1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker tookthe chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. BATCHELOR presented a petition, signed by 816 members of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and other kindred trades, praying the House to pass a uniform Patents Law.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to ask the Prime
Minister, without notice, if he has considered the advisableness of making it a condition of the new mail contracts that the steamers engaged in the service shall visit Brisbane. I hope he will see his way to do that.
– The question was considered by the late Government, and the. course which has been taken in inviting tenders will enable us to determine what such a service would cost. When the tenders have been received we shall be able to determine whether the advantages to be gained are worth the money asked for them.
The question, like so many others, is wholly one of cost. It is decidedly desirable that the steamers should call at Brisbane if the cost would not be out of all proportion to the advantages to be gained.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, what course of procedure he intends to take with a view to finally determining the Federal Capital site during the present session?
– The intention of the Government is to invite the members of another place to reconsider the determination at which they arrived last week. The resolutions which have been transmitted from this House will afford an immediate opportunity to again ask them to agree to a joint sitting. It would be premature to say now what course would be adopted in the event of an adverso decision being arrived at, but I assure honorable members that the matter will not be allowed to stop there.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs, in view of the replies received from the Queensland Government to the objection in regard to some of the items included in the cost of collecting the Federal rolls, and seeing that the State Government charges only the amount which they are actually out of pocket in the way of extra payments, when the members of the police force will receive the allowances due to them in connexion with the collection of the rolls.
– The matter came before me last week, and I approved of the payments being made.
– They have not yet been made.
– I think that they have.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether, during his projected visit to South Australia, he will visit Kadina as well as Port Pirie and Mount Gambier. The people of Kadina are asking for additional post-office conveniences.
– Nothing has come under my observation so far to warrant me in making a detour to so distant a. place as Kadina.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Appointment of linotype engineer, Government Printing-office, Victoria.
Temporary employes - Return for half-year ended 30th June, 1903.
Penny Postage with Great Britain - Correspondence.
– , for Mr. Ronald, asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
3 and 4. As soon as arrangements are completed for the organization of the Naval Force under the Naval Subsidy Bill, the re-organization of the existing local Naval Corps will be taken in hand. It is not intended to recruit until this organization is decided on.
Resolutions of the Committee of Ways and Means to make good the supply granted for the services of the year 1903-4 adopted.
Bill presented (by Sir George Turner), and read a first time.
Bill presented (by Sir George Turner), and read a first time.
In Committee: -
Division 3 (Parliamentary Reporting Staff), ?39
– The Supplementary Estimates which I am submitting for 1901-2 and 1902-3 do not provide for any new expenditure whatever. Honorable members are aware that each year the Treasurer is voted a certain amount by way of an advance, on the understanding that whatever money he may spend shall be made the subject of an appropriation later on. The first Estimates we hare to deal with are those for the year 1901-2, which amount to only ?7,000. These are made up of sums which have been expended out of the Treasurer’s advance, but have not been cleared by the Estimates which have been passed. For the year just closed the expenditure out of the Treasurer’s advance represented less than the amount saved on other items. As honorable members are aware, a very large portion of last year’s special expenditure was caused by the operation of the minimum-wage provision and other circumstances. I desire that these
Estimates should be passed as quickly as possible, because the financial statement for the past year is practically completed, and the passing of these Estimates will enable me to clear the Treasurer’s advance as up to the 30th June last, and thus leave everything provided for under its proper heading.
– Does the Treasurer intend to re-open the accounts for the years 1901-2 and 1902-3?
– No. I am dealing simply with the moneys which I have expended out of the advance granted to the Treasurer. I am not attempting to deal with any further expenditure for these years. These Estimates will, so far as I know, finally close the accounts for the years referred to.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence to a circumstance which appears to me to support the contention of honorable members, during the discussion of the Estimatesinchief, that there were too many clerks employed in connexion with the Defence Forces. The following paragraph appeared in the Argus of Monday last : -
The following piece of military information is published in the District Order issued by BrigadierGeneral Gordon: - “A board will assemble at the Victoria Barracks at an early date, to be fixed by the president, to inquire into and report upon the loss of a Francotte rifle, No. 4307, on issue to junior cadets ; president, Captain J. H. Bruche, instructional staff: members, Captain W. St. L. Robertson, A.L.H. ; Captain W. Mailer, instructional staff. The stuff officer to arrange for all evidence to attend.” Francotte rifles, all may not be aware, are the diminutive weapons used by the small boys who form school cadet corps, and, without wishing to prejudge this grave case, the inference is that the rifle in question has been lost during a sortie on a quince tree or a repulse with heavy loss from a Chinaman’s vegetable-cart. It is a fortunate thing for the Commonwealth that the lost rifle was merely u Francotte. Had it been a Martini-Henry, a Royal Commission would probably have been appointed.
For the information of honorable members I propose to describe the procedure followed in a matter of this kind. In the first place a boy lost a rifle. He naturally appeared at drill without the rifle. The matter was reported to the company sergeant, and he in his turn reported to the company sergeantmajor. The company sergeant-major then referred to the brigade sergeantmajor, who reported it to the lieutenant, the lieutenant to the captain, and the captain to the major. The major then referred the matter to the State Staff Office.
It then came under the notice of the .Deputy Assistant Quartermaster - General, who wrote to the Assistant Adjutant-General, who forwarded the papers to the State Commandant. The documents were minuted by the record clerk in the Commandant’s Office, and referred to the correspondence clerk, who also made a note of them, and satisfied himself that everything was in order before the matter was laid before the State Commandant. That officer wrote a minute, and passed the* papers on to the Assistant Quartermaster-General of the Head-quarters Staff, who in his turn forwarded them to the Assistant AdjutantGeneral. Then the clerks had to initial the communications, and eventually they came before the General Officer Commanding. That high official at once saw that the matter was of very grave importance, and that some one should be punished for such a serious offence. He minuted the communication, and sent it on to the correspondence clerk for record, and eventually the documents were forwarded to Captain Collins, the Secretary for Defence. The clerks in the Minister’s office had to initial the correspondence, and then it came under the notice of the Minister, who saw that a terrible outrage had been committed, and sent the papers back to the General Officer Commanding for further report. That officer had to go through the whole rigmarole again, and the documents had to be minuted and recorded and initialed by quite an army of clerks. The consequence of all this circumlocution was that some five months elapsed before the matter was brought to a head. Although it is well known that a boy lost the rifle, the General Officer Commanding has now appointed four officers to inquire how, when, and where it was lost. The rifle would be worth about £2. The four officers engaged in the inquiry will receive an allowance from the Commonwealth of 16s. extra per day. Besides this, a number of witnesses will have to be summoned at considerable expense, and the inquiry wil cost at least £8 or £9. It is impossible to say what will become of the boy when the whole thing is at an end. It is time that this kind of thing was stopped. This, I think, supplies the concrete case of wasteful expenditure with which the Minister for Home Affairs asked to be supplied when the’ Estimates-in-Chief were under consideration, and I hope that the “Minister for Defence will see that there shall be no recurrence of such farcical proceedings. The episode is positively Gilbertian, and would make a fair subject for a comic opera. The new Minister for Defence does not believe in adopting roundabout methods, but goes straight to the root of any trouble, and endeavours to ascertain what is really the position. At a recent deputation a queston was put to the ex-Minister concerning the supply of rifles to rifle clubs. He shuffled upon that question.
– Did he shuffle as badly as did the Government in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– Not quite as badly. The Minister for Defence was asked what distinction he would make between members of rifle clubs who could afford to purchase their own weapons and members who could not. To my mind it is easy to overcome a difficulty of that character. If the Government cannot supply the members of rifle clubs with rifles free of cost, they should certainly give them some means of obtaining them, even if they have to adopt the time-payment system.
– They should be supplied free.
– I wish to see them supplied free. If the Minister can see his way to adopt that course it will be all the better. I suppose, however, that it is the policy of the Government not to provide members of rifle clubs with weapons free of charge. Then I would ask why these organizations cannot obtain as much ammunition as they require at half -rates? In Queensland they have hitherto enjoyed that privilege. There, it was one of the inducements which were offered to young men to join rifle clubs and to qualify themselves as marksmen. Whilst the Government arm the volunteer forces with the most up-to-date rifles, the men who gratuitously devote their time and services to becoming proficient in the use of the rifle - and we all know how valuable are efficient rifle shots in the defence of any country - are debarred from obtaining suitable weapons. If a man joins a volunteer corps he is at once supplied with an up-to-date rifle and allowed to blaze away as much ammunition as he chooses to pay for. What is the difference between a member of a volunteer corps and a member of a rifle club? To my mind there is a great deal of difference. The latter is qualifying himself to become a defender of the country, whilst the other is merely “ playing at soldiers.” If some of our volunteer forces were placed in a tent with the door shut, they could not be trusted to hit the tent - so expert are they as rifle shots. One has merely to witness their practice at Williamstown to learn that they cannot hit the ramps, much less the targets. Yet these are the individuals to whom uptodate rifles are issued. Before concluding, I wish to draw attention to another matter in which the State of Queensland is vitally interested. I refer to the tenders for the new mail contracts. In this connexion, I haver received the following letter from the city clerk of Rockhamption, which is dated the 22nd of September : -
At a public meeting convened by the Mayor in response to a requisition signed by a number of citizens protesting against the omission of a Queensland port of callin the Commonwealth mail tenders, a number of resolutions were passed, and the Mayor was asked to forward a copy of the resolutions for your consideration. I have, therefore, the honour, by direction, to forward herewith a copy of the resolutions.
In passing, I wish to state that there is a. feeling throughout the length and breadth of Queensland that that State is being very unfairly treated in the matter of the proposed new mail contracts. When the Constitution was being paraded before the electors of the Commonwealth prior to its acceptance by them, it was repeatedly urged that under federation there would be no differentiation between the States in the treatment accorded them. But I hold that in the tenders which have been invited for the new mail contracts differential treatment is being meted out. Why should Queensland be denied quick communication with the world’s markets for her dairy produce and frozen meat ? It is all very well for the Prime Minister to declare that alternative tenders will be called. I venture to say that if either New South Wales or Victoria were interested in this matter to the same extent that Queensland is, there would be no question of alternative tenders raised. Sufficient pressure would speedily be brought to bear to insure those States being accorded just treatment. It is evident from the form in which the tenders have been framed that thePostmaster-General has actually invited the companies concerned to quote a higher price for making Brisbane a port of call than they ask for visiting the capitals of the other States. I hold that we have just ground for complaint in this matter. Throughout Queensland, from the far north to the most southern portion, as well as out west - indeed at all the principal centres of population - public meetings have been held to protest against the action of the Government in this matter. At the gathering which took place at Rockhampton the following resolutions were passed : -
That the actual benefit derived from these services - as a mail contract - ceases on the vessels reaching Adelaide, whence mails are carried by railway, and if alternative tenders are called at all they should stipulate -
That the foregoing resolutions be sent to the Honorable the Premier of Queensland, with a request that he may be pleased to -
– Has the honorable member been reading about railway communication with Western Australia?
– I can easily grasp the point at which the right honorable gentleman is driving. Assuming, however, that he is denied his cherished transcontinental railway, surely, as the representative of one of the smaller States, he will not be one in the Cabinet to deprive Queensland of quick mail communication? Personally, I hope that the transcontinental railway will be constructed. I should like to see Western Australia connected by a railway with the Eastern States, and I think she is entitled to that connexion. But, adverting to the question of the new mail contracts, I wish to impress upon the Government that it is the first matter which has come up for discussion in this Parliament upon which the Queensland representatives are absolutely unanimous. Surely our State is worthy of some consideration. At any rate, if consideration is denied to our State there will be a “ Donnybrook “ in this House before the tenders for the new contracts are accepted. I would further point out that, at the present time, Queensand is paying more per head for mail services than is any other State in the Commonwealth. We in Queensland are most heavily handicapped in the matter of the payment of mail subsidies ; and we ask that our industries shall be given the same fair “ show,” that is afforded to the industries of the other States.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I desire to say a word in support of the position taken up by the honorable member for Maranoa with regard to the exclusion of Queensland as a port of call for the mail steamers. This is a question not so much of inclusion as of exclusion ; and I emphasize what has been said with respect to the strong feeling throughout Queensland on this matter. The people of the northern State feel that the invitation for alternative tenders is practically an invitation to the companies to charge a prohibitive price so far as Queensland is concerned. Had the offers been asked for distinctly including Queensland, some efforts would have been made to submit tenders of such a nature as to be acceptable by Parliament. The Queensland people feel strongly, because theirs is the only State which is really excluded from the benefits of this mail service. Each of the other five States in the union benefits by having port of call at its metropolitan centre.
– Why not shift Queensland a little further west ?
– We are going to bring the west nearer to us, and to that end we desire that there shall be railway communication as quickly as possible. Even Tasmania reaps some benefit from the existing mail service, because the mail-boats call there and obtain shipments of goods.
– The mail-boats call at Tasmania on their own account.
– And onlv occasionally.
– Queensland does not get even an occasional call from mailboats.
– Offer the mail boats freight and they will call.
– The freight is there ; Queensland possesses resources which are being developed, and of that fact Victorians recently had evidence in the exhibit at the Royal Agricultural Show. It may be said, in all sincerity, that at the present time there are possibilities of enormous productive expansion in Queensland, and every encouragement ought to be given in the direction of making provision for the shipment of produce directly to Europe. Large public meetings, addressed by people of all shades of political opinion, have been held in Various centres in Queensland, and resolutions have been passed emphatically protesting against the action of the Government in the matter of the mail contract. At a public meeting held in Toowoomba, on the 22nd September, the following resolutions were passed : -
That this meeting of citizens of Toowoomba, representing the pastoral, agricultural, commercial, dairying, and industrial interests of Toowoomba and surrounding districts, hereby places on record its emphatic protest against the action of the Federal Government in not directly including Brisbane as a port of call in the tenders for the new mail contract.
That, in view of the rapid expansion and development of the primary producing interests of this State, it is absolutely imperative that Brisbane be directly included as a port of call in any contract for the new mail contract service, and that any disregard of Queensland’s claims herein constitutes a grave injustice to, and infringement of, her right to equal opportunity with the southern States in the matter of direct and expeditious ocean transport.
Similar resolutions were passed at a meeting held at “Warwick by the Chamber of Commerce, and a large public meeting, held at Brisbane, was addressed by Ministers of the State, members of the Labour Party, and representatives of the commercial, agricultural, and pastoral interests. Queensland is undoubtedly suffering an injustice; and I particularly call the Minister’s attention to the newspaper reports of the Brisbane meeting, which emphasized the remarks made by the Queensland members in the House, as affording ample justification for the inclusion of Brisbane as a port of call.
– I do not desire to deal with the items of these Supplementary Estimates, most of which - especially the largest, referring to the additional sum required for the payment of the minimum wage - have previously been before us.. My desire is to draw the Treasurer’s attention to the fact that the provision made for new rifles is altogether inadequate.
– -The provision is . to pay for rifles .already obtained.
– I am quite aware of that ; but I wish to point out that the sum provided in the Supplementary Estimates is quite insufficient - that the Treasurer has not gone as far as is absolutely necessary in the direction of re-arming the forces.
– There is provision on the ordinary Estimates as well.
– There is a sum on the ordinary Estimates, but we are not told the sum which is to be devoted to the purchase of rifles. It is quite uncertain what amount will be expended in that direction, and largely on that account I draw the Treasurer’s attention to the matter. In the press lately there appeared what was apparently an inspired paragraph as follows : -
Senator Drake, before relinquishing control of the Defence Department, completed arrangements for the free loan to rifle clubs of MartiniEnfield rifles. There are 30,000 of these weapons in stock, and the Minister states, as they fire the 303 ammunition, they are just as good for ordinary practice as magazine rifles. Clubs desirous of borrowing Martini-Enfields ma)’ now send in applications, and the rifles will be made available very shortly afterwards.
The contention of those who believe that the Defence Forces, on which we shall have to rely in time of war, should be armed with the most effective rifles, is not met by the intimation conveyed in that paragraph. The Martini-Enfield rifle is a mongrel weapon, adopted in order to make use of the old stocks of Martini-Henry rifles. It is a weapon the stock of which is out of proportion to the barrel, and which, at certain distances - especially the longer distances - is absolutely unreliable. It is not a magazine rifle, and, consequently it is only partially useful for teaching shooting, while it would be absolutely useless in the event of war. Prom an abstract of the report of the Royal Commission which inquired into the conduct of the late war in South Africa, and which appears in to-day’s press, we see enough of the undesirableness of unpreparedness for war.
– Are we not getting the best rifle ?
– We are not. Our forces are armed largely with absolutely obsolete rifles. The Martini-Enfield is not even a magazine rifle.
-.- The advice of the General Officer Commanding is not to get any more rifles until the newest pattern has been tried in England.
– So far the latest criticism in regard to that new rifle is that it is ineffective.
– Which rifle is that ?
– An experimental rifle which is being tried in Great Britain.
– That may be true, but does the honorable member say that the magazine rifle used here is not good ?
– What I say is that the “303 Lee-Enfield rifle is the most desirable of those in use by the British Government at the present time.
– Is that equal to the best European rifle?
– It is considered about equal to the Mauser, though there may be a difference of opinion among experts. At any rate, it is a weapon of the highest class.
– It is an up-to-date weapon.
– The Mauser is superior only because of its sight.
– I believe some improvement is suggested in the sighting of the Lee-Enfield rifle ; but it is a high-class weapon, and any improvement by British experts is likely to be very slight. The difference between the Lee-Enfield rifle, and any new rifle, will probably be very trifling.
– A little may be taken off the weight of the Lee-Enfield.
– Some slight improvement may be effected. In the meantime the branches of the service, especially tHe reserves, to whom we look for effectiveness in shooting, cannot obtain possession, even by purchase, of the -303 Lee-Enfield rifle. Those who are prepared to pay for these rifles cannot obtain them, while those who are unable to bear the expense, but who are, nevertheless, equally effective members of the rifle club forces, are being called upon by the Government to re-arm themselves at their own cost. This is a remarkable state of affairs, more especially when we remember that rifle clubs involve the Government in an expenditure of only about 30s. per annum per member, whilst the volunteer and partiallypaid forces cost the Government from £10 to £12 per man. It is astonishing, as the honorable member for Maranoa has said, that whilst members of the volunteer and militia forces, many of whom give but little attention to rifle snooting, are being armed with the new rifles, members of rifle clubs, the formation of which was encouraged because it was known that the members would devote themselves to this important work, are being refused’ the most effective weapons. Those who cannot afford to pay for the new rifles are practically being shut out. I wish to impress upon the Treasurer the fact that, whilst Parliament has displayed a keen desire for economy in relation to military expenditure, it has never indicated any desire, that savings should be made by failing to provide the forces with effective arms. The adoption of a policy of that kind would, indeed, be false economy. The report of the British Commission appointed to inquire into the conduct of the South African war, particulars of which are published in the press today, is an illustration of what would result from such a short-sighted policy. A Government which allowed the forces to drift into a state of unpreparedness for war, by failing to supply them with weapons that would render them fit to meet an enemy, in the event of an unexpected outbreak of hostilities, would have to endure reflections as great as those which have been cast upon the authorities responsible for the mistakes exposed by that Commission. Expenditure on rifles may seem large, but it is different from that incurred in connexion with other military details, inasmuch as the first cost must be distributed over the number of years during which the rifles remain effective. In any event it is a farce for us to incur expenditure in many directions in connexion with our defence forces whilst making that expenditure useless through the want of effective rifles. I would call the attention of the Treasurer to the following paragraph which appears in to-day’s issue of a Melbourne journal : -
The Defence authorities say that if expensive magazine rifles are to be lent to riflemen who are not under discipline the concession must be safeguarded by stringent regulations as to the use to which the weapons are put, the state of cleanliness in which they must be kept.
I quite agree with that statement.
– Members of rifle clubs keep their rifles in better order than do members of some of the other forces.
– Quite so. As a matter of fact members of these clubs, who are constantly using their rifles, and endeavouring to make themselves proficient, keep their weapons in an infinitely better condition than do some volunteers or militia.
– The rifles served out to militia are inspected twice a week, and are kept in perfect order.
– The honorable member for North Sydney should say that members of rifle clubs look after their rifles just as satisfactorily as do members of other forces. He should not make invidious comparisons.
– I know that in connexion with some of the volunteer forces the rifles were not, at one time, kept as well as they are by riflemen.
– That is not the case in Victoria.
– I shall not mention any State. In New South Wales, where rifles were lent to the clubs, each club was held responsible for the number issued to it for the use of its members. At intervals the rifles were called in, and each club was required to make good any damage done to them. There is thus greater security attached to the issue of rifles to members of rifle clubs than there is in the case of other branches of the forces. I feel satisfied that Parliament would not be guilty of the false economy of declaring that, owing to the necessity to keep down expenditure, forces which are more or less relied upon for our defence in time of war should not be properly armed. If such a policy were observed, we should have no opportunity after the outbreak of a war to obtain proper rifles, and our forces would be quite unequal to cope with a well-equipped enemy. It is unnecessary that the amount requisite to supply our clubs with uptodate rifles should be provided for in a lump sum in any one year. The expenditure could be distributed over a number of years. Provision must be made in this direction ; and the Government, as the body responsible for the defence of the country, should recognise that members of rifle clubs cannot be expected to expend more than they are already expending in endeavouring to make themselves proficient marksmen. The Government should not expect them, and especially those who cannot afford to pay for these rifles, to re-arm themselves with up-to-date weapons. A great many riflemen do, and always will, buy their own rifles, but there are many who cannot afford to do so.
– We have a fund through which clubs can buy as many rifles as they please.
– I am aware of that but many members of rifle clubs cannot afford to buy these new rifles. Even those who are in a position to do so find that they cannot secure them.
– J have provided a fund by which they can buy as many as they like.
– But the rifles are not in the country.
– They are being ordered.
– No one has them.
– Any one who desires to obtain one can do so.
– Not now.
– The militia cannot get them.
– Report does not bear out the statement made by the Treasurer, and the Defence Department lias received letters showing that these rifles cannot be obtained by the clubs. Even if we did not depend upon the rifle clubs for defence purposes, it is absolutely necessary that we should have a reserve stock of up-to-date rifles, from which the additional troops required in time of war could be supplied. Other countries always maintain such a reserve. The Commonwealth, however, is not only without a reserve of modern rifles, but has not nearly the number requisite for the equipment of the forces. It has been said that the Victorian clubs pay for their rifles. As has already been pointed out from replies given to questions put to the Minister for Defence, there are no less than 7,000 members of Victorian rifle clubs who are without rifles of any description. Half of the rest are armed with a ten- shilling rifle, a perfectly useless old Martini-Henry, and, with ‘ the exception of a few hundreds who have Lee-Enfield rifles, the balance are armed with a mongrel rifle - the Martini-Enfield, a -303 barrel on a Martini-Henry stock - and as the stock is out” of proportion to the rifle, honorable members can imagine how ineffective the rifle must be.
– Five years ago I was told by the Defence authorities in London that those were the proper rifles to get, and that we should not get magazine rifles. That is the reason they were obtained
– It is perfectly evident from the action taken that the authorities of the British War Office have not thought so, because they have armed their forces with the Lee-Enfield rifles. The advice given the right honorable gentleman was very evidently wrong. This Martini-Enfield is not a magazine rifle, and I may mention, as a matter of great importance in modern warfare, that it is not a rifle which can be relied upon at a greater distance than 600 yards. It could never compete with the rifles with which an enemy would be armed in time of war. I direct the attention of the Minister for Defence, though perhaps it is not a matter to which it is necessary to direct his attention, that whatever forces we have to rely upon in time of war should be provided with effective weapons.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Treasurer to a threatened strike in the Government Printing Office.
– In the Commonwealth Government Printing Office ? I never heard of it.
– It appears that there are a number of boys employed in the Government Printing Office. They are employed in various kinds of work for which they are fitted. Some of them have been engaged recently in reading the rolls now being printed for the Commonwealth elections.
– The honorable member must not forget that that is work that has to be rushed through.
– I think the Treasurer will only need to hear what I have to say in order to provide a remedy. It appears that these boys are kept night after night over the eight hours which they usually work, and for the extra hours’ work, from seven until ten or half-past ten o’clock, they are being paid the large sum of 7d.
– They are being paid 2d. an hour.
– No. I understand they are being paid 1 3/4d. an hour. They get 7d. for the extra work they are called upon to perform, and they have to pay 6d. out of that for tea-money, leaving them with a penny for their work. The objection, however, is not so much to the absurd remuneration offered them, but is based on the contention that these boys ought not to be kept at work late in this way.
– How many of them are there?
– I think there are between twenty and thirty all told. I happen to know the boy who brought the matter under my notice. He is a little fellow of about fourteen years of age, getting 7s. a week. He was working last week for four or five nights, and he got 7d. for the extra work each night. After the fifth night he got into such a state that he repeated during his sleep what he had read on the rolls: the names of persons, their ages and occupations, and soon. When I was spoken to on the subject I advised his mother to keep him at home for a couple of days. I have no wish to labour the matter, as I am sure that it the Treasurer had been aware of what was going on he would have altered it long ago. I think he should ask the Government Printer not to keep these youngsters at work after hours. If he must have this work done he should get men to do it, because it is men’s work. If the boys are to be kept at this work the remuneration given them should be sufficient to pay for their tea, and leave them a little pocket money besides - their tram fare home, if nothing more. Personally I think they ought not to be worked over hours under any circumstances. If they work for seven or eight hours a day, that should be sufficient, and they should not be kept at work late at night when their parents do not know where they are. What is being done is not in consonance with the wishes of this House, or I am sure, with the desire of the Treasurer.
– I have sent over to ask the Government Printer about the matter - I can scarcely believe the statement even now.
– The case was brought under the right honorable gentleman’s notice by me.
– I may add that one little fellow suggested a deputation to the Government Printer on the matter, and four or five of the boys determined to act in this way. At the last moment a couple of them backed out, but the other three, being; a little more courageous, asked the Government Printer, or some other official, what was going to be done in the matter. They were told that their complaint would be brought under the notice of the Treasurer, and that they would probably receive adequate remuneration for their work. This happened five or six days ago, and as nothing has since been done, I have been led to refer to what I termed a threatened strike in the Government Printing Office.
– I rise to emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for North Sydney, concerning the stupidity of the Defence Department in the matter of rifles, for I can conceive of nothing more stupid than the policy of the Department in this connexion. We are spending £600,000 a year in order to insure ourselves against hostile attack, and all that money will be practically wasted if our forces are not to be armed with an effective weapon when the time for using it arrives. We may just as well not spend the rest of our Defence vote if we do not provide our men with an effective weapon of defence which they can use to some purpose when the need arises. If we do not supply our forces with proper rifles, which will be at least as good as those likely to be used against them, we might advantageously save a lot of the money we are now spending for the purpose of defence. No doubt the spirit of economy is abroad in that Department, as in many others, and we have an evidence of the almost fevered anxiety upon this point in the replies just given by the Treasurer by way of interjection, when the honorable member for North Sydney was speaking. The right honorable gentleman told us that five years ago the experts of the War Office in London advised him that the MartiniEnfield rifle was likely to be adopted as the standard rifle for the British Army. It was the best weapon then available.
– I got 15,000 on the strength of the advice then given.
– Events have since proved that this is not the best weapon available, and that it is no more than a toy instead of being an effective weapon of defence. The facts show how rapid is the march of science as applied to these destructive enterprises. The application of similar genius to peaceful occupations gives us the added wealth which we are amassing in every year of our existence. When science is applied to the shaping of more deadly weapons of offence and defence, and to putting into the hands of our enemies greater means for threatening the wealth which science, applied in other ways, is enabling us to accumulate, it behoves . us, out of that wealth, to provide ourselves with the means of defending ourselves, our homes, our lives, and our property. When science marches with such rapidity, we must make up our minds to a constant increase in the amount available for defence purposes. Particularly must we make up our minds to expend a large sum for the purpose of obtaining up-to-date weapons, no matter how often their pattern and their effectiveness may change. We must have the latest weapons, or we had better have none. The old ones may be useful for such purposes as I remember old soldiers used to use muskets for - that is to say, for practice at bull’s-eyes in the back yard. But they can hardly be useful in any other sense in the conditions of modern warfare. In arguing this question it is of no use to pit one set of defenders against another. It is not a good thing to pit the riflemen against the militia forces of the country. My own experience is that a militiaman keeps his rifle as clean as does a rifleman. It is not necessary to pit one man against another for the purpose of making out a case. It is invidious to do so ; it does not get us any “forader,” it does not serve our purpose, and such a distinction is apt to be unjust. I see the new Minister for Defence in his place, and should like to ask him if he is aware, that a deputation waited on the exMinister for Defence upon this subject last week?
– He has no official knowledge of it.
– I ought to have asked the honorable gentleman if he had any official information concerning that deputation ? One member of it was a gentleman who has always been enthusiastic upon the question which we are now agitating. His name is Mr. Austin Chapman, the respected member for Eden-Monaro, better known as the “ Capital Site member.” No doubt he heard the reply of the ex-Minister. Since then a change has taken place. The man who sat in the Ministerial chair now occupies another office, and the man who stood in front of the Minister is now ensconced in the chair himself. I am sure we shall not have to look in vain to the new Minister for a new departure in this direction. I urge him to take the bull by the horns, and to take care that his first official act is to obtain a number of new rifles and make them readily available to the forces of the Commonwealth. He may be quite sure that the expense will be cheerfully sanctioned by this House. and I believe by the Senate also. There is a common feeling that a departure ought to be made from the supine attitude of the Defence Department in the direction of a more vigorous and up-to-date policy. I strongly urge the honorable gentleman to mark his entrance to his high and important office by at once giving an order for a large number of new rifles, and by letting the riflemen have them for less than the prohibitive price that is now put upon them.
M r. Page. - Ask the Treasurer if he will give the money ?
– The Treasurer has always. shown himself to be amenable to the wishes of Parliament. IE the Treasurer will not find the money Parliament will have to do it. If I know anything of the opinion of honorable members it is that the purchase of new rifles cannot much longer be delayed. But until the Treasurer knows definitely what the mind of Parliament is we cannot expect so cautious an individual - as fortunately for the Commonwealth he is - to overcome his hesitation when large sums are asked for. The matter is urgent, and the present policy is nothing more nor less than a menace to the whole of Australia. The honorable member for North Sydney has spoken of the anomalous condition of things prevailing at present - how the stock and the barrel of some of the rifles in use are out of proportion to each other and do not harmonize, with the result that when a man begins to shoot he finds himself wide of the mark by a long way. That is courting disaster whenever the rifles come to be used in actual warfare ; and the sooner the Defence Department puts an end to this foolish state of things the better it will be. I am reminded of another little matter which I should like to mention before sitting down. Aboutfour months agoIasked somequestions of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral relating to telephone and telegraph guarantees. The Minister one day published a statement all over Australia to the effect that the reason why he had to resort to obtaining cash guarantees was that in New South Wales there was a loss of £8,000 upon the guaranteed lines. I was confident that the Minister was misleading the people of Australia, either intentionally or unintentionally. When I asked whether the statement was correct, it was repeated. I asked questions about it half-a-dozen times, feeling all the time that the public were being misled. It has taken me four months to get the true facts of the case. At last the questions are answered, and the loss is stated at £2,600, not £8,000. Will honorable members believe that the sum of £8,000, which Senator Drake was so fond of quoting, was wiped off by the Department twenty years ago, and that it had relation, not to telephonic guarantees, but to telegraphic guarantees? Yet that statement was made to the House time after time in order to throw dust in the eyes of the public, and to bolster up the iniquitous system, which Senator Drake had instituted, of requiring an inordinate cash guarantee. I desire to express my acknowledgments to the new Postmaster-General for. having infused a little more of a business element into the control of the Department. It has taken the Department four months to supply the following information : -
Period accumulating - Seven years ended 31 st December, 1902. 3. (a) Value of telegraphic business during the above quoted period - £1,090,983
Let me explain how these guaranteed lines in the country are used. Suppose that a person hands in a telegraphic message at the office, just as is done in the city ; it is telephoned to the nearest telegraph office, whence it is transmitted to its destination. I undertake to say that not £100 has been lost in connexion with telephonic lines pure and simple during the whole period of their existence. The rule is to make the users of a telephonic line pure and simple pay beforehand, so that there cannot be any loss. This business Department, in catering for new business, and trying to open up the country and facilitate the operations of settlers, has incurred bad debts to the amount of only¼ per cent. of the business per annum. That is a condition of affairs very different from that which Senator Drake represented. I knew perfectly well that he was wrong and told him so, and after a long delay the facts are furnished by the Department. The advantages which are extended by telephones to remote parts of the country more than counterbalance any little loss which may be incurred. I would urge the Minister to revert to the old liberal policy, and if he believes that there is no prospect of a line paying, to accept the responsibility of declining to accede to any request for its construction. The present system of cash guarantees is neither more nor less than a contrivance for blocking telephonic extensions to places in which they are required, but to which the Department does not wish, for the time being, to make them. I hope that the Minister will take into consideration these few remarks, and that he will soon put an end to the foolish system which was inaugurated a while ago, and which has led to an absolute block of telephonic extension to country districts.
– I desire to indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke in connexion with the boys who are employed at the Government Printing Office. The remuneration which they receive for the hours of compulsory overtime they work is quite inadequate.
– Why are boys compelled to work overtime at all ?
– I do not know. In my absence this matter was discussed by the honorable member for Maranoa on the Treasurer’s Estimates. Some time previously I drew the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that a lad thirteen years of age had been compelled to work until two o’clock in the morning. My letter was returned to me with a statement on behalf of the Government Printer. The question of overtime was not dealt with at all. All they could tell me was that the name of the lad was not A. Ramus, but C. Ramus. It is well known that lads are compelled to work in connexion with the reading of the rolls until very late hours, although it is very prejudicial to their health. In the present condition of society, lads are practically compelled to take employment anywhere, and the parents of these lads are naturally reluctant to remove them from a place where they are obliged to work overtime. I hope that some steps will be taken by the Government Printer to employ efficient persons, because I think it is wrong to employ boys to do the work at the risk of endangering their health. I trust that in his reply to the debate the Treasurer will refer to this matter, especially in view of the fact that it has been brought under his notice more than once. The numerous mistakes which have been found in the Victorian rolls emphasize the necessity for intrusting the work to efficient readers, instead of to boys.
– I desire to support what the honorable member for North Sydney has said about rifle clubs. I am at a loss to understand why a layman should in this matter be unable to make any impression on the Minister for Defence. It seems to me a misfortune that we have to discuss this important question in a desultory fashion, without having before us a substantive motion, which would give us an opportunity to distinctly express our views in regard to it. The Treasurer may not be officially aware that upon Thursday last a deputation waited upon the Minister for Defence, the members of which pledged themselves to vote any reasonable amount submitted to Parliament to give effect to the request that they then proffered. The members of that deputation, and those who sent apologies for their non-attendance, constitute a majority of the members of the House. We recognise the right honorable member’s caution in financial matters, and commend his desire for economy, but it is impossible to understand why the wishes of honorable members and of the outside public should be so constantly resisted, and why so common sense a request as that our men should be supplied with up-to-date weapons should be refused. I hope that the time is not far distant when the best rifles obtainable will be available for every eligible male within the Commonwealth. It is playing with the question of defence to place upon the Estimates an inadequate vote for this purpose. I hoped that, because of the representations made to the Treasurer, a further amount would be placed upon the Supplementary Estimates. It is no excuse to say that the British Government are making experiments in connexion with the new rifle. The 303 rifle, which will kill at 3,000 yards, is unquestionably a very satisfactory weapon. The distinction between it and the Mauser is only one of sighting, the magazine equipments of the two weapons being practically the same.
– The303 rifle is second to none.
– I am glad to have the honorable member’s opinion on the subject. On the ground of economy alone it is desirable to encourage by every means the establishment of rifle clubs. As has been pointed out to the Committee, the members of these clubs have a knowledge of their weapons which is not to be, exceeded by that possessed by the members of other branches of the Defence Force. Moreover, they take a pleasure and a deepseated interest in their work, because they feel it an obligation to become efficient in the use of their weapons. They are, therefore, constantly knocking at the door of the Defence Department with the request forsufficient effective weapons and the necessary ammunition. But that request is being constantly opposed. I enter my protest against that opposition, and I appeal to the new Minister for Defence to give practical effect to the request of the deputation to which I have alluded, and of which he was ji member. I hope that the matter will be brought before the Cabinet at the earliest moment, so that an order may be sent to England for the necessary rifles. If the’ Treasurer submitted any proposed vote within reason for that purpose, honorable members would support him, because if we are to have satisfactory citizen forces we must encourage the rifle clubs. The movement has spread in Victoria until now there are within the State 19,731 riflemen, though only 5,918 of these are armed with the -303 rifle.
– And there are only 803 Lee-Enfield rifles.
– I believe that that was part of the information elicited by a question put by the honorable member. If the present policy of the Government is continued, the members of the rifle clubs will be discouraged, and the interest in the movement will be destroyed. I do not wish to embarrass the Treasurer by proposing an amendment, nor to test the sense of the Committee upon the question, but he should by this time be alive to the fact that honorable members are ready and willing to vote the money . necessary to enable the Minister for Defence to equip the rifle clubs as they should be equipped.
– Understanding that the debate now proceeding is of a general character, I take the liberty to make a few observations with respect to the new mail contract for which tenders have been invited, and in which Queensland is deeply interested. When I ‘ reached Australian shores a few weeks ago, I was surprised to learn from the newspapers which I received at Hobart that the Government have not stipulated that the mail steamers shall proceed to Brisbane. Their reason for not doing so is an enigma to me. When I was in London in 1897, at the time of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, I interviewed the managers of the P. and O. and Orient Companies with respect to the desirability of extending their services from Sydney to Brisbane. I explained that the State Government were deepening the river so as to make the port of Brisbane one of the best on the coast, but I ascertained through Mr. Kendall, who was for many years in Sydney, and whom I knew as a lad, that there was then little likelihood of an alteration being made. Now, however, the position is different. At the present time the available depth of water as far as the Pinkenba wharfs is as great as that in Sydney Harbor. Iu Port J Jackson there is, of course, in places a depth of many fathoms, but, as every honorable member knows, the accessibility of a port depends upon its shallowest depth between the entrance and the wharfs, and in that respect the Pinkenba wharfs are, within a few inches, upon a par with the Sydney wharfs. But as the mail steamers unload a great deal of cargo at Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, their draft when they reached Brisbane would be much less than their draft when they first approached the Australian coast, and therefore in reality there would be a greater depth than would be absolutely necessary. It was a wise act upon the part of the Minister for Home Affairs to have Fremantle made the first Australian port of call and the last port of departure of the English mail steamers. That change was brought about without any trouble. I do not think the people of Western Australia ever had a public meeting to discuss it. In Queensland, however, we have had public meetings in every town, large and small, in the provinces; at Toowoomba, Warwick, and Ipswich, the leading centres of great producing districts, and in the large constituencies of Brisbane and South Brisbane. The production of Queensland, it must be remembered, is increasing tremendously. Something like £20,000 a month is paid for cream at a place not very far distant from the Queensland border, and the butter made from that cream will go to Brisbane.
– It is made in New South Wales. We cannot let it go to Brisbane.
– Now that we have free-trade between the States, it is sure to go to Brisbane. The people of New South Wales are anxious to obtain our store bullocks. Pinkenba is not so far from Brisbane as Fremantle is from Perth.
– But the mail steamers used to call at Albany.
– It would be cheaper if they continued to call at Albany instead of at Fremantle. If Brisbane is worthy to be the first port of call, and the last port of departure in Australia in connexion with the Vancouver mail service, it surely should be included as a port of call in connexion with the principal mail service between the Commonwealth and Europe. Fremantle contributes to the mail steamers only a few passengers, and but very little cargo. That port is out of the direct line of traffic, whereas Brisbane is on the direct route of the mail steamers. At Brisbane we can supply some of the best steam coal in Australia. If the Ipswich coal-fields should prove insufficient or unsatisfactory, we could fall back upon the Burrum coal-fields, which are distant from Brisbane about as far as Newcastle from Sydney. The mail steamers could run from Sydney to the wharf at Pinkenba in twenty-eight or thirty hours, or about the same time that is now occupied by the train journey. Steamers larger than ‘any of the P. and 0. steamers have been berthed at the South Brisbane wharf. Recently the steamer Essex, a vessel of 10,000 tons, was taken right up to the city. Brisbane has shipping facilities superior to those afforded by NewcastleonTyne or the Clyde. All impediments to navigation have been swept away, and the harbor is now capable of accommodating the largest ships in the world. We have fortunately begun with a very good season in Queensland, and we expect that the production of butter will be very large. In addition to this, fruits, suitable for export, aregrown in Southern Queensland. It is only fair, therefore, that the producers of Queensland should be provided with facilities equal to those enjoyed by the residents of other States. I claim that the retention of Fremantle as a port of call cannot be justified if Brisbaneis to be omitted . At Fremantle there is no produce to export, and no coal supply for the steamers. I do not wish to injure Fremantle, but I contend that Brisbane has superior claims to consideration. There is no justification for the expense involved by the arrangement under whicli the mail steamers are required to call at Fremantle.
– Where does the expense come in 1
– The expense of the service which embraces Fremantle as a port of call is borne by the Commonwealth. After the steamers leave Adelaide their work is practically done. We might very well omit Fremantle as a port of call ; run the steamers on to Adelaide, and stop there.
– Why not land the Western Australia mails on the way ?
– The steamers might call at Albany for that purpose.
– But the companies prefer to call at Fremantle for their own purposes. They called there before the mail contractwas altered.
– PATERSON. - That was because one of the companies took the lead and the others had to follow suit.
– We shall not complain if the steam-ship companies voluntarily go on to Brisbane.
– Why should they be required to go beyond Adelaide? The present contract requires that the mail steamers shall proceed to Melbourne and Sydney, but there is no reason why they should be required to go on to those ports, any more than to Brisbane. I think that the facilities offered by the port of Brisbane fully justify the claims made on behalf of the people of Queensland, who will not be satisfied with any Ministry, whether free-trade or protectionist, which fails to give that State fair consideration.
– I have very little to say except to indorse the remarks which have fallen from the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and the honorable and learned member for Brisbane, with regard to what I regard as an injustice to Queensland. When the mail steamers arrive at Adelaide they land their mails, which are then conveyed to the various centres by rail. If it were desired to invite alternative tenders the shipping companies should have been requested to state the cost of services which would end at Adelaide or extend to Melbourne, or Sydney, or Brisbane. The people of Queensland feel aggrieved because Brisbane has been specially singled out. I believe that within the next twenty-five years the most populous part of Australia will be that tract of country which lies between Twofold Bay and Bundaberg, and which is perhaps the choicest part of the continent. Brisbane, which is one of the best ports in Australia, will then be of greater importance even than at present. Millions of money have been spent upon harbor accommodation at Brisbane, and the Queensland Government are willing to remit harbor and pilotage dues in order to offer every encouragement to the mail steamers. Thedesire forthe extension of the mail service to Brisbane is not confined to the residents of that cit)7. The Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce has supported the . request, and meetings have been held in the western district, in my own electorate, and in other parts of the State, condemning the terms in which the tenders for the mail service havebeen invited. The condition of that country is very different from what it was last October. Last year it was almost a desert, whereas now it is one mass of vegetation. Although flocks and herds have been decimated, and considerable loss has been incurred, there is no doubt that the dairying industry in Queensland will very soon vie with that of Victoria. Fortunately we do not require to house or hand-feed our dairy cattle at any time of the year, whereas in Victoria the stock have to be hand-fed during the winter months. Therefore, we have every reason to suppose that in Queensland the dairying industry will assume very large proportions. We are fully entitled to ask that our producers shall enjoy the same facilities as have the producers of other States. Statistics were recently published in the Melbourne Age showing the value of the imports of butter and dairy produce into Great Britain from Denmark, Russia, and other countries. Australia cut a very poor figure in that table, partly, no doubt, owing to the drought through which we have recently passed. It was shown conclusively that Siberia was making great strides in the direction of supplying the requirements of Great Britain, and, apart altogether from the preferential trade proposals of the Right Honorable Mr. Chamberlain, I do not see any reason why Australia should not enjoy a far larger share of that trade.
– If we knock the Tariff wall down, Great Britain will trade with us.
– I do not; agree with the honorable member. I should keep the Tariff wall as it is, so far as other parts of the Empire are concerned, and raise it a little higher against foreign nations. Reverting to the question of the new mail contracts, I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will take notice of the complaints which have been made by the representatives of Queensland in both Houses of the Legislature, who, upon this point, are absolutely unanimous. In passing I wish to say that since his assumption of Ministerial office, the present Postmaster-General has treated me with uniform kindness and consideration. Indeed I have obtained many concessions from him. I have no fault, therefore, to find with his administration, but I do think that in framing the conditions of the tenders for the new mail contracts, the Cabinet has been ill-advised. Before I resume my seat I desire to say a word or two in reference to another important matter, to which allusion was made by the honorable member for North Sydney. The question of the establishment of rifle clubs is one which I have had at heart for a good many years. I regret that ‘the Minister for Defence is not present, because I know that he is in hearty sympathy with the rifle club movement. I wish to emphasize what has already been stated by the honorable member for North Sydney, the honorable member for Maranoa, and others, namely, that -the rifle clubs are not being treated at all generously by the Defence Department.
– What is the reason for that? Has the Department a “set” upon them?
– It appears to me that there are certain officers in the Defence Department who think that a man cannot be a soldier unless he is obliged to salute them whenever he meets them in the public streets. Riflemen do not take kindly to that sort of thing. Further, there seems to be in the official mind - and even in the War Office in England - a prejudice against innovation. If a man offers a suggestion to the War Office he is at once regarded as a faddist and a “ crank.” Only the other day I had occasion to submit to the Defence Department a certain invention, and I was immediately informed by the Minister that the authors of such contrivances were usually “ cranks.” I do not say that the author of the particular device to which I refer is not a “ crank,” but in view of the fact that the inventor of the Brennan torpedo is an Australian, I hold that all such suggested improvements are worthy of investigation. I am informed by the man whose invention I submitted to the Department that he has it under offer to a foreign Government, but would prefer that it should be purchased by the Government of his own country. The superiority of the Mauser rifle over the ‘303 Martini-Enfield and the Martini-Henry rifles is that it is fitted with an adjustable sight. Under our military regulations the use of an adjustable sight is forbidden. But any man who understands the use of a rifle will admit that if a wind is blowing he has much more chance of hitting an object at 800 or 900 yards if he can shift his sight to allow for windage, than he has if he is compelled to make allowance for windage in his aim. Not long ago a friend of mine, upon returning from South Africa, brought a Mauser rifle with him. I tried the weapon, and by adjusting the sight I was able, upon the first trial, to score 97 points out of a possible 105 at 300, 500, and 700 yards. This fact evidences that it is a much superior weapon to the -303 rifle, with which most of our forces are armed to-day, and which the military authorities are endeavouring to foist upon our rifle clubs. That weapon is good enough up to 500 yards or 600 yards, but .beyond 700 yards I would prefer the Martini-Henry rifle to it.
– For what reason 1
– Because the bullet which is fired by the Martini-Henry is not affected to the same degree in a wind.
– Does the honorable member think that a man who is armed with a Martini-Henry rifle is equal to a man who is armed with a Martini-Enfield 1
Mi-. WILKINSON.- I do not think that he is equal to a man who is armed with the Lee-Metford. I believe that the LeeMetford would be quite equal to the Mauser if it were fitted with an adjustable sight.
– The honorable member says in effect that in stopping a man before he comes within a range of 600 yards the Martini-Henry rifle is the more effective ?
– I am not speaking of the magazine rifle, but of the MartiniEnfield. No doubt the sight used upon the latter weapon is very suitable for the youth of the country. In the Lee-Metford, however, the sight is 2 or 3 inches further away ; the barrel is a little longer ; the trajectory is lower ; and the influence of the wind upon the bullet is not so great. For adults, therefore, it is a very much superior weapon to the Martini-Enfield, as I know from experience. I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that no members of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth take more care of their rifles than do the members of the rifle clubs. A man does not join those organizations simply for the sake of carrying a rifle, as many men join the military forces for the sake of wearing a uniform and appearing upon parade. He becomes a member of a rifle club in order that he may qualify himself as an expert marksmen, and to that end he keeps his rifle thoroughly clean. But if any doubt is entertained upon this point, what is to prevent the Defence Department from providing for a periodical inspection of rifles 1 At the present time I have in my possession a rifle for which I should have to pay if I returned it to the Department in other than good repair. In this connexion, I may point out that not long since a rifle club in Queensland was fined because the weapons issued to its members had been neglected. In that case the rifle range which they had used was condemned, and, consequently, its members were denied their usual practice. As a result, their weapons were neglected, and the barrels had corroded. They were very properly called upon to make good the damage. I hold that rifle clubs should be held responsible for any damage done to the weapons issued to them. At the same time, to demand from a man who, upon every occasion that he practises on the rifle range, has to pay certain fees to his marker, and to purchase his ammunition, a further sum of £3 15s. 9d. for the purchase of a rifle, is- to ask too much. Such a policy will simply kill the rifle club movement in Australia. It is all very well to urge that there are plenty of Martini-Enfield rifles which can be distributed ‘ amongst rifle clubs. But to place a Martini-Enfield rifle in the hands of one man, and a Lee-Metford in the hands of another, is to deny them equal equipment. The man with the Lee-Metford weapon enjoys a considerable advantage, especially at the longer ranges.
– Then for purposes of defence we require the best rifles.
– Tha That is so. Amongst the members of the rifle clubs there is a spirit of emulation to become expert shots. We all realize that if Australians are ever called upon to meet a hostile force it will be upon the services of expert marksmen that we must chiefly rely. We do not wish to be wasting lead. .Rather we desire that every bullet shall find its billet. To that end we need to be satisfied that the men who handle our rifles know how to use them. I have nothing further to add. I have already entered my protest against the conditions imposed in the tenders which are being invited for the new mail contracts, and I believe that the present Minister for Defence is in thorough .sympathy with the rifle club movement.
– It appears to be very difficult indeed to induce the Defence Department to be guided by common sense in regard to the arming of those upon whom Australia must chiefly depend in case of attack. Consequently it is necessary to emphasize the remarks which have been made as to the desirableness of supplying the rifle clubs of the Commonwealth with the best weapons available free of charge. In the back portion of my own electorate a number of these organizations have been established. Prior to the accomplishment of federation these clubs experienced a great difficulty in obtaining any consideration whatever from theHead-quarters Staff in New South Wales. Honorable members will recollect that when the first Estimates were submitted to this House, we discovered through the frankness of the Treasurer, that an unduly large sum was being wasted upon the Head-quarters Staff, instead of being expended upon the rifle clubs. It is true that Victoria had done something towards encouraging the formation of these organizations, but in New South Wales they were practically denied any consideration. I should like to ascertain where the blame for this sort of thing rests. Of course, the new Ministry have not been in office long enough to accomplish a great deal in the way of reform. As one of the party which has been termed “ anti-military “ - and I may say that we are opposed to all military caste - I am in favour of giving the citizens of the Commonwealth facilities which will qualify them to adequately defend it. Prior to the accomplishment of federation the military forces of the States were controlled by six separate Head-quarters Staffs. We now have one Head-quarters Staff, and I have come to the conclusion that, in connexion with it, we have too much of the English system. We have had English officers and English methods, and the latter, as disclosed by the recent inquiry, show that, although Great Britain is so connected with other portions of the Old World that war may occur at any time, the home defence forces are in a constant state of unpreparedness. It seems to be considered that Tommy Atkins ought tohave a rifle so adjusted that it will carry 18 inches on one side of the mark at 500 yards. Such rifles, no doubt, are excellent for the man who cannot shoot, because, by accident, he might hit his mark ; but they are utterly useless in the hands of an expert shot, who, if he take aim, must miss anythingatany distance over 500 yards. It wouldappearas though these rifles had been adjusted by some of the enemies of England and not by some one who wished to see his country in a state of preparedness for defence. At the beginning of the South African war, in spite of many warnings, the little ammunition which Great Britain had was useless, and involved the risk of explosion and the killingof the usersof the rifles. In the grand military system of the mother country there are splendid arrangements for defeating its very object - for rendering it of no use except to the enemy. Imagine the magnificent Empire, of which we hear so much’ having only 80 swords, and those swords, in keeping with the policy, utterly useless ! These are methods which have been copied in Australia. We are all prepared to vote, and the people of Australia are prepared to find money, for efficient weapons ‘ for our forces ; we have now an Australian Minister for Defence, who, I hope, will replace English methods with Australian methods. From the report of the recent Royal Commission, we find that the British Army possessed no uniforms except those used for show purposes ; and that is exactly the position we have been in in Australia. We have had plenty of uniforms for show and parade, but none for practical purposes. If Australia happened to be attacked tomorrow, we should have no weapons with which to defend ourselves, and I can only account for “ that extraordinary state of things by our having a number Of imported officers trained in a school in which nothing is ever done.
– Hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent, and then, for the sake of perhaps £10,000, the system is not made perfect.
– That is so. I suppose it could be ascertained how much has been spent ostensibly in preparing for the defence of Australia. At any rate, in spite of that expenditure we find ourselves in a state of utter unpreparedness, the money having been wasted - as millions have been wasted in England - on military show. If these are the only results, we should be just as well off without all the starch and glitter of imported officers. The Government ought to vigorously assist in placing the Defence Department on a proper footing, with a citizen soldiery, clad in useful uniforms. I do not suppose it would take long to manufacture khaki uniforms, although I do not know whether there is any khaki in stock. We have seen that in England the only uniforms available were those of bright colour, which are absolutely useless in the field. At the outbreak of the South African war, the British soldiers, we are told, were absolutely without boots, and this recalls a similar state of affairs at the time of the Crimean war. There ought to be a change in our defence system in Australia, and, as I say, this House is prepared to vote the money for the necessary arms, for the manufacture of which there ought to be a Government factory. With such a factory we should, in a little time, be prepared to supply our own rifles in case of attack ; but at the present time we do not even manufacture our own ammunition, the cases being imported, and only the filling being done here. The men of Australia are willing to devote a good deal of time in learning, at their own expense, to use the rifle ; and I take it that the present Government are following the policy of the late Government, and have in view a citizen soldiery. But we cannot have a citizen soldiery if only men with money are able to join rifle clubs. We were told by the late Minister for Defence that there were not . enough rifles, but that the few there were could be sold to members of rifle clubs. That means that while a man with money may purchase an up-to-date rifle, a poor man, who may be a better shot, or who, at any rate, is just as ready to defend his country, is debarred, or has to take part in competitions with an inferior weapon. That is altogether opposed to the principles which this. Parliament has adopted, and which the Government profess themselves anxious to carry out. No difference should be recognised in this connexion between the man with money and the poor man. It has been stated in the press, which is fond of attacking the Labour Party, that that party is to blame for not voting money for the proper arming of the forces. I venture to say that not a member of the Labour Party has been heard to oppose the voting of money for such a purpose ; on the contrary, I think that some of ‘ the Labour Party are foremost in adopting quite a different policy, though we are all opposed to wasting money, *as in the past, on show and pomp, which are of no use whatever in the defence of the country. I have great hopes that the new Minister for Defence will, in the administration of the Department, show the same energy which he has displayed in other directions. We all admire the Treasurer for his care in the expenditure of the public money, and his anxiety to conserve the interests of the less wealthy States ; but I hope he will be ready to support the expenditure of a reasonable sum in the purchase of up-to-date weapons. I do not think there should be any waiting for information about a new weapon ; I have no great faith as to any recommendation from British authorities. If there be a new weapon, let a few samples be sent out, and these can be tested a great deal better by Australian riflemen than by any. experts in the old country, where contractors’ schemes and red-tape stand in the way of progress. The honorable member for Maranoa has shown the great influence of red-tape in Australia in the case of a lost rifle. It is very possible that, after all the trouble, this rifle may not have been lost. We shall, perhaps, find that the energy devoted to the case might have been much more profitably expended. Before sitting down, I should like to urge upon the PostmasterGeneral the need there is for a departure from the present telephone system in country districts. I do not expect the Department to provide telephone communication wherever it is asked ; but towns which give promise of permanent development ought to be connected. There ought not to be the unfair system of asking the local people to give a guarantee sufficient to cover a number of years’ service. That system has been carried to extremes, and I hope that the new Minister, who has pleased everybody with whom he has had business dealings, will improve the administration, and take care that telephone communication is given in deserving districts which at present have to rely on, in many cases, infrequent mails. There are many towns at present without telephone communication where an installation would pay. In one case the officers of the Department expressed the opinion that the annual income from a proposed telephone would be£10, whereas the first year’s earnings amounted to £42. There are many other places where to provide telephones would involve no loss to the Department. There is one other matter which, I am sure, will engage the sympathetic consideration of the PostmasterGeneral. Women employed as cleaners in the Sydney General Postofficeare called temporary hands, although some of them have been in the service for over twenty years. In the Federal Public Service every employ^ has been given some status, and the same should be done in regard to the women employed as cleaners, who have to do very hard work in scrubbing both in the early morning and late in the evening. They are treated differently from any other employes in the Public Service, and if they complain, the officer over them tells them that if they do not like the work somebody else can be employed to do it. Only recently these women have been given political rights. Previously they have been afraid to complain, in case they lost their work, and to that degree they have been terrorized. I am sure that if the attention of the Postmaster-General is called to the matter he will make such a change as will give these women the status and privileges hitherto enjoyed by men in every Department of the Public Service. I know of one woman who has been doing this work for over twenty years, and who has never had a holiday, although every other employe is entitled to and receives annual leave. If these women are sick they have to pay some one else to do their work, so that they are, as I say, in a very different position from clerks, who are always ready to bring their grievances forward and have them remedied. I am not making an unreasonable demand in urging that their status should be assured - that they should not be at the mere whim or caprice of any officer placed in authority over them who might be at times unfair. They should also have the same consideration, in the shape of holidays and sick allowance, as have other members of the Public Service.
– It is rarely that we are called upon to listen in this House to an unfederal speech, but I think that the remarks made this afternoon by the honorable and learned member for Brisbane deserve to be placed in that category. The honorable and learned member urged that the English mail steamers should not call at Fremantle or any other Western Australian port, but should sail direct from Colombo to theEastern States. He was apparently led to adopt this dog-in-the-manger policy by the fact that at present these steamers do not call at Brisbane. I can assure him, however, that the representatives of Western Australia are prepared to assist honorable members who represent Queensland in their effort to arrange for the mail steamers to call at Brisbane. We have no feeling in the matter, but we consider that each State should participate in the advantages of a mail service towards the cost of which it contributes. I should like to remind the honorable and learned member that Queensland occupies a position wholly different from that of Western Australia. Western Australia is entirely isolated from the Eastern States, and its geographical position makes it desirable that Fremantle should be the first Australian port of call for these vessels. It seems to me that thehonorable and learned member’s contention is altogether unjustifiable. I would remind him also that Queensland is connected by rail with New South Wales, and that produce may readily be sent from Brisbane to Sydney for shipment to England by these vessels. I have always given the honorable and learned member credit for the utmost liberality of thought, but it seems to me that he showed a total disregard for the facts when he declared that Western Australia practically shipped nothing by these vessels. What of the gold which we ship to England, and of the large consignments of produce which these vessels carry from the Eastern States to Western Australia? I feel satisfied that honorable members generally do not share the illiberal views expressed by the honorable and learned member. I desire now to say a word or two in regard to a matter which was brought before the Minister for Defence a few days ago by a deputation of which I was a member. I refer to the equipment of our forces with up-to-date rifles. It has been truly said that, although we may have an abundance of good fighting material, -we can expect nothing from it unless we take care to provide proper equipment. I do not propose to go into details, as other honorable members have done, because repetition is often odious ; but I would urge the Treasurer even at this stage to bring in Additional Estimates providing for the expenditure of £30,000 or £50,000 on the purchase of up-to-date rifles for the equipment of those who devote much of their leisure to the work of making themselves proficient to serve their country in time of war.
– I desire to join in the protests that have been raised against the failure of the Government to make provision for the equipiment of our forces with up-to-date rifles. It is absurd that we should expend every year thousands and thousands of pounds in training troops when we know that in the event of war we should not be able to arm them with modern equipment equal to that which would be employed against them by the opposing forces. It is a mere waste of money to drill our men and at the same time to neglect to arm them with up-to-date weapons. Efficient arms and ammunition are of paramount importance. I admit that it is necessary that our forces should be drilled, but as compared with the desirableness of teaching our men to shoot well, that is a secondary consideration. If the Minister will analyze the present attendances on parade of the partially-paid and volunteer forces of New South Wales, he will find that .as compared with those of twelve months or more ago, they have fallen away by about one-half. This evidence of diminished interest on the part of the forces is largely due to the treatment they have received and their want of encouragement. They are constantly urging that they should be supplied with modern rifles, only to be told that they cannot obtain them. It appears to me that when the members of rifle clubs are willing and anxious to perfect themselves in the use of the rifle, the least that the Commonwealth can do is to supply them with weapons which are fit for use. I am not an expert, and I cannot say which is the best rifle with which to equip our forces. We have been told that the War Office is at present making experiments with a view to the adoption of a better rifle than that with which the British Forces are now equipped ; but, if what we read in the press be correct, I am afraid that the rifles which are at present modern will be quite out-of-date before they make a selection. Money will not be wasted in keeping our forces armed with the most uptodate rifle. I admit that we may have to make changes from time to time, but it would be better to incur expense in that direction than to expend large sums in drilling men who are not supplied with a modern weapon. From what we have learned, it must be admitted that, if our forces were at present called upon to face an enemy, they would not be armed with rifles as up-to-date as those which would probably be used against them. The Minister must now recognise that the opinion of, the House is that a sum of money should be provided for this purpose. It is not yet too late for the Government to bring in Additional Estimates before the close of the present session to meet this demand. I trust that what has been said during this debate will be taken by the Treasurer to represent practically a unanimous determination on the part of the House that before long the cry of the rifle clubs and volunteer forces for up-to-date rifles should be satisfied.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).During the debate several honorable members have referred to the employment of child labour in the Government Printing Office, and the case has been cited of a boy of fourteen years of age, who was employed until 2 a.m. It cannot be said that the Department has been led to employ boys until a late hour at night by the laudable desire to keep them off the streets, and apparently their only object is to carry out work a little more economically than could otherwise be done. Several honorable members, and notably the honorable member for Maranoa, have shown that savings might be effected by the exercise of a little less circumlocution in the Defence Department, and I desire to point out what appears to me to be an extraordinary system of red-tape, which has led to unnecessary expenditure in the printing of the Federal rolls in South Australia. I am aware that this is a matter which does not relate to the Department controlled by the Treasurer, but I shall supply the right honorable gentleman with details, in the hope that he may be able to induce the Minister for Home Affairs to prevent a repetition of the practice of which I complain. As honorable members are aware, the franchise for the Commonwealth Parliament and the South Australian House of Assembly are on the same footing, and as the State rolls had been brought up to date, by the insertion of additional names Collected by the police and the postal officials, they might well have been used for the Commonwealth elections, the only alteration necessary being the substitution of the heading “ Commonwealth “ for “South Australian.” The cost of making the alteration would have been infinitesimal ; but the electoral officers of the Commonwealth considered that the State rolls were unsuitable, because they did not contain a column showingthe letters “M”or “F”- signifying “male” or “female” - opposite the name of each elector, and also because no space was left between the Christian names and the surnames of the electors. It is difficult to see what purpose can be served by inserting the letter “ M “ or “ F “ after the name of an elector.
– I suppose that is the form prescribed by the Act.
– But there is a section in the Act which gives the Minister a right to alter the schedule as circumstances may require. It was not said that the State rolls were unsatisfactory, on the ground that they did not comply with the prescribed form ; it was merely for the sake of uniformity that the Department ordered a new set of rolls to be compiled. Compositors were employed - and I cannot say that they have yet completed the work - to insert an additional column, showing the letter “ M “ or “F,” opposite the name of each elector. A deliberate waste of public money has thus taken place.
– I presume that they used the formes of type which had already been set up in connexion with the State rolls.
– The whole work had to be gone over again.
– Were the whole of the rolls reset?
– No. It was suggested at first that they should be completely reset, but eventually that course was not adopted. The expenditure incurred in making the alteration to which I have referred was very considerable. I understand that the estimate is some £1,400, and it represents a most outrageous waste of public money, incurred merely for the sake of securing uniformity. What advantage will any one gain from the statement in the rolls that “ Mary Jones “ is a female? No doubt the desire of the Department was that this special column should be inserted in order to assist in the identification of the electors. But as a matter of fact it represents merely a registration of the opinion of the compositors as to the sex of the electors. They had to guess at the sex of each elector by the Christian name appearing on the rolls. For instance, if a compositor saw the name “Mary Jones” on the rolls, he at once assumed that it referred to a female, and accordingly placed the . letter “ F “ opposite it. But no doubt there were cases in which the Christian name of the elector furnished no clue as to sex, and consequently the compositor had simply to make a guess. If, for example, the Christian name “ Frances “ were incorrectly spelt a mistake would be made in carrying out this work. The aOoption of this unnecessary system will provide no better means of identification, and if the expenditure of £1,400 in this way had been avoided the Government might have been enabled to pay the unfortunate lads in the Government Printing Office something more than 7d. per night for working some four hours’ overtime.
– A mistake of one letter in the Christian name, Frances, would render it impossible for the compositor to determine the sex of the elector.
– Quite so. The rolls merely set forth the opinion of the compositors as to the sex of the electors. In the opinion of returning officers in South Australia it is more convenient that the names should run right on. It certainly was never worth while wasting money merely to secure uniformity in this matter. The Minister had the power to vary the schedule, and I was quite surprised to find that to the end he persisted in having this alteration made in the rolls.
– The policy o’f the Defence Department has been subjected to some criticism during the discussion upon these Estimates. It would appear that there is no intention on the part of the authorities of the Department to make any alteration in the policy which obtained largely in all of the States before Federation. They would appear to desire to perpetuate the old system, and it is therefore necessary that the objections to it should be strongly emphasized. The first proposal by the Commonwealth Minister for Defence was to ask this House for a vote of something like £915,000. The House, in its wisdom, thought that was too large a sum with which to saddle the community for which we have to legislate. We decided to reduce the sum last year to something like £762,000, but in doing so we made it clear that the military system of the old world is not suitable to Australian needs and requirements. We decided that, instead of having an expensive and showy permanent military system, the citizen soldier should be encouraged, and that in our system of defence we should utilize the material at our hands, provide our citizen soldiers with up-to-date equipment, and give them the necessary opportunities for drill to enable them to attain a reasonable degree of efficiency. It is on that point that the members of this House and the majority of the people of the Commonwealth are in disagreement with our military authorities, who, so far, do not seem to realize that we desire an important departure from the old methods to which they have been accustomed. They desire to perpetuate the old methods of defence, the shortcomings of which were sufficiently indicated in the South African campaign, and have been disclosed quite recently by the Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate the conduct of the South African war. If for no other reason than the desire to get away from old world military ideas, and to bring into operation the newer ideas favoured here, a strong protest must be made against the system favoured by those in authority in the Defence Department. Looking into the expenditure of the vote last year, I find that we have some 1,670 permanent officers and men, and that they cost us £256,989 last year. As against that we have in our volunteer’ forces, partially-paid forces, and rifle clubs 55,536 men, and they cost last year £211,762. In other words our permanent forces cost us something like £160 8s. per head, whilst our citizen soldiers cost £3 16s. per head.
– When a man gives the whole of his time, he naturally expects to be paid for it.
– If it is necessary that a man should be called upon to devote the whole of his time to the public service in the Defence Force he should, of course, be reasonably paid. But what I take exception to is that our military authorities appear to be under the impression that the establishment of permanent forces, the members of which are withdrawn from the ordinary avocations of life, and are set apart especially for military purposes, is the only form o£ defence worthy of consideration.
– That would not appear to be so when we have only 1,670 of them.
– The 1,670 permanent men cost a tidy sum to maintain, and, in fact, the larger part of the money allocated for defence has been expended in their maintenance. What I think, the people of the Commonwealth desire is that we should have a nucleus of permanent men sufficient merely to secure the efficiency of our citizen soldiers, and that the latter should be called upon to provide the real defence of the country. We have only to look to the history of the South African campaign to ascertain the real value of the fighting material supplied by citizen soldiers. It is true that they went to South Africa without anything like the training or experience of the regular forces, but they bore the brunt of the trouble there and gave a good account of themselves. The citizen soldiers sent to South Africa from the different States of the Commonwealth did good work in the campaign, and they gave us proof of the kind of material we have to depend upon if only we have the sense to utilize it properly. The chief ground of my complaint is that, whilst our military authorities spend any amount of money, the Treasurer chooses to make available in the showy and more expensive branch of militarism, they appear to be unable to offer any great encouragement to the desire we have to establish citizen soldiers. As the outcome of the military spirit so strongly in evidence during the trouble in South Africa, a great desire was shown by young men in New South Wales - and Isuppose the same thing applies to all the other States in the Commonwealth - to take part in the defence of the country. In every little country town young men showed a strong desire not to enter the permanent military forces, but to become citizen soldiers, that they might be drilled and equipped for purposes of defence. In my own electorate corps were formed, but there has been great difficulty in securing recognition of them by the military authorities. The excuse given is that there are no funds, but I fear that there is something else the matter, and that there is a strong disposition on the part of the military authorities to place obstacles of every description in the way of the formation of a force of citizen soldiers. It should be made clear that that is not a policy which commends itself to the members of this House, or to the people whom they represent, and that the sooner our military advisers get away from their old ideals of defence by means of expensive permanent forces, and give effect to the desire of the people for the establishment of country corps, rifle clubs, and the progress of the volunteer movement generally, the better it will be for them, and the sooner the people will be satisfied. What has been the outcome of our desire to establish citizen soldiers and to keep the permanent forces within reasonable limits ? Those who favour the permanent forces have lost no opportunity to criticise what they are pleased to term the ill-advised action of this House in the reductions made upon the military vote. In the allocation of the expenditure the citizen forces have been made to suffer, and honorable members of this House are blamed for that. The difficulties experienced in the establishment and proper equipment of rifle clubs is charged to honorable members, and it is said that the whole of the trouble has arisen from the fact that this House cut down” the Military Estimates, and did not place the Department in command of sufficient money to carry out a proper system of defence. I believe that the Department have had sufficient money if it had been used in the proper way. We spent something like £760,000 last year on defence, and whilst in Canada a much smaller sum, something like £500,000, is annually spent, so far as my reading goes, and judging by the position which the Canadian forces held in South Africa, the Dominion would appear to be able to secure a greater amount of military efficiency from her military expenditure than we have heretofore been able to secure from ours. The point emphasized in the course of this debate is one to which the Minister in charge of the Department would do well to give special attention. Of what use is it to have a number of men learning drill either in the permanent or volunteer forces, if we have not proper weapons with which to equip them, or a sufficiency of ammunition ? It seems to me that in order to provide a proper system of defence the first expenditure we are called upon to make is for the purpose of securing uptodate weapons and the necessary ammunition. If we had the weapons and ammunition we could very quickly, in time of danger, drill our raw material in the use of them. But if we have not ammunition or weapons it does not matter how efficiently our men may be drilled they will be useless when called upon to defend the country. The time at which to provide ourselves with weapons and ammunition is not when the enemy is knocking at our gates, and we are called upon to defend our hearths and homes, but in time of peace such as the present. We should now see to it that this branch of our defence is brought up-to-date, and maintained in the greatest degree of efficiency. In common with other honorable members, I urge the Government to look to this branch of our defence, and as speedily as possible to take into consideration the necessity for the establishment of a small arms and ammunition factory within the Commonwealth, so that we may be placed in a position to provide for ourselves, and may not be compelled to depend, as at present, upon the mother country for our means of defence in this respect. That is all I wish to say upon that head, ‘but I desire to say a word or two with respect to the Postal Department. I was very pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta, and am glad that he has been able to get to the bottom of the charge made against New South Wales by the ex-Postmaster-General to the effect that because telephone lines had been erected there and bonds given under the old system had not been recognised, large losses had been entailed. From what has been disclosed by the honorable member, it appears that there is no real ground for the charge, which is based upon something that happened many years ago. The amount does not represent the big loss that we were led to suppose it did. If the postal authorities insist upon the retrogressive policy they ‘have adopted in New South Wales of asking for prohibitory gurrantees from people who desire these facilities, they will bring about a loss, rather than a gain, to the Department. They have to keep their Department up to a certain standard in order to maintain efficiency. The little outside lines should be regarded as feeders - to bring in revenue in order to make the more expensive lines revenue producing. In the electorate which I represent, which is largely composed of little mining centres, farming and settling communities, and grazing stations, the telephone system came largely into use. Each little community had its telephone connexion with some station. Even the different homesteads were connected in this way, and the people were able to transact their business very much more cheaply and expeditiously than they could otherwise do. The policy pursued under the old State regime encouraged the extension of the telephone system. But the policy adopted by the Commonwealth administration has practically killed all that. Small communities are now asked to plank down guarantees which practically shut them out. Only the other day I asked for an estimate for a place some eight miles from the telegraph station. The guarantee that was asked for was prohibitory, and the matter is now in abeyance pending the time when the Postal Department will gain a little bit of wisdom, and deal with such matters on a commercial plan to a greater extent than they seem disposed to do at present. Another matter to which I should like to draw attention is that there are a number of small settlements that are served by a mail service that is carried on horseback or in a sulky or small buggy, as the case may be. It has become the practice in New South Wales to make up the letters and newspapers into small parcels. Sometimes they are simply tied together, and in other cases are put into a small canvas bag. The system is convenient for people receiving communications, and it prevents letters from being damaged by rain and moisture ; because very often these parcels have to be left by the wayside for some hours, or, perhaps for a day or two before they are taken to the homestead, which maybe somedistance away. Now the Department has decreed that in future it will not provide these facilities for the distribution of mail matter, and that if the letters and newspapers are to be made up into a parcel, or put into a bag, the people concerned must be charged £2 per annum for the privilege. That seems to me to be preposterous. If the Department decides to make a charge it should fix a much more reasonable amount. I can understand that in the case of a large distributing centre where the officers are kept fairly busy and where time is a matter of consideration, the Department, having to devote extra time to making up parcels in bags, should make a charge. But in the small offices where the mail comes in only once or twice a week, and is carried not by official persons, but by private individuals, who receive a small remuneration for their services, if they are willing to provide this additional facility, I do not see why they should be debarred from extending this convenience. I have been approached upon the question by settlers who are affected, and who told me that they would have no objection to paying 10s. a year for the convenience ; but £2 per annum is too much. Another matter to which I wish to refer is the difference recently brought about to the State of New South Wales as the result of the Federal control of postal matters. Under the old State system, when line repairers were sent out on long journeys to attend to their work, and where they had to travel over considerable distances, they were allowed remuneration at the rate of 10s. for twenty-four hours’ overtime while they were away, and also an additional Sd. for every hour over the twentyfour up to fifteen hours. That system obtained right up to the commencement of the present year. But since then an alteration has been made. The men are now allowed 7s. instead of 10s. for the twenty -four hours’ overtime, and 3 1/2d. for every hour after the twentyfour hours. There has been a fairly substantial reduction in the remuneration allowed to these officers. The pay which they receive is not very large, and they have to incur a considerable amount of expense in carrying on their work. Where they have to travel considerable distances they have to provide themselves with horses. I know of a case in the Forbes district where an officer had to provide himself with two horses to keep in touch with his work. This reduction has been made at a time when the charges in connexion with horse feed and so forth were at a maximum in consequence of the drought. Chaff and other feed, which in an ordinary season might be purchased at £3 or £4 a ton they have had to buy for £7 or £10 per ton. Another matter that has been brought under my notice had reference to an unfortunate accident which happened in Sydney. A man was employed in painting telegraph poles. I believe his name was John Murphy. He fell from the ladder on which he was working and was killed. I understand that no one actually saw how the accident happened, but from the appearances, the assumption is that the ladder was a little too short for the work, and that the man had to get on to the topmost rung. On reaching out to paint an arm of the telegraph pole he overbalanced himself and fell to the pavement. He leaves behind him a widow and family who are not provided for. His wage was a very small one. He was not a permanent officer of the Department, but was only temporarily engaged to do this work. The Department has not seen fit to make any allowance to the widow and children. It seems to me, from the particulars I have obtained, that the case is a very deserving one, and I strongly recommend the Minister to make some allowance to the unfortunate widow and children. It may be that they have no legal claim upon the Department, as the man was only a temporary officer, but as he was killed in the discharge of his duty, the Minister would be doing an act of justice as well as of charity if he could see his way to put a small sum upon the Estimates to recompense the unfortunate widow and family.
– I rise chiefly to speak with reference to the remarks which have fallen from the honorable member for North Sydney on the subject of the supply of rifles to the Australian soldiery. I trust that the Treasurer will be able to give us an assurance that the best rifles that are available for military service in any part of the world will be supplied to our soldiery for the defence of Australia, and that at an early date. I know that the matter received very considerable attention during the continuance of the recent Administration, and nothing is of greater importance. We may have the bravest soldiery in the world ; but if they are not armed with weapons equal to those which are possessed by their opponents they can do little or nothing. They simply have to stand up to be shot atit may be said, to be murdered - in consequence of the incompetence of those who are responsible for due administration in connexion with affairs of this kind. I do not say that there is anything of that description in connexion with Australian administration at the present moment ; but I felt the strength of what was being put by the honorable member for North Sydney, and I desire to emphasize his remarks, because, without equal weapons, even the professional soldier is bound to go down. I think that in Australia we have the raw material for as good soldiery as can be obtained in any part of the world. I am inclined to think - of course, it is unnecessary to make comparisons - that no soldiers conducted themselves with greater credit in the South African war than did the soldiers of Australia. Those soldiers properly armed and fighting for the defence of Australia, would, I am sure, give a good account of themselves. But do let us see with all possible haste that the best of arms are available. I hope that the time will shortly come when we shall not have to import arms and rely on foreign markets which might be closed to us in time of need, but shall have proper factories for the manufacture of both arms and ammunition. I am not by any means one who believes in squandering money on these matters. I know that very often the Imperial officer has high and mighty ideas in this connexion, and, used to revenues much larger than ours, hardly keeps that careful eye on expenditure which is expected from him, and which I am happy to say is exercised as a matter of review by the Treasurer. We are spending a very considerable sum on military and naval matters. For an annual expenditure of between £700,000 and £800,000 we ought to be able to get what we require. I trust that these matters will be subjected to the closest scrutiny. Wishing to secure an Imperial officer, we agreed to pay MajorGeneral Hutton a salary of £2,500 for a term of years. But it is just as well to recollect that that is a great deal more than Major-General Hutton was receiving from Canada.
– It is a great deal more than we ought to pay him.
– It is a great deal more than he is worth.
-Every effort was made to secure a competent officer, and at a reasonable rate, but at that time we could not get an officer of standing to occupy the post at a lower salary than that which was offered.
– Did the Government try ?
– We tried very hard - everywhere we could.
– There is no doubt that every effort was made by the Minister in a proper direction, but the fact remains that whilst Canada pays to Lord Dundonald, her General Officer Commanding, a salary of only £S00 a year - that was the sum which Major-General Hutton received - we are paying to our General Officer Commanding a salary of £2,500 a year. Of course, there are some travelling expenses to be paid.
– Another £1,000.
– I do not profess to be able to assess the travelling expenses. According to the Canadian Estimates and some year books, in Canada the salary is 4,000 dollars, equal to £800, and the travelling expenses come to 2,000 dollars, equal to £400, or a total sum of £1,200. I think that the difference is startling as regards a particular individual. I hope that when the time arrives for making another appointment two things will be considered. The first consideration is - “Do we require an Imperial officer 1” Has not Australia soldiers who are capable of discharging the highest duties in this respect ? Do they not at least bring to bear upon the discharge of their duties a local knowledge which would be specially useful in the case of Australian defence 1 Are we who are able, in all conditions of life, to supply Australian wants by Australian appointments to be utterly helpless in this matter? I think not. We can supply our Judges ; we can supply men to hold the various appointments which are required in our daily and national life. Let us at least consider very carefully, before we make a fresh appointment, whether the time has not yet arrived when Australia can supply her own officers of highest military rank. We may have made mistakes at one time or other in connexion with military matters, but judging from what we read from day to day some of the greatest possible mistakes have been made in the army of that Empire to which we are so proud to belong. The press reeks with accounts of them. They are for ever dinned into our ears. Look at the report of the Royal Commission only recently presented. What state of things does it reveal? Think of the sagacity which practically refused, in the first instance, the Australian offer of mounted infantry for service in South Africa, and suggested that only foot soldiers were needed ! What a huge misconception of a position, which, I venture to think, ought to have been considered long before. What more do we hear ? We were accustomed to speak in highest terms of the work done by the sailors of the Powerful. I was in London when they were welcomed back. They received a welcome of the most enthusiastic character - a welcome which I believed then, and venture to consider still, they deserved. But what do high authorities on this subject tell us 1 Sir Archibald Hunter tells us that the service of the guns was inefficient, and compares it to that of school girls. On the other hand, what does Admiral Lambton say in regard to Sir Archibald Hunter ? He describes that officer as an ignorant numskull. It is sad indeed to have bickerings of this description. If what is suggested by these high authorities is true - I hope it is not - I believe that if Australia began to rely more on Australian arms, and to seek amongst her citizens, not only her soldiers, but their commanders, it would be a benefit and a God-send, and we should never have cause to regret our action. I believe in a citizen soldiery. It is the duty of a citizen who takes a pride in his country to serve in her defence in time of need. And it is the duty of the citizen so animated to qualify himself in time of peace to render efficient service in time of war. The equipment of the rifle clubs has been discussed. Our trust should be in our men armed with proper rifles. Let us take to heart the various lessons taught to us by the Boer War. One is the possibility of defence by a nation animated by a desire to preserve its nationality. What the Boers did Australia can do, and do ten times better. A few hundred thousand Boers have read us a lesson on the possibilities of a war of defence under modern conditions. May the time be fatdistant when we shall be called upon to improve the lesson then taught ! I venture to think that when the time does come, 4,000,000 Australians can repeat it, make it good, and tell it trumpet-tongued to the nations of the world, that Australia, relying on her sons from the humblest private to the highest commanding officer, will for ever maintain her proud integrity as a part of the British Empire.
– Not without arms.
– It is the duty of the Government to arm the men. I am casting no reproach on the Government which I so lately left, but am simply desiring to animate them to a full appreciation of the position. God has given us arms to war and fingers to fight, and those arms and those fingers, if equipped with necessary power by the Government, will constitute a bulwark of safety round the shores of Australia which shall and can for ever be relied on.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Government to a matter which is not in the direction of warlike armament. Australia is a very large country. There are portions of Victoria - one of the best settled States - which are sadly lacking in proper means of communication, even by telegraph. There are parts of Victoria - and it must be the experience of many honorable members besides myself - which are not only difficult of access in personal travelling, but without proper means of obtaining letters and telegrams, and, indeed, without any communication with the metropolis. From time to time efforts have been made to improve such means of communication as exist, but the policy of the Government is to require monetary guarantees from the settlers before it will take a step in this direction. That is a little hard. One of the best means of settlement we can have in this continent is to guarantee to the settlers that some reasonable facilities for communication will be afforded. It is really out of the question for the Government to say to the residents in many localities in this State - “You must put down a certain sum, it may be £50, £60, or £100, before we can establish any telephonic or telegraphic communication.” It is rather too much to ask these settlers, who are struggling against so many difficulties, to guarantee the Department against monetary loss.
– In many cases the guarantee asked for is prohibitive.
– The amount of the guarantee is frequently prohibitive. This is a direction in which great consideration may fairly be shown by the Government. I have had experience of the effect of the present regulations upon many occasions, and I know that in scarcely any instance has the difficulty imposed proved surmountable. However, I feel that I have only to mention the matter for the Government to give it that favorable consideration which it deserves.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I forgot to mention earlier in the afternoon that I should like to know from the Prime Minister if his policy in regard to the establishment of a small arms and ammunition factory and a factory to provide clothing for Government servants is the same as that of his late chief. The right honorable member for Hunter, speaking on the Budget debate on the 10th September, said -
If there should be a large increase in our requirements it will be a matter for consideration whether we shall obtain the ammunition from the contractors or establish a State factory. But that is a matter for separate consideration, and in the meantime we shall leave the agreement with the firm to remain in operation.
– Has any additional agreement been entered into ?
– I do not think so. No additional agreement has been entered into, but orders have been given for further supplies. The question of establishing a small arms factory is of more importance. I am myself of opinion, although I do not wish this to be taken as expressing an intention to take immediate action, that every State should be able to make its own small arms and ammunition, and also to make uniforms for its own troops.
– Does the Prime Minister mean that the ammunition and clothing should be made by the States Governments or in the States?
– I think that a Government which is maintaining an army or a navy should not be dependent upon any private agencies for such supplies of warlike stores and muniments as may be necessary in the case of an outbreak of war. That policy must be suspended for the present in regard to the supply of military ammunition, but, in regard to other matters, the Government will take the whole question into consideration. We may find that it is possible at an early date to provide for such requirements as I have indicated by establishments in the hands of the Commonwealth alone. When we are able to do so I shall be very glad. So much for those matters.
I have quoted that passage because it outlines the policy of the late Prime Minister. I wish to impress upon the Government the need for a small arms factory. Even if they are not prepared to at once establish an ammunition factory, I hope that they will seriously consider the idea of establishing one or two small arms factories ; say, one in New South Wales to supply that State and Queensland, and another in Victoria to supply the remaining States. At the present time in Queensland, if the rifling of a gun is injured, the gun has either to be thrown aside or a new barrel has to be obtained through a private agency. Consequently, up-to-date rifles, instead of costing £3 15s. each, cost £6 6s. each landed in Rockhampton. I have it on good authority that the barrels themselves cost about 25s. each, and if the Government added 5s. to that, and charged 30s., there would still be a saving of another 30s. upon the present charge. Furthermore, when a barrel is re-rifled the gun is frequently as effective as it was when new. A small arms factory could not only re-rifle barrels, but could supply new stocks, parts of locks, and other parts, iyc the price of the material together with the value of the labour employed to put the parts together. This saving alone is sufficient to justify the establishment of a factory. The advisability of establishing an ammunition factory is a question which has already been thrashed out upon many occasions. I understand that a private factory in Victoria can make all the ammunition now required by the Commonweal th. While it is satisfactory to have such a factory in existence, the time is not far distant when the Government will have to establish a Commonwealth factory. With regard to the establishment of a clothing factory, we have it upon the authority of the late Prime Minister that, as there are in the employment of the Commonwealth so many persons for whom uniforms have to be provided, the Government should be in a position to manufacture the clothing required by its servants. I have recently read the report of the New South Wales Commission which inquired into the equipment of troops sent to South Africa. If I had anything to do with some of the contractors who supplied those troops I would string them up. The helmets they supplied were neither more nor less than paper, and the boots were made of coloured paper, so that as soon as they got wet they bulged out, and became useless, and the men were left practically without foot-wear.
– That was Mr. Anderson of the “ six hatters “ fame.
– Yes. One of those who howled against the Labour Party for preventing the six hatters from entering the Commonwealth was one of the greatest transgressors, and the greatest shuffler. If he had been a contractor in Wellington’s time, that great General would have ordered him out to be shot. It is to prevent abuses of that kind that I should like to see a Government clothing factory established. We should then be able to obtain khaki, leather, cork, and other materials required, of uniform quality. At the present time Governments do not get value for their money. Persons contract to supply material of a certain quality, but in nine cases out of ten it is not until the material has been accepted and used for some time that it is ascertained that it is not of the proper standard, and by that time the contractors have been paid for it. In Queensland, some time ago, a certain firm tendered to supply some police or military uniforms for a sum which was thousands of pounds below the amount required by the Ipswich Woollen Company, but it was not until the clothes were beginning to go like suji bags that the bad quality of the material was discovered, and it was then too late to do anything. That would not happen if the Government clothing was supplied from a Commonwealth factory. Then at the present time the clothing supplied in some of the States is better than that supplied in others. If it all came from the one factory, the quality would be uniform.
– The honorable member will never carry his proposal.
– If I had taken a vote upon it the day I brought the matter forward, I could have carried it against the Government, and if the honorable and learned member likes to throw out a challenge, I shall be ready to move, and to press forward to a vote, a proposal for the establishment of a Commonwealth clothing factory. I learned a good deal from the Minister for Defence by watching his proceeding as Government whip, and therefore I am not speaking without being sure of the numbers behind me. When the honorable and learned member for Corio becomes Minister for Defence he will no doubt alter his opinions upon this subject, and will ho longer think more of Geelong than of the rest of the Commonwealth.
– A few minutes ago the honorable member for Canobolas made reference to the death of a poor man named Murphy, lately in the Commonwealth, service, who fell from a pole while in the performance of his duties in connexion with the fixing of telephone wires in Sydney, and left a wife and family unprovided for. I was afraid that the honorable member was speaking as a voice in the wilderness, because the
Minister was not present to hear him. As the Minister is present now I wish to repeat what was said. In my opinion, it would be an act of charity for the Government to place a sum of £100 or £200 upon the Estimates, to enable the widow of that unfortunate man to make provision for the support of herself and her family by opening a shop, or in some other way, the breadwinner of the household having met his death while engaged in the service of the Commonwealth. I hope that the representation of the honorable member for Canobolas will meet with the recognition which the case deserves. I wish also to bring under the notice of the Minister the case of a citizen named E. W. Finley, an unofficial postmaster at Ilford, in my electorate. He is in receipt of a salary of lis. 6d. a week, for which very small sum he provides a postoffice with furniture and fittings and stationery, and an assistant ; and he devotes the whole of his time to the service of the Commonwealth. Some years ago he was receiving from the New South Wales Government the sum of £53 10s. a year, but not long since his salary was reduced by £22 10s. Money to the amount of £1,150 passes through his hands every year ; he has to deal with 403 registered letters, and 8,648 ordinary letters annually ; and he despatches several mails a day. His niece, who acts as his assistant, is in constant attendance. It goes without saying that he has some private means, because it would be impossible for a man to exist upon the pittance which he receives from the Commonwealth. I asked him why he did not give up the work, but he replied that he had been performing the duties of the position for twenty-one years, and that although the sum he received was a small one, it helps to eke out what he gets in other ways. I do not think the Commonwealth should take advantage of him, however, and I hope that the Minister will see that his salary is raised again to the amount which he formerly received from the Government of New South Wales. Not one complaint has been lodged against this official during the last twenty-one years, and his case has evidently never been properly represented at head-quarters. In connexion with Defence matters, I should like to point out that the newly appointed Minister will now have an excellent opportunity to give effect to the opinions which he has so eloquently expressed in ‘this
11 £ 2
Chamber. We may reasonably expect him to provide the members of rifle clubs with up-to-date arms and ammunition free of cost. I thoroughly agree with the right honorable and learned member for South Australia that if we supply our citizens with rifles and ammunition, we shall adopt the best means of creating an efficient defence force. My attention has been called to the fact that several rifle clubs at Stuart Town and Euchareena, in the electorate I represent, have no butts or targets at which they can practise shooting. There are targets lying at the head-quarters in Sydney - :and doubtless the same thing may be said with regard to other parts of the Commonwealth - which might very well be handed over to the rifle clubs. I trust that the Minister for Defence will bear this matter in mind, and do his best to encourage the members of rifle clubs, upon whom we shall probably have mainly to depend for our defence in the future If we pursue a liberal policy in regard to our rifle clubs, we shall, in the end, effect a great saving in our defence expenditure. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister upon his appointment. The honorable member for Maranoa has referred to the desirability of establishing a small arms and ammunition factory within the Commonwealth. Some years ago I interested myself in ascertaining how matters stood with regard to a large number of military reserves upon the shores of Sydney Harbor. These reserves are very valuable, and I think that some of them might be taken over by the Defence Department with a view to provide sites for small arms and ammunition factories. I feel certain that the Minister will direct his attention to securing the highest state of efficiency in his Department, and I wish him every success. ,
– It might be suggested by a “ reptile “ press that honorable members are now engaged in talking to their con.stitutents ; but I -am sure’ that no one could entertain any such suspicion regarding the patriotic address of the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, who roused me to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. The right honorable gentleman very strongly advocated the establishment of a small arms factory in order that we might arm our citizens with Australian-made rifles. He is true to his fiscal creed, and apparently would not care to have an Australian citizen destroy an enemy by means of a foreign rifle. I should not object to the establishment of a small arms factory within the Commonwealth, but at the same time I do not care whether the Australian citizens shoot with Australian rifles, or foreignmade weapons, so long as they are effective in dealing with the enemy. In an article recently published in the Melbourne Age, reference was made to the fact that Sir Harry Brackenbury, the Superintendent of the Woolwich Arsenal, in giving evidence before the Commission appointed to inquire into the conduct of the war in South Africa, stated that if Great Britain had been engaged in naval warfare at the time of the South African war, a serious crisis would have arisen, and that the resources of the British arsenals would not have been equal to supplying all the requirements of the Army and Navy. This should assist us to realize the necessity of rendering ourselves independent of supplies fi om abroad in time of war. If Great Britain became involved in a European struggle she would be taxed to the utmost to provide munitions of war for her own forces, and we should not be able to obtain supplies from that source. I hope, therefore, that the Minister for Defence will give this question his serious consideration at the earliest possible date. As the honorable member for Maranoa has pointed out, if we established our own factory we should save a considerable sum of money every year in connexion with the repair of arms. The remarks of the honorable member with regard to the establishment of a clothing factory are fully borne out by my own experience. I was a member o£ the Parliamentary Committee which inquired into the desirability of establishing a State clothing factory in New South Wales. It was made clear by the evidence given at the inquiry that the contractors for military supplies evaded their responsibilities, and that the contingents which left New South Wales for South Africa were very badly equipped. If a Commonwealth clothing factory were established we could supply, not only the uniforms required by the Post and Telegraph and other Commonwealth Departments, but also, if the States were agreeable, uniforms required for the railway officers and police. The New South Wales Government are already meeting their own requirements in this respect, and their factory has been a great success. A few weeks ago I directed the attention of the then Minister for Defence, Sir John Forrest, to the conditions under which the services of a number of members of the Naval Brigade in New South Wales were dispensed with. The right honorable gentleman then stated that the men were not entitled to a retiring’ allowance. I find, however, that provision is made upon these Estimates for two months’ pay upon retirement.
– That is two months’ pay in lieu of two months’ notice. That has nothing to do with compensation. The permanent men who were dispensed with were given two months’ pay and compensation as well. We gave the members of the Naval Brigade two months’ pay, and told them that they might go away forthwith.
– This is the first occasion on which I have had the matter explained to me. It was represented that the officers had received compensation, . whilst the men had not been so liberally treated. I trust that the Minister for Defence will show himself fully alive to the necessity of effecting reforms in his Department, and that he will direct the whole of his energies to securing greater efficiency in the service. I hope, further, that he will do his best to see that the interests of New South Wales are conserved.
– I have listened with interest to the remarks of honorable members with regard to a number of grievances, such as usually crop up whenever the Treasurer has to ask for money. A number of the matters referred to are of a purely departmental character, of which Ministers cannot be expected to have a knowledge at present. I shall be very glad to ask my honorable colleagues to inquire into the complaints made, and see how far it is possible to remedy them. With regard to the suggested establishment of a small arms and ammunition factory and a clothing factory, the late Prime Minister expressed his views very clearly a few days ago. So far as I know, the present Government will adhere to the lines laid down by that right honorable gentleman, and will be prepared at the proper time to give effect to the policy indicated. Action may have to be deferred for the present, because we have to be somewhat careful this year owing to the anticipated falling-off in the revenue, and the very heavy demands made upon the States this year in consequence of our having been unable to spend certain votes for new works last year.
– Is the Treasurer in favour of establishing such factories ?
– Personally I am in favour of the establishment of a small arms factory and a clothing factory. As (regards the manufacture of small arms ammunition, I think that we have already made a very good bargain, and that it would not be wise to establish a Government factory at the present time.
– What period does the contract cover ?
– It has about ten years to run.
– For the whole of the Commonwealth 1
– No. It has about ten years to run as regards Victoria only ; but the establishment in question is quite capable of supplying the needs of the Commonwealth. Another matter which has been brought under my notice during the course of this debate has reference to the ‘employment of boys of tender years, late at night, in the Government Printing Office for a very small remuneration. I have made inquiries, and I find that lads who are in receipt of 7s. 6d. weekly work late a few nights in the week, for which they are paid a higher rate. However, I do not believe in boys being required to work overtime, and, wherever possible, I think that men should be employed. During the week 1 shall have a conference with the Government Printer upon the matter, and I am perfectly certain that I shall be able to make an arrangement which will be satisfactory to all parties. Concerning the supply of rifles to rifle clubs, it has been said that the Defence Department throws every obstacle possible in the way of these organizations. No doubt that is a matter into which the Minister in charge of the Department will inquire, because it is undoubtedly the feeling of Parliament and of the country that reasonable encouragement ;shall be afforded to these clubs. Then the Government have been challenged with regard to the supply of rifles to these organisations. From the observations of some honorable members one would imagine that no provision whatever had been made in that direction. As a matter of fact, we provided £35,000 for that purpose during the past two years. With this money we have purchased 8,700 new rifles, 7,000 of which have been delivered, and 1,700 of which are now on their way from England. We have in the Commonwealth 19,764 magazine rifles, of which 11,704 have been issued, and 8,060 of which are still in hand.
– Have the Government enough rifles to supply all that are wanted ?
– I do not say that. At the same time I see no reason why the 8,000 rifles which are now in hand should not be distributed. I understand that some little friction has existed in connexion with the purchase of these weapons by members of rifle clubs, but my colleague informs me that that difficulty has now been remedied. Last year I placed a sum of money at the disposal of the Defence Department, and converted it into a trust fund by providing that the amount derived from the sale of rifles should be placed to its credit, so that it might continually be replenished. Thus for every rifle which is sold by the Department the money is provided with which to obtain a fresh weapon.
– But no provision has been made for those who cannot afford to purchase rifles for themselves.
– That is a very difficult subject to deal with. We have to choose between handing over to every person who joins a rifle club, a rifle which costs us nearly £4, and devising some means by which those who are notable to purchase a weapon for themselves can obtain one. I propose to have a conference with the Minister for Defence upon this matter with a view to see if is not possible to make an arrangement by which those who cannot afford to pay down a lump sum to purchase rifles, shall be granted facilities to acquire them. In this year’s Estimates we have provided £30,000 with which to provide rifles and accoutrements. The General Officer Commanding is strongly of opinion that at the present time we ought not to purchase more rifles, because the Imperial authorities are now engaged in testing what is alleged to be a superior weapon, so that it is quite possible that within twelve months a new type of rifle will be adopted by the British Army. Indeed, in connexion with most military matters, the trouble is that we frequently spend a large sum of money, only to discover in three or .four years’ time that it has been absolutely wasted.
– That remark is applicable to all military expenditure.
– To a large extent it is. We must therefore let the people understand that they must be prepared to find this money without growling. The difficulty is that whenever a wave of enthusiasm passes over the land, a demand is made upon the Government to.incur a large expenditure upon our Defence Forces, but a few years later, when hard times are being experienced, the people growl and insist upon our cutting down our expenditure in that Department. We have provided this year for the purchase of rifles and accoutrements, notwithstanding the opinion of the General Officer Commanding to the contrary. The Minister did not- agree with the General. Out of the £30,000 set apart for that purpose, I promise that £20,000 will be expended, in the purchase of rifles. That will provide more than 5,000 new weapons. These, in addition to the number which we already have in hand, will give us a total of about 26,000 rifles. During the current year I am not prepared to provide for any extra expenditure in that direction. I think that the States have troubles before them, and whilst the amount mentioned may seem small, it would be a serious matter to increase it after I have informed the States Treasurers of the amount which they may expect to be returned to them by the Commonwealth. It must be recollected that they have to base their calculations upon my statement. The £20,000, to which I have referred, can be spent as soon as the Appropriation Bill has been passed by both Houses. I believe that in the Defence Department economies can be effected. Indeed, large savings have already been made, but I believe that if the Minister puts his heart into his work - as I know he will - he will be able to make still further economies, without in any way impairing the efficiency of the forces. I do not think that much trouble will be experienced in effecting a saving of £20,000- or £25,000 during the year. That amount will not affect the balance which I have promised to return to the -States, and I have not the slightest objection to allowing my colleague to devote whatever sum he may save in the Department to the purchase of new rifles. He will thus be placed upon his mettle, and will be given an opportunity to show what he can do. Next year, instead of devoting £75,000 to the purchase of military requirements - which is the amount that I felt justified in providing upon this year’s Estimates - the Treasurer will be able to set apart £125,000. By the time that vote is exhausted, I trust that we shall possess a sufficient supply of rifles for all our needs. That is the utmost limit to which I can go. In view of the manner in which the revenue is coming in, I do not feel justified in asking the House at the present time to vote any further sum for the purchase of rifles, and, in matters of this sort, I claim that honorable members should always beguided by the Treasurer. When they consider the number of rifles which are at present forthcoming, the sum which has already been allocated for the purchase of additional weapons, my promise that any future savings-, which may be effected in the Defence Department shall be applied to that .purpose, and the increased sum which will be provided next year, I think honorable members Will agree with me that everything practicable has been done. No doubt a number of those who have joined rifleclubs will purchase their own rifles.
– A number of them will do so.
– The greater the number who purchase rifles the more weapons will there be available to those who are not in a position to do so. I trust that I have dealt satisfactorily with the variousmatters which have been brought forward during the debate, and I hope that theCommittee will now allow the Supplementary Estimates to be passed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs, division 17 (Public Service Commissioned’) - £188;. division 19 (Public Works) - £27 ; division 21 (Miscellaneous) - £312. Depart.ment of the Treasury, division 25 ( Unforeseen and accidental expenditure)- £102. Department of Trade and Customs, division 30 (Expenditure in South Australia) - £800 ;. division 31 (Expenditure in Western Australia) - £48. Department of Defence, New South Wales Military Forces, division 49 (Ordnance Branch) - £1 ; division 50 (Royal Australian Artillery) - £1 ;. division 52 (Submarine Miners) - £30 ;. division 57 (Lancers Regiment) - £1 ;. division 59 (Mounted Rifles Regiment) - £3 ; Western Australia Military Forces,, division 115 (Allowances) - £54. PostmasterGeneral’s Department, division 132T (Expenditure in Victoria) - £4,263. Department of External Affairs, division 141 (Federal Executive Council) - £12; division 142 (Administrative) - £32; Department of Trade and Customs, division 160 (Expenditure m Tasmania) - £16 ; Department of Defence, division 162 (Miscellaneous) - £530 ; New South Wales Military Forces, division 170 (Ordnance Branch) - £3 ; division 175 (Permanent Army Service Coips) - £16 ; division 179 (Mounted Rifles Regiment) - £14; division 188 (Partially-paid Forces) - £23; division 190 (Volunteer General Contingencies) - £5 ; division 191 (Miscellaneous Services)- £211 ; Tasmanian Military Forces, division 229 (Permanent Forces) - £2 ; Postmaster-General’s Department, division 241 (Expenditure in South Australia) - £235, agreed to. additions,newworksandbuildings (1901-2).
Department of Home Affairs : Division 1 (Trade and Customs) - £1 ; division 2 (Defence) - £1,003, agreed to.
Supplementary Estimates, 1902-3
Parliament: Division 1 (The Senate) - £14 ; division 2 (House of Representatives) -£10; division 3 (Parliamentary Reporting Staff) - £5 ; division 5 (Refreshment Rooms) - £650 ; division 7 ( Electric Lighting, Repairs, &c.) - £197 ; division 8 (Queen’s Hall) - £55. Department of External Affairs : Division 11 (Administrative) - £722; division 12 (Federal Executive Coimcil) - £279 ; division 15 (Miscellaneous) - £335. Attorney - General’s Department : Division 16 (Secretary’s Office) - £41. Department of Home Affairs: Division 18 (Administrative Staff) - £965 ; division 20 (Public Service Commissioner) - £2,609 ; division 22 (Works and Buildings) - £1,345 ; division 23 (Miscellaneous) - £2,905. Department of the Treasury : Division 24 (Treaswy) - £565; division 25 (AuditOffice) - £212, division26(Government Printer) - £88 ; division 29 (Refunds of Revenue) - £644. Department of Trade and Customs: Division 31 (Minister’s Office), £1,298; division 32 - (Expenditure in New South Wales) - £2,827 ; division 33 (Expenditure in Victoria) - £3,038; division 34 (Expenditure in Queensland) - £3,109 ; division 35 (Expenditure in South Austratia) - £1295; division 36 (Expenditurein Western Australia) - £3,259; division 37 (Expenditure in Tasmania) - £676. Department of Defence: Division 38 (Chief Administration) - £148 ; division 39a (New Rifles and Maxim Guns) - £25 ; division 39b (Command Pay or Allowance) - £726. New South Wales Naval Forces: Division 41 (Permanent Staff) - £20. Victorian Naval Forces : Division 42 (Permanent Force) - £228. Queensland Naval Forces : Division 45 ( War Vessels) - £27 ; division 50 (Head-quarters Military Staff) - £222. King George’s Sound : Division 53 (Royal Australian Artillery) - £956. New South Wales Military Forces : division 76 (Infantry Regiments) - £32 ; division 80 (Sixth Regiment Volunteer Infantry) - £16 ; division 86 (General Contingencies) - £100 ; division 87a (Miscellaneous) - £50. Victorian Military Forces : Division 94 (Corps of Australian Engineers) - £198 ; division 99 (Scottish Regiment) - £515; division 102 (General Contingencies) - £553. Queensland Military Forces : division 105 (District Pay Department) - £7 ; division 106 (Ordnance Department) - £179 ; division 121 (General, Contingencies) - £280. South Australian Military Forces : Division 132 (Rifle Clubs and Associations) - £30 ; division 133 (General Contingencies) - £157. Western Australian Military Forces : Division 139 (General) - £120. Tasmanian Military Forces : Division 143 (Headquarters Staff) - £20; division 145 (Ordnance Department) - £25 ; division 146 (Instructional Staff for duty with partially - paid or Volunteers) - £5 ; division 147 (Royal Australian Artillery) - £78; division - 157 (General Contingencies) - £87 ; division 1 58 (Compensation) - £9,033 ; Postmaster-General’s Department : Division 159 (Central Staff) - £16; division 160 (Expenditure vn New South Wales)- £20,940 ; division 161 (Expenditurein Victoria) - £9,852; division 162 (Expenditure in Queensland) - £5,309 ; division 163 (Expenditure in South Australia) - £7,151 ; division 164 (Expenditure in Western Australia) - £7,612 ; division 165 (Expenditure in Tasmania) - £466. Department of External Affairs : Division 166 (Administrative) - £675; division 168 (Miscellaneous) - £1,450. Department of Home Affairs : Division 173 (Electoral) - £41 ; division 176 ( Works and Buildings) - £2,517. Department of the Treasury : Division 179 (Audit Office) - £315. Department of Trade and Customs : Division 182 (Expenditure in New South Wales) - £1 ; division 184 (Expenditure in Queensland) - £26. Department of Defence : Division 193 (Proportion of States in Thursday Island Expenditure) - £146 ; division 194 (King George’s Sound Defences) - £152 ; division 194a (Amount due by South Australia to Western Australia on Account of Expenditure for King George’s Sound Defences During Period ended30th June, 1901) - £314. New South Wales Military Forces : Division 197 (Ordnance Branch) - £5,265; Queensland Military Forces : Division 225 (Queensland Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery) - £8. South Australian Military Forces : Division 236a (Small Arms Ammunition) - £3,541 ; Western Australian Military Forces : division 237 (Contingencies) - £86. Tasmanian Military Forces : Division 245 (Miscellaneous) - £597. The Postmaster-General’s Department : Division 256 (Central Staff)- £278 ; division 258 (Expenditure in Victoria) - £145, agreed to. additions, new works and buildings
Department of Home Affairs, Victoria: Division 4 (Building for Engineer Mechanic, Government House) - £1 ; division 5 (Machinery and Plant, Printing Office) - £2,155 ; division 3 (Post and Telegraph Offices) - £479, agreed to.
Debate resumed from 17th September (vide page 5222), on motion by Sir Edmund Barton -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At this late stage of the session, it would be out of place to indulge in any lengthy remarks upon a Bill however important, and this, in my opinion, is one of the most important which we of late have had before us. It is, however, a measure which can be much better dealt with in Committee than at the second-reading stage. At the outset I may say that, as the Bill was drafted by the late Minister for Trade and Customs, I am entirely satisfied with its general provisions, which go very far to meet the wishes of inventors throughout the Commonwealth. There are, however, certain minor considerations for the Committee stage. Whether I am right or wrong I do not know ; but it appears to me that under the Bill, inventors will have to come to the apitals of the various States in order to examine specifications and other documents connected with patents ; and I do not think that that is a wise provision. It is not always the case that men who are the most capable of examining into these matters, or of inventing, are resident in the capital city. There are places like Ballarat, Bendigo, Lithgow, and Ipswich - manufacturing and industrial centres - where may be found men more capable of judging of the merits of an invention than are found in the capitals, which are largely importing and shipping centres. So far as I can judge, the legislation generally of this Parliament has been in the direction of protecting the manufacturer and his employes ; and we are well justified in going a step further and protecting the inventor. It might be argued that the man who invents is simply improving on something that has gone before, and that he has no right to monopolize what is really the outcome of the education and civilization to which we are all heirs. It might be argued that without. Gutenberg and his wooden type, there could have been no Hoe printing machine or linotype machine - that but for Franklin with his kite there could have been no Edison. There may be some justification for that view. But in Australia, a man who goes out prospecting, and discovers a new gold-field is rewarded with a prospector’s claim. Though that man does not put the gold where it is found, he gets his “ right” for simply discovering it, just as I claim an inventor ought to get an inventor’s “ right.” The prospector is given a claim wherever he likes to put in his pegs; and notwithstanding that an invention may be traced back to the Gutenberg, the Franklin, the Stephenson, or the Watts of long ago, the man who, by reason of his genius, discovers something new, which tends to advance the industries of the country, has a right to the profits resulting therefrom. The only fault I have to find with the Bill is that it is rather too exclusive. Notwithstanding the small fees, amounting to about £8, for the registration of a patent- - and that is a provision with which I am thoroughly in accord - it seems to me that when patent agents have to be employed, and drawings and specifications lodged, the poor inventor is considerably hampered. Besides, there are other inventors who may not be able to travel to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and other centres to view the specifications and make other investigation. What I urge is that, if it were possible, copies of the drawings and specifications should be exhibited at the post-offices in the principal centres of population throughout the States. I have heard it contended that such a course would mean (Considerable expenditure. But it will be within the memory of honorable members that early in the history of this Parliament I gave notice of a motion dealing with patents, copyright, and trade marks, and since that time I have been in communication on the subject with authorities in various parts of the world. The information 1 have is that in America, notwithstanding the expense, drawings and specifications are exhibited at the principal post-offices.
– Is there room at the postoffices for all -those drawings and specifications to be exhibited ?
– The drawings and specifications are exhibited only as they are lodged. A continuous file is not kept - the post-office in this respect is not made a sort of British Museum in which to keep a record of all patents. Whenever a new application claiming novelty is lodged, the drawings and specifications should’ be exhibited in the way I suggest ; but I do not propose that the post-offices should be made repositories for the documents connected with all the patents which may be applied for.
– Would the very fact of posting the drawings and specifications not “Create opposition to patents applied for ?
– I do not think that any man has a right to a patent if that patent can be successfully opposed. I do not advocate monopoly ; but just as a man who discovers a gold-field has a right to peg out a prospector’s claim, so the man who discovers a new process in chemistry, art, science, or mechanics has a right to “ peg out a claim.” That is the case in the matter of copyright and trade marks ; and I am sorry that they are not included in the Bill, though I know there is a reason for their omission. We have numbers of young mechanics who have devised improvements in machinery, but who have not been able to take out patents for all Australia, because it would cost them about£100 to do so. Under the existing laws it would cost them more to take out a patent in some of the States than it is proposed by this Bill to charge them for a Commonwealth patent. If this measure be carried the charges for a seven years’ patent will amount to about £8, and an additional charge of £5, making £13 in all, will be made for the continuation of the patent for a further period of seven years. But, apart altogether from those costs, certain fees will have to be paid to patent attorneys, while the expense of preparing drawings and specifications will also have to be borne by an applicant. I think that in the interests of .Australia and Australian inventions, we should make the charges as low as possible, and that we should render it unnecessary for an applicant to engage a patent attorney by directing that our own officers, when required to do so, shall prepare the specifications and drawings. What is bringing the United States of America to the forefront in the world of manufacture, of invention, and of trade and commerce? Is it not that she has encouraged her inventive genius? Whence comes the phonograph, the telephone, and all the most modern inventions known to the world ? Twenty-five years ago we looked to Great Britain for all advances in mechanical invention, but to-day, when some new patent is brought under our notice, we say at once - “This is an American idea.” Why is that so ? lt is because America has stimulated the inventive genius of her people, and if Australia is going to take her place amongst the industrial nations of the world, she must do the same.’ By the determination of the majority of the members of this Parliament ‘ it has been declared that our industries shall be protected ; but what is the use of protecting them if we allow other people in parts beyond the seas to introduce cheap labour appliances free from any restrictions? Canada, merely by paying the prescribed duty, may send her patented machinery to Australia, and find that we have nothing to- compete against it. We know that drawings of agricultural machinery invented in Victoria have been sent to Canada ; and that machinery has been manufactured there according to those drawings, and sold in the Commonwealth at a price lower than that at which it can be manufactured here: We need to protect ourselves against such things. If Australia is to be protected, let us protect our brains as well as our muscles. I do not know that there is much to be said in regard to the Bill during the second-reading debate. There are some important amendments which I should like to see carried in Committee, but I do not propose at this stage to detain the House with a more lengthy speech. I shall content myself by saying that whilst I am in general agreement with the provisions of the Bill as a whole. I am not in thorough accord with some of them, and trust that they will be amended in Committee.
– -As the late Prime Minister said in introducing this Bill, it is really a measure that might better be considered in Commiteee than dealt with elaborately during a second -reading debate. But as I had carefully looked through the Bill and considered some of its provisions in conference with representatives of the inventors as well as of the patents agents, I had intended at this stage to refer to certain amendments of which I have given notice in order that honorable members might form an opinion as to the expediency of adopting them before we caine to the detailed work of Committee. On glancing at the list of suggested amendments which have just been circulated by the Prime Minister, it appears to me, however, that they cover some of the proposals which I had intended to bring forward. I certainly think that the Bill should be passed. Up to the present we have dealt largely with machinery measures that have led, perhaps unnecessarily, to a considerable amount of irritation, and it is just as well that some of the real benefits of Federation should be given to the public by the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. In my opinion this measure will have as good an effect upon our industrial development as any that has been passed since the opening of the first Parliament of Australia. The fees fixed by it are considerably less than those which obtain under the existing patent laws of the States. I think that the Minister mentioned that under this Bill the total fees which will be payable to the Government in connexion with the grant of a patent will amount to about £13 as against something like £96, the total charge for a separate patent in each of the six States. It ‘must readily be seen that a great benefit will be conferred upon an inventor if, instead of having to file six applications, followed by six sets of specifications and drawings, in order to secure his rights throughout Australia he can obtain a patent for all Australia by one application. The United States of America leads the way in the matter of patents, not so much because of the exceptional inventive genius of herpeople, or of any exceptional conditions drawing them into action, as perhaps becauseof the ease and cheapness with which patents can there be obtained. The total fees payable in connexion with an application for a patent in the United States of America area little over £7. I believe they amount to- 35 doh or £7 5s. lOd.
– B - But that is in a country possessing 80,000,000 people.
– Quite so. Then there are no working conditions. It is just as well that the Government should remember that fact now that they propose to reinsert the clause which was omitted by another place, adding to the working conditions - which they have adopted from the English Act - which I think ought to be retained - other provisions which are most exceptional and drastic. I refer to the provisions as tononimportation of an article four years after the issue of a patent in respect of it, and the obligation upon an inventor, as a condition of obtaining the privilege of the patent, that the manufacture of the articlepatented by him shall within five yearsbe exclusively carried’ on in the Commonwealth. I do not think that thereis any provision of this sort in America where the greatest number of patentshave been issued. In the case of the United States of America, it is the cheapness of the system which has led to the fact that there are more than double as many patents issued there as there are in England. Novelties are generally patented in United States of America. In England the feesamount to about £150, and when those charges are compared with the fees amounting to a little over £7, which are levied in theUnited States, it at once becomes apparent that only comparatively rich applicants can obtain a patent in the old country. Hence, in America we find that little nick-nacks and comparatively small additions to laboursaving appliances are patented. It must be borne in mind that the manufacture of these patents gives rise to the greatest amount of employment. There are about 2,000,000 people engaged in the manufacture of patented articles in America, and if we allow that in that country the average number of children per family is three - I believe that the exact figures are 2-47 - it will be seen that there are- 10,000,000 people practically dependent upon the industries thus opened up. In view of these circumstances, we ought to entourage the issue of patents with the least difficulty to applicants, and on payment of the lowest possible fees to the Government. I had intended to make a few suggestions with regard to the amendment of the Bill, but, as I have already mentioned, they have been largely anticipated by the Government. I desire, however, to refer to the question of appeal. I observe that clause 39 contains a provision that -
An appeal shall lie to the law officer from any direction of the Commissioner under the preceding section.
The preceding clause refers to clauses 35 and 36, which relate to the examination by the Commissioner to whom the patent is referred on the specifications being lodged. The examination is to cover the questions of whether the title has been stated as prescribed, whether the invention has been properly described, and whether the application and specification are as prescribed. Then there is the additional provision which was inserted by the Senate as to a search for novelty. Under clause 36, the examination must also extend to the work of finding out whether the invention fully described in the complete specification is substantially the same as that described in the provisional specification ; and if the examiner reports adversely to the applicant in respect of any of these matters, clause 39 provides for an appeal to the law officer, “for any direction of the Commissioner.” Honorable members will notice that that appeal does not cover, for instance, the case of the refusal of an application, which is a far more important matter than is the amendment of a specification as a condition to the issue of a patent. This omission appears to have been an oversight, but it is an exceedingly important one. There is no appeal from the refusal of an application, nor is there any appeal provided where under clause 43 of the Bill a patent is issued accompanied by a reference to previous specifications. Clause 43 is an adaptation of the provision inserted in the English Act of 1902. I believe that the Government have based the changes which they propose .to make in the Australian patent laws on that Act, because I notice that the two chief provisions which led to the passing of the Imperial statute are really the chief innovations made upon our existing States laws by this Bill. One is that which provides that if the examiner reports that a previous application or specification has been lodged in respect to the article in question, and that requisitions which he in consequence makes upon that application are not carried out, and he does not care to refuse the application, he may allow the patent to issue, but shall mark it with a notification to the public that it is liable to be challenged on the grounds that specifications in respect of the same invention have previously been lodged by another person. This is, as I have said, an adaptation of the chief amendment brought about in the English patent laws by the Act of 1902. But although in England the applicant can appeal against the decision of the Commissioner, should he direct that the patent be issued with such a notification, no such appeal is provided in this Bill. It. is a matter of considerable importance, because the issuing of a patent, with a challenge on the face of it as to its validity, is an exceedingly important matter. There is a provision on the subject in sub-section 7 of section 1 of the Imperial Act, to the effect that an appeal shall lie from the decision of the Comptroller to the law officer. I need not quote the section, but it directs that the patentee must be supplied with a notification of the liability of his patent to be challenged on the ground of want of novelty, as provided for in clause 37 of this Bill. I think the Government must have overlooked the fact that until we come to clause 52, which deals with opposition, the appellate provisions of the Bill are not complete. An appeal is given only in some cases.
– I have observed that, and I propose to provide for it-
– I notice that the honorable and learned gentleman is proposing to amend it. but not, I think, in the right direction. The amendments suggested provide for an appeal as regards the notification of want of novelty only to the Supreme Court. I think the English practice is much better and much cheaper, because under the English law the matter may be taken at once to the law officer and decided. If the decision of the law officer is adverse to the appellant, there is no reason why an appeal should not lie in the last resort to the Supreme Court ; but to drive appellants at once to the Supreme Court, even of a State, might be to subject them to great delay, and, in some instances, to much greater expense than is desirable. I hope the Prime Minister will carry out his amendment of the Bill in this respect in a more liberal spirit than he has indicated by allowing an appeal to the law officer in the first instance. In England the appeal in the first instance is to the law officer from the Commissioner’s decision. .In the United States, in Germany, and in some other countries in Europe, there is an appeal in the first instance from the decision of the Commissioner to Boards of Appeal before the matter is carried into the Supreme Courts of those countries. That is one of the suggestions I intended to make, and I hope the Prime Minister will be willing to allow an appeal to the law officer instead of to the Supreme Court in the first instance. I notice that there is no provision in this Bill under which an applicant for a patent may make an application to have a patent issued to apply only in a particular State. Under clause 43, on the Examiner having reported unfavorably to an applicant, the Commissioner is given power to declare that a patent may issue, but to confine its operation to any one State. 1 suppose the reason for that is that the specifications put in by the applicant may have been filed previously, and that therefore the application of the intended patentee is subject to be challenged on the ground of want of novelty. If under clause 43 the Commissioner holds that a particular application or specification is open to some of the objections mentioned to clause 37 - the objection, for instance, that it has been already patented in the Commonwealth, or has been the subject of a prior application for a patent in the Commonwealth, or in a State - he may confine the operation of a particular patent to a State or States, in which it cOuld not be challenged on the ground of want of novelty. I suppose that is the idea of the Bill, but I contend that a similar right should be given to the applicant in the first instance. He may know that an objection to his patent would lie in some States, and he may wish to avoid the expense and delay of the appeal, which would lie from the Commissioner’s adverse report. He is given no right to indicate that in respect of particular States he is aware that his application is open to challenge, and I ask the Prime Minister whether it would not be better that some such right should be given to the applicant which would avoid the necessity for action on the part of the
Commissioner to limit the application of the patent to a particular State. I notice that it is intended to reintroduce a clause which was struck out in another place as regardsthe local manufacture of patented articles. I have looked through some of the PatentActs of the Continent, and the Canadian Act, and I do not believe that the PrimeMinister can instance a single State in Europe in which such a provision exists.
– I doubt it. There areprovisions as regards the working of patents,, but they are not identical with the provision proposed to be inserted in this Bill requiring the compulsory manufacture of a. patented article within the Commonwealth within a certain time. The general rule on the Continent is that the supply of the patented article must be adequate for the needs of the public, and for that reason there are some working provisions which must be complied with, but I think the Prime Minister will not be able to show a. single State in Europe in which it is obligatory to manufacture a patented articlewithin a certain time. I may be mistaken, but I could find no such provision. There is a provision of the kind in Canada.
– In Canada, Newfoundland, and South Australia.
– Not in South Australia, as regards the manufacture.
– The patent is liable to berevoked on the application of any person, if after three years the article is not obtainable, or the patent is not being used either by the patentee, or his assignee forthe public benefit.
– That is different from manufacture. The South Australian provision, I think, refers to the using of apatent, but does not refer to the manufactureof the article. I draw the attention of thePrime Minister to the fact that there is a. great distinction between the mere working ‘ of a patent and the manufacture of a. patented article. We have in the Bill a clause adopted from the English Act of 1902’ dealing with the working of a patent, and under that clause if, after two years, it is; shown that the requirements of the publicare not properly met by the importation of the patented article, or its local manufacture, on application being made a compulsory licence may be issued for its manufacture. That is provided for under clause 83. That provision is a sound one. It was- the subject of . a report from the Board of Trade under a Commission appointed under the Act of 1901. It was subjected to a considerable amount of criticism, and was finally passed in the Act of 1902, after the words of the provision had been very carefully considered. I regret that the Government have in this Bill departed from the wording of that provision in the English Act. I agree with the principle ; but I cannot for the life of me see why, in adopting a wholesome and carefully considered provision from the English Act, the exact wording of that Act should not have been followed, in order that we might have the advantage of any decisions on the English practice. I indorse the principle of clause S3, and I say that it is adequate for the necessities of Australia. If there is an insufficient supply of a patented article the difficulty can be met by an application under that clause. But to say in addition to that, that after five years, there shall be no importation of the patented article, appears to me to be protection run mad. It is the following out of the fiscal policy of the Government which has led to the introduction of this provision. How could such a machine as Singer’s sewing machine be manufactured here ?
– Why not?
– Does the honorable member expect that the Singer’s Sewing Machine Company will start a branch of their manufacture here in consideration of a local patent ?
– They are manufacturing in Sydney now.
– Not in the way in which they are manufacturing in America and in Scotland. I think that Scotland is the only place outside of America in which the company has been able to establish a manufacturing branch. The reason is simply because the consumption is too small to justify the establishment of a huge plant. Do honorable members, for instance, think that it would pay the proprietors of the linotype machines to start the manufacture of those machines here to supply the demand in Australia.
– Why should their patent prevent any one else manufacturing them ?
– It will not do that. Clause 83, dealing with the working of a patent, is adequate to meet the difficulty. There must be some privileges attaching to a patent wherever it is granted, and the only difficulty is as regards an adequate supply of the patented article. I say that is met by the power to manufacture locally, and by importation, which will always be sufficient to meet the needs of the public. I therefore think it is a mistake to propose the re-insertion of the clause to which I refer.
– Are not the public interested in seeing that they are not charged a ridiculously high price for a machine ?
– That objection strikes at the principle of granting any patents at all, and it would not be met by local manufacture. Compulsory local manufacture would rather tend to increase the price of an article. If we obliged the Singer’s Sewing Machine Company, or the proprietors of the linotype, to establish local factories here to prevent competition as regards the products of their factories in other countries, the tendency would be to increase rather than to reduce the price. So far as . the public are concerned, it would increase the burden and effect of the privilege granted under the patent. I hope that before they consent to the re-insertion of the clause to which I refer, honorable members will consider what it really involves. There is a provision in the American statute which I hope the Prime Minister will agree to incorporate in this Bill. I have given notice of a clause covering it, to follow clause 119. A great many actions are taken for the sale of patented articles and against the manufacture of articles which are covered by a patent, the existence of which is to the public unknown. No notice of the issue of a patent covering the article is given to the public until an action for infringement is taken. This has led to a good deal of trouble in England and in various other countries. Two or three years ago a provision was passed in America, declaring, to give the substance of it, that no action for infringement of a patent could be taken unless the patentee had fixed on the article the word “ patented,” together with the day and year the patent was granted, to indicate the fact that it was patented. The clause I intend to submit is identical with the American provision, except that I have added that the number of the patent shall also be given, in order to facilitate search. This provision is working well in America, and has been favorably reported upon, and in an article on the Act of 1902 appearing in the Law Quarterly for July of this year, by a lawyer and an expert in patent law, the suggestion is made that it should be adopted in English legislation. It is pointed out in that article that- such a provision would cut at the root of the practice of obtaining bogus patents, in order to use the term patented in terrorem, and it would enable the public to reap the full advantages of the new investigation.
I hope the Prime Minister will consider the expediency of inserting such a provision in this Bill.
– I do not quite see the application.
– The object is to enable the public at once to know that an article is patented. At present, at any time an action may be sprung upon a man for the manufacture of an article which has already been patented. According to the Law Quarterly, several actions have been taken in England in respect of patented articles, no notice of the patents for which had been given to the public. The suggestion is that on every patented article there should be something to indicate that it is covered by a patent. I have had printed some other amendments which I shall deal with in Committee, and of which I need not now indicate the scope. When the Bill gets into Committee any effort I may make will be simply with a view to improve the Bill, which, in my opinion, is one that should be passed in the first Parliament of Australia.
– Th This is, I think, one of the most important Bills the House has ever had to deal with. I should like to suggest to the Prime Minister the desirableness of adding a small clause which will enable any inventor, by sending £1 to the Commonwealth Patent Office, to secure the right of experimenting with his patent for a year.
– That is provided for by the provisional specification.
– But But how much does that cost? That is the difficulty. The greatest inventors are generally the very poorest men. It is strange, but it is true, that poverty is no bar to progress. In fact, the great inventors of America and the great inventors of the world have nearly all been nurtured on the sad but loving breast of poverty. It seems to me that we should give every possible encouragement to poor men to utilize the products of their brains. If an Australian brings out an invention, he must first go to a capitalist, who wants four-fifths of the profits before he will find the money for taking out a provisional patent; and then some other man improves upon it before the original inventor receives much benefit from his labours. I wish to ask the Prime Minister how long the fee of £1 will cover the provisional protection ? Will it be for a year? Will it give the inventor an opportunity to experiment with his patent and to sell his invention ?
– When the complete specification does not accompany the application, it “ may be lodged within nine months after the date of the application, or within such further time, not exceeding altogether one month, as the Commissioner, in writing, allows.” If it is not so lodged, the application lapses.
– W - Will the patentee be protected for nine months?
– So So that he can utilize it or sell it if he likes ?
– Yes. What he will have to sell will not be much, but that will be his own business. It is only a provisional specification.
– I w I want to be sure that, in case the patentee disposes of his patent, the full amount of the fees will have to he paid to the Commonwealth.
– Yes ; if those interested in the invention go on with it, they will have to pay the full amount.
– The Then the provisional patent will allow the inventor to sell it to any purchaser who chooses to buy. What will be the whole expense of a patent within the Commonwealth?
– The total will be £13.
– I - Is that not pretty high for a country having only 4,000,000 of people?
– That is including the renewal fee.
– T - That great sovereign Power, the United States, with 80,000,000 of people, all hustling and bustling and jostling for a living, charges much less; and is not £13 rather a large sum to make our patentees pay in a country where half the people are asleep ?
– They will only have to pay £8 in the first five years.
– I - Is there any provision to allow a man to send direct to the
Commonwealth Patent Office without employing an agent?
-Yes ; he need not employ an agent unless he likes.
– - I do not want to prevent patent agents from getting a living, but a man ought to be able to get his patent direct from the Patent Office if he chooses.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
In this Act, except where otherwise clearly intended - “ Commissioner “ means the Commonwealth Commissioner of Patents….. “Patent Office” means the Commonwealth Patent Office…..
– I move -
That, after the word “ intended,” the following words be inserted: - “ ‘Actual inventor ‘ does not include a person importing an invention from abroad.”
I move this amendment to remove any possible ambiguity arising out of the old English definition. Our words “ actual inventor “ are, as honorable members will find, afterwards used in reference to applications for patents under clause 28. The definition is the familiar one, and it will remove all possible doubt. It was not considered necessary to insert it in the first place ; but, on further consideration, it appears to me that it can do no harm, and it may remove some obscurity.
– I should like to know when the Prime Minister expects to be able to put this measure in proper working order - that is to say, when he expects to have established the machinery for the registration of patents ? I understand that it will take some time.
– Hear, hear.
– Probably it will be nine
Or twelve months before the machinery can be got into proper working order. Is any provision made in the Bill to permit of persons who are desirous of coming under its provisions making an application to register now, and getting the full benefit of that registration when the machinery is established for carrying it out ? Then, again, I should like to know, in the case of those patents that have been taken out in the different States, whether an opportunity will be provided to allow of a cheap registration of those States patents under the present Bill? Say, for instance, that a patent has been taken out in New South Wales, but not applied for in one of the other States, will the patentee be able to register under this measure for the purpose of securing a Commonwealth patent ?
– My knowledge of the time likely to be occupied before this measure can be brought into full operation is derived only from such information as I have been able to obtain, and that I regret to say is rather of a vague character. It will not be possible to bring the Bill into effective operation until all the records of all the Patent Offices of the States are in such a condition as to be readily examined. One of the first duties - perhaps, the first and greatest duty - we impose upon the Commonwealth Patent Office under this measure is the task of consulting all the previous patents registered in all the States, in order to assure the applicant that he is not asking for something which has already been anticipated, and which therefore cannot be of any assistance to him.
– Will that delay the receiving of applications from those who have not applied to any State office ?
– It need not as a matter of fact delay the applications of those who have not hitherto applied, but their applications must be fruitless, and it would be misleading to entertain them ; because those applications cannot be considered effectively until all the registers of all the States have been examined. I do not want to reflect upon any of the individual States, but am informed that in some of them the registers are on their own confession defective, and the indexes insufficient and untrustworthy. It appears to be probable that the task may be cast on us of going through and remaking the registers of some of the States, and many of the registers of others.
– It may take twelve months then.
– It may take twelve months. As soon as this measure is passed it will be necessary to appoint a Commissioner. He will report upon the necessary assistance which he will require, and estimate the time to be occupied in bringing the State registers into proper form.
– The Government are not going to take over indiscriminately all the staffs of the existing States offices ?
– N - No, indeed ; there is no such proposal. But if applications were received the day after this Bill was passed they would have to wait until the work was completed, because until then applicants could not receive the benefits this Bill would give to them.
– Is there not provision for provisional protection, that would allow a patentee to publish his invention?
– A provisional application could be made. Its time is nine months, and is capable of a month’s extension.
– The honorable gentleman might be able to extend that, pending the proclamation of the Act.
– I will look again at those clauses having in view the peculiar circumstances in which we shall commence, to see if they are ample enough to make it clear that provisional applications can be received and inventions protected for whatever time may be necessary until these registers can be brought into operation. One of the greatest reforms proposed by this Bill is the guarantee that is to be given to the inventor that he has not been anticipated. There can be no doubt that this country will be important enough as a field for patentees to insure the registration of all the valuable patents that can be utilized in the Commonwealth. The examination of the Commonwealth registers will afford a great security to every inventor that the invention which he possesses, whatever may be its practical value, is at any rate not forestalled. He will have every reasonable security for that. But we cannot give him that security until we thoroughly do the work of putting all the registers of all the States into that order, from which they should not have been allowed to lapse. That work will have to be done before any patent can be authoritatively granted.
– What about incomplete patents in the various States ?
– There is nothing in this Bill to extend any patent beyond the State where it is granted. Indeed, the fact that a patent has been granted in one State will be some proof that the application is not- novel. Nothing in this Bill affects existing patents. We take away not a jot or tittle of what a patentee already has, but we give him nothing additional. What we give is to those who register under this measure, but to the States patents we neither add nor take away.
– I notice that the amendment merely states what an actual inventor shall not be. There is no definition of what an actual inventor is, or what is regarded as an actual inventor under the Bill.
– That is practically established by a long series of decisions. But this is to make it perfectly sure that it applies here.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that it ought to be denned 1
– I think that the meaning of the phrase “ actual inventor “ is well understood. This is the one ambiguity which we thought might arise.
– I thought the words might be used, “ the true and first inventor.” If by excluding you include, then I should say that an actual inventor is any one except a person importing an invention from abroad.
– Who has invented. “True and first inventor “ is the other phrase.
– But a mere importer is not an inventor ?
– If we exclude only one class of individuals, do we not run the risk of including a good many others who are not defined here ?
– No. This definition was necessary in order to remove a former ambiguity in that regard.
– Is the Prime Minister satisfied with the provision as it is ?
– Yes. The importers were formerly included.
– I hope that the word “ actual “ will be retained. In the statute of James concerning monopolies and patents, the words “ true and first inventor “ are used, and the phrase has always been held to include those who import articles from abroad. The object in using the word “ actual “ is to get the benefit of the decisions in the United States. “ Actual inventor “ is the phrase used in the Act of Congress. It has a definite meaning, which it would be a pity for us to attempt to qualify. It means the person who has discovered a thing. The phrase “ true and first inventor “ is held to include those who import. “ Actual “ is the best word to use.
– It will cover the assignee.
– In clause 28, a distinction is drawn between the actual inventor, and the assignee or his nominee. “ Actual inventor “ means the person whose brains have performed the work.
– I desire to mention a suggestion which has been made to me by some representatives of the Inventors’ Association. The suggestion is, that pending the coming into force of the Act - which would be by proclamation, and which might not be for twelve months or perhaps longer - applications might be made for Federal patents to come into force on the Act being proclaimed. I cannot see how it can be easily provided for, because the Act would not have been in force. I am afraid that a special clause will have to be inserted. Perhaps the Prime Minister may consider the suggestion before the Bill is taken out of Committee.
– I shall make a note of it.
Amendment agreed to.
– In the original draft of the Bill, the word “Commonwealth” was continually used before the word “ Commissioner.” The Senate struck out the word “ Commonwealth “ in a certain number of places, and omitted to do so in other places. In order to make the drafting harmonious, I move -
That the word “Commonwealth,” line 3, be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to-
That, after the word “Patents,” line 4, the following words be added: - “appointed pursuant to this Act.”
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has considered the definition of the word “ invention “? A very different definition is used in the United States, and it seems to answer the purpose better than that which we find in the British and Victorian Acts. I do not make this remark at all dogmatically, because I have not been able to consider the matter fully ; but I wish to know whether the honorable and learned gentleman has considered, or will consider, the question of altering the definition of “ invention,” as it has raised in Great
Britain and these States a great many difficulties, which, so far as I understand, have not been met with in America.
– The officers who laid down the main lines of this measure very carefully considered that question, and came to the conclusion that the inventors in all the States had become used to this particular definition and to the long line of decisions which are to be found in case law. Clumsy as it sounds, it ought to be retained, as it conveys to the minds of English people everywhere a clearer idea of what is intended than would the American or any other modern definition. The American definition has had to be expounded and expanded by a series of judicial decisions.
– So would any definition.
– Yes. Here we have a definition which, originally extremely diffuse and obscure, has by means of a long series of cases been rendered more precise and clear than any other which could be devised. It was for that reason, after careful consideration, that this undoubtedly antiquated terminology was retained.
– - That a definition has stood for centuries is a very poor excuse for retaining. There is no reason why a custom should be followed. It does seem very strange to me that it is accepted by the Prime Minister because it was accepted by his great-grandfather and his great-grandmother’s grandfather. The reason why our country is so much behind the age is because we are always ready to do what our grandfathers and grandmothers did. I am against that line of proceeding.
Amendments (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to-
That the word “Commonwealth,” line 5, be omitted.
That, after the word “Office,” line 6, the words” established under this Act “ be inserted.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I observe that the term “ Supreme Court “ is defined to mean -
The Supreme Court of the State in which the Patent Office is situated or a Judge thereof.
– Except where otherwise clearly intended.
– I had a slight doubt as regards clause 84. It does not necessarily mean in that clause the Supreme Court of the State in which the Patent Office is situated, because the action may be taken where the defendant resides as well as where the infringement has taken place.
– I- do not know how many clauses the definition of “ Supreme Court” will apply to; but I think it is well for the Committee to consider whether we should insist on dragging an applicant in Western Australia to the Supreme Court in Melbourne to defend his application against any opposition. Suppose that an application were opposed, andthe Commissioner ruled in favour of the applicant, the latter - at an enormous expense - might be dragged by his opponent to the Supreme Court of the State in which the Patent Office was situated. It is probable that while we are pretending to give consideration to inventors by allowing them to have patent rights all over Australia” for thirteen years, we may be involving them in legal expenses which may run into hundreds of pounds. I know that there are reasons in favour of having cases tried in the State in which the head office is situated ; but now that we have a High Court constituted, I submit that any appeals should lie to the High Court rather than to the Supreme Court of the State in which the head office is situated. At any rate, I think that some cheaper method of appeal ought to be devised before the Bill is passed. I do not know a great deal about the detailed working of the States Patents Offices, and therefore I am not able at the moment to suggest a remedy. It must be remembered that in most cases the applicant for a patent is poor, and cannot afford to sustain any very large expense in defending an application. Necessarily, in those cases where a patent would be of the utmost advantage to the community, the inventor must “ bump “ up against large firms or monopolies, who have something to gain by opposing the application. I would urge the Prime Minister to consider whether it would not be possible to alter the definition so far as it relates to appeals.
– I think that the honorable member for Bland has acted judiciously in raising this question, which of course could not be settled on this clause. I shall give the matter further consideration. In the first instance the Commissioner is a court to decide many questions. An appeal will lie from the Commissioner to a law officer in reference to certain simple matters. The law officer- will in all probability be at the seat of government, wherever it may be, and that will involve an appeal,, perhaps, from a distance, when inventorsarise, as they will do, in every part of this great continent.
– The trouble is where the Commissioner refuses to grant the application.
– The next stage which we come to is that in which the Commissioner refuses, and the appeal is from the Commissioner. The question is where such an appeal shall be heard. The Commissioner and all the records will beat the seat of government. The question is whether the Commissioner should be called upon to defend his decision wherever the applicant may be, or whether the applicant should not be required to come, and whether it would not be more in his interests torequire that he should come, to the seat of government.
– The Commonwealth now defends and prosecutes cases in the SupremeCourts of the States.
– Yes; but it does sounder disadvantages which would be repeated in this case. I admit that it is a choice of disadvantages. Whenever a plaintiff has achoice of Courts, he goes to that which is most convenient to himself, and probably most inconvenient to the defendant. One cannot please two persons whose interests conflict. Infringements of patents can be tried in any Court - there is no restriction in that respect - but in regard to the revocation of patents, we propose togive jurisdiction to either the High Courtor the Supreme Court of a State. I have run through the different Courts provided in the Bill, so that honorable members may clearly understand the suggestion made by the honorable member for Bland. I shall be very glad to consider between now and to-morrow whether we can assist inventors by allowing these appeals, to go tothe High Court, so that when there is a circuit in the State where an inventor is, he may take advantage of it instead of going to the seat of government. We do not stand upon the strict letter of the Bill as drawn, and I shall be happy to accept any suggestions for its improvement.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
This Act shall not affect any proceedings pending under any State Patent Act. . . . and any pending proceedings shall. … be continued and completed as if this Act had not been passed.
– I move-
That the word “shall,” line 3, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “may.”
Cases may arise in which this provision should not be mandatory.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).If an application were pending in Tasmania, and the applicant succeeded in showing that the invention had not been used in Tasmania, he would, under the existing law, be entitled to a Tasmanian patent, although the invention had been used in Victoria or in New South Wales, but he could not obtain a Commonwealth patent. Some of the later clauses of the Bill, however, seem to throw doubt upon the point. Is it intended that an application for a Tasmanian patent shall proceed upon its merits, and that there shall be, even after the measure becomes law, a limited Tasmanian patent, which will operate only so far as Tasmania is concerned, and not interfere with rights acquired in New South Wales and Victoria ?
– Yes, so far as pending applications are concerned.
– If a patentee has taken out a patent under one of the States Acts, and wishes to extend it to the whole Commonwealth, can he do so?
– He can make an application for an extension to the whole Commonwealth.
– But will he have to pay as much as if he were taking out a new patent, since he has already paid patent fees in at least one of the States?
– Yes. The matter, however, is one which is dealt with in a subsequent clause.
– It is possible that a person may have held patent rights in a State for a number of years and not used them. Could such a person, or any patentee who had taken out a patent in one State, take out a patent for the other States?
– No. Under the Bill it is possible only to take out a patent for the whole Commonwealth.
– If a person had taken out a patent in New South Wales, is there any clause in the Bill under which he could turn it into a Commonwealth patent?
– He could not turn it into a Commonwealth patent, but he could apply for a Commonwealth patent.
– The Bill contains very stringent provisions in regard to publicity. If a certain amount of publicity is inadvertently given to a patent before an application is lodged, that vitiates it. A patent might be taken out in one State, and, probably because of the financial straits of the inventor, not applied for in the other States. Of course, provision should be made to protect the public where they have acquired certain rights to the use of an invention in States where it has not been patented, but, at the same time, I think some amendment should be framed to prevent hardship being inflicted upon deserving persons who have patented an invention in one State, but who, because of their small financial resources, or, for other reasons, have hitherto been unable to patent it in the other States. They should not be debarred from obtaining a Commonwealth patent.
– When we come to consider the clauses setting forth the conditions under which patent applications are to be considered and granted, an amendment such as the honorable member suggests may be considered, but he will find it an extremely difficult task to draw such an amendment. I shall, however, be glad to receive any suggestions from him on the subject.
– Suppose an intending patentee has already made application?
– He is protected under the clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
The Minister for Trade and Customs or other the Minister for the time being administering the Department of Patents shall be charged with the execution of this Act.
– I do not know why the Minister for Trade and Customs is mentioned in this clause. I should think that whoever is in charge of that Department will have sufficient to do without extra work of this kind. It seems to me that it would be enough to say, “ The Minister for the time being administering the Department.” I think that the Department should be under the control of the Attorney-General.
– In the past there has been a strong objection to placing a legal Minister at the head of the Patent Office.
– In that case I should like to see the Minister for Home Affairs intrusted with the administration of the Act. The measure lias no special relation to Customs administration.
– It is placed under the administration of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– That Minister is practically confined to the administration of the Customs ; trade is largely controlled by the Minister for External Affairs. It is undesirable to place an Act which at times must give a considerable amount of trouble to the Minister in charge of it under a Minister whose time must always be fully occupied.
– If the provision required the Minister for Trade and Customs to administer the Act under all circumstances I could understand the honorable member’s objection to it, but, as it is worded, it leaves the Cabinet free to allot the control of the Patent Office to any Minister. In Victoria, and I think in the other States, it has been Considered objectionable to have a law officer as the head of the Patent Office. It appeared to us that the subject of patents was most closely allied with those matters which have to be dealt with by the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Minister for Home Affairs deals with electoral and other matters not so distinctly commercial.’ lt was as a concession to the feeling that a commercial man should be, as he possibly might be, at the head of the Department that the administration of patents was placed under the control of the Minister for Trade and Customs, but the provision is not obligatory.
– Should not the law officer be charged with the administration of matters relating to patents, seeing that he is the person who has to deal with appeals ?
– That certainly has been the practice.
– I agree with the view expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney, and I therefore move -
That the words “Minister for Trade and Customs or other the “ be omitted.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that it would be better to specify the Minister who is to have control? It is usual to place every Act specifically under the administration of some Minister.
– That is why the Minister for Trade and Customs was mentioned in. this case.
– The law officer of the Commonwealth will have to familiarize himself with the Act, because he will have to deal with appeals from the decision of the Commissioner.’ There is no reason why the Attorney-General, as the law officer, should not be the administrator as well as, under certain circumstances, the Ministerto whom an appeal would lie.
-.! think there is something in the contention. of the honorable and learned member for South Australia. It has been the practice in the States to place the administration of the patents laws in the hands of the AttorneyGeneral. I know that some objection has been taken to that course, because questions relating to patents are considered to be entirely different from those which usually occupy the attention of the law officer. I would point out, however, that the Actwill be administered, for the most part, by the Commissioner, and that the Minister will be merely the nominal head. That fact to some extent removes the objection to the head of the Law Department being the Minister charged with the execution of the. Act. The Minister for Trade and Customs: has to administer a very large Department, and I am afraid that he will not be able to give much attention to matters relating topatents.
– I entirely agree with the amendment. I donot see why we should specify any particularMinister. I take it that it is always open, to the Executive to change a Minister’s functions as may be considered desirable. I find that we have so far followed the practice, of specifying the Minister who is to be charged with the execution of an Act, but I am not aware of the reason for doing so. The ordinary exigencies of Government should determine the allocation of Ministerial functions. Onecan readily imagine that the Minister of Customs might be interested in some patents - question to an extent which would render it undesirable that he should occupy the position of the administrator of the Act. If’ we were to tie that Minister down to particular functions, it might be necessary for- him in such a case to surrender the administration of the Customs Department and make way for some one less qualified. I think we should leave the matter open. If the Prime Minister intends to re-insert the clause confining the manufacture of patented articles to Australia, which was eliminated by the Senate, the Minister for Trade and Customs might be the proper man to police the patent laws. I hope, however, that no attempt will be made in that direction, and that it will not be necessary to tie any Minister down to particular functions.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 -
There shall be a Commissioner of Patents who shall be appointed by the Governor-General, and who shall under the Minister have the chief control of the Department of Patents ; and the Governor-General may appoint one or more Deputy Commissioners.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This clause provides for the appointment of a Commissioner of Patents, and one or more Deputy Commissioners. The Bill does not contain any authority for the appointment of examiners.
– What is the difference between a Deputy Commissioner and an examiner?
– ADeputy Commissioner would be called upon to take the place of the Commissioner, whereas an examiner would have to look into the conditions under which a patent was applied for. The Commissioner would have to hear applications for patents, whereas an examiner would have to fossick round in the various books and registers, in order to see that there was no previous disclosure of the patent applied for.
– Then an examiner is only a search clerk, after all ?
– Yes, but he is a very important search clerk. An important question has been raised as to the advisability of asking persons engaged in trade, who may be rivals of the applicant, to examine an application for a patent, with regard both to its novelty and its utility. In some States it is the practice as soon as a patent is applied for to hand over the application to some expert in the trade, to examine it.
– That is a very dangerous practice.
– It is; and it appears to me that the Bill as it stands would permit of that practice being followed. The course adopted in Great Britain and Victoria is to appoint permanent official examiners, not merely examiners for each particular patent.
– It is proposed to appoint such examiners.
– No power of appointment is provided for in the Bill. I am informed that in New South Wales it has been the practice to select as examiners persons engaged in the trade to which a particular patent may relate. In a small community that practice would very frequently result in applications being placed in the hands of a trade rival of the applicant. That system does not work well. Any one who has had experience with regard to patents knows that, although an examiner may not be an expert in machinery at the outset, he can very soon hit upon the readiest methods of obtaining information as to the prior publication. There are certain books and registers relating to patents to which persons always refer when they wish to obtain the means of opposing an application for a patent, and the official examiners very quickly adopt the best means of obtaining the necessary information. Clause 35 requires that the examiner shall report whether an invention is novel. That is a very important inquiry. Provision should be made to enable the Governor-General to appoint such examiners as he may deem necessary.
– I think we already have that power.
– It is not provided for in the Bill, and under clause 35 it would be competent for the Commissioner to ask John Jones, down the street, to examine an application for a patent.
– That would be possible.
– I move-
That the following words be added: - “ and so many examiners of patents as may be necessary.”
– I suggest to the honorable and learned member that it would be wise to defer submitting his proposal until we have decided whether paragraph d of clause 35 shall be retained. If I am not mistaken, that is the provision relating to the novelty or otherwise of a patent which was inserted in the Senate, and which I understand it is the intention of the Government to endeavour to excise. If the paragraph in question be eliminated, there is really no necessity for special examiners, because the examination will then be confined to a search through the index, with a view to ascertain whether any application has previously been lodged in respect of a similar invention. The search will be conducted under the provisions of clause 37, and if the index has been properly kept, it will be a comparatively brief one. I do not know what number of patents are issued annually in Australia, but in England they total about 15,000. In addition to reporting upon whether or not an invention is novel, the examiners are required to determine whether it conforms to the description which is given of it.
– But they have to perform -a number of other duties.
– They have to search the index to ascertain whether a previous specification has been lodged in respect of any particular invention. The other duties relate to following out the rules and to seeing whether the terms of an invention properly describe it. If we do not retain paragraph d of clause 35, the only elaborate search which will require to be made will be with a view to determine whether a previous specification has been lodged in regard to a similar invention. In that case there will be no necessity to appoint a special examiner at a fixed salary. In America, where the provision contained in paragraph d of clause 35 is operative - where there is a general search made as regards novelty - a regular examining staff is employed. There are twenty-four examiners and an examinerinchief who constitute an examining department.
– There are four or five examiners in Victoria.
– I am not quite, sure whether there is an examination in Victoria -as regards the novelty of any invention.
– Yes, there is.
– Under those circumstances an examiner is required. In the other Australian States no examination is prescribed as regards novelty. Hence the reference to the ordinary expert. That officer cannot be biased very much, because his duty is simply to ascertain whether a previous application in reference to any particular invention has been lodged. I suggest “to the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that it would be wise to defer submitting his amendment until we have determined the fate of the Government proposal to excise paragraph d of -clause 35.
– Although it was not thought necessary to insert this provision in the Bill, in my opinion it was always necessary that official examiners should be appointed and sworn as is proposed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. Therefore, I am not unwilling to accept his amendment to place the . matter beyond all doubt. But, although I shall ask the Committee to excise the provision which was inserted in clause 35 in another place, I shall also ask them to accept in lieu thereof, the proposal which is printed immediately below. It has always seemed to me that any provision of the character which is contained in paragraph d of that clause should be inserted in clause 37, and it is there that I propose to introduce it. We are perfectly willing to meet the views of those who have agreed to that provision so far as to permit of an examination for “novelty.” But I would point out that that word may cover a great variety and an enormous area of investigation, and it therefore appears to the Government desirable - for reasons which I shall offer when the clause is under consideration - to define what is meant by it a little more distinctly than has been attempted in paragraph d of clause 35. For the examination as regards the “novelty” of patents which we propose, sworn examiners will be necessary.
– May I ask if these officers will come under the provisions of the Public Service Act 1
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
The Commissioner may for the purposes of this Act … .
– Upon consideration it appears that paragraph e of this clause which gives the Commissioner authority to delegate any of his powers to a Deputy Commissioner, is too important to be dealt with in this terse way. I therefore move -
That paragraph e be omitted.
At a later stage I shall move to insert in lieu thereof new clause 9a which honorable members will notice in the printed list of amendments.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 -
No person who hits been summoned to appear as a witness before the Commissioner shall, without lawful excuse, fail to appear in obedience to the summons.
Penalty : Fifty pounds.
– Under this clause, whilst the Commissioner has power to enforce obedience on the part of a witness, no provision has been made for defraying the expenses incurred by a witness in attending before him.
– Witnesses always receive their expenses.
– I have been requested by the honorable and learned mem ber for Darling Downs to submit an amendment, which I think will meet the objection of the honorable member for Moreton. Accordingly I move -
That, after the word “excuse,” line 3, the words “ and after tender of legal expenses “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I notice that proposed new clause 9a applies only to the delegation of powers by the Commissioner. It contains no provision which will allow a Deputy Commissioner to delegate his powers, and clause 13 does not provide that any person who fails to appear before a Deputy Commissioner shall be subject to a penalty.
– I have taken a note of the point, and will look into it.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 17 agreed to.
There shall be kept at the Patent Office, and at such other places as the Commissioner ma)’ direct, a register of patents wherein shall be entered - (ti) The names and addresses of grantees of patents and of licences thereunder ;
Particulars of additions to or amendments to extensions or revocations of patents or licences, and notices of assignments or transmissions thereof ; and
Particulars of any other matters affecting the validity or proprietorship of patents or licences which are prescribed.
Amendment (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to-
That the words “and at such other places as the Commissioner may direct,” lines 1 and 2, be omitted, and that the following words be added : - “A copy of the Register of Patents shall be kept at such places as the Commissioner may direct.”
– My attention has been called to the wording of clause 20. Objection has been taken to the use of the words “ registered patent or licence.” It is thought that the clauseought to read “interest in a patent or licence,” as no provision has been made forthe registration of an interest. I think that the scheme of the Bill is that nobody shall be allowed to register anything in the natureof a mortgage or charge upon a patent.
– This isone of the most important portions of the Bill, and it appears to me that we may te centralizing matters too much.
– We must have one central register, but we are providing that a copy of it shall be kept wherever the Commissioner may direct.
– I should like to have the assurance of the Prime Minister that this provision will be very liberally interpreted.
– It will be. It is intended, to keep a register in each of the capital cities of the States.
– But the capital cities are not always the manufacturing cities. For instance, Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, but Ballarat is almost as big a manufacturing centre. The sameremark is applicable as between Sydney and Lithgow, and as between Brisbane and Maryborough, Ipswich, or Toowoomba. No doubt, to give effect to my suggestion will considerably increase the cost of administering the Department, but the experienceof America is that by expending money in stimulating the inventive genius of the people the Patent Office has been made topay ; consequently America has become oneof the chief manufacturing countries in theworld.
– I hope that this Government and future Governments will deal liberally with the Patent Office ; butthe proposal of the honorable member for Moreton involves an expense of which he can have no estimate. A complete copy of the Patents Register, as constituted, would consist of thousands of entries and sets of plans ; and it is not possible to hopethat copies will be provided outside the capitals, except in the case of very largeStates like Queensland. Ipswich, for instance, is a manufacturing town within two or three hours’ train journey of Brisbane, and it is not asking too much of the inventive genius of Ipswich,, when in doubt, to undertake the tripGeelong, to take another instance, is an important manufacturing city of Victoria, but it is within two hours by rail from Melbourne; and is also within easy distance by boat, and it is not too- much to say that one copy of thousands and tens of thousands of entries in Melbourne would suffice. But in great States like Queensland and Western Australia, if they develop, as we hope, it will be requisite to provide more than one copy. In Victoria and Tasmania one copy may suffice, but in other States more than one copy will be necessary. The proposal of the honorable member involves great expense ; and I cannot promise that at the commencement the register can go beyond the capital cities.
Mr. WILKINSON (Moreton).- How does the Prime Minister propose to obtain the copies of the register he suggests shall be en exhibition in some of the larger States? Let us put aside Ipswich, Geelong, and Ballarat, and take Rockhampton, Townsville, and other places which are not within easy reach of the metropolis.
– I have referred to those places, and, ultimately, copies will have to be sent there.
– How are the copies to be produced ?
– They will be printed, probably - that is, when we can afford it.
– If the copies are in type, there is only the difference of the cost of the paper between the expense of printing 10 copies and printing 10,000. If half-tone blocks have to be used for the drawings and diagrams, they have to be photographed on zinc, and once the blocks are prepared, there is, as I say, only the cost of the paper to be considered. We are trying, by a policy of protection, to make Australia a manufacturing as well as a producing country, and one of the essentials to that end is the stimulation of th6 inventive genius of the people. In my own town there are inventors who have been waiting for a Commonwealth Patents Act. It is two years since I placed a notice on the business-paper asking for a Bill of this nature ; and I am agreeably impressed by the liberal nature of the measure before us. There are many mechanics of an inventive turn of mind who cannot afford the fees demanded under the separate States Patents Acts, and they wish to be able to examine specifications without the intervention of patent attorneys, agents, or other intermediaries, whose costs amount to much more than the proposed charges under the Bill. A working man cannot afford to lose two ‘or three days’ work and pay railway fares in order to make necessary examinations, and the desire is to have the necessary documents at hand. If the documents are to be written, or even type-written, I can recognise that there must be a great deal of extra expense, but the added cost cannot be very great if they are once put in type.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I hope the Prime Minister will consider the suggestion made by the honorable member for Moreton. I had a suggestion not going quite so far, but somewhat in the same direction, and it has been indorsed by three Fellows of the Institute of Patents, who tell me that they believe it has the approval of the Institute itself. The suggestion is that the States offices should contain a good deal of information - that copies of all applications, at all events, ought to be lodged there. Those States offices ought to be the means of collecting applications, copies of which could be kept there, while the originals were sent by post or telegraph on to the head office. To facilitate the local working of a Patents Act, it is advisable that at least the copies of all applications, of the index, and of the register, should be kept in the States offices. The expense would not be very great; and I think that after a time, it will be found that the Patent Office will more than pay its way. The index in America has been improved at tremendous expense, and the Patent Office buildings are the finest in the world - all paid for out of the profits. There is a very large accumulated fund invested in public stock, and the net profits are over £30,000 per annum. Prom the last balance-sheet of the English Patent Office, I see that the profit made there was £130,000 net last year. If the Australian Patent Office has anything like the degree of success which has been attained in England and America under varying conditions, it ought in a few years more than pay its way, and the benefit of that ought to be given to those of the community who have inventive skill. I hope the Prime Minister will consider the suggestion of the honorable member for .Moreton, and see to what extent he is able to carry it out.
– This particular question is not really before the Committee at the present time. I have spoken with hesitation, because there must be an examination of all the States’ records before we can speak with definiteness. For the future it will be a comparatively easy matter with the Commonwealth office to provide that all applications and specifications shall be printed and circulated. But there are thousands and tens of thousands of applications and specifications already lodged in the different States offices, and to print them would cost an enormous sum. It is because of the possible immense cost such a course would involve that I have spoken with hesitation ; but when in the future such documents are printed the course suggested by the honorable member for Moreton is the one to follow. I hesitate to speak more definitely until the present States records are examined, and we have before us an authentic and carefully framed estimate of the cost of printing them.
– I support the suggestion made by the honorable member for Moreton, which, I am pleased to note, the Prime Minister is prepared to consider, though he hesitates in the matter of bringing the present records up-to-date. America has shown us how to work a Patent Office, and the more we bring our legislation into line with that of the great Republic the more the Commonwealth will be benefited. There is no use in having a Patent Office and regulations unless these be effective in operation. Some little time ago a case came under my notice in which a man had designed an appliance which was considered to be a very valuable invention, and he decided to endeavour to secure patent rights throughout the world. At considerable expense he applied for patent rights throughout Australia, and also in England and America. After all the formalities had been completed within the Commonwealth, and, I understand, patent rights secured in England, he received an intimation from the American Patent Office that in one important particular his appliance infringed an old patent granted many years ago in England. The excellent system of indexing in America enabled this information to be readily obtained, and the man was able to visit the Public Library in Sydney and there see a description of the old English patent. He found that the American office had raised a very important point, and that practically his claim, in view of the way in which it had been lodged, was vitiated. This was a case in which a man had very little money to spare, and had considerable difficulty in financing his patents, and he was put to great cost in obtaining patent rights, the futility of which was discovered only by the American Patent Office. There is a great opportunity now to assist the inventive genius of the people of the Commonwealth, and no one can over-estimate the importance of the* work. Our Patents Department must be up-to-date ; and, as I say, we cannot do better than follow the American example. There may be some difficulty in dealing with all the present documents in the States’ Patent Offices, but that is no reason why a proper start should not be made in the Commonwealth office with modern methods. Seeing that the information has to be filed and put into type, the extra cost as between 100 copies and 1,000 will be very little, and it will be a penny wise and pound foolish policy to impair the efficiency of the Department for the sake of a little money-
– The The register provided for in the Bill does not mean the furnishing of plans and abridged specifications to which the Prime Minister has alluded!
– To be of any service for the purpose of which honorable members are speaking there must be those plans.
– I quite recognise that what is suggested goes beyond the purport of the clause at the present time, but I, with other honorable members, think that it is worthy of careful consideration whether it would not be desirable,. at sufficiently small expense, to issue a digest of patents in an abridged form. That is done in Great Britain, and the United States Commissioner of Patents, Mr. C. E. Mitchell, says of such a digest that : -
In the first place, it would be of the greatest value in facilitating the labours of this office by lessening the work of examiners …. It would also be the means of preventing the granting of worthless patents through the failure to discover apt references- a failure which must result in a certain small percentage of cases so long as examiners are deprived of the most efficient means of conducting their investigations. It would enable the patrons of the office to preparetheir cases intelligently, and by enabling them to readily ascertain the state of the art pertainingto a supposed new invention, would, in a vast number of cases, cause the withholding of applications which now take up the time of examiners to no useful purpose ….
If we could prepare such a digest we should effect a saving in that direction -
It would enable patentees and manufacturers to definitely understand the extent of their rights as secured by patents, and by disseminating knowledge of what has been done in all the various arts would prevent inventors from traversing the ground occupied by predecessors in their noble pursuit. It would be remunerative to the Government -
This remark might not apply to the same extent in Australia - because such a digest would meet with a readysale among inventors and manufacturers, and the entire cost of its preparation and publication would soon be reimbursed. And finally it is indispensible if the United States would keep pace with other nations in whatever pertains to the development of its patent system.
This statement was written in 1890, and as undoubtedly the publication of a digest giving an abridged description of the inventions, together with small plans sufficient to indicate their nature would effect a saving by preventing many applications being sent in which would otherwise reach the office, and, as a certain amount of revenue would also be derived by way of subscriptions, I think that it would tend to the advantage of the system. It might do much to encourage our people in the direction of invention. I quite admit that there are other considerations, such as that of cost, but if the Prime Minister finds that this proposal Gould be carried out at a cost which would not be altogether excessive, I think that effect should be given to it, even if we make no provision to that end in this measure.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 (Trusts not recognised).
– I would ask the Prime Minister what purpose will be served by this provision 1 There is a similar clause in the Transfer of Laud Act, but it invariably leads to confusion, and as a matter of fact the Registrar and the Examiner of Titles cannot give effect to it. It simply means that it would be impossible for an executor to prove his right of assignment. No power of attorney could be re- ceived by the Commissioner. It appears to me that the closing words of the clause “ or be receivable by the Commissioner “ are very strong.
– This clause, or a similar
One, appears in most of the Patents Acts, because it is found that when any question of this nature arises, it is dealt with and settled by the Courts outside. The Patent Office is simply aware of the name of the proprietor. It cannot know anything else.
– Powers of attorney are constantly given ; outside patents have to be registered here.
– The name of an executor would be registered under clause 20. He would become entitled to registration under that provision.
– But under clause 21 the Commissioner cannot accept notice of that.
– The executor would be registered under clause 20.
– He would become registered under that clause. I raised the same query myself, and was informed that not only was a provision of this kind not found to be inconvenient, but that it was a very necessary protection, and occurred in all the Patents Acts.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 22 agreed to.
Clause 23 (Exception in case of fraud).
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I presume that a declaration of trust might be filed under this clause. There is some anxiety that notices of charges or interests in patents which are not entitled to be registered under this Bill should be indicated in some way. Perhaps the Prime Minister will consider whether what is allowed under the land transfer systems, namely, the deposit of a declaration of trust, should not be permitted in this case. It would not interfere with the registration, and would not give the details. It would amount to a notice, and this clause deals with notices.
– I shall look into the matter ; but I know that the officers do not favour anything of the kind.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 24 to 27 agreed to.
Any of the following persons may make application for a patent : -
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne). - There is very grave doubt whether it is advisable to allow any patent to issue except in the name of the actual inventor, or of the actual inventor in conjunction with some one else. The experience of Patents Offices shows that the principle with regard to assignees or nominees is greatly abused, to the prejudice of inventors. I have heard of some extraordinary cases, especially in relation to the Marconi invention, in which the assignee or nominee rule has been found to work ill. I am informed that in the United States of America the authorities invariably insist upon the name of the actual inventor, or of the actual inventor in conjunction with somebody else, or of the executors or administrators of the actual inventor being inserted in the invention grant.
– Is that so 1
– That is the information which I have obtained from an expert. I do not speak from any personal knowledge of this matter, but I think we may take the statement to be correct. There is some probability of the observance of such a rule. I agree with the view which some honorable members have expressed, that we have a great deal to learn from the experience of the United States of America. I do not assert that the extraordinary industrial progress of that country is due wholly to her patent laws, but I say that they are at the root of a great deal of her industrial prosperity. I have spoken to some men in America about their difficulties in dealing with inventions, and I find that they laugh to scorn the rules that obtain in England. There is far more life in the inventive world of America than there is in England. That is due to various causes, one of them being that in the States a man feels confident that he .will obtain the best price for his invention. If we compel a patent to be issued in the name of the inventor, or in the name of the inventor coupled with that of a second party for protection, we thus, enable him subsequently to obtain a better market price for his invention. The capitalist is entitled, of course, to his share of the profit ; but the inventor obtains a very small allowance indeed if he has to approach the capitalist before his own name has been put into the grant. There are several difficult rocks of which the inventor has to steer clear. He has to pass the patent agent, the Patent Office, and finally the lawyer. The whole tendency of the patent agent is to get an invention through, so as to earn his fees, and then to leave the poor inventor to the mercy of the law courts in proving that the invention is novel or useful, as the case may be. I am getting somewhat afield, but I wish to ask the Prime Minister-
– This is practically the’ Victorian law, which allows assignees toapply for a patent.
– I am aware of that, but I do not think the practice works well. I suggest to the Prime Minister that heshould consult the officers of the Victorian Patent Office and see whether it is well toallow an assignee or nominee to take out patents.
– They were consulted on that point, but if the honorable and learned, member desires it, I will question them again on the subject.
– I am surprised to learn that the Victorian Patent Office approves, of this system. I have been informed on very good authority that it is not observed in the United States of America, and that it has worked ill elsewhere. If a capitalist is financing an inventor, all that he has todo is to see that the inventor’s nameappears in the patent, and to take care that there are sufficient caveats or other precautions taken to prevent any transfer of the patent to any one else. If inquiry has been made on the subject, I have nothing, further to say on the point.
– I will make further inquiry.
– There isa point in relation to this clause which I desire to see elucidated. Certain conditions, are laid down as to who shall apply for and who shall be granted patents; but in most of the States laws, there is a provision that the introducer of a patent from a foreign country, which has not been patented in the State, shall have the right to obtain a patent for it.
– We do not grant that right.
– The Government propose to regard patent rights granted in other countries where our patent rights arenot recognised. A man who takes out a. patent here will not have his rights respected in Germany or America.
– We do not regard patent rights granted there.
– If a patent were granted in America, and someone other than the inventor brought it out here, could he take out patent rights in respect of it 1
– No ; the applicant must bethe actual inventor, or his assignee ornominee.
– Then we are proposing to handicap Australian inventors. If an American could come to Australia, take away drawings of the Victorian harvester, cause that machine to be manufactured in Canada according to those drawings, and then undersell the Australian manufacturer in the Australian market, Australian inventors and manufacturers must be given at least an equal chance with foreign competitors. My point is that if an Australian, whilst travelling in Canada, inspected, for example, the Massey-Harris or Baldwin Motor Works, and saw a device which had not been patented here, he should have a right to patent it in Australia.
– The honorable member thinks such a man should have the right to patent the device in Australia, although he would be only the importer, and not the inventor of it.
– Yes. If that system were adopted, it would compel foreign inventors to take out letters patent in Australia.
– The inventor will be able to take out a patent here. We propose to allow an inventor or his assignee to do so.
– This is what 1 object to. A foreigner may come to the Commonwealth, and take away our inventions, and use them in other lands.
– There can be no objection to that if our own people are not sufficiently enterprising to, patent their inventions in other lands.
– But we do not protect our people against them.
– Yes, certainly we do.
– There is a provision in this Bill which I like verv much, to the effect that after four or five years a patent shall lapse, unless the patented article is manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– That provision is not now in the Bill.
– I know that the honorable member for North Sydney will not as a free-trader agree with that provision, but I think it a very wise one. A patent should not remain in force beyond a limited time unless the patented article is manufactured in the Commonwealth. We know that the Massey-Harris Company have produced some of the finest agricultural machinery in the world, but Victorian invention has improved even upon their work in connexion with harvesters and binders. The result has been that the Victorian improvements have been copied in Canada. They were not patented in that country, and the Canadian manufacturers, conducting their operations on a very much larger scale, have been enabled by copying the Victorian inventions to undersell the local manufacturers and patentees.
– They could not if the article were patented there.
– Some of the improvements were not patented. The patents for this machinery had got into such a tangle that it was impossible to patent them.
– It is my desire to protect the Australian inventor and manufacturer against that kind of thing. I say that if we are to be subjected to that kind of competition, any Australian who is able to pick up in other countries an idea which is novel in Australia, though it may not be novel in Canada, the United States, Germany, or Great Britain, should be entitled to a patent for novelty if he introduces it here for the benefit of the community.
– But he should not have the monopoly.
– I should like the Prime Minister to explain paragraph e of this clause in relation to the amended definition of “ actual inventor.” In clause 4 we have decided that the actual inventor shall not include a person importing an invention from abroad, whilst in paragraph e this clause amongst the persons who may make an application for a patent we have -
Any person to whom the invention has been communicated by the actual inventor, his legal representative or assignee (if the actual inventor his legal representative or assignee is not resident in the Commonwealth).
It seems to me that that paragraph is in conflict with our definition of “actual inventor.” In view of the definition of actual inventor which has been decided upon, I am puzzled to discover how the actual inventor cannot be resident in the Commonwealth.
– It is true that this paragraph may appear at first sight to be in conflict with the definition of “ actual inventor” agreed upon, but I think the intention is that under the new definition we have put in of “ actual inventor “ it is not to be competent for any person going through America and seeing an invention of a clever kind, which is not patented here, to come here and by patenting it obtain a monopoly. Under paragraph of this clause, although the actual inventor may not have made the honorable member for Moreton or myself his assignee or nominee, if he communicates his invention to either of us we are entitled to obtain a, patent, on the ground of agency and as appearing in a representative character, so ±o speak, in regard to the inventor.
– The distinction is as between “ imported “ and “ communicated.”
– That, as I understand it, is the whole distinction.
– Apply the argument to copyright.*
– The actual inventor is abroad, his legal representative or assignee is also abroad ; but he chooses to communicate his discovery, whatever it may be, to some person. He says - “ Although I do riot choose to make you my legal representative in the Commonwealth, here is the secret of my invention, you are at liberty to use it.” Under the clause, if that person satisfies the Commissioner that that communication has been made to him, he is entitled to obtain a patent. I admit that the honorable member for Wannon has been quite justified in calling attention to the apparent conflict between this paragraph and the definition of “actual inventor,” because, unless the matter is looked into closely, there does appear to be a contradiction.
– Would not paragraph c have been sufficient for the purpose?
– I find that in the opinion of the patents officers of the States it would not. If by my own unassisted and incomplete knowledge of the. subject I had drafted the Bill, I should have drafted it differently. There is a good deal in the Bill which has been included in deference to the opinions of men whose lives have been passed in dealing with these matters, and to whose judgment I bow ; otherwise I should not have adopted some of the phraseology here used.
– I suggest to the Prime Minister that as we shall shortly come to clause 35, on which there may be a good deal of discussion, as there are some matters in this clause which the honorable gentleman has promised to consider, and there may be some questions raised as the result of its consideration, he might postpone this clause until to-morrow.
– I do not propose to go beyond clause 34 to-night. I do not think that any further difficulty is likely to be raised upon this clause. Before we reach clause 35 there are only two amendments, submitted by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, to be considered, and should any difficulty arise to make it necessary, I shall have no hesitation in recommitting clause 28.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- The honorable member for Wannon has alluded to an apparent contradiction between the definition of “ actual inventor,” or rather the exclusive provision in the definition of “ inventor,” and paragraph e of this clause. If I understood the Minister aright in the definition of “actual inventor,” he meant to convey that the goods should not be imported. That is to say, the provision is that the “actual inventor” does not include the person importing the invention from abroad.
– It does not mean the goods; it means the invention itself, because under the old English statute the “ true and first inventor “ was held to include the person who imported the invention. We prevent that, but we put in paragraph e of this clause a qualification that if the inventor and his representative are outside the Commonwealth, and he communicates his invention to some person who then comes into the Commonwealth, that person may obtain patent rights.
– If he communicates with a man and tells him to take our letters patent?
– If he communicates his invention to some person. I was asked before what was the difference between a nominee and the person to whom a communication of an invention lias been made. I pointed out that the distinction was one dra’wn by the patent officers, and I admit that it is a very fine one.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - I agree with the Prime Minister as to the prevention of what is practically the pirating of an invention not invented by the individual or firm obtaining a patent for it, but seized upon by them in their own interest, and very often to the injury of the public. If the original inventor does not see fit to patent his invention in Australia, I quite admit that his rights should belong to the public here, but I do not believe this clause clearly dennes what the Prime Minister has stated to be its meaning.
– This is the officers’ way of denning it, not mine.
– The honorable gentleman should reconsider it in order to -see whether it is not necessary to make it clearer than it is. When the Minister in charge of the Bill, as well as members of the Committee, see some objection in the drafting of a clause it certainly requires reconsideration.
– The officers have already passed this through two or three examinations, and they have declared that in the experience of the Patent Office the provision, as it stands, represents the idea to which they desire to give effect. I shall have it looked at once more to see whether in cannot be improved.
– It should be possible to draft a clause so explicitly that there would be no doubt of its meaning.
– -This has come to have a special meaning with patent officers, and thev appear to be satisfied with it.
– I think that special meaning could be preserved and the position sought to be established by the clause made evident on the face of it.
Mr. WILKINSON (Moreton).- At the risk of being considered tedious I again take exception to the wording of the clause. We have a right to place our people on at. least an equal footing with those of other countries. When our inventions may be taken to other countries and machinery including them may be sent here to undersell the locally manufactured article, we have a right in the interests of our manufacturers to provide that a man who introduces into Australia a novelty which the inventor has not seen fit to patent in Australia, should be considered as the inventor. A similar provision is included not only in most of the Patents Acts of the Australian States, but t in the Acts of many other countries in the world. A man who introduces a novelty in art, science, or machinery to America is there considered an inventor, and the utmost use is made of the right. I do not see why we should not avail ourselves of a similar privilege. If we do so we shall compel the patentee in another country either to establish the manufacture of his patented article here, or to take out patent rights here and farm out the royalty for its manufacture.
– Why should not the public get the benefit if the inventor does not patent his invention here 1
– The honorable member for North Sydney and I will not agree on this point, because he is an arrant freetrader, and I probably go as far in the other direction. I would protect our workmen from the cheaper labour of other parts of the world, and I would extend similar protection to our inventors.
– That policy does not affect this matter.
– It is on the lines of protection I am arguing ; protection for ourselves against the competition of other parts of the world. When people elsewhere avail themselves of the inventive genius of Australians to manufacture in other parts of the world, with the special facilities they havefor manufacture on a large scale, articles which have been invented in Australia, and then semi them here, underselling the local manufacturer and patentee, «ve should have - a similar right to take their inventions, bring them here, and secure the monopoly of their manufacture.
– We need not take out a patent to do that. We shall be free to manufacture the articles here if the inventors do not take out patents for their inventions here.
– We shall be free to manufacture in competition with them, but, as I have already said, they possess superior advantages in the possession of large manufacturing plants, and we desire that they should be compelled to manufacture the patented articles here, or that we should be enabled to set up our factories for the manufacture of those articles. I think that the introducer of a novelty has the right to be regarded as a patentee if the original inventor does not think it worth his while to patent his invention in the Commonwealth.
– I look upon this provision as a sort of compromise between the old rule regarding the introducer and the new one regarding the actual inventor.- We desire to grant a patent only to the actual inventor where a disclosurehas not been made, or has only been made locally. If there has been a disclosure outside the Commonwealth we do not protect the inventor. I think it would be better to strike this clause out altogether, as it is inconsistent with the amendment carried in clause 4. It violates the principle of the amendment.
– Is this provision in any State Act?
– I think it is in the Victorian Act.
– Yes, word for word.
– The Victorian Act provided for the actual inventor.
– The Victorian and Western Australian Acts have this provision exactly.
– I suppose that Victoria, following out her principle of notencouraging the foreigner, does not protect the foreigner if he happens to be the actual inventor, and “ blabs “ a little too soon about it. I think the provision should be struck out. It may not be necessary for me to move the amendment upon clause 29, of which I have given notice, if the Prime Minister can satisfy me on this point. My amendment is to allow the agent of the inventor to make an application. The clause provides that the actual inventor or his nominee or assignee may make the application. Who is the nominee ?
– A person to whom the inventor has not assigned any property in his invention, but whom he has authorized to take out a patent in his name. I should say it really means an agent.
– If it means an agent I should say the clause could be amended with advantage. It may mean the person nominated after an application has been made. I would ask the Prime Minister whether it would not be well to amend the clause by saying - “ His agent, attorney, or assignee,” to prevent any doubt as to the extent to which the word nominee goes? If that amendment were made there would be no necessity for my amendment upon clause 29. I move-
That after the word “or,” line 4, the words “ agent attorney or “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 39 (Form of application).
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).-I have given notice of an amendment upon this clause. I have circulated many of these amendments by way of suggestions to help the Prime Minister, and if there is any reason why they should not be inserted I shall not press them. Thereis a provision in the latter part of the Bill for the Commissioner to limit the application of a patent to a particular State.
– I am going to take that out. I do not think it is constitutional.
– As two unconstitutional provisions cannot constitute one constitutional provision, I shall not in that event move the amendment I intended to propose. The applicant himself may ask that the patent shall be limited to a particular State, so as to save the expense that would otherwise be incurred.
– Paragraphb of clause 43 is the provision which I intend to strike out.
– Do I understand that the Prime Minister is going to accept the principle of that provision ?
– No, I think, it is unconstitutional.
– Suppose that a man in Victoria has invented a new pea-thrashing machine, and can only afford to pay the patent fees in Victoria, and does not want to patent his invention in any other State. In the meantime, a man in New South Wales who has seen the machine at work describes it in an agricultural journal in that State. That would constitute publication. It is only fair that if the machine has not been described in Queensland or South Australia the inventor should have the right to apply there, although his rights had gone in New South Wales.
– He could only apply under the States Acts. After we once commence to issue Commonwealth patents, we cannot go back and allow State patents to issue. An inventor in the position referred to must take out his State patent before we proclaim this measure, or he will probably lose his chance.
– Then the effect of this Bill, although intended to save expense to patentees, will be that such a man will be forced to take out a patent in every State in which there has not been publication ?
– That strikes me as being harsh.
– How can we help it? How can the Commonwealth discriminate?
– It cannot, except to this extent - that the amendment of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, may be amended so as to provide that an application may be made for a patent to be limited to a particular State in the Commonwealth to which it can legally apply.
– That would be granting a patent only for part of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth can only give a patent for the whole of the Commonwealth.
– The difficulty I have suggested will arise, and it appears to me that it is just as well that patentees should know what is going to happen. T know of a man who has got something to patent, and I am sure that he has lost his right in one State through publication in a trade journal there. He has been waiting for this Commonwealth measure so as to obtain a cheap patent. He has lost that chance now.
– What is meant in this clause by the word “ one “? It says “ an application for a patent shall be for one invention.”
– Each patent is for one invention. If an inventor has two inventions he must have two patents.
– That means additional fees. It means that if an invention is made up of several parts the probabilities are that each of those parts will be considered a separate invention requiring a separate application.
– We have power to allow inventors to get patents for improvements upon their own inventions. That is what the honorable member is speaking of probably.
– I am not exactly thinking of improvements. I understand that in America the principle is that, where an inventor applies for a patent for a new device that contains several different parts, it is possible for him to - apply for a patent for each part, in case one part may afterwards be discovered to be an infringement of a patent in connexion with some other device.
– If the honorable member looks at clause 81 he will see that an additional patent can be .obtained for half the fees. Where a man has one patent he can patent an improvement upon it.
– What I rose to elicit information about is this. Suppose a person applies for a patent for a device made up of several different parts - for instance, a chaffcutter or a shearing machine. Can the inventor cover the whole of those parts by one application for a patent, or must he lodge applications for each of the several parts 1
– He can take out a patent for the whole, because the machine is all intended to serve one end. It is a. shearing machine or some other machine. But an inventor cannot put in an application for a patent for a shearing machine mixed up with a patent for a . new kind of broom, and with a patent for a new kind of sausage cutter. He must confine himself to a patent for one purpose.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 30 to 34 agreed to.
– As we have now reached the clause which was debated in the Senate- - involving the novelty question - upon which the character of this measure will to a considerable degree depend, I propose tomove to report progress, in order that wemay commence at that part to-morrow.
House adjourned nt 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030929_reps_1_17/>.