5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.80 p.m., and read prayers.
– The press has already made reference to the report which has been received by the Postmaster-General from Mr. Swinburne, andI therefore ask the honorable gentleman, if the report is not an absolutely confidential one, whether it would not be better to take the bold course of laying it on the table. Otherwise its contents may come out piecemeal, perhaps to the disadvantage of the Government and every one else.
– I have not yet submitted the report to the Cabinet, nor have I given information concerning it to the press.
– No information has been given to the press.
– I should , like time to consider whether it is advisable to make the report public while litigation is pending.
– The honorable member for Franklin has a motion on the paper for the establishment of a Public Works Committee, as to the advisability of which the House seems to be unanimous. I ask, therefore, if it is the intention of the Government to establish the Committee before we finally retire for the season’s rest?
– I hope that it may be possible to get the necessary Bill through, but when my honorable friend talks about unanimity, I look at him and wonder. . We . have brought forward several Bills in regard to which we were assured that there would be no debate, -but in them honorable members opposite have suddenly discovered some big principles.
– There has been only fair discussion.
– I know all about that. If honorable members opposite “proceed to put a big principle into every little non-contentious measure, there cannot be any non-controversial measures, and our experience so far has been that there are none. I hope that it may be possible to get the Bill through, but everything depends on the mood and attitude of my honorable friends opposite.
– I ask the Prime Minister if the Government has decided to instigate some form of inquiry into the small-pox epidemic, and is it a fact that it does not propose to take any steps to lift the embargo from Sydney until an inquiry has been held and the report furnished ?
– My reply to this’ question, for about the twentieth time, is that the matter is under consideration.
– Will the -Prime Minister instruct the officers of the Quarantine Department to furnish to the
House an outline of the various methods - which, I presume, are within his knowledge - adopted ‘by other countries in dealing with epidemics such as that in Sydney ?
– I do not see much objection to granting that request.
– I think that allthe information is in Dr. Norris’ report.
– If my memory serves me right, Dr. Norris made a special report on this very matter.
– I want. Dr. Cumpston’s report.
– Dr.Norris, I think, gave information regarding nearly every country on the globe, and that information is already in possession of the House.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say when back pay will be available to the temporary electrical mechanics, whose rates were raised by a’ decision of the Arbitration Court, and who were promised by the Minister that they would receive back pay?
– The men were not entitled to back pay under the award, because it could not be back-dated, but my predecessor in office made a promise in the matter which I have honoured, and the money is now available. It has been passed.
– I notice that the superscription on the cover of the reprint of the Treasurer’s Budget speech is the statement that the speech was delivered by -
The Right Hon. Sir John Forrest, P.C., G.C.M.G., LL.D., M.P., Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I ask the right honorable gentleman if he is not also a justice of the peace. If not, will he take steps to become one, and have the letters ‘* J.P.” added?
– It is irregular to ask frivolous questions.
– I ask the Postmaster-
General whether he will at once institute a school for the training of telephone me chanics in preference to importing men from abroad? Have the Government made up their mind as to whether men are to be imported or not?
– After consultation with the Public Service Commissioner and the heads of the Department, we have asked the . Victorian Minister of Education to allow us an officer to prepare a scheme for the technical teaching of the young fellows in the Postal Department.
– But you pay their feesat the Working Men’s College at the present time.
– Their fees have been paid for a long time to enable them to study at the technical school, but our desire is to have a school of our own to educate the staff.
– I rise to draw attention to a matter of privilege, and to place before you, Mr. Speaker, a certain interesting situation that has arisen in regard to myself, which may possibly affect in some degree my position in the House, and that of other members of this honorable Chamber. I have lately received notification that a certain individual - Edward Shaw, boiler-maker - has lodged an objection against my enrolment for the electoral division of Macquarie, on the ground “That you are absent from the electorate, and it is not your principal place of abode.”
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the other side are doing this?
– The objection contains a half truth. In the performance of my duties here I am frequently absent from the Macquarie division, but’ I have resided at Comobella, in that division, for the past sixteen years. I was engaged in farming there up to the time that . I entered this Chamber, and I am still interested in the industry. My family reside at Comobella, and I am only absent in order to attend to my duties as a member of this House.
– In what way does the honorable member think that his privileges as a member of this Parliament are affected?
– If this objection can be made to hold good with regard to State electorates, later it may be made to apply also to Federal electorates. I appeal to you, as the guardian of the rights and privileges of “the House, to know whether you can protect me and other honorable members under these circumstances? Our rights and privileges are clearly defined by section 49 of the Constitution. Action of the kind with which I am threatened could not be taken against a member of the House of Commons. I suggest, with great respect, that you, sir, should in some way intervene, so as to save honorable members from this sort of thing, if -others, like myself, have had to submit to it.
– So far as I can judge from what has been stated, and from the document read, there has been no attempt to interfere with the known privileges of members of the Federal Parliament. There may possibly have been an attempt to interfere with the honorable member’s rights as a private citizen and as an elector of the State of New -South Wales. That might possibly be a matter for the State Parliament of New South Wales to deal with as one of privilege were the honorable member a iNiemfoer of that Parliament; but, so far as I can see, there does not appear to have been any attempt to interfere with the honorable member in the discharge of his duties as a member of the Federal Parliament ; and, therefore, the section of the Constitution to which he refers does not apply.
– Is it the intention of the Treasurer to take any steps in regard to the action of the authorities of the Lady Bowen Hospital in the matter of the maternity allowance?
– I listened to what the honorable member had to say last night, and I suppose that, as his speech has gone broadcast, there will be some replies to it. I may say, however, t hat I have heard a very different version of the affair.
– I have absolute proof.
– If it will serve any good purpose, I shall be only too glad to forward a copy of the honorable member’s speech to the hospital authorities, and ask them if they have anything to say in reply, though I do not know that I have anything to do with them.
– Will the Honorary Minister be good enough to let the House know when the drill hall for North Carlton, which was on the Estimates last year, and for which the land has been purchased, will be erected?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government will consider the advisability of contributing a sum of money to the fund that has been inaugurated to assist the widows and orphans of the victims of the recent mining disaster in Wales?
– The other day we, in a formal way, decided to express our sympathy with the sufferers in that terrible colliery accident in Wales, and, as a further evidence of the practical sympathy of the House and of the country, the Government propose to send a donation of £2,000.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, uponnotice -
– Yes ; I take this opportunity to lay on the table the papers concerning the matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will be good enough to lay on the table of the Library all the papers in connexion with the case of Mr. John Ramsden - alleged to have been injured at the Wireless Telegraph Station at Rockhampton, when in the employ of the Commonwealth ?
– As the papers in question relate to a claim for compensation upon which legal advice has been obtained, it is not considered advisable that they should be made available if they are required for the purpose of legal proceedings, but if the honorable member would like to see them confidentially I have no objection.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice- -
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he cause a departmental inquiry to be held into the case of O. Lowther1 - a temporary driver injured while carrying out his duties - and will he also allow Mr. Lowther the opportunity of tendering evidence at the inquiry ?
- Mr. Lowther’s case has already received full consideration, and he has been very liberally treated. I do not consider there is need for holding any further inquiry.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
As country postmasters have no fixed hours of labour, will he define the same so as to relieve those officers from the responsibility ofdutyboth day and night?
– This is a matter within the province of the Public Service Commissioner. The exigencies of the Department, however, prevent postmasters’ hours being defined, but instructions were issued some time back that chief officers should arrange, as far as possible, that the hours postmasters are actually employed should not exceed forty-four per week, it being considered that the arrangement for closing post-offices1 at 6 p.m. would enable such hours to be observed in most cases. Where, owing to the requirements of the work, postmasters were habitually required to exceed forty-six and a half hours per week, the circumstances should be brought by the officers concerned under the notice of the Chief Officer, who, if unable to adjust the postmaster’s hours by alteration of staff or office arrangements, should furnish a report to the Public Service Inspector for transmission to the Commissioner.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– No amendment is proposed in the Act in the direction indicated.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Public Service Commissioner will reduce the age limit from eighteen to sixteen as regards boys desirous of sitting for examination (No. 481) for junior mechanics?
– The minimum age limit is the same as for previous similar examinations. Applications for the forthcoming examinations close on Saturday, and it is now too late to make any alteration in the age conditions, even if it were desirable to do so.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. It has been ascertained that Mr. Griffin is held in high estimation in his profes sion. His design for the city is convincing evidence of his ability.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. The following vessels have been purchased by this Department for use in the Northern Territory : -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Pearl-Shelling Industry - Royal Commission on - Progress Report.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence - Henderson Naval Base, Cockburn Sound, Western Australia - Report by J. F. Ramsbotham re Boring, Marine Survey, &c.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 267, 268.
Military Forces - (Regulations) - Statutory Rules1913,
Nos. 269, 270. (Financial and Allowance) - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 271, 272.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of the following proposed amendment of the . “ Bill for an Act to authorize the raising and expending of the sum of Three million and eighty thousand1 pounds for certain purposes “ : - “Page r, clause 2, at the end of the clause insert the following proviso : -
Provided that, notwithstanding anything contained in that Act, the sum to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund into the Trust Fund, under the head of the Stock Redemption Fund, in respect of the items numbered six and seven in the Schedule to this Act, shall be Five pounds per centum per annum on the amount of stock sold for the purposes of those items.’ “
Before the introduction of. the Loan Bill it escaped my attention that items 6 and 7 of the Schedule, for the construction of conduits and the purchase of machinery for Cockatoo Island, were of a less permanent character than the other works provided for in the Bill, and that the half per cent, sinking fund, as provided by the Inscribed Stock Act, would not prove sufficient. On considering the matter I came to the conclusion that it was better to have a larger sinking fund for these two special items, and, therefore, this amendment is proposed to make provision for a 5 per cent, sinking fund to cover them, thus limiting the repayments of the amounts to fifteen years and a half if the sinking fund contributions are invested at 3½ per cent. I do not think there can be any objection to this proposal. It is in the interests of making the business more safe, and of limiting the time for the repayments on these two items to fifteen years and a half instead of sixty years.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay [2.55].- I think the Treasurer had his attention drawn to this matter by the honorable member for Gwydir during the discussion on the Budget.
– I do not remember it, but if so, I am much obliged to the honorable member.
– I think the Treasurer has taken the right course in taking authority to pay a higher amount into the sinking fund for these particular works. The question is whether it is high enough, especially in regard to the conduits which, with the development of wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony, may have less value than the right honorable gentleman thinks. At any rate, a period of fifteen years and a half is very reasonable, and the Treasurer has taken the right step in proposing this course.
.- I should not allow this matter to pass without drawing attention to the method adopted by the Government in bringing forward business. While individually Ministers may have considerable ability, collectively they appear to know nothing whatever about the science of government, so that it is necessary to teach them. When the Treasurer brought forward his Audit Bill, he wished to put it through on the same evening; and because we ventured to raise a protest against hasty legislation, the right honorable gentleman complained, and the Prime Minister went through the country stating that we were obstructing business, that here was a simple Audit Bill which we would not allow to go through without a long discussion. But in that Bill we pointed out certain defects, and the Treasurer had to bring down an amendment - it was a necessary amendment - and then, after further discussing the Bill, we had to amend it again. I venture to think that it left the Chamber in a very much better form than when it appeared. In regard to the Loan Bill, the Treasurer, first of all, proposed an inadequate sinking fund, and now, after the honorable member for Gwydir drew attention to the inadequacy of the provision, he comes down with an amendment in such a mild manner that he almost whispers it to the Chamber. He does not employ that orotund, robust tone that he adopts as a rule, bu, with almost “ whispering humbleness “ he asks us to make this amendment, which is the outcome of the criticism of the honorable member for Gwydir. It is necessary to point out that any delay in the passage of legislation through this Chamber is due to the utter carelessness of honorable members of the Ministry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I desire to give honorable members some information as to the loan appropriations that have already been made. I shall also deal with several other matters which will be informative, and, therefore, of some value.
The loan appropriations already passed by this Parliament have all been introduced by the Labour party, the total amount on the 30th June last being £2,990,000. The purposes for which these appropriations were made are set forth on page 63 of the Budget-papers, and they are as follow: - For railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, £1,000,000; acquisition of land in the Federal Capital, £600,000; acquisition of land and erection of buildings in London, £600,000; acquisition of land in Perth, £153,000; and loans connected with the Northern Territory, £637,000.
– Did the Labour party borrow that money?
– They appropriated it, and borrowed the greater part of it from the Trust Fund. If the Parliament approves of the Bill now before the House, providing for a loan appropriation of £3,080,000, the total loan appropriation, will be £6,070,000.
– Does the Treasurer intend to admit that the Labour party repealed the Naval Loan Bill passed by its predecessors, and which provided for a loan of £3,500,000?
– Certainly. That is a matter of history.
– But the Treasurer said that the Labour party was responsible for all the loan appropriations passed.
– The Loan Bill to which the honorable member refers, was repealed, and is therefore non-existent. To the sum of £6,070,000, which, if this Bill be passed, will represent the total loan appropriations up to the end of this year must be added the following items: - Loans outstanding in respect of the Northern Territory and the Oodnadatta Railway, £5,295,321, being the indebtedness at 30th June, 1913, viz., £5,430,948, less redemptions to be made in 1913-14, viz., £135,627, value of transferred properties, including £867,716 for the purchase of Cockatoo Island and dock, £10,54.7,755. Thus, the total indebtedness, including the amounts for. which this Bill provides is £21,913,076.
Mr.Fraser. - The honorable member knows that the late Government paid interest on the transferred properties.
– I am not referring to the late Government. J am stating facts, and I do not propose to reply to interjections. Although it has not been necessary, so far, for the Commonwealth to go upon the market,it has incurred the liability I have mentioned, and it will have to be liquidated. It is just as well that the people should know that the Commonwealth owes £21,913,076, and that the Labour party has acquiesced in this loan indebtedness. I am quite in accord with their acquiescence. I make no complaint of it, brii merely state the fact. I should like to ask my honorable friends opposite how it is proposed to repay -this money. Surely honorable members opposite do not propose that - we should repaj the £21,913,076 by increased taxation. 1 am glad to know that no such proposal is made, but that it is the intention to repay this debt by means of a sinking’ fund of per cent, per annum, whiei will liquidate the debt in sixty years. The non-borrowing cry raised by honorable members opposite is all very well when they are out of office, with little or no responsibility, but under the burden of necessity and responsibility it is alloweJ by them to drop.
For the information of honorable members, I propose to give a short statement of the various items in this Loan Bill. The schedule embraces eight items.
The first of these is an appropriation of £1,400,000 in respect of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. There has already been an appropriation of £1,000,000 for this purpose, and up to 30th June last, £606,985 had been expended, so that at the beginning of the present financial year wo had an appropriation of £393,015 available for the work. Under this Bill we ask for an additional £1,400,000, so that there will be made available as from the 30th June last a total of £1,793,015 for the line. It is believed that of that amount ?1,400,000 will be expended this year, and that over 400 miles of the railway line will be completed. That is my own estimate, and haying regard to the money that we shall have expended by the end of the financial year, I think that it is a moderate one. I think that 400 miles of the railway should be completed this year. The completion of the line will mean, as I have often told the House, the real Federation of Australia, joining together east and west, and connecting the two sides of an immense continent. It will open up 1,000 miles of country that is at present a waste, and will shorten the transit of mails between Melbourne and Fremantle and between Australia and the older countries of the world by two or three days. The improvement and shortening of the means of communication must be of permanent benefit to the Common wealth .
The next item is the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katherine River and southwards, and for this purpose ?400,000 is to be provided. The length of the new railway will be 54 miles. The existing railway runs from Port Darwin to Pine Creek - a distance of 146 miles - and its gauge is 3 ft. 6 in. It was constructed many years ago, and is the only railway in the Territory. The extension of that line is urgently necessary. The last Parliament authorized the survey that is now being made, and was almost unanimous in expressing the opinion that the line should be constructed. The ultimate object in view is the connexion of South Australia and Queensland with Port Darwin by railway.
– What about working up from the south?
– The extension now provided for will not prevent a connexion from the south.
– Does not the proposed new line mean a deviation?
Sir JOHN FORREST;No. There will be a junction at Newcastle Waters, the line from the north turning off at that point to Camooweal, and another branch going due south to Oodnadatta. The question of gauge must be settled once and for all. The present intention in regard to the 54 miles of railway which is to be made, is to construct it on the 3- ft. 6-in. gauge, with sleepers, rails, embankments, and bridges of a kind that will enable it to be easily converted to the 4- ft. 8* -in. gauge. There can be no two opinions, I think, as to whether all Commonwealth railways should be constructed on a specification that will enable them to be made on the same gauge as the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. It must be understood that the construction of this railway is but the beginning of a great project for connecting South Australia with Queensland by railway. Commissioners are at work, and their reports should be in the hands of the Government in a few months. By next session the Government will be prepared to submit to Parliament definite proposals for a complete scheme of railway construction in the Northern Territory. Great difficulties have to be confronted in building railways in the Northern Territory in places unconnected by railway with the labour market, and accompanying these difficulties are many others which do not exist in the settled parts of Australia. It is proposed to construct this railway by contract, if that should be possible. As I have already stated in the Budget speech, the Northern Territory is a great burden on the Commonwealth, which already has expended, and has become responsible for, nearly ?8,000,000 in connexion with it. This immense obligation renders it imperative that early means should be taken to make the Northern Territory wealth-producing and self-supporting. Honorable members will have noticed that on this year’s Estimates the Government establishment in existence in the Northern Territory, together with the expenses in connexion with the Oodnadatta railway and interest on loans, entail expenditure amounting to ?721,556.
Item 3 provides for the construction of a railway from Port Moresby to Astrolabe, and for the construction of wharfs at Port Moresby and Samarai, for all of which ?60,000 is needed. The proposed railway will be of 2-f t. gauge, ‘ and is to be used mainly for the purpose of developing the copper mines which have been proved to exist in the foot hills of the Astrolabe Range, the length of the line being 19 miles. The narrow gauge has been decided on owing to the difficulties of the country, and to the fact that any extension, if constructed on a wider gauge, would be very expensive. We are really providing for a tramway, as the line will have sharp curves, a grade of - 1 in 40, and rails of only 40 lbs. weight. In the first 4 miles there will be considerable difficulty, and tunnels will probably have to be made. Two bridges will have to be constructed to carry the line. Copper ore, to the value of £30,000, has already been taken from the mines, and the mining industry will be developed by the railway. It is believed, too, that there will be considerable intermediate traffic in connexion with the sisal hemp plantations, and that the growth of tobacco and maize is also likely to be encouraged. The estimated cost’ of the line, without rolling-stock, is about £44,000. It is proposed to construct a new wharf at Port Moresby, that at present in use being inadequate for the class of steamers now visiting that harbor.
Item 4 provides £170,000 for the purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes. This amount is required to pay for sites for postal purposes all over the Commonwealth. Twenty-six sites are required in New South Wales, twenty-one in Victoria, sixteen in Queensland, eight in South Australia, nine in Western Australia, and three in Tasmania, making eighty-three in all. The practice of paying out of loan for land for postal purposes has already been adopted, and there is no reason at all why such land should not be paid for from loan funds, as its value is likely not to decline, but, on the contrary, to increase.
Item 5 provides £300,000 for the purchase of land’ for defence purposes. This amount includes the sum of £157,000 for six places which are to be purchased in New South Wales, and the sum of £23,000 is required for other purchases in the various States. The cost of purchasing land for military purposes in the Liverpool manoeuvre area, New South Wales will be £112,000. The sum of £30,000 is required for the metropolitan rifle range, New South Wales. The acquisition of land for drill halls and mobilization stores, for buildings for aviation corps, for sites for ordnance stores, and Commonwealth purposes generally will cost £120,000.
Item 6 provides £425,000 for conduits. There is a considerable amount of work in hand, and 413 men are employed upon it, about 177 being employed in New South Wales, 34 in Victoria, 54 in Queensland, 31 in South Australia, 107 in Western Australia, and 10 in Tasmania. It is proposed to have a 5 . per cent, sinking fund on this loan expenditure on conduits, which, at 3 per cent., will extinguish the loan in fifteen and a half years. The same sinking fund is to be provided for the repayment of £175,000 to be spent on the purchase of machinery for Cockatoo Island dock provided under item 7.
– Out of what money is the 5 per cent, sinking fund to be provided? Out of loan or out of revenue?
– Interest and sinking ‘fund are provided for out of revenue.
Item 6 provides £425,000 for the construction of conduits and for laying wires underground. Last’ year this expenditure was included in the amount provided for the construction and extension of telephone lines and instruments, for which the sum of £924,328 was provided, made up of £601,150 from the ordinary revenue, and £323,178 from the special trust fund. This year it is intended to spend £960,700 for the same purpose, made up of £535,700 provided from revenue, and £425,000 taken from loan funds. Included in the amount for last year was £434,088 for conduits and placing wire underground, while the expenditure for this year on conduits is . estimated at £425,000. It is estimated that these conduits will last for fifty years at least, while the wires will last for half that time. It is intended to provide a sinking fund of 5 per cent, upon the amounts for these conduits constructed out of loan funds, which will provide the principal in about fifteen and a half years at 3½ per cent. Fuller information as to the States in which this expenditure will be made can be given when the schedule is being considered in Committee.
Item 7 provides £175,000 formachinery, machine shops, and construction of wharfs at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales. Cockatoo Island was arranged to be transferred to the Commonwealth from the Government of New South Wales by the late Administration. The arrangement was made that the property should be treated as if it were transferred property under clause 85. of the Constitution, the Commonwealth paying to the State interest on that amount. The land thus transferred has been valued at £110,175, the docks at £350,000, and the workshops and machinery,&c., at £407,541, making the value of the whole property £867,716. The machinery which is costing £407,541 has been found inadequate for the purpose, and it is proposed to obtain modern machinery at a cost of £175,000-. The Government considers that this amount is part of the original purchase, and that such original purchase was from loan funds, and that it is, therefore, a proper charge to also provide this £175,000 as loan expenditure-
– That is a very loose way of putting it.
– It is very clear.
The last item is £150,000 for the erection of the London offices. The cost of the site for the London offices, including the purchase of buildings from the Government of Victoria, amounted to £403,000, and the construction will cost £345,000. Of this amount of £748,000, the sum of £600,000 has already been appropriated by loan, and the additional £150,000, now being provided by the loan, will, it is hoped, complete the work.
– How long will it take to complete it ?
– I should say not very long. The foundation stone was laid by His Majesty the King on the 24th July last, and the work of construction is now in hand. Messrs. Dove Brothers, contractors, were the successful tenderers’ for the work.
I now come to the interesting matter of how it is proposed to raise this money. I think I explained this in my Budget speech, but I shall reiterate the explanation, and take the opportunity to make some remarks in regard to the speech that the Leader of the Opposition made immediately after the Budget speech. As I said in that speech, it is intended that the moneys for the works in this Loan Bill shall be obtained by making the investments of the Australian Notes Fund and the General Trust Fund in Commonwealth inscribed stock.
Exception was taken by my right honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, to an observation I made in my Budget speech to the effect that it seemed to me that it would have been wiser, in view of the demands on the Trust Funds for the purposes of these Funds, and also for the railways and other works to be charged to loans obtained from these funds, if the investment had been for shorter periods. I am sorry that the right honorable gentleman should have magnified these words into an attack on his Government. All I can say is that they were put forward with no such intention, and that they conveyed, so far as I know, a moderate and reasonable statement of the absolute truth of the matter.
– The right honorable gentleman also said that by very careful consideration and work he would be able to struggle through.
– Well, I shall. However, I shall deal fully with the remarks of my right honorable friend,so that he will see that I was justified in the observation I made. As, however, my statement as to the amount available this year from these investments has been challenged, I shall briefly put the exact position before honorable members; and I wish to be very careful, so that there shall be no doubt at all as to what I say or mean. Although there was a credit balance of £2,653,223 on the 30th June; 1913, only £195,450 of that was in cash.
– Hear, hear!
– The balance, £2,457,773 was invested in a way I shall show. ‘
Immediately after I concluded my Budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition said that the total amount available in less than sixteen months for reinvestment by the Treasurer was £4,440,000, plus £2,653,000.
– Oh, no !
– I am quoting from the right honorable member’s statement as reported in Hansard -
The total amount available in less than sixteen months for re-investment by the Treasurer is £4,440,000, plus£2,653,000, which was left him as a surplus, making a grand total of£7,093,000 available within that period.
– No; £4,000,000 odd.
– The honorable member said £7,000,000 odd. I am quoting the right honorable member’s words as I heard them, and as I have since seen them in Hansard. I made the reply at once to the right honorable member that I was not dealing in my Budget speech with sixteen months, but with twelve months - with the financial year ending 30th June, 1914 - and I most emphatically assure honorable members that the statement as to sixteen months - I do not wish to use strong words - is absolutely incorrect. The moneys available to the Treasurer from the Trust Fund - that is, what will fall due during the financial year 1913-14, including £195,450 cash in hand on the 30th June, 1913 - are as follows: -
But as I shall show later, the amount required during the twelve months is £5,768,850.
– Nobody dreamt that the Treasurer was going to plunge like this.
– I am dealing with what the honorable member said. The investments maturing during the year 1914-15 are as follows: -
The total falling due up to 30th September, 1914 - that is, for fifteen months, and not sixteen months, as stated by the Leader of the Opposition - is £4,095,450, and not £7,093,000, as mentioned by him.
– That is not correct.
– There is a difference here of £2,997,550.
– The right honorable gentleman is adding the surplus.
– From the 30th September, 1914, to 10th August, 1919, a period of five years, no investments fall due.
But in addition to this £4,095,450, there are investments maturing from 10th August, 1919, to 1st January, 1926- £3,138,485 falls due-
It will therefore be seen that the amount available in the fifteen months, and not sixteen months, is not £4,440,000, but £4,095,000. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say -
Adding the surplus of £2,653,000 to this £4,440,000, there is a grand total of £7,093,000 available within sixteen months.
– That is an error.
– The honorable member is not correct in adding the amount of the surplus to the investments maturing within the period, because the amount of the surplus, except a comparatively small amount of £195,450 held in cash in the Treasury, is already included in the investments.
– I mentioned that in my speech.
– Therefore the total amount available in fifteen months is not £7,093,000, but, as I have shown, £4,095,450. The surplus on the 30th June, 1913, was £2,653,223. A portion of that surplus, as already stated, amounting to £195,450, was held in cash. The balance, £2,457,773, was included in the investments of the Trust Funds, amounting to £3,448,015. As the surplus is to be expended during 1913-14, it is necessary to realize the investments, but the investments maturing during the year amount to only £1,310,000. The balance of £1,147,773 will have to be obtained by anticipating the falling due of the investments. The Treasurer will be compelled to find the money within the present financial year from funds now being invested as follows: -
That is the total amount that will be required during the year 1913-14 from moneys invested. But the amount falling due within that time, with cash from previous year, £195,450, will only be £3,945,450, and, therefore, we shall have to obtain in some way £1,823,400. I have shown that the Treasurer will have available, up to the 30th June, 1914, only £3,945,450, and, as he has to find £5,768,850, it will be seen that the Treasurer will be compelled in some way to anticipate the falling due of investments to the extent of £1,823,400. I think that when the Leader of the Opposition hears this clear, definite, and moderate statement, he and other honorable members will agree that I was not seeking to go out of my way to adversely criticise when I said I thought it would have been wiser if the investments had been for shorter periods, but that, on the contrary, I was merely stating the fact in the least objectionable manner.
– I did not provide for plunging.
– As I have already stated, the intention of the Government is that these moneys ‘ shall be obtained by making investments of the Australian Notes Fund and a General Trust Fund in Commonwealth inscribed stock. I point out - and I regret that the honorable member for Kennedy is not here - that the Trust Fund available for investment on permanent loan is almost altogether restricted to the Australian Note Fund. It is quite correct to say that we have in the Trust Fund the balance of the account for pensions, and also on account of the Fleet, but they are not likely to be there much longer. If we assume the amount of notes issued at £10,000,000 under the existing law, there would be £7,500,000 available for investment. But, if the law is amended as we propose - and we consider it necessary that it should be amended - there will never be more than £5,250,000 and accumulations of interest available for permanent investment by the Government, nomatter how much is received from the sale of notes. I think we should be satisfied to get £5,250,000 and interest. But already the Labour Government have authorized loans from the Trust Fund to the extent of £2,990,000, and, if the loan of £3,080,000 proposed by the present Government is authorized, the total amount of loan authorization will be £6,070,000. We will not, therefore, in the future be abta to “ borrow from ourselves,” except the interest.
The honorable member for Kennedy, speaking the other night, evidently thought that the Trust Fund is like the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil of the days of the prophet Elijah, which, however much drawn upon, neither wasted nor failed. The honorable member went so far as to say that he trusted the time would never come when the Government would have to go on to the loan market to obtain money. If this is the policy of the Labour party - that they are never going on the market to obtain money by loan - they will not be able -to complete the works already in hand, nor enter on any future works of great magnitude, because it will be impossible to carry out the works necessary to develop this immense continent in any other way. I have many times confessed my faith in this House, and so have other honorable members - although not very many of them ; but the honorable member for Parkes has often spoken in the way I have, and perhaps he goes a little further than I do. I look on a nonborrowing policy in this great country as a do-nothing policy, as a stick-in-the-mud policy, which I have often called it; and, although my honorable friends opposite strongly proclaim such a policy when out of office, it has at once been abandoned by them, not only in this Parliament, but in all the States, so soon as they have secured power and felt the burden of responsibility. In this immense country it is far better and cheaper to borrow for reproductive works, such as railways and water supply- - works absolutely and imperatively necessary for the advancement of the people - with a provision for sinking fund, than to take money by taxation out of the pockets of the people, which is required for their own purposes in promoting and developing the country and their individual interests. It seems to me to stand to reason, and to be common sense, that the only way to carry out great schemes of national development is by borrowed capital, spreading the repayment over a period of, say, sixty years. If this is not conceded, then we must give up national enterprise and resort to private enterprise for the construction of our great public works. We cannot do it in any other way. If we will not do the work ourselves by borrowed capital, wo must let seme one else do it by private capital. The country must go ahead. Would it have been possible for Australia to have built itself up with railways and tramways, telegraphs and water supplies, and all the adjuncts and conveniences of civilization by direct taxation ?
– Yes, if we had not parted with the land.
– Take my own State.
– One. would think you owned it.
– I have just as much claim-to it as any one else. It had a population of 138,000 people in 1896, when it embarked on an expenditure of £1,500,000 to provide a harbor at Fremantle, £3,500,000 for railways, and £3,000,000 for the great Kalgoorlie water supply. Would it even enter into the mind of any one that a small population like that could have carried out those great works and entered on those great undertakings by direct taxation, or by any means other than by borrowing the money - and cheaply borrowing it, I am glad to say - with a sinking fund spreading the repayment over a number of years? There was only one alternative. We would have been obliged to hand over that great beneficent water scheme to a private company, because the water had to be provided. There were plenty of offers, but we decided to do it ourselves.
– That is what you are going to do with the freezing works at Port Darwin - hand them over to a private company.
– That was the alternative in those days.
– According to the honorable member for Barrier, you should have paid for all that work out of the sale of unoccupied Crown lands.
– It is not borrowing that is injurious. What is injurious is to spend borrowed money wastefully and improperly on unremunerative and unnecessary work. Therefore, the country requires men of experience and knowledge, and men with some belief in themselves as well as in their country, who know that if they enter on enterprises that are unremunerative their reputation will be gone. Many a time I said to my friends who were, against me in Western Australia, “Do you think that I, who have lived among you all my life, am going to do anything to ruin my country as well as you and myself ; I have a far greater responsibility in advocating this expenditure than you- have in voting against me. I have to bear the whole burden if it is not successful.” I say the same in regard to that great . project, the transAustralian railway; £f ever it is a burden on the country, I shall be willing. that the whole burden be placed on me. I wish also to add that it is to cheap borrowed money that Australia owes her present position in the world, added to the intelligent enterprise of those who have been her builders. Not alone has the country benefited by all the advantages it has secured by borrowed capital for works which, for the most part, pay their way, but most of our business is carried on in the same way by borrowed money. The railways all over Australia, taken altogether, pay 4 per cent, on the capital invested. What are we afraid of when we have enterprises of that sort! Debenture capital finds a large place in all our commercial financial institutions and enterprises. Banks, companies of all sorts, shipping companies, mining companies, are all promoted by borrowed capital. The whole fabric - public and private - flourishes in the same way. Australia has expended £170,000,000 on railways, and those who use them pay for them. The railways pay 4 per cent, on the capital embarked in them. They, are no burden on the taxpayer. By the annual provision of % per cent, sinking fund, they would all be redeemed in about sixty years. Australia has increased her indebtedness during the last three financial years ending the 30th June of this year by £42,586,944. Of . this sum, the share of the two Labour Governments of New South “Wales and Western Australia is about half, namely, £20,634,635, New South Wales £13,645,652, and Western Australia £6,988,983. This is the nonborrowing policy of the Labour party.
The Labour Government, during its three years of office, practically outlined a policy of trans-Australian railways, west and north from Port Augusta to Fremantle and to Port Darwin that will cost over £10,000,000. It practically agreed to the expenditure of millions on naval bases, and the foundation and embellishment of a Capital City and other national works. How are these important works to be carried out from direct taxation? Is it possible to do it? It seems to me that it would be as unwise and ruinous as it would be impossible to have any such idea. We can, however, do everything that is necessary to be done by this Parliament without placing undue burdens on the people by first of all having knowledge and experience in regard to the work required, by economical administration, by the wise and careful use of borrowed capital with annual repayments in a fixed time by means of a sinking fund, by a judicious system of immigration, by limiting expenditure to national work for national purposes, and by determined and continued effort in promoting wealth-producing enterprises.
My last words are an appeal to honorable members. The Leader of the Opposition knows the responsibility of office. Although he had a pretty good time, it will not be ever thus. I wish to impress on honorable members the necessity for the passage of this Loan Bill. It is very urgent that the Bill should pass at once, because none of the works provided for can be continued or proceeded with without this authority. The labour market is also dependent upon its early passage, as it means good employment for about 2,500 men. Until this Loan Bill provides the necessary funds there will be only about £’150,000 available for the continuance of the trans- Australian Railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and only £179,000 for continuing the work of building the London offices, while no lands can be purchased for defence or postal buildings. The machinery at Cockatoo Island cannot be purchased, nor can the railways in the Northern Territory or Papua be proceeded with. I think I have shown the necessity and the urgency of this Loan Bill. I think I have justified its introduction and submission for approval, and I have now only to urge: upon honorable members that it should be passed through Parliament as quickly as possible.
.- This is a Bill in respect of which thaLeader of the Opposition might reasonably ask for the adjournment of the debate,, but the character of the speech delivered^ by the Treasurer, in moving that it beread a second time, not only warrants,, but demands, that there should be, on. some matters, an immediate reply. TheTreasurer was afforded, and rightly afforded, every courtesy in submitting this* measure to the House. He was allowed1 to read his speech, which was well prepared, without any question being raised’ by the Opposition. He took full advantageof his opportunity, and did not spare the Labour party. The right honorablegentleman was daring to the point of” audacity in the statements that he made. In dealing with the Note Funds investments he repeated the assertion previouslymade by him that the investments madeby the late Government were upon a wrong basis, and extended over too longa period. As you are> aware, Mr. Speaker, when you occupied a prominent position* in the ranks of the Opposition tie present Treasurer was among those who opposed the Commonwealth Bank Bill, and’ also the Australian Notes Bill. But forthe action of the Labour Government in carrying the measure in the face of theopposition of many honorable members; now sitting on the Government side of the House, much of this money would’ not be available to-day for the purposes to which the Treasurer has been referring. The late Government havingforced certain ‘legislation through Parliament, not only the Australian NotesTrust Fund, but a large number of othergeneral Trust Funds were made available for investment. These represent a total of about £9,000,000, and the Treasurernow complains, because, of that amount, not more than £4,000,000 will be available to be expended by the present Government during the first year. TheFisher Government invested all availablesurplus money in proper securities, sothat the earnings obtained therefrom/ might be credited to the works and services of the people. For that action we claim credit. The Treasurer, so far as I was able to follow him, appeared in his calculations to leave out of account the fact, that we are deriving about £300,000 a year from the investments in question. He quibbled about the amount that would be available during the first year, and, notwithstanding, that his statement had been carefully prepared and read, he seems to have omitted that important fact. He forgot to mention that during this year there would be an income from these investments which he had not taken into account. If he will take that income into account he will see that the statement I made as to the amount available was correct, while that made by him was incorrect. The Treasurer insisted that the amount was some £3,900,000, and not, as I said, a little over £4,000,000. If my view is correct, his statement is not one that I would expect from the Treasurer of the Commonwealth in dealing with a Bill of this kind, and at a time when he has full opportunity to deal with all the facts. The right honorable gentleman also spoke of the indebtedness of the Commonwealth as having been incurred in the ordinary way. As a matter of fact, nothing of the kind has occurred. Under the Constitution the properties rightly associated with the Department of Defence, the Postal Department, the Department of Trade and Customs, and all other Federal services had to be taken over by the Commonwealth as transferred properties. Immediately the operation of the Braddon section was set aside it was imperative that the Commonwealth should take over from the States the indebtedness in respect of the transferred properties. ‘But was the indebtedness of the people of Australia increased by one penny by the Commonwealth shouldering that burden? Is there an honorable member who will assert that the taking over of the debt of £10,000,000 from the States increased the burdens of the people of Australia ? I am sure there is not, and yet the Treasurer made the statement that the indebtedness of the Commonwealth had been increased in that way, and that it now amounted to nearly £22,000,000. I do not believe that the right honorable gentleman intended to mislead the public, but if his statement had been cunningly devised with that object in view, it could not have served the purpose better.
– And it will have that effect outside.
– I hope that after my statement of the facts, it will not. It is for that reason that I have thought it necessary to at once put before the House and the people the actual outstanding facta - to put the truth of the whole matter side by side with the Treasurer’s statement. Were I in his position I should scorn to attempt to mislead the people or to put the matter in such a way that even the most illinformed could misunderstand it. The other Trust Funds have also been properly invested. I am accused, by the way, of having added the surplus to the £4,000,000 which I said would be available this year. If my words conveyed that impression, then it was an inadvertence on my part. I am not one of those who correct all the proofs of my speeches.
– It is impossible for the right honorable gentleman to be misreported. Do not blame the reporters or the newspapers.
– When I do make a misstatement and discover it, I have pleasure in correcting it. The statement in question was made in circumstances similar to those under which I am now speaking. I had to follow the Treasurer immediately after the delivery of his long Budget statement. I had been unable to obtain a scrap of information. Although the reporters of the different newspapers had all been supplied with copies of the Treasurer’s Budget speech, as read by him, I could not obtain- a single scrap of information from the Government or any one else, and I had .to do the best I could in the circumstances.
– What does the Prime Minister say to that?
– I say that the Leader of the Opposition is the grievancemonger of them all. He has never been happy since he left office, and never will be- until he gets back.
– And the Prime’ Minister was never happy till he secured his present position.
– I do not feel unhappy, but I hope that I do not look as miserable as the Prime Minister does.
– If the right honorable gentleman does not, then I am sorry for myself.
– The Prime Minister has reason not only to be sorry, but to be displeased with himself-, if he feels as miserable as he looks.
– The right honorable member is losing his manners.
– The Prime Minister courted the remark. I was not dealing with him when he interjected. Much has been made of the action of the late Government in passing a loan appropriation in respect of land for the Perth, Postoffice. That was a purchase of property which, at the present time, is bringing in 5 per cent. Yet the Government are asking the public to believe that it is on all-fours’ with the purchase of a piece of land that is not interest-earning.
– What land does the right honorable gentleman say is not earning interest?
– The proposed expenditure of loan moneys on defence will be non-interest- earning.
– The land required for defence purposes is earning in the best sense of the term.
– Does the Prime Minister interrupt me to say that the land proposed to be purchased under this Loan Bill will earn sufficient to provide for interest and sinking fund 1 Land for defence purposes, as well as machines and munitions of war, ought not to be purchased out of loan money, except in cases of emergency or war.
– Then what about the purchase of the Fitzroy Dock?
– The Fitzroy Dock can be. used for general purposes, and it comes over to the Commonwealth as a transferred property. It will not add by one iota to the indebtedness of the people of the Commonwealth. It is simply a property transferred by one Government in the Commonwealth to another. The present Government propose, if you please, to purchase additional machinery, and to add the cost of that machinery to the indebtedness in respect of the transferred property. That is a different proposition altogether. Let us come now to the indebtedness in respect of the Northern Territory. Do the Government wish to convey the idea that, in taking over the indebtedness of the Northern Territory, we increased the in debtedness of the people of Australia ? We did nothing of the kind. The Northern Territory debt was incurred by the Government -of South Australia. The Commonwealth Government, with the concurrence of both parties in this Parliament, purchased the Northern Territory from the State Government, and one of the conditions of purchase was that we should take over the total indebtedness incurred by South Australia in respect of it.
– And we paid off a little of that amount.
– Quite so. That vast extent of territory is of such a character that, fifty years ago, British statesmen recognised that it would need to be specially protected. The South Australian Government had an understanding with the Imperial Government that if the Commonwealth did not come to their aid they would be recouped whatever the cost to them might be. But, very properly, in my opinion, the Commonwealth took over the Territory. I believe that for many years it will be a burden on the people of Australia; but, were the burden likely to be ten times as large as it will be, it would be, nevertheless, our duty to take responsibility for the development of the Territory. The Administration of which I was the head, instead of adding to the indebtedness of the Territory, paid off over £200,000 of its debt.
– More nearly £400,000.
– The honorable member is right. We reduced the funded debt of the Territory by about one-third of a million pounds. But the Treasurer said nothing of that. Moreover, during our term of office we spent over £10,000,000’ in actual capital expenditure. I should like to correct the views of the Treasurer, and of many other Ministerialists, regarding the official opinions of the Australian Labour party, and, I think, of the State Labour parties also, about public borrowing. I have never seen any platform plank against public borrowing for reproductive works, nor have I heard of such a plank. The Labour party has always set its face against the borrowing of money for unreproductive works. It has always been against proposals of the kind now put forward by the Treasurer. After declaring throughout the country that the late Government were guilty of an avalanche of reckless expenditure, ‘ the members of this Government propose to increase the expenditure of their predecessors by £5,000,000, Parliament has good reason for objecting to that. I do not say that the increase of expenditure is being made for political purposes; but, in my opinion, it has been influenced politically. But how will it be possible to keep up expenditure at this rate ? I agree that the construction of the transcontinental railways east and west and north and south should not be delayed, and I repeat what I said when I had the responsibilities of office, that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to assist the States, which will have to incur great expense to bring about the unification of railway gauge. That work will cost millions, but, were it to cost £20,000,000, the expenditure would be an advantageous one, from which we should get a return within two or three years.
– How would the honorable member find the necessary money?
– In the open market. Perhaps we could get it locally.
– The honorable member would borrow either in Australia or abroad ?
– Wherever I could get the money most cheaply. Had the honorable member been in a previous Parliament, he would not have asked the question. The unification of the railway gauge is useful and necessary. I made up my mind long ago that it is a utilitarian work, which should be tackled without unreasonable delay. But the question of how to raise the money to pay for it is one that can- be dealt with by those who undertake the responsibility of carrying it out. If the honorable member thinks that the credit of the Commonwealth is not sufficient to enable the necessary money to be raised. I differ from him.
– I made no such suggestion.
– The last and weakest thing in the Treasurer’s speech was his appeal to the prejudices of the electors. He spoke of the need for this expenditure to give work to the people. Whenever there is a great swindle proposed, it is put forward on the plea that the distress of the unemployed must be relieved.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this is a swindle?
– No ; but the plea put forward by the Treasurer is that which is always urged by the plungers and bounders. Those who are old enough to remember *he late eighties and early nineties, will recall the political cries of the times. Loan after loan, and expenditure after expenditure, was demanded, financial institutions being bolstered up with Government money. When the great Liberal Governments were administering the affairs of Australia without’ interference by the Labour party they brought the toiling masses to their knees, compelling many persons in the cities to work for as little as 5s. a day. In those times it was considered a good thing to have men employed shifting sand, and carrying water, and it was found necessary to start relief settlements and open soup kitchens.
Colonel Ryrie. - The right honorable member should not abuse so good a Labour man as the late E. W. O’sullivan.
– He was not in office at the time that I speak of. The honorable member is grossly and wickedly unfair to a dead man, who cannot defend himself.
– The right honorable member is attacking a great many public men who are no longer here to defend themselves.
– If the Minister asked me to give names I could do so, but it is not necessary. The public has been asked to believe that the Labour party has brought calamities on Australia, whereas, as a matter of fact, Australia has not known a social and industrial calamity since the Labour party shared in the government of the country. The Treasurer has said that the late Govern-‘ ment was in office when Providence was specially beneficent, but, as a matter of fact, the years between 1910 and 1913 were not exceptional, and this year promises to be better than any of them. Had the Liberal Government been in office in’ those years, the newspapers would now be stating that it had lived through a time of stress and difficulty. During the period that 1 speak of, 10,000,000 sheep died in Victoria and New South Wales.
– There were 6,000,000 lost last year.
– Honorable members make the loss by drought, in the period to which I refer, 10,000,000 sheep, which ranks with the highest losses in 1902 and 1883-1884. Yet they have the audacity to say that we occupied office during the three best seasons that Australia hae’ known. That statement is not true, and there is not a single allegation that they have made, officially or otherwise, in their attempts to belittle the Labour Ministry, that is not a misstatement, as could be proved by their own words and evidence. The Prime Minister again and again stated that we expended every penny we received, and it was only when he was cornered that he admitted the money was there, though he then urged that the commitments of the late Government would swallow it all up. Again, that latter statement is not true ; it is not a fact, and the men who make it know that it is not true or a fact.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw those words.
– It is unparliamentary to say that a statement is untrue, apart altogether from whether it is known to be untrue, and I withdraw the words. However, honorable members opposite had equal opportunity as myself of knowing the facts. The Prime Minister made that statement nearly a month after my policy speech at Maryborough, and he repeated it at Ballarat after he came into office; and it is only now that he, a little tardily, takes upon himself the duty of varying it and making a correction. The previous Government, and those connected, with the Labour party, do not claim any special virtue for what they did; but we do claim to have conserved the public finances during the time we administered the affairs of Australia, and to have expended on public works every available penny that we could spare consistently with obtaining a fair return for the. money. Again and again we experienced difficulty owing to the lack of staffs- in the Departments. Prior to the- late Government, the Commonwealth had no staff to carry out public works, but had to depend on State officials ; but we organized staffs in various Departments,, and the merits of those staffs may be best understood’ by the action of the present Government. In the Home Affairs Department, Defence Department, and the Post Office we got together exceedingly good staffs in a short period, and a striking instance of their success may be found in the case of the wireless telegraphy branch. I was asked last night not to say too much on this latter point, but I saw from an evening paper that the report of Mr. Swinburne, or the purport of it, must be known to a great number of people already. Under the circumstances, I strongly advise the Postmaster-General to “ make a clean breast of it,” and lay the report on the table. I understand that the idea in withholding the report is, according to the Postmaster-General, that its publication may compromise the defence of the Commonwealth Government; but I do not think that would be the effect. Mr. Balsillie came here a comparative stranger in the wireless expert world, and he has performed his work in a manner that does himself and the Commonwealth credit. The system, nearly a year ago, reached the Antarctic, and it has been taken all round Australia as effectively as it could have been managed in Europe or America. The whole continent is linked up, and I only hope that the present Government will not fall into the error of the short-lived Fusion Government, and the previous so-called Liberal Government, in dealing with and giving concessions to small companies, but will establish for the centre of the country as complete a system as there is on the sea-board. In the matter of the interest, I asked the Treasurer, when he was speaking, whether he proposed to continue the payment of interest on loans out of ordinary revenue, and I am glad that he answered me in the affirmative. There have been occasions when Governments, during the period of the construction of such a work as a railway, have debited the sinking fund to capital expenditure; but I understand that it is not proposed to take that course now. Considering the character of the speech delivered by the Treasurer, I think I am perfectly .justified in suggesting an adjournment of the debate, and asking leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
– No; I am afraid we . cannot consent to an adjournment of the debate at this stage.
– Does the honorable member object?
– Yes; what is the idea?
– The Treasurer delivered what was equal to a Budget speech, full of technical details, full of policy, and full of allegations against the Labour party. It is unknown in my parliamentary experience that an adjournment under such circumstances should be refused.
– Is it the desire of the House that the honorable member for
Wide Bay have leave to continue his speech?
– I object.
– Then Ishall move the adjournment of the debate.
– The honorable member cannot do that, as he has already spoken.
Motion (by Mr. Roberts) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The honorable member for ‘ Adelaide understands that if he submits this motion, he will prevent the honorable member for Wide Bay from having an opportunity to continue his speech.
– The Prime Ministerhas already done that.
– Nothing of the kind.
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) - .
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to make a personal explanation. I did not vote in the division just taken, because I promised the Treasurer that he would have a pair when he left to attend the funeral of the late Mr. Knox; and as last night I had promised the honorable member for Kooyong that I would give him a pair, I got the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to also stand out of the division with that object. I made no promise of pairs with regard to other honorable members. So far as the division just taken goes, I kept all my promises.
– You promised to see that pairs would be given.
– I cannot make honorable members go out of the chamber if they will not do so. .
– This position has come about through the refusal of Opposition members to give pairs to honorable members who were engaged in attending the funeral of one of our late members.
– That is absolutely, untrue.
– The whole proceedings are unprecedented. They are a disgrace to those who are responsible for them.
– By way of personal explanation
– There can be no personal explanation at this stage. The debate is now closed.
– Was the Prime Minister replying.!
– Yes, the Prime Minister has replied. There can be no further debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.49. p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131029_reps_5_71/>.