10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Inmates ofchairitable Institutions.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if he has anything to add to the statement which he made last night in connexion with the pensions of those pensioners who are inmates of charitable institutions?
– I was not armed with a reply when the honorable senator raised this matter last night. I now invite him to study the following paragraph in the budget speech of the Treasurer: -
The Government has given consideration to anomalies in the present method of dealing with invalid and old-age pensioners who become inmates of public institutions, and has decided to call a conference of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States with a view to placing the matter on a more satisfactory basis.
Prior to this conference the Treasurer proposes to discuss the matter with the Treasurers of the States, and ascertain what action the States desire the Commonwealth to take to give effect to its intention. The States have already been communicated with, and it is anticipated that this discussion will take place after the meeting of the Loan Council next week.
SenatorFINDLEY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the contract for transport services in the Federal Territory entered into by the Federal Capital Commission with the approval of the Government has fallen through ?
Is it a fact that the contract was let to a motor salesman for ten years and that no companyhas materialized since the letting of the contract?
Was any penalty provision inserted in the contract fornon-fulfillment of it?
Is it proposed to call fresh tenders, or does the Federal Capital Commission, with the approval of the Government, now intend establishing a community-owned transport service within the Territory, as advocated by the Labour Party ?
The commission has cancelled the contract owing to the inability of the contractor to commence the service, as stipulated, on the 5th December, 1927.
As a result of public tenders, a contract to conduct a bus service, under certain conditions, for 10 years, was entered into with Mr. E. T. Holmes, who had been engaged in motor sales business. The contractor represented his intention of forming a company to take over the contract if approved later by the commission. It is understood that there has been difficulty in forming the company for financial reasons.
No; but the contractor was given to understand that, in the event of failure to commence the service on the date arranged, the failure would be a ground for immediate cancellation of the contract.
As the project was evidently not sufficiently attractive to induce the public to finance the proposed enterprise, the Federal Capital Commission is arranging to establish and maintain a bus service under its own control.
Salaries and Wages
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The following papers were presented-
New Guinea Act. - Ordinances of 1927 - .
No. 33. - Town Boundaries.
No. 34- Supply (No. 3) 1927-28.
No. 35. - Germans Admission.
Bill read a first time.
[3.7]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the permanentsettlement which has been achieved in the matter of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States has opened the way to a full consideration of all the anomalies and hardships that exist under our income tax legislation. The Government has therefore, decided to not only reduce the rate of income tax payable, but also introduce a bill dealing generally with the removal of a number of anomalies and giving concessions of various kinds to taxpayers. I crave the indulgence of the Senate whilst I explain the various alterations in our income tax law, for which this bill provides in the terms’ of a document thathas been prepared on the subject. Honorable senators who are familiar with legislation of this character can appreciate how technical and involved it is. I am not a taxation expert and must, therefore, rely for my information upon others who possess that knowledge.
The bill contains probably the greatest number of concessions to taxpayers which have yet been embodied in one bill submitted to Parliament. In addition to the proposed reduction by 10 per cent. in the rate of tax payable by individuals, there is to be a reductionof the minimum tax from £1 to 10s. The subjects dealt with in the bill are : -
The extension of the present deduction of gifts exceeding £5 made to public charitable institutions, so as to cover -
Revision of the averaging provisions of the law so as to ensure -
Review will expire, and to empower the Governor-General to make any fresh appointment for any period of time up to seven years. (Clause 21.)
Re 1. Deduction of losses from profits. See clause 16. - The concession will commence to apply in assessments for the current financial year 1927-28. In that year the concession will be in respect of losses of the previous four years to the same extent as if the provisions of the concession had operated in those four years. Losses will be taken in theiro rder of occurrence, i.e., the earliest loss in the five-year period will be the first to be set off against the earliest subsequent profits of that period. If that loss is greater than the profits of the four years next succeeding the year of loss, the excess of the loss ceases to be a deduction from any later profits. The Government considers that a period of four years after the year of loss is sufficient in practically all cases to permit of recoupment of losses. Where that period is not sufficient, the case would probably receive sympathetic consideration by the Relief Board. This concession is being combined with the present averaging system which provides for the taxation of the actual taxable income at a rate applicable to the average taxable income of that year and the four (preceding years. Under the proposal in the bill, the rate will be affected in cases where losses have occurred because the taxable income of a year succeeding a year of loss will be reduced by the amount of the loss, if it is less than the income. If the loss exceeds the subsequent income, then that income is not taxable. The scheme is a distinct advantage to taxpayers who suffer losses. There are, unfortunately, many such persons in the Commonwealth, more particularly among those engaged in primary production. I say regretfully that during the present financial year many taxpayers in Australia will appreciate that provision.
– Is it intended to average the income or the rate of the tax?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The rate. Several methods of meeting this position have been examined by the Government. It has been found that that which is proposed in the bill is the most acceptable from all points of view, having regard to the necessity for reasonable certainty as to revenue for the annual budget and for reasonable costs of administration. The explanatory document from which I have been reading continues -
Re 2. Deduction for cost of opening up new lands for agricultural or pastoral purposes. (Clause 14, amendment /). - It is expected that this provision will be a distinct incentive to persons engaged or desirous of engaging in primary industry to undertake the opening up of new country. Under the present law such expenditure cannot be deducted because it is a capital outlay. It should, how ever, be borne in mind that the expenditure is incurred for the sole purpose of converting by natural means the elements of the soil into food stuffs and other necessaries of life and well being. In this connexion there is a striking distinction between rural lands and urban lands. In the case of the latter lands, nothing is drawn from the soil per se. The land is useful only for sites for buildings or factories, or other similar income producing assets. It is those assets, in this case, which produce the income. On the other hand, the rural land itself yields the income only after its potentialities have been made available for that purpose by the expenditure of money in clearing timber and other obstacles which prevent the effective use of the constituents of the soil. The secondary industries obtain a deduction of an annual sinking fund to amortize expenditure on factory buildings, machinery, &c, which produce their income. The proposal in the bill is an adaptation of that principle, given in the proposed form because there is no effective method by which a sinking fund to amortize the expenditure might reasonably be calculated. The effect of the proposal on an assessment will be so to increase the deductions in the relevant case as possibly to cause the aggregate of the allowable deductions of that year to exceed the total assessable income of that year. The excess of deductions over assessable income will thus represent a “ loss “ for the purpose of ascertaining the average income when assessing any actual taxable income of a succeeding year, and for the purpose of deduction of lossess from profits of the next succeeding four years.
Re 3. Extension of the depreciation deduction to cover absolescence in all cases; and to allow depreciation deduction to farmers and pastoralists on certain assets. (Clause 14, amendment b). - The proposal of the bill extends the special provision inserted in the law by the 1924 amending act, under which a deduction for obsolescence of plant and machinery could be allowed. That provision was limited, however, to cases in which the deduction for depreciation was calculated at a fixed proportion of the cost of the asset being dealt with. It permitted the owner of the asset to write off any part of the cost which still remained to be written off at the date when the asset is sold or otherwise disposed of, i.e., thrown on the scrap heap or given away. This concession did not, however, apply to cases in which the deduction for depreciation was calculated on what is known as the diminishing value basis. There are very many secondary industries which obtain the deduction for depreciation on the diminishing value basis, and those have found it impracticable to change from that basis to the alternative basie known as the “ prime cost basis,” on account of insuperable difficulties encountered in ascertaining the original cost of their respective assets of plant and machinery. These taxpayers have, by the terms of the existing law, been deprived of any deduction for depreciation of the plant and machinery on and from the date when they cease to use it for the production of income. The proposal in the bill will, however, place those taxpayers in the same position as regards writing off un recouped expenditure on plant, &c, as the taxpayers who have adopted the “ prime cost basis.” The wording of the existing law has, therefore, been re-arranged to give “effect to this policy. At the same time, the opportunity has been taken to include among the items in respect of which deduction for depreciation may be allowed, fences, dams, and other improvements on land owned and used by farmers and pastoralists for the purposes of their particular business. Hitherto, fences, dams, &c, have been regarded as part of the land, and, therefore, not subject to deduction for depreciation. It has also been considered that the increment in value of land would offset any loss sustained through depreciation of fences, dams, &c. Experience, however, does not support that view. On the contrary, it has shown, in some cases at least, that the expenditure is never recouped out of the sale prices. It is considered that the new provision represents delayed justice to the primary producer in this respect. lie 4. Sheep sold in the wool (Clause 12). - This amendment will in future enable a purchaser of sheep in the wool to obtain a deduction of the purchase price of his wool. In the past, it has not been possible to allow this deduction in cases where no purchase price of the wool has been specified in the contract of sale, and many purchasers who have elected to bring live stock to account at cost have thus suffered double taxation on the value of the wool, because they have had to bring the sheep to account at the end of their trading years at the price paid for them in the wool. The purchased wool has also been brought to account at its shorn value, or at its sale price, as the case requires, and thus the unfortunate purchaser has had to bring his wool to account as income twice - once as shorn wool, and once as new wool on the sheep’s back - and pay tax on it.
Re 5. Gifts to public charitable institutions, &c. (Clause 14, amendment c). - The existing law has had a limited application. It was confined to gifts in cash exceeding £5 each, paid to a public charitable institution. !N”o deduction could therefore bc allowed for gifts in kind, or for contributions to such funds as the fund of the. Lord Mayor of Melbourne, which collects money and distributes it among specified public charitable institutions in Victoria, or to a similar fund of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, , or to special relief funds organized by a Lord Mayor for relief of distress among persons who might suffer calamity through bush fires, floods, or tempests. The proposal in the bill will include gifts in kind and all the objects mentioned, and will extend also to public universities and colleges affiliated therewith. The definition of “ public charitable institution “ is included in the bill on the suggestion of one of the Justices of the High Court, made during the delivery of a judgment in a case in which the question arose as to what is a public charitable institution. lie 6. Protection of the revenue against subterfuges (Clause 14, amendment d). - This proposal will limit the deduction under section 23 (1) n of the principal act to cases of bona fide lessees who have no connexion directly or indirectly with a lessor. That section permits a deduction to a lessee of the sinking fund required to amortize expenditure covenanted by him to be made on improvements on building leases when the lessee has no tenant rights’ in the improvements. This prevents the lessee from being taxed on the part of his annual profits which represents the recoupment of his capital outlay which Would otherwise be lost to him. That concession is, however, being abused by freeholders of laud forming themselves into private companies in order that the company might take a lease of the land, mid so secure a deduction in the assessment of its income of the sinking fund required to recoup the cost of the improvements made by the company on the land. The freeholder in such cases provides the capital for the erection of the building, and thus obtains indirectly a very great advantage through the deduction allowed to the company in its assessment. It is proposed, therefore, te deny the amortization deduction to lessees in cases where there is a lease of land to a company from any individual who directly or indirectly controls the voting power of the company or in any other case in which the commissioner is of the opinion that, in consequence of the terms and conditions of the lease or of any circumstances associated with the lease, the lessor is in substantial control of the operations of r,he lessee.
Ite 7. Husband and wife partnerships. (Clause IS.) - The department has, during the past two years, been faced with great difficulties in dealing with cases in which partnerships between husband and wife have been alleged to exist. The claims submitted have been for separate assessment of husband and wife of their alleged respective interests in the partnership profits. Many extraordinary claims of this kind have been received, with the obvious object of reducing the amount of income tax which was formerly paid without objection by the husband as the sole owner of the income. The possibility of reducing the tax has apparently been brought very prominently before many taxpayers carrying on business in an individual capacity by some taxation agents who have gained their fees bv suggesting and causing the formation of partnership arrangements between the taxpayer and his wife. The department has critically examined each case in *.he large number which have come under notice. In some, the joint subscription of capital and the joint active assistance rendered by both husband and wife in the. production of the income have shown clearly that the partnership exists in fact, and should be recognized. But there are a great many others in which the husband supplies all the capital and does all the work while the wife attends to domestic duties at home, and others in which the wife supplies the whole of the capital but the husband does all the work while the wife remains at home attending to domestic duties. In the former class it is obvious that the alleged partnership arrangement is a subterfuge to reduce or entirely avoid taxation. In the latter class, the husband is in the same position in regard to his wife’s capital as he would be if he had borrowed capital himself from some other person or from a bank. In such cases, the most which the husband could reasonably claim is a deduction of interest on his wife’s capital upon which the wife would be taxed if it were of a taxable amount. But the claim for division of the profits equally between husband and wife would, in a number of cases, render both of them not liable to tax, or would very considerably reduce the amount of tax which would be assessable if the profits were taxed to one person. The proposal is aimed, at the fictitious cases here indicated, and will authorize the commissioner to assess the profits as the profits of one individual if he considers the arrangement was entered into for the purpose of avoidance of liability to tax by either the husband or the wife.
Be 2. Walk-in-walk-out sales of businesses. (Clause 11, amendment (b). - This amendment deals with a very important matter, and is urgently necessary to protect the revenue against loss unexpectedly encountered through a recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Victoria, confirmed by the High Court on appeal in the case of Weatherly v. Commissioner of Taxation. This appeal was based upon the contention that section 17 of the principal act entitled a vendor of live stock which, in the opinion of the Commissioner were, ordinarily used by the vendor for breeding purposes, to exemption from tax on the proceeds of the sale of such stock even though the sale were made in the. ordinary course of a continuing business. When section 17 of the principal aci was enacted it was intended, and Parliament was so informed, to overcome the detrimental effect upon the revenue of two judgments which had then recently been delivered by the High Court on the question whether there could be any taxable profit from the sale of ::i business on a walk-in walk-out basis. The court decided that there could* not be any taxable profit in such a case. Section 17 of the principal act therefore provided that there should be a possibility of taxable profit arising from the sale of the whole or part of the trading stock of any business, whether on the sale of a business as a going concern or in any other manner for the purpose of discontinuing the business. But the courts have recently held that the words “ whether on the sale, &c.” really moan “ whether oi not on the sale of the business as a going concern or in any other manner for the purpose of discontinuing the, business.’5 This was not the unanimous judgment of the court, but a majority judgment. The result is so opposed to the intention of Parliament that the Government has taken this first opportunity of re-expressing its intention in a manner which, it is expected, will be free from any doubt. The amendments for this purpose are being included in section 16 of the principal act as that section deals with what is assessable income of a taxpayer.
Re 9. Revision of the average provisions of the act. Clause 9, amendments c and d). - These are partly due to the introduction into the law of the principle that losses of one year may be deducted from profits of th, next succeeding four years. Most of the amendments proposed, however, ar.e. not directly connected with that principle. The amendment which was first described in my remarks is to make it quite clear that when once a taxpayer has come under the averaging provisions of the law, and has completed a five-year period he shall thereafter be assessed on the basis of a five-year period. This is not the present position. a° the wording of sub-section 5 of the principal act, though originally intended only to ascertain the first average year which was to be used when a taxpayer first became taxable has been found to necessitate a re-ascertainment of the first average year when a second five-year period is due to be considered. It has happened, therefore, that some persons whose income of the five-year period had been assessed at the rate applicable to an average income of five years, were assessed on their income of the sixth year at a rate applicable to an average income of a period less than five years, in some cases a fouryear period, in others three years, and in some, two years, merely because the income after the second year of their first five-year period was on the down grade. The matter will be more fully explained in committee. The amendment secondly described is to prevent heavy unproductive administrative work. When the averaging scheme was first introduced into the law it was intended that a person who was not carrying on a business should be taxed upon his first taxable income at the rate appropriate thereto, but that a person who is carrying on business should be taxed on his first taxable income at the rate applicable to an average ascertained by associating that first taxable income with any previous losses which may have arisen in years to which the averaging would have applied if there had been any income. The business man was to have the benefit of any previous business losses arising after the averaging scheme was introduced. The salary or wage-earner was to be taxed without reference to any previous nontaxable years which he may have had. If this had not been done the department would have had to call upon all salary and wage-earners coming into the taxable field for the first time to lodge statements of their earnings during the preceding four years so as to ascertain the average income for the five-year period. It was decided that the circumstances would not justify the heavy unproductive expenditure which would thus have been involved. It was recently ascertained, however, that a judgment of an English court on the question of whether an employee in receipt of salary or wages waa carrying on a business within the meaning of the English Income Tax Act, supported a contention raised under the Commonwealth law that a ‘ person in receipt of salary or wages was entitled to be treated as carrying on a business. As this is contrary to .the original object of the law, this amendment is proposed in order that the original object may be carried out. The amendment, thirdly described is a drafting amendment only which will make clearer the intention of the sub-section dealt with. The amendment fourthly described is necessary in order that a person who might leave Australia for several years after having been a taxpayer should not have his tax on any subsequent Australian profits assessed at a rate ascertained from the earlier income, together with nil results during his absence. Such persons should commence a new averaging period upon their return to Australia.
Be 10. Deductions to timber millers. (Clause 14, amendment g). - The underlying principle of this amendment is similar to that present in the case of wool growing on sheep’s backs. The standing timber is part of the ground, just as the growing wool is part of the sheep. The reasons for the amendment in this case are similar to those in the case of the growing wool. The amendment will remove an anomaly.
Be 11. Double deductions to lessees trafficking in leases. (Clause 15.) - The amendment in this case is necessary in order to prevent a lessee of property obtaining a double deduction of the cost of his lease.
Section 25i of the principal act grants a deduction to a .lessee of the annual sinking fund required to amortize the purchase price, if any, paid by him for the lease, over the unexpired period of the lease from the date of purchase. It sometimes happens that if the person at any time sells the unexpired period of his lease the circumstances of the transaction may be such as to render him liable to pay tax on any profit which he might make by the sale. In that case there would be a deduction of the whole of the purchase price of the lease. The discovery of this liability in many cases is not made until several years hav. elapsed after the original purchase of the lease, and, in the meantime, the deduction of the sinking fund mentioned has been allowed, thus exempting profits representing a part of the original purchase price. If, therefore, the full purchase price of the lease is deducted from the final selling price the taxpayer would receive an advantage to which he is not entitled. This amendment will place the matter on a proper footing.
Be 12. Exemption in respect of profits by the sale of Pacific Island produce. (Clause 10 amendment c). - The object of this amendment is to remove a cause of considerable irritation among residents of the Pacific Islands controlled by any part of the Empire or by a condominium in which any part of the Empire is interested. Practically all of those traders are obliged to send their produce to Australia for sale. The produce is usually sold to an agent who is able to purchase all the produce from all the traders, and then can export it himself for sale in ex Australian markets. There is practically no market in Australia for this produce, and the traders have no alternative to sending it to Australia for re-export. They cannot secure oversea freight from their islands. The revenue involved is negligible and the probability is that the proposed exemption will produce a very desirable attitude among the island traders towards the Commonwealth. The amendment will apply to produce from the territory of Papua if it is immediately exported from Australia.
Be 13. Exemption of profit on sale in Australia of gold mined in New Guinea. (Clause 10 amendment a). - This amend ment is desirable, because the law already exempts profits from gold produced in the adjoining territory of Papua, and also from mining in Australia. If the amendment were not accepted by Parliament the Department of Taxation would have the greatest difficulty if. ascertaining the true amount of profits upon which tax should be levied. The work involved would be great, the irritation to the gold-miners would be still greater, whilst the results in revenue would be extremely small.
Be 14. Second Commissioner of Taxation. (Clauses 5, 6 and 7). - The provisions of the bill relating to the Second Commissioner of Taxation and expressing the powers and functions which the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation may exercise have been found to be both necessary and desirable in order that the work of the department might be carried on expeditiously. It should be explained that the position of Assistant Commissioner of Taxation is created by the Estate Duty Assessment Act. That act is not being amended at present, and therefore it is necessary in this bill to retain references to the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation. By the Estate Duty Assessment Act, the Assistant Commissioner of Land Tax is made the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation. Therefore the person who was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Land Tax is by the statute at once the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation. The work of the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation does not, as might perhaps be supposed, consist of minor matters of management. The necessity of the Comissioner of Taxation to visit each of the capital cities of the Commonwealth at frequent intervals, together with the necessity for the Commissioner to be in Canberra while Parliament is sitting, has thrown the bulk of the administrative work upon the, Assistant Commissioner, and it has been necessary for the Assistant Commissioner to give rulings on matters which would otherwise be dealt with by the Commissioner. The position is, therefore., more aptly described as that of Second Commissioner. At the same time, it is very desirable that the powers and functions which may be exercised by the. Second Commissioner should be expressed in the law, as litigation is now pending in which a decision and determination by the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation is # challenged before tha court. The Assistant Commissioner had made the decision and determination under authority delegated to him by the Commissioner. It is very undesirable that an administrative officer’s decisions should be exposed to challenge in the court on the ground of invalidity. The bill will therefore overcome this risk in future. Provision is continued in clause 32 (1) proviso of the bill to conserve all gain which the appellant in the pending appeal may obtain from the judgment of the court in his case; but all other acts, decisions, and determinations of the Assistant Commissioner are validated by the provisions of clause 29 (1), which make the amendments under reference operate retrospectively to 1st July, 1924, the. date when the
Assistant Commissioner commenced to make determinations of the kind now challenged by the appeal mentioned.
Re 15. Members of the Income. Tax Board of Review. (Clause 21).- -The amendments in this clause are required because of the declaration by the High Court that the body known as the, Income Tax Board of Appeal had no valid existence. The present members of the Board of Review had been appointed members of the Income Tax Board of Appeal for periods of seven years, varying by a few days owing to the variations in the dates of appointment of the respective members. The declaration of the invalidity of the Board of Appeal was immediately followed by legislation to constitute the Board of Review and provision was made that the persons appointed members of the Board of Appeal should be deemed to have been appointed members of the Board of Review. The law provided for appointments to be for :i period of seven years. The intention “was that the members so appointed as members of the Board of Review should hold office until the expiration of seven years from the dates of their original appointments as members of the Board of Appeal. The amendment will have this result. At the same, time the amendment will enable the Government to make future appointments to the board for any period not exceeding seven years.
Re 16. Decisions on questions of law. (Clause 22). - This amendment will curtail the power of the Board of Review so as to cause it to refer all questions of law to the High Court for decision. Some, unsatisfactory positions have been created by recent decisions of the Board of Review having decided points of law in a manner contrary tol the -advice received by the Commissioner from the Crown Lav.’ Department. The Board of Review ;s not a judicial body. It is not intended to be such a body, but was intended to be a body which would ascertain facts and decide disputes between taxpayers and departments as to the actual facts. All questions of law associated with the facts were to be left to the High Court. The amendment will produce this result.
Re 17. Liquidators of Companies. (Clause 23.) - The amendment proposed has been found necessary owing to the provisions of the company law in one State making it illegal to appoint a liquidator in the case of certain companies. The law requires the liquidation to be carried out by persons concerned in the management of the company. This has been found to mean that in such a case the persons charged with the liquidation of the company are not responsible under the Income Tax Assessment Act to retain sufficient funds out of which any tax due by the company might be paid. The amendment will remove this risk of loss of revenue.
Be 18. Deduction of Bonuses paid byCo-operative Companies. (Clause 13.) - This amendment will remove an anomaly from the act under which a cooperative company which has paid bonuses to purchasers based upon the volume of purchases is required to pay tax on the bonuses whilst the purchaser who receives it is exempt from tax upon it. Co-operative companies are at. present entitled to a deduction in their assessments of all interest and dividends distributed to shareholders in respect of their shares. This amendment will place the bonuses in the same position as dividends and interest, and will exempt the bonuses from tax. It may be added that dividends and interest received by shareholders of the company are taxable to the shareholders. The bonuses merely represent a return of part of tha purchase money paid by the member of the company for goods supplied.
Re 19. Recovery of tax on certain trust estates. (Clauses 24 and 31.) - This amendment will enable the commissioner to recover taxes in the cases mentioned in the amendment. He is not able to do this at present because there is no person in whose name the assessment may be made or against whom recovery action might be instituted. The amendment will authorize the commissioner to make an assessment in such a case and to secure payment of the tax by levy and distress upon the assets left by the deceased person.
Re 20. Definition of “ absentee “. (Clause 3). - Cases have como under notices in which the wife of a Commonwealth officer who is stationed abroad on fluty is liable to be assessed as an absentee without a deduction on account of the general exemption of £300, while her husband is, by the act, treated as not being an absentee. This incongruity is removed by the proposed amendment.
Re 21. Amendments in the penalty section. (Clause 27.) - Section 67 of the Principal Act which is amended by this clause causes a penalty automatically to apply to any person who has failed to lodge a return or information as and when required by the act or regulations or by the commissioner. The penalty is the greater of two amounts, £1 or 10 per cent. per annum upon any tax payable. As the section at present stands it requires the penalty of 10 per cent. per annum to be calculated from the due date of the payment of the tax, but it does not state any definite period for which it should be calculated. It has been found in practice that this defect in the wording of the section has rendered inoperative the penalty of 10 per cent. per annum. The clauses expresses the period for which the penalty should be calculated, namely, for the period commencing on the last day allowed for furnishing returns or information and ending on the day upon which the return or information is furnished or -the day when the assessment is made, whichever first happens. The opportunity is taken to reexpress the latter part of the existing section in simpler language.
Re 22. The remainder of the amendments are minor machinery alterations designed to facilitate the work of the department without in any way altering the principles expressed in the sections which are being amended.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
In committee: (Consideration resumed from 6th December, vide page 2634).
Department of the Attorney-General.
Proposed vote, £154,170.
– I should like information concerning the proposed expenditure of £11,321 onthe Commonwealth Investigation Branch. Has this department. come into being as the outcome of the incident at Warwick many years ago when the now famous egg was hurled at a certain gentleman who was then the Prime Minister of Australia? The Commonwealth police force, which was then established, and which T believe is now known as the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, is evidently making progress since it is necessary to vote over £11,000 in respect of it this year.
[8.48]. - The investigation branch is composed of officers employed by the Commonwealth for the gurpose of preventing breaches of the ommonwealth law, and for the protection of the revenue. Many inquiries have to be made in connexion with the administration of the various departments. When I was administering the Home and Territories Department, I found it necessary, on many occasions, to enlist the services of officers of this branch to inquire into attempts to defeat the Immigration Act. I presume Senator Needham will agree that it, is desirable to prevent any breaches of that law. It is necessary also to have trained officers to make certain investigations. In many instances the ordinary police methods are not successful. As far as possible we utilize the services of the State police, but very often, when we get advice of a conspiracy to defeat the Commonwealth law it is desirable that the investigations shall be carried out by specially trained officers. It happens sometimes when a special investigation has been ordered, that the officers of the State investigation branches are busily employed on other inquiries. Moreover, it is essential in some instances that outside authorities should not know what investigations are being conducted by the Commonwealth.
– What is the number of the staff?
– It totals 20, including clerical officers. I can assure honorable senators that the branch is doing very valuable work not only in preventing breaches of the Commonwealth laws, but also in protecting thf: revenue.
– I desire to address the committee on a recent appointment to the Arbitration Court bench. Not very long ago we had in this chamber a gentleman, who, with others, represented the State of Western Australia. I refer to ex-Senator DrakeBrockman. He filled an important position in the Senate, being whip to the Government, and was exceedingly helpful to the Ministry on many occasions, particularly in the matter of legal advice in respect of measures that came before the Senate. In fact he looked upon himself as part and parcel of the Ministry.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that this discussion in committee is relevant only if it refers to some payment under the bill to the gentleman concerned. The bill makes no provision for the salary to be paid to judges of the High Court or the Arbitration Court. Those salaries are provided for by a special appropriation in the act under which they are appointed I contend, therefore, that Senator Findley is not in order in discussing the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman to the Arbitration Court Bench.
– The appointment to which I take exception was made by the Government on the advice of the Attorney-General, whose department is now under review. I consider that I am in order in making reference to it. In another place there was a long discussion concerning the appointment when Estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department was before the members of that chamber.
– That does not make it right here.
– The Government did not make any attempt then, as the Leader of the Senate is doing now, to prevent criticism of the appointment, which cannot be justified by the Government.
– I contend, Mr. Chairman, that you cannot give a ruling along the lines suggested by the Leader of the Senate. Senator Findley was criticizing the action of the Government in respect of a certain appointment which was made on the advice of the AttorneyGeneral, whose department is now under discussion. The Attorney-General is the legal adviser to the Ministry, and I consider that Senator Findley is in order in directing attention to an appointment made on the advice of that department.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).I have examined the list of divisions in the Department of the Attorney-General, and T see no reference in it to the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman to the Arbitration Court Bench. The honorable senator had an opportunity to discuss the appointment on the motion for the first reading of the bill, and he would be in order in referring to it in the committee stage if, in any of the divisions, there was an item relating to it. As there is not, I must rule the honorable senator out of order.
– I direct attention under Division 35, which relates to patents, trade marks, and designs, to the custom that has arisen of employing a fairly large number of returned soldiers in a temporary capacity in the various departments. The Public Service Act, which was passed in 1922, provides in sub-section 9 of section 84 - in the making of appointments to positions in the Commonwealth Public Service of a nonclerical nature, the order of preferenc to returned soldiers shall be as follows: -
I have been advised recently that one returned soldier, and I dare say his case is typical of many others who have been employed by various departments in a temporary capacity, after .having been employed for more than two years, had his engagement terminated to make room for some one else who had qualified t» take his position. He is now temporarily employed in the Patents Office, and he anticipates that this job will last for only three months. He fears that what happened to him a short time ago may happen to him again. He is a married man with a couple of children, and is incapacitated to the extent that he cannot use his right hand; but with a great deal of care and attention he has been able to master that difficulty, and now he can write fairly well with the left hand. He is employed as a temporary clerk. One can understand the feelings of a returned soldier who has been giving satisfactory service to his department, but because he is on the temporary staff has to lose his occupation and take on any casual work until there is another. Opening in a public department where he can again be employed as a temporary hand. It was the intention of the Commonwealth Public Service Act that eases similar to his should receive the greatest consideration. If the services of a returned soldier have been satisfactory, provided he has not been less than two years in the service, he may be admitted as a permanent employee in an non-clerical capacity. I dare say there are many cases similar to the one I am now presenting to the Minister. This young man is not complaining, but he is terribly afraid that he may be thrown out of employment at any time. I can vouch for his honour and integrity, and I understand from those who are in a position to know, that his service in the Customs Department was eminently satisfactory. I submit to the Minister that the Public Service Board might be approached with a view to relieving men like him of this terrible anxiety which is always hanging over them. The prospect of losing one’s employment at any moment conduces to unhappiness and worry. The man who knows that his position is secure usually gives better service than the officer who is employed as a temporary hand, no matter how willing he may be. I hope that the remarks I have made will result in an investigation of this deserving case, and in a recognition of the spirit in which paragraph 9 of sub-section 4 of the Public Service Act was framed, especially sub-paragraph c relating to men who cannot pass the prescribed examination for employment in a clerical capacity. That is the class of returned soldier in whom I am interested at the present time. I trust that the Minister will do something to bring to an end the unsatisfactory state of affairs to which I have drawn attention. I know that his sympathies are with those who suffered disabilities during the war, yet can render satisfactory service in our public departments.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the
Executive Council) [4.4]. - I am not conversant with the facts of the case that have been put forward by Senator Payne, but if he will supply me with particulars of it, I shall see that it is brought under the notice of the Public Service Board; because the Public Service Act provides that a considerable preference must bc given to returned soldiers. There are provisions in that act which enable persons who are filling temporary positions to become permanent officers. Two of the members of the board are returned soldiers, and I should think that their consideration for other returned soldiers is most sympathetic. Dealing with the employment of soldiers, the board in its last annual report says -
The policy enunciated by the Public Service Act of extending to returned soldiers preference for permanent or temporary employment has continued to be observed by the board, which has insisted upon the employment of soldiers to the exclusion of other applicants, so long as there are soldiers available and competent for the work to bc done. It is the practice of the board when dealing with applications for re-appointment ‘to the Service from persons who have previously voluntarily resigned to accord preference to returned soldiers.
During the year under review, appointments of returned soldiers to the permanent Service have numbered 54S. The total number of returned soldiers permanently appointed to the Commonweal th Service from the inauguration of the arrangement for preferential treatment of soldiers up to 30th June, 1926, is 3,425. The number of returned soldiers in the permanent Service at that date was 5,281.
In order to assist, the Repatriation Department in its policy of finding suitable employment for partially trained returned soldiers, a conference was held in October, 1921, between representatives of the Public Service Commissioner, the Postmaster-General’s Department, and the Repatriation Department to consider the appointment of vocational’ trainees as junior mechanics in training. Following upon this conference, a decision was reached as to the conditions of employment of trainees, and as to their continuance in temporary employment until the course of training, covering three years, as prescribed for these positions, had been completed, when steps would be taken for appointment to the permanent staff of the Service.
The cost of remuneration of trainees - not less than the adult minimum wage being paid in any case - was borne conjointly by the Repatriation Department and the PosmasterGeneral’s Department, the amount payable by the former department becoming a diminishing figure as the services of trainees became increasingly of more value to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It is satisfactory to record that generally the scheme of vocational training proved a success, and it has now been brought to a conclusion by the appointment, to the permanent staff of 27 trainees who have completed their course.
That quotation from the report of the board shows that the board itself will administer with every sympathy the section of the Public Service Act dealing with returned soldiers. If Senator Payne will let me have the particulars of the case he has referred to, I am sure that the board will do what he asks if it has power to do so.
– A few minutes ago I made an attempt to call attention to a recent appointment to the Arbitration Court bench, but upon the Minister (Senator Pearce) rising to a point of order you ruled, Mr. Chairman, that I was not in order. As it is always my desire to pay respect to the Chairman I sat down offering no objection, but with all due respect to you and the Leader of the Government I feel that I was perfectly in order.
– Surely that is a reflection on the Chair.
– On page SI ot the bill there is a provision for travelling expenses for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– That does not apply to the judges.
Does Senator Findley challenge my ruling ?
– I do if you say that travelling expenses cannot be discussed.
– That is not the point the honorable senator raised. He is at liberty to allude to travelling expenses.
– But I cannot deal with travelling expenses unless 1 associate with them individuals why draw those expenses, and if you permit me I can proceed.
– The honorable senator would be quite out of order if in his allusion to travelling expenses he brought in the judges of the Arbitration Court.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home and Territories.
Proposed vote, £298,269.
.- I notice in connexion with the Common wealth Foresty Bureau that provision has been made for the payment of a salary of £.1,200 a year to the Inspector-General of Forests, and that a foot note gives the information that the Inspector-General also receives £150 whilst he is acting as principal of the Australian Forestry School. I was under the impression when the Forestry Bill was introduced last week that it was part of the duties of the Inspector-General of Forests to act as principal of this schoool. I was not aware that his work in connexion with the school was an extra duty, from which he was to receive extra remuneration.I should like to know if he is filling the position temporarily or if this additional item of £150 is to remain for all time. If so, I should like to know why it is not included in his salary.
[4.12]. - The honorable senator will find that provision is made in the Estimates for the salary of the principalofthe Forestry School. The Inspector-General of Forests is merely acting temporarily until a suitable man can be found to take control of the school.
– I should like to know if this vote is recouped from the fees paid by the students at the school, and if it is the intention of the Governmentto erect decent accommodation for the students. I should also like to know if it is the intention of the Government to provide by an amendment of the Forestry Bill a chance for the graduates of the Forestry School to secure appointments throughout Australia, and particularly ir their own States.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [4.14]. - The States which ‘ have sent students to the Forestry School at Canberra have undertaken to employ them upon the completion of their course of training. Their fees are now paid by the Commonwealth, but their maintenance is paid by the States. Pro vision is about to be made in the immediate future for accommoda tion for the students at the school.
– I invite the attention of the committee . to the continued delay in securing joint rolls for State and Commonwealth elections. A large portion of the time of the electoral officers, at least in New South Wales, is occupied in taking out summonses against people who enrol only for the State in the belief that that is sufficient to ensure their becoming automatically enrolled for the Commonwealth. Arrangements for joint rolls have been made in a number of the States. I wish the necessary steps to be taken without further delay to ensure that when a person enrols for either the State or the Commonwealth that will be sufficient for both purposes. [ should like to know what steps the Governmentis taking, or contemplates taking, io bring about that desirable reform?
I also invite the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories to the unreasonable and inexplicable delay in making available building sites at Canberra, thus hindering the proper development of the Territory. The charge of going slow is sometimes levelled against persons in the social, the commercial, and the financial life of this country; but the most efficient exponent of go-slowism is undoubtedly the Federal Capital Commission. On the 6th October last I* was informed by the Minister that up to that date only 447 building sites had been leased by the commission in Canberra. I say without fear of contradiction that the Government and the commission, both singly and conjointly, are determinedly crucifying Canberra and preventing its development. No matter how experienced or expert bricklayers may be, they have not the ability to erect a house without a site.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator may not discuss the Federal Capital Territory on this vote.
– Then I shall refer again to the matter when the appropriate item is before us.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [4.22] . - The Commonwealth Government has always been in favour of a uniform roll for State and Federal elections, and at the present time it is working under a joint roll with the States of Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia. Negotiations are proceeding with Western Australia, and it is hoped that a joint roll will be in operation there before very long. Only Queensland and New South Wales have rejected the proposal.
– The proposed vote for the Meteorological Department is only £38,030. In view of the enormous importance of meteorology to an island continent like Australia, which for its prosperity depends to such a large extent upon primary production, the Government would be wise to spend a great deal more, so that our meteorologists would have accurate data to guide them. Throughout this year a drought, of considerable severity has ruled over a vast area in Australia; but for some reason or other the Commonwealth Meteorologist, in his reports to the press, has stated that the reason is a normal one. That occurred only recently. I took out his own rainfall figures at the end of October, and found that, with the exception of coastal towns like Port Darwin, the fall had been 33 per cent, below normal. These reports would induce people to believe that our output of wool, wheat, and meat would not be curtailed ; whereas it is well known that, our sheep losses have exceeded 10,000,000 head, that there will be no exportable surplus of wheat from New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, and very little from South Australia - although Western Australia has a good crop - that there will be practically no meat to export, and that the wool clip shows a decline of 400,000 bales. Those who are associated with the pastoral and farming industries know that the reports regarding normality were not only misleading, but also ridiculous. What is the position to-day? A widespread drought unfortunately still rules, and there will be a tremendous shrinkage in our exports of all produce, with the result that, our already serious adverse trade balance will swing still further away from us. The expenditure on meteorology ought to be increased, and the misleading nature of the reports ought to be pointed out to the person who has been responsible for them.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [4.27]. - I am not aware whether the honorable senator refers to the Australian meteorological report or to that which relates to the State of Victoria.
– I refer to the Australian report.
– The Commonwealth Meteorologist does not issue a report concerning the whole of Australia. A map is published showing the rainfall, but reports are issued by State meteorologists.
– I refer to the reports that appear in the press every month. They must be supplied by the Commonwealth department.
– I have not seen any recent reports. Some were issued about April last, at the end of the dry season in Victoria. The meteorologist then pointed out that the season at that particular time was normal. Had the usual winter rains fallen the yield of wheat would have been up to the average. Everybody knows that in Victoria last autumn was very dry.
– 1 am dealing with Australia, not Victoria.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The Commonwealth Meteorologist does not issue a report relating to the whole of Australia. If the honorable senator looks for it he will see in the press a map which shows the rainfall in the Commonwealth. Under that map is a report dealing with the conditions in each individual State. Nobody can suggest that the weather conditions this year in Western Australia, have been similar to those in the eastern States. They have had a wonderful season. It cannot be argued, either, that there have been normal conditions in Central Queensland during the last three years. It would not be possible to issue in general terms a statement indicating the conditions all over Australia. I question very much whether at any time they are normal in every part of the Commonwealth. The honorable senator must have in mind the reports that are issued by the State meteorologists. I remember the Government Meteorologist in Victoria pointing out at the end of the autumn that the season was normal. The autumn in Victoria is always dry; until the early winter rains fall, Victoria is in a position similar to that of Queensland at another time_of the year.
– I was ‘not dealing with Victoria at all, but with a statement attributed to the Commonwealth Meteorologist as late as October last, in which he said that the season was normal, whereas at that time nearly 90 per cent, of Australia was suffering from drought.
– A general meteorological report, covering the whole of the Commonwealth, could not be issued. As honorable senators are probably aware, Western Australia is experiencing a wonderful season, whereas the season in the eastern States is quite the reverse.
– -Could a forecast of the seasons be issued?
– I do not think that any one could issue a reliable long-distance forecast. A meteorologist might issue fairly accurate forecasts 48 hours ahead, but not for long -periods in advance.
– In that case, Senator Guthrie is correct.
– No competent meteorologist would be prepared to issue a long-distance forecast of the weather.
– Senator Guthrie has complained that a statement attributed to the Commonwealth Meteorologist was not correct. I can understand the difficulty in forecasting the seasons, but there is nothing to prevent a meteorologist from saying what the weather conditions over the whole of Australia have been during a given period. Senator Guthrie referred, not to forecasts, but to reports of weather actually experienced. The report to which the honorable senator referred has given the impression that the season has been normal, whereas over the greater part of Australia it has been abnormal.
– I was endeavouring to point out the desirability of spending more money in connexion with the Meteorological Department, so that its officers would be better equipped to forecast the state of the weather, in the interests of shipping especially. I said that I understood complaints had been made that the data supplied to the department from different parts of Australia were not sufficient for it to issue reliable reports. I referred to an inaccurate newspaper statement in which the Commonwealth Meteorologist took to task people who had said that the season was a bad one, and the outlook unpromising, and in which he stated that the season was normal, whereas it is one of the worst Australia has ever experienced. Already we have lost 10,000,000 sheep, and there is very little prospect of any considerable export trade in wool, meat, or wheat. I complained of an inaccurate report in the press attributed to the Commonwealth Meteorologist.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [4.35]. - I agree with Senator Guthrie as to the importance of the Meteorological Department. The accuracy or otherwise of the statement to which he has referred depends on the time it was issued.
– A statement was issued every month up to October.
– In October it was thought that the Queensland wheat crops would be an absolute failure, but, as a result of rains which fell opportunely, the position has changed entirely. Instead of a failure, some portions of Queensland an’ experiencing a record year. A Brisbane newspaper which I received this morning says that yields of from eight to seventeen bags of wheat per acre are being obtained in some districts. The Commonwealth Meteorologist has informed me that he would not attempt to issue a long distance forecast.
– No one expects him to do so.
– Throughout Australia there are numbers of recording stations which gather data as to weather conditions and rainfall, and forward them to the department. The information thus obtained enables the Commonwealth Meteorologist to make his forecasts; but he does not attempt to predict the weather conditions for any great period ahead. I recognize the value of these recording stations throughout the Commonwealth. An intending new settler requires to know more than the annual rainfall of the district in which he proposes to settle.. He should know the rainfall month by month over a period of years. A district may have a good total annual rainfall, but the rain may not fall at times suitable for crops. Evidence of the value of the Commonwealth Meteorological Department was given some time ago. At a time when the indications on the coast of Queensland pointed to a continuance of fine weather, the meteorological station at “Willis Island in the Pacific gave warning of an approaching storm, with the result that the people of Queensland, particularly those engaged in shipping, were prepared for the cyclone when it arrived. The department contains a number of enthusiastic officers who are doing excellent work, but they cannot be expected to forecast weather conditions for any considerable distance ahead.
– The Minister has misunderstood me. He admits the value of the Meteorological Department, and has supplied evidence of its usefulness. The instance he quoted is sufficient to show its importance, and justifies my contention that a larger amount than £38,000 should be set apart for its use this year. In my opinion, more stations should be established, not only on the coast of Australia and in the adjoining islands, but also in inland areas.
-We have a number of recording stations in inland areas.
– I repeat that the shrinkage in our exportable products, upon which our prosperity so largely depends, is ample evidence of the poorness of the season.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £4,713,500.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Austra mation from the Minister regarding the exchange of Secretaries of the Defence Department and the High Commissioner’s office. Under the heading “ Administrative efficiency and economy,” the Public Service Board in its report states that efforts have been made to restrict expenditure. I understand that a few months ago the then Secretary of the Defence Department, Mr. Trumble, who had been connected with the department for many years, including the catastrophic years of Avar, was transferred to London as Secretary to the High Commissioner. For the last two years during which he occupied the position of Secretary to the Defence Department, he received £1,350 per annum. I assume that when he took over the duties of secretary to the High Commissioner he received a salary equivalent to that paid to Mr. Shepherd. Mr. Shepherd, who has been transferred from the High Commissioner’s Office in London, now occupies the position of Secretary to the Defence Department at a salary of £2,000 a year, or £G50 a year more than was paid to Mr. Trumble. Mr. Trumble and Mr. Shepherd are both able men, but I. think Mr. Trumble’s experience in the Defence Department would enable him to render greater service to the Government than Mr. Shepherd. I should like to know whether that salary is to be paid only to the present occupant of the position, and whether it was approved by the Public Service Board. The Secretary of the Defence Department has important duties to fulfil, but secretaries of other Government departments of equal importance do not receive £2,000 a year. The salaries of secretaries of other departments are : - Prime Minister’s Department, £1,300; Department of the Treasury, £1,500; A ttorney-General’s Department, £2,000 ; Department of Trade and Customs, £2,000, and Department of Works and Railways, £1,000. The disparity between the salary paid to the Secretary to the Department of Works and Railways and that of the Secretary of the Defence Department is too great. One is either receiving too much or the other is underpaid. The Director-General of Works and Chief Architect receives £1,400 a year, and any one who knows the work which Mr. Murdoch has been carrying out for many years, which has been almost invaluable to the Commonwealth, must admit that the difference between that which he receives and the amount paid to the Secretary of the Defence Department is too great. The Chief Engineer in the Department of Works and Railways, another able officer, receives £1,300 a year. The Director-General of Health, who controls a very important department, receives £1,700, and the Secretary to the Minister for Markets and Migration £3,100 a year. As there are other departments controlling work which is quite as important as that of the Defence Department, particularly at this juncture, I should like to know why the salary of the Secretary of the Department of Defence has been increased by the amount. . I have mentioned.
[4.48]. - In reply to the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) I may say that the salary at, present paid to Mr. Shepherd was fixed bya previous government at £2,000a year, on the condition that it would be continued when he returned to Australia on the termination of his association with the High Commissioner’s office in Lon don. The salary paid to the present secretary of the department is nol regarded as permanent. Any future occupant of that office may not receive a similar salary. The Public Service Board does not fix the salaries paid to the heads of departments.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote £8S4,500 agreed to.
Department of Works and Railways.
Proposed vote, £351,324.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways explain the increased expenditure in connexion with the Governor-General’s establishment? The vote for “caretakers, charwomen and miscellaneous expenditure” for 1926-27 was £940, the actual expenditure £898, and the vote for this year £1,874 for the same purpose, or a difference between the previous and proposed vote of £934. The vote for “ maintenance - house “ for 1926-27 was £3,670, the expenditure incurred £3,587, and the proposed expenditure for this year £4.236, or an increase of £566. The vote for “maintenance - grounds” for 1926-27 was £4,125, the actual expenditure £3,182, and the vote for this year £5,575, or an increase of £1,450. Are we to understand that there is to be an additional expenditure of £1,450 for the maintenance of the grounds of the Governor-General’s residence at Canberra ?
– Provision for the maintenance of the grounds at Government House, Canberra, is £1,500, but last year nothing was set aside for- that purpose.
– The expense incurred in the upkeep of the grounds at Canberra is apparently as high as in Melbourne. Last year the total vote for the Governor-General’s establishment was £11,600, and the amount actually expended £11,388. The difference between the actual expenditure of £11,388 of last year and the amount proposed to be expended this year is £3,870. In sub-division No. 2, “ Melbourne and Sydney Government Houses,” the proposed expenditure this year is £1,330, whereas the amount actually expended last year was £2,562. The committee is entitled to some information on these points.
– I am at the moment unable to explain the difference between the actual expenditure last year and that estimate for this year. The details of the expenditure of £1,330 on the Melbourne and Sydney Government Houses are as follow: - Melbourne, erection of potting sheds £330, asphalting footpaths, main drive, and tarring roads £500 ; and Sydney, miscellaneous minor works, £500. These three items make up the total of £1,330.
– The Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) has not explained the increase in the cost of maintaining the grounds. Has he no information as to the number of men who are employed in maintaining the grounds of the Governor-General’s residence at Canberra and on the estimated expenditure, which shows an increase of nearly £1,500?
Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) .5.0]. - The details for which Senator Findley asks in regard to Government House, Canberra, are: - Caretakers, £900; maintenance of house, £500; maintenance of grounds, £1,500; insurance, £100; telephones, £50; fuel and light, £150; total, £3,200.
– Can the Minister give the figures relating to the cost of the detached buildings at Yarralumla?
– Expenditure on those buildings was met out of loan. I have not the details.
.- 1. am sorry that the Minister is not able to supply the information which I am seeking.
– The Federal Capital Commission was responsible for that work.
– I have been able to obtain certain information myself, and I feel that 1 must protest strongly against the manner in which money is being expended by the Federal Capital Commission on certain works in Canberra. The Public Works Committee Act provides that all public works estimated to cost over £25,000 shall be referred to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report. If tlie improvements at Yarralumla had been referred to the committee, I am sure it would not have sanctioned the expenditure that has been incurred on the buildings there.
– Why was not that work referred to the Public Works Committee?
– I do not know. But that is not the only instance. Even now there arc three other important works contemplated which, in the aggregate, will cost a considerable sum, but which, taken separately, are estimated to cost less than £25,000. It looks very much us if they have been so arranged in order to avoid a preliminary inquiry by the Public Works Committee.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that it has been done deliberately?
– It looks as if it has.
– That is a serious charge to make against the Government.
– I am not making any charge against the Government. I am merely citing these works as an illustration of what is going on in Canberra. The detached buildings at Yarralumla House are constructed of timber on concrete foundations, and are lined with fibro sheets. One building with six rooms and conveniences cost £5,000. No one who lias any knowledge of the building trade will pretend that the commission has value for that amount of expenditure. The Public Works Committee would never have authorized the erection of such buildings, and certainly would have objected to their cost.
– Who carried out the work ?
– I do not know. The Federal Capital Commission, I presume, called for tenners, and an officer of the commission, I have no doubt, supervised the work. Another building adjacent to the one I have just mentioned is occupied by the administrative staff. It cost £2,000. Even in Canberra that price is much too high.
– The honorable senator should remember that there are three rooms in it!
– I know there are three rooms in that building. I should like to know why the Minister in charge of the department allowed the commission to erect those buildings at such a cost. It appears- as if he has been neglecting his duty, and as a. result the Commonwealth Government has been involved in an expenditure of over £70,000 on Yarralumla House, including furnishings, which are put down at £15,000. I regard this as little short of a scandal. I am informed from a reliable source that three of the works which I have mentioned have been so manipulated as to bring the Estimates under £25,000, so as to prevent them from being referred to the Public Works Committee I have nothing to say against Canberra itself, and it is not as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, that I am protesting now, because the works mentioned were not in the first instance referred to the Public Works Committee. I have brought this matter under the notice of the Senate, because I object to any squandering of public money. The sooner the commission is informed definitely that the will of Parliament must not be disregarded, the better it will be for that body aud all concerned. This matter would have been mentioned in another place, but for the fact that the Estimates were, if I may use a well known ordinary Parliamentary phrase, “ bludgeoned “ through.
– I am glad that the honorable senator admits that.
– I employed that word because it was used in another place by members who criticized the policy of the Government. Because of the arrangements made there, members were deprived of an opportunity to speak on these matters. The Senate, being a more orderly chamber, its members have ample opportunity to deal with’ all subjects brought before it. I again protest at what is being done in Canberra in the direction I have named, and I hope that the Government will take steps to prevent a repetition of it in the future. I hope also- that the Public Accounts Committee will inquire into the expenditure at Yarralumla House.
– Who was the contractor ?
– I do not know, but I have no doubt if the Public Accounts Committee makes an inquiry that information will be disclosed. Steps should be taken to keep all expenditure within reasonable bounds, and to ensure that the Commonwealth gets a good return for its money.
– I think Senator Reid is out of order in discussing on these Estimates, expenditure on improvements and alterations at Yarralumla House.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator is in order. There is an item in the Estimates for maintenance of Government House and grounds.
– Expenditure for that work was provided on the Loan Estimates. However, the honorable sena tor’s protest will be communicated to the proper authority, and I hope it will b-j productive of good results.
– I was not sure that 1 should be in order, but I directed attention to the matter because the Minister for Works and Railways is responsible for the Estimates iu which these items art included.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [5.14 . - Senator Reid need make no apology for having mentioned the expenditure at Yarralumla House, aud the other three works to which he referred. This is not the first time that the Federal Capital Commission has endeavoured to drive a coach and four through the Public Works Committee Act. This matter was discussed in the Senate on a previous occasion, when the commission attempted to evade the provisions of the act. I agree with Senator Reid that the same tactics were adopted in connexion with the expenditure at the Governor-General’s residence at Canberra. It would have been better to pull down Yarralumba House instead of spending so much moneY on it by making alterations and additions. That would have been much cheaper in the long run. I hope that. Senator Reid will not allow the matter to drop, but that he will persist in his endeavour to compel the Federal Capital Commission to observe the law.
– The Works and Railways Department was not concerned in that expenditure.
– Under item 1, there is provision for £1,874 for caretakers, charwomen and miscellaneous expenditure; £4,236 for the maintenance of Government House, and £5,575 for the maintenance of Government House grounds. The Minister has not yet given the committee the details of extra expenditure in respect of these items. In addition we have to provide for the maintenance of Government House grounds at both Melbourne and Sydney. This is a vast amount of money to spend on such a small building, an.d, so far as I have been able to follow the Minister, he has not given us the information which we require.
.- Now that Parliament has been transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, I fail to see any reason for keeping up an establishment for the Governor-General in Melbourne. The winter in Canberra may be unpleasant for many people who reside here, but Queensland has the finest winter climate in the world, aud I suggest that if another residence is required for His Excellency and his staff a Government House should be built in Brisbane or in some other part of Queensland. I understand that the State Government of Victoria has recently intimated that it is not prepared to take over Federal Government House there on account of the costly upkeep, aud that it is asking for a largely increased contribution from the Federal Government towards the maintenance “of the establishment. A reputable journal in Melbourne states that the State Premier is now asking £10,000 a year from the Commonwealth Government instead of the £2,000 a year which was asked for by his predecessor. Furthermore, I understand from this journal that the State Government is looking for another house for the State Governor. I do not say that it is no longer necessary for the Commonwealth Government to maintain a house in Melbourne for the Governor-General, as long as there is work for him to do in Victoria; but, as the ramifications of the Commonwealth extend over nil the States, I think the time has arrived when, if it is necessary to provide more than one establishment for the Governor-General, a house should be built for him in Queensland, which is undoubtedly one of the most important States, and has a wonderful winter climate.
[5.2ft]. - I ,should like to make a short statement on this question which is of considerable public interest and also of interest to Parliament. It is not proposed to build an additional residence for the GovernorGeneral anywhere, and therefore the question of building another residence does not arise. While the seat of Goernment was in Melbourne the Commonwealth was using the Government House there; but it is a fairly expensive building to maintain - the expense, indeed, is far more than the State Government wishes to undertake. The Government of Victoria which preceded the Hogan Government intimated its willingness to make a reasonable arrangement with the Commonwealth for the maintenance of Government House- in Melbourne. It was a generous arrangement, and the Commonwealth Government thought that it would be of advantage, at any rate for some time, to maintain a Governor-General’s residence there. One or two reasons actuated the Government in coming to that determination. Some people scoff at the value of sentiment in our Empire relationships, but with the growth of the significance of the Commonwealth and the other Dominions as nations, one readily recognizes that the ties which bind our Empire together are largely sentimental ones. Sentiment must find expression in some way. The GovernorGeneral is the embodiment of that sentiment that binds the various parts of the Empire together - the idea of a common sovereign. His Majesty King George is as much the King of Australia as he is the King of Great Britain, and it is desirable that his representative should have an opportunity to move among the people in our great centres of population and meet as many as he can by appearing at public functions and so forth. Every GovernorGeneral, I am pleased to say, has realized that it is part of his duties to do this, and has travelled as much as possible throughout Australia. There is also another point of view peculiar to the Commonwealth itself. Our Federation is based largely on sentiment and the Governor-General plays a conspicuous place in the outward expression of that sentiment. The Government thinks that it is in the public interest that the Governor-General, as the embodiment of the sentiment of a united Australia, should be able to visit the more populated parts and remain in residence in the larger centres for some little time. Therefore, if a suitable arrangement can be made with the Government of Victoria, it has determined to maintain, for some time at any rate, a Government House in Melbourne. Its decision in that regard is in no way derogatory to the claims of other States. It is recognized that every State has something to recommend it, and that every State has claims to visits from the representative of his Majesty the King. But, of course, it would be impracticable to have a Government House in every State. For the reasons I have given the Government thinks that it would be inadvisable to abandon Government House in Melbourne, at any rate for the present, if the matter can be arranged on anything like reasonable terms. The terms proposed by the previous Government in Victoria were eminently reasonable, and acceptable to the Commonwealth Government. Negotiations are still in progress between the Commonwealth Government and the present Government of Victoria.
– Can the honorable senator give the nature of those terms ?
– Not off hand. They have been published in the press, and there is no secrecy about them. Speaking from memory the arrangement was for a Commonwealth contribution of about £2,000 a year. That was the arrangement with the previous Government. No particular sum has been mentioned officially by the present Government. All we have to guide us in the matter is a statement by a State Minister that the contribution expected by his Government is in the neighbourhood of £10,000 a year. I have no desire to express any opinion on that particular point, because it is now the subject of negotiation between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria. Of course the State Government has to look at the matter from its own standpoint, and I do not blame it for asking for a proper contribution from the Commonwealth. The Government does not feel that it would be justified in incurring a heavy expenditure in order to maintain an establishment in Melbourne for the Governor-General, but is prepared to shoulder a fair expenditure for the reasons I have already stated. I hope that the negotiations that are now proceeding will have a satisfactory termination, because it is in the public interests of the Empire and Australia that the Governor-General should have in the largest centres of population resi dences where be can spend some time of the year.
– Senator Reid has made a statement which I take very seriously as should every honorable senator. In a measure he reiterated statements that were made by Senator Duncan and Senator Elliott to the effect that the expenditure on certain additions to Yarralumla, the residence of the Governor-General, was a public scandal. His statements having been broadcast, a certain atmosphere of doubt and suspicion has been created as to the justification for this expenditure. Senator Reid has urged that the matter should be fully inquired into by the Public Accounts Committee. Personally, I think that the statements made are so serious that the Government itself should take action in the matter. In the best interests of those who are closely associated with the big undertakings in this Territory, an inquiry should be held in public. Senator Reid said that, in his opinion, the Federal Capital Commission had deliberately prevented, by manipulation, the investigation by the Public Works Committee of certain undertakings within the Capital. If there is anything wrong or fishy about these matters, they demand the fullest inquiry by a body that should be named by the Government. Unless the matter is cleared up definitely these statements will continue to be made from time to time. Honorable senators who are responsible for them ought to be prepared to back them up. and should spur the Government to action. As public men we must be careful to see that the taxpayers are given value for the money which is expended on works that are carried out by either the Government or the commission. From time to time workmen arccharged with the observance of a go-slow ‘ policy. It is scandalous for a Government supporter to make such an assertion, seeing that the Government itself is always going slow. I trust that in this instance it will act quickly and probe to the utmost degree the allegations that have been made and the rumours that are in circulation respecting certain buildings in the Territory. Statements of this sort are having a damaging effect on the Territory. In the American language there is the word “ graft.” The inference from Senator Reid’s remarks >s that there must have been either direct or indirect graft in connection with some of these works.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I grant that the honorable senator did not; but the statement which he made conveyed to me, at all events, the inference that there was something of that nature in connection with these undertakings.
– I implied that there was gross carelessness.
– If there is nothing either shady or fishy, why waste the time of the committee? The honorable senator has something definite in his mind. He protested earnestly, aud said that it was a public scandal. He disclaimed any intention to castigate the commission because these works had not been referred to the committe of which he is a member, and said that personal considerations did not weigh with him. His argument that the expenditure cannot be justified must have some foundation, or he would not have used it. He and Senators Duncan and Elliott are in duty bound to move the Government to have the fullest inquiry possible made into these matters, in order that the mind of the public may be set at rest. The public are very greatly interested, because some of the newspapers have published these statements with big headlines, thus conveying, by innuendo, the impression that there is something wrong.
– I have no knowledge of the matter which has been raised by Senator Reid, but I have heard comments passed regarding the expenditure on alterations and additions to the Governor-General’s residence. If Senator Reid has gained certain knowledge from an inspection of those alterations, he is justified in having raised the matter in this committee, and I applaud his action. But I do not approve of an honorable senator lashing himself into a fury, as Senator Findley has done, in an attempt to dictate the course of action that another honorable senator should pursue. From my knowledge of Senator Reid I can say that he is prepared, equally with Senator Findley, to fight to a finish. The fact is that certain senators who have visited the Governor-General’s residence have stated openly that in their judgment there has been a great waste of money. I believe I have read that the Prime Minister has given an assurance that this matter will be investigated. The statements are serious enough to demand an investigation, and I hope that it will be made as speedily as possible, because it is essendon that those who have to find the money for these works shall have their minds set at rest.
I should like the Minister to justify the large increase in the vote for the “ conveyance of members of Parliament and others.” The reason is not apparent to me. The provision for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others shows an increase of a little over £7,000, and I cannot see the necessity for it. The amount expended last year was £20,S97, and this year it is proposed to expend £27,950.
– The Tasmanians have now to travel to Canberra.
– The New South Wales members and senators have not now to travel to Melbourne; therefore, one can be offset against the other. It has not cost the Government anything to send me back to Tasmania since the session began, because I have been compelled to remain in Canberra to attend to my duties as senator. Another item to which I wish to refer is that of maintenance of members’ rooms in the capital cities. Last year the sum expended was £1,275, and this year we are asked to vote £4,710, tin increase of approximately £3,500. There is also the item, rent of buildings. Last year the expenditure was £58,393, and this year we are asked to provide £75,715. I always understood that after the removal of certain departments to Canberra there would be a decrease in the amount of rent paid for buildings in which the departments were housed. Instead of that, there is to be a substantial increase this year. I should like the Minister to explain the reason for it.
– I wish, first, to say a few words with respect to the statements that have been made regarding the cost of converting Yarralumla into a residence for the GovernorGeneral. As honorable senators are aware, I represent in this chamber the Minister for Works and Railways, who is a member of another place. I have no doubt that they also are aware that the work at Yarralumla, and in other parts of the Federal Capital Territory, is not the responsibility of the Minister for Works and Railways, but of the Federal Capital Commission, which is under the Minister for Home and Territories. I shall bring to the notice of that Minister the representations that have been made, and I see no reason to doubt that the matter will be investigated, and that the information which honorable senators seek will be furnished to them.
The vote for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others represents an increase on last year’s provision of £6,950. During the financial year, 1926-27, the annual charge for a member’s pass was increased from £120 to £150, to date from the 2nd October, 1926. The payment of £120 on behalf of each member was made from the year’s appropriation, pending a decision by Cabinet in regard to the increased rate. On these Estimates provision has been made for a further increase, to £160, from the 1st July, 1927, together with the arrears due in respect of the 1926-27 increase. Honorable senators will thus see that an additional £40 per member, together with arrears, has had to be provided for.
– The States were given an extra £60 a member two years ago.
– The provision for the maintenance of members’ rooms represents an increase of £4,010. That increase is due to the establishment of rooms for the use of members in Temple Court, Melbourne. The estimated expenses in connexion with the establishment of those rooms are as follow : -
To that amount has to be added the sum of £S72 for rent of rooms, Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, which was previously charged to rent of buildings, Prime Minister’s Department. It has been provided for under this subdivision in consequence of a Treasury direction that all expense in connexion with the maintenance of members’ rooms must be shown under that heading. The actual amount required to meet rentals in respect of properties occupied by Government departments is £80,715, which is £14,925 in excess of the appropriation for 1926-27. The amount of the vote is £5,000 less than the total of the liabilities, but it is anticipated that this saving .can be effected because the accounts for the month of June are not submitted until the following month. The increase of £14,925 is due principally to the heavy rentals that have to be paid for office accommodation for “the departments at Canberra. The following Canberra rentals will be necessary for the first year, but at the end of that term they will be subject to review in the light of the experience gained : -
– In his reply to Senator Payne the Minister did not state how much of the £27,950 is for the conveyance of members of Parliament and how much for the conveyance of other persons. If railway fares for members of Parliament cost £17,920 per annum, that still leaves £10,030 not accounted for. The committee is entitled to know what persons other than members of Parliament are conveyed free on the railways.
I also take this opportunity to enter my emphatic protest against the imposition of what I regard as a poll tax of 2s. in respect of every person who lands at Launceston or Burnie from the mainland of Australia. No other State imposes such a tax. The practice should be discontinued. Members of Parliament who visit Tasmania do not’ themselves pay the tax. ‘ It is wrong that the taxpayers of the Commonwealth should be required to pay to the Tasmanian Government 2s. every time a member of this Parliament lands at either of the ports I have mentioned. I should like to know how much these payments represent each year.
– I thank the Minister for the answers he has given to my questions. The explanation is satisfactory so far as it goes; but I protest against the Government agreeing to pay such large sums to the States for the conveyance of members of Parliament over their railways.
– The States own the railways.
– Until about two years ago the amount charged to the Commonwealth for a pass for members was about £60 per annum. The States then asked for £130. To my surprise the Prime Minister made an offer of £120, which was accepted. Now the States are asking for £160 per annum. Is there to be no limit to their demands? It would be better to pay for the actual trips undertaken by members of Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator know of one railway in Australia that is paying?
– No attempt has been made by the States to double the railway fares charged to the ordinary travelling public. A charge is made against the Commonwealth Government for every member of Parliament, although many of them rarely use the railways.
– But they have the opportunity to do so.
– That may be so; but they do not always avail themselves of it.
– I notice that a large sum of money is voted for maintenance of members’ rooms in Temple Court, Melbourne, and in the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney.
In South Australia the only accommodation provided for them is a small room in a basement at Parliament House with furniture suitable for a bachelor’s quarters. The heavy expenditure in this connexion in Melbourne and Sydney is not justified.
Senator Payne complained of the increasing cost to the Commonwealth of the conveyance of members of Parliament on the railways of the States. We cannot expect to make use of those railways without paying for them. The people of South Australia are called upon to compensate the tramway authorities to the extent of £17 for each member for the free passes granted to members of Parliament. These transport authorities should not be expected to carry large numbers of passengers free.
– No one has suggested that; but £160 a member per annum is too much.
– The honorable senator should remember that railway fares generally have increased during recent years.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £174,904, agreed to.
Department of Markets and Migration.
Proposed vote, £88,113, agreed to.
Proposed vote, £313,623.
.- I direct the attention of honorable senators to the item “ Industrial Mission, United States of America, £1,000.” At considerable expense the Government sent to the United States of America, a delegation consisting of four representatives of the employers, four representatives of trades unionism in Australia, and a woman observer. If honorable senators have not carefully perused the report of the delegation, they should do so.
– Is it worth the expense incurred?
– Yes; it is worth more than that. If those interested in industrialism in Australia followed the practice adopted in the United States, it would be to their advantage. We ought to study the commission’s recommendations and place on record some of the facts disclosed. Of course, there is a considerable difference between the methods adopted by Australian unionists and the practice followed in the United States of America, which, in my opinion is to the disadvantage of the Australian worker. The delegation travelled very extensively in the United States of America, and had, as is stated on page 6 of this report, an opportunity to visit a number of factories in the United States of America. In addition, public bodies in America assisted it in obtaining information concerning the conditions prevailing in that country. The American Federation of Labour gave the delegates every assistance in obtaining information regarding conditions of labour in the United States, and the President of the Federation, Mr. William Green, and other prominent officers conferred with the whole of the delegation. .In addition, its members met various representatives of the industrial bodies, churches and other organizations. I wish to quote a statement by Mr. Hugh Frayne, the general organizer of the American Federation of Labour, who, in a speech at a representative gathering said : -
There was no group in America which gathered together for the purpose of discussing any public or social service question that did not to-day include a representative of Labour.
That is a recognition of the claims of Labour.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator will not be in order in going into details of the report of the Industrial Mission to the United States of America under this proposed vote.
– As item No. 12 under “Miscellaneous Services” is to cover some of the cost0 incurred by the delegation, surely I am entitled at this stage, to discuss this report.
– The honorable senator will be entitled to discuss the expense incurred by the commission, but not the details of the report. On the motion for the first reading of this bill the honorable senator had an opportunity to do so.
– I do not wish, sir, to take the extreme step of dissenting from your ruling. If you contend that I am not in order in discussing the report at this stage, I shall obey your ruling; but I still think that you are wrong.
– I rise to a point of order. I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that you reconsider your ruling. The Government has expended a certain sum of money in meeting the expenditure incurred by the Industrial Mission in visiting the United States of America, and the report from which the honorable senator was proceeding to quote is the result of that expenditure. I contend that Senator Ogden is entitled to quote the report, and to show whether, in his opinion, the expenditure was or was not warranted.
– I do not feel justified in altering the decision I have already given by permitting a discussion in detail of the report of the commission at this stage, which I rule is out of order.
– Then I give notice of dissent from your ruling, because, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) . correctly stated, the Government has expended a certain sum of money in securing information which is embodied in the report of the commission. I am entitled to quote from the report to show whether, in my opinion, the expenditure is or is not justified. I move -
That the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from.
- Senator Ogden has now notified me in writing as follows : -
That the Chairman’s ruling be dissented from, on the ground that under Item 12, “Miscellaneous Services,” it is perfectly permissible to discuss the report of the industrial delegation to America.
In accordance with the usual practice, I shall now report to Mr. President.
In the Senate:
- Mr. President, I have to report that Senator Ogden has dissented from my ruling that he is not entitled to discuss the report of the Industrial Mission to the United States of America under an item to provide £1,000 to meet the expenses of the delegation, on the following ground : -
That under Item 12, “Miscellaneous Services,” it is perfectly permissible to discuss the report of the industrial delegation to America.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to S p.m.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).When the sitting of the Senate was suspended for the dinner adjournment, I had reported to you. Mr. President, that Senator Ogden’ had submitted in writing his dissent from my ruling during the debate in committee on the item of the Appropriation Bill dealing with expenditure in connexion with the visit of the industrial mission to America. I ruled that the honorable senator would be in order in discussing the expenses incurred by the mission, but that he was not entitled, on the item itself, to deal in detail with the report of the delegation, which covers a very wide field. I. pointed out to him that he had an opportunity on the first reading of the bill to do this. The honorable senator took exception to my ruling and contended that it was competent for him to deal in detail with the report of the mission. Earlier in the afternoon, I had ruled Senator Findley out of order when he attempted to discuss the report of the Development and Migration Commission, and I felt that I could not concede to one honorable senator a privilege which I had refused to another. I, therefore, ruled Senator Ogden out of order.
– I feel I must support the Chairman’s ruling that Senator Ogden was not in order in discussing in detail the report of the industrial mission to America. While I do not object in any way to a free discussion of that report, I take the view that there is a time and place for all things. If Senator Ogden had been permitted to quote copious extracts from that fairly lengthy report and make comments on them, other honorable senators could not have been denied the same privilege. Senator Ogden really set out to make comparisons between unionism in America and unionism in Australia. The possibilities of a debate along those lines are limitless.
– But the time available to each honorable senator is limited.
– If the ruling of the Chairman is not upheld, other honorable senators will have ample opportunity to deal in extenso with reports of other commissions.
– The honorable senator quoted from the report of the Development and Migration Commission.
– I dealt with that report on the motion for the first reading of the bill.
– Aud largely in committee, too.
– In committee I referred only to certain items. I did not attempt to discuss it in detail, because I believed that I would not be in order. If Senator Ogden is permitted to do what he desires to do, then naturally we shall have a lengthy discussion. Honorable senators will be entitled to make speeches which properly should have been made on the first reading of the bill. Such a precedent would have far-reaching consequences, and in future we should have a much wider field for discussion in the committee stages of a bill. I think the Chairman was right in ruling Senator Ogden out of order. This afternoon I was referring to a certain report when the Leader of the Senate (Sea tor Pearce), on a point of order directed the attention of the Chairman to remarks which I was making, with the result that I had to cease. Strangely enough the Leader of the Senate was responsible also for this point of order ; but now he takes the view that the report of the industrial mission should be fully considered. As a matter of fact, he invites discussion on it, possibly with the object of securing the indorsement of the committee for the Government’s action in spending public money to send the. industrial mission to America. I submit, however, that, the time for a full discussion of the report is not in the committee stage of the bill.
– Naturally, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I am anxious to expedite Government business. I direct your attention, however, to the. item No. 12 on page 263 - “Industrial mission to the United States of America, £1,000.” On this item Senator Ogden proceeded to discuss the report of the mission, and quoted portions .of it. The Government is asking the Senate to approve of this vote of £1,000 towards the expenditure on the mission. It appears to me, therefore, that it is competent for any member of the committee to examine the expenditure. To do that, it is necessary to refer to the report of the mission. How can an honorable senator determine in his own mind whether the work of the mission justifies the expenditure unless he refers to, and deals with, the report, which gives the results of the mission’s’ investigations? The report is the result of the expenditure and Senator Ogden, in my judgment, is entitled to discuss it. Other honorable senators also have the same right. His position is not at all analogous to that of Senator Findley earlier in the afternoon. Senator Findley, on an item dealing with the expenditure of a subdepartment, attempted to discuss the contents of a. certain report, and was proceeding to quote from it when he. was called to order.
– I did not quote from that report.
– The honorable senator was referring to certain items in the report when the Chairman ruled him out of order. It seems to be that if the Chairman’s ruling in this instance is upheld it will unduly restrict th.e. right of honorable senators to discuss the report of the industrial mission.
Senator Needham. - I remind you, Mr. President, that your ruling on this point, of order will have an important bearing on future discussions in the committee stages of a bill. Let me, correct the right honorable Leader of the Senate in regard to the point of order in which Senator Findley was involved this afternoon. The honorable senator on the first reading of the bill had stated his views in regard to the Development and Migration Commission, and in committee was dealing with specific items mentioned in the report. He was ruled out of order when he attempted to discuss the, appointment of ex-Senator Drake-Brockman to the Arbitration Court bench. The Leader of the Senate objected that in the discussion on the items then before the committee it was not competent for the honorable senator to comment on that appointment. The Chairman upheld the point, and ruled Senator Findley out of order. We on this side of the committee contended that, as the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman was made by the AttorneyGeneral, whose department was under discussion, it was competent for the honorable senator to criticize that appointment. Senator Ogden wished to discuss the report of the industrial mission to America, and the Chairman, to be consistent with his ruling earlier in the debate, ruled that he was out of order though the right honorable the Leader of the Senate takes the contrary view. I have no desire to see the debates in committee restricted. I should prefer to see them extended so that all honorable senators would have more freedom of speech. If, however, the Chairman’s ruling earlier in the afternoon in respect of Senator Findley was right, then his ruling in regard to Senator Ogden also was right.
– It seems to me that the Chairman’s ruling was correct. The matter under consideration by the committee was whether certain expenditure was justified, and surely the debate should have been limited to that question. If honorable senators were allowed to indulge in a full-dress debate on the subject of the industrial mission to American, to which the item of expenditure related there would be no end to our debates on the Estimates, because there are many commissions in existence inquiring into various matters. If on similar items debates were allowed on the pros and cons of the matters relegated to these commissions for investigation and report, we should do little else in the course of a session. A discussion as to whether the expenditure incurred by the delegation was or was not justified, does not involve the question of whether honorable senators agree with the appointment of the commission or with its findings. With regard to the findings of every commission we should have some agreeing and others disagreeing; but the simple point at issue is whether the expenditure on the delegation to America was justified, and as I understand it the ruling of the Chairman was to limit the honorable senator to that particular point, and not to allow him to roam over the whole subject-matter inquired into and reported upon by the delegation. I cannot see how the Chairman could give any other ruling than he did.
– It is difficult to show whether the item for the payment of the expenses of the delegation to America is justifiable or not unless we can take into consideration the work done by the delegation and its report. Often during the discussion of important items reports of various commissions have been quoted. For instance, on the item, for the Development and Migration Commission, Senator Pearce quoted extensively from the report of the commission. Personally, I am not very much concerned, because I can take another opportunity to discuss the report of the delegation to America, even if I have to submit a direct motion to enable me to do so. I should have discussed it at an earlier stage, but did not get an opportunity. We have on the Estimates an item of £1,000 to meet the expenses bf this industrial mission to the United States of America, but what is the use of spending that money unless the report of the mission can be discussed by Parliament?
– “Unless I agree with the particular report,” is what the honorable senator means to say.
– No. I say that we ought to be able to find out and discuss what is in the delegation’s report. Senator Needham has endeavoured to justify the ruling on the Chairman’s refusal to hear Senator Findley on the Arbitration Court judges, but there is no money in these Estimates for the payment of the salaries of the judges of the Arbitration Court, whereas in this case there is an item of £1,000 on the Estimates for the payment of the expenses of the delegates who visited America. I submit that the Senate has a right to discuss the information obtained by those delegates.
– The honorable senator contends that if there is an item on the Estimates for the payment of all royal commissions he is entitled to quote voluminously from the reports of all commissions.
– I have heard it done repeatedly.
– Apparently, the burden of Senator Barwell’s plaint is that if honorable members were permitted, to discuss the reports of commissions for which provision is made in the schedules to this bill the debate would be endless. Surely it is open to the committee to spend all the time it thinks proper, sub- ject to the ruling of the Chair, in discussing any item in the schedule. In relation to this particular ruling, we have before us an expenditure of about £6,000, with an additional £1,000 this year for the expenses of the Industrial Mission to America. If Senator Ogden is not in order in discussing the report of that delegation, how can he show whether this expenditure was justified or otherwise? When a mission leaves Sydney for America, obviously cost is involved, and if it travels from New York to Detroit, again obviously cost is involved. Surely we have the right to say that upon its arrival in New York or in Detroit, the mission did certain work that justified the expenditure involved. I cannot see how it is possible for us to pass the expenditure provided for in these Estimates unless we can show in detail from the work done whether it is warranted or not. For instance, there is £70,000 provided for the GovernorGeneral’s residence at Yarralumla. Honorable senators require to be shown in detail that that expenditure was warran-ted, and if that can be done in one case, it ought to be possible to do it in another I think Senator Ogden was in order.
– It seems to me that unless we can discuss the report of the delegation to America, not from the point of view of its effect, but from the standpoint of showing the amount of work done and the scope of the mission, it is impossible to arrive at a just estimate as to whether the amount spent upon the mission was justified or not. As Senator Millen has pointed out, contrary to the expression of Senator Barwell, it is not a matter of opinion as to whether the report was right or wrong; but the report itself is a history of the work done, the distances travelled, and the various organizations consulted by the delegation during its visit to America. The only way to arrive at a just estimate on these points is the way taken by Senator Ogden in the few words he spoke on the subject. To draw a parallel between the honorable senator’s remarks and a criticism of Judge DrakeBrockman, who is paid under a special act and not under these Estimates, is absolutely misleading.
– The chairman refused to allow a general discussion on unionism in America. Does the honorable senator think that that is a point which should be discussed?
– The fact that the delegation considered the position of unionism in America should be quite quotable in a discussion on an item in these Estimates, but I do not remember that Senator Ogden was expressing any opinion on the matter. Those honorable senators who say that he was doing so, wore thinking more of what he might have said than of what he did say. To my mind there is no doubt that Senator Ogden was in order.
– To my mind the position taken up by Senator Ogden must be sustained. In committee we have a right. to discuss all matters for which provision is made on these Estimates, but not at length, because the time is limited by the Standing Orders. An honorable senator cannot discuss any matter for more than a quarter of an hour at a time, and to say that Senator Ogden could have quoted at length from the report »f the delegation to America is a little misleading. If no one else has risen to speak at the end of his quarter of an hour the Chairman would have put the question, and that would have been the end of it. If an honorable senator docs want to quote from a report for a quarter of an hour, why should he not do so? There are other items in the vote for Miscellaneous Services relating to national insurance, the film commission, and a variety of Other very interesting subjects, aud I take it they are included so that honorable senators may try to elicit information as to the way in which the public money is being spent. That is what Senator Ogden proposed to do, and if he was anxious to quote some remarks by the delegation to America about the labour conditions there, there were plenty of other people who, from their own experience, could speak of the conditions of labour here and in America also. So far as I can see, Senator Ogden was perfectly justified in asking to be heard, and, if he so desired, in quoting from the report in his possession.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Very extensive privileges are allowed to honorable senators on the first reading of an Appropriation Bill; and if any honorable senator was anxious to quote from the report of the industrial delegation to America, the proper time for him to do so was on the first reading of this bill. If Senator Ogden lost that opportunity it was his own fault. There is very little to guide the chairman as to what latitude should be allowed during the discussion of the schedule to an Appropriation Bill. It is largely a matter for the discretion of the Chair. If the Chairman thinks that an honorable senator is transgressing the rules, he is entitled to say he thinks so, and it is the usual practice for his ruling to be obeyed, unless dissent is taken, as on the present occasion. If the Chairman did not sometimes limit discussion on items in strict compliance with the Standing Orders, how long do honorable senators think it would take them to put through all the items embraced in the vote under discussion?
– Surely that is not the question at issue.
– If the honorable senator will allow me, I shall give my ruling in my own way. I point out to him also that when the presiding officer is on his feet, he must be heard in silence. In dealing with questions of this nature the Chairman of Committees must exercise his own judgment. I consider that the honorable senator would have gone beyond the bounds of .legitimate discussion if at this stage he had dealt in detail with the findings, and the reasons therefor, of a body whose report was not before the committee. I must, therefore, rule that the Chairman adopted a correct attitude when he asked the honorable senator not to discuss those details. It would be quite in order for the honorable senator to make a passing reference to the report, such as to say it was worthless or was obtained at too high cost, but not to discuss it in detail. I share the opinion of the Charman, and therefore uphold his ruling.
In committee (Consideration resumed) :
– I am prevented from mentioning the report of the delegation. -
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order! 1 do not wish the honorable senator to attribute to me a ruling that I did not give. He must clearly understand that he has absolute freedom to make reference to the report of the Industrial Delegation to America. He claimed, however, the right to discuss every detail of that report, and I declined to allow him to do so. I ask the honorable senator to be fair and not to misrepresent me.
– I have no intention of disobeying the ruling of the Chair ; but I find it very difficult to refer as I should like to do, to the work of that delegation. The expense of sending it to America was borne by the people. It went there to endeavour to obtain information that might prove useful to the general community in Australia, in connexion with the different methods of organization and manufacture. It is difficult for one to handle the subject without making a few references, as I had intended to do, from its report.
– If the honorable senator had made that clear to me I should have granted my permission.
– I shall merely say that although I was opposed to the Government incurring expenditure in sending to America a delegation of four representatives of employers and four accredited labour and union representatives, since I have closely studied its report I have come to the conclusion that that money was well spent. The delegation has been able to show clearly and definitely that American manufacturing industries are able to pay higher wages than are paid in Australia, and give just as good conditions, although that country has no industrial legislation, and the unions do not believe in parliamentary representation, because of the attitude of the unions themselves. The psychology or the philosophy of the trade unionists in America is summed up in the words “ produce to the limit, consume to the limit, and urge all to practise the doctrine of efficiency.” That is the way to prosperity, if we care to take it. I have learned from the report that despite the existence in Australia of powerful trade organizations, which are strongly represented in our legislatures, the wages paid in America are considerably higher, and the hours shorter. The reason, according to the report, is that the union representatives, and the workers themselves, believe in helping instead of curtailing and hampering industry. The unions realize that they can secure good conditions and high wages only so long as they produce. Because the report contains these facts, it is invaluable to the trade union movement of this country. I advise every honorable senator opposite and every Labour member of the House of Representatives to study it carefully, and commend it to the consideration of the trade unionists. Mr. Grayndler, Mr. Valentine, Mr. Guy, and the other Labour representative signed this report, in which is urged the adoption of a system of co-operation between workers and employers similar to that which is in force in America. Honorable senators opposite evidently wished to prevent these facts from being made public.
– That is not so.
- Senator Findley objected to my making references to, or drawing conclusions from, it.
– At the committee stage; and I was supported in that contention by the Chairman and the President.
– I shall endeavour to see that in future the honorable senator himself is confined strictly within the limits of debate. This report is extremely valuable, inasmuch as it shows that the weakness in Australia lies in a lack of co-operation and co-ordination, and the refusal of the workers to undertake piece-work. The American Federation of Labour has shown clearly that the policy of the trade unionists there is, firstly, efficiency in industry; and secondly, to produce and consume to the limit so that every one may share in the resultant prosperity. Unfortunately, I have not the opportunity to place these facts in Hansard, where they should be placed. I admit that I missed my opportunity on the motion for the first reading of the bill. Every trade union ought to be supplied with a copy of the report, and Labour representatives should go among them and preach the philosophy which has proved so successful in
America. The rate of pay in the building trade there is 5s. 2£d. an hour, and the number of hours worked range from 42 to 44 a week. The workers realize that they are members of a partnership, and they co-operate in every way. The same story can be told of most of the other trades. Even in the unskilled trades the wages are far higher than they are in Australia for similar work, although we have extravagant industrial machinery. The delegation has reported that in America there are fewer strikes and labour troubles than are experienced in Australia, and a valuable table which it has compiled shows that they are rapidly decreasing. In Australia, unfortunately, we are not able to show similar results. I shall take a later opportunity to quote from the report, whether Senator Findley is agreeable to that course or not.
– There is nothing to prevent the honorable senator from saying what he wants to say so long as he chooses the right time and place.
– The appointment of the Industrial Mission to the United States of America was warmly supported in some quarters, and as strongly disapproved in others. I do not agree that those who were said to represent Labour organizations on that mission were properly accredited delegates.
– Does the honorable senator say that Mr. Grayndler was not a representative Labour man ?
– On thai mission he did not represent Labour organizations. On the contrary, his appointment was strongly resented by a large proportion of unionists throughout the Commonwealth.
– He waa elected by the Australian Workers Union.
– The Labour side of the delegation was not composed of accredited representatives of Labour organizations in Australia.
– Mr. Grayndler was accredited by the Australian Workers’ Union, the strongest industrial union in Australia.
– He was selected by a very limited number of the members of that organization. We are told a great deal about the wonderful prosperity of the United States of America; but those who speak in that manner do not tell us that that prosperity is largely due to the wonderful climate, soil, minerals, and waterways of that great country, with its population of over 110,000,000 persons. Nor do they tell us that there are no tariff barriers from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. There is absolute freetrade throughout that wide stretch of country. In those circumstances, it stands to reason that in this age of mass production a country so wonderfully endowed with natural resources and with such a large population can produce things more cheaply than is possible in small communities, especially when those communities are handicapped by hostile tariffs. Senator Ogden said that workers in the building trade in the United States of America work only from 42 to 44 hours per week.
– That is in the commission’s report.
– Very few of the men employed in the building trade in Australia work more than 40 hours per week. That is long enough for men to work. It is true that a large proportion of the work of the Commonwealth is done under piece-work conditions. For instance, the shearing of Australia’s wool is done under that system. Coal-mining is mostly piece-work, and in a number of other industries that system operates. Mr. E. J. Holloway, the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, told me the other day that probably 50 per cent, of the work of the Commonwealth was done by piecework. Personally, I think he over-stated the position. In some occupations piecework is alright; but in others it is not. Piece-work would not be satisfactory in connexion with the laying of parquet floors.
– The honorable senator must confine himself to the divisions before the Chair.
– When I hear Senator Ogden advising Australian workers to adopt piece-work as the way out of their difficulties, surely I am entitled to show that, while that system is all right in some avocations, it is not satisfactory in others.
– Has the honorable senator read the commission’s report?
– I have not yet read it carefully ; but I am glad that even this limited opportunity has been given us to discuss it. As time goes on, its weaknesses will more and more be revealed. It has been said that when the members of the delegation reached the United States of America they were taken by the hand and shown where they were to go. If that is true, its report is worthless. I intend to study the report very carefully.
– I desire to refer to the amount of £50 provided as a subscription to the International Poultry Congress, including the expenses of the Commonwealth’s delegate. In various parts of the world, poultry congresses are held from time to time, at which representatives of the poultry industry in various countries meet to discuss matters affecting the industry. If the amount could be increased to cover the expenses of a delegate from Australia to the congress, the result would be of benefit to this country. The poultry industry of Australia has developed considerably during recent years. This season we have exported large quantities of eggs at prices averaging 2s. per dozen. A number of returned soldiers have taken up poultry farming and are achieving success. I feel sure that if the Government could see its way to provide a sum sufficient to meet the full expenses of an Australian delegate to the International Poultry Congress, its action would not only be appreciated by those engaged in the poultry industry, but would also prove of benefit to Australia generally. We hear a great deal of the desirability of making two blades of grass grow where only one grows now. Similarly, if we can produce more eggs of better quality, it must be to our advantage. A large business was done in the export of eggs this season. No less than 6,404,040 eggs were sent out of Australia - about 1,200 tons. The amount received by the producer was over £35,000, while the shipping companies received £6,000 in freight. This will give some idea of the trade, and it is still growing. It will be much larger next season and we must do as much as possible to foster the industry.
[S.53]. - The amount of £50 has been provided to enable the report of the International Poultry Congress to be obtained and distributed throughout Australia, and thus to help the poultry industry of this country. So far as I know, no request for payment of the expenses of any delegation to the congress has been made.
.- I agree with Senator Ogden that the money spent in connexion with the Industrial Mission to the United States of America has been well spent. I have read the report of the Mission and found it interesting. Every one interested in the progress of Australian industries should read it. I do not, however, accept Senator Ogden’s view of the United States of America. Only in the more highly developed industries of the United States of America do good conditions exist. Mr. Hoover, to whom reference is made in the report, put the position in a nut-shell when he said that the reason the American artisan produces so much is that he has 50 per cent, more power at his elbow than have the workers of other countries. It is not so much a question of men as of machines. The Australian workman is in a better position generally than is his fellow workman in the United States of America. I agree with Senator Ogden that the report will bring home to workers in Australia .the satisfactory conditions under which they labour. One must admit that workers in the United States of America do their ‘utmost. They are encouraged to do so by the piece-work system which operates there to a great extent. They realize that that system gives to each man a just return for his labour. At one time Australian bricklayers laid from 1,000 to 1,500 bricks a day. I understand that in connexion with this building the average rate was 250 bricks a day. I admit that in the past the system of piece-work has been abused, but that would be impossible to-day, because of the existence of the Arbitration Court. Piece-work could be applied to industry in Australia without danger to any one. Every man who has health, strength and ability, and is willing to work, should be encouraged to do ais utmost. By so doing he would not only better himself, but he would also make conditions better for his fellows. I had intended to quote from the Mission’s report, but I am precluded from doing so by the ruling which has been given. I can only advise honorable senators to study it. I congratulate the Government on its selection of the men sent to the United States ox America. Senator Grant said that Mr. Grayndler was not a representative of the labour movement. When he speaks in that way the honorable senator is merely appealing to the “ Red “ gallery in Sydney.
– I rise to a point of
Order. I submit that Senator Reid has wilfully and deliberately misrepresented the true position. I know that Mr. Grayndler wa3 not elected by the trade union movement of New South Wales. Senator Reid also knows that. I submit that his statement, which is incorrect, and therefore misleading, should not be permitted.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator has not raised a point of order.
– I am astonished at the action of Senator Grant in making a great ado about nothing. I did not say that Mr. Grayndler was appointed by the trade union movement of New South Wales. The honorable senator interjected just now that Mr. Grayndler was not a representative of the unions of New South Wales, and that he objected to his being described as a Leader of the Labour movement. Senator Grant knows that it was desired to appoint Mr. “ Jock “ Garden to the delegation. Mr. Garden, however, does not represent the unions of New South Wales, but only a 3inall coterie in Sydney, whereas Mr. Grayndler, as the representative of the Australian Workers’ Union, represents unionists not only in New South Wales, but also in all the other States. He represents more workers than any other Labour man in Australia, and Senator tyrant knows that as well as I do.
– What did the Melbourne and Sydney Trades Halls have to say?
– The noses of the men at the Sydney Trades Hall were pulled by “ J Jock “ Garden and all the intelligent unionists in New South Wales were expected to run after him. “ Jock “ Garden represents only the “ Red “ section in Australia, and our friends opposite would denounce him and kick him out of the movement if they had the moral courage to do so. Unfortunately, they have not. After the Queensland delegate, who represented the Labour movement in Queensland, was appointed by the Trades Hall council, the “Red” section got to work and asked that he should be displaced, but the enginedrivers and many other good unionists stuck to him. I support the proposed item, because the information which the delegation has supplied to the Government is invaluable to the people of Australia. If Australia is to be properly developed, the piece-work system must be adopted. I have worked under both the day-labour and piece-work system, and know that the latter is more advantageous to an honest man than the day-labour system. I have known men who have told me that they would get into trouble if they even moved about sufficiently to keep themselves warm. Many Australian workmen are not allowed to use their ability, and if they had 50 per cent, more weight, in the shape of machine power, behind their elbows they would beat the Americans every time. When I raised a certain point this afternoon concerning work in the Federal Capital Territory, I was under the impression that it could not be discussed under the vote for the Department of Home and Territories. As the work is arranged by the Department of Works and Railways on behalf of the commission, I thought that the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways would be in possession of the information I desired. I had no intention of blaming the Minister for Works and Railways.
.- There is another point in regard to the work of the industrial delegation to America which I should like to bring under the notice of the committee. If I remember aright, it was only the “ Red “ element associated with Australian unionism which objected to the representatives sent to America, and if that section had had its way, “ Jock “ Garden, who does not truly lead the working classes of this community, would have been one of the representatives of Labour. I consider that the delegation performed excellent work, and if there is one thing more than another which justifies the representation of Labour on the commission it is the fact that the delegation disclosed the method in which American unionists conserve their funds. In Australia £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 is contributed annually in the form of levies by Australian trade unionists; but I do not think there is a union in Australia which has a £5 note to spare. The unions do not attempt to disburse their funds intelligently, but they are generally frittered away in paying high salaries and financing strikes. For years I have urged trade unionists to appoint a business man to control their funds on their behalf. In America the trade unionists have endeavoured to capture the credit system. They do not shout about capitalism and all its so-called accompanying evils, but attempt to do something practical. We are dd in the report of the delegation that the unionists in America started a Union Bank four years ago with a capital of 1,000,000 dollars, and that now there are 36 Union Banks in America with a total capital of over 9,000,000 dollars, deposits of over 110,000,000 dollars, and a reserve of 127,000,000 dollars. Is it likely that **Senator Needham, Senator Grant, and Senator Findley will direct the attention of unionists to the information which the delegates secured on this point?
– I think we know how to manage our business better than Senator Ogden.
– For years I have been urging unionists to do something practical ; but all they can do is to strike, strike, strike! Their actions cause a reckless waste of money, industry to be crippled, and irreparable loss not only to the unionists, but also to their wives and families. These American unionists are showing their Australian confreres what they should do. The unionists in the United States of America are becoming shareholders in big corporations and institutions. The report discloses that 20 per cent, of the stock in 20 industries visited by members of the delegation was held by the employees. Is that wrong?
– No one said that it was.
– It is wrong in the opinion of union leaders here. The philosophy of trade unionists in Australia is not to engage in welfare work or to adopt the profit-sharing system in any circumstances.
– They do not look upon that as a remedy.
– Australian unionists preach that it is contrary to. the principles of unionism to adopt the profitsharing system. In the brief time at my disposal I have set out a few of the facts disclosed in the delegation’s report, which should be closely studied by every unionist, every leader of trade unionism, and by the members of the Labour party who claim to represent the unions.
– I support the expenditure incurred in sending the Industrial Delegation to the United States of America. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable senators opposite, particularly as it should be the desire of every man to help another, and to endeavour to study the great’ problems of life from not only his own viewpoint, but that of the other fellow. The delegation went very thoroughly into industrial matters in America, and has submitted a report containing much valuable information. It is true that certain difficulties arose prior to its departure, but they were such as we might have expected when all the circumstances were considered. Its suggestions should act as a tonic to Australian trade unionists, and if some of them are adopted it will be of benefit to our industrial life. I know that if the recommendations get into the hands of certain individuals, they will not be allowed to see daylight. It is not surprising to find that piece-work - a system under which -I have worked all my life - is generally adopted in America to the complete satisfaction of the workers. This is only natural, as under it they are able to earn more money than under the daywork system. Unfortunately in Australia the unskilled labourer very often earns more than the skilled workman. One would almost think that work was something of which we ought to be afraid. Man, who is the greatest of God’s creation, should always be willing to exercise his physical and mental ability, not only in his own interest but for the benefit of the country in which he lives. Who made Australia ? Who put her on the slate if not the men who work? In these days some people think that to work is a disgrace. We find men laying only 400 bricks a day. At all events, that is what they were doing on the Thousand Homes scheme in Adelaide. They lay bricks not according to principle, but according to policy. The principle of trade unionism ‘ demands that a. man should lay 90C bricks a day; but the policy is to lay only 400. In America the home life is so interwoven with the industrial activities of the nation that the workers are equal to any task that is set them. Unfortunately, a certain section in this country was born tired, and has not had a rest yet. The mission has presented a report which contains much valuable information ; but two shiny-eyed trade unionists, signed an addendum behind the backs of the other delegates. What is going to happen to those members of the mission who were denounced by the executives of the Labour movement? Presumably they will have to earn a living somewhere else. It is impossible to get the best out of men when they are guided by an unscrupulous set of leaders - men whose souls are gone.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order ! The honorable senator’s remarks have nothing whatever to do with the items before the committee.
– The’ mission went to America to discover the best that is being revealed in the industrial life of that country. The Government is to be congratulated for having appointed the mission, and certainly I shall support payment of the amount asked for.
I notice, on page 264, an item £1, funeral expenses of late members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Can the Minister explain that ? What sort of a “ sendoff “ did they get ? Senator Pearce knows that whenever a Cornishman dies he gets a good “ send-off,” but it costs more than £1.
– That was for a wreath.
– It is unfair to compare the work done by Australian bricklayers with the output of American workers, because the American brick, is much smaller than the Australian product. Senator Reid informed us that he knows all about flooring work on the piece-work system. I also have seen that class of carpentering done by piece-work, and I know what happens. >
– Order ! The honorable senator is repeating a statement which he made some time ago. His remarks have nothing whatever to do with the items before the Chair.
– Senator Verran made reference to Australian bricklayers. It is only fair that I should be allowed to refute his statement. The Australian bricklayers-
– Order ! If the honorable senator continues to repeat statements in this way I shall have to call upon him to resume his seat.
– I am glad that this discussion has taken place. Honorable senators supporting the Government have failed entirely in their attempt to show that conditions in America are better than those in Australia. It is apparent that some of them at all events can never forget that Australian trade unionists after their experiences in 1891, decided to take political action, which is now regarded as a necessary complement to industrial action. Men like Senator Verran and Senator Ogden can never forget or forgive them for doing that. I am satisfied, however, that trade unionists will always return some Labour members to represent them in this Parliament. We have been told of the wonderful results to be obtained from co-operation and profit-sharing in business. That system has been extensively adopted in Great Britain, and yet no one will deny that to-day there are 1,500,000 able-bodied persons in Britain unable to obtain work. Co-operation and profit-sharing have not solved the industrial problem in either Great Britain or America. The latter country is blessed with a diverse climate, magnificent soil, an unrivalled system of internal waterways, and yet the workers in Australia would not willingly change places with the workers of America. Industrial conditions here are better. I, for one, am not prepared to accept the recommendation of the industrial mission in regard to the piece-work system.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £800,000 agreed to.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed vote, £1,500,000, agreed to.
War Services Payable out of Revenue.
Proposed vote, £1,168,358, agreed to.
Business Undertakings - Commonwealth Railways.
Proposed vote, £586,165.
.- I have no grievances to ventilate under this item. I merely wish to say that honorable senators should be proud to learn from the report of the Commissioner of Commonwealth Railways that the transAustralian line is commencing to pay expenses. By the end of next year, if the present rate of progress is maintained, there ought to be a return on the amount invested. That is in large measure due to the able management of the Commissioner. It is a gratifying position considering the long stretch of poor country which the line traverses, and the small consignments of goods that are forwarded by it on account of the fact that there is so little settlement along the route. It is especially pleasing, also, as the States are unable to show a credit balance, despite the fact that they have large populations and plenty of freight upon which to draw for their revenue.
– I draw the attention of the Government to the statements that are contained in the following letter that I have received from a society in South Australia -
To safeguard the aborigines in this State the South Australian Government has taken the following measures: -
All railway construction camps and surrounding country within a radius of 10 miles has been declared prohibited territory for all aborigines other than those employed in such camps.
No aboriginal women are allowed to be employed in any capacity whatever in the construction camps.
Extra police have been appointed to patrol the line. Also the officer in charge is a strong man capable of enforcing authority.
So far these measures have been efficient, and the native women have not been interfered with.
In order that the same protection may be given to aborigines in the Federal Territory, we ask that the following be done: -
That the Federal Government through the administration of the Northern Territory and Central Australia, should . exercise the power given in section 11 of the principal ordinance of the Northern Territory (1918), to declare all construction camps and surrounding country within a radius of 10 miles thereof to be a prohibited area for all aborigines other than those employed in such camps. Also that the police be instructed rigidly toenforce this regulation, especially section 4, as added by the Amendment Ordinance-. 1923 and 1924.
That those in control of the camps and employment in connexion therewith be instructed not to employ any aboriginal or half-caste woman. (We received an assurance from the Government that no women would be employed on any part of the line constructed departmentally. )
That sections 45 and 53 of the above-mentioned ordinance be more rigidly enforced than hitherto.
That extra police be employed to ensure the carrying into effect of these regulations, and that the officer in charge of such police be specially chosen for his strength of character and suitability for’ the task. So much depends on the man in charge.
I trust that the Minister will recognize the wisdom of bringing the Commonwealth regulations into conformity with those of the State.
– I shall see that the matter is brought under the notice of the Minister without delay.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postmaster-General’s Dep artmen t.
Proposed vote, £10,040,253.
– At present a subsidy of £130,000 a year is paid to the Orient Steamship Company for the carriage of overseas mails. Although it is termed a mail subsidy, I have been informed by the department, in answer to a question that I asked in this chamber recently, that it is granted not merely for the carriage of mails, but also for the provision of refrigerated space. The Orient Company provides not more than 2,500,000 cubic feet of refrigerated space, whilst other boats provide about 40,000,000 cubic feet. I desire the Minister to state how much longer the contract has to run, and whether any future contract will contain a similar clause. If it is to be a part of the contract, I desire to protest against the amount being charged to the Postmaster-General’s Department. It might be said that it does not matter which department pays the money, but I maintain that each department should bear its own burden. Sometimes when we make requests for additional postal facilities we are told that they cannot be provided because the department is not paying its way. Here is a direction, in which £100,000 may be saved annually to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I realize that the existing contract cannot be altered, but in any future contract entered into the position should be rectified. It is absurd to pay any subsidy for the provision of refrigerated space. A subsidy might have been necessary twenty years ago, when few vessels had cooling chambers, but this is not the position to-day. I have long advocated the abolition of the mail subsidy, because I believe that we should do better by having our mail matter carried at poundage rates. The contract provides for a four-weekly service.
– Vessels belonging to the Orient Company come and go every fortnight.
– That may be so, but the subsidy is for one trip each way per month.
– The contract is on a four-weekly basis, but vessels of the Orient Company call here fortnightly.
– The additional trip each month is run to suit the convenience of the company, and not to meet the requirements of the mail contract. That is a further argument for the abolition of the subsidy. Although the contract provides for only one trip each way per month, we really get a fortnightly service. What further evidence is required that there is no longer any need for a subsidy? The competition among the shipping companies is so great that their vessels will come here irrespective of any mail subsidy. The granting of the subsidy has not resulted in a quicker service. We do not get our letters now much more quickly than we did 25 years ago. In fact, 40 years ago letters from England took less time to reach us than is the case to-day, because at that time they were taken overland to Brindisi, in Italy, whence they were conveyed by a fast steamer to Suez. The result was that letters which left London a week after the mail steamer were placed on board that vessel at Suez. Now mails from England are unloaded at Marseilles, so that they take only four days less to reach Australia than if placed on board the steamer in London. I understand that the alteration from Brindisi to Marseilles was considered advisable because of the unreliable nature of the Italian railways at that time. As that condition no longer exists it might be advisable to revert to the previous system. I should like to know whether in future the carriage of mails will be combined with the provision of refrigerated space.
– I desire to refer to the allowances made to non-official postmasters. On previous occasions I have urged that these officers in the outback districts should receive more generous treatment.
– The Treasurer’s budget announced that increases would be granted to them this year.
– I am aware of that, and I appreciate the action of the Government. No body of public servants renders a greater service to the people in the outback districts than do these allowance postmasters. They have to deal with many matters, including telephone, money order, savings bank, old-age pension, and other business, besides that of the post office itself. Their duties are indeed varied, and their working hours long. Only those who live in sparsely populated districts can realize the service they render to the community. If an allowance postmaster wishes to take a holiday he must find some one approved by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to relieve him, and he must pay that person. Notwithstanding what has ‘ been done, there is still a want of appreciation on the part of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department of the services rendered by these officers. They are entitled to more generous treatment than has been given to them.
– I endorse the remarks of Senator Herbert Hays respecting allowance postmasters Any one whose business takes him into the outback district cannot but appreciate the valuable services that they are rendering to the community. I am glad that this year something is being done for them. An increase of about 20 per cent, being made. If post offices were not provided in the outlying districts of this country the development of those areas would be retarded. These officers are entitled to every consideration.
– I am unable to inform Senator Thomas of the future policy of the Government with respect to mail contracts. The points raised by the honorable senator have not been overlooked by the department. The mail contract, which may be terminated by twelve months’ notice on either side, is for a lump sum of £130,000 a year. The contract does not show how the amount is apportioned between the carriage of mails and the provision of refrigerated space.
Senator Herbert Hays and Senator Payne are aware that the Treasurer stated in his budget speech that the remuneration of the officers in control of non-official post offices would be increased by the expenditure of an additional £80,000 a year. I will see that the honorable senators’ further representations are brought under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– I cannot understand why. the PostmasterGeneral’s Department shouldbe burdened with the cost of the refrigerated space which is made available on mail boats, and paid for in a lump sum under a contract which also covers the carriage of mails.
– It is not the only unnecessary burden which the department has to carry.
– It seems unreasonable that that department should have to provide the money, which should be found by the Department of Markets and Migration.
– Possibly it is an advantage to include it in the one contract.
– I trust that when a further contract is entered into the cost will be apportioned between the departments concerned.
Evidence was given before the Public Works Committee to the effect that of late years the telephone system in the metropolitan areas has been so successfully developed, that it is now one of the best sources of revenue to the department. While the telephone activities of the department were confined largely to the cities, thousands of pounds of profit were being made; but when country services were extended, the sur-‘ plus was absorbed, and. the telephone department is now losing money. This is one direction in which the city people are helping the rural settlers, who, I think, are entitled to a service whichwill make country life more attractive.
– Senator Reid will find that the Postal Department has found it more advantageous to combine the carriage of mails and the provision of refrigerated space in the one contract. There is no necessity to apportion the costs. Even if the Department of Markets and Migration were charged with the cost of the refrigerated space provided it would only be a book entry.
Provision is made in division 138 for the payment of £2,000 in connexion with the agreement with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for the upkeep of stations. I should like toknow if any of this amoun t is to be used in connexion with the installation and maintenance . of redistributing stations in country districts, which are of great importance to primary producers in supplying weather forecasts and market reports. I know of an instance where a sheep-breeder lost a considerable sumbecause, in the absence of the latest market reports he had to offer his stock ona falling market.
SenatorCRAWFORD (QueenslandHonoraryMinister) [10.25]. - It has already beenannounced that a new agreement is tobeentered into between the Commonwealthand Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, which will be brought before Parliament for ratification. The honorable senator will then have an opportunity to fully discuss the point he has. raised.
– Are any of the boats of the Orient Company, which are providing a fortnightly service, carrying mails on a poundage basis?
– The company with which the contract is made receives £130,000 a year, and poundage rates are paid only on the mail matter carried on boats other than those carrying mails under contract.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Territories of the Commonwealth.
Proposed vote, £301,025.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories to the delay which is taking place in connexion with the leasing of homes and business sites at Canberra. In reply to questions which I addressed to the Minister on 6th October, I was informed that up to that date only 447 building sites had been leased by vhe commission. Honorable senators will recall that some time ago Senator Elliott stated that owing to the scarcity of building sites, and because the com- mission refused to make more available, he had to pay a premium of £1,100 to e. person who had purchased a lease at one of the first auction sales. This is a most deplorable state of affairs. I venture to say that more than 400 sites have been disposed of in one afternoon at land sales in Melbourne or Sydney. Those cities could not have developed as they have done in recent years, if land had been withheld from occupation. If the commission refuses to make more sites available, the progress of Canberra must necessarily be retarded. I was informedfurther that the total rent received from the 447 leased sites was £13,549. If the development of Canberra had been entrusted to a competent body determined to do the right thing, the rent from leased sites by this time would have been twenty times the amount that has been received by the commission. The Minister stated also that rent for leased pastoral areas up to 6t,h October was £39,900. Altogether the total rent received bythe commission for nearly 1,000 square miles of territory, was only £53,449. The unleased area in the Territory totals 186,000 acres, and in Canberra itself it is 50,960 acres. What is behind this policy ? Why is the commission refusing to make more building sites available? I deny its right to fix an upset price on the blocks when they are made available. The price ought to be determined by public competition. The policy of the commission appears to be to limit the number of blocks to be submitted, and then to place a fictitious price on those that are offered. The locking up of this magnificent territory with all its potentialities, is a very serious matter. I know, of course, that the Government has laid it down that the annual value of the leases must not be disturbed during the first twenty years. Of course that is entirely wrong. The blocks ought to be made available to the highest bidder, and be subject to annual or triennial reappraisement. Are honorable senators aware that the Government is borrowing money for expenditure in Canberra?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order ! In the proposed vote before the committee there is no reference to the leasing of lands in the Federal Capital Territory.
– I direct attention to item 18 under Administrative Staff, North Australia. The sum of £4,000 is set aside for the maintenance, passages and burials of destitutes and lepers. Can the Minister say how many lepers have died in North Australia, and if there are destitute persons there receiving sustenance from the Government ? I notice also under the same division an item of £2,000 for the encouragement of primary production, and £1,500 for the botanic gardens, wages and general expenses. What form of primary production is to be encouraged in North Australia?
[ 10.45]. - A certain amount of this money has been spent on the encouragement of cotton growing, and some of it has been given to assist small graziers to purchase stud bulls.
– What about the destitute and lepers?
– There-, is, unfortunately, a certain amount of destitution in the Northern Territory, and money is made available by the Commonwealth just as it is made available by every State Government so that rations may be issued to the destitute. This vote is a recurring item.
– I call attention to an item of £10,000 grant to the Administration of New Guinea to be used in the interests of native races. I spoke on this subject a little while ago, and I want to emphasize what I then said. I think this is the second year in which this item has appeared on the Estimates; but it is like a drop in the ocean when we realize the urgent need for expenditure to preserve the health of the native races ‘ of New Guinea.
– The Administration of New Guinea also finds a lot of money for this purpose.
– That is so; but the Administrator has admitted in his report to the League of Nations that, owing to lack of funds, he has been obliged to abandon a most important campaign against the spread of venereal disease among the natives. I hope that this Government .will do all it can to assist the Administration in the preservation of native life. There are 92,000 square miles of territory populated by at least half a million natives. Already 260,000 have been enumerated. Only the fringe of the territory has hitherto been touched. It has wonderful potentialities, but there can be no further development without a supply of native labour. When we find that race after race has been decimated by a disease which may be stopped and prevented from spreading again, it is imperative that we should keep in view the principal asset we have in the Territory, namely,, its native population. I trust that, we shall never find it necessary to import coolie labour from Asia to develop New Guinea while we have these fine specimens of men, whose services can be utilized to the full provided their health is maintained. Unfortunately, however, diseases of many kinds are rampant among them. Having regard to the small funds at its com mand, the Administration provides for health purposes fairly substantial amounts, which are supplemented by the £.10,000 given by the Commonwealth. The Administration is doing very fine work indeed in preventing the spread ‘of this disease. I think that this £10,000 is ‘ the only amount that the Commonwealth has ever been asked to vote directly for New Guinea. It is certainly true that it has lent money to the, Administration to carry out public works, one of which is a magnificent hospital near Rabaul which will soon be in occupation.
– What about the Commonwealth grant of £100,000 for the maintenance of a shipping service?
– That does not come within the category of expenditure upon the material development of the Territory.
– The territory cannot be developed without a shipping service.
– Certainly not; but the only grant direct to the Administration of New Guinea to maintain the health of the natives so that they may be useful in the development of the territory is this £10,000 a year. Possibly no more was as’ked for. I do not know whether the Administration has asked for more substantial assistance. Probably it does not care to ask for more money. But whether that is the case or not does not concern me. I know the needs of the territory. If we ask any medical man there if the territory is not hampered through lack of funds from a medical point of view, he will say “ Yes.” There are already 28,000 natives who are indentured as assisting in the development of the territory of New Guinea. There is still opportunity to recruit labour provided the natives are healthy. It is useless to recruit any but healthy men. I submit to the Government that this phase of the development of New Guinea ought to have its earliest consideration. Without native labour the territory might as well be submerged ; it would be of no use to Australia or to the rest of the world. It is far better for us to spend money in retrieving the health of the native population than to rely on coolie labour to develop this wonderful country, which, in my opinion, in years to come will bc invaluable to Australia. “Within a few days’ sail of Australia, we shall have our own territories capable of producing all the tropical products we require. We are entrusted with the care of that country by the League of Nations.
– We have Papua, without the mandate of the- League of Nations.
– I am not talking about Papua. I should like to see the vote for New Guinea increased, and I commend to the Minister the necessity for providing more money in the direction in which this £10,000 has been voted for the last couple of years; From all accounts the money hitherto spent may be regarded as having been absolutely wasted in the instance referred to, because when a campaign of this sort is commenced, it must be carried to a satisfactory conclusion. Many other diseases affect the lives of the natives. Fifty per cent, of the deathrate is due to tuberculosis.
– The honorable senator knows very well that there is a medical staff there paid by the Commonwealth, which is doing very good work.
– It is doing magnificent work. No medical staff in Australia could do better work.
– But the honorable senator said that the work had been abandoned.
– No. I referred to mie specific instance.
– The honorable senator led us to believe that it had been abandoned.
– This is what the Administrator in his report to the League of Nations says -
The central campaign of the year (1925) was that devoted to the combating of gonorrhoea. Over 1,000 natives in al! were treated for the disease, but owing to lack of funds the -campaign was unable to be pushed to a satisfactory conclusion.
That is my point. What is the use of spending money on a campaign of this kind unless sufficient funds are available to carry it to a satisfactory conclusion, I am not condemning the Government.
Possibly it furnished the New Guinea Administration with all that it was asked to grant, but I impress upon it the need for investigating the matter to see if the Administration needs more assistance. The Minister may ask why we should go out of our way to do this. My answer is this - we ought to do it because we hold New Guinea under a mandate from the League of Nations. We are supposed to make the best use of the territory and conserve the native life.
– We are doing that; but the honorable senator is creating the impression that we are not doing it.
– I am not. I said distinctly that possibly the Administration had not asked for more money. It may not care to ask for more.
– Why does not the honorable senator find that out before making his assertion ?
– I am suggesting that it is the duty of the Government to find it out. I have been to New Guinea on four occasions, and I have looked into the position as a public man ought to do. I do not want the Minister to think that I am attacking the Government, but I feel this matter so keenly that I think the Government should take the first opportunity to confer with the Administrator.
– The Minister for Home and Territories has just returned from Rabaul, where he conferred with the Administrator.
– Has the Minister expressed himself satisfied that the Administration has sufficient funds to conserve the native life? I should be lacking in my duty if I did not express my opinion on the matter. The medical staff at Rabaul is doing magnificent work. It is training hundreds of natives to act as medical assistants to assist the department in the fine work it is doing, but, after all, it is a matter of £ s. d. The territory is worth the expenditure of money, and for that reason I urge the Minister to give special attention to the need for preserving the health of the native population. I hope that, as the result of what I have said, this phase of the development of New Guinea will receive more prominent and careful consideration.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [10.58]. - The honorable senator, who has been to New Guinea, knows very wel that there is an excellent medical organization there, controlled by an enthusiastic medical officer who is doing splendid work.
– I agree with that.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.In regard to venereal disease, a very fine hospital has been erected at Rabaul, and in conjunction with that institution a lock hospital has been established, where the natives will be treated before they are returned to their villages. I think the honorable senator will admit that the Government is giving a great deal of assistance in the direction he desires, particularly in connexion with provision of means of communication and a grant for the welfare of the natives. That the Government fully realizes its responsibility towards New Guinea and Papua is, I think, shown, by the excellent administration we have in Papua. It is an obligation of all British Administrations in control of territories like Papua and New Guinea, to do everything possible to raise the standard of the natives, not only for economic purposes, but also for humanitarian reasons. The Government accepts that responsibility in regard to our territories, and the Administrations in Papua and New Guinea are doing excellent work. I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the responsible Minister, who will probably have an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Administrator when he arrives in Melbourne in a few days’ time.
.- I wish to refer to the development of the gold-mining industry in the Mandated Territory. There is no doubt that the Edie Creek gold-field will be one of considerable dimensions. Most of us are aware that mining is one of the greatest aids to development in any country. A large amount of gold may be won from this field, but it must be properly developed and exploited. At the present time, access to it is very difficult. I hope that the Government will adopt every measure to improve the means of communication, even if it should cost a quarter of a million pounds to put down a road.
I do not agree that the administration of the territory is all that it might be. In my opinion there is room for considerable improvement. This impression was gained during my recent visit. The chief source of revenue is a tax upon exports, principally copra. There is a business tax which brings in a revenue of between £16,000 and £18,000 a year. There was also an income tax, but for some unaccountable reason it was repealed. Therefore, only one section pays direct taxation. No matter what salaries they may receive, the members of the administration pay no direct taxation.
– They pay through the customs.
– The only person who pays direct taxation is the unfortunate native.
– The planter pays the export tax.
– The reason assigned for the repeal of the income tax was that it was too costly to collect.
– It realized only £800 per year.
– Whether the revenue derived is great or small, everybody should pay in that way. The Government should definitely lay it down that there must be an income tax. Contrary to the generally accepted tenets of taxation, a native who is not in work is required to pay a direct tax to the administration, whilst one who is in work is not expected to pay ls. It is a reflection upon the administration that an official who receivss a salary of £1,000 or £2,000 a year should not be asked to contribute to the revenue, and that the natives, who do all the work, should be taxed to the extent of 10s. a year.
– I challenge the honorable senator to name one highly-paid public servant there.
– The Administrator receives a salary of £2,800 a year, and many others are paid from £800 to £1,000 a year. The rich Chinese who make fortunes and take them to China, contribute only in a small degree, not according to their actual earnings.
– They pay on the turnover, whether they make a profit or not.
– The fairest way to tax a business that returns a large income is by way of income tax. I am opposed to a tax upon exports because it penalizes industry and the people who are developing the country.
. I wish to put Senator Ogden right. He has attempted to convey the idea that the residents in the Mandated Territory other than the natives pay no tax directly. The business tax, which was in operation until two years ago, was heavier than any reasonable income tax could be, because it was imposed upon the gross turnover, not upon the profits. In the last year of its operation it brought in a revenue of £18,800. As there are only 1,000 Europeans, men, women and children, in the territory, honorable senators can understand that it must have been a fairly heavy tax. The whole community is taxed indirectly through the customs.
– Does the honorable senator believe in taxing the nigger?
– I think it is a reasonable thing to impose a tax upon the native, who is receiving a benefit from the work that is being carried on there.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Settlement of Trouble on Waterfront.
[11.13]. - In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to inform honorable senators that I have received advice from both Sydney and Melbourne which indicates that it is practically certain that the recent dis- pute between the waterside workers and the ship-owners has reached a satisfactory solution. Both parties came before Judge Beeby this morning. The Court was in possession of a written undertaking by the Committee of Management that they would wire to all their branches in these terms -
The committee advise you that the overtime embargo is declared off, and instructs you to resume on conditions of existing awards.
The Court was also in possession of a resolution by the committee that they would, advise their branches to carry out the existing awards, agreements, &c, and also undertake to exercise all their powers to enforce strict compliance on the part of the members with any future award made by the Court, or any agreement arrived at from time to time. Upon that basis, the Judge made an interim award for three months, which provides that the time and places of picking up shall be those prevailing in the different ports on the 10th January, 1927, which was the date on which the Court commenced the hearing of the men’s plaint. This award is made without prejudice to the rights of either party. The date of announcement of hearing is not yet fixed, but it will be within a few days. Only this afternoon the Prime Minister received a message indicating that the owners are very hopeful that it will be possible for the men to start work to-morrow morning at 8 o’clock at all ports in Australia. I am sure that all honorable senators will be both pleased and gratified that a settlement of this dispute appears to be in sight.
– The statement made by the Leader of the Senate is welcomed by every honorable senator and by the people of Australia as a whole. I take this opportunity of saying that we should recognize the efforts of the Federal industrial Disputes Committee, headed by Mr. Charles Crofts, and the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, headed by Mr. E. J. Holloway. Those bodies have worked incessantly to bring about industrial peace, and it is mainly due to their efforts that hostilities on the waterfront have ceased. Days before the Government moved in this Parliament in a certain direction these bodies were at work in an effort to bring about a settlement of the dispute..
– The honorable senator would do well not to continue along those lines.
– With other honorable senators, I rejoice that there is peace on the waterfront.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 December 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1927/19271207_senate_10_117/>.