6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a commission from His Excellency the Governor-General, authorizing him to administer the oath of allegiance to honorable members.
Mr. Kelly took the oath, and subscribed the roll as member for the electoral district of Wentworth.
– Is the Assistant Minister of Defence aware that, by reason of the arrangements made for the transport of troops, nearly all the refrigerated space for perishable produce that would otherwise be available during October and November for the carriage of perishable produce from Australia to England has been commandeered, and that consequently producers are unable to ship this produce to England, although it is badly needed there ? Will the Minister ascertain if steps can be taken to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible ?
– I shall be pleased to make an inquiry into the subject.
– As hitherto quite a large quantity of the material used by the Postal Department has been imported from an enemy’s country, will the PostmasterGeneral take immediate steps to have this material manufactured in Government workshops in Australia?
– The policy of the Department is to use all the Australian material that we can get, that is, to give preference to Australian goods. Whether we can manufacture the whole of our requirements is another question. I am looking into the matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs been directed to the fact that at the last election a large number of informal votes were cast, especially for Senate candidates? Will he inquire as to the reason for this, with a view to taking action that may prevent it in the future?
– I wish to know from the Assistant Minister of Defence whether it is the intention of the Defence Department to send on to northern ports the German steamer Berlin, which was seized, and was, until recently, in the possession of the Prize Court, or to tranship her cargo at Sydney, to be sent on there. Will the Minister endeavour to have a decision arrived at as soon as possible, so that the consignees of the cargo may know what to do?
– I shall inquire into the subject at once, and shall try to give the honorable member an answer to-day.
Mr.CARR. - As it is the policy of the Government to establish a line of Government steamers, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of utilizing the large number of German steamers now held as prizes of war?
– The matter is receiving the attention of the Government.
– I ask the Prime Minister what authority there is for the appointment of Assistant Ministers. Is the office of Assistant Minister provided for in the Constitution, and are the Assistant Ministers who have been appointed to be salaried Ministers?
– The right honorable gentleman knows that the Constitution provides a certain sum for the remuneration of the Ministry as a whole, no sum being set down for individual Ministers. Beyond the offices specifically named in the Constitution, it is indifferent what titles are used, but I have always held the view that it is not desirable to have Honorary Ministers. At the same time, additional Ministers are necessary, and the term Assistant Minister is a better designation than that of Honorary Minister for the gentlemen who are so called, because they are really assistant Ministers. The term Assistant Minister is a better designation than the term Honorary Minister for gentlemen whose position is honorary, but who at the same time are giving assistance.
– Will the right honorable gentleman indicate what the distinction is, if there be one, between an Honorary and an Assistant Minister ?
– Perhaps we are falling into a bad habit; but last session we heard of an Assistant Minister of Home Affairs.
– Will the Prime Minister make it clear that the whole Ministry is remunerated out of the sum provided for in the Constitution; that no unauthorized payment is made to any Minister ?
– There is no remuneration for Ministers other than that provided for by the Constitution.
– Is there any distinction in function, or any other distinction, between Honorary and Assistant Ministers ?
– No; but the Assistant Ministers are now being made use of more fully than has been usual, and will give greater service to the country. They will be in many instances really Assistant Ministers, and I regard the designation which has been adopted a better one than Honorary Minister.
– The Prime Minister will remember that when in 1901 two members of the Executive Council were called Honorary Ministers a discussion on the whole question arose. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he has considered the application of Chapter II. of the Constitution, which expressly limits the number of Ministers administering departments to seven, until Parliament otherwise provides. As a matter of fact, the so-called Assistant Minister of Home Affairs in the last Administration was merely a member of the Executive Council, and was only colloquially designated Assistant Minister.
– That is all that is being done now.
– Then it is a farce.
– In that case the right honorable gentleman started the farce.
– The gentlemen who are being termed Assistant Ministers were gazetted as Honorary Ministers.
– They are not Honorary Ministers.
– They ought to be termed Assistant Ministers.
– I entirely agree with that.
– I heard my right honorable friend say during his term of office that more Ministers were needed.
– Why had you not the pluck to do the thing properly ?
– The interjection that I made just now had no reference to emolument. The Constitution provides for only seven Ministers of State, and makes no mention of Honorary Ministers. In my opinion, members are improperly designated Honorary Ministers, and those so designated are merely members of the Executive Council under summons.
On Mr. Greene asking, upon notice, of the Assistant Minister of Defence,
Whether employment has been refused to any men applying for work on the troopships for the Imperial Expeditionary Forces on the grounds that they were non-unionists?
– There is a point of order arising out of this question which may as well be settled now, as to whether the honorable member is in order in addressing this question to the Assistant Minister of Defence. Our Standing Orders are perfectly clear in directing that questions should be addressed to Ministers, and there is no authority justifying an honorable member addressing a question to an Assistant Minister of Defence. He does not exist as such. I think that the old rules should be followed until the Government have validated this new procedure of theirs. Until the matter is put on the proper basis, we should resort to our old practice, which is just as easy as the course now being pursued. As a matter of fact, there is no such designation as “Assistant Minister.” The course adopted by Ministers is creating a function by an act of administration without reference to the House, which is a course that ought not to be followed. There is a proper way which should be taken in dealing with these matters. Ministers need more assistance, but they should get it in the proper way, and if they approach the House in that way I can promise them that they will receive the help and support of honorable members of the Opposition.
– Yes, and abuse later on for increasing the expenditure.
– The honorable member need not increase the expenditure by a penny if he does not wish to do so. It lies entirely with Ministers as to what they pay themselves at the present time. My point of order is that this question is addressed to a personage who does not in fact exist. He is gazetted as an “ Honorary Minister,” and until the other designation is gazetted, or better still, until steps have been taken for providing the office, the old designation should be observed, and the question addressed to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence.
– By way of personal explanation I may say that when I gave notice of the question yesterday, I had it written out as a question to be submitted to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence. Apparently there has been an alteration made. I do not know at whose suggestion.
– I do not think the point of order is a material one.
– It is certainly not intended to be frivolous or unfriendly.
– The Leader of the Opposition has no objection to the designation of ‘ ‘ Minister assisting the Minister of Defence.”
– Then what is the difference between that designation and “Assistant Minister of Defence.” It is merely a transposition of the words.
– You should adhere to the old designation.
– I do not know that there is anything in the Constitution in regard to Honorary Ministers. What right, then, is there to address a question to an Honorary Minister? The one designation is as good as the other. I suggest to my friend that he. should not raise any point upon this matter. I quite agree with him that the work of the Ministry has been too great for the number of Ministers provided by the Constitution. However, that is another matter.
– The leader of the Opposition has asked whether it is in order to address a certain question to an Assistant Minister. There is nothing in the Standing Orders nor, do I think, in any authority on Parliamentary procedure that will direct me as to what designation should be used. In this particular instance the question was originally addressed to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, but, in accordance, I understand, with the desires of the Government, it was placed on the Notice-paper to be asked of the Assistant Minister of Defence. In the circumstances I do not see that there is any question of order in the matter. It is purely a matter of taste. I do not know of any constitutional objection to a question being addressed to an Honorary Minister as the “ Assistant Minister of Defence.” If the House decides otherwise I shall, of course follow its instruction, but I do not feel called upon to decide that it is not in order to address a question to a Minister in such terms.
– I would ask the honorable member for Richmond to re-submit his question on Wednesday next.
– About two years ago land in the constituency of Denison was purchased for a naval base, but no work has been done there. I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether he will immediately commence the establishment of the proposed base?
– The matter will be brought under the notice of the proper authorities.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that,over two years ago, land at Port Lincoln was surveyed and purchased for a sub-naval base. Will the Minister also see that the works there are put into hand?
– And at Jervis Bay too ?
– What about Beauty Point?
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence aware that Admiral Henderson reported that Port Stephens should be one of the first submarine bases in Australia, that the work in connexion with the submarine base at Port Stephens is not completed, and that though this port is one of the best harbors in Australia, there are no forts there, and there is nothing to prevent an enemy entering it at any time ? Will he take these facts into consideration when dealing with defence matters ?
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that, though red water and tick fever are still rampant in Queensland, over a thousand horses from Queensland have been landed in Victoria within the last few weeks’? Will he say what steps are being taken to prevent the spread of tick fever, and whether the practice of sending stock - horses in particular: - in large numbers, from Queensland to other States during the next month or two is to be permitted ; and can he tell us what provision is to be made to prevent the spread of tick fever in other States?
– It is a matter entirely for the States, as honorable members opposite have refused to give the Commonwealth additional powers in regard to this and other matters. However, if the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper I shall have it looked into and give an answer as soon as possible.
– May I supplement that answer? I am aware that some such fact has arisen and I regret it. Apart from any feeling in any part of the House I hope that Australia will unite to dea with these matters in the only possible way in which they can be properly dealt with.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the complaints of the Farmers and Settlers’ Associations throughout Australia regarding the differential prices of wheat which have been declared owing to our recent difficulties? The Forbes Farmers and Settlers’ Association has, among others, made a request. I wish to know whether there is any power to enable the Commonwealth to fix a uniform price, .and, if so, whether .the matter will be taken. into consideration at once.
– Subject to what the Attorney-General says, I do not think there is any such power under the Ownmon wealth Constitution. But I do not think we could equitably fix a uniform price for every port of Australia. Wheat is of less value in the district where it is raised than in a district to which it has to be transported. I have observed in the press the differential prices that have been fixed - apparently for political, and not for economic reasons - and I regret them.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he does not think that some courtesy is due to me in this matter from the honorable member for Cook, who claims to be acting on behalf of Forbes, which is in my electorate. I specially represent the farmers and settlers, and I have yet to learn that the fixing of the price of wheat is a Commonwealth matter.
– Is the honorable member asking a question?
– I have yet to learn that it is a matter that has not been left to the States. The price of 4s. 9d. was fixed by a Labour Government.
– Order! The honorable member must not under cover of asking a question rise and make a speech. If he persists in doing so I shall have to take another course.
– I apologise, but I mentioned that the price was 4s. 9d. when I should have said 4s. 2d.
– The honorable member is aggravating his offence. If he repeats it I promise him that I shall deal with him in a way that he will probably remember.
– As a matter of personal explanation I would like to say that for a number of years I was secretary to the Forbes Farmers and Settlers Association.
– Is the honorable member asking a question?
– No. I am making a personal explanation arising out of the statement of the honorable member for Calare.
-The statement of the honorable member for Calare was distinctly out of order, and I have reproved him for making it. I cannot allow a . personal explanation relating to something which was distinctly out of order.
– But the honorable member for Calare has placed me in a false position by his statement, and, although it was out of order, nevertheless it is on the records.
– On a point of order, will I be permitted to make a personal explanation when the honorable member for Cook has finished?
– An honorable member is permitted to make a personal explanation provided that it is relevant to some question before the House, or if he has been misrepresented. Otherwise he is not permitted to do so.
– As I seem to have upset the honorable member for Calare to such an extent I shall not pursue the matter any further.
Colonel RYRIE.- Can the Minister of Trade and Customs tell me whether it is his intention to take steps with regard to the removal of the quarantine station at North Sydney?
– I am not surprised at the honorable member being unable to complete his question without laughing, seeing that, since he has been’ in this Chamber, he has submitted the same question to every Minister of Trade and Customs. The matter has been referred to the quarantine authorities, and I have not seen any reference to it since I have been in the Customs Department on this occasion. However, I do not think that there is any intention to remove the quarantine station in the near future.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 101, 117.
Proclamations Prohibiting Exportation except under certain conditions -
Margarine (dated 24th June, 1914).
Wheat and Flour (dated 7th and 23rd
Meat (dated 7th, 8th, and 23rd September, 1914).
Mares (dated 23rd September, 1914).
Sugar (dated 18th September, 1914).
Defence Act -
Military College- Report 1912-1913.
Regulations Amended, &c. -
Universal Training - (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 89, 130.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 97, 99.
Military Forces -
Regulations - (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 91, 93, 103, 110, 125, 128, 131, 132.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 96, 98.
Financial and Allowance - (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914,
Nos. 78. 81, 87, 90, 92, 102, 104, 105, 109, 127.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 80, 95, 100.
Excise Act -
Regulation Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1914, No. 118.
Inter-State Commission Act - Provisional Regulations (Rules of practice) - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 129.
Naval Defence Act - Naval Forces -
Regulation Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1914, No. 83.
Financial and Allowance Regulations
Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 79, 116.
Public Service Act -
Appointments of -
As Draughtsmen, Class E, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Western Australia: -
C. A. Brown.
R. M. Hamilton.
Promotions of -
IV., 3rd Class, Grenfell.
Unionists, Preference to - Minute by the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Archibald).
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the honorable member for Riverina, the Honorable John Moore Chanter, be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
– I suppose that there is nothing or honorable members on this side of the House to do but to submit to the decree of the Caucus.
– It hurts the right honorable member.
– The Caucus is hurting no one on this side, but judging by their faces, I think it has hurt a few supporters of the Government. These things happen, however, in the best regulated families. The decree has gone forth that the honorable member for Riverina is to be Chairman of Committees for the next three years, and if my honorable friend, the former occupant of the chair, who commanded the respect and esteem of the whole House, is content in this matter we, of course, must be. As Nym says in Henry V., “Things must be as they may,” and so we shall submit to the control of the honorable member for Riverina. We have had experience of him as Chairman of Committees, and I frankly confess that his appointment will not be unwelcome to me. We know whan we are getting with respect to Committee control, and I, for one, have none but feelings of the utmost kindness to the intended Chairman of Committees.
– The nicest speech that I have heard the right honorable member make for some time.
– What is the use of my saying anything else ? I am simply pointing out that it is utterly useless for the Opposition to do anything in this case but to submit to the decree of the Caucus as determined in advance. The real Parliament has already chosen the honorable member for Riverina for this office, and this motion is therefore a mere formality.
– Did not the Liberal party, when in power, choose their Chairman of Committees before Parliament met?
– I make a protest against monopoly.
– The right honorable member makes a splendid clown.
– I should object to that remark, but that I know that the honorable member cannot help being offensive. I shall, therefore, allow it to pass. The honorable member is always a credit to his constituency. I hope that we shall receive the same fair and impartial treatment - and I do not doubt that we shall-
– The same that we got.
– No one on this side of the House desires fairer treatment at the hands of the Chair than the honorable member for Ballarat got in the last Parliament. I tell him plainly that if we receive the same impartial treatment we shall be perfectly satisfied.
– The honorable member for Ballarat is back again because the treatment he received in the last Parliament was unfair.
– Then, since he has returned again, he is all right. No one is hurt by his coming back except his constituents.
– On a point of order, should not the statement that the election of the honorable member for Ballarat is a reflection on his constituents be withdrawn ?
– I made no such statement.
– I did toot understand the right honorable member for Parramatta to say that. There has been a good deal of cross-firing, however, and
I appeal to honorable members to cease interjecting, so that recriminations may be avoided.
– I made no reflection on the honorable member’s constituents; I merely desired to indicate that, whatever might be the result of the re-election of the honorable member for Ballarat, his constituents alone were responsible for his return. I hope and expect that we shall receive from the chair the same fair play that was meted out to us by the Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament, the honorable member for Perth. I avail myself of this opportunity to pay a tribute of admiration and respect to the former occupant of the chair. No honorable member ever had a more turbulent Committee to deal with, and no one dealt with it in a calmer and more judicial manner than he did. I wish the intended occupant of the chair well.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I sincerely thank honorable members for the honour they have conferred upon me. The duties of Chairman of Committees will not be novel to me. I can assure the House that, as Chairman, I shall extend to every member his full rights and privileges, and that my endeavour will be not to allow any honorable member, no matter on what side of the House he sits, to exceed those rights and privileges. I intend, while in the chair, to hold the scales fairly, to know no party, to try to do justice to the position, and to uphold the best traditions of the office.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I wish to explain that it is designed to enable the Executive to appoint a Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. A difficulty has arisen which makes its passing necessary. Mr. Justice Higgins’ first appointment as President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court ran out a day or two before we took office. Recognising that it was a matter of urgency, the Executive re-appointed His Honour on the day following its accession to office. It was naturally thought that he would appoint without delay a deputy to act during his absence from the Commonwealth, so that the business of the Court, which is very much congested, might be carried on. Unfortunately, however, we were unable to get into communication with Mr. Justice Higgins for some few days, and delay was occasioned. Subsequently he accepted the appointment, and was sworn in before Mr. Justice Madden, who is now in England. Mr. Justice Powers was quite willing to accept an appointment made in this way, but the Chief Justice thought that the President had no power, when outside the Commonwealth, to appoint a deputy. A conference of the Justices was held, and it was decided to notify me that, in their opinion, no power existed whereby an appointment could be made in the circumstances by a Judge outside the Commonwealth; and their Honours recommended that legislation should be introduced for the purpose of giving the Executive power to make the appointment. This measure is intended merely to cure the defect discovered by the Justices; it goes to that extent and no further. What it actually does is to enable the Executive to appoint a Deputy President, in view of the fact that Mr. Justice Higgins is out of Australia, and will remain there for some months, and it is clearly impossible for him to make an appointment and comply with what the Chief Justice and his colleagues declare to be the law. It is the intention of the Government to make this appointment at the earliest possible moment. The business of the Arbitration Court is now so congested as to create circumstances likely to bring about a breach of industrial peace. For weeks the Court has done nothing, and there are cases which have been on the list for two years. This in itself is a condition of things nearly approaching a public scandal. There ought not to be an hour’s delay in re-creating the machinery necessary for the speedy hearing of these industrial causes. The object of this measure is to do what could have been done, and would have been done, without any legislation at all, or any consultation with this Parliament, if the President had been within the Commonwealth. The measure, it will be seen, is one that relates purely to procedure; it confers no further powers on the President, it does not interfere with the manner in which he is to conduct the cases, and it is, as I have said, introduced solely because His Honour is out of the Commonwealth.
.- I am glad that the Attorney-General has referred to the desirability of expediting the work of the Court, because it is a matter that very substantially affects the commercial public as well as the general working classes of Australia. I do not for one moment suggest that the Judges are not admirably doing their work ; I have more than once paid a tribute to the President of the Court for the exceptional energy and zeal which he has thrown into the discharge of his exceedingly onerous duties. We cannot, however, ignore the fact that owing to the great number of claims filed - and, probably, in the ordinary course of administration, properly filed - there has been delay in the hearings. This delay it was desired by the preceding Administration to overcome by an amendment of the Act, or some other method. However, I am not going into questions of policy at the present time. This Bill, having come before us with the approval, if I may so term it, of the Judiciary, can be readily accepted. I think the idea in the original drafting of the Act was to make provision, as is done in several Acts of Parliament for the appointment of Deputies, where there are presidents or commissioners. As a matter of fact, the Bills which have been drafted in connexion with the Murray make specific provision for the appointment of a Deputy by the Governors of the States or the Governor-General, and for the duration of the office, and so forth. I desire to draw the attention of the Attorney-General to only one point. Is there’ likely to be any inconvenience arising from the fact that, in the absence of the President, an appointment can be made by the Governor-General? I take it that were the President here the appointment of a Deputy would be for a specific purpose; it would scarcely be said to be an appointment for an indefinite term. If the Governor-General does make an appointment, that must, to some extent, affect the power of the President to do so.
– In what way?
– If a Deputy is appointed for a particular purpose, and not as a standing Deputy, there is no inconvenience, but if the appointment is for an indefinite time, and does not expire with the accomplishment of the particular purpose, it may be that there is an implied limitation on the President to make a similar appointment.
– The President cannot appoint a Deputy for a longer period than that for which he himself is appointed.
– That is the reason I am raising the point. The President holds office for seven years ; and I do not think that, in the absence of the President, the Governor-General would make an appointment for seven years.
– TheGovernor-General could not do that; the President could cancel the appointment just as he could have made it.
– That is the pointcould he do so ?
– I think so.
– I am not quite sure on the matter, and I am glad to be able to draw the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to it. This is a Bill for Committee, and I shall not delay honorable members longer.
– I shall not delay this measure, and certainly not with any intention of opposing it. The few simple statements of the Attorney-General in introducing the measure show the need for keeping the door of this Court open every moment that it is possible to do so. I hear with some amazement from the AttorneyGeneral that this Court is so congested that there is business there of two years’ standing.
– I say there are causes on the list two years old.
– The AttorneyGeneral rightly describes the position as approaching a public scandal ; and I emphasize a point on which we both agree, namely, that the Court has completely broken down as a Court for facilitating and dispensing justice in the disposition of our industrial affairs.
– I should think the Court must break down if the High Court undoes all the work !
– The AttorneyGeneral makes it perfectly clear that the Court is not doing its business.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– As it ought to do.
– I agree with that; the High Court has the right to upset every decision.
– I say that the Court is not doing its business as it was intended to do it.
– That is right.
– It is not the fault of the Court.
– I did not say it was the fault of the Court.
– Then the honorable member cannot say that the Court has failed.
– It is the result of trying to do an impossibility; it is as impossible to control and regulate the industrial affairs of this huge continent in a Court of this kind as it is to pull down the moon. Some more facile instrument will have to be created before we can hope to have matters adjusted with that swiftness requisite in the constantly changing industrial conditions. This rigid Arbitration Court will never do that, and is not doing it; and the AttorneyGeneral says the attempt is approaching a public scandal.
– I must insist on the honorable member saying why I said it was a public scandal, and why there was this congestion.
– It is because of the congestion of business?
– Quite so, and why is there that congestion?
– Because of the unworkableness of this tribunal, which you do not propose to alter.
– Do we not?
– There is no proposal to do so.
– If the honorable member were not there we would do so.
– May I ask my honorable friend whether this Bill is intended to carry out the proposal in paragraph 26 of the Governor-General’s Speech?
– Certainly not.
– That is another matter?
– I suppose this Bill is intended to meet the AttorneyGeneral’s letter to the Post Office? The Bill, I take it, is merely to cure a technical defect; and that will not touch the condition of affairs sketched by the AttorneyGeneral. The trouble sought to be met by the Bill is only two weeks old, whereas the other trouble I speak of is, according to the Attorney-General, two years old.
– What about the appeals to the High Court from this Court?
– That is not sought to be cured by the Bill.
– We may be doing it with the other Bill for all the honorable member knows.
– All the machinery the Government can or will create to deal with the High Court or any other Court will not help one bit in disturbing the rigidity of the Arbitration Court in its technical forms. I am convinced that the time is not far distant when we shall have to revolutionize this method of settling industrial disputes, because, as we see in many of the States, the rigid lumbering machinery is breaking down. The previous Government did propose to cure the evil by another method entirely.
– And a more cumbrous method !
– Not at all; but by a method sufficiently facile to meet the growing complexities of our industrialism, and enable relief to be given at the moment when it is needed.
– That cannot be done without an amendment of the Constitution.
– Of course not, and we proposed to make such an amendment of the Constitution as would enable us to carry out that object. I fancy, however, that the Attorney-General is on another track altogether. After all, this is not so much a party matter. We are all interested in maintaining industrial peace, and we on this side ought to be given credit, even when we differ from our friends opposite, if we approach the question in a spirit of sincerity and with an earnest desire to settle industrial troubles from day to day. It is a staggering fact, and a grinning commentary on all our previous efforts to bring about industrial cohesion, when we are told that the business of the Court is two years in arrears - a fact which, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, approaches a public scandal. That is the best of all reasons why we should not interpose the slightest obstacle to the passage of this Bill, so that the doors of the Court may be re-opened at the earliest possible moment, and every facility granted to those who have disputes to have them settled in a peaceable way.
.- I should like to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that, no matter what scheme we may have for settling these industrial disputes, if we refuse to provide the necessary machinery the scheme will break down. If, as has been suggested by the honorable gentleman opposite, we were to have a system of Wages Boards, and these Boards were too large and cumbersome, if their machinery were not sufficient, and sufficient chairmen were not provided, that scheme of Wages Boards would break down. So too, if we have an Arbitration Court with only one Judge to do the work of half-a-dozen Judges, that Court will become water-logged, and cannot do its work. The main trouble with the Commonwealth Court of Arbitration is that we have one Judge to do the work of several Judges, and the way to get over the difficulty is to appoint additional Judges who can give their whole time to the work, clear off the arrears, and prevent them accumulating again.
– How many Judges do you suggest ?
– I do not suggest the number; that can be readily ascertained by the proper authorities But whatever number is required should be provided. If, in the administration of any branch of the law, we fail to provide the necessary Judges and accommodation, we must have the same stats of affairs arising as at present exists in connexion with the Arbitration Court. It is not a matter of difference of policy, but merely a question of providing the necessary machinery. I have no desire to delay this measure. It is highly important and necessary, and should go through immediately. But I do impress upon the Attorney-General that the provision of further facilities for the hearing of these cases is a matter of extreme urgency. The Leader of the
Opposition, was a little acidulated in his criticism, as he usually is, but I would remind him that he was in office for twelve months and did nothing. He had to learn from the Attorney-General today that the work of the Court was two years in arrears. How comes it that the honorable member was leading’ a Government and did not know the state of affairs in connexion with the Court? The honorable gentleman stated that his Government had. a policy to put forward to better the condition of things in the Arbitration Court, but the fact remains that they came before Parliament with proposals to wipe the Legislature out and so prevent Parliament doing any work.
– Order !
– The Liberal Government sought a double dissolution, and so prevented us from doing anything to improve the conditions of the Court.
– Say no more about it. We are all sorry for it now.
– I have no doubt that others, besides the honorable member, are sorry. I do not think it lies in the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition to urge any criticism against the party now in office in regard to the work of the Court not being properly attended to. I sincerely trust that almost immediately we shall have proposals brought forward for an extension of the machinery, apart altogether from the question as to whether we shall have an Arbitration Court or Wages Boards. That matter of policy can be taken into, consideration at any time when it is necessary to perfect our industrial arbitration machinery, but, in the meantime, in furtherance of the policy laid down in the present Act, it is incumbent upon Parliament to provide the machinery for the immediate hearing of all cases now listed and the prevention of congestion in future.
.- I do not propose to discuss the general question of arbitration at this stage. An opportunity of doing that will come later, but I propose to reply in a half-a-dozen words to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that the disclosure made by the Attorney-General is a grinning commentary upon the arbitration system. It is a grinning commentary, not on the arbitration system, but on the hypocritical utterances of persons outside this House who have spoken nominally in the interests of peace, but have exercised all their influence in the courts to prevent the merits of arbitration cases being considered. The present congestion in the Court has not been caused by the consideration of the merits of cases brought before the Court, but by the technical objections raised by those who are the enemies of arbitration. That fact ought to be kept constantly before the mind of the public. I did not agree entirely with the honorable member for Cook when he says thatthe cure for this evil is to be found in the appointment of more Judges. I say that that cure is to be found in an educated public opinion which will rise in revolt against the hypocritical attitude of those who say they are friendsof industrial peace, while, at the same time, they are doing everything they possibly can to promote industrial warfare. I desire to say further that the fact of the Arbitration Court being congested with work is not a proof that the Court is a failure. On the contrary, that fact is some proof that the institution is a success. The fact that a tribunal is being approached in such numbers by persons in need of adjudication is proof that there is a strong belief in the public mind that the awards of that tribunal are worth having.
– And the awards are being observed.
– As the PostmasterGeneral remarks, the awards of the Court have been almost universally observed, and have tended, in a large measure, to bring about general industrial peace. . I no not intend to discuss the merits of Arbitration Courts at this stage. I merely rose for the purpose of answering the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that the present congestion of work in the Court is a grinning commentary on the system of arbitration. I say that it is a grinning commentary, although upon those whose public attitude has been favorable to industrial peace, but whose acts have been prejudicial to the bringing about of industrial peace.
.- Permit me to say in answer to the honorable member for Batman that it is quite true that the Federal Arbitration Court has been congested, and it is quite true, also, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, that that congestion is a grinning commentary on our arbitration system. I think we should endeavour to get down to the first cause, which is not that stated by the honorable member for Batman.The cause of congestion in the Arbitration Court is thatthere has been a conspiracy taking place under cover of the union movement to get behind the Constitution and force into the Federal Arbitration Court every single union throughout the length and breadth of Australia. That is the real reason for the congestion. We all remember the letters that appeared in the Worker from “ Brother “ so-and-so in South Australia to “ Brother “ so-and-so in New South Wales asking the workers to assist in creating a dispute extending beyond the boundaries of the one State so that they could manufacture a case to take to the Federal Arbitration Court. It is that policy which has been the primal cause of congestion in the work of that Court. What happened in Brisbane in connexion with the Tramway Union ? We all recognise the conspiracy that took place there, and we know that that conspiracy was responsible for one of the greatest cases ever brought before the Federal Arbitration Court. We know, as a matter of actual fact, that the Tramway Union in South Australia could have settled their case in their own State, and the same position obtained in this State. All through there has been an express endeavour on the part of the Labour party, by a conspiracy all over Australia, to crowd the unions into the Federal Arbitration Court so as to get Federal control of the unions for political purposes. That is the sole reason at the back of the Federal arbitration legislation which the party opposite are going on with now.
– The honorable member is talking through his neck.
– I am speaking the truth, and no one knows it better than does the honorable member who has just interjected. Honorable members opposite are putting forth all their political endeavours to get the unions behind them as one solid body throughout Australia. They recognise that there is no better method by which to bring that about than in forcing all the unions to go to the Federal Arbitration Court. Honorable members opposite are the chief conspirators in this huge conspiracy to which I have referred, and are primarily responsible for the congestion which has been brought about in the Federal Arbitration Court.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means to be appointed before the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s opening Speech has been agreed to by the House, and to enable all other steps to be at once taken to obtain Supply, and to pass the Supply Bills through all their stages without delay.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
In Committee of Supply:
Supply Bill (No. 2)
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £3,227,286 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1 915.
It is not advisable that I should attempt to make a financial statement at the present time. It is, indeed, impossible to do so in the circumstances at present existing. Facts and figures might easily be submitted to show the state of the public accounts, but until the Budget statement can be delivered the true financial position of the Commonwealth cannot be made known.
– When is the Budget statement likely to be delivered?
– The Government have been in office now for about three weeks, and I hope to be able to make the Budget statement before asking for any further Supply - that is to say, within a month from the present time. The ex-Treasurer will admit that that is the best I can do in the circumstances.
– The Government are not in the same position as usual. There have been three months in which to get the Budget papers ready.
– There is no difficulty on that score.
– The right honorable gentleman can tell us the state of things from the revenue side.
– Yes. The dissolution, as honorable members are aware, prevented the Budget statement being made. My honorable friends opposite know that they did not make any financial statement at all for the present year. The fact that Parliament was not sitting placed the country under certain disabilities, which, however, we are not considering at the present time. Then, on the 4th August, war intervened, and the late Government, with the concurrence of the party which I have the honour to lead, and of the country, I think, undertook to incur all the unauthorized expenditure which was necessary to protect ourselves, and to assist, as far as possible, with contingents and otherwise, the Mother Country. Up to the present time there has been an extraordinary expenditure of about £1,250,000 on defence alone.
– Specially for war, in addition to the ordinary expenditure?
– There has been an additional expenditure arising almost wholly out of the war, amounting to approximately £1,250,000.
– Upon what?
– Upon expeditionary forces, mobilization, and every other conceivable thing arising out of a condition of war.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that that expenditure has been incurred already?
– Has it been actually spent, or only authorized?
– Nearly £1,000,000 has been expended. I can give the exact figures.
– We merely wish to know what amount the Treasury has already paid.
– Upon expeditionary forces, £817,000 has been actually expended in one branch.
– What branch is that?
– It must be the military branch.
– It includes both military and naval expenditure. Then an expenditure of £200,500 was necessary to cover the mobilization of the Forces.
– That is the same thing.
– Of that sum, £50,000 is being expended in the purchase of motor lorries for the British Government, but it is expected that £200,000 will be required. These are expenditures which had to be incurred, and some of which we may be reimbursed, and, together with other sums, they make up a total of fully £1,250,000. This is a fitting opportunity to deal with the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition as to whether this defence expenditure should he incorporated in an ordinary Supply Bill or not. I am not averse to his suggestion that when the Budget is delivered a separate and distinct statement should be made of the ‘ war expenditure, apart altogether from the expenditure on the regular services of the Commonwealth.
– Does the Treasurer mean a distinct appropriation, apart from a general appropriation?
– Yes, in order that there may be no misapprehension in the minds of honorable members, or of the public, as to how that expenditure was incurred. I think it will be possible to separate it from ordinary expenditure; but, at the present time, the Treasury officials are unable to do that, and, indeed, if they were, I do not think it would be altogether desirable. We are asking for a grant of only one month’s Supply, and I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition desires me to say anything in regard to the present financial position. My own opinion is that it would be better for me to abstain from doing so until I am able to make a frank statement of the whole position.
– The right honorable gentleman has already published the actual amount of the receipts. He ought to tell us how the revenue stands.
– Oh, yes. It will be recollected that the year 3 912-13 closed with a surplus of £2,643,000. That was reduced, by the 30th June of the present year, to £1,223,000.
– Why does the Treasurer go into that matter? Are these heroics? He is always harping upon his surplus. We do not want to go into ancient history.
– £1,400,000 was thus spent by the late Government to supplement the revenue for last year. The revenue for July and August of the. current financial year amounted to £3,755,4.00, as compared with £3,395,200 received for a corresponding period during the previous financial year. The Customs and Excise revenue to 30th September hist totalled £4,170,000, as compared with £3,790,300 received during a similar period in 1913-14. It has not shown signs of shrinking, but when war was declared about 140 vessels were on their way to Australia.
– What is the amount of the increased revenue for the three months of the present financial year, added to the amount brought forward from last year?
– During the past three mouths there has been an increase in Customs revenue of £380,000. This has been due - so we are advised by the Customs authorities - to the excessive withdrawal of dutiable goods -from bond. They tell us that we cannot hope for that state of things to continue.
– Will the right honorable gentleman tell us the total amount of the increase for the past three months? That is what we want.
– It amounts to about £3S0,000. It is anticipated that there will be an enormously increased expenditure in “the mouths to come, but the estimate of the Treasury is provided for in the Bill. I do not propose to discuss the measures arrived at by the Conference which was convened by the Leader of the Opposition when Prime Minister, unless he wishes me to say something about them and our present difficulties. The efforts of this Government will be in keeping with those of previous Governments. We shall try to assist and protect the States in every possible way, and shall do all that we can to keep the wheels of industry revolving. I regret to say that the co-operation expected has not been realized.
– I do not understand what the Prime Minister means.
– The right honorable member convened a conference of all parties to deal with the finances. Certain recommendations and resolutions were agreed upon, one of which provided that Australian notes should be advanced to the States against a deposit of not less than 25 per cent, in gold, and that the same assistance should be given to the banks if they deposited against the advance not less than 33-J per cent, in gold. But the negotiations with the banks were” left incomplete, those institutions not being in agreement with the proposal as understood at the conference.
– The negotiations were complete as far as we were concerned; that is to say, our terms were submitted to the banks.
– To enable the arrangement arrived at by the conference to be of real value to the country, the banks would have to hold the notes in excess of their ordinary issue. The matter is still unsettled, as the right honorable member knows.
– The Prime Minister means that the banks have not yet agreed to the terms imposed upon them as the result of the conference?
– Yes. I am not in a position to make any statement on the subject, and the question is whether the matter should be discussed now.
– I do not think that any good would be achieved by discussing it now.
– That is what I have already said. I think that the interests of the country will be best served by refraining from a discussion now, but I do not wish to create the impression that 1 am keeping back anything that ought to be told, or that I am seeking to gain a particular advantage for ourselves.
– Cannot we get a statement of our commitments for this year?
– No mortal man could give that information at the present time.
– Could not the De- partment supply it?
– We have estimated the expenditure for a month, to give an opportunity for the making of a full and ample statement. Any tentative statement at the present time might reach quarters where a false impression might be created, which could not be afterwards corrected. As far as the finances generally are concerned, th© position is not acute; but as for the obligations for the future, it must be recognised that we shall have an enormous defence expenditure, and that the position in regard to our ordinary expenditure will be fairly critical. I suggest to honorable members that they should allow this bare provision for a month to go through, and thus meet the necessities of the day. I undertake, within a month, and before another Supply Bill is brought down, to deliver a Budget statement covering the whole ground, so that not only may the people of Australia be informed of our position, but also that people elsewhere, whose good opinion we value, may know the whole facts.
.- In the first place, I congratulate you, Mr. Chanter, on again occupying the position of Chairman of Committees. I remember sitting under you for some years, during which you gave satisfaction to all members of the Committee, and I . feel sure that you will do so again during your present term of office. I sympathize with the Leader of the Government in regard to the position in which he finds him’.self in now asking for temporary Supply, and his difficulties will not be increased by anything that I shall say or do. At the present time, my duty is to assist him to the utmost in providing against the troubles that have arisen. There is no reason why we should not dispose of the Supply Bill quickly, and no reason for wishing for a statement at the present moment, seeing that the Treasurer will be in a better position to deal with the subject when he presents his Budget, which he hopes to do within a month. We are confronted with difficulties that we could not anticipate, and we must do nothing to accentuate them. But before I deal with the present position as disclosed by the Treasurer, I am very sorry to say there is a matter - a personal matter to a large extent - to which I have to refer, and which, although it is somewhat ancient, I cannot allow to go by without a protest. I refer to, statements which have been made throughout the country by a great many honorable members on the other side of the chamber - and I am sorry I cannot exclude the Treasurer from the list - that I had misrepresented the financial position by withholding information with regard to the position at the Treasury at the time the double dissolution took place. Such statements have been freely made, not by the Treasurer himself only, but by the press, and especially the Labour press, throughout Australia, and have come from sources from which one would not expect them, and in addition to honorable members. It has been said that when I made my last speech on the subject, on 25th June last, I withheld information, and tried to gain an advantage. by misleading the Rous© as to the state of the finances, and capital was sought to be made of the fact that I treated the surplus that was carried forward at the end of 1912-13 as revenue available for the coming year. I may point out that it has always been the practice in the Commonwealth, and in the States, for a deficit or surplus, as the case may be, at the end of a financial year to be carried forward to the next year. In the case of a deficit, it has to be liquidated in the next year; and in the case of a surplus the balance is taken into consideration and is available in estimating the next year’s expenditure. That was the practice adopted by the right honorable gentleman when he was at the Treasury. In his last vear of office he had to credit at the end of the year the sum of £2,261,000, and he arranged to spend the whole of that amount during the following year. That he did not do so might have been a very good thing for himself and for the country, but there is no doubt at all he intended to do so. And I simply followed the same course. In fact, I used almost the same o language as the right honorable gentleman, in plain words, when introducing the Budget on the 2nd October, 1913. These were my words -
The total estimated revenue for the current year amounts to £21,462,000, which, added to the surplus of £2,653,223, makes, the total amount available for this year’s expenditure £24,115,223.
Then I went on to say -
The expenditure is estimated to cover the whole amount available, viz., £24,115,223.
Including, not only the estimated revenue, but the amount carried forward. What could more clearly express the intention of the Government at the time ? We were going to spend all the revenue we expected to receive, and also the surplus carried forward Next we come to a statement I subsequently made, to the effect that we were to have a surplus of about £1,000,000- it was actually £1,223,000- at the end of the financial year ending 30th June, 1914. What did the present Treasurer say? He interjected on the 11th June last, “ Has not the right honorable gentleman spent more than his income?” And I replied, ‘ Seeing that at the beginning of the year there was a surplus of £2j643,305, and that there will be a surplus of only £S24,305 at the end of the year, I should say that that question is unnecessary.” The surplus was actually £1,223,000. Then I went on to say I thought there would be a surplus of £1,000,000, and the honorable member for Kennedy, the present Speaker, asked, “ In respect of the year’s transactions V and I said, “ On the transactions of the year ending 30th June, and inclusive of the surplus.” It seems to me that I kept nothing back. I made it clear that we intended to use all of the £2,600,000, as well as the revenue for the year, while I clearly stated that we expected to have at the end of the financial year a surplus of £1,000,000; that is, a balance of £1,000,000. It was quite open to the Government to spend the whole surplus of £2,600,000 on 30th June, 1913. We had Parliamentary authority to do so ; Parliament knew that we intended to do so ; and that we did not do so and had £1,223,000 to the good is, I think, a matter for congratulation rather than for misrepresentation and abuse throughout the country.
– On what did you cut down the expenditure?
– The money was not spent to the extent proposed in the Budget, but that is not my point; my argument is that it was grossly improper and unfair for any one - and the Prime Minister is not clear of the charge - to say that I had withheld the true position. In one paper it was said, without a tittle of justification or evidence, that I was sorry for my action, and had apologized for it. All I can say is that these tactics are neither fair, justifiable, nor creditable.
– I say they are grossly unfair and improper.
– I think so, too. I am sorry to have to refer to these statements. As one honorable member interjects, they are scandalous. I am not accustomed to them. If I- could not keep my seat and go through a parliamentary election without misrepresenting my fellow men and those trying to do their duty honestly and well, I should be sorry to be here.
– You have done a good deal of it.
– Never. I challenge any one in this Chamber to say that I have ever made a misstatement.
– I bowled you out last session.
– For one honorable member to make misstatements about another honorable member and endeavour to put him into a position which he knows is not the true position is grossly unfair; in fact, he is not fit to associate with.
– You did it last session.
– I never did. The honorable member is referring to some little interjection which I made, and was shown to be in error by the Hansard record, and he seeks to make something out of it.
– You would not admit it. You said that the records were wrong.
– That is not fair fighting. It is what in the ring they call “ hitting below the belt,” of which there has been a great deal throughout the country. I do not think honorable members opposite are quite as ashamed of their conduct as they should be. It is very satisfactory to know that there was a credit balance in the Treasury on 30th June last of £1,223,000. As I said just now, it should be- a matter for congratulation, especially in our present circumstances, that the late Government did not spend all the money they might have spent.
– What were the commitments?
– I cannot be, bothered by the honorable member. I do not wish to have interjections from a man who makes statements as the honorable member does. I do not want impertinence from such a man. It is a matter for congratulation that Ave have this money available. I understand that the amount has increased during the last three months to over £1,500,000. I am glad to see that we have this money available for the services of the present year. The Treasurer must be congratulating himself on the fact that he has over £1,500,000 sterling with, which to begin the year. I am glad of it. I merely say once more - Why not be fair in these matters; why not be generous? I am desirous of being generous to my opponents. When I can do so properly, I will always be generous.
It is fortunate that we have this money, because it is a very good start for the year. It ought to insure to us that, with economy and care in regard to current accounts, there will not be any reason for imposing any additional taxation. I am very glad that there was no mention of extra taxation in the Governor-General’s Speech yesterday, because this is not a time’ for increasing the burdens of the people. It is a time of great financial difficulty, both in regard to the war and also in regard to the terrible season with which Ave are confronted. My right honorable friend has said this morning that he intended to keep the whole addi’tional expenditure caused by the war separate from the ordinary expenditure on defence. In my opinion, there is no necessity for us to mix up in any way the current expenditure with the extraordinary expenditure due to the Avar. The expenditures can be kept separate and distinct. We can easily do this, and can clearly show the whole expenditure in connexion Avith the war, and what has* been expended in regard to our ordinary services.
– They are being kept separate.
– We raise millions by loan for certain purposes, a.nd the accounts are kept separately. We know exactly how much has been spent out of loan account and how much has been spent out of the current account. The expenditures are not mixed up at all. That is what my right honorable friend ought to do in regard to the war expenditure. .
– We are doing it.
– Whatever money we raise for this purpose we ought to raise it specifically, and know what we have. The Avar account ought not to be mixed up in any way with the current account. To do that would only lead to confusion. The amount which we are asked to vote on war account should include the expenditure for mobilization and everything extraordinary; in fact, everything which has made the expenditure increase from what it would have been if there had been no war. I made an arrangement before I left the Treasury that that was to be done, and I was under the impression that it had the full concurrence of the Treasury officials. Honorable members will notice that these Estimates include £1,650,000 for the Expeditionary Forces. I should like to know whether that amount includes what has been expended already without parliamentary authority - that is, on mobilizing and everything else.
– If that is so, I think that the Government is not proceeding constitutionally. Illegal expenditure without the authority of Parliament has taken place, and that illegal action requires to be validated by an Indemnity Act. I want the right honorable gentleman to put the matter on a proper footing, and to do what I would have certainly done if I had had the opportunity. We knew that there was no authority to spend this money. A great emergency arose, and we took the responsibility. But the very first thing we would have done on meeting Parliament would have been to tell honorable members how much we had spent without authority, and ask them for an indemnity. To legalize what has been done is, I take it, the only course to pursue. If we. once admit that a Government can spend money without authority, and when it meets Parliament neither ask for or obtain an Act of Indemnity to cover the illegal expenditure, where will it lead to ? We must look upon it as a grave illegality to spend money without authority, and the only justification in this case was that there was no Parliament in existence, otherwise we would have had to summon Parliament. We were in a dilemma, and we took the responsibility. It was a great responsibility to take, and the expenditure ought now to be covered by a special parliamentary approval, and not as the right honorable gentleman now proposes to do by antedating this Bill to the 1st July, and to pay this illegal expenditure out of that vote as if nothing was the matter. The Treasurer ought to get a special validating measure to cover the expenditure up to to-day. Therefore, I hope that he will consider the matter.
– The Bill says so.
– I have looked through the Bill, but I did not see a word.
– Clause 4 reads; -
The said sum shall be available to satisfy the warrants under the hand of the GovernorGeneral in respect of any purposes and services set forth in the said schedule.
– That is the ordinary clause in every Bill.
– No, that is an extra.
– Not at all. There is nothing in the clause about the illegal expenditure; there is no indemnity, as I contend there ought to be.
– I consulted the Crown Solicitor.
– That officer seems to have overlooked a very important matter. If we pass the measure in its present shape, and there is no indemnity given for spending the money without parliamentary authority, the flood gates will be opened, and the Government can do the thing every year, and never tell Parliament anything about the matter. I desire to know how much money has been spent without parliamentary warrant. I am not asking the right honorable gentleman to do what I would not do myself. It is well known in the Treasury that I said, “ The very first thing we should do when we meet Parliament is to make a clear statement of the expenditure on account of the war and to ask for an indemnity for that amount, and get an appropriation for the proposed future war expenditure.” To take any other course is to act improperly. It is not doing what has always been done. I have never known a case in which a Treasurer who spent money without authority did not specially ask Parliament to validate his act.
– You have had no experience of a big war, though.
– The honorable member knows very well that this is only a matter of A, B, C.
– What did you do when you left a deficit?
– I have never left a deficit.
– Oh, yes, there was.
– Not while I was in office.
– Yes, you were.
– I assure the right honorable gentleman that I have never had a deficit yet, but if I did I should take the first means possible to validate any wrong doing.
– Not “wrong doing.” That word should not be used.
– Well, it is an illegality. I hope that the right honorable gentleman will deal with this matter in a much more serious way than he has done.
– I consulted the Crown Law officers in the matter.
– And they have done nothing.
– They considered nothing was necessary.
– I do not agree with them. Some special action is necessary. When you break the law you must repair the damage you have done.
– I did not break the law.
– The law has been broken to meet a national emergency, and you have continued to break it.
– And I have backed up the late Government in this matter.
– That is so;’ but that does not relieve the Government of the necessity for a validating measure.
– If what the right honorable member suggests is necessary, it will be done.
– I think it will be found necessary. In spending public funds without parliamentary authority, we have taken a grave action. We took it to meet a national emergency. Believing it to be imperative, we accepted the responsibility, and if the right honorable member had been in office I would have supported him in meeting the situation in the same way. But while that is so, we ought to admit the gravity of the step, and to take what action is necessary to legalize it. I trust, also, that we shall be careful to separate the war account from ordinary expenditure. We should be just as careful in this respect as we are in separating loan expenditure from ordinary expenditure. Having said this much, I leave the matter to the Treasurer. I hope that he will do something in the direction I have indicated, in order to put it right.
– I find that l was right in saying that there is a special clause in this Bill.
– It does not meet the case, since it makes no reference to any illegal expenditure, and does not provide for an indemnity. Under the Bill as it stands, we shall simply be paying back “ on the sly “ the money we have spent without parliamentary authority. It is very like the action of a man who says, “ I certainly have stolen money out of my employer’s till, but I am going to pay it back next week, when I shall have the money available.”
– I repeat that I consulted the Crown Solicitor.
– But we know what is right, I question if the case was clearly placed before him. I repeat that the Treasurer will have every assistance from me in the difficult financial time through which we are passing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill (No. 2)
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for the service of the year 1914-15 for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c., a sum not exceeding £366,150.
There is nothing new or startling in the particular measure to which this motion relates. The Government are endeavouring, as far as their means will allow, to place in hand every work that can be proceeded with economically at the present time. The proposed vote is designed to cover a period of one month.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
Supply Bill (No. 2)
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1915, a sum not exceeding £3,227,286 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– The Treasurer has assured us that this is a proposal to obtain a month’s Supply for the ordinary services of the Commonwealth. It is, I take it, to meet expenditure incurred in connexion with the regrettable outbreak of war.
– And for no other reason whatever. That fact makes the more remarkable the item of £2,467,000 for defence. There is at page 11 of the Bill, an item of £1,650,000 in respect of the Expeditionary Forces, and if that amount be deducted from the total defence expenditure of £2,467,000 we still have for the month, on account of the Defence Department, an expenditure of £817,000. That is at the rate of nearly £10,000,000 per annum.
– I think that every penny of this money will be needed.
– Surely not for ordinary defence purposes.
– We know that we are committed, so far as the Expeditionary Forces are concerned.
– But the total, expenditure in respect of defence for the month is, roughly speaking, £2,500,000, or at the rate of nearly £30,000,000 per annum. Deducting the expenditure on the Expeditionary Forces, which is set down at £1,650,000, we are still left with a defence expenditure at the rate of nearly £10,000,000 per annum. There must, therefore, be some very remarkable items of expenditure in the ordinary administration of the Department.
– Look at the item on ammunition alone.
– Is that ordinary or extraordinary expenditure?
– I would call it ordinary expenditure whilst we are in a state of war.
– If it is caused by the war it must be extraordinary expenditure. Items that are due to the outbreak of the war should be selected and separated. We cannot too sharply distinguish between such items and ordinary expenditure - between what is ordinary expenditure in connexion with the Defence Department and that which is involved by the outbreak of war.
– I quite agree with the right honorable member. This, however, is only a temporary Supply measure, and will be covered by the general Budget statement, in which we can separate the items.
– There is no reason why a statement should not be made at this stage - indeed, I think there ought to have been a clear statement made at the earliest possible moment - of the proposals of the Government with regard to financing this war. It is not a party matter in any sense. The first thing that should have been done was to indicate to thu House what the Government proposed to do to finance our part of the war, and how they have financed it up to the present. For instance, the Treasurer has told us that he has already spent £1,156,000 on account of the war.
– Happily, we had the funds at our disposal.
– Is the right honorable gentleman referring to the surplus ?
– He has spent the money out of the surplus, and I presume that by this time that surplus is at an end.
– I think it is about negatived now.
– The right honorable member has spent it all ?
– Yes, cheerfully, out of necessity.
– I also congratulate the right honorable gentleman on finding a substantial surplus in existence when he succeeded to the Treasury At the end of the financial year, there was a surplus of £1,273,000, to which has been added an increase of £400,000 in revenue over and above that of last year. I take it, therefore, that, at the end of September, reckoning only the ordinary revenue and expenditure of the Government, he had a surplus of £1,673,000.
– Yes, approximately that, made up of balance at the end of the year, and increase of income since. I will not commit myself to the exact figures.
– I congratulate the right honorable gentleman on coming into office, as far as that side of it is concerned, with a very tidy sum in his financial pocket.
– We shall have troubles enough with or without it.
– No doubt; but I am glad to hear from the right honorable gentleman that he proposes to keep these expenses distinct and separate. I suggest to him that the sooner he is able to announce to the country his method of financing the war, the better it will be for all concerned. The country is anxious, and we are anxious, to know this, because of the statements so repeatedly made upon the platform that for finance purposes the right honorable gentleman does not intend to borrow at all.
– In times of peace.
– Will the honorable gentleman please let us know at the earliest moment what he intends to do. with regard to the war expenditure, and what the emergency is to cover in the way of finance; that is to say, how much of the war expenditure is to come from revenue, and how much from loan, and how fine a line is to be drawn between them.
– I appreciate the manner in which the Leader of the Opposition has approached the matter, and I tell the House quite frankly that I hope means will be found to avoid seeking financial assistance outside of Australia to provide for even the extraordinary war expenditure incurred in an endeavour to assist the Mother Country through her troubles. I think the great object and aim of Australia should be not only to send the Expeditionary Force but to endeavour to find within the Commonwealth itself the necessary money to finance it in the meantime; but it will be no. reflection on the Commonwealth if it fails in that object. I think, however, that it will be the ambition of every Australian, and of every man who has made this country his adopted home, to see that that is done if it is at all practicable and possible. It is for that reason that I am anxious that nothing should be said in the meantime, until we have exhausted all opportunities to ascertain if it can be done. It is an honour to Australia to be able to send the Expeditionary Force as we are sending it, and others to follow, but it would be a greater honour if we could from our own resources finance the expenditure here in the meantime at least, and not go to the Mother Country to raise the means. That is the aim and ambition of the Government, and I am sure we shall have the cooperation of the Leader of the Opposition and ofthe whole House in it.
– The right honorable member used the words “ in the meantime.”
– Of course, no one expects that we shall continue to pay an excessive and extraordinary war expendi ture of this kind as we go along. If we can raise the money or provide for it in Australia in any way whatever we shall be honouring our own country and assisting the Mother Country at the same time. Going elsewhere for money of an altogether different character for ordinary developmental work is quite a different matter, and it will be no reflection on Australia to borrow on the old lines in that direction, but if we can manage it it is our bounden duty to try to do what; I have indicated with regard to the war expenditure. That is the whole purpose that I have in my mind in this particular matter. I hope to be able within a month tobring down the Budget statement, and very shortly to make on that point a statement which will be satisfactory to all parties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill (No. 2)
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c. for the year 1914-15, a sum not exceeding Three hundred and sixtysix thousand one hundred and fifty pounds be granted out of the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund.
– Here again the general question is raised as to where this financing is to be done. Before we left office we were coming to the end of our loan resources for works, and I do not know where the right honorable gentleman is to get the money.
– I do not need to borrow yet. I do not see the need of it this month. I wish the right honorable gentleman would let the matter rest until I make the Budget Speech.
– As long as the Treasurer has the money all right, we shall vote it.
– Why is there no reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to the Federal Capital, and is any money provided for going on with the work there ?
– Yes, £40,000.
– The honorable member is not yet Treasurer. Does the Treasurer propose to carry on the work that is being done so satisfactorily there? We should have some information on the point.
– We do not repeat our policy every day. We are going on with the Federal Capital, and a considerable sum has been appropriated, and is known to be appropriated and set aside for the continuance of the construction of the Federal Capital on the Capital site. I think something like £120,000 has been allotted to that object.
.- Is the Prime Minister prepared to make a statement with regard to what the Government intend to do to push on with public works to relieve the distress existing, at any rate, in Victoria, owing to unemployment caused by the drought and the war ? This is a very serious question ; have the Government anything to say about it?
– I appreciate the importance of the question raised by the honorable member. I have, as Treasurer, knowing the means at my command; notified Ministers that they are to proceed with such works as money can be speedily expended upon, and as will give the largest amount of employment at the earliest moment to those who are out of it. That is the policy of the Government, and our intention also is to endeavour to co-operate with the States in the widest possible way to see that that policy is fully carried out.
– In the course of my observations just now, as to this being a serious matter which ought to be dealt with in a serious way, and not by a retrospective clause, I omitted to state that the Government’s proposal is contrary, not only to the practice, but also to section 83 of the Constitution, which provides that no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law. Money has been drawn from the Treasury without the necessary appropriation, and the Government, instead of acting in a simple, straightforward way, and asking for an indemnity for doing that which is contrary to the Constitution and law, bring in a Bill containing a retrospective clause to cover all the wrong or illegal acts. Is that the way to deal with a serious matter of this sort? If this procedure is allowed by the House it is open to any Government at any time to act in the same way.
The Prime Minister never even mentioned that money had been spent contrary to the Constitution, and that this Bill was intended to legalize it. Of course, necessity knows no law ; but the ordinary steps ought to be taken to inform Parliament, and ask for an indemnity.
– If we do as suggested by the honorable member for Swan, we shall have to ask the Imperial Parliament to give us an indemnity.
– I do not think so.
– I am so advised. We cannot set the Constitution aside; and if the right honorable member moves that we apply to the Imperial Parliament for an indemnity, I shall back him up; but I am not going to take that step myself.
.- There is an item in this Bill that has all to do with Defence, or nearly so, of £180,000 for the month, or at the rate of nearly £2,000,000 per year. If that be added to the £10,000,000 a year for defence purposes, apart altogether from the Expeditionary Forces, we are voting money at the rate of nearly £12,000,000 per annum for this Department.
– I hope to Heaven it will be no more than that!
– I am speaking now of the ordinary Defence expenditure for the year.
– It is not ordinary expenditure.
– Surely the £180,000 is ordinary expenditure?
– How can the expenditure be sorted out and distinguished when we have just been plunged into a state of war?
– I think the Treasurer can, and ought, to sort it out, and have two accounts.
– I have told the honorable member that that will be done in the Budget. 1 did not find the expenditure sorted out; but I have started to sort it.
– It ought to be done very shortly. As I have said, we are being asked to grant money at the rate of nearly £12,000,000 per annum, and I hope that there is something extraordinary in the expenditure.
– The whole Defence vote is extraordinary.
– I do not understand what the right honorable gentleman means. The ordinary developmental expenses last year amounted to about £5,250,000, and that ought to be kept quite distinct from extraordinary expenditure.
– Would the honorable member distinguish the cost of recruiting, the mobilization, clerical work, and so on?
– That is all special expenditure, and should be kept quite distinct from the ordinary expenditure of the Department.
– I shall be glad to consult with the honorable gentleman in regard to this.
– How else can we know where we stand ? The proposed vote could be used as a cover to all the extravagance in the world; and the accounts ought to be analyzed and audited.
– They are audited.
– I am not suggesting that they are not; but unless they are analyzed we cannot tell how far the war is being made a cover for ordinary departmental extravagance.
– I would not suggest that just now, if I were the honorable member.
– I am merely asking the Prime Minister to take care that that is not being done, as it is, I regret to say, in many quarters. I read something, for instance, in connexion with the Western Australian Government ; and that is why I mention the matter. The accumulated deficit in that State is £600,000, and a war tax has been introduced to cover that ordinary deficit - a mean way of taking advantage of the war to cover deficiencies in the finances. The Prime Minister knows how easily extravagance creeps into Departments if a tight rein is not kept; although it seems to me that the country generally does not appreciate control of that kind. The fact remains that the ex-Minister of Defence last year saved nearly £700,000 on his Defence votes, and I believe he suffered for it at the poll. Nevertheless that gentleman did his duty as he saw it, and as he was ordered to do by this House, particularly by honorable members opposite.
– Not by me !
– By the right honorable member’s followers.
– I was angry at what was done.
– It is only since the right honorable gentleman returned to office that we have heard of any anger. Let us avoid the mean subterfuge of making the war cover our ordinary administrative expenses. We can get sound finance only by keeping the expenditures distinct.
– Does the honorable member think that possible?
– I think it is quite possible, because a similar step is taken in every direction.
– We have the promise that it is to be done.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong is dumb now, but when in Opposition he was a raging, roaring lion, on Defence extravagance in particular. If the honorable member does not realize his duty better, I shall have to remind him of some of the things he said when over here.
– I agree with the honorable member on the point he is taking.
.- Is it the intention of the Government to continue what I regard as a wrong course adopted in the past, namely, to ask Parliament from year to year to vote money for the building of the Federal Capital when there is before us no definite and complete scheme? Is the Prime Minister sympathetic with the motion outlined by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, that the whole question of the Federal Capital expenditure shall be thoroughly inquired into, and a definite and complete scheme prepared for an undertaking which will cost millions?
– I understand that the work now going on is essential for any city.
– Absolutely essential for any city.
– That may be, but we have had no indication so far from the Government as what the whole scheme is going to cost.
– We never heard a word on this from the honorable member in the last Parliament.
– I not only spoke, but voted against the late Government in this matter.
– On a careful examination of the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, I notice an entire absence of any reference to the policy of the Government with regard to the Federal Capital Territory; that, whilst reference has been made, cursory though it is, to other Federal territories1, nothing is said in regard to the building of the Federal Capital, or the development of the land in that Territory. This Bill proposes an expenditure of £40,000 on the Federal Capital. I do not object to that item, because I accept the statement of the Minister that the money is necessary, in order to carry on works which are already in progress, but I do object to the fact that the Government have not outlined their policy in regard to the Territory, and informed us whether it is proposed to carry out all the works from revenue, or whether they propose to adopt a policy of borrowing. The Minister of Customs said that nothing was heard from me on this subject during the last Parliament. An examination of the records of the last Parliament will show that early in the session I gave notice of a motion asking that a Committee be appointed to investigate all past expenditure and all proposed expenditure on the Federal Capital, in order to ascertain if such expenditure was along the line of a definite, complete, and well-thought-out scheme for the development of the Federal Territory. This scheme, no doubt, will involve the expenditure -of millions of money. Honorable members will recollect that I voted against my own side on this matter, because I do object to tn country being confronted with a tremendous scheme of this description, without any Government having faced the responsibility of telling the country how the work will.be carried out. Objection must be taken also- to the manner in which the Territory is being handled. Are we to have a continuity of policy? Changes of Government may mean a change of administration. What is the land policy? Have the lands been classified and valued, and, if so, what form of tenure exists? All this information I desire, and I. hope that the Prime Minister will make an early declaration of policy on this point.
.- I rise merely to emphasize the points -taken by the Leader of- the Opposition and the honorable member for- Swan in regard to the confusion of the two classes of expenditure in this schedule. I think the Committee is entitled to a detailed statement from the Government as to what items in the schedule are included as extraordinary war expenditure, and what items represent ordinary defence expenditure. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out at an earlier stage of the debate that if we deduct what is clearly extraordinary war expenditure from the total proposed in the Bill, there is left £1,000,000 for the ordinary expenditure for one month, equivalent to £12,000,000 per annum. I dare say that in that £1,000,000 which appears in the schedule as war expenditure, there are items which should be properly debited to ordinary expenditure. For instance, there are items of £100,900 for ammunition, and £130,000 for the maintenance of ships and vessels. I take it that the maintenance of ships has increased owing to certain work which the naval unit has been required to do in the Pacific. There are also certain items for clothing, for harness manufactured bv the Commonwealth, and for the purchase of horses. Before the schedule is passed, we should have from the Prime Minister an assurance that the whole extraordinary war expenditure will be deducted from the schedule and placed before us in detailed form. We might also have a further assurance, in addition to the one given to the Leader of the Opposition, that any future proposed expenditure submitted to the House for approval will be divided into ordinary and extraordinary expenditure.
– An assurance has been given that the war expenditure will be shown in an amount by itself.
– Will the Prime Minister promise that the whole of the war expenditure now included in this schedule will be deducted and placed before Parliament in a separate statement?
– Yes; but it will take me until the Budget speech is ready to do that efficiently. The war expenditure, including that during the term of office pf the late Government, will be sorted out and placed , in a separate schedule.
– That assurance is satisfactory, and answers my question. There are some items which.. I should like to deal with, but probably it will be better to leave the consideration of them until the Budget is delivered, and we oan discuss the general financial policy.
– I should like to refer to a matter which is of considerable importance. 1 observed that the newspapers to-day published portion of the reasons on which His Excellency the Governor-General acted when granting the recent double dissolution. Is there any objection to having the whole of the documents published in the form of a White Book or a Red Book ?
– They have been laid on the table.
– I tabled everything which His Excellency said had been given to him.
– It would be a useful thing for future reference, and also, perhaps, a little more fair to the Government which recently left office, if those documents were printed.
– I have already moved that they be printed.
– I was not aware of that. I may be permitted to ask the Prime Minister another question in connexion with this matter. He is quite aware that in the recent elections very extensive use was made of the argument that the late Government concealed the reasons on which they had based their request to His Excellency for a double dissolution. There are two things which I should like in fairness to my colleagues and myself. Firstly, now that those documents have . been made public, will the Prime Minister say whether there is anything in those reasons to which he takes constitutional objection ? And secondly - this is a matter about which I feel some little diffidence, and I only ask it in fairness to the recent Government - I should like- to ask the Prime Minister whether, now that His Excellency has consented to the documents being made public, there is any reason why there should not be a statement from the Prime Minister ‘ as to the real reason why the documents were not published before?
– Regarding the latter request^ nobody knows better than the honorable member for Flinders that I have no right to give advice to the GovernorGeneral on a matter of that kind. It is a matter of etiquette between himself and his previous advisers.
– What does the honorable member mean?
– I am referring to the request of the honorable member for Flinders that I should ask His Excellency why the reasons for the double dissolution were not published before.
– That is the confidential correspondence between the GovernorGeneral and the late Government?
– I decline to have anything to do with confidential correspondence. I desire to be clearly understood on that point. His Excellency may have any advice, but if it was confidential I do not wish to see it in my present capacity.
– I quite appreciate the attitude of the Prime Minister, and it is exactly the same attitude which the recent Government took in regard to what transpired between tha late Prime Minister and His Excellency. I quite appreciate the fact that neither side has any right to seek for the publication of confidential correspondence. Therefore, I cannot press my request beyond a certain point. I desire to point out, however, that the late Ministers were blamed throughout Australia for having, by an act of their own for which they were directly and personally responsible, concealed the reasons which they put before the Governor-General. I think the Prime Minister is now in a position, if he cares to do so, to relieve the late Ministers of that particular charge.
– I really do not know what the honorable member is referring to. Personally, I never took the matter very seriously, as the honorable gentleman knows.
– But the honorable member’s colleagues in the country did.
– If anything else is required I shall be glad to do what I can. The Leader of the Opposition knows that there is a little less in those papers than there might have been.
– I do not desire the production of anything of a confidential character.
– I should not care if every word that passed could be produced.
– Nor I. But I have carefully respected the principle that only official communications between His Excellency and his advisers should be asked for or produced. I do not know what the honorable member for Flinders intended. The honorable member for Parramatta yesterday asked for the production of correspondence relating to previous requests for a dissolution. I have here a copy of that correspondence, and shall lay it on the table.
– Why was it not laid on the table earlier?
– Because it was not asked for.
– I am not satisfied with the Prime Minister’s statement regarding the Federal Capital. We should have a declarationof the Government’s policy in the matter.
– Why did not the honorable member ask for such a declaration last year?
– I did ask for it, and pressed the request. I do not blame the present Ministers, because they have not yet had time to turn round, and I have every confidence that they will do the right thing. But we may well cavil at the absence from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of any reference to the Capital. I wish to know if the omission was intentional. We have been told that the sum of £40,000 is to be provided on the Estimates for expenditure at the Capital, and we know that much money has already been spent there, but we should be told whether it has been properly spent. It is high time that we had a policy in this matter. We do not know who is administering the Territory.
– Colonel Miller.
– The Secretary for Home Affairs is at the Capital, but he has no official warrant for being there beyond the fact that he was sent there by the Minister of Home Affairs in the last Fisher Administration, and was given the courtesy title of Administrator. He has no real right there. If one writes to the Department about the Capital, the letter is sent to the Secretary to the Department, who is supposed to be the Administrator of the Capital Territory.
– Could not the whole matter be left over till after the war?
– The honorable member, and others who think with him, would say, “ The day of judgment will be a very busy day; leave the Capital question over until the day after.” The matter is not a proper subject for jesting. The Minister of Home Affairs might well tell us whether improvements are to be carried on out of revenue or loan money, and whether they are to be steadily proceeded with, or whether Ministers are tied to the apron strings of these petty Victorians. I believe that the Minister now in charge of the Home Affairs Department will do what is right, and I bring under his notice the fact that there is now no proper system of administration in connexion with the Federal territory. No one is really in charge there, and there are loud complaints of favoritism. The land-owners there are told that they must accept the compensation offered by the Government, or bring a case to the High Court. That is nice treatment for them to receive from those who pose as friends of the farmers. It would mean ruin for them to bring High Court actions.
– We consider outside valuations.
– Some proper tribunal should be appointed.
– What is done now?
– A Government valuator says that the land is worth so much, and the land-owner is told that he must either accept that value or go to the High Court.
– We get outside valuations as well.
– If the Minister tries to defend what is being done, he will get some sharp criticism from me. There are no outside valuators employed; the valuation is done by men employed by the Government. Mr. Moriarty and Mr. King are Government valuators. Small settlers ought not to be forced into the High Court. I have no special briefs for these men, because they are not my constituents. They are without representation in this Parliament, which is, perhaps, why some honorable members jeer at them. I ask the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied with the present policy with regard to the Capital. Does he propose to carry on works at the Federal Capital out of revenue, or is the money expended to be obtained from loan funds, and is he satisfied to have the Secretary for the Home Affairs Department posing as Administrator, as he has done for eighteen months, without any legal power or right ? At the present time complaints are rife regarding the administration. Some of the officials have leases of the land in the Territory, and so have their relatives. I do not impugn the- honour of these officials, but it looks bad for the sons of those high in authority at the Capital to have possession of large areas. I do not say that anything is wrong. I feel sure it has been all fair and above board, but it is very bad policy and people are talking about it.
– What tenure is given?
– Leases up to ten years, and there is no occupation. Large land-owners are able to lease thousands of acres, but small people cannot get possession of enough land on which to make homes. These things cannot go on. I ask the Minister to deal with the Capital Territory in a business-like way. No business house would treat its affairs in the way in which the affairs of the Territory have been treated. People outside are commencing to say that this is due to the influence of the Victorian contingent, which is opposed to the removal of the Parliament from Melbourne. A bank has been built at the Federal Capital, but if I say anything about it the Prime Minister will declare that I am slandering the Commonwealth Bank. A grand banking chamber has been erected, but, having been placed on one of the main avenues of the Capital, it will have to be pulled down again. That shows what the administration is like. We do not want to have that sort of thing repeated. I am not against the Commonwealth Bank, but we do not want it to be controlled by a Czar who will give no information to Parliament. I believe that the Governor is a capable, able, and upright man, but I question his right to lend bank money on mining debentures. War broke out, and the debentures declined in value. According to the inside informa tion from the Prime Minister that we got last night, the Governor was clever enough to sell the debentures before that happened.
– It has been stated in the Daily Telegraph that what has been done has been only legitimate banking business.
– I read in the Melbourne newspapers that the bank had underwritten £50,000 of mining debentures, which were worth £96, and are now worth only £93. How a profit could have been made in the transaction, or how this can be claimed as legitimate banking business, I do not know. It would be better if the bank, instead of underwriting mining debentures, lent money to small selectors and land-holders. I shall always raise my voice in protest against the “charging of small settlers with interest at the rate of 6 per cent., while big corporations have to pay only 4 per cent.
– Would the honorable member prohibit underwriting by the bank?
– I say that it is not the duty of the bank to underwrite mining stock of any kind.
– Would the honorable member prohibit the bank from making money ?
– No; but if it had £50,000 to lend out, it would be better to lend it in small loans to selectors than to use it to help a big mining corporation. If the State of New South Wales is considering the purchase of the Lithgow iron works, and the debentures are underwritten by the Commonwealth Bank to help a rival concern, the position is, indeed, a strange one. I thought that the Prime Minister was in favour of helping the small selector. The bank would have been better had it been laid down on the lines proposed by the honorable member for Darwin; but, nevertheless, I give the Prime Minister credit for having established it. Still, he must not treat it like a pet kitten, and feel hurt when we object to discrimination being shown between corporations and small settlers, or to the establishment of two Savings Banks in towns where only one is needed. In my electorate there are townships in which there are two separate banks, and two separate staffs of officials, to do work that was previously done by one institution. I am surprised at the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday that I had slandered the bank. I have not done so. I am, and always have been, a strong believer in it. The Commonwealth Bank should be the finest financial institution in Australia. Some of the best banking men in Australia have told me that, although they thought that the purchase of the Broken Hill debentures would be profitable to any one having money to invest, it was not the business of a banker to dabble in such securities. I believe that a trustee could be prevented from doing so. I have yet to learn that we are not entitled in this House to criticise the bank or its Governor. Is this man above Parliament? Is he to be .permitted to commit the country to millions of expenditure, and if he makes a blunder are we to foot the bill without any right to criticise him? I contend that we have every right to criticise the bank. If the Prime Minister wishes to make the bank a success, he will have to alter its methods. It is a remarkable fact that at the close of the last Parliament we could get no information. Yet now the new Treasurer can come to the House and give information which the Governor refused to give to the last Treasurer.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph told you at the time that the bank was doing legitimate banking business.
– I am not talking of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. I submitted questions to the Treasurer during the last Parliament, and the Treasurer asked the manager of the bank to supply the information, but it was declined. Yet, strange to say, the present Treasurer gets the information ; it is not refused to him. I have the welfare of the bank at heart, and I know that the manager is, according to his lights, doing his best for the institution, and that it would be idle for any honorable member to seek to give him advice .as to the management of the bank, but as a representative of the people of this country I decline to allow certain business to go on without raising my voice in protest. Why have we not branches of the bank in country towns like Bega and Goulburn and other places to do general banking business, so that the institution may strike out and be of assistance to the people? When the bank was established Ave were told that it was to be of assistance to the settler and the small man. If the small man or settler is the Broken Hill Proprietary Mining Company, with its £1,000,000 of capital, or if the other large corporations and trusts are to be considered the small people whom the bank is to assist, then I am disappointed. I hope the Treasurer will look into this matter, and see that the settler will be permitted to borrow money at the same rate of interest, at least, as these large corporations. I am told that it is easier to lend £50,000 in one transaction than to lend it out to 100 people in 100 transactions; but we established the bank to be of advantage to the people, and I maintain that it would be for the advantage of the people if the money were loaned in small sums, and on different security than a mining venture. I hope the Minister will not object to some inquiry being held into the expenditure at Canberra. He cannot cavil at that suggestion and say that it is a slander. The work done should be looked into. Some of it has been carried out extravagantly. Again, there is no land policy. Further, I would like to know who is in charge at the Federal Capital. Is there an officer there who has any legal right to the position? If I write a letter to the Secretary of the Home Affairs Department complaining about the Administrator qf the Federal Territory, the letter is sent on to the Administrator at Canberra for his minute. The whole position is absurd. What I rose for was to tell the Minister in charge of this Department that the Federal Capital is not being managed in a business-like way, and I invite him to pay a visit to Canberra in order to see what is being carried out. He is a practical man, and he can see what is being honestly and fairly done. Some very hard things are being said in regard to the administration of the Territory. On the other hand, let the Minister say, on inspection, that the Capital is being administered properly, in fairness to the officials, against whom I make no charge, and to the general public. However, there is no settled policy there, and. there is no one in charge. The Minister will agree with me that the asset is too good to be allowed to run on without care. The honorable member for Darwin, when he was Minister of Home Affairs, laid the foundations well. Of course, he cannot be responsible for the fact that the cost in some cases has increased by 30 or 40 per cent.
– Yet your colleagues abused him unmercifully.
– The honorable member is apparently angry because I say a word in commendation of the honorable member for Darwin. I do not suppose that honorable members now want any commendation for that honorable member, though he did good work for them, and is worthy of the thanks of the country. I only wish that the present Minister would follow up that good work and give us some settled policy, and not leave the Secretary of the Home Affairs Department in charge without any legal status. The late Honorary Minister in charge of the Department of Home Affairs was not idle; he carried on a great deal of work, and stopped a great deal of extravagance, and if only the present Minister would carry on some of the work that the honorable member for Wentworth initiated I would be satisfied. There should be better control. What great business firm would think of establishing a branch at Ballarat, or some other place, and put a casual clerk in charge of it? We should have some definite policy, such as was adopted in the case of Washington, where they had a Commission of three men responsible for the whole place. It would pay us; the Territory would be no drag on Australia. The land should be let out at a rate that would pay not only interest on the money borrowed, hut also a sinking fund with which to redeem the loan. Let us have the matter put on a business basis, and not have a policy of letting the land on terms which permit of no real occupation. For four or five years we have been messing about with the Territory, and yet no one anxious to establish a home there or to have a place of business has been permitted to obtain it, because there ia no definite land policy. I am not cavilling at the Minister. He is not responsible, nor are his present colleagues, but if he does not get a move on with some of his Ministers I shall shake things up in the House.
– I ask the honorable member to refrain from discussing the Commonwealth Bank unless he has some definite charge to make against it. I believe that the bank has suffered from the criticisms of honorable members opposite.
– What criticism ?
– Take the criticism offered by a member of the late Ministry - not only criticism, but a misstatement of facts.
– Do you not think my charges are definite enough?
– I do not think they are the fact. If the honorable member would read his own newspapers he would find they are not.
– I maintain that the manager of the bank has lent large corporations money at 4 per cent, while he charges other people 6 per cent.
– We find a lack of enthusiasm when other banks fall into such errors. The Commonwealth Bank has performed better services, known to honorable members, than any other institution in Australia. It belongs to the people of Australia. Any profit made by it is credited to the people of Australia. The people of Australia are debited for any loss it suffers through being attacked unfairly and otherwise by honorable members - and some of them with direct interest in other banks and using their privileged positions to do so - which is a great reflection.
– Do you refer to me?
– I do not.
– Then I think it is only fair that you should name the honorable members to whom you refer. Any honorable member holding banking shares, who criticises the bank with that end, ought to be ashamed of his conduct, and should be kicked out of the House.
– The late Administration allowed a wrong statement made by ex-Senator McColl, the Vice-President of the Executive Council - an absolute misstatement - to go unchallenged.
– You are making innuendoes ; why do you not say what you mean?
– I have made my statement in writing, and ex-Senator McColl accepted it after it was proved up to the hilt.
– If you make charges against us, why cannot you tell us what they are?
– Apparently the Leader of the Opposition does not know of the charge that was brought against one of his Ministers, of not only reflecting upon the bank, but also of making gross misstatements as to its position, and as to its profit and loss.
– I maintain that he made no misstatements.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that ex-Senator McColl was interested in another bank?
– This misstatement was made at a time when there was in the possession of the Treasurer in that Ministry a balance-sheet showing quite the opposite position.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that ex-Senator McColl was interested in another bank?
– It has been proved up to the hilt, and placed on the records of Parliament, that ex-Senator McColl was wrong, and he had to admit it afterwards. Regarding the administration of the Capital Site, I am sorry the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has been criticising the Government he supported during the last fourteen months. That Government was in a very peculiar position - one honorable member supporting it could determine its policy - and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro determined its policy in regard to Canberra, and every other matter, by his vote. I test him now by what he considered his interests then rather than by his present statements. The Government will proceed with the Federal Capital on the same policy as we “announced when it was inaugurated. The honorable member for Darwin did excellent work at Canberra, and in every other capacity, while he was in office. He knows that is my view of his work. He pushed on with the Capital, and, subject to the present condition of the finances in a time unparalleled in the history of the Old Country and this country, we shall carry the work on and expend as much money as it is within our means to do in order to bring the Capital to proper fruition.
– Will you spend it from loan moneys or from revenue?
– I shall deal with that point when delivering the Budget.
.- I wish to refer briefly to the matter of the publication of the papers in regard to the recent double dissolution. The memory of the Treasurer is surely somewhat at fault when he assures the Committee that this matter was one in which he did not take very great interest; because I have a very keen recollection of the bombardment of the late Government from this side of the chamber on that very matter - a bombardment in which the present Prime Minister took a fairly prominent part. If he took no great interest in the matter, how then does it come about that these reasons are published now? Are we to understand that it is by the express wish of the Governor-General that the present Government have published them?
– It is at the request of honorable members on this side.
– It was on the advice of his Ministers that the GovernorGeneral did it.
– And primarily on the advice of the Trades Hall, who demanded it.
– And now it is perfectly clear that the non-publication, during the term of the late Government, of these reasons was not due to any unwillingness on the part of the late Government to publish them. I want to know the reason actuating the present Ministry in publishing them. Were they anxious to do something to remove their own charges against the late Government by the publication of these reasons, or did they think that they were about to discover something that would justify the innuendoes made by them in this chamber and all round the country during the recent election campaign ? If so, even the most ardent members behind the Government will agree with me in saying that they have discovered only a mare’s nest, and that the late Government gave sound and substantial reasons to the GovernorGeneral why the double dissolution should be carried into effect. Let me remind the Committee that there was nothing out of which more capital was attempted to be made during the recent election than that double dissolution and the reasons given by the late Government to the Governor-General in order to secure it. We had insinuations that were even more fatal than absolute statements of fact could have been - insinuations that the Liberal Government had plotted, in some dastardly “way, not with the Governor-General, but making use of him, to violate the rights and privileges of Parliament and indirectly to interfere with the rights and privileges of the people of Australia. I shall not deal with the insinuations, nay, the direct accusations, made against the GovernorGeneral himself, for I do not think that there is one person who made them but is not well ashamed of them to-day.
– I am not ashamed of them. The late Government either made use of the Governor-General or he is not fit for his position.
– Then I can only express my regret in regard to the honorable member’s mental and moral condition.
– I do not want the honorable member’s regrets.
– Does not the Prime Minister think it right that the insinuations in regard to the double dissolution should be withdrawn by him on behalf of his Government and his party?
– What right has the honorable member to catechise any one on this matter?
– I have a perfect right to address a question to the Prime Minister so long as it is couched in parliamentary language. In view of the fact that a good deal of capital was made out of the question of the double dissolution during the recent elections, and that the insinuations made by many now sitting opposite perhaps turned the tide in their favour, I think that, whilst we are by no means unwilling to congratulate them on their accession to power, the very least they can do in return is to admit the mistake in their attitude, and I suggest to the Prime Minister that such a disavowal would come very gracefully and properly from him now.
– I cordially indorse every word that has fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Perth; but pending a statement from the Prime Minister, I do not wish to further canvass that question. I should not have spoken to-day but for the remark made a few moments ago by the Prime Minister that honorable members on this side had deliberately slandered the Commonwealth Bank with a view to benefiting privately-owned institutions of a similar character in which they are personally interested. After making that extraordinary statement-
– An outrageous statement.
– After making that extraordinary, and outrageous statement against the honour, not only of individuals whose names were not given, but of Parliament itself, the right honorable gentleman went on to say that ex-Senator McColl had made certain misstatements about the bank. I asked the Prime Minister by interjection several times in the course of his statement whether he intended to convey that exSenator McColl was himself a shareholder or interested in any bank in Australia. He refused, however, to answer my question. I now ask him to reply to it. I am forced to take my place on the floor of the House* and to ask the Prime Minister, as man to man, whether he accuses exSenator McColl of deliberately defaming the Commonwealth Bank for the sake of his own private interests in some other institution ?
– Political purposes.
– I am not smiling. I do not know of anything more contemptible than it is to indict the honour of a man in the cowardly way in which the character of ex-Senator McColl has been indicted.
– Has the right honorable gentleman no other .stock-in-trade than an honest exterior that he is constantly uttering these insinuations, constantly afraid to stand up to them when he is charged with having uttered them, and not man enough to say that he is sorry for having made them. If the Prime Minister will not withdraw his statement, I will have to move later on for a Committee of Inquiry to inquire into this matter with regard to ex-Senator McColl. It is about time that the sort of insinuations that fall so loosely from the lips of this extraordinarly upright person should come to an end. It is about time that he recognised that honorable member? who are serving their country, no matter on which side of the House they sit, are honorable men, whose honour is dear to them, and whose reputations ought to be respected. It is about time that this sort of thing ceased. I again ask the right honorable gentleman does he or does he not charge ex-Senator McColl with corrupt action in defaming the Commonwealth Bank while holding shares in another financial institution?
– Smile now!
– It is not a smiling matter. The statement is either true or false.
– I can only assure the Prime Minister that words fail me to express my contempt for the sort of attitude he is now taking up.
– He dare not make the statement outside.
– He wishes his insinuations to go uncontradicted. Let us have it known throughout Australia that a charge which the right honorable gentleman cannot support outside has been made under cover of the privilege of his position, and that by making it he has dishonoured the high office that he holds.
– I see no reason why the Prime Minister should withdraw any insinuation.
– I did not make any.
– Even if the right honorable gentleman has made an insinuation, I fail to understand why he should withdraw it. The only thing I deplore is the lack of imagination displayed by the honorable gentleman. The honorable member for Wentworth professed to be uproariously indignant regarding this matter, but his indignation did not seem to me to be genuine. I appeal to him and to his leader not to disturb the good feeling with which the session commenced, and which we hope will continue.
– The honorable member’s party were the first to disturb it. The honorable member is not on the platform now. He must not make these sort of statements here.
– Why not?
– Because we shall make honorable members opposite prove them if they do.
– I invite the right honorable member for Parramatta to consider for a moment the difficulty in which he would be placed if he were called upon to prove all the insinuations he has made against us. No one could possibly excel in insinuation and innuendo the right honorable member for Parramatta. In order to live politically an honorable member must try, however, to be equal to that sort of thing, otherwise he could not hold his own either in Parliament or on the public platforms of the country. I have always regarded the right honorable member for Parramatta as a brilliant exponent of imaginative power, and so far as my own capacity will permit I have always tried to equal him. I give him every credit in this regard. Until I entered the Federal Parliament I utterly failed to realize the extent to which the imaginative capacity could be cultivated by some men. Need I remind the Committee of some of the statements that have been made regarding myself and my party ? Need I remind honorable members cf what has been said concerning the Labour party - of the insinuations as to our desire to destroy the sanctity of the home, to destroy life, to bring about the destruction of religion, to hand over to State farms the work of rearing children, and all the other statements concerning us with which honorable members opposite have tried from the public platforms of Australia to delude the people? I have never complained of them. I have simply admired the capacity of honorable members opposite, and I always try to equal it.
– Who has made these statements?
– The right honorable member has not fallen short in this respect. He has sprung upon us some of the most clever devices. As responsible statesmen these honorable members do not make statements of the kind to which I have referred. They get others to make them for them. If I wished to publish such statements concerning the right honorable member or his party I would not make . them myself ; following their example, I would get somebody occupying a less responsible position to issue a little leaflet, as was done in regard to Arthur Rae.
– Or a leaflet like “ Thirty Years of Deakin “ ?
– Yes; But I have never issued anything in the shape of literature concerning Mr. Deakin to which I have not attached my name. In that respect there is a vast difference between us and our opponents.
– The honorable member has never attached his name to anything in the form of “literature.”
– What I have written may perhaps have lacked that finish -which marks the writings of the honorable member for Wentworth, but whether it is the polished rapier of the educationalist or the rough brick of the man in the crowd the object aimed at is generally attained. My name was attached to the leaflet concerning Mr. Deakin.
– That leaflet is not very creditable to the honorable member.
– Whatever discredit attaches to its publication must be laid at my door. There is at least this to be said in my favour, £hat the man whose public policy was thus assailed knew his assailant. But the dirty, filthy instruments which are largely used by the party opposite to attack us are always anonymous. The authors of their leaflets are ashamed to attach their names to them.
– Do not look at me. I have attached my name to everything I have issued.
– I am not saying that the honorable member is personally responsible for what has happened in this respect; he has only been a party to it. Honorable members opposite, as in ‘the case of Arthur Rae, withhold their publications of the kind to which I refer until two or three days before the day of election. Then they flood the country with a lot of literature to which the names of the authors are not attached. They do these things; but why complain?
– Whom does the honorable member mean by “they”?
– Well, “ Joseph,” for one, and the party to which he is responsible.
– The honorable member is saying what is absolutely untrue.
– Then we are ‘copartners in a common effort. That is all I need say.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta)
– All this is extremely interesting, but it has nothing to do with the Bill.
– It is extremely interesting.
– There is no dignity about the proceedings.
– If the honorable member is the latest exhibit of dignity, I agree with him. 1 have a very serious duty cast upon me by reason of the statement just made by the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman has made a statement that he should either stand by, or withdraw, or else leave this Chamber.
– What is it?
– The statement that honorable members of” our party have abused the Commonwealth IBank in the interests of other banking institutions of which they are directors.
– The right honorable member will not find in the Hansard report any such statement made by me.
– That was the statement.
– I declined to answer interjections, and proceeded with .my own statement.
– The Prime Minister mentioned ex-Senator McColl’s name.
– In a separate sentence - in a quite distinct way..
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that he did -not impute anything?
– I shall leave the honorable member to see for himself in Hansard what I said. I am not going to have my words twisted in any way. I have seen that game too often.
– When next the right honorable gentleman rises le.t him curb his tongue a little. On this one question of the bank the right honorable gentleman is utterly beside himself; he cannot control his tongue or his actions - he does not know what he is saying when this precious bank of his is called in question.
– The bank is too good for the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The bank is not good enough for me. I wish to see a better and a stronger bank, a real national bank, able to meet -a crisis like the present. May I tell honorable members opposite, who have been making capital out of this bank and out of the note issue, that the bank has stood by absolutely powerless to help throughout the whole crisis. The note issue has nothing to do with the bank.
– Wrong again !
– Absolutely wrong !
– Those gentlemen from outside, who know nothing about the bank-
– I know more about banking than the honorable member has learnt during his life.
– The bank, as a bank, has not been able to render any assistance to the Government, except in the way of ordinary banking transactions; it has not been able to take emergent measures of any kind to meet the crisis.
– Did the honorable member apply to the bank?
– The Prime Minister may take it from me that if the bank could have helped the late Government would have applied to it.
– Did the honorable member apply to it?
– The righthonorable gentleman knows that this bank could do nothing in a crisis like the present to help the material interests of the country; the bank has neither the capital nor the resources to do so, and it has yet to be made a national bank.
– “Throwing mud!”
-Is this “ throwing mud?”
– I think so.
– May I ask the honorable member to keep his tongue quiet until I have finished?
– It is impossible, under the circumstances.
– Honorable members opposite are so prejudiced that they are not prepared to hear facts about anything. They must, however, listen to the facts as stated from this side; and I remind them that they are not on the platform now, reeling off those irresponsible statements and awful lies which did duty during the recent elections.
– What about the Bureau of Agriculture episode at Maryborough ?
– The Bureau of Agriculture remains, and the statement Imade remains.
– The statement was very useful !
– It was very useful to honorable members opposite, who twisted it out of all recognition ; they would twist any statement in their own interests.
– I must ask that the interjections cease, and that the honorable member for Parramatta be allowed to proceed without interruption.
– Stick to the truth !
– One has to stand here and listen to all sorts of insults. The only result, however, is to take up time, for we, on this side, are accustomed to that sort of thing, both inside and outside the chamber. Honorable members opposite cannot discuss any question without insulting their opponents; it is in their very nature, and they cannot help it.
– Order !
– This is the honorable member who complains of insults!
– It is the only possible reply.
– You invite the interjections !
– And I am going to invite some more by stating the facts as I see them. The bank, to which so much credit has been attached by honorable members opposite in connexion with this crisis, has really had nothing whatever to do with the crisis; and it has no resources to place at the disposal of the Government. A bank has yet to be made that can help the country; and this bank cannot. It is an ordinary trading commercial bank, and nothing more, and a very weak bank at that, with few resources.
– The honorable member knows that the bank is financing the State of Tasmania ?
– One bank in New South Wales could finance Tasmania ten times over, so that there is nothing in that interjection. We are talking about a bank adequate to meet a crisis like the present; and I say that this bank has done nothing, and can do nothing. Why cannot we face the facts? The proposal of this side is to erect this bank into a position of financial strength which will enable it to become a real national bank, able to meet any national emergency that may come along, helping both States and Commonwealth in a real and substantial way. The criticism of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has point in it, and that’ point will remain. The Prime Minister knows that this National bank was not set up to get behind big corporations - he knows that that was not the intention. But the Governor of the bank has been told to do as he pleases, and run the bank on commercial lines, and he is doing so. We cannot blame Mr. Miller for that; but this, so far from being a National bank on the lines preached by honorable members opposite, is something as far removed as could possibly be. Everybody knows that mining ventures are more or less speculative in their character, and must be.
– Does the honorable member say that he is against the bank underwriting debentures of the kind?
– I am not against the Governor of the bank doing anything to make the bank a success. My chief criticism is that the bank was created for quite different purposes, and that it was created in a weak condition. The institution is now struggling along under great disabilities, and it will not be a National bank of Australia until it has been completely revolutionized in its character and the conditions under which it acts. Mr. Miller is an able man, and is doing his best. I have not a word to say against him, and I never have said a word against him.
– In the last Parliament the honorable member called Mr. Miller aCzar.
– I call him a Czar now; and he has more power than any other man in Australia, with the exception, perhaps, of the Prime Minister himself. Mr. Miller has the powers of a Czar, and in the exercise ofhis discretion he is doing things which, if this was not the bank of honorable members opposite, they would be the very first to thunder against on the floor of the House.
– That is not so.
– I should have liked to hear honorable members opposite criticising the manager of a National bank who charged private corporations 2 per cent. less than he charged to the settlers of the country.
– The Daily Telegraph dealt with the honorable member very effectively on this matter.
– Is the Daily Telegraph now the Prime Minister’s authority?
– The newspaper dealt with facts, and it is not an opponent of the honorable member.
– I am not sure that it was not an opponent journal, during the elections, at any rate. However, I did not get up to refer to the bank except in one particular. The Prime Minister has made a statement which ought to be substantiated or withdrawn; and that statement, definite enough, was that honorable members on this side had criticised the Commonwealth Bank when they are interested in other banks, and that they are trying to destroy the Commonwealth Bank for fear of the consequences to the banks in which they are interested.
– The honorable member will see from Hansard that I made no such statement.
– I hope not, for the right honorable gentleman’s own sake; but will he tell us what he did say?
– It will be time enough when Hansard is seen.
– Then I shall wait for Hansard, because I do not wish to do the right honorable gentleman an injustice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in Bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bills presented by Mr. Fisher and passed through all their stages.
Sitting suspended from 3.3 to4.50 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate, without request.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
– The Leader of the Opposition asked for certain papers regarding a previous request for a dissolution during the term of Lord Dudley as Governor-General, when I had the honour to tender His Excellency certain advice. I think that the papers I am about to present are an accurate copy of the reasons which the then Government gave. I place the papers on the table at the request of the honorable member, and move that they be printed.
Motion agreed to.
Alleged Offence at Broadmeadows.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- If I use guarded language, it is because what I am about to say concerns a very serious matter. Information has been placed in my hands that a woman has been unfortunately maltreated at the military camp, and is in hospital at the present moment. If that is so, I ask that the Minister of Defence will look into the matter immediately, and that, no matter who the offender may be, punishment will be meted out to him. We do not wish to have criminals in our Military Forces. We desire to keep our Army as clean as possible, so that it may be representative of the best that is in the community.
– I have heard what the honorable member has said, and I shall bring the matter before the Minister of Defence, with a view to ascertaining if there is any truth in the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19141009_reps_6_75/>.