4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., andread prayers.
Sir JOHN FORREST presented a petition,signed by 7,691 persons in Western Australia, protesting against the abolition of the postal vote.
Petition received and read’.
– The petition has been submitted to me, and is quite in order.
– Not as read. No prayer is attached.
– The words “ And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray,” do not constitute the prayer of a petition ; the prayer is the wish expressed by the petitioners.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr.Hughes) read a first time.
New South Wales Electoral Divisions - Typhoid at Port Augusta - Printing of Federal Rolls.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if the proposed electoral redistribution of New South Wales has yet been referred back to the Commissioners. If so, when does he expect to have it returned to him for the consideration of Parliament? Will he get it back before the end of the session ?
– I shall give the honorable member a reply to-morrow.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs if he will take steps to expedite the fresh redistribution of New South Wales into electoral divisions, in order that Parliament may not ‘be prorogued before the scheme is dealt with, and in order that the electors of New South Wales shall be guaranteed something approximating the principle of one vote one value?
– I will let my honorable friend know to-morrow.
– I think that the Minister misunderstood the question which I put to him just now, and, therefore, I will repeat it. ‘ I wish to ask him whether the redistribution scheme for New South Wales has yet been sent back to the Commissioners?
– It is in the Electoral Department, which attends to all that business. I cannot give my honorable friend the desired information till tomorrow. I have not bothered about it.
– Is, not the Minister aware that nothing can be done until he does bother about it? When will he definitely bother about it, and see that the scheme is sent back to the Commissioners?
– When the Queensland and Western Australian redistribution schemes were referred back to the Commissioners, the Chief Electoral Officer attended to the matter at once, and I have no doubt he has done the same in this instance.
– The Electoral Act provides that the Minister may direct the Commissioners to propose a fresh distribution ; and, as I understand the Department cannot act until authorized by the Minister, and time is important, will the honorable gentleman give instructions at once to have the report referred back to the Commissioners?
– There is no trouble about the matter. The Chief Electoral Officer attended to the other States divisions immediately.
– I have rung up the Chief Electoral Officer, and he tells me that he can do nothing without the authorization of the Minister.
– I shall see about the matter.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs, inform the House as to what has been done by the Department to cope with the outbreak of typhoid at Port Augusta ?
– The honorable member informed me that he would ask the question, and I have therefore obtained the following memorandum from the Engineer-in-Chief : -
There are eleven cases of typhoid among our employes and persons relating to these employes. One of the employe’s daughters, aged nineteen, died this morning. Whole of cases are at hospital. Doctor cannot definitely state cause of outbreak. Two fresh cases occurred yesterday, not amongst our employes. Health officer here intends prosecuting local butchers for insanitary condition of premises. Two butchers last week at Quorn fined £21 each. Will forward you analysis of water as soon as received.
We have forwarded supplies of tents, and everything that could be done has been ordered to be done. We cannot tell what has caused the outbreak, but it is not the water supply. I understood from the honorable member that it may be due to the fact that for years premises were used for purposes for which they should not have been used.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether the New
South Wales Government have determined, as reported in the newspapers, to print the State rolls before the Federal rolls?
– I shall let the honorable member know to-morrow.
Lands Ordinance - Development: Royal Commission - Transfer of Officers - Free Carriage of Domestic Supplies
– I understand from, the newspapers that the Minister of External Affairs has promulgated a new Lands Ordinance. I wish to know when it will be available to honorable members, and in what way the Minister proposes to give the House an opportunity to discuss it? He promised to do so this week.
– Copies of the Ordinance will be circulated to-morrow morning. The Ordinance will be laid on the table, and if any one objects to it, it can be dealt with.
– What about the motion on the business-paper?
– That will be taken off.
– Some time ago the Minister of External Affairs announced that it was the intention of the Government _ to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the development of the Northern Territory by means of railways and other agencies. j” wish to know whether he has yet taken any steps to give effect to that promise?
– I am taking steps in that direction, but they have not been finalized. The Estimates have not yet been passed.
– Is provision made for it upon the Estimates?
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the following cablegram which appeared in yesterday’s Age -
The newspapers state that Germans are making inquiries at Cardiff with a view of placing a limitless order for coal to be given immediate delivery in the Mediterranean. Steamers, it is said, must be offered to carry the coal for one, two, or three months at the option of the charterers.
I know that the merchants and ship-owners of Great Britain are careless of the position in which they place the Empire’, but, in my innocence-
– Order ! The honorable member is now travelling beyond the limits of the question.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that this coal might be used against the Empire, and, if so, will he draw the attention of the Imperial authorities to the matter ?
– In answer to the honorable member’s question I doubt whether the King’s Ministers would thank us if we were to advise them how to manage their own local affairs. It is, of course, unfortunate that, as a matter of business, the products of one country may be used in time of war against that country, but it is more important that, in times of peace, civilization should proceed on the under standing that people are conducting their businesses in a human way rather than on the assumption that merchandise will be used for war purposes and the destruction of member* of the human race.
Elective Representation - Railway : Woodlark Island
– A few days ago the honorable member for Melbourne asked me the following questions, upon notice -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
A despatch from the Lieutenant-Governor, dated 24th September, 191 1, stated that the Council were of opinion that the non-official members of the Legislative Council should be nominated and not elected for the following reasons : -
Europeans in Papua by two or three hundred to one, and the only way in which it can be represented is by a system of nomination. I am well aware that there are few, if any, Europeans in Papua who would countenance the ill-treatment of natives, but I cannot think that an election would ever be conducted on lines of native policy, or that purely native questions would arouse much enthusiasm in the breast of the average voter. That is to say, the question which, to the Government, is the most important of all, would be of little or no importance to most of the electors.
It would be a great assistance to have members, upon whose sympathetic assistance we could rely in the discussion of these matters, which we consider of so much moment, and this can be best secured by nomination.
By way of personal explanation, I may state that I was, at one time, in favour of elected members, but on consideration have altered my views. Of course, eventually, elective representation should be granted, but it is thought that the time has not yet come.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice -
– Just as I entered the chamber the honorable member was good enough to hand me a copy of his questions, the answers to. which are -
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if the Committee, or those responsible for the management of this matter, have taken any steps to secure memorials of the late Sir Henry Parkes, Mr. Justice Clark, and a few more Australians who had more to do with the inauguration of the Federation than had anybody sitting here to-day?
– Order ! The honorable member is exceeding the limits of a question.
– The position taken up by the Committee is that they have approved of the painting of a number of portraits of distinguished men. They have turned none down.
– In view of the fact that the history of the world teaches us that memorials of great men are best preserved in the form of statuary, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Committee have imposed a bar upon statuary, and thus prevented any Australian sculptor from having an opportunity of distinguishing himself?
– The Committee have not tabooed anything. They merely propose to obtain, in the first instance, the best representation of distinguishedAustralians that can be got on canvas. At any future time it will be open to the Committee to perpetuate the memory of any distinguished person in any other way they may think advisable.
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether, in the painting of these pictures, it is intended to give preference to Australian artists ?
– Yes. The Artistic Committee, which is advising the General Committee, have arranged to allot the work to Australian artists in Australia and oversea.
– Last week, in anticipation of these Bills, I directed the attention of the Prime Minister to the question whether it was proposed, in their consideration, to apply the time limit, the right honorable gentleman was good enough to say that he would consider the matter. Perhaps the Prime Minister will let us know to-morrow ?
– Yes ; I shall let honorable members know to-morrow. In view of the fact that there are, altogether, six Bills, I think it would be very unwise to unduly stretch the Standing Orders.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the representation of the Commonwealth coat-of-arms which is published in one of the newspapers today is an accurate one j and, if so, whether the Government or this Parliament have power to alter the design?
– The matter is worrying the honorable member.
– It is. I would like to know how it happens that the kangaroo and emu have got up the wattle-tree?
– That represents the financial position of the States.
– In answer to the honorable member, I wish to say that the new design has been approved by the Executive and by the College of Heralds. It is an’ immense improvement on the old coatofarms. All authorities, I think, admit that both the emu and the kangaroo are firstclass representations ; while the wattle decoration is emblematic of Australia in a way that will be appreciated by most honorable members.
– I wish to ask the Min,ister of Trade and Customs whether he noticed in this morning’s newspapers a cable from the medical officer of the Board of Trade, Liverpool, intimating that the outbreak of measles on the steamer Irishman was contracted by passengers while on the voyage to Australia. Can the Minister say whether that is so or not?
– I have not had any report furnished to me upon that question. I will have an inquiry made into it, and will give the honorable member a reply tomorrow.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether he can ascertain how many baths the Board of Trade insisted should be provided on the steamer Irishman, and what was the number of passengers aboard?
– I will endeavour to get the information for the honorable member.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Mr. FISHER (for Mr. Roberts).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are- -
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th November, vide page 5300) :
Division 26 (Secretary’ s Office), £5,562.
.- In reference to the Bankruptcy Bill introduced to-day, I desire to know whether the AttorneyGeneral intends to do more than leave it at the stage where it now stands - -whether he really intends to go on with the measure this session, ot merely to introduce it, as, 1 think, was the intention of the previous Government, with a view to giving the public, and the various- insolvency and bankruptcy Judges and officials and commercial, people, an opportunity to study its provisions. I mention the/ matter because it is really impossible, considering the few weeks of the session that are now left, and the im- portant Bills of which notice has been given, to go through, that measure carefully. I believe that a Bankruptcy Bill was first drafted under the last Deakin Government but one. The Department was then under the direction of the honorable member for Darling Downs. When I was Attorney-General I also went through the Bill, and had consultations with some of the officers and with late Judges as to the scope of it. I think I also annotated its text.
– Order ! It is not in order to discuss a Bill which1 is upon the notice-paper.
– I merely want* to have an idea as to departmental administration. I do not intend to discuss the details of the Bill. 1 wish to know whether the Attorney-General intends to go on with it this session. It seems to me that it would be impossible within the limited time at our disposal to discuss properly a measure of such scope either on the second reading or in Committee. I mention in support of that suggestion that the Bill has already been considered by three Governments, including the present one. It would be a pity to have it rushed through at the end of the session. I asked last week as to whether the Bill was to be introduced, arid now mention the matter again. I notice that several increases are provided on these Estimates. I would not for a moment say that they are not justified, because I think that if there is one Department in the Commonwealth that certainly has to keep going, and that depends largely upon the ability ‘of its officers, it is the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I Believe that the officers are working, during the sittings of Parliament, under a pretty severe strain. Some of the increases seem to be fair; considering the amount of work that falls to the lot of the officers affected, and the special expert skill that is: required from them. Indeed, some of the salaries are low when one takes into account the quality of the service required. I need not specify instances. The Committee is, however, entitled to know whether there is any principle of regulating these increases, or any standard up to which officers can work. There appear to be increases every year in some cases. Is there any standard which, when reached, will be regarded as indicating the normal salary attached to the services of an officer? Every year there seems, to be an increase beyond the amount prescribed by the Public Service Act. There is no doubt a large amount of work to be done, and there was particularly a heavy strain during the past year. I suppose that the business of the Department is likely to expand rather than to remain stationary. Perhaps also the Attorney-General can tell us whether the Crown Solicitor’s visit to the’ United States and Great Britain was one of inquiry as to what was. being done in relation to trust administration and control ? Was he instructed to make any investigations generally in industrial matters, chiefly in connexion with combines and trusts in restraint of trade? I mention that matter because it was stated in the newspapers that the Crown Solicitor was going abroad in connexion with some special mission affecting alleged defects in the Australian Industries Preservation Act - defects which at the time the measure was passed were not detected because there had been no test judgment delivered. There was one case pending; and it struck me as rather peculiar that the Crown Solicitor should have been sent to the United States to make inquiries as to some way of counteracting defects in our Act, the scope and efficacy of which, had not yet been determined by any High Court judgment. There had only been one case - the Huddart Parker case - which did not touch the principle of the Act at all. There was a failure to secure answers to questions administered under two sections of the Act, which sections were held by the High Court fo be ultra vires of our powers. It was thought by some honorable members at the time the Australian Industries Preservation Act of 1906 was being debated that the sections were ultra vires, so that it was no surprise to those conversant with the matter to find that the High Court had declared that our power over corporations did not extend to their State as well as to their Inter-State operations, and. that the scope of our powers was held to be confined, as is the case in connexion with ordinary individuals, to Inter-State operations. I understand that the Crown Solicitor went to the United States to make inquiries on this subject amongst others.
– Did he go to the United States ?
– Perhaps the AttorneyGeneral can tell us. I think that, at any rate, he went as far as Canada. He left here with that object. But we should like to know what the scope of his mission was. What was he directed to inquire into? I can understand that a good deal of useful information might be obtained in the United States and Canada. For instance, in the year 1910 a Canadian Investigation Act was passed, supplementing Acts similar to our Australian Industries Preservation Act. The Canadian Investigation Act enables special Boards to be appointed to inquire into the operation of alleged combines. They thoroughly investigate the operations, and report to the AttorneyGeneral. I do not want to go into details as to their operations, but I may say that the experience of their working has been, according to reports to the Canadian Government, to show that these investigations were much more efficacious than penal legislation in controlling, and in some cases dissolving, combines. There have also ‘been Commissions in America. There was one especially in connexion with the Steel Trust, presided over by a Judge, and recommendations for a new method of control formed part of the report of the Commission. There are several other suggestions to which I need not at present refer ; but I think that if any information has been obtained by the Attorney-General’s Department, the result of Mr. Powers’ mission, and the extent to which he carried it out, should be explained to the Committee.
– The honorable member for Angas* has asked a question with reference to the Bankruptcy Bill. No doubt that Bill is a very important one. It can, in no sense of the word, however, be termed a party measure. I should be very glad to see it pass this Chamber during the present session ; but the convenience of the House is to be consulted, and1 while the Government will do everything in its power to facilitate its passage, its proper discussion must be permitted. As the honorable member knows very well, this measure has been formulated as the direct result of a joint and several effort by a number of persons of standing and reputation in this branch of the law, and this Government claims no more credit for its formulation than have former Governments. I have simply brought it up-to-date, and, as presented to the House, I hope that it represents the hest that can be done .at present in regard to bankruptcy. I trust that the honorable member will not do more in the direction he has indicated after what I have said. We shall not insist upon passing the Bill through the House this session. The House will have the opportunity, and if time is available, we ought to go on with it j if not, we ought not to do so, because it is a very important matter.
I come now to the honorable member’s inquiries in relation to the Department generally. Its business is, with the development of the country, growing very rapidly. That, of course, involves more work, and demands a larger staff. I do not think it is too .much to say that the office at present is understaffed - that with fresh avenues of activity opening on every side, and involving litigation, inquiry, and supervision, it necessarily follows that there is a great deal of work to be done. In regard to the Crown Solicitor and his trip to England, I should like to say that the business for which he went there primarily was in connexion with prosecutions conducted, in the first place, by the Crown in the Commonwealth, and further contemplated prosecutions that may affect the same matter in England. He did not go upon a Commission of Inquiry ; but it was the intention of the Government to ask him to go to Canada and America and to inquire .and report upon matters which are of interest to this Department and the country generally. Owing, however, to the date for the hearing of the Vend case being unexpectedly set forward, the Crown Solicitor returned direct, and did not visit either Canada or America.
These Estimates provide for only two increases other than those provided by the Commissioner. One is for the Crown
Solicitor, and the other is for the Chief Clerk and Assistant Parliamentary Draftsman. As to the Crown Solicitor, his duties have enormously increased since his appointment. For example, when he was appointed, there was a staff of one. There is now a regular staff of seventeen, and, including temporary hands, a total of twenty-four. That is insufficient, and will have to be supplemented shortly. There is now a control of agencies in all States, and supervision of all work done. The taking over of the Northern Territory and the Federal Territory have added very much to the work of the Department. As honorable members know very well, there has been much litigation in which the Commonwealth has been interested, involving, particularly in connexion with the Vend case, a truly enormous volume of work. Honorable members may realize, by the length of the hearing of the case in the Court below, the extent of the work involved in its preparation. No man could have given more attention to the case, or served the Crown more faithfully, than did Mr. Powers-
– I quite agree with the honorable gentleman.
– Not that in that case he acted singularly at all, because in every action in which the Crown is interested die is always most painstaking, accurate, and in every way efficient. I think the Commonwealth is very fortunate in having a Crown Solicitor of his standing and ability. There is a very great deal of work connected with every acquisition of land by the Commonwealth. When territories are taken over, there are questions of title and compensation to be decided, and there has to be a scrutiny of settlements. Then there is the defence of all actions in which the Commonwealth is involved; and the preparation of contracts, agreements, leases, and so forth. The Crown Solicitor is receiving at present £1,000 per annum. That is a lower salary than any Crown Solicitor in Australia is receiving. The Crown Solicitor of New South Wales receives ,£1,650 per annum, and in that State there is also a solicitor to the Railway Department. I think that the salary we now propose to pay him - £1,250 per annum - is a very meagre recognition - and I say this advisedly - of his work.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– I am perfectly sure that, owing to Mr. Powers’ action alone, the country has been saved in one particular case £20,000. As the result of his successful conduct of the motor prosecution, fines to the extent of £20,000 have been received by the Government. Then, again, with regard to the Post Office claims at Perth, we saved £70,000 less than the claim. In the circumstances, therefore, I think the salary is only what is fair and reasonable. As to Mr. Castles, the Chief Clerk and Parliamentary Draftsman, he is, as honorable members who have had the good fortune to come in contact with him know, a most able, accurate, and painstaking officer. He is a barrister and solicitor - a professional man of good standing and long service. He has a most intimate knowledge of South Australian law, which, now that we have taken over the Northern Territory, is of the greatest possible benefit to the Department. I am sure that the honorable member for Angas realizes that.
– I realize all that, but, personally, I do not care to discuss these matters.
– Since the South Australian laws are now running in the Northern Territory, it seems to me that we should have in the Department a man of Mr. Castles’ type. We are proposing to give him an increase of £50 so that he will receive a salary of £650 a year. Mr. Stewart, the Clerk of the Arbitration Court, receives the same salary, and it is smaller than that received by the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury. It is a much smaller salary than the men who are doing corresponding work for the States get. He is an efficient draftsman, and a capable man all round. In regard to the other items of note in these Estimates, there are no other increases except those which the Public Service Commissioner has given in the ordinary way under the Act. But we have taken on a typist in the Secretary’s office. In the office of the Crown Solicitor, in Sydney, there are a 5th class clerk and a 3rd class clerk. In the high Court th’ere is a chief clerk in the place of Mr. Stewart, who is now exclusively engaged in the Arbitration Court. Beyond that there are no alterations - no additions to the staff, and no increases in salary. These Estimates stand practically as before, the alterations being of an unimportant kind.
– I do not think that the Attorney-General quite appreciated the question which was put by the honorable member for Angas, who, like any one else who has been in touch with this Department, generally speaking, would have nothing but words of praise for the industry, the ability, and the loyalty of the officers. He raised no question as regards increments. If we take the Estimates, as a whole, we shall find that in the different Departments there are increases proposed throughout the clerical service. Some of these increases are purely automatic.
– There are practically none here.
– That is just the point I wish to emphasize. Has -there been any common action by the Ministers whereby the officers in all the Departments may get absolutely fair play as regards increases? What the honorable member for Angas desired to know was whether any direction or instruction had been given by the heads of the Service, so that each Department affected might have a fair chance of getting uniformity of treatment as regards increments.
– Is not the Public Service Commissioner there to do that?
– That shows how little the Minister of External Affairs knows pf what is going on in the Departments, because an interjection was just made by one of his colleagues of which I do not care to take advantage. It is not merely a case of the Public Service Commissioner recommending an increment. There is a good deal more which is done before that stage is reached, and it generally depends upon whether the finances can stand increases through the Departments. That is an element which is sometimes taken into consideration. All that I desire to elicit is whether there has been through the Departments uniformity of action.
– Dr. Wollaston got more than Mr. Lockyer does.
– The honorable member is only giving me an instance of those officers who are high up in the Departments. I am not asking about them. There is a number of increases right through the Service. There are cases of men getting increases automatically up to a certain scale.
– They are all automatic.
– There are some increases which are recommended by the heads of Departments.
– We are now dealing with the salaries of the Crown Solicitor and Mr. Castles.
– The latter officer is outside this discussion. 1 am speaking of the general body of officers in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th classes, and I desire to elicit whether any consideration has been given to the question of securing uniformity in the Departments in respect to recommendations. In other words, where the heads of Departments made submissions to the Commissioner, was any uniformity in that respect observed right through the Service?
– I can only speak for myself. I know nothing about such an attempt at getting uniformity. Certainly what has been done in my Department has been done solely by myself, and in consultation with the head.
– Quite so. As regards the increases running through the Departments, does each Minister simply administer his own Department without reference to the other Departments as regards increments?
– Of what particular class, of increases is the honorable member speaking?
– I am speaking generally of increases in the Clerical Division.
– I thought that the honorable member was talking about the heads of Departments only.
– No; I am not concerned about them. There are only a. comparatively few officers who are outside the authority of the Commissioner.
– So far as I know, and so far as my Department is concerned, the Commissioner has acted on his own initiative. I have done absolutely nothing.
– At the same time, when the Estimates are being framed, and sums of money are put on them, there are always inquiries made.
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I can only say that I know nothing about the matter.
– I accept the AttorneyGeneral’s statement. I conclude that there has been no attempt at uniformity except so far as the Public Service Commissioner has been able to secure it.
– Is not that the propel way ?
– As regards the position of the Bankruptcy Bill, I was glad to hear the Attorney-General say what he did.:
What the honorable member for Angas urged was the inadvisability of proceeding with the measure this session; and I think that the course which the Attorney-General has suggested is a wise one. In 1907, when I was Attorney-General, I had a Bill drafted which was submitted to a conference of expert officers of all the States except Victoria. This measure, which was based on the latest legislation in the Old Country, our local statutes, and the recommendations from trie Board of Trade, and adapted to local conditions, was approved by those officers, and was afterwards submitted confidentially to Judges and one or two other experts, and they gave us, very generously, the full benefit of their criticism. Our desire then was that, after the Bill had been submitted to the House, it should be circulated so that the trade organizations throughout Australia might have a chance of considering its provisions, and making any recommendations they thought fit to the Department. It is a wise course which, I think, the Attorney-General has decided to take. The Bill will be circulated, and the Chambers of Commerce, Traders Associations, and other persons concerned, will have an opportunity of examining its provisions, finding out its defects and submitting recommendations. As the AttorneyGeneral knows, the first drafting of the measure was a very difficult and troublesome task, on ‘ account of the great diversity in the bankruptcy laws in Australia. I desire now to ask a few questions concerning the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Is the Attorney-General in a position to-day to state the number of cases with which the Arbitration Court has dealt, and to tell us to what extent it has been successful, on its conciliatory side, in the prevention rather than the settlement of disputes? At his request, the House altered the Arbitration Act, and we inserted a provision which enabled compulsory conferences to be held, so as to prevent disputes. Can he tell us to what extent that power has been operated successfully ? I hope to hear that it has been the means of settling and preventing ‘disputes, and securing industrial .peace. Further, we have changed the status of the Industrial Registrar. Formerly, he was simply an officer of the Department, but now he is a statutory officer. That alteration, I presume, indicates ,an increase in his status, and .an extension of ‘his functions. I infer that the object of making him Industrial Registrar was that, before cases came before the Court, that is, when they were in the preliminary stage of disputes, he might be able to make some inquiries, to perform some acts of administration, to see if he could not get hold of some information, or of the parties, and perhaps become, as an officer of the Court, in that way an intermediary to prevent disputes.
– He has a very close and intimate acquaintance with the whole procedure.
– Can the honorable gentleman tell us to what extent the Industrial Registrar has exercised these administrative functions? He will remember that he promised the other day to consult with the Registrar of Patents on the question’ of costs. I should like to know whether he has held a consultation, and is able to do anything in that respect? There is only one other subject relating to this Department on which I should like to get some information. I should like to know from the Attorney-General what has been the result of the investigations made by his Department under the Australian Industries Preservation Act. I do not ask for information that is confidential, but I should like to be told how many investigations have been found /necessary. I agree with the Attorney-General that his Department is not overmanned. Indeed, the work done by it with the staff at its disposal is wonderful. The tremendous expansion of the other Departments has thrown a great deal of work on to the officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and it is satisfactory to know that that work has been done with so little expense to the public. Were the Department to charge the other Departments for its advice. as they .charge it for services, it would, perhaps, appear as one of the best earning Departments in the Commonwealth.
.- I wish to know from the Attorney-General whether it is possible to obtain from the Registrar of the Industrial Court an annual report, giving a full account of the operations under the Arbitration Act? Such a document would be very valuable and informative to honorable members. Some of the information which is sought by the honorable member for Darling Downs I obtained in the form of a return, in which specific replies were given to specific questions. . That return showed the favorable operation of the law in .the prevention of industrial disputes.
– I shall be very glad to see that in future a record of all the cases dealt with under the Act is prepared, and made available on the submission of the Estimates. I asked for the information on this occasion, but it has not yet been given to me. When I get it I shall make it available to honorable members. Thirty or forty inquiries have been made regarding alleged trusts and combines, but, except in three or four cases, the latter have been confined to one State, or, for some other reason, are not under the control of the Commonwealth. It is, of course, necessary for the Department to obtain some information as a starting point for its investigations, and this information is not to be obtained readily. We are at a great disadvantage in this respect, but we have a. large amount of information regarding trusts and combines, some of which I shall make public to-morrow.
.- The information asked for by the honorable member for Maribyrnong was read out by the AttorneyGeneral. I, myself, with a view to sending it to the Old Country, asked for a return to be made during the recess, showing the operations of the Arbitration Court, and, if I recollect aright, a letter was sent to me indicating the position up to the 31st December last. An annual return would be a good thing, and would remove misapprehensions as to the work of the Court. Such returns would have to be examined very carefully, to justly weigh the work of the Court. According to the information supplied to me, only nineteen cases were heard between the 15th December, 1904, when the Act came into force, and the 31st December, 191 1, and only nine awards were made. Some of the awards, however, such as the Shearers’ award, resulted from a hearing extending over sixty-four days, and the Tramway dispute occupied a still longer time.’
– But a number of agreements have been drawn up.
– This matter cannot be dealt with piece-meal. Great care is needed for the investigation of the complex relations of employers and employes throughout the Commonwealth. At the present time it is beyond the power even of the President to do ample justice in every case, because men are summoned long distances to take part in proceedings in which there are, perhaps, as many as 200 respondents, and in which their interest is very small. In a certain shipping case, one man, who owned only two vessels of 15 or 1 6 tons burden, was summoned from Adelaide to Sydney to take part in a dispute in which other respondents were men controlling vessels of 6,000 and 7,000 tons register. I do not in the least wish to discount the excellent work done by the Arbitration Court, or to minimize the care and patience displayed in its investigations. While only nine awards were made, over 100 industrial agreements were arrived at in 1911. During the first year, only four industrial agreements were made, though of late years there has been a great increase in the number. But, in this matter, close analysis is necessary to get at the facts. Sometimes as many as fifteen or twenty agreements are made in connexion with the settlement of one claim. In the Engine-drivers’ case, agreements were made separately in Melbourne, Sydney, and Broken Hill, as if between different parties.
– It has been the same in the Tramways case.
– An annual return would be very helpful to honorable members in informing them of the work of the Court, and in guiding them to an estimate of the value of the results of our legislation. I wish to add that I have not suggested that the Attorney-General should go on with the Bankruptcy Bill. What I think is that we should know his intention in advance, because time is required to refresh one’s memory on many matters when dealing with so difficult a measure.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 27 (Crown Solicitor’s Office),
.- This seems an opportune moment to refer to the cases of State officers who are discharging Federal duties without any remuneration. Some time ago, I drew attention to the work done for the Commonwealth by theProthonotary of the Supreme Court of Victoria, without fee or reward. On that occasion, the Minister of External Affairs promised to bring the matter under the notice of the AttorneyGeneral. The fact is that at one time the Victorian Government held that it was entitled to the remuneration earned by this official in working for the Commonwealth, although much, if not all, the work was done in his own time. Naturally he, and those of his friends who are acquainted with the circumstances, felt considerably aggrieved. Later, his services were required for the consolidation of the rules and ordinances of the High Court. I do not think anybody will deny that that work has been efficiently done.
– I believe that Mr. 0’ . Hal loran does his work very well indeed.
– According to report, so do the Justices of the High Court. The Victorian Government have since reconsidered the matter, and have allowed Mr. O’ Halloran to receive some reward from the Commonwealth for the work which he performs. But the remuneration which is paid by the Commonwealth represents little more than one-half of what the Prothonotary could obtain from outside firms for this particular work.
– We have paid £100 for it.
– I believe that at least £150 was offered by a firm of law stationers for doing the same work. The Commonwealth ought not to be less liberal than is a private firm, especially as Mr. 0’ Halloran has not been remunerated for the work which he has performed on previous occasions. It is this circumstance which makes his case a particularly hard one. I feel sure that the Attorney-General has no wish to utilize any man’s services and abilities for less than their market value. As the officer did the work in question in his own time, and not in that of the State of Victoria, I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will recognise that he has a just claim to more liberal treatment.
.- I would like the Attorney-General to tell us whether the sums which Parliament votes to the Registrars of the High Court in the different States ever reach their intended destination? Of course, the States must fix the salaries of their own officers, and when the Commonwealth asks those officers to discharge extra duties on its behalf, the States have necessarily to say whether or not they will grant ‘ them increases. If a State officer who is in receipt of a fixed salary of £500 a year, performs additional duties for the Commonwealth - the Commonwealth paying the State for the services which he renders it -it is only fair that he should receive an increment.
– Especially if he renders those services in his own time.
– Exactly. This matter was brought under the attention of the Com mittee last year by the honorable member for Coolgardie, and, on that occasion, I mentioned the position taken up by Queensland in this connexion. We both urged the Attorney-General to communicate with the States with a view to ascertaining whether anything could be done in the matter. I should like to know whether he has done so, and, if so, whether any reply has been forthcoming.
– We pay for all services which are rendered to the Commonwealth.
– But the unfortunate individuals who render those services do not get the benefit of that payment.
– That is a State matter.
– Seeing that the Commonwealth pays for the services that are tendered, it is only fair that we should make some representations on the matter. A State officer ought not to be farmed out to us. I always hold that the labourer is worthy of his hire. When a State officer renders service to the Commonwealth, he ought to receive an increased remuneration. The work performed by our Registrars is not of a routine character. It is important administrative work, and I think it is highly desirable that representations on this matter should be made to the States.
– In regard to the representations of the honorable member for Coolgardie and the honorable member for Darling Downs, the position taken up by the Commonwealth is that we pay for all services rendered to the Commonwealth. But we have no means of catching hold of a State servant, and saying to him, “ We are going to pay you for the work which you do for us.” We have to pay the State which employs him, and the State sticks to the money. I agree with the honorable member for Darling Downs that that is not a fair course to adopt. But I see no way. by which we can prevent it. We cannot ask Mr. O’Halloran to leave the employment of the State. We pay £100 a year for the special service which’ he renders to the Commonwealth. As to the advisableness of making representations to the States, we have already done that on many occasions, and, generally speaking, our efforts have been resultless. I agree with the honorable member for Darling Downs that, if a State officer, who renders service to the Commonwealth, for which the State is paid, does not receive the benefit of the money thus voted, he is being cheated.
.- From my own personal experience, 1 can say that this Parliament has a great deal for which to thank Mr. O’ Halloran. That gentleman has rendered the Commonwealth very valuable service, and for the Victorian Government to refuse to allow him to personally benefit by any vote of this Parliament is absolutely wrong. But surely the Attorney-General’s Department can devise some way of adequately remunerating this officer for the work which he has performed already, and for the services which he will be called upon to render the Commonwealth in the future. I recollect the occasion on which there was an appeal to the High Court in connexion with the result of the Riverina election. For three weeks, Mr. O’Halloran had full charge, under the direction of the Court, of the scrutiny, recount, inspection of documents, &c, and very often he was engaged in his labours until n o’clock at night. In the most painstaking manner, he so arranged matters that they could be presented to the Court in a very expeditious fashion. I have always felt that such an officer should be adequately rewarded for the services which he renders. The amount on the Estimates does not represent anything like an adequate reward in this connexion. On the occasion to which I have referred, all the litigants held him in the highest esteem for the admirable way in which he discharged his duties. I ask the Attorney-General to see if it is not possible to make some provision whereby effect may be given to the intention of this Parliament by insuring that the money voted by it shall find its way into the pockets of its rightful recipient, and not into the coffers of the State.
– The honorable member would apply the same principle to every officer whose services are utilized in the same way?
– Certainly. If any State officer renders valuable service to the Commonwealth in his own time, he should receive whatever remuneration this Parliament in its wisdom may see fit to grant him from time to time.
– There is nothing that we can do. I have already made inquiry into this particular case, and will make further inquiry into it.
– I am surprised that any State should wish to deprive a valuable officer of the remuneration to which he is justly entitled. Mr. O’Halloran did not render service to the Commonwealth in the hours which properly belonged to the Victorian Government as his employer. He gave many hours of his own time to the discharge of his duties to the Commonwealth, and thus saved litigants a great deal of expenditure by shortening the proceedings. Surely the Attorney-General and the Department are not so barren of resources as not to be able to prevent the intention of this Parliament being frustrated by the action of a State Government? I trust that some method will be found to adequately remunerate this officer for services for which he has practically received no payment.
.- I recognise the difficulty is one not’ easy to surmount, unless some arrangement is come to with the States under the Public Service Act. Every time a particular work is done by a State officer, we cannot give him so much money. It is impossible to tell to what extent the work has been done during his time of service as a State officer, or to what extent the Commonwealth work may have diminished his vitality for the performance of the State work. I dislike mentioning names, particularly in connexion with this Department, because otherwise we do not know where we shall end in considering the Estimates. I recognise the valuable work done by Mr. O’Halloran, who, from what I have heard, has not been adequately remunerated for the special duties he has performed. Speaking generally, complaint has been made from time to time that certain State officers have not received the special fees or allowances paid by the Commonwealth to the States; but we cannot very well interfere in the internal discipline and management of State Departments. The Public Service Act, by section 36, enables us to arrange with a State for the performance of any work or services by a State officer; and I suggest that, if the work be fairly constant, we ought to arrange with the State as to what is, the annual value of that work.
– That is done.
– The object, I fancy, is 10 determine what shall be paid to the State.
– We pay the adequate value of the man’s services to us.
– But I am afraid that, in the majority of cases, we pay the adequate value of a particular job, which is a different matter altogether. The services of the prothonotary of a Supreme Court are constant, and on his regular duties as a
State officer there have been duties superimposed by the Commonwealth. We ought to be able to say what that officer’s services are worth each year, and pay him that amount ; and, of course, if, at any time, the Commonwealth ceases to call upon him, then his salary will abate to that extent.
– Recommendations to that effect have been placed before each State, and all, with the exception of New South Wales, have refused to permit them to be carried out.
– I know that in South Australia the idea w.as that the performance of the Commonwealth duties would raise the salaries of the State officers as State salaries.
– Perhaps the better way would be to place the correspondence on the table, instead of arguing .the matter in its absence.
– We shall not argue for a moment on the question of fact, if the AttorneyGeneral’s memory is correct.
– I am quite sure; but I do not desire the House to accept my recollection, and would prefer to lay the correspondence on the table.
– As Attorney-General, I made representations to the States, and I know that what the Attorney-General says is correct.
– There is no question about representations having been made ; what I am asking is whether it has ever been recommended or suggested that, in consideration of these extra duties, an addition should be made by way of a Commonwealth salary to the State salary of the officer. If an addition be made to the State salary, and the Commonwealth services were discontinued, then the officer might have a grievance if his salary were reduced.
–All that has been considered, and the States would not accept the suggestion.
– In “South Australia the idea was that the State, which got pay: ment from the Commonwealth, should pay a bigger salary to the officer, but the objection to that was that if the Commonwealth services - as is probable - were discontinued, it would be difficult to lower the State salary.
– Every case has to be considered on its merits.
– Every office, but not every instalment of work.
– Where the Commonwealth services involve the employment of an additional State officer, the question isquite different.
– But I am speaking of a case where it involves an increase in a State officer’s duties. One reason why some of the States have declined to allow the payment to be made to the officer direct, is that previously special grants have been made for services outside the ordinary State work. For instance, in ‘South Australia, officers in the Postal Department were called upon to do certain work for the Savings Bank, and for those services they were paid directly by the Bank.. This was discontinued under the Commonwealth regime, though before Federation, it had practically been discontinued in a good many offices. In the District or Local Courts of South Australia, certain officers* received additional payment for work inconnexion with.. the registration of licences, births, deaths, and marriages, and so» forth ; and in some instances these payments constituted the bulk of their annual” salary. That system was discontinued, and a specific salary paid to cover all services ; and it may be that, because of this, special payment by the Commonwealth isobjected to.
Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON (Lang> [4.40]. - Notwithstanding the fact that the Attorney-General’s Department is one that’ does not employ a large amount of casual’ labour, or labour of any kind, I find that for temporary assistance a large sum of money is spent. Last year, under this head, we voted £500, and there was an expenditure of £62$, and this year we are asked tovote £500 for the Crown Solicitor’s Office. Throughout the branches, I find’ that the outlay on temporary assistance isno less than £1,500.
– That is in connexionwith the Vend cases.
– ELLIOT JOHNSON.- Are we to understand, then, that the Department isinsufficiently equipped with clerical and other assistance to carry out the ordinary work ?
– Does the honorable member call the Vend cases ordinary work?
– Certainly ; Crown prosecutions of all kindscome within the category of ordinary services in this Department. I take it that the £1,500 does not include counsel’* fees?
– That is clerical work with reference to the Vend case; There, was an enormous amount of work to be done.
– Will it be necessary to employ temporary hands every time the Department has a prosecution in hand?
– The temporary assistance was wholly clerical, and was needed for thepreparation of the Vend case.
– Temporary assistance has also been employed in connexion with other branches of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– The Vend case occupied’ seventy-two days, and that is as long as twenty-four long High Court cases.
– It seems to me that ^1,500 for temporary assistance for the Attorney-General’s Department is rather a staggering, sum for one year. If every time a case is taken in hand temporary assistance has to be invoked, we may look forward to this item of expenditure being considerably on the up grade in the future. If the Crown Solicitor’s office is not sufficiently equipped with officers for properly preparing and dealing with cases which the Crown has to take in hand, it is time that steps were taken to put the Crown Solicitor’s office upon a more satisfactory working business basis.
..- We shall all agree with the general principles laid down by the honorable member for Angas, namely, that where the Commonwealth obtains the services of a State officer, and duties are performed by him which occupy a great deal of his official time, the remuneration ought to be paid to the State. Any rigid rule is, however, sure to produce complications. In the case that I have mentioned, that difficulty does not arise. This gentleman did Federal work in his own” time. The point which the Attorney-General did not bring out is that the State of Victoria does not object to his receiving remuneration. The State Attorney-General is quite agreeable to the Federal Government paying to him anything it thinks fit for the work which he does for the Commonwealth. That takes his case out. of the category to which others belong.
– The honorable member is alluding to the case of Mr. O’Halloran. I will look into it from the stand-point that he has indicated. It was represented to me that the work done by him was that of compiling a law-book.
– The work was consolidating the multitudinous rules of the High Court.
– I will look into the matter favorably.
.- I should like to bring under the AttorneyGeneral’s notice the case of some severe fines inflicted on cadets in Lismore. Fourteen were brought up for non-attendance at drill, and were fined an amount totalling. ^99 odd. The fines varied from £po to £5. These cadets are the sons of working men.
– When did the cases occur ?
– Within the last month.
– They must have been gross cases.
– I believe some of them were bad cases.
– Were the cadets recalcitrants? Had they been given a chance, and did they decline to- attend drill?
– I do not think so.
– I do not see how they could have been fined ;£io unless it were for contempt of Court.
– It seems to me that these fines are much too heavy.
– Speaking from- memory, instructions have been given to magistrates that they shall not impose a fine without giving a cadet a chance. They usually give six weeks or two months. But if within that time a cadet does not attend his drill, something must be done.
– I admit that something must be done, but it appears to me that such exorbitant fines should not be imposed. When cadets fail to attend drill there should be some method of handing them, over to the military authorities.
– Perhaps in some cases fathers keep their boys working, arid will not allow them to attend drill.
Mr- GREENE.- I do not think that happened in these cases. I do not want the Attorney-Genera! to deal with particular cases, but to consider whether it isadvisable that such heavy fines should be- inflicted at all.
– The honorable member is not in order in ‘ discussing the fining of cadets on this item. It is a defence matter.
– I am dealing with the administration of the law.
– My Department simply carries out the instructions of the Defence Department as an ordinary solicitor would.
– I know that that is the position ; but I wish to know whether the Attorney-General cannot, in administering the law, find some other method of dealing with cadets than the imposition of exorbitant fines.
– If the facts are represented to me, and they bear a favorable construction, I will certainly consider them; but the cases must be considered on the facts.
– I quite agree with the Attorney-General in that respect. My point is that the actual administration of the law comes within his Department.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the matter on this item.
– I am dealing purely with the administration of the law, believing that heavy fines make the Defence Act unpopular.
– The honorable member can discuss that matter in connexion with the Defence Estimates.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 28 (The High Court), £8, 100
– The first item that strikes me in connexion with this division is £893 for tipstaffs. What is a tipstaff ? Is he a person who distributes or receives tips? What are his duties?
– I will appoint a Commission to inquire into the matter, and will lay its report upon the table of the House ! Personally, I could not tell a tipstaff from a cabbage ! I know that they cannot be done without, because the High Court says so.
– Apparently there is no need to vote the money, because, though £882 was appropriated, the expenditure column does not contain a record of disbursements under that head last year.
– I believe that a tipstaff is just an ordinary messenger writ large.
– I suppose he is called by an aristocratic name because he happens to be an officer of the High Court.
– The tipstaff is the joker who opens the Court and swears people in.
– I Suppose the office is an institution which has. been handed down from, mediaeval times.
– A Court could not dowithout a tipstaff.
– The remuneration, £893, for five tipstaffs, can. hardly be considered excessive. The point, that I wish to emphasize is that last year £882 was set down for their remuneration, but that in the expenditure column there is a blank, so that we do not know how much was actually expended. Did these officers give their services for nothing, or was that sum of £882 dispensed in somemysterious way about which Parliament knows nothing?
– I only know that the money has gone.
– All salaries are dealt with in the same way. No information is given, in the expenditure column.
– f. should like to know in what way the money has been disbursed.
– The practice tq which, the honorable member refers is followed throughout these Estimates. No doubt there was a reason for instituting it.
– If the Attorney-General is not able to give us. the information, I do not know where weare to look for it. There seems to be nodifficulty in showing the amounts expended’ in respect to other items, and I think -we should adopt the practice of showing what* proportion of the sums appropriated in respect of salaries is actually expended.
– All fixed salaries are treated in this way.
– The system has been adopted, perhaps, for the sake of economy in printing. But all the same, moneys voted and moneys expended’ should both be set out in the columns under their respective heads. Although no details1 are given in the expenditure column, at the bottom of that column there is a total of £2,416 in respect of salaries in subdivision” No. r. I do not know how that total is* arrived at. but perhaps the Department hassome private figures and memoranda of disbursements which are not supposed to bein any way the concern of the Parliament. Although the Attorney-General is responsible for the expenditure of this Department, he admits that he has not the faintest idea of how this money is expended. He says that he is quite unable to fathomthe mystery. I am afraid, therefore, we- shall have, as usual, to vote this money blindly, without knowing its destination, except as indicated in the general body of the division.
.- There is in this division an item of £3,500 in respect of “ travelling expenses.” Last year £3,157 was expended under this heading. I should like the AttorneyGeneral to give the Committee some idea of the way in which this money is expended. ‘
– It represents the travelling expenses of the Justices of the High Court.
– Does it cover only their travelling expenses?
– There are also the expenses of their associates and the tipstaffs.
– Would it not include the travelling expenses of certain officers of the Department?
– It covers, I am informed, the travelling expenses of the High Court Justices and their associates.
– And tipstaffs.
– Are we to understand that the tipstaffs travel with the Justices?
– Of course.
– I make the inquiry because I find that the item is only part of a total of £4,500 in respect of travelling expenses. That seems to be a large expenditure in connexion with the Attorney- General’s Department. It would appear, in the absence of information, that the item is fast exceeding all reasonable bounds.
.- I should like some information as to the item “ Compensation for services of Commonwealth and State officers, £800.” Would the Attorney-General state to what Commonwealth officers compensation was paid?
– I desire to call the attention of the Attorney-General to the item “ Temporary assistance, £150.” Last year £140 was voted for this purpose, and £156 was expended. Was this temporary assistance specially required in connexion with the Vend prosecution, or are we to understand that it is to be continued from year to year?
– With reference to the item of travelling expenses, I would point out that last year, owing to the absence of Mr. Justice O’Connor, the ex penditure was only £3,157, as against £.3,500, which is the amount usually voted for travelling expenses. It applies only to the Justices and their associates. With regard to the item of £800 for compensation for services of Commonwealth and State officers, I wish to inform the honorable member that these are all State officers except two, namely, the Registrar and the Marshal - Mr. Bingle and Mr. Castles - the former of whom is in the Home Affairs Department, and the latter in my own Department. They get £40 each. The balance of £720 is for compensation to State officers. The amount on these Estimates for temporary assistance is very small. As the item stands, it is payment for temporary assistance which, necessarily, all the Departments must have from time to time, but the nature of which I am unable to indicate other than by saying that a vote is taken every year. Last year, for instance, £140 was voted, and £156 paid.
– Of what nature has this assistance been?
– I do not know. It may have been the employment of a charwoman.
– Why not increase the staff?
– The item is usual and proper in the circumstances. It has appeared on the Estimates from year to year, and the sum is not monumental. There are five Judges, and a large number of Law Courts to be looked after ; and, after all, the expenditure amounts to a little less than £3 per week.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 29 (Court of Conciliation and Arbitration), £5,115
– This is, I think, an opportune time to remind the Attorney-General that Mr. Justice Higgins has been taken out of the Arbitration Court a great deal, and employed on other work. That, in my opinion, has had the effect of delaying the hearing of cases. I understand that a great many cases have been listed, and that there is a good deal of discontent amongst the parties because they have had to wait so long for a hearing. Naturally, if the Judge is taken away from the Arbitration Court to do other work, it will create discontent amongst the parties. In view of the fact that there is a large number of people appealing to the Arbitration Court, cannot the Attorney-General make an arrangement for Mr. Justice Higgins to- sit continuously in the Court, or, perhaps, appoint another Judge to deal with arbitration matters, and assist him? This is a very important branch of the Commonwealth Service. If the wheels of industry are in any way stopped through parties not getting opportunities to go to the Arbitration Court, it will mean a very serious loss to manufacturers and commercial men. The Arbitration Court is a very important one; and if we can facilitate its operations by allowing cases to get a quicker hearing it will, I feel sure,, give the greatest satisfaction to the parties concerned therein. The Postal employes have had to- apply to the Court, and the hearing of their case was almost completed when the Judge was taken to another State, and the case was, _ consequently, postponed until after Christmas. That is not fair treatment. Will the AttorneyGeneral see if it is not possible to allow the work of the Court to proceed without interruption, or, if he cannot do that, will the Government consider the advisability of appointing another Judge to the High Court Bench, so as to allow the work to be pushed forward as quickly as possible?
The honorable member for South Sydney has opened up a line of argument which 1 had intended to raise. There is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in the country in regard to the present methods of work in connexion with the Arbitration Court. No part of our work is attracting more world-wide attention than is our endeavour to settle disputes, and arrange our industrial machinery by means of conciliation and arbitration. In all parts of the world, people are investigating and inquiring as to how our judicial machinery to settle industrial disputes is working. To my mind, the Arbitration Court has utterly failed to meet the situation. The long, dreary intervals, the lengthened procedure which is necessary, the difficulty of getting a hearing, the considerable delays which are occurring in getting access to the Court are far from encouraging the settling of industrial disputes. As one who believes that conciliation and arbitration are reasonable and Christian-like methods of settling disputes, particularly those relating to the every-day life of the community, I contend that there should be the easiest possible access to this Court, and without the slightest delay in any direction. That Mr.
Justice Higgins has been able to do. so much is, I think, a tribute to his energy and ability. I very much deplore the sometimes far from complimentary personal references which are made to him and to his decisions. Honorable members in this Chamber, and some officials high in the Government service outside, have not thought it beneath their dignity to cast reflections upon his decisions, altogether overlooking the fact that Mr. Justice O’Connor gave, in. my opinion, much stronger decisions in favour of the workers than MrJustice Higgins has ever done. If these two Judges found it necessary, in the process of administering the law, to insist upon better conditions for the workers, it is no reflection upon them, but a direct reflection on the administration in the past-
– Is it in order, sir, for the honorable member to enter upon a defence of a Judge in this way, and so invite a reply from an honorable member who may happen to hold a different opinion? I think it is to be regretted that the honorable member should bring up these personal considerations. No attack has been made upon Mr. Justice Higgins that I am aware of, and, therefore, no defence from the honorable member is needed. I think that His Honour would not thank the honorable member for entering upon a defence of him in Parliament, lt is a wellknownrule of the House that we may not criticise a Judge except on a specific motion; and, if we may not criticise a Judge in an adverse sense, by implication, therefore, the honorable member may not enter upon a defence of Mr. Justice Higgins when no attack has been made.
– The honorable member for Brisbane is not, in my opinion, in order in discussing .a Judge at all, either favorably or otherwise, except on a specific motion; and I was about to call him to order when the honorable member for Parramatta intervened.
– In my opinion, the methods of access to the Arbitration Court are not what they ought to be. The delays in getting to the Court are altogether unreasonable. I have been, associated to some extent with the Tramway case, and the continual delays and interruptions in the hearing of the case have caused no end of trouble. I believe that the time has arrived when either Mr. Justice Higgins, or some other . Judge, should be relieved entirely from other work, and asked to devote his whole time to the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or another Judge should be appointed. I should think that there is sufficient work in the Arbitration Court to keep one Judge fully occupied during the whole year. There is no more important matter in connexion with the industrial work of the Commonwealth than is this Court. We have deliberately opened its doors tothe Public Service. They are already organizing. Two cases are listed on their behalf, and yet the hopes of getting to the Court within a reasonable time are altogether illusory. It is doubtful whether they will get there, and when they do get there, the fact of the Judge being withdrawn for other work means such an amount of delay, postponement and interruption that one wonders really if the Court is worth having at all. I question at times, “whether we would not be better without the Court as it is now working. It is because I believe in the principle of conciliation and arbitration, and hold that we are making an experiment on right lines, that I should like to see this Court made effective and useful to the people. My objection to these Estimates is that they are not twice or thrice as large as they are. I would gladly support an increase to the extent of doubling or trebling the present cost of the Arbitration Court in order to secure ready access and the prompt hearing of cases. The expenses in settling industrial disputes are an altogether unreasonable and unfair tax upon the parties. I am not referring to the workers’ side of the question particularly. To get an industrial dispute settled quickly is, I believe, the earnest desire of every honorable member. Our wish is that a dispute shall be settled promptly; that the wheels of industry shall not unnecessarily be stopped, and that in the easiest possible way, and at the least possible expense, the parties to a dispute may come to an agreement. But the present methods of the Court lay upon both the workers and the employers an unreasonable outlay in prosecuting their cases. If we believe in this principle for the settlement of industrial disputes, I fail to see why the country should not bear the cost of a settlement without laying the responsibility upon the parties to a dispute. An industrial dispute is not like an ordinary dispute which comes before a Judicial Court. It is not acivil case in the sense that two parties are arguing about a point of law. It is a matter which vitally con cerns the daily life of the people, and means pounds to the country. Every day’s delay in getting cases heard is of paramount importance to the whole people. Therefore, let the country accept the responsibility of settlingthe disputes quickly and easily, and with no expense to the parties concerned. We must guard, of course, against the introduction of frivolous cases.
– What charges do you refer to?
– I suppose that the principal charge is the cost of witnesses. Where the parties to a dispute object, no legal representatives are allowed to appear, but nevertheless legal representatives pull the strings behind all the time. We have nob accomplished much, I admit, by refusing to allow legal representatives to appear at the table; but they are present all the time, and the interminable discussion and the rambling over small points which could be promptly settled by reference to a legal authority seem unfortunately to extend the trouble rather than to decrease it.
– Your complaint is that we cannot get rid of the lawyers?
– That is, perhaps, because the laws are couched in a sort of legal verbiage instead of every-day English..
– Have you any suggestions to make?
– My suggestion is that the doors of the Court should be open so widely and so continuously that there would be no delay in getting a case heard, and that the expense of the Court from first to last in regard to the hearing of cases should be a charge upon the revenue of this country. I do not think it is fair to charge the parties to a case with even the expense while they are in the Court.
– Would you allow anybody to go there, or only unionists ?
– I admit that that difficulty would have to be met. I recognise that it is necessary to protect ourselves against frivolous cases being introduced. That is a thing that could be provided against. Every dispute means an interference with industry - the stoppage of the wheels - and the country suffers in consequence. Those directly interested suffer first and most, but the whole community suffers, and, on the other hand, is benefited by the easy and rapid settlement of the trouble. We should make it easy to go to the Court, and see that the cost of the proceedings there is not in the nature of a tax.
.- The remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane furnish considerable food for thought. The procedure of the Arbitration Court was to have been freed from all legal technicalities, their introduction being expressly prohibited by law; but the honorable member is right in saying that, notwithstanding, every case bristles with technicalities. Owing to the fact that the cases are largely handled, not by legal experts, but by laymen, the agents of the unions and of the employers, proceedings are dragged out, and expense is enormously increased. I have heard the right to ask a particular form of question vetoed on the ground that the question desired to be asked was in its nature one that should be asked during cross-examination. What the Court should aim at is the discovery of the merits of the dispute, so that absolute justice may be done; but when you adopt the laws of evidence as affecting examination, crossexamination, re-examination, and the like, and require ordinary laymen to deal with cases, delay is sure to occur. What it means in the case of a union is often that, instead of a trained lawyer being employed for one day at,j say, twenty guineas, some one like Comrade Sutch is employed for fifty days at five or ten guineas a day. The present system encourages untrained, inefficient men to go into the Court, to the wasting of its time, the lengthening of proceedings, and the increasing of expense. Under the law, paid a glints are debarred from appearing in the Court, but it will be generally admitted that, as a matter of fact, they do appear. Consequently, the unions are not saved either the expense of lawyers or the expense of the untrained, inefficient semi-lawyers Who appear for them. This fact is worthy of the attention of honorable members on froth sides, because it should be our desire to protect the funds of the unions from the consequences of misfortunes of this kind - I shall not say abuses, because this may not be intentional.
To deal directly with the proposal of the honorable member for Brisbane, which we are called on to face on the spur of the moment, I ask first, what check would there be on litigation if these were to be no penalties for losing.
– The proposal would not work.
– I cannot see that it would. There are some excellent men among the union secretaries, and some others with a, little more human nature in their composition than ordinary mortals possess. Such secretaries, knowing that their unions would have nothing to pay, would be ready to show their ardour and business capacity by bringing questions before the Court under every pretext, and on every occasion, with the result that the Court would be glutted with business, and bond fide disputes, which should be heard without delay, would have to await settlement for long periods.
– The honorable member has a poor opinion of the capacity of the President if he thinks that he could not deal with frivolous cases.
– It would be hard for him to say at first whether cases were frivolous. The honorable member mentioned the Tramway case. Obviously, there is some dissatisfaction among the unions regarding the handling of that case by his ex-Leader, Mr. Prendergast.
– What had he to do with me, or I with him?
– I thought that he ran the strike at Brisbane, and that the honorable member was carrying a flag behind him.
– I do not mind the honorable member saying that; it does not count.
– Mr. Prendergast ran the strike in the first place, and so prevented the plaint from being heard. I mention this to illustrate the fact that, with the best will in the world, a Court cannot safeguard the interests of employes against, let us say, the inefficient manager of the affairs of a union. I join the honorable member for Brisbane in urging that steps be taken to reduce the expense of procedure in the Arbitration Court. The best way to facilitate the hearing of cases is to make the practice of the Court easy, so that a man who is without legal training may be able to conduct business before it. If this is done, union secretaries who have the welfare of their organizations at heart will be only too Happy to conduct cases for them, without charging expenses such as Comrade Sutch” charged.
– What would the legal profession think of that?
– The honorable member for Brisbane has told us that lawyers are behind the scenes at present, pulling the strings. Lawyers who consent to do that are not, generally speaking, the best men in their profession. Under the present system, we have neither the certainty which comes from the conduct of proceeding’s by trained men, nor the common-sense procedure which can be conducted by ordinary laymen.
– The present system does not make for industrial peace.
– I think the whole system makes for the stirring up of disputes in the industrial world, and that the toilers, and public generally, are beginning to realize this. It is a good thing for the community that these facts are becoming widely known throughout Australia.
– I agree that there is need for more expedition in the procedure of the Arbitration Court, although I admit that the Court has done excellent work. There have been no complaints from industrial organizations regarding its work. At the present time, however, it is hardly capable of performing all that it has to do. That is the position to which the honorable member for South Sydney desires to draw attention, with a view to preventing delays, if possible. Nothing will more quickly sap the confidence of both employes and employers in this Court than the occurrence of vexatious delays. Unless there is very good cause for adjournments, I think that when a case is commenced, it should be gone straight on with until finished. A case should not be heard for a few days, then adjourned for two or three months, heard a little further, and again adjourned. That is the sort of procedure that was condemned in New South Wales under the State Act, and will be condemned1 if it takes place under the Commonwealth Act. There have been delays recently in the Commonwealth Court, and they are responsible for this discussion. I wish our arbitration laws to have a fair trial ; and I am not disappointed with the result up to the present time, but I acknowledge the need for simplification of procedure. Expense often arises because of the difficulty of applying to the Court. A layman knows more about the industry in which he is concerned than a lawyer can know, and is better able, in many cases, to. present to the Court a case in which it is affected. But the forms of application are often such as to make it difficult for the layman to rightly approach the Court. In the conduct of cases, the experienced lay man who has been selected for the work can facilitate the hearing better than a legal man. Notwithstanding what has been said by the honorable member for Wentworth, my experience is that cases do not last as long when conducted by laymen as when conducted by lawyers. A lawyer has to learn the terms and technicalities of the industry with which the case is connected. This occupies a considerable length of time ; and yet, in the presentation of a case, mistakes are often made by lawyers for want of technical knowledge. The trained layman, however, will present his case without making such mistakes. He knows the points which it is desired to present to the Court, and’ he can put them as concisely as possible, with the result that the hearing is more expeditious than it would have been had a lawyer been employed. To-day, at Newcastle, there is sitting a Committee which has done more work in six months than the old Arbitration Court, did in six years. It is composed entirely of representatives of the employers and employes. Counsel is not permitted to appear before it. Its members are threshing out the points in dispute, and coming to a decision upon them within” a reasonable time.
– Then the honorable member believes in Wages Boards as opposed to the Arbitration Court?
– No. The Committee in question is a. voluntary Board. It is the very thing for which we have been asking for years. If we have not sufficient Justices of the High Court to hear cases which claim the attention of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court within a reasonable time of their being listed, additional Justices should be appointed until the accumulated business has been disposed of. Otherwise, we shall revert to the system which formerly obtained in New South Wales, and under which cases were listed for two or three years before they were heard. If such a condition of affairs is ever brought about in connexion with the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, we can say good-bye to arbitration, and we shall have to resort to the old order of things when industrial strife was always rampant. I ask the AttorneyGeneral to seriously consider the necessity of appointing an additional Justice of the High Court, or seeing that the President of the Arbitration Court devotes the whole of his time to the hearing of the cases which are listed for his decision.
– A great deal of the difficulty experienced in connexion with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court has arisen from the tendency to drag before it cases which could be more expeditiously and more cheaply settled by the State Courts.
– That statement is not in accordance with fact.
– The honorable member for Hunter has quoted a case which bears out my contention - I refer to the case of the coal miners at Newcastle. In that case, representatives of the men, who are intimately acquainted with the conditions which obtain in the coal-mining industry, are conferring with representatives of the employers in regard to certain matters in dispute. By reason of their knowledge, they are able, on the spot, to deal with the various points of difference. As the honorable member for Hunter has stated, the coal miners there are now getting what they have been unable to get for years. The difficulty to-day is that scores of cases are being dragged before the _ Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, which, in my. opinion, could be infinitely better adjusted by local Boards whose members were familiar with local conditions. Let me point to one case which, I believe, is already listed for hearing before the Arbitration Court. I refer to the claim of the Rural Workers Union. I cannot conceive of any industrial tribunal which is less fitted to deal with the conditions which should apply .to rural workers throughout the Commonwealth than is the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. It is utterly impossible for any Court to deal justly and equitably with an industry which is carried on under such widely divergent conditions.
– Would not the grievances of the Postal employes constitute a fair case to refer to the Arbitration Court ?
– If we are going to admit the public servants of the Commonwealth to an Arbitration Court, I believe that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court is the only tribunal to which we can give them access. But I do not for a moment admit that we should grant them access to that Court. The great difficulty is that we are dragging into the arena of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court cases which ‘Should never come there at all.
– We do .not- drag them in.
– But we have opened the door to them. During the past two or three years honorable members opposite have enabled a very large number of persons to go to that Court who were wisely prevented from appealing to it previously. The result has been that in order to enable them to get there disputes have been manufactured. I remember reading in that very truthful journal, the Worker, of a case in which the Secretary of the Rural Workers Union wrote to the Secretary of the United Labourers Union asking him to create a dispute on his side of the border for that very purpose. That was not the idea which we had in view in enacting thisclass of legislation. The honorable member who initiated this discussion commenced his remarks by lauding to the skies the arbitration principle as a means of securing industrial peace. All who support industrial legislation have that as their ultimate goal. But I do say that if we limited the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court to industries which properly come within its scope - to industries in which there is unfair competition between the different States - the cases which would come before it would be comparatively few, and we should not experience the eternal delay which now characterizes their settlement, and which must be very aggravating to all the parties concerned. To-day quite a number of fictitious disputes are being created. Take the case -of the tramway employes as an illustration. Was there any necessity for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court to determine the conditions of labour which should apply to tramway employe’s from one end of the Commonwealth to the other? .lt seems to me that it is perfectly competent for a State authority in Queensland to deal with its tramway employes, and a similar remark is applicable to air the other States. Where is the necessity for dragging such a case to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court? In my opinion, the Federal power of arbitration should be invoked only in cases where there is actual competition between’ State and State in the matter of trade. The Commonwealth Conciliation and1 Arbitration Court is not the tribunal which should be called upon to decide the conditions which should apply to the tramway employe’s of Brisbane or to theworkers in rural industries. Such a course of procedure must inevitably result in de- lay. It is practically impossible for any one man sitting in any one place to arrive at an equitable award in regard to industries which extend from one end of the Commonwealth to the other.
– He does not sit in one place.
– He sits in the principal city of each State.
– He went to Mildura to settle a dispute on the spot.
– That was a peculiar case which, was not typical of the rural industries. My own opinion is that if industrial legislation is to be applied to rural workers-
– Does the honorable member think that it should be?
– I very much doubt whether it should be. But if that class of legislation is to be applied to rural industries, it should be applied through local Boards dealing with small areas. Take the case of my own electorate. At one end of it Tenterfield is situated, and at the other end of it is the river. The latter has a semi-tropical climate, whereas the former has a climate colder than that of Melbourne. Ohe- cannot conceive of more widely divergent conditions within a distance of a hundred miles.
– The shearers manage it.
– Shearing is a distinct industry, and shearing is done by piecework.
– Is not dairying a distinct industry?
– The honorable member’s electorate is in one State.
– Of course it is.
– Then the honorable member’s argument will apply to more than one State ?
– Yes. These disputes, I contend., should be dealt with by State legislation. The Federal power of arbitration was not designed to meet peculiar local characteristics. If our rural industries are to be dealt with by industrial legislation, they should be dealt with by State legislation. In my opinion, the congestion of work in the Court arises, more than anything else, from the tendency to drag to it many cases that could be more easily, expeditiously, and cheaply settled by the State- tribunals.
.- The honorable member for Richmond voices the Conservative mind, which has always, been opposed to any extension of legislation of this character j but he has not told us. why men employed in rural industries should be denied social justice, any more than are men employed in mines. If the honorable member had been in close touch with the working of the Court, he would have found that many of the difficulties which alarm him disappear in the hands of a capable President such as we have. The basic principle is that every one, however unskilled1,, is entitled to receive such fair and reasonable remuneration as will enable him to maintain his wife and children as they ought to be maintained in a civilized community. Evidence is taken, in the different districts, as to the cost of living, and on the facts ascertained is fixed the living wage. Whether it be cold on one side of a river and hot on another does not enter into consideration, except in so far as the fact may affect the cost of living. We are told that it is impossible to conduct some industries on the eight hours principle; but that idea is disappearing,, because employers find that they do not get. so much return from the longer, hours as from the shorter. This has been proved all over the world, and quite a revolution has taken place .in public opinion in this connexion within the last two years. I had the pleasure of spending a little time in the Court at Mildura and Renmark, and there I found that the employers not only made no objection to the eight hours principle, but were quite willing to accept it, although the work of picking fruit must be performed quickly, as in the case- of reaping wheat.
– Does the honorable member think that the dairying industry could be conducted on the eight hours principle?
– I know very experienced dairymen and butter-makers who work on the eight hours principle.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss The eight hours question.
– I am merely pointing out that practical experience is dissipating objections of the sort. The honorable member for Wentworth spoke of the delay that occurs ; and apparently he has an idea that none but lawyers can expeditiously conduct the cases.
– It was the honorable member’s own side which suggested that.
– It is an opinion we have always heard from the lawyers in this Chamber.
– The honorable member for Brisbane is not a lawyer.
– I know what I am talking about ; and I recommend the honorable member for Wentworth to spend some time in the Court, when he will realize that there is a President who sees to the proper conduct of the cases. By both the present and the past President of the Court, no waste of time is allowed. At present, men of experience, though laymen, conduct the cases much better than they could be conducted except by lawyers of the front rank, who are quick to master details and to understand the case theoretically. As a matter of fact, with the exceptions I have mentioned, the laymen at present engaged handle the cases very much better than any lawyers could do; and this, of course, arises from the special training they are getting. The costs depend on the magnitude and the novelty of the cases presented ; and we are apt to forget that it is comparatively recently that this kind of tribunal was established. The success of the Arbitration Court has been so great that it is being resorted to by organizations of working men all over the country; and there is no doubt that there will be a rush of work in it for some little time. When an award is once given, however, it will, in all probability, continue until some slight adjustment is asked for. and the fresh proceedings, of course, not requiring witnesses from a distance, and so forth, will not occupy nearly as much time as the proceedings in the first instance. In the future, it may be hoped that the President of the Court will be able to devote his exclusive attention to his industrial duties, so that it may not be necessary to have adjournments from time to time. For the time being, the position can be met on lv by an additional Justice, just as excess of work in any other walk of life has to be coped with. There is an extraordinary idea abroad that this Court cannot handle rural industries, because the conditions vary so much ; but, as a matter of ‘ fact, the Court has successfully handled many other industries covering the whole area of the Commonwealth. Of course, the conditions vary, but there is always a certain margin left within which the parties may meet. _ The main thing that a working man requires is a fair return for his work, with reason able conditions and fair treatment in regard to accommodation, arid so forth. Thisquestion of accommodation arises in connexion with many rural pursuits, but it doesnot present any insurmountable difficulties.. The circumstances in this connexion do not vary from State to State, except in so far. as wages are concerned. The circumstances vary, it is true, in regard to employers, but that is a matter that does not come into consideration. If the Court had to take into account the profits of an industry, and all that kind of thing, no doubt the issues would be very complex, but it is very properly laid down that an industry that cannot pay fair and reasonable wages should not exist.
– Such facts are taken into consideration before a minimum wage is fixed.
– Hardly, because there is no such thing as a system of profit sharing at the present time. The skill of the worker, and the ability of the industry to carry more wages, may have some influence; and, to some extent, there is evidence of the kind suggested. The cost of this litigation is forcing federations on both sides, but the Court is’ a movable one, and endeavours to accommodate itself to the people, so as to reduce expense as much as possible. I hold the view that as this Court is instituted in the interests of the whole community, a greater proportion of the costs should be borne bv the country, and in this connexion I suggest that, instead of the parties having to pay for chb shorthand writing and typewriting of the evidence, there ought to be shorthand writers and typewriters attached to the Court to provide copies for the parties and the Judge. At present, the cost of the typewritten evidence forms a very oppressive burden on many of the smaller organizations, and particularly on employers when these happen to be small in number. As a matter of fact, the Government have been rather stingy in staffing this very important Court; and I have no doubt that honorable members with larger experience than myself could make several other suggestions. My own experience of the Court leads me to the opinion that there is not much waste of time, once a case gets there, and then the time occupied depends on the novelty of the evidence presented. In our few years’ experience, a vast amount of knowledge in detail as to the cost of living has been gathered ; and this, of course, will shorten proceedings, unless a change arises.
In one large case, with which I am personally connected, we are looking forward to an award which will continue indefinitely, with perhaps variations so slight as not to take more than a day or two to adjust. There are some very exaggerated ideas as to what this Court can and cannot do; but, personally, considering the limitations imposed by the Constitution, as interpreted by the High Court, I am astonished at what the Arbitration Court has been able to achieve. The Judge, at present, is tied up in every way ; but if, in the future, he should be given all the power that is enjoyed by the Judges of other Courts, we may, I think, as far as human ingenuity can procure it, have peaceful working in our industries. We have had times of prosperity, when, as the history of trades unionism and the labour movement will show, is the opportunity usually taken by unions to demand improved conditions; and I have no doubt that, but for the Federal and State Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration, we should have had a great number of disputes and strikes. The honorable member for Richmond favours the State tribunals, but if he considers what has occurred in New South Wales, he will find that the grievance there for a long time was that those interested could not reach the Court at all. Cases were sometimes listed for a year or two, and never got any further. Moreover, a State Court could not so fix wages as to do justice to those who appealed to it, and at the same time provide for the adjustment of wages in an adjoining State. The honorable member for Richmond admits that in industries in - which there is competition only one Court can effectively deal with cases. But he thinks that there are industries in which competition between producers in different States does not enter.
– I did not mean what the honorable member says. I was alluding to unfair competition.
– Even in the case of rural industries there is competition when one producer cuts against another. There is even competition in regard to the employment of labour on tramways. If there are better conditions obtaining in a tramway service in one State than in another, the tendency will be for the best workmen to go to the State where they can secure the best treatment. Moreover, discontent is created amongst the workmen in the State where the wages are lowest ; and when there is discontent amongst workmen, the service is inferior to that which is given when every one works heartily and with good will. What is the use of shutting our eyes to facts? The honorable member says that we are responsible for many disputes because we have opened the door to the Federal Arbitration Court. Naturally unions will go to the Court from which they can secure the most effective justice. Our duty is to open every door, and let them decide what they will do. It is not for us with superior airs to dictate to them. If the honorable member were in close touch with trade unions he would find that they are managed by levelheaded, common-sense men. They are not children, to be dictated to. They will naturally go to the tribunal from which they think they can secure the best award. Undoubtedly the feeling has been in favour of appealing to the Federal Arbitration Court where that has been possible. I do not say that the employers always favour that Court. Generally they prefer Wages Boards. We have, in connexion with the Federal system, however, the principle of compulsory conciliation, which is really on. the lines of Wages Boards, though it is not nearly so effective and valuable as the arbitration system. In the Arbitration Court, sworn testimony is given, and it is tested by cross-examination. The Wages Board system does not give us that advantage. I know of cases where awards have been given by a Wages Board that were found to be unworkable, because they overlapped other industries as to which evidence was not taken. The consequence has been the production of a certain amount of troubleThat has been the case in the building trade. In the Arbitration Court, any one who has testimony to give can be heard and examined. The door of the Court is open toall. Of course, the success of the whole system depends upon the kind of menchosen to preside. It requires a rare combination to make a successful President. He must have a finely-balanced mind, and must be sympathetic and considerate all round. Fortunately, we have such men inour midst in every State - men who will dojustice according to the evidence laid beforethem.
– Will the men accept thedecisions of the Arbitration Court?
– Of course; they always have accepted the Court’s decisions. Thiskind of legislation is somewhat new in Australia ; but, so far, the experience has been such that we cannot afford to go back. So- far, the results have been fairly satisfactory, and, if the machinery can be made better, all those who have had experience of it will be thankful.
– In reply to what has been said, I desire to say that the matter is one that ought to be considered very carefully ; but I am inclined to- think that’ section 36 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, paragraphs (a) and (jb), gives the President sufficient power to refer matters to local Courts. While I cannot say that nothing further ought to be done, on the whole I think - unless a very good case is made out to the contrary - that section 36 meets the requirements. Of course, the situation is due to- a large extent to the fact that there is no power to make a common rule. Thebuilders’ labourers are at present confronted with the position of having to serve some 300 or 400 persons - perhaps 3,000 or 4,000 if you take the whole Commonwealth; and how long their case will take I do not know. We ought not to provide machinery for positions which are glaringly opposed to common- sense, but should rather- alter those positions to bring them into conformity with common sense.
. - I should indeed be very glad if I could sing the praises of arbitration to the extent that my honorable friends opposite have done. Personally, I have been a consistent advocate of arbitration for years, and I trust that I have not yet altogether abandoned hope of what might possibly be obtained from arbitration upon somewhat different lines from the present system. I am with my honorable friends opposite in desiring at all times to find means, by way of a peaceful tribunal, which will bring about industrial peace, tend to do economic justice as between employer and employed, and have the beneficent result of putting down strikes. We want to bring about harmony between capital and labour. 1 suppose that is what we are all anxious to attain, lt is for us to endeavour to discover what means are best calculated to achieve such a magnificent humanitarian end. Of course, arbitration is the method that has been tried by this Parliament. It has been tested for some years past - tested under somewhat trying conditions. There are three factors connected with it which I cannot altogether regard as successful. The Federal Arbitration Court is presided over by a President of very considerable ability, who, I am prepared to think, is anxious to do what is fair and just according to his lights and his views- between the parties concerned. But, at the. same time,, it cannot be ignored that the; Federal Arbitration Court- has been a source of strife and of disputes, which would not have arisen except for ‘its existence.
– What is the honorable member’s remedy?’
– I will tell the honorable member a little later on.
– I should like to hear the alternative.
– I have strongly advocated an alternative, and shall be- prepared to refer to it further. But- 1 am at present referring to three instances of unsatisfactoriness in connexion with our Federal Arbitration Court. We know, asa matter of fact, that disputes have been created all over Australia by reason- of the anxiety of industrial workers to go to that particular Court. The Constitution provides that conciliation and arbitration tribunals may be established for the purposeof the prevention and settlement of disputes which overflow from one State to another. But it was never contemplated, when the Constitution was framed, that disputes would be artificially manufactured, as they constantly and consistently are, in order to enable the parties to- appear before the Federal Arbitration Court.
– - Is not the limitation- of the activities of the Court to Inter- State disputes responsible for that?
– I am dealing with the evidence as we find it, and that evidence shows distinctly that not only does the Court deal with cases which overflow from one State to another, but that disputes have been created and made Inter-State for the purpose of having them brought before the Federal Court. It was contemplated by the framers of the Constitution that purely State disputes should be dealt with by State tribunals, whether Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts. The Constitution, therefore, has been distorted as far as concerns its spirit and intention by the deliberate effort on the part of those concerned to create disputes extending from one State to another.
– The honorable member does not want the Court to act until a strike occurs?
– I do not mean anything of the kind. What I mean is this : First of all, the various States have their own tribunals established for the purpose of dealing with State disputes. The idea was that disputes which are of an Inter-State character should be dealt with by a tribunal of a Federal character. Hence it was that, with the unanimous approval of this Parliament, the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court was established in 1904. But the Arbitration Act has been grossly abused in the way I have referred to, insomuch as, I suppose, hardly more than two or three cases which have come before the Court have not been manufactured.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When we rose for dinner, I was attempting to demonstrate that, much as I sympathized with the principles of arbitration, our experience in Australia has not been of a character that justifies the eulogiums that have been passed upon it by honorable members opposite. I attempted to show by the actual experience of the Federal Arbitration Court how the spirit and intention of the Constitution has been distinctly perverted by reason of what has actually taken place under the existing Jaw. I showed that it has resulted in an increase of industrial disputes throughout Australia, and that in the majority of cases artificial disputes have had to be manufactured in order to enable the parties concerned to get before the Court. I said also that in two other instances the experience of arbitration has been even less fortunate. If we go to New Zealand, where arbitration has had its longest trial, we unfortunately discover, in respect of it, a record of failure. The principle of arbitration was introduced there amidst the highest enthusiasm. When the system was first introduced, unions almost “ fell over one another,” so to speak, in their anxiety to secure registration, and to obtain the advantages and benefits of the conciliation and arbitration law.
– And they obtained a lot of benefit from it.
– Then why .are they anxious to cancel their registration?
– Because the administration is bad.
– The sole reason is that the awards have not all gone in the one direction. It is for that reason that the leading unions are cancelling their registration in order to be relieved of the Arbitration Court. In the very country where arbitration has had its longest trial, we find a record of unfortunate failure. As one who is in sympathy with the principle of arbitration, I regret that that should be so; but it is the first essential of arbitration that the awards of the Court, whatever they are, must be loyally accepted. If they are not, then no system of arbitration can possibly succeed. We saw only the other day that certain of the more aggressive spirits of a union at Waihi had cancelled their registration with the Court. The more moderate men - the legitimate trade unionists - were not prepared to go so far, and this action having been taken against their will, they formed another union with the object of securing re-registration. The consequence of this registration on their part, and of their anxiety to secure a peaceful tribunal to settle their industrial differences, is that they have been subjected to every violence, and almost tyrannous efforts on the part of the revolutionary spirits. If that is the way in which the unions receive arbitration, the system cannot possibly be a success - If means that these peaceful tribunals, established with such hopeful results, must be regarded as a failure. I come now tothe experience of New South Wales, where a system of arbitration was in force for some years.
– It was murdered by the legal men.
– The Arbitration. Court there became so congested that it was impossible for the industrial unions toget their disputes and differences dealt with by it. The outcome was that the law had) to be repealed.
– No ; it died by effluxion of time.
– That is a very technical objection. The Government permitted the law to expire. What they have done is not to re-enact the old system of arbitration, but to evolve a system of Wages Boards - a system under which it is competent for the Industrial Court tonominate Wages Boards to deal with industrial disputes. That, I venture to say, is the true solution of the problem. Thehonorable member for Darling pointed out that questions of wages were frequently bound up with a particular industry in aparticular district. That points to only one conclusion. It is true that different conditions frequently exist within a State which would justify more than one Wages’
Board in connexion with the same industry. The honorable member for Darling stated that frequently the sole question is: “ What wages should be paid, having regard to the cost of living in a particular district,” and I am quite prepared to believe that that is very often the question to be determined. The system of Wages Boards to which I have referred goes immediately to the point, whereas arbitration avoids it, inasmuch as it provides for uniformity as far as wages are concerned. The Wages Board system has special regard to locality, and takes immediate conditions into consideration.
– That is hardly correct. The Federal Arbitration Court awards differentiate even in the matter of shearers’ wages.
– There has been differentiation in that particular industry.
– This year the shearers’ rates are uniform.
– There was at one time some differentiation.
– But Mr. Justice Higgins said that he did not think he had the power to do that.
– I believe that an effort was made subsequently to differentiate, but the result of the whole reference to the FederalConciliation and Arbitration Court is that at present there is uniformity so far as wages in that industry are concerned. It is this very uniformity that must be guarded against, because, as the honorable member for Darling has pointed out, the conditions of an industry in a particular locality often constitute the question to be taken into immediate consideration. That simply means the multiplication of Wages Boards. The Victorian law, which affords a very fair model, provides for differentiation in respect of different conditions. We hear complaints of delay, but delay has been essentially incidental to the arbitration law. It is incident to our Court; it was notoriously incident to the New South Wales Arbitration Court, and New Zealand has had a similar experience. Whilst in individual cases there have been delays in connexion with Wages Boards decisions, those delays are exceptional. The rule is to secure an early, if not an immediate, settlement of the matters in dispute. It is important to remember also that those who assemble as members of a Wages Board to fix wages and conditions, are not men who are obliged to be enlightened as to the actual facts by the calling of witnesses, but men who, by reason of their own expert knowledge and intimate acquaintance with the industry in respect of which they are called upon to adjudicate, are familiar with everything connected with it, and with the aims and aspirations of the workers. These are the men who adjudicate, and who come to what is a fair and reasonable decision in all the circumstances. To show that that is so, I need only refer to our experience in Victoria, where the appeals to the Industrial Court are but few. Indeed, an appeal to that Court is quite exceptional. I daresay that those which have taken place could be counted on the fingers of one hand. If, then, our sole anxiety is to secure the most satisfactory and expeditious tribunal for the settlement of industrial disputes, our experience of Wages Boards provides us with the necessary guide, and nothing that has taken place justifies the extraordinary anxiety that has been exhibited in certain quarters to securea reference to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court for the purpose of obtaining a settlement of industrial differences. Our experience of Wages Boards has been all the one way. The references to these tribunals have been completely satisfactory to the persons concerned in the differences and disputes, while the settlements have been of such a satisfactory character that practically no appeals have taken place from those decisions. We should, therefore, be justified in extending by every means, upon the model of the Wages Boards system, a scheme for the further settlement of Inter-State industrial disputes. I admit that there must be a Federal tribunal to deal with questions where competition exists as between the States, and where the wages paid in an industry in one State are not the same as those paid in a competing industry in another State. A Federal tribunal could readily be established for the purpose of co-ordinating and settling those differences. That is a comparatively simple matter.
– So simple that it has never been attempted !
– The honorable member must know that that is not strictly correct.
– Who has attempted it ?
– The late Government.
– In a Bill that I had the honour to introduce elsewhere.
– Another memorandum ! What “whales “ the late Government were for memoranda.
– No. There is no memorandum about the matter. My reference was to the Inter-State Commission Bill.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that Bill ; nor is he in order in going into details regarding these Courts.
– I was led astray by my honorable friends opposite. I should be glad if I could see my way to join in their eulogiums of the success of arbitration tribunals. We find, however, that these peaceful tribunals have not been the success which we hoped they would be, and which I would be among the first to readily recognise had our anticipations been realized. I hope that our legislation in this regard, whatever form it may take, will be in thedirection of industrial Wages Boards such as those to which I have referred.
– I notice that £500 is required for travelling expenses. Last year £250 was voted for this purpose, and £583 was expended. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether these travelling expenses are personal to the Judge, or are apart from any expenditure which he may incur under that head.
– These will be only the travelling expenses in connexion with the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, which does not sit in one place, but moves round.
– I see an item of £2,000 for shorthand notes of Court proceedings. Last year we appropriated £700 for this work, and £1,909 was spent.
– That shows the desirability of taking a larger vote.
– The increase in the expenditure last year was, I suppose, largely due to the Vend case.
– No, because the Vend case had no connexion with the Arbitration Court. This sum is required for shorthand notes of the proceedings of that Court.
– I beg pardon, but I should like to know if there was any special work last year which called for the big increase in the expenditure under this head. Has the Attorney-General any special business in view which is likely to call for an expenditure of £2,000, or has he put that amount on the Estimates for this year because £1,909 was expended last year?
– Last year we put down £700 on these Estimates for shorthand notes of the proceedings of the Arbitration Court, and in carrying out the work of the Court an expenditure of £1,909 was found necessary.’ I take it that the Attorney-General anticipates that there will be as many arbitration cases this year as there were last year, and, therefore, is asking for the vote of £2,000. Of course, if there is a decrease in the number of cases, the whole of the vote will not be expended.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 30 (Patents, Trade Marks, Copyrights, and Designs), £24,341, agreed to.
Division 31 (Administrative), £14,975.
– I desire, first, to call attention to the somewhat hybrid nature of this Department. Whilst it is named the Department of External Affairs, it is rather a Department which has to do with Home Affairs, the two largest items being £274,285 for the Northern Territory, and £104,410 for the Port Augusta railway, making a total of £378,795tobe expended under those heads, as against £149,015 to be expended on matters which may be regarded as more particularly pertaining to external affairs.. I do not know what the Cabinet exigencies may be, but it does appear to me to be somewhat a misnomer to call this the Department of Externa] Affairs, when it is really administering affairs that pertain to things which are essentially internal, and, therefore, more properly belong to the Home Affairs Department. I have looked through the various items in these Estimates, but I cannot find a single item in connexion with advertising the Commonwealth. In fact, the nearest approach I can see to such an item is the item of £400 for “ other printing.” I have here a return which was ordered on my motion, and presented to the House on 15th October last. It shows the amount which has been paid to various newspapers for advertising. I notice that the Department of External Affairs paid £124 15s for advertising between 1st January, 191 1, and the date of the return, and, strangely enough, of this total £60 was paid to the Labour Call, which is published in Victoria.
– Was not that amount paid two years ago? You are out of date.
– I am dealing with a return which relates to the Department of External Affairs, but I can see no item for advertising in. these Estimates.
– If you look at page 57 you will see anitem of £20,000.
– But that is for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, and you cannot possibly call the Labour Call a resource of the Commonwealth.”
– I learn from this return that for advertising, the Sydney Morning Herald received from the Department of External Affairs £118s. ; the Sydney Daily Telegraph. £1 19s. ; the Melbourne Argus, 27s. ; the Melbourne Age, 27s. ; the Adelaide Register, 1 7s. ; the Adelaide Advertiser, 17s.; and the Labour Call - for one advertisement in one issue - £60. I desire to call attention to the lack of policy in the Department in the matter of advertising when they can afford to give £60 to a newspaper of the calibre of the labour Call. Its circulation is set down, not in this return, but in a return from another Department, at 10,000 copies, but I have it on the most reliable authority that the ordinary circulation is 2,000. In the case I am referring to the issue was increased to 5,000. On the 1st inst. I asked the Prime Minister -
To those questions I received these replies -
The first matter of policy in this regard is that the Labour Call is a party journal, and, I venture to say, in the judgment of right-thinking persons, a vile journal. In this return of Government advertising, I cannot see that a single party journal except the Labour Call has been favoured in this way. It looks like a bribe. The Labour Call is essentially a party journal of a somewhat vile and infamous character. I endeavoured to get a copy of it this afternoon, but failed to do so. I have here some extracts from the copy in which the Commonwealth advertisement appeared. On the flyleaf is a Labour poem from the pen of the honorable member for Wannon. Now the advertisement is justified by the Minister upon the ground that the Labour Call is a publication which represents a class of the community which was erroneously supposed to be adverse to immigration.
The whole copy shows that this journal’ is adverse to immigration, and this particular poem is an evidence of that -
Be merciful ! O Ruler great,
When famine riots in the State,
And mows the people down.
Send in a Socialism sure.
Put down the robbers of the poor,
Make life and love and home secure
From vampires of the Crown.
– Is there anything wrong in that? Do. you object to that sentiment?
– Is that vile?
– These are noble sentiments I
– Order ! I must ask honorable members to discontinue these interjections.
-I would point out to honorable members that this is only doggerel. Whatever advantage might have been expected from the publication of the Government’s advertisement inviting people to come to Australia, these lineswould entirely discount it. The statements made in the verses are untrue. Famine is not rioting in this land, and never has done so. Our people never have been mown down. Who are the robbers of the poor? Would people come here if they thought that they were coming to be robbed, and that there was need to make life and love and home secure from the “ vampires of the Crown”? Who are these vampires? Are they the present Ministers? That is what would seem to be the meaning. On page 5 of this issue we get another Splendid advertisement -
Who has the liberty to starve the workers by locking them nut when they ask for an increase in their wages? - The employer.
The Government are paying £60 for the insertion in this journal of an advertisement for which no private firm would be asked to pay more than £10, and for which an exceptionally well circumstanced firm would pay only £5, and yet it is placed side by side with trash such as I have quoted, the reading of which would have an effect contrary to that intended by the framers of the advertisement. On page 7 there is an article headed. “ Who will do the dirty work?” -
Who does the dirty work under Capitalism? - Let us see.
Then comes this list -
The tradesman, the journalist, the doctor, the schoolmaster, the parson, the politician.
In conclusion, the writer says -
Who -is there, I ask, who, under Capitalism, does not do dirty work?
It is useless foi the Government to spend £60 of the people’s money on an advertisement to bring population to this country when that advertisement is placed among libels on Australia.
– Is this a publication that was sent Home?
– Yes. Ministers glory in the fact, as 1,000 copies of this pernicious issue have been sent to the Old Country. To show the viciously party character of the journal, let me quote a passage which appears on page 14 - .
Wherefore is the Prophet Deakin branded as a misinformer of the people, a false prophet whose teeth rattle loosely over words of no meaning, a wild and whirling yapper of senseless yap, and a pretentious wind-bag.
The Government was false to Parliament when it inserted this advertisement in a journal whose object is to deride and denounce a section of the Parliament. On page 15, there is an article on “ The Sponging Press.”
– Is that the journal that got £60 ?
– No. That is the term applied by this purist organ, the Labour Call, to such insignificant newspapers as the Argus, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Daily Telegraph -
Lies and misrepresentations, suppressions and
Contortions of the truth, the taking-out of matter from illuminative contexts, the lopping off of truth conveying conclusions, the misquotations and outrageous silencing of too logical Labourites, all manner of journalistic uncleanlinesses, of canting hypocrisies, of unbelievably dishonorable press practices - these are the weapons with which the anti-Labour press is “dealing it out” to Labour.
Is that true?
– It is a libel on the Australian press. Yet this Government inserts in the journal that prints these libellous statements an advertisement for which they paid out of the people’s money six times its true value.
– Sixty times.
– Yes; and six times as much as would have been charged to any private advertiser. Ministers have sent to Great Britain a publication which decries and defames this country. The fact that they themselves have risen from the lowest ranks of life to the highest positions in the land shows that those who have grit and perseverance must get on here. Yet they have spent the money of the people in decrying the country that has given them these great and glorious opportunities.
– Read the advertisement.
– There is nothing to complain of in the. advertisement itself, which paints Australia as a good place to come to, and invites immigrants. But side by side with it appear these outrageous statements.
– Which twenty persons would read for every one person who read the advertisement.
– Undoubtedly. On page 16 is this very striking statement -
The class-controlled State Parliament in Victoria has, owing to its lust of power, become the ally of the squatter and monopolist, remitting their taxation that they might load it more heavily on the small farmer and settler.
– It is true.
– It is a libel on the Victorian Parliament, and calculated to prevent people from coming to Australia.
– These are not the sort of statements that should be published at the expense of the people.
– On page 20, Liberalism is described in these words -
The humour of the Commonwealth Liberal People’s Party is decidedly of the gutter type. . . Even the allegedly polished Deakin has joined in the flow of Billingsgate.
The Government, which is supposed in matters of administration to hold the balance even, and to do justice to all parties, pays six times the ordinary price for advertising in a journal publishing statements of that kind. On page 22 the poet McDougall again figures. His verse begins with these lines -
Worker, waif, and landless brother
One of earth’s unhappy tribe.
Is that address calculated to induce people to come here, where it might be supposed they would be waifs and unhappy? In verse iii of this doggerel we are told -
You are but a type and unit of the many they call the mob.
And you underbid your brothers for the privilege to work.
You have seen your slave-wife starving, and the baby in her lap.
You have heard your children crying for their bite of daily bread.
That is a magnificent advertisement for Australia. The verses are worthy of this great poet, and of the Labour Call in which, they are printed.
– If such stuff is paid for, it shows how easy it is to make money in Australia.
– And it shows how degraded Ministers are when they spend public money on advertising in this journal, and give as a reason that they are of opinion that it would tend to prevent misconception. The fifth stanza reads thus -
Will you shiver at the muck-rake
With the lash above your shoulders like a narrow flag unfurled?
The whole thing is ridiculous. The writer, a member of this Parliament, tells the people whom the Government invite to come here, that they will “ shiver at the muck-rake” with the lash above their shoulders. There is no such state of things as is here depicted in Australia. These statements are an insult to our country. It is a shame that a man should put these lies into rhyme, and that they should be printed side by side with an advertisement paid for at the expense of the public, inviting people to come to Australia. I am sorry that the Government should degrade themselves by making use of a journal of such a low-down partisan character for the purpose of building up their own party. The payment for this advertisement almost looks like a bribe to their own press in order that that press might present to a very small section of the community false views as to what other parties in Parliament are doing.
.- The speech to which we have just listened was of great interest to the Committee. I think it will have come home to every honorable member that in future any Government which may happen to be in power will require to be extremely careful where it places Commonwealth advertisements, and to what newspapers it gives a semi-official status in countries other than our own. Even if every statement made by the journal which has been quoted were true, would not that circumstance make it the more infamous that such statements should be circulated abroad ? Have we reached the position that there is so much venom in our party differences that we must advertise to the world not Australia as she is, but Australia as she seems to minds which are poisoned, and to which truth is foreign ? Every Australian, to whatever political party he may belong, at least owes it to his country that he shall do nothing to defame her or to make her ridiculous and loathsome in the eyes of the outside world. Whether or not we attract immigrants to this country, whether or not we succeed in building up here a white buttress of our race, we must realize that we are a debtor people, and as such we depend absolutely upon our credit in the Old Land from which we sprang. To circulate at the public expense in the Mother Country such trash as has been quoted is the most ridiculous and puerile thing of which any Government could be capable.
I wish now to say a word or two in regard to the Department of External Affairs. That Department and the Department of Home Affairs strike me as being two. of the most extraordinarily named Departments that we have in the Commonwealth. Just as the chief duty of the Department of Home Affairs seems to be to meddle with the business of every other Department and to have none of its own, so the Department of External Affairs appears to have no machinery to enable it to discover anything relating to those external affairs which are of vital importance to the Australian people. I have asked some questions of the Department with a view to eliciting information as to its efficiency as organized to-day. I have found that the Minister who is responsible for its conduct is mainly concerned with what is happening in the Northern Territory, and has no time for anything else. But I would point out that things may be happening oversea which may be of vital importance to us. The point which I wish to bring under the attention of the Committee is that perhaps the most important Australian affair external to Australia is the condition of the British Navy.
I am not going to weary honorable members by making a speech on this occasion which may more appropriately be made when the Defence’ Estimates are under review. But I want to ask honorable members to listen to such a reply as the Minister may vouchsafe to the inquiry, “ What channel has he for ascertaining definitely the adequacy or otherwise of the British Navy at the present juncture ? “ We know that there are troubles in Europe which at any moment may embroil the great Powers, and with them our own Empire. In the event of such a contingency arising - and it is by no means unlikely - it is a matter of supreme importance to Australia that the British Navy shall be equal to its responsibilities. I venture to say that in this Australia of ours it is quite impossible to get an answer to so simple an inquiry as, “ What steps have been taken in regard to reinforcing the Mediterranean Squadron ? “ It is held by some persons in England that to reinforce that Squadron at the present juncture will be to vitally weaken the North Sea Fleet, and so expose the heart of the Empire to a sudden attack from Germany. When one looks at the figures relating to the naval strength of the two Powers, one sees that there may be some reason for this contention. I find that, during the present month, Great Britain has only thirteen Dreadnoughts in the North Sea, as against eleven German Dreadnoughts if the three recently building are in commission, and only three battle cruisers as against three German battle cruisers if battle cruisers have been sent to the Mediterranean. It will be seen, therefore, that the numbers are approximately equal, and as a crisis may arrive at any moment;-
– What can we do?
– We can take an intelligent interest in our own affairs by endeavouring to ascertain whether or not the Imperial Navy is really adequate to our necessities. After all, Australia would be the spoils to the victor in any European war. The mere fact that we have a. Labour party in Australia would not be sufficient to warn off all comers who want this land. Yet the honorable member for Dalley inquires, ‘ ‘ What business is it of ours ? Why should we bother? “ It is a matter of vast importance to us; and yet we have absolutely no machinery to enable us to ascertain exactly how the British Navy is faring in regard to its world-wide responsibilities. I do suggest to the Minister of External Affairs that he ought to exhaust all the opportunities at his command to follow up these external problems so thoroughly and constantly that in Australia at any moment we may be able to obtain the same information as may be imparted by a responsible Minister in the House of Commons. The mere fact that our country is catted Australia, and another part of the Empire is known as the United Kingdom, will not avail us one whit should the Empire fail. Therefore, it is a matter of supreme importance that we, who are charged with the safety of the Australian people, should know exactly what dispositions are being made to keep over our heads that Imperial roof under which we have been nurtured through our century of life. Coming to that side of the Department of External Affairs which is regarded as important in this Committee - I refer to the Northern Territory - I cannot help thinking that the administration of that Territory has reached a rather ridiculous pass during recent times. We all know what happened in connexion with the Northern Territory Lands Ordinance. It was passed through the Cabinet at the instance of the Minister, with all the courage of a Czar, and was contemptuously kicked out al fortnight later by the Legislature. We know what the Government are doing in regard to the question of alien labour in the Territory. I am glad to see the honorable member for New England present, because his courage in bringing forward this matter caused him to be subjected to a most unworthy criticism and to. a cowardly attack by his friends only a month ago.
– The honorable member is trying to give him a bit of “ kid “ now.
– I will leave the scoffers to their own laughter. I think it will be generally recognised by the public that the honorable member for, New England deserves a good deal of their good-will for having the courage to stand up to his own Caucus in the place where the public sent him to speak the truth, namely, the PaIliament of Australia. On that occasion he was told that he ought to have brought the matter up in Caucus - that it was unfair to bring it up in this Chamber.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– Honorable members opposite told us in the course of the debate which ensued. The party whip was cracked over his head-
– He preferred the “ child’s play.”
– Yes. I recollect that one honorable member interjected that what the honorable member for New England _ received in this Chamber was mere “ child’s play “ compared with what he would receive upstairs. “;
– No, no.
– The fact is upon record. When the honorable member for Gwydir supported the honorable member for New England and spoke the truth as it was in him in regard to the Northern Territory, what thanks did he get? The stockwhip of the honorable member for Maranoa, who spoke, I presume, as Acting Government Whip ! In short, he received abuse from a number of honorable members opposite for venturing to point out the self-evident fact that the Government’s administration of the Northern Territory is nothing but a howling farce.
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to a debate which took place some time ago.
– I admit that I was transgressing. I would like now to point to one or two farcical aspects of the statesmanship exhibited by the Government in their administration of the Northern Territory. Let me mention in this connexion the alien labour question. That question first received statesmanlike recognition when the Government decided to abolish the Chinese laundry in the Territory. There was a laundry there which was run by Chinamen, and it was abolished.
– No fear.
– Really. ‘
– It was nationalized.
– No, it was- abolished. White laundrymen were specially taken up from Melbourne to start a laundry there.
– The Minister, if he knows anything of his Department, can easily ascertain the date.
– I will be glad if the honorable member will give me the information.
– The Minister, I take it, started a white laundry in the Northern Territory.
– I understand that the item appears upon the Estimates.
– That does not necessarily mean that the laundry has already been established ; but I am confident that it hasbeen established, because I know that questions relating to it were asked in the other branch of the Legislature. Questionshave there been answered admitting the fact, so that, unless a colleague of the Minister of External Affairs is a perverter of the truth, I assume that what I say iscorrect.
– What did my colleague say?
– The honorable gentleman’s colleague gave an excuse for the washing of Chinese clothing in a white laundry ; and this will be found in the records of the Senate. It is obvious that a Chinese laundry is an iniquitous thing, and means competition with the white worker -r but we may fill the Government House ire the Northern Territory /with Chinese servants, and send their clothes to be washed at a white laundry !
– And a Chinaman is printing the Government Gazette!
– Who said so?
– The honorable member for New England, whom I regard as an accurate authority on the question, he having given the matter great personal consideration and inquiry.
– Of course, the honorable member knows that the Government Gazette is issued by a private person ?
– Yes, but subsidized by the Government. How the Minister can twist !
– The Government Gazette in the Northern Territory is in the same position as the Labour Call.
– Exactly, but in this case it is an honest Chinaman who is running the institution !
– How does the honorable member know? Is he a friend of the Chinaman ?
– Unlike the honorable member, I have not been to the Northern Territory. On page 244 of the Estimates we find an item of £1,000 for the erection, and equipment of a steam laundry. That was passed two months ago, and probably we shall have the building about ten years hence. However, the fact remains that the laundry itself has been established for some time, and it seems to me utterly ridiculous that we should prevent Chinese laundrymen in Australia earning their living and yet permit white laundrymen to wash the clothes of Chinese servants. It strikes me as the height of absurdity.
We ought to have something like a reasoned policy in regard to’ the Northern Territory, but we have had absolutely none as yet. A vast number of adherents of the political cause of honorable members opposite have been appointed to well-paid positions - a number of them’ to very well-paid positions. We had the wildest anxiety on the part of the united party opposite to obtain the services of Mr. Nielsen, who was becoming very inconvenient to the New South Wales Government, his views on the land question being out of all harmony with those of the State Government. That gentleman was afterwards sent at the public expense to America.
– The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I am discussing that gentleman because his connexion with this Government appears on the records of the House.
– The honorable member must not discuss anything in connexion with the arrangements of the New South Wales Government.
– I am discussing this particular person, who was sent to America by the1 New South Wales Government, and who is acting in that country as a distributor of Commonwealth advertisements, though at his own request, certainly. Under the circumstances, 1 think I am in order in referring to Mr. Nielsen, and I am certainly in order in referring to the wild anxiety of the Minister of External Affairs to get Mr. Nielsen to take on the job of land administrator in the Northern Territory. I am inclined to think, although I do not know Mr. Nielsen’s successor, that the Minister did not suffer any great misfortune in not succeeding in obtaining Mr. Nielsen’s services. I cannot help thinking that Mr. Nielsen’s views on the land question are altogether too fanatical and extreme to insure any reasonable discretion if he occupied such a position of high authority.
– There is no difference in that respect between Mr. Nielsen and Mr. Ryland.
- Mr. Ryland, of course, is qualified to go to the Northern Territory ! Did he not take some leading part in the strike in Queensland ? I understand that Mr. Ryland was walking about Syd ney with a strike ticket in his hat last year as a strike delegate. I know that there are extenuating circumstances in connexion with his appointment, because he stood as a candidate in. the Labour interest, and was eminently qualified, therefore, to draw a large Government salary ever afterwards. The point is, however, to get the very best man we can to administer the lands in the Northern Territory. The work of the Lands Administrator is not easy, but very involved and difficult ; and the Government could think of nothing better than to throw the position as a sort of sop to a political adherent. It is something in the nature of a scandal that such a man should be singled out for political favours, and sent to administer so valuable a Possession.
There is one more point to which I desire to refer. It has always been usual for Ministers to make a statement in introducing the Estimates of their several Departments; but we are now treated more cavalierly than ever in the past. We are entitled to information as to what the Government propose to do with regard to honouring the agreement with South Australia, especially in connexion with building the north and south transcontinental line, or alternatively as to what other lines they propose. This is a matter of large policy, committing us to an expenditure of some £4,500,000. There is, I think, an understanding - in my opinion, a very bad agreement - with South Australia, binding us down to construct the line; and South Australia will naturally expect something like a recognition of our obligation under that agreement. However, we have not had a whisper from Ministers, and I think that honorable members from South Australia will be as surprised as I am that the matter has not been referred to by the Minister in charge of these Estimates. My .own view is that we ought to make some arrangement with South Australia to enable us - honourably, of course - to break the understanding to a certain extent, so that the line may run west through Brunette Downs, and link up with the West Queensland lines. We should then be opening up some excellent country for settlement, and would eventually link up the West Queensland line with the New South Wales lines, and provide means of saving vast bodies of stock in drought periods. This would, of course, mean ultimately linking up the lines with Melbourne, and the railway would prove a national asset, while giving the Northern Territory much quicker rail communication with the centres of Australian population than she would enjoy under a direct north and south route. I hope the Minister will deal with this question, and satisfy honorable members that his intentions, at any rate, are reasonably good, if his performances have been extraordinarily bad.
.- It would be helpful to the Committee if the Minister of External Affairs could give some outline of the Government policy in regard to several of the leading branches which he is administering, so that we’ might be able to grapple properly with the problems we have to face. We look to the Government for a lead in these larger subjects, many of which are absolutely beyond the arena of party politics, and in which honorable members on both sides take a great interest, having every desire to arrive at a proper and just solution. First of all, there is the Northern Territory. When the Works Estimates were before us, we could not expect the Minister at that stage to give us a comprehensive view of what steps he was taking for the development of the Territory but now, I think, we are entitled to a clear statement as to what the general policy of the Government is. We are placed at a further disadvantage, inasmuch as we have nc official report showing what has taken place in the Territory during the last twelve months. I notice from the evening newspaper that Mr. Atlee Hunt, the Secretary to the Department, is lecturing tonight before the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia on the development of that Possession ; and I presume that the substance of his lecture is to a great extent official. It would be very interesting if the Minister were to elaborate the information there given. For instance, we are told in the evening newspaper that Mr. Hunt will give a concise description of the physical features of the country, and a resume of the steps taken in the direction of inducing settlement; and the Minister might be able to afford some idea of what those steps are.
– It would be a good idea for the honorable member to go and listen to Mr. Hunt.
– A very good idea, seeing that we can get information in no other way. The frankness of the Minister of Trade and Customs is to -be commended ; and, perhaps, we might go to the extent of allowing the permanent secretaries to give us here, the explanations which in the past have been afforded by Ministers, but which are now denied us. We are further told that Mr. Hunt will indicate the nature of the efforts that the Government are now putting forward to attract different classes of settlement. That is the kind of information which I am asking the Minister of External Affairs to give to us. He ought to have a full grip of the problem, having himself visited the Territory, and he ought to be able to enlighten us. We are also informed that Mr. Atlee Hunt was to state that - the principal type aimed at is that of the agriculturist, or the one that combines agriculture and grazing.
He was to point out that - it will be necessary to await the results of the experiments now being carried out at the Government farms in the Territory before indicating to settlers which will be the more profitable crops, and the best methods of growing them.
He was also to state that - his personal view is that stock-fattening will for a time be the most profitable form of industry that the settler could engage in.
It has already been decided that the Government will grant facilities to settlers in the way of frozen storage. The works will probably be ready by the end of next year, and the Government will then arrange for the shipping companies to call at the Territory for the frozen freight.
It is a good thing to see that the Secretary of the External Affairs Department is letting the public know what the Department is doing; but it would also be a good thing if the Minister, in his responsible position, would give us in this House a complete view of everything t that is transpiring in connexion with the Northern Territory, both in regard to development and as to the steps which are being taken to attract settlers.
– The Government have killed the monopoly in frozen meat up there.
– I hope that the Minister will take what I am suggesting in all seriousness. I urge him to yield to the appeal we are making, and to furnish us with a statement of his policy. We have in the Northern Territory one of the biggest problems which _we as a Parliament have to face. It has been pointed out to us in the excellent speech made by Admiral King Hall at the Lord Mayor’s banquet on Saturday night what are the necessities of Australia.
– The honorable member has suddenly discovered that there is a big problem in the Northern Territory. His party were ten years in office, and did nothing.
– That is not correct ; but the situation is rather interesting. Here is a Minister who is carrying out an agreement which we made, and instead of answering an appeal which we are addressing to him now, he sits in his corner gibing. That is the Ministerial attitude when a statement of policy with respect to the Northern Territory is requested. Admiral King Hall, speaking on Saturday night, said -
The White Australia policy was a policy which must have more than bits of parchment behind it, if it was to be enforced in years to come. Although a very good start had been made in the Defence Forces, he candidly confessed to a feeling of uneasiness when he saw how slowly this great island continent was being peopled, for a large population was necessary in order to carry out the large naval policy required for this great country. It seemed unlikely that this magnificent country would not some day be coveted, if left so empty, by other nations whose peoples were overflowing the brim of their own countries. Therefore, Australia must be peopled as fast as possible. Every capable man was a national asset for the’ defence and prosperity of the country, and only ignorant people thought otherwise.
Here is a gentleman occupying a high official position, and who spoke in a purely non-party sense. I do not wish to introduce his name into this debate with a view of exciting partisan controversy ; but I think that he stated a proposition which every thoughtful Australian will recognise as absolutely true. We cannot deal with a great . continent like Australia, and keep it as a white country, unless we are prepared to take steps to bring into the Commonwealth people who will become settlers and help us to defend it. That is the position which the Admiral makes so plain; and I trust that the Minister, when he makes a statement, will tell us that he indorses it to the full. I hope that he will not merely tell us that he is theoretically in favour of this policy, but that the Government of which he is a member intend to take all the practical steps they can to develop a proper immigration policy for Australia, so that we may secure a steady and continuous flow of desirable settlers. So far, immigration has been entirely promoted by the States. In 1906 the honorable member for Ballarat, who was then at the head of the Government of the Commonwealth, at a Premiers’ Conference held in Sydney, made an offer to the State Pre- miers to co-operate with them in the matter of immigration. On behalf of the Commonwealth, he intimated his willingness to submit to Parliament a proposal by which his Government would combine in bringing to Australia a steady flow of immigrants. He further offered to negotiate for shipping in order that we might have a regular supply of vessels coming to Australia, not only bringing immigrants, but, by going right round the continent, securing regular transport for the north as well as for the south. Unfortunately, the State Premiers at that time turned the proposal down. I am glad to see that at present a different view is prevailing, and that the State Premiers now recognise that if an immigration policy is to be a continued success, there must be co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. Accordingly, we find that at the last Premiers’ Conference they passed the following resolution -
That the Commonwealth be asked to provide 25,000 assisted passages per annum for immigrants, arranging with the shipping companies and paying the cost of transportation on a uniform basic rate, the States to select the immigrants, and place them, as at present, any State being at liberty to supplement the number of assisted passages allotted to it at the same rate.
That was an offer by the States to cooperate with the Commonwealth with a view of taking common action in the matter of immigration.
– The Commonwealth was to Pay-
– When a person comes to Australia does he not become a Commonwealth citizen? Does he not belong to us as much as to the States?
– Perhaps? The honorable member speaks of the States as if they were hostile alien agencies.
– That is what they are.
– Are we not members of the States ourselves? What nonsense it is to try to create the idea in the public mind that there are two sets of people, instead of regarding every man brought to Australia as a citizen of the Commonwealth.
– We all recognise that.
– We ought to recognise it and act upon it. Unless we are to help the States to bring out these Australian citizens, we can never properly defend this continent of ours, and keep it as a white country.
– We have no control over the land.
– A power for controlling immigration is laid down in the Constitution. There is a division of authority. External matters are vested in the Commonwealth. Entry into Australia and exit from it are matters of Commonwealth concern.
– Would the honorable member bring out immigrants if there were unemployed here?
– That is not the problem. Does the Minister mean to say that there is no place for immigrants in Australia at the present time?
– I do not say that.
– No, of course the Minister does not; yet by his question he suggested it. He asked : “ Would you bring immigrants here while there are unemployed in the country?” What was the meaning in the Minister’s mind behind that question? Did he put it as a trick question ? Is that the way in which a Minister conducting a great Department ought to deal with .policy in this House?
– The honorable member’s utterances are so general that they prompted the Minister to ask the question.
– What I say is that immigration is a subject for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. The Commonwealth ought to provide a certain proportion of the funds to bring out immigrants, and it should be for the States to select them.
– How many?
– The number suggested by the Premiers is 25,000 per annum.
– Why 25,000 a year when we have unemployed here ?
– Does the honorable member mean to say that this great continent is not capable of absorbing 25,000 immigrants a year? Is that his conception of our native land?
– There are times when we cannot.
– If such times come let us slow down, but in times of prosperity we can well absorb 100,000 a year. How are we to develop the Northern Territory and settle it unless we increase our population? How long will it be before the Territory becomes a State of Australia, and a source of prosperity to us, unless we introduce immigrants?
– The honorable member would bring them in and dump them down.
– I would not suggest that. Does the honorable member say that the New South Wales Government are dumping down immigrants, or that the Western Australian Government are doing so?
– I venture to say that they are.
– I do not see any indication of it.
– I do.
– There may be isolated cases of immigrants who are weak and cannot stand the strain, but, speaking as a whole, those who have come to Australia during the last few years have been a great source of profit to the country. They are a fine body of men. The State Premiers are willing to have a system pf cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States. The theory of our Constitution is that as regards immigration there shall be co-operation. The Commonwealth can do the general advertising outside Australia.
– Which we do.
– We are doing a great deal of it.
– We do it all.
– The Commonwealth is not doing as much as the High Commissioner asks us to do. How did the Government treat the offer made by the States? Did they accept it? Ministers talk immigration, and tell us how wonderfully population is flowing to Australia as the result of the land tax - although they give no proof of that statement - but how did they treat the offer of the State Premiers? The reply of the Minister of External Affairs was that - they had given careful consideration to the proposal contained in the letter of 6th February; that the resolution of a recent Premiers’ Conference quoted appeared to amount to a recommendation that the Commonwealth should contribute a sum of, approximately, ,£150,000 a year to the cost of the work of introducing immigrants to Australia, now carried out by the State Governments, without their altering any , of the other arrangements incidental to that policy ; and that, in their opinion, it would not be wise to introduce a divided control.
There is no indication of compliance with the offer of the States, but, on the contrary, a deliberate turning down of their proposal. There was a frank refusal to have anything to do with it. We know that some of their party are opposed to immigration. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports continually protests against it, but the general trend of public feeling in Australia is that there ought to be a steady, continuous flow of the best emigrants we can obtain from Europe. We have appointed a High Commissioner at a high salary-
– No; the salary is too low.
– It indicates, at all events, that we. consider the office to be of great importance. The duty of the High Commissioner is to make investigations, and to give us advice; but, if his reports are simply to be pigeon-holed as soon as they are received, we had better recall him. If we meant business by sending him Home we should pay some attention to his able reports, and should act upon them.
– The Government’s treatment of his reports must be very disheartening to him.
– Quite so. I have before me a copy of his report, dated 31st March, 1912. It was received here some time in May, and the Government had possession of it before the Governor-General’s Speech was read at the opening of the present session. What proposition did he submit to them in respect of immigration? He wrote -
The satisfaction which the marked increase in the number of emigrants from Great Britain to Australia has caused has been qualified by the increasing anxiety I have felt owing to the block from which the movement is suffering at its most important point, that of finding transit for those willing and anxious to make their homes in the Commonwealth. Unless some rapid increase in the means of transit occurs, a serious, perhaps disastrous, check to Australian immigration is bound to occur. The block in the case of emigrants prepared to pay their own passage-money in full (in the steerage) is worse than in the case of the assisted class. For some time past the passenger steamers have been quite unable to cope with the demand, and although the shipping companies have provided, and are providing, new steamers, the situation is getting worse.
Could we have a stronger statement? Sir George Reid points out that the increase of emigration to Australia is viewed with general satisfaction, but that the means of transit are utterly inadequate. He says -
It does seem a thousand pities now that such an unusual demand for passages to Australia has arisen, that we should find ourselves in danger of a contrary movement setting in.
He does not desire that contrary movement to set in, and I think that all Australians will agree that it would be a thousand pities if anything occurred to check this desirable flow of people coming voluntarily to Australia. He continues -
When people cannot get a chance of departure until several months after they are ready to embark,itis easy to see what is likely to happen.
The rising tide will make its way in other directions, if it cannot make headway in our direction. The existence of these delays, as a matter of fact, is tested and proved by actual experiments from time to time, in the shape of applications for berths at the offices of the various shipping companies.
He is making here no mere vapid assertion, but a careful, deliberate statement, based upon actual knowledge which he has obtained from the shipping offices. His facts are beyond dispute. He goes on to say–
I have had interviews with deputations of passenger agents and the heads of the shipping companies - who are both deeply interested, the former in earning commission, and the latter in promoting traffic - and I am bound, after the most careful and earnest consideration, to state that I am convinced some assurance, given by those in authority, that emigration to Australia will be encouraged and assisted for a period of at least four or five years, is needed by the shipping companies before they will build the number of passenger steamers necessary. It must be remembered that cargo steamers cannot be converted into passenger steamers, either temporarily or permanently, without a very large outlay. The modern requirements now wisely insisted upon cause ship-building for passengers to be a vastly more expensive task than it used to be.
Has the Cabinet given any consideration to this proposal?
– I have.
– Has the Minister come to any decision?
– I have.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to adopt the suggestion which Sir George Reid makes?.
– We have it direct from the Minister that the Government declines to adopt the suggestion.
– Hear the crossexaminer !
– Is it an offence to ask the Minister a question?
– It is irregular to do so in the course of a speech, as the honorable member is doing.
– It seems to be considered irregular to ask Ministers for information. It will be quite time enoughfor the honorable member to object to my action when the Minister declines to answer a question. The Minister is not in any need of the protection of the honorable member for Gwydir, but perhaps the latter himself is opposed to immigration, and is anxious to block it. If he is, I can well understand his objection to the Minister answering what, after all, was a fair and reasonable question. This proposition on the part of the High
Commissioner has been turned down. Sir George Reid states that, in order to obtain the necessary shipping facilities, some definite assurance must be given by those in authority that for the next four or five years there shall be some regular flow of immigrants to Australia, and that, if the shipping companies receive that assurance, they are prepared to provide the necessary passenger ships. We now have it that the Minister of External Affairs, who, on behalf of the Government, is charged with the policy of immigration, declines to carry out the suggestion. The Government do not even ask the States to co-operate with them. The States alone are engaged at the present time in an active immigration policy. Immigration should be, to a great extent, a national policy, and the National Parliament should take the lead. The National Government, however, through the Minister of External Affairs, declines to do so.
– And yet the Government take credit for the immigrants who come here.
– Pointing to the shiploads of immigrants who are brought here by the States, the Government say, “ Australia is going ahead by leaps and bounds. Our land tax is responsible for this. Look at the flow of immigrants.” Those coming here are for the most part workers who will help us to make Australia productive. The Government have given us no indication of large areas having been cut up ‘and settled by these immigrants, and when we appeal to them to take an active part in a policy of immigration for Australia, they simply turn down the proposal. They will not even give the assurance for which the High Commissioner asks ; they will not even give a guarantee which would lead the shipping companies to convert cargo steamers into passenger vessels to bring- to Australia large numbers of immigrants. There are other features of this report to which I hope the Minister has given more sympathetic consideration.
– Under the Standing Orders, the honorable member can only speak for another minute.
– I am sorry that the “ gag “ will prevent me from indulging in some more useful “criticism, but I shall reserve what I have to say for my next half-hour.
– It is a pity that the Minister of External Affairs has not followed the usual courteous custom of explaining to the Committee the nature of the Estimates of his Department. There seems to be a general desire on the part of the present Government to withhold as much information as possible. There certainly appears to be no desire on their part to volunteer any information as to the policies of their several Departments. The present Minister of External Affairs, following the discourteous lead that has already been set by other members of the Ministry, treats the Committee with silent contempt. He places his Estimates upon the table, and expects the Committee to vote the sums required without a word of personal explanation from him concerning the important developmental questions associated with his Department. He is not prepared to volunteer any statement to honorable members of the Opposition, who are entitled, as a right, and not merely as a concession, to have the information for which they ask. Perhaps one reason why it is not forthcoming is that the Minister has no particulars in his own possession beyond those which the Estimates themselves give. That has been our experience, so far, in dealing with the Estimates of other Departments. When we have asked for an explanation of certain large items of expenditure we have found Ministers totally unprepared to give any information, and when pressed they have had finally to admit that they, have not the information to give j that, as a matter of fact, they do not know the business of their Departments. And this is the way in which the business of the country is being conducted by a set of Ministers who pride themselves on their great capacity for administration. As a matter of fact, they show a great capacity . for knowing nothing about the Departments which they administer - a great capacity for incapacity. I do not remember this Committee being treated in the same scurvy manner by any previous Administration, and it is only charitable to assume that it is not from want of manners, not from a desire to be discourteous, or to appear loutish, but simply because the members of the Ministry have not taken the trouble to inform themselves as to the details of their Departments, and consequently are not in a position to give the information to which the Committee is, entitled as a right, and which ought to be volunteered by any Minister when his Estimates are submitted for consideration here. We, .unfortunately, have this spectacle to face; that the repre- sentatives of the people are expected, and practically forced, to vote millions without having a very clear idea as to where the money is to go, or for what purposes a great deal of it is to be expended. A large portion of the proposed expenditure is covered up in such a way that it is impossible for those who have not access to the departmental figures, and the officers, to get the detailed information with which they should be equipped to enable them to satisfy their constituents that in voting these sums they had proper and ample justification. In regard to the Northern Territory, I want to draw attention to a very severe castigation which has appeared in the press, and from which I propose to read a few extracts. The Age of the 25th October published a telegram from Darwin under the heading of, “ Chaos in the Territory.” Another newspaper had a different heading, but one just as suggestive as that used by the Age, the accuracy of which is confirmed by the telegram itself. The headings are -
Chaos in the Territory.
All Leading Officers Absent from Head-quarters. Remarkable Labour Dispute.
This telegram is apparently from the Darwin correspondent of the Age.
– Who is the writer?
– The honorable member can take the trouble to find out for himself.
– Is it signed with a nom de flume ?
– I suppose it is from the regular correspondent.
– Of course, the Age is always reliable.
– I have noticed that honorable members on the other side, when they want to quote from a newspaper which, in their opinion, but not in mine, is reliable, always choose the Age from preference. If I had quoted from the Argus, I would have expected a chorus of denunciation and ridicule from the other side. But the Age is very friendly disposed to the Labour party, and has helped to boom them to a very considerable degree, and gloss over all their shortcomings, blunders, and incapacity.
– Ask the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– They are very friendly to me !
– I admit that occasionally the Age has bursts of sanity and mental lucidity, but on those occasions it comes out of its shell, and begins to pick holes in the coats of Labour Ministers, and this apparently seems to be one of those occasions. It says -
Nearly all the Government Departments have been without their chiefs for some weeks. The Administration has made no appointment of an Acting Administrator when the latter left on his trip, and Mr. Carey, his private secretary, who is a new arrival, is to all intents and purposes running the country.
This new arrival, who has gone up there as a raw recruit, is running the Territory -
The Director of Lands, Mr. Ryland, has been away three months in the Roper River district with the Land Board, and he left no proxy.
His Department is left to take care of itself.
– You do not want him to stay always in Port Darwin. He cannot do all his work there.
– It is not customary, I think, for the head of a great Department to go away without leaving some officer in charge who is responsible for at least carrying on the routine work during his absence. I do not know whether the honorable member conducts his private business in that way, but that is not how the public business ought to be conducted.
– Absolutely dry-rot.
– The. honorable member has struck the right word’, Absolutely “dry-rot” has set in in all the Labour Departments. ‘ That is the exact term which should be applied to the present administration of the affairs of this Commonwealth. Ministers are suffering from dry-rot, and doing nothing else so far as the Northern Territory is concerned. To continue the quotation -
The Director of Agriculture also has been away for three months, and his duties have been divided between the new secretary of his Department and Mr. Carey.
This raw recruit, who has only just gone to the Northern Territory, has to look after two Departments, and run the show in the absence of the responsible heads who are paid for doing that work.
– Is it not very sad?
– Honorable members on the other side may affect to treat all these proposals, involving the expenditure of many thousands of pounds, in some cases running into millions, with a degree of levity which, however suitable it might be to some other place, is altogether out of keeping in the National Parliament, when we are supposed to be seriously dealing with the consideration of these Estimates.
– You are building your whole speech on a newspaper report. How do you know that it is true?
– I am quoting from the Age. .
– You do not always believe that journal.
– I certainly do not, but I notice that whenever honorable members opposite want to quote anything which tells against this side, they do not hesitate to quote the Age, and do not question whether it is true. It is sufficient for them that it appears in the Age, no matter how extravagant it may be; there is no question of its truth then with them. It is only when the criticism is turned to themselves that they begin to throw doubt on the veracity of the statements, and that, again, is characteristic of them. To resume the quotation -
The Chief Surveyor, Mr. Day, has been away for three months, and has been represented by Mr. Worgan, the chief clerk and draftsman, who has the distinction of being the only old officer left with any pretence to power placed in his hands.
– Where would you ,have him?
– That is a lovely way in which to run a Department. I wonder what the Minister of Home Affairs thinks of the method. There are no “chasers” employed there; there is none of that paraphernalia which the honorable gentleman prides himself upon having introduced into his own Department. I suggest to him the advisability of having a heart to heart talk with the Minister of External Affairs, and seeing if he cannot instil into his mind some of the up-to-date business methods which he prides himself so much upon possessing in a marked degree.
– He ought to send a few “chasers” after these officers.
– Yes, and that is one of the few good suggestions that I have heard from the honorable member.
– Would you have Mr. Daysurvey the country from the office?
– No. Mr. Day is not the only administrative officer away. The heads of these Departments are not all surveying the country, J dp not .think that -..thB
Minister of Home Affairs found it necessary to absent himself from his office in order to survey the Yass-Canberra territory. He sent there a Chief Surveyor and a staff; he did not go himself. I do not know whether the gentleman to whom the honorable member for Dalley refers is a practical surveyor.
– Ask the honorable member for Wakefield.
– Is Professor Spencer a surveyor; is he away surveying the country?
– He is looking after the aborigines.
– May I proceed with the quotation? -
Professor Spencer is away with the Administrator, and has been represented by Mr. J. T. Beckett, also a new arrival. The railway engineer, Mr. Francis, is in Melbourne, and has left no representation. The Administrator hurried away while still arranging the organization of many new Departments.
That, is the way in which the Northern Territory is managed and administered. The Minister of External Affairs has no reason to be proud of his administration of this vast Territory, which the Commonwealth took over in order that it might be populated at the earliest possible opportunity. It is being settled and developed by the heads of Departments running all over the country, apparently without any set purpose, and leaving nobody in charge of the offices, where they should be in order to direct the energies of their subordinates, who should be at work which, presumably, they themselves are now doing. The quotation continues -
It follows, as a natural course, that all matters here are in a most unsettled condition. The carpenters are on strike. The labour troubles have not made the work of the acting regime any easier, but have accentuated the difficulties of the situation.
There is a lot more, but I do not intend to quote it, to show the manner in which the Northern Territory is being administered. Why was it taken over?
– Why should you make it more difficult for the officers who are there ? You may pitch into me as much as you like, but why should you pitch into the officers ?
– That question might very well have been “directed to the Age, which published this article for public information. Honorable members opposite want to know why I go to the Age for information. In the absence of any direct information from the Minister I can only go to those sources which are always upheld by them as reliable. When the Minister in charge of these Estimates does not condescend to inform the Committee of any particulars concerning his Department, or his administration, or the policy governing the Department, we are, perforce, obliged to look to the press, and any other source, for the information required. We have no other means at our disposal. We cannot go behind the Minister’s back to the officers of his Department, and ask for the information, because if we did he would charge us with doing something underhand. When we ask him straightforwardly here for the information we cannot get any satisfaction, and so we are thrown back upon the press, which may or may not be accurate. We can only quote what is stated in the press, and try to probe and find out if the information is accurate. The only person who can supply us with proper information is the Minister, who is asking us to vote money for carrying out what appears to us at present to be a careless, ineffective, incompetent, and, in many respects, extravagant administration of the public finances. We have not yet had a policy’ announced by the Government in regard to the Northern Territory. When we were asked to take it over, it was pointed out that one of the urgent needs of the Territory was the settlement of population. It was represented that it was too big a problem for South Australia to manage, that she had expended huge sums, and incurred great liabilities in respect to the Territory which she was not able to finance. We were asked, not only to take over the Territory, but also to recoup South Australia for the whole of the money which had been lost, and the whole of the liabilities which she had still to meet in connexion with the attempted development of the Territory, so far as it had gone, and its administration. We have done that on the good faith of those who put forward those grounds, and who urged as a further reason that the question of defence made it imperative that this portion of Australia should be peopled at the earliest possible opportunity, in order that we might have effective occupation rather than run the imminent risk of invasion at any time. What has been done in the matter of attracting population? Since 19 10 we have had a Ministry with a splendid majority behind them, with funds rolling in more rapidly than was ever the case before. They have had more than double the revenue that any previous Go vernment had ; they have had “ money to burn,” as I see some Labour people in Western Australia have stated as a reason why they should have applied to the Government for employment. What have they done to develop the Northern Territory? It is as empty as when they took it over.
– You did nothing with it for ten years.
– The honorable member has not been in Parliament very long. Had he been following Federal politics before coming here, he would know that the Territory was not taken over by the Commonwealth until this Government came into office, and that, therefore, we had no control over it, as it was then under the South Australian Government. It has had the Territory for upwards of two and a half years, and what has it done? It has sunk something like three-quarters of a million there, but what is there to show for the money? A few Socialistic experimental farms, employing a few hands at pottering about, but giving no practical settlement or developmental results ! There has been no attempt to advertise the resources of the Territory so as to attract people there. The Commonwealth is as much exposed to invasion to-day as it was when South Australia had the Territory.
– Where are you going to put population ?
– Where were we going to put population when we took over the Territory ? There are millions of acres crying out for development, and population should be put on them. Thousands of persons are brought to this country yearly to increase the population of already congested areas around the metropolitan centres, while the wide spaces of the Northern Territory are left unoccupied, and a source of danger, because a temptation to invasion by those Eastern nations, whose territories are overflowing with people, and who are looking for new fields. The estimate of expenditure for this year is no less a sum than £848,500.
– Dear me !
– The honorable member seems to think that a small matter. What is a million pounds to him? Our friends opposite can fritter away millions. They have £22,000,000 to fritter away this year, although preceding Governments had to be content with £8,000,000, and less. But they apply their “ Do not worry “ policy. They know that the public has to pay, so they do not care how the money is spent. They consider the representatives of the people impertinent because we ask how the money is being spent, and desire to exercise control over its expenditure. We recognise the need for expenditure, but we acknowledge our duty to our constituents, which is to see that that expenditure is wise and proper. The expenditure of this Government on the Northern Territory, and in many other directions, is not wise nor prudent, nor is it justifiable. There are some 117 officials in the Northern Territory who are being paid fairly high salaries - and upwards, and, in some cases, are provided with residences. But could they keep out an Asiatic invasion? Do they effectively occupy the Territory? We wish to know what is the policy of the Minister for the development of the Territory? Have any steps been taken to secure a considerable number of immigrants? Is money to be frittered away year after year merely to keep a few defeated Labour candidates in fat billets? I should not object to defeated Labour candidates being pitchforked into billets at high salaries if they had the qualifications necessary for the performance of the duties with which they are intrusted. But we have no indication that they possess these qualifications, and, in some instances, at least, the possession of these qualifications by them has been called into question. Provided that they are qualified for the posts they are given, I would not object to such appointments as long as more qualified men were not debarred from the chance of getting appointments. The Government is only playing with the development of the Northern Territory. It is not dealing with it in a statesmanlike way. After two and a half years, we are no further forward than we were when the Territory was in the hands of South Australia.
– Why two and a half years ?
– This Government came into power in 1910, arid we are now nearly at the end of 1912.
– When was the Territory taken over?
– An Act was passed in 1910, which has been administered wholly by this Government. During this period, it has done nothing to develop the country, and the Minister in charge of the Territory has not told us what is the policy of the Government in regard to it. We tried to get information from him when dealing with the Budget, . and again when the Works Estimates were under discussion, but failed on each occasion, and appear likely to be unsuccessful now.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.
– The honorable member would say, “ Do not worry.” It is our business to worry. The increasing of expenditure means the imposition of more taxation on the backs of Labour, a prospect which we cannot view without serious alarm. We shall not always have seasons of unexampled prosperity, though I wish that we might.
– Do not be a calamity howler.
– As soon as the note of warning is struck, and honorable members are reminded that prudence is necessary in times of prosperity to guard against ill effects in times of adversity, we hear about calamity howling. But even at the risk of being called a calamity howler, I venture to point out that we are drifting into dangerous waters, that we cannot expect this period of prosperity to continue for ever, that there are not wanting indications of a change, and that it is time we called a halt. It is time that we understood where all this huge financial expenditure will land us. I do not mind a large expenditure so long as we know that we are proceeding upon safe lines.
– The honorable member’s time has expired
– Under the circumstances, I must reserve what I have to say for my second lap.
. - Will the Minister report progress now?
– Not yet.
– Then there are one or two matters to which I wish to direct attention in connexion with the administration of the High Commissioner’s office. I desire to ascertain whether the Minister intends to appoint an efficient produce expert ?
– I understand that the honorable member is discussing the Department?
– Do I gather from the Minister’s reply that he has not come to a decision upon the matter?
– The honorable member” should proceed with his speech. These matters are dealt with in the Estimates.
– I take it that the Minister has turned down this proposition. As it affects the primary .producers, naturally it has not received from him the sympathy that it might be expected to receive from others. The administration of the Government has been marked by an absolute disregard of the interests of the primary producers. Not one Act has been placed upon the statute-book for their benefit.
– The honorable member knows that that is untrue.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for West Sydney stated that the honorable member for Darling Downs knew that his statement was untrue.
– If the honorable member for West Sydney made that remark, he must withdraw it.
– When the honorable member for Darling Downs made a statement which was not correct, I made the interjection complained of. If it is considered disorderly, I withdraw it.
– The High Commissioner properly recognises that one of his functions is. to do what he can to forward the interests of Australian producers in Great Britain and foreign countries. In his report, he points out the enormous advance there has been in the export of our products. He says -
The progress of this branch of Commonwealth trade in three leading lines can be seen in the following comparison : -
He points out that -
The world-wide competition for the British market in most lines of production should stimulate, I think, both public authorities and private enterprise to co-operate to the greatest possible extent,, in order to advance the reputation of Australian products, and increase the demand for them, in the British Isles.
It would be a great help if the services of an efficient produce expert were placed ‘ at my disposal. I use the term “expert” in this connexion to denote a roan who not only possesses practical knowledge, but is also thoroughly well qualified by business training to grapple with trade difficulties and deal with the markets and large traders in this country, on at least an . equal footing of knowledge, smartness, and capacity.
I would ask the Minister to give careful consideration to that suggestion.
– There is £5,000 upon the Estimates for the development of the Australian export trade upon the Continent.
– But the High Commissioner needs the services of an expert officer. A sum’ of £5,000 might well be utilized for advertising the resources of Australia. 1 would remind the Minister of the strong plea which was put forward by the honorable member for Illawarra that assistance should’ be provided in the High Commissioner’s office with a view to opening up new markets in the Old Country. In his reply, will the Minister say whether he has any policy in that respect? I observe that on these Estimates only £20,000 is appropriated for advertising the Commonwealth.
– This Government is the first Government which has expended £20,000.
– I am glad to hear it. But considering that it is the first Government which has had a High Commissioner, the expenditure shows that the Department has not grown as rapidly as the development of the office justifies. It is upon this point that the High Commissioner has made a complaint. 1 am sorry that some attention has not been given to it, because the sum set down upon these Estimates in this connexion is exactly similar to that which appeared on the Estimates of last year. The High Commissioner points out that -
In advertising the Commonwealth in Great Britain and on the Continent, it will, i believe, be found advisable to arrange two distinct schemes - one aiming at securing an increasing tide of emigration to Australia and a greater volume of investments and further enterprise,, the other seeking to promote a better knowledge of the range and quality of Australian exports, with a view to promote an increasing demand for our products in British and foreign markets.
The High Commissioner also points out that, with the funds at his disposal, it is impracticable to include a vigorous and businesslike campaign for advertising our food products. That is a very strong appeal, which I am sure honorable members will all view sympathetically,, that the Minister, should place on the Estimates a substantial sum in addition to the £20,000.
– We are. doing very well ; the honorable member for Flinders will be on the honorable member’s track shortly..
– The Minister will not get over the matter in that way.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs will go to the country and say that the Government are extravagant.
– I shall unhesitatingly do so, because it is absolutely true. The revenues have been expended in useless ways ; a large sum is given to a Labour newspaper here or there to advertise immigration, and yet money is refused to advertise our products on the English markets.
– I shall quote this on Darling Downs against the honorable member.
– And I hope the honorable member will tell the people frankly how the money is expended, and that he does not believe in this Government providing means for advertising the primary products of his own constituents. However, I hope the Minister will see that something practical is done, because it is ridiculous to ask the High Commissioner to make reports with expert knowledge, and then to “ turn down “ every suggestion he offers for the advancement of the Australian people.
– I move -
That orderof the day No. 3 be read and discharged.
A new Ordinance has been drafted, and, therefore, it becomes necessary to move the discharge of this Order of the Day from the notice-paper.
– What facilities shall we have for discussing the new Ordinance.
– It will be laid on the table, and, if no one objects within fourteen days, it will become law.
– We must object in order to raise a discussion.
– Just so. The Government have promised that every facility shall be given within a short time for the discussion of any objections raised.
– The Minister is to be congratulated on the step he has taken, and the repeal of the Ordinance justifies the action of the Opposition in moving its disallowance. I am glad that the Minister recognises the serious defects of the old Ordinance, and
I hope we shall have an Opportunity at the earliest possible date to discuss the new one.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. THOMAS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Papua - Ordinances of 1912 -
No. 10. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909- 10,No. 7.
No. 11. - Supplementary Appropriation 1910- 11, No. 8.
No. 12. - Supply (No. 2) 1912-13.
House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121112_reps_4_67/>.