9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Boucaut Bay and Elcho Island Companies : Press Statements
– Has the Leader of the Senate any statement to make respecting the allegations that are contained in a report which appears in to-day’s Melbourne Age regarding the relief ship Huddersfield?
– I take it that the honorable senator refers to a telegram from Sydney that appears in to-day’s Age? .
– Then I ask leave to make a statement.
– In this telegraphic message from Sydney, which appears in to-day’s Age, certain questions are put to the Prime Minister. The first is -
Is it a fact that the Boucaut Bay Petroleum Co. Ltd., 440 Collins-street, Melbourne, which is registered as owner of the Huddersfield, is, and has been for some months, an interlocking company with the Elcho Island Naphtha Petroleum Co. Ltd., each having large holdings of shares in the other, each holding shares in the Junction Mazut Oil Co.? Do these three companies share the same address and the same officials wholly or partially?
I am not prepared to answer that offhand, because, obviously, it does not come within the purview of the Home and Territories Department. But inquiries are being made to ascertain the facts. The next question is -
Was it upon the tender of the Boucaut Bay Co. that the Huddersfield was chosen to receive a Government subsidy for the Northern Territory service? Upon what date were tenders called, and upon what date were they accepted? Was the offer of the Huddersfield accepted at £5,000 per annum, and was the subsidy proposed, then, or at any time, varied in amount? If any increased subsidy was granted, how much of the annual mileage which tenderers were asked to guarantee had been covered? How much mileage had been covered when the vessel left on the Douglas Mawson expedition ?
The reply to that, compiled from the departmental files, is as follows: - Tenders for the coastal shipping service of the Northern Territory were called for by public advertisement on the 12th December, 1923, the closing date being fixed for the 7th January, 1924. The acceptance of the tender of the Boucaut Bay Company Limited, to carry out the service with two vessels, for a subsidy at the rate of £6,000 per annum, was approved by Cabinet on the 14th March, 1924. There was no variation of or increase in the rate of subsidy. The company had submitted two alternative tenders, one for the employment of one vessel for a subsidy of £5,000 per annum, and the other for the employment of two vessels for a subsidy of £6,000 per annum. It was the latter tender that was accepted. The Huddersfield had undergone a satisfactory speed trial, under the supervision of the Commonwealth Navigation Service, prior to the acceptance of the tender. The tender was accepted conditionally upon a clean certificate being issued by the Commonwealth Navigation Service and upon certain improvements in the vessel’s accommodation being effected. These conditions were duly complied with. At the date on which the Huddersfield sailed from Darwin with the relief expedition, that vessel had not carried out any voyages under the coastal shipping service agreement, but a number of voyages had been made by the contractor’s second vessel and another vessel chartered by the contractors. Particulars of the mileage covered on those voyages are being obtained from the Administrator. It is understood that the Elcho Island Naphtha Petroleum Company, which comprises about60,000 shareholders, holds 250 shares in the Boucaut Bay Company Limited, but that these shares were not allotted until after the latter company had secured the coastal shipping service contract. I now come to a matter that is very much more serious; not because a direct statement is made, but because the obvious inference intended to be conveyed is of a grave character. The paragraph asks -
Is it a fact that the following allotments of shares were registered at the RegistrarGeneral’s Office in Melbourne within the past twelve months in the Elcho Island Naphtha Petroleum Co., 440 Little Collins-street, Melbourne : - Between 15th October and 13th November, 1923, Percy Whyte Pearce, Miller Point, Alphington, clerk, 10 shares; Elizabeth Maud Pearce, Park-street, South Yarra, domestic duties, 50 shares; Walter L. Smallhorn, Coppin-street, East Malvern, civil servant, 249 shares.
During February, 1924 : - Percy Whyte Pearce, Crisp-street, Hampton, clerk, 10 shares.
Between 29th April and 30th June, 1924 :- Percy Whyte Pearce, Crisp-street, Hampton, 10 shares;’ Boucaut Bay Petroleum Co., 2,500 shares.
In the Boucaut Bay Petroleum Co. - Between 29th April and ,30th June, 1924, Elcho Island Naphtha and Petroleum Co. Ltd., 500 shares.
The Daily Telegraph also states that it has ascertained that Captain Walter L. Smallhorn, clerk in charge of the Northern Territory Affairs Department, resides in Coppin-street, East Malvern. The Melbourne telephone directory gives the address of Senator Pearce as Park-street, South Yarra. The addresses of the Elcho and Boucaut companies are 440 little Collins-street.
I say that the inference intended to be drawn is that the shares held in the name of “ Pearc© “ are held by me or by somebody acting for me, or by relatives of mine. I wish to inform the Senate that Percy Whyte Pearce is absolutely unknown to me. He is not connected with me or with my wife in any way, and he is unknown to both of us; but I have already set afoot investigations to discover who he is, and whether he is in any way connected with a Commonwealth department. The name “Elizabeth Maud Pearce” should . be “ Eliza Maud Pearce.” That is the name of my wife, who has 50 shares, paid up to 10s., in the Elcho Island Oil Company, called in the newspaper article the Elcho Island Naphtha Petroleum Company. Those shares were purchased in December, 1923 . Inquiries are being made by the department to ascertain when Mr. Smallhorn purchased the shares that are registered in his name, and under what conditions and for what consideration they were purchased. I am not yet able to make a statement regarding those shares. But in regard to the shares held by my wife, I want to say that they were purchased by her before either she or I had any knowledge of even a proposal to form the Boucaut Bay Company, or of any possible connexion between that company and the Elcho Island Oil Company. It appears from the newspaper report that these two companies during or after their formation agreed to an exchange of shares. According to the information in the pos- session of the department, the Elcho Island Oil Company comprises 60,000 shareholders, and it holds 250 shares in the Boucaut Bay Company. According to the newspaper article the Boucaut Bay Company holds 2,500 shares in the Elcho Island Oil Company. But those shares were not allotted until after the Boucaut Bay Company had obtained the shipping contract. Of course, the inference intended to be conveyed in this article is that these shares were not obtained in the ordinary way, by purchase, but that they were a gift to enable that company to obtain the shipping contract. If that is the inference intended to be conveyed in regard to the shares held by my wife, I stigmatize it as a lie and a slander. I wish that the Standing Orders would permit me to use even stronger terms. If this newspaper had had the courage to put the matter in such a way as to say plainly what it evidently wishes the public to infer, I should have had a remedy which would enable me in any court of law in this country to prove my bona fides. I should then have put this newspaper in the position of having to defend in a court of law the inference behind which it has sheltered itself in this cowardly way. The matter of the shares held by Mr. Smallhorn does not come within my knowledge, but I met the secretary of the. department this morning, and drew his attention to the statement, with the result that inquiries are now being made. I may say, however, that Mr. Smallhorn is in charge of a branch of the Home and Territories Department which deals with Northern Territory administrative matters, whereas the relations of the department with the Elcho Island Oil Company are dealt with, not by that branch, but by the Lands Branch , with which Mr. Smallhorn has no connexion whatever. The licence to this Oil Company was issued through another officer, Mr. Hicks, who is the senior officer in charge of the Lands Branch. It is also only fair to Mr. Smallhorn to say that the recommendations made to me in regard to the shipping contract were made by the secretary to the department, Mr. McLaren, and these recommendations were made only after trial and survey, and examination of the ship by the officers of the navigation staff, who satisfied Mr. McLaren and myself that they had given a certificate which would enable us to recommend the contract to the Government.
– (By leave.) - I move -
That the select committee appointed to inquire into the case of Mr. J. T. Dunk have leave to sit with a quorum of three.
The committee, which met to-day, wishes to take certain evidence in Sydney, but it is doubtful whether the whole of the members can undertake the trip. If a quorum is not able to go, it is desired that three members may take the evidence, thus saving the trouble of bringing a few witnesses from Sydney to Melbourne.
– I shall not oppose the motion; but I agree to it on the distinct understanding that the quorum of three will apply only to the Sydney meeting, and that at any meetings held in Melbourne the ordinary quorum will be required. I also expect that in the drafting of the report the usual rule will obtain.
– My only purpose in submitting the motion is to obtain the evidence in Sydney, and this evidence will be put before the committee before it considers its report. The motion is submitted with the full consent of the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That the time for bringing up the report of the select committee be extended to Thursday, 18th September.
– On the 5th instant, Senator Lynch asked the following question : -
When may it be expected that the linemen’s quarters atFitzroy, Kimberley, Western Australia, will be completed?
I have now ascertained that it is anticipated the work will be completed early this month.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the honorable senator will be further advised as early as possible.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice- -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Homeand Territories, upon notice -
When will the lithographs of the Canberra building sites proposed to be leased at the first sale be available?
– Plans of the building sites to be sold at Canberra have been prepared, and will be printed as soon as the framing of the conditions of sale. which are at present under consideration, has been brought to finality. The plans will be available in ample time for the guidance of intending buyers.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senators Givens, Guthrie, and Ogden on account of urgent business.
Bill read a third time.
Senator Grant, as chairman, brought up the report of the select committee appointed to inquire into and report upon the case of First Lieutenant W. W. Paine, together with minutes of proceedings and minutes of evidence.
That the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3.
In committee (Recommittal) : Clause 3 -
Section 11 of the principal Act is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following sub-sections: - “ (4.) Inquiries conducted by the Board relating to -
any proposal for improving the condition of any primary or secondary industry ; or shall be held inpublic. “ (7.) The Board shall have all evidence taken in connexion with inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act taken on oath, andfiled with the documents relating to the case.”
.- I move-
That paragraph c, proposed new sub-section 4, be left out.
In the committee stage, when through a misapprehension I withdrew this amendment, I partly indicated that I considered the power given by paragraph c absolutely unnecessary. I have now to add that I consider the paragraph irrelevant to the bill. If it were a measure to constitute a commission to inquire into matters of industry and commerce generally, such a paragraph might rightly find a place in it, but it is quite irrelevant to a bill which is merely for the creation of a Tariff Board, and for the definition of the powers to be conferred on that board, having always in mind the fact that the powers conferred are to be exercised only in connexion with tariff matters. During the first part of this session this board had to approach Parliament to allow its numbers to be increased so that it would be in a better position to deal with all the work placed upon its shoulders. That being the case, if we place still further work on its shoulders, what is it to do? The paragraph should not find a place in the bill, nor should inquiries of the sort alluded to be within the scope of a Tariff Board. It is altogether distinct from its functions, and if the Government wish to obtain information on these more or less general subjects which have nothing to do with the tariff, they should appoint some other authority. I have yet to learn that the gentlemen comprising the board, well acquainted as they are with tariff matters, have any special qualifications for the duties sought to be conferred upon them under this paragraph. For these reasons, which are brief but cogent, I have moved that paragraph c be left out.
– I am glad this clause, which is the most important in the bill, has been recommitted. The views expressed by Senator Kingsmill are not sufficiently liberal tomeet with my approval. I intend to ask the committee to consider a further amendment which is of a very comprehensive character, and which will include the proposal submitted by Senator Kingsmill. I propose to move that the clause shall read -
Inquiries conducted by the board shall be held in public, and the evidence at such inquiries shall be taken in public on oath.
– In what portion of the clause does the honorable senator propose to insert those words ?
– I have moved an amendment which is now before the committee.
– The amendment before the committee is that paragraph c of proposed new sub-section 4 be left out.
– That is the only portion of the clause before the committee.
– If that is so my amendment is in order, and I shall be able to say all I desire at this stage. On a recent occasion, when this matter engaged the attention of the Senate, evidence was submitted by various organizations to show that the proposal contained in this clause enables the board to hold its meetings in private, and to quietly, effectually, and permanently ruin the businesses of certain citizens. No attempt whatever was made by honorable senators opposite to disprove the arguments which were then advanced. I intimated that the paper-box manufacturers, those engaged in the printingtrade, the members of the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce, and the members of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, had a strong objection to the present method of conducting inquiries. Doubtless the people of the Commonwealth are pledged tohigh duties for a considerable period, and the supporters of a protectionist policy favour such a procedure. merely to make certain that the bulk of taxation shall be raised from duties on imported goods.
– Why not speak to the amendment before the committee ?
– I am doing so, and am endeavouring to convince honorable senators of the necessity for all’ inquiries conducted by the board being held in public. Only recently I stated that at least four manufacturers in New South Wales were compelled to discontinue the particular businesses in which they were engaged owing to the action of the board. Just imagine a board having the impertinence to allow certain goods to enter the Commonwealth free of duty for only one day. Proper notice of such action should have been given to the public to enable every one who so desired the opportunity to import free of duty the goods they required. Whether the duties imposed be high or low, they should be fixed by Parliament, so that the interests of every one may be safeguarded. If that were done, every one would know the penalty to be paid by those who. dare to import from countries in which low wages are paid. Why should prospective or present manufacturers have the right to confer in secret with the board and suggest the imposition of higher duties? Under the tariff it is distinctly provided that importers of motor cars shall pay import duties ranging from £50 to £70 on each car, which means that the price to the purchaser is increased to that extent. Those who purchase motor cars realize what they are doing, and objectionable as the duty is, it is not nearly so objectionable as is this system under which one is suddenly confronted with the fact that higher duties have been imposed as the result of recommendations made by the board. The same position arises whether the goods dealt with are motor cars or pianos. I am informed that a certain religious denomination intends to import a very large bell, costing probably £3,000.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the amendment, which seeks to delete paragraph c of the proposed new sub-section 4.
– The entire bill is utterly objectionable to me. The Tariff Board may be an inseparable part of our fiscal system, but I know of no other pro tectionist country where it is considered necessary to have a board of its description. I shall support the amendment, which will probably improve the measure, though only to a slight extent.
– If anything in the bill should be retained it is the paragraph under discussion. I understand that, when I was speaking yesterday, some disappointment was felt by several honorable senators opposite because in my references to the earlier speeches of certain honorable gentlemen concerning this measure, I singled out ex-Senator Pratten, now Minister for Trade and Customs, Senator Wilson, and the Government Whip in this chamber, . Senator Drake-Brockman. I entirely overlooked opinions expressed previously by Senator Crawford, now an Honorary Minister in this Government. I also ignored Senator Foll, and failed to take note of what Senator Reid had said. I propose now to make good that omission. Appropriately enough their remarks on a former occasion had to deal with this identical section of the act, and although Senator Crawford did not employ language quite so strong as that used by Senator Grant yesterday, his views, nevertheless, were emphatically expressed. It appears that the board went to Queensland to inquire into the sugar industry.
– The board did not go to Queensland.
– I accept the honorable senator’s correction, but the board did conduct an investigation into the condition of the Queensland sugar industry, and the honorable senators whose names I have mentioned had something very pertinent to say about that inquiry. This is what Senator Foll said -
The sugar industry is the first primary in dustry concerning which the board has been asked to give advice, and it has stabbed it in the back in the most treacherous way possible.
That is almost as strong as the language used by Senator Grant yesterday -
I say that deliberately …. The mem bers of the board have shown themselves to be merely the tools of the manufacturers. . . The great primary industry which calls for protection is denied it by the southern board of manufacturers’ representatives.
I am sorry that Senator Foll is not in his place this afternoon to hear this, because he might be able to explain why he is now supporting the bill. I agree with
Senator Wilson that something has happened to convert quite a number of honorable gentlemen opposite in connexion with this measure. During Senator Foil’s speech, the then Minister (Senator Earle) in an interjection said -
They, meaning the board, have been consistent protectionists, so far as primary and secondary industries are concerned.
Replying to this interjection, Senator Foll said -
Do you think it was a mistake for them to pick out the most unfavorable part of the reports of the royal commission?
Then Senator Crawford intervened with -
Unconscious southern bias.
There we have opinions fairly stated. I wish to make it quite clear that in anything I have said on this bill, I have not been attacking members of the board, but the principle. I come now to Senator Crawford. I find he said this -
Nothing could be more misleading than this statement of the position by the Tariff Board.
Such condemnation carries much weight, because Senator Crawford has a reputation for choosing his words carefully. Therefore, when he declared that nothing could be more misleading than the statement of the position by the Tariff Board, all who listened to him were disposed to believe him. Again, I quote Senator Crawford -
I shall look with extreme doubt upon any reports which the Tariff Board may in future submit regarding other industries.
In view of this definite statement from an honorable gentleman who is now an Honorary Minister of the Government, is it wise that the board should be permitted to make reports regarding other industries? Senator Crawford went on to say-
I had great hopes of the Tariff Board when the legislation constituting it was passed, but my hopes have certainly not been realized.
I am sorry for Senator Crawford. Personally I did not share his hopes concerning the operations of the board. I believed that its influence would be sought by business people who wished to have another dip into the pockets of the people, and experience has shown that I was right. 1 am not saying, of course, that the individual members of the board have done wrong. I refer to the general principle, and our experience of protection. Ex-Senator Earle, as I have shown, declared that all members of the board were good protectionists. In my opinion members of a Tariff Board ought not to hold strong political views. Senator Crawford went on to say -
A few days after the application was forwarded to it by the Minister, although it was informed that further evidence would be tendered if it was required, the board left for Western Australia. It will be found that the report is dated, Perth, 30th September, but investigations in connexion with this matter were not made where the sugar industry is carried on, but in Melbourne, or during the journey from Melbourne to Perth.
Senator Earle said ;
I am satisfied the board came to its conclusions honestly.
Senator Crawford replied ;
The report bristles with mistakes.
That is very severe condemnation. Later, Senator Crawford said -
I intend to make some reference to statements in the report of the Tariff Board, which, to me, is a most surprising document. When the proposed duty of l?d. per pound was referred to the board, I thought it would make an exhaustive inquiry before reporting to Parliament; but, so far as one can gather from this document, the only investigation the board has made has been to read the report of the two Royal Commissions one of which inquired into the industry in1911-12, and the other in 1919. The only quotations made from those two reports are portions that tell against the industry -
– Specially picked out.
– But the board has recommended an increased duty.
– Nothing like the increased duty necessary;but half a loaf is better than no bread, and we must accept it.
I think I have read sufficient of what Senator Crawford said. I do not know whether I can call him unbiased in regard to sugar. He is always very sweet on any proposal to place a big duty on foreign sugar. As the burden is spread over so many people, it does not press very heavily upon any individual. But it certainly presses very heavily upon the whole community. Senator Reid, in the same debate, had this to say -
I believed in the appointment of such a board because I thought it would make direct investigation into an industry concerning which it was asked to give advice. But the Tariff Board, instead of making personal investigations into the sugar industry, has submitted recommendations based upon old reports of Commissions that inquired into the industry. Parliament did not intend that the Tariff Board should frame its recommendations upon second-hand information.
– 3e.Tr, Hear!
– I am glad that the honorable senator cheers those sentiments.
– Because I still hold them.
– Are not Senators Crawford, Foll, and Reid bound to explain what has happened since they expressed those views?
– I have not altered my views.
– To me the speech which the honorable sena.tor delivered yesterday differed greatly from that which he delivered in 1922, and there is now also a difference in his attitude towards the board. I do not think that Senator Kingsmill will do what he wants to do by striking out paragraph c. If the board is to conduct inquiries, no legislative barriers should be placed in its way. It might happen that the information required could be obtained in the very place which this amendment would prevent the board from visiting. Although, on general principles, I am prepared, as Leader of the Opposition, to do anything to harass, to annoy, and to upset the Government, I am not prepared to mar further a bill that is already bad. This bill is bad, because it embodies the principle that interference in the management of business is to be allowed. Under that principle an industry may find that its arrangements for the conduct of its business are upset by a decision which it has never anticipated. Let me imagine a private business making arrangements for the supply of a certain quality of any given material - cardboard boxes, for example. It bases its estimates upon the existing tariff. Then some person who is disappointed at not having been given the tender makes the charge that the material used by its successful rival is being dumped into. Australia.
– The striking out of these words will not prevent that.
– If the honorable senator will allow me, I shall show that it will. The Tariff Board will come along, and will want to inquire into the private business of both the objectors and the persons who have the contract. The striking out of these words will prevent the board from making those inquiries.
Simple as the amendment may seem, it is, perhaps, an all-important one. Although, the bill is bad, the Government can count upon my support in preventing its improvement in this small particular. Let the bill be the bill of the Government; let it stand with all its defects. The worse it is, the sooner will it be removed. Let the board have as wide a scope as it is possible to give it to do its work thoroughly and well.
– I ask Senator Kingsmill not to press his amendment. On the Tariff Board there are gentlemen who, because of their experience, can give valuable advice upon important matters. The wording of paragraph c is -
Any proposal for improving the condition of any primary or secondary industry.
I remind the honorable senator that the board has conducted a number of inquiries, including a very careful and exhaustive inquiry into the meat industry. The hops industry also has been investigated.
– In connexion with the tariff?
– Not in connexion with the tariff. This is a special board, which is accustomed to making inquiries and sifting evidence.
– There are civil servants who can make those inquiries.
– It is hardly their work.
– It is not the work of the Tariff Board.
– I can see no objection to using the board for the purpose of inquiring into these matters. It inquired into the doradilla grape-growing industry. I admit that that was within the scope of the tariff. It also very carefully investigated the question of forming wheat pools - including, I think,, a pool in Western Australia. Is there any objection to this provision remaining in the bill ?
– I cannot see that any harm will be done by leaving it there.
– Does the Minister mean that the board has been doing work which this provision will authorize it to do ?
– Very largely that is so. It is a body that has been set up by Parliament, and it would be a mistake to curtail its activities when it can be used in an advisory capacity.
– It cuts me to the heart to refuse a request that is made in such a delightful way, and with that engaging smile that illumines the features of the honorable senator. But I cannot now, any more than I could when I moved the amendment, see that these duties pertain to the board. I do not intend to withdraw the amendment, because I consider that the paragraph is irrelevant to the bill, and it means the engagement of these gentlemen - who, we are informed, are so busy that they scarcely have time to turn round - upon work that does not rightly belong to them, and has no connexion with the tariff. I draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that there is a whole army of civil servants available to do this work at any time without extra remuneration.
– Is there not also a Board of Trade?
– I believe that there is. It appears to me that the gist of the Minister’s defence of the paragraph is this - “ We have been committing mistakes for a considerable time. Therefore, it has become a habit, and we ask you not to do anything that will prejudice the habit.” I do not think he has put forward reasons which would justify my withdrawal of the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Kings- mill’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That sub-section 7 be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new subsection : - “ 7. Evidence taken by the board in connexion with any inquiries under the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act 1921-22, shall be on oath, and shall be reduced to writing and filed with the documents relating to the inquiry.”
Senator Wilson. - Yes.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended .
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I do not desire to delay the passage of the bill, but I should like a clearcut expression of opinion from the Senate as to whether or not the board should be allowed to hold its meetings in secret. I therefore move as an amendment -
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3.
My object is to so amend sub-section 4 that it will read: - “ Inquiries conducted by the board shall be held in public, and evidence of such inquiries shall be taken in public on oath.”
SenatorFindley. - I do not oppose the amendment, but I am under the impression that a similar amendment was submitted in committee last evening.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Sena tor Newland). - The Senate has no cognizance of what has taken place in committee except in so far as the proceedings of the committee have been reported to it. Senator Grant is in order in moving as an amendment that the clause be recommitted.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 10th September (vide page 4100), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The methods by which the affairs of the Commonwealth Territories are administered make one wonder whether one is still living in the dark ages. During my recent visit to the tropics I had no opportunity of making myself familiar with any considerable portion of those Territories, and, therefore, my personal knowledge of them is necessarily limited. It is somewhat interesting to take a glance at what has happened in recent years. It will be remembered that when, in 1883, the Queensland Government took the far-reaching step of annexing the whole of the southern coast of New Guinea from the 141st meridian right to East Cape, for some reason which has never been explained to me, but which was probably due to the secret diplomacy then so prevalent in Europe, the British Government disallowed the annexation. Fortunately, however, wiser counsels prevailed in 1884, during which year, Great Britain decided to establish a protectorate over the southern coast of
New Guinea from the 141st to the 151st meridian. True to British traditions, having proclaimed itself a protector of the natives, Great Britain a few years later proclaimed the Territory as a British possession. I invite attention to what the British Government did at that time. It did not do what the Australian Government has done in connexion with the Mandated Territories. It gave the white residents of Papua a semblance of local government by appointing a lieutenantgovernor, an executive council, and a legislative council, and, furthermore, that most necessary and appropriate adjunct, a Native Regulation Board. I suppose that Great Britain was influenced to do this by its experience in America. When the people of England attempted to enforce upon the American colonists certain laws which were distasteful to them, the colonists were strong enough, numerous enough, and determined enough to declare that they would tolerate no interference in their government. The insane attitude taken up by Great Britain at that time lost to the Empire, presumably for all time, the whole of the country which now forms the United States of America. The form of Government granted by Great Britain to British New Guinea would not appeal to the average Australian, who insists, very properly, upon full adult suffrage, and although it may not be wise at the present time to confer full adult suffrage upon the aborigines of New Guinea, I hope that at the earliest possible moment the white people of Papua will have the same voice in their government as is permitted to the people of the various states of the Commonwealth.
– How many white people are there in Papua?
– I presume that the population is now in the neighbourhood of 2,000. According to the last figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician there were 1,264 white people in Papua on the 4th April, 1921, and on the day on which the census was taken the steamer Mataram was in Papuan waters with 79 passengers and crew. The point I make is that the moment the British Government proclaimed British New Guinea as a British possession, it gave the country some form of local government, a step which we have not yet taken in connexion with our Mandated Territory in late German New Guinea. Under the Papua Act of 1905, the Commonwealth accorded to the residents of Papua some form of local government, and now this amending bill proposes, very properly, to give those people additional representation. They reside in a country considerably larger than the State of Victoria. Men who have visited Papua assure us that it is immensely fertile. We are occasionally informed that oil has been discovered there. We know that there are excellent timber resources in the Territory, and that some of its rivers are possibly as large as all the Australian rivers put together. For instance, the Fly River, which has not yet been fully explored, is a considerable stream. LieutenantGovernor Murray is probably one of the best men who could be secured to fill the position he holds. I do not think we have heard any complaints about his administration. I am pleased to see that the principles advocated by Henry George, to which I occasionally make reference in this chamber, are in operation in Papua. No land can be alienated in fee simple. The rental of the leases is assessed on the unimproved capital value, and is subject to re-assessment at fixed periods. It reads like a paragraph or two out of Progress and Poverty. Unfortunately, the ideas that prevail in the Commonwealth in regard to Customs duties and taxation are also in operation in Papua, but I am hopeful that with an extension of the franchise even they may undergo some modification’. According to the last figures, which are two years old, the. amount of Customs and excise duties paid in Papua is £53,196, while the land revenue amounts to £6,682. The land revenue is thus approximately one-ninth of the total Customs and excise revenue, whereas in Australia the “owners” are treated more leniently, for we collect only. £2,000,000 from them as against £36,000,000 collected from Customs and excise duties. I am pleased that the Government proposes to increase the strength of the Executive Council in Papua, and afford increased, representation to the white residents there, but I am at a complete loss to understand why it persistently refuses to extend the- same concession to other Australians who are situated just across the mountains of Papua. That, however, is another ques. tion on which I may have something to say at another time. Meanwhile I welcome the additional representation proposed to be given to the white residents of Papua. The proposal does not go far enough. If the white residents of our Territory were given full adult suffrage they would merely secure the same rights and privileges that are accorded to the white people of the Commonwealth, and when the bill reaches the committee stage I shall ask honorable senators to widen the franchise applying in Papua. The time has completely vanished when any intelligent community should continue to limit representation in this way. Every white man and woman in Papua should have the opportunity afforded to every mau and woman in Australia. The residents of the Territory are undoubtedly of that most enterprising and virile type of people who are prepared to go into the wilds and do the actual pioneering work, and yet we are npt willing to extend to them a form- of government we ourselves enjoy. It is strange that those who have only been quite recently enfranchised should be most reluctant to extend the franchise to others. What is there about the Papuan white residents that we should be afraid to entrust them with the right to govern themselves? They are of exactly the same type that is to be found in the various states, and although all sorts of disasters were predicted when the franchise in Australia was widened to adult suffrage, nothing serious happened. Even in Great Britain there are tens of thousands of people who have no voice in the government of the country. In Australia, where some consider the franchise to be on a fairly liberal basis, there are persons who are justifiably prepared to advocate that all males and females attaining the age of eighteen years should be allowed to exercise the franchise. If we are willing to accept young men of eighteen years to carry arms in defence of our country we should allow them to have a voice in its government. I do not intend to oppose the bill, although the proposal of the Government in this instance is quite inadequate, but I shall endeavour in committee to move certain amendments, which, if agreed to, will considerably liberalize the franchise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Glauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
– When such an important bill as this is under consideration I think we should have a . quorum. [Quorum formed.]
Clauses 3 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Section twenty-nine of the principal act is amended by omitting sub-sections (2.) and (3.) thereof and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections : - “ (2.) The Legislative Council shall consist of-
the official members of the Executive Council ; and
five non-official members who shall be nominated by the LieutenantGovernor and appointed by the Go vernor-General. “ (3.) One of the non-official members of the Legislative Council shall be nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor as representing the interests of the Christian missions in the Territory.”
Section proposed to be amended - (1.) There shall be a Legislative Council for the Territory. (2,) The Legislative Council shall consist of theLieutenant-Governor and of the members of the Executive Council, together with such non-official members as the GovernorGeneral appoints under the seal of the Commonwealth, or as the Lieutenant-Governor, in pursuance of instructions from the GovernorGeneral, appoints under the public seal of the Territory. (3.) So long as the white resident population is less than two thousand the number of nonofficial members shall be three; but when the white resident population is two thousand or more an additional non-official member shall be appointed for each one thousand of such population in excess of one thousand.
Provided that the total number of non-official members shall not exceed twelve.
– Although it is proposed to make a slight alteration in the constitution of the council, the amending provision is not sufficiently comprehensive. In the opinion of some people the various Legislative Councils throughout the Commonwealth are excrescences, established and continued mainly with the object of opposing up-to-date legislation. Queensland is the only state which has mustered sufficient courage to abolish what is generally considered a useless branch of the legislature. Although the business in that state is all conducted in the one chamber, everything appears to be proceeding satisfactorily.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– From the records.
– The honorable senator does not know much about it.
– We cannot expect Senator Thompson to support any action taken by the Theodore Government, but the people of Queensland, who have returned Labour governments for eight years, should be the best judges. I believe that when the electors in other states have an opportunity they will also advocate the abolition of the second chamber. In the commercial world persons are not employed to review the work performed by others, and if municipal and shire councils had also a body of review, the present system of local government would be unworkable. It is not intended even in Papua to have two councils.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion concerning the Senate?
– The abolition of the Senate is a plank in the Labour party’s platform, but I have never said that I would like the Senate to be abolished, at least while I am one of its members. As the white residents of Papua are intelligent, determined, virile, and worthy citizens they should have the right to elect the Legislative Council. Following very slowly upon the action taken by the British Government years ago, Parliament is now being asked to slightly alter the system of electing the local Assembly.
– How many white residents are there in Papua?
– According to the latest figures available there are 1,100, of whom 130 are Government officials.
– As we have the utmost confidence in the white residents in Papua we should allow them to elect their own Council. What right have we to foist other than their own representatives upon them, to make regula- . tions on their behalf. I move -
That paragraphs b and c be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ and fifteen members elected by the local white adult residents.”
If my amendment is carried I shall then move to insert the words, “ and fifteen members elected on adult suffrage by the local white residents.”
– The committee will agree with me that the time has not yet arrived when we can introduce such a system in the Territory, with a small white population scattered over an area which, as the honorable senator stated, is practically as large as Victoria. There are only 1,100 white residents. If the suggestion were adopted we should have to establish a complete electoral system, and appoint returning officers and other electoral officials. On page 652 of the CommonwealthYearBook of 1923, the white population of Papua in 1922 is shown as 1,104, made up as follows: - Government official employees, 132; commercial pursuits, 150; shipping, 124; tropical agriculture, 266; missionary work, 144; and mining, 159. Apart from the Government officials there are five groups of persons following different avocations, and it will be seen that there are five non-official members who represent the groups I have enumerated. We especially provide that the missions shall have one representative. The Lieutenant-Governor takes care that the persons appointed are thoroughly representative of the various sections of the people, and so far there has been no complaint about his choice. The time has not yet arrived for the establishment of an elective system for 1,100 people, scattered as they are over that vast territory and living in isolated places. It would be ridiculous to require the administration to set up an electoral system, with all the necessary machinery, but the time will come, and we hope speedily, when, as a result of development in Papua, we shall have an elective body to govern the people there. British history shows that the line of development is first a Crown colony with a Governor, then a nominated legislative council, then the inclusion of a certain number of elected representatives, and, finally, when there is a compact community, a full electoral system. The fact that we are nob providing this electoral machinery for Papua now does not suggest that we believe the people there to be less intelligent than people on the mainland. Up to the present there has been no demand for it. The people in Papua realize that it is not yet practicable. The same remark applies to the mandated territories. We hope shortly to bring forward a proposal for local selfgovernment. Colonel Ainsworth’s report indicates what should be the first step. His recommendation will receive the earnest consideration of the Government, but obviously we cannot establish a com plete electoral system in a primitive community. I ask the committee to accept the proposal in the bill as the first step.
– Can the Minister explain why there is to be a special representative of the Christian missions?
– The business people and others have suggested it. The appointment will be made by the missions collectively. I am happy to be able to say thatPapua is one of the few places of the world where the missionaries of all denominations work amicably together.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.]
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Grant’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
– I cannot help that.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 5th September (vide page 4015), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is one of the most important measures that has come before the Senate. Without pretence, it is designed to relieve the Amalgamated Wireless Company of obligations entered into by it with the Commonwealth Government. Some years ago a company was formed, with a capital of £1,000,000 in 1,000,000 shares, of which the Commonwealth Government took 500,001 shares, so as to have a. majority on the share register. Seven directors were appointed, three by the Commonwealth, three by the company, with a chairman to be elected by the other six directors or appointed by arbitration. Although the Amalgamated Wireless Company was apparently an Australian concern,, it was really linked up with the Marconi Company. Need I remind honorable senators of the suspicious circumstances surrounding wireless negotiations in. recent years, not only in Australia, but also in GreatBritain? In the Mother Country the reputations of a number of men were impugned, and what happened in Australia showed clearly enough that the influence of the wireless combine was powerful and far-reaching. Many years ago the Commonwealth Government had presented to it a wireless patent system which was operated for some time under the direction of Father Shaw. Shortly afterwards the Telefunken Company brought an action against the Commonwealth for an infringement of its patent rights. Then the Marconi Company became linked up in the action, and finally the latter was left to continue the fight. When the case came before the High Court, that tribunal declared that, as it was a highly technical dispute, independent evidence of a technical character was necessary to enable it to decide whether the Commonwealth system was an infringement of the Telefunken or Marconi patents. In my judgment all these “companies are in reality the Marconi Company operating in different countries. The Marconi Company, as I have said, took action for an infringement by the Commonwealth Government of its patent rights. That action came before the High Court of Australia, which - decided that it must have information from an authoritative and competent source. The gentleman selected - Mr. George Swinburne - was, perhaps, one of the highest authorities in Great Britain. He came to Australia. He inspected the Commonwealth system of wireless. He could not wait for the trial, but he left sworn declarations stating that the Commonwealth system was not an infringement of the Marconi system, but was a 33 per cent, better system. Had those sworn affidavits been placed before the High Court the case would have been at an end, and the Marconi Company would have had to pay the whole of the expenses, including those incurred in bringing Mr. Swinburne from England to Australia. But what happened? On the 5th September, 1914, the Government led by Sir Joseph Cook was defeated at the polls, and on the 17th September, 1914, the Government led by Mr. Andrew Fisher took office. In the interval between the 5th September and the 17th September, the retiring Government, through its Attorney-General (Mr. Glynn), entered into an agreement with the Marconi Company, agreeing to pay to that company £5,000 for certain patent rights, each party to defray its own costs in the action. The Minister has access to the files, and he can correct me if I am wrong in saying that that agreement was finalized after the defeat of the Government, and whilst it was in possession of tha sworn affidavits of the expert who was sent from Great Britain. I can imagine the excuse being put forward that we received certain concessions from the company in that they handed over to us their patent rights. To that I say that the Commonwealth Government paid to the Marconi Company £5,000, and bore its share of the expenses - which the company would have had to bear if the case had been carried to a conclusion in the High Court - in return for patent rights that expired within six weeks. That is one of my earlier recollections of the Marconi Company in its dealings with Australia. No term was fixed by the agreement that was entered into by the Government led by Mr. Hughes. In 1921, Mr. Hughes brought before Parliament an agreement which he wanted Parliament to pass towards the end of the session. The proposal was fought, and eventually the agreement was referred to a parliamentary committee, of which the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was a member, and upon which there were members of the National party, the Country party, and the Labour party. The committee rejected the agreement and submitted a fresh one, which was signed in March, 1922. By clause 5 of the agreement the company was obliged -
It had also to take over many other things belonging to the Commonwealth. Although two and a half years have elapsed since the signing of that agreement, the company has done nothing in the way of carrying out the covenants to which it agreed. I want honorable senators to realize that if they pass this bill they will put that agreement out of existence. The Commonwealth Government, on the other hand, has paid to the company under the agreement £112,000. I should like the Minister to tell honorable senators what the Commonwealth has received in return for that sum. I assert that the company has not done anything that it covenanted to do. It has taken over all our wireless systems, and the whole of the money that we agreed to pay under the agreement. Under clause 7 of the agreement, the Commonwealth has paid to the company £139,959, while the amounts that have been paid to the Commonwealth by the company total £51,000. The Government, therefore, is £88,000 out of pocket at the present time. The company has failed to observe its part of the contract, as the schedule to the bill will show. It reads -
And whereas at the time of the making of the principal agreement the parties thereto believed that the British Government would be ready and willing to grant licences for the erection and operation of a trunk station and other stations in the United Kingdom for communication with Australia, and whereas the British Government refuses to grant licences for the erection and operation of commercial wireless stations in the United Kingdom with a view to communication with Australia, and the Marconi Company is by reason thereof unable to obtain the necessary licence to erect or operate the said trunk station in the United Kingdom for that purpose, and whereas the Commonwealth is desirous that the company should (notwithstanding the fact that the Marconi Company is prevented at the present time from providing a main trunk station in the United Kingdom) proceed with the erection of the main trunk station in Australia, and has requested the company to endeavour to arrange with the Marconi Company to proceed with the erection of such station and the company has agreed to do so provided the company is relieved from certain obligations under the principal agreement, now in consideration of the premises it is hereby agreed as follows : -
That bears out my statement that the company desires to be relieved from its obligations under the previous agreement.
– What would be the use of erecting a high-power station in Australia if there were not a reciprocal station overseas?
– It would not be of much use. The Government ought to have considered that aspect of the matter before it paid away £139,959. I want from the Minister a very definite statement, setting out why such a huge sum of money was paid to this company when there were such good reasons, as he has advanced, for withholding payment, as the contract could not be carried out? Why has the company been permitted to call up the capital to the extent I have mentioned, and yet do nothing to perform its part of the contract? The representatives in Australia of Amalgamated Wireless Limited assured us that it was the easiest thing in the world to secure a licence to erect high-powerstations in Great Britain.
Amalgamated Wireless Limited entered into an agreement with the Marconi Company for the erection of these stations, and received from that company the necessary guarantees. Successive British Governments, however, have opposed the efforts of the Marconi Company to secure the control of wireless in Great Britain. The company failed to secure a licence to erect stations in Great’ Britain. That fact alone should make the Senate pause before it releases the company from its obligations. To my mind the matter is so important that the Minister should withdraw the bill. He should immediately stand up and say that, in view of the conditions that obtain in Australia today, we should await further information before we pass a bill that will relieve this company from its obligations under an agreement into which it entered two years ago.
– The British Post Office was the stumbing block; it would not permit the Marconi Company to carry out the agreement.
– I am very glad that it has been and is a stumbling block. Wireless is so important that it should be kept out of the control of private companies, even though a dominion as great as Australia is a shareholder in one of those companies. I do not think that I need argue the matter at very great length. The Imperial Wireless Telegraphy Committee, which was appointed in Great Britain this year, recommended that the state, through the post office, should own all wireless stations in Great Britain for communication with the overseas dominions, colonies, -protectorates, and territories. Senator Crawford just now asked, “ What is the use of having a high-power station in Australia if the company cannot obtain permission to erect a high-power station in Great Britain ?” I take it that the British Government itself will erect the stations in’ Great Britain. The main point is that because the British Government has not granted the concessions that the company maintained it could obtain, it wishes to be relieved from the obligations that were imposed by an agreement into which it entered.
– There is not, in Great Britain, a high-power station corresponding to that which it was proposed to erect here.
– I do not think the honorable senator will assert that the British Government is not going to erect high-power stations.
– Both high-power and beam stations.
– I know that there has been a good deal of press talk about the extraordinary possibilities of the beam system, but there is really nothing in it. Any one who has gone deeply into the matter will realize that it is akin to the propaganda that is indulged in when companies are being floated; there is nothing deep behind it. I do not think that honorable senators will regard, as facts, the statements that appear in newspapers and magazines in reference to the beam system. The great success of that system exists only in the imaginations of the gentlemen who write the articles in newspapers and magazines. I understand that the beam system is chiefly effective during thehours of darkness.
– During darkness and one hour before and after.
– When it is dark in Australia it is for the most part light in Great Britain, and therefore I see very little prospect of the system operating for any useful period.
– It is guaranteed to operate for 7 hours in ‘every 24.
– I am notspeaking as an expert, but having given the matter some attention, I think that it would be a mistake to place too much reliance on a system that has not- yet been proved to be a success. Further than that, the most ardent supporters of the beam system admit that it will operate only within the hours of darkness. Accepting the assurance of the Minister that the system is effective for one hour before and after darkness, how can there possibly be communication for seven hours a day between Great Britain and Australia, since when it is dark in Australia it is daylight on the other side of the world ? There seems to be no limit to scientific achievement in the matter of wireless communication, but all that we know at the present time is that the beam system has very little to recommend it. Certainly there is not sufficient in it to justify us in entering into a further agreement with this company, which, in its desire to be relieved of its responsibilities under the first agreement, now seeks to dazzle our eyes with the supposed wonders of the beam system. I regard the Marconi Company as an exploiting concern, whose whole history, if laid bare, would damn it in the eyes of any Parliament. It is a history of corruption and log-rolling. It has used Parliaments for its own ends, and because of that I am most reluctant to have anything to do with it. I shall, therefore oppose the bill, since it would relieve the company of the obligations it accepted two- and a half years ago under the first agreement. The one thing of which we are sure is that the company has drawn to the fullest possible extent on the money that the Commonwealth Government was required to advance. It has left the Government £88,000 on the wrong side of the ledger, and in return for that sum it Kas done nothing that it undertook to do. The company should be regarded with suspicion. Its history justifies us in treating it as a company that cannot be given credit for honest dealings. I cannot forget the previous attitude of the company towards the Commonwealth when it endeavoured to prevent the establishment of an Australian system, which Mr. Swinburne, the expert from England, declared to be 30 pea- cent, better than the Marconi system. The company’s whole attitude should make those who desire to protect the interests of this country refuse to enter into any agreement with it. The patent which Australia received for £5,000 expired after six weeks, and all the other patents had then expired, or were expiring, when sold to the Government. The proposed new agreement is most objectionable, since it will place the load of responsibility on the Australian taxpayer, and put the profits into the hands of this foreign company.
– I am opposed generally to the agreement. I intend to draw the attention’ of the Senate to a number of facts with which it should be acquainted. The beam system of wireless telegraphy, which it is proposed to adopt, is put forward as something quite novel. Let me say that I have before me a patent specification that was taken out by the Marconi Company in 1917, when a patent was refused. This specification states: -
This invention relates to an improvement in wireless telegraphy and telephony, and is based on rellection phenomena. By means of it the waves can be directed and confined to a predetermined direction, and reception can also be limited to waves proceeding from one direction. The advantages are as follows: - (1) Greater range of transmission; (2) Greater freedom from interference between stations working in the vicinity of each other; (3) The possibility of accurately determining the direction in which a transmitting station lies; (4) A lessening of all disturbances caused by the natural electrical perturbations of the atmosphere.
I have quoted the principal part of the specification. Application was made on the 2nd May, 1919, in Australia, by the Marconi Company, for “ improvements in reflectors for use in wireless telegraphy and telephony.” The description furnished by the company contains the following paragraph: -
The invention relates to improvements in reflectors used with transmitters and receivers in wireless telegraphy and telephony. The use of a reflector for directing the energy of a wireless transmitter in any desired direction has been many . times suggested. The advantages to be expected from thus directing the energy in the desired direction (such as illcrease of range, avoidance of interference of all kinds, and comparative secrecy) are so great that it is rather surprising that since the early work of Hertz and Marconi, no practical results have been obtained by the use of reflectors.
I would point out that the English patent was refused on the ground of want of novelty. Sir Oliver Lodge, in 1910, I think, had been conducting a great . many experiments in relation to parabolic reflectors for the purpose of transmitting low amplitude waves. I understand that they were working from below 10 metres. Under the present system it is proposed to use waves of 100 metres. The position is that the beam system is not new, but was known prior to the appointment by this Parliament of a committee to go into the subject of the wireless agreement that was submitted to Parliament in 1921. It is remarkable that there was no mention made of this invention at that time.
Members of the Parliamentary Committee will remember that, during its investigations, the matter of the elimination of statics received very serious consideration, and caused a good deal of doubt in their minds. The Marconi people boldly declared, “This can all be obviated. The easiest way is to introduce the Levy filtering device.” It was said that this would eliminate statics, and do away with fading, so that we could easily secure the transmission that was desired. The committee, at that time, had the good fortune to have before it Mr. Snoaden, who had just, come from London. He took the wind out of the. Marconi Company’s sails by saying that the Levy device had been offered to the Radio Communication Company, which had refused it because, on being tested, it proved quite inefficient. Naturally the Marconi Company denied that the device was of no value; but when the agreement was signed, this device passed into the limbo of forgotten things.
When the committee began to look into the first agreement, it found several points> to which it took serious objection. ‘ My friend, Senator Drake-Brockman, pointed out, in particular, that, under (he agreement originally proposed, the Amalgamated Wireless Company was to take over the whole of the shore stations belonging to the Commonwealth for nothing. This only needed enunciation to enable every member of the committee to realize that the company was taking advantage of the Commonwealth. After due deliberation a sub-committee was appointed, consisting of Senator DrakeBrockman, Mr. Brennan, and myself. Senator Drake-Brockman drafted a clause which became clause 6 of the agreement, as recommended by the Parliamentary Committee. This clause states -
The sites, buildings, masts, plant and other assets of the stations, to be taken over by the company in accordance with paragraph (h) of clause 5 of this agreement, shall he taken over at a valuation to be made by a committee including two representatives of the company and two representatives of the Commonwealth, with an independent chairman, to bc agreed upon by the other four representatives or a majority of them, and in default of agreement to be determined by arbitration- in the manner provided by clause 20’ of this agreement; the basis of valuation shall bc the value of the assets for the purpose of supplying the new service to bo undertaken by the company in pursuance of this agreement. The amount of the valuation shall be credited to the Commonwealth in part payment for the 500,001 shares to he allotted to the Commonwealth, and shall be deducted from Che last payments of capital to be made by the Commonwealth.
That committee has not functioned. The Government, so I am given to under- stand, has time after time appointed its representatives, but the other side say, “ We are not in a position to carry on.” They have never carried on. There has not been a valuation of these assets, which are worth between £150,000’ and £200,000. Three years have passed, and practically nothing has been done to the shore stations erected by the Commonwealth from 1912 to 1914, in which year the last was erected.
– That means that the representatives of the Government on the board of directors have not been carrying out their job.
– That is very obvious.
– The Commonwealth Government has a majority on the board of. directors-
– I do not think that at the present moment the Commonwealth Government has a majority on that board. I understand that as the board is now constituted there are on it three representatives of Amalgamated Wireless, an independent member in the person of Mr. Hughes, and two Government representatives.
– There are three Government representatives.
– Where are they? Are there three Government representatives on the board at the present moment?
– No. One of the three has died.
– A member of a board who is in Heaven cannot exercise his vote. Senator DrakeBrockman is quite correct in saying that the Government representatives on the directorate have not been properly functioning. The position is becoming almost a scandal. These people declared that the shore stations were worth nothing; - that they could not function; but as a result of careful inquiries this afternoon I find that the company continues using them, although practically nothing has since been done to any of them.. The Government do not know definitely what the company is prepared to pay for them. If the agreement was worth anything, this matter should have been settled long ago. I do not say that the company should by now have made any payment for the stations, because the intention was that the amount to be paid should be deducted from the last payment due by the Government to the company. However, the company has strung on theGovernment and the departments until I do not think that at the present time any one in the Commonwealth Service knows what the actual position is. It is a state of affairs that should not be continued. When we were considering the original agreement the proposal was -
No member of this Parliament was prepared to agree to that proposal, and the result was that it was altered., the Commonwealth retaining its full advantages under paragraphs a andb, and the company surrendering its advantages under c. At the same time it was agreed that an independent member of the board should be appointed by the vote of the representatives of both parties. But when it was proposed to elect to that position a certain gentleman closely associated with Amalgamated Wireless, the Government were definitely told by many of their supporters that such a choice would not be agreeable to them; and, as we all know, the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), to fill the gap for the. time being, took the position. If not in a legal sense, at any rate, in a moral sense, Amalgamated Wireless has practically ignored the agreement. I do not want it to be supposed that the representatives of the Government have not agreed to everything that has been done, but I suggest thatthe agreement has not been carried out in the spirit in which members of the committee of Parliament expected it to be carried out. The agreement now before the Senate provides -
The agreement shall have no force or effect and shall not he binding on either party unless and until it is approved by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.
But when I turn to the end of the agreement, I find that it has already been signed for and on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, and that Parliament has to accept or reject it in globo. Personally I shall reject it in globo.
The establishment of a beam station has been under consideration by the
BritishGovernment, and there has been considerable talk about the action of that Government. In this connexion let me call attention to one or two features of the agreement between theBritish Government and Marconi’s Wireless TelegraphCompany. A British Treasury minute, dated the 28th July, 1924, covering this agreement, says -
The station is to be capable of communicating at a speed of 100 five-letter words per ninute each way (exclusive of any repetitions necessary to ensure accuracy) during a daily average of eighteen hours. Upon’ its completion, the company are to give a demonstration by actual working for seven consecutive days that it fulfils this condition, and if theengineer-in-chief of the Post Office is satisfied with the test, one-half of the costof the station is to be paid to the company. The station is then tobe handed over to the Postma ster-G eneral .
Our agreement with Amalgamated Wireless contains the following provision as to service : -
Providing to the satisfaction of the representatives of the Commonwealth on the board of directors of thecompany for the erection in Australia, of a main trunk station capable of providing (as soon as a suitable corresponding station has been erected in the United Kingdom and/or Canada) a commercial wireless service to communicate with such corresponding stations, with a traffic capacity as regards each of such corresponding stations of at least 21,600 words per day each way for 300 days per year, at an estimated capital cost not exceeding £120,000.
The British Government requires a service of 100 five-letter words a minute for eighteen hours, whereas we are to be given a service of 21,600 words a day each way.
– The contract between the British Government and the Marconi Company does not mention the stations with which the British station is to communicate.
– No. I was about to deal with that point. The British Government are not interested in that aspect of the question, because under their agreement they do not take over the station until it is definitely and clearly proven to the satisfaction of its own engineer.
– The provision in our agreement is for communication with stations in Canada and Great Britain.
– I did not intend to carry on beyond the point I had already made, but if the Minister wishes me to do so, let me ask him, in relation to the words “ Providing to the satisfaction of the representatives of the Commonwealth on the board of directors of the company,” what Mr. Allard and Sir William Vickars know about wireless ? Is their knowledge sufficient to enable them to form a judgment on the matter satisfactory to the Commonwealth ?
– They can secure the advice of experts.
– Why cannot the Government have an expert of its own to give it the benefit of his judgment, just as the British Government relies on its own engineer? That would be the proper course to pursue. As the position stands at present, the Commonwealth directors on the Amalgamated Wireless Board are to be asked to agree to what they have ordered to be carried out.
– If the station is not effective, the company will suffer a dead loss
– The British Government will not pay a penny until the station that is to be erected for it is tested and proved.
– Nor do we necessarily pay anything.
– That statement cannot be correct, because the Commonwealth Government is a share-‘ holder in the company that is entering into this contract for the erection of the station.
– It is all a question of the terms of the contract with the company to erect the station.
– The Commonwealth’s money is already invested in Amalgamated Wireless. The Commonwealth Government will be practically giving itself a contract. Cannot it be definitely set out in an agreement that not one penny-piece will be paid by the Commonwealth until the station to be erected is clearly and definitely proven a success by some one, acting on behalf of the Government, who knows something about wireless?
– That will be the subject of another contract.
– There is, evidently, to be an unending series of contracts. First of all we had an agreement placed before us, in the dying clays of a session, which we were told must be put through very speedily, so that Ave should be right up to date in wireless. Three years have passed since then, yet nothing has been done. Now we have before us a proposition to accept something which is said to be an absolutely new development in wireless, whereas, as a matter of fact, it was refused a patent in 1917, and had been known for many years previously to experts. One clause of the agreement between the British Government and Marconi provides -
The company shall not (except with the consent in writing of the Postmaster-General) enter into any contract with any person for’ the supply or manufacture of materials for use in the beam station, or for the construction of the beam station, or any part or parts thereof, without having previously invited competitive tenders, and having taken all reasonable steps to bring the respective invitations to tender to the notice of manufacturers and contractors capable of supplying or manufacturing the materials or carrying out the work, as the case may be. The company shall not, without the like consent, accept any tender other than the lowest.
The whole position is safeguarded in the British agreement. The British Government has been very careful in dealing with the Marconi Company. I am not saying a word against the Marconi people, but, naturally, they are out to make as much as they can.
– And in any way they can.
– I am not even prepared to go as far as Senator McDougall has gone, but the members of the committee, appointed by Parliament, were amazed to learn that a tentative contract had been made with these people for a high-power station, to cost £600,000. When the Radio Communication’. Company was asked to give an approximate estimate, the figure at once came down to £281,000. That takes some swallowing.
– Were the two estimates on the same basis?
– The stations tendered for were to accomplish the same end.
– I understand that the lower tender was for one station only, and that the higher tender was for two stations.
– The tender at £600,000 was for one station only.
– No. For that amount they had to supply two stations.
– I am stating the facts as given to the committee, of which I was a member.
– As a member of the Government at the time I know that Amalgamated Wireless had to put up a reciprocating station in Great Britain.
– That reciprocating station had nothing whatever to do with the work to be done by Amalgamated Wireless in Australia. That company had a capital of £1,000,000, of which £500,001 was contributed by the Commonwealth Government. The understanding was that certain services were to be supplied, and undoubtedly the special transmission rates promised constituted an attraction to the people of Australia, since they were considerably lower than those, being charged by the cable companies. This appeared to the business community to be a good thing. The business community is still waiting for it. A careful perusal of the agreement will show that no mention whatever is made of terminal charges. What is to be done in this direction’
– That is a matter for the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– Which means that the people will have to find the money.
– Those using the service will be charged for the work done by the department.
– Passengers travelling by boat are charged at the rate of 6d. per word for messages transmitted, but what does the Post and Telegraph Department receive per word for delivering those messages? How much does the Amalgamated Wireless receive? That is “ a question which perhaps the Minister can answer. If he looks into the matter he will get a surprise.
– The messages have to pass over our lines.
– - Exactly. In no other way could they be received. The company receive 5d. out of every 6d. per word, and the Government receives the remaining Id. for land-line charges.
– How much does the department collect when messages are sent to vessels at sea ?
– Messages can be handed in at any post office, and telegraphed or telephoned io the main stations, which transmit them to the ship.
– And the percentage charges are the same?
– The Government receives Id., and the company 5d. per word.
– The land-line gets Id. per word. The wireless company gets 5d. per word.
– Whether the Government receives or transmits a message?
– The Government must make it up on the terminal charges.
– What is the present position? The beam system is still in the experimental stage. Marconi, in a lecture which he delivered, stated that he transmitted a message to Australia, not by the beam system, but by short -waves. The Government receives all its information, or practically all of it, from the Marconi source. We have a broadcasting business here, but how is it carried on? What is the amplitude of the wave at which we broadcast? It is 1,100 metres. Those who have any knowledge of the science know that the greater the amplitude of wave length the greater the static. In broadcasting, say, to the back-blocks, the work may have to be done through ai>. atmosphere highly charged with electricity, and, using a long wave, the statics in the summer time would interfere with communications. The wave length generally recognized for broadcasting purposes is about one-third of that on which broadcasting is conducted in Australia. Broadcasting here has passed through a tumultuous sea, and nothing ha3 been accomplished. I have looked carefully through the agreement to find if any provision has been made in it for its termination.
– It can bt terminated only by winding up the company.
– That is the only way, and I say, in all seriousness, that if it was necessary to appoint a committee to inquire into the last agreement, the necessity in this instance is ten times greater.
– This amends the original agreement.
– Can the Minister find any clause in the original agreement which deals with its termination ?
– There is a provision in the original agreement, under which the Government can acquire the interests of the company upon just terms.
– But how can the agreement be terminated? There would be difficulty in terminating it. Already difficulty has been experienced by the department. It did not know where it stood under the old agreement, and the position to-day is equally unsatisfactory. The Government did not understand the position under , the old agreement. I am willing to take a certain amount of blame - we all must - but we anticipated that the legal “trimmings “ would be sufficient to enable the agreement to be terminated without the company being compulsorily wound up.
– Would it not be better to have more effective representation on the board?
– The present representatives will not do what the Government has asked them to do.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
SenatorFoll. - Is there no means of altering the arrangement?
– Clause 21 provides -
Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prejudice or limit in any way any right or power of the Commonwealth to acquire: on just terms compulsorily or otherwise any share or interest of. any person in the company.
– In effect, that means winding up the company. In what way would the Government deal with those who hold 500,000 shares in the company? Are the Government to take over the company by compulsorily winding it up?
– If the Government took over the shares held by others it would then be a Commonwealth concern.
– It can only be done by compulsorily winding up the company, and buying out, at a price, the shareholders.
– The power is there.
– Yes, if the Government want to pay the cost. I do not intend to discuss the legal aspect of the question, but merely to state my opinion on the proposal as submitted to the Senate. The Commonwealth was well advised in the early days. When, on the 2nd September, 1905, the first Wireless Telegraphy Bill was introduced, the Minister in charge of it said that its main object was to make a government monopoly of wireless telegraphy in the Commonwealth. If that course had been continued, the Government would have done well. We have gone a long way beyond that. In other countries progress is being made, but in Australia we have not a board of experts, or even a single expert who can be regarded as an authority on wireless telegraphy or telephony. I can hardly imagine a subject that is more vital to the Commonwealth than that under discussion.. In 1854the first patent was granted to Lindsay, of Dundee; who took out a patent for transmitting telegraph messages through and across water without submerged wires, the water being available as a connecting and conducting medium. He carried out successful experiments across the Tay River. In 1872 a patent was. granted in the United States of America to Mahlan Loomis for the utilization of natural electricity from elevated points for telegraphic purposes. He carried out several successful experiments on the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia, but he had to discontinue his experiments owing to the lack of funds. Inventor after inventor has come into prominence, and to-day we are dealing with a force far exceeding in wonder and extent any power of the gods of mythological renown. Attempts are being made to improve wireless telegraphy and telephony. What have we done? We appreciate the vastness of this great continent. We realize to the full what wireless telegraphy and telephony mean. We are constantly advising residents in the cities to settle in the country. Here is a means by which we can assist to make rural life more attractive. But we are not doing anything to avail ourselves of it. The progress being made in Australia in connexion with this branch of science is on all-fours with the position in regard to the Institute of Science and Industry.
Little or ‘nothing is being accomplished. Those who are in close touch with the extension of wireless telegraphy realize that wonderful strides are being made in other parts of the world. In Paris to-day photographs of definite thoughts and the human emotions are actually being produced. Dr. Baraduc, of the College of France, has obtained a number of these photographs. He has succeeded in photographing the dynamic action of thought. From this, it appears that the emotions send out definite vibrations not unlike radio impulses.
– Such procedure would be embarrassing in some instances.
– Yes. If a record could be taken of the impressions in the minds of some of those associated with this matter, quite a number would be embarrassed. Radio engineers have been experimenting with a reasonable measure of success with the radio compass, which will go a long way towards reducing, the yearly number of catastrophes due to fog. In experimenting on the ‘ thermyonic valve, General Squires was able to transmit the actual beating of the human heart to a physician many miles away. There are shore stations that will materially aid in responding to wireless- calls for medical advice. In one case, a shore doctor stationed several, hundred miles away heard the heart-beats, of a man lying, unconscious on a ship out at sea, every beat being clearly transmitted. We are doing little or nothing in the. Commonwealth. We have not. even a laboratory in Australia in which- this work can be carried out. Our position in connexion with wireless, is closely approaching a scandal. We are allowing year after year to pass in idleness while the rest of the world is marching on. A parliamentary committee was appointed in 1922, and we were under the impression that some progress would be made. To-day we are asked: to ratify an agreement to erect -a station under a system which, in 1917, was considered obsolete. Surely we are not going to allow this to be done. I intend to- move that a committee be appointed to inquire into. the. agreement, and submit, a. report to the Senate before the bill is passed. It. is said that under the beam system most of the work of transmission has to be done during the hours of darkness. There are only about two and a half hours of twilight in which transmission can be undertaken. We should be in a position to control the traffic, otherwise we shall be authorizing the erection of a station at an enormous cost, the service from which can be only supplementary to that provided by the cable companies. We need something more than that. I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the bill be referred to a .committee of the Senate for inquiry and report.”
-.. - We have all listened with great interest to the speech . delivered by Senator Millen, and we feel indebted to him for the valuable information which he has given, and for his criticism of the measure. But whilst we may agree with a good deal of his scientific criticism, we should pay regard to the whole of the circumstances that influenced the Government in shaping its policy as; outlined in this bill. Perhaps it is because Australia, to some extent, lacks- expert advisers in wireless developments that greater progress with wireless has not been made in this country up to the present. In. the absence of this experience and expert advice, it must, I think, be admitted that the Government was wise in not persisting in the development of wireless as a purely governmental activity. A certain amount of criticism was levelled at the first agreement when it came before another place, and, as a result, it was referred to a committee, including two members of this chamber, Senator Millen and Senator DrakeBrockman, both of whom rendered extremely valuable service. Senator Millen because of his scientific knowledge, and Senator Drake-Brockman because of his knowledge of legal contracts, materially assisted in safeguarding the interests of the Commonwealth. The recommendations of the committee were embodied in the agreement.
Senator- John D. Millen.- That is so, but the terms of- the agreement were not carried out. That is our complaint.
– We should- be perfectly fair in any review of the position: Any honorable senator who took even a passing interest in this question will remember that the. agreement stipulated that the Amalgamated Wireless Company had to erect a high-power station in Australia to .communicate with a reciprocal high-power station in Great Britain. The company had to erect and to work a highpower station in Australia, but the contract did not become operative uut.il the company had also obtained a licence to erect and work a high-power station in England.
– That statement is not quite correct.
– It is correct to say that effect could not bo given to the contract until the company obtained a licence from the British Government to operate a high-power station in Great Britain. As a member of the Government at the time, I have a distinct recollection of the correspondence on the subject with the British Government, and of the steps taken at the Imperial conference to induce the British post office authorities to issue a licence to the Amalgamated Wireless Company. Under the agreement, the Amalgamated Wireless Company undertook, inter alia -
To arrange Br the operation of suitable corresponding stations in the United Kingdom;
To provide the main trunk stations in Australia and the United Kingdom within two years from the date of this agreement.
There were also provisions with regard to the capital of the company. I cannot understand Senator Drake-Brockman’s interjection that my statement of the position was not quite correct. It is a fact that the agreement could not be operated until the company obtained a licence from the British Government to operate a high-power station in the Mother Country. Any delay that occurred was due not to indifference on the part of the Australian Government, but entirely to the fact that the company could not obtain .the licence from the British Government. Now, however, the British authorities have agreed to allow the Marconi Company to erect a beam station ia England.
– They have given permission to the Marconi Company to erect a beam station, and if it works satisfactorily they’ will take it over. The British Government is also building a high-power station alongside the beam station.
– T was about to say that. But what I wish to emphasize is “that the British Government would not permit the company to erect a high-power station in England, and for that reason the agreement with the Commonwealth Government could not be operated.
– Why, then, was an advance made to the company by the Commonwealth Government ?
– I am not in a position to answer that question offhand, but there were good reasons.
– The company was carrying on other business here.
– But the principal condition of the agreement related to the erection of a high-power station.
– There was also the question of control of the company. This made it necessary for the Commonwealth Government to take a certain number of its shares. But that is another question altogether. I repeat that delay in giving effect to the agreement was not due to any fault of the Commonwealth Government. At the time no one could have foreseen that the British Government would refuse permission to the Marconi Company to erect a highpower station in Great Britain.
– That is correct, but what I am complaining about is that the Government has done nothing to encourage wireless research.
– With Senator Millen I regret the lack of expert advice to assist the Government in that direction. In Australia we have no technical advisers on wireless comparable with men whose services are available to Governments in Great Britain and other parts of the world. We now come to the constitution of the directorate of the company. There again the Government was unfortunate. Difficulty arose over the selection of an independent chairman. This was overcome by ‘Mr. Hughes taking the position. The three directors representing the Government were selected from gentlemen in the front rank of the business world; but, unfortunately, they had no knowledge of wireless, so that, whilst they were animated with the desire to do the best in the interests of the Commonwealth, lacking expert knowledge of wireless developments, no doubt they had to accent the views put forward by the representatives of the company. The bill dons not end the original agreement which. :i*
I have said, contains conditions inserted on the recommendation of the committee of which Senator Millen was a member. It amends the agreement by voiding the unworkable conditions due, as I have shown, to the refusal of the British Government to allow a corresponding highpower station to be erected in Great Britain, and it provides for the operation of a beam station. The development of the beam system is an extremely important one. What the future holds in this respect has yet to be determined.
– It will be proved in 26 weeks’ time from the signing of the agreement between the British Government and the Marconi Company.
– I could understand that being advanced as a reason why the bill should be deferred, but not as a reason for the appointment of a select committee.
– The committee might make a recommendation to that effect.
– That may be a reason for the postponement of the bill. On the question, both of postponement and of reference to a select committee, I first of all make the affirmation that no select committee of this Senate could answer that question definitely and absolutely. Not even Senator Millen, with all his special knowledge, can answer it. Senator Millen would be the last to claim that he could. Let us consider the risk that the Commonwealth is taking.First of all, it must be understood that the company will have to take a risk equal to that taken by the Government; that is to say, the private investors who have put their money into the company, and who have their representatives on the directorate, must find £1 for £1 towards the cost of erecting this station. Assuming that the station cost the amount estimated, and the Commonwealth risked £60,000 in the event of failure, the shareholders and the directors who represent them would run an equal risk of losing £60,000.
– Is not the PostmasterGeneral returning to Australia with a volume of information in relation to this matter ?
– Yes; but he has already communicated with the Government’ at great length, and the Go vernment is acting upon the information that he has collected in Great Britain. From the reports that he has obtained, and the investigations that he has made with experts in Great Britain, he is satisfied that this beam station will carry out all that Amalgamated Wireless Limited and the Marconi Company claim that it will.
– What will be the position in Australia if this station is a failure?
– I can deal with only one point at a time. My first point is that, if there were a total loss, the private investors in this company would lose as much as the Government. Therefore, the directors who represent them are not likely to enter into a contract with the Government for the erection of a beam station if there is a likelihood of their losing their capital. This beam system has been and is being tested, and its capabilities have been published throughout the world.
– Will the honorable senator tell me where that publication has been made? I have looked for it, and have not been able to find it.
– I have seen it, but I cannot say offhand where it is to be found.
– I can assure the honorable senator that the statement was published in Australia that Senator Marconi had said that he transmitted messages by the beam system here. He denied having made that statement.
– I have seen cables from the Postmaster-General stating that the British authorities and the experts whom he has consulted are quite satisfied that the scheme is practicable and workable. It is not claimed for the beam system that it can keep up communication during the whole of the 24 hours, but it is claimed that it can operate continuously for seven hours. It has also been demonstrated that, under the beam system, messages can be dispatched one and a half times more rapidly than they can under the high-power system.
– That is solely on account of the shortness of the wave length.
– I do not pretend to understand the technicalities of the system.
– In seven hours the beam system can send 50 per cent. more words than the radio can send in 24 hours.
– Although, as Senator Millen has pointed out, the beam system cannot operate for 24hours, a greater number of words can, nevertheless, be sent in seven hours by that system than can be sent in 24 hours by the highpower wireless system. Another point is that the cost per word under the beam system will beone-half of what it was to be under the principal agreement for a high-power station. Senator Millen quoted from the contracts that have been entered into between the British Government and the Marconi Company for the erection of a station in Great Britain, and the conditions under which the British Government will take over that station if it is a success. The honorable senator remarked on the absence of similar provisions from this agreement. The reason for that is that this agreement is to be followed by a contract for the erection of the station, and in that contract such of those provisions as are suitable to Australia will be embodied.
– The honorable senator will remember that when tenders were last invited, no company other than the Marconi Company would tender, because the conditions were such as to make it a matter exclusively for the Marconi Company.
– That was the allegation, but it has no bearing upon my point. Senator Millen objects to the bill because the provisions inserted by the British Post Office in its contract do not find a place in this agreement. My reply is that the proper place for those provisions is in the contract that will subsequently be entered into between the company and the Commonwealth for the erection of a station. The absence of those provisions from this agreement is not a reason for delaying the bill, or for referring it to a select committee. What useful purpose could be served by a select committee, when the principal agreement has already received the criticism and approval of a. very capable committee consisting of members of both Houses? The only alteration that has been made in that agreement is the substitution of a beam station for a high -power station.
SenatorFindley. - The people would benefit if the bill were dropped.
– I can understand SenatorFindley’s view. He objects absolutely to the Commonwealth entering into a contract with this company. He stands for state ownership of wireless.
– Does the honorable senator not think that a select committee could obtain all the information that is available regarding the practicability and usefulness of the beam system?
-I do not think that it could, in the time that would be at its disposal. I hope that Parliament will rise in two or three weeks. Does any honorable senator suggest that in two or threeweeks a select committee could obtain in Australia any more information than is available to us to-day ? If the committee were appointed, and did not submit its report before Parliament rose, the bill would be lost, and no action could be taken until Parliament met again five or six months hence.
– We cannot get additional information in Australia.
– We cannot get in Australia any more information than the Government has at the present time. All the information that is obtainable in Australia is embodied in the principal agreement. The only development is; the substitution of the beam system for the high-power system. We have received information regarding the beam system from England, where it has been experimented with. In England there are, perhaps, some of the best wireless experts that are to be found in the world. The Postmaster-General was authorized by the Government to obtain the best possible expert advice there, and he has advised the Government that it would be on safe ground if it entered into a contract of this kind.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When I suggested that the Senate would be justified in passing the bill at the present juncture, and that the position would be in no way improved by referring it to a select committee, an honorable senator interjected that he had doubt whether there would be a contract in addition to the proposed agreement contained in the bill. Nobody who reads the agreement will fail to see that there must obviously be a. contract. Clause 3 of the agreement as set out in the schedule reads -
Upon the Company entering into an agreement -
providing to the satisfaction of the Representatives of the Commonwealth on the Board of Directors of the Company for the erection in Australia of amain trunk station capable of providing (as soon as a suitable corresponding station has been erected in the United Kingdom and/or Canada) a commercial wireless service to communicate with such corresponding stations with a traffic capacity asregards each of such corresponding stations of at least twenty-one thousand six hundred (21,600) words per day each way for three hundred (300) days per year at an estimated capital cost not exceeding One hundred and twenty thousand pounds (£120,000) ;
containing guarantees of such a nature and to such an amount as are approved by the CommonwealthRepresentative’s on the Board of Directors for the erection of the said main trunk station and for its capability to provide the service stipulated in the last preceding paragraph;
– Does that not practically cover what the British Government is offering you to-day - to put up a beam station in England ? Would it not satisfy the conditions of the original agreement if a beam station were erected here? You only provide for a station of a certain capacity.
– Under the old agreement a high-power station was to be erected, but the new agreement provides clearly for a beam station, and under clause 3 of that agreement the position of the Commonwealth is adequately safeguarded. It is obvious that the directors appointed by the Commonwealth will provide such safeguards and guarantees as the Government requires, for they will act under the instructions of the Government.
– What is the significance of the words “ and/or “ ? It suggests an alternative.
– The object is to enable us to have two strings to our bow. Assuming that the British Government adopted the same attitude in regard to the beam station as it did in regard to the other, we should have the alternative of communication through Canada. I am more concerned, however, in addressing myself to the main issue as to whether anything is to be gained by referring the bill to a. select committee. I am sure that Senator Millen has not submitted his amendment merely for the sake of delaying the measure.
– Not at all.
– I presume that the honorable senator wants to see something done?
– I do.
– I claim that the quickest way to achieve that end is to pass the bill now. If we referred it to a select committee, no headway could be made during the remaining two or three weeks of the session, and we should have to wait until Parliament reassembled. I appeal to Senator Millen to withdraw his amendment. The Government has nothing to hide, and, unless the bill is passed immediately, there will be a delay of probably six months before the proposal can be again brought forward. I assure the honorable senator that every step will be taken to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth in the provisions drawn up under the agreement.
– I have no intention to endorse the provisions of the old agreement or the action taken in connexion with it, nor do I think that the present bill is incapable of amendment. One amendment that has been suggested seems to be vital, if there is anything in the objection that has been taken by Senator Millen as to the power to terminate the agreement should it be deemed desirable to do so. There are other features of the bill that require careful examination. I was pleased to hear from the Minister (Senator Pearce) that if the Senate agrees to the bill as if stands, or as it may be amended, it is not the intention of the Government to rush into the agreement with the company without having a further opportunity of considering certain aspects that have arisen since the agreement was submitted to Parliament.The assurance given by the Minister has confirmed me in the view that I hold, that in all the circumstances it is advisable to pass the bill, making such amendments in committee as may be found desirable. I regret that unworthy insinuations have been made by those honorable senators who, for various reasons, have seen fit to oppose the measure. It has been suggested that the parties to the agreement other than the Commonwealth Government have not acted in a straightforward manner, and that in certain circumstances they are not to be trusted. Such insinuations are unwarranted. I propose to examine the arguments used against the bill, and to consider whether the objections taken will bear careful examination. I am not a wireless expert, and in that respect I should like to be able to accept the guidance of my friend, Senator Millen, who has a wide knowledge of the subject now under consideration. With his scientific mind he is able to visualize the whole project, but it is incumbent upon every honorable senator to endeavour to grasp the problems that the measure presents. I have spent several days looking up the records in order to inform my mind on this subject, and as far as my investigations have gone they lead me to a conclusion entirely different from that arrived at by Senator Millen. Although the arguments he used against the bill and against the beam system may be regarded by him as practically unanswerable, there are other authorities who take a different view.
– Seeing that the British Government has allowed the Marconi Company to erect a beam station in England, could not the Commonwealth Government have proposed to put up a similar station in Australia in order to establish wireless communication with the Old Country ?
– That is one argument, I admit. It has been stated that the Commonwealth Government has enabled the Marconi Company to obtain control of wireless in Australia for its own private ends. I have no interests hi the Marconi Company; I wish that I had. Nevertheless, I have the greatest admiration for the inventive genius of the founder of the company, and for the com.mercial organization that has enabled it to do the magnificent work it has done in the interest of mankind. I realize, of course, that no private company carries on its operations from purely philanthropic motives, but this company, iri common with many others, has conferred on mankind* a very great service. The inventive genius of this company and its organization have enabled Great Britain to lead the world in wireless development. It is an advantage, and not a disadvantage, to Australia that we should have placed at our disposal the inventive genius and capacity for organization of this company in an undertaking such as that upon which we propose to embark. We do not want the second best in Australia; we want the best available, and naturally we must assume that the best can be had only from the company which has made the greatest measure of success. Above all other companies it has led to the popularizing of wireless, and by reason of the inventive genius of those in control, has done much to make it a commercial feasibility, and, in fact, to bring it into everyday use. Amalgamated Wireless has been described as a “pup” of the Marconi Company. The facts are that the Commonwealth Government holds a majority of the shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and thus is able to control the policy of the company. The Marconi Company holds only 200,000 shares out of a total of 1,000,000 shares in the company, so that it does not even hold a majority of the shares privately held. This was the position before the agreement with the Commonwealth. The Marconi Company is not represented on’ the directorate, and I am informed it has never attempted to control or even influence the policy of the company. On the other hand, its capital and technical experience and resources have been freely available for the development of wireless in Australia. The charge has also been made that Mr. Fisk, the managing director of Amalgamated Wireless, has been endeavouring under this agreement to sell to the Commonwealth, in the interests of hie company, something which is worthless. That is an unreasonable and absurd proposition. I am particularly interested in the attacks made upon Mr. Fisk, because I know him well, and I have recently had an opportunity to see the work he and his company are doing in Sydney. The attacks made upon him are entirely unwarranted. He is an Australian. He is a man of magnificent capacity in a great many directions, and is one of the recognized wireless experts of the world. He has had nineteen years’ experience in wireless, gained in Great Britain, America, Canada, and other countries. On several occasions he has been entrusted with the erection of wireless stations in Great Britain, America, and other places. This gentleman, with such wide experience, whose word is impugned by those who say the beam system is no good and cannot be worked, has said that it is not only feasible, but also eminently practicable, and will give better results than would have been achieved by the highpower station provided for in the original agreement. Mr. Fisk is a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers, which fact places his scientific qualifications beyond question. He has patented a great many wireless inventions in a number of countries. I mention these facts because I want to quote Mr. Fisk as perhaps the greatest authority on wireless we have in Australia to-day. In conjunction with Senator Marconi he has carried out certain tests of the beam system. There is no warrant for the suggestion that his testimony in regard to these tests cannot be relied upon. I cannot conceive what purpose Mr. Fisk would have in being untruthful, and, in any case, if his testimony is disputed, Marconi and wireless investigators in other countries must also be charged with conspiring to deceive the world. Mr. Fisk has been instrumental in building up a great Australian industry. Amalgamated Wireless now employs 800 persons, who are paid £150,000 annually in wages. The factory belonging to the company is splendidly equipped, and can produce almost anything required in- connexion with wireless apparatus from a small screw to a 5-kilowatt broadcasting transmitter.
– Of course, the Commonwealth is a shareholder in all that business.
– The Commonwealth holds the majority of the shares in one of the finest factories in Australia to-day. The workmanship is of the highest quality, and I am informed that the apparatus used for wireless broadcasting which was made at the company’s works is equal to anything in the world. This industry has been organized by Mr. Fisk without importing men from overseas, although several Australians have been sent to other countries in order that they might equip themselves still further in their knowledge of matters pertaining to wireless. I think that the whole of the staff is composed of Australians who know Australia’s needs, and are therefore betterfitted to equip and maintain suitable stations for wireless in Australia than any one could possibly be coming from another country, and not possessing the knowledge of Australian conditions which these men have. It has been said that Amalgamated Wireless has been operating solely in the interests of the Marconi Company. If that were so, would it not have encouraged the importation of material from overseas instead of creating a big local industry? Everything that could possibly be made in Australia has been made here. Had Amalgamated Wireless been a mere “ pup “ of the Marconi Company, everything that could possibly have been imported from Marconi factories in other countries wouldhave been so imported. The fact that all this material has been made locally goes to prove that Amalgamated Wireless is a bona fide Australian company out to enhance Australian industry, and build up something of credit, not only to itself, but also to the Commonwealth. If Australia becomes a great wireless centre in the Pacific, linking up Asia with America, it will be due largely to the indefatigable energy and enterprise of Mr. Fisk. Amalgamated Wireless has been accused of non-compliance with its obligations under the previous agreement. Senator Pearce has pointed out that it could not comply with some of those obligations because the British Government would not grant it a licence. If that licence had been granted, a station would have been erected in Great Britain, and would have been in operation by now. The refusal of the licence absolves Amalgamated Wireless from all blame.
– And probably from all legal responsibilities in that regard .
– The attitude of the British Government towards the agreement between Amalgamated Wireless and the Commonwealth Government is not a new development. When the dominions were fighting for what is now known as the Pacific cable, the British Post Office said that the ocean was too deep to lay a cable successfully in it to establish communication between Australia and Canada. The arguments it adduced were backed up by all the scientific authorities tha Post Office could get hold of, and the Canadian gentleman who was pushing, the business through- had to fight for years against some, of the most difficult opposition one could imagine. Now, however, the British Post Office declares that cables are good enough, and wireless communication with- Australia, is unnecessary. It has still the same old stick-in-the-mud mind that it had when the dominions sought to establish their own cable communication. I am not at all surprised that it is in opposition to the present wireless proposal, and I have no doubt that the time will come when the British ^Government will consent, more readily than it has hitherto been prepared to do to the establishment of the beam system, of communication. Although objection is raised, in Great Britain to the granting, of a concession to private enterprise to establish communication with the dominions, the British Government has seen fit to associate itself with the Pacific Cable Board and many other organizations and institutions I could mention. Therefore, I do not think it can adhere to its present attitude towards the proposal of the Commonwealth Government. The outstanding fact is that the Amalgamated Wireless Company is not to blame for its failure to carry out the contract originally entered into. A comparison has been made between the contract price of the beam system to be erected by the Marconi Company in England, and the price mentioned in the new agreement between the Amalgamated Wireless Company and the Commonwealth Government. An amazing amount of ignorance has been displayed on this matter. The English price referred to is for one station for communication with Canada. The Australian organization will comprise practically three stations; one for communication with Canada, and two for communication with England in two directions. The difference in price is thus easily accounted for. Another .misleading statement is that the Government has relieved the Amalgamated Wireless Company from an obligation to secure guarantees, for the high-power station, but no such guarantees are stipulated - in respect of the beam station. This is not the case. The new agreement in clause 3 b specifically provides for such guarantees, which must be approved by the
Commonwealth representatives on the board of directors. The position in. this respect is precisely the same as previously. The Commonwealth is, however, now taking far less financial risk, as the cost of the new station will be less than one-fourth the contract price of the high-power station. Another unjustifiable complaint is that the loss on the coastal radio stations- has not been removed. It was expected that this would be accomplished only when the main trunk and feeder stations were erected, the coastal stations working in with the general, system. As a matter of fact there has been a reduction of the loss. It has been.’ assumed by those in opposition to the bill that, the Government has recklessly pledged itself without adequate, inquiry to a new system of wireless which is’ still very much in the experimental stage and without adequate safeguards, financial or otherwise. There is not the slightest justification for this line of criticism. In one sense, of course, the beam system qf wirel’ess for communication between Australia and England is still in the experimental stage. Until stations are erected in both countries and regular communication is conducted on a commercial basis, it cannot be said that we have passed the experimental stage. It was precisely the same with the high-power stations. All that the Government could do was to satisfy itself that sufficient technical evidence existed . to justify the adoption of the new system. That is the important point. If that existed, then obviously the far lower cost of the stations, the higher speed, secrecy, and other advantages would make its acceptance certain. I propose to show that, the. Government had ample technical evidence to influence its decision. That being so, there was no other course to pursue but the one authorized by this. bill. It would have been a serious breach of duty for the Government to proceed with the erection of a station costing nearly £500,000, when a station costing £120,000 might be sufficient. It would be folly to adhere to a system likely to be obsolete in a short period, when a new system is available offering advantages which the old system does not possess.
– Is Great Britain going on with the old system?
– They are experimenting with the new system, which they anticipate will supersede the old. As the wireless experts in this Parliament have expressed their opinions of the beam system, it may be desirable to pat; on record what the inventor has to say about it. I have a number of extracts which I propose to read, which seem particularly apropos ais this stage. The greatest opponents of the bill would not insinuate that Marconi, would in any way jeopardize the very high reputation he holds by being associated with an agreement such as this unless he believed that the system was a practical one. In a paper read before the Royal Society of Arts on the 2nd July,, 1924, Senator Marconi,. G.C.V.O.1LL.I)., B.Sc, a vice-president, of tha society, gave an account of the experiments undertaken by him over long distances by short wave directional, wireless, telegraphy, otherwise known as the beam system. He pointed, out that the study of short electrical waves dates from the time of the discovery of electric waves themselves,, that is, from the time’ of the classical experiments of Hertz and his contemporaries over 30 years, ago. When Senator Marconi first went to England in. 1896, he employed a beam system,, with short waves and reflectors.. The progress made with the long-wave system was, however, so rapid, comparatively easy, and spectacular that it diverted research from the short waves. During the war Marconi renewed his1 experiments with the short waves, and in 1916,. iia; Italy, he conducted a number of tests with the view of minimizing interception by the enemy. Between that year and 1922 successful investigations with the beam system were conducted by Marconi and his assistant, Mr. C. S. Franklin.. The results were communicated, to the scientific world in a paper read by Mr. Franklin before the Institution of Electrical Engineers on the 3rd April, 1922, and in a lecture by Senator Marconi before a joint, meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers in New York on the 20th June, 1922. I refer to those lectures honorable senators who may be under the impression that the beam system is an entirely new idea which it is proposed to thrust upon this country without adequate in.vestigation. In his paper1 before the
Society of Arts, Senator Marconi described his more recent experiments with the new system. In April,. May, and June, 1923, he carried out a series of long-distance tests- between a small experimental transmitting station at Poldhu, in Cornwall, and a receiver installed on his yacht, Elettra. Marconi and his- assistant, Mr. G. A.. Mathieu, were on the yacht, and Mr. Franklin was in charge- at Poldhu. These tests were conducted under unsatisfactory conditions and with incomplete apparatus, especially at the receiving end. The. wave length used at Poldhu was 97 metres,, and the transmitting power was approximately 12 kilowatts, as compared with. 24,000 metres and. 8QQ kilowatts in the case of a high-power station. Marconi was able tq record the. most satisfactory results up to 2,330 nautical miles from Poldhu, the farthest distance the yacht sailed.. He pointed out that no receiving reflector could be employed on the yacht, and it was obvious that the strength of the. received signals, and the ranges covered must have been, considerably less nhan could have been obtained had it. been possible to use a fixed receiving station equipped with a. suitable reflector.
– What was the distance between Poldhu and the Elettra?
– Up to 2,000 miles. Marconi proceeded to remove some false impressions, prevalent even amongst technical experts, with regard to the beam system, and it is obvious .that these have been introduced into the debates on this bill. These false impressions regarding the behaviour of short waves were:- -
Marconi disposes of these objections in the following very emphatic and convincing terms: -
The- tests carried out between Poldhu and the Elettra proved by the definite results obtained, that the above-mentioned impressions or conclusions must be erroneous, at least in so far as they may concern waves of about 100 metres long, for we observed: -
That the day ranges proved to be reliable and not inconsiderable.
That the night ranges were much greater than any one, myself included, had anticipated, and no doubt very considerably exceeded the maximum distance to which I was able to proceed with the Elettra
That intervening land and large portions of continents do not present any serious obstacle to the propagation of these waves.’-
The transmitting power at Poldhu was gradually reduced from 12 kilowatts to 1 kilowatt, but, according to Marconi, the signals received at St. Vincent, 2,330 miles distant, were still stronger than would have been necessary for the carrying out of commercial work over that distance. Mr. Mathieu calculated that the signals would still have been readable, even if the power had been reduced to one-tenth of a kilowatt. Marconi adds that the night signals from Poldhu with only 1 kilowatt were much, stronger than those received from the Marconi Company’s own station at Carnarvon, or from other European or American high-power stations. Marconi summarized his conclusions of this series of tests by stating -
The results of these tests were sufficient to convince me that it would be possible to carry out reliable commercial services for a large portion of hours out of the 24 over distances of at least 2,300 nautical miles by utilizing only about 1 kilowatt of energy at the transmitting stations, and that the practical range of the system, when using 12 kilowatts, had not even been approached.
That is very definite.
– It is mere guess-work.
– Marconi, encouraged by this success, proceeded to make tests over greater distances this year. Regular transmission was received in America, and in Canada reception was found to be possible for sixteen hours out of the 24. Marconi referred to the successful tests with Australia in the following terms : -
Bather to my surprise, I must admit, Mr. Ernest T. Fisk, the managing director of the Amalgamated Wireless (Australia) Limited, reported to me that ‘he could receive the Poldhu transmissions at his house in Sydney every day perfectly well from 5 to 9 p.m., Greenwich time, and also that he had received them between 6.30 and 8.30 a.m., informing me also that for most of the time the signals were clear, steady, and strong on an improvised receiver consisting of a two-stage high-frequency tuned plate and grid with one rectification-. He also added that he had read every word that was sent, and that the signals were better than those he had yet received from the high-power station at Carnarvon. These experiments with Australia were continued during the month of May, consistently good results being obtained at two receiving stations situated in the vicinity of Sydney. It seems obvious, if we consider the- position and altitude of the sun, that during the morning period the waves travelled from England to Australia starting in a westerly direction, across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, along the longest route, which is, approximately, 12,219 nautical miles, whilst during the evening period they travelled in an easterly direction over Europe and Asia along the shortest route, which is about 9,381 nautical miles. These results were so encouraging that I was tempted to try a wireless telephony test to Australia.- With rather experimental arrangements at Poldhu, intelligible speech was transmitted for the first time in the history of England to Sydney, on Friday, the 30th day of May, of this year. For the telephone test to Australia, oil-cooled valves were employed for the main valve and for modulating valves. The wave length was 92 metres, and an independent drive was employed for controlling the main valves. The total power supplied to the valves was, approximately, 28 k.w. divided up as follows : 18 to the main valves, 8 to the modulating valves and 2 to the drive valves. No reflector was employed. It was gratifying to all concerned that the experiment succeeded the very first time it was tried, Mr. C. S. Franklin being in charge of the transmitting apparatus at Poldhu, and Mr. Ernest T. Fisk, of the receivers at Sydney. It is also interesting to observe that, these extreme distances were obtained without the use of any reflector at either end. The results obtained between England and Australia easily constitute a record for ratio of distance to wave length for Sydney, by the shortest route, is approximately 189,000 wave lengths from Poldhu
It will be noted that, although two features of the new system were employed in the Australian tests - the short wave and low power - Marconi emphasizes that another important factor - the reflectors - were not employed, thus making the success of the tests all the more remarkable. He expresses the opinion in his paper that adequately designed reflectors, even if of comparatively moderate size, would enormously increase the effective strength of the signals. This would augment the efficiency of communication, increase the number of hours during which it would be possible to work with very distant countries, and reduce interference. Marconi added that there was no theoretical reason why the speed attained with the short wave should not be a hundred times as great as is possible with the long wave employed by the highpower stations.
– That is obvious.
– Of course it is, but T thought the honorable senator said that it would not be possible to send the. same number of words under this system as under the old method. This is a much more rapid system of transmission. In June this year, further tests were conducted between Poldhu and Buenos Aires, in the Argentine, a distance of 5,820 nautical miles. At the conclusion of the tests the international committee controlling wireless in the Argentine, stated that the signals from Poldhu, transmitted by the new system, were received at Buenos Aires with such regularity and extraordinary strength as to permit a service being conducted at any speed. The committee also expressed the opinion that the Argentine station should be immediately equipped with the new system, which the committee is confident will handle in six hours more than double the traffic that is now handled in 24 hours with the present super-power station. These facts show that the old high-power system is out of date, and the Commonwealth would not be justified in sanctioning the erection of a high-power station, when the results under the new system are entirely satisfactory. Excellent results were also obtained at Bio, in Brazil. In view of these tests, Senator Marconi concludes as follows: -
All these results, many of which have greatly exceeded my expectations, convince me that by means of this system, economical and efficient low-power stations can be established, which will maintain direct high-speed services -with the most distant parts of the globe during a considerable number of fixed hours per day. I am further of the opinion that by moans of those comparatively small stations, a far greater number of words per 24 hours could be transmitted between England, India, and her distant Dominions than would he possible by means of the previously planned powerful and expensive stations. Another particular advantage of this system should not be overlooked. As distant stations situated only within a certain angle or sector of the beam are enabled to receive, this condition brings about a comparative privacy or secrecy nf communication unobtainable with any other system of radio communication, and this may prove to bc of the greatest importance in war time, besides considerably increasing the number of stations it will be possible to work, by reducing the possibilities of mutual interference between them. The comparative economy in capital cost of these stations, the small amount of electrical power which need be employed, together with the capability of work ing at very high speeds, should make it possible to bring about a substantial reduction in telegraphic rates. The importance of this to the Empire must be obvious.
These expressions of opinion from the highest authority in the world should convince honorable senators that the beam system which, it is true, has certain disadvantages since it is yet in a sense in the experimental stages, is likely to yield the best results.
– The honorable senator has not proved anything concerning the beam system.
– The system which I have been describing is the beam system, and, as I have shown, Marconi has obtained magnificent results from it. This being so, the Government would not be justified in going on with the erection of a high-power station in Australia which, to say the least, would be extremely costly and probably would not yield the same results as the beam system.
– How can the honorable senator say that, when the only tests made have been those carried out by an amateur in Australia.
– If the honorable senator suggests that Mr. Fisk is an amateur, then I should like to know who in Australia is a professional wireless expert. In any case, some of the most valuable scientific investigations in the history of the world have been the result of experiments carried out by socalled amateurs.
– I do not mean to say that Mr. Fisk is an amateur.
- Mr. Fisk has results to his credit. He has patented many inventions, and has built up amagnificent industry in Australia. The results’ achieved as the result of the tests made by him are good enough for me.
– Does the honorable senator deny that Mr. Fisk said of the high-power system what he is now saying of the beam system?
– I do not know.
– Well, I am telling honorable senators that he did.
– I am satisfied that if the beam system is given a, fair trial it will prove in every respect satisfactory.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to wait until it has been given a fair trial ? A station is now being erected in Great Britain for that purpose.
– I am prepared to give it a trial in Australia rather than that the Commonwealth should continue with an expensive scheme which, up to the present, has yielded no results at all. If we do not adopt this proposal, we shall have to wait at least six months until experiments are made, and then we shall have to put a measure through Parliament to provide for the erection of stations for the new system. Probably at least eighteen months will elapse before anything can be done. This scheme promises good results. It will cost only about onefourth the high-power station proposal, and it is expected to yield results immediately the stations are ready. In the circumstances, it would be inexcusable to further delay the measure.
– “ Should the Senate toss aside the Wireless Bill passedby the House of Representatives, it will be doing something to justify its existence.” Thus spoke the Melbourne Age a few days ago. I hope that the Senate, if it does not reject the bill, will at least adopt the amendment submitted by Senator Millen. There is, without any shadow of doubt, a haze ofsuspicion surrounding the wireless agreement. The original agreement was referred to a committee of which Senator Millen was a member, and that honorable senator declared -
Nobody could have participated in the inquiry “without concludingthat there was very much that was suspicions inthe transaction.
Senator Wilson, who is now a member of the Bruce-Page Ministry, said -
Yes, and you are not the only one who holds the opinion that the whole surroundings are smellful.
I do not know of anything that has taken place since then to cause those honorable gentlemen to alter their opinions. The agreement stipulated that the Amalgamated Wireless Company should erect high-power stations in Australia, Canada, Africa, and the United Kingdom.The company has not, so I understand, erected any stations inthe countries mentioned. It made a. promise that it would be able to erect a high-power station in Britain. In my opinion, the company knew at the time that it could not carry out what it had contracted to do. Did theGovernment inquire if any communication had passed between the company and the British Government concerning that proposal? The British Government is now erecting a high-power station because it believes, as I do, that wireless should be the sole monopoly of the nation. It is alsotrue that the British Government has given the Marconi Company permission to erect a beam station at its own cost, and that if it is a success, about which there is much doubt, the Government may take it over from the company, but the Government will not in any circumstances, allow the Marconi Company to control wireless in Britain. I do not profess to have much knowledge of wireless, but I know that for many years the Marconi octopus, with its tentacles outstretched to every country in the world, has been exercising an influence in this country. When the Fisher Government was in power, the Marconi people consistently agitated for the installation of their system in Australia, but the Fisher Ministry would have nothing todo with it. Instead, the Government took over the Balsillie wireless system, and erected a number of stations in different parts of the Commonwealth. Those stations havebeen operating successfully, but ever since then the Marconi Company, with which is now associated the Amalgamated Wireless, has been working through the columns of the newspapers, and by lobbying and button-holing members of Parliament, to induce the Government to. take over its system. Senator Duncan had a well-prepared brief for the Marconi Company.
– That is not so.
– I say, unhesitatingly, that the honorable senator had a well-prepared brief for Amalgamated Wireless Limited, which is associated with the Marconi Company. Both Signor Marconi and Mr. Fisk are interested parties. Because Signer Marconi has stated that the experiments have been successful, and because Mr. Fisk has confirmed that statement, Senator Duncan contends that that is proof of the success of the experiments, and he urges that the Government will be doing the right thing if it goes ahead with the erection of a beam station. What evidence is there to show that this is a more perfect system than the high-power system?
– Is it not reasonable to assume that the Marconi Company would use the system that is most efficient?
– The Marconi Company is very interested in this bill. It has been shut out from Great Britain.
The British Government will have nothing to do with it, and I think that this Government would do well to follow its example. The beam system is not approved of by the British Admiralty, or by naval authorities in Australia. When the Marconi Company makes promises we ought to examine them very carefully. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has stated that this system can be operated only during the hours of darkness at both ends. So far as Britain and Australia are concerned that can never take place. One cannot, therefore, see how the beam system can be made a success. Under the first agreement, we were promised that the loss of £50,000 that had already been incurred would be turned! into a profit of £50,000. Instead of a profit being derived, the loss has increased to over £80,000. Notwithstanding that fact, we are asked to commit ourselves to an expenditure of £120,000 for the erection of a beam station when according to those who are competent to express an opinion, the beam system is still in the experimental stage. I think the Senate would do well to agree to Senator Millen’s amendment. He has given a great deal of time and thought to the matter, and his advice is worth following. A delay of a few months would be neither here nor there. Three years have elapsed since the original agreement was entered into, yet nothing has been done, and probably nothing will be done for some time. A select committee could go into the matter thoroughly and present its report very quickly. In the interests of the people, on the score of economy, and in order to get the best possible results, I hope that the Senate will agree to the amendment.
SenatorH. HAYS (Tasmania) [9.7].- I am somewhat at a loss to know what is the right thing to do. There are many sides to this question. Even the Minister has admitted that the Government has no expert knowledge by which it can be guided to scientific conclusions. It has been stated by Senator Millen, and, I think, inferred by others, that the beam system is in the experimental stage. On the other hand, Senator Duncan, who evidently has been in consultation with Mr. Fisk, has stated that the system is an absolute success. By interjection I asked the honorable senator why, if it had been so successful, it was not in more general use in other parts of the world. I understand that it has not been put to commercial use anywhere in the world. So far as we know the experiments have been successful, and probably as big strides will be made with this particular system as have heretofore been made with wireless generally.
– The Canadian Marconi Company is erecting a beam station.
– I do not doubt that for a moment. The Marconi Company is hoping to develop a system that will supersede the high-power system that is now in general use. If it fails, its losses will not be great; if, on the other hand, it meets with great success - as we all hope it will - it has everything to gain. The Commonwealth is, in a measure, to be commended for’ assisting experimental work. But under the bill we are really encouraging a company toexperiment with a new system that has not yet been thoroughly tried out. I appreciate the position in which the Government has been placed through no fault of itsown. The company is unable to induce the British. Post Office to permit it to install a high-power station in Great Britain. Was that attitude of the British Post Office known to the company when it completed negotiations with the Commonwealth Government for the erection of a high-power station in Australia ?
– A definite decision was only recently given by the British Government, on what is known as the Donald Report.
– The British authorities altered their attitude two or three times.
– I have read from time to time fragments of news that have appeared in the cables, and there has been nothing to suggest that the British authorities regarded the proposal of the company with favour. Although I do not view the promise of the company with suspicion, I think there is reason to believe that it had doubts as to whether permission would be granted by the British Government. If I may go so far as to presume that that is so, we shall drift still further into difficulties, should this proposal turn out to be a failure. As the system can be operated only during the hours of darkness it is obvious that, in addition, we must have high-power stations. None of us knows what the developments are likely to be. Some other system, which will render this system obsolete, may be developed in the very near future.
– The opinion of the witnesses examined by the committee a couple of years ago was that radio wireless could be relied upon for only twelve hours, and that it was limited to a speed rate of twenty words a minute.
– I am not very much concerned with tho views of that committee, but 1 am concerned with what the inventor claims for the system. I presume he has said that this system can be operated only during the hours of darkness.
– But messages can be sent at the rate of 200 words a minute.
– That may be so. But it is not likely that the whole of the business that has to be transacted by wireless between Australia and Great Britain will be crowded into a few hours.
– Australia has two cable systems in operation.
– But wireless is largely used for rapid communication. I hesitate to oppose the bill, for I consider that we should assist as far as possible in experimental work, but for all practical purposes, at all events for the present time, we should rather rely on a system that has been proved efficient. If the experiments to be conducted in the next six months are successful, we can, later on, supplement the wireless service by installing the system now proposed. My present inclination is to oppose the bill, but I am reluctant to do anything that would hinder progress in the improvement of communication with Great Britain. I shall await with interest the Minister’s reply before committing myself as to the attitude I shall adopt. The people of this country have been waiting impatiently for practical results following upon the agreement entered into three years ago. Prior to the dinner adjournment I asked the Minister how it was, if the company had not been able to carry out any of the conditions of the old agreement, that such a large sum of money had been paid to it by the Government. I think that is a matter on which the Senate is entitled to some information.
.- I find myself in a somewhat similar position to that of those honorable senators who wish to hear the Minister in reply before finally making up their minds as to which system should be adopted. The present position i3 certainly most unsatisfactory. “When the original agreement was before us honorable members were summoned by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), and asked to appoint a committee representative of all parties to report upon the agreement. We were assured that the matter was of extreme urgency, and that some definite arrangement should be arrived at between the Government and the company to advance wireless in Australia. We were all hopeful that within a short period something of a practical nature would be done, but we are now informed by Senator Millen, who is recognized as an authority on this subject, that practically nothing has been done, although the Commonwealth is represented on the board of the Amalgamated Wireless.
– The company has used up £80,000.
– There are fine assets to show for it, too.
– I am not particularly concerned as to the sum of money spent by the company, if there are ample assets that can be set off against the expenditure. But I remind honorable senators of the fact that Parliament took the precaution to see that . the control of the company was placed in the hands of the Government. The Government has a majority of two shares, and it has equal representation with the Marconi Company on the board of Amalgamated Wireless. An independent chairman was appointed, and care was taken to select a man who would not have leanings in the direction of the Marconi Company. I was impressed by the remark of the Minister (Senator Pearce), that if we submitted the proposal to a select committee, he failed to see how we could at once get information in Australia as to the best wireless scheme to adopt, since the knowledge of wireless here was very limited. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) has made exhaustive inquiries in Great Britain as to the best method to adopt, but unfortunately his decision appears to be completely at variance with that of the Imperial Government.
– There is no conflict between Mr. Gibson and the British authorities as to the most desirable system. The dispute is only as to the question of ownership.
SenatorFOLL. - I understand that the British authorities are not prepared to put their money into the beam system until they are more satisfied about it than they are at the present time.
– They have made an arrangement for the’ erection of a beam station on the same conditions as are proposed in Australia.
– Oh, no !
– Is it not a fact that the British Government has laid it down that the Marconi Company must make a satisfactory test?
– And we shall do so.
– But Australia has half a million of money sunk in the local company, whereas the British Government has told the Marconi Company to carry out the test at its own expense. It has said to the company, “ Once you demonstrate to us that the beam system is the most acceptable one and the most progressive, we will take over the station.”
– A contract will be made with the Marconi Company to erect the station in Australia, just as in the case of the high-power station.
– If the Marconi Company enters into a contract to do certain things and fails to do them, the AmalgamatedWireless will not have to pay for the station, and, therefore, the Commonwealth will risk nothing.
– Half the shares in Amalgamated Wireless are held by the Government.
– But it is the Marconi Company that has to erect the station.
– If we accept the new agreement the Amalgamated Wireless will be bound to adopt the beam system.
– If the station stands the test.
– Does the Minister say definitely that, if the station erected under the beam system does not prove satisfactory, the Amalgamated Wireless will not incur one penny of expenditure?
– I am glad to hear that. It puts an entirely different aspect on the matter from that given by the earlier portion of the debate. A great controversy is raging on the other side of the world as to the advisability of accepting the beam system, and Australia should be careful not to adopt it until the fullest investigation has been made. I understand that the hours during which the beam system can be used are limited, and that there is also a limitation in regard to the distance over which messages can be conveyed. Therefore, before I give my vote on the amendment, I should like to hear whether the Minister is satisfied, from the investigations made by the PostmasterGeneral, that the beam system would be. better than a high-power station for Australia’s requirements.
– There are two points on which I should like information. As I understand the beam system can only be operated during the hours of darkness, will the Minister explain how it can be used when it is dark in Australia and light in Great Britain. I should also like the Minister to explain in detail how the £80,000 of Commonwealth money which has already been spent by Amalgamated Wireless has been disposed of, and what assets there are to show for that expenditure. At the same time the Minister might tell the Senate whether the company has expended an equal amount out of its own funds. While the Commonwealth holds a nominal majority of the shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and while the chairman of directors is independent of both the wireless company and the Commonwealth Government, it appears to me that the company can do exactly as it chooses. I have no desire to vote against the Government on this matter, nor do I object to the expenditure of public money in this way. because I think it only fair that the Commonwealth should not expect to reap all the advantages of an invention of such far-reaching importance without making some contribution towards the cost of its development.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the company should first deliver the goods?
– I do think so, but at the same time I think the Government might with advantage to itself and credit to the Senate release some of its unwilling supporters from the necessity for voting with it on this occasion. I am quite sure that if left free to vote as they chose a few of them would vote for the amendment.
– They are just as free as are members of the honorable senator’s party, and I hope that they will be just as solid.
– They are freer.
– Notwithstanding Senator Foil’s remark, I venture to say that honorable senators will fall in behind the Government. Very few honorable senators have proclaimed themselves as possessing any technical knowledge of wireless. While Senator Millen has not professed to be an expert, any one who listened to his remarks must have come to the conclusion that he appears to know a great deal more about it than any other senator who so far has disclosed to the Senate his views on the subject. Parliament has placed £500,000 practically at the disposal <d a private company. I am opposed to the Government linking itself with Amalgamated Wireless or any other company in this regard. I would rather see it conducting the business itself. However, as it is to some extent in partnership with Amalgamated Wireless, I think the Government should release its strangle hold on some of its supporters like Senator Duncan and Senator Foll, one of whom would be only too pleased to vote against Ministers on this occasion if he were at liberty to do so. I should like some information from the Minister on the points I have mentioned - what has become of the £80,000 already spent; what assets exist as the result of that expenditure; and will the beam system, which can only work during the darkness, enable communications to pass between Great Britain and Australia, seeing that while it is dark in Australia it is light in Great Britain ?
– I commence my few remarks with a ‘confession that my ignorance on the subject of wireless is absolutely profound. This may be a disadvantage in one way, but it is an advantage in one respect, since it means that I have no preconceived prejudices to get rid of. I should have thought that, with a bill of this kind, honorable senators would have been furnished with more printed information than has been made ‘ available. Neither have I been able to appreciate the intensity of the urgency for the measure. Nearly all honorable senators, with the exception of one or two, seem to share my profound ignorance, and goodness knows I thought I had quite enough to go all -round. Therefore, when I find a gentleman who may be looted upon as easily a foremost authority in the Senate on matters of this kind, voting for some little delay - I allude to Senator Millen - I cannot do better in the interests of Australia than fall in behind him. I do not wish to see the bill go by the board, and I do not think it will.
– It will, if it is delayed for six months.
– We have already had a delay of several years.
– Why perpetuate iti
– It is better to perpetuate it than to make the mistake of rushing in too soon.
– There is no risk.
– I think there is some very great risk. It is most unfortunate that the one member of the Government who has in his possession valuable information upon this subject will not be here for at least a fortnight to give us that information.
– He has communicated it.
– Communication by cable of whatever information is available is nothing compared with the value of the personal .delivery of the goods. That is what I wish to see. I nave no prejudice against the bill, but I want to see the public money spent to the best advantage. If this is an experiment in research, there are many other methods of research on which the Government are very reluctant to spend money that, perhaps, would, for about one-tenth of what is proposed to be spent on the erection of this experimental beam station, give just as good, if not better, results. For these reasons it is my intention to vote for the amendment.
– Senator H. Hays has expressed a doubt whether when the original agreement was entered into it was intended to erect a highpower station in Great Britain. When that agreement was entered into it was believed that there would be no insuperable difficulty in the way of the Marconi Company carrying out its contract. The preamble to the new agreement says : - “Whereas at the time of the .making of the principal agreement the parties thereto believed that the British Government would be ready and willing to grant licences for the erection and operation of a trunk station and other stations in the United Kingdom, for communication with Australia, and whereas the British Government refuses to grant licences for the erection and operation of commercial wireless stations in the United Kingdom with a view to communication with Australia, and the Marconi Company is by reason thereof unable to obtainthe necessary licence to erect or operate the said trunk station in the United Kingdom for that purpose -
– Is that perfectly correct, seeing that the British Government is permitting the erection of a commercial station in the shape of a beam station?
– That station is to be erected by the Marconi Company, and if it complies with tests which have been laid down, will be taken over at a price by the British Government.
– Exactly. And does the Minister tell me that the British Government will refuse to allow that station to operate with one in Australia ?
– I do not say that for one moment, but there is nothing in the amended agreement regarding the erection of a beam station in Great Britain by the Marconi Company. In any case, what value would that beam station be to Australia unless we had a reciprocating station here ?
– Why would not Great Britain allow the erection of ahighpower station on the same terms?
– I think that in this instance we are only interested in the fact that it would not permit it. Some time ago the whole question was referred to what is known as the Donald Committee, and that committee reported in favour of Government control of all high-power wireless stations. A beam station is in a sense a high-power station, because it will be capable of sending messages from one end of the world to the other. Honorable senators seem to be somewhat in doubt concerning the possibility of enforcing the guarantee which may be provided under the contract for the erection of the proposed station. This question was considered by the parliamentary committee of which Senator Millen was a member. That committee reported as follows : -
The question of indemnity in the event of failure of the stations to function as required by the agreement was discussed, and it was agreed that a suitable clause could be inserted in the agreement to protect the Government and obtain definite guarantees.
The original agreement considered by the committee, of which Senator Millen was a member, also contained this provision -
The agreement shall contain guarantees of such a nature and of such an amount as are approved by the Commonwealth representatives on the board of directorsfor the provision of a commercial wireless service connexion between Australia and stations in the United Kingdom and Canada.
That is exactly the same provision as is contained in the amended agreement.
– It is not the same as the British provision.
– I have not said that it is. It is on the same basis as that approved by the committee two years ago, and if it were a good provision then it should be equally satisfactory to-day.
– The arrangement has proved an absolute failure for three years, and why is it necessary to repeatthe dose?
– The honorable senator knows that the station was not erected because the company was unable to carry out its undertaking to erect a similar high-power station in Great Britain. It would have been an absolute waste of money to erect an Australian station costing practically £500,000, when there was no station with which it could communicate on the other side of the world.
– Does the Minister say that a beam station is equal to a high-power station ?
– It will serve the same purpose.
– Where is the necessity for an amending bill?
– As the British Government is permitting the erection of a station, a similar station should be provided here. The principal provision in the amending measure is to cancel the contract made two years ago for the erection in Australia of a high-power station. The amending agreement will relieve the Commonwealth Government of its responsibility, as well as the company of its obligation to erect such a station. It is a questionof whether the company should be relieved of this responsibility, seeing that it cannot legally erect the station in Great Britain which it contracted to provide. At the time the inquiry was conducted by a committee, evidence was taken as to the service the proposed station would render, and it was shown that the maximum traffic which could be guaranteed was 20 words per minute for 12 hours a day for 300 days in each year. In the amended agreement it is provided that the guaranteed capacity shall be 21,600 words per day for 300 days a year, which would give in the course of a year a service 50 per cent, in excess of that guaranteed under the high-power system. Apart from the cancellation of the contract, which cannot be carried out for the reasons I have mentioned, the only concession made to the company is that the period of three years set put in the original agreement during which the Commonwealth Government are to contribute towards the cost of carrying on radio works in Australia, is increased to four years.
– When were the Government first aware of the fact that the British Government would refuse to grant a licence for the erection of a corresponding station in Great Britain to communicate with a station in Australia ?
– That decision was made quite recently. The Donald committee’s report was submitted early in this year, and it was subsequent to that that the British Government decided that high-power stations in Great Britain should be owned and controlled by the British post-office authorities. Senator Grant asked what the Commonwealth Government had obtained for the amount it had contributed towards the capital of Amalgamated Wireless. The original company was carrying on business in Australia, and amongst other things owned the patent rights connected with wireless telegraphy, the wireless installations on Australian ships, and was carrying on in a large way the business of manufacturing all kinds of wireless apparatus. Clause 4 of the original agreement provided -
The company will forthwith proceed with the development, manufacture, sale and use of apparatus for wireless communication and for the wireless transmission of energy within the Commonwealth and its Territories and in ships and aircraft owned registered or trading within the Commonwealth or its Territories, and for communication with the countries overseas, and the erection of wireless stations and the” conduct of wireless services . for the purpose of such communications.
In compliance with that provision, the company has been carrying on extensive wireless installations, including the erec tion of a broadcasting station for Farmers Limited, in Sydney, and for a broadcasting company in Melbourne. It has also erected a station for the Farmers’ Co-operative Company in Perth. The Commonwealth’s contributions to the capital of the company are represented by sufficient assets to cover the £112,000 which has so far been subscribed by the Government.
– Is it not a fact that the naval authorities assert that this system is of no use to the navy ?
– Ships in Australian waters can be communicated with by the wireless stations already operating in the Commonwealth, and which are capable of communicating with other stations at considerable distances. Our communications with Rabaul are conducted by wireless. It has been suggested that the consideration of this measure should be delayed until its provisions have been investigated by a committee. Honorable senators are aware that the cables between Australia and other countries are already overloaded, and that the business is of such a volume that the cable companies have been pressed to duplicate their services. The companies recognize that in wirelesss they have a great rival, and naturally they do not wish to proceed with duplication if there is likely to be a diminution of their business. It would be of great assistance to the commercial community if the existing cable services could be relieved of some of their business.
– Messages by means of the beam system would be sent only during the hours of darkness.
– It is immaterial whether messages are sent during the day or the night, so long as they are transmitted within reasonable time. Does the honorable senator suggest that the cable companies transact all their business during daylight, or that the Telegraph department despatches telegrams only during business hours? The proposed system is a comparatively new one for longdistance transmission, but it is capable of sending messages for at least seven hours a day at the rate of 200 words a minute, as against twenty words a minute for twelve hours a day under the old system.
– We were told that three years ago, but nothing has been done.
– Simply because the company was not permitted to erect the necessary stations. Practically no risk is involved. Contracts may be made to protect the Government, and even if some slight risk is involved we should not, for the sake of the expenditure of a few thousand pounds, lag behind other countries in the matter of wireless communication. No one imagines that the beam system is perfect. Some honorable senators seem to think that the Government should wait until perfection has been reached, but such an attitude would be unworthy of a progressive country. We ought to do all we can to keep up to date in the matter of wireless communication, particularly as we now have the opportunity of installing the system at a comparatively small cost within twelve months.
– Did the Minister say that it would be done without cost until the system had been tested ?
– No; without any great risk. The committee which inquired into this matter two years ago said that certain safeguards should be provided. Senator Millen, for some unknown reason, has changed his opinion, and now suggests that we will be incurring a great risk if we pass the bill.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– I hope the billwill be passed, and that Australia will not lag behind other countries in providing the most up-to-date means of communication for its people.
– Is it the intention of the Government not to make any contribution towards the erection of the stations if the tests are not satisfactory?
– That is what is intended.
– Will the Minister give honorable senators an assurance that the contract between the Amalgamated Wireless and the Marconi Wireless Company will be perused by the Government?
– It will be submitted to the Government before it is finalized.
– And the Government will issue instructions to its representatives on the Amalgamated Wireless directorate.
– I can assure honorable senators that the interests of the Government will be safeguarded in every possible way.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator John D. Millen’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new paragraph be added to clause 3 of the schedule - “ (c) any agreement made by the company relating to the erection of such main trunk stations shall be subject to the approval of the Governor -General in Council.”
– Thehonorable senator cannot amend a signed agreement. It must be accepted or rejected in globo.
– I hope that Senator Elliott will not press his amendment to a division. An assurance has already been given that the representatives of the Commonwealth Government on the directorate of Amalgamated Wireless will act under instructions from the Government, and that any contract made between that company and any other company will be submitted to the Government for approval. That practically does all that Senator Elliott seeks to do. In the circumstances, I trust that he will withdraw his amendment.
– I hope that Senator Elliott will not withdraw his amendment. It is a very businesslike proposition. We have had a statement from the Minister in charge of the bill that all costs incidental to the erection of these stations will be borne, not by the Government, but by the company. If the stations prove a success, well and good, but if they are not a success, the taxpayers of Australia will not be called upon to foot the bill. If we carry this amendment, we shall be certain of our ground. Parliament will then have an opportunity later to express an opinion in regard to the agreement. Senator Elliott deserves to be complimented, and if the amendment is supported by two or three honorable senators in addition to those who supported the amendment moved by Senator Millen, there is no doubt that it will be carried.
Question - That the paragraph proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator Elliott’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act- Determination by the Arbitrator -
No. 36 of 1924- Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No 37 of 1924- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 38 of 1924- Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 39 of 1924- Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 40 of 1924- General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 41 of 1924- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 42 of 1924- Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 43 of 1924 - Australian Postal Linemen’s Union.
No. 44 of 1924- Australian Telegraphists’ Union.
No-. 45 of 1924 - Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association, and Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
Nos. 46 and 47 of 1924- Australian Letter Carriers’ Association.
Relief Ship “Huddersfield” - Boucaut Bay and Elcho Island Companies: Press Statements.
– In moving: -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I remind honorable senators’ that earlier in the day I stated that instructions had been given to the Commonwealth Investigation Bureau to make inquiries regarding Percy Whyte Pearce, whose name, for obvious purposes, was included in a newspaper list of certain persons who hold shares in the Elcho Island Oil Company. I now have statutory declarations that have been made before Mr. Roland S. Browne, commissioner for declarations. The first reads as follows : -
I, Percy Whyte Pearce, of 64 Crisp-street, Hampton, in the State of Victoria, do solemnly and sincerely declare thatmy name is Percy Whyte Pearce, that I am a clerk employed by the Victorian Railways Commissioners, that I am not in any way related to Senator Geo. F. Pearce or any member of his family, and further, neither as my wife in any way related to Senator Geo. F. Pearce or any members of his family.
AndI make this solemn declaration by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act1911, conscientiously believing the statements contained therein to be true in every particular.
W. Pearce, Declarant.
Declared at Melbourne the eleventh day of September, 1924.
Before me -Roland S. Browne, Commissioner for Declarations.
Thesecond declaration reads as follows : -
I, Percy Whyte Pearce, of 64 Crisp-street, Hampton, in the State of Victoria, do solemnly and sincerely declare that I do not know Senator Geo.F. Pearce, nor have I had any communication withhim; that I am the pro- prietor of50 shares in the Elcho Island N aphtha Petroleum Company Limited, such shares being purchased direct by me from the said company.
And I make this solemn declaration by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act 1911, conscientiously believing the statements contained therein to be true in every particular.
Declared at Melbourne the eleventh day of September, 1924.
Before me - Roland S. Browne, Commissioner for Declarations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240911_senate_9_109/>.