9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 82.
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 13 of 1924- Police Fund Abolition.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 84.
Territory for the Seat of Government - Ordinance No. 6 of 1924 - City Leases.
Senator REID brought up reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence relating to the following proposed works : -
Wharf accommodation and shipping facilities including sheds, railway and vehicle approaches at Darwin, Northern Territory.
Oil depots at Darwin, Northern Territory.
Aircraft depot, with accessory services, at Laverton, Victoria.
Living Allowances: Regulations89k and 89l
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The number of applications received under these regulations up to the 30th April, 1924, and the position in regard to them, is as follows: - Regulation 89 k - Received, 688; granted, 390; rejected, 245; withdrawn, 7; pending, 46. Regulation 89l- Received, 584; granted, 62; rejected, 466; withdrawn, 5; pending, 51. The large number of rejections is due to the fact that many persons ineligible under the particular regulation gazetted apply as soon as a new benefit is promulgated. For instance, in Regulation 89k the beneficiary must have been “ temporarily totally incapacitated for a longer period than three months.” All those whose claims were rejected have not complied with this provision. In Regulation 89l it is stipulated that “ the Commission take into consideration as incomeearned any amount, which the soldier should be receiving as earnings from the occupation which his disablement does not debar him from following.” Among the rejected applications were those from men in regular employment, from those whose employment had ceased owing to industrial trouble, and from others whose disability according to medical evidence did not debar them from working.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he approve of instructions being issued that allowances under Regulations 89k and 89l shall be paid where the Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation, State Board, or the Commission, as the case may be, is satisfied that the applicant is unable to do any available work, and can only undertake employment which is not available?
-The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It is not considered desirable to alter Regulations 89k and 89l in the manner suggested. .
Regulation 89k is employed in thecases of men who are temporarily totally incapacitated for a longer period than three months. The question of the availability of work does not enter into the operation of this regulation. Regulation 89l is to meet the cases of partially incapacitated soldiers who, owing to physical disability, are unable to engage in regular employment or to earn a living wage, and is not intended to cover periods when, owing to various causes, workis not available, or when, owing to physical disability, a man has difficulty in obtaining work. duty ON IMPORTED CEMENT.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. The gazettals of English and Norwegian cementare not parallel. The dumping duty on Norwegian cement is imposed under section 4 of the Act, and is the difference between the domestic and the export price. The duty is only charged when the cement is landed in Australia at a price which is less than the Australian manufacturer’s price. The dumping duty on British cement is under section 7, i.e., dumping freight duty, and if the rate of freight is a dumping rate the duty would apply. It was recently brought under notice that British cement might be carried at a dumping rate of freight and still not be landed at aprice detrimentalto the Australian industry, and the Tariff Board has reported upon this aspect of the. case, and its reporton the matterwill receive immediate attention. postal department.
Female Employees: Leave of Absence
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’squestions are as follow : -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of the wonderful exhibition of courage, skill, and endurance displayed by Flight-Commander Goble and Flight-Lieutenant McIntyre in their flight around Australia, is it the intention of the Government to grant them some special recognition for their remarkable feat?
– The names of these two officers appeared in the list of honours recently published, and the matter is receiving the further consideration of the Cabinet.
Widows of Ex-Officers
asked the Minis ter representing the Treasurer, upon notice-
– This matter is at present under consideration, in connexion with a Bill which it is intended to submit to Parliament during the present session, for the purpose of amending the Superannuation Act 1922.
Taxation and Representation
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The only Territories of the Commonwealth in’ which Commonwealth taxation is in force are the Northern Territory and the Territory for the Seat of Government. The Northern Territory has been accorded elective representation in the Commonwealth Parliament, the franchise being similar to that applicable to Commonwealth elections in other parts of Australia. There is no immediate intention of introducing legislation to provide for the representation of the Territory for the Seat of Government in the Commonwealth Parliament.
See answer to No. 1.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3. The Government has no official information to this effect.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. No; but the Kalamunda Convalescent “ Farm “ will cease to be conducted by the Repatriation Commission, as such, after 31st October, 1924. In all probability the Kalamunda institution will continue to be available, subsequent to31st October, 1924, as a convalescent home, to which ex-soldier patients requiring a period of convalescence after hospital treatment may be admitted. In the event of the Kalamunda institution not being available for this purpose, subsequent to 31st October, 1924, the Repatriation Commission will make suitable arrangements elsewhere, so that the interests of ex-soldier patients requiring convalescence, whether at present in residence or forthcoming, will not be prejudiced in any way.
Case of Mr. Doyle - Inmates of Institutions
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The papers relating to Mr. Doyle’s invalid pension claim show that be lost’ his” sight whilst employed on a Commonwealth steamer in the Bed Sea. As Mr. Doyle did not become blind whilst in Australia, the Invalid’ and Old-age Pensions Act did not permit the grant of a pension.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Claims fob Compensation.
-BROOKMAN asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
SenatorGREENE asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister,upon notice -
Will the Government take early steps to introduce the necessary legislation to give effect to the request of the dairymen’s organizations for the control of the Inter-State and oversea marketing of butter?
– This subject is receiving the earnest consideration of the Government, and an announcementregarding the matter will be made as early as possible.’
Federal Grant to Tasmania
asked the Min ister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The question of continuing the main roads development grant has not yet been finally determined. The matters mentioned will be duly considered should a further grant be decided upon.
“Ferndale” and “ fordsdale”
SenatorKINGSMIILL asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the dead-weight tonnage of the Commonwealth s.s. Ferndale?
What was her cost, delivered to the Government?
At what figure does this ship and the s.s. Fordsdale stand in the books of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board, representing capital cost as taken over from the constructing parties?
– I will have inquiries made of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board, and will advise the honorable senator as early as possible.
IMMIGRANTS Ex V1LLE DE STRASBURG.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1..I have been unable to verify the actual figures, but it is a fact that the s.s. Villa de Strasburg arrived at Fremantle recently with a number of immigrants of the various nationalities mentioned.
City Leases Ordinance 1924
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
When does he intend to lay on the table of theSenate Ordinance of the Territory for the Seat of Government No. 6 of 1924, entitled City Leases Ordinance 1924?
– A copy of the Ordinancereferred to willbe laid upon the table to-day.
Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That the report from the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on the 16th May, 1924, be adopted.
.- I move
That the Bill be now read a second time. When the Loan Estimates for the current financial year were prepared, it was anticipated that the Federal Territory Commission would be established by the 30th September, and asit was intended that the Commission should raise its own moneys in the establishment of the Federal Capital, provision was made in the Loan Bill for only three months’ expenditure. It was not found possible, however, in the short session last year, to introduce the legislation constituting the Commission. It, therefore, becomes necessary to ask Parliament for an additional appropriation to carry on work at Canberra to the end of the financial year. Additional moneys are also required to enable the Postal Department to carry out its approved three years’ programme for the extension and improvement of its telegraph, telephone, and postal services. Because of these two items the introduction of a supplementary Loan Bill was unavoidable, and advantage has been taken of the opportunity to provide for some small unforeseen expenditure which is properly payable out of loan. The total of the . schedule to the Bill is £822,000. The granting of this money will not mean that the estimated loanexpenditure for the year will be exceeded; on the contrary, savings of expenditure in other directions will more than compensate for the additional amount now sought. Omitting redemptions of maturing loans, the loan expenditure of the Commonwealth for the current year was estimated at £18,945,622, and the actual expenditure for the ten months ended the 30 th April was £7,789,545. It is quite certain, therefore, that when the: final accounts for the year are available, they will disclose a material reduction in the anticipated loan expenditure. The items making up the total of £822,000 are as follow: - Loan to the Territory of New Guinea for works, £10,000; works, services, and acquisition of land in Federal Capital Territory, £275,000 ; and acquisition of and alterations to vessels for lighthouse purposes,£37 , 000; construction and extension of telegraphs and telephones, &c, £500,000. After the exhaustion of the available appropriation for the Federal Capital, the expenditure in the Territory has been made out of revenue by means of the vote for Advance to the Treasurer. On the passing of the present Bill, the amount so expended will . be recouped to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The remaining expenditure embodied in the Bill, with the exception of a small amount for a lighthouse steamer, has been so arranged that it will not fall due for payment until towards the close of the year. I shall now give an explanation of the items under discussion. Respecting the loan to the Territory of New Guinea of £10,000, the revenues of the Territory are not sufficient to enable the Administrator to defray therefrom the whole of the capital expenditure. Much of this expenditure is of such a nature that it can properly be paid from loan, and the Government has decided to borrow the necessary moneys on behalf of the Administration of the Territory. The amount of £10,000 will cover the estimated expenditure until the loan appropriation for 1924-25 is available, and forms part of a definite programme for wharfs, drainage,buildings,&c, submitted with the Budget for the next financial year. Therefore we have included this item of £10,000 in this Loan Bill.
– I take it that these are additional loan payments for this financial year?
– Yes. They are not included in the main items that already have been passed.
– What was the amount last year for New Guinea?
– Just double this amount. These works will be in addition to the ordinary annual expenditure. As the honorable senator knows, they are very badly needed.
The loan for the Federal Capital Territory is £275,000. The expenditure for the first three months of the year, after deducting the receipts of the
Territory, was estimated at£150,000, and provision for this amount was made in the Loan Bill for thecurrent year. The net expenditure for the full year, after deducting receipts, is now estimated at £500,000, and towards defrayingthis expenditure the following appropriation is available: - Amount included in Loan Bill 1923-24., £150,000; and unexpended balance of appropriations in earlier Loan Acts, £75,415; totalling £225,415. This leaves, in round figures, £275,000, which is provided in the present Loan Bill. The estimated receipts of the Territory for the whole year are £60,000, and, as these are applied to the reduction of expenditure, the gross expenditure on the establishment of the Federal Capital for 1923-24 is estimated at £560,000.
The amount for the acquisition of and alterations to vessels for lighthouses is £37,000. Facilities for the steamer attendance on lighthouses have for some time been insufficient. Provision was made in the Loan Estimates for the current year of £140,000 for the construction of two vessels for lighthouse purposes, and the construction of these vessels is being proceeded with. The attendance on the lighthouses on the coasts of South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania, has been carried out as far as possible by the Lady Loch, but it has been necessary from time to time to augment this service by the hire of privatelyowned vessels. Steps will, therefore, be taken to purchase a vessel for lighthouse attendance in South Australia, and £20,000 included in the present Bill is for that purpose. The lighthouse vessel in Western Australia became quite unserviceable, and it was found necessary to replace her with another vessel. The matter was of such urgency that an amount of £17,000 was provided from the Treasurer’s Advance for the purchase of the Kyogle for this purpose. The vessel which was replaced is being dismantled, and steps will be taken to dispose of the hull for what it is worth.
The loan for the construction and extension of telegraphs and telephones, &c. , is £500,000. When delivering his Budget speech in 1022-23, the present Prime Minister, who was then Treasurer, announced that a definite scheme for extending and improving the service of the Postal Department over a period of three years at a total cost of £9,750,000 had been formulated. To enable the Postal Department to proceed more quickly in overtaking the arrears of development, it was decided to make an additional amount of £500,000 available for the present financialyear. This will form part of the approved . programme of £9,750,000. Authority is contained in clause 2 of the Bill to raise £850,000 to meet the expenditure authorizedby the Bill. The total of this expenditure is £822,000, and the additional amount to be raised is required to cover discounts and flotation expenses of the loan.
– I wish to draw attention to what I consider to be a wicked waste of money in the construction of lighthouse vessels. I am referring to the new vessels which I presume are included in the item of £37,000 in the schedule of this Bill.
– The two vessels that are being constructed in New South Wales are not covered by this Bill.
– Under those circumstances I do not propose to make any further remarks at this stage.
– I wish to know from the Minister whether the greater part , of this money has already been spent? This Bill is the parliamentary authorization for raising by loan money which to a great extent has already been paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance.
– That is so, as I mentioned in my remarks.
– It was a little difficult for me to catch exactly the Minister’s meaning. I take it that it is now proposed to float a loan out of which this money will be recouped to the Treasurer’s Advance. . I wish to ask the Minister whether the Government proposes to go on the London market again for a new loan, or is it proposed to raise this money in Australia? All of us know something of the present exchange position, and the great difficulty that exists in financing the prospective wool clip of Australia. I am particularly anxious to have, if possible, information as to theexact nature of the negotiations that the Government proposes to enter upon respecting this money. Recently the Government saw fit to float a loan of £10.000,000 in London. I presume I would not be in order in dealing at length with that particular flotation; but the whole question of loan flotations is so wrapped up with the prices which exist owing to exchange operations at present, that the utmost care must necessarilybe exercised by the Treasurer. A great deal can be done to ease the position by handling negotiations in a proper way. On the other hand, the difficulties of the existing position will be accentuated if a proper course is not followed. I shall be glad if the Minister will, before the debate closes, be good enough to give the Senate some definite information on the points I have mentioned.
– I rise to a question of privilege. I am ‘not inclined to discuss the second reading of this Bill at this moment, and if I moved the adjournment of the debate until a later hour of the day, it would be only by the consent of the Minister (Senator Pearce), and a merciful interpretation of the Standing Orders, that I would be permitted to speak. The Minister, in conducting the business in this way, is interfering with the privileges of senators and departing from the regular procedure of Parliament. In matters of importance such as this, honorable senators should be given the fullest opportunity to consider the information placed before them.
– If the honorable senator asks for leave to continue his speech at a later date I shall not offer any opposition.
– That may be so, but the Minister cannot say what attitude will be adopted by the Senate.. I desire to move the adjournment of the debate to a later date, but I do not wish to be deprived of my rights.
– If the honorable senator desires the adjournment of the debate until a later date, the Government will not offer any opposition.
– I regret, Mr. President, that I have not made my position clear. My desire is to move the adjournment of the debate until the next day of sitting. The Minister may wish the debate to be resumed at a later hour of the day. IfI moved such a motion, and it was defeated, with the result that the resumption of thedebate was fixed for a later hour of the day, I would not then be entitled to speak.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Gardiner would not be in order in moving the adjournment of the debate until a later hour in the day or until the next day of sitting. He has simply to move “ That the debate be adjourned.” The Minister in charge of the Bill fixes the time for the resumption, which may be this afternoon or next week. Such a motion would not interfere with the honorable senator’s right to speak.
– This is a question which should be settled by you, Mr. President. If I move the adjournment of the debate, will I be permitted under the Standing Orders to speak later ?
– The honorable senator will have a perfect right to speak at a later stage if he moves the adjournment of the debate. The former practice of the Senate was that if an honorable senator moved the adjournment of. the debate, and the motion was defeated, he technically lost his right to speak, but that practice is more honoured in the breach than the observance. My present impression is that the Standing Orders Committee, in an amendment of the Standing Orders made prior to the last session, abrogated that rule, and we now havea definite standing order under which an honorable senator in such circumstances does not lose his right to speak. If the honorable senator moves the adjournment of the debate, he will be quite in order in speaking later, even if the motion is defeated.
– I understand the honorable senator wishes the debate to be adjourned until the next day of sitting.
– We offer no opposition to that.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
– I move-
That the Bill be nowread a second time.
This Bill, which alters the present system of administration of the Federal Capital and provides for the setting up of a Commission to control and manage the affairs of the Territory, has been introduced in accordance with a promise made in the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at the opening of the Parliament. In that speech it was stated that “ the works in progress at the Federal Capital have now so far advanced as to necessitate the introduction of a Bill to provide for the constitution of a Commission to control the Territory; it is proposed to empower it to raise loans for the construction and development of the city.” When the present Government took office the facts in regard to the Federal Capital were -
At that time theamount expendedon works, exclusive of land, was, approximately, £1,800,000, representing a loss of interest charges alone of about £90,000 per annum. A sum of £750,000 had been expended on the purchase of land, from which the revenue was about £30,000 per annum. After considering the alternative proposals of abandoning the whole project, or allowing progress to continue in slow stages, and in a more or less indefinite manner, the Government were of the opinion, as heretofore, that the statutory obligation to establish the Capital City should be observed, and that even apart from this important aspect of the matter, it was the best policy on economic grounds to pushahead vigorously with a modified scheme ofconstruction that would enable Parliament tobe transferred and a return obtained for the capital expenditure at the earliest moment. Steps were taken to accelerate construction and determine, as far as possible, a definite time within which the Legislature would be moved to Canberra. While good progress hasbeen made under the present system of control, the Government feel that the problems which are awaiting solution, with the advent of private enterprise, and the transfer of the Scat of Government, de- - mand that a change be made in the administration. From 1909 until 1912, administration was controlled by the Department of Home Affairs, and a resident Administrator was appointed in August, 1912. He had charge of all’ matters, subject to tho Minister. After the abolition of the Home Affairs Department in 1916, the works and administrative functions at the Federal Capital were separated, and were allotted to the Works and Railways and Home and Territories Departments respectively. This dual arrangement has been carried on since that date, and it involves two Ministers, and the employment of two departmental staffs under separate control. In order to speed up construction, it was arranged towards the end of last year that there should be a separate works organization at Canberra, under the DirectorGeneral of Works, directly responsible to the Minister, and working in touch with the Advisory Committee. This avoided the necessity of large administrative works being controlled in detail from Melbourne and has achieved good results, but the disability of administration by two Departments still remains. The progress in regard to the Federal Capital has been checked by the war and other difficulties, but it is necessary to acknowledge the good work that has been performed in Canberra by the officers. After suspension of construction during the war, un Advisory Committee was appointed at the end of 1920, and consists of the following experts in architecture, engineering, town planning, and departmental administration: - Sir John Sulman, . F:R.I.B.A., M.T.P.I., consulting architect; Mr. E. M. de Burgh, M.Inst.C.E., Chief Engineer for Water Supply and Sewerage, Public Works Department, New South Wales; Mr. Herbert E. Ross, F.I.A., architect; Mr. P. T. Owen, Director-General of Works, Department of Commonwealth Works and Railways; and Mr. J. T. H. Goodwin, Commonwealth Surveyor-General. The cost of the Advisory Committee is about £2,500 per annum. The Chairman’ does not receive any remuneration; Mr. de Burgh receives 400 guineas per annum; and Mr. Ross 1,000’ guineas per annum . . The Committee studied the general situation in the light of the changed economic conditions, and drew up -a complete scheme for the ‘construction of the city and establishment of- the Seat of Government as economically and rapidly as possible. . This scheme was generally approved, and has been the basis of work for over three years. The Committee has since been engaged in developing proposals in detail, and the Government have relied largely upon its advice in authorizing works and ip dealing generally with Federal Capital matters. The Government believe that the time has arrived when the existing, administrative arrangements, should be superseded by a single local authority vested, with adequate powers to develop and maintain a proper system of local government in the Territory, deal with the lands question, the construction of the Capital City, take over the existing assets- and liabilities, and so manage the Territory that full economic advantage may be obtained, and the ordinary funds relieved of the burden. The present arrangement has caused a great strain, particularly on the resources of the Works Department, and the detailing of highly-skilled officers for special services at Canberra has interfered with the Department’s arrangements for designing and executing works in other parts of the Commonwealth. The proposal to vest the control in the Commission is no reflection on the present officers. In fact, opinions of these officers are that some form of control, such as that suggested, is essential to avoid a breakdown. It must be’ realized that the Advisory Committee has no executive functions, and, therefore, very large sections of work and responsibility ave undertaken by the Departments, involving close attention from day to duy on the spot. With the advent of private enterprise, many new problems will be introduced, which are outside the scope, and experience of the present Administration, and it will be difficult, and almost impossible, for many of these to be satisfactorily dealt with by. the ordinary departmental system of Ministerial control from Melbourne.. Even when the Seat of Government is established at Canberra, it. is inadvisable that the National Legislature should spend its time considering matters- of purely local and domestic import, to the detriment of questions of wider importance which come within its proper functions. I invite the Senate to realize what will happen, unless we establish this Commission, when the Parliament is sitting at Canberra surrounded by people employed in the construction of the city, arid with private enterprise coming in for the purpose of private gain. If the Federal Government were clothed with the power, not only of administration and construction, but of local government, and were responsible for sanitation, the making of roads and footpaths, lighting, and all the interminable things that go te harass the life of those engaged in municipal government, what a position would be created ! If we do not pass this Bill, the National Parliament and the National Government will undoubtedly have these matters ‘coming direct to them for solution. The only analogous case to that of our Federal Capital is that of Washington, the capital of the United States of America, which is governed by a Commission. There many forms of government have been tried. A Commission of three was first appointed, and it controlled all matters of construction and general municipal affairs until 1802, during the period when the city was practically being built. In 1802, the construction was placed in the hands of a superintendent, who held office until 1817, and was replaced by one commissioner. ‘ This system continued until 1867, when all construction work was placed in the hands of the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army. A municipal form of government was set up in 1802, and included a mayor, appointed by the President of the United States, and a city council elected by the people. This was modified by later enactments, by which the election of the mayor devolved upon the voters of the city. This system was continued, for municipal matters, until 1871. In that year a municipal government for the entire district of Columbia was set up, consisting . of a Governor, Boards’ of Public Works, Health, &c, a Legislative Assembly, a House of Delegates, and a delegate to the ‘House of Representatives of the United States. The House of Delegates and the delegate to the House of Representatives were elected- by. .the qualified., voters cif- the District of Columbia.”’ This form of ‘ government lasted ‘for three years, - when ‘ it was abolished, and its powers were vested in three Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States. .The new form of government was reviewed. in 1878, when a further Act constituted the permanent form of government by three commissioners. The ‘ Commissioners are, in a general way, vested with jurisdiction covering all the ordinary features p municipal government, although Congress is still vested with exclusive legislative authority for the District of Columbia. It will thus be noted that, after trying various forms of government, the United States has come back to the Commission as the most suitable form for its Federal Territory. In regard to the Commission form of government generally, it .may be stated that this has widely spread in the United States, and now there are nearly 500 cities which arc governed by Commissions instead of the ordinary, municipal council. Writers .on this.’ subject state that the’ commission form.” has effected great improvements, causing political partisanship to disappear and reducing the cost of government.
– Do they say also that it has increased the wealth of the Commissioners ?
-“ The labourer is worthy -of his- hire.” The Commission for Canberra would, subject to the Act, take over the general responsibilities of the Heme and Territories and the Works and Railways Departments in the Federal Territory, and it is’ proposed that the Minister referred to in the Act as being responsible to Parliament in regard to the Commission shall be the Minister for Home and Territories. As to the main function of the Act, the appointment, of three Commissioners is proposed, one of whom will be paid by salary, and will devote the whole of hia time to the duties of his position. The other two will be paid by fees for such time as is neces-sary for them, in consultation with the Chief Commissioner, to ‘ devote in giving advice on matters of policy and general technical questions. The Bill contains the usual clauses for establishing such a corporate body - appointment -by GovernorGeneral; eligibility for re-appointment ; exemption from Public Service’ Act; pro-* vision for vacation of office for misbehaviour, insolvency, etc. The - management of the Federal Territory and con- trol of construction, as outlined in the Bill, demand a special knowledge of such matters as architecture, engineering, general, construction, town planning, finance, land, and general administration, and in selecting the personnel of the proposed Commission the Government will endeavour to see that, as far as possible, these necessary elements are represented in the body to be appointed. The Bill provides that the salary of the proposed chairman shall not exceed £3,000 per annum for the whole of his time. It is considered that for a chairman of the required capacity and attainments the salary proposed is a fair remuneration when compared with the high emoluments which are now awarded to men of ability in the commercial world.The fees payable to other Commissioners will be as prescribed by regulations, hut will not exceed £2,000 per annum. At this point I should like to draw attention to (he kind of problems with which the Commission will have to “deal. These clearly indicate that more than one Commissioner will be necessary ; but I do not suggest that all the Commissioners would be employed for the whole of their time. The problem of construction, for instance, is quite different from that of the control of land. Similarly, the problem of finance - for this body will have very large financial powers - is quite different from that of the development, not only of the city area for business purposes, but also of the whole Territory. There is a very useful area surrounding the site of the city which is suitable for grazing, pastoral, or horticultural purposes. We need a main executive Commissioner, who will be the driving force, and the principal executive officer to carry out the functions of the Commission, and he in turn needs to have available to him advisers and fellowCommissioners who will have special knowledge on other subjects, and who can meet with him to formulate the policy to be carried out in respect to those other important functions. I now propose to refer to the general powers of the Commission. Although general approval of its expenditure must first be given by the Minister, very onerous responsibilities are placed’ on it in regard to management and control . These include -
The control and management of Crown lands and other lands vested in it by the GovernorGeneral.
The levy and collection of rates.
The borrowing of moneys (subject to direction of the Treasurer).
Construction and operation of tramways.
The construction, maintenance, andcontrol of public utilities.
The provision of gas, electric supply, water, and sewerage.
The maintenance of public health; and
The general activities involved in municipal government. ,
Under this Bill the Commission has power to make by-laws and prescribe certain penalties in regard to their enforcement. The Governor-General may vest in the Commission all land containing public utilities. The other Crown lands in the Territory will be managed by the Commission, although they will still remain Crown lands. The Commission takes over heavy liabilities in respect to past’ expenditure in the Territory, ‘and it has a wide scope for economic management of finances, so that the revenue produced shall be as high as possible, consistent with proper service and reasonable charges to the public. The Commission is made liable for -
It is provided that, subject to the approval of the Minister, the Commission shall undertake the construction of buildings and works required by the Commonwealth in the Territory, except works exempted by Order in Council. The Commission will pay for such works, which will he leased to the Commonwealth on a rental basis. This does not include, however, Parliament House and the residence of the Governor-General. Lands and improvements may be vested in the Commission for this purpose. Parliament- House arid the Governor-General’s residence will not be under the controlof the Commission. It is not considereddesirable that, the House in which theParliament sits and legislates, and the residencein which theGovernor-General lives - for he is inseparable from the Executive authority - should be under the control of any body except Parliament itself: Provision is also made for exempting, by Order in Council, any special works that the Government so desires. Other buildings occupied by Government. Departments and for public purposes will be owned and paid -for by the Commission, which will charge the Government reasonable rental for the occupation. It is proposed to dissociate the whole of the Commission’s operations from the ordinary loan and revenue funds of the Commonwealth, and provide it with independent funds, so that it may make the best use of the revenues and resources of the Territory. TheCommission is empowered to -
Levy and collect rates.
Charge rentals for land and improvements.
Charge for services and utilities.
Receive moneys for fines and breaches, &c., under by-laws.
Borrow moneys for its general -purposes’ (subject to the approval of the Minister and the Treasurer).
A fund, called the Seat of Government Fund, is proposed, into which all moneys at the disposal of the Commission will be paid, and from which it will meet all expenses. Pending the floating of loans, the Treasurer is empowered to lend money to the Commission, subject to early repayment with interest. This is essential to avoid lack of funds to carry on construction and administration pending action regarding loans, Otherwiseserious difficulties would arise. Tinder the Bill, the Commonwealth guarantees repayment of money borrowed by the Commission and interest due thereon. Any surplus in the Seat of Government Fund is to be applied to reduction of loans. For some time, owingto heavy demands for development and construction, there will probably be no surplus, and any deficits will go on as an accumulating charge with interest. I am quite sure that the time will come when the revenues of this city will not only enable it to pay its way, but also besufficient to extinguish its liabilities.
– Where, then, will the profits go?
– Into the Consolidated Revenue. Certain restrictions on the Commission’spowers are provided for in the Bill, andthese the Government con- siders advisableto ensure control by Par liament, and to act as acheck onexpenditure. It is believed that these restriction’s sufficiently maintain.the principle of responsible government. They are as follow : -
By Minister -
The Commission must submit annually its estimates of receipts and expenditure for approval, without which no expenditure may he incurred.
The Commission must report, quarterly, the expenditure and receipts, the general condition of works, and appointments and removals of officers.
With regard to borrowing, the Treasurer will determine amount and terms, and the Minister must approve of the purpose. ‘
All such reports, documents, and information as the Minister requires shall be furnished.
The Minister’s written consent will be necessary for the disposal of land in relation to public works, buildings, and utilities.
Approval will be required for the construction of works’ and buildings for the Commonwealth.
Control by the Executive will be in thefollowing directions : -
The Commission’s powers will be subject to any ordinance made under the Seat of Government Ant 1910.
Certain Commonwealth works may be exempted from the Commission’s control by Order in Council.
The Governor-General must approve of by-laws. The Governor-General may make regulations more accurately defining; the Commission’s powers, and imposing conditions and limitations on their exercise.
Control by Parliament will be in relation to the following : -
Conservation of approved city plan. (b) Works and buildings are to be subject to the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-21.
Accounts of receipts and expenditure are to be subject to the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913-20.
Disallowance of by-laws will be possible within 30 days after being laid before bothHouses. (e)Books and accounts of the Commission will be subject to inspection and audit by the Auditor-General.
The annual report of the Commission on its operations must be laid before both Houses.
It is proposedthat the appointment of officers of the Commission shall be subject to the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922. -This will ensure that the uniformity of policy regarding the employment of public servants,which the recent Board of Public Service Commissioners was set up to ensure, will be maintained by the new Commission. Some criticism hasbeen directed at the probable expense involved. in the appointment of a Commission. It is not anticipated that the appointment of the Commission will involve increased expenditure, but, on the other hand, it is expected to result in a saving. The Commission will have no occasion to build up a now Department, as might be feared.’ A good number of officers are already engaged, both in the Works and the Home and Territories Departments, at Canberra, and the change, therefore, applies only to control. The present staff is: - Permanent officers, 44; temporary, 53; involving an annual cost of £32,000. At the present time, the expenses of the Advisory Committee, of special officers of the Works and Home and Territories Departments who are required to devote time to Canberra, and the cost of .constant travelling of other officers .from Shelbourne to Canberra, easily exceeds the amount which will be paid to the new Commissioners. At the same time, it is expected that, by the abolition of overlapping of two Departments, and the close study which the Commission will be able to give on the spot, the present cost of administration will be. reduced. The Bill provides that the approved plan of the city prepared by Mr. W. B. Griffin shall continue to be the basis of construction. The Commission will have no authority to depart from ‘ it, and any proposed variations approved by the Minister must be brought before Parliament and may be disallowed. I think that the Bill should commend itself to honorable senators, as its object is to establish a properly constituted body to control and manage a large territory for the good government of which the Commonwealth is responsible, and which, moreover, is of great importance as being the site of the Federal Capital of Australia. Much criticism has been levelled at Canberra-, including references to the expenditure, as if il were money more or less thrown away ; but, in spite of this view, it is believed that the future development of the Territory will amply justify the action taken by the present Government in pushing on with its construction. The early constructional stages must inevitably represent a period of heavy expenditure, but once the city becomes established it is believed that, owing to the exceptional position of the Commonwealth, particularly in regard- to .its land policy, the receipts will overtake the expenditure, and the indebtedness - on the Territory and the Federal Capital city will be wiped out, ultimately leaving a magnificent asset to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The plan adopted for Canberra, and the principles under which its layout and construction are being undertaken, render it possible to produce’ a city of which Australians may justly be proud, embracing the best conceptions of convenience, utility, and beauty; The Bill aims at securing the best practical conditions for the construe^ tion and management of the city. The Government believes that the appointment of a Commission will be an important factor in .attaining this end; that it will result . in economy and efficiency) and will;, place- the- affairs of tlie Federal Capital on a basis independent of any. changes, in ‘ the political sphere, thus permitting that continuity of administration and construction which is essential to the successful fulfilment of the best ideals for Australia’s national capital. The most important feature, I think, is that the appointment of thiB Commission will make possible a continuity of policy”. We have had an instance of that in the Murray Waters Commission. Several Governments agreed to entrust’ to that Commission the construction of certain works. Governments have’ changed hi their nature from Labour to Liberal, and vice versa - with the exception of the Vie:torian Government - yet the policy of the Commission has continued without change,’ the result being economical administration. lt is obvious that, if the construction and management of the Federal Capital is to be varied with every change of Government or with changes in the views oof Ministers, wasteful and extravagant expenditure must be incurred. As Australia, through its Parliament, has definitely decided that, this shall be the Capital, and that it shall be made habitable as soon as possible, i.t is economically necessary that the policy under which that’ Capital is constructed and managed shall be continuousnd iindependent of party politics, and not varied by the fluctuating whims of Ministers or of Governments as they come and go. We believe that the appointment of this Commission will effect that purpose. Ionfidently rrecommend the Bill to the consideration of honorable senators.
– Will provision be made so that the heavy expenditure incurred in the erection of Government House and Parliament House shall not be debited against the Commission, in view of the fact that it will not receive any rental from those buildings?
– That matter will have to receive consideration. It would hardly be fair to debit, the Commission with the coat of those buildings when it is not intended to pay any rental for them.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Being a machinery Bill, it is essentially one for explanation in Committee. I anticipate that some criticism will be levelled at the Government for having to amend the Public Service Act when it has operated only since the 19th July, 1923. It must be remembered, however, that many new features were embodied in that Act. Certain procedure,which worked smoothly under previous Public Service Acts, has become almost unworkable because of the additional duties thrown upon thePublic Service Board by the Act of 1923. The work of the Board is of great magnitude, and its effective and speedy accomplishment can be secured only if we invest in the Commissioners a certain amount of freedom of action, but without in any way entrenching upon the principles of the Act. Last year a number of matters were inadvertently overlooked. Provision was not made for forming a quorum in the event of the absence of one of the Commissioners. At present the only manner in which a quorum can be formed in the absence of a Commissioner is by the Governor-General appointing a Deputy Commissioner. It is proposed to remedy that oversight. A very necessary provision was not made in the Act, to enable the Commission, in certain circumstances, to delegate some of its functions to Public Service inspectors. When one considers the vast area of Australia, and the fact that public servants axe stationed in every part - from Wyndham, in the north-west of Western Australia, to Hobart, in the south of Tasmania one realizes that it is obviously impossible for the Commission to function in every part, and, if a public officer at Wyndham is to be shown the same consideration as one in Melbourne or Hobart, the Public Service inspectors must have delegated to them certain of the powers now held solely by the Commission. That has been provided for in the Bill. Let me instance what has been happening for some months. The three members of the Board have had to sit as an appeal conference to deal with appeals against provisional promotions, arising in every State of the Commonwealth. This has taken up a lot of valuable time. It was thought that, under the principal Act and regulations, appeals should be heard by an appeal conference in each capital city, with the Public Service inspector representing the Public Service Board, the final determination on the matter resting with the Board. Those appeals do not relateto offences or dismissals, but are purely against provisional promotions. We want to free the Public Service Board from a mass of detail work, which can be better carried out by the inspectors in the various States. Very few officers can afford the heavy expense of travelling from, say, Brisbane to Melbourne to prosecute an appeal relating to classification. It would be far better, therefore, to amend the Act in such a way that they would be able to present their case in their own State before a representative of the Board. It is proposed to amend the Act in that direction. We endeavoured last year to deal with the question of excess officers, but we brought about a further difficulty, because, as the Act at present stands, an officer may not be “ excess “ in relation to the whole of his Department, although he is “excess” so far as his own particular class or grade is concerned. No power exists to deal with such a case by transferring the officer to a lower class work and salary, and the officer cannot be reduced or retired from the Service, because he is not in excess of the total requirements of the Department. It is proposed to amend the Act in its relation to appeals against classification. A new sub-section is to be substituted for sub-soction 3 of section 27’ of the principal Act. While it is proposed that appeals against classification shall ordinarily be beard by a conference in each capital city, with the local Public Service inspector representing the Board; caSes may arise where second division officers, such as Deputy Postmasters-General or Collectors of Customs, may lodge appeals. In such cases the Public Service Board would probably depute one of its own members to sit with the permanent head of the Department to bear the cases of these officers. The new clause 3a makes it definite that the permanent head, or his representative, shall furnish a separate and independent report to the Public Service Board on the appeal, proceedings. This is the present practice, but its legality is questionable, and the amendment will place the matter beyond doubt. New clause 3b is in the interests of appellant officers who may not be able to attend the appeal conference or appoint a representative or agent, but who, nevertheless, would like to have their appeals considered by the conference on written statements as to the facts. A postmaster, say, at Wyndham might be glad to avail himself of this concession in connexion with an appeal conference sitting at Perth, and that has been provided for. In sub-clause 3 c, the present provision with regard to classification is repeated in the Bill. The object of clause 8, dealing with the creation and abolition of offices, is to make it clear that section 29 of the principal Act, relating to alterations of staff, contains powers which are exercisable at any time, and not merely as an incident to classification. The purpose of clause 9 is to enable the provisions of section 50, dealing with the promotion of officers and, where necessary, of section 20, referring to “ excess “ officers, to be applied where the classification of an office is raised. If the Board is satisfied that the classification of an office should be raised, the office will bc considered vacant. The holder of the office will have the right to apply for appointment ‘ to the higher position, but if there is available another person better qualified than the bolder of the office, the former will be appointed, and the latter will be provided for elsewhere if practicable. Failing that, he will be required to retire as an “ excess “ officer. If the classification of the office is lowered the clause will make it possible to appoint the bolder of the office thereto, at the reduced salary, if. there is no position in his own classification available. In clause 10 there is provision to enable the Board to confirm or annul a probationary appointment which has been extended, without waiting for the expiration of the extended period. Probation is extended to permit of further medical reports, or for other cogent reasons. At present, action can only be taken at the expiration of the extended period. A new provision is inserted to meet cases where probationers have been suspended for offences and where it is desirable to stop salary from the date of ceasing duty. Prior to the 1922 Act, the prior State service of an officer who owed his appointment to the Commonwealth to his passing a Commonwealth competitive examination, did not count as service in the Commonwealth, for the reason that he did not owe his Commonwealth appointment to bis employment in the State service. The 1922 Act altered this, and enabled all prior State service to be counted. By clause 11 we propose to revert to the position prevailing prior to the 1922 Act, so that a successful examinee at a Commonwealth examination, who happens to have, or to have had, State service, will not, as regards service which is counted as Commonwealth service, be in a more favorable position than a successful examinee employed by a private individual. The succeeding clause provides for female officers retiring from the Service on marriage allowances, on exactly the same scale as that which was provided by regulations under the Public Service Act which was in force immediately before the 1922 Act commenced. This allowance is one which prevailed for many years, and when the 1922 Act was passed it was generally understood that the allowance would be continued by regulations made under that Act. Tlie Government, however, considers it desirable that the matter should be dealt with by the insertion of a substantive provision in the Act rather than by giving power to do so by regulation. This matter was dealt with by my colleague (Senator Crawford) in an answer to a question this morning. An important proposal is contained in clause 13, namely, the making of promotions and transfers by Departments themselves instead of by the Public Service Board. This provision was contained in the Bill which passed the Senate in 1921, but was amended in another place by the insertion of provision for the making of promotions by the Public Service Board. It is obvious, I think, that the head of a department must have an infinitely better knowledge, both of the working of his department and the capacity of the officers under him to do the work, than could be possessed by any Board dealing with the entire service. I may add that the decision of the Senate on that occasion was in consonance with the recommendation made by Mr. D. C. McLachlan, sitting as a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon the working of the Public Service Act. The proposed change will enable the Board to devote themselves to administrative matters and questions involving economies in departmental expenditure. Provision is made for an appeal to the Board by any officer who considers that he is more entitled to promotion than the officer provisionally promoted by the Department. The object of clause 15 is to validate the constitution of Appeal Boards held pending the holding under the new Act of the elections of divisional representatives. The officers who were divisional representatives under the old Act are to act under the new Act until the new representatives are appointed. Inasmuch, however, as the new First, Second, Third, and Fourth Divisions into which the Service is now divided do not exactly correspond with the old Administrative, Professional, Clerical, and General Divisions, it is necessary that the Board should have power to specify in each case for which of the new Divisions a particular’ representative shall act Clause 16, to which I next direct attention, gives the permanent head power to suspend an officer of the Second Division. Under the existing law, Second Division officers may only be suspended by the Minister. This amendment is desirable in order that permanent heads shall have full authority. First Division officers do not come within the Public Service Board’s jurisdiction as to classification and salary, but Second Division officers are classified by the Board, and come fully within its control. Clause 17 repeals the existing section 64 which made the salaries of officers subject to attachment orders by courts of competent jurisdiction, and provides in lieu for a system of administrative deduction from an officer’s salary in -order to meet judgment debts. The exist ing system is unsatisfactory from several points of view. In the first place under it the Commonwealth is always liable to pay certain law costs, whereas it is highly undesirable that in such cases the Commonwealth should be at any expense whatever. In the second place, expense is often caused to creditors, owing to their attempting to garnishee the Minister, or head of the Department, or Paying Officer, instead of the Commonwealth. The proposed clause provides an inexpensive system of attachment by administrative action, without the services of the Courts being invoked. Then we come to a clause dealing with the much vexed question of holidays. Clause 18 has four objects -
Section 91 prohibits officers from performing work outside the Commonwealth Service without permission of the Board, but permits officers to become members or shareholders of incorporated companies. The amendment set out in clause 20 proposes to allow them to exercise merelythe power of voting as members or shareholders. Clause 21 provides greater elasticity in connexion with the classification of the Second and Third Divisions of the Service. Section 97 la in its present form contemplates the subdivision of those Divisions into classes with specific rates of pay in each class. The Public Service Board advises that under that provision, the widely varying conditions of the Service could only be met by the use of an extensive nomenclature or the addition of numerous class designations which would be hampering in their effect. The Board therefore proposes that the classification should be based on scales of salaries, and not on classes indicative of those scales. Honorable senators, I am sure, realize from what I have said that this Bill is essentially one for Committee. However, if any honorable senator wishes to discuss it at the second-reading stage, I shall have no objection to the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
Immigration - New Guinea Administra- tion : Articles in the Sydney “ Labour Daily” - Building Leases at Canberra.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This morning I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question with regard to the entry into Australia of what I regard asa motley crew of foreigners, and the answers given indicated that the responsible authorities are not watching the best interests of Australia. I am given to understand that quite recently 38 Greeks arrived in Australia under conditions of service which no white man, or, at all events, no Britisher would accept. It is well known that certain sections of the provision trade have been entirely captured by Greeks. Slowly, but surely, the whole of that trade is drifting into the hands of foreigners in all the principal cities of Australia. We have in America an example of what is likely to happen in Australia. The answers given this morning were not, in my opinion, satisfactory, and I take this opportunity of mentioning the’ subject again, in the hope that whoever may be responsible will see that this class of immigrant is submitted to a proper test. I guarantee that not two of the 42 Jugo-Slovakians, the 30 Maltese, the 38 Greeks, or the 20 Syrians who have arrived in Australia recently can speak the English language. The Government should prevent, or, at all events, regulate the entry of these people into Australia. I regret that the Prime Minister, at the request of the Maltese Government but without the authority of this Parliament, has. arranged for the admission of a greater number of Maltese. Perhaps he has good reason for his action, but so far there has been no explanation. I am strongly opposed to the introduction of these foreigners into Australia in their present numbers. The press recently reported the arrival of a large number of these people. I hope that some action will be taken to regulate their admission into this country.
– I invite the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister to a series of articles that have been appearing inThe Labour Daily, Sydney, with regard to the position of affairs in the Territory of New Guinea. Article after article has appeared in the paper mentioned, and, apparently, the statements are fairly well substantiated.
– Apparently, I repeat, the statements are fairly well substantiated.
-Brocksm an. - It is curious that such articles always appear at about this time of the year, just before the League of Nations Commission meets.
– The League of Nations Commission does not meet frequently.
– It meets once a year, and just about the time of meeting these articles, which are a sort of propaganda, appear in the Australian press.
– I understand that the North Baining case mentioned in articles that appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, were not inquired into by Mr. Canning. He had a roving commission over the Territory of New Guinea, but did not make inquiries into the specific case referred to in that newspaper.
– Did he not examine Mr. Atcheson of the Baining District?
– He may have. The present administration of that Territory should be ended at the earliest possible moment and civilians appointed to carry out that work. The whole of the administration is utterly distasteful to the white residents of the Territory. There is a strong and vigorous demand for some form of local government which has been denied to them, but not denied to any portion of the Commonwealth - not even the Northern Territory.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that there is any feeling against the officials there because they are military men?
– I do suggest that there is a strong desire there for the appointment of persons who are not military men.
– You mean that there is no room for returned soldiers.
– I do not say that. I question whether there is any room for returned soldiers, so far as the Government are concerned, when high appointments are being made. I have no objection at all to the appointment of returned soldiers, but at the same time there is a very strong objection–
– On whose part?
– On the part of the white residents.
– Of what nationality?
– British nationality. There are no other people there. Ninetynine per cent, of the white residents are Australian born, accustomed in their own country to some form of local government.
– Did the honorable senator obtain this idea from 1 per cent, of the people?
– I obtained, not later than yesterday, some of my ideas from Mr. Carter, secretary of the branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, at Kaevieng. He strongly resents the absence of any form of local government, except direct control from Mel-‘ bourne. I submit that the articles appearing almost daily in the official organ of the Australian Labour party in Sydney are having a damaging effect on the administration by the Commonwealth of the Mandated Territories. No time should be lost in taking effective steps to either verify or disprove the statements in that journal. To my mind there is a fair amount of truth in them, and they should be probed to the bottom by some authority commissioned to go thoroughly into this question.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. We have been informed that it is intended on the 1st October of this year to make available to private individuals certain leases of building sites at Canberra.” I want to know whether the Government will carry out their in tention, as expressed in the Government Gazette, No. 37, to advertise these leases for sale at least a fortnight before they are made available.
– The honorable sena.tor means the leases in the city? ;
– I refer to the leases within the city area. If these leases are not advertised for a longer period /.-‘the general public will not be fully aware of what is being done. I suggest that the Government should, as soon as possible, broadcast in Australia lithographs showing what leases are to be offered for sale. If the Ordinances and regulations which have from time to time been approved by Parliament, are still to operate, it will not be fair to the Commission which it is proposed to appoint. No private land-owner will subdivide his estate for closer settlement without giving the sale the utmost publicity. Unless the sale of the leases at Canberra is widely advertised for much longer than a fortnight before the auction takes place, Canberra will not produce the revenue which the Commonwealth is justly entitled to receive from it.
.- I should not have risen if Senator Grant had confined his remarks to directing attention to the articles that have appeared in the Labour Daily and other papers concerning the affairs of the Mandated Territory, but when he makes an assertion .that the feeling in the Territory among the Australian residents i3 one of hostility towards the administration, it is my duty to inform the House that there is no justification for such a statement. There may be a difference of opinion among the residents concerning the wisdom of certain acts of administration, but this is common even to the administration of the Commonwealth. There is always room for differences of opinion. My experience when visiting the Mandated Territory was that the residents were not hostile totlie administration. The honorable senator must remember that it has only beon in power for a very short period. .The problems there are very difficult; beyond even his conception. Making allowances for all its short-comings, the administration has done splendid work. Senator Grant suggested that the articles under discussion contained a “fair measure “ of truth. If that is so, then it is possible that the whole of the articles are a fabrication, obscuring what little truth there is in the affair.
– What I meant to say was that the truth was wrapped up in the articles in a large number of unnecessary words which could be eliminated to expose the bare truth.
– I speak from experience. I had as many opportunities as had the honorable senator to meet residents in the Territory. I might not have met the same class of people as he met. But I claim that those I met were quite as intelligent as, and, I should say, more reliable, than, the persons who may have influenced the honorable senator in his outlook on the Territory.
– Why attack the honorable senator?
– I am not attacking him;
– Every one of those to whom I spoke were either Australianborn or Britishers. As a matter of fact, there are very few others in the Territory.
– I agree with the honorable senator that when statements are made concerning the administration or the affairs of the Mandated Territory, the fullest investigation should be made. An investigation was made recently by Mr. Canning. Senator Grant suggested that certain individuals did not have the opportunity to give evidence. I have not heard of anything yet to satisfy me that any obstacle was placed in the way of any one who wished to give evidence before Mr. Canning.
– I said that specific complaints referred to Mr. Canning were not investigated.
– The articles in question, have nothing to do with Mr. Canning.
– Senator Grant referred to the Baining District. I know of one officer there who gave evidence that amounted to practically nothing. Every opportunity was given him to substantiate statements derogatory to the administration, but nothing of the kind was forthcoming.
matter would arise to-day, but having had these articles closely checked in the Department, and knowing Senator Grant’s facility for dipping into such unsavoury matters, I brought with me this morning a statement of the position. Luckily, therefore, not for this party or that party, but for Australia, the fathering of these infamous charges against the good name of the Commonwealth will not go out to the world without rebuttal’ and the exposure of the men who are being made the hired tools of somebody outside Australia with the object of defaming her before the Mandates Commission. The deliberate aim of the instigators of this attack on the Administration of New Guinea is clearly to create the impression that crime and lawlessness are rife throughout the Territory, that the arch offenders are the officers of the Administration, that the Administration is cognizant of crimes committed by its officers, and countenances them by refusing to punish or otherwise take official notice of them, and that Australia is recreant to the trust reposed in her and should be deprived of the Mandate. This conclusion is not merely an inference drawn from the newspaper articles themselves. It is based upon the definite declarations with which these articles are interspersed. The following are extracts from the articles in the Labour Daily that were fathered by the honorable senator-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the statement made by Senator Pearce is a wilful and deliberate misrepresentation of fact.
– The honorable senator is entirely out of order in charging the Minister with wilful and deliberate misrepresentation. He has a right to rise to a point of order, but he must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw. My object in rising was to draw the attention of the Minister to these articles, so that they might be sifted.
– The honorable senator introduced them, and said that they were true.
– I did not say that they were true. I said that apparently there was some truth in them.
– The honorable senator rose to a point of order, but is making a speech. . I ask him to resume his seat, as there is no point of order.
– The following are typical instances of statements in the Labour Daily: -
rin,e of the worst, kind is committed in a free and easy fashion by persons who overrun the Territory within a halo of privileged officialdom.- *(Labour Daily, 22nd May, 1924.)
Legalised slavery is the vogue in the Territory. (Labour Daily, 24th May, 1024.) ‘ . . it was impossible, owing to deliberate -departmental obstruction, to sheet home charges of a grave nature against officials in the Mandated Territory. - (Labour Daily, 27th May, 1924.)
Flogging, arson, and seduction arc the common incidents of the official life of the Territory, and few of the white men who loathe the scenes they have, daily to witness have the pluck to expose one of the most revolting sores that has ever disgraced a British Government. - (Labour Daily, 28th May, 1024.) “A story for League Mandate Commission”. (Headline, Labour Daily, 27th May, 1924.)
I say that these attacks have been deliberately made for that purpose -
These charges, and the facts supporting them, will next he forwarded to the League of Nations’ Mandate Commission for,, investigation. (Labour Daily, 27th May, 1924.)
Labour must make it a duty to shift the “brass-hat” rule in Rabaul, and either give up the mandate, or have it administered m a manner worthy of the Australian nation mid of the white race. - (Labour Daily, 2nd June, 1924.)
I presume honorable senators recognize which nation would have the best -claim to the mandate if it were surrendered by the Commonwealth. It is quite obvious that the propagandists are not in earnest in their demand for a Royal Commission. This is evidenced not only by their proposal to approach the Permanent Mandates Commission, but also by their contemptuous reference to the nature of the Royal Commission that might be appointed. The Labour Daily, in its issue of the 2nd June, states - “….. the best he (i.e., the Prime
Minister) will do is appoint a Royal Commission of the sort which was set up to investigate the sinking of the Rabaul Administration coffin ship, the Sumatra. The only thing that Royal Commission did was to whitewash thu Rabaul Administration.”
In one breath they ask for a Royal Commission, and, in the next, seek to discredit such procedure in advance by declaring that only a “ whitewashing “ Commission would be appointed by the present Government. This is the spirit, in which they may be expected to meet any form of inquiry into the allegations. In considering the allegations against the Administration, the character and record of the men from whom they emanated must also be taken into account. “When the first of the articles containing the allegations by Begley appeared, a summary was communicated to the Administrator .V New Guinea by radiogram. An interim reply has been received from the Administrator containing, inter alia, the following particulars respecting the termination of Begley’s services - “ Cilento (i.e., Dr. Cilento. Acting Director of Public Health, New Guinea), recommended discontinuance services on ground of doubtful mental condition and extraordinary actions Sepik River. Begley engaged crusading (against) fellow-officers. Many cases already proved unfounded. Strongly indicated religious mania combined with dipsomania…..
On receipt rambling report District Officer instructed investigation, and discovered Begley, Freeman, Wilkin concerned drunken fracas during which Begley wildly discharged rifle causing terror natives. All three removed Rabaul where result of enquiry ‘ Freeman, Wilkin dismissed; Begley in view Cilento’s report permitted resign.” c(L
Begley, in the course of the articles referred to, alleged that, in consequence of his protests against the ill-treatment of native prisoners, he was ambushed by a gang of police boys, brutally beaten and kicked, and placed in irons. In regard to this statement the Administrator’s reply reads -
Ambush not previously reported, but incident known where Wilkin states -ho handcuffed Begley on account of drunkenness, and feared not responsible, and considered possible he might dp himself or others injury. Native police did hot render assistance this occasion.
The foregoing quotations not only indicate the attitude of the Administration towards irregularities which come under notice, but also make it quite clear that Begley is not the type of man whose statements should be accepted without corroboration. Corroborative statements have been attributed to a Mr. Murray, who is described as a medical assistant, a Captain John Thompson, Mr. Baxter Bruce,- a solicitor of Rabaul, and Mr. Victor Moorhouse, a stenographer in the employ of the Administration. Of Murray, the Administrator advises as follows: - -»t.
Murray’s military appointment .terminated 13th August, 1921. Joined Expropriation Board as medical orderly. Service unsatisfactory and services dispensed with. Applied position Administration March, 1922, not approved …. Charged Central Court with attempted suicide 22nd May, 1922, found not guilty on ground of unsound mind at timeof attempt. Ordered to be detained during His Majesty’s pleasure. Released, and farepaid Sydney 10th July, 1922.
Captain John Thompson is unknown to the Administrator, but ho is believed to have been at one time a police master, and to have become a member of the CampbellBrowne expedition in May, 1921. In the absence of definite particulars, the Administrator is unable to trace records of the incidents referred to by Thompson, and Thompson himself admits that one of the incidents happened in 1918, six years ago. The indications are that neither Murray nor Thompson has been in the Territory during the last two years. Mr. Baxter Bruce, a solicitor in Rabaul, according to the Labour Daily itself, in its issue of the 2nd June, “ denies emphatically that he ever made or wrote the statement attributed to him.” Mr. Moorhouse is at present in Melbourne. On the 6th June he called at the Home and Territories Department, and, of his own volition, made the following statement: -
In reply to the propaganda published in a section of the Sydney press re alleged illtreatment of natives and suppression of information regarding same, I can certify as Court reporter that such statements are grossly exaggerated. I have been in the service of the New Guinea Administration for four years, and during this period have personallyreported all important inquiries in Rabaul.I expect to return to Rabaul by the Melusia, leaving Sydney on 11th June, and will personally answer any charges againstme. My telegram to Mr. Begley was purely personal, and he had no right to publish same.
He had been previously informed that it was immaterial to the Department whether he made a statement or not, and he was cautioned that any statement he might make might be used in Parliament, in the press, or in any other way the Department deemed fit. He admitted that he had sent to Begley the telegram published in the Labour Daily, on the 30th May, but explained that he had not intended it for publication. He admitted, further, that he had been prepared to make statements to that newspaper, if it had been made worth his while from a monetary point of view. And he made that admission in the presence of witnesses.
SenatorNeedham. - He is now quoted by the Minister in support of the Government’s case.
– The honorable senator should wait. I have a good deal more to say. Moorhouse said that Begley’s statements were distorted and exaggerated, and he wished to dissociate himself from them. The information he would have been prepared to make available was in the nature of shorthand reports of inquiries by the Administration into cases of ill-treatment of natives. Notwithstanding this it is alleged that inquiries are not made by the Administration. Desperate attempts have been made throughout the articles to strain even the most innocent statements into the semblance of support for the allegations made. As evidence that the natives are afraid of the officials a letter from the Rev. Father Kirschbaum is quoted in which, he asks Begley to come to the mission station to attend a child with a burnt hand, and adds that” They are a bit scared to bring that child there for the first time.” This is given by the Labour Daily as illustrating the terrors which the white administration has for the natives. Clearly, however, this is a reference to the well-known shyness of natives in the matter of medical treatment, and Father Kirschbaum, who is at present en route to Eitape, has volunteered the following statement to the Administrator, which is contained in a radiogram dated the 9th June: -
Denies authorizing Begley or paper refer him confirmation and continues that statements Labour Daily gross exaggeration,not applicable now and only in isolated instances, and in slightest degree to former Administrations. Impossible police ambush Begley without him (i.e., Kirschbaum) hearing of it, and suggests Begley exaggerating incident where Wilkin handcuffed Begley while Begley drunk (to) prevent him doing himself and others harm.
Cannot believe photograph native woman true picture, and denies possibility incident happening his district without his knowledge.
A photograph was published showing scars which were alleged to have been caused by flogging. The message continues -
Recognizes names twelve boys include mission boys, and recollects incidents several boys punished about year ago, but does not believe any cruelty happened, as not reported him. Cannot say who punished natives or what authority, if any. Generally speaking system of indentured labour only results good effect. He proceeds to say, “ I contend that good effects of system of recruiting and indentured labour cannot be too highly’ spoken of. It tends for betterment of natives generally, and its good effects reach parts of territory hitherto unknown.”
Steps have already been taken to fully investigate such of the allegations as are sufficiently specific to permit of inquiry being made. So far, the allegations of a general character have not been substantiated. It must be recog- nised that in a service such as that of New Guinea it is inevitable that isolated occurrences of irregular conduct must arise. When, however, such occurrences come under the notice of the Administration they are promptly inquired into, and punishment is inflicted upon the offenders. On the 31st May the Labour Daily published what purported to be a statement by a native to the effect that towards the end of last year a village named Burra Burra had been burned by order of the police master, and that the bodies of three natives who had died as the result of ill-treatment by police boys had been thrown into one of the houses and wore burned with the houses. This grave charge has been investigated by the Administrator, who, in a radiogram, dated the 9th June, reports in regard thereto as follows: -
Village Burra Burra burned by natives as reprisal, and on own initiative, for onslaught previously made by neighbouring villagers, in which four or five natives killed. Patrol Officer Wilkin in vicinity at time making attempt straighten out previous attack. Not concerned in any way with burning. Father Kirschbaum states this village never been visited before by European, and natives not under control.
There can be little doubt that the motive inspiring the allegations is a desire to prejudice the reputation of Australia in the eyes of the League of Nations. The eagerness of the Labour Daily and Begley to injure the good name of Australia is revealed in telegrams sent by Begley to Moorhouse. These telegrams were produced by Moorhouse to the Home and Territories Department with an intimation that they could be copied and used in any way that might be thought desirable. The telegrams are illuminating, and read as follow: -
Brighton Beach, Melbourne.
Expenses travelling guaranteed. Come at once.Gave lecture last night, great public interest. Your co-operation greatly appreciated by Daily Labour. If you can reach here early, newspaper would arrange for large meeting in Domain, where your address should bo heard by Sydney’s thousands. Forward at my expense two hundred words for publication. Am wiring travelling expenses. Trades Hall and unions have nowtaken matter in hand also.
when are you leaving;Returned from country, awaiting your arrival. Advise cost of travelling expenses.
Campaign in full swing hero. See. . you later.
No chance of meetings here at present or until further developments take place. You can help wonderfully by sending original documents or certified copies to me by registered post. I will guarantee theircare.
Begley”, Labour Daily.
If original documents are in the possession of Moorhouse, they have been stolen Mr. Moorhouse made a further visit to the Home and Territories Department on Wednesday, the 11th June, when he informed Mr. Carrodus, officer in charge of the New Guinea Branch, and Mr. Halligan, the officer second in charge of that Branch, that he had received an offer from the Labour Daily newspaper of a six months’ engagement at the rate of £8 8s. per week, in return for which he would be required to supply information in corroboration of Begley’s allegations. He sought the advice of these officers as to whether he should accept the offer, or whether he should return to Rabaul to answer a charge which was laid against himunder the New Guinea Public Service Ordinance some time ago, prior to the publication of Begley’s allegations.Both officers declined to tender him any advice. Quite apart from any consideration of Mr. Begley’s unreliability and the lack of corroboration of his statements, it cannot be admitted that any justification exists for the appointment ofaRoyal Commission. Allegations of forced labour and ill-treatment of native’s were the subject of a very careful and searching investigation by Mr. A. S. Canning last year. Although he visited Rabaul and all tlie principal outports, including Eitape, and the object of his mission was widely notified throughout the Territory, invitations being extended to persons to come forward and give evidence, it is a remarkable fact that Mi’. Begley did not avail himself of the opportunity thus presented of bringing under notice the matters of which he now complains. Mr. Canning examined a very large number of witnesses drawn from all classes of the community and from all parts of the Territory. His findings were a complete rebuttal of the allegations. Since Mr. Canning’s inquiry was concluded the Government have sent to New Guinea to report upon the Administration, Colonel John Ainsworth, late Chief ‘Native Commissioner of Kenya Colony, who is recognised as one of the highest authorities on the administration of native affairs. The authority conferred upon Colonel Ainsworth was of the widest possible character, as will be seen from the following extract from the instructions issued to him by the Minister for Home and Territories ou the 7th February, 1924:–
You arc hereby authorized to visit such places in New Guinea, to make such inquiries of officers of the New Guinea Administration, ami to have such access to the official records of the Territory us may be necessary to enable you to effectively carry out tho duty entrusted to you. It is desired that you should inquire into all phases of the administrative arrangements ‘ of tho Territory, and that you should pay particular attention to those .which affect or bear upon the interests of the natives.
Colonel Ainsworth has been engaged for some months in making the inquiries entrusted to him, and is now en route to Australia, where he will complete the writing up of his report. The inquiries made by Mr. Canning and by Colonel Ainsworth both cover the field to which Mr. Begley’s allegations relate. The appointment of a Royal Commission would mean the constitution of a third body of inquiry within a period of about twelve months. It would be quite unreasonable to take such a course until Colonel Ainsworth’s report has been received and it has been ascertained what further inquiries, if any, are, in his opinion, necessary or desirable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240613_senate_9_106/>.