House of Representatives
14 November 1911

4th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2530




– I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs if he has yet obtained any information regarding the question I put to him on Friday last as to a report in the Age that terrible atrocities had taken place, or were alleged to have taken place, in Papua.

Minister for External Affairs · BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I have received the following information: -

The reference in the press was apparently to a case on the Island of Rossel, one of the Louisdale Group to the south-east ofPapua. Two brothers, named Osborne, have lived for many years on that island. In the course of an inspection by the Government officer recently, the natives complained that these men had been acting in a most high-handed and even brutal mariner, actually burning down their houses and wrecking the gardens of such of the islanders as had incurred their displeasure. These excesses appear to have been going on for a long time, but no complaints have been made to Govern merit officers on previous visits. On receiving this report the Lieutenant-Governor him- self went to Rossel, and spent some days examining the state of the island. As the brothers Osborne have been committed for trial on various -charges, Judge Murray makes no comment 011 the information which he acquired except to state, apart from the cruel and tyrannical manner in which the Osbornes are said to have acted and their alleged absolute disregard for native rights and native property, no very great material damage appears to have been suffered by the natives. The houses burnt down were probably the flimsiest of structures, and the gardens which are said to have been destroyed were of no considerable extent. The consequence is that there is no lasting injury done to the morale of the’ natives ; and confidence appears to have been restored as soon as the Government appeared upon the scene to protect them.

page 2531



– The Prime Minister promised some weeks ago to have made available in a condensed form the report of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis.

Mr Frazer:

– I laid the report on the table on Thursday last,


– The Prime Minister promised to have the report condensed for circulation. I desire to know whether that has yet been done.


– A precis of the report was laid upon the table of the House on Friday last.

Mr Groom:

– It will be printed, I presume.


– I move-

That the summary of the final report of the British Royal Commission on tuberculosis, laid upon the table of the House on the 9th inst., be printed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2531




– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen it alleged in a leading article in the Age to-day that a certain statement has been made as to the business to be proceeded with during the present session - as to what business is to be left undone, and as to the intentions of the Government generally. I wish further to ask the right honorable gentleman whether any such statement was made, and, if so, will he see that in future any statement as to the intentions of the Government regarding the business to be put before Parliament is made to the House before it is made to representatives of the press?


– I have not seen the statement referred to; but any statement regarding the business of the House will first of all be made to members of the

House of Representatives. I may add that I made a statement earlier in the session regarding the business we intended to ask Parliament to deal with this session, and that we propose to go through with the business that has been announced.

page 2531



PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I desire to ask the Honorary Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether he can inform the House of the character of the structural defects of the Warrego, and whether they will involve the vessel’s going into dock for any length of time?

Minister (without portfolio) · ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I shall ask the Minister of Defence to supply the information.

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– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the motion submitted by me in regard to the adoption of the report of the Royal Commission on Postal Services has not yet reached a division, he will make provision for a division being taken upon it before the close of the session?


– The Government are quite prepared to provide means for a division being taken on that motion, as well as other motions, before the session closes.

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– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has seen in this day’s issue of the Geelong Advertiser a report of a speech delivered by Miss Cameron - who was speaking at Geelong in the interests of the anti-Labour candidate for the_ State Parliament - in which she alleged that -

The Labour party spoke a great deal about trusts and combines. At the present they had a sugar combine, and the Federal Government, with a stroke of the pen, could deal with it if they would. They declined to do so because some of them held shares.

Further, will the Minister say whether there is any truth in that statement?

Minister for Trade and Customs · YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– I have not seen the report referred to; but it is incorrect to say that the Federal Government could, with a stroke of the pen, do away with the Sugar Combine. I cannot say who are the shareholders in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, for I do not know a single shareholder in it. 2532 Immigration. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Tariff.

page 2532




– Will the Minister of Home Affairs lay on the table of the House the papers connected with the appointment of the watchman, Ross, at the Treasury Buildings ?

Minister for Home Affairs · DARWIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– Yes.

page 2532




– Has the PostmasterGeneral any objection to laying on the table of the House the tenders for the supply of a mail service between Stony Point and Cowes? Perhaps he would like time to consider the matter.


– I have not the slightest objection to lay any paper on the table of the Library for the information of honorable members.

page 2532


MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -

Department of Trade and Customs - Report and Findings, &c, of the Board of Inquiry as to certain charges against Hugh Smith and Ernest Bryant, Boarding Inspectors, Fremantle.

Land Tax Assessment Act - Regulation No. 51 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 176.

Quarantine Act - Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules1911, No. 121.

Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Factories, Government - Conduct and Management, &c, under section 63 - Nos. 76, 78 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 179.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional)- Nos. 78-81, Tables I. -III., No. 139 - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 178.

page 2532



Statement in the English Labour Leader.


asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Whether he has made inquiries concerning certain statements contained in a letter published in the English Labour Leader, written by a Mr. McCallum, Secretary of the Western Australian Division of the Australian Labour Federation, warning intending immigrants against coming to Australia ?
  2. If so, will he inform the House of the results of such inquiry, and what action (if any) he proposes to take ?

– The letter of Mr. McCallum related to the State of Western Australia. It was dealt with by the Agent-General for Western Australia on its appearance in London, and was further dealt with by the Premier of Western Australia when a copy reached Australia. In view of these facts, it does not appear that any action on the part of this Government is necessary.

page 2532




asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

Whether he can say, approximately, when the building of the new General Post Office in Perth will be commenced?


– Not at present. Further inquiries have to be made as to the best disposition of the land acquired, the Departments concerned consulted as to the accommodation to be provided, and full consideration given to the plans of this important project. No provision for building has been made in the current year’s Estimates.

page 2532




asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

Whether it is probable that the recommendations of the Commissioners appointed for the rearrangement of the boundaries of electorates in Western Australia for the House of Representatives will be submitted for the approval of Parliament this Session?


– No. Time will not permit.

page 2532



for Sir William Lyne

asked the Minister of Trade and Customs; upon notice -

Will he say whether he will deal with the anomalies in the Tariff this session, provided such action does not open up the whole general question of the Tariff?


– If it be at all practicable, it is the desire of the Government to deal with the Tariff anomalies, but a general revision is not contemplated this session.

page 2532




asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Will he place on the Table the summary of the findings of the Commission in theCustoms case of Smith and Bryant in Western Australia?
  2. Was the decision of the Government in dispensing with the services of these two officers based on the findings of the Commission?
  3. Which of the findings of the Commission was the action taken on, or was it upon the findings as a whole?
*Budget.* [14 November,1911.] *Budget.* 2533 {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
ALP -- The answers are- {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. Yes. 2. On the findings as a whole. {: .page-start } page 2533 {:#debate-14} ### BUDGET *In Committee of Supply* (Consideration resumed from 26th October, *vide* page 1912), on motion by **Mr. Fisher** - >That the first item in the Estimates, under Division I., the Parliament, namely, " The President, £1,100," be agreed to. {: #debate-14-s0 .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan -- In dealing with the financial position of the Commonwealth, and the speech of the right honorable the Treasurer upon it, we ought, I think, to aim at making our financial affairs clear; and with as much brevity as possible. Any criticism which we direct towards the Budget speech should be plain and straightforward, and should avoid, as far as we can, the use of harsh personalities. We are all engaged in the same work in this House, and although we differ greatly in regard to the methods we desire to employ, and may have our own opinions as to the knowledge and experience, and even the energy of one another, still I do not wish to be more uncomplimentary than is necessary in discussing the financial proposals of the Government. The revenue of last year was very satisfactory, being larger than ever before. It amounted to £18,803,873, which was . £1,280,443 above the estimate. The increase of revenue was largely made up by the considerably augmented receipts from Customs and Excise, and by the land tax, and therefore the estimate, although it was not a good one, erred on the right side. To put the revenue of last year into two or three words, Customs and Excise produced *£12,980,443* ; the Post and Telegraph Department, , £3,905,131 - the expenditure on that Department, including £783,612 for works, being £4,345,540 - and the land tax £1,370,357. There were also some miscellaneous items, including coinage, £198,893, a credit balance from Northern Territory, £151,513, and other small items amounting in all to £547,942. For the current year Customs and Excise is estimated to produce £13,800,000, the Post and Telegraph Department £3,870,000, the land tax £1,430,000, and miscellaneous items, including coinage, £415.000, or a total estimated revenue of £19,515,000. On the Post and Telegraph Department, how ever, there is to be expended out of revenue this year a total of £5,903,166, including £1,531,214 for additions, new works, and other items, and *£435,972* for interest and sinking fund on the transferred properties. That total expenditure of *£5,903,166* on the Post and Telegraph Department, it must be remembered, is against a total estimated revenue from the same Department of *£3,870,000.* The revenue from the Commonwealth, we may say, therefore, comes really from two sources - Customs and Excise and the land tax. There is also something from smaller items, of which coinage has this year and last been productive. With the exception of those two large items, however, and with the exception also of coinage, all the other sources of revenue enumerated in the Budget papers are trading concerns, and their receipts cost more to collect than they amount to. The Post and Telegraph Department, as I have just stated, shows an estimated deficit on the year's transactions of *£2,033,166.* We all desire that the Department should be well equipped, but we must remember that all the expenditure upon it comes out of the current revenue, and that there are really only . two sources from which to draw the revenue. It may be thought by some that this immense revenue of *£19,515,000* is the result of the wise administration of my honorable friends opposite; but I can assure the people of the country that such is not the case. I can say for my friends opposite that they have beenvery fortunate, and it seems to me that they very often are, using the term " fortunate " in the sense that circumstances have happened to favour them at a particular time. They entered into possession of a well-cultivated and productive estate on the 1st July, 19 10. That estate had been carefully planted and looked after by their predecessors; and I congratulate the Government and the country on their good fortune - but they have taken up that they laid not down, and are reaping that they did not sow. For 1909-10, the gross revenue available, after paying *£8,492,436* to the States under the Braddon section of the Constitution, was *£7,048,233.* In 1910-11, when the present Government had made the operation of the Braddon section cease six months earlier than the Constitution provided, and. substituted a payment of 25s. per head to the States instead of three-fourths of the net Customs and Excise revenue, the gross revenue available, after returning £5,196,424 was £13,607,449- an increase on the previous year of £6,559,216 available for the Government to spend. Whatever Government had been in power there must have been that sum available, because there was no time, however wise a Government might be, to increase the revenue, except, of course, by means of extra taxation. This year the gross revenue available, after returning 25s. per head to the States, is estimated at £13,738,750, an increase on the amount available in 1909-10 of .£6,690.517. It will be seen, therefore, that during these two years the Government of the day have had available a gross revenue in excess of that available to the previous Government for the year 1909-10 of £13,249,753. There has, of course, been an increase in revenue together with the land tax, but the main increase is due to the change from the payment under the Braddon section - of three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue - to a payment of 25s. per head to the States. In 1910- 1 1 the difference due to the change from the payment of three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to 25s. per head was £4,311,138, and for 1911-12 it is estimated to be £4,333,744. Honorable members will see that, had the operation of the Braddon clause been continued, there would have been £8,644,382 less revenue to the Commonwealth during the two years 1910-1 t and 1911-12. The revenue from the land tax was, in 1910-11, £1,307,357, and this year it is estimated to be £1,430,000. The increase of revenue due to the change from the Braddon section and to the land tax in these two years amounts to £n, 444, 739- Honorable members will, therefore, see that T am justified in describing the Ministry as extremely fortunate to have taken office just at the time of the change in the method of returning the Customs revenue to the States. The Government-have also had the advantage of what, in my opinion, there was no necessity for. namely, a land tax, which has given the revenue in the two years £2,800,357. Most people, if they look at these figures carefully and impartially, will say .that there was no necessity whatever for the Government to curtail the operation of the Braddon clause for six months. The Government may say that they allowed the operation of that section to run until 31st December, 19 10; but, as a matter of fact, they did nothing: of the kind, because the payment of 25s. per head dates from 1st July, 1910, or six months earlier than it ought to havedone. By making the decision retrospective by six months, the present Government took from the States, and placed in< the Treasury of the Commonwealth, a sum1 of £2,131,000. The Government practically curtailed the operation of the Braddon, clause by six months, making the period nine years and a half, instead of ten years as provided in the Constitution; and by that means the Treasurer was able to show a surplus of ^1,829,524 on the 30th June last. I have expressed myself in regard1 to that, in my opinion, improper transaction on a previous occasion, and other honorable members have done so also. I think that what was done was wrong and unjustifiable. I do not consider that it is too late even now for the Government to undo what was undoubtedly an invasion of the Constitution. I am aware that it may be said that the Government of which. I was a member intended to do the samething. But we proposed to carry out an arrangement approved by the States. What I am complaining about, however, was done by compulsion, without the consent of the States. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- That is rather good ! The State Premiers agreed at the Conference to what was done. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- They agreed to it on certain conditions - that what wasproposed was to be a permanent provision, and not limited to ten years. But that was no reason whatever for this curtailment against the wishes of the States; and there was no necessity for it either, as was shown by the fact that the Government had a large surplus at the end of the year. The expenditure for the present financial year is estimated at £21,227,679, and the revenue, as I have said, is estimated at £19,515,000. There is, therefore, a deficit on this year's transactions, although' that deficit is covered by a credit balancecarried forward from last year. Consequently, while there is no .actual deficit,, there is, as I have said, a deficit on the year's transactions, and last year's surplusof £1,829,524 has to be drawn upon to the extent of £1,712,679 in order tomake a balance. I note four items of 'expenditure on this year's Estimates whichare very large, and which, I think, honorable . members should - carefully consider. They are non-productive items- that is "to. say, they represent expenditure which produces no direct revenue. When large sums of money are spent upon services that return to the Commonwealth a larger amount of revenue than the expenditure, of course the position of those services is satisfactory. But in this case I desire to call attention to four items of non-productive expenditure. I do not say that they are not productive of good for the community, but they are not directly productive of revenue to the Commonwealth. First, there is the Defence expenditure, including £1,515,000, the cost of fleet construction, j£4,775", 136. That is to say, no less than four and three-quarter millions is to be expended this year on defence; secondly, old-age pensions' expenditure, including £41,927, . cost of administration, absorbs £2,231,927 ; thirdly, there is a loss on the Post Office of £2,033,166; and, fourthly, there is expenditure on the Northern Territory, £411,000. These four items make up a total of £9,451,279. That is a very large amount, and it needs to be very carefully scrutinized. I admit that we all approve of the expenditure to which I am calling attention. We desire to see the things done upon which the money is to be spent. But the question is whether we can continue to carry on these services from current revenue as at present. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Does not the right honorable gentleman think that the old-age pensions' expenditure is productive of much good? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I am not discussing that question. I am simply drawing attention to four large items of expenditure that are not directly productive of revenue. I point to these items, not for the purpose of finding fault, or criticising unduly, but rather to call attention to the seriousness of the position. In regard to the Post Office, I wish to point out how the expenditure of £5,903,166 is made up. There' is first the purely departmental expenditure, £3,827,160; works and buildings, for the Post and Telegraph Department, to cost £1,531,214; interest and sinking fund on the transferred properties amounts to £435,972 : rents and repairs, for works- and buildings, absorb £66,068; miscellaneous items amount to £42,752 - making a total expenditure on account of the Post Office of £5,903,166. "The revenue- estimated to be received is ^£3,870,000. So that the Post Office this year is being worked at a loss of £2,033,166. The question that we ought to ask ourselves is whether this immense amount of money is being spent to the best advantage. I do not wish to criticise the present Postmaster-General more than I should criticise those who held office before him. I am simply giving my own opinion for what it is worth. I do not think this great business is being carried on in a way that secures the best results for the Commonwealth. We require better general management than we have at present. At present we have no general manager invested with certain statutory powers and responsible to the Minister or to Parliament. The time has arrived when this immense Department, which costs so much money, should be placed under the control of such a General Manager. It may be said that the Secretary of the Post Office is in that position, inasmuch as he is supposed to have control, through the Minister, of the whole service. Bui that official has a tremendous amount to do in looking after correspondence, submitting papers to the Minister, and so forth. The whole of his time is taken up with purely departmental administration. We want an officer who will not take away from the responsibility of the Minister and of the Minister to Parliament, but who will act as general manager of the whole Department, looking after its business interests exclusively. I am not saying a word that can reflect upon the departmental officers. I am convinced that they are able men, who are desirous of doing their best for the country. But, nevertheless, I should like to see a general manager appointed, who would act as does the general manager of any large business concern. I am not discussing whether or not the Postal and Telegraph Department should be put in commission. That is another matter altogether. In my opinion, however, no time should be lost in appointing a General Manager, who should be a man of large experience, accustomed to controlling a Department in a vast territory. I- observe that it is proposed to establish a Savings Bank. I do not wish to touch upon that proposition at length ; .but I call attention to the fact that, as appears from returns, and from the Budget papers, at the present moment £54,000,000 is invested in the Savings Banks of Australia. I want to know how these Savings Banks are to be conducted in the future. Are they to be conducted as a branch of the Post "Office ? Will our departmental officers in the future manage the Post Office Savings Banks for the States, or will they only manage Savings Banks for the Commonwealth? If not, is it proposed that this £54,000,000 shall be called in, and the depositors paid off, or that in future this immense business shall be carried on by the Commonwealth alone? I hope that the Treasurer will give us some information in regard to what I consider a very serious matter indeed. I direct attention to it now only to invite the honorable gentleman to do so. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- We 'should hear something about it during this debate. {: #debate-14-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I remind the honorable member that there is a Bill on the paper dealing with the matter. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- We have nol dealt with that Bill yet. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- The business has been taken away from the post-offices in the main centres of New South Wales. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- But what about the many hundreds of places that cannot be considered main centres? There is £54,000,000 in the Savings Banks of the Commonwealth in the name of 1,250,000 depositors, and representing an average of about £36 per head. Those who listened to the Treasurer's speech, or who have since read it, must have come to the conclusion that the honorable gentleman is gradually beginning to see the necessity for the establishment of loan funds, for he says in regard to last year's balance of £1,829,524, which he intends to spend this year - >I have decided to use *£1,712679* of this amount during the current financial year for non-recurring works which it is usual for Governments to pay for out of loan funds. It seems that a change has come over the right honorable gentleman since 30th November, 1909, when he told us that " a borrowing policy is contrary to the policy of the Labour party." In my opinion, he will find it impossible to develop the Northern Territory, to build railways there and to Western Australia, or, in fact, to carry out any very great public work if he intends to adhere to a non-borrowing policy. Our honorable friends must either resort to a very -drastic system of taxation - and even that would not meet the difficulty - or when the Labour Conference meets next year they will have to change that plank in their platform. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- The statement that the Government propose expenditure from ordinary revenue which it is usual for Governments to defray from loans is not inconsistent with a non-borrowing policy'. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I think it is, or the Treasurer, after making the statement, would have added that the Government did not intend to borrow. He did not on this occasion say that a borrowing policy is contrary to the platform of the Labour party. It was in 1909 that he said so, but he was not in office at that time. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- But surely the Labour policy is a non-borrowing policy? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I do not think so, or the Government would not be undertaking the great public works they have in mind in the development of the Northern Territory, the establishment of the Federal Capital, and the construction of railways in many places. I notice that very little was said by the Treasurer in regard to one of the most important matters which he and his party have been continually dealing with during recent years. I refer to the expansion of closer settlement. We heard very little, if anything, as to the effect of the land tax in bringing about that desirable result. The Treasurer did not tell us how many people - or perhaps I should say " poor people," for that was the cry - -had been settled o"n the land in consequence of the operation of the land tax, by which 14,412 land-owners were singled out, and were called upon to Pay £I>37°>357 during last year. We heard nothing of the result of this policy, that was going to make the desert smile, and convert large areas of unoccupied land into fertile farms, settled by numbers of people, who in the past were unable to obtain land. We heard a good deal about the expansion of revenue, and the credit balance of £1,829,524 at the end of the financial year, but we heard nothing about the advance of closer settlement. I should like to ask what has become of the closer settlement cry of which we heard so much last year. Were honorable members opposite in earnest at the time, or was it only a political cry ? If the right honorable gentleman has the information he might let us know how many people have been settled on the land in consequence of the operation of the land tax. He might say what large areas have been cut up and settled upon by desirable poor people. All I have to say now is that the Treasurer did not give us that information. It seems to me that, as I think I have shown already, the country has progressed owing to good seasons. Honorable members opposite have been careering about the world, and appear now to be far more comfortable and satisfied with their surroundings than they were when they first took their seats in this House. As a consequence, the closer settlement which was to be brought about by the operation of the land tax appears to have been almost, if not entirely, forgotten by the Treasurer in the preparation of his Budget speech. I heard one honorable member say last session that, if during the term of this Parliament - that is to say, three years - land settlement had not progressed as a consequence of the operation of the land tax, and if the change they anticipated had not taken place, he would be prepared to confess that it was a failure. My own opinion is that he will have to confess it. Then the Treasurer did not refer in a practical way to the question of immigration. I thought we were all agreed that it was desirable to hold out inducements to persons of a desirable class to come to Australia. But the Prime Minister omitted to refer to the subject at all, beyond saying that it was the intention of the Government to build an office for the High Commissioner in London, and to attract immigrants to Australia by that means. Upon referring to the Estimates I find that the sum of £1,000 has been provided for this purpose during a period of two years - £1,000 was voted last year, but not expended, and the same amount is to be revoted this year. I would like to ask the Government what is their policy in respect of immigration ? Are they in earnest about it, or are they merely trifling with the matter ? {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- They cannot obtain ships in which to bring immigrants to Australia. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Are they endeavouring to do so? I said when I returned to Australia from the Coronation festivities, that the High Commissioner has not the power to expend a single sixpence in granting an assisted passage to an immigrant to this country. I will quote the Treasurer's own words in regard to the steps which the Government have taken to encourage immigration. He said - A building worthy of the Commonwealth in London, properly equipped for the Common wealth and the States, would be a bigger advertisement for Australia than perhaps £100,000 spent in another way would be. People would then learn about Australia. They have only to know what the conditions of Australia are, to come here of their own accord. This, then, is the policy of the Government in respect of immigration. They propose to erect a large building in London, so that people may learn all about Australia. According to the statement of the Prime Minister residents of the Old Country have merely to become acquainted with the position of Australia to be induced to come here of their own initiative. The sooner it is known everywhere that that represents the immigration policy of the Government the better. Evidently they think that all the people whom we desire to attract to Australia live in London. They entertain the idea that if these persons see a large building in London - the only large building, I suppose, which is to be found in that great metropolis - they will come here of their own volition. I should like to say one or two words in regard to the question of old-age pensions. For the year 1909-10 the expenditure under this heading, including the cost of administration, which I notice is not included in the total cost on these Estimates, was £i>533,753; in 1910-11 it was £1,906,016; and the estimated expenditure during the current year is £2,231,927. In other words, during the three years which have elapsed since the inauguration of the system the expenditure will have been £5,671,696. From the latest return, I find that there are 77,719 old-age, and 8,670 invalid, pensioners in Australia, a total of 86,389 out of a population of, approximately, 4,500,000. These figures, I confess, impressed me as being rather startling, but I have taken the trouble to verify them by reference to the Commonwealth Statistician. In other words, about one person in every fifty-two in Australia is an old-age or invalid pensioner. As there are about 180,000 persons in the Commonwealth who are over sixty-five years of age, it follows that nearly one-half of them are in receipt of the oldage pension. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- That demonstrates the aggregation of wealth in the hands of a few individuals. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- T cannot follow the honorable member into a discussion of that aspect of the question. I am merely stating a fact, and the honorable member is at liberty to deal with it as he chooses. I repeat that nearly half the persons over sixty-five years of age in Australia appear to be iri receipt of an old-age pension. That is a sad reflection upon a new country like this, with all the opportunities and advantages which it offers. I confess that I was absolutely astounded when I looked into' the matter. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- It is a sad reflection upon past Governments. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I do not say that. I am very sorry to know that the fact is as I have stated. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Tell us how it happened. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I do not think that" I would get any further if I did, because I might assign reasons with which it would not suit the honorable member to agree. I come now to the sugar industry. I regret that so much time has been lost in dealing with this industry in an effective way owing to the inaction of the Government. When they assumed office, they were not prepared to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the conditions surrounding it; but now, after the lapse of eighteen months, they have done ' the very thing which others, who possessed more knowledge on the subject, thought it necessary to do at that time. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Why did not the Government of which the right honorable member was a Minister, appoint a Commission? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Why did not the Government do it during the past eighteen months? They always put off till to-morrow what they can do to-day. It is said that the report of the Commission will depend largely upon the view which is taken by its chairman, because so much dissatisfaction exists with the remainder of its *-personnel.* I know nothing about the Commissioners with the exception of the chairman. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- There is no more honorable man in Australia than the chairman of that Commission. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I know him well and favorably. Indeed, he has been a friend of mine all my life. Surely the honorable member did not understand me to say anything against him ? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- I understood the right honorable member to reflect upon him. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Nothing of the kind. I merely said that the general impression is that the report of the Commission will rest largely with one man - its chairman- When Royal Commissions are appointed, it is very much to be regretted that persons cannot be chosen to act upon them who are presumably unbiased. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- Does the right honorable member know anything about the *personnel* of the Commission which was proposed by the late Prime Minister? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I do not even remember the names of the Commissioners whom it was proposed to appoint. I was not here at the time. But I hope that they were persons possessed of a knowledge of the industry, who would not be likely to be biased either one way or the other. All I can say is, that if the sugar industry has not been ruined, we have gone the right way to ruin it by shackling it, and by refusing to give it a chance. The only way to give the industry a chance is not to interfere with it. There has always been a desire, on the part of honorable members opposite, to use the industry for political purposes. They desire to keep control of it for their own purposes; that is, I think, very undesirable and wrong. Honorable members, on the other side, have hampered the industry in every way, instead of taking the straightforward course of allowing it to go along unshackled, making whatever regulations they consider desirable, and letting the sugar-growers conform to them. There is another important matter which was lightly touched upon by the Treasurer, but which I think deserves fuller reference, and that is the taking over of the State debts. When the Labour party were in opposition there was no one so strong, almost violent, as he was about the necessity of taking action at once. The immense sum which we were to gain by the transaction was quoted to us over and over again. On the 7 th December, 1909, th~e Treasurer said- >A scheme for the transfer of the State debts is, in my opinion, the only safe way to safeguard the financial interests of the Commonwealth. Now that he has been in office for a year and a half what does he say? He says, " The time is not opportune, the difficulties are insuperable." We have here an illustration of the policy of the present Administration - the policy of do nothing, the cry of despair, the cry of " time not opportune, difficulties insuperable." Is that the sort of way in which he should deal with an important matter of this sort ? Is there to be one sort of *Budget.* [14 November, 191 1.] *Budget.* 2539 language used when he is in Opposition and another sort of language used when he is in power? Are honorable members, on the other side, to be always finding fault with people for doing nothing, or not doing what they want when they are in Opposition, and when they get into power to do nothing themselves? Why, the honorable member for Yarra never lost an occasion of talking about the Tariff, and the iniquity of the then Government not doing something to save " the strangled industries " as he termed them. He has been in office for eighteen months, and has done nothing. " The time is not opportune, the difficulties are insuperable " with him, too. I charge the Prime Minister with not consulting any financial authorities in London on the subject of taking over the State debts. He has said that he did consult some one, but he has not told us whom he saw. There is no secret about the financiers in London ; we know who they are. I saw a great many of them in 1906, when I was in London - there was no difficulty in seeing any of them - and when Ireturned I told honorable members the names of every authority I had seen. Why has not the Treasurer told us the names of the financial authorities he consulted? Why is there all this secrecy on the part of the Treasurer ? The time has come when we should speak out in this matter. When the right honorable gentleman says that he consulted one of the greatest financial authorities, I want to know whom he consulted, how long he was in consultation, and when ? My belief is that he did not consult a financial authority at all, except in a casual way. If, however, he did, let us know all about the matter - whom he did consult, and how much time he gave to the discussion of the subject. I say most deliberately that, being in Londonatthe Coronation with the Secretary to the Treasury, at his elbow - a man who knows all about the finances of Australia - the Treasurer neglected his plain duty in not taking advantage of that opportunity to get the best advice he could on this subject. It is pretty clear that the Treasurer did not, while he was in London, consult the financial authorities in a way which I think we had a right to expect him to do. Having neglected his opportunity he comes back and tells us that the time to deal with the transfer of the State debts is inopportune, and that the difficulties are insuperable. He forgets all about what he said when he was in Opposition. He forgets all about safeguarding the interests of the country. He forgets all about the saving of millions of money. This is, I submit, a matter of vital importance when we are standing almost on the edge of a precipice. Although the Treasurer was for months among the financial authorities of the world, and attended by his officers, he neglected the opportunity to consult them, but returned to Australia and uttered this cry of despair, "Time not opportune; difficulties insuperable." He should remember that, in 1912, loans to the amount of *£11,500,000* will mature, and that, during the next seven years, loans to the amount of *£80,000,000* will mature. Still we have this despairing cry of " Time inopportune; difficulties insuperable." It seems to me that the right honorable gentleman has no energy left in him to do anything. Honorable members opposite do not seem to take any notice of what he does or does not do. For all the good they do, we might just as well have no members of the Labour party in this Parliament. They do not criticise, except to indulge in some make-believe " heroics " now and again. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- The honorable member should come up to the caucus-room some of these days. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- What do we want with a caucus-room? Let the people of the country know what honorable members opposite say in this House. We on this side are not " dumb-driven cattle." In regard to the note issue, I think that, if it is wisely administered, it is a good policy ; but, like everything else in the policy of the present Government which is of any value, it was prepared by their predecessors. It was all there when they took office. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- What! the note issue? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Yes, the whole of the information was all ready in the Treasury when they took office. Like everything else in the policy of the present Government, it was prepared by the late Government. The note issue, the Naval and Military defence, the Australian Fleet, the penny-postage, the trans- Australian railway - every progressive measure which honorable members opposite have, like cuckoos, taken possession of - belong to the previous Administration. Every good thing in their policy belongs to us. {: .speaker-K5D} ##### Mr King O'Malley: -- They did not have the bank? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- That is right.I do not lay claim to that. We prepared the ground, and our successors- honorable members opposite - " are reaping where they have not sown, and gathering where they have-not strawed." During this year the expenditure on the Northern Territory will- exceed its revenue by £411,000. The revenue is estimated at £48,000, and the expenditure, including the loss on the railway, at £459,000, showing a deficiency of £411,000. I wish to let honorable members know how this amount is made up, because the information will be useful to us by-and-by. Interest on loans, sinking fund, extraordinary maintenance of railway, &c, £331,010; police and gaols, £11,760; postal, £18,899 *>* gold-fields' administration, £13,415; general administration, £-39)773; railways, salaries, and contingencies, £17,425; buildings, artesian bores, road and bridges, and experimental farms, £26,900; making a total of £459,182, from which we may deduct £48,000 obtained from revenue. There is nothing in this expenditure that is encouraging. Parliament surely expected the Government to announce a policy in regard to the Northern Territory. It would appear that now they have the Territory Ministers do not know what to do with it. They have no policy, and are willing to sit still and do nothing. One thing that ought to be done at once is the making of railways, to open up the country and make the land available for settlement. Surveyors should now be in the field, selecting routes for lines to the Queensland border, to Oodnadatta, or wherever they may be required. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Ministers do not know what to do with the Territory. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- They have no policy, as is shown by the proposals for expenditure to which I have just referred. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- Those proposals indicate a stick-in-the-mud policy. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Yes; a "donothing " policy. The Treasurer says thal ia order to have everything in readiness for the settlers whom we hope shortly to be able to invite to the Territory, officers in connexion with all the producing interests are about to be appointed, and arrangements made for a number of public works. I ask honorable members to notice the phraseology employed. Officers are "about to be appointed"; arrangements are " about to be made." There is nothing definite. The Government propose to expend on surveys £1,781; on agriculture, £S25 *j* 011 buildings, artesian bores, roads and bridges, and experimental farms, £26,900. This is their policy, and shows how little Ministers are capable of realizing their responsibilities and their duty in controlling this vast Territory. Turning now to the Tariff, I would remind the Committee that, when in Opposition, the present Minister of Trade and Customs was always demanding that Tariff anomalies should be dealt with; but since he took office he has forgotten the subject. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- Is he not inquiring ? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- We were told in the Governor-General's Speech - >The effect of the Tariff upon Australian industries is being carefully watched by My Advisers with a view to revision wherever the information obtained by them shows this to be necessary. The Minister was almost a prohibitionist when out of office, but in office he finds nothing at all to do. It cannot be wondered at that those who hear the statements of Ministers, and see how little is being done, are driven almost to despair by the incompetence of those at present administering the affairs of the country. This is a criticism I read in an influential newspaper this morning - >The Labour Government is displaying an incompetence for work that its friends could not have believed possible. Both in administration and legislation, incapacity is written in broad, deep letters across its record. Those words will be echoed throughout Australia. The electors of Boothby have already expressed their opinion in unmistakable terms in regard to this policy of " do-nothing," and even the supporters of the Government must be dissatisfied. In proof of that statement I quote the honorable member for Herbert, who says - " You should hear what goes on in the Caucus." No doubt, as much dissatisfaction is expressed in the Caucus as in this chamber. Unfortunately, Ministerial supporters are not free to say what they think, except in mock "heroics" in the House. No doubt, they are glad to hear our criticism, because, I believe, it accords with their views. Coming to the subject of defence, I rejoice that Australia is taking measures for its own protection, and is assisting in the defence of the Empire. The defence expenditure in respect of the current year, 1911-12, is estimated at *Budget.* [14 November, 191 1.] *Budget.* 2541 *£4,775,136,* or over 21s. per head of the population, while the expenditure of the Old Country on account of the Army and Navy amounts to *£68,000,000,* or 30s. per head of the population. Our expenditure on Fleet construction last year amounted to *£1,135,000,* whilst this year it is estimated that we shall expend *£1,515,000,* so that in two years we shall have taken out of revenue for this purpose *£2,650,000.* I desire particularly to point out in this connexion that the land tax collected last year amounted to *£1,370,357,* whilst it is estimated that this year we shall receive from the same source *£1,430,000.* That amount is paid by 14,412 persons. In other words, 14,412 land-owners in Australia will have paid thus far the whole of the cost of Fleet construction, and *£150,000* in addition. They alone are providing for the naval defence of Australia so far as Fleet construction is concerned. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- And who has provided them with the wealth to enable them to do so? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Who has provided the wealth that honorable members possess ? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- The right honorable member for Swan wants the working people to provide for Fleet construction. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- The honorable member apparently does not wish me even to state the facts. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- They are unpleasant from his stand-point. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- On the contrary, he and his party ought to be pleased with them. These 14,412 persons - and not the people of Australia, out of the Consolidated Revenue or by way of Loan Funds - are thus far providing for the construction of our Fleet. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Where did the right honorable gentleman propose to obtain the money ? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Under my scheme the people would have had to pay for it, but gradually, and not all at once. Statements are often made as to our duty to defend our country, and those who contribute nothing towards the defence of Australia have most to say about it. A few of my honorable friends opposite are among the 14,412 land-owners who are annually contributing this large sum, but they do not look with so much pleasure upon the fact as do others who are not making any contribution towards Fleet con struction. It is easy to express generous and patriotic sentiments when it costs nothing. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- It is easy to be patriotic and generous with other people's money. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- Exactly. We generally find those who shout most loudly for a thing are those who are not likely to be called on to contribute towards it. I agree with the sentiment that it is our duty to defend our country, but the policy of the present Government is to make only one in 306 of our population - only the landowners - provide for it. I do notknow that it is desirable that the land-owners only should build the Fleet. It is, to say the least, remarkable that, notwithstanding that these 14,412 land-owners are finding the money to build our Fleet, honorable members opposite, judging by their interjections, are not even willing to give them credit for doing so. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- Why is the honorable gentleman worrying over an historical fact? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- The honorable member for Hindmarsh seems to be inclined to say, " Let the land-owners pay, whether they are rich or poor. Even though they may be as poor as Lazarus, let them pay, and we will rejoice and take credit for selfsacrifice and for patriotism which cost us nothing." {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- They find the money ; but the rank and file are recruited from the working classes. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I wish to emphasize the point that this contribution is made, not by all people who possess money, but only by 14,412 of the landowners of Australia. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- Cheer up! There will be more of them yet. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- The honorable member, like a good many others, wants to take all the credit for self-sacrifice and patriotism, especially when his patriotism costs him nothing. Leaving that matter, I am glad to see that the Government are carrying out the policy of their predecessors in standing shoulder to shoulder with our kinsmen in the Old Land. Responsibility has sobered the wild and unpatriotic selfishness of honorable members opposite. We used to hear a good deal from them a short time ago, but responsibility has sobered them, and they take a different view of this question from that which they entertained when Federation was established. 2542 *Budget.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Budget.* {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- It would not be popular to take the same view now. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- I shall give them credit for a broader and nobler sentiment. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- Then the right honorable gentleman thinks we are getting along ? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST: -- The electors have insisted on the wider and better view, and honorable members opposite have not been slow to realize it. Very few members nowadays can go on the platform and speak disrespectfully of the Old Country, and of defence generally, as they used to do. Those who attempted to do so would probably find that their re-election would be jeopardized. In effect, the feeling throughout Australia is now, I rejoice to think - >Our country .... may she always be in the right ;but our country, right or wrong. In a memorandum on Naval Defence, dated 15th March, 1902, I wrote - >Our aim and object should be to make the Royal Navy the Empire's Navy, supported by the whole of the self-governing portions of the Empire, and not solely supported by the people of the British Isles, as is practically the case at the present time. It is, I think, our plain duty to take a part in the additional obligations cast upon the Mother Country by the expansion of the Empire and the extra burdens cast upon her in maintaining our naval supremacy. Those sentiments did not find much favour at the time, especially from honorable members opposite, but I submit that they are the foundation on which our present naval policy is based. At Henley-on-the-Yarra, two or three weeks ago, I saw an immense concourse - it was estimated by some that there were 100.000 persons present - and I could not help being struck by the well-conditioned appearance of that enormous gathering. I believe that, in that respect, it could not be surpassed in any other part of the world. It represented, of course, only this part of Australia, but still I think it indicated to a very large degree the position of the Australian people to-day, and 1 could not help thinking that such a concourse of wellconditioned people, at a large centre like this, showed what had been done in Australia during the sixty years that it has been a self-governing British community. Notwithstanding that there may have been courses adopted at times which might not now be thought the best, I could not help thinking that the record was still a great one. When we cast our eyes round Australia, and see the work that has been done, and the developments that have taken place, not in one spot alone, but throughout this immense continent, we must acknowledge that our record is one of which we may all be proud. The next thought that came to my mind was, " How does that record tally with the disparaging observations I have heard made by honorable members of the Labour party opposite, who have said that the past had better be forgotten, that the page had better be turned down, as there is nothing worth remembering in it" ? When I remember that the party which I represent here today have been the controllers of this country, and that its record has been their record and their work, and that honorable members opposite are only " in the morning of the times," as it were, in regard to their record ; when I recall that all that has beendone has been the work of Governments representing, for the most part, the party to which we on this side of this House belong to-day, I feel impelled to say, " If we seek a monument for ourselves, if you seek a monument for us, look around this country, and you will find it." I can only hope that, whatever parties are in power in this country, when they come to look back upon their work in the years that are before us, they will be able to rejoice at the record behind them, as I do in regard to the great record behind us {: #debate-14-s2 .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES:
Fremantle .- There are many matters in the Estimates which cannot be allowed to pass without comment. As a representative of Western Australia, one of the first matters that I must mention is the very small provision made for the transcontinental railway. Only £22,500 is listed for this big work. That seems almost ridiculous. If the Government ascertained that a contractor whohad tendered for only a little bit of the work had only that amount at the back of him, I doubt if they would accept his tender. To my mind, it is simply foolery topass an Act and then back it up with this small amount of money on the Estimates. It is playing with work. There is no sense in it, and it would have been better for theGovernment not to do anything at all. Surely they must recognise that all the people in Australia cannot be fooled into thinking that this big work can be carried out, or even properly begun, unless backed up with more money than this. The Government might buy some plant that is worth more money than this, and then find that it is of no use to them. It is a thousand to one they will do so unless they alter their methods. Some provision should have been made for engaging a competent engineering staff and a competent staff for managing the construction of the line. Nothing can be done unless money is spent, and the right direction to spend it in is in securing the best engineering skill available in the world. In connexion with this work we require a knowledge of up-to-date appliances and rollingstock, and the best men will be the cheapest. A long stretch of country has to be covered, and if *£100,000* had been placed on the Estimates for preliminary water supplies alone, before the railway is touched at all, it would still have been a very small amount; but *£22,500* will not keep the office going in Melbourne. To my mind, it is as good as telling me that the work is not going on at all. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- It is only intended for a " shivoo" when they turn the first sod. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I recognise the value of that suggestion, because I believe there are any amount of " shivoos " going on that cost quite as much as this. The item from that stand-point may have some meaning, although it was perhaps not intended to have any. I am pleased to see that there is again a sum on the Estimates for a new quarantine station at Fremantle. It appeared last time, and only about *£400* was spent out of *£1,700.* It seems impossible to get the money spent. Is it because we are short of labour in Australia, or how is it that when we vote money here we cannot get work done? An amount voted to do a work of that kind should never come before us twice. I find, also, that a sum of *£5,000* was voted for a rifle range at Cottesloe in 1910-11, and only *£2* of it was spent, the balance now being re-voted. I suppose that work is in the same category as the transcontinental railway. Nothing is provided for the improvement of the Post and Telegraph Office at Midland Junction, although the Department in Melbourne must know that the office is altogether inadequate for the requirements of the place. It is a miserable little building with a small porch, which is usually crowded with people who cannot get inside. Do the Department recognise that, if they did put money on the Estimates for that purpose, the work could not be carried out, or what is the reason for delay? An amount of *£700* is provided for the Claremont Post-office - a work that is urgently required, as is also that at Victoria Park. It is much to be regretted that no provision is made for providing the naval base at Fremantle, as recommended by Admiral Henderson. That officer's report was conclusive that the work should be done. He thought it important enough to head it, " Fremantle, Special Requirements," and his recommendation was as follows - >The harbor of Cockburn Sound, including Owen's Anchorage and Jervoise Bay, to be examined thoroughly *as soon aspossible* by experts, with a view to locating the site of the future Naval Dockyard. The site should include space for graving docks, building slips, workshops, storehouses, and all plant, &c, for the building of ships and for the repairs and maintenance of a fleet. It appeared to me that a site in the vicinity of Jervoise Bay was best suited for naval dockyard requirements. A channel for deep-draught ships would have to be dredged through the Parmelia and Success Banks, and slight dredging would be required in other places. It would probably also be necessary that a short breakwater should be thrown out from Woodman's Point. In view of the fact that we are supposed to be taking the question of defence seriously, why is no provision made in this respect? Surely Admiral Henderson's advice is worth taking notice of? He goes on to say - >I understand that plans and estimates have been framed for carrying out a great part of this dredging - Admiral Henderson evidently had been given to understand that plans and estimates had been framed, and yet we see no money is provided on the Estimates. What was the use of humbugging Admiral Henderson by saying that plans and estimates had been framed? He goes on to say - and I am sure that it will prove of the greatest benefit, not only to the Navy, but also to the merchant shipping and commercial interests, as it would greatly relieve the pressure on Fremantle Harbor for shipping accommodation which the future must inevitably bring. In the interim, the needs of the Fleet will be met by - 1st. - The completion of the dock now building at Fremantle, and of the repair and refitting shops proposed to be attached thereto at as early a date as possible. 2nd. - The temporary provision of a base for six destroyers and three submarines in the Swan River. 3rd. - The dredging of the channel, so that large vessels can find a safe anchorage in Cockburn Sound. 4th. - The provision of adequate reserves of coal and oil fuel, &c. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. A large area of land should be reserved for naval purposes, so as to allow of considerable future expansion. 1. A site to be selected for storage of ammunition and explosives. We have been told that the explosives factory in Victoria is nearing completion, and that storage magazines will be established in the other States, but we see no provision made on the Estimates for this work. What was the use of bringing Admiral Henderson from England if his report is to be ignored? The Admiral also deals with the question of wireless telegraphy, and says - >Organization of a Wireless Telegraph Branch of the General Post Office. > >With this object in view, it is recommended that the Commonwealth Government should take the whole matter of wireless telegraphy in Australian waters firmly into its own hands, from the first making it a Commonwealth monopoly, similar to the land telegraphic systems. In 1905 this" Parliament, by Act, gave the Postmaster-General a monopoly of wireless telegraphy. Perhaps, however, the Admiral recognised that wireless telegraphy is no longer a Government monopoly, seeing that the shares of the Wireless Telegraphy Company are quoted on the Sydney Stock Exchange. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The monopoly is held by the Postmaster-General. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- If it is the ultimate destiny of all monopolies to be quoted on the Stock Exchange it would be better for those interested to allow the Government to take over all companies, so that the shareholders may come in on the next " deal," and, perhaps, make more money in that way. The Act to which I have referred provides that no one but the PostmasterGeneral shall have a monopoly of the wireless system, and yet the shares in the Wireless Telegraphy Company of Australia are quoted on the Stock Exchange. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Does that not refer only to construction ? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- That does not matter; the shares should not be worth three halfpence if the monopoly is held by the PostmasterGeneral. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- If he does hold it! {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- The PostmasterGeneral is supposed to hold a monopoly by the Act we passed; and yet we have Admiral Henderson advising that wireless telegraphy should be made a Commonwealth monopoly in a similar way to the land telegraph system. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- So it is. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Then, why is a company not floated to run the land telegraph system ? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- There is a company' floated in order to build an automatic exchange at Geelong ! {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- That is to provide £30,000 or £40,000 for a £4,000 contract ! I am merely stating facts, and showing that Admiral Henderson advises that wireless telegraphy should be made a Commonwealth monopoly. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- It is a Commonwealth monopoly. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Then, why did the Commonwealth Government not" let Admiral Henderson know the fact? The Admiral had an expert with him, and was supposed to be in possession of all the information available, and yet he advises a step which we are supposed to have taken in 1905. The Admiral went on to recommend - >The Commonwealth should erect, maintain, control and operate all wireless telegraph stations that may be required, either for public or private services. Are the Government erecting, maintaining, and controlling the wireless telegraph stations ? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The Government are going to. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- It seems strange to me that this mysterious Wireless Telegraph Company should be offered a special amount to go on with a contract they have never signed, and that only when a stir was made in this House - not only on the Opposition side, but on the Government side - did they get a "hustle on," and move the station from the top of the *Bulletin* office, the proprietors of which are part owners of the scheme, to the top of the Hotel Australia. That, I suppose, is only a very short distance, but it apparently made the enterprise a little more respectable. We were told by the PostmasterGeneral that experimental stations were being erected in Sydney, but we were not told that they were to be on the top of the *Bulletin* office - not a very creditable thing for the Commonwealth. The Admiral said - >The Commonwealth should erect, maintain, control, and operate all wireless telegraph stations that may be required either for public or private services. That is what this Parliament said when it gave the Postmaster-General a monopoly in wireless telegraphy. Furthermore, Admiral Henderson said - >It should be independent of all established companies, undertaking the manufacture of its own instruments, and the training and control of its own operators. That also is what this Parliament determined in 1905. For this purpose it is necessary for the Commonwealth to secure rights to manufacture certain patents. There is another point to which no attention has been paid. The PostmasterGeneral has been beating around, and instead of acquiring patents, has been trying to pirate them? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- What? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Although, in reply to a question put by me a week ago, the AttorneyGeneral denied this, I say that the Commonwealth has not been endeavouring to acquire patents in a proper manner. It is trying to acquire them, to pirate them, or to take them up by a side wind. The Government claim that they can make use of anything they like. But I think they will find that they are in the wrong. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Who says that? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- It is easier for the Minister to find out what the Commonwealth is doing than it is for me. Admiral Henderson says - >The Commonwealth will thus be free to carry out any experiments they may desire for the advancement of the system. This officer knew that unless patent rights were paid for, the Government would not be free to carry out the work. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- What are we trying to carry out? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I am simply quoting what Admiral Henderson says. It must be remembered that he travelled with a wireless expert, and based his advice upon knowledge. If the Government had acquired patent rights, as recommended, we should have been free to promote and maintain a system of wireless telegraphy throughout the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Does the honorable member know what it would have cost to acquire those patents? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Parliament, when it passed an Act authorizing the Government to establish a system of wireless telegraphy, never mentioned the cost, but gave the Government an authorization to proceed with the work. Whenever an amount for the purpose has been asked for, it has been voted in full. Nevertheless, we have no wireless stations working in Australia to-day. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- The Government are busy with them now. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- They have been busy since 1905, but they have not gone the right way to work. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- They have been busy at the wrong end. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Exactly. The report says - >The Government should also require that all ships registered in Australian ports and fitted with wireless apparatus, should carry apparatus manufactured and operated by the Commonwealth. Why should not that be done? The Commonwealth, having the Treasury at its back, should have been the first to establish a wireless system. It should have been ready, before any private shipping company installed wireless telegraphy on its vessels. It should have been in a position to say to ship-owners, "You must not carry passengers on our coast unless you have wireless telegraphy on your ships." We should have taken the lead. That is what Parliament intended when it passed the Act and voted money for its purpose. It is therefore recommended that the wireless telegraphy service should become a branch of the Post Office. That is where Admiral Henderson was at fault. If he had known the dilatory manner in which work is carried out by the Post Office in this country, he would not have made that recommendation. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- That is unkind. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- If we had kept this work clear of the Post Office, it might have been done by now. Admiral Henderson further stated that the official at the head of the branch - must be in close touch with the naval authorities, for in all moments of national emergency the naval authorities must have entire and undisputed control over all and every installation at the disposal of the Commonwealth. It was recommended that this official must be- personally responsible for the design and construction of all instruments, the erection and proper equipment of all stations, and for the training and discipline of all operators. But the Government have got us into a nice fix. We are installing the Telefunken system, whereas our war-ships the *Yarra* and *Parramatta,* have come out with the Marconi installation on board. If that system is right in one place, it is right in another. I do not care what system we have, so long as it is uniformly adopted. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The systems are interchangeable. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- We must be in touch with the British Admiralty, and work in with all other British-speaking nations. We must not be isolated in time of trouble. It is absolutely essential that the whole control should be under the Admiralty, and not under the Post Office, when war breaks out. About a week ago I asked the following question of the Post" master-General on this subject : - >In view of the fact that the wireless station now being constructed at Pennant Hills, Sydney, is nearing completion, will he give instructions that the station be not accepted or paid for as completed until all tests are carried out as required by the conditions of contract as published when tenders were called, and all other conditions as specified are complied with, including the requirement that the system accepted shall be " non-interfering at will." It is well known to every one who has studied the subject that it is impossible to instal a system that is " non-interfering at will." The Postmaster-General replied - >The wireless station at Pennant Hills will not be accepted or paid for until the conditions of the contract are complied with. Here is a condition of the contract - > *Range of Signalling.* - The stations shall have such a range as to enable them to exchange signals under the conditions of Test specified herein at the guaranteed speed of working during any hour of the day or night, and under any conditions as to temperature or as to dryness or humidity of the atmosphere. I am informed that it is quite impossible to comply with that condition, and yet we are told by the Minister that he is going to see that the conditions of the contract are all carried out. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Did not the honorable member ask a question in regard to that? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Yes, I did, and I got a reply from the Minister that he was ; going to see that the conditions were carried out, though the honorable gentleman must have been aware that so far no invention has been discovered to make it possible to carry out the condition I have quoted. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Who has been telling the honorable member all this? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- Any one who has studied wireless telegraphy at all must know that that condition is impossible of fulfilment. There is another matter in this connexion which I should like to bring under the notice of the Committee. This form, which I cannot call a contract or a specification, was issued on '25th October, 1909, and on 30th December of the same year, or three months after it was issued, the possible tenderers, or those to whom the form had been issued, were notified that some alterations were going to be made, and these words were inserted in the document, in red ink - >Preference will be given to a system which will emit a definite musical note. If the words - " Preference will be given to the Telefunken system " had been written into the document, what was proposed could not have been made more clear. Any one who knows anything at all about the subject must know that the alteration meant a preference for the Telefunken system. I should like to know who is the power behind the scenes responsible for the insertion of these words in red ink in this form? The House should demand to know at whose instance this alteration was made. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I have told the honorable member again and again that it was at the instance of the British Admiralty. {: #debate-14-s3 .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · WAP; LP from 1910 -- The honorable gentleman told me so, but I am going to show that it was not at the instance of the British Admiralty. I wanted the honorable gentleman to say that. I am only too glad that he is present. I expected that interjection from him. I asked a question on the subject some time ago, and got a reply from the honorable member for Barrier, who was then Postmaster-General. I asked - >When I was speaking, yesterday, I said that the tender-forms for the installation of wireless telegraph stations for Sydney and Fremantle were recalled, and altered by the insertion, in red ink, of a provision favouring the Telefunken system, whereupon the Postmaster-General interjected - " It was explained to the honorable member last session that that provision was inserted at the request of the British Admiralty by my predecessor." Is that statement correct? To that question the honorable member for Barrier, as Postmaster-General, replied - >The explanation was made during a debate on a motion for adjournment moved by the honorable member, when, in answer to an interjection by the honorable member for Parkes, I stated that the provision was inserted at the request of the British Admiralty. I have here a report on wireless telegraphy which was presented to Parliament. It is a report of a. Conference on the subject, and is signed by W. R. Creswell, Captain and Naval Director, Chairman, W. T. Bridges, Colonel; J. Hesketh, Chief Electrical Engineer, Postmaster- General's Department ; and Cyril Peel,, Lieutenant R.N. I quote the following appendix B to the report - >Copy of Telegram. From Milson's Point, Sydney, N.S.W., to Lieut. Peel, attending Wireless Conference, Melbourne. Pending ratification of Radio-Telegraphic Convention, it is not possible for Admiralty to recommend any particular system in preference to another; but whatever system is selected, it is essential that it should be able to readily communicate with H.M. Ships and to inter-communicate with any other system in use, and that such inter-communication should be allowed. Subject to above, Admiralty consider that Commonwealth may adopt what system they please, and, indeed, not confine themselves to any one system exclusively. That is signed by the Admiral. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Then the red-ink alteration was not inserted by the Admiralty ? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I have been making many inquiries on the subject of wireless telegraphy, and have cabled to almost all parts of .the world, including America. The result of my inquiries is that I find that the British Admiralty and the American Admiralty have acquired the right to use every system, but never permit any one to know what system they are using. They are too clever for that. That, I claim, is the position we should be in to-day. If any one discovers an improvement in the Marconi, the Telefunken, or any other system, the British and American Admiralties acquire the right to use it, but they never let the world know whether they are using it or not. In time of trouble, surely it would not be wise to advertise to the world what system of wireless telegraphy Ave have adopted. The British Admiralty have done what Admiral Henderson advised us to do. They have acquired rights in regard to all the different systems, and any improvements upon them, and they use them at their discretion. That is what we ought to do here. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- There is a vast difference between our population and the population of the United Kingdom and the United States. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- That should make no difference. If there are only two people on an island they should -be sensible. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- They could not pay for as much as a greater number of people could pay for. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- They could make discreet inquiries, and adopt the best system available without giving information as to the system they had adopted. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- They could get it on credit, too. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- It is not a matter of credit, it is a matter of common sense. We should have adopted the policy of the British Admiralty in this matter. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- I understood the honorable member to say only a moment ago that British ships are equipped with the Marconi system. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I said nothing of the kind. What I said was that the British Admiralty have acquired the right to use every system of value to the world, but they use their own system. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Did the honorable member not say that our two war-ships are equipped with the Marconi system? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I listened to the honorable member on the telephone system the other day until I was tired of it. I should like him now to listen to me on the subject of wireless telegraphy. Perhaps I had better read again what Admiral Henderson recommended. He wrote - >For this purpose it is necessary for the Commonwealth to secure the right to manufacture certain patented articles, and to enjoy the use of certain patents. ' The Commonwealth would thus be free to carry out any experiments they might desire for the advancement of the system. That is exactly what the British Admiralty have done. Admiral Henderson is a British Admiral, and he very naturally advised us to follow the example of the British Admiralty. I think that is what we should have done. There is another matter to which I should like to refer, and which I think requires some little explanation. Upon nth November, 1910, as will lie seen by reference to *Hansard* of that year, page 6037, the Postmaster-General, in reply to a question in regard to the wireless telegraphy station which it was proposed to erect at Sydney, said - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. It has been approved to pay the contractors an extra sum of £2,000, owing- to the location of the site at Pennant Hills. 1. The following amendments in the scheme as first accepted were rendered necessary by the decision to locate the station at Pennant Hills : - It was necessary to replace the direct earth connexion by an extensive electrical counterpoise. The power plant had to be increased in size by about 75 per cent., and the transmitting devices correspondingly amended. The necessary alterations were considered to be such as to justify an extra payment being made. The original tender, I may add, was £4,150. I now wish to show, from the paper which I hold in my hand, and which is published in England, how very much we are kept in the dark here. On the ist September, 19 10, the *British Australian* contained the following - >WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY. > >The contractors of the wireless telegraphy station in Sydney are to be paid ^2,000 in addition to the specified contract price, owing to the site having been changed. The change was necessary, as the first site would have been within range of an enemy's guns. That information, I repeat, was published in England on the ist September last year, but at that time we in Australia knew nothing whatever about it. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Does not the honorable member think that that was written in Australia ? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I merely state the facts. In view of the circumstances to which I have alluded, it is for other honorable members to consider how the present position in regard to wireless telegraphy in the Commonwealth has been brought about. I have been asked where I got my information in respect of the conditions to which effect has to be given. For the' benefit of the representatives of New South Wales, I will say that part of my information was published in the Sydney *Daily Telegraph* of 7th July last. Upon that date an expert in the employ of the Commonwealth called attention to the absurd guarantee of the company to transmit over a definite range - during any hour of the day or night, and under any conditions as to temperature or as to dryness or humidity of the atmosphere, a guarantee which was absolutely ridiculous, and which proved that the company had as little idea *oi* what it was talking of as the postal authorities had in drawing up a specification bristling with technical absurdities. It is the first instance of a wireless contract being accepted guaranteeing a definite distance. It is incorrect to speak of a wireless station having a perpetually definite range, for the stronger the sunlight the less conductivity of the ether to the electric waves. That is absolutely reliable information, which was obtained from an expert. We are all bound to answer to the public for the position in which our wireless telegraphic system occupies in Australia to-day. We have to read between the lines to ascertain how we got into this muddle. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- The information which the honorable member has quoted emanates from persons who are interested in a rival system. I know where it comes from. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- The expert who gave this opinion signed his name to it. I believe he has been in the employ of the Commonwealth for some years. Within the past three or four weeks I was asked to inspect this wonderful wireless station at Pennant Hills. It consists of a little bit of an angle-iron column, which is so many hundred feet high. But, as far back as 1909 or 1910, I pointed out that at Washington, in America, there is a tower 600 feet high, which is 50 or 60 feet in diameter at the base, and from 8 to 10 feet in diameter at the top, and that this wireless station has a radius of 3,500 miles. In such circumstances, what is the use of the PostmasterGeneral telling us that we have the longest range station in the world? It seems to me that he should at least be supplied with as accurate knowledge as I can obtain. My information was derived from a book which anybody can buy, and which contains an authentic account of what is being done in the matter of wireless telegraphy in other parts of the world. Upon a previous occasion I brought this question before the House, and asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that such results were being achieved at Washington, he would consider the desirableness of erecting a long-range station at the Federal Capital site. That is the place where we should have the longest range station in the Commonwealth. But, in opposition to my suggestion, we are told that we are to have the longest range station in the world opened at Pennant Hills within a week or two. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Who said that? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I heard the Minister say that it would be one of the longest range stations in the world. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- There is a difference between " one of the longest " and " the longest " range station in the world. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -I will look up the exact words used by the Minister when I have an opportunity of doing so. I now wish to make a few observations upon the question of the acquisition of these patent rights. I hold in my hand a document which was published by the Marconi Company, and which says - >Some nineteen letters patent have been granted to the Marconi Company by the Government of Australia, covering the whole history of the invention of practical wireless. No system of wireless telegraphy operated by any foreign company can therefore be installed in Australia without infringement of the above Marconi patent; and we shall look to the Federal Government for the payment of our royalties on this account, even though cheaper foreign-made apparatus is put in to establish the Australian wireless service. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- What is the date ofthat communication? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- It is dated 24th November, 19 10, and it proceeds - >We have every confidence, however, that right will be done to us in this respect by the Federal Government when the time comes to settle the royalty question, as we have yet to learn of the British community or Government that would seize an invention which has proved itself of such world-wide public and national utility as the Marconi system, without regard for the rights of the inventors and for the upholding of its own patent laws, even though the foreign-made apparatus is offered at a very low price, and which has the questionable advantage of being similar in design to that used by foreign Governments and Navies. That brings to my mind the statements lately made that the Germans are in antagonism to the British people. We are in this position - that we are establishing a German system of wireless telegraphy. It may be that they know more of that system than we do. In time of trouble they may be in possession of some secret which will make this installation absolutely useless to us. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Whence did we get the Marconi system? Is it not Italian? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- The interjection has far from anything to do with the case, because I understand that **Mr. Marconi** is an English gentleman, in this sense, that he is married to one of the most charming English ladies, and was educated in England. {: #debate-14-s4 .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -The Marconi Company is an English one. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- I have it from honorable members who have travelled on the same boat as **Mr. Marconi** that none of us would recognise him as a foreigner in any way, owing to the term which he has lived in England. His company is English, and the whole of the transactions are carried out from England. My desire is to see a uniform system in Australia, and if it can be proved that the Telefunken system is not working in collusion with some German system, that is, with people who are antagonistic to our race, then I shall be satisfied. We must demand a system which will at least allow us to be in touch with the British war-boats in time of trouble. Our safety depends upon the fact that we are under the wing of the British Government. In matters of defence we should be in touch with whatever they are doing, and uniformity should be our first step. That is my opinion, as a Britisher. Through having been born in England I may be a little prejudiced in favour of things British, but I also have a lot of the Australian in me, because I have been here for thirty-three years. I claim that whatever we do should be done for the benefit of Australia, and in harmony with what is being done in England, because we are dependent on the British flag for our safety. It is not much of a compliment to pay to the British people to take one step towards installing a foreign principle. It is not a matter of a few thousand pounds, but something beyond that. Any loyal Minister, who sits in the chair of the Postmaster-General, should find out who is at the bottom of this foreign system being installed. It should not be a matter of money, but a matter of something else. The people of the Commonwealth are entitled to know the reason for this muddle, why a wireless system is not installed, why something is not done. We should be in a position to demand that all the boats carrying passengers round our coasts should be installed with wireless telegraphy. When we were not certain as to whether the. *Waratah* was lost or not, we spent almost the cost of establishing a wireless station in Australia in sending boats out in search of her. Even if it took ten times that amount, if one of our big mail boats was known lo be floating somewhere, what a position we. would be in. Ten thousand miles of coastline, and not one wireless station ?' We. could not pick up where she was. It seems to me that we are in a disgraceful position. This system has gone beyond the experimental stage. It is a practical system which is in use in all parts of the world. I want honorable members to consider the matter seriously, and demand that something shall be done. We have an expert appointed, and we ought to see that something is done. Honorable members on the Ministerial side are quite right in defending something which they have to uphold. I want honorable members to look at the matter as I am looking at it, and that is with quite an open mind. I desire to see wireless established all through Australia, and established as quickly here as elsewhere, and not have to wait year after year and see nothing done. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Are there any legal difficulties in the way, infringement of patents, and so on ? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- The recommendations of Admiral Henderson, I repeat, seem to point to the fact that the first thing to be done was to acquire the rights, and then to do something. We have been trying todo something . without acquiring the rights.' We should have the expert and the rights. I have been used to carrying out big contracts, and my opinion is that anything can be done as quickly in Australia as anywhere else, provided that there is straight sailing ; but if we try to do something, and are told all the time that this part is patented, and that the other part is not, what is the use of the whole thing? Why not start properly by acquiring the rights? Let us see that we are on the same ground as the British Admiralty, as we will have to work with their representatives afterwards. I ask honorable members, no matter where they sit, to think over this matter seriously, and let us see if we cannot solve this problem. Whoever is to blame for getting us into this tangle ought not, in my opinion, to get a chance to land the Commonwealth in another tangle, because we have had quite enough of this confusion. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Do not be too hard. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr HEDGES: -- No explanation should be sufficient to clear any officer for getting the Commonwealth Government into such disrepute, and into the tangle in which we are to-day. {: #debate-14-s5 .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD:
Hindmarsh -- I think that the Government should be congratulated upon the very successful Budget which they submitted a few days ago. I also think that the Australian people should be congratulated upon the fact, because it was impossible that the revenue could have gone up with the leaps and bounds which it did without a great amount of prosperity in the country. Many a country has had an overflowing exchequer, but it could not be said that the fact indicated the prosperity of its people. I think that we should take some credit to ourselves, not that I look upon the possession of a full Treasury as a party question, because I recognise that good rains have a great deal to do with the prosperity in Australia. However we may desire, for party purposes, to make the most of the successes which attend the party in power, it is vell to recognise that a bountiful Providence has something to do with the prosperity in Australia. I am not going over the whole of the ground covered by the Budget. That is the task of ex Treasurers. None of us is surprised that the right honorable member for Swan can say little good of the financial proposals of the Treasurer. No exTreasurer ever appreciates the policy of his successor ; that is one of the consequences of party government. My object is to draw attention to one or two matters of general interest. The right honorable member for Swan referred to the note issue so successfully launched by this Government. Even the commercial community now admits that no alarming consequences have flowed from a change which was spoken of as likely to have very serious effects. One good result of it is that the practice of charging exchange on notes issued by a bank in one State and presented for payment at a branch in another has been abolished. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- It was abolished before the Government note issue. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- When it was known that the Government intended, with the support of the Labour party, to propose a Commonwealth note issue, the banks put an end to the exchange on notes, a tax which fell most heavily on persons of limited means. Of course, the banks are not to" be regarded as philanthropic institutions; they are capitalistic concerns, which deal in credit and make all the profit they can. But it was news to hear that the last Government had in contemplation a Commonwealth note issue. I feel sure, however, that it never would have proposed such an issue, . because its members and their adherents looked to the commercial community for support, and would not have gone out of their way to alienate it. We were told by the press, and it was said in this Chamber, by those who are now in Opposition who supported the previous Administration, that the note issue was a forced loan. Apparently, the right honorable member for Swan was willing to be a party to a forced loan. At any rate, his remarks are evidence that he, and those with whom he is associated, are travelling towards Socialism, though they are not so far advanced as we on this side are. He seems to regard it as a calamity that our Defence expenditure is met largely by the land tax, but I see no cause to regret the fact that the landed and wealthy interests are called upon to pay for the protection of the country. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- Then give them credit for doing so. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I have always done that. I hope that the day is far distant when our Citizen Army will be called into use. In the past, in Great Britain and in Europe, when wars have happened, not only the money cost, but also the blood cost, has been met chiefly by the mass of the people. 'I do not say that members of the aristocracy have not, as officers, shown as much pluck and courage as the rank and file,' but every one knows that it is the people who have suffered most. I do not think that our land-owners are so selfish that, if a vote were taken, they would be found to object to paying their share of the cost of defending this great country. I wish to impress upon the Government the need for doing more for the development of the Northern Territory. I shall not lose an opportunity to press its claims on the consideration of Parliament and of the people. It will not surprise me if, later, some honorable member draws attention to the terrible load piled on the Commonwealth by the transfer of the Northern Territory, but I ask those who think that to remember what South Australia has done. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- If one buys an estate, and does not use it, what else is to be expected? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I was for many years a member of the South Australian House of Assembly, and the majority of the members of that House believed that the State, in undertaking the government of the Northern Territory, had bitten off more than she could chew. We have to look, however, at what she did. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- What did she do? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- She took upon her own shoulders the erection of the transcontinental telegraph line, and she has kept the Territory a white-man's country. Year in and year out she bore the full burden of that policy, long before it became the established policy of Australia. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr Hedges: -- Who built the railway - the Chinamen 1 And they would not stop there. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- The honorable member seems to find it. impossible to get above paltry details. He reminds me of the statement in which Carlyle compares public men to owls catching mice. I am simply stating the historical fact that South Australia kept the Territory white. Even if the transfer of the Territory means the placing of a heavy debt on the shoulders of the Commonwealth, it is well that honorable members should recollect that that debt would have been far greater had the Territory been handed over to a chartered company. It narrowly escaped such a fate when honorable gentlemen sharing the views of the Opposition held strong positions in the Government of South Australia. If the Territory had been handed over to a chartered company, what should we have had to pay for it? I am sure that the people of Australia would not have allowed it to remain in the hands of such a company. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- The chartered company would have been a shattered company by this time. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- The honorable member is at times very humorous, but he cannot get away from the facts I have stated. I offer these observations by way of apology for South Australia, because I anticipate that we shall be told that South Aus:tralians have practically saddled the Commonwealth with a very heavy debt. Those who know anything of the Northern Territory - and our knowledge of it is very limited - know that in it the Commonwealth has a marvellous asset, and, that being so, we cannot afford to lose any time in developing it. I admit, with much regret, that the Parliament and the Government are at the present time very heavily handicapped in this regard. Our" late friend, **Mr. Batchelor,** as Minister of External Affairs,* was charged with the administration of the Territory, and whatever he might have done before he went to England, I know that after his return the question of the welfare of the Territory was never out of his mind. Two days before he died I had a long conversation with him in his room upon this very question. He was seeking information as to the best means by which to develop the Territory. It may be said that one reason for his anxiety was that he was a South Australian ; but he had, moreover, sat in the South Australian Parliament for years, and had held, with others, over and over again, that the gigantic task of developing that Territory could not be grappled with by the State. He knew, however, as we all know, that the task was not too great for this Parliament to accomplish. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- He knew that millions were required for the work. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- It was a question', not of obtaining, but of judiciously spending, the millions. Money may be wasted in the Territory as elsewhere, and I am very anxious that the Government should push on with developmental work on right lines. I have never had a keen admiration for the critic. One does not need much sense to criticise the other fellow, nor is great ability necessary to enable one to suggest something that might possibly be done by some one else. But there is something *to* be done in connexion with the Northern Territory, and it should be done before many months have elapsed. We have already a railway from Palmerston to Pine Creek, and as quickly as possible large tracts of land there should be put under cultivation. It was the policy of South Australia for years to say that this and that could be grown in the Territory, and experiments conducted in the Botanical Gardens at Palmerston demonstrated the truth of the assertion. But I would urge upon the House the necessity of entering upon experiments on a larger scale. We should, for example, put 1,000 or 2,000 acres under tobacco. The late **Mr. Batchelor** told me that the best tobacco in the world had been produced in the Territory. It was my opinion, years ago, that excellent tobacco could be produced there, and I believe that **Mr. Batchelor** had uptodate information on the subject. What is there to prevent the Commonwealth from placing a large area under tobacco cultivation, so. as to demonstrate to the world that it can be successfully grown in marketable quantities? If we placed 1,000 or 2. 000 acres under tobacco, we should be able to say to the people of the world - Here is a marketable product. It has cost us so much an acre to produce it, and you can take up the work for yourselves." {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr Hedges: -- I am with the honorable member as to that. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- Some such action must be taken. It is of no use to advertise to the world that this, that, or the other product can be grown in the Northern Territory. We must demonstrate to practical business men that those things can actually be grown in a productive manner, and put on the market at a price that will enable them to compete with other countries. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- That is spoon-feeding with a vengeance ! Is that what built up Australia ? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I do not say it did ; but does not the honorable member realize that the Northern Territory has been considerably under a cloud? {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr Hedges: -- Is the honorable member aware that experiments have been made there? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I know it; but the circumstances under which they were made have not been altogether conducive to success. The country has never been tried as it should be. The same thing applies to wheat. It may astound honorable members to learn that wheat can be grown in the Northern Territory, but that was the opinion of the late Minister, and I believe it was actually demonstrated that it could be done. I could scarcely believe it, because I could never understand how wheat could be grown in a tropical country. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- There are thousands of acres of it in tropical Queensland. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I am referring to the Northern Territory, where, I understand, the wheat is sown after the wet season - which lasts from November to February - and matures before the excessive heat. In that way Indian wheat has been grown there. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I have seen hundreds of acres of wheat grown successfully in Central Queensland right inside the tropics. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- That is so much in favour of the honorable member's argument. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Then why want an experimental farm when you know that the thing has been done by private enterprise? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- If we wait until private enterprise goes into the Northern Territory, unless demonstrations such as I have indicated are made by the Government, we shall have a delay of some years, which we cannot afford. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- We have already called for applications from men to do the very thing the honorable member has suggested. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- The same thing could be done in regard to cotton and rice. I have referred to these commodities because they always command a price in the world's markets, while many purely tropical products have not such a ready sale. I would also suggest that the Government should get hold of Australians, and give them every encouragement to go to the Northern Territory. I should even give them the land. I have never been a great believer in selling or leasing the land. We as a Parliament are more interested in settlement than in getting a few shillings or pounds out of the land. Settlement is the real thing, and I would confine the settlement of the Territory to Australians- {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Does the honorable member mean Australian-born? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- No; but the honorable member for Maranoa, for instance; who has spent thirty years in Australia, could hardly be classed as an Englishman. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- If a man has been out here for seven months, would you prevent him going up there if he wanted to? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- There is a great deal of difference between encouraging a man to go, and preventing him from going. In free Australia a man cannot be prevented from going anywhere. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We ought to be glad to get any reputable people to go up there. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- Undoubtedly ; but I believe we should first get Australians, particularly those settled in Queensland, to go there. The Australians who are already settled in the climate nearest to that of the Territory are the men who should be encouraged to pioneer it. After they have done the work, we could encourage any one we liked. What has been done in one place can be done next door. We know, when a man has struck out a distinct line, how easily others follow, and what we have to be very careful to avoid is making the administration of the Territory top-heavy. We do not want a tremendous number of officials. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- We are getting them, anyway. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I hope not. I should like to see the number of officials, in connexion with the overlooking of the work to which I have referred, limited. We do not want so much for this sort of pioneering work a man who has had an expensive training in agricultural colleges. We want practical men, who have gone through the mill. Men who have made money pioneering in Queensland are- just the type of men whom the Government should get hold of to start in this direction. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We want men who are prepared to go through the mill. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- They will go if given sufficient inducement. Does my honorable friend doubt it, if we give them the land for nothing, and promise to assist them if they happen to be short of money ? Surely we can assist them to the extent that the Western Australian Government are assisting their settlers. We might also use the present line from Palmerston to Pine Creek as a base, and if there is good country - which we will find out very quickly - it might be desirable to extend it. It should be worked in the immediate future, so that we may get settlement as quickly as possible along the rivers, such as the McArthur, Victoria, Daly, and others. Above all, it is desirable for us to push on for settlement purposes. There will undoubtedly be a strong temptation on the part of the Government to do nothing until the question of the transcontinental railway to the Territory is settled. I regard that railway as a matter of urgency, but the settlement of the country, from the Pine Creek railway, at the present time is of far more importance for the development of the Northern Territory. We are trustees of a vast and very valuable estate. I believe that honorable members who are sceptical as to its value will realize in a few years the truth of my remarks when they become more familiar with it. It is not a country of surprises. Its climatic conditions are the same, with very little variation, year in and year out. The wet season lasts from November to February, inclusive, and then the rain is done with. Those who are undertaking cultivation there ought to recognise that fact, and adapt their methods to the existing conditions. I have no doubt that the Australian, who has already overcome a good many difficulties will overcome the difficulties of the Northern Territory. I am very anxious that the Government should not delay the construction of railways into the Territory, because, otherwise, there is very little to be done in the way of settlement. At any rate, there is now the Palmerston to Pine Creek railway which can be used as a basis ; and something can be done in this connexion. I have no desire to dwell on the question of wireless telegraphy; but I urge on the Government that there has been too much delay already. There is no need, however, to " wash any dirty linen," or argue as to who is responsible for the present muddle; we are all too anxious to get out of that muddle. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- To get forward. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- Quite so. In this connexion I hope the Government will not lose sight of the great necessity there is for a wireless telegraphy station at, or in the vicinity of, Cape Borda. That is a point passed by all the oversea shipping which does not come from Fremantle ; and we all know that there is much shipping whose first port of call is Adelaide: I shall not fill up *Hansard* by enumerating the shipping companies which I have in my mind, because they are, I am sure, well known to all honorable members. I do not know that, in the matter of wireless telegraphy, we are in such a deplorable position as the honorable member for Fremantle would have us believe. Not many weeks ago I saw communication made with Australia from a vessel 2,000 miles away from the coast, and, although we may have no stations, we have men-of-war and other vessels fitted with the Marconi system. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We ought not to be dependent on that. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I quite agree; it is not very creditable to the Commonwealth that we should be dependent on the Marconi Company and their efficient installations on various ships for the benefits of wireless telegraphy. I hope the Government will push on with this matter as quickly as possible, so that any reproach which may lie upon us shall be removed. I do not refer to Cape Borda simply because I am a South Australian. There are other places where, I have no doubt, such communication is just as much needed ; but a long knowledge of the requirements of the coast of my own State impels me to take this opportunity to bring the matter under the notice of the Government. {: #debate-14-s6 .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE:
Balaclava -- I congratulate the honorable member for Hindmarsh on the practical suggestions he made in regard to the Northern Territory, and I trust the Government will take these suggestions to heart. I have always felt that, whatever side of the House a man may sit on, if he has any suggestions of value to make, it is just as well to let the Government know - anybody, as the honorable member has said, can criticise. I had made a note myself to deal with the Northern Territory, because I think that is the weak spot in the Government programme. We have not been given any idea what is proposed to be done in regard to the settlement of that vast territory. The Commonwealth Government has a revenue of £18,000,000 to £20,000,000 a year ; and I am afraid that we are spending it in an extravagant, and not in a practical, manner - that a great part of our money is being absolutely muddled away. I was reading, only the other day, of two great men in Canada - Daniel Mann and one McKenzie, I think, are the names - who have a high reputation in railway matters, and whose firm opinion is that railway construction should be ahead of settlement. These men have pushed out railways in all directions, and that is what we ought to do in the Northern Territory. Let railways be in advance of settlement; settlement will soon follow the railways. When in the State Parliament I said that, in the case of good land at disposal, I would put up houses and fences, and add the cost to the 'price at which the land was sold to the settler. This ought to be done in the Northern Territory, so that either Australians or Britishers may at once find a home there. The little bit of money a man may have saved up can then be expended in stock and cultivation, instead of in improvements, and at the end of the first year he will have a return. Our greatest trouble in closer settlement hitherto has been that most of a man's savings are spent in improvements, and nothing is left to carry him on for the first year, and to provide cultivation and stock. If .the Government propose to settle the country, let them build homes for the settlers; and we know that a man who is placed in possession of a home like that will work his hands off to retain it. Such a policy would pay a country ; and when we have a revenue such as we at present enjoy, it would be much better to spend it in this way than in many other directions proposed. We have many extravagant schemes on which we are spending a great deal too much. Australia, as a whole, at the present, has a revenue of something like £50,000,000 ; and that is an enormous sum for 4,500,000 people. Out of such a revenue I am sure that a large sum could be saved for the settlement of the country; and if we had here another 5,000,000 or 10,000,000 of people we need have no dread of any enemy, and I fancy we should scarcely need a navy. It is the paucity of population that creates all our trouble, and our vast unoccupied territory must cause covetous eyes to be turned in this direction. Settlement is the great thing; and I do not care whether they be Britishers or others who come, because, after their arrival, they very speedily become Australians. My father was an Australian when he had been here very few years; and he never left the country to the day he died, and the great majority of men and women who find theirway ito Australia intend to make their homes here. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- I have never left Australia since I first landed. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- The honorable member is only in the position of a great many others. Personally, I am quite content with the place, and I believe that contentment is shared by the great majority of people who reside here. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- DoI understand the honorable member to say that he approves of the Government building homes for settlers ? {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- I do; let the Government place houses on the land ready for the people. It will be money well spent, and we can add the cost to the price of the land. If the land be given for nothing, of course, we have only to charge them for the price of the building. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- I am sorry the honorable member's party will not agree to that pro- posal. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- Which party? {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- The honorable member's party. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- If the Labour party will go for it, I shall vote with them. I am afraid the Labour party are getting a little bit tired. I do not know whether it is the result of too long a holiday, or too long a session, or the Melbourne weather, but the Labour party do not display thedash and pluck one would expect. I am glad that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has stirred them up a little. There is another matter that ought to have been dealt with in the Budget speech. All Protectionists expected to hear something about the Tariff anomalies. A large number of our protected industries are in a sorry plight at the present time. Take the woollen industry. Australia is being flooded with cheap imitation goods from foreign countries. The ready-made clothing trade is being very much affected. Parliament imposed a duty on woollens, but cotton goods and imitation woollens are allowed to come in free. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- Some of them are rubbish. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- They are absolute rubbish. The other day I saw in a shop trousers marked at 4s.11d. per pair. They looked nice and bright and shiny ; and I said to the shopkeeper, " They look like nice articles; how do they wear?" He said, " They are made in Germany, and there is not a thread of wool in them. If you wore them on a rainy day, you would never be able to put them on again." That is the kind of goods that are coming into this country, and yet a Government which is supposed to be Protectionist will not do a single thing to help our industries. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- The Government are " watching," they say. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- They are good watchers, but that is not sufficient. The Minister of Trade and Customs has sent out circulars to manufacturers inquiring what wages they are paying, and what their profits are. I do not know what that has to do with the policy of the Government. It is not their business whether manufacturers are making money or losing; but unless something is done very soon, it is certain that manufacturers will lose a great deal, and we shall have some of our industries closed up. When we see that£12,000,000 per annum are being raised from Customs and Excise, we must realize that enormous importations are coming into the country. It seems to me that a large proportion of the goods imported ought to be made in Australia, giving employment to our people and encouraging a large number of others to come to the country. There is a great cry for immigration. If we have factories in full work, and our people are employed, why need any one be afraid of others coming to Australia ? When I was in Canada, about six years ago, the same cry was raised. It was said that immigration would be injurious to the working classes. But at that time carpenters were earning £1 per day. I believe that they have been earning more since. Therefore, it is not a fact that wages fall when an immigration policy is encouraged. The same state of things will occur here. The greatest danger we have to face in this respect arises from droughts. If we have two or three bad seasons, and make no provision for them, we may have a lowering of wages and other troubles. But we shall experience no difficulty from the importation of people, as long as we encourage industries in which they may be employed. We also need to pay attention to the conservation of water. The Victorian Mallee, which is now so productive, was, twenty years ago, given up to the rabbit and the wild dog. Any one who visits the Darling district of New South Wales will see there millions of acres that, if irrigated, would be capable of settling a large population. Water conservation is the great requirement of Australia. Let us spend more money in the interior instead of wasting so much on ornamental buildings in the towns. At present, when a post-office is wanted, it takes the Home Affairs Department nearly twelve months to prepare plans. Why cannot the Department standardize our public buildings? Why can it not have plans prepared for offices, providing for four, six, or eight rooms, as the case may be, according to a standardized design? Instead of doing that, however, a fresh set of plans has to be prepared for every new post-office that is required. If the Department standardized its plans, there would be no trouble about setting to work with the erection of a building in any part of Australia where it is required. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- It would not be possible to standardize plans suitable for different sites. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- It would be possible to get very near to what was required. Look at the rows and rows of cottages that are built upon one design. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- Sometimes a post-office is on a corner block, and sometimes it is in the middle of a street. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- The Department might have two sets of plans to meet such requirements. Usually, however, a postoffice is erected so as to leave a margin of ground ; it is not usual to erect such a building close up to the line of a street. This is specially the case in country towns, where ample land is available. Big postoffices, such as are required in Sydney and Melbourne, are, of course, exceptional, but it would be quite easy and very economical to standardize country offices. It has taken the Department two years to put up a postoffice at Brighton. If a private building had had to be erected, it would have been finished in three or four months. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- I suppose the people at Brighton are very particular about their post-office ? {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- They do not care what the design is as long as they get the building. When inquiry is made, it is found that the Post and Telegraph Department has referred the matter to the Home Affairs Department, and that the plans are in preparation. The same reply is made month after month. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- The Minister's " chasers " are chiefly useful to show what the Department is not doing. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- They are intended to show what other departments are not doing, and that the Minister's own Department is never to blame. The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the note issue. I do not know that any one seriously objected te a Commonwealth note issue. When I spoke on the subject I said that it was quite right that the Government should issue notes, but that it was neces sary to maintain a solid gold reserve. As long as the Government has a sound reserve there is not the slightest difficulty or danger regarding the note issue. If we had a depression lasting - for a few years, and this country, instead of having gold poured into it, or keeping its own gold, had to export bullion, of which there was a shortage in the Treasury, there might be difficulties. But as long as the Government maintain a fair percentage of gold to cover the demand I do not think there is the slightest reason for fear. The basis of sound financing is to maintain an ample reserve to meet the notes. If the Government are going to issue nothing but paper money there will, undoubtedly, be depreciation. There is not much danger of that, however, because I am satisfied that the common sense of the people would prevent it. I have a word or two to say regarding the Defence Department. I should like to see rather more sympathy shown by the Department to voluntary associations connected with the defence of the country. I am a member of the general committee of the boy scouts of Victoria. We get no sympathy whatever from the Department. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- What do we want an opposition show for? {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- There is no opposition show. The boy scouts' movement, since Lieutenant-General BadenPowell started it, has been taken up all over the world. The system was introduced into Australia before our Defence Act was passed. A deputation asked the Minister to take the boy scouts under the control of the Department, but he refused to do so, saying, in effect, that the military authorities had nothing to do with them, and did not care about them. We said that we had come in the interests of the morals of the boys. We thought that they should be considered. It is certainly in the interests of the boys' morals that they should be trained, but not that strong language should be used to them in the course of their training. We were informed that the Department is not supposed to look after the morals of the boys. I think that it ought to look after their morals. In the training of these lads, whether cadets or boy scouts, a system should be adopted under which their morals would be protected, at least while they were in the hands of their officers. I have a letter before me in which complaints are made of the language used by some officers to cadets under training. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Those officers should be put off at once, without hesitation. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- I agree with the honorable member. The writer of the letter says - >The use by officers of abusive and in many instances bad language is prevalent, and it should be stopped at once. Complaints have been made to the Department, time after time, in connexion with this matter, and nothing whatever has been done. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- I have not seen the Minister of Defence on the matter, but if the honorable member will give me specific instances, I can promise him that I shall not hesitate a moment in doing my best to put such men out of office. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- I am glad to hear the honorable gentleman say that. I have had previous correspondence with the man who has written to me on the subject, and he knows what he is talking about. The complaint is also made that officers, in addressing the cadets, frequently make disparaging remarks about the boy scouts. I have heard that myself. They say, "What is the good of the boy scouts?" When boys are not very smart, strong language is used towards them, and that must have a very bad effect upon them. I think that the Defence Department might also be a little more sympathetic with the desire that cadets living at a distance from their drill-ground should be provided with the means of reaching, it. I asked a question the other day in connexion with this matter, and suggested the free carriage by rail of naval cadets, who are required to go from St. Kilda to Williamstown for drill. It is too much to ask boys' to walk 5 or 7 miles to a drill-ground, and then put in three hours at drill, when advantage might be taken of a railway to transport them from the place, where they live to the drill-ground. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Should not the State Governments come to our rescue in that regard? {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- We have charge of the defence of the Commonwealth. This Parliament votes a certain amount each year for free carriage by rail of members to and from their different States. I presume that officers of the Defence Forces travelling between the States are also carried free by rail. Why should this privilege be given to members of the Fede- ral Parliament and officers of the Defence Forces, and denied to lads who have to travel a considerable distance from their homes to the place at which they are drilled? Provision should be made for the training of cadets within easy reach of their homes, or they should be given free transport to the place where they are drilled. At present, in some cases1 they have to walk long distances, or their parents or they themselves must pay railway fares. ' One honorable member asked what we want of boy scouts, and in answering that I may say that I think that volunteers are always the best and pluckiest fighters, and lads who are willing to give up their play hours for the benefit of their country should be encouraged. I am in favour also of having distinctive regiments, in accordance with the practice in the Old Country. Men who have been members of the Black Watch or the Connaught Rangers have always taken pride in the fact, and so have their descendants. We have a Scottish Regiment in this State, but I do not think that they get very much sympathy from the Defence Department. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Would the honorable member send them into the battlefield in" their kilts? {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- I should have no objection if they cared to go. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- They would be a good target for the enemy. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- That is their business. The Black Watch regiment has. fought in kilts all over the world, and itis the most renowned and pluckiest regiment in the British Army. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- The honorable member will admit that men would be of more use to the country alive than dead. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- That is so, but it should be remembered that men take a very great pride in their regiment. There is an air of nationality about these distinctive regiments, and national pride and sentiment amongst the members, , which it is a mistake not to encourage. The members of the Scottish Regiment pay for their own uniforms, and I do not know why the Defence' Department should discourage them. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- We do not want any distinctions in Australia. They should all be Australians. {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- They are Australians, but they take a natural pride in the country from which they come. The honorable member will not contend that a man is any worse as an Australian because his father was a Scotchman. {: .speaker-KTT} ##### Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- How does the honorable member account for the different banners to be seen in an Eight Hours' Day procession ? {: .speaker-L1R} ##### Mr AGAR WYNNE: -- Just so. A man takes pride in belonging to a certain union or party or organization. There may be, generally speaking, only one body represented in an Eight Hours' Day procession, but there is a certain rivalry between different unions, and men take a special pride in the particular organization to which they belong. Exactly the same thing applies to the Scottish regiment, and to the boy scouts. In New Zealand there are about 12,000 boy scouts, and they are recognised by the Government and encouraged in every way. In Australia we have 30,000 or 40,000 boy scouts, and why should the Government desire to squelch the movement? The boy scouts should be encouraged by the Defence Department. They do not ask the Government to contribute anything to their expenses. In the case of the deputation to the Minister of Defence we asked only that the toy scouts should be recognised, that they should be examined from time to time by the drill-masters of the Defence Force, and that if they came up to the standard required they might be passed on into the cadets or into certain militia corps. But we found that the Department has no sympathy with the movement, and no desire to encourage it. If the movement is discouraged, and the scouts ultimately disbanded, the boys will have lost all interest in military work. I think the Government should encourage the movement, instead of permitting themselves to be led by the nose by the officers of the Defence Department. It is well known that, in military circles, the paid manalways looks down on the volunteer. That is the case, not in Australia alone, but in Great Britain, and in every other country. The paid soldier always ignores and snubs the volunteer. I say that we should do well to encourage every man and every lad in this country to learn to hold a gun and to shoot straight. {: #debate-14-s7 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat .-At the sitting, during which the Budget was delivered by the Prime Minister, I took occasion, on the spur of the moment, to offer some observations upon the proposals included in the Ministerial statement. Since then I have awaited a reply to my remarks, or, at least, an endeavour to supply the larger and bolder outline altogether absent from the Prime Minister's deliverance. It was unfortunate that the mass of figures which he felt it his duty to lay before us, instead of being presented to the Committee as a whole, were recited with merely brief connexions between one subject and another. The total effect was fragmentary. We still await, either from him, or from some of his colleagues, that general outlook upon the financial position of the Commonwealth, which is always the feature of the Budget speech. As a matter of fact, every proposal which finds a place upon the Estimates - whether upon the general or the Works Estimates- affords us an opportunity to consider its merits or demerits, as the case may be. We have no need to anticipate that close criticism now. On the contrary, there is every reason why it should be postponed till a more fitting opportunity presents itself. So far as I am personally concerned, therefore, I do not intend to touch upon any of the multifarious matters included in the proposals submitted to us. But what we missed most from the Budget, and what we continue to miss, is the broad policy of these several proposals when they are grouped together, so that they may be read both with regard to the circumstances and the expenditure which have preceded this year's accounts and those which are likely to follow.In other words, we were, and are, without that bird's-eye view of the whole situation which would enable the intelligent citizen of the Commonwealth to form a general idea of where the ship of State was being headed, the kind of weather she had met,and what were her future prospects. As observed at the outset- of my remarks, this is wholly lacking. In the Estimates before us, we have the customary elaborate provision for a thousandandone real necessities of the country, and for some which maynot be real ; but nowhere dowe find anything which enables us to judge our national progress or comprehend our course. It is, therefore, almost impossible to initiate a Budget discussion such as we have been accustomed to while parliamentary traditions and practice were observed and the necessities of the Commonwealth studied. This is a misfortune, because at no other period during the session are we likely to be afforded that opportunity which is now passing by. I make a final appeal - because it is not yet too late - that some member of the Government, after consultation with the Prime Minister, shall lay before us something which we .may take to be the scope and intent of the policy of the Ministry - if there be a policy - as surely there must be somewhere underlying these various separated proposals. They can be considered severally upon their merits afterwards, but their necessary relation to each other, together with plain indications of the intention with which they are now proferred to us, should be supplied. Until they have been handled as one whole we shall find ourselves, even as the right honorable member for Swan found himself, when he attempted to dissect these various propositions, limited by the blankness of their presentation to brief comments on proposals which may radiate from a common centre, and be associated with larger purposes, though so far neither have been disclosed to us. When the Prime Minister resumed his seat, after having delivered his Budget, I at once called attention, not only to the entire absence of a policy for which we were all looking, pointing out that much had been ignored which we expected to see treated with "some circumstance, and emphasizing the fact that there were many omissions of which I ventured to make an imperfect catalogue. Of course, the general position of the Treasury is of so favorable a character, that with an overflowing revenue it becomes a question, not of additional taxation, but merely of the expenditure of moneys practically in hand. The proper place for applying a test to these proposals will shortly arrive. But owing to the termination of the period for Which the Braddon section operated, and to the superbly prosperous position which Australia occupies, the only questions before the Treasurer related to the disbursement of revenue, and hot to the raising of further funds. In that one regard, circumstances excused the absence of a policy. So far this Budget is taken as merely a statement of the year's accounts. Still, if, as one anticipated, these proposals, although they may be confined to the year, are to be taken as part of the permanent policy of the Government, an unexampled opportunity - that is unexampled in this' session - was afforded in which the Prime Minister could have put before us, at all events in bold outline, the principles which will actuate the financial policy of the Government. Under questions of financial policy, this would have involved considerations, from the financial side, and from other points of view, of the main features of their programme for this Parliament. Last year there was with some reason only a sketchy drawing of Ministerial aims, a defect repeated without justification or apology on the present occasion. We are in the concluding portion of the second session of this Parliament ; only one more session remains to be held, and it is extremely unfortunate that, instead of arriving at the present stage with a full knowledge of the extent and the character of the principal schemes which the Government are elaborating, we are left to collect them and connect them as best we can, dealing with them separately, as occasion may arise. In the course of our criticism of these Estimates we shall have some observations to offer, scrutinizing the nature and character of particular votes. But at that time it will be impossible to raise, or at all events to continue, any discussion which will grapple singly with even those subjects as they ought to be grappled with. The very fact that we shall be in Committee, faced with a particular item, will properly limit the scope of our remarks. Then, in addition to that, we cannot expect to obtain from honorable members, either on this side or opposite, the sacrifice of the time at their disposal for special or local analyses which must be made if we attempt to deal with some of the many great issues which are now before the Commonwealth. Since we are not to have an opportunity of replying in any sense with larger criticism now or at any later stage, I did not desire that my very abbreviated offhand comments, offered just after the Budget figures had been recited to us, should be misinterpreted. I then hoped that an opportunity would have been found for a statement of national policy, for which this House and the country are looking, and. for which this House is primarily, and the' country will presently be directly responsible. The criticism of- the honorable member for Hindmarsh, for instance, took up two or three important matters, on which he noticed the absence of any Ministerial guidance. He complained of the lack of information as to the attitude and the intentions of the Government in relation to the Northern Territory, and to the inadequacy of the Supply to be voted in that connexion. This is not the first time during this debate in which that particular matter has been pressed home. But there again one is met by the natural reply that on votes which -we believe to be quite insufficient in this particular regard it will be open to honorable members to offer any views which they may think serious enough to submit for the consideration of the House. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Do you think that it will do any good ? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I have risen largely not so much to speak as to excuse myself for not speaking, because, apparently,- in this instance; and in most others it will do little or no good. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Hear, hear; that is just how I feel about it. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- We are face to face with proposals relating, for instance, to the Northern Territory, or to the Defence scheme, or to some other fragment of the Ministerial policy. We can, of course, offer some criticism, necessarily particular in its character, and confined by the rules of debate, which may or may not accomplish something. There it ends. It is not a very bright prospect for accomplishing anything, but, at all events, we can only accomplish something in that particular regard. . It will scon be too late for us to endeavour to review our financial policy as one whole covering every other portion of the Commonwealth policy. In order that a relatively disproportionate amount of attention may be allotted to- what, by comparison, are minor subjects, we shall be deprived of the opportunity of a debate which might, and ought to, have been centred on the great principles involved in the Budget, - those of which the House and the country should have a- clear view before they set to them their seal;. of indorsement. It will be too late.. afterwards to. point out that; money which- could have been spared for some excellent purpose, but one -.of which, the circumstances .were . not realized, might have. been, better- devoted to. that and not . another, end,-. -or -that certain proposals could have been linked, together with mutual advantage, or that certain omissions which will be discovered when . these schemes are launched, might and. ought to have been supplied. It will then be hopeless for us to attempt the task. The best evidence of this was supplied, as I have . said, by the manner in which the criticism of my honorable friend and late colleague,, the right honorable member for Swan, was necessarily distributed over a whole series of matters instead of being first concen;trated upon the central and governing prin'ciple in the Budget - if there is one. In the few minutes which followed the Treasurer's statement of the figures of the Budget, attention was called ' to the absence of any indication of the policy of the Government with regard to the Tariff. Their attention has been invited by a whole series of speakers since then, but so far the Ministerial oracles are dumb. .' We are unable to arrive at any assurance, either as to the possibilities of this session, or as to the certainties of the next session. ' Yet, surely, in the shape of policy, not of detail, these might well have been given to us, could have been given to us,. ' and, indeed, must be given to us, if this House and the country are to be able to apply to a question of that magnitude the prolonged and serious consideration which it needs. We may continue to seek in vain ' in this chamber to become aware of the proposals of the Government, even in a general way ; but for Ministers to give . the information only at the time when they are being launched in some par- ticular form or forms is to deprive us and the country of the opportunity of taking' them together as a consistent whole. Ifwe. are to attain a reliable summary of the facts of the national situation coupledwith some idea of the national policy .' about to be evolved, and the rela-> tion of these particular proposals, we. must be thoroughly well equipped. I am perfectly . certain that Ministers areno more blind than the community as a whole . more blind than the community as a whole is to the continually mounting returns de- rived from the Customs House. These were, never .contemplated by those who proposed the Tariff or by those who voted for it. When we did give consideration to its revenue-producing qualities we at no time anticipated a condition of affairs which- would pour into the Treasury the huge sums, which we are now receiving, and of which we can make good us& - this unforeseen and1 unintentional and- , unexpected fruitage comes from a planting of ours made with other intentions. No one desires to see the revenue of the Commonwealth reduced- we all rejoice at its growth - but we cannot be blind to the fact that the stream of golden coin now pouring into the Treasury arrives there largely at the expense of the industries of Australia, thus causing a delay in the development of those industries and interests. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -What are they? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Almost all the great industries that we possess. According to the Customs returns, in every branch of trade there are large imports of goods which we ought to manufacture for ourselves. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- I continually receive letters from manufacturers for permission to import workmen. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- A wise policy would provide both the necessary labour and the Protection assuring their employment. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- If the Commonwealth were to bring out immigrants, the honorable member would say that there was an interference with State Rights. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- There is now a breakdown in our communications with the Mother Country ; accommodation on steamers cannot be found, even for persons wishing to come to Australia at their own cost. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The Queensland Government told the Administration of which the honorable member was the head to mind itsown business. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- In all national matters we use and act upon our own judgment. The Customs returns, while from the revenue stand-point comforting to the Treasurer, are disquieting to the country, because of the evidence they afford that we are taxing a great many articles which our own people should manufacture, some industries being thereby injured and others prevented from advancing. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Does the honorable member advocate higher duties? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -Wherever necessary. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- That would mean revenue. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- There must be an adjustment of duties then, the increased local output being trusted to keep importation within reasonable limits. We desire the employment of our people in those manufactures in which they can be effectively employed. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Two large manufacturers in Melbourne have told me that they cannot Obtain in Australia the materials which they need for their business. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Even in a small in dustry, two manufacturers do not mean much. There are manufacturers whose interest it is to import largely, because thereby they make greater or easier profits than by manufacturing. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr Hedges: -- Do not our manufacturers allege that there is a shortage of labour? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- They do. Ours is a double complaint : we desire more people, and a readjustment of the Tariff. Immigration is needed to meet the demand for labour, to assist the establishment of new industries, and the extension of existing ones ; a readjustment of duties is needed for their more effective development. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- How would any shortage of revenue be made up? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- When there is a shortage, I shall be ready to suggest a means ; and, should that berequired, to pass my proposals into law. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Does the honorable member speak for the honorable members for Parramatta and Illawarra, and others? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I speak for the Opposition. If the honorable member doubts it, let him give us an opportunity to put the matter to a test. He is merely raising dust under cover of which to escape from my argument. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- During nine years the honorable member had an opportunity to put his policy into force, and a sorry mess he made of it. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I shall be ready to review the proceedings of the last nine years when necessary, though that will mean an involved and elaborate study. This is the first Parliament in which any party has had a majority in both Houses, andin which there have been only two parties. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- For years the honorable member had an absolute majority on the fiscal question. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- We never had a majority in both Houses, even for the fiscal proposals which we considered necessary for Australia. Consequently all our Tariffs were compromises. We had to meet the stout and perpetual opposition of the present Attorney-General, and others of the Labour party. They made it difficult to pass any Tariff proposals, and mangled them in the process. But I rose chiefly to explain why the discussion of these and other. . large subjects cannot be entered upon now, and to excuse my own abstinence from criticism whereit could not be immediately effective, so that the business to be done here may be accomplished with celerity. The preferential trade agreements for which we have hoped are apparently no nearer attainment, though they have been vaguely mentioned several times during this Parliament. To those whose alarm and antagonism is aroused by the suggestion that the time for re-shaping the Tariff has arrived, no opportunity has been given even of developing the bounty system, nor have bounties been proposed for the encouragement of industries to which Protection, for some reason, may not be applicable with present advantage. There have been no proposals for bounties, even in regard to the rural production, which must play a large part in the development of the Northern Territory. In consequence of interjections, have touched in anticipation upon the absence of any satisfactory solution of the present immigration problem. The Prime Minister is reported in this morning's newspapers to have said that he has referred for consideration to one of his colleagues the situation created "by the inability of persons of the right class who are willing to pay their own fares to secure passages from the Mother Country to Australia. I do not know at what date it was referred to him. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- The late Minister of External Affairs, seven weeks a.go, promised to have the matter looked into. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Quite true. I do not know when we may expect to have a statement of the Government's proposals in that regard, but honorable members generally will agree that our present condition is abnormal and unhealthy. It is unhealthy, both from the point of view of the Mother Country - from which many men and women are anxious to emigrate and yet to remain under the British flag - as well as from the point of view of Australia, since these people cannot be afforded the opportunity they desire to join us. It is unfortunate from the point of view of the Commonwealth, too, because the need for immigration is admitted all over Australia. It is an essential part of the policy of the Government that the Northern Territory shall be settled with all reasonable despatch. But nothing has been done. I admit that no general or wholesale scheme of ordinary immigration would suffice in connexion with the Northern Territory. Those who come here 'to settle in the Territory ought to be. comparatively young and free from encumbrances, in the first place, and, if possible, should be prepared by some experience that will fit them to enter upon the culture of what to them will be novel products in novel circumstances. If some promises held out to us can be fulfilled - if we can develop the mineral resources of the Territory - we should be able in a very short time to place upon the fields a very large number who could, even in that climate, conduct the ordinary operations with which we are familiar elsewhere with profit to themselves and to the county {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Where are the mineral resources ? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- In the Northern Territory. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Who said so? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- The best authorities. In "mineral resources" I include coal; professional men, qualified by their knowledge, have made statements as to the existence of coal deposits of great value. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- What about a Commonwealth line of steamers? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- If by that the honorable member means a line engaged tobring suitable settlers to this country under the control of the High Commissioner, I think the proposal an excellent one. The honorable member, however, must not misunderstand me. I should not advocate the purchase by us of steamers for that purpose, or to enter into the hundred and one commercial relations established by private lines for their own profit in connexion with such businesses. It appears to me that the readiest and most advantageous method would be to subsidize lines of steamers to carry, at the lowest possible rates, those who intend to seek their livelihood in this country. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- That is what we are doing. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- No. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The States are doing so, and every ship that can be used for that purpose is being used. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Yet many more are waiting besides those who are immigrants brought out at State expense. These are anxious to come here at their own expense. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- There are no ships available for them. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Why not subsidize steamers for that purpose? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- All the ships that can come are coming here. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That can never be true at any time, and it *is* certainly not true of the present time. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- There is only one solution - our own steamers. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- We should then have a thousand and one problems added to those which we are now facing. Even that proposition may prove worthy of consideration when it is brought forward in some other form that will enable us to frame a judgment upon it. But, at the present time, I venture to believe it would be 'far cheaper, more satisfactory, arid less vexatious for us to subsidize those whose business it is to build and run steamers and undertake the carrying of immigrants. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- But all trie steamers are full already. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Then attract additional lines of steamers to Australia. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- They are employed all over the world. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- They are not offered a sufficient temptation to come here. When we learn that the present Government have offered liberal terms that have been rejected by all suitable lines we shall be able to acquit them of ignoring the responsibilities of Australia. But not till then. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I thought the honorable member argued that private enterprise always goes where there is plenty for it to do. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- It will in its own time, which may not be our time, and on its own terms, which may not be our terms, and therefore, it will pay us to pay them better than it would pay us to venture upon it without their assistance. Of course, one is not laying down absolute principles- {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- After all, a sovereign is only worth twenty shillings. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Perfectly true. I am endeavouring in vain to curtail my remarks under this shower of interesting and suggestive interjections. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- This rush for Australia is due to the existence of a Labour Government. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- " The rush away from Australia " did the honorable member say? The rush to Australia, I think, is occasioned by conditions over which no Government has any power. Not even the conspicuous merits of preceding Governments will lead me to credit them with it. It is due partly to industrial unrest in the Mother Country, partly to a better realization pf the resources of the outlying por tions of the Empire, and particularly to the growing belief that among all the Dominions of the Empire, Australia offers the best, the richest, and the widest opportunities. If my honorable friends opposite do not play too many tricks with Australia, and destroy its reputation for fair dealing, we shall have a great influx here even before they leave the Treasury benches. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- We shall not leave this side of the House for another ten years. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- All the better for the country, so far as the attraction of immigrants is concerned, if during the whole of that period the Labour party contrive to keep them sufficiently blindfolded as to parts of its policy. I put aside the neglect of the vital State Debts issue, but venture to make one more appeal to the Government with reference to the establishment of an Inter-State Commission. It appears to me that, at all events, the final form which that proposition took in the beginning of 19 10 was the best for meeting our immediate needs That, of course, is a matter always open to argument and review. In endeavouring once more to impress upon the Government the value of this Commission, one can leave them the widest freedom as to the particular functions with which they shall clothe it, so large are the opportunities offered by the appointment of such a body. We ought to have something like a Board of Trade for the Commonwealth, following and extending the recent precedents which are making the British Board of Trade far more powerful even than it has been, in order that it may study all matters of trade and commerce, production and employment, conditions of employes, the fluctuations of trade and their causes, and the education needed in trades and other occupations. All these are matters into which close research is indispensable in modern times, and invaluable to the country undertaking it. As T have previously pointed out in this House, there is a great deal to be learnt from the Continent, and particularly from Germany, in this regard. There, information on a host of subjects is made available of interest to all classes, but of the most vital interest to the employed. The defects of different methods of technical education are discovered, and, if necessary, exposed, and new processes carefully examined. This could be accomplished here by the help of experts, chosen because of their knowledge of the technical questions with which they would be called upon to deal. They would add to the very valuable work that is being done every year in this Commonwealth by means of our *Year -Book* and in other ways by our Statist, towhom we are under great obligations. We should have a few highly trained experts in these matters, whose task it would be to study our situation, the figures and the facts behind them, the circumstances of trade and production, both rural and city, the relations of different industries, the many intricate business questions associated with the rise and fall of prices, and the general effect upon our markets of inventions elsewhere, and of trade and commerce from abroad. That body would be capable of becoming for Australia a Board of Trade of the highest efficiency, and of wider scope than even the English Board of Trade. In addition, it might, and I hope would, be charged by the Government with other duties scarcely less valuable to the people. I believethey could play an important part in connexion with our industrial affairs, in our rather hopeless endeavours, as they appear now, to establish and maintain industrial peace. They could deal with industrial discords when they arose, whether between employers and employed, or between industry andindustry. Backed with the knowledge of a Board of Trade, such a body would be the best possible advisers to be obtained in all matters, not only of Tariff alteration, but also of industrial legislation where Commonwealth action wasdesirable. In the interest of the workmen and workwomen of the Commonwealth, of the large class dependent upon them, and of those who invest their capital in Australian industries, in the interest of those who settle in the country, as well as in the town, a tribunal of this sort is necessary. It has always appeared to us that the natural central habitation of these experts would be in connexion with the Inter-State Commission, which the Constitution authorizes us to appoint for certain specific purposes. I press this once more upon the Government, because, in the event of their undertaking such a revision of the Tariff as is hoped for before this Parliament closes, even the preliminary researches of such a body should be of great value, andultimately would come to be deciding factors on many of these economic Questions. I should occupy much too long a time if I were to dilate upon the opportunities which such a tribunal also affords of bringing into effective relation the various industries of the State, and of equalizing industrial conditions as far as is necessary for purposes of justice. My object when I rose was to point out that we were inevitably drifting into the discussion of issues in more or less detail, because the Government have not laid before us, in broad and simple lines, the nature or purport of the policy they are pursuing. They have not explained to us the various positions which the different items really hold, and the relations they bear to each other. They have merely left us to gather from single propositions, and any information we have in regard to them, sufficient material to offer criticism which is necessarily of details instead of principles. This, therefore, leaves us practically anticipating the debate on the items in the Estimates rather than taking part in that discussion upon the financial and general policy of the Commonwealth as a whole, including all its related interests, which is properly the subject of a Budget debate. {: #debate-14-s8 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
AttorneyGeneral · West Sydney · ALP -- I do not intend to reply at length to the honorable and learned gentleman, but one or two. of his statements may, at this particular juncture, carry some weight in quarters other than this Legislature, and, therefore, call for some rejoinder. There is nothing that the honorable and learned gentleman has said with regard to the Board of Trade of which we were not thoroughly seized before, for this has been a favorite theme of his. for some years. I do not propose to criticise it. In itself the idea is excellent. Nothing could be more natural, business-like, and sensible than that a number of persons should be appointed to inquire into, supervise, examine, and, if possible, to suggest improvements in, or even direct, if they could be endowed with so much power, some of the many complicated processes of our industrial and social life. But there is nothing that this Board of Trade could now usefully do that cannot be better done by other tribunals already in existence, providing those tribunals are endowed with sufficient power. A Board of Trade would bean excellent institution, if, for instance, it had power to regulate prices, and had we been so fortunate as to secure a majority at the referenda, I can assure the honorable gentleman that it was my intention to suggest the formation of just such a body as he has very kindly reminded us of this evening in order to regulate prices. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- How would they regulate prices? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- They would do it in the way provided in the instrument which created them. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- By what means? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- That will be disclosed in due course. At the present time the Board of Trade is a perfectly superfluous and unnecessary instrument, which was sounded to-night only for the purpose of rousing the cohorts outside in connexion with a matter quite different from what we are supposed to be discussing this evening. I leave it there. It is one of those admirable pieces of stage scenery that was put away somewhere in 1908 or 1909, and has been dusted, carefully furbished up, and trotted out from time to time as occasion arose for its display. Two other matters about which I wish to speak are immigration and the Tariff. The honorable gentleman knows very well that on literally hundreds of platforms tonight the question of immigration is the very liveliest in the world. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- I hope so. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- He, good, easy man, stands up here, striking a blow for himself and another for his friends, and doing what he can for us all. I do not object to his doing what he can for himself and his friends, but I do object to his doing what he can for us. I should like to remind him of one or two facts. Immigration - that, is to say, providing the necessary facilities for immigrants to this country - is a matter entirely in the hands of the States. It is apparent that, so far as this State is concerned, so much remains to be desired that it is only necessary to mention the matter. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- What is the bar that prevents the Commonwealth from introducing immigrants ? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- I shall tell the honorable member. The suggestion has been made by the Commonwealth that it should take full control of the matter. We have made this offer in turn to every State ; and f rom some we have received satisfactory replies, arid from others replies that are not satisfactory. We must act either as a whole or in part ; and, as the whole of the States have not agreed, the business remainswith them. As for this particular State, if it has been - as I admit it has- successful in one thing, it , is not in attracting suitable immigrants, but in the circulation of the most extraordinary advertisements relating to the prospects for immigrants to Victoria that it ever fell to the lot of man to see, or the lot of man to draw up. These advertisements have no proper relation to the condition of things in this country. They are the grossest and most inexcusable exaggerations, and are worse than mining prospectuses. They represent an endeavour to obtain immigrants by the circulation of statements that are not based on facts. Our policy of immigration is clear and consistent. We have taken up the attitude that we do not welcome wholesale immigration, but immigration of suitable persons, just as any sensible man would not welcome all men into his house, but only suitable men. This is not a dumping ground for all the insane, criminal, and diseased refuse of the Old World. We have no desire to create a condition of things that will lead to industrial and social unrest and inequality. We desire to breed a virile, healthy, temperate race of people, with all those virtues that belong to the Anglo-Saxon. During our *régime* we have endeavoured to make this country sufficiently attractive to the right kind of men; and I desire to tell the honorable member for Ballarat, and the community generallly, that more of such men have come to Australia since we took office than came in during the whole nine years that he sat on these benches. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- They come in consequence of what we did ! {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- Would the honorable member have said that if fewer immigrants had come ? Would he, and those with him, not have condemned us without reservation ? Honorable members opposite admit that the country is prosperous, but they say that is cot because of us. When we point out that the deposits inthe Savings Bank were never so satisfactory, or that the people were never so well off, they say, " Not because of you." When we point out that a continuous and ever- increasing stream of immigrants isflowing into the country, they say the same thing. They still repeat their shibbolethsabout their immigration and our attitude . towards it. But the facts,although theywill not face them, are too strong for them. The complaintnow is, not that we cannot get people to come, but that there are not sufficient ships to bring them ! There was nosuch complaint during the term of office of my honorable friend - there were then not enough people to fill the ships. Yet we, without making any special effort, but by destroying, or helping to destroy, land monopoly, and attempting to make this a country where a working man may obtain decent conditions, have attracted a larger number' of immigrants to these shores than at any previous period since Federation has been established. We have no desire, however, to make it worth while for the scum to come here. And now, just one word about the Tariff. At the present time we are on the eve of a State general election in Victoria. I do not wish to take any notice of that election, but merely to point it out as a fact of which my honorable friend opposite may make a note. From every platform, inspired by one of the great newspaper organs of the State, people are being asked to look at the Tariff ; and they look at it. The remarks to-night of the honorable member for Ballarat will, doubtless, be set out in a great daily newspaper to-morrow with almost painful fidelity, and where he falls short, they will be reinforced in a suitable leading article, so that the country will have the benefit, not only of what the honorable member has said, but of what he meant to say, and would have said if he had been not merely a man, but a cohort of men. The people will be asked to believe that the Labour party are aiming a deadly blow at the industries of the country by refusing to reopen the Tariff; and the people of Victoria asked, in consequence, to cast their votes against the Labour candidates. So that the speech of the honorable member for Ballarat is an admirably timed electioneering speech. What are the facts? The Labour party were thanked by the honorable member for Ballarat, as Prime Minister, and by the Minister in charge of the Tariff, for helping them to get the present Tariff through, and we were told plainly that, without our aid, it could not have been passed. Mr.Deakin.-Not the aid of the honorable member, but the aid of the Protectionist wing of the party. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- The honorable member raised this question. He said something about getting a Tariff through against the opposition of men like the honorable member for Broken Hill, the honorable member for Maranoa and myself. But I supported the present Tariff.I admit that I did oppose thefirst Tariff ; but again the facts are too strong for our friends, the enemy. Even in the first Tariff, I did no more than was done by the honorable member for Illawarra, the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Perth, and a number of others I see scattered about the House. All these honorable members did what they could to prevent the honorable member for Ballarat doing what he desired as Prime Minister. The people are asked to believe that a Government, formed of the honorable member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Illawarra, the honorable member for Parkes, and some others, are going to make a Tariff acceptable to the people of Victoria or of Australia. Though one rose from the dead, there is none in Victoria to believe it. A Tariff is not got through this House by fine words, but by deeds. What is the record of the Labour party in connexion with the Tariff? The Government of the honorable member for Ballarat would not have got through their Tariff if it had not been for the votes of men like the honorable member for Maranoa, and of myself, both of us Free Traders. The honorable member for Ballarat has told us that he never had a majority like that of the present Government; but I say that he had a majority one hundred times more obedient and placable. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- That finishes it ! {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- The honorable member's majority was composed of men who never asked any questions or attended any meetings of his party, but simply sat on the same side as he did, no matter what came or went. I declare that if I were to choose my lot as a leader of a party, I could desire nothing better than the rosestrewn path which the honorable member, with the aid of his majority, followed for years. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- There were many thorns amongst the roses on the path. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- The present Tariff was, and is, the honorable member for Ballarat's Tariff, and the peopleought to remember that it was passed upon a condition. What was that condition? It was a most important one, and sufficient to induce me, a Free Trader, the honorable member for Maranoa, the Minister of External Affairs, and other honorable members on this side who were Free Traders, to accept it. Nothing on earth -would have induced me to support the Tariff except for the promise that the benefits of Protection should be extended to the workman. A promise to that effect was solemnly made to us. The House and the country thoroughly understood tha position. There was never any doubt about it. A measure was introduced almost contemporaneously with the Tariff to carry out the idea of new Protection. We began with the agricultural implement making industry, fully intending to extend the principle to the whole of the industries affected under the Tariff. I say deliberately, and it was said over and over again in the House, that the new Protection was the only weapon which drove me from the ranks of Free Trade to support the Tariff introduced by the honorable member. The only regret that I now have is, not that I voted for the Tariff, but that it was found impossible to extend the benefits of Protection to the workmen of Victoria and the other States. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- The honorable gentleman's party carried out their part of the bargain, but our party never carried. out theirs. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- We carried out our part of the bargain loyally and without question. I myself voted for duties which I thought to be in some cases unnecessarily high. Nevertheless, I thought it proper to do so in order to carry out my own part of the bargain by my votes. The Tariff as it stands to-day, whether it be good or whether it be bad, is the work of the Deakin Government, backed up by the most absolutely placable and obedient majority that ever the leader of a party had. But the support of that party was obtained by a solemn promise which has never been redeemed. It is perfectly true that constitutional barriers sufficiently strong to prevent the ' carrying out of the promises were discovered. But what was the honorable member's attitude in regard to that? He laid upon the table of the House a memorandum dealing with the new Protection, and indicating his desire to amend the Constitution so as to .enable him to carry out the promise which he and his Government had made, to extend the benefits of Protection to the people, to regulate wages, and to regulate prices. There was no doubt in his mind as to the power of the Government to regulate prices any more than there was any doubt in his mind before as to the power to regulate wages. He desired that both should be done. This was the bargain that he made - that if there were Protection for the manufacturer we should also protect the workman and the consumer. The manufacturer has been protected, but what of the workers and the general public? I say most emphatically that to-day the people, the consumers, in this country are absolutely without a shadow of Protection. The workman has in many cases some sort of Protection from Wages Boards, but the consumer is absolutely helpless. As soon as we take one turn and elevate wages, the manufacturer takes two turns and elevates prices. He goes one step higher every .time. His profits are sacrosanct; the public must pay all the time, and if good wages are to be paid it is to be at the expense of the general public. Yet the honorable member asks 'why *lv* do not amend the Tariff. My colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, asked the manufacturers of this country to supply him, in confidence, with certain details of their businesses, in order to make out a case for amendment. He asked for sufficient information to enable him to judge whether ah amendment was justified. I say most emphatically that this Government was always prepared, and is now prepared, to amend the Tariff upon cause shown. But surely if there is. a case for amendment of the Tariff it can, and ought, to be made out. But what was the result of the Minister's inquiries for particulars? At a deputation which waited upon me during the absence of the Prime Minister in London, the whole matter was threshed out, and **Mr. J.** M. Joshua, who was one of the leading members of the deputation, admitted that the manufacturers of this country were exceedingly well off under the present Tariff. I will quote his very words as reported on Wednesday, 31st May, 191 1. **Mr. Joshua** said - >He did not say that manufacturers were distressed, and in need of Tariff amendment to relieve them. If they had difficulties and trials at the moment, these were not due to deficiencies in the Tariff; yet there are a number of important manufactures suffering by reason of Tariff anomalies. He thought that the Minister of Customs had taken a proper step in 'asking for confidential information,' but he would say that there were questions asked concerning the inner nature of men's businesses that no manufacturer who was making profits would answer in order to get increased Protection and higher profits. I ask whether there was ever any more damaging ,and damning admission than that? **Mr. Joshua** said that the manufacturers were getting. on very well, so well, indeed, that they, would not answer any question in-relation-to their profits in order to get higher Protection. Why? Because they were afraid of disclosing that their present profits were so high that the facts would not warrant any Government in further increasing them at the expense of the general public. And as a fact the manufacturers as a body refused to supply particulars asked for. A very few did, but the great majority refused. The country ought to be told this fact. Here is a Government which is prepared, and always has been prepared, to increase the dutieswhere the present Tariff is found to be insufficient, and also to carry out that part of the bargain which was made some three or four years ago to extend the benefits of the Tariff to workers and consumers. An attempt was made to carry out the bargain at the referenda, and it failed. This Government has sought to get that information fromthe manufacturers which would show instances of Tariff failure, and it has not succeeded in obtaining it. The honorable member for Ballarat has spoken about establishing a Board of Trade. I want to ask him this question: Would a Board of Trade recommend an increase in the Tariff without an inquiry, most minute and precise, into the circumstances of every particular industry demanding or desiring an increase? I think not. Such a Board would inquire particularly into the working of the existing Tariff, and whether there was any justification for an increase of Tariff protection. And so do we. It is perfectly natural that this should be done. Yet these gentlemen, who admittedly are doing so well, decline to give us, the guardians of the public purse, reasons why the duties should be raised. They say they cannot afford to make public their private business to competitors.I want to destroy the last shield behind which these gentlemen seek to hide the facts - it is not true that this information given to the Minister of Trade and Customs would be made public. That statement, I say, is absolutely without foundation. The manufacturers were told frankly - told by me and told by the Minister of Trade and Customs - that any information supplied would be treated as confidential. I even said tothem at the deputation that, if necessary, the information would not be disclosed to other Ministers, and that we should be prepared to take the recommendations of the Minister of Trade and Customs himself. Under those circumstances, and seeing that the Department of Trade and Customs every day receives information of a much more confidential character in connexion with invoices, and has never been charged with having disclosed it, what a miserable pretext it is for the manufacturers to say that they would not disclose their profits for fear that theDepartment would disclose the information to the public! We are here at the present time determined not to amend the Tariff unless it can be shown distinctly that an industry is grievously languishing for lack of Protection. The Tariff can only be amended for cause shown, and cause has never been shown. Yet the- honorable member for Ballarat and his party are seeking to influence the people of Victoria to condemn this party, and the party which is allied to us in the State Parliament, because we have not amended the Tariff, forgetting to tell the people that his party - I say this deliberately - could neither have placed the present Tariffupon the statute-book without our help, nor amended it as the honorable member for Ballarat suggests, for his party is, upon the fiscal question, hopelessly divided. And the people of Victoria will never believe that a party which includes the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member for Illawarra, and the honorable member for Perth, will pass a Tariff which will be satisfactory to thepeople of Victoria. Here, on this side, on the contrary, is a party, homogeneous and pledged . to the policy of new Protection, lock, stock, and barrel ; here is a party pledged to that policy to such an extent that it is prepared to act solidly as one man regarding the Tariff, provided there is that corollary of new Protection which we demand as absolutely essential to the interests of the people of this country, the wage-earners and the consumers. {: #debate-14-s9 .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We have heard a very characteristic and, as usual, a very clever speech from the Attorney-General. It seems to me that, perhaps, on both sides the constitution of this House is such that, with regard to some questions, the use of certainwords acts as a match to an explosive. One of these words is . " Tariff." It has only to be mentioned to create astate of ebullition. If the Leader of the Opposition rendered no other service by his speech he, at all events, drew from the Attorney-General a gratuitous, and certainly a very important statement to the effect that, if the referenda proposals had been carried, and the additional powers asked forhad been vested in this! Parliament, he, personally, would have been, in favour of the appointment of an Inter-State Commission or Board of Trade, with power to fix prices. That was a most important admission. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- And he was supported and applauded by the honorable member for Gippsland. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- That is another of the reckless statements for which the honorable member for Parramatta is so famous. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- When, by inter- .jection, I tried to ascertain from the AttorneyGeneral whether he was merely speaking his own mind or also that of the Government and the party to which he belonged, he appeared to be seized with a sudden attack of that infirmity which we all regret in him, and which rendered it quite impossible for him to hear what I said. I regret all the more on that account that the honorable gentleman should have left the chamber. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- I think he has gone to find the Leader of the' Opposition. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It was a very interesting announcement to make, and particularly at this time, and in these circumstances, because a great many people have, for a very long time, been driven to the conclusion that the logical sequence of some of the efforts made hitherto in the direction of improving the lot of the workers will necessarily be that very fixation of prices to which the honorable gentleman referred. As the Attorney-General is now present, perhaps he will allow me to again put to him the question which he failed, to hear when I put it by interjection during his speech. I wish to know whether the statement that, had the referenda proposals been carried, he would be in favour of creating a Board to fix prices, was made on his own behalf or on behalf .of the Government ? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- I said I should be in favour of it, and so I should. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Then I must take it to be merely a personal conclusion, and leave it at that. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Then new Protection does not mean the fixing of prices? {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Wait till we get it, and' then the honorable member will know what it means. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Putting aside now the smoke of the old battles that was raised possibly by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and coming back tosome matters of importance more immediately relevant to the Budget- {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- There must be something more said on the other subject. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Perhaps the honorable member for Parramatta will per- mit me to come back to the Budget. 1 regret that debate on extremely important matters raised by the Budget should, from any cause, or through any person's de- fault, have been interrupted by the introduction of heated controversies surround- ing the Tariff question. We have quite enough questions of serious moment to discuss in connexion with the Budget, and I propose to address myself to a few of the more important of them. An intelligent stranger, who had never heard of Australia ' before, coming into this House and hearing ' the Budget speech of the Prime Minister, would have been very much struck with two things. First of all, he would have been struck with the extraordinary resources of the country which could enable a population not larger than that of some English counties, to create such an immense amount of wealth as the Budget figures disclose. I think that I am not wrong in saying that the second thing, which would have struck him, with .time to think a little about it - and which would have filled him with amazement - would have been that a Treasurer bringing in the Budget of a country, showing such marvellous vitality and financial power, should have been so entirely barren of any suggestion for the future development of the great estate we possess. That would probably have struck him more than anything else. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Notwithstanding the intimation that we are going to link up the West with the East. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do see a sum °f £20,000 put down for the railway to the West: {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Did the honorable gentleman hear a statement that that was all that was asked for by the experts for the purpose?. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am aware that' a very large amount will be asked for in the future ; but. if the honorable gentleman, had waited-- {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I shall not interrupt the honorable gentleman again. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -I do not object to being, interrupted by the Prime Minister, provided he knows exactly what my argument is. . What I was going to say was that I think that any one who had the slightest knowledge of the position and conditions of this great continent,which we are privileged in this House to govern and rule, would have been amazed at the fact that a Government intrusted with the control of the immense revenue we possess this year - so large, indeed, that the Treasurer's difficulty is rather to allocate it than anything else, and hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of pounds are not improperly, but quite properly, being applied to purposes which are usually met from sources other than the revenue of the year - and backed up, for the first time in the history of the Federation, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, by a concrete solid majority of one party in both Houses, prepared to support them in everything they care to do, should come before this Parliament, after a rest of nearly a year, and present no propositions whatever to meet two of the greatest wants of the continent, namely, immigration and the settlement of the Northern Territory. I shall deal first with the settlement of the Northern Territory, and the Prime Minister will not object if I read his statement from *Hansard* on this point. He said - >In order to have everything in readiness for the settlers whom we hope shortly to be able to invite to the Territory, officers in connexion with all the producing interests are about to be appointed, and arrangements made for a number of public works. What officers and what public works? We are given no particulars and no details. Are they to be railway works, waterworks, or what sort of public works are they to be? The honorable gentleman went on to say - >It must be pointed out that the Territory for some years to come will demand the expenditure of considerable money for developing this huge area which has been intrusted to our care. It needs no ghost to tell us that. But what steps are We going to take, and in what direction? Improvements in communication especially, both by sea and land, will require the outlay of a good deal of money. That we all know, but I think we are entitled to something more explicit. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- The honorable gentleman expects the Government to do in one year what South Australia could not do in fifty. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I expect the Government to be able to indicate the direction in which they propose to do something. None of us is so unreasonable as to expect the Government to at once plunge into a vast series of works in all directions. All I wish to know is what are their intentions. I had almost forgotten that they have already taken two bold, determined steps. They have appointed Professor Spencer to keep his eye on the aborigines, and they propose to make an additional contribution to the hospital for the treatment of tropical diseases, at Townsville. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- They ask us to authorize a vote of£525 for the development of tropical agriculture. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Yes, I had almost forgotten that. Where is that money to go? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- And there is£500 on the Estimates for a railway survey. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I had forgotten that, too. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Had not the honorable member better admit that he has not studied the Estimates? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know that the Honorary Minister will derive much comfort from the additions which have been mentioned by my honorable friends. For nearly a year now we have been possessed of a Territory which costs us the immense annual sum of£411,000. I do not for a moment suggest that the Government could step in and at once make that Territory a paying estate. Of course, such a thing is impossible. Under any circumstances, no matter how active the Government may be, very many years must elapse before the Northern Territory can become in any sense a payable concern to Australia. We knew that when we took it over, and we were quite prepared to accept it, notwithstanding the burden Which it imposed upon us. But surely it is not unreasonable that the Ministry should be prepared to indicate to us something in the nature of a policy for that Territory - a policy which we shall be asked to sanction or to criticise. {: .speaker-L6Z} ##### Mr Hall: -- The Prime Minister has promised that the Minister of External Affairs will make a statement ofpolicy in that connexion. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am very glad to hear it. But I should have thought that the Budget debate was the proper time to make such a statement. As a matter of fact, I understood that the statement would be made before the discussion on the Works and Buildings Estimates was concluded. In regard to the development of the Territory, I should be very sorry to attempt to anticipate any explanation of Ministerial policy. But I donot know that we shall afterwards have an opportunity of dealing with the matter. I was very much interested in the practical speech which was delivered on this subject to-day by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He dealt with a number of matters of very great interest to me, and he anticipated what I intended to say upon some things. But he spoke with much greater practical knowledge than I possess, and his remarks, therefore, should carry much greater weight. He spoke of a Territory with which he is more familiar than I am. He dilated with very great heat and feeling upon the development of such a Territory by a chartered company. He challenged the Committee to say that in any circumstances it would favour the development of the Northern Territory by such a company. Now the days when any Government would dream of handing over to a private companythe kind of powers which were vested in the chartered company under which India, or even the northern part of Canada, was governed for so many years, have long since passed. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- What aboutthe chartered company in Rhodesia? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am not quite familiar with the powers which were vested in that company. But just as we recognise that the time has passed when any Government would dream of abdicating its functions by transferring them to a chartered company, so I would ask the honorable member to recollect that it is possible to go equally far towards the other extreme. He should remember that no territory like the Northern Territory can ever be developed by the Government stroke. We can never get the hard strenuous pioneering work which has to be donein every new country, and especially in countries full of risk and danger, by an army of civil servants. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- I wasnot talking of civil servants. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- But the honorable member, in his absolute contempt and hatred of the whole system of chartered companies, appears likely to forget that if we wish to develop the Northern Territory we must, by some means, engage the energies of the people, and particularly those of that class of people who are prepared to accept great risks in the expectation of reaping great rewards. Every countryin any part of the world that has been developed has been developed in that way. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- In Canada to-day, are great risks undertaken in the expectation of great rewards? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- I do not know what are the great risks. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do not mean risks from wild beasts - I am referring to great financial risks. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- The honorable member means risks from the stand-point of losing money. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Certainly. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- There is no risk of losing money in Canada to-day. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member is now showing the same knowledge of Canada which he exhibited in respect of the Northern Territory. It may be an unpopular thing to say, it may be entirely inconsistent with the views which are entertained by a good many honorable members opposite, but it is as clear as possible to those who have studied the development of such territories that the only way in which we can possibly succeed is by establishing heavily capitalized interests in which we can engage, not merely the services of farmers who come out and are attempted to be planted down by the Government, backed up by a number of civil servants, but the interest of persons who are prepared to put down very considerable sums, to expend their energy and organizing capacity in getting together for the particular purpose for which the country is suited a class of people whom they will throughout help and assist in settling the land. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- That is very like a dream, as far as the Northern Territory is concerned. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It is the only kind of dream which has ever been realized in connexion with these matters. One would think, from the language which the Treasurer uses, that we must have everything in readiness for the settlers we are about to invite there. One would really imagine that he has a kind of dream of hundreds arid thousands of sturdy British yeomen flocking into the Territory, of beautiful smiling hillsides occupied by a contented and happy peasantry, of men with their wives and children milking their cows and planting their bananas arid cocoanuts, and thingsof thatsort. We are not here to engage in dreaming, but to look at things from a practical point of view. I shall do all that I can. to assist the. honorable member for Hindmarsh in preventing any great or. injurious monopolies such as might arise from anything in the nature of chartered companies possessing great powers. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- You need not be afraid. That day is gone. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member will receive my assistance, but I can assure him that if he looks forward - and I do not think that he does from the tone of his speech - to a sort of Government process whereby we shall bring persons out, build houses for them, plant them down, erect schools at their doors, and give them moderate areas of land, and so on, as a mode of occupying the Territory-- {: .speaker-KNI} ##### Mr Harper: -- That was not the way with the original settlers. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- No j it was. not the way with the original settlers in this or any other country. That is not the way in which pioneering work has been, or ever will be, done. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- That is what the honorable member for Balaclava advocated just now. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am responsible for my own opinions, and not for those of any other honorable member. Putting aside all sentimentality, we must face the real problem in very much the same way as similar problems have been faced in the past, and we shall not do it by an army of civil servants, though we have an invincible Treasury at our back. If we start on those lines, the only effect will be that we shall hamper the finances of the Commonwealth ; we shall create a perpetual sink for ever-increasing sums of money from the Treasury for a generation to come, and produce no good results. I have been induced to express myself with perhaps a little warmth on this subject, because I believe that there is a certain section of people in the community who think that the development and settlement of a place like the Northern Territory is a sort of thing which may be undertaken simply by a Government Department. But honorable members who know anything about the subject realize that that is not the case-. I may, perhaps, have stated the matter a little more strongly than was necessary. {: .speaker-L6Z} ##### Mr Hall: -- You are attacking that which no one is defending. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I shall await with interest the statement of the. Minister of External Affairs, but I- shall be disappointed unless he is ; prepared to show that he can offer those very large rewards;: which alone will enable us to evoke the. pioneering energy and strength which will., ever make any impression on that vast Territory. I do not intend, at this stage, to. speak at any very great length. There are so many points to which one could ad- . dress himself that one has to pick and choose a little. There are, however, one or two points to which I desire to speak. First of all, I think that, from the financial point of view, the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department is not as satisfactory as it might be. An examination of the figures in the Budget papers will show that, during the first years of the Federation, our greatest businessconcern, the Post Office, was not paying its. way altogether, partly arising out of the fact that it was taken over from a numberof separate and, therefore, jointly unorganized services. But, for the first six, or seven, or eight years of the Federation there was a continued improvement in the management, or, at all events, in the results of the management. If honorable members will refer to pages 48 to 53 of the Budget papers they will find that there has been a continued decrease in the proportion of the expenditure to the revenue. That is to say, through the efforts of the various Postmasters-General, and the various Governments up to that time, what had been an unorganized and non-paying Department became gradually a paying Department. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- When did it become a paying Department? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable1 member will find, if he looks over the figures, that it was a gradual process.- I am speaking of the general revenue and the general expenditure, excluding works and buildings. In 1901-2 the receipts were under the expenditure by the comparatively small sum of £57,000. The honorable member will find the same decrease until two years later. In 1903-4 there was a small surplus of *£2,100.* In 1904-5 that surplus increased to £65,000.. In 1905-6 the revenue was £186,000 more than the expenditure. For the next three years the excess of revenue over expenditure averaged about £400,000. In 1909-10 the excess of revenue over expenditure amounted to. £528,000. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- That includes neither sinking fund nor depreciation. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I think that the honorable member is a little premature in his criticism of my criticism. The easiest way of perceiving how the Department is working is to find out what percentage the expenditure bears to its revenue. In 1909- 10 the expenditure had been brought down to 86 per cent, of the revenue, which showed a very favorable position, being infinitely more favorable than was the position when the Department was first taken over. It had become a good paying concern. In 19 10- 11 the percentage of the expenditure to revenue rose from 86 to nearly 90 per cent., and the estimated expenditure in the current financial year, of which one-half is past, is 94 per cent, of the revenue. To arrive at those percentages, you must make certain adjustments. From the expenditure, which always excludes the cost of new works and buildings, )'Ou must also exclude the interest and sinking fund on transferred properties, a sum of £435,000, which appears this year for the first time. Another deduction which it is fair to make, because without it the expenditure would amount to more than 101 per cent, of the revenue for the year, is the loss from universal penny postage, which according to a note on page 27, is estimated at £250,000 for ten months, or about £300,000 a year. Using round numbers, when the Government came into office, it took charge of a series of concerns which had gradually been made profitable, the expenditure upon them having been reduced to 86 per cent, of their revenue. In its first year of office, this expenditure was increased by 4 per cent., and in the next by about the same percentage; so that it has risen from 86 per cent, to 94 per cent. The increase may not seem large, viewed as a percentage of the revenue ; but it must be remembered that an addition of 4 per cent, means about £140,000 a year, so that, in other words, the Government in two years has increased the annual expenditure of the Postmaster-General's Department by ^280,000. It might be thought that the increase is due to the opening up of new, and possibly, unprofitable, services; but that explanation, if put forward, is not altogether satisfactory, because we have had years of increasing prosperity, and the growth of revenue from the old-established services would largely balance the expenditure on new services. It would be tedious to attempt to examine the figures in debate; but if honorable members take the trouble to investigate them for themselves, they will come to the conclusion that the increase in the proportionate expenditure of the Department is not accounted for by the extension of services. That is the opinion at which I have arrived after an earnest study of the accounts. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Where has the money gone ? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- It is the duty of the Opposition to criticise, and, if need be, to complain that more money has been spent than should have been spent ; in the latter case, it is for the Government to explain where the money has gone. The only thing that can be said is that there are more men employed, that a larger sum is being paid in wages, and that there are more contingencies. I should not feel justified, especially when the Committee is weary after listening to a number of speeches, iri dealing at length with the many interesting matters in the Budget; but one of serious moment to which I wish to address myself is the old-age pensions expenditure. I shall not court popularity with honorable members opposite, nor, perhaps, with those on this side, when I say that the expenditure on oldage pensions does not produce the advantages which it should produce. The expenditure of £2,190,000 on old-age pensions will give relief to hundreds and thousands of persons who deserve it, but a considerable percentage of the payments will not be justified according to the principles on which the Act is based. In many parts of the country the money will go to persons who will misspend it, and to whom it will be of little service. It would be easier not to mention this fact, but I have every reason to believe that it is true. Of course, it is not a ground for depriving those who properly spend the relief given to them of the slightest part of their present pensions. Even if the present system of old-age pensions, paid out of the Treasury, is to be maintained, I suggest to the Government that it would be far wiser to introduce some system of local control and management rather than the present system of central control. England has adopted the same system as we have, that of noncontributory payments, but as the Treasurer no doubt is aware, she has adopted quite a different system of administration. Local committees are appointed in the various districts by the local councils. Conditions in England, Scotland and Ireland are of course vastly different from those obtaining here. Settlement is much closer. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- The people are so closely in touch with each other. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- They are so closely in touch with each other that the problem in this respect does not present so many difficulties there as it dees here. Small committees of people who are supposed to be, and, I have no doubt, are familiar, with the actual requirements, habits, character, and circumstances of claimants for pensions, are appointed. There are also pension officials whose duty it is to prevent any injustice being done or any improper refusal of a pension, but the element of closer local control, especially in country districts, ought, I think, to be adopted here. {: .speaker-KNI} ##### Mr Harper: -- Local knowledge. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- Local knowledge should be made use of. I do not hesitate to say that I think the whole basis of the present system of Statepaid old-age pensions is wrong. The system is only justifiable so far as its necessity exists, and I admit that the necessity for it as a measure of temporary relief does exist. No system that we could substitute for it could possibly be applied for a considerable time; some time would necessarily elapse before the people could derive any benefit from it. We have in our midst now large numbers who through no fault of their own are in a position in which it is absolutely necessary to give them this assistance, and Parliament, if I may say so, has wisely determined to extend it to them. I should be very sorry, however, to see a system of old-age pensions doled out by the Treasury made a permanent part of our public polity. I believe it is a thoroughly bad system. It has been adopted in England in the same kind of_ stress of circumstances as compelled its adoption here, and it has been admitted to be a bad one by I believe all the thinkers and writers on this subject, except those few who are intimately connected with the work either in England or here. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Nearly every great reform has been condemned by those wise men of whom the honorable member speaks. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I am speaking not of wise men or philosophers in the sense referred to by the right honorable member, but of men who have been engaged in such work in Belgium, Germany, and Italy - men whose experience is equivalent to that of the Government and the whole df us put together. I have in mind such men as Signor Luzzatti and others who took part in the recent conference, and who have been studying the subject from every point of view. I think I am right in saying that the view of nearly all those who have been engaged in such work is that the contributory basis is the only sound and permanent basis for a system of this kind. {: .speaker-KGZ} ##### Mr Hedges: -- State insurance. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- State insurance. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- State insurance has broken down in Germany. It cost too much to administer. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member makes that statement as if he had some authority for it. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- I know something about it. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- In the latest and most authoritative report we have on the subject - **Sir John** Cockburn's report to the Commonwealth Government on the Hague Convention, which was published a day or two ago - there was no mention of such a thing. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Has the honorable member any idea of how much per head it costs to administer that system ? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member surely does not expect me to carry in my head figures relating to all these matters. The system, however, is heartily believed in by the great body of German people. In the various reports, made from time to time to the Government by **Sir John** Cockburn, there are many statements showing that the German system has received, and is still receiving, the hearty support of all classes in Germany, and that it has immensely increased, or, at all events, gone hand in hand with an immense increase in the prosperity of all classes in that country. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- What should we do in the meantime with those who have no other income but an old-age pension? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I have already admitted that some time would necessarily elapse before such a system could be brought into operation, and that until the people can be brought under it there is absolute necessity to make provision for those who have had no opportunity to make provision for themselves. In other words, until then the State-granted old-age pensions must go on. After all, we are not talking about a new matter. By way of illustration 1 may mention that in Victoria the McLean Government, of which I was a member, adopted a certain policy, imme- diately before its defeat - although it had nothing to do with its defeat - providing for a system of State-aided insurance, combined with State-aided safety bank deposits, which I need not enter into more fully. Combined with that proposal was one to make provision for people who were then either of an age at which they could not help themselves, or who were approaching an age at which they would have no opportunity to make provision for themselves. The House thought that provision inadequate, and, according te our present ideas, it was probably quite inadequate. Any system which we inaugurate must have some such means of dealing with these people ; but if we are going to continue the present system under which the State provides not only old-age pensions, but invalid pensions, which must, of course, go very much beyond the present figures, we shall assuredly introduce into the government of this country an element which will not tend to strengthen the character of the people. I do not say that a young man is likely to be much affected by the knowledge that the Government, when he becomes an old man, may keep him from starvation by the payment of a paltry pittance, such as an oldage pension is; but I do say that a system under which every child, from its earliest infancy upwards, will be taught to believe that it is not its duty to help its relatives when they grow old, and that it will be able ultimately to depend upon the Government, must militate against some of those qualities that have always been the strongest fibre of our race, and especially that branch of our people from whom the Prime Minister comes, and whose blood both he and I have in our veins. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Some of the noblest of them died in the workhouse when they should have been receiving pensions. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We hope that that will never be the fate of people here; and it is precisely because this system, call it what you will, savours of the very kind of relief to which the honorable member refers, that I should be sorry to see it established here. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Does the honorable member think that the practice of paying pensions to our Judges and our civil servants when they retire undermines their manhood? {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- I do not think that is a question which I need answer. I know I am putting forward a view which it is very easy to characterize, by appealing to the emotions and instincts of the people, as utterly callous and inhuman; but on every platform from which 1 spoke before I was returned on the last occasion, I put the same views forward, and found that they received the fullest acceptance, more so, perhaps, than any other part of my platform. I feel that it is not only repugnant to common sense, but opposed to the best instincts of our people, that we should plant here a tree which will not stop at the growth that it has already got, but which will go on growing if we do not substitute for it something based upon the contributory system - something based upon a principle that will give play to the very best instincts that our race possesses. Otherwise we shall certainly not be likely to improve the fibre or character of our people. . I cannot at this stage enter more fully into the question. I throw this out as a suggestion, but I have very little hope that, under present circumstances, it will receive very much attention. I regard it as my duty to put it forward, because I believe very heartily in the principle which underlies what I have said. {: #debate-14-s10 .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON:
Wilmot .- I hope this will be the last time that we shall have the Budget brought down at such a late period of the session. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Hear, hear ! {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- The Prime Minister says " Hear, hear," and, although I do not agree with the attitude which he took up in Opposition, when he told the right honorable member for Swan that a fortnight after the financial year closed was sufficient time to bring in a Budget, I think it ought to be introduced within a month or six weeks thereafter, because it covers nearly all the matters with which the Parliament is seriously engaged during the whole of the session. When, however, the Budget is brought forward at this stage, we have to pass items without due discrimination and criticism, and a House which is supposed to be the guardian of the public purse, ought to have the financial statement presented to it earlier than has been the case since I have been a member. The figures of the Budget must appear striking, because the Treasurer has gathered a revenue of £18,803,873, which amounts to £1,962,244 more than he anticipated when he made his estimate. This year the right honorable gentleman anticipates the still larger return of £19,515,000. The present Government have been very lucky in having struck very good times. Australia has been passing through a period of unprecedented prosperity, and the Government have reaped the benefit. Since they came into power they have had over £6,000,000 per annum more to expend on Commonwealth purposes than have any previous Government. In the year 1908-9 the revenue in the hands of the Treasurer for purely Federal matters was at least that amount less than the present occupants of the Treasury bench have to handle. Another striking fact is that they are going to expend all this money. It seems to me that we are approaching the critical stage of a deficit in Commonwealth finance. In fact, I do not see how it is to be avoided in the near future. The Treasurer's estimate is based on the idea that we are to have continued prosperity. I wish that could be so, but I am afraid that those commercial people who are advising us, both in our private and public capacities, to be careful in our spending have only too good ground for their warnings. Our great revenue comes chiefly from Customs and Excise. In fact, out of the £19,515,000 which the Treasurer expects to receive this year, he is to get £13,800,000 from that source alone. Australia's great wealth still comes from her primary products, and the signs of the times indicate that we are likely to have a production of 25,000,000 bushels of wheat less this year than last. If wheat is not at a much better price, that would mean the deduction of about £5,000,000 from our annual return from that item alone. Commercial people are beginning to anticipate a drop of about £8,000,000 in our exports of wool, wheat, and butter. We exported last year £74,491,000 worth of commodities, of which 65 per cent., or over ,£55,000,000 worth, came from the agricultural, pastoral, and dairying industries. If we are to have any serious decline in our production in that respect, we are bound to have a considerable falling off in the Customs receipts, and if that happens we shall have a deficit. It may not come this year, because the Government, having allotted over £4,000,000 for additions, new works, and buildings, would find it an easy matter to balance the ledger if necessary by cutting that vote down. This, however, would be scarcely a satisfactory way for the Government to adjust the accounts, especially after coming along in a boom period with a boom Budget. Such a procedure, although it could be adopted, would not satisfy those outlying portions of the Commonwealth which need Government works and buildings. The Government propose to meet out of revenue a good deal of expenditure that, in the case of other Governments, is ordinarily paid out of loan money. For that I commend the Government, in so far as the policy applies to works which cannot strictly be described as reproductive. But while that mav lead to a cutting-down of votes, and the prevention of a deficit, I do not see how it is going to help their successors. There is no doubt that the present expenditure will not only be maintained, but increased. Proper provision for defence cannot, and should not, be avoided, whatever Government may be in power; and the Treasurer estimates that invalid and old-age pensions will this year cost £2,190,000. Then we have the Northern Territory ; and, if I am permitted to say so, South Australia has " got " us in transferring its burdens to the Commonwealth. However, that burden is there, and we have to bear it; and although we are losing a large sum annually, the Government have foreshadowed no policy worthy of the name. Neither old-age pensions nor defence can be called reproductive; and the Northern Territory and its railways are not likely to be reproductive for many years to come. Apparently, we have to go on spending large sums of money, leaving the odium of heavy taxation to be borne by the successors of the present Government. For the country to be producing such an enormous revenue, and the Government to be proposing to spend it in the manner laid down in the Budget, shows rather a want of foresight. As to the Northern Territory, the debit shown for the year amounts to £340,244, chiefly made up of the loss on the railways and the interest on the public debt taken over; and we have really nothing in the Budget to show what the Government intend to do towards making the Northern Territory a real asset. I hope that the Government, will not be frightened if private enterprise proposes to step in, because it would probably do more in ten years to develop the country than the Government would do in a century. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- Then why has not private enterprise stepped in during all this time? {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- I am merely suggesting that if people come along with a proposal the Government ought not to say them nay, because they intend to carry out their project by private enterprise. There is another point on which the Government are lamentably lacking. They have told us noth- ingabout immigration; and we have a paltry £20,000 on the Estimates under this head. Ever sinceI can remember, the Labour party have been telling us that they are not against immigration. It was only today, however, that the Minister of External Affairs told me that the Government did not think it worth while to answer some statement that had been made in a London newspaper by a gentleman in Western Australia, warning immigrants not to come here. The Agent-General has done something - the Government could not tell me what - but the Prime Minister promised that he would give the statement an absolute denial if he found it to be untrue. The Labour party have always said that they are not against immigration; but they cannot point to any generous action on their part, or on the part of the present Government, in the way of encouraging it. The time has come when we must invite every man and woman of the right sort to come here, because such people will soon provide for themselves, and so provide work for others. Members of the Labour party have come to this country and bettered themselves physically and financially ; and it is not for them to talk about shutting the doors against other people. Are there no other people left in the Old Country as worthy as honorable members sitting opposite? If I thought Australia could support only 4,000,000 people, I should say it was a very good country for a young man to leave. Another matter as to which we ought to have an explanation of Ministerial policy is that of old-age and invalid pensions. I shall not say much about the subject just now, because I have dealt with it on more than one occasion, and the honorable member for Flinders has been expatiating upon it somewhat to-night. But I do say that the time has arrived when something should be done to alter the present system. If money is to be doled out as at present, we shall run the risk of sapping the self-reliance of the people. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Is the honorable member against the old-age pension system? {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- Whilst I am not against the old-age pension system, I should like to see some collateral system established whereby it might be brought home to the people that it is the duty of every citizen, as far as possible, to put himself above the need of an old-age pension, and also to provide for the necessities of those who are not so fortunate as he may have been. The only impracticable thing about treating Australia as one friendly society is the cost of collecting contributions to work the scheme. But all should be made to contribute in some way, and when a man has to draw his pension there should be no stigma of charity attaching to it. He should be able to take it as a reward of his own foresight. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- There is no charity now. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- Nominally there is no charity, but actually there is. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Not at all. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- A good many people seem to think so. I trust that the Government will review the subject from this point of view. They have done very well out of the old-age pension system so far. They have secured a good deal of support which they did not deserve on account of it. I do not want to detract from what they have done, but, at the same time, they have taken a great deal of *kudos* in reference to old-age pensions that rightly belonged to others than themselves. There is another serious omission from the Budget. Nothing was said by thePrime Minister regarding a scheme for taking over the State debts. When the Commonwealth was established, one of the chief objects for which we federated was the consolidation of the debts. The Prime Minister has told us that he spoke to one or two people in London on the subject, but he would not even disclose their names, and has displayed nothing but the most abject helplessness with respect to thequestion. The Treasurer said that he was going to appropriate the land tax revenue in payment for old-age pensions and defence. There is an objection to that, for old-age pensions and defence are matters of policy affecting everybody, and everybody should contribute. To ask a section of the people to pay land tax in order to defend the country and support old-age pensioners is to make rather an invidious appropriation for services that ought to be borne out of the general revenue. I expected to see in the Budget some provision for a grant to the State of Tasmania. A Royal Commission was appointed by the present Government, and brought in a unanimous report to the effect that Tasmania should be paid a certain sum of money by annual instalments extending over a certain period. In face of that report, the Government ought to have given some indication as to their attitude and intentions. We should know where they intend to get the money from. {: .speaker-K9R} ##### Mr W J JOHNSON:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member for Bass willtell us something about that matter on Thursday. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- We should have heard a statement of policy from the Government, and not have to wait for what may be said by an irresponsible member. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Does the honorable member want money to be taken from old-age pensions and given to Tasmania? {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- No ; but as this Parliament is, in a sense, a court of equity and good conscience, it should see that Tasmania is properly treated. {: .speaker-K9R} ##### Mr W J JOHNSON:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Let the honorable member propose to take the money out of the Defence vote, and I will support him. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- I do not want to see the Defence vote reduced; in fact, our expenditure inthat direction is going to be increased session after session. If the honorable member does not like that policy, he is in for a bad time. I must commend the Government, however, for tackling the question of telephone improvements, and devoting about£2,000,000 to the purpose. They have done the right thing in that respect. But it is about time that they considered the position of the Public Service, which is growing to an inordinate extent, beyond the means of a small population like ours. In the Post and Telegraph Department alone, salaries have been increased, within the twelve months, to the tune of £107,000. The wages of temporary employes have also been increased, and altogether the service is becoming a very expensive one. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Wages have gone up all over the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- Yes ; but the honorable member must recollect that a great number of people working for their living outside the service have precarious jobs. They have not permanent billets like those in Government employ. There is no form of employment outside that keeps so many people at good salaries doing nothing, or very little, for their money as the Government service does. We have a number of officers in the Commonwealth Public Service who are earning from £300 to £400 a year, but who would not be able to obtain such a salary outside the service. They are on the permanent staff, and we have to provide the money. However, that is the way with most institutions run by Government. It is one of the defects of the Government system of management, which 1 suppose we can never get away from. I hope that the Government will see that there is some business oversight of the Civil Service which is fast growing beyond reasonable dimensions. The expenditure upon old-age pensions is becoming so great that the system is in danger of breaking down of its own weight. That is another reason why the Government should see that some prop is put under it in order that we may continue to pay the pensions. It will be a very serious matter for any Government that is faced with the responsibility of paying less than the 10s. per week,the amount of the pension with which we started. If we go on as we are going, and invalid and old-age pensions continue to increase at the present rate, I am afraid that, notwithstanding our unbounded prosperity, there is some danger that the scheme will break down partially, at any rate, of its own weight. I hope that when we come to discuss the vote for old-age pensions the Government will disclose a constructive policy - something different from the talk we have heard from them in the past, and something which may be considered statesmanlike. I hope for it, but, from my experience of the Government, I am afraid that the hope will be in vain. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 2578 {:#debate-15} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-15-0} #### Order of Business Motion (by **Mr. Thomas)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
Parramatta -- I should like to ascertain the intentions of the Government with respect to the business for to-morrow. Do they intend to proceed with the second reading of the Commonwealth Bank Bill, and, after that, with the debate on the Budget? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS:
Minister of External Affairs · Barrier · ALP -- All being well, it is the Prime Minister's intention to make his second-reading speech on the Commonwealth Bank Bill to-morrow. The debate will then be adjourned and the debate on the Budget resumed, and should that be finished in time we shall fall back again on the Commonwealth Bank Bill. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.21 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.