9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator theHon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the statements made by Senator Pearce in regard to the fine country in the Northern Territory which he passed through when travelling towards the Queensland border, will be use his influence with the Government to have a railway line commenced immediately from West Queensland through the Barkly Tableland, as recommended some months ago by thePublic “Works Committee?
– Much as one might like to express one’s personal’ opinion, it is not usual for Ministers to disclose Government policy in replies to questions. An indication of the Government’s intentions in regard to Northern Territory development has been given in the Governor-General’s Speech, and when the time is ripe further disclosures upon the subject will be made.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether the reports by General Sellheim upon the northern part of Australia will be made available to the Senate when printed ?
– I expect so. I shall draw theattention of the Minister for Def ence to the request of the honorable senator.
The following papers were presented: -
Audit Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 73.
Proclamation, dated 30th May, 1923, prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Dried Fruits. Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 71, 76.
Defence : Commonwealth Government Woollen Cloth Factory- Annual Report of the Manager for the year ended 30th June, 1922.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Appeal Board Rules amended - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 77.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land Acquired - For Federal Capital purposes - Urayarra, Federal Territory.
For postal purposes - McLaren Vale, South Australia; Mentone, Victoria;
Newcastle, New South Wales.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 75.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 8 - Mineral Gil and Coal.
No. 9 - Darwin Town Council (No, 2).
No. 10 - Public Service.
Papua- Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 1 - Native Taxes.
No. 2 - Native Plantations.
Papua Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 74.
Papua - Annual Report for the year 1921-22.
Report to the League of Nations on the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea from 1st July, 1921, to 30th June, 1922.
Report on the Administration of Nauru during the year 1922.
Territory for the Seat of Government -
Ordinance No. 4 of 1923- Timber Protection.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923; Nos. 61, 62, 64, 65.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 60, 63.
– I regret to have to announce to the Senate that the Chairman of Committees (Senator Bakhap) is indisposed and unable to attend today’ssitting. That fact necessitates a course of actionby me which I had not contemplated. The Senate will probably go into Committee to-day or to-morrow, and it will be necessary to have somebody to act in the place of the Chairman of Committees. In ordinary circumstances the appointment of Temporary Chairmen for the session would be deferred until the new Senate meets next week, but the illness of the Chairman of Committees makes it incumbentuponme to nominate them to-day. I therefore lay on the table my warrant appointing Senators Benny, McDougall, Newland, and Payne to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees.
The PRESIDENT reported that he had received the resignation of Senators Newland and Poll as members of the Parliamentary StandingCommittee on Public Works.
The PRESIDENT reported that he had received the resignation of Senator J. D. Millen as a member ofthe Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
Retirement of Warrant Officer Allen
asked the Minister representing the Minister for . Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motions (by Senator “Wilson) agreed to-
That during the present session, the days of meeting of the Senate,, unless otherwise ordered,, be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 o’clock in the forenoon of Friday.
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee, of the whole Senate, be suspended from 1 p.m. to’ 2.30 p.m. and from 6,30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 4 o’clock p.m. on Fridays, the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question, That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate ; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question, That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate, or the Committee, be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result, of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the business-paper for the next sitting day.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) agreed to-
That on Wednesday,, Thursday, and Friday, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence; of all other business on the noticepaper, except questions and formal motions, and except that, private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday, after 8 p.m., and that, unless otherwise ordered, private Orders, of the Day take- precedence of private notices, of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
.- I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
We have more than one day at our disposal, but it is necessary to move this motion to enable us to proceed with the consideration of this Bill instead of having to debate the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– This is a favorable opportunity to let the Leader of the Government know that this method of conducting business must cease. I am not threatening. I merely point out that we expect to have large reinforcements on this side next week. If our Standing Orders do not permit of our conducting business in the manner we desire, let us amend them. The continual suspension of the Standing Orders, to my mind, is an indication that they do not fit in with our method of conducting business. One of two things must happen - either we must make the Standing Orders such that they will suit the business we have to conduct, or meet at such a time that there will be no occasion for this continual suspension of the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders should operate sometimes when important business is going through the Senate. Some of the most important business of this Senate for years has been transacted with the aid of the suspension of the Standing Orders. At the beginning of a new session this Senate might well take into grave consideration the nature of the Standing Orders, and insure that such methods as this are not necessary to enable us to conductour business. It will be a little more troublesome to suspend the Standing Orders hereafter than it has been. I hope that the Minister willrealize that this Senate should have financial measures at least a clear week before honorable senators are required to discuss them. No fear of interference with any one will prevent me from debating to the fullest extent necessary any financial measure that comes before this Senate. If the Minister will see that we get our financial measures at least a clear week before the appropriation is required to be made - and that is not asking very much - we on this side will work in the most complete harmony with the Government. If the Minister does not see to that I shall consider that the Government are determined not to work in harmony with honorable senators on this side. I do not make that statement in the boastful spirit of a man who expects large reinforcements. Too long have we suffered! by reason of the fact that business hasbeen unduly hurried through by means of the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I thank the honorable senator for his warning. He would make it appear that he is the only just man in this Senate. My recollection is that when there has been occasion the strongest protest againstrushing business through has come from the Ministerial side; we have had great difficulty in persuading our supporters to agree tothe suspension of the Standing Orders. Under the leadership of Senator E. D. Millen, and as the result of protests made by honorable senators on this side, a very considerable improvement was effected in regard to the time available for the discussion of Supply Bills, and the Senate has been given greater time for the consideration of those measures than was formerly the practice. I intend to continue that practice as far as I possibly can. I should like to say, however, that there are occasions when this motion should be passed to meet the convenience of the Senate itself. The passage of such a motion does not necessarily imply that the measure to which it relates is not given full consideration. Very often I have seen more time taken up in discussing the question whether the Standing Orders should be suspended than subsequently was devoted to the measure itself. 1 shall at all times endeavour to see that honorable members are allowed ample time.
Question - That the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended - put.
– There being one dissenting voice, and the Standing Orders providing that the suspension of the Standing Orders must be agreed to by an absolute majority of the Senate, the Senate will divide.
The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
.- I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
If this motion is carried, honorable senators will have at least two days, if they so desire, in which to discuss the Bill.
– There being more than an absolute majority of the Senate present, and no voice being raised in dissent, I declare the motion carried.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of this measure is to make available a grant of £500,000 to be expended through the agencies of the States and the local governing authorities on the construction of main roads to aid settlement, which is at present hampered by the absence of adequate means of communication. The amount granted is to be on a £1 per £1 basis, which means that the States will contribute £1 for every £1 contributed by the
Commonwealth, and the whole sum is to be used on the construction of main roads. It is not the intention or desire of the Commonwealth Government that the States should be relieved of their ordinary obligations in regard to road-making, but this represents an additional sum of £1,000,000 tobe spent on the construction of main roads throughout the Commonwealth. On a previous occasion £250,000 was provided by the Commonwealth Government for a similar purpose, and the money was distributed on a per capita basis. The Government, however, on reviewing the position, thought that that was not the best or most equitable way of distributing the money, as some Stateswhich have a comparatively small population scattered over a wide area have heavier obligations in respect to main roads than smaller States with a large population. Having that in view, the Government have decided to distribute three-fifths of this amount on a per capita basis, and twofifths on an area basis.
– The new basis will favour the larger States.
– Yes; the States with a larger area, with one exception - the always favoured State of Tasmania - will benefit by it. The Bill provides all the necessary safeguards as to the manner in which the main roads are to be constructed. Although the measure is not aimed particularly at overcoming unemployment, in some States unemployment exists, and the voting of this sum, if followed by immediate action on the part of the State Governments - I am glad to know that some of the State Governments are already moving in the matter - will enable unskilled labour to be employed on this useful and necessary work. We are asking the Senate to pass the Bill as quickly as possible.
– Will the States have the right to spend money where they choose ?
– No; they will have to submit to the Commonwealth schedules of the roads on which they propose to spend the money, and, after the schedules have been scrutinized by the Commonwealth Public Works Department, and approved by the Commonwealth Government, the expenditure will be allowed. I believe the proposal to be a good one, as it is very desirable that the Commonwealth Government should assist in the matter; of road construction. Motor transpert is coming: to the fore in Australia, and, with a further, reduction-, in, the price of; motor fuel, that form of transport will, play a veiy important part, in the development cf the- Comman: wealth.
– And the removal of import duties on motor cars.
– I do not know if that would help a great deal, as the limited use of motor cars, in my judgment, is due, not to the capital cost, but rather to the running costs.. Recently therehave been substantial reductions in. the coat of motor cars, and if. wewere to ask any one- using motor. vehicles, especially those in. the country, what was retarding motor tirans port,. they would say bad roads, the high cost of fuel, and the cost of spare parts. I have recently completed a very long motor trip of 1,400’ miles over’ country which has; not a single yard of macadamized road. As a result of. that experience,. I think that, given cheap fuel and a comparatively small expenditure on road-making in the north o£ Australia, ‘there would be a tremendous increase in the development aaid the closer settlement of that, part of the country. This applies to Western Queensland, the whole of the Northern Territory, the north of South Australia, and the north-west of Western Australia. For eight months of the year that country is ideal for motor transport. When we come to the southern, eastern, and western portions of the Commonwealth we know that that country is notadapted for motor transport unless good roads are provided. But given that provision, I believe, the motor will play a very big part in the development of Australia. We know from actual experience that the one big factor militating against the success of railway transport is the high cost of railway construction and maintenance. It seems to me that in the process of the future development of this country we should aim at the- construction of main lines of railways to carry the heaviest traffic, and that those main lines should be fed by a series of motor roads. That would necessitate providing fey private enterprise, or, if necessary, by some system of Government organization, cheap motor fuel. That problem devolves first of all on- those who have control of motor fuel in Australia. It is so important to the development of the interior of Australia that if those who have that obligation thrust upon them do not , do their duty and provide cheaper fuel, the people of this country will demand that Government, action betaken. The need for cheap motor fuel is becoming more and more pressing and urgent. The present -means for the supply of motor fuel for use on our roads is so primitive and costly that it is a reflection on the business interests. To-day motor fuel is taken to one or two ports in tank steamers and1 transferred to other tanks ashore. It is then placed in tins or drums and distributed around the coast. The steamer freights are high, and after the vessels reach the ports of destination the fuel, is sent inland, very often by waggon team, and sometimes by camel team, so that when the motor spirit does reach the purchaser in the interior it is at such a cost as to make motor transport impossible. I have pleasure in moving the second reading of this Bill because, iby increasing the number of good roads throughout the Commonwealth, we shall create public interest inmotor transport. The business inr terests, both Federal and State, will need to take action to encourage that form of transport, so essential in a country of such vast area as is Australia, forthe good of . the people.
– Most of the railway systems are’ taking steps to discourage motor transport by providing better railway facilities.
– The railways can and do perform services that motor transport cannot. There is room for the railway system and motor transport system, and they should, not necessarily be in competition.
– The roads should? feed the railways-.
– That is so, but the- roads should be quite capable of carrying motor transport. To expend money on roads which are not suitable for this purpose is simply to shut one’s eyes to the development taking place; throughout the world. I had the opportunity of visiting the United States of
America, and found that this system of a Federal grant to the States in order to provide good roads had been in existence there for some time. As a result they have a magnificent :system of trunk roads. To-day it is safe to say that those roads are carrying as much freight as aTe the railways of America. The roads are not in competition with the railways, because they act as feeders. Good roads will help to make the railway systems of Australia pay, and will promote settlement. This Bill is the initiation by the Commonwealth of a system of national highways for Australia.
– How many highways could be constructed under its provisions 1
– It will depend on the nature of the country.
– Not very many.
– In some parts of Aius Australia a the amount .provided for under the Bill would not construct many roads, but m the country I have recently traversed, £1,000 would make a thousand miles of roadway capable of carrying motor transport.
– That is ‘so; they would be, in dry weather.
– Why is no amount «et aside for the Northern Territory ?
– There is no need to make any .provision in this Bill for the Northern Territory, because that country is under the control of the Commonwealth, and is dealt with in the Estimates. I can assure the honorable member that the Northern Territory “is not being lost .sight of. In reply %o Senator M’cDougall’s interjection, I admit that in some districts, such as Innisfail, in Queensland, with a tremendous rainfall, the road construction must necessarily be costly, and not -many miles of country could be constructed for £10,000 or £20,000.
– It would not go far in the timber country..
– But ‘that is not an argument against this Bill. It can be used as an argument that we should do more in this respect. At any rate this is -a step in the right direction, and as such, I commend the Bill to .the Senate, in the belief that honorable .senators will be unanimous in accepting it.
– On the general principle of making good roads, there can be but one sane opinion, that the development of this country depends upon good roadways. I ‘.am somewhat delighted that the Government have seen the necessity of mending their ways so early in the session. But in this very Bill I see the continuation of what I might term the inability of the Government to appreciate the situation with which Australia is confronted at present. Here is a new method of spending money.’ We have had the spectacle of the Government slinging millions of pounds about; intending, as they said, to relieve the soldiers and to do this and that. When the Opposition tried to bring them to account for their inefficiency and ineptitude, they said “ Look at the amount of money we have spent !”
– Was not that a previous Government!
– Yes, it was the last Government. I hoped for an improvement when that Government went out of office, but I am not very much impressed with the calibre of their successors. It is not even a second-class team: it is, at the most, only a third eleven. When a new Government attempt to deal with finance they should take warning from the errors of the previous Government, of which they were aiders and abettors. The huge sums of money spent in reckless extravagance were voted for the purpose of bringing about good results. The intentions were good, but no honorable senator will defend the reckless manner in which public money has been expended by the Commonwealth during the past four or five years.
– It is because the Government allowed .the control of the money to he taken out of their hands.
– Absolutely. All that Senator Pearce has -said in regard to the necessity for good roads we can indorse; hut is the principle of this Bill sound? According to the schedule, New South Wales will receive £138,000, and Tasmania, at the other end of the list, will receive £25,000. The financial situation to-day is graver than it was yesterday, and was worse yesterday than it was twelve months ago. Time will not make the .position of the country any better unless Governments will realize the importance of finance. Before us is a proposal which Senator Pearce admits is the initiation of a new system of grants by the Federal authority to the States. If the Government had brought down a well thought-out scheme for the construction of trunk roads, showing how much money was to be expended, how the roads were to be used as feeders for railways, and how the community would benefit by the expenditure, there would be less opposition than there is to the hurried announcement that the Government will grant £500,000 to the States, but will, of course, supervise the expenditure of the money. 1 suppose the supervision will take the form of insuring that particularly good roads are made where there are dozens of people with motor cars. The number of motorists will be the excuse for the construction of better roads in certain localities. A bullock waggon can drag through any sort of road, but motor cars must have good roads; therefore; this £500,000 will be spent where the roads can be ‘ made better for motorists. I am not an opponent of motor cars; on the contrary, I would admit them into the Commonwealth free of duty, and I would have such a system of well-constructed roads that the petrol consumption and cost of running would be reduced. Senator Pearce spoke of the growing importance of ‘ motor traction and cheap fuel. I venture to say that good roads will make for cheaper fuel, because a motor car will travel further to the gallon of petrol on a good road than on a bad one.
The question the Senate has to consider is whether this money is to be expended wisely. Suppose that £500,000 were utilized for the establishment in each. State of mills for the manufacture of cement to be supplied to the State Governments at cost price for the construction of concrete roads. In Australia, concrete roads will be a greater success than they are in the United States of America, because they will not be subject to the hard freezing that detrimentally affects concrete in Northern America. If we could start with a practical scheme in five or six States for establishing factories to manufacture cement, and supply it to the State Governments at low cost, -we would be taking a practical step to- wards the creation of good roads; we would be creating the machinery by which good roads could be made more cheaply than at the present time. I have not travelled in a motor car as far as Senator Pearce has done, and I have not travelled much in a bullock waggon, but when I see along main roads maintenance men repairing the roads with sand that has been washed into the gutters by the rain, knowing that the next rain will undo their work, I ask whether that is effective road maintenance? In any considered scheme for road development there must be provision for the construction of roads that will stand the wear and tear of traffic and weather. This Bill, which involves the expenditure of £500,000, offers no guarantee in that regard. All of the States will rush to get their respective shares of the grant. They will certainly spend the money as well as they can, and under the old system of Government control of roads in New South “Wales good roads were built, but it is one of the peculiar features of local government in that State, that no sooner was the control of roads placed in the hands of those people who benefit most by them, than their fear of taxing themselves exceeded their appreciation of good roads, and; indirectly they taxed themselves thousands of pounds through the increased cost of haulage over almost impassable roads. There seems to be a grave possibility of the present Government following the example set by their predecessors, who spent millions of pounds in connexion with repatriation, war service homes, and other activities, and who, when asked what they had done, could merely reply, “ Look at the millions of pounds we have spent.” On this occasion the amount is only £500,000, and it is to be spread over the whole continent.
– It is a very good’ start.
– Public money should not. be spent upon making a start before plans and specifications of the project to be carried out have been prepared, and skilled men, with a knowledge of what they are doing, have submitted proposals showing how far the £500,000 will go.
– That information has to be prepared before any of this money will be made available.
– The six States are standing in their places around the Commonwealth Treasurer, like boys in a scramble for lollies at a Sunday school picnic. The sweets are being thrown out to the States, and the big boys will rush in to gather a handful and, if possible, fill their pockets. Will the’ scramble produce a better system of main roads? Perhaps £138,000 spent in New South Wales would build fifty miles of new road. If the Commonwealth would say to the New South Wales Government that if they will build a road direct from one given point to another -
– Sydney to Canberra, for instance.
– That would be a good road, and I assure the honorable senator that even if there be no high road to Canberra, when the Labour party come into power, we shall make “tracks” there immediately. But Canberra is in the happy position that many year’s ago it was represented in the State Parliament by the late E. W. O’sullivan, and it was well known that his constituency had some of the best roads in Australia. So that when the Commonwealth acquired territory in that part of New South Wales, it entered into possession also of some of the State’s best roads. But even in the Federal Capital Territory, I would not favour any expenditure upon roads that would not give an immediate practical return. For instance, I would not build a provisional Parliament House at a cost of £200,000; I would apply the money towards the erection of a permanent structure, so that the Commonwealth would derive some lasting benefit from it. The Government propose to distribute £500,000 amongst the States on the vague supposition that they are inaugurating a new policy, and a system of good main roads. We do not manage our own personal expenditure in that way. If I have £5,000 to spend, do I hand it over to some other fellow to disburse for me, hoping that I shall get some indirect benefit from his employment of my money? No; I insist upon knowing what” I am to get for the money I make available.
– And so will the Commonwealth in connexion with this - scheme.
– I realize the importance of main roads, and I am not underrating the idea that is in the minds of the Government, but I say they are not making a commencement in the right way. In the first place, the Federal Parliament should not interfere in the direction of subsidizing State Governments or municipal councils. Its financial and’ other problems are so big and urgent, and are so wrapped up with the interests and well-being of the community, that we can well afford to devote ourselves to the solution of them rather than waste our energies on a scheme of subsidizing the States. I suppose that when Mr. Bruce leaves for England Senator Pearce will become Acting . Prime Minister, and he will desire to become engaged in making good roads while his chief is making “ tracks “ for what he calls Home. Proposals of ‘ this kind impress me with the weakness of the present-day Governments and Parliaments in Australia. Five, years have elapsed since the war terminated, and a new Government are in power in the. Commonwealth. Certainly the Ministry is merely a reshuffle of the people who were responsible for the mistakes of the last Administration; some of the Ministers of the Hughes Cabinet are being given a rest for a while, whilst others are being put into their places to. make more mistakes. At any rate, Australia could recover from the effects of the war more quickly than any other country in the world if given the opportunity. But the Commonwealth will not be assisted to recover by simply handingout sweets to this State and that State. And these donations will be very sweet, after all. What improvement will bemade in the roads of New South Wales by an expenditure of £138,000 spread over that State?
– The amount will be £276,000, because the States have to spend pound for pound of the Commonwealth grant.
– Of course; but the expenditure will not be additional to that they ordinarily incur. New South Wales is divided into shires and municipalities, a.nd the local’ governing bodies spend a certain amount per annum on main roads. That expenditure depends upon the annual vote. When this grant is made available by the Commonwealth theState Parliaments can reduce their annual grant for main roads to a small amount, and vote a ‘large sum for ordinary roads to meet the provisions of the Federal grant.
– The money advanced by the Commonwealth is to be additional to the ordinary expenditure by the States.
-The Commonwealth cannot interfere with what the sovereign Parliament of New’ South Wales may call its ordinary expentditure. I am quite sure that Senator Pearce will appreciate the difficulties I am suggesting. I am trying to deal with the policy of making grants for main road construction, from the practical point of view of a legislator who for many years has had to consider this matter. I have never had much confidence in the results obtained from money thrown to other people to be expended by them. The best results are obtained from those people who have to raise the money they expend, because thpy are watchful of every penny of outgoings. Under the scheme contained in this Bill, there will be merely a rush . by the States to see how quickly they can transfer the money which we vote from the Commonwealth Treasury to the State Treasuries. I quite approve of the attitude of Senator Pearce when he states- that one of the effects of the Bill will be to relieve unemployment. The honorable senator is oa safe ground in his view that this Parliament must realize that the Australian people and those who are brought to these shores should not be permitted to suffer from unemployment. For a very brief period, no doubt, the measure wilh relieve the awful want of employment, which, according to the figures Senator Pearce quoted on the closing day of last session., does exist. Taking the pre-war conditions of the civilized countries of the world, no less than 11 per cent, of the working population is always out of employment, in consequence of the system of private enterprise- and production for profit.
– Not in Australia.
– The Australian figures are little, if at all, lower than the 11 per cent, quoted.
SenatorFoll. - Does the honorable senator refer to the male population only ?
– Yes. If both sexes were taken into consideration, the percentage would be infinitely greater. Senator Pearce lightly touched on the argument that the measure would, to some extent, relieve unemployment, but he did not stress that point.
-brockman . - Unemployment is seasonal, and at this time of the year there is always a certain amount of it.
– A community that stupidly persists in permitting the most effective wealth-producing machine to remain idle shows a sad lack of judgment, and a well-informed Government will readily recognise that it does not pay to have one man unemployed. If the Minister had assured us that the Commonwealth was about to initiate a. system of grants to the States, in cider to insure good roads, and if he had submitted a practical and well-considered scheme to that end, there would have been something to commend the proposal to the Senate.
– The Main Roads Board in Victoria will see that its share is well . expended.
– I have great respect for Victorians, in that I find them shrewd people with a capacity to make money. I believe that Victorian syndicates have made more out of the Western Australian mines than the men engaged on the fields.
-brockman. - Victorians are the moat conservative people in Australia - another reason, no doubt, for your admiration of them.
– They may aspire to be the most conservative, but, judging by the representatives they sent to the Senate at the last election, I would say that Western Australia makes a bold bid for pride of place in that respect. If the Government had a. definite scheme for temporarily relieving unemployment by a serious attempt to meet one of Australia’s most urgent needs - good roads - and if they were anxious to co-operate with the States, well and good; but, sympathetic as I am towards the unemployed, I do not believe that I would be doing them a service by supporting a system which would mean throwing public money to the winds. This Parliament has duties of much greater importance to discharge, and it can serve the people of Australia, far better by bending its energies to the things it ought to do, and leaving to. the States and the shire councils what properly comes within their functions. Have any of the> local governing bodies taxed themselves to the same extent as the ‘Commonwealth is taxing the Australian people upon the .necessaries of life ? No less than £30,000,000 per annum is taken out of the pockets of the workers by means of Customs and Excise duties. We are supposed to have a Protectionist Tariff; but we have not. A Protectionist Tariff does not .return a large revenue; it keeps down imports. Parliament is invited to say that that is no business of ours, and that our real work is to co-operate with the States in matters .such as road-making.
– One-fifth of that Customs revenue is derived from beer, spirits, sparkling wines, and tobacco.
– That shows > the meanness of the tax. Senator Pearce and myself do not contribute to the revenue one shilling in respect to those ar articles es
– Does the honorable senator intend to connect his remarks with the subject-matter of the Bill?
– Yes. The citizen who drinks beer now receives only half as big a glass as formerly, because the Federal authorities are attending to State matters instead of to our own financial problems. Let the man who wants a glass of beer have a good long one. I wish it to be understood that I am as enthusiastic as Senator Pearce on the subject of good roads: I believe that motor traffic will displace railway traffic. Already, it is competing successfully with rail transport where the roads are not particularly good. If modern highways are built it will be much harder for the States to make their railways pay, but it will be better for the people, because they will have cheaper transport. I would prefer the proposed grant to be withheld until such time as the Commonwealth, in .consultation with the State authorities, evolved a national system of road-making. Speaking as a layman, I would say that the adoption of a compromise between macadamized and concrete roads - but preferably concrete - would be the best means of road improvement. If we were threatened by war such highways would be most useful, but I am not afraid of war. I believe that Australia is safe for the .next 100 years. I would not object ‘to the expenditure of money on a national system of road-making which would fit in with the Defence scheme. Direct national highways connecting the various capitals would facilitate the transport of troops. I see no real advantage in throwing sweets to the States; on the other hand I apprehend a grave evil, because it might become popular for a Government on the eve of an election to repeat such grants, .thereby encouraging the States to lose their independence, to say nothing of a continuance of the Federal extravagance which has been witnessed on many occasions.
.- With Senator Gardiner I fail to see just where the Government responsibility lies in this matter. Senator Pearce has pointed out that the proposal will do something to relieve unemployment, and I am sure that every honorable senator deplores the fact that there should he in Australia even one able-bodied man unable to find a market for his labour. In Queensland there is a Main Roads Board, which taxes all motor vehicles according to their horse-power rating, and the tax on each vehicle varies from about £3 6s. to about £10 per annum. Queensland also has an Unemployed Act under which every employer and employee ia compelled to pay 3d. weekly to a fund, for the relief of unemployment. The Main Roads Board receives the money which is collected from the taxation of motor vehicles and expends it in the improvement of existing roads and the making of new roads. In addition, the State Government makes a grant to the Board. The Commonwealth Government now propose advancing to that State the sum of £90,000 for the purpose of road-making. In ordinary circumstances, when the State Parliament met in Queensland, provision would be made in the financial statement - for a grant to the Main Roads Board to . supplement the amount which it collects. I dare say that, as the result of this proposal, the State Government will reduce considerably that grant. We in Queensland are being taxed very heavily to cope with unemployment. Users of motor vehicles, and owners of . other vehicles which ply for hire, have to pay a road tax.
– At the last election in Queensland the vote of the people indicated that they liked it.
– We will not say too much about the last election. If ever a political swindle was worked on the people, it was worked in connexion with the last State election in Queensland. I do not think that Senator Gardiner, when he studies the details, will rejoice in the actions of members of his party and the methods which they adopted in order to retain office.
– A “ brutal majority “ from one end of Queensland to the other.
– A “brutal majority “ of seats on a minority of votes polled. Before I support this Bill, I want Senator Pearce to give me an assurance that the granting of this money will not result in a smaller amount being contributed by the State Governments towards the carrying out of this road work. I do not want to see the Commonwealth carrying the burden of the States in regard to that work ; it is the work of the State Governments and of the shire councils. The Main Roads Board was brought into existence for the sole purpose of improving existing roads and building new roads; and the taxpayers of Queensland are paying for it.
– This money is provided by the taxpayers of Australia, and on a population basis Queensland will obtain a great deal more than her proper proportion._
– I am not so much concerned with the contribution that is to be made to any individual State; I look at the matter from the point of view of the taxpayers of Australia generally.
-Brookman. - This is particularly advantageous to your State and to mine, because it takes in areas.
– I quite realize the advantage to the State of Queensland, provided that this money is not going to take the place of that which ordinarily would be provided by the State Government.
– I understand that it is not.
– Another aspect of the case was put forward by Senator Pearce when he referred to the question of motor transport. I have been over a great deal if the country through which the honorable senator has travelled recently. I con gratulate him on the extensive nature of his ‘travels through the Northern Territory. It would have been better for the Territory if, in the past, Ministers who visited it had not remained in Darwin, or gone only a few miles south of Darwin. When Senator Pearce left the railhead at Katherine, and travelled across the Barkly Tableland to the border of Western Queensland, ‘ the quality of the country must have been an eye-opener to him compared with that in the coastal region. Until you go through that country you cannot realize what a great asset it is to Australia, and what a wonderful futurethere is in store for the Barkly Tableland. There is no doubt that, since Senator Pearce has seen the beautiful country that exists on the Barkly Tableland, the recommendation of the Public Works Committee that the line should be extended south of the Katherine across the Barkly Tableland into Camooweal will be given effect to. I welcome the accession of Senator Pearce to the ranks of those who favour that proposition, and I shall enlist his support when consideration is being given to the various routes proposed for the construction of the North-South railway.
– There is no mention of the North-South railway in this Bill, and the honorable senator is not in order in introducing that subject-matter into the debate.
– A little while ago, when. the question of the shale oil subsidy was being discussed in the Senate, I referred to the manner in which the power alcohol industry in Queensland had been treated by the Department of Trade and Customs.
– The Senate shortly will be discussing a Supply Bill, which will give the honorable senator ample opportunity to refer to the matters he is now raising. The debate on the AddressinReply also will enable him to deal with those matters. Therefore, there is no necessity and no excuse for him to introduce irrelevant matters into this discussion.
– I did not desire to be out of order, but Senator Pearce referred to the fact that this grant, by making possible the building of good roads, would probably be an incentive to us to go ahead with the question of motor transport.
– The Minister referred to the matter incidentally, and the honorable senator will be in order in so doing.
– There is no doubt that cheap fuel and cheap cars are going to be a great asset to Queensland. If the Minister will carry his memory back, he will remember that the late Government provided £250,000 for a similar project to this at a time when unemployment was somewhat acute. Is it the intention of the Government to make it a condition that, in the employment which is to be provided, preference shall he given by the State Governments to returned soldiers? If that is to be done, and in view of the desire to provide work for the unemployed, I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill.
Senator NEWLAND (South Australia) ‘4.30].- One looks at this Bill with somewhat mixed feelings. There is a good deal in some of the objections raised by the Leader of the Opposition to the methods by which the Government propose to distribute this money. The fact that the speedy distribution of the money will assist materially in finding employment for a large number of men who are out of employment during the winter months outweighs the objections that I have to the proposal. I object to the omission from the Bill of a provision requiring the States to contribute pound for pound.
– That was indicated to the States at the Conference, and was agreed to by them. It will be one of the conditions of the agreement.
– I see now that provision is made in clause :6, and I am glad that that safeguard is provided. I do not think that the States would attempt to get behind an understanding arrived at at the Conference, but we ought not to take any undue risks in dealing with the States. The Commonwealth, under this Bill, are to provide a sum of £500,000 for the various State Governments. State Premiers, Treasurers, and Parliaments are never done complaining of excessive taxation imposed by the Commonwealth, and the reckless expenditure of Commonwealth money. Here we propose adding another £500,000 to the burdens of the Commonwealth in order to assist the States. I think that the Commonwealth Government will be given very little credit for the expenditure of this money. They might, with greater satisfaction to the people, have given the people the benefit by way of reduced taxation. Both this Government and the previous Government decided that taxation should be reduced. We can easily ascertain the amount that will be necessary to meet Commonwealth requirements, and so can gauge the taxation that should be imposed; but if we continue finding money for the State Governments the Commonwealth will not be in a position to reduce their taxation, while the States will be in a position to reduce theirs. The States will, therefore, still be able to point to the alleged extravagance of the Commonwealth Government, and claim credit for imposing lighter taxation upon the .people. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) suggested that the money could be more advantageously expended on the erection of cement works, and although that would ‘ be an excellent idea, the whole of the money proposed to be paid under this measure would not be sufficient to equip a single plant, because the most modern cement works in Australia have cost over a million pounds to erect and equip. Concrete roads are becoming very popular, and as such roads last for many years, money spent in that direction is fully justified. The South Australian Government recently sent their Engineer for Roads and Bridges to Great Britain, America, and other countries to become acquainted with modern methods of road . construction, and, acting on his advice, they are adopting a new method in road construction, which will be more costly than the ordinary macadamized road. In these circumstances, the sum of £57,000, which is to be South Australia’s share, will not go as far as it would if reads were constructed1 under the old system, but the life of the roads will, of course, be longer. I trust the Government will see that the bulk of this expenditure will be incurred in country districts, and not in the metropolitan area.
– Give the outback man a chance.
– The farmer who has to transport his stock and produce to the railway should have first consideration. Any one -who has travelled extensively in tke back country must have noticed the unsatisfactory roads and the meagre facilities provided for the man on the land. The outback settler is not taxed by the local authorities to the extent that he might be, but he has Commonwealth and State taxation . superimposed upon his local taxation which at times becomes a very severe strain. While I am supporting the Bill, I trust the Government will exercise their right to see that the bulk of the money is spent in outlying parts of the Commonwealth, as those engaged in developing the country should have first consideration.
– When the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) was moving the ‘second reading of this measure I thought he would be called to order by you, Mr. President, for the manner in which he departed from the subjectmatter of the Bill. While I am a member of this Chamber I shall always oppose the payment of money to the States in this form, because we are merely assisting the States to undertake national works which should be performed by the Commonwealth. The Minister’s reference to the proceedings at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers is a reflection on the ability of the members of the Federal Parliament, as the Constitution provides that the Senate is a States House - a House constituted for the purpose of dealing with matters of the kind submitted to the Conference. The Minister has stated that the expenditure of £500,000 provided for in this Bill will be the means of developing the country; but it will not materially assist road construction, and will be completely thrown away owing to the lack of further payments to supplement it. The Minister stated that it is intended to provide better roads so that road transport may compete with the railways.
– I said to enable it to feed the railways.
– The railways can feed themselves. It would be a greater national undertaking to rectify the mistakes made by the various State Governments in constructing lines of varying gauges, and that work would provide employment for many years. A uniform gauge has been strongly advo-: cated by the highest military authorities, and although the Leader of the Opposition said that he was not afraid- of further war, we should always be prepared. The late Lord Kitchener -said that the unification of our railways was essential to the defence of Australia and the maintenance of our White Australia policy. It is ridiculous to attempt to grapple with national questions by paying paltry doles to the States. The States have agreed to contribute on a £1 per £1 basis, but no provision has been made for the expenditure of a specified sum within any year, and it is probable that the States will not expend more than they ordinarily do on main road construction and maintenance. If the Government are really anxious to develop Australia, they should endeavour to smash up the . great trusts and combines which are to-day selling motor fuel at a prohibitive cost. This Government should at once attempt to deal with trusts and combines as they were forcibly dealt with by a Labour Government, of which the present Minister was once a member. The excessive cost of motor fuel is retarding the development of Australia.
– I , rise to order. I submit, Mr. President,, that as I was not allowed to deal with the question of power alcohol and the cost of motor fuel Senator McDougall should not be permitted to refer to the same matter.
– I have been following the honorable senator who, up to the present, has not been attempting to argue at length on any particular question ; but has been merely alluding to the desirableness of the Government adopting an alternative policy for relieving unemployment and assisting Australian industries.
– I support the Bill, but I am afraid that it will not be a means of’ achieving what the Government desire.
– I find myself in a somewhat peculiar frame of mind in dealing with this Bill. There is a good deal of unemployment in Australia to-day, and it is the duty of the Government to do something to relieve it. The Government have not admitted it, but the measuru has been introduced primarily for relieving unemployment, and for that reason I should like to give it my whole-hearted support.
On the other hand, however, we are establishing a highly dangerous precedent, and one which might be used in the future to the disadvantage of Australia and to those people who, in some instances, may benefit by the Bill. “We are setting out on a path which may lead us anywhere, and are giving- future Governments an incentive to do something which may not he in the best interests of Australia. What we are now proposing to do is to depart altogether from the provisions of the Constitution. I am not saying that this measure is unconstitutional, but we axe proposing to depart from the spirit of the Constitution as contemplated by its framers in so far as the objects for which this Parliament was created are concerned. The proposal is to go beyond those objects and to interfere with matters that are peculiarly the prerogatives of the States, such as the maintenance of roads and the opening of new roads. It may be that certain States will resent the interference of the Commonwealth, but that is not so likely as some of us might imagine. To-day, the States are only too willing to accept money so long as they have an opportunity to expend it in any direction. This Bill relates to main roads development. The title provides that it is a Bill for an Act relating to Main Road Development. What are main roads? Most of theStates . already have main roads Acts, which relate to main roads within the States. They are not the type of roads that would be likely to lead to new settlement, or assist new settlers in parts of the States that are difficult of access. The main roads are roads that are . already in existence between highly settled centres, and roads that, from at least the primary producers’ point of view, are fairly well maintained. New roads that might be established for the purpose of opening up new country and leading to increased settlement could not, by any stretch of imagination, be called main roads.
– There are plenty of main roads not macadamized.
– I know that. These main roads are not what the Minister had in mlind when he introduced the measure.
– They are main roads from a State point of view, but not from a national poinl af view.
– The Minister stated that it was the belief of the Government that the passing of this measure would give settlers in new areas a certain measure of assistance by the- provision of good roads. We all admit that new settlers require assistance, but this Bill will not apply to them, because there are no main roads to those areas which can be regarded as main roads under the States’ Main Roads Acts.
– What would the honorable senator call main roads ?
– -Main roads, as recognised by the States, are roads running between various large centres of population, where the main traffic takes place. I ani more than afraid that the money will be expended upon these main roads, and that the unfortunate out-back settler who requires assistance will not obtain it. If the Bill related to new roads development, it would be an entirely different matter. If the Government said to the State that this amount would be granted if expended on the construction of roads on the Comboyne, Bulga, and other areas of New South Wales, it iwould immediately make available for settlement perhaps 300 ,000 or 400,000 acres of the finest land in Australia, which could be cut up into 80 or 100 acre blocks to provide homes for thousands of settlers. That would be a good work. But it is not proposed to do anything of the kind under this Bill. The proposal is to offer to the States large sums of money to carry on works which, after all, are the concern of the people living along these roads, or of the local authorities. The road from Sydney to Parramatta is considered a main road; and large sums of money have been expended on it as such. The roads fnom Sydney, over the western plains to Bathurst, and other places, are main, roads, but they are not in a very good condition. No doubt a large portion of this money will be spent on them. The Minister pointed out that it would be to the advantage of the States to undertake this work, because it would make for motor traffic facilities. What is the position? There is, to-day, running from . Bathurst to Sydney an efficient arid large motor traction service which is robbing the railways of a great deal of traffic, and the railway lines are losing heavily because of that competition. The question in New South Wales is how to overcome this difficulty. Does any honorable senator believe that the New South Wales Government, who own the railways, and from which they derive a large revenue, will grant increased road facilities so that the motor traffic may better compete with the railways? I do not believe it. I would like to know from the Minister if the States have asked this Government to provide a large sum of money for the development of main roads, or for the making of new roads? We are pursuing a very dangerous course. From the speech the Minister delivered, it is very evident that- he is confusing the position between main roads and new roads, and that whilst his ideals for the encouragement of settlement in new areas may be very fine, the real position is that the provisions of the Bill will not be given effect to in the direction desired. On the contrary, the result will be to still further grease the already fatted pig whilstunfortunate individuals in out-back areas are seeking some little relief.
– One or two of the speakers regard this Bill as rather dangerous. It is, and it is not. Unfortunately, this practice of making grants to the States has been going on all the time. I gathered from the Budget speech delivered by the present Prime Minister last year, that considerable sums had been voted to the different States to assist them in various ways. It was not stated for what specific purpose the grants were made. This Bill has crystallized a certain idea in the minds of the Government, and under it they can grant to the different States certain suras of money to he spent in a specific way. The Bill does not clearly set out that the amount to be expended by the States in orderto secure this grant shall be in excess of the money they have already raised annually for this specific purpose. The States can fulfil the whole of the terms of the clause by simply spending out of their revenue an amount equal to that which is granted by the Commonwealth, and thus depart eatirely from the intention of the Bill as indicated in the Minister’s speech. It certainly is stablishing the precedent that the Com monwealth Government shall take a very strong hand in dealing with matters that hitherto have been regarded as purely State affairs. Several times we have been accused of impinging on State rights, aud under this proposal we shall be doing it in a specific way. If a sum of money be granted for main roads - and we have the power to make this grant - there is no reason why a sum of money should not also be granted for building jetties, bridges, or wharfs. For that matter, we must recognise that an educated people is the richest asset that a nation can possibly possess, and a sum of money could also be granted towards the educational facilities of the . States.
– Certainly, railways could be brought under this heading.
– Certainly. The different activities of the States could be supplemented by amounts granted by the Commonwealth. The dislike of the people towards taxation is directed exclusively to the taxation which the Commonwealth Government impose, and if we were to pursue this course we should bring the wrath of the whole of the people upon the Commonwealth Government for not fulfilling their promise to decrease taxation. It would be said that instead of decreasing, we were increasing it. Itwill be said that this expenditure will relieve the unemployment. I regret that SenatorGardiner did not exercise his usual carefulness in ascertaining the correctness of his source of information when he spoke on this matter, and I ask him to peruse the March quarterly report concerning unemployment. I do not want any one to run away with the idea that I believe there is no unemployment.
– There is always some unemployment.
– The unemployment to-day is no greater than usual, and it is certainly very much less than it was in 1921. In that year for the first quarter it was over 11 per cent., while in the same quarter of this year it is 7.4 per cent.
SenatorFoll. - Is the 7.4 per cent, the unions’ registration, or the total?
– The 7.4 per cent, represents all those who have been for three consecutivedays out of work. In that case it would mean the unions’ registrations and all others who might apply at the different bureaus for employment.
– What about those who did not register ?
– That objection applied equally to Senator Gardiner’s statistics. In the last Budget speech large sums of money, quite as large as the sum in this Bill, were granted to different States, yet during the whole of the recent election campaign I never heard of any one who for one moment thought that the Commonwealth had made these contributions to the States. But I heard the Commonwealth blamed by all classes of people for extravagance, and lavish expenditure of money. Would it not be better for the Commonwealth to withdraw from this field of activity? It has been asked to withdraw from the arena of income taxation, in which it has an undoubted constitutional right to operate. Yet, in the face of that request, we have an appeal from the same source for a sum of money to assist in main road construction. If the Commonwealth is reducing its income, it must also reduce its outgoings. If we wish to square our balance sheet we should say to the States, “ You ask us to refrain from the taxation of incomes “-
– That is a Federal proposal.
– At any rate, it has been strongly supported by the States.
– So that economy might be effected by the avoidance of duplicate returns and other absurdities.
– If it is absurd for the Commonwealth to be a party to the duplication of income-tax returns, is it not equally absurd for it to duplicate the activities of the States in the development of main roads ? The function of the Federal authority is to deal with national matters; the parish pump is not within its sphere of action. I concur in the contention of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), that if the Commonwealth enters into main road construction at all it should clearly define main roads and the purposes for which the money which this Parliament votes shall he used. Perhaps Senator Gardiner has, like myself, assisted in State politics in framing a schedule of main roads, and has heard all sorts of arguments advanced for the inclusion of particular roads. Subse quent inquiry as to the traffic upon and services rendered by such roads has shown that each caters for not more than about, half-a-dozen people. I am afraid that upon roads of that character which serve the requirements of only a few people, portion of the money to be provided by the Commonwealth will be spent. Such. work is not national ; it is clearly within the province of the State Governments. If they have not sufficient money with which to carry out necessary works, let them first see that their assessments are in accordance with recognised standards as indicated by ordinary sales and transfers of property, and, having done that, see also that the rate imposed upon such assessments is equivalent to that imposed in other States. If full inquiry is made it will probably be found that the socalled “main roads” for which the money is required are such only in name, and do not perform a national, service. There are, in some States, main roads that run alongside the railways. There may be such a road connecting two fairly large towns thirty miles apart, and for fifteen miles from one end the road is said to be feeding one town, whilst the other fifteen miles is supposed to be feeding the other town. Thi3 Bill should define, beyond possibility of doubt, what part in main road construction is to be taken by the Commonwealth, and what is to be left for the State. If that were done I should have pleasure in supporting the Bill, but, if it be carried in its present form, I am afraid it will establish a vicious precedent, rendering it possible for money voted by this Parliament to be applied to uses that were not intended by us.
– That could only be done with the connivance of the Commonwealth Government.
– Of course, the Government would not connive at anything wicked ! Governments are pure ; like Caesar’s wife, they are above suspicion ! The Bill gives the opportunity to the States to utilize this money in order to relieve the people of State taxation. The burden of taxation will thus be thrown back on the Commonwealth, and the States will say “ Look at the millions of pounds that the Commonwealth has wasted ; instead of reducing taxation, as the Commonwealth Government has promised to do, they have maintained it.” Any honorable member who turns up his last income tax assessment will find that income taxation, instead of being reduced, has been increased.
– It was fondly hoped that when the shire councils were brought into existence in Queensland they would settle all difficulties in regard to road construction and maintenance. But in time it was found that the local authorities could not raise sufficient funds to do justice to this work. The consequence was that the roads got into- a bad condition. Recently a Main Roads Board was established, and its duty is to attend to roads which are considered main roads, and cannot be dealt with by the local authorities with the funds at their command. I confess that at first I thought that the Government were not proceeding on sound lines when entering a domain ‘of activities occupied by the State Governments and local authorities. But if the local authorities will attend to the smaller local roads, and the States are responsible for the bigger arteries, the Commonwealth might very properly and constitutionally assist iu the construction of roads of an InterState character. If they adopt that policy they will be acting wisely, and the Senate will be justified in supporting this Bill. I hope that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) will give us an assurance that that is the intention of the measure. If I could feel assured that the assistance rendered by the Commonwealth Government will be applied to Inter-State roads-
– Does the honorable senator mean national roads 1
– I mean national roads that give access from one State to another. If a road can be said to be Inter-State in character, linking up a great system of highways throughout the Commonwealth, it might properly be the subject of Commonwealth interest and assistance. As Senator Gardiner pointed out, these roads could be used in time of war for the transport of troops. I hope that, subject to an assurance being given upon the point I have raised, the Bill will be agreed to. The proposed expenditure should give useful results. Looking at the project from a Queensland point of view, I think that tha improvement of roads will eventually help that State to make a better use of its molasses by the production therefrom of a cheaper motor spirit than is available at the present time.
– When moving the second reading, I intended to draw attention to a small alteration that has been made in the allocation of the grant. It was represented to- the Premiers’ Conference that Tasmania, owing to its physical features and climatic conditions, requires to have a larger proportion of metalled roads than any other State of the Commonwealth. Tasmania has spent £5,000,000 on main roads, equal to £25 per head of its population, and, as honorable senators are aware, the State exchequer is by no means affluent. Recognising these conditions, the Commonwealth made a readjustment of the grant so that New South Wales will get £3,150 less, “Victoria £1,800 less, Queensland £2,500 less, South Australia £1,450 less, Western Australia £1,900 less, and Tasmania £10,800 more than it would have received under the first allocation. The deduction made from the other States is practically 2 per cent, in favour of Tasmania.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) said that the Government are incompetent,, and know only how to spend money. If the Government are spending money wisely they are performing a useful function of Government, and I am glad to receive the honorable senator’s testimony to the Government’s qualifications in that regard.
asked to what extent preference to returned soldiers would be given in connexion with the proposed expenditure on main roads. Preference to returned soldiers is the policy of the Commonwealth Government, and also, I understand, of the various State Governments. At any rate, I do not know of any Government that has not adopted that policy, and when £250,000 was voted by this Parliament last year for advances to the States for road construction, the principle of preference to returned soldiers was specifically expressed in the Act. At that time a large number of soldiers were out of work.
– I think there was a difference between one State and the Commonwealth Government on that question.
– There was. I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Prime Minister and ask him whether it is necessary that preference to returned soldiers should be stipulated in the agreements between the States and the Commonwealth, which must be entered into after the passing of this Bill.
– I am sorry if that principle is not expressed in connexion with this Bill.
– I do not say it is not expressed, but I shall ask ‘the Prime Minister whether it is advisable to reaffirm it in the agreements. We know, however, that all the State Governments are pledged to preference to returned soldiers, and we must credit them with honesty in regard thereto. As to Senator Newland’s criticism, it is the firm intention of the Government that the money shall chiefly be spent in country districts. It was never intended to provide funds for the upkeep of city roads: Senator Duncan said that he was in a peculiar frame of mind. I feel inclined to say that there is nothing unusual about that, and, after listening to his criticism of the Bill, I am all . the more disposed to indorse thai view. He said that it was a dangerous precedent for the Government to give away sums of money. I point out that the Government are not proposing to do anything of the kind. We are asking Parliament to consent to the granting of money to the States. If other Governments follow that precedent, there can be nothing dangerous in the practice, because Parliament has a perfect right to vote money in any way it feels justified in doing. It is responsible toi the people, and every member of Parliament who votes for this Bill will be equally responsible with the Government to the electors of Australia.
– Will it be an annual grant ?
– That will rest entirely with Parliament. It was further stated by Senator Duncan that the power to be exercised under the Bill does not come within the proper functions of the Commonwealth. I cannot agree with him on that matter. This Parliament is charged with the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, and it can vote money for. the purpose of road-making, whichwill promote the trade and commerce of the country. I am aware that the construction of roads is the peculiar duty of the State Governments, but it should berealized that the present proposal merely involves the Commonwealth using the machinery of the States for that purpose. Then the honorable senator asked what were to be considered main roads. My reply is that that matter is not to be decided by a State Government, but by the Commonwealth. The honorable senator stated that New South Wales had a road between Sydney and Parramatta, and I can assure him that that highway would certainly not be looked upon as a main road from the point of view of the Commonwealth. He said that expenditure on the Sydney to Bathurst road should not be subsidized because, in the opinion of the State Government, it was unfairly competing with railways. If that thoroughfare is unfairly competing with State railways, the Government of New South Wales are not likely to ask for assistance in maintaining it.
– It does not need to be repaired; it is a good road.
– The Commonwealth Government have in mind the construction of roads of a developmental character that will assist settlers outback, and also of roads that serve a national purpose. Inter-State roads are obviously national highways, and their improvement would incidentally be useful from a defence point of view. Senator Senior seems to think that there is something lacking in clause 6 because it does not say that for every £1 paid to a State by the Commonwealth the State must raise £1. The clause provides that the amount payable by the Commonwealth shall in no case exceed £1 for every £1 expended by the State upon the development of main roads, and I would like the honorable senator to tell me how a State can expend money unless it first raises it. The proposal was placed before the recent Conference of Premiers, and it was clearly pointed out that the Commonwealth was prepared to grant the money on certain conditions, one being that the States should undertake to incur an expenditure above their normal disbursements for road construction.
– Why not place a provision of that nature in the Bill?
– It is not necessary. There are quite a number of matters that could be included in the Bill if the Commonwealth Government were not to be trusted to administer the measure properly. The money is not to be handed over to the States to be used as they wish, but the Government are to be satisfied that all the conditions have been observed before the payment is made. The Administration must be trusted to see that the spirit in which the measure has been introduced is observed, and I can assure honorable senators that that will be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The amount payable under the last preceding section shall not in the case of any State exceed: One -pound sterling for every pound sterling expended by that State upon the development of main roads.
– I still take exception to this clause. “ The development of main roads “ is a general term. The clause does not refer to the development of “ roads approved of “.
– If the honorable senator looks at clause 7 he .will see that the Commonwealth Minister is to be the judge of what is a main road.
– If the clause is left in its present form, it will be possible for the Minister in charge of the administration of the Bill to thwart the intention of Parliament. Any main road would come within the scope of clause 6, and under clause 7 the discretion would be left to the Minister for the time being. It means that the policy of the Government of the day would determine on what roads the grant should be expended.. The Bill initiates a trust fund for a specific purpose, and the measure should clearly indicate how the money is to be spent. My objection is just ,as strong as ever. The clause should stipulate that the highways referred to are the main roads approved by the Commonwealth Government.
– For all practical purposes there is no difference between the will of the Minister and the will of the Government.
– The schedule should come before Parliament. This year honorable senators will not have sat more than three months of the year. This may be unusual, but it shows how much is left to the Administration. The trust fund may eventually amount to millions, and Parliament will have little control over it under the clause as it stands.
– The honorable senator from South Australia has called attention to a most important matter. Let me assume that New South Wales annually expends about £500,000 under its road vote. It may easily be imagined that the New South Wales authorities would submit in writing to an already over-worked Federal Minister a request for subsidies for certain roads. How would the Federal Minister be able to discuss with the State Government the question of whether it would be wise to spend the money on those particular roads 1 The State would be able to say that, according to clause 6, it was stipulated that the amount to be voted should not exceed the sum mentioned as that to be spent on the main roads of New South Wales. If the State has expended the amount proposed to be advanced as a bonus on any main road the Commonwealth Government will have no right to stop them going on with any particular main road.
– Of course they will.
– State Ministers will read the clause exactly as Senator Senior and I read it: They will say, “What is the good of it to us; we cannot regulate our money because it is voted annually on specifications drawn up by the roads superintendent.” They will not agree to work under a system which is altered and revised at the will of a Minister of the Commonwealth Who is not acquainted with the roads; they will not suffer interference by a Minister who has neither the time nor the inclination to inspect the roads, or to send -an officer to inspect them. All this trouble arises from the fact that this Government are drifting into the practice of dealing with matters in an unconstitutional way. It is not the function of Conferences of Premiers to deal with matters of this nature. This Senate is elected to deal -with State questions. Proposals should not be sent on to us from Conferences of Premiers; they should be introduced here, and afterwards submitted to the State Premiers for their approval. As I read clause 6, Senator Senior is absolutely correct in what he has said. If the Commonwealth Minister is to exercise authority, or have any effective control over the manner in which this money is to he expended, it will mean the setting up of another Department, which will grow rapidly. Before we agree to proposals such as this, we should know exactly what is proposed to be done, how it is to he’ done, and what benefit is going to accrue from it.
.- Sufficiently strong arguments have been advanced by Senators Senior and Gardiner to render advisable the re-drafting of this clause. How is the Minister going to arrive at the amount of money which is usually spent by a State on roads? The Roads Boards in the various States raise revenue by the imposition of a wheel tax; and, generally, special provision is made in the Estimates of State Governments for expenditure upon roads. That expenditure is not definitely fixed; it varies from year to year. How are you going to arrive at the basis of the usual amount of money spent by the States on roads?
– Take the previous year’s Estimates; that is what we did last year.
– The Estimates vary from year to year. In Queensland usually the greatest amount of money has been made available in the year preceding the holding of a general election. Seeing that it is the intention of the Government to accept the previous year s Estimates, I am prepared to support the clause.
.- If the Minister is in earnest in saying that he is going to accept the previous year’s Estimates, it bears out what Senator Senior has said. That Estimates will not show whether the money has been spent. In many cases the expenditure is carried out by shire councils, roads Boards, or other local governing bodies. The amount voted may not have been spent. Senator Pearce ought to know that there is a great discrepancy usually between the amount voted and that which is expended.
– The Estimates not only set out the estimates of the expenditure for the ensuing year, they show the actual expenditure for the previous year. That is what we are taking. ,
– Supposing the State of New South Wales proposed spending the whole of this £138,000 on the Bathurst to Sydney main road; and pointed out to the Minister that private enterprise was developing a tractor system there, carrying goods in competition with the railway ; making it more costly to run the railways, and earning profits out of private tracking, the Minister would say, “ You did not spend last year that much on that road.”
– That is not the system.
– As I read clause 6, if the States can show that their previous year’s expenditure exceeded the amount of the subsidy or bonus, they oan claim the money. We are drifting rapidly into the practice of attempting to do the work of other people. This will cause further overlapping. The clause leaves a loop-hole for loose administration and the reckless expenditure of the people’s money.
– The criticism of this clause, I think, has been adequately answered by interjection, by Senators Benny and Drake-Brockman. Any one can see that clause 7 has to be read in conjunction with clause 6. By some strange reasoning, apparently Senators Gardiner and Senior have arrived at the conclusion that we are going to work this measure, so to speak, in particles, and that the Government of a State will be able to put forward a road, and say, “ We have spent so much on this road, you subsidize us £1 for £1.” That is not the system. I am not speaking theoretically; the £250,000 last year was expended in exactly the same way as we propose that this £500,000 shall he expended. The Commonwealth will say, for instance, to New South Wales, “ If you will spend on roads of which we approve £138,000 more than you spent last year from your ordinary road vote, we will subsidize that expenditure £1 for £1, and so give you another £138,000. We ask you to submit to us a schedule of the roads upon which you propose to spend this £276,000.” They will submit the schedule. The Commonwealth Government may say they do not agree to the expenditure being incurred on certain of the roads submitted, and ask that another schedule be sent. That will continue until a schedule is submitted on which both Governments agree. Clause 7 gives to the Commonwealth Minister the power to determine that .question, and his decision must be final. That is the basis upon which the Commonwealth grant is to be made. If a State does not like it, there will be no Commonwealth grant. Senator Senior’s objection was as to the power conferred on the Minister; but he apparently forgets that under any Commonwealth law which appropriates money a Commonwealth Minister is given similar authority, and under the powers given to Commonwealth Ministers approximately £50,000,000 is spent annually. Does Senator Senior suggest that the schedule should be submitted to Parliament, and that we should debate the merits or otherwise of, say, the Bathurst road. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) drew an appalling picture of an inflated Department; but he should remember that similar work was performed last year by Mr. Hill, Commonwealth Director of “Works, and the State Directors of Works as part of their ordinary duties. State officers have a knowledge of the roads to be constructed, and we are justified in assuming that the State representatives will act honestly in this matter. Officers will advise the Minister as to whether the spirit of the agreement is being observed.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) has assured the Committee that the grant will apply on a £1 per £1 basis only if a State has already expended upon the construction or maintenance of main roads a sum equal to that expended in the previous year, but I cannot see anything in the Bill which makes that clear. It is evidently the. desire of the Minister that it should bo there, and to give effect to the intentions of the Government I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ in excess of the amount so spent in the previous financial year.”
– That would not express the intention of the Minister,” or the Government, or even that of the honorable senator.’
– The honorable senator will not accept my assurance.
– I did not understand that the Minister had given an assurance. He said the power was already provided for in the Bill.
– Power is given to the Minister in clause 7, and I said the Government would give an assurance that payment was only to be made for additional work. The State Ministers in conference accepted that arrangement.
– It is not embodied in the measure, but it will be done at the discretion of the Minister.
– :It was agreed to at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. A good deal that will be in the agreement is not embodied in the Bill.
– The question of when a grant will be made available is vital. It should be only when a State has spent a sum equal to that expended in a previous financial year. This money is not to be spent on ordinary construction and maintenance work, but, according to the Bill, a State would be justified in using the money for ordinary road work.
– The final arbiter under the Bill is the Minister.
– That is so, but we . are not legislating for the immediate future only, and there is no reason why the clause should not be more definite.
.- The Minister (.Senator Pearce) has told us that last year the States, at the suggestion of the Commonwealth, increased their expenditure on the construction of roads, towards which the Commonwealth contributed. We do not wish to provide that they shall spend an amount including the additional sum to which they agreed last year. A certain amount of extraordinary expenditure was then incurred, and we do not want to keep on double banking the expenditure in that way. If Senator Senior will peruse the clause he will see ‘that it meets the case. Clause 5 provides that the Minister “ may,” subject to this Act, pay from the Trust Account
Amounts not exceeding those specified in the schedule. The Minister is not compelled to do that.
– “ May “ in parliamentary language means “ shall.”
– It specially provides, “ subject to the Act.” Under clause 8, a proposal to expend money on main roads must be approved by the Minister.Reading these two provisions together, we see that the Minister is in. a commanding postion, and can dictate terms to the States. The amendment moved by Senator Duncan will not achieve what he desires, because it would mean including extraordinary payments made last year.
– Clause5 provides that the sums paid from the Trust Account shall not exceed those specified in the schedule. The measure is for one year only, but, according to the Minister’s statement, it will be regarded as a precedent. The Minister clearly stated that the sum to be expended by a State must be equivalent to that spent in the previous year. There cannot, therefore, have been a review of the money to be spent.
– The Minister stated that the money spent was to be the basis of further grants, but the consent of the Minister depends upon the conditions specified in clause 5. The main roads are not specified, and we are inviting the States to spend money on roads which may not be approved.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we should specify the roads in the Bill ? The States cannot get the money until their schedules are approved.
Senator SENIOR. The schedule has to be approved before the money is expended, but claise 5 does not clearly declare that approval is necessary. A time limit is not mentioned. Last year, unusual expenditure was incurred in places in consequence of floods, and this year larger amounts may be sought. Take the case of Tasmania,which has an excessive rainfall in some parts. The Government of that State may spend twice as much this year on the main roads as they did last year. The Bill, whenpassed, will be administered by the Minister, who will, at his discretion, advance a certain amount of money to the States. This is, after all, not legislation by Parliament, but legislation, by Department. The authority of the Department is sought without any power of review or limitation. We are proceeding at a mad gallop in the direction of dispensing with Parliament entirely, and making the Department supreme.
– I believe that Senator Pearce has a clear opinion of how the provisions of this Bill will be administered, and he may also have an idea of the agreement which will be drawn up setting out the conditions under which the Commonwealth grant will be safeguarded. I have not the slightest doubt . about that; but 1 have grave doubt whether the Bill expresses sufficiently what Senator Pearce has. in mind. I do not think it does. The explanation of the Minister confirms that doubt. He tripped away from clause 6 by saying, “ Read clauses 7 and 8 “. He said that money would be voted to- the various States according to the schedule, if they had expended a corresponding amount in excess oftheir previous year’s expenditure. That is quite an outrageous proposal for the States. Last year the States may have spent large sums on road making, to give relief to unemployment. The States are mot wealthy, and we all know that taxation is creeping up, and interest is growing.
– This proposal was put before the States’ representatives, and they all agreed to it.
– That , is what antagonizes me. The proposal should first havebeen submitted to the Senate, and not to the associated Premiers.
– They know their obligations.
– I do not know that they do. They may have approached this question with the idea of getting as much as possible without offering a quid pro quo. While we are really responsible to the people for our actions, we do not know the decision of the Premiers in secret conference. I have no doubt that an arrangement has been made whereby the State Premiers are quite satisfied they will obtain something from the Commonwealth.
– The meeting of the Premiers was open to the public.
– Except when in committee.
– Except when in sub-committee.
- Senator Pearce assumes that the iron hand of the Minister will administer the Bill when passed; but no matter who the Minister is he cannot honestly and justly cavil at any proposed expenditure on road construction put forward to him by State authorities and their officers. A State Government will put before the Minister a schedule of money to be voted by Parliament for expenditure on roads.
SenatorSenior. - And before it is actually spent.
– Members of State Parliaments will be keeu to ascertain how much of the money will be distributed, and the proportion to be expended in their own electorates, and they will influence Parliament to agree to expenditure in certain places. The Minister should have given more attention to the drafting of these clauses. I will support Senator Duncan’s amendment if he calls for a division, but even in that amendment there is grave danger.
– I realize that, and I intend to withdraw the amendment. I do not want the amendment to be so framed as to compel States to expend on the basis of the previous year.
– I intended to point out that danger.
– If the previous year’s estimate is not to be taken, on what basis are we to work?
– If the Government are prepared to “ shovel “ £500,000 over to the States, why not trust the States iu the distribution of it? The Minister told Senator Duncan, when he moved his amendment, that he did not trust the Ministry, but it is essential that Bills of this description should be drafted in such a manner that there will be no mistake as to their meaning. I have no objection to the Bill passing its remaining stages, although I regret that the Ministry could not adopt the amendment suggested by Senator Duncan. It would have made it a much better Bill. I have not suggested any amendment, but if the Minis ter would appreciate the need for tightening up the provisions of the Bill and rectifying the loose drafting, it would be better for all concerned. There should be one body in control of the expenditure pf money, and it is unwise that the State Governments should have to confer with their responsible officers and report on every detail to the Federal Minister. He might have a prejudice against a particular State. Take Queensland, for example, where there is a Labour Government. The Ministry there might find it much more difficult to obtain a grant from the Federal Minister than would the Liberal Government in Tasmania or Victoria. All these items will count if the discretion is to be left to the Minister. We should have a . clear-drawn Bill showing the basis of the vote to the States, and allow the State Governments to distribute the money at their discretion. It would relieve the Commonwealth Parliament of a great difficulty. There would be no pretence about it. The State Governments are responsible to the people in the same manner as are honorable senators, and they can be trusted with the distribution of the money. I disagree largely with the Minister for the reason that he is lowering the functions of the Ministry. Under his proposal, the Minister in charge will deal with roads and bridges. I resent the suggestion that this august assembly should be lowered to that level. The Minister will be well advised to reconsider the proposal, unless some definite scheme is evolved to make the grant for the development of main roads throughout Australia.
.- I rather resent the remarks of Senator Gardiner that the Government are “ shovelling “ away millions of money. After the experience of the Labour party in the State of New South Wales, with State trawlers and other ventures, he should be the last person to criticise the Government.
– The honorable senator should also refer to the woollen mill in Victoria.
– I trust this mild reprimand will have the desired effecton the honorable senator. His closing remarks were very sound. The Ministry proposes to expend £500,000 for road-making, but there are all sorts of restrictions imposed. First of all, the Main Roads Boards, the State Governments, and the shire councils and their engineers and employees are to decide how the money is to be spent, and also what are main roads. The result of their deliberations are first of all to be submitted to the Main Roads Board, next to the State Government, and then to the Federal Minister, who will consider the recommendations.
– Where did the honorable senator ascertain that?
– The Minister pointed it out.
– It is not in the Bill.
– The Minister stated that every detail could not appear in the Bill. If the honorable senator had paid more attention to the debate he would have heard the Minister say that there were hundreds of things relating to the proposal that could not possibly be set out in the Bill. The total amount of money to be distributed by the Commonwealth to the States for the development of our national highways is ?500,000. If this Bill really aimed at the development of the main roads the sum would have been ?20,000,000.. The effect of the distribution of ?500,000 will be a few shovelsful of metal placed in a hole in a road here and there,and the first shower of rain will wash it out. I intended to commend the Government for the proposal, but after listening to the arguments for and against, I have come to the conclusion that the Government are only nibbling at this project of main roads development. They should adopt a policy that would enable great highways to be thrown open throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I do not know whether the Chairman (Senator Newland) will allow me to mention power alcohol for the use of vehicles.
– (Senator Newland). - There is nothing in the Bill referring to power alcohol.
– Evidently it is a dry Bill. Instead of bringing down a Bill which simply means playing with the problem, the Government should have outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech comprehensive proposals for road building where necessary, the encouragement of the production of power alcohol, and the admission into Australia, duty free, of motor vehicles.
– I desire, with the consent of the Committee, to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.
Schedule, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 8 p.m.
Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms :
Cost of Meals - Australian Aborigines: Allegations of Cruelty - Mandated Territories : Treatment of Native Races: Administration: Expropriation Board: German Propaganda - Paris Agency : Commercial Intercourse with France.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Home and Territories [8.1]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The total of the Bill, which is to cover two months’ expenditure, is ?4,154,085. Included in this amount is provision for refunds of revenue, ?300,000, and advance to Treasurer, ?1,000,000, leaving ?2,854,085 for ordinary departmental expenditure and war services payable out of revenue.
The figures in the Supply Bill are based on the Estimates approved by Parliament for the current financial year, and the Bill contains no items which have not previously been approved by Parliament.
The total of the Estimates, 1922-23, for ordinary departmental services and war services payable out of revenue is ?17,967,579. One-sixth of that amount is ?2,994,596. The total included in Supply for these services is ?2,854,085, so that the provision in this Supply Bill is ?140,511, less than one-sixth of the annual vote.
It must be remembered that five pay days fall due within the period covered by Supply, so that the provision for salaries is necessarily more than one-sixth of the annual expenditure.
The vote for refunds of revenue is mainly to cover refunds of direct taxes to -be made by the Taxation Office. The provision includes considerable arrears which will be carried forward at 30th June, 1923.
It has been customary to provide funds in Treasurer’s Advance to continue works in progress at 30th June, and to meet expenditure on new worts of a recurring nature, pending the passing of the Works Bill, which is submitted to Parliament immediately after the Budget speech has been delivered. Following this practice, £1,000,000 has been provided under Treasurer’s Advance, almost the whole of which will be required for the purposes indicated. “Until the Treasury books are closed at the end of this month, it will not be possible to give any reliable figures showing the revenue and expenditure of the Commonwealth m the year which is closing. It is hoped that, on the 4th July, a statement will be laid before Parliament showing the approximate receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth under the main heads for 1922-23. A general indication of the position of affairs may be given, it being now certain that the surplus of £6,408,000 brought into the year 1922-23 will remain untouched, and that the addition of the surplus arising on the transactions of that year will bring the accumulated surplus up to a very substantial sum.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Proposed vote, £10,910.
– It has been stated in evidence before the Public Works Committee that every meal supplied in the Parliamentary Refreshment Room costs 10s. That is ridiculous. I do not desire the impression to get abroad that the Parliamentary Refreshment Room is conducted as a sort of charity for the members of this Parliament. The meal provided in that refreshment-room is a very good one, but I can get exactly the same meal outside at the same price.
– No fear!
– I get exactly the same food and a bigger variety of choice, for the same money outside. If it is true that the cost of every meal is 10s., it is time that something was done in the matter. I am given to understand that a number of general expenses connected with this building are included in the refreshment-room account. That should not be allowed. Honorable members representing other States, like myself, have been very much annoyed at this evidence having been given. I protest against the circulation of the statement throughout the Australian States. As far as I aru concerned, the parliamentary refreshment-rooms can be closed at any time.
– I think that Senator McDougall ismaking ,a mistake. That part of the evidence of the controller of the refreshmentrooms to which he takes exception was given in a colloquial way, rather than as a statement of actual fact.. He was. asked how it was-that there was a certain shortage every year, and why a price sufficient to cover it was not charged. In a half -humorous way he said that a meal cost nearly twice as much as was charged to members. There are two factors which operate against the successful running of the parliamentary refreshmentrooms. In the first place they are most inconveniently situated, and the cost of waiting is out of all proportion to what it ought to be, and what it would be if they were conveniently situated. In the next place, the custom is intermittent. Every one who is acquainted with the services of this House must know that the number of meals supplied varies. Sometimes both Houses will unexpectedly adjourn early in the afternoon . In the meantime all preparations have had to be made for dinner that evening; food has been supplied, waiters engaged, and other expenses incurred. The takings, in such circumstances, probably would ‘ be infinitesimal, and a dead loss would be incurred. I do not agree with Senator McDougall that he can obtain, outside, as good a meal at the same price.
– It is absolutely correct, and I will prove it to the honorable senator to-morrow.
– I have tried a number of places and have not been as well served elsewhere for the same amount of money. I am quite sure that the majority of honorable senators will indorse that statement. I do not say that members should be provided with a better service than the price charged will allow; we should have as good a service as we possibly can for the money that is paid. These refreshment-rooms exist for the convenience of members, who should not be expected, after a strenuous sitting, to run all over the town looking for a meal. 1 take very little notice of press criticism regarding the refreshment rooms, because ‘ the newspapers usually are egregiously wrong. I remember at the close of one financial year the Melbourne Agc criticised severely our refreshmentrooms, and misled the public in a most disgraceful fashion. It pointed out that the Auditor-General’s report disclosed that, at the 30th June, the sum of £800 was owing. It wound up its criticism by saying that that was proof positive that some members at least were regarding the refreshment-rooms as a sort of benevolent institution; in other words, that members were loafing and sponging on the refreshment-rooms. I was able to point out at that time that threequarters of that amount was owing, by the Government for two functions, and that we had never lost a single farthing through bad debts. I was able, further,, to point out that we run monthly accounts, and that the remaining £200 which was owing was not very great. I stated also that if it were correct to say that members were loafing and sponging on the refreshment rooms, the Age was twice as big a loafer and sponger as any member, because at that date, it owed twice as much as any member, and for twice as long a period. Did the papers publish that refutation ? It was published in an Adelaide newspaper, but those newspapers, which had grossly misled the people, had not the decency to publish the facts that were placed1 before them. Quite recently they have drawn attention to an occasional shortage in connexion with the conduct of these rooms, but they have never said a word about the State parliamentary refreshmentrooms being fully twice as much behind as we are. All their arrows and shafts- are directed at this Parliament. I deprecate the practice of honorable members taking notice of. unwarrantable criticism of that sort. I think that, under the controller, our parliamentary refreshment-rooms have been capably managed, and run as economically as possible.
– I do not think that Senator McDougall’s remarks were the result of press criticism. The statement he referred to came from a responsible officer of the House Committee. If that officer was incorrectly reported it was his duty to issue a contradiction as soon as he possibly could. Any one who has been acquainted with the Senate, or with any Parliament, must recognise that it is impossible to run a parliamentary refreshment room in the same economical way as can be done by an hotel or restaurant. I ‘agree with what Senator McDougall has said concerning the quality of the meals supplied in our refreshment Toom, because I can obtain quite as good a meal elsewhere for what I pay here.
— And cheaper, too.
– I will not say cheaper, but quite as good, and that being so, we are not under any obligation to any one for the necessary convenience provided in this- building..
I have before me a publication which I obtained from the Parliamentary Library some time ago, containing a very grave reflection on the people of Australia. I do not think I would have brought the matter forward but for the fact that the book carries with it a semblance of authority. It is a joint production entitled, Oppressed Peoples and the League of Nations, and is written by Noel Buxton and C. Evans. According to the authors, our own aborigines are amongst the oppressed, and charges are made against the people of Western Australia, Queensland, and South Australia, who are referred to in a very pointed way. One of the authors claims to have been an aide de camp to a Governor of South Australia, and’ he speaks in a semi-authoritative way. This book, which is doubtless circulated throughout the world, will carry considerable weight, because of the official position once held by one of its authors. The- misrepresentations are- so grave that it would be a great mistake if we did not flatly deny them, and place our opinion of the publication .before the world. It is not likely to do any harm in Australia, because we know our history too well to give credence to the statements it contains, and which I shall quote later, so ‘that honorable senators may see that I am not overstating the position.
– We have never treated the natives too well.
– It is an undoubted fact that we have treated them too well. “We have accustomed them to our kind of food and clothing, and these have brought disease to the natives, with the result that they are disappearing. A portion of a chapter in this book, dealing with national progress in Europe and Asia, reads - “ The juxtaposition of white and’ black has usually had a demoralizing effect on both. The cruelties perpetrated by white men,” states Professor Gilbert Murray-
Professor Gilbert Murray is of sufficient importance to demand attention from the reading public of the world. He is a brother, I understand, of the Governor of Papua, and probably the brother’s name mentioned in the publication is that gentleman, but I am not in a position to say. Professor Gilbert Murray’s statement is -
The cruelties perpetrated by white men upon coloured men are almost, wherever and however they meet, stupendous.
He goes on to say -
I myself well knew one man who told me he shot blacks at sight. I have met a man who boasted of having spilt poisoned meal along a road near a blackfellows camp in order to get rid of them like rats. My brother-
That is a ‘brother of Professor Gilbert Murray - was the guest of a man in Queensland who showed him a particular bend on a river where he had once, as a jest, driven a black family, man, woman, and children, into the water among a shoal of crocodiles. My father has described to me his fruitless efforts to get men punished in old days for offering hospitality -to blacks and giving them poisoned meat.
I am not in a position to say what happened in the very early days. The following is what I take strong exception to, because it is untrue, and is a scandalousreflection on the gold-miners of Western Australia, than whom there is no more manly and kindly section of the community -
I received, while writing these notes, a newspaper from Perth giving an account of a trial of some Coolgardie miners for beating to death with heavy bits of wood a black woman and boy, who had been unable to show them the way. The bodies were found with the shoulder blades in shivvers, and the Judge ob served that such cases were getting too common. These atrocities are not necessarily the works of isolated and extraordinary villains. Two of tlie men mentioned above were good rather than bad. Nor have I mentioned the worst classes of outrages.
That quotation is from a work by Professor Gilbert Murray. Speaking with a familiar acquaintance of Coolgardie extending over nearly thirty years, I do not hesitate to say that that statement is a disgraceful fabrication. The authors continue -
These statements appear incredible, but they are borne out by the investigations made by one of the -writers during a prolonged stay in
Australia, when he served as aide de camp to the Governor of South Australia. Honorable senators will recognise the seriousness of such statements going forth to the world, and when the good name of Australia is impugned in such an outrageous way, it would not be right for me or any other honorable senator to allow them to pass unchallenged. I trust the Library Committee will take the necessary action to have this miserable production which I have read right through removed from the Library, because it is not worthy of five minutes’ consideration.
– Senator de Largie is to be commended for indignantly protesting against such gross libels on Australia as those to which he has just drawn attention. I have had a long experience in the back country of Australia, and am able to say that the statements quoted, except in very rare and exceptional cases, are a tissue of lies. I do not think, however, that the Library Committee can be held responsible for the appearance of the book on the Library shelves. Probably not one member of that Committee has read the book. I am quite sure it was not purchased1 by the Committee. , Honorable senators will probably remember that, in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act, copies of all publications copyrighted in Australia are presented free of cost to the Library, and although many have not much to commend them, they find a temporary home in our Library. I have not read the book, but the honorable senator should be commended for indignantly protesting against a publication that contains such outrageous libels on Australia. I do not think we should advertise it by taking any further action.
– I am, an Australian, and my people were Australian-born, but I admit quite frankly that it is useless denying some of the ‘serious charges made in books of this kind, because they are frequently time.
– The statement concerning the action of the Coolgardie miners is absolutely untrue.
– If I had sufficient time- 1 could obtain a copy of the reports of the debates in the Queensland Parliament concerning atrocities perpetrated in that State, and I do not think the statements quoted are any exaggeration.
– Does, the honorable senator mean in connexion with the kanakas or the aborigines?
– In connexion with all sorts of men who, on account of the inconvenience caused by the natives taking bullocks or sheep, perpetrated the brutal atrocities. The brutality of some of our early pioneers is one of the blackest pages in Australian’ history. It is useless endeavouring to avoid the facts. I can refer honorable senators to a poem written by one of our greatest statesmen, the late Sir Henry Parkes, in which reference is made to the ill-treatment of a native boy on the banks of the Hawkesbury and the Nepean, based on a statement in Collins’ History of New South Wales. A black boy, sixteen years of age, was dragged through the fire, thrown into the river, and when he did not sink and his murderers had exhausted their brutal savagery, they shot him. Thank God, they killed him, and so put an end to his sufferings! They did not know how to treat our blacks. Why not face the fact that when this country in its effort to force on development met a race which was unable to resist, the most brutal tactics were adopted. I always keep myself acquainted with what is happening in connexion with the development of Australia, and the stories of the raid3 on the Queensland blacks by our early pioneers show conclusively that there was a determined effort to exterminate them. The history of Australian development teems with similar records of outrages committed against an inoffensive race.
– 7 do not think that you can say that they were always inoffensive, because it is well known that whole families of whites have been murdered by the blacks in Queensland.
– I do not say that in every case they were inoffensive and that the white people were always in the wrong. I can understand the feelings that prompted Senator de Largie to complain about the statements contained in .the book to which he has just referred. No doubt he has not had a very wide experience of the natives in this country. Recently I read in, one of our historical works of a whole party of blacks being wiped out on the Namoi River because of some murders that had been committed near their camp. This happened in my time. The aggressive white, ever moving on in the development of this country, has wiped out the blacks, and ‘in many cases has been most unscrupulous in his methods. I say it to our shame that the Commonwealth Parliament, with powers extending from one end of the country to the other, has been neglectful of its duty towards the remnants of the Australian aborigines. We have allowed things to drift, and have permitted this race to decay. Rusden’s History of Australia contains a statement by an expert authority on the human race to the effect that, having surveyed mankind from China to Peru, he, found that, physically, the Australian native was the finest stamp of primitive manhood. His knowledge does not square with mine. I have always thought of the average Australian native as a halfdrunken fellow loafing round our towns and endeavouring to “ cadge “ a shilling or two. Physically, so far as my knowledge goes, he is of an inferior race, but surely it is not too much to expect of the Australian people that they should setaside some portion of this huge territory to enable the aborigines to continue .their existence for fifty or a hundred years longer. On train journeys I have heard some extraordinary stories of cruelty and brutality towards the blacks in Northern Queensland, and, before this Parliament rises, I intend to produce reports of the debates that have taken place in the Queensland Parliament on this subject. With regard to the book complained of by Senator de Largie, if what is contained in it i9 true, then the truth stands. It is not for us to complain. If we investigate the instances cited, it is quite possible that -we may. discover that cases of brutality did occur in the -development of this country, and this knowledge should bring even now the blush of shame to our cheeks. Senator de Largie is prompted by the highest motives. Bte is indignant that Australia should be libelled in this book. Personally, as an Australian, I feel it a reproach that we have not yet evinced a desire to do complete justice to the race that we have supplanted in this country.
– The natives are being well looked after in Queensland at the present time.
– I know, and yet how little has been done for them. It is annoying that facts such as are contained in the book mentioned by Senator de Largie should be published, but the truth is still more annoying.
– I suggest that there is a sinister side to this matter which it would be well for honorable senators to remember. Since we have been given a mandate by the League of Nations to administer territory peopled by native races, there has been an attempt to misrepresent the sentiment of the people of Australia towards these indigenous faces. Not so long ago there appeared in an Australian journal a series of articles alleging ill-treatment of the native races and maladministration of certain mandated territories.
– And that is suggested in this book.
– Subsequently statements from these- articles were quoted by papers published in Berlin, and were used, later on, in a discussion at the Assembly of the League of Nations with the object of showing that Australia is unfit to hold a mandate. Nobody would be -foolish enough to deny that ‘there have been cases of brutality on the part of the whites towards the natives of Australia. There have also been cases- of brutality by the blacks towards the whites in Australia, as our police records will show. I deny absolutely that there has been consistent ill-treatment of our natives by white Australians, as is insinuated in the book mentioned by Senator de Largie. I happen to be able to speak, of the early conditions in Coolgardie with, perhaps, greater authority than Senator de Largie, because I was on the Coolgardie goldfields as a prospector, and came in close touch with the natives- who, up to that time, had never seen white people. I can truthfully say that I know of no such case as is mentioned in the book quoted by the honorable senator, but I do know of brutal and cowardly murders of prospectors by the natives. Never did I hear of a native woman being interfered with by white prospectors, because the prospector of that day would have considered himself disgraced . if he had had any dealing with one. In the early days of the Western Australian goldfields the prospectors were of the finest type physically, mentally, and morally. Their treatment of the natives was never brought into question, but, unfortunately, kindness and humanity were often mistaken for weakness, and resulted frequently in death under the most tragic circumstances. Prospectors have been murdered in their bunks after having given food and water to blacks- in their- vicinity. Senator Gardiner has just said that hitherto nothing much has been done to help the aborigines’ of Australia. The- honorable senator is not quite correct. A very great deal has- been done; but probably it is more difficult to do anything for the Australian aborigine than for the native of any other country. It is impossible for the Australian native to accommodate himself to the conditions of twentieth century civilization.. Unfortunately, he is a relic of the stone age, and no amount of kindness, can bring him from his primeval condition. The native race that existed on the Coolgardie goldfields practically disappeared in two or three years,, not through cruelty on the part of the white race, but through kindness. They were given almost everything they asked for in the way of food and clothing. When clothed they would get wet in the first shower of rain and go to sleep in their clothes,, with the result that many of them died in a few hours from pneumonia. Others again, through eating food to which they had been unaccustomed, developed gastric troubles and died in large numbers. I think I can safely say that more of the aborigines of Australia have, died from the misguided attempts of our people to induce them to adjust themselves to European standards of living than from any other cause. At one time I happened to live close to the Point Pearce Station, in
South Australia, a mission conducted under the best possible conditions by the Anglican Church. The natives .received an education and training to fit them in after life to become useful citizens, but, without apparent reason, failed miserably. Subsequently a majority of them became cadgers about the township, living on what they could beg from the people. It is idle to say that these institutions are not properly conducted. They are controlled by some of the noblest men and women in the world, and yet they fail because it is impossible for the Australian aborigine, fine specimen though he appears to be in his native state, to adjust himself to the -conditions of modern society. I suggest that, in the rebuttal of charges such as are contained in the book referred to by Senator de Largie, we should be careful lest it be suggested that these things are happening to-day. All the cases mentioned by Senator ‘Gardiner occurred at a much earlier period in our history. They were tragic incidents in the record of early settlement in Australia, and cannot in any way be associated with presentday administration. I have recently travelled through .the Northern Territory, where there are more natives than in any other part of the Commonwealth. I saw them in their compounds on the cattle stations, and I know that they are being treated kindly and well. From the point of view of self-interest, this is advisable, because owners of stations depend very largely upon the native black for domestic labour. ‘The case is quite different, however, with the myall. The wild native is an extremely difficult problem. In the Northern Territory and Queensland large areas are set apart as reserves for the aborigines, who are thus permitted to live their lives in much their own way, and without undue interference. The reserves are in the hands of men whose duty it is to protect the aborigines, and yet it is with the utmost difficulty that the natives are kept on those reserves, despite the fact that rations are supplied there. For the last quarter of a century the utmost effort has been made, consistent with the difficulties of the problem, to treat the natives with kindness. The mention of the natives of British New Guinea recalls the services of Judge Murray, who ha9 an honorable record in connexion with the protection of those- natives. The name of his predecessor, Sir William MacGregor, is a household word the world over- for his humane and intelligent dealings with -the same race.
– His name wasanathema to the trading section, because he would not let them work their will on them.
– The fact that both those gentlemen incurred a certain amount of criticism from those desirous of exploiting the natives is an added tribute to their good work. We should lay emphasis on the kindness that- has been shown to the natives in the last twenty-five years rather than turn back to the pages of early Australian history, when, unfortunately, white men showed brutality in the treatment of not only the natives, but their fellow countrymen. We have, as every country has of its primitive days, records we should like to forget ; but for the last twenty-five years, at any rate, Australia’s record of its treatment of the Australian aborigines and of the natives of New Guinea will compare more than favorably with that of any ether country.
, - Being descended from an old Australian family, I had a great deal to do with the aborigines in my young days. My earliest recollections are of the aborigines in the neighbourhood of Geelong. Later on, I went to Central Queensland, where in 1876 .the blacks were fairly numerous. Over 500 of them camped for some time near the locality where I was living, and I know that there were some cases of cruelty. But there are brutal people in every race. I have personal knowledge of two instances of assaults on natives, but these offences were not committed by Australians. The guilty party were Englishmen who had migrated to these shores. I have never known a case where an Australian-born white has perpetrated brutality upon an aboriginal. As Senator Pearce has pointed out, the growth of townships is responsible for the downfall of the native race. Bad cases of cruelty towards the natives seldom occurred on the cattle stations. In the earliest days there may have been instances of brutality, but the attacks came from both sides. I had a number of natives working for me, and I tried to keep them on the’ station. I have the happiest recollections of their jovial company, and I have often enjoyed their jokes. When strong drink was brought within the reach of the aborigines the first nail was driven into their coffin. Then the evil of opium had to be ‘contended with, and this, together with venereal diseases, has been responsible for their decadence. The aborigine in his native state is a splendid type of man. Some of the finest athletes ever seen in this country have been Australian blacks. We know their qualities as riders and trackers, but they are still in the stone age, and we cannot civilize them. I know one native who was taken to England and educated there, but on returning to Australia he rejoined his tribe. Senator Gardiner is not quite correct in ‘saying that the natives who survive are not being cared for. Those from the part of Queensland with which I was acquainted have been placed on Fraser Island, where, I believe, they enjoy ideal conditions.
– There are four or five large mission stations in Queensland.
– The remnant of the race in Victoria is being splendidly looked after, and everything that human ingenuity can devise is being done to make them a contented people. I remember seeing some of them in church, and they impressed me as a body of people whom it might be possible to uplift if they could be protected from opium, drink, and disease, although it might require hundreds or thousands of years to raise them to a standard that would enable them to withstand such a strain as that associated with twentieth century civilization. The Australian aborigines have left us a great heritage, and we ought to do everything to help them.
.- I agree with Senator Pearce that the problem of caring for the few surviving Australian natives is a difficult, one. Those who have had opportunities to study the subject have found that, in some parts of Australia, the natives show considerable promise of eventually becoming useful members of the community. There are mission stations in North Queensland where the young natives have been so well cared for and educated that the specimens of their work, such as painting, drawing, and sewing, would do credit even to white boys and girls. The Lutheran mission station at Hermannsburg, however, did not favorably impress Senator Newland and myself. All we noticed was that the natives sang hymns three times a day in order to get their “ tucker,” and there was, practically no evidence of work done.
– Was there any evidence of cruelty?
– No. One native, who had been on the station for some time, left its shelter, and, when asked by a resident of Alice Springs why he had done so, said that there was “ too much Holy Ghost and not enough flour.” Is Senator Pearce satisfied with the aboriginal compound at Port Darwin, seeing that it is situated close to the town, and the members of various tribes are herded together in it? When the excitement of corroborees is at its height, there is great danger of natives being seriously wounded, if not killed. The residents of Darwin are not satisfied that the compound is conducted on the best lines. If given a fair chance the natives would prove a great asset in the settlement of Central Australia. On- some selections the land is of poor quality, and it is impossible to pay the wages that are demanded for white labour. On one station, having an area of 4,000 square miles, the work is carried out by two white ‘ men, an ] by about five aborigines. When I was recently in that country, we travelled overland for 200 miles with horse teams, and the only guides we had were two aborigines from a neighbouring station. On awakening in the mornings there would be no horses in sight, but within a couple of hours our guides would have the animals in hand. In some parts of the Northern Territory the natives are doing good work in clearing tracks and assisting to handle stock. In other localities where the administration is not being properly carried out by the police, who are supposed to be the protectors of the aborigines, the condition of the natives is disgraceful. There is a bungalow at Alice Springs containing about fifty half-caste boys and girls, and I hope that something will be done to have the establishment removed. It was adversely reported upon by Senator Newland and myself. The administration of that bungalow is not creditable.
– Is it a Government institution ?
– It is. If it were run properly, the children who are now being taken in could be educated and given an opportunity to make a fair start in life. They will have to be taken away from that part of the Northern Territory. Senator Newland, in his report, recommended to the then Minister for Home and Territories that the natives should be put to clearing the tracks and doing other useful work. The fact that they are not put to work has affected them detrimentally, except in a few isolated cases.
.- The impression left by the remarks of Senator Gardiner was that Queensland had not done the right thing by its aborigines. He referred to a debate which had taken place in the Queensland Parliament as, proof of the wickedness shown by Queensland towards the aboriginal. I think that Queensland’s treatment of aboriginals from the pioneer days has not been a bit different from that in any other part of Australia. I have been over the greater portion of Queensland. I have heard all sorts of tales, and have seen places where there have been occurrences that were notcreditable to the white races. Not a country in which the white race has been brought into contact with natives has less to its discredit than has Australia. The man who is prepared to face the dangers of nature in order to civilize the country has to fight against the aboriginal. The Australian native is as a mere child and, except in isolated cases, one cannot teach him a trade. Any one who sets out to do so injures rather than benefits him. The most disgraceful part of Australian history has been its convict system. Queensland has proclaimed large reserves in which the natives are gathered together and allowed to live in their natural state. They are well fed and are provided with huts. White people who employ them have to enter in a hook the wages to he paid, and they are collected by the Government, who hand the money to the Aboriginal Mission. No one is allowed to sweat the native in return for a cake of tobacco and a glass of grog now and again. I have come across some natives possessing really wonderful intelligence and common sense, but without any education. . I have been with them in the cattle and the sheep country, but I am not particularly anxious to preserve the race. Humanity has reached the stage beyond that of the aboriginal; we ha.ve reached the level to which you cannot lift him. There is a lot of sentimental twaddle talked about saving the race. I take a great interest in what is called the evolution of the race, and my opinion is that we have reached a stage at which we do not want a race such as the Australian aboriginal race. At the same time we should do our best to make comfortable the remainder of their days. Those who have studied the race know that it is one of the oldest in existence; and we cannot expect that it will last much longer. Nine-tenths of the trouble with the aboriginals has been due to interference with the gins by vicious whites, who carry opium and rum to the blacks’ camps. The aboriginal does not possess our point of view; the only way in which he believes he can protect his own is by killing the other fellow. It does not appear to him to be wrong to do that. In Queensland, both the protectors have been exceedingly humane in their treatment of the aboriginals, and have gone out of their way to see that they are looked after properly.
– The question of mandates is a live one in the world to-day. It is the subject of the book from which I quoted, and it may be revived at any time at various conferences, or at the League of Nations, if it is called together again. If the statements I have quoted were left uncontradicted, “it would be pointed out that according to a man who had held an official position in Australia, we were not fit to be intrusted with the Mandate to control the races of the Mandated Territories. That is why I have raised this subject to-night. I know best of all the Coolgardie mines. I emphatically deny that anything has occurred on those fields which would justify the reference in that book. Knowing the position of affairs there, I would have been wanting in my duty to many men I know well if I had not made the contradiction I have made.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £76,865.
– For some days articles have been appearing in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, over the name of a Mr. Ellis, a special contributor, ‘ sent to the Mandated Territories and New Guinea, for the purpose of making special ‘ investigations. In those articles this pressman make’s the most astounding allegations and revelations. There has been a general suspicion in certain -quarters for some considerable time that things in New Guinea, Rabaul, and the Mandated Territories generally, have not been all that they ought to have been. There is, particularly in Sydney, a strong feeling that the administration in the Mandated Territories is very unsatisfactory. Mr. Ellis’ articles deal more particularly with Rabaul, and the charges he mentions cannot be passed over by a mere wave of the hand or a general denial by the Government. They have been published throughout Australia, and must be dealt with immediately, or not at all. If only onefourth of what Mr. Ellis says is true, it is time the Government took action.
– Who is Mr. Ellis ?
– A special writer who was despatched by the Sydney Daily Telegraph toRabaul to report on the conditions existing there. From what Mr. Ellis says, the administration in the Mandated Territories is being conducted in the interests of special private companies or individuals to enable them to make excessive profits at the expense of others. I do not know whether the charges are true; but I am merely bringing them forward, and asking that an inquiry be made.
– One of his statements is quite true: that only returned soldiers are employed on the administrative staff.
– One of the principal officers at Rabaul, who is not a returned soldier, is a most unsuitable man to hold the position he occupies.
– Every man on the administrative staff is a returned soldier.
– Is Mr. Lucas a returned soldier?
– He is not on the administrative staff, but on the Expropriation Board.
– It is almost impossible to separate one from the other,, and the actions of the Board are reflected u-pon . to an even greater extent than those of the Administration. It is alleged, for instance, that it is almost impossible to secure sufficient labour on the plantations which, consequently, cannot be conducted in an efficient manner. Mr. Lucas is the”king pin” of the Board, and from the reports circulated in Sydney, he is just about as unsuitable for the position as it is possible for one to imagine a man to foe. I am not ‘associating myself with the charges, and am merely mentioning that it is openly stated in Sydney that the administration is defective. These statements have not only been made by Mr. Ellis, but also by Sydney business men, travellers, and tourists who have visited Rabaul. There must be some justification for the allegations, and I want an assurance from the Government that the charges will be thoroughly investigated at an early date.
– When in Eabaul twelve months ago, I made a very close inspection of the work being undertaken, and from inquiries made concerning the Administration concluded that every effort was being made to carry on the important undertaking in a satisfactory manner. I asked a leading representative of Lever Brothers for his candid opinion on the coconut plantations, and he informed methat they were well conducted. He said that there were, of course, some which heWould not purchase, ibut that is not surprising, as some must be better than others.
– One man may think that everything is all right, and onehundred believe that everything is wrong.
– Senator Duncan, who has not even visited Rabaul, is making definite charges against the Administration which he cannot substantiate. From what I saw, the natives were better treated than they were under the German regime.
– I rise to a. point of order. I submit that Senator Cox is not in order in imputing to me statements which I did not make. I did not make any charges, but said that allegations had been made, and that it was the duty of the Government to investigate them.
– (Senator Newland). - That is not a point of order.
– There are some who are always willing to howl Australians down. I am an Australian to the backbone, and have no hesitation in saying that Australians are as capable of managing a country as are any others.
(9.26]. - Senator Duncan submits certain charges which are contained in a newspaper article, and immediately disowns all responsibility. Before ventilating such grievances he should make up his mind as to whether the charges are worth fathering.
– They are.
– What are these charges, and against whom are they laid 1 Although I am not administering the Mandated Territories, I have read several of the articles referred to, and have found that there are two socalled charges. One is directed against the Administration, which is quite apart from the Expropriation Board under the chairmanship of Mr. Lucas, who is managing the properties taken from the Germans.
– Very capably, too.
– The first article I read dealt with the Administration. Pressmen can write very interesting and somewhat startling article’s, and, if one reads them without endeavouring ‘ to dissect them, they may convey an entirely wrong impression. I read the startling headlines in this instance, but when I studied the article more closely I found that it contained only two charges. The first was that the whole of the administrative officers were returned soldiers, and that, as they carried on the Administration with the disciplinary methods and habits they had been accustomed to in the army, they were unfit for the work. What a frightful injustice ! Is it not extraordinary that, on the one hand, a newspaper will criticise a Goyernment which does not adhere to the principle of preference to returned soldiers, and, when it discovers a case where every em ployee from the Administrator down is a returned soldier, it suddenly determines that it ‘ is the worst thing a Government could do, because militarism is introduced into civil administration. Whilst I am not advocating militarism, there is much in military discipline that is of advantage in the civilian sphere. I am not referring to the nonsensical military discipline which Senator Gardiner- probably has in mind, but what follows the respectful recognition of the duty a subordinate owes to his superior officer. The other charge, if it can be so designated, is that too many of these particular appointees come from Melbourne. The articles appeared in the Sydney newspapers, and probably there is a little Inter-State rivalry. I have been unable to- find in the articles mentioned any definite charge of maladministration by any particular offioer into which inquiry should be made. It is the policy of the Government to appoint returned soldiers to positions wherever possible. Having appointed returned soldiers to these positions, how can we now be blamed if these men have carried into their civil administration the discipline they learned in the Army ? Most of them were selected directly from the Australian Imperial Force, and some of them were appointed by myself when I was Minister for Defence.
– And a good lot they are, too.
– I have heard that they are a good lot.
– Some stayed there for two years, but others came back on the next boat. It all depends on the man.
– Of course it does. All I can say is that if Senator Duncan will inquire further into this matter, and endeavour to formulate a definite charge, I will undertake to bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister, who will, undoubtedly, furnish a reply.
I come now to the charges against the Expropriation Board. For some considerable time while German New Guinea was under military administration, nobody, except perhaps Mr. Ellis, knew what was going to happen: whether the plantations would go back to the German ownership or continue under our control. During the war German New Guinea was under Commonwealth military administration in the terms of the capitulations.
Thus all those plantations had to be administered as though they formed part of a trust liable to be handed over to Germany after the war. In the circumstances it is obvious that as Australia had no population to draw upon with any knowledge of plantation work, the best course was to maintain the original control until the destination, of German. New Guinea was decided.
– That was not done as a general thing.
– This course was followed throughout, except in cases where planters, for military reasons, were removed from German New Guinea territory. In the majority of’ cases during military occupation the plantations were managed by the’ men who had carriedthem on prior to the war. Then came the Armistice, and the. decision to expropriate the properties. It then became the duty of the Government to transfer the management to other people, and being bound by the policy of preference to returned soldiers, we made the appointments I have indicated. There has’ been some neglect, partly due to want of knowledge, and partly owing to the disturbed condition of affairs following the transfer of management before we could get suitable men to take charge. It should be remembered also that the Germans had a much more effective method of dealing with native labour. The German did not regard the natives as possessing any rights at all, and so he recruited them ruthlessly, and planters were permitted to flog them if they did not do their work satisfactorily. That kind of thing would not bo tolerated under Australian administration, and, of course, it was not permitted during the term of military administration, with the result that ‘planters under our management had not the same control or the Same driving power over the natives. Consequently, there has been a slackening in the native labour output. When the last Government . decided te dispose of the plantations, we took the necessary action to induce private owners to purchase, but at that time there was a slump in the price of copra and rubber, with the result that the prices offered were unsatisfactory. Ever since the Government decided not to accept the prices submitted, there, has been a campaign against the administration of the plantations by the Expropriation Board.
Whether there is any connexion I cannot say, but it would not be the first time that an attempt has been made, by means of a press agitation, to force the Government to accept unfair prices. I have no personal knowledge that this is so in the present instance. We have heard what Senator Cox has had to say. Definite charges appear in to-night’s paper. I have just read them, and, of course, they will be brought under - the notice of the’ Prime Minister who, at the proper time, will furnish a reply in regard to the matter. In justice to the Government, I ask honorable senators to analyze the charges, and make sure that there is something substantial in them, before they call upon the Government to take any notice of them.
– I have .not had the advantage of reading the articles to which reference has been made by Senator Duncan and other speakers this evening, and so I do not propose to deal with that particular matter, assuming that as the Minister (Senator Pearce) has spoken he, no doubt, considered that all honorable senators who wished to address themselves to the subject had done so. But I cannot agree with one portion of his reply. He seemed to assume that because the articles were by a Sydney writer, and published in a Sydney newspaper, and amongst other things took exception to the predominance of Melbourne men amongst the appointees, they were principally due to Sydney influence. If it is any information to ‘the Minister and the Government, I can say that this is a very prevalent complaint, so far as I can see, throughout the Commonwealth. All who are directly or indirectly associated with the Federal Administration are constantly having brought home to them the belief that the man in ‘Melbourne, under the observation of the Minister, gets the preference every time.
I rose more particularly, however, to speak upon another item under the Prime Minister’s Department, namely, that of £130 for the Commercial Agency, Paris. This has appeared in Estimates on previous occasions, and I have questioned the Minister frequently about it. Not so long ago I drew his attention to the fact that I had received complaints front a number of persons who had visited the Paris commercial agency for the Commonwealth, and were astounded to find it contained no up-to-date information regarding Australia, the most recent works of reference obtainable being then from five to seven and eight years old. We were then assured that consideration would be given to the representations I made, more especially when they were supported by other honorable senators. I should like to know if any amends have been ‘ made with regard to this commercial agency. I understand it is an off-shoot of the High Commissioner’s Office, and I am under the im- pression that the High Commissioner’s Office is supposed to keep it up-to-date. The fact that we have a commercial agency in Paris postulates the idea that we look upon our commercial relations with Prance as of some importance. Only a few years ago a commercial mission from Prance, headed ‘by General Pau, visited Australia, and submitted a report to the French Government. A copy of that report has been sent to Australia, and circulated amongst honorable senators.’ We have to assume, therefore, that there is some desire on the part of the Commonwealth Government to maintain and promote commercial relations between Australia amd Prance. I will go further and say that the Government should establish, maintain, and promote commercial intercourse with all of our ex-allied countries in Europe. In February last, when this Senate was sitting for a few days, I directed the attention of the Government” to the then recently announced procedure adopted, mutually, by Canada and France with regard to commercial intercourse. France had sent through Canada a train exhibiting products which she could supply to Canada, and the Dominion had reciprocated by sending a train-load of its products to be exhibited throughout France. The train was due to arrive at various centres on different dates, and it was finally to be placed on view for an extended period in Paris. I asked whether the Government would follow that example, and whether any information had been received, on the subject from the High Commissioner. The reply I obtained was that’ no information had been furnished, but I received an assurance that early attention would be given to the matter. I pointed out the value of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth among the countries allied with us in the late wai-. It is obvious that Australia must extend its markets. We cannot depend entirely upon interEmpire trade. We should have com- ‘mercial dealings with some of the European mainland countries, and preferably with those that were recently associated with us as Allies. Canada is a big competitor with Australia in the markets abroad.
– There is a racial bond between France and Canada.
– Yes ; but a’ peculiar racial bond. Curiously enough, ‘ it is the French element in Canada to-day that is standing most strongly by the Privy
Council of Great Britain as Canada’s final Court of Appeal: I hope that the matter of an extensive train exhibit on the continent of Europe will not be lost sight of, and that when. the Prime Minister reaches London he will note the effect of the reciprocal exhibits between Canada and .France, ascertaining if Australia could emulate that example, and even improve upon it in results.
.- It is not sufficient for honorable Senators to be assured that all is right in connexion with matters in Rabaul, and that the newspaper articles relating to the alleged scandal are inspired by the enemies of the Government.
– I do not say that everything is right; but let us have something definite.
– We were told some time ago that matters were just as they should be with respect to War Service Homes, but the returned soldiers found out to their cost that the blunders, of the Administration had occasioned heavy extra expense to the purchasers of those homes. We had then precisely thesame kind of assurances that are beingmade to-day by the Minister in regard to New Guinea, and we were invited to see the houses for ourselves and judge of the values given to the soldiers. It was clear to honorable senators who investigated . the subject that houses equal to those promised at £700 could not be obtained elsewhere for that sum of money. Eventually it turned out that the soldiers had to pay hundreds of pounds more than the price originally fixed. CleaT. . and definite statements have been made as to the position in Rabaul. In one instance 250,000 coconuts are reported to be going to waste owing to the absence of a. dryer. It is also stated that certain named estates have become overgrown with creepers and weeds. Nothing could be more definite than the charges made in this evening’s Melbourne Herald with respect to the administration of the Expropriation Board. The Government cannot afford to have these recurring scandals’ in connexion with its administration ; and I hope that there will be a definite inquiry as early as possible. It is better to do that than try. to dismiss the matter in a light and airy fashion by saying that it is a mere agitation engineered by the press.
– I read an article by Mr. M. H. Ellis, published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Tuesday. This contributor is known personally to Senators Crawford, Reid, and myself, and I do npt think he would write such articles on German New Guinea unless there was an element of truth in them. He visited the Mandated Territories with a free hand. First of all he dealt with Thursday Island, but he made no reflection upon the people there. He wrote, among other things, of the perils due to the isolation of the inhabitants. Had Mr. Ellis discovered that there was nothing occurring in German New Guinea to complain about, he would, no doubt, have been pleased to commend the Administration.
– Is he the gentleman who wrote articles suggesting that hundreds of Japanese and Chinese were coming into Australia by way of Thursday Island?
– No; but he said that the white population of the island was considerably outnumbered by the indentured Japanese, and this was perfectly true. Senator Pearce has urged that before newspaper reports “are referred to we should be able to lay definite charges against individuals, but I ask how any honorable senator can be expected1 to have the necessary information. I can give the Minister the names of people who know German New Guinea fairly well, and they would be prepared to- tell him all they can about it. If the Minister felt inclined he could inquire whether Mr. Kirchner was fairly treated in regard to his wife’s property that was taken over by the Expropriation Board.
– What is Kirchner ?
– As far as I know, he is a German, but he married an Australian girl. His wife has interests in German New Guinea, and he states he was promised that the property would be handed back to him. He has been kept waiting for some months, and he cannot get the. matter finalized. The Minister told us how the plantations and business concerns in German New Guinea were run for a time by the Germans under Australian military control. If Senator Pearce will produce the balance-sheets he will find that they were conducted more satisfactorily under military control than they are by the Expropriation Board. Although rubber has firmed considerably of recent date, the losses for 1922-23 will probably amount to a. very large’ sum. I do not hold any brief for the Germans.
– You are sticking up for Kirchner.
– I am only asking that he be given a fair deal. Every honorable senator should stand for that.
– Do you say that he has not had fair -treatment?
– I maintain that he has not, so far as the property of his wife is concerned.
– Do you think his wife’s property should be handed back to him?
– Yes, if that has been promised, as he says it has. He has been living in Sydney for’ many years, and he knows more about Australia than about Germany. I have had conversations with men who are interested in
Rabaul and German New Guinea, whose names I am prepared to give to the honorable senator, and I am quite satisfied that the administration by the Expropriation Board has not been all that it might have been. In the year 1921-22, according to this article, the working costs were as follow : -
Another very important point is contained in evidence which Mr. Ellis, in his article, quotes as having been given by Mr. Lucas before the Royal Commission in 1919. Mr. Lucas stated that he placed a certain value per tree upon the coconut trees, according to their age.
– And according to the value of copra at the time.
– Later on, when the Expropriation Board were taking over, the values they quoted were entirely different.
– The price of copra had gone down during that time.
– I know that the price of copra had gone down. Like every other commodity, copra fluctuates. Because wheat may bring per bushel ls. more this year than last year, can it be contended that the value of the land is greater ? An average value has to be struck.
– I suggest that you digest that article before you father it.
– I would like the Minister to digest it. He would not then say that everything is right; he would use his influence with the Cabinet to see that the present state of affairs does not continue very much longer. Mr. Ellis says -
So far as Rabaul plantation copra is concerned, it is noticeable that, since the repatriation of the Germans, and the plantations being controlled by the Commonwealth Government, there has been a marked falling off in the quality of shipments from Rabaul.
The manner in which we are administering these -Mandated Territories is being watched by the allied countries.
– Why not go up and see for yourself what is the condition of affairs ?
– The honorable senator .went up, and was probably entertained by the Administrator. He was shown all the nice things that were to be seen. I had. the opportunity of doing something similar once. I was invited by the Administrator of one of the soldier settlements to see how successfully that particular settlement was being run. The Administrator met us at the railway station, drove us round, took us to the prize farm on the top of a hill, and said, “ Look at the prosperity that exists. This is what we are doing.” In the afternoon we went to some of the farms which did not occupy such a favorable position as that to which the Administrator had taken us, and we learned the other side of the question. Had Senator Cox, when he was over there, taken a little more trouble to see the other side of the question instead of swallowing the bait whole, as he is in the habit of doing, he probably would have come back possessed of a little more information. All that I have heard the honorable senator say at any time has been, “Everything is all right. We can do this as well as any one else.” I believe that we can; hut are we? If we are, why do we see, day after day, articles of this description appearing in the public press? I do not believe that newspapers of the reputation of the Sydney Daily Telegraph are anxious to defame Australia in the eyes of the world. Is it not more in the interests of those newspapers that they should pat Australia on the back rather than., defame it by making false statements regarding the administration of these Mandated Territories? These articles are sufficiently important - coming, as they do, from a man- who has been up there and has seen for himself what are the conditions - to render it essential that an urgent inquiry be made by the Government, not only from the point of view of the officials, who probably will dish up a report to the Minister when he asks for it, but from the point of view of men who are trading with Rabaul and those who are employed in the service to-day. Senator Pearce has’ said that many of those who have been sent up failed because they were not of suitable calibre. I know that some of them stayed a couple of years, while others returned on the next boat, in many « cases because they were not suitable for the job. Nevertheless, here are definite statements made by an eye-witness, a man who is not given to scaremongering, who has had an opportunity of investi gating <at first hand, and who can obtain confirmation of what he says. I desire that the administration by Australia of ‘ these Mandated Territories shall be above reproach, that we shall set an example to other countries. I believe that Senator Duncan had the same idea when he . brought forward this statement.
– (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time limit.
– I trust that inquiries will be instituted to test the truth of these, statements.
Senator JOHN D. MILLEN (Tasmania) ?10.8]. - The question of the administration in New ‘Guinea is a very important matter. We intend to take part in the Assembly of the League of Nations, which is to be held in Geneva in September next. Probably one of the most important things that will be dealt with there, apart from defence, as far as Australia is concerned, is the question of the Mandated Territories. We have to remember that that Assembly is composed of fifty- two nations of the world, of whom a vote can be taken. Amongst those fifty-two nations a considerable amount of insidious propaganda has been circulated by the German people. I shall quote some extracts which have been taken from the Die Deutsche Wacht (The German Watch), which is being published in German interests in Batavia. They set out, in a very definite way, some of the evils which, it is contended, the German settlers have suffered. The Minister has asked definitely and rightly for specific cases, and I propose to give him some obtained from German sources, and published in an attempt to influence the meeting of the League of Nations in September next. First of all I call attention to the fact that a proclamation was issued by Colonel William Holmes, in command at Rabaul, on 12th September, 1914. Clauses 3 and 4 of the Proclamation were as follow: -
Following on that the Germans say they were served with the following notice: -
The bearer, Mr…………… , is taking charge of your plantation on behalf of the
Expropriation Board. Please check and hand over all stocks on your plantation, count coconut trees, usw., usw. Trusting you will give every assistance in your power to Mr………
The Germans to whom the notice was given say that they were compelled by the Expropriation Board to set to work for them until the Expropriation Board felt that they could take those plantations over. I am quoting German papers all the time, and they say : -
Under threats of heavy fines and imprisonment, which in many cases were actually inflicted, German planters were, after the conclusion of peace, forced to work for the Expropriation Board on the stolen plantations till it pleased the Board (and that lasted in many cases for a year) to take over the plantations themselves, and further, the pay thus earned by them was not paid to the planters when they were sent away, but was retained to subsequently pay for their enforced stay in Rabaul.
The following is a case set out by Ger-j mans, for the purpose of propaganda in connexion with the meeting of the League of Nations, and in reading this extract, clauses 3 and 4 of the Proclamation must be remembered. This is what is said by the writer : -
In November last year I visited the Kalilli coconut plantation, which is about 1,000 hectares in size, and which I had known two years before as a model plantation. A glance at it to-day beggars description. The roads laid to it, which were made at great cost, are now swampy. The irrigation channels have fallen in, the palms are overgrown and infested with weevils. ‘
It was absolutely impossible to go through the. young plantations without knife and axe, as an undergrowth of 3 to 4 metres ‘had already grown up, and the young plants were no longer to be found.
I also saw on the farm about half-a-million fully developed coconuts lying about which were not. prepared on account of the scarcity of labour to dry the copra. In German times, scarcity of labour was unknown at Kalilli, and there were more natives from the district Offering than we could use.
My second visit was to the plantation, Tokua, of the H.S.A.G., in New Pomerania.
The Australian planter (like 95 per cent, of his colleagues, he had known the coconut only in the form of a pudding) had discovered a new method of planting three-year palms between the Passiflora and Faseolis lunatus which the German planter had put in to sweeten the ground.. Instead of removing by hand the tendrils of the Passiflora, which had climbed up the low hanging branches, the extreme palm branches were simply hacked away by his order, and only the middles remained standing, so that the young palms now looked like young pineapples, which are surrounded by upstanding leaves.
On the New Guinea Company’s Put Put plantation the Australian planter (Tatham) had shortly .before my visit cut down 3,000 young and old palm trees, ostensibly because they were infected by the leaf beetle.
These are only a few instances of the conditions in which most of the farms are today.
The scarcity of labour is in part the result of bad sanitary conditions. Kalilli, where formerly at the outside three to four deaths were recorded in a year from a total of 250 men, now hardly a week passes without the death of a worker from a total of 150 to 170 men.
During my three weeks’ s’tay there, four* deaths occurred. It is no wonder that the native worker will not work for the Australian.
Again, much is now stolen from the workers’ advance of pay, and the allowance of tobacco, tinned meats, and loin cloths charged against the worker.
To counteract the scarcity of labour, the Australians use an original method.
The labourers are taken to Rabaul for the settling of accounts, and are kept there in quarantine for months at a time, when they ultimately receive their pay, not in cash, but partly in commodities. Meanwhile, they have contracted so many debts and squandered so much money that in most cases they are compelled to enter into a contract.
In January of this year I met an old worker of my firm in Rabaul, who already had had to wait some months for his money. He told me that he and about eighty other labourers received as sustenance a daily allowance of only one matta of rice (56 lbs.), and most of the workers, by reason of their hunger, were inclined to enter into a new contract. There are, however, many labourers who, not with standing any hardships, adhere to their determination not to continue to work for the Australians.
In connexion with this, I wish to bring to your notice that on the 1st September, 1919, a Royal Commission was held in Rabaul, consisting, among others, of Judge Murray, Lieutenant-Governor of British Papua; Mr. Atlee Hunt; and Mr. Walter Lucas, whom the Germans call the “stool pigeon “ of Burns, Philp and Company, and who, they claim, ^blossomed out later as the chief instrument against German property. This Commission reported, inter alia -
Of the small owners, as distinguished from the big companies, the Administrator says : - “ In the majority of cases these planters are, although they are Germans, a good type of settler who, in pre-war days, were willing to run the risk of an unhealthy climate, and uncomfortable and rough mode of living, and with or without financial help, worked hard to force his plantation to a bearing stage. They are very adaptable and will readily conform to discipline, and prove useful citizens with u vested interest in the possession. I would recommend that oil such private owners be permitted in undisturbed occupancy of their present interests, and it seems to me probable that the task of administration will be facilitated if these private owners are allowed to remain in possession of estates.”
I do not know whether Mr. Lucas signed this report or not.
– That would -not suit Mr. Lucas.
– Does Senator Duncan say that the Germans should remain in possession of the plantations?
– I am now telling honorable members what the Commission says - not what Mr. Lucas or anybody else says. I can cite a case within my own knowledge, in which Mr. von Mirro, who had trouble with Mr. Lucas before he left Burns, Philp and Co., has been treated most harshly ever since.
– The Government did not accept the recommendation of the Commission.
– That may be, but the Government appointed a Commission, and the Commission made certain recommendations.
– But we did not accept them.
–Whether the Government accepted them or not, is not the question. I am endeavouring to show that all these things are being used with serious effect amongst the other peoples of the world. It will be a most serious thing for Australia if these statements are -brought before the fiftytwo representatives at the League of Nations Assembly. These charges are being published in German newspapers in other countries, and we are not doing anything to refute them. It is useless for Australia to say that such things cannot occur; that will not be a sufficient contradiction to submit at the next gathering of the League. I am anxious that, the good name of Australia shall be maintained, and that this insidious propaganda, shall cease. What I have quoted was published early this year. It has since been repeated and is still being circulated to-day by active, skilled, well-paid German agents throughout the whole of Europe and America. It has been carried on in the East by men of the same type, and yet Australia declines to move. We moist be on the defensive, prove our case, and either admit or deny the truth of the German one. If the German charges are true, let us face the position and say that such conditions shall not continue. If they are false, let us prove that they are. Immediate action must be taken. I trust the Prime Minister’s Department will be fully informed by the Minister, and that the Government -will do all they c,an, and make the investigation which the circumstances demand.
– 1 was not present when Senator Keating made certain representations in regard to the Paris agency, hut I shall see that his statement is brought under the notice of the Prime ‘Minister, who. will deal with that and kindred subjects at the forthcoming Economic Conference.
I think Senator Elliott must have misunderstood me if he is under the impression that I said the Government do not propose to make any inquiries. I did not say anything of the kind. If honorable senators think that there is a definite charge in -the statement contained in the newspaper article, I invite them to peruse the article and formulate a charge, when I will bring it under the notice of (ike Prime Minister. I have just hurriedly, read the article in to-night’s paper, in which there is a statement of a definite character which will be inquired into.
If Senator Poll thinks that Mr. Kirchner has not bad a fair deal, and that the Government have acted wrongly in expropriating his property, he should say in what direction.
– il did not say “his” property.
– The honorable senator should submit a specific charge on which the Government could act.
– It is his wife’s private property.
– If a German marries an Australian woman, under international law she becomes a German national. I know only the circumstances mentioned to-night, and on the facts adduced neither Kirchner nor his wife has any claim under the Treaty of Versailles.
– Will the matter be looked into?
– It is not within my province to do that. If Senator Foll thinks that she has been unjustly treated, it is his duty to inform me in what way, -and if he does that, I will bring the -matter under the notice of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Does not the Minister think it is a sufficient ground for complaint if the property of an Australianborn woman has been taken ‘ merely because she married a German?
– That is not the statement. I suggest that Senator Gardiner and Senator Foll formulate a charge, and if there has been maladministration I will bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister. If the property is in the name of Mr. or Mrs. Kirchner - they are German nationals, whether their nationality is acquired by marriage or by birth - then, under the terms -of the Treaty of Versailles, their property must be confiscated. In such circumstances the Government cannot be held responsible, because they are merely doing what they aire compelled to do under the Treaty.
In regard to the matter raised by Senator J. D. Millen, it is a well-known fact that for some time German propaganda has been proceeding in connexion with the Mandated Territories with a view to influencing the League of Nations.
– There is too much German propaganda over the Ruhr problem.
– Probably there is. The Prime Minister is endeavouring to keep in touch with this matter, and will forward for use by the Secretariat of the League of Nations information to refute the lies circulated by the German propagandists. I shall see that the statements -read by Senator J. D. Millen, which be says are being published in Batavia, are brought under the notice of the Prime Minister’s Department, so that action may be taken to prevent our case being prejudiced before the League of Nations.
.- Senator Foll inferred that as I informed certain people in New Guinea that I intended visiting the Territory, everything was in order when I arrived. Such is not the case, as I merely booked my passage a few days before the boat sailed, and did not notify any one of my visit.
– The honorable senator is not discussing the item before the Committee.
– Those interviewed by me with reference to New Guinea affairs were not in any way connected with the Administrative Staff. All the information I gathered was from the representatives of Lever , Brothers and others engaged in the industry. The Germans have planted different types of rubber trees, and the product from some of them is worth very little.
– Arc not Lever Brothers in competition with the estates under the Expropriation Board 1
– If they were in competition it would be their policy to point out’ the faults of their competitors.
– They would not want the properties to be improved.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 June 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230628_senate_9_103/>.