5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Prime Minister officially inform the House whether the Imperial Government has declined to hold a Defence Conference early in 19l4, and, if so, when the Conference is likely to be held?
– I have no information on the subject.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General, in reference to a reply that he gave to a deputation of licensed victuallers that waited on him yesterday, to ask for the removal of the prohibition on the conveyance of alcoholic liquors by post, whether he will inform the House of his final decision when he arrives at it, and .whether he will give us an opportunity to discuss it?
– I do not think that the honorable member need have any fear. I expressed my opinion pretty clearly yesterday.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement of the Premier of Queensland, appearing in the Baily Standard, that -
Queensland is going to be represented at the Panama Exposition. If we know the Commonwealth is not taking definite action, then the question is what steps we will take to have our own Statu represented …. I regard the opening of the Panama Canal of supreme importance to Queensland.
– The honorable member is not in order in reading an article from a newspaper in asking a question.
– I make myself responsible for the statement -
Particularly wilh regard to the prospects of the development of trade, and we must be represented.
Will the Prime Minister be good enough to let the Premier of Queensland know as early as possible what the intentions of the Commonwealth are in regard to the Panama Exposition?
– And all other Governments.
– I shall do what is asked. This is the first time that I have heard a strong expression of opinion favorable to the project from any of the State Premiers.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence when the Government will give the House its reasons for dispensing with Captain Onslow’s services on the Naval Board ?
– The moment that Ministers feel that they can tell the House all the facts concerning this matter they will be glad to do so. May I suggest to my honorable friends oppo-“ site that they do not do Captain Onslow any good by putting questions of this kind. The whole matter, is sub judice, and it’ is not kind to the officer in question to drag it forward before it has been dealt with by the proper departmental tribunal.
– It may be too late then.
– There has been a great deal more hubbub about Captain Onslow’s suspension than there was about the discharge by the last Government of Captain Hardy, another naval officer. The members of the last Government have not yet given the world or Australia a word of explanation in regard to that action. Why should there be this difference between the treatment of the two cases?
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the condition of affairs in connexion with the Naval Board ? Is it true, as alleged, that trouble has arisen out of the jealousy between the British members of the Board and the Australian members ? Will the honorable gentleman endeavour to discover if this trouble has not arisen through the Secretary working in conjunction with the President of the Board to the detriment of the officer who has been suspended?
– I must decline to answer these questions in the form in which they are put. The whole matter is being sifted to the bottom, and Captain Onslow and every other member of the Board will receive the fullest justice and fair play.
– At whose hands?
– I admit- it is as well to say this - that the condition of affairs at the Naval Board has not been satisfactory for a long time past, but things have only now come to a head. I hope that the result will be a better Board and a better state of affairs in every way.
Removal of Names from Rolls - Dummy Electoral Cards.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs if he will cause inquiries to be made regarding the notices sent out from Colac concerning objections to certain names on the Corangamite roll. I understand that one, Michael Bourke, of Swanport, Corangamite, who has resided on his farm continuously for about fifty years, and his two daughters, have received notice that their enrolment has been objected to on the ground that they do not possess residence qualification, and it is said that the objection is only initialed by the Commonwealth Registrar.
Will the honorable gentleman have inquiries made into that matter? Will he also ascertain the number of notices of objections sent out in Korumburra, and the number of objections that were found to be proper?
– I shall have an inquiry made into these matters. The question raised by the right honorable member last night is now being inquired into by the Chief Electoral Officer, and I hope to be able to give him full information shortly.
– Will the honorable member cause inquiry to be made about the number of notices of objections sent out in Korumburra?
– Yes. Of course, in the best regulated electoral office mistakes will happen. It is by no means a new thing for persons who have long resided in a district to be informed that objection has been taken to their enrolment. This sort of thing has been occurring for years; there have even been cases in which the names of such persons have been removed from the rolls without notice having been received.
Mr.Fenton. - That shows that preliminary inquiries are not made.
– It shows that there is nothing very novel in what has been complained of.
– But it is quite a new thing for the Department to receive objections wholesale.
– I shall have the inquiries asked for by the Leader of the Opposition made by the Chief Electoral Officer.
– Will the honorable gentleman issue orders that names shall not be taken off the roll unless there is sufficient evidence, and evidence of a character that would stand in a Court of law, to justify that course ?
– The Act and the regulations under it are administered by the Chief Electoral Officer, who is trusted by the present Administration to properly carry out his duties.
– He is not trusted to give a report on some of the matters that have beendiscussed here.
– The honorable member knows that that statement is absolutely without foundation.
– I wish to ask the honorable gentleman a question in reference to an answer given to a question raised by me on the adjournment, when I supplied newspaper authority for my state ment that a registrar had sent a communication officially to a certain organized body, asking it to furnish objections to names on the roll which it thought ought to be objected to. I was not present when the Minister’s reply was given, but on reading the report of the honorable gentleman’s remarks I find that no reference was made to the main point, that the communication was reported to have been sent by a registrar to an organization, asking for its assistance. Will the honorable gentleman make further inquiry, and return to me the newspaper which I quoted ?
– The reply that I read was the report of the Chief Electoral Officer. I shall bring the honorable member’s question under his notice, and ask him to supplement his report. The form under which these notices of objections are sent outhasnot been altered since it was first drawn up on the 25th July, 1912.
– Yesterday I asked the Honorary Minister what was the number of dummy cards in the electoral cabinets on election day, and he promised to get me the information.
– The number of dummy cards in the Department on election day is not easily ascertainable, but shortly after the election there were 18,281 dummy cards, that is, for the whole of Australia.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs if he will ascertain definitely whether any letter was sent by a responsible registrar to a political or semi-political organization, asking its assistance in removing names from the roll. I gave him the newspaper cutting on which I founded my statement. It purported to be a report from the organization, stating that a letter had been so received ?
– I do not know whether any Registrar has so acted. If he has, he has done so in opposition to the spirit and letter of the express directions sent to the Commonwealth Electoral Officers of States by the Chief Electoral Officer.
– Why could not the honorable gentleman have said that before?
– It has been said about four times.
– The honorable gentleman has evaded giving that answer on every occasion.
– I have made the same statement at least four times in this
House. I will ask the Chief Electoral Officer to make an inquiry as to whether any Registrar has acted in the manner that has been suggested.
– Does the Honorary Minister think that his reply covered that point ?
– Personally, I thought that my answer was thoroughly satisfactory. I will have the matter brought under the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer, and I will ask him to provide the right honorable gentleman with an early reply.
– Is it a fact that the Government is willing, if approached by a petition of business’ men in Melbourne, to withdraw the proclamation that has -quarantined Sydney and the metropolitan area because of the outbreak of smallpox there?
– It is not a fact.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the quarantine authorities of the Commonwealth have asked the authorities in New South Wales to isolate and segregate the patients who are suffering from small-pox in that State, and also the contacts, and if so, has any reply been received as to their intentions in that regard ?
– I have stated several times in this House that the method of suppressing disease within a State is entirely a matter of State jurisdiction. The Commonwealth has no power to dictate what steps a State shall take to suppress disease, but the Commonwealth accepts full responsibility for the way in which it exercises its own powers. As soon as the outbreak of small-pox occurred in ]STew South Wales, Federal and State authorities co-operated with a common end in view. The Commonwealth handed over to the State authorities the whole quarantine station, and agreed to place it at their disposal for the treatment of .patients.
– Who declared the area ?
– To regulate InterState traffic it was necessary for the Commonwealth to declare a certain dis trict a quarantined area in which smallpox existed. A regulation was then framed, requiring all persons coming from that area to other States to establish proof of their successful vaccination.
– The quarantined area is the cause of the whole trouble.
– It is the area which had to he declared under the law.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether he has jet received the promised statement, of their case from the Master Printers’ Association, and, if so, will he lay it on the Library table?
– Three days ago I received the letter to which the honorable member refers. I have not read it, but I have placed it in the hands of the proper authority- the Grown Solicitor- to investigate the facts and report to me upon it. Until I receive that report I do not think it, would be advisable to lay the document on the table of the Library, but probably I shall be prepared to take that course as soon as it is returned to me.
asked the Prime Minister, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Arms, Ammunition, and Ships of War.-
asked the Minister representing, the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whet’her he will state the’ names’ of the’ person’s, firms, or companies’ from whom the Commonwealth purchase arms, ammunition, and ships of war?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Small arms ammunition for . 303-in. service and 310-in. cadet rifles is obtained from the Colonial Ammunition Company Ltd., who manufacture it attheir work’s at Maribyrnong, Victoria.
Arms and ammunition which it is necessary to import are obtained from the Admiralty or War Office through the High Commissioner, and the Defence Department is not always aware of the source of supply, as no special contracts may be necessary, issue being made from store.
Vessels of the Royal Australian Navy have been built by -
H.M.A.S. Australia - John Brown & Co. Ltd., Glasgow;
H.M.A.S. Melbourne- Cammell Laird & Co. Ltd., Birkenhead ;
H.M.A.S. Sydney- The London & Glasgow Engineering and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Glasgow ;
Yarra - Denny Bros., Scotland ;
Warrego-New South Wales Government Dockyard (parts prepared by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company) ;
Submarines - Vickers Ltd., England
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to his statement in Hansard as follows : - “ There is no doubt that this maternity allowance cannot continue to be paid for very long, and that a system of social insurance must soon take its place “ -
When does the Treasurer propose to intro duce a scheme of social insurance?
Will the social insurance scheme be compulsory, and under what section in the Commonwealth Constitution is power given to make any person contribute to such a scheme?
Does the Government propose to pass a law to submit to referendum the amendment of the Constitution providing for power to establish a contributory system of social insurance?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to the following statement of the Prime Minister on 24th September, when speaking of the visit of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, “ So far as I recollect, he wants a fee of 4,700 guineas, which will include the work of his own staff in preparing plans and reports afterhis return home. It will include everything, from start to finish”- Will he, in view of the strategical importance of the Henderson Naval Base, as mentioned in Admiral Henderson’s Report, arrange for a special report on this Base to be prepared by Sir Maurice Fitzmauriceprior to that gentleman’s return to England?
– My reference to the work to be done by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, after his return, was with respect to the general establishments. We hope to get his opinion on the site before his return.
asked the Honorary Minister,upon notice -
Whether the contract between the Commonwealth and the West Australian Government for the supply of powellised karri sleepers for the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie Railway has yet been signed; if not, when will the contract be signed?
– On the 19th September, 1913, the Prime Minister wired the Western Australian Premier as follows : -
Contract supply powellised karri sleepers . . . with regard to contract document suggest you have clear copy made on lines agreed upon. Sign and forward here.
The Premier in a telegram of same date said -
Willing comply with your request re forwarding clear copy sleeper contract.
The document has not yet come to hand.
I am making telegraphic inquiries.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Small-pox Epidemic in Sydney - Letter, dated 9th October, 1913, from the Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act - Appointment of J. F. Ramsbotham to new position of Director of Lighthouses, Department of Trade and Customs, Central Staff.
Proposed Expenditure - Amendment of the Constitution: Financial Agreement - Federal Capital : Expenditure - Establishment of Commonwealth Factories - Naval Bases - Post and Telegraph Department : Applecross Wireless Station : Country Telephones : Construction : Conduits : Post-office Buildings : Unexpended Votes - Rifle Ranges - Department of Trade and Customs : Quarantine : Report by Dr. Norris : Small-pox Outbreak : Accommodation at Quarantine Stations : Erection of Lighthouses : Appointment of Inspector - Public Works : Tenders.
– Honorable members will notice that the amount on these Estimates for Additions, New Works, and Buildings is £3,268,569, but reference to the Budget will show that the total amount of the proposed expenditure under this heading is £3,971,001. There is, however, in the Trust Fund an amount available for the Fleet of £702,432, which has to be deducted, and consequently honorable members are now asked to vote only £3,268,569. Reference to page 232 of the Estimates will show how this sum is made up. There is £300,000 to be paid for the Fleet, £1,122,768 for works under the Department of Home Affairs, a further amount of £1,079,700 under the Postmaster-General’s Department, £4,860 under the Treasurer’s Department, £692,311 under the Defence Department, and £68,930 under the Department of External Affairs. I have abstracted the amounts which the Government ask Parliament to vote under the heads of Departments, because the Department of Home Affairs, for example, does work for the Defence, Postal, and other Departments. I find that for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department the estimated expenditure for the current year is £1,350,113, as against an estimated expenditure for last year of £1,152,275, and an actual expenditure of £1,086,615. The estimated expenditure for the Defence Department, not including the
Fleet, for the current financial year, is £1,234,051, as against an estimated expenditure last year of £1,261,842, and an actual expenditure of £1,129,072. For the construction of the Fleet this year we are asking for a vote of £300,000, as against an estimated and actual expenditure last year of £110,000. Honorable members will understand that the balance of the expenditure for last year, and also the balance of the proposed expenditure for this year, comes out of the Trust Fund. Under the Department of Trade and Customs we are asking for an appropriation this year of £57,752, as against an estimated expenditure last year of £76,083, and an actual expenditure of £51,060. Under the Department of Home Affairs the estimated expenditure for the current financial year is £244,377, as against an estimated expenditure last year of £99,622, and an actual expenditure of £151,460. Under the Department of External Affairs the estimated expenditure for this year is set down at £68,930, as against an estimated expenditure of £62,120 last year, and an actual expenditure of £62,619. For the Department of the Treasury, the estimate for this year for new works and buildings is £13,346. The estimate last year was £27,150, while the actual expenditure was £37,448. The totals, therefore are - Estimate for this year, £3,268,569; estimate for last year, £2,789,092, and the actual expenditure last year, £2,628,274. In regard to the Postal Department, honorable members will see in the report of my Budget speech and also in the Budget-papers that the whole expenditure from all sources this year is estimated at £7,150,275, as against £6,284,053 for 1912-13, so that we propose to spend £866,222 more than was spent last year. The Post Office expenditure provided for on these Estimates is £1,350,113. We also propose to spend £595,000 from loan funds and the balance of the Special Works Account, available from last year, £15,897. This makes a total expenditure this year on the Post Office from all sources of £1,961,010, as against £1,500,309 for 1912-13, and £1,013,524 for 1911-12. All this information is given on page 1788 of Hansard. We are providing for telegraphs, telephones, and wireless this year, £1,079,700, as against £835,302 provided last year, so that we propose to spend this year, under the heading of telegraphs, telephones, and wireless, £244,398 more than was spent last year. For post-office buildings, wireless stations, &c, we propose to spend £320,413, as against an actual expenditure, last year of £251,313. In other words, we propose to expend ££9,100 more than Was spent last year. It is not necessary to say any more at tlie present moment with regard to these Estimates. Ministers controlling the various departments will be very glad to give all information to honorable members as we .deal with the items. Already, in my Budget, I have dealt with most of these “matters under the heading of “ Defence Department,” “ Post Office Department,” and “ General Expenditure.”
– On this portion of tlie Estimates, as in regard to others, a general discussion is permissible on the first item. Necessarily, afterwards, the debate will be confined to the particular items under discussion.
.- I shall take full advantage of the statement just made that we can discuss any matter in a general sense in the course of the discussion on the first item. Last night the Prime Minister made a definite and distinct statement that iti dealing with the amendment of tlie Braddon section of the Constitution tlie .previous Government dealt with the States differently from what the Fusion Government proposed in their agreement with the States.
– I do not think he said that. He said you curtailed by six months the period of ten years in the Constitution.
– He said we had robbed the States of six months’ payment.
– That1 is only a way of putting it.
– I say we did not.
– “You certainly curtailed the operation of the section by six months.
– We did not. The agreement the Fusion Government made with the States was to come into operation on the 1st July, 1910, if carried by the referendum. It was not carried by the referendum, and, therefore, the agreement could not be made applicable in ‘& constitutional sense in the way that tlie then Government and the States wished it to be. Constitutional technicalities prevented it
– That is correct.
– The purport or intention of the financial agreement with the States was to bring it into operation on the 1st July, and when we succeeded the Fusion Government we carried out that intention,
– The States did not agree to your proposal, and were not consulted by you.
– The State Premiers agreed to the arrangement with the Commonwealth, but the people of the States would not put it into the Constitution in the form desired. The agreement that was entered into was to be brought into operation on the 1st July, 1910.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay is taking a rather wide interpretation of a general debate on this portion of the Estimates. The debate will necessarily need to have relation to additions, new ‘works, buildings, &c. I can hardly allow a debate to be re-opened practically on the whole question of the Budget.
– I shall not have the slightest difficulty in connecting my remarks with new works and buildings. If it is strictly ruled that they are outside the scope of this debate, I am afraid debate will be restricted. I wished -to take the earliest opportunity of saying that the Prime Minister’s statement in this regard was altogether wrong and misleading. The Fisher Government put into an Act the arrangement to return 25s. per head to the States and the other conditions imposed by the agreement entered into by the previous Government and the State Premiers for a period of ten years, commencing from the 1st July, 1910. Under the Constitution it .was impossible for us to make the period apply from the 1st January, 1910. It was impossible for us to pay money to tha States during the first half of the year, and therefore we had to restrict the payment during the first half of the year and demand it in the second half of the year.
– What was the practical effect of that?
– The same as if tlie agreement entered into had been carried into effect.
– But it meant a six months’ curtailment.
– No ; we were restricted by a constitutional limitation to make the amendment apply immediately on the date on which the Fusion Government intended to make it apply, but we did not alter the date nor did we withhold a shilling from the States with this exception : The Fusion Government’s agreement provided for the payment of a sum of £600,000 into the Commonwealth revenue from the 1st January, 1910, to make up the Commonwealth deficiency, but through the defeat of the Financial Agreement at the referendum the right honorable gentleman’s Government were not able to get the £600,000, and our Government that followed had to pass an Act to enable us to get £400,000 odd instead of the £600,000 that had been agreed upon by the Fusion Government and the State Premiers.
– We calculated the deficiency would be £600,000.
– That is so, but the actual deficiency was less than you anticipated, and we made a claim for it. We called upon the States to pay this money to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister is absolutely wrong, and I feel sure that he does not wilfully attempt to mislead the public in this important matter. The States were in exactly the same position on this question as if the people had carried the referendum, with the exception that the Financial Agreement was not made a permanent provision of the Constitution. I hope these remarks will prevent the Prime Minister unconsciously doing his reputation an injustice by again referring to something that is only too plain, and in his reference committing a gross error and misrepresentation of the facts.
– I wish to protest against the item of £285,000 for the Capital site. I do this for the specific purpose of exposing the methods of gentlemen opposite. In South Australia during the election campaign, and for a long time previously, the Fusionists were loud in their declamation of the Labour Government for spending millions on the Capital site. They denounced the proposed expenditure hip and thigh. But now we find that the present Government are providing for double the expenditure that was voted to this purpose by the Labour Government.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition ‘Object to that?
– These gentlemen speak with one voice in one State and with another voice in another State.
– They said the same in Victoria.
– Their complaint in New South Wales was that there waa not enough money spent on the Capital site, but gentlemen belonging to the same party when they came into my district in South Australia were loud in their denunciations of the gross extravagance ofthe Labour party in connexion with the site, while, on the first opportunity they get, they double the expenditure.
– We had a christening ceremony, you know.
– I can assure you that the Minister has never denounced it in our State.
– He wanted more money spent there.
– The honorable member can see my point surely.
– When a party appeals to the public it ought to be honest enough to have one voice on one question, and not resort to such a low method of politics as that I have indicated. It should not pretend in ohe State to be opposed to the expenditure on the Capital site and accuse the Government of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds more than they actually spent, while saying in other States that there was not enough money being spent there. Here we have the evidence. Let me say plainly and straight out that the expenditure proposed in these Estimates is a New South Wales expenditure. They have robbed the other States.
– Look .at the records.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition agree with that remark?
– Look at the records of the state of the post-offices. In one part of my electorate there is a building which the Board of Health has actually condemned, yet the Department insist that we must use that place. They cannot find money to spend there, but they can double the expenditure on the Capital site. If you go right through the Estimates you will find evidence of that sort of thing. I suppose that there have been quite a number of applications made for post-offices in places where their erection is justified, but we cannot get money made available for the purpose. This year the huge expenditure is to be increased. Where is all the money going to? It is going chiefly to New South Wales.
– To be spent on Federal territory.
– New South Wales is not the whole of the Commonwealth.
– The money is to be spent ou Commonwealth territory.
– The honorable member is taking this criticism personally.
– The Government are spending the money on Commonwealth territory, not on the land of New South Wales.
– The Government are proposing to spend £285,000 on Federal territory. What do they propose to expend on defence and other works ? I asked the Honorary Minister the other day whether the Government intended to go on with the construction of the Naval Base at Port Lincoln. He replied that nothing is to be done there, but the Government can find money to spend on Naval Bases in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– Of course, because they are advised that those works are more urgent and necessary.
– In other cases the Government will not take the advice of the same officer. Take the works in Western Australia, for instance. When he did advise the Government to go on with the works, they did not take his counsel; they only took the advice which suited themselves. When we reach the item I shall certainly move for a reduction of the amount. I want to brand the hypocrisy of the party in speaking with one voice in one State and saying something else in another State. The Fusionists ‘ accused the Fisher Government of having spent millions. The paid organizers for the Senate candidates who went through my electorate said that we were spending millions, and indulging in an extravagant waste of money on the Capital site.
– That is how they came to be defeated. The people did not believe them.
– In my twenty years’ experience’ I have never come across a party who were so outrageous in their statements of what the other party were doing. We cannot get them to acknowledge the fact; we cannot pin them down to anything.
– Do you know that your own colleagues in New South Wales claimed that the Labour party was the only party who could be trusted to spend money on the Capital site?
– That is right; they did it well, too, but they did not do enough.
– I know that there was a party in power for a number of years who did nothing with the Capital site. When honorable gentlemen opposite go to the country and say that tlie Labour Government spent millions there, though the actual fact is that they spent only £137,000, they - are playing the game pretty low.
– Let us have a division on the matter.
– I want . to know when the works contained in these Estimates are to be carried out. Some works have been approved of for years, and yet in regard to them, we find the ordinary re-votes. Quite a number of the items on these Estimates are re-votes.
– Your Government did not spend the money.
– It was not the fault of the Government, but of the Departments. We passed the Estimates early last year to enable the Departments to spend the money. That is the object in intercepting the debate on the Budget speech. The same thing will occur next year. We shall find on the Estimates thousands - hundreds of thousands - of re-votes again.
– This is being done in view of the forthcoming election.
– When we come to the item I have been discussing, I shall move a reduction, as a protest against the slanderous, lying statements which the Fusionists made during the last ‘elections in South Australia.
– I wish to ask one or two questions. Whether my sight is defective or not I do not know, but in these Estimates I cannot find certain items which I expected to see there, nor have I heard in regard to the Loan Bill that any provision is made there for the Flinders or the Henderson Naval Base. Although I arn not vitally concerned in the Flinders
Naval Base, still, on the broad lines of defence, I should like to know from the Treasurer where the expected expenditure is provided for on the Estimates or in the Budget-papers. On page 265 of the Estimates for additions to new works and naval works under the control of the Department of Defence I see an item of £98,000 for naval works, including labour and material, and an item of £112,000 for machinery and plant. Whether they are the two items which will cover the expenditure on Naval Bases or not I do not know.
– Yes, they are.
– In 1912-13 £200,000 was appropriated, and £172,000 was expended, and in these Estimates we are asked to vote £210,000. That sum, I take- ‘ it, will cover not only the two Naval Bases I have mentioned, but also other naval works. I should like to get from the Treasurer or the Minister representing the Minister of Defence a definite statement as to the estimated expenditure on those Naval Bases. If I remember rightly, when the Estimates were under discussion last year, according to Hansard a definite statement was made regarding the amount to be expended on the different Naval Bases, and I think that similar information ought to be furnished on this occasion. There is another matter regarding which I am seeking information from a purely parochial stand-point. On page 257 of these Estimates provision is made for the expenditure of £5,392 on “ wireless telegraph station, Fremantle.” I wish to know whether that is an addition to the Applecross wireless station, or whether any further wireless station is to be erected in the Fremantle division? If an addition to the Applecross wireless station is proposed, I would like to know what work is to be undertaken there ?
– When we get to the item you can ask for information.
– And if you do not happen to be here the opportunity will go. This procedure is not by any means new.
– If I am off the track in any way I shall be pleased to be informed, because this is the first opportunity I have had of discussing any Estimates.
.- I have risen to draw attention to the necessity for more works being carried out by the Post and Telegraph Department in country districts. The Minister has just informed us that the Department is going to expend something like £244,000 more this year. During the time I have been a member of the House I have been accustomed to hear a statement of that kind, but somehow or other the money does not happen to get expended in the country districts. The practice has been to concentrate expenditure on the big capitals and suburbs and overlook altogether the country districts. I venture to assert - and I leave it to honorable members to say whether the assertion is correct or not - that in the country districts a large number of works are approved of, some of them for two or three years, and the statement is made by the Department that owing to the very many works which are approved of it is impossible to carry out a particular work, and it has to remain in abeyance. That is playing with country people. The time has arrived when the Government should take a stand and say that so far as the money will go the works which are approved of in the country districts shall be carried out at the earliest possible moment.
– You cannot blame the present Government.
– I blame all Governments. I spoke of my experience in the House, and that of course applies to the Government I supported. The day has arrived when the Government should give instructions that country facilities in the way of telephone and telegraph lines should be provided as early as possible. It is all very well for the House to vote large sums for that purpose, but if the bulk of the money is expended in thickly congested areas, that is an injustice to the people who are living in -the more scattered and remote parts of the Commonwealth. Who are the people that mostly require telephonic facilities ? I submit that it is the country people. We should bring the country residents in as close touch as possible with big commercial centres, and with medical men. There are very few electorates indeed which have not good ground to complain in that regard. I heard the honorable member for Gwydir say on one occasion that he had fixed up everything all right for his electorate. He is a very fortunate man indeed if he has done so. I know that other honorable members have been striving for a long time to get absolutely necessary works - works which were approved of - carried out, and the only answer they can get from the Department is, “Yes; this work will be carried out, but it must stand over and wait its turn,” whilst the Department can employ labour in abundance in the big cities I It is not a question of being able to get labour. I anticipate that the Department will not spend the votes which are now being asked for.
– On these Estimates there are thousands of pounds of re-votes.
– Exactly ; and every year that has been my complaint. If it is a question of getting labour and material, that is available; there is no difficulty in getting labour. It is only a question of organizing the Department arid seeing that a work is carried out. What we require is a Government with a back-bone - a Government who will give instructions that works approved of shall be carried out in a reasonable time, arid not allow honorable members to be put off, time after time, by the Department on the ground that a work will have to wait its turn. I know that it has been the experience of other honorable members as well as myself, that, after considerable agitation, a particular line is approved of provided that the persons concerned would contribute a certain percentage of the estimated loss. The people at once set out to raise the money. They send it along to the Department and it lies dormant at tlie postoffice, or ah intimation is sent, ’ Do npt send the money along; we will give you the line and advise you when we require the money.” If we vote money for the purpose of giving better facilities to country people, we ought to be genuine in regard to the action which is to be taken. We should not vote money year after year with a view of doing certain things, knowing well that it will not be expended, but we should make it obligatory on the Departments to spend the money. That is my complaint in regard to tlie treatment of country districts. While I admit that our expenditure must continue to expand, I think it is necessary for us to exercise great care in connexion with it. For the first time we find that it is proposed by this Government to provide £170,000 for the purchase of land for postal and telegraphic purposes]’ and £425,000 for the construction of conduits and the laying of wires underground, or a total of £595,000, out of borrowed? money. When I say that I do not approve of borrowing for these purposes, *I may be told’ that a precedent was set by the late Government in connexion withthe purchase of the post-office site at Perth. In this case, however, we find” that it is proposed to borrow a large sum for such a work as the undergrounding of wires. That is a work which you cannot realize upon, and I am opposed toborrowing for such a purpose. These wires after a certain time will have tobe renewed, and once we initiate the system we shall go on borrowing for such works for all time. The Postal Department should be allowed to stand on itsown footing; it should be worked by itself, and should provide for its ownexpenditure. The Government, however, instead of dealing with it in a businesslike way, are introducing a system of borrowing for postal works, and the interest on the money raised, instead of being debited to the Department itself, will be a charge on the Federal revenue,, and will have to be borne by the taxpayers generally. A system of this kind once initiated will grow. The Department should pay interest on money borrowed for postal undertakings. Theresidents of big centres of population will receive the chief benefit from this expenditure, whilst the poorman in tlie country will have to payinterest on the borrowed money. A block of land is rarely purchased for postal’ purposes in country districts. Land required for such a purpose is generally acquired from the State, and where it is necessary to purchase a block in a. country district the price is so low a» to be hardly worth mentioning. In almost any part of the country a blockcan be obtained for a few pounds. That being so, this £170,000 will be utilized’ for tlie most part in buying valuableproperty in big centres, while the interest, will be charged against the general revenue. Thus taxpayers in the country who will not get any benefit from thisexpenditure will be called upon to assist in paying the interest bill. The position- is the same in regard to the proposal toborrow £425,000 to provide for thelaying of conduits and underground wires. Country districts will not benefit to theextent of a penny. The Government areinitiating in connexion with the Postal’ Department a system which we shall live; to regret. They are proposing to borrow in a wholesale fashion to carry out works for which provision should be made out of revenue.
– The honorable member is prepared, I suppose, to do without these works?
– I am prepared to see the Department placed on a sound footing, and conducted as a business concern. I am altogether opposed to the introduction of a borrowing system, which will be a charge against the whole community, in order to carry out works that will be of no benefit whatever to those residing in ‘ sparsely-populated country districts. Residents of rural districts do not get a fair deal from any Government. Everything is centralized. I am not favorable to the piling up of a huge public debt merely to provide for certain works in the metropolitan districts. I shall not say that these works are unnecessary. On the contrary, I admit that they are. But I object to the borrowing of money for what is really a disappearing quantity - for something which we cannot realize upon, for which you have nothing to show - and the debiting- of the taxpayers generally with that indebtedness. We cannot afford to allow this huge expenditure to go on year after year, while nothing is being done for the country districts. Those who have to pay the interest bill should reap some advantage. If this system is to go on, then I think the Department should be classified, and that we should declare that the people in large centres of population, who reap the benefit of all this expenditure, shall pay something more than country residents who derive none. This Parliament seems to lose sight of the country districts altogether. An expenditure of £2,000 in a rural division is a wonderful thing, whereas the expenditure of £100,000 in a city is regarded as a mere bagatelle. Ever since my return to this House I have been endeavouring in vain to secure the building of post-offices in thicklypopulated towns in my electorate. They wOuld not cost more than £800 or £1,000 to build, yet I cannot get them.
– How did the honorable member for Gwydir manage to do so well ?
– He is a very fortunate man. I think that before long the honorable member for Riverina will come to the conclusion that in this respect he is in the same boat as I* am.
– I have already.
– There is material for a great country party here.
– I agree with tha honorable member, that if the representatives of the country districts were organized we should probably obtain something like justice for our constituents. Money is provided on the Estimates for certain country works of which the responsible officials have approved, and yet, at the end of the financial year, we find that it has not been expended.
– Artificial surpluses are created in that way.
– Yes ; I quite believe that every Treasurer likes to save a few hundred thousand pounds on his. Estimates, and I think that that will be found to be the position of the present Treasurer at the end of the year. A Treasurer comes forward and says, “ Here you are! I am going to spend £300,000 more than my predecessors did.” But the trouble is that, although the money is provided it is not spent. The country districts can reap no benefit from the Commonwealth services except in the matter of improved postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities, and when they cannot obtain the required facilities, although the officials themselves approve of them, they have just cause of complaint. An inspector reports in favour of a telephone line, saying that he believes it will pay, and that local residents, instead of having to travel 20 miles for a doctor, should be able to ring up one. But even after favorable reports have been received we find ourselves no further forward.
– That is because they are putting in a new staircase in the Treasury building.
– The honorable member is beginning already to ‘ notice the small things. He will see a great deal more when he has been here a year or two. I want the Postmaster-General, and the Treasurer, who, after all, has most to do with the finances, to realize that it should not be with them a question of the city all the time - that this Parliament does not exist for the cities only, and that the country districts support the cities.
– Nonsense 1
– The honorable member is one of those who claim to take a broad national view of things, but he is never able to see beyond the boundaries of his own electorate. I appeal to the Ministry to do justice to the country districts, and not to hang up work, after the necessary money has been voted, on the plea that the necessary labour or material cannot be obtained. The Government should issue instructions that they expect money provided for these works to be expended within the financial year, and that the necessary arrangements, particularly in the case of country undertakings, must be made to enable that to be done. Unless such an order °is given we shall find next year that we are still face to face with the position that confronts us to-day. After a Treasurer has carefully considered his Estimates, applied the pruning knife, and submitted them to Parliament, the works for which they provide should be carried out at once. We should take care that the money voted is actually expended within the financial year in carrying out the works for which it is intended. Unless that be done the country districts will continue to suffer injustice. I am sure that if country representatives would only band together they would make the Government feel the weight of their influence, and that we should get more for the rural districts than we have yet been able to secure.
.- I agree with what the honorable member for Hunter has said. The matters to which he referred are of considerable importance to country districts. Although it is proposed to expend £11,924 on rifle ranges in Victoria during the current financial year, of that amount £4,221 is a re-vote, so that the new appropriation is. only £7,703. Last year the appropriation was £16,195 and only £6,994, or less than one-half, was expended. The Department of Home Affairs, in conjunction with the Defence Department, should be capable of estimating what can be spent on these works in any year.
– It is the Department of Home Affairs that is to blame; the Department of Defence has not sufficient control.
– It is certainly extraordinary that, when over £16,000 has been voted, less than £7,000 should be spent. Money should not be appropriated except for necessary works, and such works should be carried out as soon as possible.
– The Departments say that they cannot get the material.
– That is what we heard yesterday in connexion with the * administration of the Department of the Postmaster- General. Surely there is plenty of labour obtainable. We hear of men waiting for employment. Why cannot their services be used for these works? As to getting material, if the officers are business men they should look ahead more than a month or two. I have been a member of this House for only a few months, but my experience in connexion with public works has appalled me. It was previously my belief that matters that were brought forward for consideration were dealt with in a prompt and business-like way. ~ The Government in its policy memorandum said that it would encourage the rifle clubs of Australia. How better can* that be done than by providing the necessary rifle ranges. Without ranges, effective training in musketry is impossible. In my electorate, ranges that were applied for years ago have, not yet been provided. We get promises of inspection, and reports, but no real advance, is made. The most ordinary requests are deferred in a manner that is unaccountable to business men. Although the sum proposed to be voted this year is not as large as the appropriation of last year, I hope that the money voted will be spent. Promptitude should be shown in determining what ranges will be provided, and steps should then be taken at once to provide them. I trust that ranges will be provided in all important centres to give proper effect to our system of compulsory military training. Turning now to the ad.ministration of the Department of tire Postmaster-General, I again indorse what was said by the honorable member for Hunter. In my short experience, I have brought forward between forty and fifty matters of importance to my constituency, many of them relating to telephone services, but practically no progress has been made in dealing with them, and the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs looks at me with astonishment when I complain of the delay.
– My astonishment is caused by the honorable member’s frenzied energy.
– The position is unsatisfactory. Yesterday I interjected, when the Prime Minister was speaking, “ What has become of the promise of the
Postmaster-General to frame a specification for the construction of cheaper telephone lines?” and was told that it was in course of preparation. It is about ten weeks since we were told that the specification would be prepared without delay, and an ordinary business man would prepare such a specification within twentyfour hours. It is not such a stupendous task that work should be hung up in the country districts lor weeks and months awaiting its completion.
– One specification should be good enough for nearly the whole of a State.
– For nearly the whole of Australia. I interviewed an officer of the Department in regard to this matter, and told him that I hoped that provision would be made for the inviting of tenders from local residents for the construction of telephone lines. He looked at me in wonder, and asked, “ What would become of our staff? “ Is the construction of necessary telephone lines to be delayed until the staff wakes up ? If the necessary works were pushed ahead, there would be ample for the staff to do, and employment would be given to many others as well. I know of a case in which a deposit was made months ago by local residents who desire a telephone, and the promise was made that tenders would be called without delay. But they have not been called for. I understand now that the department is taking steps to have the line peg-marked, so that we are no further forward than we were two months ago. Another work, the making of some additions to a postoffice in my electorate, does not seem to progress at all. Week after week the only reply to inquiries is that the matter is receiving attention. The blame in this case must be attributed to the Department of Home Affairs, which, he claims, was presided over in such a business-like way by the honorable member for Darwin. I hope that the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs will shake up that Department. If the last Minister shook it up, it has gone to sleep again. Perhaps the present Minister will do more, and take less credit to himself for what is done. A large number of country telephone lines should be put in hand, if for no other reason than te make cross country connexions to relieve the strain on the main lines. In many cases messages have to be transmitted over a distance of 200 miles, in a roundabout manner, to pass between places not more than 30 or 40 miles apart. The erection of cross country lines would make this unnecessary, and would prevent the blocking of business which now often occurs. I ask the Government to see that matters are dealt with in a more business-like way, and to push on with the public works - particularly the telephone constructions that are needed - in the country districts.
. -It seems to me a pity that the discussion on these Estimates cannot be confined to one subject at a time. We might have one debate on country telephones, for instance, and another on the Federal Capital expenditure, which is a burning question.
– The last Government burned money at the Federal Capital.
– We were denounced for proposing last year an expenditure of £110,000.
– But £137,000 was spent.
– It was probably thought wiser to exceed the vote than to stop work that had been commenced. This Government proposes to expend more than twice as much on the Federal Capital this year.
– Whether it is wise depends on the return we get for it.
– I grant that. But what did we find in Victoria? The Women’s National League denounced the Labour Government for proposing to spend £110,000 on the Federal Capital. I have here the Hansard report of the discussion which took place when this particular question was under consideration. I find that after Sir John Quick had spoken, Mr. Wise, the ex-member for Gippsland, submitted an amendment to reduce the amount proposed to be expended on the Federal Capital by £50,000. The honorable member for Wimmera, in speaking to that amendment, said -
It is time that the Minister gave us a statement as to how far the expenditure of the last two years has carried us. Many electors throughout Australia fear that we are being committed to an expenditure of millions of pounds. Indeed, the Minister has hinted as much, and that this expenditure will take place, regardless of the heed for important developmental works and other public expenditure. Very serious protests have been made against the expenditure on the
Federal Capital by representative bodies throughout Victoria. I have received resolutions from a large number of municipal councils protesting against the way in which this expenditure is increasing.
– Municipal councils !
– Those bodies may be regarded by Ministers as unimportant; but I look upon them as very important. They perform public services of great importance, and represent the taxpayers, who pay the piper, and must be allowed to express their views.
Mr. Wise pointed out that he had met a prominent member of the People’s party who. had told him that that party was opposed to the Federal Capital expenditure and that the Labour party was the only one which was in favour of it.
– What did the honorable member for Echuca say?
– I do not forget the motion which he had on the businesspaper as a political placard.
– He is like the honorable member. He is quite safe.
– At any rate we have this in common that we have both been returned to this House in spite of the Age newspaper. At the same time, I do not think that the honorable member holds quite as safe a seat as I do. I do not forget the political placard that he had upon the business-paper of this House for no other purpose than to lend colour to his profession that he was opposed to expenditure upon the Federal Capital. Now, however, he is absolutely dumb. He has not a word of protest to utter against the proposal of the Government to more than double that expenditure. Last year, he paired in favour of an amendment by Mr. Wise to reduce the expenditure on the Federal Capital from ?110,000 to ?60,000. I should like to know what his attitude will be to-day when the honorable member for Grey submits the amendment to reduce the amount which the Government propose to expend on this item.
– All in good time.
– After Mr. Wise had drawn attention to the fact that the People’s party had carried resolutions condemning this expenditure, Dr. Salmon denounced it - -
– The people of Victoria put him out for doing it.
– They put him out of Parliament because he was associated with the wrong political party. Under the redistribution scheme for Victoria, his electorate disappeared, and then he decided to contest a seat for the Senate which he had no chance of winning. The candidates who defeated him had the support of no newspapers, and yet they walloped him right out. . Despite the enormous advantage that he enjoyed of having the support of both morning papers in this city, he did not get a place. He finished fifth or sixth on the poll.
– He was among the “ also ran.”
– When a start was made to count the absent votes he pulled up more than he did at any other stage, as the record which has come to hand within the last few days clearly shows. Dr. Salmon, in speaking to the amendment of Mr. Wise, said -
The compact is being kept ; and the Minister stands self -condemned, because last year he asked for ,?100,000, which was cheerfully voted, and spent only ^68,000.
– He spent only ,?44,000.
Dr. CARTY SALMON.; I am taking the Minister’s own figures, and he now asks for a revote of ^32,000.
– What beat Mr. Wise?
– I think it was a tale that was zealously circulated throughout his electorate that under the regime of the Fisher Government a sum of ?4,000,000 was unaccounted for, and that Ministers locked themselves in their rooms and refused to admit the AuditorGeneral. It was- stated that there were items of “ contingencies “ under which there was an expenditure of ?3,000,000 or ?4,000,000 for which ho account could be given. Certainly it was not the Federal Capital expenditure which was responsible for the defeat of Mr. Wise. Every honorable member will admit that that gentleman was straightforward, and that when he was opposed to anything he did not mind saying so. He was not out to seek the support of certain newspapers.
– They tell me that he wore out the steps of the A. rig office.
– That is something that cannot be said of me. The present Prime Minister, in discussing the Federal Capital expenditure last year, pointed out that it was absolutely justified. What I am complaining about is. the two voices with which honorable members opposite speak. I want to know how men who were elected under the wing of the Women’s National League - I am referring to men like the honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for Corio, and the honorable member for Gippsland-
– I think that the representative of Corio is a product of the People’s party.
– These honorable members spoke with one voice in one State and another voice in another State.
– I was not in another State.
– I am speaking of the party to which the honorable member belongs.
– The honorable member does not know my attitude on the Federal Capital question.
– I desire to point out that the party with which the honorable member is connected denounced the Labour party in Victoria for spending money on the Federal Capital. The Women’s National League, the People’s Liberal party, and other organizations, adopted that attitude. Of course we all know that quite a number of people change their names as soon as their true characters are discovered. In much the same way these political organizations come up smiling, say, ^ as the “Reform League.” They are found out, and then they alter the name of their organization and pretend .that they are a different body, when, as a matter of fact, they are the same old crowd. All these organizations opposed the late Government because it increased the expenditure upon the Federal Capital to £110,000. I wish to know what they have to say now it is proposed to increase it to £285,000 ?
– We propose to put roofs on the houses that the late Government started.
– I voted for the expenditure upon the Federal Capital, but I am anxious “to know what is going to be the attitude of those honorable members who opposed it. At the last elections certain persons attempted to make political capital out of the fact that the Labour party had started work at the Federal Capital. It . is the only party which has endeavoured to carry out the compact entered into with New South Wales when Federation was adopted. I remember the Minister of External Affairs saying that he was opposed* to the creation of a Federal Capital outside the present large centres of population. Honorable members opposite, representing every other State except New South
Wales, have from time to time expressed the same opinion. The honorable member for Grey knows that in South Australia our action was used as a weapon against the Labour party.
– It was said that the late Government had spent millions of pounds upon the Capital.
– The expenditure upon the Federal Capital was also made use of in Victoria to damage Labour candidates. But if it was wrong for the Fisher Government to place upon the Estimates a sum of £110,000 to be expended upon the Capital, and to actually spend upon it £137,000, it must be doubly wrong for the present Government to expend £285,000.
– Does the honorable member favour a referendum upon the question of the advisableness of doing away with the Federal Capital ?
– The agreement with New South Wales was entered into prior to Federation and before there was a Federal Labour party in existence. When the first Commonwealth Parliament met, our party in this Chamber numbered sixteen members, who had been returned despite the opposition of every newspaper in the Commonwealth. We have grown steadily, until to-day we are thirty-seven strong. In the Senate we originally had only eight representatives of our party, but to-day we number twenty-nine. The agreement that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales was entered into by the people of Australia when they accepted our Commonwealth Constitution. When that Constitution was submitted to the people on the first occasion, in the absence of that provision, it was defeated in New South Wales. It was only after the Premiers of the six States had met in this building that it was agreed that New South Wales should have the Federal Capital, and that, at the instance of Sir George Turner, a provision was inserted in the Constitution that it should not be within 100 miles of Sydney. Seeing that that arrangement was entered into, I propose to abide by it.
– Why not give the people an opportunity, of re-considering the question ?
– Why not give them an opportunity of re-considering a lot of other matters?
– Let the honorable member confine his remarks to this particular question .
– I will. The establishment of the Federal Capital in New South Wales was one of the matters in respect of which the Constitution was amended between the holding of the first and second referendums. I am not in favour of going back on the compact that was entered into, and which I believe was instrumental in bringing New. South Wales into the Federation. I do not think it would be fair, especially now that a- certain amount of money has been spent. I believe that the people of Australia have a good asset in the present Capital site. There is a large tract of very good country there, and no doubt the Honorary Minister can give us some information as to what revenue is being earned on the money spent. I should like to deal with the question of lighthouses, but, as my time is limited, I shall deal first with the matter of quarantine, leaving lighthouses for another occasion. When I was Minister of Trade and Customs I suggested that Dr. Norris should be instructed to make inquiries as to the various diseases with which the people of Australia were likely to come into contact through these diseases being brought to our shores - in order to ascertain how we could protect Australia from those diseases with which, owing to the rapid increase in the speed of the vessels visiting our shores, we are more likely to come into contact, and more particularly in view of the opening up of the Panama Canal. The late Ministry agreed that Dr. Norris should take a trip to see what was being done in other countries to grapple with this particular problem. On his return Dr. Norris furnished a very valuable report, which contains a good deal of information, and maps showing where the various diseases, subject to quarantine, are in existence, such as plague, cholera, and yellow fever,” which is a great source of danger now that the Panama Canal is being opened up.
– They have wiped out the yellow fever in the Panama zone.
– That may be so, but it has not died out in other places from which we are likely to get it.
– We must continue to take precautions.
– Certainly. I understand that the yellow fever can be transmitted by the mosquito, and that it is possible that the mosquito may be on board a ship at New Orleans, and the larvae, not hatched out until after the vessel reaches Sydney. One of the most important diseases affecting Australia, at the present moment, is small-pox. In the report by Dr. Norris there is a map of the world showing that the only white spot free from small-pox is Australia; at least it was so at the time this report was prepared.
– Has Dr. Norris defined small-pox ?
– I do not know whether he defined it in his report, but I think the medical profession know what smallpox is without requiring a definition from Dr. Norris. I am not dealing with the particular outbreak in Sydney. Dr. Norris could not have expressed an opinion on the Sydney outbreak in view of the fact that he left Australia six months before the present small-pox broke out there.
– “Alleged” small-pox.
– I prefer to call it the small-pox outbreak in Sydney. Honorable members can call it what they choose. At any rate, honorable members will agree with me that it is necessary to take precautions to see that small-pox does not become endemic in Australia. It is bad enough to have an epidemic in one spot, but I believe that if small-pox gains a foothold in Australia, the people will suffer.
– How do you account for the fact that small-pox is endemic in London, and London is not quarantined?
– I think the honorable member will agree with me that it_ is necessary for us to take every precaution we can to prevent small-pox establishing itself in Australia;
– But not to ruin people in doing it. Your view is narrow. It is a Victorian view.
– I have not said one word in connexion with the present outbreak in Sydney. All I have said is that it is necessary to take precautions to see that small-pox shall not establish itself in Australia, and honorable members will agree with me in that.
– How do they prevent it going all over England when it is endemic in London ?
– Is the honorable member prepared to say that he will wipe out all the quarantine stations ?
– Oh, no.
– Then the honorable member agrees with me that it is necessary to take precautions to prevent smallpox from coming into Australia. I maintain that the present Government are not providing enough on their Estimates to protect Australia in this direction.
– You did not spend half the vote last year.
– And small-pox came in.
– The honorable member for Moreton, as usual, is not correct. The appropriation was £50,000, and the expenditure amounted to £27,900.
– That is just about half, is it not?
– It is considerably more than half.
– Then you did not spend every penny you could lay your hands on ?
– Apparently not. Honorable members will see that it was impossible to spend all the vote last year on the quarantine stations, because there were outbreaks of small-pox, and it was impossible to have the workmen at work in the stations. There were cases quarantined at Colmslie, in Queensland, and in Sydney, and Port Darwin, and we had a measles outbreak in Melbourne - the Irishman case. Again, the position of the Naval Base in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, was not settled. There was a doubt as to whether we would be able to go to Woodman’s Point for the quarantine station. It is doubtful whether we shall not have to go to Albany for the principal quarantine station if we cannot get a suitable place in or near Fremantle, having only a small sub-station at Fremantle.
– Not in Fremantle.
– I mean in the district. If quarantine is effective, it does hot matter whether the station is within 3 miles or 4 miles of the city or is 40 miles away.
– They quarantine houses in London.
– The honorable member for Moreton will see the reason why the money was not all spent last year. We were hung up on account of small-pox outbreaks, which prevented the work going on at the quarantine stations in Queensland, New South Wales, and Port Darwin; and we were prevented from car rying out works in Western Australia on account of the location of the Naval Base. Dr. Norris, in the last page of his report, speaks of “ quarantine machinery well distributed on national lines,” and he lays out a proper scheme of having first, second, and third-class stations, the firstclass stations to be capable of housing 1,000 patients each - I believe Sydney is to have accommodation for 1,100 - and the smaller stations, such as Port Darwin, are to have accommodation down to eight persons. One of the complaints last year was that provision was not made at Port Darwin, Townsville, Thursday Is-, land, and Brisbane for small-pox patients, and that the latter had to be brought all the way to Sydney. The honorable member for North Sydney complained in the House that these cases were a menace to the people of Sydney, and that it was necessary to construct these works further north. The work at Townsville is now going on, and the Colmslie station, near Brisbane, is being erected on a site obtained from the State Government. I wish to know now from the present Minister what is proposed to be done. In the £40,000 they* put on the Estimates this year, I believe Ministers are not allowing enough to protect the people of Australia, lt is most important that we should have effective quarantine. I trust there will be an explanation as to why there is such a small sum provided.
– I agree with the honorable member for Hunter that there is great reason to complain about the way in which the requirements in the matter of country post-offices are attended to. It is suggested that, in a matter of this kind, members representing metropolitan districts are more advantageously situated than are those who represent country districts. While it may be true that metropolitan districts are better served, this cannot be attributed entirely to the influence of metropolitan members, because the trading and commercial interests in the big centres have quite as much influence with all Governments as have members of Parliament. The sections of the community owning property and wealth must always exercise a considerable influence, and these sections are very strong in the big cities. I should like to call special attention to a new policy, or an undesirable extension of an old policy. I refer to the payment out of loan for new works for the Post and Telegraph Department. The sooner this House puts its foot down on that practice the better. This should not be a party question. Honorable members on both sides should be able to come to an agreement that telegraph, telephone, and postoffice services, being public conveniences, should be self-supporting. In the same way, sewerage and water services, as public conveniences, should be conducted on a paying basis. The position is vastly different when we come to deal with questions of naval and military defence, which may be regarded as an insurance against possible danger in the future. I think that the proposal of the Government to construct underground conduits for cables out of loan money should be protested against emphatically. I did not like the tone adopted by the Treasurer when he said that some honorable members would rather not have the work done than have it done out of loan. Honorable members, in this matter, should be placed at no disadvantage merely because they happen to hold a strong opinion that works of this kind should not be constructed out of loan.
– The honorable member knows that the works are permanent, and will be as useful to the coming generation as to us. Why should they not pay some of the initial cost?
– .Future generations will have their own burdens to bear. The honorable member has used an argument which would justify us in shuffling everything on to posterity, in order that we may ourselves obtain as much as we can for nothing. Long before Federation, works of this character in South Australia were always constructed out of revenue.
– What will posterity do for us?
– I am not anxious to follow the honorable member in the argument about posterity, which may be very interesting addressed to members of the People’s party or some of the Liberal organizations. I hope that honorable members will adopt a firm attitude on this question of the class of works which may be legitimately constructed from loan. I wish now to refer to a matter which, in my opinion, the Government have treated in a very cavalier way. I refer to the Sub-Naval Base at Port Lincoln. Some honorable members will say that this is a matter affecting South Australia, but ibis an historical fact that the admirals of the British Navy who have been in command in Australia during the last thirty years, and not merely during the last twoor three years, have annually taken thevessels under their command to Port Lincoln for gun practice and the evolutionsthey are required to go through under theAdmiralty regulations. I should like toask any man outside a lunatic asylum why the admirals have done this, if it was not because Port Lincoln is obviously the most suitable place they could find for carryingout evolutions of a certain character. This is the place that has been turned down by the present Government. In my opinion, we suffer from too many political minutes in connexion with thework of the Naval Board, and these minutes are not written by the membersof the Board who have come here from England. I should not hesitate to leave thematter of the Naval Bases to the expertsrecommended by the Admiralty. These questions should be dealt with by independent naval experts, and their decision should not be influenced by the interests of big cities. If this course be followed, it will be found that what I have said of Port Lincoln is accurate. There is noescaping the fact that every admiral in. charge of British ships in Australian waters has gone year after year to PortLincoln for the purpose I have stated. All the political humbug, scheming, and. political minutes written by members of the Naval Board cannot get away from that fact, and the conclusion which shouldobviously be drawn from it. The honorable member for Yarra has referred tothe great work done by Dr. Norris in hiareport on quarantine. We are being continually told of the tyranny of the Labour party, but there is a new tyranny arising in Australia, and that is the tyranny of the medical profession. The members of that profession would appear to have madeup their minds to run Australia, and, tosome extent, they are doing it to-day. The medical profession, no doubt, containsa number of very able and conscientiousmen. Perhaps about a third of them arescientific men, but to the other twothirdsscience is absolutely unknown. I do nobpropose to go at length into the matter of quarantine for small-pox, bub I should like to say that we have not, in my opinion, sufficient information on the subject to justify a layman in coming to the co nclusion that we have small-pox in Australia at all to-day. There is no evidence that we have in the Commonwealth the small-pox which the honorable member for Maranoa and I saw something of in London in the early seventies, when every time a man went out of his house he would see the ambulance coming along to remove some of his neighbours.
– What part of London does the honorable member refer to? I was in London in those days, but I never saw the ambulance going through the streets.
– I refer to the north end of London, and I am strongly inclined to think that the small-pox of which I saw something in London was a type of disease unknown to many of the members of the medical profession practising in Australia. It was certainly a virulent and fatal disease, and honorable members who saw anything of it will remember how patients were marked after it. They would not recognise it from the photographs which have been shown of sufferers from the disease here. Some of the ablest scientific medical men we have, and not merely medical quacks, believe that the disease affecting people in Sydney is not a pure type of small-pox. Many of the symptoms of true small-pox are absent from the disease in Sydney. Some of them go so far as to say that this is a new type of disease.
– They will get a new name for it directly.
– I would not be surprised if they did.
– Do you say that the experts have expressed the opinion that it is not a type of small-pox?
– That, I gathered, is the opinion of the medical men whom I have spoken to. I am referring now to medical men who have had much experience.
– Are they medical men who have seen these cases ?
– Some of them have not seen any cases. But the Minister knows very well that medical men continuallyconsult each other, and that the diagnoses of cases are reported in various text-books, although the cases themselves may have occurred 500 or 1,000 miles away. A scientific medical man, if he is a proper physician, is able to judge by the symptoms, and when such medical men find an absence of the symp toms which were found in the cases in the Old Country, no wonder that they are suspicious as to whether this disease is what is commonly called by the name of small-pox.
– They are erring on what they call the safe side, which is very injurious to the country.
– They are.
– I do not think that there is any doubt but that the disease in Sydney is small-pox. I have seen a lot of the persons who have come out of hospital, and they are pitted all right.
– There is no doubt that it is a type of small-pox, but surely the honorable member does not mean to tell me that it is anything like the smallpox which broke out in the Old Country ?
– No; it is very mild.
– I am strongly of the opinion that the pure type of smallpox cannot live in the climate of Australia, and that, no doubt, was the opinion of a good many medical men until the fiat went forth from the union that the present outbreak is small-pox. No medical man dares to go against his own union. Talk of trade unions, sir! The medical men beat the members of any organization I know of as regards loyalty and the way they stick to each other, right or wrong. So long as a resolution on a matter has been agreed to by the union, the medicalmen are content. The Government ought, therefore, to be doubly careful in taking the opinion of medical men. I am not going to condemn Ministers. Naturally, they say, “ We must act in accordance with the expert medical advice.” But I would remind them that expert medical advice is divided. It would be well, therefore, for the Government to obtain the opinions of two or three, or four, expert medical men aud compare them . That would enable Ministers to proceed on something like safe ground. I question very much whether they have gone into this aspect of the matter at all. I do not blame them for what they have done. It is very likely that, if the previous Government had continued in office, they might have acted on similar lines. We have to be careful to see that this continent is not run by the doctors. I hail and wish much success to the American faith-healers who are coming here. One of the results of the spread of American faith-healing, no doubt, will be that half of the doctors will be thrown out of work.
– You will admit that, if we can exclude disease from -Australia, there will be less work for the doctors?
– That is right. There is no doubt that the most lucrative portion of a doctor’s practice is in curing people who are not ill at all. My honorable friend opposite laughs at my remark, but let me assure him that there is a number of persons wandering about Australia who fancy they are ill, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. If you can persuade such persons by means of faith to overcome the idea that they are not all right they will not suffer, but the medical profession will. I am not going to condemn the Government absolutely in this matter. Let the Minister of Trade and Customs get the expert opinion of several members of the medical profession and, if possible, also the opinion of a scientific medical man, because I contend that the best men in the medical profession to-day, and those whose services persons value when there is anything wrong with them, are the scientific medical men. Not onethird of the doctors have been scientifically trained, or have any idea of following their profession on scientific methods. I hope that the Government will see if they cannot better safeguard the interests of Australia. There is, of course, one thing which must be remembered. It may be that the New South Wales Government ought to do considerably more than they have been doing. It appears to me that they should have proceeded with considerably more vigour in isolating the cases and the contacts in those portions of Sydney where the population is very congested, and the housing accommodation is a disgrace to a city in Australia. This might be excused and pardoned if it occurred in the older countries of the world, but in a new Country it is simply scandalous. It is up to the Government of New South Wales to do considerably more than they have yet done in stamping out the disease.
– I, as one of the city members, was surprised this morning to hear the line of argument pursued by certain country members. It is wrong that men who represent country districts in a National Parliament should try to bring about ill- feeling between the country and the city. Some of our honorable friends have said that it was time that a Country party was formed in the House to make the Government do their duty. That was really a threat, but I hope the Government will not be swayed by it.
– Who is threatening now?
– Some of the members who are supporting the Government.
– The honorable member for Hunter said it was time that a Country party was formed in this House.
– I thought that ours was the Country party. Where is he ?
– In the National Parliament we should always be animated by a desire to benefit the whole of the Commonwealth. All that the honorable member for Hunter is out for is to get telephones and telegraph wires for his electorate. He neglects all other parts of the Commonwealth, whereas I take a broad national view. If the honorable member would look at all matters from a national stand-point, he would not concentrate his eyes upon the Hunter electorate. The same remark applies to the honorable member for Indi. He complained that the present Government have not been able to do in four months all the things that he requires to be done in Indi. He complained, too, about having received only an acknowledgment of communications respecting certain cases. And he asserted that the city is receiving all the benefits - the advance of science, the comforts of civilization, telephones, telegrams, and so forth. I have looked through the Estimates in vain for an indication that one work is going to be erected in the whole of South Sydney, but I cannot find a trace of an item. Some honorable members say that the cities are getting the whole of the plums, but I can assure them that we in the city are not getting anything like a proportion of the revenue which we contribute. The honorable member for Indi went so far as to say that the country keeps the city. That is the sort of stuff which country members give to country people when they ever have to deliver speeches in the farmyards. I regret exceedingly that any honorable members should so neglect to take a national view as to try to raise the cry of country versus city. Now the country depends upon the city for its very existence. What is the good of men growing anything in the country unless they can send it to the city to be sold? Of what use is it for the honorable member for Richmond to produce butter and milk unless he can sell the articles in” the city ? We in the city are supplying the money. We are employing the people in the country. Yet we find the honorable member for Hunter and others combining to form a Country party to fight the City party. I am really surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Hunter.
– Suppose the people in the country grew nothing, what would the people in the city do - starve ?
– We would import then. I regret very much that hardly anything is provided on the Estimates for the extension of the Sydney Post Office. Any business man who has been there will realize that it is very congested, and is not able to accommodate the public. Visitors have to stand three or four deep at the counter.
– There is £39,000 provided.
– That is for the whole of New South Wales.
– No; that is for the parcels post office.
– I missed that item. In looking through the general Works Estimates I saw that it was proposed to spend £78,000 in New South Wales. I approached the Honorary Minister and also the Postmaster- General on the question of taking possession of some land now vacant in George-street, with the view of extending the General Post Office. Some shops have been demolished, and there is now an opportunity to extend the buildings. Probably the Government will wait until the new buildings are erected, and then they will be compelled to pay for them. Now is the time for them to act if they intend to extend the Post Office. It must be extended. The Government cannot delay the work much longer, because the growth of Sydney is remarkable. I would remind my honorable friends from country districts that since Federation the population of Sydney has doubled, while the Post Office is almost in the same condition.
– And that fact is a menace to New South Wales.
– The honorable member is not up in scientific medicine or he would not make that remark.
– It is.
– People go where they can get the most comfort and the best accommodation. My honorable friend likes tolive in Sydney. When 1 was going alongPittstreet the other day I saw him enjoying himself by looking into thewindows of Farmer’s and other fine shopsHe does not stay in the country when he gets an opportunity to go to Sydney.. The same spirit obtains all over the civilized world, and the result of its operationis the growth of the cities.
– It is a menace to New South Wales to have a third of its population in its capital.
– Cities are centres of civilization .which distribute the comforts and the necessaries of life. As regards the vote for the Post and Telegraph Department, I do not object to a fair share of the money being spent in the country districts, but I distinctly object to any honorable member getting up here and saying that the cities are getting all the money. I represent a large part of Sydney, and I can assure honorable members that not a penny is provided on these Estimates for my district. 1 cannot get anything from the present Government, nor could I get anything from the last Government. As regards the appointment of an Inspector of Lighthouses, I wish to say a few words, as it is a very important matter. Although no money is provided for the erection of new lighthouses, yet the Government have appointed an Inspector of Lighthouses at a salary of £800. What is he going to inspect ? The Government said they wanted in the position not a mariner, but an engineer, so that he would be able to construct lighthouses. Apparently they are not going to construct any lighthouses, for they have cut down the Estimates.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– In the Gazette notice inviting applications for the position of Inspector of Lighthouses, it was stated that the applicants must have a knowledge of the whole of the Australian coast, and that they must be mariners. Forty applications were received, and that of a Mr. Ramsbotham, of Western Australia, was recommended. I went throughthe papers, and found that Mr. Ramsbotham is not a mariner, but a civil engineer, and that the Public Service Commissioner recommended him because he; had a temperament that fitted him for the position. The man best qualified for the office - the gentleman who furnished the Departments with reports on the lighting of our coast - was turned down, I understand, on account of his temperament. I do not know what temperament is required for the position - whether the Inspector of Lighthouses should have a good, or bad, or a mixed temper - but it was said that the Government proposed to spend a lot of money on the erection of new lighthouses, and that a civil engineer, who would understand such work, would be the most suitable person for the position. I naturally anticipated, therefore, that these Estimates would make provision for the building of several lighthouses on our coast. I find, however, that the amount proposed to be voted, instead of being an increase, is rather a reduction on last year’s vote. Why should it be necessary to appoint an Inspector of Lighthouses at £800 a year, with no temper whatever, when there are uo new works to be constructe’d ?
– It is intended to take over the lighthouses.
– They have been taken over.
– Not yet.
– We passed a Bill last session to take them over, and I took the appointment of” an Inspector of Lighthouses as indicating an intention on the part of the Government to take them over.
– That is sp.
– Why appoint a man at £800 a year until his services can be utilized ?
– They are pretty well utilized now.
– How, in testing temperaments ?
– In alterations and repairs. Does the honorable member think we should first take over the Department, and then appoint an officer to take charge of it?
– I think it was a mistake to appoint a man to this position until the Department was ready to make a start. The honorable member for Grey referred to the proposed vote of £285,000 for the Federal Territory as money to be spent in New South Wales.
– Hear, hear.
– I know that the honorable member for Ballarat will agree with the honorable member for Grey. Victorians always talk of expenditure on the Federal Territory as money being spent in New South Wales. That, however, is not the case. We have 900 square miles of territory which, for the most, part, has been given to the Commonwealth by the State of New South Wales, and every penny spent on that territory is enhancing the property of the Commonwealth.
As a, matter of fact, provision should be made for ,the spending of £1,000,000 rather than £285,000. A million could be well spent up there. It would have the effect of increasing the population, and so increasing the revenue of the Territory, which in time will be selfsupporting. I shall have to speak in parables to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and therefore, by way of a parable, let me point out that if the pioneer legislators of New South Wales and Victoria had displayed the foresight exhibited by this Parliament in regard to the Federal Territory, and had declared that all lands in and around Melbourne and Sydney, within a radius of 15 miles of a certain point, should be permanently reserved from sale, it would not have been necessary for either State to raise money on the London market. They would now be drawing heavy revenues from these city lands, just as the Duke of Westminster derives a princely income from lands in London which he has leased. We have declared that no land in the Federal Territory shall be sold, so that money spent there is really an investment for the benefit of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. I hope the Minister will consider the advisableness of increasing the proposed vote. No item in these Estimates will give a better return. While the Department is at present constructing roads for the use of future generations in the Territory, they are neglecting to erect buildings. These roads will be overgrown with grass before long, unless people are encouraged to settle there. I should like to see our Commonwealth enterprises established there - the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, and so forth.
– I thought I should draw the honorable member for Corio when I referred to the woollen mills. If our Commonwealth factories were established there we should have at once an increased settlement, which would augment the revenue from the Territory. While some honorable members may object to the item, I promise the Minister that I shall vote for it. I regret that any honorable member should be disposed to regard the matter from a purely selfish and parochial point of view. The founders of Federation entered into a contract to establish the Capital in New South Wales, and I am sorry that the late Government did so little for the Territory. It is true that they laid down the foundations for handsome monuments, and so forth, but they neglected to erect any of the buildings that will be required. Not one plan for these buildings has yet been prepared. Leaving this subject, I desire to express my regret that the cry of town versus country should have been raised this morning, and I hope that we shall hear no more of it in this Parliament. I should like to give a few words of advice to the honorable member for Indi, who referred to the subject this morning. If my young and honorable friend wants this country to progress, then he ought not to try to split this Parliament into city and country parties.
– It is going to happen.
– I hope not. We must not forget that this is a National Parliament, and that we are here to represent the whole of the people. If we stoop to the ordinary parochial considerations to which the honorable member for Indi has given expression, then we shall become, not a National Legislature, but a second-rate municipal council. I can well understand my honorable friends telling their farming constituents that “ the country is the mainstay of the Commonwealth,” and so forth.
– So it is.
– I admit that my honorable friends have not much time -for study when they are in the country, and do not enjoy tlie advantages which city residents possess. For that they are to be pitied. But tlie fact remains that the country cannot exist without the cities. The farmer, for instance., does not manufacture boots or clothing.
– Many do not wear boots in the country.
– I thought that the honorable member was one of the original settlers. I had an idea that he belonged to an aboriginal tribe, the members of which go without boots and clothes, and I know now that it is only because of a little veneer that he is able to be here. But I repeat that the country cannot live without the city. By way of illustration, let me point out that the. country cannot be developed .without railways, and that railway locomotives are built, not on the farms, but in city works.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with, the Works Estimates.
– Many things required for public works are constructed in our cities and sent to the country. The joinery for a country post-office, for instance, is usually made in a city. Then, again, I would ask my honorable friendsfrom the country what advantage the farmer would reap from his industry if the men in the cities did not build shipsto carry his produce to market. We have elaborate systems of cool storageon our oversea vessels to carry perishable products, and it is the city man who builds them. It is, therefore, a mistake’ for any young man entering this Houseto say, “ We must have a Country party.” As the representative of a city constituency, I am very anxious to assist in the development of the country on proper lines. My honorable friends who represent country constituencies, when theytell the farmer, “ You are the backboneand the mainstay of the country,” havetheir tongues in their cheeks. They know they are “ pulling his leg.” Both parties must work together for thedevelopment of the country. I agreewith my honorable friends that the country needs telephones and telegraphs. But I ask them, how can the instruments, and wires that are needed be obtained except from the cities where they .are’ manufactured ? Then they say that all these works should be carried out by contractors. If the contract system were made universal, an -army of overseerswould be needed. Without oversight you would find telegraph poles put only a short distance into the ground, and in thefirst storm half of them would be blown over. I trust that the Government will put a large sum on the Estimates for theconstruction of lighthouses, because theprotection of life .and property on our coasts is of paramount importance. I hope, too, that the Honorary Ministerwill see that greater facilities are provided for the work that has to be done atthe General Post Office, Sydney. It isthe revenue earned in the cities and large- towns that makes the Postal Department a paying concern.
– In the country dis- ‘tricts the coach horses are worn out with the loads of cheap advertisements that have to be carried for city firms.
– I understand that the honorable member derives a great deal of lis wealth from the country, but prefers to live amongst civilized people.
– Is it in order to suggest that we who live in the country are not civilized?
– There is no point of order.
– I believe that those who live in the country are civilized to a certain extent, but persons of wealth and leisure like to get to the cities, where there is most civilization. I hope that the vote for. the Federal Capital Territory will be increased. Although it is more than twelve years since Federation was inaugurated, there is not yet in the Territory a permanent building for governmental purposes. I trust that before long applications will be invited for designs for the principal buildings in the city, and that when they have been dealt with there will be no more delay. Every pound spent on the Capital will prove a good investment to the Commonwealth. It is scandalous to say that the money is being spent in New South Wales; it is all being spent in the Federal Territory for the benefit “of the whole of Australia. I trust that the Minister will push on with these matters, and not dilly-dally as his predecessors have done.
.- I rise to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Grey and the honorable member for South Sydney. The latter twitted the honorable member for Indi with wishing to create a Country party, but possibly that will come to be necessary. The honorable member for Grey told us that during the election campaign, especially in his State, Liberal candidates went up and down the country speaking against the squandering of money on the Federal Capital by the Fisher Government. I am opposed to the spending of £280,000 this year on the Federal Capital. If we were to build the proposed city, I do not know where we would get people to stock it. In my opinion, the Government should appoint a Committee to ascertain what lias already been done, and what it is advisable to do in the future, so that we may get value for our expenditure. The main question that we have to consider in regard to all proposals for the expenditure of money is : What value shall we get for it? I agree with the honorable member for Darwin as to the need for proper system in the management of public affairs. Honorable members sometimes say, “ You will reduce wages,” but I never hear them talk of the need for getting value for the wages that are paid. In my opinion, our methods need to be systematized. Want of system is killing us. We are spending money lavishly without getting a proper return. I should like to see the vote for the Capital reduced, and the money thus saved made available for telephone extensions in the country districts. We deplore centralization. But why does every one strive to get into the towns? Because there are more conveniences and more enjoyments there. Even lads born and bred in the country will not stay there when confronted with the superior attractions of town life. We should, therefore, try to make the country more attractive. I know places within 25 miles of Melbourne to which young fellows have to ride 10 or 12 miles on Saturday night in order to ascertain who won the football match. Telephone communication would keep our people at home more.
– There is a lot to be said for making life in the country more attractive.
– In looking through the Estimates I find that the expenditure in various Departments is on the increase. It is costing us something like £80,000 a year to run the Land Tax Department, which seems an excessive amount, seeing that there are only about 14,000 taxpayers.
– That matter cannot be discussed now.
– I support what the honorable member for Hunter said about the need for more telephones in the country. When I was first elected, I was pestered with requests for telephone communications, and I wrote down the requests in a note-book, intending to score each one off as it was dealt with. I am sorry to say that I have not yet been able to score off any, and unless the vote for this work is increased, my book will soon be filled.
.- I entirely indorse the remarks of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat in regard to the need for telephonic communication in the country. In my own electoral division there are quite a number of mining centres, and a considerable number of men who reside on selections. These people undertook the hard pioneering work, and I hold that those who go out into remote mining areas make it easy for those who come after them. They receive very little assistance, and many of them remain in these outlying portions of the country for the greater part of their lives. If there is one portion of the Commonwealth which requires to be carefully handled with a view to promoting settlement there, iti is the Gulf portion. After all, there are opportunities in the Gulf country, and that is the one portion of Australia above all others which, from a defence point of view, requires protection. We should encourage settlement there by every means in our power. I regret to say that in some parts of tlie Gulf country population is decreasing. This is a matter which requires serious attention. When the honorable member for Corio spoke of young men who ride 10 or 12 miles to get the result of a football match, and who, if the telephone were available, would probably stay at home, there- was a good deal of wisdom in his suggestion. In the mining centres one never knows when an accident will happen. I have known men who have had to be conveyed 60 or 70 miles in order to receive medical attention. I have known of a man having to be carried 30 miles along a road in order to meet a doctor. In these circumstances, the Government should endeavour to give these outlying districts as much telephonic communication as possible. The constituency which I represent is nearly four times the size of Victoria. lt embraces an area of 333,000 square miles, and there are people scattered all through it. There are some parts of it where telephonic communication could be easily and cheaply established. But when a request is made for the erection of a line, the departmental estimate is usually out of all proportion to the value of the work. It frequently happens that the people interested are prepared to undertake the work for one-third of the departmental estimate! I am glad to say that, during the recent election campaign, I was able, through the medium of privately-erected lines, to get into communication by telephone with my wife, who happened to be in Hughenden, 180 miles distant. I had to establish connexion through a number of sheep stations. Most of these lines are erected along the boundary fences of the runs.
– The honorable member must have been a long way from a big city.
– I was. On one side the nearest town was Hughenden, and on the south side the nearest town was Muttaburra. These cheap lines are of considerable value to the general public. A thousand and one things may happen in such remote areas, and it is extremely convenient to be able to get into communication with some distant centre by means of these privately-erected lines. I hope that “the Government will grant as much telephonic communication as possible in all parts of Australia. If they do that, they will be doing good. At the same time, I strongly object to the expenditure upon the Federal Capital being decreased for that purpose. I would like to see the expenditure upon the Capital twice as much as it is at present, because I hold that we shall never have Federation in the true sense of the word until this Parliament is located in its own home.
– It is so long since I had the pleasure of hearing my own voice in this chamber - owing to a monopoly of the public speaking by the Opposition - that I began to doubt whether I had not lost the faculty of speech. The honorable member for Corio and the honorable member for Kennedy have supplied me with two excellent texts upon which to hang the remarks that I propose to make. One of them commented on the very incomplete and extravagant methods which are adopted in this country in carrying out our public works, while the other drew particular attention to the great need that exists for -telephone communication in the rural areas, and to the apparent hesitation on the part of the Government to supply that need. ‘ I have here an interesting illustration of the red-tapism of the Postal Department in regard to the erection of country telephone lines. It appears that a telephone line is required over a very few miles, and that about eighteen months have elapsed since the work was first, brought under the notice of the Department. I have here a letter which affords a typical instance of how systems run. to seed instead of being modified and made practicable by the personal interest which we should get under private enterprise.
– The honorable member wants to hand over our telephones to private enterprise.
– I did think that the honorable member had gone out for the day. He is a sort of stormy petrel, who comes here and creates all sorts of discord between honorable members, thus preventing us from getting on with the business of the country. I hold in my hand a letter relating to the telephone lines to which I have referred, which informs those- who require it that the Department has called for tenders for the work and cannot get any. It did not seem to know what step it should take next. Now, I assume that a business man would have tried to ascertain why no tenders were received for the work. One has only to take up the papers which I have here to see that they would absolutely bewilder any ordinary tenderer who was desirous of carrying out a work of that character. But, before I touch further on. this matter, I will mention one instance which recently came under my notice. The case was that of an honorable member who required a telephone line in his district to be run a distance of 14 miles from an office to a race-course. The work was delayed for so many months that the proprietors of the race-course at last resolved to carry it out themselves.’ They had appealed to the Department again and again, and, although the Department had done nothing, it was asking the modest sum of £480 to carry out the work. I repeat that it was so long in taking steps to do anything, that the proprietors of the race-course erected the line themselves. Taking Government material for the purpose, they carried it out for 25 per cent, of the price that the Government were demanding. In other “words, they completed for £120 the under - taking for which the Government had asked £480. That is a sample of the way in which work is done by the Postal Department, to-day.
– Did the £120 cover the cost of material ?
– Yes; because the proprietors °f the race-course took the material from the Government which was on the spot waiting for the job to be carried out, and were charged for it. I know of another similar case in which a work has been urged on the Government for many months, but, so far, nothing has been done. At last, a letter was received from* the Department to this effect -
Tenders for the erection of the line were first invited in December last, closing on the 8th January; but the only tender received was too high. Fresh tenders* closing on the 26th February, were accordingly invited. The only tender received in time was also too high. On each occasion the tenders were invited no formal tender was received from local contractors or local residents.
Now, we all know the type of men who enter into these local contracts. They are substantial and practical men, who do not possess any great legal knowledge, and they are men who are so impressed with the necessity for being safe, that they will not enter into a contract of a very complex and questionable character. The Department did not receive a tender. Why ? The answer, I think, is to be found in the- papers which I hold in my hand. Here is a contract which is not for a very large sum, seeing that the deposit required was only £45. Yet I find that about twenty-five sheets of foolscap are sought to be made an attachment to the contract. First, we have the tender form. Then we come to a schedule of one page. A paper follows which is called “ Details of work in connexion with the erection of a telephone line between Junee Junction and Junee Reefs,” and which covers two pages containing eleven paragraphs. We then pass on to “ Special conditions and instructions,” which occupy three more pages. In order to give the Committee an idea of the sort of microscopic details which are contained in this paper, I quote the following : -
Cut a notch about 1 foot from the ground -with a £-in. chisel so as to start the auger easily; bore a hole in pole (or strut), using a j-in. auger, boring in a downward direction to a depth of at least 18 inches, keeping the auger in a position in line with centre of pole (or strut), thus boring across the pole, (or strut), and striking the heart of same thereby.
Fill up the hole with solution j allow about five minutes to elapse to permit solution to soak in, refill hole, and plug with a tight-fitting wooden plug.
That is the sort of padding - padding to any man who understands his work - they put in- these contracts.
– That is not the contract.
– It is part of the contract; it is appended as “ Special conditions and instructions.”
– For what purpose?
– If honorable members will only wait until I have finished, they can put in their defence. There are five pages of this sort of thing. And then we have a delightful condition put in. No matter what differences of opinion may arise between the Postmas.terGeneral and this practical country contractor-
– How can he be a practical man. when he has never put up a telephone, and is not an engineer?
– Order !
– This is one of the conditions laid down for the unfortunate contractor : -
The Deputy Postmaster-General reserves the right to alter, modify, enlarge, or diminish any part of the works. No such alteration, modifition, enlargement, or diminution shall in any way vitiate the contract, or except in so far as the Deputy Postmaster-General considers reasonable, and by writing under his hand allows, extend the lime stipulated for the completion of the work.
That means that the Postmaster-General, through his officers, can order &ny addition or modification, and the contractor is not allowed any extension of time in which to do the work. This condition goes on further: -
No compensation for damage, injury, loss of profit, or otherwise shall be allowed to the contractor for or on account of any such alteration, modification, enlargement, or diminution of the works, but all additions or alterations shall be paid for, or deductions credited to the Deputy Postmaster-General, as the case may require, at schedule prices, or at prices to be mutually agreed upon between the Deputy PostmasterGeneral and Hie contractor.
That condition puts the ‘practical country contractor entirely in the hands of the Postmaster-General, who may order all these additions, but the contractor has no right to extra time. We have another document, on one page, headed “ Line Construction Wire, erection of.” Another page is headed ‘ ‘ Line Construction : Pins (wood and iron), straight, for large insulators.” Another is headed “ Coal Tar Composition,” Another is headed “ Insulators.” Another is headed “ Erection of Telegraph Lines on New Poles and Trees,” with’ drawings. Another is headed “ Brackets, fitting on to poles,’-‘ also with drawings. Another is headed “Cross-arms (wooden), fitting of.” Another is headed “ Wire (iron), joint- ing of.” Another is headed “Poles (wooden - undressed), fitting and erection of,” and another, with drawings, is headed “ Poles (wooden), strutting of.” Then we have “ Specifications for round undressed wooden poles and struts,” also “ Specifications for binding wire (galvanized iron) to insulators,” with drawings of a technical character. Further on, we have “ Sleeves for uninsulated wires.” There are altogether twentyfour sheets of good foolscap paper, for which the Commonwealth has to pay.
– Were they all submitted to the contractor ?
– As they were tendered on, of course they were.
– You are very unfair to the Department.
– I do not know whether the honorable member has a brief for tlie Department.
– Be just to the Department and we shall listen to you.
– I do not care whether the honorable member listens to me or not. This work was submitted to the public, and tenders were called for, but only one tender was received, and it was ‘ 1 too high . “ So they got another tender, and that was “ too high,” altliough.it was the only one received. Then they called for fresh tenders and received none at all, and so they came back to the unfortunate parliamentary, representative, who had been agitated by the people, who were wondering why on earth he could not get something done. Then these people turned round and did the work themselves at 25 per cent, of the cost claimed by tlie Department. One of the great dangers of public departments is that they run to seed. None of the officers have any personal financial interest in the successful working of the Department; no balancesheet is ever issued to the public to show how much they are losing or making, or whether, in carrying out work departmentally, they are not paying four times the price for which private individuals can get things done. In this case, which can be verified by the honorable member for Indi, we have a case in point. The Government estimate a work to cost £480, which is subsequently done for £120. I do not speak without knowledge or experience.
– You have never had any.
– I had three years’ management of the biggest spending Department in New South Wales - the Works Department - and during my term of office many millions of pounds were spent. I found that the Department, in the few years preceding my advent, had so run to- seed in the way indicated by the contract which I have just quoted, that I obtained one of the most practical accountants in Australia to devote some weeks to the Department to see where the work was overlapping; whether it was being properly done, and whether the men were fit for their positions. He was to report generally to me on the best means of putting that Department on the footing that a great business establishment would occupy if it were being managed on economical lines. That led to a great many changes, but did a great deal of good, because it prevented certain officers from trespassing beyond their domain, and prevented the work from overlapping, and also prevented a great waste of public money in carrying out works in an unbusiness-like way. Altogether, it practically ventilated the Department, because it got rid of what is constantly growing up in public departments. When a man is engaged with a private firm, he knows that his particular department will be criticised at the end of the year on the work it has done, and on the cost of the work; and it is in his interests to manage the work in such a way that at the end of the year the department will show a creditable result. On the other hand, in a public department, an officer has certain duties to do ; no one ever estimates the cost, with a view to showing at the end of the year how it will compare with the work of other people ; and the consequence is that, very often, the work is done with so much red-tape that it will lead to the result indicated by the case which the honorable member for Indi has brought under my notice. I heartily indorse all that has been said by the honorable member for Kennedy with regard to telephones. There seems to be an impression in the minds of Ministers that telephones are only required for such things as were mentioned by one honorable member - communicating the results of cricket matches or races. I have had a great many cases brought under my notice where it was a matter of’ life or death to have telephone communication. Now that the wires are erected along fences, the work can be done so cheaply that there should not be any part of the country where there is a settlement of population that is not supplied with “this great convenience. A telephone creates business. It conduces very much to the commercial activity of the country.
I wish now to say a word about the prevalent idea that these things ought all to be done out of revenue. Telephones are a revenue-producing, investment. In many cases public telephones return an extravagant profit on the capital laid out on them. I was speaking the other day to an American expert, and he told me that, in the public companies in the United States, the proprietors were so anxious to have telephones erected for the public that if a new telephone was ordered to-day it would be erected to-morrow.
– That is true.
– Imagine, in this country, expecting a telephone to be put up the day after it was ordered. I should expect it to be done on the same day next year. Yet there is a profit standing out. We are told over and over again by the Department that they only keep in hand sufficient material for a certain, time. They do not hold large stocks, and if demands happen to come from different parts of the country for these conveniences, and the stock is exhausted, to have to wait until they import more is not business. The interest on a very large stock of material, out of which the public could be supplied with telephone conveniences, would not be great, and there is no reason why there should not be a large stock on hand to anticipate very large orders. I do not agree with the principle that these works must necessarily be constructed out of revenue. I have had answers to requests from my constituency, where certain telephones were required, to say that the money was not available. We required a little sum of money to put up a public telephone in a public place in a thickly-populated suburb of Sydney, and we were told, in this great country of ours, that there was not the money “ available “ for that particular telephone, or for a number of others. There should be no hesitation in- getting that money out of loan funds, because telephone construction comes properly under the category of loan expenditure. It is not only a permanent work if it is properly managed from year to year, but it is revenue-producing, and the sooner the Government arrive at the conclusion that works of that sort should be done out of loan money, or that they can borrow money for the purpose if they do not have it now, the better it will be for this country. For years I have urged on previous Governments, and I urged on the present Treasurer eight years ago, that he should utilize loan moneys to build post-offices. In the first place, we buy the land, which is a permanent asset. The mere fact of establishing a post-office on the site gives it an increment which it will maintain for all time; it is of a permanent character; and the moment a building is erected it produces more than sufficient revenue to pay interest on tlie loan. I remember the Government spending in one year no less than £900,000 out of revenue on post-offices. It is a wrong principle. I have quoted to the House more than once a most able little treatise from one of the annual pamphlets of the Tasmanian Statistician, in which he lays down with proper accuracy the distinction between loan expenditure and revenue expenditure. We know that, in other parts of the world, this practice of paying for permanent or revenue-producing assets out of revenue is considered absolutely wrong. These works should be built out of loan money. The asset passes down to posterity ; the loan should pass down to posterity-. If the work is of a perishing character, and yet produces revenue, it is the .duty of the Government to maintain it, just as they maintain a railway to-day, and to simply charge each generation with the interest on the expenditure, while conferring on each generation the benefit which the establishment of the work brings with it. The telephone system is in a thoroughly unsatisfactory condition. Telephones should be distributed throughout the country, and if the Government have not enough money for them, they should borrow, or take the money out of loan funds for the purpose. I say, further, that the arrangements in connexion with these contracts should be carried out in a thoroughly practical manner. Can it be supposed for a moment that, if a private firm were to employ an architect to prepare a specification to carry out a little work of, say, 15 miles of telephone, he would have twenty or thirty pages of conditions, which, possibly, the country contractor would have to read, and submit himself to, and which, probably, lie could not understand if he had to do it? A practical architect will make out a simple set of specifications, and if he be a well-known man the contractor will be perfectly satisfied that he should be the arbiter in any matter in dispute. Under the system adopted by the Post and Telegraph Department, not only do we find twenty-five or thirty pages of addenda laid down iti black and white, and in the most technical terms; but if the slightest dispute arises, tlie decision of the Postmaster-General is final. In the erection of very large buildings, and in the construction of railways, although the specifications may be somewhat long, the terms and conditions of contract are of the simplest character. The engineer in the case of railways, or the architect in the case of buildings, is the final arbiter, and as he will be known to the contractors, they can trust him, and there is very little difficulty. In view of what the Prime Minister said the other night as to the great want of business methods in certain branches of the Public Service, I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will look very closely into the way in which telephone line construction is being carried out. I trust also that the Government will see that, as the honorable member for Kennedy has pointed out, telephone communication will be extended throughout the country wherever there are people willing to pay for the facilities afforded them.
– I wish honorable members to understand that I hold no brief for the Commonwealth electrical engineers. It cannot be said that in speaking on their behalf I am seeking their votes, because their number is so few. But I understand a little about their work, and I must say that I have just listened to one of the most unfair and unjust attacks that could be made upon any body of men. It was most unjust and unfair for the honorable member for Parkes to produce a great number of specifications and conditions, when he should know that they are not provided for the construction of the line, but are submitted for the guidance of the various bodies in calling for tenders. For instance, the conditions with respect to insulators are submitted when calling for tenders. What the honorable member has succeeded in doing has been to show that the work is highly technical, and that it is essential that it should be in the hands of trained engineers. The object of the specifications to which he has referred is to secure that the work shall be carried out properly in order that the public may be provided with a good telephone service. The honorable member would have us revert to the old system of calling for tenders to enable what he would call “ the practical man in the country “ to take up the work. I have had some of these practical men in the country under my supervision. One of them was left for a little time to himself, and, although the specification provided that the poles must he put 4 ft. 6 in. in the ground, as soon as this practical man got out of sight of the supervising officer he cut 2 feet off the poles, and put them only 2 ft. 6 in. in the ground. Fortunately we discovered some of the sawn-off butts in the bush, and we had the line unearthed, with the result that we found that several miles of it had not been constructed in accordance with the specifications at all, and if it had remained in the condition in which it was built the first wind that came along would have blown it across the roads, and, perhaps, brought about loss of life. . We have had a speech on this subject from an honorable member who would not know an insulator from a telegraph sounder. I had one of these gentlemen at one time under me. He had been recommended to me by a lawyer. I put him to work, and he put in a whole day digging one post-hole, whilst in the same time another man on the job had sunk eight post-holes.
– That was day labour, I suppose.
– No; that work was done under contract, but the untrained man shifted ten times as much dirt as it was necessary for him to do in the simple operation of digging an ordinary telegraph post-hole. I know nothing about the qualifications of the honorable member for Parkes as a lawyer, but he seems to be under the impression that he can become a first-class telegraph engineer after a ten minutes’ perusal of the papers submitted to him by a contractor who evidently was not allowed to do as he pleased by the Department. The Postmaster-General must be very careful of what he is doing if he allows contractors to construct these lines. The system was tried in every one of the States before Federation, and was abandoned, because it was not satisfactory. In connexion with one line put up by a contractor which came under my notice, upon inspection of the line we could not understand its enormous resistance, but upon a close examination we discovered that the contractor had cut the wire in every case in tying on the insulators. He had spoiled pounds’ worth of wire. This was one of the cheaply-constructed lines such as the honorable member for Parkes would like to see. How long are we to be subjected to such twaddle as that to which- we have listened to-day, from an honorable member speaking of something about which he knows nothing at all. The departmental authorities are to-day working against terrible odds in trying to build up a Department of trained men . They are dreadfully handicapped in their work by the way in which those in authority are influenced by such speeches as that to which we have listened from the honorable member for Parkes. I hope that we have heard the last of this kind of thing. I contend that it would be better to continue the day-labour system for this work. If the volume of work to be done was sufficient to warrant contractors specializing, and keeping a body of trained men to do it, the positionwould be different, but the honorable member for Parkes proposes that any one should be allowed to tender for the construction of a telephone line, and should be allowed to do practically as he pleases. He referred to an architect in connexion with the building of a house, but if he were having a house built, would he not require to have all the details specified ? What sort of an architect would he be who did not set out all the details? In the same way, an electrical engineer who knew his business would set out every detail for this work, even to the number of nails required in putting the hoop-iron on the poles. This must be done if the work is to be carried out in a substantial and satisfactory manner. The honorable member for Kennedy was all right in what he said, in so far as his remarks referred to the kind of line which he indicated. I interjected while he was speaking that the line to which he referred was not constructed near a city. I wished honorable members to understand that the line must be going through miles of unoccupied country, and was not affected by other lines running parallel to it. If there were other lines parallel to such a line as the honorable member described, it would be useless. Only yesterday, I tried to talk to a gentleman at Lara, and I found there was a considerable amount of induction on the line, so that I could only hear about half that this gentleman wished to say. The reason was that there are a lot of lines parallel to the Lara line, which is one of the cheaply constructed lines. It was imperfectly constructed, owing to the lack of engineering knowledge of those who carried it out; or, more likely, want of funds to enable the engineer to construct a metallic circuit. I remind honorable members that, at all events, until quite recently, many requirements such as the height of the poles to be used, are specified in the Act of Par,liament. What I should advise would be the establishment of a zone system of construction. The first zone should include lines in large centres requiring the most perfect construction, such, for instance, as a main trunk line between Melbourne and Geelong, or Melbourne and Ballarat. Such lines should be constructed under the best possible conditions to secure a low resistance. Then, in less thickly populated districts, we could have less perfect lines, and in purely country districts lines could be built much more cheaply, say, for £12 6s. per mile. These would be removed from other lines, and though the resistance might be a little high, so long as one could hear the ring of the telephone, he could speak over it. It will pay us to have skilled engineers to carry out the construction of our lines. I remind honorable members that, even if construction is handed over to contractors, we shall require to have supervising officers. I have walked about with my hands in my pockets for weeks supervising the work of a contractor, and I might just as well, at the time, have been directing the men, and doing something for the wages I was receiving. The honorable member for Parkes has told us that no estimates are submitted, but there is not a telephone line constructed in Australia to-day without an estimate being submitted. An estimate is in every case submitted by the local engineer to the Engineer-in-Chief, who, in turn, submits it to the Postmaster-General. I venture to say that the Department may go so far as to ask the engineer to submit a tender side by side with the tender of a contractor. The honorable member for Parkes was amused by the provision for bracketing, but that was because he did not understand the importance of it. If brackets are not properly used in the construction of a line, the first strain’ to which it is subjected may strip it back for half-a-mile. The honorable member may be a brilliant lawyer, but he has demonstrated to-day that he knows nothing of telegraph and telephone construction, or of electrical engineering. I ran a copper line between Hobart and Paratta in rough country, as the honorable member for Franklin will know. I had six men working with me, and with those men I did 4 miles of line a day. Untrained men could not possibly have done the work, and they would probably, when insulating, have given an extra turn to the tie wire, and the first frost would break the line altogether. It is necessary to tie the wire carefully on the insulators when straining the line between the poles.
– I have erected 200 miles of telephone line without doing that.
– With what sorb of wire ?
– No. 8 galvanized wire.
– I do not refer to galvanized wire, but to copper wire. Where there are a number of lines in use, galvanized wire cannot be used. With the use of No. 8 galvanized wire, the resistance amounts to 16 ohms to the mile, whilst with copper wire the resistance is less than 8 ohms. The honorable member for Riverina may know a good merino lamb, but there is a great deal of difference between a merino lamb and a telephone line. On looking up this matter, I find that while the honorable member for Barrier and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were at the Post Office, during the regime of the Fisher Government, they constructed more telephone lines in Australia than had any other Government during the previous ten years. More telephones were constructed in the Indi electorate, I believe, than in any other division in Victoria, and, unfortunately, for Indi, and the people of Australia, the people of Indi did not recognise that fact, and turned down a good man who had done much for the district, regardless of his political ideas. Much has been done in Australia. The country people have my sympathy, but I tell the farmer in the country that it is essential for him to have a telephone line in the city working well, if it is judiciously and fairly used. Sometimes, I am told, when a farmer calls on merchant A, and after getting a price says, “ I will not take that price,” the merchant telephones round to merchant B before the farmer can get there. That is not putting the telephone to the best use, because a price is fixed. It is essential that the telephone system of a city shall be in first-class condition. There is nothing more irritating to a person than to have paid money for a telephone service, and not to be able to hear what a subscriber is saying to him.
– That is little compared with the irritation of the man who has no telephone at all.
– It is essential to have a good service. One day a friend of the honorable member and myself - an eminent gentleman in Tasmania - lost £50 in five minutes owing to the defective working of the telephone. A mistake was made in speaking over the line in a business transaction, and it cost that gentleman £50. Had it been a good silent line he could have done the business safely and well. That is why I am anxious to see telephone lines constructed under first-class engineers. I suppose it is because honorable members have to ride in railway trains that they do not suggest that any farmer along the line should construct a section of the railway opposite his farm.
– It does not necessarily follow that the farmer is going to do it. What answer have you to give to those who for eighteen months have had propositions unattended to?
– So far as I can gather, the engineers have not been able to get sufficient money to stock material, and so on. The Fisher Government rose to the occasion, and a sum of, I think, £600,000, was voted to enable the electricians of the Department to continue the work. We have still, I believe, an abominable system that compels the Department to employ so many casual hands, and if the Public Service Act is complied with, as soon as an engineer has trained a number of men - they are employed for about six or nine months - they are put off, and new men have to be brought in and trained. Did any one ever hear of such a ridiculous practice as that ?
– That is not the fault of the Department, but of the House.
– That is the fault of honorable members like the honorable member for Parkes getting up here and pretending to know something about a subject they know nothing of.
– There are two sides to that question.
– That may be. Let the men remain in the Department - as casual hands if you like. Australia is not likely to go back. Have we gone back in the construction of telephone lines? Some honorable members seem to have no confidence in the country at all. When an engineer wants a number of men he is asked how many, and I understand, from practical experience, the names and the numberof the men are submitted to another gentleman - the Public Service Commissioner - and he, with no responsibility on his shoulders, says how many men may be employed. Once the men are engaged they are handed over to the Postmaster-General, and the responsibility of the Commissioner ceases. Whether the men are capable or not I do not know.
– The Commissioner has nothing to do with the casual hands.
– I submit that he has.
– No. It is the registrar inhis Department.
– The honorable member evidently misunderstands me. What I wish to point out is that, in my opinion, the Department would not have so many casual hands were it possible for the engineers to get permanent hands.
– That is not the fault of the Commissioner.
– The Commissioner has the right to say how many men shall be employed, and who.
– Most decidedly he has.
– Not as to casual hands.
– In theory it may be all right. I have seen a list of names submitted to the Commissioner. He sent an officer who knew nothing about telegraph work to inquire whether a man was required.
– The Department has to get the men through the Commissioner.
– Certainly ; and what is the use of any honorable member saying differently here? The honorable member for Parkes made a great point about borrowing for the construction of telephone lines. Suppose that the Department is about to construct a telephone line with borrowed money. The life of the poles of the line will be about twelve years. It is often said, “ Never mind about a pound or two for the cost of that line; the money is coming out of the loan account.” But let the money come out of the general revenue, and see how careful one is in framing his estimates. Why ? Because he realizes the responsibility which is on his shoulders. I have known a telegraph line to be constructed with borrowed money and renewed from the same source. Whereisour asset in that case ?
– Why should not the officers be as careful in expending borrowed money as in expending revenue?
– Why they should not and why they are not I do not know.
– It shows departmental improvidence.
– Because the Department have to show so much revenue from the service every year. The officers are not so careful as to that when a line is being constructed out of borrowed money.
– They ought not to be in the position.
– That is another matter. Why do honorable members on the other side desire to indulge in the borrowing system ? Because it is a form of government to which they have committed themselves; because they represent a body of wealthy persons. The capitalist has to find investments for his money. If honorable gentlemen on the other side make it possible for the capitalist to get good investments, and they are strong enough over there to make laws that will compel the workers to pay the interest on the borrowed money, they are on top every time. That is why they want to resort once more to the old system of borrowing money; but I think they will find that they have a very hard row to hoe before they succeed in the attempt.
– Get on to the preservativeof the post.
– After long study and thought by an engineer, it was found conducive to the life of a telegraph pole to put in it a certain ingredient, which keeps insects from eating it and preserves it. There is only one way of putting in the ingredient, and that is the one which the discoverer intimated to the Department - in other words, to use the preservative faithfully and well. Suppose that the Department sent up country the . ingredient in a tin without any instructions as to its use, a man might put it round the bottom of a pole before the pole is put into the ground. There is a simple instruction as to how to introduce the preservative into the pole.
– And a uniform one ?
– Yes. I wish to remind honorable members that, all over the world, these engineers are being paid the highest salary which is paid in any branch of engineering. Why ? Because of the technical matters which they have to deal with. The honorable member for Parkes spoke of what was done in the United States, but he failed to tell us that, in Australia, we can get a telephone service for £6, just as good as one for which £15 is paid in Chicago - a cheaper service, for a larger number of rings.
– In America there is no place where you can speak under 5 cents.
– In London the charge is 2d., except in hotels, where it is 3d.
– In Australia, all the cheapness is in the cities.
– Are not Chicago and London cities?
– In the honorable member’s electorate I conversed at Franklin for three minutes with Hobart for 6d. Can he find anything cheaper than that in the world ?
– That is a distance of 24 miles.
– Yes. I do not think that there is any place in the world where a cheaper service is provided.
– Put the city on the same basis, and see where you are.
– I do not know about that.
– That is 6d. for a distance of 24 or 25 miles ; but in the suburbs you can speak for 6 or 7 miles for1d.
– Let the honorable member consider the cost of constructing the line through country where hundreds of big trees had to be felled to save the line from being interrupted every twenty-four hours. Let him remember the hilly country through which the line had to be taken, and the crooked roads, necessitating the use of about thirty posts to the mile, instead of twenty-five. Again, let him remember the amount of work which had to be done to make it a silent line. Speaking from memory, I think that, by the exercise of his influence, the honorable member has got a metallic circuit for the whole distance. Quite clearly I have heard a lady speaking over the line. If the voice is suitable, one can hear at a distance of 120 miles from the Franklin district over practically a silent line. The honorable member should be the last to complain, because more money has been spent in the Franklin electorate, I think, than in any other district of the same size in Australia. There is a service which enables nearly every fruit-grower in the district to communicate every morning with the market, where he may sell his fruit, and very cheaply indeed. Why is not the honorable member fair? I hope that the Minister will go in for the zone system I have suggested, giving the engineer more freedom, and not allowing so much interference with him by the novice. He is a good man who sticks to his last. Let us all do that, and we shall then have a better system of telephonic communication. Having seen in operation the telephone systems of many countries, I have come to the conclusion that the Commonwealth system,while yet capable of much improvement, is not far behind them. If we give the officers the necessary time and money to make improvements, we shallnot have much trouble. The only other point that I desire to make is that it is unwise to stock too heavily. By way of example, I would point out that, nine years ago, the Ericsson magneto telephone, which would ring over an enormous resistance, was regarded as something wonderful, whereas to-day, for city use, it is practically obsolete. Then, again, wires that were used ten years ago have been abandoned. We have also been told that insulators are going to be manufactured locally. What would be said of a Postmaster-General who imported and stocked 1,000,000 insulators, at a cost of 1s. apiece, if it were found a little later that we could obtain them locally much cheaper, and at the same time encourage local industry ? Would there not be a howl of indignation because of his want of foresight ? I hope, therefore, that the Minister will not be influenced to any great extent by the criticism of novices in this matter, and that the Department will not stock goods to the extent that has been urged. These honorable members are doing their best for their constituents, but what we want is to have a little more faith in our public servants. They are not all working merely for filthy lucre. We have in our Departments many capable men who are excellent organizers. A gentleman was brought down here from Queeusland some time ago to organize the Postal Department, and I venture to say that no private company doiug business in Melbourne to-day is better organized than that Department is under him.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Although my words will be few, I hope that the subject to which I am about to refer will be regarded as of sufficient importance to demand the serious consideration of the Government, with a view to the remedying of certain evils. I wish to point out, as plainly as I can, what I consider to be the infamous conditions operating in connexiou with our various quarantine stations. Our present Speaker, together with the honorable member for Franklin, the honorable member for Herbert, Senator Givens, and I, were quarantined last year at the Sydney station. I am glad that we were, although I regret that what was supplied to me as Australian lymph proved to be New Zealand filth that ought not to have been given to any human being. The life of Senator Givens was seriously imperilled by its use, whilst the case of the honorable member for Herbert was also bad. On the other hand, the Manilla lymph obtained from the United States of America Government, and the Japanese lymph, proved to be perfect, and left no bad results. I said, a little over a year ago, that Sydney was standing on the brink of an inferno, and I repeat that statement to-day. We were told when in quarantine that only 1 per cent. of the population of Sydney had been prepared by vaccination to resist small-pox ; and I did not dream then that proof of the truth of my words would so soon be forthcoming. I think it was the honorable member for Franklin who said, at the time, that Sydney had escaped epidemics of small-pox, not because of the quarantine arrangements, but in spite of them. We know that on a balmy day the germs of small-pox will carry a considerable distance, and that there is practically no distance between the boundary fence of the quarantine station in Sydney and the town of Manly. The postman used to call at the station every day; but I do not want to say too much about the matter. There is only one other point that I desire to make. If three men, one extremely wealthy, another of moderate means, and the third in absolute poverty, were imprisoned for a crime, would there not be a shriek of indignation on the part of the public if any difference were made in their treatment in prison - if the wealthy man were given a good bed and an eiderdown quilt, whilst the man of poverty had only bare boards and a blanket? No one would defend such a system. Then, why should there be any difference in the treatment of first and second class and steerage passengers when ordered into quarantine ? Why should the second class passengers, and those who travel steerage, as well as the sailors and firemen, be treated as they have been by past Governments? I hope the Prime Minister will effect a change. Men and women sent into quarantine are held under restraint purely for the good of the community. They are, for the time being, the guests of the Commonwealth; and, just as we do not differentiate between the rights of citizens over twentyone years ofage, so there should be no difference in the treatment of men and women in quarantine, no matter whether they travel in the saloon or in the steerage. On one occasion, Mr. Hugh Mahon, who, until lately, represented Coolgardie in this House, was sent into quarantine, and was ordered off a plot of grass because he had travelled second class, and the grass plot was reserved for saloon passengers. Our accommodation in Sydney was all that could be desired, but the second and third class passengers were not thought fit to have even decent places to wash in. Russian women travelling in the steerage had to bathe in a bath 2ft. 6 in. long and 18 inches wide, and 15 inches deep - receptacles which had been provided for the washing of clothing.
I understand that we have on these Estimates £40,000 in respect of “ Quarantine.” Last year, £50,000 was voted for that purpose, but only some £27,000 was expended; so that really only a sum of £17,000, added to the unexpended balance of last year, has been made available for improvements. We all recognise that there must be some control over our shipping, and at present I would not do away with the regulation under which the owners of a ship ordered into quarantine have to provision the passengers whilst they remain there. Such a requirement must necessarily make officers careful in the carriage of passengers and merchandise from infected ports. But let the sleeping apartments, the bathing accommodation, and the grass plots provided by the Government be the same for all classes. Those whose only crime is that they cannot afford to travel first class should be treated just as saloon passengers are. Let us have equal privileges, and fair treatment for all.
– I presume there is no chance of getting any of these Estimates through to-day.
– The honorable gentleman did not expect to get them through.
– I was foolish enough to believe the ex-Prime Minister last night when he told us that we should.
– He did not. He said, “ Go on with them to-morrow.”
– It is wonderful how these misunderstandings arise.
– Especially when the Prime Minister is here.
– Honorable gentlemen on this side - not the Prime Minister; the honorable member for Barrier can leave him out if he likes - understood from the Leader of the Opposition last night that we were to get these Works Estimates to-day. I suppose, however, that we shall have to report progress.
Telephone Charges - Electoral Rolls : O b jections - Unemployed.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to refer to a statement made last night by the Prime Minister when debating the motion submitted by the honorable member for Echuca in regard to country telephone lines. The honorable gentleman said that if we had a business man running the Department -
The first thing that he would do would be to double the telephone rates.
I interjected -
Yet the honorable member thundered at me when . 1 endeavoured to put them up a little.
And the Prime Minister continued -
I thundered at the honorable member for ignoring the report of the expert who said that what he was doing would add to the cost of the Department instead of diminishing it.
– The honorable member will not be in order in quoting from the report of last night’s debate in asking a question, or in discussing the subjectmatter of an Order of the Day for a future date.
– I desire to refer to the matter by way of personal explanation. The Hansard report of the debate continues-
– What expert?
– The expert who reported upon it as far as he was able to do so.
– Who was he?
– An auditor in this city - Mr. Charles Holmes.
– He never made any such statement.
– He said that the change would not lead to any benefit from a financial point of view.
– He said no such thing.
– Let the honorable member read his report and convict me of inaccuracy.
I have here the report of both auditors, Mr. Percy Whitton and Mr. C. M. Holmes. It is unnecessary that I should read the whole of it.
– It would not suit the honorable member to do so.
– The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation. A statement made by way of personal explanation must be confined to that which is necessary to explain something regarding which the honorable member making it has been misrepresented or to clear up a misunderstanding.
– I complain that I have been misrepresented, because in this report we have the statement -
Undoubtedly the rates proposed under the regulation of19th March, 1909.
They were my rates - if they had been allowed to come into complete force would have had the effect of considerably improving the position.
That statement is in absolute contradistinction to what the Prime Minister said yesterday.
– As a personal explanation, let me say that I had in my mind when I spoke yesterdaysome itatements in the report, the general tenor of which suggests that the honorable member’s proposals were not for the benefit of the Department.
– What part of the report says that?
– I find this statement on page 26, in paragraph 7 -
In order to avert further loss, which,in our judgment, will be the inevitable result of a continuance of the present composite system, and to restore the telephone revenue to a satisfactory condition, we advise an immediate return to the flat-rate system as set out in paragraph 8 (a) hereof.
– That statement does not refer to my scheme at all.
– The auditors recommend a reversion to the flat-rate system.
– They are not dealing with my rates at all.
– They arc say. ing what should be done.
– I was dealing with my rates, not with any others.
– That is a quibble. I am dealing with the recommendation of the auditors.
– The honorable member was not doing anything of the kind. I invite him to read the report of what he said.
– This is not worth quibbling about. The auditors who investigated the affairs of the Department recommended the immediate return to the flat-rate system, not to the honorable member’s system. If I have misrepresented the honorable member in any way, I am sorry. The auditors also say- -
After long consideration and inquiry in various quarters as to the practicability of charging varying rates to business subscribers proportioned to the use which they make of the telephone -
The essence of the honorable member’s proposition - we have been forced to the conclusion that no grading according to business, or the use made of the system can be devised which will be free from objection, nor do we see our way to propose anv other scheme than that of a fixed annual rental : - (1) For business subscribers; (2) for residential subscribers; (3) for a two-party service ; (4) for a three or more party service ; and (5) for charitable institutions.
The tenor of the report is that the cost of keeping accounts, amongst other things, under the systems proposed for charging according to the business done, is not an improvement on the fiat-rate system of charging. After the fullest inquiry, the auditors recommended a return to the flat-rate system, which is entirely opposed to that advocated by my honorable friend.
.- I regret to have to return to a matter which has been ventilated on several occasions during adjournment discussions, namely, tlie manner in which names are being struck off the rolls in connexion with the so-called purification. To-day I received the- .following letter, to which I draw the attention of the Honorary Minister -
Constable Murphy . . . waited on me to-day, and asked me to file an electoral claim, stating that my name had been removed from the roll. Of course, I refused to do so, and told the constable that my name was on the roll, and that I voted at last election. I cannot understand how my name could be removed from the roll. Because of my position, and the work I am engaged in, I venture to say that I am as much before the public as any man in Brisbane, and more so than .my man in this district. I should be greatly obliged if you would, at your convenience, see to this disfranchisement. I do not want any public fuss made about it, but I do want some explanation and reinstatement without being further harassed.
Cannot Ministers see that the methods which they are adopting are causing no end of trouble, innocent citizens being deprived of the right to vote through no fault of their own ? The methods that are being adopted seem to strike at those who are best known, and who have lived longest in the districts in which they reside. If the purification were directed to the removal from the roll of the names of those whose residence qualification is doubtful, the position would be different, but it seems to be directed to the disfranchisement of persons who have not changed their residence. A large number of complaints have come from persons who have been residing permanently for a long time in the same place, and are well known.
– That happens very year. I have had cases occur in my constituency over and over again.
– I am willing to admit that there will be, whenever the purification of the roll is undertaken, a certain number of mistakes, but why is it that just now an unusual number of mistakes are occuring ?
– The number appears to be unusual because honorable members are advertising every mistake that occurs.
– It is strange that this wholesale disfranchisement is following on the Liberal Government’s announcement that the rolls are being purified. If ib is possible for persons like this clergyman to have their names summarily removed from the roll, and their right to vote taken from them, there must be a large number of unknown persons similarly treated. I suggest to the Honorary Minister that the methods of the Department need improvement.
[4.8J. - I hope that honorable members bringing cases of this kind before the House will not persist in a statement which is absolutely without foundation, that the mistakes are due to some change in the methods of the Electoral Department. The forms sent out, which honorable members have been recently canvassing, are identical in every particular with those circulated with the authority of my predecessor.
– Plus this Govern.ment’s instruction.
– Plus nothing. The only instruction that has been issued is that of the permanent head of the Department, the Chief Electoral Officer, that whenever representations are made with regard to an elector having left the district, the local officer shall take independent steps to completely satisfy himself as to the truth of them. The only change that has been made is the adoption of an additional precaution so that the Registrars of the various districts shall not, without independent inquiry, remove names which are objected to. That is the actual fact, and any man who, in view of the official statements that have been circulated, says the contrary, is a man in whom the truth is not.
– I say that the change referred, to is not the only change.
– It is an infamous thing that this insinuation should be constantly made, and that the ordinary mistakes of the Department should be collected together and made . use of to support it.
Even when, as in this case, uo public use is desired to be made of a document, cases are used to create outside an entirely false impression that the Government are endeavouring to do certain things that are against the law. The Electoral Department is under the Chief Electoral Officer, who is charged with the important duty of seeing that no voter is given an opportunity to record more than one vote. That responsibility, resting upon him under the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer is discharging without any pressure either from myself or from this Government. I merely wish to say that if the honorable member for Brisbane desires to ventilate in this chamber other statements made to him, either by persons in his own electorate or elsewhere, he ought in common honesty no longer to attempt to fasten the blame for these occasional mistakes on the Government, but ought to recognise that they represent merely the normal condition of things - a condition which has obtained in Australia ever since we have had electoral administration.
.- Oue of the greatest privileges which we enjoy is that of having our names upon the electoral rolls, and of recording our votes upon polling day. The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs was unfortunately absent from the chamber the other day when I spoke upon the matter which I am about to bring forward. On that occasion I gave one instance in which an objection had been lodged to the name of Mr. Michael Callinan, who has been a farmer at Campbellfield for two and a half years, and who is well known to every mau in that portion of my electorate, appearing on the roll.
– Thotre are twenty or thirty similar cases in my own electorate.
– Why should electors be harassed in this way, when there is no need for it? If preliminary inquiries were made there would be no. necessity for forwarding objections in many instances. The simplest inquiry would have revealed the fact that Mr. Callinan had been continuously resident on his farm for two and a half years.
– How does the honorable member know that preliminary inquiries are not made?
– How can they be?
– There may have been two persons of the same name on the roll.
– No. I have perused the roll, and there is only one person of that name who is enrolled. This makes the objection all the more peculiar. If it were a case of a father and son living in the same locality, I could understand the error. In another portion of my electorate there reside a station master and his family of three, all of whom have votes. The Railway Department of Victoria, having been struck by a spasm of reform, has removed this stationmaster out of the hovel in which he has lived for years to a better residence a few feet away on the same railway ground. Yet he and the members of his family have received a notice that an objection has been lodged to their names appearing upon the roll. Surely the most preliminary investigation of this particular case would have proved that all these persons were located on the same spot. But I rose more particularly to make an appeal to the Prime Minister, who, I feel sure, is in a sympathetic mood. I believe that in many States of. the Commonwealth there are a large number of breadwinners who are out of work, and I hope that the Prime Minister will place his officers in training so that these works may be proceeded with the moment that the Works Estimates have been disposed of.
– I hope that the Opposition will allow those Estimates to go through as soon as possible.
– Part of these works, no doubt, have already been carried out, but thefre are a large number of new works which might be placed in hand very quickly.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister what business will be proceeded with on Tuesday next ?
– We shall proceed with theconsideration of the Works Estimates, and the sooner they are disposed of the sooner we shall be able to give out work, and relieve the congestion or which the honorable member for Maribyrnong spoke.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131010_reps_5_71/>.