8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens)took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Following upon a resolution, moved by Senator Lynch recently, which received the support of the Senate, we were assured that a statement would be made on behalf of the Govern- ment at an early date on the subject of the duty on sulphur. Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate say whether it is possible for that statement to be made before we rise?
– That promise, like every other promise given by the Government, will be honoured.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs if he is aware of the fact that a request was recently made by a firm producing marble in Queensland to the Tariff Board for an increase in the duties on marble, and that the Board replied that an increase could not be granted, because the price then being paid for imported marble was higher than the price paid for the local article? Is the Minister further aware that the statement has been made by the Queensland firm that owing to a substantial drop in the price of Italian marble, requests for the local article have fallen off ? As these statements are in direct contradiction, will the Minister have the question of an increase in the duties on marble brought once more under the notice of the Tariff Board, with a view to their further consideration ?
– I will see that the honorable senator’s representations are brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock p.m. on Monday, 23rd October, 1922.
The following paper was presented : -
War Service Homes Act - Report by the Acting Commissioner on operation of Act for the year ended 30th June, 1922, together with statements and balance-sheets.
Conditionsatdarwin - Railway Construction.
– Is the Minis ter forHome and Territories ableto say whether there is any truth in the statement recently made in the public press to the effect that conditions at Darwin, following on the recent strike on the Government coal boat; are such as to alarm the people there?
– A statement appeared in asection of the Melbourne press which was certainly of a very alarming character. It was said that, during the trouble about the Biloela, people were going about with loaded revolvers in their pockets, and that additional police had been brought from the country into Darwin. A full statement of what appeared in the press was telegraphed to the Administrator. He has replied that the statement is misleading, mischievous, and absolutely inaccurate. Three additional policemen were brought into Darwin, but that was in order that they might be sent into another part of the country to capture aboriginals who had murdered two men on a cattle station. The Administrator reported that there was no disorder, nor wasthere any threat of disorder, in Darwin.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if he is aware that the Public Works Committee in their report on railways for the Northern Territory, amongst other things, recommended the construction of a line across the Barkly Tableland to Camooweal on conditionthat the Queensland Government would connect their railway, which is at present about 130 miles from Camooweal, with the Northern Territory line? Have the Government yet opened up negotiations with the Queensland Government to this end, or is it their intention to do so in the near future ?
– The honorable senator asks me if I am aware of certain particulars in the report of the Public Works Committee. I frankly admit that I am not.I have not had time to read the report.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with the message that it had agreed to some and disagreed to other amendments of the Senate, and had made a consequential amendment in clause 44.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Senate’s Amendments. - Clause 51 - Insert “ reference or “ and consequential amendments in clauses.51, 52, and 53.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Disagreed to. Consequential amendment made in clause 44. At the end of clause add the following new sub-clause: - “ (2) The provisions of sections 51, 52, and 53 of this Act shall apply, so far as applicable, to references by the Commissioner to the Board as if those references were appeals.”
– It will probably assist honorable senators to readily grasp the meaning of the message from the House of Representatives if I point out its purpose and effect. The Senate made a series of amendments, one consequential upon the other, in clause 51, and subsequent clauses, in which the words “ references or” were put in before the word “ appeal.” It is now found on further consideration by the draftsman that this creates an ambiguity. The House of Representatives accepts the idea covered by our amendments, and the proposals it now submits represents merely better draftsmanship. The purpose of the amendment made by the Senate in clauses 51, 52, and 53, dealing with appeals to the Board, wasto include also references to the Board. It has been pointed out by the draftsman that if our amendments were allowed to stand, a reference to the Board would also connote a reference to a Court. Another place, while avoiding that difficulty, has inserted such words as will give effect to the desire expressed in the Senate. Imove -
That the Committee does not insist on its amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives, and agrees to the consequential amendment made by the House of Representatives in clause 44.
– I only want to say that I have discussed this matter with the Solicitor-General. It appears that, owing to the hurried manner in which the alterations were made, there was a possibility of certain anomalies creeping in. I am quite satisfied that what has been done in another place will more effectively meet the situation. The amendment will insure that both references and. appeals shall be governed by the clause which enables the appeal to be taken further.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Message, intimating that the House of Representatives had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate in this Bill, reported.
.- I move-
That this Bill he now read a second time.
This is not a very important measure. It formally extends for another year the regulations under the War Precautions Repeal Act, dealing with the registration of foreign companies. It is desirable that we should have the power of registration over these foreign companies, because thatis one way in which we may keep a watch over some of the trusts that are operating notably in the meat trade. It enables the Government to get necessary information, upon which, at any time, if necessary, action may be taken. This Bill simply keeps the regulations alive for another year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from . Committee without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senator EARLE (Tasmania- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [11.17].- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a simple measure, the purpose of which is to continue the principle of bounty payment for the production of oil from shale for another year, and to increase the amount of bounty on the production of smaller quantities. It is hardly necessary to discuss the question at any length. We are all fully seized of the importance to Australia of the production of oil. Unfortunately, so far, science has not solved the economic problem of extracting oil from the enormous shale deposits in Australia at a cost which meets the commercial requirements of the country. I am still hopeful, however, that, eventually, science will succeed. We all realize what a tremendous advantage it would be to Australia if we could discover large supplies of liquid oil in this country, but we must also remember that liquid oil, like all other mineral deposits, is not inexhaustible, and that the time must come when we shall have to depend upon the production of oil for power purposes in some such manner as is indicated in the provisions of this Bill. It is. therefore, very desirable that we should keep in mind the necessity of prosecuting the experiments for the extraction cif oil from shale. .The Shale Bounties Act of ‘ 1907 provides for the payment of bounties on crude oil at the following rates: - On oil produced in any one year, up to 3,500’,000 gallons, 2£d. per gallon; over 3,500,000 and up to 5,000,000 gallons, 2d.; over 5.000,000 gallons and up to 8,000,000 gallons, 1¾d., and over 8,000,000 gallons, 1-Jd. The period of the bounty when first enacted was for four years, and the amount provided under the Act in any one year was £67,500, making a total of £270,000. Under the Act passed in 1921 the period for the payment of bounties was extended for one year until 31st August. 1922. The total amount of bounty paid from the inception of the Act in 1917, until 30th September, 1922, was £113,000, representing a total output of 12,000,000 gallons of crude shale oil. ,The average annual amount of bounty paid has been £22,000. This Bill proposes to extend the period until 31st August, 1923, and to increase the rate from 2id. to 3d. per gallon on crude oil up to 3,500,000 gallons. The bounty rate for quantities produced over 3,500,000 gallons will iremain as at present. The Tariff Board have fully investigated the cost of producing oil, and the facts show that a rate of 3£d. per gallon is necessary. The works are employing up to 420 men, and as the industry is of great importance to Australia, I trust honorable senators will support the proposal.
– In New South Wales particularly, but there are shale deposits in other States, including Tasmania, which will be one of the principal shale producing States of the Commonwealth.
– Is the bounty to be paid on crude oil ?
– Most of the bounty goes to New South Wales.
– Yes; but that does not make any difference, ‘because we do not consider State boundaries in a matter of this kind. If the bounty is not paid, the industry cannot carry on, and as it is reaching a higher stage of efficiency, and providing oil at an economical rate, commensurate with the commercial value, it is the duty of the Government to render all the assistance possible.
– ‘Perhaps I am the “only member of the Senate who ‘has had any practical experience in this industry. I was horn in a part of Scotland where the paraffin industry was first established under the late Dr. Young.
– Scotland has produced many good things.
– Yes. it has not only produced oil, but another liquid that is known to a good many, the name of which I need not mention, but which is duly appreciated over a thirsty world. This industry should be encouraged. The internal combustion engine is now being extensively ‘employed, 0and without it we could not have had flying machines, submarines, I might also say motor cars, and no one would wish to go back to the day when we had to do without these progressive agencies. The shale oil industry was first established in Australia in 1862 to work one of the richest shale oil deposits yet discovered. There is a great lack of knowledge on the art of some concerning the extremely rich deposits in Australia.
– And there is want of appreciation.
– How much oil is obtained from a ton of shale.
– It depends upon the kind of shale. For instance, at Joadja, which is one of the richest shale deposits in Australia, considerably over 100 gallons of oil is obtained from a ton of shale.
– And they cannot make it pay without a bounty.
– That has been our experience, although the men who have been controlling the indus. try in New South Wales have been closely associated with the business in Scotland, and not only understand how to conduct it economically, but also how to handle the by-products, which are of considerable value. Under the Premiership pf the late Sir George Reid Free Trade was introduced. That was the first cold blast the industry had to withstand, and it perished as soon as Protection waa withdrawn. When honorable senators have the opportunity they should visit the property at Joadja and see the ruins of a once thriving town; and I am sure they could not but be impressed with the “enormous size of the retorts, and the means of treating and handling the shale. It is in a most beautiful spot in Hew South Wales, and is not sufficiently appreciated.. It is not very far from the well-known Moss Vale. It is worth a vi Sit. even for a holiday, if only to see something out of the common. That is not by any manner of means the only place where shale oil has been produced in New South Wales. At Joadja Creek the deposit is extremely thin. It decreases in parts to 4 inches of shale, and, consequently, the cost of mining is very high. Shale is thicker in other localities, but nowhere is it so extremely rich in oil as in this particular place. I speak as a practical miner, who was engaged in this industry in the Old Country. Shale exists in, probably, every State of the Federation, and it is only a question of whether it is sufficiently rich in oil contents to be a commercial proposition. For these reasons I heartily support the proposal that we should do all in our power to encourage the industry.
We know that in recent years much activity has been shown in sinking oil wells. Unfortunately, we have not met with much success in that direction. That question is too big for me to be able to say whether the industry is likely to be a success;- but the mining of shale provides a sure and certain supply of kerosene and its many by-products. The vital consideration is whether it is possible to make a commercial success of mining the deposits. I dare say that in the course of time cheaper methods of handling will be discovered, although I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that men who have been connected with this industry all their lives have spent large amounts of capital and devoted much time to trying to treat the shale with new retorts and. the most modern appliances. There is no industry that I can recommend to honorable senators as being more deserving of encouragement.
– I agree with the Minister (Senator Earle) that the shale oil industry should receive every encouragement,, but I wish to point out that we have in the State which I represent materials for the production of power alcohol on a very large scale. Although in the Governor-General’s speech in 1917 the Government laid down the principle that every assistance should be given lo the production of power alcohol, the experience in Queensland has been that the assistance has not been forthcoming.
– Judging by the many prospectuses of companies for the production of power alcohol, the assistance is not necessary.
– Let me direct attention to one incident which has been of very great concern to the motor trade in Queensland. The Acetate of Lime Factory . erected on the Brisbane River during the war period to produce high explosives from molasses, which is a by-product of the sugar ‘ cane, installed a poweralcohol plant. T think I am right in saying that the whole of the requirements of the Government for internal combustion engines were supplied by the plant. In addition to the interesting developments that were made by the plant at the Cannon Hill factory, a market was found for a waste product of the sugar cane which, at the present time, is being poured into the sea to the extent of’ thousands upon thousands of gallons. It is to be deplored that such a valuable by-product is not being utilized. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company are making power alcohol in Sydney from molasses, but on account of the unfor- tunate situation of many ofthe sugar mills, much molasses cannot be sent from Queensland to Sydney, and the company have to obtain it from overseas. When the Acetate of Lime Factory was in full working order in Queensland, a contract was let to a firm of shippers in Brisbane, and a boat was fitted up to bring the molasses from North Queensland and deliver it to the Acetate of Lime Factory by gravitation. The factory made some valuable experiments in the production of power alcohol, besides using up a valuable by-product of the sugar industry. It was shown, both by tests made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the motor trade, that power alcohol could compete more than favorably with petrol in driving internal combustion engines. It was stated, as a result of tests, that there was less carbonizing, and greater speed and power per gallon were obtainable, from power alcohol than from petrol. I have taken the trouble to work out some figures regarding the quantify of molasses available in Queensland for the manufacture of power alcohol, and I have ascertained that at the present time there is being turned into the river and sea enough molasses to manufacture 200,000 gallons of power alcohol. I think this industry should come under the provisions of a bounty. When I said that the industry had not received the encouragement it deserved, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) interjected a remark about the prospectuses of companies. I may remind him that some very substantial prospectuses have been issued of companies floated recently for the production of oil, including shale oil, especially in Tasmania. The difficulty regarding the production of power alcohol is that it is necessary to denature the spirit in order to render it useless for human consumption. That was a difficulty the Customs Department had to face. A certain formula, was submitted by the Bundaberg Distillery Company. The company were manufacturing rum in very large quantities. They found that the quantity very much exceeded the demand, and consequently they had to turn their attention to the manufacture of other commodities. They were also manufacturing methylated spirit, which has a limited market in Aus tralia, with the result that to-day they are turning out more than they can sell. The Bundaberg Distillery Company has been giving its attention to the manufacture of power alcohol, and the. manager recently told me that he had been negotiating with the Customs Department to obtain a formula in order to make the spirit proof against human consumption, but he was unable to get any such formula that would make it possible to manufacture the spirit at such a price as to compete with petrol.
– It could be done under a formula accepted by other countries.
– Yes. It appeared that every obstacle was being placed in the way of this industry. I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers), and as soon as I got him interested he had it looked into by the chief chemist in the Department. Then some satisfaction was obtained. It was not until a number of Queensland members waited on the Minister at Parliament House that we were able to make any progress at all. A number of formulae were submitted, and there was every indication that they would answer to the requirements of the Department, but the Department adhered to its expensive formula. The Minister was sympathetic, and afterwards we induced the Department to accept a formula. I think there is now a fair chance of producing power alcohol economically.
The Minister who introduced the Bill (Senator Earle) pointed out that the production of liquid oil was a failing industry. I would remind him that the shale oil industry is in a similar position.
– The supply is almost boundless.
– There must be an end to the supply, but there is no limit to the production of power alcohol. I believe it is only necessary to bring the importance of the matter under the notice of the Government to insure proper consideration being given to it. I hope the Government will also give due consideration to the opening of the plant at the Acetate of Lime Factory. I wish the shale oil industry every success, and I trust that equal success will attend the efforts being made to produce power alcohol.
– Whatever may be said as to the merits of Senator Foil’s speech, he has certainly spoken at an opportune time. Had he reminded us previously of the enormous quantities of molasses being poured into the rivers of Queensland before the sugar industry was granted 50 per cent, increased duty, I do not know that honorable senators would have been so generously disposed. People engaged in the wheat industry do not allow any of their by-products to be wasted. . They sell the bran and pollard, the straw, and even the chaff, when they have an opportunity.
– The industry, in its efforts to make use of its by-products, has been hampered by the Customs Department.
– The molasses that have been wasted are badly needed for the’ feeding of stock all over the Commonwealth. The Bill represents a praiseworthy effort to put Australia on an independent .footing in the matter of oil supplies. At present we are de. pendent upon the mercies of two foreign corporations. There is the Standard Oil Company of the United States of America, and that equally bloodless cormorant, the British Imperial Oil Company. Although every other commodity has come down in price, oil is 400 per cent, dearer than in pre-war times, and those foreign corporations, aire getting the benefit. One of them has given the utmos’t trouble to the Australian authorities when they endeavoured to make the company contribute its fair share of income tax by reason of the profits made by it in this country.
There seems to be at least one inconsistency in the Bill. According to the Minister’s statement an allowance of 2£d. in the past has been inadequate, yet the present proposal is to extend that bounty for only another year. What is required is an extension of the period of payment, rather than an increase in the rate. People who put their money into oil ventures want to know how long the Government assistance will continue. What is required is continuity, but the bounty is to be paid for another twelve months only. That is a short-sighted policy, and it is a contradiction of the very intention of the Government, who say, on the one hand, that the bounty is insufficient, and, on the other hand, that they will cut it down- to twelve months. I would prefer to see the old bounty continued for a longer period. People would be more likely to embark capital in this enterprise if they could depend on the payment of the bounty for five years. I hope that- before twelve months are over the Government will see the necessity of extending the period for the payment of the bounty, because it seems to me that it is somewhat of a contradiction to raise the rate of bounty and at the same time provide that it shall operate for a period of only twelve months. People will calculate the cost of an enterprise of this kind on a cash basis, and I hope that before twelve months have expired the Government will come forward with a more matured policy, and that, even though they should reduce the amount of bounty they will extend the period over which it will be paid.
– I welcome this measure and the proposed increase in the rate of bounty as an instalment of a policy that has been shaping itself in my mind for some time for the development of our varied mineral resources. There is some force in what Senator Lynch has said, and provision might be made for the payment of the bounty over a more extended period than is proposed in this Bill, but I have no doubt that if the offer of the bounty leads to substantial development in the exploitation of shale deposits, the Legislature will have sufficient sense to continue the bounty year by year if that should appear to be the most satisfactory way of assisting the industry. The possibilities in the exploitation of shale are very great throughout Australia, especially in New South Wales, and more particularly in the State I have the honour to assist in representing. A substantial attempt is being made by a private company to exploit the shale deposits of Tasmania at present. They are very close to the seaboard, and no difficulties of transport are presented. It is merely a question of the discovery of a satisfactory process. As a mining proposition there is no doubt that the exploitation of the shale seams will be successful. That the shale contains oil, and up to 50 gallons per ton, is beyond all doubt. The problem is to instal a process that will be satisfactory, in view of the peculiar nature of the shale in Tasmania. It differs from similar deposits in other parts of the world, so much so that scientists have called the Tasmanian shale “ Tasmanite.” There is something in the composition of the Tasmanian shale which differentiates it from what is ordinarily called disodile. There are millions of tons of this shale awaiting exploitation. I welcome this Bill as a genuine effort on the part of the Administration to assist in developing the varied oil resources of the continent of Australia.
– I want to assure Senator Foll, who dealt with the question of power alcohol, that the Government are not indifferent to the importance of solving the difficulties surrounding its production. They are hoping to profit by the experience of other people, which, I think, is a very wise course to adopt. Experiments are now being made in South Australia, and there appears to be every prospect of successfully treating power alcohol or wood spirit in such a way as to prevent the distribution of an article dangerous to the community.
– The Government have a plant of their own in Brisbane, which was manufacturing power alcohol at a price that made it cheaper than petrol, but its manufacture has been stopped.
– There are certain reasons for that. It is not a matter of money, but of the protection of the community. We do not want to place in the hands of thoughtless people something which might lead to disaster. When the difficulty to which I have referred is overcome, there is little doubt that power alcohol can be produced on a commercial basis.
– The Minister’s argument might apply with equal force to petrol and methylated spirits.
– I recognise the value of Senator Foil’s contribution to the debate, and I assure him that the national importance of the matter to which he has referred will not be lost sight of. It is not a question of bounty, but of the difficulty of denaturing the spirit. I differ from Senator Lynch’s suggestion to extend the time over which bounty should be paid. Every one interested in this industry knows that any Government which may happen to be in power must recognise the value of continuing the industry by the payment of a bounty if that is shown to be necessary. It would be unwise for the Government to undertake to pay the bounty for five years whether the industry required it or not. We are hopeful that science will solve the problem of the economic treatment of oil-bearing shales. If that can be done, and if within twelve months oil can be produced at the current rate of value, why should the Government continue to pay the bounty for another four years, when it would not be required?
– The fact that the bounty would be payable over an extended term of years might stimulate effort for the exploitation of shale deposits.
– I feel sure that it will be admitted that if it were shown to be necessary to continue the bounty to insure the continuity of the industry, no Government would refuse to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In explaining the purpose of the measure I may state that a British Empire Exhibition is being organized to be held in London in 1924. It is desirable that Australia should be represented there, and its products suitably displayed. In pursuance of that objective, the
Commonwealth, and the States have arrived at an agreement for sharing the cost and the responsibility. The Commonwealth will provide £115,000, and the States £85,000, the States bearing that amount of expenditure on a population basis. The State Governments will, further, be responsible for assembling and preparing the exhibits, and placing them on board ship. From that point the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government commences. There will be a Commission controlling the Exhibition so far as our portion of it is concerned. The Commonwealth will be represented by the Prime Minister and two of his colleagues, and the States by the Premiers, with five gentlemen selected from outside, so it should be a thoroughly efficient and representative body. Not only is it desirable that we should take the fullest advantage of this rather unique opportunity to display Australian products, and in that way get an advertisement, but it is thought that our representation at the Exhibition will be a very useful aid to those efforts which we are all desirous of making to promote our trade with the world at large. I may add that it is intended during the six months that the Exhibition will be open to arrange that the cafes or refreshment rooms associated with it supply meals of Australian products. In this way we shall bring home to the visitors in a practical form the excellence of the products of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Appropriation of £115,000).
– I should like to know if the Minister can give us any idea as to the time of year at which the Exhibition will be held. Certain times are more suitable than others for visitors from Australia to the Old - Country.
– I cannot give the exact date, but, the Dominions having been consulted, it has been arranged that the height of the season will be during the summer months.
– Is the Minister able to say to what extent the Common wealth expenditure of £115,000 will meet the cost of the Exhibition f This may be a difficult question to answer, but perhaps he can give us some idea.
– The sum mentioned in this Bill is the limit of the obligation that will be accepted by the Commonwealth Government. It is quite obvious that, in addition to the £85,000 which the States will find, there. will be considerable expenditure in the assembling and care of the various exhibits for which the Commonwealth Government will not be responsible.
Clause agreed tq.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
That the message be considered in Committee forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
___ This Bill originated in the
Senate. It requires applicants for a certificate of naturalization to’ advertise in a newspaper their intention to do so, and to produce copies of the newspaper advertisement. Norfolk Island has not yet reached the stage at which it possesses a newspaper, and, therefore, the amendment made by the House of Representatives is necessary. This provides) that the applicant for a certificate of naturalization must satisfy the Minister that he has advertised “ in the prescribed manner.” I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
The following Bills were returned from the House of Representatives without, amendment : -
Jury Exemption Bill. Service and Execution of Process Bill. Seat of -Government Acceptance Bill. Trade Marks Bill.
Duty on Sulphur - Valedictory Remarks - Northern Territory - Development of Western Queensland.
SenatorE. D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) [12.12].- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish to reply to a question raised by Senator Wilson in which he asked that a statement be made regarding sulphur. An announcement has been made in another place by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers), and I hoped to be in a position to make a similar statement in this Chamber. It is not, however, practicable to give the full particulars at this juncture, but the honorable senator will be able to peruse the full statement, if he so desires. I may, however, say that the duty provided in the 1921 Tariff on sulphur is in effect. Applications have teen received for permission to import sulphur for manufacturing purposes free of duty for use where sulphuric acid is not suitable, and these applications are being considered by the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board is also considering the question of sulphur for superphosphate manufacture in Western Australia, as there is no sulphuric acid produced in that State.
I desire to take this opportunity, which will probably be our last meeting before Christmas, to express the hope that honorable senators will find the Christmas holiday an entirely enjoyable one, which will, of course, implythat they will overcome any difficulties which may present themselves between now and then. We have had a very strenuous session, particularly during recent weeks, and I venture to say there has been camaraderie in this Chamber during the whole time. Not one angry word has been spoken, and that is, I think, indicative of the spirit, which always prevails in this branch of the Legislature, and the spirit in which we separate on this occasion. I desire to express, sir, on behalf of theChamber, its recognition of your conduct as its Presiding Officer. You have occasionally, with concern to us, called us to order, and, might I say, not before we have deserved it. We have probably felt the rebuke at the time, but no one can say that you have erred, and if at all, it has been on the side of courtesy and leniency. It is due to you and to your conduct in the chair that unpleasant incidents have been avoided, and we can look back, as you can, with every confidence in your Presidency in this Chamber. Senator Bakhap, as Chairman of Committees, has, on several occasions, taken your place, and to him also has fallen a good deal of responsible work. His efficiency in handling it has accelerated and not in any way retarded business. If Senator Bakhap should go out of public life - which, for our sakes and the sake of the electors, God forbid - he can hand down to his children as an heirloom the record which he established last night in dealing with the Appropriation Bill, and concerning which he need have no qualms of conscience.
I desire also, on behalf of the Chamber, to expressour thanks to the officers of the House.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– They have all maintained the traditions which surround their offices, been ready to help us when in any difficulty, and I desire to acknowledge the obligation, under which they have placed us. I also wish to refer to the Hansard Staff.
– The most charitable of all.
– It is a matter of doubt if we should not offer them an apology rather than an expression of thanks. They have had a very difficult duty to perform. Their burdens which would have been light if confined to this Chamber have been very heavy indeed when taken in conjunction with the work entailed in the two branches of the Legislature. The Senate, I am sure, extends its appreciation to them for the manner in which they have stood up to a very difficult job.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– Perhaps it would not be out of place to say that we have allreceived considerate and appropriate attention from the attendants. They move, it is true, in a less prominent sphere; but it is withintheir power to make matters easier for us all, and I express, on behalf of the Senate, our thanks to them.
I shall concludeby wishing all honorable senators the best of health and good luck. If we meet here again with the personnel we have to-day, I do not think a single member of this Chamber will regret it.
– As this is the last opportunity I shall have for some time I desire to say a few words on a very important matter which I endeavoured to introduce last night. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) congratulated the Chairman of Committees (Senator Bakhap) on the manner in which the Appropriation Bill was disposed of, but I think the Chairman of Committees was a little too expeditious and passed the Bill at a speed which seems to have staggered at least one leading light in the journalistic world.
I do not intend to delay theSenate for more than a few minutes, but I desire to say that the problem of the Northern Territory is a vital one. It is regrettable that the report of the PublicWorks Committee was not presented to Parliament until the last moment, but for that the Government cannot be blamed. It is unfortunate, however, that we shall not have an opportunity of dealing with it. The Leader of the Government in the Senate said he had not read it, and having regard to the rate at which we have been working for the last few days, it has been impossible for honorable senators to study it. The point that may not have been grasped by South Australian senators is that the bulk of our population is around the coast. That is so palpable that if we travel 250 miles inland we soon get to the edge of settlement. In the Northern Territory the spread of population will be around the coast, so the State which would naturally be expected to develop that portion of Australia would be Queensland.
Railway access is the second most important factor in the settlement of the Northern Territory. This is a question that has been agitating the minds of the people in Queensland for the last ten years. The most rational railway extension would be a line through Queensland to Mataranka. Railway connexion between Queensland and the Northern Ter ritory was favoured by Lord Forrest, and at the present time I understand the Queensland Government are willing to extend the line from its present terminus to Camooweal if the proposal of the Public Works Committee is carried into effect. I regret that we have no proposal from the Government for such a connexion. We have large ideas about immigration and development, and I submit that Western Queensland is as suitable for that purpose as any other part of Australia. We have in the city of Melbourne newspapers which are continually telling us what to do ; but, so far as I can see, their outlook is limited by the River Murray.
– I object to that. They cannot see as far as the Murray. They cannot see through the smoke of Footscray.
– I like to be reasonable. I make one exception to my statementabout the metropolitan press of this city. The evening paper has, in some respects, shown an Australian spirit. It has enunciated a principle which I believe in and have written about recently. It has said that in our financial outlook for the next few years we ought not to be possessed too much by the spirit of economy, and should not consider that our only hope of financial security lies in cutting down every penny of expenditure. I believe, with that journal, that we should “ spend money bravely “ where it is obvious that we will get a fair return. I submit that one way to spend money “bravely,” andin a spirit of true economy, particularly in view of our large immigration and developmental ideas, would be to connect the Northern Territory by railway with Queensland, and open up the western area of Queensland. If a line was taken from Camooweal down to Eromanga and Hungerford, it would open up 30,000,000 acres, 5,000,000 of which could be closely settled, as closer settlement is understood in the western part of Queensland. We had a Bill before us the other day dealing with immigration.
– Would the honorable senator put immigrants in Western Queensland?
– I would, if the railway was there. In suitable areas that class of country could be well settled.
I am not talking so much about immigrants as trained settlers. It would not do to place there a Liverpool clerk or a Glasgow factory hand; but for people who know something of farming, those areas are suitable for closer settlement. An alternative proposal is for a line through Boulia to Birdsville, and in this I notice the Public “Works Committee has indicated a belief. I have read carefully a condensed report of the Public Works Committee’s report, and it suggests to the mind of the reader that the direct North-South line does not find full favour with the Committee.
– The Committee made no such recommendation, and gave no such indication.
– It appears to me that there is no statement of a full belief in the immediate construction of the line. I do not take the attitude that the agreement should be repudiated. A bargain has been made with South Australia, and South Australia has a right to look for the satisfaction of it. 1 advocate proper economy, and I leave those who made the bargain to get out of it as well as they can.
– The Public Works Committee definitely rejected for the present the proposal to construct a NorthSouth line.
– I did not rise with the intention of entering into a criticism of the North-South line. Lord Forrest, when he was in the Federal Government, and Sir Joseph Cook considered that a railway connexion between the Northern Territory and Queensland, apart from the north-south or east-west routes, was so much in the interests of the Northern Territory, as well as of Queensland and the rest of Australia., that it should be provided. It would have pleased me if the Government had come down with some proposal in that direction. I realize that they have been under a disadvantage through the report of the Public Works Committee only reaching Parliament within the last few days of the session. I understand that the Queensland Government are anxious to have the Camooweal connexion made, and are prepared to extend the existing railway system to that point, in order to open up the gulf country to the north.
As a new and comparatively young member of the Senate, the duty of speaking to-day on behalf of the Opposition has fallen, no doubt, on somewhat unworthy shoulders. I regret that my leader (Senator Gardiner) is not present. He has been ill, we know, and I think that it is illness that prevents him from being present this morning. I am sure that honorable senators will sympathize with him. Having had to act as Senator Gardiner’s deputy during his absence, I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for the courtesy and consideration you have at all times extended to me. I came into this Chamber having read about and witnessed parliamentary proceedings often enough, but I have now come to the conclusion that an ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of theory. It is much easier to tell the other man how to do a job than to do it oneself. Although you, Mr. President, may have seemed a little bit harsh at times, no doubt the fault has been all my own, and I appreciate the help you have extended to me. Whilst I have endeavoured to hit hard, I have always tried to give fair treatment to opponents. I may have been somewhat cutting in my remarks at times-
– I think Senator Wilson was the firstman I “ bumped into.” I have had a “ flutter “ with practically every honorable senator. It has been my duty to express the views of the people who sent me here, but I have nothing except good-will towards all honorable senators personally. I also wish to thank the Chairman of Committees (Senator Bakhap) for the consideration that he has always extended to me. I join with the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator E. D. Millen) in thanking the officers of the Senate and the attendants for what they have done. The members of the Hansard staff, perhaps, are those with whom I have been brought into closest association, and they have treated me fairly. Being a journalist myself, I have probablybeen more particular with their work than would otherwise have been the case. But at no time has there been any indication of resentment of any trouble to which the staff may have been put.
– I support the sentiment expressed towards you, Mr. President, and the officers of the Senate. As one of the new members of this, the first Parliament that I. have been connected with, I appreciate the kindness I have always received from the members of the “Government, and also the officers who assist Ministers. This good feeling and cooperation makes parliamentary life a great deal happier and lighter than it would be under other circumstances. I am fortunate in not having to face the electors this year, as my friend (Senator MacDonald) must. I do not remember having had any brushes with the honorable senator. We all, wish him all sorts of good luck personally, but from a political point of view I hope he “hits a fence,” because I do not agree with the ideals he advocates. The experience he has gained during the short time he has been a member of the Senate will, no doubt, be of very great value to him. I have made many friendships among honorable senators, and I hope that they will be life-long, irrespective of political beliefs. You, Mr. President, have been most courteous and helpful to one who is prone, at times, to infringe the Standing Orders. Instead of being severe on me, you have’ tactfully put me on the right course. I think every honorable senator has appreciated the kindness and assistance of the members of the Government and the officers, and I wish them - although the festive season is some distance away - the compliments of the season.
– Before putting the motion, I wish to say how much I appreciate the remarks regarding myself which have been made by Senator E. D. Millen, as Leader of the Senate, and by Senators MacDonald and Wilson. On behalf of the officers and the Ilansard staff, I thank Senator Millen and the other speakers for the kindly and appreciative way in which they have referred to them. I am quite safe in assuring Senator Millen that the Senate- as a whole, and every member of it, heartily reciprocates his good wishes, because they would be quite as emphatic in the expression of good wishes to him. We wish the honorable senator nothing but the best of luck in the contest which he, in common with other honorable senators and members of this Parliament will have to face.
I desire, also, on my own behalf, on this the closing day of the last session of this Parliament, to thank every member of the Senate for the unfailing kindness, courtesy, and good-will shown to myself. My relations with all the members of the Senate have been of the happiest kind, and, whatever may happen in the future, I hope that the kindly feeling and good fellowship that have existed between, us will long continue.
As President of the Joint House Committee, I wish to join in the expression of appreciation by the Leader of the Senate to the staff of the Senate and to members of the refreshment-room staff, who, although at great inconvenience during late sittings, have always been prompt to attend to our wants. The whole staff, have displayed diligence, and have been of material assistance to honorable senators in the discharge of their parliamentary duties with the least possible inconvenience and in some cases with enjoyment. Personally, I have to thank officers of the Hansard staff and other officers of the Senate for their unfailing courtesy to me and the valuable assistance they have rendered me on every occasion in administering the affairs of the Senate and of the Parliament.
In conclusion, as many members of the Senate and of another place are about to face the periodical contest to which all parliamentarians must look forward, I express my hope that the casualties will be very few. I like to see old faces on the re-assembling of Parliament. “ A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind,” and when a member of the Parliament has rendered good service to the country the electors should appreciate his efforts by returning him again. Every, honorable senator and member of another place who must go to the. country will carry with him nothing but the best wishes from me. I hope that after the strenuous contest which must ensue, the following festive season will be as happy as we could wish, and will be enjoyed by all to the fullest possible extent.
.- As Senator E. D. Millen has specifically and very kindly referred to myself, I, as the officer subordinate to you, sir, in this Chamber, wish to add a few words to those which have fallen so happily from your lips. I have had a good deal of experience of the officers and attendants, and I must say that I indorse everything that has been said regarding them. It was my good fortune, when I first entered this Chamber, to make the acquaintance of the then Clerk of the Senate and his assistant. I refer to Mr. Boydell and to Mr. Upward. I would have made but a sorry Chairman of Committees had it not been for the loyal assistance and advice given to me from time to time by Mr. Monahan, who has been promoted to the position held by Mr. Boydell. In a lesser degree I am indebted to Mr. U’Ren, who carries out the functions which were intrusted to Mr. Upward whenIfirst entered this Chamber. I am very much indebted to Senator E. D. Millen, who was my political leader when I first came here, and who has led ‘this Chamber for a considerable time with conspicuous ability. He has set us all the example of never permitting anything that may be said in the heat of parliamentary debate to rankle in our bosoms. He has referred very happily, and finely, to that spirit of camaraderie which undoubtedly exists amongst members of this Chamber which represents the nation in the highest and, I hope, the best possible form. If I have shown, as undoubtedly I have, some shortcomings in filling the position which the Senate thought fit to confer upon me a year or two ago, let it be said I have only followed the example of, I think, a very great individual who is said to have nodded sometimes. If Homer nods sometimes, even a poor Chairman of Committees may be permitted a similar privilege.
At the suggestion of legal members of thisChamber, I wish to say a word or two of the work of the Parliamentary Draftsmen. I am informed by honorable senators who are qualified to sit in judgment upon the labours of these officers that they regard their work very highly, notwithstanding occasional criticisms directed against it. These criticisms are well withinthe province and competence of representatives of the electors of Australia, but honorable senators who are also members of the legal profession consider the work of the Parliamentary Draftsmen of the highest order of merit. I feel sure that I am properly, if unworthily, echoing the sentiments they conveyed to me.
I think with yourself, sir, that there will not be very many vacancies in our ranks after the elections. I have expressed a similar hope on previous occasions, but this time I speak feelingly, because I have to put on my armour, in common with many of my brother senators, and go forth to battle in the vast forest ofblue pencils. I hope that we shall come through the conflict triumphantly, and will for years to come be in a position by the exercise of our mental faculties to assist the nation to get the best out of life. I hope that we shall see Australia flourish increasingly, that it will add to its population, and will each year become of still greater importance in the councils and ways of the world. If unfortunately some of us should fall by the wayside I hope it will be shown that the electors have sent men to this Chamber who are philosophers as well as senators. I hope we shall follow the advice of Kipling, and whether we are successful or unsuccessful, will face the issue in the spirit which the poet recommended -
Whether you meet with victory or disaster,
Treat these two impostors just the same.
Question resolved inthe affirmative.
Commonwealth of Australia to wit.
By His Excellency the Right Honorable Henry William, Baron Forster, a Member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 October 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19221014_senate_8_101/>.