10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the Chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers wore presented : -
International Labour Conference - Draft conventions and recommendations adopted at 10th session, Geneva,1927.
Public Service Ad - Appointment - Department of Works and Railways- H.W. Mylius.
Tariff Board - Reports and recommendations with respect to-
Barbed wire, fencing wire and other wires, and wire netting.
Cust iron pipes and oastiron fittings for pipes of more than two incites internal diameter.
Vessels up to 1,000 tons gross register.
Timber exports - Returns showing countries to which certain classes of timber were exported during 1925-26.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs if in future, reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board, a number of which were laid on the table to-day, can be placed in the hands of honorable senators earlier so that they may have an opportunity to study them prior to the debate on the amending tariff schedule?
– The honorabel senator will recognize that it would not be possible to do what he suggests.If the reports were made public before the amended tariff was introduced, importers would stockup with commodities that might be affected by the duties.
SenatorNEEDHAM asked the.
Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice - 1.Did Senator Sir George Pearce make a statement some time prior to the last Federal elections, as reported in the Western Australian Sunday Times, of 14th November.1926, to the effect that Western Australia would receive £450,000 per annum for a period of five years ?
Court of Petty Sessions
asked the Minis ter representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
When does the Government intend to give consideration to the question of setting up in Canberra a Commonwealth Court of Petty Sessions, and to the appointment of a stipendiary magistrate to hear cases coming before such a court?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Government is giving consideration to these questions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2-
Debate resumed from 2nd December (vide page 2497), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– One. or two matters to -which I intend to refer are mentioned in the third report of the Public Service Board, dated 22nd March, 1927. One paragraph reads as follows: -
In the last report of the board, reference was made to the difficulties arising from the lack of co-ordination between the functions of the Public Service Board and those of the Public Service Arbitrator in the determination of salaries, wages, and general conditions of employment. The provision embodied in the Public Service Act by Parliament for the classification of the service is being nullified to a large extent by the operation of a law dealing with public service arbitration. The position is unsatisfactory and disturbing, and a solution of the difficulties engendered by the present duality of authority must sooner or later be evolved if the public interest is to be conserved. Apart from this aspect of the question, the administration of arbitration awards, through the media of the board, and the public departments concerned, becomes increasingly difficult and costly.
This paragraph is strongly condemnatory of the principle of public service arbitration. It indicates that the Public Service Arbitration Act, and the awards made under it by the arbitrator, are, to a certain extent, handicapping the administration of the board. I question the correctness of that statement. I doubt also whether it is within the province of the board to criticize the act in this way. This is not the first time that the board has attacked our system of arbitration for the Public Service, and this is not the first time that attention has been directed to it in Parliament. Many years ago, when the Commonwealth public servants were in a kind of industrial no-man’s land, they felt the need for an improvement in their working conditions, and in the remuneration paid to them; but, being public servants, they were not permitted to form themselves into trade unions. Parliament, recognizing that they needed protection in their employment, and not desiring to be itself an industrial tribunal, ultimately passed legislation under which an arbitrator was appointed for the Public Service. Various branches of the service then formed themselves into organizations for the purpose of approaching the arbitrator. The system has been in operation for some years. I regret very much this evidence of antagonism towards the arbitrator by the Public Service Board, because both the abitrator and the board can function efficiently within their respective spheres and render good service to the Commonwealth. On one occasion an attempt by the board to upset an award of the arbitrator was frustrated by this Parliament. I direct attention to the matter now so that we may ascertain whether or not the Government endorses the statement made in the report, or whether it will suggest to the board that similar views shall not be expressed in future. The Public Service Arbitrator should not be hampered in the discharge of his duties by comments of this nature. The board states further that a spirit of satisfaction has existed for many years throughout the various departments of the public service; that, in effect, the public servants are now a contented body. I see no evidence to support that view. The members of the board themselves may be contented, but their state of mind is not shared by public servants generally. Instead of so adjusting remuneration in the service as to ensure a living wage to those on the lower rungs, the board’s object appears to. be to cut down salaries as much as possible. Such economy is false. On page 23 of its last report the board states that at the end of June last there were in the six States 4,602 temporary linemen and 1,221 permanent linemen. In 1924 an examination for linemen was held in Western Australia. Of the men who passed the examination 30 per cent, have not yet received permanent appointments. How can they be satisfied? I am informed, moreover, that the majority of those men have several years of continuous service to their credit. The conditions in Western Australia are probably repeated in the other States. In view of these facts I cannot understand the statement of the board that there is contentment and satisfaction throughout the service. The Leader of the Senate will probably reply that the number of temporary employees in the public service was greater in 1925-26 than in 1926-27. I suggest that he lay on the table of the Senate a return showing the number of temporary linemen employed each year for the last five years. If inquiries were made among these men I feel sure that evidence would be forthcoming of their dissatisfaction and discontent. The branch of the service to which I have referred is certainly not contented. There is no justification for the Government’s action in retaining these men as temporary employees. I should like to refer to the question of temporary employment generally. The temporary employees in the public service, not only are without a sense of security, but they are also deprived of certain rights and privileges which are enjoyed by permanent officers. By keeping them on the temporary list the Government is securing cheap labour. Instead of treating its employees in this way the Commonwealth Government should set an example to other employers. These men are giving good service, even under present conditions, but I suggest that, if encouraged by permanent appointments, they would render still better service to the Government. The act under which the Public Service Board operates confers on it somewhat autocratic powers, which it does not hesitate to use. I have here a letter from the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia, dealing with the question of temporary employment. It sets out that at the examination for linemen held in 1924, 150 candidates passed, of whom 30 per cent, are yet awaiting appointment to permanent positions in the public service. The letter goes on to say-
At the present time 35 successful examinees are employed as temporary linemen, and have been for periods varying from one to three years continuously. A perusal of the report discloses the fact that there were 20,760 permanent and 5,007 temporary employees. Exempted employees numbered 15,334. Temporary employees mean those employed for six months at a time, and have to be reengaged after being off for six months, whilst an exempt employee does not come under that category, but can be engaged continuously for many years. So it will readily be seen that the number of temporary employees does not fall far short of the total of permanent employees. The reason I quote the line section is I know they are eligible for appointment by virtue of passing the necessary examination. These persons I consider have established their right of appointment to the service, whilst I cannot say definitely what percentage of the remainder are eligible for appointment.
The Government, in consultation with the Public Service Board, should make a serious attempt to reduce the number of temporary employees to the minimum. The Government continues to treat them as temporary workers in order to get the benefit of their cheaper labour. I hope that some redress will be given to these men, so that by the time the board issues its next report, there will be some ground for the statement that there is contentment and satisfaction throughout the service. The report also deals with the transfer of officers from Melbourne to Canberra in the following terms -
The removal of the Seat of Government from Melbourne to the Federal Capital, Canberra, will, before the presentation of the board’s next report, have become an accomplished fact, and during the first stage of the transfer a number of the departments will have changed their location, others following in due order. This change is bound to open up many problems of public service administration requiring much thought and judicious handling, while the difficulties engendered by the severance of many hundreds of public servants from their existing habits of life and environment will need to be met with sympathetic consideration and understanding. The board has no doubt that thespirit of loyalty and devotion to public service, which is characteristic of the Commonwealth departmental staffs, will be manifest during the transition, and that inevitable difficulties will be met by co-operative effort on the part of all concerned.
Every honorable senator will admit that the Government was confronted with a huge task when it undertook the removal of the Seat of Government from Melbourne to Canberra. I am sure that Ministers are endeavouring to treat their respective staffs at Canberra with consideration; but they will admit that the changed conditions act to the disadvantage of officers, and are the cause of more or less irritation. There is no doubt as to the loyalty of the staffs, but I question whether that consideration and understanding referred to by the Public Service Board in its report has been shown by those in authority. It is true that a monetary allowance has been granted to transferred officers, but surely no member of the Public Service Board will claim that that allowance is sufficient to compensate officers for the changed conditions and the increased cost of living at Canberra. It is significant that while nearly all the departments to be transferred to Canberra have been so transferred, the Public Service Board itself remains snugly ensconced in Melbourne, without personal experience of the many disadvantages suffered by the officers who have been transferred. Even if the whole of the Public Service Board and its staff could not immediately be transferred to Canberra, some of its personnel should be here, in which case the board would have a more intimate knowledge of the undoubted disadvantages under which public servants at Canberra are labouring. I mention this so that the Public Service Board will endeavour to treat the officers of the various staffs with the consideration which they stress in their report.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– Unfortunately, like Senator Verran, I am powerless in the matter, because this Parliament, under an act of Parliament, delegated its authority to the Public Service Board. I am simply in the position of a humble advocate appealing to the Government to note what the board says, and to give the public servants the consideration to which they are entitled. This question was raised in another place only a few days ago, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said that nothing more could be done for the public servants than had already been done. All that has been done is to give transferred officers an allowance which is supposed to cover the extra cost of living in the Territory as compared with the capital cities. I trust the Prime Minister will reconsider his decision, and that after consultation with the Public Service Board better treatment will be meted out to these officers.
In reply to a question I submitted, the Minister (Senator Pearce) laid upon the table of the Senate last week a return showing the cost for one year of the boards and commissions at present in operation, most of which have been appointed by the present Government. I found the staggering total of £548,630 as the cost of one year’s operations of these boards and commissions. As has been mentioned over and over again, in this Parliament the present Government has a mania for appointing boards and commissions. If there is the slightest opportunity to place work on some other authority, this Government will do it.
– The Government could not appoint these boards and commissions without the support of Parliament.
– I realize that that is so in some instances. On such occasions it receives the docile support of its majority, which includes Senator Ogden.
– The honorable senator has not yet opposed the appointment of a committee.
– In many instances I have not had an opportnity todo. so. Honorable senators on this side- of the chamber opposed the appointment of the Development and Migration Commission.
– And also the Tariff Board.
– A number of these boards and commissions were appointed without consulting Parliament. I could mention many which have been appointed by the Executive. Many of these commissions have been appointed by the Government without the sanction of Parliament, and I have not known Senator Ogdenas a member of the Government’s docile and overwhelming majority to raise any objection concerning the extraordinary expenses incurred. The National Insurance Commission, which was not appointed by this Parliament, has, according to the return tabled in the Senate, cost £2,548 during the current year.
– And what of the royal commission on the moving picture industry?
-I am coming to that. The Industrial Commission which visited America was appointed not by this Parliament, but by the Government; and up to date has cost the country £5,66S. Senator Ogden was again one of the docile majority that approved of the appointment of that commission. He was one of the dumb driven cattle who supported the Government in the establishment of a Development and Migration Commission, to authorize the appointment of which a bill was submitted to Parliament. The members of the party to which I belong opposed its appointment by voice and by vote.
– Because the honorable senator’s party was not likely to bc represented on it?
– The honorable senator was not a member of this chamber when the commission was appointed, and in this, as in many other instances, he is speaking of something of which he knows nothing. He is in entire ignorance of what I am speaking, and all he can do in industrial matters, is to play the part of a buffoon, and to denounce those who first placed him in Parliament. The Development and Migration Commission has cost the count ry for the year 1926-27 no less than £9,627; but the Australian and London organization of that commission’s incidental expenses amounted to £99,483, or a total of considerably over £100,000 a year. So far there have been no results from its work. Doubtless its expenditure will be increased for the year 1927-28, and the same negative results will follow. There is also the Tariff Board, the appointment of which, as Senator Findley said, was opposed by honorable senators on. this side of the chamber. When Parliament was asked to authorize the appointment of that board the- Labour party strenuously opposed the proposal. Prior to the appointment of the board the Minister for Trade and Customs was responsbile to Parliament on all tariff matters. The money expended by that body has been an absolute waste; the board has done nothing to justify its existence. The North Australia Commission last year cost £5,657. Will Senator Ogden say that he opposed the appointment of that commission? Honorable senators associated with me said it would not do the work that was expected of it. Although it was ushered in with a great flourish of trumpets by the present Leader of the Government in the Senate it has done nothing to solve those problems in the north, which are awaiting solution, and which we were told would be immediately settled when the commission commenced its work.
– Did the honorable senator oppose the appointment of the North Australia Commission?
– A vote was not taken. So far as the commission has gone, it has done no useful work. I could also refer to the needless expenditure incurred by numerous other such bodies appointed by this Government, but tims does not permit me to do so. . It is sufficient to say that over £500,000 has been spent in one year on boards and commissions, which can only be regarded as reckless squandering of public money. Most of the work delegated to these commissions could have been done by the Government in its administrative capacity. Reverting again to the Development and Migration Commission, I may say that prior to Parliament being asked to appoint that body, it was agreed to establish a Department of Markets and Migration. We were told that the question of providing markets for our primary and secondary produce and bringing increased population to our shores would be adequately and comprehensively handled by that department. In view of that possibility Parliament agreed to the establishment of a new department ana Sir Victor Wilson, who was for a time the Minister in charge, was later followed by the present Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson). No sooner had the department been established and the Minister had gathered a staff together, than the Development and Migration Commission was appointed. The first question it considered was the position of the mining industry, but instead of submitting some concrete recommendations, it delegated its authority to another committee, and so the work goes on.
– Was it not a technical committee?
– No. When the commission was appointed we were told that its personnel would comprise experts possessingaknowledge of the various problems with which it was to deal, and that its members would simply have to open their mouths and all our problems would be solved. It has, however, worked out quite differently. I mention these matters so that the Minister in reply may attempt to justify the expenditure which is being incurred. If he does not reply to my criticism concerning the Development and Migration Commission and the other points I have raised, I trust he will at least answer some of my inquiries concerning the discontent in the Public Service, owing to the vast number of temporary employees, many of whom have been unjustly treated. I trust he will indicate whether the Government, in conjunction with the Public Service Board, will take some step to ease the discontent that prevails as a result of the transfer of public servants from Melbourne to Canberra.
– I am always interested in the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). We all have our troubles, but when I listen to the dolorous tones of the honorable senator I realize that my troubles are, after all, only minor ones, and I face them with greater resignation.
– Oh, dear me!
– The Leader of the Opposition, in common with Senator Findley, pitches his tale in a minor key, and is always afraid that the Government is running the country to perdition. Unfortunately for the honorable senator, however, the great majority of the Australian people are quite satisfied that the Leader of the Opposition, and those associated with him, should remain on the benches they now occupy. When the Leader of the Opposition warns us of the dangers to be encountered on the course we are pursuing, I feel that after all he may be wrong, because he does not speak for the majority of the people of Australia. We know also that they have very little sympathy with the jeremiads which he utters in this chamber. In my usual cheerful manner, which is in sharp contrast to the sad demeanour of Senator Needham, I wish to contribute to this debate, more particularly upon the subject of the defence of Australia. I cannot entirely commend the Government for its attitude towards this problem. I realize, of course, that it is confronted with many grave difficulties, and is obliged to incur expenditure in various directions. Granting that, however, I still differ from it in that, whilst it regards expenditure along certain lines as of paramount importance, to me the defence of Australia itself is the greatest of all questions, and occupies the foremost position. The time has arrived when we must realize that, although it may have been possible for us in the years that have gone to rely almost entirely upon the Mother Country for the defence of Australia, that condition of affairs is fast disappearing, if it has not already departed. Great Britain herself is faced with so many problems that she has been compelled, mainly because of financial considerations, to reduce her defence force to a minimum.
We have been informed by highest authorities, and even by representatives of the British Government, that Great Britain has almost disarmed herself because of the force of circumstances, and also because of her intense desire to show to the world generally that she is desirous of adopting a policy of disarmament. From an altruistic point of view it may be a good thing to parade our belief in disarmament; but if such a policy is carried to extremes it may prove fatal to many of the high ideals to which we cling. In the past we have been able to rely on the might of the British fleet. Militarily, Great Britain was not always a factor to be reckoned with in world affairs, because she did not devote herself whole heartedly to the development of her military organization ; but she has been, and perhaps still is, the greatest naval power in the world. It would appear, however, that that period of our Empire’s history is passing. If it is, it will be incumbent upon us to rely upon our own strong right arm, so far as that is possible, and not to lean any longer upon the Mother Country, overburdened as she is with ber own great problems and weighted down with enormous war debts and other obligations.
I wish now to quote certain figures to illustrate the fact that we are not standing up to our obligations. I refer to the obligations which we owe to the people of Australia, and to Australia herself, if not to the British Empire. In 1913-14, when the total revenue of the Commonwealth, excluding receipts from business undertakings, amounted to £17,207,000, we spent on defence the sum of £4,752,000, or, roughly, one-fourth of the whole. I point out that that was the year which immediately preceded the outbreak of war. Because we then, spent such, a considerable proportion of our revenue in building up at least the nucleus of a defence scheme, we were able to face the problems that arose out of the war much better than we should have been able to face them had the circumstances been different. Let us now contrast the policy of that period with the tendency of to-day. Last year, although the total revenues of the Commonwealth amounted to £51,300,000- nearly three times as great as they were in 1913-14 - our defence expenditure was only £5,836,000. In the interim our population increased enormously. Ii> eluded in that defence expenditure are a number of items which cannot be regarded as . a contribution towards the effective defence of this country. They are as follow : -
– If other countries have decreased their defence expenditure, should we increase ours?
– I shall deal with that point in a moment. We spent on the military forces, as distinct from everything else, the sum of £2,356,000 in 1913-14, and the sum of only £1,526,000 - a decrease of £830,000 - in 1926-27.
– The department is starved.
– The amount of £1,526,000, which was expended last year, is less by £474,000 than the total amount that was made available to’ the various States under the federal aid grants. I submit that those figures indicate that we are taking a greater risk with this country than our circumstances and . our degree of prosperity warrant.
I have referred more particularly to the military arm, because the Navy and the Air Force are being more fairly treated; although, in one respect at any rate, the problem of the defence of Australia by air is not receiving the consideration that I feel it should receive. I am aware that the Government has been spending, and that it proposes to spend, fairly large sums on our naval defence. I point out, however, that Australia cannot defend herself against attack from the sea by fleets that a”re superior to her own, unless she has the protection of a predominant British Navy. It is a wrong policy to incur a large expenditure on the .naval defence of Australia, and at the same time to neglect the military arm. We have a very valuable asset in the male members of our community, who have, proved their worth in the past, and who, I feel sure, would at all times rise to the occasion provided they were given the proper training and equipment and were properly led. It is in this direction that we are failing to take full advantage of our opportunities. I am fortified in that opinion by the rather remarkable report which was presented on the 31st May last by LieutenantGeneral SirH. G. Chauvel, Chief of the General Staff. In it he said -
The defence of Australia must be considered, in thefirst instance, to be a naval problem, but Australia by her own efforts is unable to maintain naval forces of sufficient strength to guarantee her own security and that of her sea communications unaided. It follows, therefore, that the naval defence and economic life of this country are dependent upon the strength, disposition, and mobility of the whole of the Naval Forces of the Empire.
The Naval Forces of the Empire, however, do not exist for the defence of Australia and her trade alone, and it must be recognized that circumstances may well arise which may prevent these forces from being utilized, at a critical period for Australia, in adequate strength in waters bordering on Australia, and oil the routes followed by Australian trade, more especially as the defence of the British Isles, and of the sea routes leading thereto is, and rightly so, the first object of Imperial naval strategy.
I quote that because it so admirably sums up the, position. The distinguished general goes on to say -
Therefore, notwithstanding the protection which the Naval Forces of the Empire, of which our own squadron forms only a small part, may, if circumstances be favorable, be expected to afford, it is incumbent upon Australia to provide effectively for her own local security. Indeed, it is an accepted principle of Imperial defence policy that each dominion is primarily responsible for its own local defence.
Under the conditions referred to above the principal instruments of the local security of Australia must necessarily be the Army and the Air Force.
I shall quote from his report two other paragraphs, which, I fear, furnish proof that we are not acting up to the fullest extent of our obligations. I remind the Government and the Senate that this was not the first occasion upon which Lieutenant-General Chauvel called attention to this very important point.
– And it will not be the last.
– It probably will not be the last. It is a reflection upon this Parliament that the man who is primarily responsible for organizing the effective defence of Australia should be compelled, year after year, to call atten tion in his reports to facts that should be obvious to anybody who has a knowledge of the circumstances, and to point out that while we may delude ourselves that everything is all right, on the contrary we are living more or less in a fool’s paradise.
– Does the honorable member think that it would be possible for any chief of staff to get the amount of money he wants for his defence scheme?
– We can at least give General Chauvel or the Minister for Defence enough to provide a reasonable nucleus from which, when the time of trouble comes, an effectve defence force can be built up at very short notice. But we are not doing so. General Chauvel goes on to say -
The Great War has taught us two lessons which are apt to be forgotten, i.e., that much time is required to effect war precautions, and that, when a state of international tension occurs, any attempt to accelerate preparation for war is certain to increase the tension.
We know from the teachings of history that that is true-
It must also be made quite clear that the lower the scale as regards numbers, training, and equipment, on which nucleus forces are maintained in peace time, the less the degree of expansion that can be effected on mobolization. The dilution of trained with untrained personnel is only practicable to a definitely limited extent.
I do not think that we can quarrel with that statement. I have already said, in reply to an interjection by Senator Foll, that we should at least provide an efficient and sufficient nucleus from which it would be possible for us to build up a great organization in time of war, if necessary. This is what General Chauvel has to say upon the subject -
Nucleus Organization. - Owing to circumstances beyond the control of the Military Board, the organization is at present in nucleus form only. This nucleus does not yet possess the equipment nor receive the training which are essential to the effective performance of its functions. I feel it necessary to reiterate this point, which has been referred to so frequently in ray previous reports, because it must be made clear that the present restricted policy in regard to the development of the Army, however well it may be executed in detail, cannot be expected to achieve, in adequate measure, the only logical end in view, viz., the effectiveness of the Army as a modern instrument of defence.
Under present conditions a high degree of absorption of new personnel by the present nucleus would be unavoidable and expansion to a war footing would be a difficult business. Citizen Forces, trained for a few days a year for three years, and not equipped on a 100 per cent. basis, cannot be expanded to the same degree as can a full-time fully equipped nucleus.
The present nucleus has been found to be insufficient for the accomplishment of the approved policy of the Army, and I am convinced that an increase in the numbers is essential.
That is a very important and equally damaging statement to make; it is a reflection not only on the Minister, but also on the Parliament that does not provide adequate funds to permit of an adequate organization being built up to provide for the defence of this country. General Chauvel goes on. to say -
Despite the fact that the population of Australia is6,122,700, the number under training in the Citizen Forces of Australia is only 42,000; training takes place in three years only of a citizen’s fife, and for only twelve days in each year. Moreover, the supplyof certain vital equipment is negligible when compared with the ultimate requirements for war and for the replacement of wastage. lt is for the above reasons that I am com pelled year after year to draw attention to the need for natural and reasonable development in our land defence policy.
– A few days ago the honorable senator was advocating a reduction in taxation; he cannot have reduced taxation and increased expenditure.
– There are some directions in which we cannot afford to reduce our expenditure. I am not one of those who agree that the first thing to tackle when expenditure has to be reduced is the defence system of a country. That is the generally accepted idea of what should be done, and it has been done time after time. It may be all right to pursue that policy toan extent, providing always that we do not interfere with the effectiveness of defence forces ; butin the opinion of General Chauvel we have already carried it to such an extent that we are in danger of committing nacional suicide, should any one attempt to call our bluff.
As a representative of the people, charged with a certain measure of responsibility for seeing that Australia is adequately and effectively defended, I cannot help saying that I quite agree with
General Chauvel. I know that my pleadings for more consideration in defence matters will fall on deaf ears on one side of this chamber. It is unfortunate, because defence should not be looked at from a party standpoint. Honorable members opposite belong to a party which in the years that are gone stood splendidly for the effective defence of this country. It was responsible for the inauguration of compulsory military training, and for the building of the Australian navy; but where does that party stand to-day on those matters? Is it in a position to contribute effectively to any debate upon a question of this sort, or to give assistance in the solving of defence problems? It is not, because practically the whole of its defence programme has gone by the board, and the people of Australia are forced to look to honorable members supporting the present Government, to evolve an adequate system. That is another reason why it becomes so necessay for honorable senators supporting the Government tosee if something cannot be done to bring about a better and truer realization of this great problem, and of our responsibilities in regard to it. General Chauvel goes on to say that the supply and training of leaders and staffs are inadequate, and that signs are not lacking that the defence organization may fail in its object - that of producing its own leaders. I suggest to the Minister for Defence, who perhaps knows more about military matters than almost any other honorable senator, that when our defence force, on the showing of its own chief of staff, is unable, owing to its inadequacy, to produce its own leaders of the future, we are getting into a very serious position. Prior to the war the old defence force produced splendid leaders. In those days it was the custom of certain gentlemen who styled Themselves “ regulars “ to sneer at men who were leaders of the Citizen Forces; but when those Citizen Force officers, who had received a magnificent training under the old Citizen Force system, received that additional training that war alone can give, they made the finest leaders it was possible for any country to produce. But General Chauvel points out that we are not producing that kind of leader to-day, and that when the time’ of trouble comes it will be impossible for us, because of the inadequacy and inefficiency of our defence system, to produce leaders of that kind. That is another serious indictment of our military defence system.
Now let me pass on to another phase of the great problems referred to by General Chauvel. If there is anything necessary after the training of officers and men, it is that they should be provided with munitions and the other things that are requisite if they are to take their place in the field. We know that the great problem that confronted the Empire in the early years of the -war was that of maintaining an adequate supply of munitions for the forces in the field. It was a problem so hard to overcome that Germany nearly overcame us before we solved it. Upon this subject, General Chauvel says : -
The Munition Developmental Programme. - With reference to paragraph 76, the position with regard to the progress of the limited munition developmental programme is far from satisfactory. The annual amounts which have been available for it have been far short of the sums that were intended when the programme was initiated.
There is another strong and very striking condemnation of our defence policy. I do not blame the Government alone for this. It is something for which we in this Parliament must accept the fullest responsibility. The Government can get from Parliament only what Parliament is prepared to give it for expenditure on defence, and in recent years there has never been any marked willingness to give the Defence Department sufficient to enable it to do its work in a proper way. It must be obvious to every one that because of the decreased purchasing power of money compared with 1914, the last year prior to the war, if we are to get even the same results that we got then, we should have a considerable increase instead of a decrease in the vote, and that even without paying any regard whatsoever to necessary developmental schemes or to the increased cost of implements of warfare. We all know these implements of warfare have developed, and that the whole business of warfare is much more costly to-day than it was before the last war. On this point, General Chauvel says: - °
The military organization is confronted with constantly increasing costs which are entirely outside the control of the Military Board. This factor necessarily demands a correspondingly automatic increase in the annual amount voted by Parliament in order to obtain the same relative efficiency. No such requisite increase, however, has <been made, but on the contrary the organization has had to cope with progressive annual reductions.
That is another serious indictment. I refer to these criticisms as indictments, because the position is really serious from the standpoint of the men who know our requirements, and who desire to see a proper defence force built up in Australia so that in time of trouble we can stand four-square against an enemy and say, “We are going to see this thing through for ourselves.”
General Chauvel states -
Another factor tending to bring about increased expenditure is the need for developing the army to a reasonable extent, on modern lines, in regard to tanks, anti-aircraft artillery, mechanized transport, survey, ordnance services, &c.
The activities of the army are now restricted to less than the bare essentials of maintenance and training. The time has passed when expenditure can be cut in one direction to permit of progress in another.
The lack of provision for tlie increasing costs of our existing organization and the consistent reduction in the annual vote render it impossible to carry out the approved programme.
This programme, I remind honorable senators, has been approved by the Ministry and endorsed by Parliament, and yet because of these constantly decreasing annual votes it is impossible for it to be carried out. To me this is a very serious matter, as indeed it must be to all who love this country and wish to see it remain in our hands to be developed along lines which we approve. If, by reason of our default in the matter of adequate defence expenditure, it should fall into other hands, it may be developed along entirely different lines.
– Has the honorable senator any particular nation in mind?
– I do not like the present outlook. There is to-day throughout the world a feeling of great unrest, ‘ which I believe would be translated into warlike activities but for the fact that nearly all the nations that took part in the last Avar are suffering from financial depression.
– Does the honorable senator believe that England would allow any interference with this country ?
– I remind the honorable senator that there have been other great Empires in the world, and they have passed away. A few years ago Britain, by reason of her wealth and majesty, was able to stand alone. Unfortunately that day has gone, perhaps for ever.
– Not at all.
– There is to-day another country - I refer to the United States of America - that, from the financial point of view, is infinitely more powerful probably than any other nation.
– The moral power of Britain is greater than any financial power.
– It may be true, as the honorable senator suggests, that the moral power of Britain is greater than the financial power; but we know from experience that morals do not win Avars. The determining factor in war is the capacity of one nation to throw into the conflict a greater weight in men and resources than its antagonist. Unfortunately to a considerable extent Great Britain has lost the advantage which once she enjoyed. She has not now a bottomless purse at her disposal.
– The nation that puts God first is the nation that wins.
– But the trouble is to determine on which side God is fighting. Is it not true that during the last great war the motto of the Germans was”Gott mituns “ ? As a matter of fact all the nations engaged in that terrible conflict fully believed that God was on their side.
– But no nation has stood the test like old England has.
– I agree with the honorable senator, and I wish it to be clearly understood that I am making no reflection upon Great Britain. All I am saying is that Great Britain has been compelled by force of circumstances to cut to the bone all expenditure on navy, army and air services, and that other powerful nations are contesting with her for supremacy in world affairs. All are arming to the teeth in order that, when the time comes, they may be able to play that part which they believe they are destined to play.
– Great Britain reduced her defence expenditure as an example to all the other nations.
– I am afraid that Great Britain did not reduce h,er expenditure solely as a peace gesture to other nations, but because the force of financial circumstances compelled her to do so. When we realize what is going on in the world and ponder on the insecurity of our present condition, we should be exceedingly thankful for the reassuring statement made, by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, who acted as our delegate at the recent Assembly of the League of Nations.
– It was a very good report.
– Like the curate’s egg, it was good in parts ; but it also contained statements that gave considerable cause for thought. However much we may desire peace, we should not forget that there is a very definite feeling of unrest for many countries, and that, although the nations may be coming together in a spirit of confidence, untoward events may at any time rudely thrust them apart. We cannot, therefore, afford to take any risks, because, in connexion with our White Australia policy, we have issued to the world a challenge that reeks with an assertion of our superiority. While I commend the Government for doing certain things, and the Minister for his interest in this subject, I impress upon honorable senators that, as a nation, we are neglecting essentials in our scheme of defence. One argument in favour of federation was that it would make possible co-ordination in the matter of defence. Unfortunately, we appear to be losing sight of that, and are disposed to fritter away our energies over matters of minor importance. I repeat that we cannot afford to run these risks; that if we are to be true to our ideals, and true to the trust reposed in us by the people of this country, we must make more adequate provision for the defence of Australia, along the lines suggested by General Chauvel and other authorities. There are one or two other matters to which I intend to refer in committee. I felt that it was incumbent upon me to bring these facts about the defence of Australia before the Senate, and to urge upon the .Government the desirability and the advisability of doing more in this matter than has been done in recent years.
[4.28]. - -I totally .disagree with the statement of Senator Duncan that force of circumstances actuated Great Britain in reducing expenditure on armaments. The honorable senator must know that this subject was discussed at length at the Washington conference, and that when a proposal was made by the representatives of the United States of America for disarmament, Lord Balfour, the leader of the British delegation, accepted it immediately. Britain’s action on that occasion demonstrated beyond doubt her earnestness in the cause of peace.
– I agree with the Minister.
– Much as we desire the evolution of a scheme which will ensure peace, we cannot ignore the fact that throughout the world there are many nations whose ideals, whose culture and aspirations are entirely divergent - so much so as to constitute a menace to peace. The Government has done and is doing all that is possible within its financial resources to provide for the adequate defence of Australia, and to bear its share of Empire defence. Senator Duncan made a comparison between the Commonwealth revenue in 1913-14 and the present year in relation to defence expenditure. I remind him that to-day we have to make financial provision for the interest on our war debt, provision also for war pensions, in addition to meeting the current expenditure on our defence forces. The extra charges mentioned necessarily reduce very considerably the amount available for the ordinary activities of the Government. Let us examine the expenditure in 1913-14, and dissect some of the items. In that year the expenditure on universal training was £550,000. In the present year it is £266,000. For the purchase of clothing, £240,000 was expended in 191P.-14, whereas this year the estimated expenditure in that direction is only £58,000. In 1913-14 provision had to be made for seven quotas, as against only three quotas to be trained this year with 9,000 less trainees. For ammunition and war-like stores, the sum of £603,000 was expended in 1913-14; this year only £20,000 is being provided. The reason for the greater amount in 1913-14 is that at that time stores had ro be imported, whereas, we are now making them in our own factories. Honorable senators will agree that it would be wrong to rely on imported stores for the defence of this country. We are now making provision for the manufacture in Australia of rifles, Vickers machine-guns, and pistols, and also of ammunition for divisional artillery 18pounders and 4.5 howitzers.
– Provision for the manufacture of rifles was made some years ago.
– That is so, but we are now making the other arms and munitions referred to. We are also manufacturing in Australia the equipment necessary to meet gas attacks. We have produced a. gas mask which has been favorably received by the British war authorities. Practically the whole of these masks are manufactured in this country. Senator Duncan will agree that these are effective measures for the defence of Australia. If we proceeded along the lines adopted in 1913-14, we should be at the mercy of an enemy so soon as the stores which we had accumulated were exhausted. Senator Duncan made no mention of the amount set apart for naval construction. An Appropriation Bill will be brought before us later, which will include £2,900,000 for naval construction. If the honorable senator will add that amount to the appropriation provided for in this bill he will see that we are appropriating for defence well over £8,000,000 this year. That, I submit, is a considerable amount for a population of 6,000,000 persons.
– It is far more1 than the other Dominions are doing.
– It is about the same per head of the population as that for all the other Dominions put together.
– Our dangers are greater than theirs put together.
– Let me now deal with the organization of our defence forces to-day, as compared with, the position in 191’3-14. We hod then, spread over the Commonwealth a number of units in connexion with iliicli militia officers did excellent work. When the war broke out the difficulty confronting us was not only the mobilizing of our forces, but also the organization of them. At that time we had no divisional units. We had to gather units from various parts of the Commonwealth and organize them. The first convoy which left Australia took one division of infantry and a brigade of cavalry. On that organization, we built up the great Australian Imperial Forces. At the present time we have the nucleus of an organization similar to that which we had during the war. I admit that the nucleus, which comprises five infantry and two cavalry divisions, is small; but i1- includes a number of technical units which have been trained to a higher state of efficiency than was the case with similar units prior to the war. While the number of men in training certainly is small, they form a well-trained foundation on which to build. These trained nien are available for the training of other officers and non-commissioned officers. No one will contend that when the war broke out Australia had a sufficient number of trained officers. Irrespective of the amount of money expended, we shall never obtain an adequate supply of trained officers unless from among the young men of this country a sufficient number offer themselves for training. Not one of the militia officers who did such valuable work with the Australian Imperial Forces joined the military forces for the remuneration they received for their services: they joined because they were interested in military work, and were willing to submit themselves for training and to spend their time in studying the science of war. The result was that at the outbreak of war we had a number of trained- officers, who formed the first division, and subsequently did valuable work in training, themen who comprised the Australian Imperial Forces.. If Senator Duncan wishes to do good work for this country, he could not do better than use. his efforts in persuading young men, who can afford the time, to submit themselves for training’ as officers and non-commissioned officers. He could do so with, the assurance that those who. so offered themselves would not only find the work interesting, but would also have the satis-faction of knowing that they were rendering valuable service to their country, both in the event of war and in disciplining the youth of this country in times of peace. Among the young men of Australia there are many who cannot afford to devote their leisure to the study of military science or to attending efficiency schools, but there are others who can do so. The honorable senator could’ not do better than to enlist their services in the interests of the country.
– Those who have done so claim that they have received more discouragement than encouragement.
– . Nothing of the sort. If they have received discouragement, it has not been from the militia officers. With the exception of a few divisions, every unit is in the hands of militia officers who occupy their positions not for the remuneration they receive, but because of their interest in the work.
– Would those who desire to become officers have to enlist as privates ?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Yes. At present every physically fit youth in certain areas has to undergo a period of compulsory military training. That period is really four years - one year in the senior cadets and three years in the militia forces. In certain portions of Australia youths, otherwise eligible, are exempted from training because it would be economical to train them. Not only have we this nucleus staff available in an emergency, but in different parts cf Australia we have also ordnance and mobilization stores, valued at between £13,000,000 to £15,000,000, of which post bellum equipment, received in Australia as the result ofA.I.F. participation in the Great War, represents between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000.
– There is still a considerable shortage of some stores.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.That is so. The honorable senator will realize that we cannot do all these things at once; but if he will take the trouble to visit our ammunition factories he will see that a great deal is being done to provide Australia with the means of defence shouldwe at any time be called upon to defend this country, which we all hopewill not be necessary.
– Will the Minister saywhy so many youths who are eligible for military training are evading it?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.No youthswho are physically fit, Avho live in areas not exempted from military training, orwho cannot prove that such trainingwould involve hardship on them, are permitted to evade training. Youths whose training Avould seriously interfere with their employment, or prevent them from maintaining those dependent on them, are exempted from training.
– Only one in every five who are eligible are receiving training to-day.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The medical examination is very strict, and all those within areas where training is carried out, and who are medically fit, have to undergo training.
– Does that mean that only one in every five examined are declared medically fit? If that is the case, it is a grave reflection upon Australian youths.
– There is a fair number of rejects.
– Surely it cannot be of the proportion mentioned.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.There is a large number of boys living in parts of the Commonwealth where training is not undertaken, but who have to register.
– I cannot understandwhy such a small proportion should be under training, because the bulk of the population of the Commonwealth resides in the capital cities.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.About 90,000 boys are eligible for training, and about half of that number is at present undergoing training.
– I am sorry that they are not all in training.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Itwould be uneconomical to train boys in certain areas, as the department could not provide the necessary staff to visit every centre. Moreover, the expenditure of bringing trainees a great distance to training camps would hardly be justified. This matter has been very carefully considered, and where boys can be economically trained thework is undertaken.
– Are there only 40,000 boys in the Commonwealth undergoing training?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.There are 45,000. Coming to naval defence I may say that it is the accepted expert view that the defence of Australia is primarily a naval problem, and consequently all of our local measures of defence are based on and subsidiary to the protection afforded Australia, in common with all parts of the British Empire, by the British fleet. Recognizing then the primary importance of naval defence, the Commonwealth has established and is maintaining a fleet, trained and manned in accordance with the best methods of naval efficiency and traditions. During the war years, the Royal AustralianNavy, as a unit of the Royal Navy, was a potent factor in securing the safety of the Commonwealth, not only in Australian waters, but elsewhere. It is the Government’s aim that the AustraliaNavy shall remain an up-to-date and efficient arm to contribute its share to the defence . of this continent. It is alreadywell known that the Government has embarked on a naval construction programme costing approximately £7,400,000. For that money,we will have two new 10,000-ton cruisers of the latest type, two neAv submarines, and a seaplane carrier. The two cruisers Australia and Canberra should both be in commission by the middle of next year, and arrive in Australian waters before the close of 1928. In these vessels Australia Avill have two cruisers equal to any of their class afloat. The new submarines,
Oxley and Otway, are now in commission, and working with a submarine flotilla of tlie Royal Navy. The crews are thus getting valuable experience. The most favorable weather conditions must be chosen for their long voyage to Australia, so that it will be early in 1928 before they arrive here. Satisfactory progress is being made with the seaplane carrier under construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, the completion of which is expected towards the end of 192S. The sca-going squadron consists at present of the cruisers Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. The destroyers are the Tasmania, Swordsman, and Success, as well as the destroyer depot ship Platypus.
During the past year, these have carried out a useful programme of cruises with the customary exercises and practices to maintain their fighting efficiency. The numbers borne in the seagoing force are 511 officers and 4,672 men, of which 95 officers and 271 men are on loan from the Royal Navy. The citizen forces number 5,889, and very useful instruction in a sea-going . sloop is being given to them. In the matter of naval training, I may explain that the Flinders Naval Depot is now one great school, or rather, a series of schools. In this establishment every part of a trainee’s naval career is catered for as experts instruct in all branches. The schools comprise - Gunnery, mechanical training, torpedo, physical training, signals, sick-berth training, wireless, ordnance artificers, stokers, electrical artificers, and cookery. Surveying work on the Great Barrier Reef is proceeding most satisfactorily. This work is of vital importance to vessels using the sea route in that locality. As stated in the Treasurer’s budget speech, it is proposed to specially appropriate £120,000 for the continuation of this important activity.
Honorable senators will be pleased to know that graduates of the Naval College have recently done exceptionally well at training courses in England, the results in gunnery, torpedo and signalling, as well as in anti-submarine work, showing an Australian officer at the top of each of these classes. This is a tribute to the standard of instruction given at our College. Fairly substan- tial provisions have been made in the current year’s Estimates for eighteen months’ requirements of ammunition, smoke floats, &c, while replacement of certain over-age and obsolescent ammuni-* ti on has also been provided for.
The works programme will be advanced a further material step during 1927-28, by including the erection of another oil tank at Darwin. At present, Numbers 1 and 2 tanks are already completed, and orders have been placed for their filling. Numbers 3 and 4 tanks are in course of erection, while the Works and Railways Department have been requested to order Numbers 5 and 6 tanks.
In connexion with the army I may state that the divisional organization of the field force will continue to be maintained on the nucleus basis to which it was reduced in 1922-23, provision having been made for training on practically the same basis as last year. The standard of citizen forces has advanced considerably during the last few years. This has been possible owing to the camp training in 1924-25 being extended by two days, and by an additional quota commencing training in 1925-26. It is proposed that three quotas, approximate!) 45,000, should continue to be maintained and trained in 1927-28. The formation of certain technical units has now been completed and a commencement is to bo made with tank training this year, four light tanks, having recently been imported. The development of mechanical transport in relation to the Army is being closely watched and personnel are at present in England undergoing instruction. The instruction of officers and the training of staffs ?s being carried out by means of brigade, divisional and army exercises and special schools, in- addition to the period of camp training with troops. At present exercises are being carried out by the senior staff officers in the vicinity of Newcastle. I am satisfied that progress has been made and that further material advancement will be effected under existing conditions.
The year of senior cadet training has now come to be regarded as a period of recruit training in preparation for entrance to the ranks of the citizen forces. This system is already proving its value, and it has been found possible to hold cadet noncommissioned officers’ courses at which cadets are prepared to assume the duties of noncommissioned officers very soon after incorporation in the citizen forces. It Ls proposed to. extend such courses and by this means to improve the source of supply of non-commissioned officers and officers for the citizen forces. The State governments are giving every encouragement to the physical training of junior cadets in schools, which activity was introduced in July, 1924. Statistics of attendance of teachers to lectures delivered and demonstrations given by defence instructors, one in each State, during 1926-27 are most pleasing. There is definite evidence of increasing enthusiasm in movement.
As will be remembered, the five years’ developmental programme introduced in 1924-25 made provision for -
In addition to the £250,000 made available under the Defence Equipment Act, 1924, for the purchase of munitions, approximately £600,000 has been expended during the past three years upon the developmental programme in that connexion. In regard to defence works generally, I may say that negotiations are proceeding for the acquisition of mobilization and camping areas in South Australia and Tasmania, and in, addition the following works services are proposed
The organization of the Air Force will be maintained on the same basis as in 1926-27. although it is proposed that certain additional personnel will be enlisted for the manning of the two new cruisers and seaplane carrier. During the past year 13 pilots have been trained for the Permanent Forces and 9 for the Citizen Forces, in addition to which 22 are at present under training for the Permanent Forces. Of these, 7 were trained, while a further 6 are now under training for short service commissions in the Royal Air Force. This is in accordance with an arrangement with the Imperial Government whereby the latter reimburses Australia the cost of training the officers concerned, who, on their return to the Commonwealth, are under an obligation to serve four years in our reserve. It may be of interest to honorable senators to know that the standard of training at our flying training school has been eulogized by the Air Ministry, which has reported inter alia that the flying capabilities of the officers sent from Australia are extremely satisfactory, and that noalteration whatever in training is suggested. It is also gratifying to know that Royal Australian Air Force officers sent to England for courses of instruction have done particularly well, two comingout on top in the final’ examinations at the course they were attending. Experience has been gained in the manning of AirForce squadrons with Citizen Force personnel. This scheme is showing every promise of being thoroughly successful. Advantage was taken of the ceremonies for the opening of Parliament at Canberra and the presence of aircraft there to extend the training of the Citizen Force squadron in New South Wales.. No. 101 fleet co-operation flight has continued to co-operate with H.M.A.S. Moresby on the survey of the Great Barrier Reef. The experimental section at Randwick has been engaged principally upon the production of an amphibian and a new landplane which show promise of success. The latter machine is for preliminary training purposes. The functions of all other establishments, &c, arebeing carried out most satisfactorily.
Following on a number of unfortunate air accidents, the Cabinet in. May last approved of the appointment of an Air Accidents Investigation Committee, consisting of a chairman and four members The primary functions ofsuch committee are to investigate each accident with a view to determining itscause, and. at the same time to recommend what action it considers should be taken to prevent recurrence. Up to the 30th September last investigation of nine accidents had been completed.
– The Minister has not, said anything concerning the result of the investigation. There is strong suspicion that there has been a hush up policy.
– The findings of the committee were published in the press.
During recent years the Royal Australian Air Force has been working very largely on gift equipment supplied by the Imperial Government at the termination of the war. As a first step towards re-equipping the force with new aircraft of post-war design, a sum of £250,000 was specially appropriated under the Defence Equipment Act, 1926, primarily for such purposes, orders already having been placed for some of the latest type army co-operation aircraft aud engines and light day bombing machines. The purchase of other types of service aircraft, as well as new training machines, is receiving consideration. I might also add that two large flying boats which were ordered in England should shortly l>e received, it being very probable that these machines will meet, and accompany for some portion of the journey, the flight of four Royal Air Force flying boats that are due to arrive in Australia, in June next, the latter spending three months in Australian waters prior to their return to England.
The provision made under works from loan funds in 1927-28 will permit of further substantial advancement being made with the building and works programme at Laverton, No. 1 Aircraft Depot; Point Cook, No. 1 Flying Training School; and Richmond, New South Wales.
As is well-known, very satisfactory progress in civil aviation has been made in Australia since the inauguration, in December, 1921, of the first aerial mail, passenger and freight service, namely, between Geraldton and Derby, Western Australia.
– Have they not established n world’s record in Western Australia ‘?
–Yes, in regard to safety, punctuality, and the distance covered. At present three companies are operating the following routes - aggregating in distance over 3,500 miles -
The total mileage per annum approximates 500,000 miles. All of these services are subsidized by the Commonwealth Government. Apart from the mail services, a considerable amount of flying - taxi work - off the regular routes is also effected, more particularly in Queensland, on behalf of persons requiring urgent transport on some matter of business or personal import. In addition, two commercial companies have commenced operations in New Guinea. One company has established a more or less regular service between the goldfields and the coast, and this has proved so successful that additional machines are being purchased.
With a view to affording the youth of the Commonwealth an opportunity to take a practical interest in aviation, the Government some time ago approved of the establishment of flying training clubs and” schools upon somewhat similar lines to the Air Ministry’s practice in England. These training schools are divided into two categories, and are subsidized accordingly by the Government as follows -
At the end of September 60 pupils (including three women) had passed the prescribed tests and received their private pilots’ licences - a very satisfactory achievement considering the short period of time the clubs, &c, have been functioning.
As honorable senators are aware, the Government has decided to make available’ a special grant of £200,000 for the further development of civil aviation in this country, the establishment of the following additional services being proposed -
I might say that the consummation of these proposals, which will mean an addition of approximately 4,000 miles of air lines, will result in the virtual encirclement by . air of the entire Commonwealth, and incidentally will have the effect of placing Australia in the forefront of the countries in the world in respect of aviation highways. During the current year the expenditure from this appropriation will be restricted principally to ground preparation with respect to several of the foregoing routes, but in the case of the PerthAdelaide service tenders are being invited forthwith with a view to the linking up of these two capitals by air as soon as possible.
I sincerely hope that what I have said will convey to honorable senators a general idea of the varied activities of the several services and branches that comprise the Defence Department. As will be fully appreciated, the maintenance and development of such services involve substantial expenditure. The 1927-28 appropriations asked, for including the developmental allotment of £1,000,000 total from revenue £5,003,840, ‘ and from loan fund £400,000, making a grand total of £5,403,840 under the main Estimates. The Government also proposes to introduce a bill appropriating a further £3,220,000 for the following purposes : -
[5.8]. - I wish to reply briefly to some observations that were made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). That honorable senator drew attention to certain remarks in the report of the Public Service Board in relation to the Public Service Arbitrator, and gave one the impression that, in his opinion, the board had no right to comment on such a subject. I point out that the Commonwealth Parliament appointed the Public Service Board with the deliberate intention that it should draw attention to anything which, in its opinion, militated against the efficiency of the Public Service. Therefore, if the board considers that the Public Service Arbitrator ought not to deal with questions with which it deals, it has a perfect right to direct the attention of Parliament to that fact.
The Leader of the Opposition also referred to the question of temporary employment in the Government service. He was quite right when he said that every temporary employee would like his employment to be made permanent. Would not the honorable senator prefer a life appointment in this Senate to election for a period of only six years? Of course he would ! We may be pardoned for failing to understand why, when the country has obtained the services of excellent senators, such as those who now hold’ a seat in this chamber, it does not appoint them for life. It must be remembered that there are periods when it is necessary in the service to employ a fairly large number of men to carry out certain specific work. Take the Post Office, as an example. About three years ago the Government decided to embark upon a policy of active development, and to that end it has spent many millions. It is obvious that if every person who was employed upon such work was made a permanent public servant, there would need to be a policy of retrenchment when the time came - as it undoubtedly will - when that amount of money would not bc available for further development. The Leader of the Opposition would then be the first to complain about the injustice of discharging men who had been made permanent employees.
– The temporary employees out-number the permanent employees by four to one.
– That is so, because much of the work is necessarily of a temporary character. They are not always the same men. Consider the work that is carried out by the Works and Railways Department. Can it be argued that every one of its employees should be placed on the permanent staff? For perhaps three or four months mon may be required for a particular job, and when that is completed, their employment ceases. The next big work may be undertaken in another State, and men who are available in that State are given employment. The honorable senator drew a peculiar inference when he said it looked as though this was a means of obtaining cheap labour in the departments.
– So it is.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.As a matter of fact, the wages, hours and conditions of these men are identical with those which they would enjoy if they were working outside the service. In some cases the payment is on a higher scale. Invariably their wages are determined by the Arbitration Court. There can be no question then of cheap labour.
The honorable senator made certain comments upon the appointment of boards and commissions, and singled out for special condemnation the Development and Migration Commission. The mere fact that the principal duty of that commission is to increase the flow of migrants to Australia, and provide for their absorption, is sufficient to condemn it in his eyes, because he is opposed to anything in the way of migration.
– I am not.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On that account he cannot be expected to sympathize with the appointment of a commission that will stimulate the flow of migrants and arrange for their absorption. It is easy to. win a little cheap applause by condemning the proclivity (f the Government to appoint royal commissions; but he cannot name oneroyal commission that is, or has been, in existence for which there has not been a strong demand within Parliament.
– One royal commission was appointed in conformity with a resolution that was moved by Senator Grant.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There was a strong and a widespread demand in Parliament for an inquiry into the moving picture industry in Australia, and a commission was appointed for that purpose. The Government was also strongly urged by members of all shades of nolitical opinion to inquire into the question of social insurance. It cannot be argued that the financial responsibility of instituting social insurance should be undertaken without a full and thorough inquiry respecting the lines that should be followed and the limitations that should be observed. Who is more competent to conduct such an inquiry than members of Parliament, who have a knowledge of the limitations and the responsibilities of public administration ? In like manner, I could run over the whole gamut of the commissions that have been appointed. The honorable senator did not advance any reason against their appointment; he condemned them merely because they had been appointed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule -
Proposed vote, £85,160.
– I think that a Minister should explain why the parliamentary vote shows an increase of 25 per cent. this year in comparison with last year’s expenditure when Parliament was sitting in Melbourne.
[5.19]. - The President and Mr. Speaker are responsible for the parliamentary Estimates. They are not the Estimates of the Government, and any questions relating to them should bc directed by honorable senators to the President. Perhaps the Clerk might secure the attendance of the President.
– I hope that the President will attend during the discussion on these Estimates, because there are one or two matters upon which I should like an explanation from him. I approach the discussion of these Estimates with a certain amount of diffidence, but I feel that honorable senators are entitled to some information with respect to the increases proposed to be given to the officers of the Senate. I notice that the salary of the Clerk of the Senate has been increased from £1,250 to £1,350 a year. I shall raise no objection if the President can justify the increase. It is not long since the salaries of the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives were £1,000 a year. Subsequently the salary of the late Mr. Gale, then Clerk of the House of Representatives, was increased because of his long period of service, amounting to considerably over 30 years, to £1,250. In the following year the then President of the Senate (Senator Givens) raised the salary of the Clerk of the Senate to £1,250. The reason he gave for doing so was that length of service was not to be taken into consideration, but that the salaries of the Clerks of both chambers had to be maintained at the same level, otherwise the dignity of the Senate would be lowered. Although honorable senators were not quite satisfied with the explanation offered, they accepted it as justification for an increase with which they were not altogether in accord. Now, however, the salary of the Clerk of the Senate has been increased by another £100, which is a much greater rate of increase than .has been granted to the senior officers in some outside departments. It is probable that the President, who is in possession of all the facts, can justify this further substantial increase. It cannot have been made because of the transfer to Canberra, because no doubt the Clerk of the Senate is drawing the Canberra” allowance in addition to his salary. “We know also that transferred officers are relieved from the payment of State income tax. However, I do not put that forward as an argument, as other expenses probably more than compensate for this. I notice that ‘the salary of the Clerk Assistant, has been raised from £855 to £950. The Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Committees, and Accountant is to receive £750 instead of £680; but the Clerk of Records and Papers is to have no increase, while the Clerk and Shorthand Writer is to get £343, which is £9 lower than the amount provided last year. Probably some change has taken place in the interim, and a new officer has been appointed to the position. There seems to be no material increase in the salaries of messengers. The President’s messenger shows an increase of £16 a year, and the three senior messengers will draw between them £900 as against £849 last year. The special messenger’s salary remains at £324 a year. It is possible that the work of the officers of another place, because of the larger staff they have to control, is greater than that of officers of the Senate. I should like to know if every year the President’s estimates are to show increases for senior officers and why the Clerk of the Senate, whose salary was increased recently by £250, should be given another increase of £100. I have every respect for the work of the Clerk of the Senate and his staff, and I am not seeking this information for any personal reason. Our officers are efficient and able men, but I do not consider that their work, important though it may be, is as arduous or as important as that performed by heads of many of our permanent departments outside. The Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department has a difficult job to fill and his salary is only £1,300 a year. The officer in charge of the Treasury, which has under its control very important sub-departments, such as Commonwealth Stores, Supply and Tender Board, invalid and old-age pensions, maternity allowance, taxation, superannuation, Government printing, and coinage, draws a salary of £1,500. The Solicitor-General who, in addition to being head of the Attorney-General’s Department, is chief legal adviser to the Crown and chief Parliamentary draftsman, draws a- salary of £2,000 a year. When Mr. Trumble, formerly head of the Defence Department, left for London hia salary was only £1,350 a year. Mr. Shepherd, who is now at the head of that department, is receiving £2,000 a year because of some arrangement made by the then Prime Minister when he left Australia to take charge of Australia House. The permanent head of the “Works and Railways Department receives £1,000 a year, which is £350 less than is proposed to be paid to the Clerk of the Senate. The head of the Markets and Migration Department draws a salary of £1,100 a year. Mr. McLaren, the head of the Home and Territories Department, who, has been many years in the Commonwealth Public Service, and prior to that was in the State service, is paid £1,300 a year, which is £50 a year less than is proposed to be paid to the Clerk of the Senate. I am the last to belittle Parliament as an institution, but with all due respect to Parliament, I submit that a permanent officer in charge of the Home and Territories Department has greater responsibilities and a more arduous task than has the Clerk of the Senate. The ramifications of the Home and Territories Department extend over the whole of Australia and into practically every territory. I rose to explain the situation to honorable senators whose duty it is to watch closely over the expenditure of Parliament. Being above the Government, Parliament should not set an example of unnecessary expenditure. I hope that the President will be able to give honorable senators more information on this matter. I can assure the President that my remarks are entirely impersonal; but I think honorable senators are entitled to information as to why large increases are to be paid to three highly-salaried officers.
– I have no objection to the increased salaries for the Clerk and Clerk Assistant ; but I am much disappointed that more generous provision has not been made for the lower paid officers of the service. I refer particularly to the special messenger and the senior and junior messengers. There is no increase for the special messenger, who gets £324 a year. The President’s messenger goes from £299 to £315, an increase of £16.
For the three senior messengers the total salaries are £900, compared with £849 last year, an increase of £51, spread over the three men. The three junior messengers will get this year £825, as against £767 last year, an increase of £58. When we were discussing these Estimates last year, attention was directed to the fact that no increases in salary were being paid to these officers, and the explanation then offered by the President was that since he had not been long in office, it had not been possible for him to give the matter adequate consideration. He promised, however, that before this year’s Estimates were presented, he would go into the matter with Mr. Speaker. These Estimates show that, while the highest paid officer in the Parliament has had a salary increase of £100, and the Clerk Asisstant an- increase of £95, the total increases to. be paid to the eight messengers is £70 less than the increases to be paid to the highest-paid officer of the Senate. I am not complaining of the increased salaries to be paid to the higher officers, but I regret that the President and Mr. Speaker have not dealt more liberally with the lower-paid men, independently altogether of the cost of living adjustment. It is not too ‘ much to say that the cost of living in Canberra is 20 per cent, higher than it is in Melbourne. That, I suggest, is a conservative estimate, so that- the increases to be paid to the lower paid officers is too paltry altogether. The only way in which we could show our disapproval would be to move that tb« House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item by £1 as an instruction to the President avid Mr. Speaker; to reconsider the salary increases. I do not wish to do that, but I again express my disappointment that the President, and Mr. Speaker have been so petty, if I may use that word, in their framing of these Estimates. The amount paid to these men is not sufficient to keep them and their wives and families in any degree of comfort in Canberra. There is absolutely no margin left. They are doing important work in this building, and it is much to be regretted that they have not benefited to a greater extent from the investigation into their circumstances, which the President promised last year. It may be urged that for a certain time of the year, when Parliament is not sitting, these officers have not much work to do; but their expenses continue at the same rate, and they have to keep their wives and families. I have always insisted that the Government should be a model employer. The matter is in our hands. If it were possible for me to move to refer these estimates back to the President and Mr. Speaker, I should do it. I again urge upon them to give more consideration to the lower paid officers.
– We are now dealing with the estimates for the whole of the Parliament, for which the amount asked is £85,160,as against an expenditure last year of £68,179, the increase this year being approximately 25 per cent. Though the item immediately under consideration is “ The President,” we have no other avenue by which we can obtain information in regard” to expenditure for the Parliament. I trust that the President will be able to explain the reason for the heavy increase in expenditure. There is a general belief throughout Australia that the Commonwealth is becoming too extravagant. I do not agree with that charge in general terms, because I am convinced that in certain circumstances expenditure of public money may, in reality, be an economy. I do not suggest that the increased expenditure in these Estimates for the Parliament implies extravagance; but I feel that we are entitled to an explanation from the President.
– SenatorFoll is to be commended for having brought this matter before the committee. A very delicate situation arises when we have to refer to the salaries being paid to officers for whom we have the highest respect, and whom we have no desire to embarrass or injure in any way. But, with Senator Poll and others who have spoken, I feel that if there is justification for these salary increases to the higher paid officers, there is much more justification for a demand to increase the salaries of the lower paid officers. The amount to be paid to the Clerk of the Senate is higher by hun dreds of pounds than is the salary paid to members of this Chamber, who have to incur much heavier expenditure in maintaining their position than is expected of parliamentary officials. I suggest, therefore, that there must be some reason underlying the decision of the President and Mr. Speaker to grant, year after year, increases out of all proportion to salaries that were paid in former years. Other officers that have been mentioned have not received this somewhat loving consideration. There are, for instance, the Hansard reporters. I refer particularly to these members of the staff, for whom the increase in salary this year cannot be regarded as at all commensurate with the duties they have to perform. It may be of interest to honorable senators to know that the members of our Hansard staff are not being paid in accordance with the standard laid down for the Hansard staffs of certain State Parliaments. In March of last year these officers asked for an increase, and pointed out then that since 1915 their salaries had been increased by only 26 per cent., while salaries in the Public Service generally had been increased by 75.5 per cent., and the increase in the cost of living was 74 per cent.
– They are also debarred from appointment to the best positions in this Parliament.
– That is so. Once they join the Hansard staff, there they remain. They cannot expect, except by the intervention of Providence, to take sudden leaps to higher positions. These estimates provide for an increase of £20 to each member of the Hansard staff. This means that the minimum salary is now only 30 per cent. higher than it was in 1901, notwithstanding that since then there has been , a considerable reduction in the purchasing power of salary paid. In other words, they are getting 15s, where formerly they received £1. I ask honorable senators and the President to bear in mind also, that the maximum salary paid to the New South Wales Hansard staff is higher than the amount provided in these estimates for our Hansard reporters, and that the maximum in
Queensland is equal to the maximum of this Parliament. The reporters on the Commonwealth staff have very important duties to discharge, and in common with many other officials of this Parliament, they are worthy of more consideration than has been shown to them in these Estimates. Why should not the same consideration” be given to them as to the Clerk, and the Clerk- Assistant of the Senate? I do not say that those officers should not receive consideration, but I cannot .understand why they have received this special treatment. Is it because they are able to get the ear of the President in a way that other officials cannot?
– That is “ dirt.”
– In his courteous manner, Senator Newlands has referred to my remark as “ dirt.” If the honorable senator were in the President’s chair, and some other honorable senator made use of that remark, he would call upon him to withdraw.
– The remark is in order.
– I am putting the case impartially, and urging the claims of these men for further consideration. The President may he able to explain the reason for what has been done. I am not imputing anything wrong.
– The honorable senator is.
– I have shown the position as it is, and I ask for an explanation. The President may have a good and sufficient explanation; but it seems to me that the differentiation will require a considerable measure of justification.
. -In these days of unemployment and financial stringency, it is well that we should put on our thinking caps and ask whether we should increase the salaries of men who, by no stretch of the imagination, can- be said to be on the bread and butter line. For the officers of the House I have the utmost respect ; I respect them because they are manly men, and because they have the necessary qualifications to fit them for the high and responsible positions which they occupy. I trust, therefore, that my remarks will not he taken as having a personal application. I have a higher conception of my duty than to deal with this matter from the personal stand-point. But, with other members of the Labour party, I am bt this Parliament to represent particularly those persons in the community who, for the most part, are on the bread and butter line. I make no apology for saying that my first thought is for them. Such men are entitled to our most serious consideration. They do the hard work of the world, yet oft-times they are the least rewarded and the least respected. The members of this Parliament are in receipt of salaries of £1,000 per annum each. Some people say that that amount is too large, others that it is too small. Since we came into this broad national atmosphere, where our vision is less restricted - although our expenses are much heavier than when we resided in a State which, to say the least, treated the members of this Parliament very kindly–
– The Victorian members reaped the benefit of the Parliament meeting in their home State.
– The transfer makes no difference to the representatives of the other States.
– The location of the Seat of Government makes no difference to Senator Reid, with his welllined purse. I speak as a humble member of the Labour party, not so fortunately situated. The two principal officers of the Senate can, at least, be said to be in receipt of a decent minimum wage. The minimum wage of the Clerk of the Senate is now £1,250. It is proposed to increase that wage to £1,350. Senator Reid may describe that as only a small increase. It is, however, almost an additional £2 a week - a very respectable sum to put by each week. It is also proposed to increase the salary of the Clerk Assistant from- £855 to £950, an increase of £95. For the two officers whom I have mentioned, increases in salary amounting to £195 per annum are proposed. Let us now consider the position of the men on lower salaries associated with this Parliament. An increase of £16 per annum is proposed for the President’s messenger. That amount wilh no doubt, be acceptable to him, but a larger sum would be more acceptable. Then there are three senior messengers, the Aggregate of whose salaries is to be increased from £849 to £900. That is an increase of £17 each. There are also three junior officers who will share an “increase of £58. The total increases proposed for these seven officers amount to £l2S per annum, as against £195 for the Clerk and .the Clerk’s Assistant of the Senate. Honorable senators will agree that, there is a great disparity between those figures. No one will question the efficiency, loyalty, or courtesy of any of the officers of this Parliament, whether highly paid or on poor salaries, but - and 1 speak particularly on behalf of the lower paid men - they have suffered great disadvantages since the Seat of Government Avas transferred to Canberra. Most of them have had to break up their homes, and many of them their families. Some of them have been forced to maintain two homes. They are, therefore, deserving of the fullest consideration. I ask Senator Newlands, who has experienced the. difficulties of the work day world, and knows the disabilities under which wives, whos husbands are receiving the basic wage labour, to compare the position of the men associated with this Parliament in Canberra, Avith their position when the Seat of Government was in Melbourne. Does he think, that the small increases in salary provided are a sufficient compensation for the handicaps and hardships they are called upon to bear? The cost of living in Canberra is exceedingly high. Almost prohibitive prices are asked for various foods, particularly vegetables. I understand that green peas cost ls. lOd. ji lb., and that the prices of other vegetables and fruit are very much more than in any of the capital cities of the States. How often are green peas, at this price, or fresh fruit, likely to be on the table of a man who has to keep a wife and family on £5 a week. Milk is also dear. I do not advocate that people should consume large quantities of meat, but adequate supplies of milk, vegetables and fruit are necessary for the preservation of good health. And those are the commodities for which housewives in Canberra have to pay exorbitant prices. In the circumstances, the men on the bread and butter line are entitled to more consideration than has been shown to them ir. these Estimates. The President of the Senate should consider the position of these men, not on the basis of the conditions which applied to them in Melbourne, but on the basis of the cost of living in Canberra. He should remember that the purchasing power of £1 in Canberra is less than it is in Melbourne.
– I do not propose to touch upon the positions or emoluments of the principal officers of Parliament, except to say that the conviction has been forcing itself upon me for the last 25 years that the gentlemen who occupy senior positions in the Commonwealth Parliament are above all men the most blessed, both as regards the nature of their work and the magnitude of their remuneration. I wish, however, to put in a. word for the members of the Hansard staff. I do so quite disinterestedly because I am one of the members of this chamber who do not bother them very much; but I must say that whenever I do they very materially improve - so far as my memory serves me - upon what I have said. I think many other honorable senators are in the same position.
– Hear, hear !
– These gentlemen have a very arduous task to fulfil. In the first place there is a popular fallacy that a Hansard reporter is merely a shorthand writer. Nothing is further from the truth. A Hansard reporter must, above all, be possessed of a tremendous amount of general information, and be able to appreciate allusions concerning which the Senate - and even the honorable senator who is speaking - is very often not clear. I am including myself with other honorable senators in all these little disqualifications. Indeed, I have known Hansard reporters to extricate me from a maze of parentheses out of which I should have been quite unable to emerge without their help. The arduous nature of their duties must be apparant to every one who carefully studies the nature of their work Whilst honorable senators may leave the chamber for a while and occupy themselves in a different atmosphere, they, poor fellows, have to remain and listen to the speaker who very frequently is addressing the Hansard reporter and no one else. If we examine the way these officers have been treated during the last few years in the matter of remuneration, I think we shall admit that they have some claim to consideration. They have been asking for increased salaries, but since 1915 the minimum salary of their office has been increased by only 26 per cent., while the average, increase in salaries of the rest of the Public Service has been something over 70 per cent. This is not due to their lack of fitness or ability to carry out their duties.
– Hear, hear.!
– We must admit that their work is excellent in every way, and members of this chamber and another place have every reason to be grateful to them. I ask that, if not on this occasion, at all events at some early date, more consideration shall be given to these officers. I am in agreement with Senator Findley concerning the position of the lower paid members of the Parliamentary staff. It has often been a matter of wonder to me how they manage to. get along, and I think that at this stage the circumstances of these gentlemen might well have been considered before some of the other increases which now appear on these Estimates were made. I have to conclude as I began, by congratulating the senior officers of Parliament upon their extremely fortunate position.
– We cannot discuss the salaries of the parliamentary officers perhaps as freely as we otherwise would for the simple reason that some of them are present. We are, however, the final arbiters in the matter of the salaries they are to be paid. We see in the schedule of expenditure that a heavier drain is to be made upon the people who have to pay the taxes than tins ever been the case in the history of this country. Taxation is. mounting up to such an extent that it must really puzzle the brains and ingenuity of those who take an interest in the matter of how and when the brake is to be applied or whether ve are ever going to stop. Already I have pointed out during the course of a recent debate that our taxation is now about £9 3 2s. per head of population, whereas in Canada it is only about £6 per head. The present rate of taxation per head of the people marks about the highest point we have yet reached. We are here primarily to conserve the interests of the taxpayers ; but at the same time to give a fair deal to those whom they, employ. We are not here to treat them unfairly, unkindly, or even ungenerously. I am afraid that in this instance there is justification for the complaint lodged against the policy of raising the salaries of some of the principal officers, whilst those of others have not been increased. I remember on one occasion when the salaries of some officers of Parliament were increased, a serious difference of opinion arose between this chamber and another place. A conference had to be convened between managers representing both chambers in an endeavour to solve the serious difficulty which had then arisen. The cause of the difference of opinion on that occasion was that the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives was increased without the consent of this chamber or its presiding officer. It was immediately seen .that by so doing an anomaly was created, and, as I have said, the matter was discussed at the conference. The representatives of another place pointed out that th.-j officer concerned in this chamber was junior to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and was not, therefore, entitled to be placed on the same plane as that considered to be proper for the senior officer in another place. The position has been reversed this year, as a junior officer in another place is to receive as much as an officer in this chamber who is his senior.
– -At the time the Estimates were prepared the senior officer was Clerk of tlie other House.
– That destroys, the force of the argument I am using.
– But the junior officer appointed to this office will receive this salary.
– I was merely showing that what applied four or five years ago should also apply in this instance. I also wish to direct attention to thu piecemeal manner in which salaries si-e increased, which provokes dissatisfaction, and a rankling feeling in the breasts of those who wish to see uniformity. If it is possible we should grant increases all round by a general review of the salaries of the whole parliamentary staff. In the present circumstances I fail to sen why there should be a piece-meal review instead of the more satisfactory one of a general review. Mention has been made, and I think justifiably so, of the position of dependents of persons who, for the time being, were the arbiters in cases of this kind. If we refer to the Estimates we find that the dependants of two prominent men are being granted compassionate allowances. Their names are well known. The dependant of one who occupied a seat in this chamber in a ministerial capacity, is now receiving assistance from the Government. An allowance is also being paid to the dependants of a veteran gentleman who was a member of Parliament for long years, and was one of the fathers of federation. Apparently these men did not 10,ave sufficient to support their dependants. That phase of the subject has to be considered. The feature of the case that appeals to me least is that if Parliament grants allowances in such cases it cannot reasonably withhold increases in salaries to others. We cannot make, fish of one and flesh of another. But departmental expenditure is increasing and special appropriations are being made, and we must face the question and ask when this practice is likely to cease. I think the hour has long since arrived when a halt should be called, otherwise we shall keep on increasing the cost of government to such an extent that those who sent us here as their representatives will be calling upon us to account for our actions. I believe it is true that many of the officers of the Senate have not had increases in salaries commensurate with the importance of their work or in anything like the same ratio as we find in the two cases mentioned by another honorable senator. If that is so there is every reason why there should be a general overhaul of the remuneration paid to members of the whole parliamentary staff, instead of increases being made in a perfunctory fashion. I know that we cannot retrace our steps very well, and that Mr. President and Mr. Speaker jointly may possibly have some good reason for their actions. Possibly we shall find that these two officers could earn as much money outside; but that may or may not be so. At all events I am of the opinion that the tendency of the time is to underrate the capacity of capable public officers, which results in their services being permanently lost to the Commonwealth. It is, however, to be regretted that a more thorough overhaul has not been made in the case of the parliamentary staff, in order to ascertain if a. general increase is warranted. In my opinion it is not warranted in the present circumstances. If it is it should be considered in a proper way, and not in the haphazard fashion adopted in this instance.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to S p.m.
Senator Sir JOHN NEWLANDS (South Australia) [8.0]. - Before the committee adjourned for dinner, certain . criticisms were levelled at Mr. Speaker and myself in relation to the salaries that are provided on the Estimates for the officers and staff of Parliament. I wish to assure honorable senators that I find no fault with that criticism, but that, on the contrary, I regard it as fair and proper. Those who are responsible for the preparation of these Estimates must have regard to the salaries that are paid for somewhat similar work in other departments, and by the Public Service Board, and in the light of those facts, decide what increases can reasonably and fairly be given.
At the outset, I wish to refer to a suggestion that was made by Senator Duncan. I took strong exception to it at the time, and I do so now. The honorable senator inferred that the salary of the Clerk of the Senate had been increased unduly because he had the ear of the President. I resent that imputation. Personal contact with an officer has not the slightest influence upon my judgment as to the salary he should receive. I hope and believe that honorable senators know me sufficiently well to give me credit for that.
I point out to honorable senators that the Estimates for the Senate are identical with those of another place, in which they were agreed to without comment.
– Honorable members of another place did not have a chance to discuss them fully, because theywere “gagged “ through.
– I do not, on that account advise a similar course in this chamber. I take no exception to criticism so long as it is not unfair.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you will allow me to deal with the various items under their respective heads, as they are bound up one with the other. The salary of the Clerk of the Senate has been increased in sympathy with that of the Clerk of the House of Representatives; and to such an extent as to bring both somewhat into conformity with those paid to the heads of departments in the Public Service. I feel that heads of outside departments have been receiving such considerable increases that they are getting’ far ahead of the officers of this Parliament. I have always been under the impression that the officers of Parliament are deserving of salaries commensurate with those which are paid to officers who occupy similar positions in other departments. We are well aware of the responsible nature of the duties our officers perform. That view - it may be a wrong one - was held by Mr. Speaker and myself when Ave reviewed Avith care and thoroughness the salaries of the members of the staff.
It has been said that the cost of Parliament has increased tremendously. Of course it has! That is due, not so much to higher salaries, as to the fact that the Seat of Government is now at Canberra, and the staff, which is necessary to keep this building in order is considerably greater than that which Avas required in Melbourne. There is also the further fact that in Melbournewe could engage men and dispense Avith their services as it suited our convenience, Avhile here the employment is practically permanent. There is a large number of temporary employees, but they have to be in attendance every day, and their salaries amount to a considerable sum.
I shall now give some figures to indicate to honorable senators the directions in which costs have increased. The Estimate for the Senate Avas £10,703 in 1926-27, and for this financial year it is £11,820. This includes provision for payment of the Canberra alloAvance, amounting to £718. The Estimates for the House of Representatives Avas £16,792 in 1926-27, and Is £17,920 for this financial year. In its case the Canberra allowance amounts to £950. The figures for the Hansard staff are £12,702 in 1926-27, and £13,140 in 1927-28 inclusive of the Canberra allowance of £750. It is not necessary that I should give the figures for the Library, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, or the Joint House Department, all of which come under the Estimates for the Parliament. It will be sufficient if I say that there has been a total increase of £16,503 -from £68,657 to £85,160. That is inclusive of the Canberra allowance, which is shared by every member of the staff, and which amounts in the aggregate to £4,817. I had intended setting out the increases that have been given to thevarious heads of departments, but as it has been done by other honorable senators I shall not traverse that ground. I repeat that I am anxious to see that the status of officers of Parliament is not reduced beneath that of outside officers. The salary of the Clerk of the Senate has increased since 1915 by 25 per cent., that of the Clerk Assistant by 10.3 per cent., that of the Usher of the Black Rod by 13.3 per cent., and that of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter by 40.2 per cent.
On the other hand the increase in the case of the messengers, Avho are supposed to have been overlooked, ranges from 26.8 per cent. to 50.6 per cent. It will be seen, therefore, that the percentage increase in their case has been very much greater than in the case of the highly salaried officers. All these figures Avere before Mr. Speaker and myselfwhen we made a review of salaries. We then decided upon increases that in our judgment were fair. Our judgment may have beenbad; apparently some honorable senators believe that it is. It may be Avithin the recollection of honorable senators that at one time there Avas a proposal that the financial year should end on a different date from thatwhich at present rules. It was, therefore, necessary to prepare portion of. these Estimates in Melbourne. That proposal was abandoned, and the balance of the Estimates was prepared in Canberra. When we undertook this work we had no knowledge regarding the price of peas in Canberra, about which Senator Findley seems so much concerned. When the next Estimates are being framed some allowance may be made on that score! I think honorable senators will agree that as sensible, careful men we did the very best we could in the circumstances. A great deal has been said regarding the salaries that are being received by the lower-paid- men. I say that very substantial increases have been given to those men. Their case was duly, weighed, and they were given what we considered were fair increases. If it bas since been found that the cost of living in Canberra is greater than even honorable senators anticipated, the position may be rectified at another time. I make no promise. I merely say that when the next Estimates are being prepared we shall know very much more about the conditions here than we did an the last occasion. It is contended that the Hansard, staff has not received an adequate increase.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [8.15]. - As the Parliamentary Estimates are absolutely within the control of the President and Mr. Speaker, any remarks I have to make at this stage I make as a member of the Senate> and not as a member of the Government. . I feel that, as a member of the Senate, I have a right to express my views on the matter now under discussion. When submitting their Estimates, the President and Mr. Speaker must accept the responsibility for any alterations they may make, but I want to draw attention to one remark made by Senator Newlands, because it may be thought that the President and Mr. Speaker were quite right in putting forward as a reason for increasing the salary of the Clerk of the Senate the fact that the Clerk in either House occupies a position equiva lent to that of the head of an outside department of the Public Service. That reason, will not bear examination. It is true that under the. Public Service Act, for the purposes of administration and that kind of thing, the Clerk of either House, is the equivalent of the head of a public department, but the analogy can be pushed a little too far. How can we justify the _ Clerk of the Senate receiving £50 a year more than is received by the Secretary to the Home and Territories Department? Of course, it may be replied that the fault is due to the failure of the Government of the day to see that the Secretary to the Home and Territories Department is paid an adequate salary; but I should imagine that when the President was fixing salaries he paid some regard to the salaries already being paid in the Public Service. In. fixing salaries of heads of departments, the Government has to take into account the number of officers in a department and the responsibility that rests on the head of that department. Excluding the mandated territories, Papua, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island, and such subdepartments as electoral, census, and meteorological, and confining our comparison to the administrative staff of the Department of Home and Territories, we find that it comprises 54 officers, compared with the sixteen officers who comprise the staff of the Senate. If, for the sake of argument, we say that the Clerk of the Senate has also to control the staff of th, Joint House Committee, the total number of officers controlled by -him does not exceed 71, even including the Library staff; whereas’, still for the sake of comparison, if we include the electoral, census and meteorological sub-departments among those which are under the control of the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs, we find that that officer has 395 officers under him. Surely it cannot be said that an officer who controls a staff of 71 is justified in getting £50 a year more than one who is in charge of 395 officers. I suggest’ that Senator Newlands is not on safe ground in using the analogy he has drawn as justification for the salary he has provided for the Clerk of the Senate. There is, however, another striking difference between the head of a public department and theClerk of either House of Parliament. The head of a public department has a certain amount of authority, but the fixing of salaries for all officers other than the heads of the department is the task of the Public Service Board. In regard to the parliamentary staff, the President and Mr. Speaker act as the Public Service Board and fix salaries. But it is obvious that in doing so they must be guided by the advice given by the heads of the parliamentary departments. It may be said, therefore, that the Clerk of either House occupies not only the position of head of a department, but also in respect to promotions and the fixing of salaries, a position which is equivalent to that of the Public Service Board. That may be advanced as an Argument to justify the difference between the salaries of the Clerk in either House and that paid to the Secretary to the Home and Territories Department. But I rose mainly to speak upon another matter. The theory underlying the principle we have hitherto adopted is thatParliament should have control of its own staff. But the remarks that have been made during this discussion seem to indicate that in the interests of Parliament itself it might be advisable if it followed the example of the Government and delegated certain of its responsibilities to the Public Service Board. If honorable senar tors seek to keep some parity between the salaries paid to officers of Parliament and those paid to officers outside Parliament in the public service generally, they could not do better than relegate these matters to the board which deals with all the departments. Apart from the salaries of the heads of departments all other salaries paid in the Commonwealth Public Service are fixed by the Public Service Board or by the Public Service Arbitrator.
– Then parliamentary positions would be open to all members of the Public Service and vice versa?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That is so. If that were done, in what way would Parliament’s effective controlof its own staff be injured? It seems to me that it would not be injured in the slightest, any more than the effec tive control over the public service generally is injured by the fact that Parliament says, “ We are not competent to go into all the intricacies of these questions, and we relegate them to the Public Service Board, reserving to ourselves the right at any time to abolish the board which we have created if we see fit to do so.” I think it would be in the interests of Parliament, the President and Mr. Speaker if all matters, ‘ other than the fixing of the salaries of the Clerk in either House, were left to the Public Service Board, which would have to pay regard to salaries given to similar officers doing similar work in other departments. I shall support the President, but the debate has given rise to some doubt in my mind as to whetherthe system we have adopted is conducive to economy or good discipline, or, what is more important, to fair play as between one department of the Public Service and another. It seems to me that it is not fair play.
Senator Sir JOHN NEWLANDS (South Australia) [8.24]. - I did not wish to convey the impression that Mr. Speaker and I, in dealing with these Estimates, were influenced wholly by salaries paid to the heads of the departments outside. But when those salaries were laid before us, we could not help drawing a comparison between one officer’s work and that of another. The salaries paid to certain heads of departments may have had some little influence on Mr. Speaker and myself, but we certainly did not base our final decision upon them. With regard to the suggestion that the Public Service Board should be asked to fix the salaries of officers of Parliament, I am sure it would be a great relief to Mr. Speaker and myself to get rid of the responsibility of fixing salaries which is almost an annual cause of complaint against us. But I foresee considerable difficulty in making such an arrangement. The suggestion has been discussed repeatedly. As a matter of fact, my predecessor, Senator Givens, was at one time inclined to : vdopt it; but after considering the matter well, he found that it waa not likely to work satisfactorily, as many difficulties were bound to erop up. When my timeexpired previously I was about to deal with the Hansard staff. TheEstimates for the current year provide an increase of £964 on last year’s expenditure the actual figures being:- 1926-27, vote £12,702, expenditure £12,176 ; 1927-28, vote £12,140. Of the increase the special Canberra allowance accounts for £750, andpro vision for an additional day’s pay on account of leap year, for £49. There is an increase of £360 for the permanent staff. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter’s salary is raised from £1,000 to £1,100, the salary received by his predecessor, and that of the Second Reporter, from £S30 to £900. There are eleven reporters, whose salaries have ranged from £630, with annual increments to £730. It is now proposed that the range shall be from £650 to £750.
– That is still £20 below the amount paid in New South Wales.
SenatorSirJOHNNEWLANDS. - The senior Ilansard reporters are paid £770 in. New South Wales, and £750 in Queensland. Similar increasesare proposed in the other parliamentary departments of those States. It appears that the CommonwealthHansard staff is not as well paid as are the Hansard staffs in New South Wales and Queensland, and that is a matter that possibly in years to come will be remedied in a way that may afford the Commonwealth parliamentary staff some slight satisfaction. But I do not know that I can particularize any further in the matter of these salaries, other than to say that the Estimates are revised from year to year. We are now dealing with Estimates which were prepared partly in Melbourne. The next revision will be made in Canberra, and with possibly a greater knowledge of the conditions here. I can make no promise, but something may be done in the directon that some honorable senators think ought to be done. The House staff has done herculean work in putting the Parliament House in Canberra in order. It has done work that reflects the greatest credit on the ability of those who have done it. The loyalty of the staff is unquestioned. No words are required from me to express the appreciation of honorable senators for the marvellous way in which the Hansard staff performs its duties. Mr. Speaker and I did not deal with these Estimates with the idea of giving undue preference to any officer in the Parliament. Our one desire was to treat all of them fairly, and I can assure honorable senators that if any mistakes have been made, it has not been because we desired to favour one officer as against another.
. - I am not at all satisfied with the reply of the President to the criticism that has been levelled against his Estimates. He told us that they were’ prepared in Melbourne.
– Partly in Melbourne and partly in Canberra.
– It was well known when they were first under consideration that the transfer to Canberra wouldtake place shortly afterwards, and that Parliamentary officers would have to meet the inincreased cost of living in the Federal Capital Territory. I do not envy the President his task in attempting to defend his Estimates. He has not advanced one practical reason why the lower paid officers should not have been treated better than they have been. No doubt it is nice for them to hear words of commendation from his lips and his references to their loyalty to this branch of the legislature. Their loyalty goes without question. They are entitled to recognition in some practical form - something more substantial than a paltry advance of £17 a year, which is the amount of increase given to some of the lower paid officers. Speaking earlier in the evening I said that I did not object to the increases proposed for the higher paid officers.I do not believe in reducing the salary of any man. I thought that when the President rose to defend his Estimates, he wouldbe able to justify what I regard as the niggardly treatment that has been meted out to the lower paid officials. He has not done so. I feel obliged, therefore, to test the feeling of the committee, and I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote.- “The Senate. Salaries £9,880,” by £1.
This may appear to be a strange method to secure an increase in salary for officials of Parliament, but it is the only course permitted by our Standing Orders. The right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) suggested, I think, that it might be better if Parliamentary officers were placed under the control of the Public Service Board. If they had been under the control of the board, they could not have been treated worse than they have been by the President and Mr. Speaker. But, even if the board had set a better example in the treatment of its own officers whose destinies it controls, I would never consent to Parliamentary officers being handed over to the tender mercies of that body. I hope that Parliament will always retain control over its own immediate employees. Mention has been made of the Hansard staff. Here again the President and Mr. Speaker have failed miserably to show appreciation of the work which these men do. No other Hansard staff in Australia can compare with the staff of this Parliament.
– “Why work them so hard’ then ?
– The President has indicated that he and Mr. Speaker, in fixing salaries, made a comparison with salaries paid to heads of departments outside Parliament.
– “We looked at the rates, but did not make comparisons in the way suggested by the honorable senator.
– Apparently the method adopted was not very effective in view of the fact that the senior messengers of the Senate are in receipt of a salary of £6, and the three junior messengers are getting a little more than £5 a week. They have been for a long time on a low salary. The miserable pittance given to them each year is not of much assistance to them. Increases in the salaries of lower paid officers should have been considerably more than £17 a year. The President and Mr. Speaker have proved themselves to be very remiss in this matter. The men concerned have to do responsible work, and on the salary they receive they must find it difficult to keep their wives and families in anything like reasonable comfort. If the President and Mr. Speaker had to rear and educate families on such low salaries they would have more sympathy with the men. Again, it must be remembered that these officers have to keep up appearances - and all on £6 a week. This would not be required of them in other employment. I regret that ii is necessary to submit an amendment, but I think.it is only right that I should make my protest in this form.
– I should not have taken part in this discussion but for a remark of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). I was very much surprised to hear the Minister say that these Estimates were not the Estimates of the Government, but the Estimates of the Government plus the President and Mr. Speaker. To me this seems to be a very peculiar position.
– Parliament always controls its own officers.
– I always understood that these Estimate:- were presented by the Treasurer, and that they were the Estimates of the Government.
– The Government does not interfere with the Estimates of Parliament.
– It appears then that if the Government thought that the salaries which the President and Mr. Speaker had fixed for some parliamentary officers were too high, and others were not high enough, the Government would still have to submit the Estimates.
– And take action in the House,
– Exactly. If the Government thought that the salaries fixed by the President and Mr. Speaker were too high, the only means by which the Ministry could act would be for a member of the Government to object to Estimates placed before Parliament by the Government. Does not this appear to be a peculiar position?
– If the position were otherwise the Government would have control over officers of Parliament.
– As I have said, I always understood that these Estimates were the Estimates of the Government, and that in every respect they had the approval of the Minister. To me it seems strange that the Government should not be responsible for them. ‘ I was much interested in the speech of the Leader of the Senate. After referring to the arguments of the President in support of these Estimates, he said in effect, “I do not believe in them, but I intend to support the action of the President in regard to these Estimates.” In other words, he does not appro* e of the reasons advanced by the President for bis action, but quite approves of what the President has done! I believe certain judicial officers make it a rule never to give reasons for their judgments. Obviously it is a sound rule, because their judgments might be sound enough, but their reasons totally unsound. Many judgments have, I believe, been upset on that account. However, I have obtained the information to seek which I rose to speak, so I will say nothing more.
– Senator Newlands has taken exception to a remark which I made earlier in the debate to the effect that in the matter of salary increases certain officers appear to have had the ear of the President. I wish to assure Senator Newlands that I did not intend to infer that anything improper had occurred. The President has admitted that he and Mr. Speaker consulted with the Clerks of Parliament in regard to the salaries of the officers connected with Parliament. That was a proper course for them to pursue. I also agree that, if the Clerk of the Senate believed that there were good reasons why his salary should be increased, he was justified in making representations on his own behalf. I have been in a similar position, and I have not hesitated to suggest that my work entitled me to a higher salary. I see nothing improper in what has been done. My point was that, because the President, bas to consult with the Clerk of the Senate in dealing with salaries that officer has a better opportunity to put forward his claims for an increase than have other officers not so closely in touch with the Presiding Officer. I am reminded that, when the Appropriation Bill was before us last year, Senator Needham moved a precisely similar request to that which he has moved to-night. I then interjected -
Why not accept the assurance of Mr. President, and leave the matter to him ? The honorable senator said he would do that.
I believed then that the President would take the earliest opportunity of consider ing the whole question of the salaries of the officers of Parliament, and I have no doubt that he believed that be has done so in the Estimates now before the Committee. I am not quarrelling with the increases that have been given ; but I do suggest that the lower-paid officers have not received the same treatment that has been given to the more highly-paid officers. The President has admitted that the maximum salary paid to Hansard reporters in this Parliament is £20 per annum le3S than the maximum salary paid to similar officers in the New South Wales Parliament. That anomaly cannot be justified. The reporting staff attached to a State Parliament should not be paid more than the reporting staff of the Parliament of the whole Commonwealth. T have brought these matters forward, because I feel that something should be done to remove these anomalies. I again plead for further and more sympathetic consideration for the lower-paid officers, without in any way suggesting that any less consideration should be given to those in receipt of higher salaries.
– In discussing matters of purely domestic concern, involving an expenditure of a few thousand pounds, this committee has spent about two and a half hours. In saying that I make no reflection on the Chair;” but I point out that, if we devoted the same attention to the balance of the Estimates, involving the expenditure of many millions of pounds, the task would occupy us for about nine years. I should like to gain some information respecting certain allowances to be granted to the staff of Parliament. We have provision for child endowment, a special Canberra allowance, an additional day’s pay on account of leap year, and a cost of living adjustment. I should also like to know whether similar allowances are made to other sections of the public service far removed from the central eye and other sections of the community. It is time that this Parliament considered the claims of the taxpayers who Have to find the money to enable these allowances to be .paid. I know that, in raising this ‘ question, I am following an unpopular course, bat it is time that some one brought it forward. We are entitled to ask whether the men to whom these allowances are to be granted, and these salaries paid, are better or worse off that if they were in private employment outside. In my opinion, notone of them would be better off to-day if ho were in private employment. I claim to be as good a friend of the Public Service as is any other person. The public servant is entitled to an adequate return for his services; but in considering him we must not overlook the claims of the taxpayers. This Parliament should endeavour to hold the halance fairly between the man who pays and the man who receives. As one who has supported increases of salaries in the past. I feel that I am entitled to speak as I have done. Has any one previously heard of a leapyear allowance? I shall be interested to hear the explanation of the four allowances to which I have referred.
.- Seeing that the committee is dealing with the Estimates for the Senate is it necessary to request the House of Representatives to reduce the item by £1 ? Should not the Senate control its own estimates?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The request is in order.
.- I cannot understand Senator Needham’s object in moving his requested amendment. Honorable senators placed their views before the committee, and heard the President’s explanation, most of which must be regarded as satisfactory. Honorable senators may confidently leave thematters which have been raised to the President and the Speaker, who next year will doubtless remedy any anomalies which exist.
– A year is a long time to wait for the rectification of errors which exist now.
– If the request is agreed to, we shall accomplish nothing. It will not increase any salaries this year. Senator Duncan said that the officers in closest touch with the President were treated more generously than were other officers. That is inevitable so long as human nature remains what it is. This debate is evidence of the truth of that statement. It is because honorable senators appreciate the services of the messengers connected with Parliament, with whom they are daily in touch, that this discussion has taken place.But there may be in the Public Service other men whose salaries are covered by these Estimates who are just as much entitled to our consideration as are these men with whom we come into personal contact. We cannot get away from the fact that human beings are more interested in those with whom they come in contact than with persons whom they know only by name. Throughout the Public Service the position is the same - officers most closely associated with Ministers get the best treatment.
– Ministers have no say in fixing their salaries.
– Nevertheless officers whose daily duty brings them in touch with Ministers, their secretaries, or with other influential officers, receive better treatment than those whose work keeps them in the background. I can give the names of many men who have gained promotion, not because of their special ability, but because of their daily contact with Ministers and other high officials. No doubt, as a result of this discussion, the anomalies which now exists will be remedied next year.
– Does the honorable senator think thatIshould be coerced?
– Not at all ; but as the Presiding Officer in this chamber has heard the opinion of honorable senators, he will doubtless regard it as his duty to seriously consider some of the points raised. In considering the salaries of these officers we should not be unmindful of the fact that Parliament is in session for only a certain period of the year. During the recess the members of the staff, as well as honorable senators, have not the same amount of work to perform, and consequently have longer periods for recreation than members of the Public Service. The members of the staff are not rushed with work during a recess, and in my opinion have easier billets than the members of the Public Service. After making a comparison between the salaries paid to messengers in this building, and. others occupying similar positions in departments. I believe that with one or two exceptions the messengers here are on about the same rates. The messengers employed in departments, however, receive only the statutory public holidays, whilst members of the Parliamentary staff have longer periods for recreation. It is easy for us to be generous in this matter, but we have to consider the point raised by Senator Lynch, in relation to the means by which revenue is raised, the fact that there is tremendous industrial depression, that thousands are out of employment, and that economy is being suggested on every hand. In these circumstances it is unreasonable to suggest that the salaries of the staff which come under our purview should be increased while others remain stationary. As I do not think that the request, even if agreed to, will serve any useful purpose, I intend to oppose it.
Question - That the request be agreed toput. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
The Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £380,514.
.- I note that under this department it is proposed to expend this year £380,514, as against an expenditure of £835,000 last year, which exceeds the vote of the preceding year by £26,000, and the vote of last year by £45,000. In these circumstances, I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minis ter’s Department to two items, one of which relates to the expenditure of £9,600 for municipal and other taxes in connexion with the High Commissioner’s office in London. I should like to know why this amount is being voted, as, although £8,000 was voted last year, only £3,473 was spent. I also notice an increase in the proposed expenditure in connexion with the Office of the Australian Commissioner in the United States of America. As the Australian Commissioner in the United States of America has, I understand, tendered his resignation, I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to appoint a successor, and if so, whether Parliament will have an opportunity to express its opinion concerning the utility of that office? There is a difference of opinion in Australia concerning the advantage, if any, that we derive from our representation in America, and this seems an opportune time for the Minister to make a statement concerning the Government’s intention.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to some figures which to me are more or less staggering. Parliament appointed a Development and Migration Commission, which, according to the Government, was to bring about a wonderful change in Australia. As the result of its operations, we were told there would be little or no unemployment, industries which were already in operation would be assisted, and newindustries established. Those who supported the appointment of that commission had not the slightest idea that experts would be appointed in different States, that organizations would be established abroad, and that a staff of about 180 would be gathered together. Under the agreement between the Commonwealth and Great Britain, the Commonwealth guarantees the States a share of the £34,000,000 advanced by the British Government to aid overseas settlement, at a lower rate of interest than money can be borrowed in ordinary circumstances.
– How does the honorable senator know there are180 employees?
– That is the information contained in the return submitted to the Senate on the motion of Senator Ogden. The number I have mentioned includes experts in Australia and the staff operating overseas. I said the other day that although the money was obtained at a low rate of interest and was probably considered by some to be cheap money, it would in the end be very dear money. The huge expenditure, which has so far been incurred by the commission will doubtless increase. The vote for the Development and Migration Commission last year was £90,650, and we are asked to appropriate this year the sum of £143,000, an increase of £52,350. The vote last year was exceeded by nearly £9,000. How is it proposed to expend the amount that is now sought ? On account of “ Australian organization - salaries, excepting salaries of Commissioners, administrative and other expenses, including office requisites, travelling expenses, publicity material and freight to London on exhibits,” we appropriated last year the sum of £29,125, and the amount expended was £3S,124. It is now proposed to make available in that direction the sum of £45,000. The vote last year for subsidies to voluntary organizations for the aftercare of migrants was £9,025. That amount was not expended; yet it is proposed to appropriate under that heading this year the sum of £12,500. If the, expenditure of this commission continues to soar year after year the taxpayers will begin to wonder where it is going to stop. I rose merely for the purpose of obtaining from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) an explanation of the reasons for the large increase in the vote for the present year. Personally I consider that the commission has not justified its existence. If it has placed at its disposal an additional £52,350 without a protest being voiced by any honorable senator, the expenditure will probably be on a much larger scale than hitherto. The fullest information in regard to its activities should be furnished. It is a highly paid body. The chairman receives a salary of £5,000 a year, which is greater than that paid to any public servant, no matter how high or responsible may be the position he holds. The other members of the commission also are in receipt of high salaries. It appears to me that the expenditure is in a sense measured by the princely nature of the salary which the chairman receives. What work has the commission done since it was brought into existence. It cannot be said that it has established one industry. that it has strengthened those that« were already established or that it has stimulated production in any part of Australia.
– Oh, yes, it has.
– Then I am not aware of it. The work on which it has been engaged has been occupying the attention of experts in the various States for a number of years. It is true that different schemes have been submitted to it. They are not new schemes; on tlie contrary, they have previously been inquired into and reported upon by State authorities. The commission has the power to reject any propositions that are made by those authorities, but up to date 1 do not think it has done so. It does not make exhaustive inquiries into any industry. In my opinion it ought not to be allowed to trespass upon the domain of established bodies, particularly the Tariff Board. The duties of that board are understood by members of the committee. It makes exhaustive inquiries into both primary and secondary industries, and presents reports to Parliament. Both the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) and the Government are largely influenced by its recommendations. Therefore, this commission has little or nothing to do with established industries. It is supposed to inquire into the areas that are set apart for the settlement of migrants on the land. From time to time the State authorities have made areas available for that purpose and have put forward proposals which have received the endorsement of their respective governments. In a speech which he delivered recently upon closer settlement schemes in the different States, Senator Pearce mentioned soldier settlements, some of which, he said, had turned out failures. That is perfectly true. Does he consider that this commission can turn those failures into successful ventures? Why were they failures ? In many cases too high a price was paid for the land.
In the Red Cliffs area, in Victoria, there is to-day and has been for some little time what is almost wholly a soldier settlement for the production of dried -fruits. When that land was taken up, the oversea price of dried fruits was a fairly good one, and it continued so for some time. On that basis the price which was paid for the land was not too high and the men who took it up would no doubt have done fairly well had not the bottom fallen out of the market.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
[9.27]. - I wish to inform Senator Payne that the explanation of the increase in the amount provided on account of municipal and other taxes at Australia House is that an exemption from certain taxation was granted by the British Government under the Imperial Defence Act and a rebate on account of overpayments in previous years was deducted from the 1926-27 assessment. In 1927-28 the normal rate will be paid. The increase in the vote for the Australian Commissioner in the United States of America is accounted for almost entirely by the faet that temporary assistance has had to be engaged and additional payments were rendered necessary in connexion with rent and lighting, because of the removal to better offices which took place during the financial year. The honorable senator referred also to the resignation of Sir Hugh Denison, and asked Avhether the question of the appointment of a successor had been considered. In view of the high speed at which, not only the Government, but also Parliament, has been moving in the last few weeks, he must appreciate the fact that there has not been time to consider this question. When the Government has a little breathing space it intends to look into the matter and consider any representations that Sir Hugh Denison may wish to make. A further statement will then be furnished to Parliament.
– When does his resignation take effect ?
– I cannot say. I shall probably be able to make a statement when Parliament resumes after the Christmas vacation.
Senator Findley’s remarks concerning the Development and Migration Commission are merely a repetition of what he has said previously. He is not socking information. That is proved by the fact that he has raised exactly the same points that he raised last week, and to which replies were given. I remind honorable senators that the commission was not functioning during the whole of last financial year, as it did not come into existence until August, 1926. I also remind them that the Development and Migration Commission is not responsible for the expenditure in London. The London staff has been in existence for many years with the consent of Parliament. It was in existence before the commission was appointed. Senator Findley is well aware of the reason for the appointment of the commission, but I may refresh his memory if he has forgotten it. Some time ago arrangements were made by the British Government to raise a loan of £34,000,000 to assist development in Australia with a view to stimulating migration. Under that arrangement the Commonwealth Government and the British Government were to relieve the States of a certain proportion of the interest charges on the loans made to the States out of the £34,000,000. They were also to share certain other expenditure in connexion with land settlement schemes and the bringing of migrants to Australia for the benefit of the States. As a result of negotiations an agreement known as the Migration Agreement, was drawn up to which the British Government, the Commonwealth Government, and the State Governments concerned are parties. As the Commonwealth Parliament was to become financially responsible for certain charges under this agreement, the Commonwealth Government suggested to Parliament that a body competent to examine the proposals put forward by the States for expenditure in connexion with the scheme should be set up so that the Commonwealth might be assured that theState schemes were financially sound. Last week, when dealing with this subject, I drew attention to the fact that in connexion with the repatriation of our soldiers certain schemes of land settlement and other schemes were set goingin various States, and that, as a result, possibly of over-enthusiasm and certainly because of want of thorough prior examination, many of them proved to be costly failures. In Victoria, commissions of inquiry have demonstrated that some of the proposals were unsound. These proposals were recommended by the very authorities that Senator Findley says are now competent to deal with the matters that have been referred to the Development and Migration Commission. As a matter of fact, all of the schemes that have proved failures in Victoria or in any other State were first of all examined and recommended by State officials. AVe have the example of the Beer”burrum failure in Queensland, the dairying failures ‘ in Victoria, and -the dried-fruit failures on the river Murray. They were all schemes which had been examined by State officials, recommended to the State Governments, and adopted and set going by the State Governments with disastrous results to the settlers and to the States. The Commonwealth which advanced the money to the States to finance these schemes has had to write off £5,000,000 to cover some of the losses incurred, and the States still think that it is not sufficient. They are asking for more to be written off, which means that they are asking the Commonwealth to bear a larger share of the losses. “With these examples before us is it not wise that before we are committed to more schemes in connexion with migrants those schemes should be carefully examined to see if they are financially sound, and if there is any reasonable prospect of their success. The Development and Migration Commission has been specially appointed for this purpose. That is the prime reason for its existence; its prime duty is to examine these schemes. Already it has been functioning in conjunction with the States. It is not received by them with any hostility. On the contrary, it is received by them with the utmost friendliness. The State Governments welcome this opportunity to have a further examination of their .’proposals, the failure of any of which would mean so much to the taxpayers of the States. In every State there is the -utmost friendliness and harmony be tween the State authorities aud the Development and Migration Commission. On page 27 of the first annual report of the Development and Migration Commission, Senator Findley will find set out a number of schemes that have been submitted by Victoria. Those schemes involve the expenditure of £760,000 on public works and £833,000 on land settlement schemes. If Senator Findley had read the report of the commission he would not have asked so many questions about the work of the commission. Apparently he does not know what is happening in his own State and that the State Government is welcoming an examination by the Development and Migration Commission of the schemes it has submitted for a total expenditure of £1,594,000. This expenditure has been recommended by the commission. The commission has also examined schemes in Western Australia calling for an expenditure of £4,334,000. That expenditure has also been recommended by the commission. In South Australia schemes involving an expenditure of nearly £1,000,000 have been submitted and authorized. All this expenditure comes out of the £34,000,000 provided for in the Migration Agreement. In regard to that expenditure the Commonwealth has committed itself to a certain liability and therefore it is only right that it should have the power to examine any scheme submitted by the State and see if it is on sound lines.
– What about the increased vote.
– That is one explanation for the increase in the vote. If the schemes submitted by the States are to be examined, the commission must go to the States to examine them. The commission has been to Western Australia. It has collected data in respect of all the schemes. It has investigated the’ dried fruits industry in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. Does any one object to that? When we think of the possibilities of the River Murray valley, and realize the enormous amount of dried fruits it can produce, is it not wise for us, before we put. a lot of people in that area to produce fruits, to make sure that there is a profitable market for them and that they will succeed? It may be found, as a result of investigation of the dried fruits industry that we are going beyond our capacity to dispose of dried fruits and that we may strike trouble and disaster if we are not careful in the steps we take to settle migrants in that portion of Australia. It is wise that we should investigate all these things before we commit ourselves too much. Then there is the Dawson Valley irrigation proposal of Queensland which will cost .millions of pounds. It is a gigantic scheme and the commission is just now commencing an inquiry into it. Does the Queensand Government object? On the contrary, Mr. McCormack, the Premier of Queensland, is giving the commission every assistance to enable it to probe the scheme thoroughly and make quite sure that it is a sound proposition and is likely to be a success. Senator Findley must not imagine that the £150,000, which is all that the Commonwealth is spending in administering the £34,000,000 scheme, is wholly spent on these inquiries. The commission is spending £45,000 in England in the organization that collects and selects migrants and makes arrangements to transfer them to Australia. I know that that expenditure arouses the ire of certain honorable members opposite who want to stop all the migration activities of the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact that is one of the reasons why they select the Development and Migration Commission for so much opposition. But the great bulk of the people of Australia want British citizens to come to Australia, and a great deal of this expenditure is for the purpose of bringing them here. This money is spent for the purpose of letting the people of Great Britain know the capacity” of Australia to absorb migrants, and that we want them to come to our country. The increased expenditure is necessary in order that certain things in connexion with migration may be done. For instance, it is proposed to appoint permanent matrons to accompany girls who are coming out on vessels to take- up domestic service in Australia. Honorable senators who have travelled on vessels and seen large numbers of girls coming out here without their parents can understand how desirable it is to have competent women in charge of them. It is proposed to provide Australian agricultural instructors on British training farms. I have seen on these farms hundreds of young men of Great Britain, many of them miners’ sons, who have no hope of getting employment in their own country. At the Brandon training farm I saw 400 or 500 of these sturdy young fellows who would make creditable citizens of Australia. They are the type of men we want here. They were being given a certain amount of elementary training in agriculture. For instance, they were being taught to handle and harness horses and do a little ploughing. Taking them from the mining centres without that training they would be absolutely useless on Australian farms. 7 saw a young fellow there who had bee only six weeks on the farm. He was little more than a youth, and he had never handled horses previously, but I saw him ploughing with a team of four horses and a double furrow plough in a way that would be a credit to any ploughman on an Australian farm. It is better that these young fellows should have that training so that when they come out here they may have a chance of succeeding in an agricultural life. Do honorable senators opposite object to that? Would they rather have these young fellows come into our cities? Is it not always the cry of honorable senators opposite that Ave are bringing out men who are not fitted for a rural life? This expenditure is wise and absolutely justifiable.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [9.42]. - Twice to-night the Leader of the Senate bas deliberately stated that the party to which I belong does not wantpeople of British stock to come to Australia. I cannot allow that statement to go unchallenged. The honorable senator is misrepresenting honorable senators of the Labour party. We have never made the statement, . or done anything to lead any one to believe that Ave, as a party, are opposed to people of the British stock coming here to help us to develop Australia. We welcome at all times people of British stock coming to Australia. Time and time again we have proved on tlie floor of the Senate that the present Government’s migration policy is to give preference to men of foreign blood coming to Australia rather than people of British stock.
– The honorable senator knows that that statement is quite untrue.
– I quoted figures recently to prove that the influx of Southern Europeans was lowering the percentage of people of British stock coming to Australia.
– The honorable senator knows that not one foreigner is assisted to come to this country.
– I know perfectly well that this Government could keep out these Southern Europeans if it liked, but it does not want to do so. The migration policy of the Labour party is well known. We are in favour of a sane migration policy, but we want to see the people of Australia placed in employment before Ave open our doors to others. Senator Pearce has spoken about the unemployed in Great Britain. We also have unemployed in every State of the Commonwealth and in the Federal Territory. The criticism of the Development and Migration Commission by Senator Findley and others is warranted. The commission has not been the means of adding a single British migrant to the population of Australia, despite the fact that it cost us over £100,000 for the first year of its existence. We have this commission super-imposed on a Department of Markets and Migration, whose duty it was to bring out migrants and settle them in Australia. The combined activities of the department of Markets and Migration and this exceedingly costly commission have not added one adult to the population of Australia. Let me remind the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, who so glibly hurls accusations at honorable senators on this side, that before he went to the Geneva conference he spent some time travelling through Great Britain for the purpose of inducing people to come to Australia, and that up to the present not one person has landed here in response to his appeal.
Let me remind him, also, that shortly after his tour of Great Britain, the High Commissioner perambulated the Mother Country on the same mission, but likewise without any tangible result up to the present. Why continue this farce? If the Government were in earnest in their desire to populate this country, they would go about the business in a different way.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council [9.47] . - Returning to the subject which I was discussing when my time under tlie Standing Orders expired, I wish to make a further explanation with regard to two other items. One is Item No. 6 - “ Training domestics overseas, £5,000.” No one will deny that there is a serious shortage of domestic labour in Australia, especially in our country districts, where it is almost impossible for a housewife to obtain assistance for work in the home. There are literally thousands of girls unemployed and available, particularly in the northern counties of England, where the cotton industry is carried on. They are an excellent and healthy type, who would make splendid domestic servants but they have no knowledge of domestic work, because they have been engaged all their lives in factories, and have not had the opportunity to gain experience in house work. It is proposed to make provision to enable those girls to get a certain amount of training in domestic service. Surely that is most desirable, in the interests of not only the girls themselves but also Australia. The other item in which there is an increase, and to which I wish to direct attention, is No. 8 - “ Subsidies to voluntary organizations for the after-care of migrants, £12,500.” Most honorable senators will have read during the last few years statements, unfortunately many of them true, that migrants after landing in Australia have been allowed to drift and in some cases have got into trouble. This has been our experience, particularly with a number of young migrants. The Development and Migration Commission is now making an effort to help organizations in the several States to look after these young people.
– The New Settlers’ League is doing good work in that direction.
– A number of bodies, including the New Settlers’ League, the Big Brother movement, and especially the Salvation Army, are doing a magnificent work in the aftercare of migrants in Australia. Although these organizations are all operating on a voluntary basis, necessarily they have to incur a certain amount of expenditure. The Government feels that it is a duty of the taxpayers to shoulder some portion of that liability. This accounts for some portion of the increased vote. I do not know whether honorable senators opposite object to this proposal. Would they prefer that these young people should be left to take care of themselves? That is not the Government’s policy. We believe it is the duty of the Government to see that these migrants have a fair chance to moke good in Australia. It is now the responsibility of the Development and Migration Commission not merely to get migrants from England, and arrange for their transport to Australia, but also, in conjunction with the various organizations in the States, to see that there is a reasonable chance of their becoming absorbed in the population of this country.
.- I am bound to support the arguments of Senator Findley concerning the cost to Australia of the Development and Migration Commission. It was appointed for the express purpose of supervising schemes to expend the £34,000,000 to be made available by Great Britain for developmental purposes. In the first place 1 do not believe it is good for the States to. be. able to lay their hands on u lot. of cheap loan money. Although the loan will bear a low rate of interest for the first year or two, at the expiration of five years the States will have to foot the full interest, bill. I believe that we are borrowing too much money and that this policy is largely responsible for our heavy importations despite our high tariff duties. If the State Governments, which are always susceptible to the influence of the electors, permit this cheap money to be expended on schemes which may not b« properly thought out, the States eventually will be penalized, because they will have to find the interest charges. I was opposed to the appointment of the commission, because I thought it would become too cumbersome. I agreed that it was advisable to set up some authority to advise the Government on certain matters.; but I believed that a commission of four, with all its attendant official expenditure - each member of the commission, I understand, has a private secretary - would be altogether too unwieldy. To me it seemed like an attempt to use a steam hammer to crack a nut.
– It is a pretty hard nut to crack.
– It is. The Estimates show that expenditure on the commission is continually increasing. The Australian organization, without counting salaries - I do not know where they are provided for, but they must .be shown somewhere in the Estimates - will cost this year £45,000. This represents an increase of nearly £8,000 on the amount spent last year. The commission has taken over- all matters appertaining to migration and has also increased the expenditure on this branch of its activities by £27,000 a year. I have a great admiration for Mr. Gepp, as a geologist, metallurgist and an organizer, but I am afraid that he is inclined to be a little extravagant in his ideas. This commission is becoming too costly. I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of thecommission when it visited Tasmania, where it spent about a fortnight, and I was surprised at the number of ridiculous questions that were brought before it for consideration. They ranged from dairying to the care of returned soldiers; matters which the commission has no right to touch. There is a good deal in what Senator Pearce said with regard to the need for some such body as this to examine developmental schemes; but I remind the Minister that the commission is duplicating a great deal of work that has already been done by the States. Each State Government has its agricultural experts and other officers to advise it. Tasmania, I know, is well staffed with both fresh and canned fruit experts, and has a complete geological staff acting as an advisory body to the Government on mining matters.
– The Tasmanian Government admitted that it had no agricultural experts. It has appointed one recently on the recommendation of the commission.
– I admit that the Tasmanian Government allowed its staff of agricultural experts to get low, but long before the Development and Migration Commission came into being it had determined to reorganize its agricultural branch.
– Not until it had a recommendation from the commission.
– I do not know whether or not Dr. Findlay’s salary is in- cluded in these Estimates.
– Yes it is. He was sent over to Tasmania by the commission.
– My objection to the commission is that it is top heavy. “We have Mr. Gepp, the chairman; Mr. Nathan, from Western Australia; Mr. Gunn, a former politician, and an officer of the New South Wales Lands Department, all to do work which Mr. Gepp could have done with the aid. of expert advisers. I know Mr. Gepp very well, and I believe he is a most conscientious administrator, but a little bit inclined to be on the extravagant side. My point is that already we have in the various States expert advisers, and that there is no need for this duplication of work by the Development and Migration Commission. When that body visited Tasmania a great deal of time was wasted in the discussion of questions affecting returned soldiers, a matter entirely affecting the States and in dealing with questions affecting the dairying industry, cattle, mining the erection of cool stores for fruit and a number of other ridiculous suggestions. The commission is too costly altogether. If expenditure increases for a, few years at the present rate I do not know what will happen.
– Is it doing good work for the money?
– I do not think I am overstating the case when I say that, up to the present, it has done very little indeed, except to visit the various States and confer with State officials with regard to certain schemes. So far as I know, not one shilling of the £34,000,000 which has been made available by Great Britain has been utilized.
– Yes; I gave the figures just now.
– I understand they refer only to recommendations.
– No. Those figures related to the authorization of an expenditure of over £4,000,000 on a number of schemes, some of which have been started.
– I was not aware that that stage had been reached. But, as I have said, I am opposed to the borrowing of cheap money for this purpose. State governments, when they have cheap money available, are inclined to spend too much. That has been responsible for many of our troubles. We should not have been in our present difficulties if the Federal and State Governments had borrowed less money. The cost of this new department is expanding too rapidly. I agree with Senator Findley that a hint should be given to the commission that there is a limit to expenditure beyond which it should not go.
.- The State which I have the honour to assist in representing has for many years been dealing with the settlement of returned soldiers. I remember when the scheme was introduced in the Senate by the late Senator E. D. Millen. On that occasion I asked in what way the Government proposed to control expenditure, and Senator E. D. Millen said that all that the Federal Government would do would be to loan the money to the State governments, which would be responsible for its expenditure. That has been a disastrouspolicy from the point of view of the Commonwealth.
– Even SenatorFindley would not suggest that there should be no oversight by the Commonwealth.
– So far as soldier land settlement is concerned, the Commonwealth had practically no oversight of the money. That matter was almost solely in the control of the States. The Commonwealth was concerned only with the raising of the money. The State Governments’ approved of the schemes and accepted the responsibility for carrying them out. Millions of pounds advanced to them by the Commonwealth have not been repaid, and never will be repaid. The States have approached the Commonwealth with requests to wipe off their indebtedness. I could show Senator Ogden areas in Queensland which were purchased for soldier settlement on which not one soldier remains to-day. The reason for that state of affairs is that the land was unsuitable for the purpose to which it was devoted, that it was allotted in areas which were too small, and, in a few cases, that the soldiers themselves were not suitable settlers. Reference has been made to the settlement at Beerburrum, one of the most costly schemes undertaken in Queensland. That settlement was only a few miles from Brisbane, and had the land been suitable for settlement it would have been taken up years previously. It was unsuitable for settlement; yet it was selected by the State with the result that the soldiers who were placed on it lost all that they invested. To-day only two or three settlers remain there.
– People would not take it up at 2s. 6d. an acre.
– The land was totally unsuitable for settlement. We do no: want a repetition of that state of affairs. The same thing occurred in connexion with the Coominya settlement in Queensland; the areas allotted to settlers were too small. The State authorities refused to listen to the advice of people who had lived in the district for years, and also to the representations made by localgoverning authorities, who pointed out that settlement there would be a failure. That scheme also broke down, and the soldiers were forced to leave their farms. Houses which were erected for them at considerable cost were sold for a few pounds. An almost similar result followed the attempt at land settlement at Stanthorpe. The expenditure of £50,000, or even £100,000; in making investigations which would avoid a repetition of those experiences, would be money well spent. The experience of Queensland was common to all the States. Queensland is crying out for settlers, but they should not be placed on land which is unsuitable for the pur pose. There are vast areas of land in Queensland eminently suitable for closer settlement. Nothing that we can do to ensure the success of new settlers who come here from the Old Country, should be left undone. Much of the success of land settlement in Canada has been due to the fact that ample areas have been made available to settlers on generous terms. The Government of Queensland has already submitted a number of schemes to the Development and Migration Commission. Before the commission can be in a position to express an opinion as to the possibility of the Dawson Valley scheme, the Upper Burnett scheme, and others, it will have to undertake a considerable amount of investigation.
– No member of the commission has any practical farming knowledge.
– The commission can call to its aid the best expert advice available in Australia.
-We are paying the members of the commission high salaries to be educated.
– The Government of Queensland has freely sought the assistance of the commission in connexion with the development of that State. I trust that the carping criticism which is continually being hurled against it will cease until it has had a chance to put into active operation some of the schemes at present being developed.
– I should not have risen had it not been for the closing remarks of Senator Foll, who apparently objects to any but favorable criticism of the Development and Migration Commission. My criticism is directed not against the members of the commission, but against the appointment of the commission as such. The more I consider the work done by the commission, and its proposals for the future, the stronger is my denunciation of it. The Leader of the Government said that if I had not read the commission’s first report, he had done so. The right honorable gentleman’s memory cannot be so retentive as formerly, or he would have remembered that on the first reading of the Appropriation Bill I referred at some length to the commission’s first report. We are told that the most friendly relations exist between the commission and the various State Governments. I do not doubt that that is 60, or that the schemes submitted by those Governments have been carefully considered by the commission. No State Government would submit a scheme to the commission without having first had it thoroughly examined and approved by its own experts. So far as I am aware, not one member of the commission has any special qualification so far as land settlement is concerned. Yet it is empowered to reject schemes recommended by experts.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that Mr. Fleming does not know anything about land.
– I suggest that in the several departments there are men much better qualified to express . an opinion regarding land settlement than are the members of the Development and Migration Commission. It is true, as stated by the Leader of the Government, that there have been many failures in connexion with land settlement in different parts of Australia. I remind him that success is built upon failures. There were failures before this commission come into existence. Had the Red Cliffs Settlement, in Victoria, been referred to the commission, I have no doubt that it would have been recommended, because at that time the prospects of the fruit industry were very promising. Land settlement in some of the fruit-growing areas has not been a success, chiefly because the low prices received for the fruit have made the enterprise of the settlers unprofitable. The fall in the prices of dried fruits affected not only new settlements, but also well-established settlements throughout Australia. The Development and Migration Commission has not justified its appointment. I have no fault to find with the training of domestics, the provision of, nurses for outback districts, or to sick persons being cared for. But I do find fault with the appointment of a commission, which,’ on the admission of the Minister, has approved of schemes which have been submitted because they have been supported by experts. The Governments of nearly all the States are confronted with financial difficulty. States which have schemes which they think should be proceeded with, but are handicapped by financial stringency, naturally wish to obtain a share of the £34,000,000 to be made available. under the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Imperial authorities. The proposed increase in the expenditure of the commission is so enormous that the committee should not allow it to pass without comment, particularly as the work so far accomplished is infinitesimal. Much of that done has been ‘ quite unnecessary, and in some cases totally unwarranted. Some of the work the commission is doing is overlapping the activities of organizations or bodies already in existence. As I have already said, much of the time of the members of the commission is taken up in travelling all over Australia, and . investigating matters of minor moment. If the commission wants to justify its appointment, it ought to concentrate on one or two schemes, and demonstrate its fitness for carrying out the imp jr taut work it is supposed to undertake. Up to the present it has not done that, and has, I contend, wasted time and the taxpayers’ money in respect to some of its inquiries, and particularly on its journeys o different parts of the Commonwealth. Senator Ogden directed attention *to what the commission has done in Tasmania^ We know that the average Tasmanian always has a complaint to make, and is constantly asking some person, authority, or government other than its own Government to carry the burdens and responsibilities which apparently the Government or people, of that State are not prepared to shoulder. Honorable senators should closely examine the position in Tasmania, and ask themselves if any concrete propositions have been submitted by the commission which would benefit that State. Some of the matters mentioned in its first report caused me considerable surprise. If any of the criticisms levelled against its activities have the effect of causing it to concentrate upon hig schemes, such criticisms will have been more than justified. I shall await with interest the result of its activities in the future.
– I do not wish the remarks of Senator Findley concerning the activities of the Development and Migration Commission, particularly in Tasmania, to pass unchallenged. I happen to know what it has been doing in that State, and can say that its efforts are very highly appreciated. There are in Tasmania hundreds of intelligent farmers who realize that much good will result from the commission’s activities in the near future. If Senator Findley cares to visit Tasmania during the recess, I shall give him an opportunity to meet some of the men who speak so highly of its operations, and of witnessing the result of the work done by Dr. Findlay amongst the farming community. I have no doubt that much good will follow Dr. Findlay’s recommendations.
– Good results have already been obtained.
– Yes. “We ought not to expect too much from this commission, which is as yet in its infancy. A good deal of preliminary work has to be undertaken, and at this stage of its activities it is necessary that its members should travel in order to evolve schemes which will eventually be of great benefit to the whole community.
– They are not evolving any schemes.
– I read only to-day in a Tasmanian newspaper, a fact which was apparent months ago, that there is widespread interest amongst the rural population in this movement. Many farmers and rural workers attend meetings arranged under the auspices of the commission in large numbers, and many highly intelligent settlers are placing their difficulties before Dr. Findley, who is always anxious to give them the benefit of his advice. The result will doubtless lie better marketing, which will be of advantage to the whole community. I understand that similar work to that which is being done in Tasmania is also being carried out in other parts of the Commonwealth. Although the proposed expenditure in this instance is large, I intend to support the vote, because it is only reasonable to assume that some time must elapse before we can say whether the appointment of the commission is justified. As Senator Findley opposed the appointment of the commission in the first place, I suppose he considers that - be is justified in adversely criticizing its work. If he refers to some of the items of expenditure he will see that they relate tothe training of domestics overseas, the care of migrants on their arrival, and placing them in occupations. It also covers the training of farm hands and in other ways helping migrants to make useful citizens.
– Could not that be done by the Department of Markets and Migration ?
– Certainly not. The honorable senator should be aware that the staff of that department, which does not consist of experts, cannot possibly deal” with problems such as the Development and Migration Commission is handling. It was never suggested that it should do so.
– That department does not deal with migration at all.
– No. I understand the migration branch has now been transferred to the commission. I trust that the commission will be given a fair opportunity to carry out the useful work it was appointed to perform, and that honorable senators will not criticize its activities before it has had an opportunity of really getting to work.
.- I wish to inform Senator Findley, who seems to be prejudiced against the Development and Migration Commission, that this year I met its members in North Queensland, where they were conducting investigations into the possibilities of the district in which Southern Europeans are employed, and concerning which some honorable senators opposite have made such a lot of noise. If in expending a portion of the £34,000,000 advanced by the Imperial authorities the commission can succeed in settling British migrants on some of the land in North Queensland, there will then be little room for the Southern Europeans who, we are told, are coming to Australia in such large numbers. The members of the commission visited the Atherton Tableland, where there is land superior to that found in any other part of Australia. They also visited Cloncurry, a;nd investigated the country down the Flinders and further out. If they are to study the possibilities of rural development, they must necessarily travel. I think the commission is to be congratulated upon endeavouring to get an intimate knowledge of Australia. If Senator Findley and others who are complaining were to travel the Commonwealth, they would understand what is required better than they can by remaining in the particular States which they represent. If they did that they would not then talk the nonsense they do.
– I was born in Australia and have travelled extensively throughout the Commonwealth.
– Most of the honorable senator’s time has been spent in Melbourne. As the commission is responsible to Parliament, we shall have an opportunity to consider the schemes which it recommends. The Minister (Senator Pearce) said that the schemes already approved by the commission will involve the expenditure of considerably over £4,000,000, which should- surely be of advantage to Australia. Had this body not been in existence, possibly that amount would not have been advanced and development would have been retarded to that extent. I cannot understand why some honorable senators condemn the work of the commission as they do. The honorable senator who is its principal opponent in this chamber may be regarded as a “ Melbourne Australian “ - one who knows only his own State. The proposed vote is large, but in comparison with the work which is being undertaken, I do not think it can be considered excessive. I am prepared to support the commission, as I believe it will eventually be of inestimable benefit to the Commonwealth, in materially assisting its development.
– It appears that we shall have to agree to this expenditure whether we like it or not, and wait a little time in order .to see whether the appointment of the commission is justified. For my part, I strongly object to its fantastic recommendation that there should be erected houses costing from £600 to £700 for rural workers, while the struggling owner is living, or has lived, in a lean-to tin shanty for years. If that is the only solution the members of the commission ca.n offer of the problems that confront agriculture in. Australia, I am afraid that we are paying them far too high salaries. Just imagine a man looking out from his leanto shanty upon a £600 house occupied by one of his employees, and built as a means to help him to success in working his farm ! That is a nonsensical proposition to be put forward by three allegedly wise men. They were chosen for this work because it was understood that they possessed intelligence above the average. From my knowledge of the two of them, I can say that if they had been told in 1921 that six years later they would be in receipt of the salaries they are now paid, they would have had to tune their imagination to its highest pitch to conceive of such a possibility. They are doubtless good men in their own spheres. Mr. Gunn is a rare product of fortune iu politics. He is lucky. I know Mr. Nathan very, well; he is a gentleman of passing respectability. He went to the Wembley Exhibition, where he was constantly in the company of the chairman of the commission. When next we heard of him, he had been appointed to the commission. He was a successful commercial man, within limits, in Western Australia, but he was not by any means at the head of his calling.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that a £600 house is too good for a settler?
– Let us juxtapose the position and imagine the settler living in & shanty and viewing the spectacle of one of his employees living in a £600 house. That is the brilliant idea which has been put forward by these brainy men.
– That is not correct.
– That suggestion was made to the Queensland Government, and was scouted as it deserved to be. However, we must accept the position. I voted against the proposal to appoint the commission in the belief that the existing organizations could pull us through for a number of years while systematizing the efforts of both the Commonwealth and the States. Let us consider what works have been constructed without the aid of expensive commissions. There is the River Murray scheme. The estimated cost of that work was about £6,000,000, but the expenditure will probably exceed £12,000,000. It was not necessary to appoint an expensive commission to undertake it and carry it to success. It will not be loaded with large overhead expenses, as will every work that is recommended by the Development and Migration Commission. The Coolgardie water scheme was completed at a cost of about £3,000,000 - it would probably cost £6,000,000 todaywithout being overloaded with the expense of a costly commission; and the work was well done.
The committee is asked to vote the Prime Minister’s Department the sum of £380,000. The vote last year was £309,000, and the expenditure £335,000. When Parliament, after mature consideration, decides that a certain amount shall be spent, why is it exceeded? In the case of the Prime Minister’s Department, the expenditure exceeded the votes by £26,000. If the other 22 departments exceeded the vote by a similar amount, the difference would be over half a million pounds. There are three offending branches in the department that we now have under review. The administrative branch exceeded the vote by nearly £9,000, the audit office by almost £4,000, and the Public Service Board by a similar amount. Why can they not cut their coat according to their cloth?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [10.36]. - The honorable senator will see that the branches which are responsible for the increases are those which employ clerical labour. The Estimates are based, of course, on existing salaries, but appeals are constantly being made to the Public Service Arbitrator for increases in salaries, and his awards add considerably to the expenditure of the department. That expenditure cannot be foreseen when the Estimates are being framed. The additional amount is paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance. That practice has been going on for several years, and salaries have been continually on- the upgrade. Senator Lynch will find that that is the explanation in the case of nearly every increase.
. - I notice that there is an increase of nearly £6,000 in the vote for the High Commissioner’s office. The amount last year was £60,396 and this year we are being asked to sanction an expenditure of £66,440. Included in the vote is an amount of £2,000 under the heading “Allowance to High Commissioner for expenses of official residence “. Is that in addition to the salary which he receives? The salary of the financial adviser to the High Commissioner and of the Official Secretary is £2,000. What does the High Commissioner himself receive ? I notice also an item “ Clerks, typists, storemen, messengers, telephonists and assistants.” The vote for that last year was £12,300; but this year it has been increased to £15,000. I should like to be told what value we get from the office, and in what direction its work has increased.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [10.40].- The increase of officers under the Public Service Act is due to the appointment of a medical officer, one-half of whose salary is paid from the High Commissioner’s vote and the other half from the Migration vote. That accounts for £630. The balance of the increase under that head, £225, is caused by the higher salary which was carried by the accountant on his transfer from Australia in 1926, higher child endowment payments, and estimated higher duty allowances. The increases under the High Commissioner Act amount to £2,789 on account of salaries and an extra day’s pay during leap year. This is more in the nature of a transfer than an increase. In former years the salaries of eight officers under the High Commissioner Act who were engaged upon intelligence and publicity duties in the office of the Official Secretary, were paid from migration votes. In order to properly allocate this expenditure these salaries have been transferred to the High Commissioner’s vote. It is estimated that the staff of typists will be reduced by one, leaving a net increase of seven transferred to this vote from elsewhere. Provision has also been made for the anticipated rise in the Whitley bonus and ordinary increments payable to the staff. The item “ Stationery, travelling and incidental expenditure “ is estimated to increase by £750, municipal and other taxes by £1,600, and the allowances for entertainment purposes to the financial adviser, Mr. Collins, £250. The items to which I have referred represent a gross increase of £6,244. There is a decrease of £200 in the vote for the upkeep of Australia House. Therefore the net increase is £6,044. The salary of the High Commissioner, under a special appropriation, is £3,000 a year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
The Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £662,820.
– I again draw attention to the system which has been in vogue for some time with respect to the allocation of an old age pension in the case of a pensioner who becomes an inmate of a charitable institution or a hospital. The home receives 10b. 6d. and the pensioner 4s.6d., the balance being retained by the Commonwealth. That may not be the exact allocation, but it is approximately right. I contend that the full amount should be paid to either the pensioner or the home. Even if the amount which the Commonwealth now retains were divided between the home and the pensioner, he would receive a little more of the comforts of life. He should not be penalized to the extent of 5s. a week because he is obliged to live in a home. I have made this appeal on several occasions but it has fallen on deaf ears. I urge that further consideration be given to it. I should like to refer alsoto the maternity allowance. The act under which that allowance is made was passed fifteen years ago. Under it this Parliament provided that a mother should he entitled to receive the sum of £5 after the birth of a child. The pur chasing power of that £5 has since dwindled considerably, and the mothers of our community are not receiving the assistance then intended. In every other walk of life we have recognized the increased cost of living and the consequent decreased purchasing power of money. I think we ought to realize the necessity for increasing the maternity allowance. It should be double what it is to-day.
– I bring under the notice of the Government what appears to rae to be an extraordinary attitude which has been adopted by the Commissioner of Taxation with regard to funds raised by charitable endeavour for the alleviation of distress in very deserving cases. I refer more particularly to the limbless soldiers of Australia. If there is one body of mcn that can claim our sympathy and consideration more than any otherit is the men who have lost limbs in the service of their country, and who are suffering and will continue to suffer from their disability, because of what they have done for their country. It is true that Parliament has made certain provision for these men, but it is also true that there are a great many people in Australia who feel that they are not getting the consideration they deserve. ‘ At a time of the year like this, after the ordinary means of life have been provided for out of the limbless soldier’s pension, there is very little left for the purchase of comforts. Consequently a large body of public spirited citizens have banded themselves together to raise a considerable sum of money, if it is possible to do so, by means of various projects that have been put forward for the assistance of the limbless soldiers of New Sonth Wales. One of the means adopted is to give concerts, dances and entertainments of that kind. One particular section of the citizens who are lending their aid to this purpose has conceived the idea of organizing a big ball at the Wyndhan. Hotel, Sydney, on the 17 th inst.
– The honorable senator can raise that question to-morrow, when I shall probably bo moving the second reading of the Income Tax Assessment Bill, and when I shall have a taxation officer in attendance.
– The matter I am referring to is urgent. Something has been refused in New South Wales which has been conceded elsewhere. These Estimites present an opportunity to ventilate the matter, but if the Minister givesme the assurance it will receive consideration when the Income Tax Assessment Bill is put before the Senate, I shall be quite prepared to reserve ray remarks until then. I have nearly concluded. I could have pointed on the stand taken up by the Taxation Commissioner and shownwhere I think the Government might with advantage take some steps to undo the harm which is being done.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [10.51]. - In Senator Needham’s remarks we have an object lesson in absolute inconsistency. The honorable senator spent time the other day in denouncing the Qovernment for ils extravagance and in pleading for economy, yet now he puts forward a proposal to double the maternity allowance. The Government is already spending £675,000 a year on the maternity allowance, but the honorable senator would have it spend £1,350,000. As to the point raised by Senator Duncan I remind him that the Income Tax Bill will be before the Senate to-morrow.
– The matter related to the entertainments tax.
– There is no proposal to amend the entertainments tax, but I shall have’ a taxation officer here to-morrow, and the matter which the honorable senator has mentioned can be referred to him.
– Senator Pearce has not explained the allocation of the old-age pension in the case of pensioners who are inmates of institutions.
– That matter was raised at the last conference with the State Treasurers. Thu Treasurer promised to look into it again, and is now doing bo to see if any adjustment can be made.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1927/19271206_senate_10_117/>.