parliament, enabling them to return one-twentieth of the membership of the House of Assembly and who are now disfranchised. Seeing that the Territory has returned representatives such as those to whom I have referred, there need not .be the least fear that the granting of full representation would result in wrecking the Constitution or injuring the Territory. Its members in the past have done a great deal of good in disseminating knowledge concerning the needs of that great area. The objection throughout to .granting representation has been that it would spread ruin through the House of Representatives and wreck the Constitution. No sane man can possibly believe that. An argument used against the Bill was that the proposed representative would have the same privileges as other members, but it is only necessary to remind honorable senators that the representative could not be counted even to make up a quorum of the House. A man who is a mere dummy could not do very much damage. Prom the one side comes the pica that the representative would cause a lot of trouble, and from the other side we ave told that he would be a dummy, v.-ho could not vote, even on a question vitally concerning the Territory itself.
I shall point out another weakness in the arguments used against the Bill. Objection was taken to allowing the Territory to send a representative to the Senate. It was urged that he should be located in another place, but when the Bill came before us, at the request of many honorable senators, providing that the member should be returned to the House of Representatives, and be allowed a voice without a vote - almost the very language of their petition was answered - they replied, “ No. Look at the damage he would do.”
– Did I sign that?
– No, because the honorable senator was not here then; but there is no reason to suppose that he would not have done it had he been a member pf the Commonwealth Parliament. The Northern Territory should be represented in the Parliament, because the Parliament has to legislate for the Territory.
– -What about Canberra ?
– We should deal with one matter at a time. The honorable senator, who comes from New South Wales, asks, “What about Canberra?”
– Quite a pertinent question. It is a Territory.
– ‘Honorable senators are not consistent when they say that the granting of a vote should depend on. the number of people asking for it. They are still more inconsistent when they say that the voice should be silenced, because it is only that of a few. It would be more consistent of the Senate to say to the people of the Territory, “We cannot consistently ask you to pay your taxes, since you have no vote, but we shall be Britishers and hear what you have to say. You shall have the right, at any rate, to voice your needs in the Parliament, since the laws of Australia are made for you as well as for the rest of the community.”
– Would you favour wiping out the taxes of the last twenty years?
– I have not been in the Senate for twenty years. Honorable senators are not responsible for what took place before they entered Parliament, but they are responsible for the action they take to-day. I do not desire to raise the question of the relative number of people in the Territory. Those people have a right to be heard. Their request is but a small one. It is unfair to say, “We will not give them this for fear they want more.’’ It is because people are not content to remain where they are that they are always striving to. improve their position. If we desire contentment to exist in the Territory we should have gone a little further than the present proposal. Is it not an axiom of British rule that grievances shall be heard before Supply is granted to the King? Therefore, we have no right to refuse a hearing to these people and at the same time collect taxes from them.
– The Bill has my opposition because it does not go far enough.. The measure is an important one, because we look upon the Territory almost as another State. While that part of the Commonwealth is not directly represented in this Parliament, we have a tremendous responsibility in regard to its development. The member to be elected for the Northern Territory should have a vote as well as a voice, although it may seem undemocratic to us that the Northern Territory, with but 2,000 voters, should have an equal voice with a member representing 40,000 electors from other constituencies in the Commonwealth.
– Those who are opposing this Bill object to any representation at all.
– I am sorry to think that they have not a proper sense of what is due to the Northern Territory. If any argument were needed to strengthen the case for the Bill, it was supplied this afternoon by Senator Senior, who pointed out that prior to the Territory being taken over by the Commonwealth, it enjoyed one-twentieth of the representation in the South Australian House of Assembly, whereas, if we give the Northern Territory one representative without a vote, it will only mean one seventy-second of the representation in another place, so it cannot be contended for this proposal that it is a very revolutionary step. In my opinion, the Bill does not go far enough. The representative should have the right to vote. This would be an incentive to progress in. the Territory, and with the construction of the railway, the country would be opened up for settlement by people, not of the “ extremist “ class, who appear to be so formidable to Senator Garling, but of agriculturists, artisans, and other workers, who would bring to the councils of the governing bodies in Dar.win sound wisdom and considered judgment on all Australian affairs. I still have some respect for the intelligence of this august Chamber, but if the third reading of this Bill is taken to a division, I shall do what I fail to do in nineteen cases out of twenty, namely, pass over fc© the Government benches and support the Ministry.
– As I understand the Minister desires to have a straight-out vote on the third reading, and I am willing, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I gave a promise that I would try to get a copy of the petition that I referred to this afternoon. I have not been able to obtain the petition from the Parliamentarians, but I have the other two petitions. The first was presented to the House of Representatives in November, 1919. This statement appears in the second paragraph -
Furthermore, we, the undersigned, most respectfully petition that representation shall be given the citizens of the Northern Territory of Australia in the Commonwealth Parliament; that such representation shall be on the same method prevailing elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Australia, having regard to the size and importance of the Territory. . . .
To show the class of people who signed the petition, let me read some of the names that appear on thefirst page -
– All pioneers!
– I will come to the pioneers presently -
Thomas Fraser, manager for Vestey’s Limited; A. Brennan, works manager for Vestey’s.
These are some of the names that appear on the first page. I turn now to the pioneers, and I find that the petition is signed by residents from all parts of the Territory - Marranboy, Katherine River, Pine Creek, and other distant settlements. To relieve the somewhat serious nature of this discussion, I may inform honorable senators that one of the petitioners - S. G. McColl - gives his occupation as an agnostic. The other petition is dated 8th July, 1921. It was sent to the Minister for Home and Territories through the Administrator. Amongst other requests it contains this appeal -
That you will give on assurance that the Government will carefully neigh the desires and requests of the people of the Territory and will undertake to give full consideration to the introduction and passage of a reasonable measure of enfranchisement and representation in the Federal Parliament.
That petition was signed by 250 residents of the Territory.
– It does not ask for a representative without a vote.
– It does not, but I had been challenged as to whether there had been any request at all from the people of the Northern Territory for representation, and I have produced that evidence.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Earle) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 1514), on motion by Senator E. D. Millen-
That the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1923, and the Budget-papers 1922-23, laid on the table of the Senate on the 18th August, 1922, be printed.
.- In rising to support the motion for the printing of these papers, I desire, as an introduction, to refer to the fact that the Budget of to-day is a very important one. Although it has been referred to by certain prominent public men as an “ election Budget,” and a great deal of criticism has been passed upon it from that point of view, I remind those responsible for that criticism that any Budget submitted for consideration in the last session of Parliament must of necessity be an election Budget. If the Government, at this last opportunity afforded them during this Parliament to present matters for consideration, neglected to include in their Budget proposals in pursuance of promises made to the electors at the previous election, which there was no opportunity to fulfil earlier, they would fail in their duty to the electors. This Budget has also been referred to by many as ‘ ‘ shop-window dressing.” When one looks carefully through it he will find certain attractive features which were entirely absent from the Budgets of the two last preceding years. These particularly attractive features are the outcome of succesf ul financing of the affairs of Australia during the past year. They could not have found a place in the Budget were it not for the gratifying result of last year’s operations. They are due to the fact that those operations were much more successful than was anticipated by the Treasurer twelve months before.
– But they were not.
– They were, and I can supply figures to prove that my statement is absolutely correct. Not only have the Government had to put up with thecriticism that the present is a purely election Budget, conveying the impression that it does not disclose sound finance or sound judgment, but a very important section of the press of Australia has gone a little further. I remember that a week or two ago a member of this Parliament, in the course of his criticism of the Budget, characterized the proposals for the reduction of the income tax as a delusion. On the following day in the Age we found, in bold headlines at the top of the parliamentary report, the following words: “Reduction of Income Tax a Delusion.” I want to enter my protest against that kind of thing, because many men who take the newspapers have not the time to read the whole of their contents and rely for their information in a general way on the headlines of the various paragraphs. When they read “ Reduction of Income Tax a Delusion “, the impression is created that the proposal of the Government to remit taxation is nothing but a delusion and there is nothing substantial in it. It is not fair for any newspaper to convey, in bold headlines, an impression which, it must be admitted by any one who reads the details of the remission of taxation proposed in the present Budget, is entirely erroneous. In the same newspaper there appeared a paragraph in a leading article in which reference was made to the proposal to place on the statute-book this year a Bill providing for Public Service superannuation as “a vote-catching measure, pure and simple.” It does appear to me that no matter how one may differ in general policy from a political opponent, if he submits a proposal to carry out a promise previously made which will give absolute relief to those who claim that in their case relief is necessary, it is “a bit over the fence “ to characterize such a genuine proposal as vote-catching or as a delusion.
I think that honorable senators will agree with ‘me that the most satisfactory feature of the Budget is that the ordinary revenue of last year almost met the expenditure of the year. That confirms my statement that the financial operations of last year must be regarded as satisfactory.
– What about the £4,500,000 arrears of taxation that were not considered at all ?
– Later on I may have an opportunity of referring to details, but I say it is satisfactory that the financial results of the operations of the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) last year show that revenue almost met expenditure, and was much greater than the estimate of the previous Treasurer.
– What would have been the position if the Treasurer had not collected the £4,500,000 of arrears of taxation, of which no notice was taken? The revenue would not have met the expenditure to the extent of that amount.
– I think that the Treasurer’s estimate compiled last year, anticipated the collection of arrears of taxation.
– It did not.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity later on of showing how unsatisfactory, in his opinion, the financial operations of last year were. I am trying to show that, in my view, they must be regarded as satisfactory. The financial year ended with a deficit of £209,903, which was considerably less than the estimated deficit. It must be remembered that in the expenditure of last year “ Defence compensation “ had to be provided to the extent of £300,000. That was not a recurring expenditure, and if that compensation had not been provided for last year it would have meant that the Treasurer would have been able to come forward this year with a Budget showing an actual surplus of revenue over expenditure.
– That amount was included in the Estimates of last year.
– It was nonrecurring expenditure, and if provision had not been made for the payment of that £300,000 last year the Treasurer could have submitted a Budget showing an actual surplus of revenue over expenditure. I do not know what has struck Senator Vardon, but I remind him that I am submitting actual figures. He may not agree that any credit should be given to the Treasurer for the financial position to-day, and Iam not claiming for him any special credit; but I do say that when we could end the financial year with a deficit of £209,000 instead of the much larger deficit anticipated, the position must be regarded as satisfactory.
– The honorable senator is easily satisfied.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will agree with my statement before I have finished. I want to deal fairly with the Budget, and I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I do not believe that it is to the advantage of our party or the Government of Australia that we should overlook the fact that in the closing year of the present Parliament a financial statement can be brought forward which shows that our ordinary revenue has increased to such an extent as to practically meet our expenditure.
The accumulated surplus at the end of the year amounted to £6,408,424. Perhaps Senator Vardon will agree that that must be considered satisfactory, in view of the fact that we accepted an estimate last year of an accumulated surplus of only £4,301,219. So that at the close of the year we are over £2,000,000 better off than the Treasurer estimated we would be.
– We could not help being better off because of the collection of the £4,500,000 of arrears of taxation to which I have referred.
– I have explained the financial position to-day, and I shall look forward with interest to Senator Vardon’s criticism of the Budget.
I come now to an argument used more than once during the last few weeks in this Parliament - that the present is not an opportune time for the Treasurer of the Commonwealth to propose any reduction of taxation. I ask those who take that stand : Who has provided the surplus that we have at the present time? There can he only one answer to that question. It has been provided- by the taxpayers of Australia, and the money belongs to them, and to no one else. It should not be the object of the Treasurer to build up huge surpluses. It is a question of what is fair to those who provide the money, and it is not within the province of the Treasurer of the day to take £1 more from the people than is necessary to meet current expenditure. Consequently I take quite an opposite view to that of those who claim that because we have such a heavy national debt, although we have a surplus of six and a half million pounds, the time is not opportune for a reduction in taxation. Surely this is an occasion on which relief should be given to the people.
– What will happen when the surplus is gone?
– The people will have to- meet such a position when it arises Does the honorable senator suggest that the Treasurer should build up a surplus year after year?
– I am not suggesting anything of the kind.
– The interjection of the honorable senator would lead one to believe that he does not agree that the surplus belongs to the people, and that no advantage could be gained by increasing it, when taxation is unduly heavy.
– I asked the honorable senator what he would suggest doing when the surplus is exhausted.
– That position can be met when it arises; but I am very hopeful that, unless something unusual happens, it will not be necessary to reimpose the taxation which is now to be remitted. I trust the Government will exercise necessary care and economy, and that they will be supported by the heads -of Departments to such an extent that our expenditure will be kept within ordinary revenue. If that is done, the relief will be permanent, and I am hopeful that further remissions may be anticipated in the future.
A statement made by an honorable senator a week or two ago, which has been reiterated from time to time, and which, I presume, will be frequently used during the approaching campaign, is that the masses of the people have to bear a greater proportion of the burden of taxation while the wealthy escape. The Budgetpapers provide some very interesting information on that point which should be closely considered, because it refutes the statement entirely. If we look for a moment at the latest available records it will be found from whom the direct taxation of the Commonwealth is derived. The figures for the financial year 1920-21 show that the total amount received by the Federal Taxation Commissioner for that year amounted to £14,502, adi, of which amount £11,480,380 was paid by individuals and £3,022,611 by companies. The amount contributed by those whose incomes were under £200 per annum was £784,989, and that by those whose incomes were under £501 per annum £807,464. The total contributed by persons whose incomes did not exceed £501 per annum was £1,592,453, which shows that out of 548,000 taxpayers 88 per cent, paid only 1 1 per cent, of the income tax received, while 12 per cent, paid 89 per cent. These figures clearly prove that, in the matter of ‘direct taxation, the masses of the people pay a very small proportion of the whole of the income tax collected, while 12 per cent, contribute 89 per cent.
– Is not a certain amount of that passed on ?
– I am dealing with the taxation levied by the Federal Taxation . Commissioner, who has nothing whatever to do with the passing on of taxation.
– A large proportion of those comprised . in the 88 per cent, contribute also through the Customs.
– Every taxpayer contributes through the Customs.
– The honorable senator has heard of income taxation being passed on.
– Possibly the honorable senator passes it on when he gets the opportunity, and I believe others do so when they can.
In perusing the Budget-papers, I find that special reference is made to our national debt, which is a matter of great importance, and one which has caused a good deal of concern in regard to the future liabilities of the Commonwealth. When one analyzes the position, however, it appears that we are unduly pessimistic in regard to our prospects and the possibility of eventually dealing with our national debt in a satisfactory way. Apart from our war debt, our national liability is not a large one, and should give us little concern, because the total amount is only £48,495,756, for which we have something to show. The Treasurer’s statement shows, on page 7, that there is a set-off against our national debt, other than our war debt, as we have assets estimated to be worth £32,490,000, so that the amount for which we have no actual asset “ is approximately £16,000,000. It may be argued that these assets are of no value to Australia ; but if one looks at the items which comprise the £32,490,000, it will be found that they include properties taken over from the States, and which are now being utilized for Commonwealth purposes. In addition, £21,000,000 has been spent on public works. The value of the properties taken over from the States amount to approximately £11,250,000, and in considering our debt we have to recognise that if those properties had not been acquired, similar properties would have had to be secured in order to carry on the functions of government. If they had been secured on a rental basis it would have involved expenditure from revenue, and the rentals would have represented a larger amount than the expenditure is to-day. These items, in conjunction with a good many public works carried out, can be regarded as revenue-producing, so that our national debt, apart from our war obligations, is very small. Those who say that we aro not making ample provision for meeting our war debt, and that our sinking fund proposals are inadequate, forget that during the war period and until the end of 1921 the people were called upon to pay a very large sum in connexion with the debt we had incurred for war purposes. If my memory serves me aright, approximately £107,000,000 was paid out of revenue to the end of 1921 on that account: After considering what it has cost us to meet our war obligations, we have to add that amount to the £367,574,000 that we still owe as a war debt. It is to the credit of the people of Australia that we not only kept the wheels of industry going during the war period, but were able to provide the wherewithal to meet current expenditure out of revenue until 1921, and provide £107,000,000 for war expenditure. That, surely, makes the position very much easier than it would have been if we had not been able to meet our obligations in the direction I have indicated.
Personally, I think that great care should be exercised by the Parliament and the Government in regard to future loan expenditure in Australia, and we should see that every item of loan expenditure brought before us for consideration is analyzed very carefully, because loan moneys should not be spent on nonproductive works. It may be that certain undertakings may have to be entered into by the Commonwealth in order to further develop our resources, and which, to a certain extent, may be problematical in their results. The capital expenditure on any venture should be restricted unless it can be shown that it is likely to bo revenue-producing.
On page 8 of the Treasurer’s Budget speech there is a table showing the revenue expenditure of last year as compared with the estimated expenditure for this year. It must be gratifying to every honorable member to see that there will” be a decrease in- revenue expenditure this year, as compared with the expenditure for 1921-22, of £3,083,256. I take it that the Treasurer and those who have been associated with him in the preparation of these valuable documents - they are the most valuable documents we can have placed before us, because they contain detailed information regarding the financial transactions of the Commonwealth for many years past - have taken every care to assure efficiency without any further increase of expenditure.
– The reduction in expenditure out of revenue is accounted for in a large measure by expenditure being transferred from revenue to loan.
– That does account for it. The Treasurer and his advisers, in their wisdom, have made provision so that the people of Australia will not be unduly burdened this year, as I believe they have been in the past few years, by paying certain moneys out of revenue which ought reasonably to be charged to loan funds. I have contended, ever since I have had a seat in this Chamber, that too great a proportion of .post-office and other, public buildings have been paid for out of revenue. These works are permanent, and are revenue-producing. Some may last for twenty or thirty years, but some may last for fifty years or longer.
– If the honorable senator was building a house, and had the money to pay for it, would it not be best for him to pay cash?
– Even if I had’ the money, I would not use it if I knew that immediately after I had spent it I would have to borrow some more at a high rate of interest. In the ordinary operation of my business it might pay me to charge a portion of my expenditure to loans instead of to revenue. The Government is not in the happy position of having the cash in hand, and can only get it by levying further taxation upon the people. I do not think that the honorable senator’s illustration is applicable to the ramifications of Government Departments. The Government is in an entirely different position from a private individual. If the Government is short of cash, all it has to do is to call upon its company of shareholders, which is the whole population of Australia, to make up the deficit. The private individual has no such opportunity, but has to rely entirely upon his own individual income and resources.
– The principles of sound finance apply to the State just as they apply to private individuals.
– I believe that is true. I believe the same principles that are necessary to secure the success of a business concern should be applied to the ramifications of our various Departments. I claim that there is just as ‘much need for economy and close supervision over Government Departments as there is over the ordinary affairs of a co-operative or proprietary concern.
– It is the other fellow’s cash that we are spending.
– And there is always the danger, when we are spending other people’s money, that we will not exercise the same oversight and control as if we were spending our own money. I doubt whether the Government is realizing, as it ought to, the need for this close supervision. I have been brought up in a hard school, and I do not think I am any the worse for it. I was taught, when I was a lad, that if I looked after the pence the pounds would look after themselves. Later, in my business career, I learned that to make a success of business I must give attention to the many small and varied details, and that any man who considered the small things too paltry for him to worry about, would soon find that his business was a failure.The. need for attention to small things should be recognised by the Government and by the heads of Government Departments.
I find in the Treasurer’s statement reference to a proposal which he evidently thinks has something to recommend it. It has been suggested that a saving of £29,000 could be effected in regard to the. maternity bonus, but the Treasurer is not adopting the idea this session, because the sum is “ only £29,000.” When I read statements like that I begin to wonder whether my views are shared by the Treasurer and members of the Government, and heads of Departments. It has been suggested that the allowance should be restricted to those whose incomes do not exceed £300 a year. I venture to say that if .£29,000 could be saved in that way, another £29,000 in another direction, and hundreds of smaller amounts in other directions, there would be a very large saving in the aggregate. I do not think the Treasurer can afford to neglect any possible saving, however small it may be. It is not sound to reject the proposal put forward by a great number of public men, that the allowance should be given only to those who need it, on the score that it would save “ only £29,000.” On page 11 of the Budget Speech the following paragraph appears : -
The Government has examined many alternative proposals, but none appears satisfactorily to solve the very difficult problem. One suggestion is that the payment should be restricted to cases where the family income does not exceed £300 a year. This proposal is supported by the fact that in many cases the allowance is received by those who do not need it. In many other cases the allowance is totally inadequate. A consideration of the figures, however, shows that no solution oan be found in this way. According to the Commonwealth Statistician, the limitation of the payment to incomes under £300 would reduce the total payable by only £29,000 a year. A proposal to save £29,000 is worth considering; especially if it can be adopted without inflicting hardship on any section of the community.
I suppose that one of the most important items in the Treasurer’s speech is the’ proposal to reduce the Income Tax. It is proposed not only to reduce the rate of tax, by eliminating the 10 per cent, super tax, but to raise the exemption to such an extent that 404,667 taxpayers will be relieved entirely of paying Income Tax. I do not think I can give ray support to the whole proposal as it stands. I doubt whether the Government is wise in proposing to relieve such a large number of taxpayers from paying direct taxation. I would very much prefer a proposal to reduce the rate of tax, in addition to removing the super tax, so that every individual in receipt of an income at present taxable would have to pay same tax, (however small. I think that would meet the case very much better than it is met by entirely exempting such a, large number of taxpayers. The amount of deduction allowed for children might be increased.
There is also a proposal to introduce the averaging system. For the life of me I have never been able to understand what can be gained by that system. The arguments in its favour are based upon false premises. If a man has an income of £500, he should pay Income Tax upon that amount, and if ihe has an income of £1,000, he should pay Income Tax upon that. It has been argued that even though a man has an income of £1,000 this year, he may only have an income of £500 next year. That happens in many businesses, but what does any ordinary, competent business man do ? When he ascertains- what his profits have been for the year, he makes provision cut of them to meet the Income Tax demands to be made in the following year. He pays his Income Tax with the income of the preceding year. What is the difference between the ordinary wage-earner, farmer, and the business man? When we try to introduce the averaging system, no’ matter how carefully we frame the schedule with a view to covering as many people as possible, it will be found that, outside of the relief given, there will be a large number of people every year on whom will be placed an additional burden in order to make up for the relief granted to certain people, and those upon whom the additional burden will be placed will not be in a position to bear that burden, because of their diminishing income. It will .be hard to satisfy me that there is any justification for departing from the ordinary system.
– Are you unwilling to make any allowance for seasonal differences?
– If a man sustained a loss in one year he should certainly be allowed to deduct that loss from his next year’s income, if he then showed a profit, and that system might be extended over a period of years. An arrangement of that nature would merely necessitate a slight amendment of the present Act, and that would be preferable to a complicated system of averaging. Surely there would be no insuperable difficulty in the way of amending the Act so as to allow a deduction for any loss that might occur in one year from the first year’s income that was large enough to be taxable.
– One year a man might make a profit up to £5,000 and in the following year a loss of £2,000, but he would get no allowance for the year in which he made that loss.
– My suggestion would overcome that difficulty, and I prefer it to a complicated system of averaging. An amending Bill has been promised, and, when it comes before us, the whole matter can be fully discussed.
The Budget-papers contain a wealth of information. In looking through them casually the other day a point occurred to me upon which I thought I would offer some comment. Two loans have been placed on the London market during this year - one was floated on the 18th January and the other on the 5th April. Any honorable senator looking at the details in the Budget -papers concerning these loans would be impressed by the fact that the loan floated in January of £5,000,000 is costing the people of Australia £6 19s. 3d. per cent, if paid at the short date, and £6 12s. per cent, if paid at the long date, while the loan floated two and a naif months afterwards for the same amount carries an interest rate of £5 16s. 7d. per cent. I make these comments with great diffidence, because it is very difficult for a layman to criticise the financial arrangements made by the Government in London; but I believe that if a little more foresight had been shown with regard to the first loan the money could have been raised much more advantageously. I take it that the credit of- the. Commonwealth in London is good. Judging, by the financial, journals that honorable senators; may see in the Parliamentary Library from week to week, there was every indication in January last of. some easing of the money market, and it seems strange, ‘as money was so dear in January, that the loan should have been floated at that time. Would, it not have, been possible to make’ some temporary ‘arrangement for , the £5,000,0.00) pending the. reduction in the interest rate that every one seemed to know was to. take place very soon.?
– For all’ we knew, the rate of interest- might have gone up.
– I have read several’ of the financial papers, such as The Statist; and I find that there was certainly an anticipation’ of the moneymarket being easier. In The Statist’ of 14th January, 1922, there was an article headed “ The Capital Market. An Opportunity for the Treasury.” The opening sentence ran- -
The rush of applications for the Lanarkshire County Council loan on Monday morning emphasizes once more the present popularity of gilt-edge investment stock, and, incidentally, points to. the. prospect, of- further borrowers of. the same class coming to. the capital market1 in the near future.
This loan amounted to -£2,500,0.00. . It was. 5£. per cent, stock, and it was offered at £96. Thus a County Council in England was able to obtain better terms than Australia, could secure for double theamount. My suggestion is that the. financial advisers of- the. Government in London might have been, able to obtain temporary accommodation for the loan of £5,000,000, through the agency of one of the well-known banks, at the rate then ruling. The Commonwealth would then have obtained the full £100, and two and a half months later the loan could have been floated at 5 instead of 6’ per cent.
In 1912, when a certain State in Aust tralia had’ to raise a redemption loan of £1,500,000 on the London market, and its London representative advised the Trea-surer of that State to. accept the terms offering: - £93 for 4. per cent, stock, if the loan was placed on the market at a given date - the- Treasurer turned down the advice of the London, office, and asked his. representative to ascertain from a certain bank in London if temporary accommodation could be given to. the
States. That accommodation was obtained, and within three and a half, months the loan was floated, the saving: to the. State being £80,000 in hard cashIf a State could make arrangements of. that character, surely the Commonwealthauthorities could have done the same,, when there was- every indication of the money market becoming easier.
– Apparently that particular Treasurer acted more wisely than the London advisers of the Com- mon.wealth.
– I believe they could have saved Australia £250,000. : Senator Lynch. - If that particular State could get temporary accommodation for £1,500,000, it is quite feasible to suppose, that the Commonwealth could have done so.
– I thought this matter- was worth referring to, and I. hope, that, if there- is anything in what I1 have pointed out, the suggestion will bear fruit in the future.
Before concluding I should like to make reference to a new departure withregard to the operations- of’ the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which certainly commends itself’ to me, and I hopeit will to a majority- of members of theSenate. I do. not know whether honorable, senators have read, the explanatory speech delivered’ by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Poynton) in another place, on the 24th August. It was pointed out that a bold policy had been decided upon with regard to the future activities of. the PostaL Department. A three years’ programme has been formulated to cope with arrears of work,, and with the normal development of the services given by the Department. I have looked, into the matter very- carefully, and. I consider that the Government are acting’ on sound: lines in proposing to do what is- outlined in the speech of the Postmaster-General. When we come to th« items, we shall beanie to discuss them in more- detail. The Government, in endeavouring to overtake the arrears of work in connexion with one of our- greatest public utilities, are doing- the right thing. Expenditure onsound business lines to provide improved telegraphic, telephonic; and postal services, will be money well, spent, and as- ai matter- of fact, it will be reproductive, work, though possibly it may not be.- directly revenue-producing. The same may be said of quite a number of other Government undertakings. We may, for instance, spend millions of pounds upon our roads. That expenditure may not be directly reproductive to the State Treasury, but it is reproductive in the highest sense of the word, because good roads make successful land settlement possible and furnish additional traffic for the State railways. It does not follow that because any particular item of ‘expenditure is not directly revenue-producing it is not reproductive. [Extension of time granted.]
The future prosperity of this country depends, to a greatextent, upon our amicable and successful business relationships with countries outside of Australia. We talk a great deal about the potentialities of the Commonwealth from a pro- ductive point of view, andno doubt the possibilities are very great indeed; but we must do : all we possibly can to encourage and build up our industries. Every reasonable inducement must be offered capitalists from other countries to come to Australia, lay down plant, and engage in manufacturing here. But we cannot expect to hold any trade that may be opened up with outside countries unless our manufacturers can be relied upon to satisfy the requirements of our customers, both in regard to the get-up and quality ofcommodities intended for export. This matterhas been discussed on other occasions, and I regret a criticism that appeared a week or two ago in a paper that is widely read in Australia, dealing with the damage to Australian trade through neglect of our manufacturers and exporters in this respect. If honorable senators will bear with me I will read an extract from a letter that reached Australia recently from Java.
Your mention of trade between Java and Australia brings to my mind the attempts we have been making to do something. We have our own branch office in Sydney, and on our instructions they have been inducing manufacturers to cater to our needs. 1 am sorry to say that success has not attended us, and. I must say that the chief reason is that Australian manufacturers will not cater for us. They work too much on the system of “ take it or leave it.” This is disastrous.
A short time ago” the inquiry came out from the Government here for dehydrated tar for road repairs. It meant a full year’s contract, at about 500 barrelsa month. We immediately cabled ourSydney office. In due course we received quotation and analysis.
We made our tender, and the Government notified us that we were the best, and asked us if we could give a guarantee of analysis. We cabled to our office in Sydney, and they got the manufacturer’s guarantee, and cabled us same. The Government, therefore, placed their first order with us, and we cabled for shipment of same as soon as possible. We asked for the certificate of analysis to be sent with each shipment. Imagine our surprise when we received the first shipment tofind the analysis certified very many points below guarantee. We had not stipulated any analysis in the first place, so that the manufacturers were actually guaranteeing their own analysis.
This is only one instance of the manner inwhich serious damage is being done to Australian trade in Java. ‘We all know that the possibilities of developing trade with our Eastern neighbours arte very great indeed, and we know also how important it is that our products should be presented inan attractive form for our customers there. Too -much attention cannot be paid to this phase of Australian commercial life. When a customer requires an article to he got up in a certain way, it is worth while for our manufacturers to endeavour tocomply with his wishes, otherwise we shall lose the trade. I hope that our manufacturers will appreciate the importance of ‘this matter and see to it that the quality and get-up of the goods are to be relied upon. Only in this way may weexpect to develop our trade on sound and satisfactory lines.
I hope the Treasurer’s estimates of revenue will be realized and that every effort will be made by honorable senators to assist the Government to get the very best value for -expenditure incurred in out various Departments.I believe we have turned the corner, and, with reasonable care, we may look forward to the gradual reduction of our national debt while, at the same time, being able to find the wherewithal to carry on the industrial and commercial activities of the Comm on weal th.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time..
– I thank the Minister (Senator Pearce) for his courtesy in bringing before the Senate, in my absence, a couple of amendments which I had suggested, and which I thought would remove any doubt as to certain features of the Bill. There was one other point which I brought under the Minister’s notice, and which probably I did without having taken into account certain other features of the Constitution Act. My suggestion was that, as one of the adjuncts to the service of the senator is his salary, there was a possibility that, in filling a short casual vacancy in the manner proposed by this Bill, we might find ourselves in collision with the Parliamentary Allowances Act, which provides that, in the case of a senator chosen or appointed to fill a casual vacancy, his allowance shall start from the day on which his name is certified by the Governor of a State to the GovernorGeneral. I brought this matter up because I was under the impression that the writ for the election of a senator was issued by the Governor- General. I find, on looking at the Constitution Act, that it is issued by the Governor of a State. I thought it rather incongruous for the Governor of a State to be called upon to certify to the election of a senator as the result of a Federal election, though I could realize the Governor’s position in the case of a senator chosen by the Parliament or appointed by the Executive Council. Senator Drake-Brookman’ has drawn my attention to other features of the Constitution Act, and I am now inclined to think that there will be no occasion for any further amendment either of the Parliamentary Allowances Act or, as I have suggested, of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– With regard to the motion which has been standing in my name on the notice-paper for some time, I should like to say a few words to explain my position in connexion with it.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to speak to the motion unless he intends to move it.
– I shall move the motion, and will subsequently ask leave to withdraw it. My difficulty is that it deals with a subject that may be said to be sub judice, inasmuch as the question of the wages in the coal and iron trades of Australiahas during the last few months been the subject of investigation by the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, and to discuss this matter when it is to some extent under the consideration of an Arbitration Court would be very improper. It is for this reason that I have refrained for so Long from going on with my motion. I have been at considerable pains to collect a mass of evidence bearing on the subject to which I have given consideration in bygone years, and which I have brought before the Senate on more than one occasion. I recognise that to discuss the question at present might be considered in questionable taste. I have no wish to prejudice the case before the Arbitration Court, and by giving my opinions onthe matter here I might be charged with taking a partial view of the subject. I think I can make out an excellent case for my motion, but, in the circumstances, it would be better to postpone its consideration. I may, if privileged to be a member of the next Parliament, again submit it. I am prepared to move that the notice of motion be read and discharged.
– That would not meet the position. “ The best thing the honorable senator can do is to movehis motion. He has exercised his right to speak to it, and an honorable senator is not entitled to speak to a motion in his name unless he moves it. In order to move the motion the honorable senator must read it.
– In order that 1 may comply with the Standing Orders, I move -
– I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 21st September (vide page 2524), on motion by Senator Lynch -
That the Senate is of opinion that, in order to insure the more active development of the rural areas of the Commonwealth, prevent double-banking in the function of collecting taxes, and properly delimit revenue-raising spheres as between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth Government, except in case of national emergency, should leave the field of land taxation to be exclusively exploited by the State Governments.
– I find myself under the necessity of opposing the motion submitted by Senator Lynch, for the reasons which I shall endeavour to briefly state. First of all, the mover gives as one of the reasons for the proposition he submits that it would prevent doublebanking in the collection of land tax; but I would remind the honorable senator that the Commonwealth has shown its desire to do that for many years, and has submitted a proposition to the States which invariably for some reason or another they have declined to adopt except in the case of Western Australia, where arrangements have been made for one agency to collect for the State and Federal authorities. What can be done in one State can surely be done in others, and I therefore submit that the motion is not necessary on the first grounds advanced by the honorable senator.
The next reason is that if given effect to it would be the means of properly limiting revenue-raising spheres as between the Commonwealth and the States, which would have the effect of allocating the collection of land tax entirely to the States. But I submit that the proposal, if given effect to, would not delimit the operation as between the Commonwealth and the States, but would merely result in the Commonwealth giving up one sphere in which it now operates. Honorable senators who have any knowledge of country conditions will know what a “ giveandtake” fence is. That may be proper as between owners of adjoining properties, but it is not a question of give and take in this instance, but one of give .only. There is no suggestion in the motion that the States should in return give up something, but there is the mere proposal that we should surrender the field of taxation to the States which is at present open to the Commonwealth. It goes on to provide that the Commonwealth should not trespass upon thu field of taxation excepting in the case of national emergency,, and I would like to ask Senator Lynch, who is to be the judge of that? There? can be only one judge.
– The Commonwealth Parliament.
– The Commonwealth Parliament must be the judge, and it came to a decision when an emergency arose, and imposed land taxation, whether it was right or wrong, I am not called upon to say. But no one can deny that in the exercise of its judgment taxation was levied in an emergency, and all that is required to justify the action of the Commonwealth Government is toshow that emergency exists to-day. It is in the shape of a debt of £400,000,000’ occasioned by the war, and surely that is an emergency which justifies us in collecting land taxation until such time as there is an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States as to which fields-‘ of taxation each authority shall operate in. I submit that we cannot deal with financial relationships between the Commonwealth and States in this piece-meal’ way, and the whole subjects should and must come under consideration before verylong. The relationship between the States: and the Commonwealth, whilst fairly satisfactory in the circumstances which, prevailed at the inception of Federation, cannot continue indefinitely, and there must be a discussion of the question and a clear line of demarcation laid down. Even the per capita grant cannot continue without review, as it has a close relationship to Commonwealth revenue. We cannot properly, reasonably, or wisely deal with this matter and say that certain items shall be dealt with by the one authority unless we take’ everything into consideration, and that , can only be done at a conference between the
States and the Commonwealth. Land taxation to the amount of £1,658,000 was levied, on which there is an -outstanding amount of £210,000, making a total of nearly £1,9 00,000, and it is quite obvious that the Commonwealth cannot forgo that unless some arrangement is made with the States under which it will be found desirable for the Commonwealth to confine its activities to certain fields of taxation and for the States to do the same. In the absence of such an arrangement the proposal seems to me unreasonable, and quite unbusiness-like. AsSenator Lynch has probably accomplished his purpose by bringing thismatter under the notice of the Senate, I suggest that he might reasonably withdraw the motion. I cannot see for a moment why the question of land tax should be left entirely to the States; but if it is, as the result of an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States, anagreeament would be arrived atfor the different authorities to confine their operations to particularspheres. Toask the Commonwealth to forgo its rights in the direction suggested withoutsome compensating factor, would befoolish ; and 2, therefore, suggest that the honorable senator should withdraw his motion.If ire does not, he will place me, andI hope a majority of the Senate, in the position of being compelled “to oppose it.
SenatorDE LARGIE (Western Australia) [8.7]. - The question raised by Senator Lynch is onewhich any repre(sentative of Western Australia, remembering the financial position in which that State hasbeen for a considerable number of years, might very reasonably support. Perhaps no State in theCommonwealth is in a more unsatisfactory financial position than Western Australia, owing to the enormous territory to be administered by the State Government and to the decliningrevenue owing principally to the falling off in the gold yield. At one period Western Australia was in a strong financial position, as far as revenue from Customs and Excise was concerned, owing to the fact that themale population was once very large, and the revenue derived from stimulants and narcotics consequently substantial. That position has drastically altered, and the population of WesternAustralia now more nearly approximates those in some of the other States than it did years ago. The revenue has fallen off considerably, and, in consequence of new wheat areas being opened up, the cost of administration has increased considerably. Tear after year, we have had to record a deficit, and, generally, the Western State is in an unfortunate position. To de-limit taxation -as between the Federal and State authorities would be a starting point.
– Couldthe position be balanced by withdrawing the per capita grant?
– No. Ifthe Western State did not receive its share of the Customs and Excise it wouldbe impossible to carry on and avoid bankruptcy.
– It wouldbe impossible for the Commonwealth to carry on without revenue from this source.
– I recognise that the need of revenue to-day is great, and that the war has changed our financial position ina most drastic way. ‘ The States must be kept solvent,and if the per capita grants tovarious States were withdrawn Western Australia would ‘be in a hopeless financial position. Western Australia hasrefrained, up to the present, from asking for special consideration, and it is hopedthat, in consequence of an energetic developmental policy, additional revenue will be obtained, by means of which we hope eventually tobe able to squarethe ledger.
– How can we pay our way if our revenue is with drawn?
– I know it would add to the difficulties of the Commonwealth; and we cannot afford as a Federal Parliament to ignore that aspect of the question. The whole position should be discussed at a conference or convention at which amendments of the Constitution can be considered. There are very good reasons why thatshould be done, and this would be a very good starting point. At present we are working under somewhat haphazard and contradictory financial clauses in the Constitution. The so-called “ Braddon blot,” followed by the per capita grant,was forced upon us owing to the circumstances prevailing at the time; but,at a representative of the Western State who has watched the financial position very closely, I must admit that it is time we did something in the way of assisting that State. Some of the States could do well without the per capita grant.
– Which States?
– There are States in a better financial position than Western Australia; because they are able to show a credit whilst. Western Australia has always a. deficit. If Western: Australia was in the satisfactory position Victoria is in, I am sure Senator Lynch, or any other representative from Western Australia, would suggest this means of squaring the ledger. Something must be done in the near future to assist Western Australia ashas been done in connexion with Tasmania, which is a much smaller State, and consequently costs much less to govern than the enormous State of Western Australia; It is not. that there is such a. great part of Western Australia unsettled. Settlement extended over almost the: whole State. I admit that it is a sparse population; but it is a source, of large- expense to the State Government. I have a good deal of sympathy with the motion, and I feel quite’ sure that before long the necessities of Western Australia will compel some relief to be granted.
). - I am rather pleased at the reception accorded to this motion, although I would have preferred a more lengthy debate. To me, the motion is a matter of no small importance. The method of financing the Federal system has been subject to many fluctuations.. At the start of the Federation, as we all remember, the pretensions were very modest indeed; in fact, they were so modest that when we recall the claims then made by the fathers of Federation, and compare them with the actualities of to-day, we are forced to the conviction that the men who figured in those times either had no idea of what the wants of the Federal tion would grow to, or that; we are living in a time when a great bout of extravagant expenditure is being’ indulged in. Sentiment has ebbed and flowed on the subject, from the timewhen we thought Federation would live within a modest measure of means until now, when it is, beyond all comparison, the greatest spending agency in the Commonwealth.
I am one of those who supported this proposal in 1910 ; and, in order to correct the statement of: the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), I wouldsay that there was then no stress of circumstances at all. When that step was taken it was taken deliberately, without the influence of war to authorize: or direct it. The Minister has used the necessity for paying off the war debt as an argument for the retention of the tax. That, however; is quite beside the subject. He dwelt upon the minor features of my proposal, . but he did not dwell upon the major one - which is the necessity for encouraging rural development in this continent. That is the. important; the vital, feature of my motion. We indulge in the statement time and again, ad nauseam, that the population is drifting into the cities, and that there are clusters of population around the coast line, while the interior is unpeopled. Here is a. chance of. giving the. interior some attraction that it would not otherwise possess. Why is the interior neglected? Because.it is unattractive. Why is it unattractive? Because there is: not enough money spent in it; because there are no roads of a proper description”; because the- rivers are: not properly bridged; and because this,that, and. the other pest are not adequately kept in check. Here is an opportunity f or the Commonwealth Government to step out of the sphere in which it is raising a few million pounds and hand the money over to the authorities in the country districts; They would use it to make the country side’ more attractive, and to better advantage infinitely.
– Will not telephones and telegraphs help to make the country attractive ?
– Of course they will. The Commonwealth Treasurer can help, butI would remind Senator Pearce that the State authorities to-day, as compared with the Federal authorities, are as ninetynine to ten in their influence and’ attendance upon the man in the interior. Senator Pearce touched upon the only thing that he could touch upon - the extension of a telephone line into the interior: But does not the man in the interior want something more than a telephone, line? What about railways, roads, schools, water supply, and his many other needs, which it is not within the power of the Federal authority to give him? The State Government is the only authority which can give him these things, but it has not the money. Where is the money going to ? It is certainly not going into the State Treasuries, because, in four years, there is an accumulated deficit in every State except Victoria of £5^)00,000. The Federal Treasurer has not a deficit. He has a surplus of £6,000,000. The time has come when we should consider seriously whether we should retain this fount of taxation to which there is a pronounced bottom. While the Commonwealth is in the field no other authority can come in without making itself very unpopular.
The capital point of my motion is the encouragement of rural industries in this country. Our bloated cities are an unsightly blot on the landscape in every part of the Commonwealth. One does not need to go to Western Australia to see what is happening on the countryside-. It is true that I have mainly drawn my inspiration from that State, for I know that Western Australia, being the largest and least developed State, presents the most striking warrant for moving in the direction proposed in my motion. But what about Queensland ? What about the western portion of New South Wales? What about Sir Joseph Carruthers’ report regarding his million farms scheme? He said that nothing was more constant than reports from men in the country, even in the moderately well settled State of New South’ Wales, that they had not simple conveniences placed at their disposal in their pioneering operations. They have not necessary conveniences because the State Government has not the money with which to provide them. Senator PEARCE - The State Government has money to spend on the North Shore bridge and the underground city railway.
– The Minister can make these excuses as long and as often as he likes, but I feel that the time will come when the average citizen will say to himself, “ I see the Federal authority in the distance. It has a certain range of subjects to which it must pay attention. I must look to the State authority, and particularly to the still smaller local authorities, for the supply of my many pressing needs. When I go to the Roads Board office, or to the Shire Council office, I find that these things cannot be provided, but I ses that the Central Authority is rolling in affluence. What is the Federal Government doing for me? It has been doing nothing but heaping up a surplus for the last five years.” That is no consolation to the man who wants bare necessities provided for him. Then he begins to think about the ballot-box, and that is where he will stop us. It is because I do not want to reach that climax that I have moved this motion. I want a fair division of the field of taxation. Why is. rural settlement not proceeding? Because the country is not attractive. The man in the country who goes into the congested centres of population, such as Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane, sees people enjoying all the comforts that come their way, while he, who is at the base of their prosperity, has to wait for days to get a load of his produce to market. Human nature being as it is, he will not stand it for very long, and he will stop us at the ballot-box. We cannot, no matter how much we may desire or try, spirit away the State Governments. They are an integral portion of our Federal system. Again, I repeat, and it will stand repeating, that they minister to the extent of 90 per cent, to the well-being and requirements of the people of this country. I am mainly concerned about giving a chance to the man inland. Let us give him a chance to prosper and build up a happy home. The cities can look after themselves. I- am going to push this motion to a division. I did not put it on the business-paper for any idle purpose. I may be told that I am undermining the Temple of Labour,’ or the “ Mosque of Labour,” which is referred to in the bright lexicon of the Leader or this party. Whether it is so or not, I live up to this principle, and I lived up to it when Mr. Gregory and I tendered a report to the present Parliament about the harmfulness of large areas of land being held up along our railways and roads in my own State. That evil still exists. I have not put that brick in “Labour’s Temple” through a stone crusher and reduced it to dust, like the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. The States can cut up and make available those large areas of land just as New Zealand is doing to-day. Will the Minister believe that in New Zealand, where there is a State Government and an elective Upper House, an infinitely more burdensome tax is placed upon large areas of land than this Government places upon them ? What is done in New Zealand can be done, if the States are so willed, in a more effective way than it is being done by the Central Authority.
– What do you mean by large areas?
– It naturally depends on the quality of the land. A man holding 500 acres in the Western District of Victoria would be a land monopolist, but in Western Australia a similar area would not be regarded as sufficient for a farm.
I intend to press the motion to a division, believing that it is a fair one, and that I shall receive some support, even from the Government. The best of the Minister’s speech was the concluding part, and in it he justified the motion. The Commonwealth has dipped into every conceivable stream of revenue. Whether that is regarded as fiscally fair or not the Government cannot go on indefinitely, as they have been doing, without eventually getting a decided answer at the ballotbox. The people will confine the Commonwealth Government to a special sphere. They will say, “ You can come along when the country is in danger, but do not put your line in where so many authorities are fishing for revenue and cannot even get a bite.” It is to be said to the credit of the New South Wales Government that the Shire Councils are now permitted to raise revenue that formerly went to Sydney. The object is to make rural life worth while, and seductive. The Commonwealth authorities should follow that example before they are forced to do so. I have a recollection that the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) gave expression the other day to some such view as I am now presenting. I do not know the opinion of the Cabinet upon the motion, but this Chamber does not need to wait for the Government to tell it what to do. The. Senate is the master of its own collective mind. It has made suggestions in the past that the
Government have been only too glad to adopt. There is no reason why it should not act now, if it has a decided opinion on the subject. Let honorable senators ask themselves whether the motion is fair or unfair, and whether they desire progress to be made inland or in the congested cities around the coast. If the question is looked at at all seriously, the motion must be supported.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed (vide page 2811).
– I do not propose to touch upon the matter of the expenditure of public money. I realize that the expenditure of £12 per head of the population - £60,000,000 odd- is, in itself, a rather important subject, but we have been told by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) that of that £12 per head, there is only from £4,500,000 to £5,000,000 in respect of which any retrenchment can be made. For the present, I propose to turn to another topic, and one that I conceive to be of infinitely greater importance to this country than any Budget ever can be. I refer particularly to a subject that has not been very much ventilated, either in this Chamber or the other. As far as I can recollect, the only member who has raised the question here is Senator Bakhap, and as far as. I have read the doings of the other Chamber, I doubt if it has ever been brought up there. The question I propose to address myself to to-night is the steady decline of the population of Australia over a series of years. There is every justification for calling the matter a -vital one, (because -it has to do, as the word signifies, with the very life -of the nation. Our first object should be to conserve -“the life -and morals of the community, and leave minor subjects for subsequent consideration. A good deal ‘has been said of the necessity to encourage population, and to regard the native-born as the :best type’ of immigrant that we could have. I agree with that, although I would point out that the native-born cannot be exclusively regarded as the cream of the population. To do so would be to regard those who pioneered Australia as men of inferior stock to those who appeared on the scene afterwards. That would be an absurdity. For many tracks opened up, rivers explored, mountains climbed, and waterless deserts crossed, we have to thank not necessarily the native-born, but men who came overseas to Australia. The men who “ blazed the .trail “ in this country did not need to wait to be born here “before they did the things that live as mighty deeds in Australia’s history. It is plain that we are very much in need of population. We are not in the happy position of the United States of America, which is closing its doors to immigration, and telling their kith and kin, in .effect, to go somewhere else. We hope to be in that position sooner or later.
As I have said, I am putting up a plea for that section of our population that has not arrived up to date - the unborn Australian - who has been deliberately prevented from arriving and who has not had .much attention from this Legislature .up to the .present. It may be said of .the practice to which I refer that it is of ancient origin, .and that it has been upheld by men of learning. But I am not in the -least dismayed at the ^thought .that those mho ally themselves with this practice of restricting population < claim -either ancient precedent or are supported by those “who do’ but grope in .learning’s pedant round,” as Newman said. It matters not to me if this practice has the imprimatur of antiquity or not, (because many of the social vices that .survive to-day, notably slavery and usury, have ancient sanction.
I realize, of course, that this 5s a most delicate subject ito -touch upon, and that amy person venturing .into this realm of thought may very well be told to lookto himself. It is very probable that if one .trenches upon the private Eves of ‘the people one may be in danger of being ‘told to mind his own business, and that people should ‘be permitted ‘to live their lives according to their own ideas. I am not in agreement with that argument. I suggest ‘that it may sometimes happen in our human relationships that a person can .best mind .his own business by giving some attention to his neighbour’s affairs. To me this matter is of such capital importance to the nation that it would pay every political party to make a bonfire of its nostrums and its platforms,, rather than allow this pernicious practice to continue. This may seem to be an extraordinary statement to make, but I hope to_ supply some warrant for it as I proceed.
It will be conceded, . of .course, that the Senate has a right to proclaim its views on this subject. The functions of the Senate are not exclusively confined to the passing of laws. On one occasion we decided to equip an expedition, of a purely scientific character, for the South Pole; on another we -gave .approval to a proposal to help the sufferers -in a disastrous Italian earthquake; and in the case of the late Sir Eoss * Smith, who performed that dauntless aerial feat of travelling 12,000 miles and pioneered the air passage to these shores from the Mother Land, we conferred our plaudits upon him and commended his conduct and behaviour in a substantial manner. These instances go to prove that, the .business of the Senate is not confined to the passing of laws and sending them on to the statute-books to find an abiding place there. So I say there is warrant, taking these instances as precedents, for stepping aside this evening and addressing ourselves for the time being to the consideration of this transcendent subject.
I do not propose to deal with this matter, for the present, at all events, from other than a purely utilitarian basis. This tendency in our .social life ito .restrict the birth-rate is one that should cause serious anxiety to every person who wishes this country well. We should pause and ask ourselves where it will lead us if it is allowed .to persist. 1 direct honorable senators’ .attention to some remarks made by Dr. Fetherston, the member for Prahran, in the VictorianLegislature, on the 4th July of this year. Ifc is, I repeat, an extremely delicate subject; one that requires to be depolarized in some way before it can be properly and effectively treated in a deliberative Chamber like this. Dr. Fetherston threw a flare of light upon the position of affairs in Victoria. A brief extract from his speech will bring home to honorable senators what I. mean -
At the Women’s Hospital there are two births to one case of abortion. In private practice the difference is- rather greater in favour of births. I have discussed the possibility with my medical friends for a number of years, and I have come to the conclusion that the number- of. births is probably, four to one case of abortion.
This is the weighed’ and considered stater ment of a responsible- legislator in theVictorian Parliament as to what is happening in the private and domestic life:- of this country. Since- the official records show, the annual number of births to be 136,000 for the- Commonwealth, and’ according to the medical testimony stated this represents only four-fifths of the number that should, have arrived, it is clear- that well over 100,000 young lives have been deliberately put. an end to since the Great War. And if. we are to allow for the destructive work of allied causes, there, has been twice, the number of lives lost by this country since the war as was lost, altogether in the war. This reveals ‘ a state of affairs that is most alarming. Similar views may be obtained from other sources. Dr. Barrett, in his work Turin Ideals, has made some reference to this subject also. It will be found on page 345 -
It has been my experience to meet with cases in the course of my practice in which well-to-do people - young people- - have deliberately avoided parental life altogether.
Here is another authority backing up Dr: Fetherston. We must face the facts. The practice to which I refer is not of long- standing. There was a time when this tendency was unnoticed in our birth , statistics and when there was no cause for complaint. Unfortunately, this practice is now evidenced, and to a marked extent, not only in Australia, but in every English-speaking country. I can quote other authorities, all of whom disclose an equally disquieting state’ of affairs. The Sydney Bulletin of 25th
February, 1909, in. an article dealing, with the, State of Victoria, said,-
In the natural order- of things, and even without, any, gain of parents by immigration, there should have been at least 6,000 more births; instead there were over 6,000 less. But while the births were fewer, the deaths were more numerous. In the five years 1900-4 the average was 15,457 per annum ; for 1908 the total was 15,707. It is, of course, obvious that if this state of- affairs were to continue, and there were no gains by immigration, the time would rush along when the State would be empty of population.
I turn now to an official source for further confirmation of this tendency to restrict population.. T find, in the Com.monwealth statistical returns,, that in 1861 the birth, rate in Australia was 42.3 per 1,000 ; in 1881 it was 35 ; in 1901 2.7, and in 1921 25 per 1,000 - a steady decline over- a period of sixty years. Our position is indeed comparable to that of France, which to-day unfortunately presents one of the greatest, yet saddest, problems of the world, and is the causa of. more searchings of hearts as to the future^ than any other. Everybody knows that France, for a long period, has been indulging in certain practices which, unhappily, have brought her into a most perilous position. I venture the opinion that, but for these practices,, there would have been no. need for Great Britain to rush to the aid of France in 1914, because in the early part of the eighteenth century the population of that country was greater than that of Germany. The area, of France is only about 1,000 square miles less, and it cannot be contended that the carrying capacity of the respective countries is so much more in favour of Germany. The discrepancy in population at the outbreak of the war was due entirely to the natural increase in population being unrestricted in the one case and restricted in the other, with a- result that at the beginning of the last war France had only 40,000,000 of people, as against nearly 70,000,000 in Germany, while the density or pressure of population on the soil is not much more than half that of Germany. It is no wonder that, viewing the consequences of this practice, the patriotic sons of France should declare, -finis Galloe - the end of. France.
Let us compare the position of Australia with that of France. Let honorable senators keep in mind the fact that our birth rate has dwindled- from 42 per 1,000 in 1861 to 25 per 1,000 in 1921. The figures I quote are, of course, taken from official sources. In France in 1814, at the beginning of last century, the rate of natural increase was 34 per 1,000. That was at about the time when France had a greater population than Germany, the country that later became so rich and prosperous. In Australia in 1881 the natural increase was 35.3 per 1,000. There is a slight inequality between the two periods referred to, but to all intents and purposes it may be said that France in this regard was on the same mark in 1814 as Australia in 1881. France started to take its own destiny into its own hands, with the result that from 1814 to 1854 the rate of natural increase dropped to 25 per 1,000, and that is exactly the rate of increase recorded for the Commonwealth last year. I have said that in 1881 Australia stood on the same mark as France in 1814. The comparison I institute is this: It took France forty years to drop in the rate of natural increase from 34 to 25 Der 1,000, but it took Australia only twenty years to register a similar decline in the birth rate. France continued the practice of birth restriction, and, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, in 1911, which was before the war, and before any external disturbance could have had any effect at all on the normal birth rate, the rate in France was down to 18.7 ner 1,000. We can remember reading in the newspapers that the leaders of France were deploring the position of their country. They saw the deaths outnumbering the births each year; and the increase of deaths over births, if continued, inevitably meant that France would in time be but a memory on the map. I carry the comparison further. Between 1854 and 1911, the rate of natural increase dropped in France from 25 per 3,000 to 18.7 per 1,000, as stated. We have only to make a calculation to discover how long it will take Australia at the rate of the decline, in natural increase in this country to reach the mark - which God forbid it ever will - reached by France in 1911, namely, 18.7 per 1,000. Judging by the rate of decline in natural increase in Australia in the past, it will take only from twenty to twenty-five years for this country to reach the mark at which France stood in 1911, when the deaths in that country exceeded the births by some tens ‘ of thousands.
– The honorable senator’s figures are extraordinary.
– They are really extraordinary - yes, alarming. We ‘have to judge the future by the past, and if we consider the rate of decline in Australia from. 1881 to 1921, namely, 35 to 25 per 1,000, I am warranted in saying that it will take this country about twenty odd years to reach the position of France if the same rate of decline is maintained. It is in order, if possible, to see that this rate of decline shall not be maintained, and to direct attention to it in the most vivid way. at my command, that I quote these figures. Honorable senators may be aware of the position in general outline; but people outside this Chamber are not seized with the far-reaching and mortal importance of the question. In France in 1907, four years before the very low rate of natural increase of 18.7 per 1,000 was reached, the births numbered 774,000 and the deaths 794,000, or an excess of deaths over births of 20,000. So much for the figures.
I have now to consider, briefly, those concerned in this ignoble, unspeakable drama in this country. We know very well who they are. There is, first of all, the individual, the man, the woman, and their accomplices. I find it very difficult indeed to understand the man described by Sir James Barrett - the well-to-do man who actually refuses parenthood. How can we imagine that man clamouring for immigration and the filling up of the empty spaces of this continent and at the same time refusing in the most patent way the responsibility imposed upon every citizen to do his duty to his country, especially in the married state. He looks at his empty home, his vacant chairs, and from his inward selfish being hypocritically cries for immigration. There are many aspects of the matter to which I might refer, and I shall touch upon only a few as affecting such an individual. We need to seriously review the position of the married man in this country who is a slave to this practice in order that we may decide whether or not he is a good citizen, or anything approaching one. We have to remember that we have not yet reached the millennium; We have not reached the haven of peace, contentment, and harmony, when each country will be free to work out its own destiny and material salvation in its own way, without interference. We are living in an age when this country must be defended if it is to control its own destiny, and if its integrity and security are to be maintained.
– We cannot do that if the practice of race suicide is carried on.
– Too true. The honorable senator only anticipates me. We cannot do it. The individual who is welltodo, or fairly well off, or in any other circumstances whatsoever, who refuses to discharge one of his bounden obligations as a member of society, and as a man, must depend on other people to step forward to defend his country for him and to protect his property. This is where such an individual is shown to be most selfish - swinishly selfish. I cannot comprehend how he can defend the position he takes up. He relies upon his fellow citizen, who raises a sturdy family of sons, to step into the breach, shoulder the rifle, and, in defending the country, protect the life and property of the man who refuses to do what God and nature demands of him. This aspect of the matter needs to be pressedhome with unrelenting force whenever the opportunity is afforded. This selfish man depends for the safety of his person and property on other men who rear families whilst he shirks his duty as a citizen and as a man.
With regard to the matter of privileges. The sentiment of the time, as we know, is in favour of conferring privileges upon the married man, and giving him practical sympathy in various ways. We give preference to him for employment. The mere fact that a man is married entitles him, and rightly so, to consideration which is not given to a single man. But in the matter of taxation we find that this - what-shall-I-call-him ? - this individual who refuses parenthood, who is nothing else but a social slacker, evades and dodges taxation which the man with the numerous family is called upon to bear. The man with half-a-dozen children, or more, pays very much more into the revenue of the country in various ways than does the individual to whom I have been referring. The burden of taxation is heaviest on the man who respects the marriage tie and does his duty to the country as a man should and not upon the selfish individual who refuses parenthood, and the common obligation of a self-respecting citizen.
I will refer to the moral aspect of the question later, but I now come to the woman in the case. I am sorry to think that there are amongst the fair sex - and I prefer to call them the tender sex - women who so debase their finer nature by lending themselves to the restriction of births. I call women the tender sex because I remember that in the long and chequered career of the race, the uplifting of man to his present social and moral elevation has been, in a great measure, due to the action of woman. We know the tenderness which woman has manifested on many occasions, in all ages and against the ferocity of time and circumstances. We know the finer feelings of motherhood which she has displayed in every age and clime. We’ know that the slave dealer understood that he had only to get the child into captivity and the mother, with her love for her offspring, willingly followed her child into captivity and was contented there. We know what has taken place in connexion with the tragedies of the deep. When strong men - rough but golden -hearted men - have been face to face with death, what is the cry which has rung out ? Has it not always been “ Women and children first”? Of course, it has, showing that women and children, in the breast and heart of every true and manly man, are given pride of place, because they are the hope of the human race. Men are prepared to drown rather than take the place which should be reserved for women and children. Why are women and children in such circumstances so honoured and respected ? It is simply because woman as such is true to the belief in her entertained by such men which makes them give utterance to that resounding cry, and displays the finest qualities par excellence of womanhood. That is why women are put in the place of safety when the tragedies of the deep occur - because they are mothers, or potential mothers, and not the barren fig-trees of so-called polite society.
I approach this subject, and particularly the part which women play in this degenerate role, with feelings of indescribable depression. I recognise that unless we can preserve the qualities of women in the truest sense, ill-fares the outlook for the race. What are thosequalities? The qualities that count for most, aye, for everything, are chastity and modesty, which, perhaps, are conveniently expressed in the term morality. The evil practice which is growing in this country serves to degrade and debase womanhood. It is against human nature, and we must look for something better or brighter in the future. In order to show what has been thought in the past by women entitled to bear that noble name “ mother “ in its truest sense, I have a quotation which I would like to put on record, as it expresses’ the sentiments which filled the mind of a young Jewish woman at a time of joyous expectancy, which is the greatest event that comes to any true woman, and is the finest and noblest expression of her sex. These are the thoughts that were in her mind -
I am amazed and troubled, my child, she whispers (to her sweet secret) at the thought of you; I hardly dare to speak of it, you are so sacred. I am filled with wonder and joy. I will keep my body pure, very pure; the sweet air I will breathe, and pure water drink. I will stay out in the open, hours together; that my flesh may become pure and fragrant for your sake. Holy thoughts will I think; I will brood in the thought of mother love. I will fill myself with beauty; trees and running brooks shall be my companions. I will pray that I may become transparent - that the sun may shine, and the moon, my beloved, upon you: Even before you are born.
Those are the sentiments of a Jewish maiden. Compare them with the woman of the present day who lives for sport, enjoyment, and indulgence, and who joins in every frivolity which brought about the downfall of that glorious country - Franco. They are amongst us, and are to be found in every walk of life. There are those who, instead of performing their sacred duty as members of society, who do not think as that Jewish woman did, and who are in a very marked way bringing this young country and this young race to its inevitable doom at the fastest passible speed. Here, too, are the words of an unknown Englishwoman of the 17th century, who was typical of the women who lived in our grandmothers’ and great grandmothers’ time. She said -
Upon my lap my sovereign sits,
And sucks upon my breast;
Meantime his love maintains my life,
And gives my sense her rest.
Sing lullaby, my little boy,
King lullaby, my only joy.
When thou hast taken thy repast,
Repast, my babe, on. me;
So may thy mother and thy nurse
Thy cradle also be.
Sing lullaby, my little boy,
Sing lullaby, my only joy.
I grieve that dutydoth not work
All that my wishing would,
Because 1 would not be to thee
But in the best I should.
Sing lullaby, my little boy,
Sing lullaby; my only joy.
Yet as I am, and as I may,
I must, and will be’ thine.
Tho’ all too little for thyself
Vouchsafing to be mine.
Sing lullaby, my little boy
Sing lullaby, my only joy.
I have submitted these quotations to show how women lived in days’ gone by when our race was passing through a period when it had nothing to fear from within its spiritual self, nor from: without because of any deformity or disease in its moral composition; when the virility of our manhood age, and the charm of our womanhood, were all that they should be, and when there was no slackening of the arm, or demoralization of the system, individually or socially. I have already quoted France, and I may further refer to that nation by mentioning that the Commission appointed fifteen years ago; which comprised seventy-fiveof the most learned men of France, who were called upon by the WaldeckRousseau Government to investigate and report upon the declining population. The professional opinion was to the effect that the women of France were ruining their health in the most disastrous way, and that there was not any complaint of any consequence which was not due to this practice. That was the opinion of French professional and medical men, who also told the world that France was a dying race, and that it was dying by its own hand, in consequence of the prevalence of this practice amongst French people. France to-day, even in the opinion of its most cherished and ardent patriots, is approaching its doom. I do not want that to occur in this country, and I am anxious to resist ‘any further progress being made in that direction. There are many ways in which the natural increase of population is interfered with by the normal, inexorable, and inscrutable working of Nature’s law; but when artificial means are resorted to, there oan be only one result, -and that result fatal in every case. I forbear to dwell lengthily on the part the accomplices play. Those unspeakable wretches, men and women, make their “living out of the degradation of the race, and earn their bread by crime. And they have their apologists and propagandists in learned and professional quarters defending practices that would .make the “very swine blush. Happily for public morality and the future of the .race, there is an overwhelming, wholesome, and clean-minded sentiment powerful enough :to checkmate such poisonous doctrines.
This practice originated in the early part of the last century, at a time when it was said that there was some justification for it, because, as the author maid, the population would otherwise in- -crease at a greater rate than the means of subsistence. At that time the population in England was 10,000,000, but notwithstanding that to-day it is in the neighbourhood of 40,000,000, the conditions are better and the earning capacity greater than was the case when there was a population of only 10,000,000 and the author of this baneful practice brought so much misery
Upon the people. Let us consider the position of Prance, and ask ourselves if it is socially, morally, materially, or economically better to-day than it was years ago. Even the seamen were recently striking against the imposition of a twelve-hour day, and it is the fallacy of this doctrine which has placed France where she is. I do not want this country to arrive at that stage, and am anxious to see the men and women in the Commonwealth take stock of their position while yet they may. I realize that there is an overwhelming number of devoted men and women to whom my utterances need not be addressed; but side by side with them there is, unfortunately, a growing number who should take ‘heed and who should be addressed in stronger terms than I am capable of employing. Where are they leading ? What So Chey want1? Has not this country everything to offer;, and is it not overflowing with all those things ‘which virile men and women require? Wherever we Jook there is an abundance to meet the .requirements -Df man. This is a delicate subject, but whether it is delicate or not it needs to be handled, and unless stock is taken cif the position by our teachers and preachers, I am afraid Australia will soon find itself in the desperate, awful plight in which France is in to-day.
I am well aware that so-called arguments .to the contrary can be used, but I would point out that we cannot mention a country that has come by evil days by the observance of Nature’s mandate; but we can point to many countries which have fallen by running counter to that mandate. The downfall of Ancient Rome was brought about by the prevalence of the practice which unhappily exists in Australia. Greece also suffered similarly; and I wish to place on record what happened in connexion with the two Powers I have mentioned. The following is an extract from Seeley’s Roman Imperialism: Lectures and Essays -
She was able to conquer .her nationalities She had centralized herself- successfully, arid created a Government of might, efficiency, -and -stability. But against this disease she was powerless, and that disease was sterility. Men were wanting : and the Empire perished for want of men.
What happened in Greece ? Thirlwall. in his History of Greece, said -
The -decline of population in Greece was not due to Roman misrule, but had been going on for many generations before.
He quotes Polybius as to the cause of the decline : -
In our times all Greece has been afflicted with a failure of offspring - in a word, with a scarcity of men, so that the cities have been left desolate and the land waste- though -we have not been -visited either with a series of wars or with epidemic diseases. Would it not be absurd to send to inquire of the oracles by what means our numbers may be increased, land our cities become .more flourishing, when the cause is manifest, and the . remedy rests with ourselves? For when men gave themselves up to ease, and comfort, and indolence, and would neither marry, nor .rear children born out of marriage, .or at most only one or two, in order to leave these rich, and to bring them up in luxury, ‘the evil soon spread imperceptibly, but with .rapid growth; for when there was only one child or two in a> family ‘for war or disease to carry off, the inevitable consequence was that houses were left desolate, and cities by degrees became like deserted hives, and there is no need to consult the gods about the mode of deliverance from this evil; for any man would tell us, that the first thing we had to do is to change out habits; or at all events to enact laws compelling parents to rear children.
What did Clemenceau say after his nation just barely escaped from the invader’s sceptre? It was this: “France must make up its mind to have bigger families.”
I do not wish to labour the question, and shall conclude by saying that this tendency of the time in this young country is due to the inordinate desire that manifests itself in the breasts of our present generation to a degree that is lamentable. The man who tries to rid himself of responsibilities, to have an easy time, to make money, to go abroad and enjoy himself, rather than accept his natural obligations, is a self-centred, selfish specimen of humanity who is no good to himself or his country. The woman who shirks motherhood is equally so, and is not a worthy prototype of her grandmother. The spinster, in her grandmother’s time, it hae been well said, was a worthy woman, because she spun the material that went into her trousseau. The spinster to-day who surrenders to the fatal tempter goes to the nearest shop for her trousseau, and she thinks of nothing else but self-indulgence’ at every turn. Such persons make use of the marriage ceremony - for what? For noble purposes? Not much! They do so, I fear, to seek their gratifications in the basest form. Such a defection in the manifestation of those womanly qualities which have gone to place women on the highest pedestal is deplorable. What placed her on that pedestal but those two great qualities in human nature - virtue and chastity? While there is this tendency in this country, neither virtue nor chastity can develop or prosper. The pure lily of womanly chastity and maternal love can never spring from such polluted soil.
That brings me to remark that conventions may run counter to my views. If a man in this age makes reference to a future state, or to the moral or spiritual aspect of things, he is glared upon. Why? Because the
Senator Lynch. conventions of the time are such that he does not conform to them unless he speaks, when referring to the relation.ship of the sexes, in the lowest strain. Go abroad amongst men, in the caravansaries, in the* railway trains, or any place haunted by men, and what is the type of conversation that commands the loudest laughter? What is it but a coarse joke at the expense of the lowest and basest relationship of the sexes? - such humour as has as much substance in it as Dead Sea fruit. Surely humour cannot be confined to such a sphere I Surely the purest humour can arise from this subject on its higher plane! The seeds of degeneracy are being sown in the young minds of our children long before they come to know the difference between which and which. The poison spreads just as “falsehood flies while truth comes limping on.” We are living to-day in an age of lax morality; in an age that is God-ignoring if not God-forgetting. I do not trouble what the conventions say about me. When you have a lax morality in the individual, he or she has a tendency to think first of himself or herself, and to neglect what is due each to the other and each to his country. You have then the selfish type of citizen, and that is the beginning of the end. What has occurred in France? The inevitable law throughout the years has been that whenever a. race sinks into oblivion it sinks mainly through demoralization. That is the germ - the deadly bacillus - that is unfortunately in our midst to-day. I want to eradicate that germ from our social life. If I am not able to root it out, I want at least to minimize its evil effects. To think that in this young country, where Nature is overflowing and bounteous, the same iniquitous doctrines should be taught as were taught in the Old Country in the last century is lamentable. Let not honorable senators forget that at the present rate of progress in twenty or twenty-five years this1 country will be where France is to-day, and the number of deaths will exceed the number of births. We need to take immediate stock of the position. Our -duty, when we see such an evil approaching, is to sound the tocsin and let the people know the danger. We in this Parliament are to some ex- tent the sentinels and watchtowers of the people. We have better opportunities than they of sizing up what is happening in the social and moral spheres of this and other countries, and it is our bounden duty to issue a warning. We would be guilty of a dereliction of duty if we did not, on an occasion like the present, and on every similar occasion, voice our disapprobation of this growing tendency to race suicide in this country. The Commission appointed in Hew South Wales about eleven years ago reported to the same effect. I deplore the presence of this evil in our country. I know well enough that it is in evidence in other countries, but that does not justify us in continuing the same headlong pace. If certain men choose to go to perdition it does not justify, us in joining company with them. We want to arrest this rot. We want to make our men and women, who are dupes of it to-day, retrace their steps. We want to make them feel that there is still left for them that proper admiration which falls to men or women who do their manly or womanly duty if they will break with the practice that degrades themselves and ruins their country.
I brought this question forward because I thought it was my duty and that I would have in this Senate a responsive audience. I hope that it may arouse in the people a degree of feeling outside. I hope they will realize that something should be done to arrest this development. If I achieve that much I shall feel that my poor effort has not been in vain. I want these men and women to retrace their steps, to take their place among their worthy compeers in society, and do their duty as patriotic, selfrespecting, and moral citizens, so that no evil word mav be ‘said of them when they are dead and gone.
– I am sorry to speak at this late hour, but I do not wish to lose an opportunity to say a few words in connexion with the Budget. Whilst I recognise that we may speak on almost any subject in this debate, I propose to confine myself to the subject in hand. The Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) has certainly placed before Parliament a full and plain statement of the finances of the Commonwealth. I think we can congratulate him on the very clear and definite statement he has made, and with that statement he has supplied a mass of details regarding revenue and expenditure and many other matters incidental to government. It would be almost impossible for any honorable senator to make himself thoroughly familiar with all those details, but after perusing the figures as fully as the lime at my disposal would allow, two features of the Budget have especially impressed me. The first is that while , costs in practically every sphere have been gradually decreasing, the cost of government has been steadily increasing. That, I think, applies in the State as well as in the Federal sphere. The other feature is the great amount of revenue which we expect to receive from Customs and Excise. Last year we passed a Tariff which imposed very high duties, and while the Bill was before the Senate I voted fairly consistently for those high duties in the belief that we should be able to do more than we had hitherto done in the direction of manufacturing our own requirements. So far as I can see, that Tariff has not beet; effective. It is not doing what we intended that it should do. It has not checked the great flow of imports into Australia. It is estimated that the revenue from Customs and Excise duties this year will be £28,000,000, after allowing for remission of duties on wire, wirenetting, tractors, and galvanized wire. I think the amount will be something like £750,000 more than it was last year. The highest amount ever received from that source was £31,000,000, in 1920-21. At that time prices had reached their, highest level ; but if we allow for the difference in prices between 1920-21 and 1922-23, it will be found that we are importing a greater quantity of goods this year than ever before. This indicates to me that there must be something radically wrong in Australia at the present time. We have in this country practically all the raw materials we require for every class of manufacture. Our manufacturers are protected by high duties and the freights which foreign manufacturers have to pay. There must be some explanation of why our manufacturers are not able to compete against foreign manufacturers. The whole position will have to be reviewed, and in that connexion I have every faith in the Tariff Board which has been appointed. I shall certainly look forward with considerable interest to their first report, which I trust will deal with this matter.
Senator Payne this afternoon said the Budget was entirely satisfactory. Personally, I cannot agree with that statement.
– The honorable senator is misrepresenting me. I said it was very satisfactory “to know that we ‘had not as big a deficit as was anticipated.
– The facts are that last year the then Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) estimated that we would end the year with a deficit of something like £2,300,000. We ended the year with a deficit of only £209,000, and that fact, on the face of it, and without analysis, might be regarded as a very fine achievement on the part of the Government. I pointed out when speaking on the Budget last year that the Treasurer had stated that there were outstanding taxes amounting to between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000, and the Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen), in replying, said that if he had been Treasurer he would not have budgeted for a deficit of £2,300,000 when he knew that there was such a large amount of arrears of taxation. As a matter of fact, no less than £4,500,000 of those taxes were collected. That was not allowed for in the Estimates, so that if the figures set out in the Budget last year had been approximately correct, instead of having a deficit of £209,000, we would have had a surplus of something like a little over £2,000,000. On examination of the figures it is shown that we spent about £1,000,000 more than it was estimated we would spend. In glancing through the Budget figures, I notice that they disclose that the arrears of land tax amount to no less than £1,703,110.I could not find the amount of income tax outstanding; but, in reply to a question I asked a week or two ago, the amount was given as £3,125,763, making « total of : close on £5,000,000. I presume that the same practice has been adopted inconnexion with the Estimates this year, as was followed last year, and that this large amount has not been reckoned with.
– Do you not think that provisionhas been madefor a certain portion of the arrears?
– Undoubtedly so.
– If I am not mistaken, we were practically informed last year that no amount had been allowed in the Estimates on that account. In speaking on the Estimates last year, I remarked that the chairman of a company, in presenting a balance-sheet to shareholders, would certainly take those sums in as book debts, although, probably, not attheirface value.
SenatorE. D. Millen. -The Treasurer will be taking them in as book debts, but the figures presented represent the actual cash that we expect to receive.
– Yes ; and he has estimated that he will receive a certain portion of the arrears of taxation.
SenatorE. D. Millen. - All he receives for income tax would be the income tax for that year, plusany arrears.
– I am glad to know that, because I was under the impression, in the debate on the Budget last year, that that was not the case. If that is so, it disposes of what I said a few moments ago, that if the arrears of £4,500,000 had been collected, we would have had a surplus of about £2,000,000.
In the concluding part of the speech of the Treasurer, he told the people of Australia that there was no country in the world whose present circumstances were quite equal to ours, and whose future prospects were comparable. That I believe to be true, but while we do know that the taxation per head of the population is 50 per cent. higher in New Zealand, and nearly 100 per cent. higher in the Old Country, than it is in Australia, we have to bear in mind that our taxation is higher than ever before, and it is pressing hardly on many industries, thereby retarding expansion. Therefore, the proposed reduction in taxation will be welcomed. So far as I have been able to judge, most of the criticism directed against the Budget is that, while we are proposing to reduce taxation, we are not able to do so through a corresponding -reduction in the cost of government, but we are taking it out of the accumulated surplus of a number of years. We had a deficit last year of £209,000, and what -we are now proposing to do is equivalent to a company that has made a loss paying a dividend out of its reserves.
– There is a surplus on the year’s transactions. There is no loss revealed.
– I accept that statement, but the surplus is not sufficient to meet the proposed reduction in taxation. “We are only able to do it because we have a reserve of between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000.
– How has it accumulated?
– It does not matter how it has come about. It is there, and it is equivalent to a company, that has made a loss, paying dividends out of reserves. Such a company can only continue to pay dividends until its reserves are exhausted. Unless the Commonwealth oan balance its accounts, it can only make the proposed reduction in taxation for another year. In that case, there would apparently be no alternative but to reimpose the taxation.
– The Treasurer estimates a surplus this year.
– But it is not equivalent to the proposed reduction in taxation, which amounts to over £3,000,000. I can only think that the Government have some plan in their mind.
The Treasurer intimated that the financial arrangements with the- States would have to be reviewed at no distant date: I can only think that what was in the Treasurer’s mind was the per capita grant to the States. Under the old arrangement, as honorable senators well know, the States received 75 per cent. of the Customs and Excise revenue. This year that revenue is estimated to amount to £28,000,000, and under the old arrangement, the States would have received £21,000,000. As it is, they will get only £7,000,000. If that £7,000,000 were taken from the States it would cripple them very considerably. It would simply be reducing taxation with one hand, and increasing it with the other. I believe that the representatives’ of the States in the Senate will not acquiesce in any proposal either to reduce or withdraw the per capita grant.
– Do you think that the States could spend the money better than the Commonwealth!?.
– It seems to me that the States are more economical in many ways than the Federal Government.
Surely we ought to be able to reduce the cost of government in some ways. I know it is a difficult proposition, because costs have been rising for some years, but they have reached their zenith and are now gradually declining. Of course, there are difficulties in regard to wages and salaries in the Public Service-. On looking through the Budget-papers one must be impressed by the very heavy increase set out for them. The effect of the awards of the Arbitration Courts and of the Public Service Arbitrator is shown, but it appears to me that the increases set down in the Budget are larger in the aggregate than those awards actually involve. In the Prime Minister’s Department cost of administration is shown to have increased from £14,874 to £18,795, or nearly £4,000. In the Audit Office there is an increase shown of over £8,000. In the Taxation Department salaries and wages this year are responsible for £408,000, as against £331,000 last year, and £249,000 the year before, so in two years the cost has nearly doubled. In theCrown Solicitor’s Office the increase is over £3,000; in the Patents and Trade Marks Office, £1,700; and in the Electoral Office, £4,000: The figures this year for the Department of” Science and Industry are £3,215, as against £2,000 last year, and £576 in the preceding period. I suppose there is some explanation for that. In the Customs Department the increase is comparatively small, but turning to the Postmaster-General’s Department I find that the increase in New South Wales is £70,000 ; in Victoria, £43,000; in Queensland, £36,000; in South Australia, £7,000; and in Western Australia and Tasmania, £6,000 each.
– That Department gives a satisfactory return.
– How can we give additional facilities without extra staff?
-I am aware that that cannot be done ; but I am looking at the large increase overthe previous year.
– Think of the increase in revenue from the additional services-
– Yes; but cur costs are out of proportion to the increase in population. If we had double the present population, it does notfollow that the cost of government would be twice what it is to-day. Every business man knows that if he doubles his turnover he reduces the overhead expenses.
– There are many more telephones and similar conveniences in the country.
– No doubt,- and I am glad of it, because I desire to see country people provided with as many of the advantages of city life as possible. I am merely making comments in order that they may be answered. If they can be replied to satisfactorily, so much the better.
I am hopeful that it will not be very long before the Public- Service Board is appointed. Parliament should provide for a Board, whose duty would be to investigate these matters, and then we should be more satisfied with regard to such points as I have raised.
There is a proposal in the Budget regarding the establishment of a sinking fund of £ per cent, to wipe out the war debt. I am heartily in accord with that. It has been urged in some quarters that the period provided is too long, but I do not think so. Our men fought, and we paid, in order to preserve Australia for ourselves, for our children, and for our children’s children. It is only right that the next two generations, at any rate, should be called upon to share the burden with us.
It has also been suggested that there should be a sinking fund to wipe out the debts of the Commonwealth to the States on account of the transferred properties. During the last few years the States ‘have had to borrow somewhat considerably from the Federal Government at fairly high rates of interest. I think the interest paid to the States in connexion with the transferred properties is something like 3 per cent, or 34 per cent. It would be an advantage if the transferred properties could be set off against the amounts borrowed. This is not an original suggestion. It was made by a member of the South Australian Legislature.
– It would be a poor business proposition from a Federal point of view.
– Undoubtedly it would, but the honorable senator must bear in mind that these properties were taken over twenty years ago. The States had to borrow this money in days gone by, and if they had to renew the loans at high rates of interest the Commonwealth would only pay them 3£ per cent.
This is practically all I wish to say with regard to the Budget. I think the Commonwealth is in a very prosperous condition. We have benefited during the last two or three years from very fine seasons, and I am glad to think that there is every prospect of another bountiful harvest this year. I trust that we shall continue to have sound government. I could hope that we could see our way clear to effect some more economies to balance our accounts, and to be quite sure that, during the next few years we shall not have to resort to fresh taxation.
Senator GARLING (New South Wales) [10.51. - I do not intend to occupy more than a few minutes. Unlike most honorable senators who have preceded -me, I am not going to urge the Government to further curtail expenditure. There has been quite a volume of talk upon this subject, but I think the Government has honestly set itself to see in what direction it can meet the public demand for reduction, and has succeeded as far as it is feasible at the present time. But I now wish to point to one matter in which the public demand would be met without increasing expenditure to any material extent. I refer to the biggest subject with which we have to deal, and that is immigration. Looking through the Estimates for this year I find that as far as the Australian organization is concerned, the vote is £32,000 as against a vote for last year of £40,000. Publicity is an important part of the work of the Australian branch of the Immigration Department. If expenditure in this direction is to be decreased, then I submit that a very grave error will be committed, because we have yet a long way to go in publicity work, perhaps not abroad so much as at home. My experience during the past twelve months is that the great majority of Australians are not fully seized with the richness of this continent. To this ignorance of our possibilities I attribute the fact that the immigration movement has not been taken up with the enthusiasm that one might have expected in our populous centres and country districts. The business of educating the people of Australia as to the vast resources of this country should be the responsibility of the publicity branch of the Immigration Department by means of films. I understand that at the present time there are between 40,000 feet and 50,000 feet of films which have been taken for moving pictures, but which have not yet been edited. They are stored in the archives of the Immigration Department unedited, and, therefore, useless. All the expenditure incurred in the taking of these pictures is at present going for nothing. If these films were edited and shown throughout Australia, they would go a long way towards . inculcating in our people that sentiment and pride of country and race that would mean so much for the success of this forward movement in immigration. I can assure honorable senators that moving pictures of this description have a wonderful effect upon the people. I can speak from experience. I know, as I go from town to town with certain films, what a tremendous interest is created, and how they are appreciated. Only yesterday, at a conference of agricultural bureaus of the Southern Riverine districts of New South Wales, I found there was a great demand for this class of film, for the purpose of helping the bureaus to educate the farming community as to the possibilities of Australia and as to what is being done in connexion with closer settlement generally. The films that are locked up in the archives of the Immigration Department would be a wonderful help, not only for the immigration movement, but for land settlement in all the States. These pictures might be usedto assist the work of the agricultural high schools and colleges. In New South Wales, at present, there is a great forward movement in the establishment of these agricultural high schools and colleges. The Education Department is entirely altering its curriculum for the coming year, and this work will be very greatly helped if the students at these schools and colleges are able to attend lectures illustrated by means of such moving pictures. If the Minister thinks this subject of sufficient importance I would urge upon him to allow the work of editing the films to be done by the man who took the pictures. The Government cinema photographer is regarded by picture show proprietors as the finest photographer in Australia. I do not think that is saying too much, for I have seen his work, and I know his heart is in the business. I am satisfied that if he were allowed to edit the films much better results would be ob tained. At present this work is being done by a very capable journalist,’ no doubt, but infinitely better results would be recorded if it were undertaken by the man who had actually taken the pictures and had the proper atmosphere. Though honorable senators may think this a trifling matter, I can assure them that much of the success in the screening of a picture depends upon the small editorial paragraph that precedes it. In view of the importance of this subject, I suggest to the Government that, if there is to be economy in connexion with immigration, they will leave the publicity branch alone.
– How does this matter come under immigration ?
– Duplicates or triplicates of films intended for exhibition abroad are taken for exhibition purposes in Australia. The latest film is in connexion with the Murrumbidgee irrigation area. That picture has been taken for propaganda work in the Old Country, but copies of it should be screened in Australia.
– But that hardly comes under immigration.
– It is all part of the original intention in the taking of the picture. If these films were shown in Australia they would help Australians to realize the wonderful possibilities of this country and the need for filling its empty spaces. It is one thing to bring immigrants to Australia and another to create an atmosphere favorable for their reception. Lack of knowledge on this subject is very largely responsible for the impression that prevails in some quarters that there are already enough people in this country. If only the right atmosphere can be created half the battle will be won towards building up a sentiment to support the immigration policy of the Government. Without this atmosphere I am afraid our immigration movement will not make that headway that is expected of it. Publicity work in connexion with immigration is done both within the State and abroad. These films will be shown readily enough by picture show proprietors without charge. I may state that I was unable to remain with the conference of Riverina bureaus to which I have referred, and as the people were anxious to see the pictures which I had arranged to screen-, the local picture theatre proprietor’ very willingly consented to show them. I have no doubt that 4hey have already beenshown there to-night, by this, time, and were much appreciated’ by those who saw them. If there is occasion to. cut down the general expenditure of that particular- Department, I hope that care will be taken to see that as little as possible is- taken from that branch which arranges the publicity work. I trust also that, if possible, the man whose duty it is to take pictures will also- be allotted the duty of making them as effective as possible by editing them for public display for the purpose of public education.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Lassie) adjourned;
Senate adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 September 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220928_senate_8_101/>.