6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers,
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. Assent reported.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that instructions have been issued by the Customs Department prohibiting coal from leaving Newcastle for the West Coast of America, the South Coast of America, and Manila, unless the name of the pur chaser is given and 50 per cent, of the value of the cargo guaranteed ? Is the honorable gentleman further aware that these instructions amount to prohibition, and that in consequence of them a market that last year took 1,000,000 tons of coal from Newcastle will be closed, while the opening of the Panama Canal will permit the Americans to operate at the places named, which will mean the loss to Newcastle of their trade for all timet Is the Minister further aware that in consequence of this order a large number of miners are working only intermittently! Will he give this matter immediate consideration?
– I cannot answer the question offhand, and do not desire it to be put on the notice-paper. If the honorable member will see me in regard to the matter, I shall give him all the information I can. It is not information which can be made public.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs made arrangements for the export of butter, about which much concern is felt at the present time? -If so, what is the nature of the arrangements?
– A deputation of persons interested in the butter trade waited upon me, and so did another deputation of persons connected with the export of meat. The trade has been notified thab frozen produce can be sent away in vessels that are being used by another Department. We hope in that way to get rid of the block which has been caused.
– As unjust suspicions may rest on a number of reputable citizens of German nationality and birth, I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether, in view of a serious statement made by Archibald Strong in last night’s Herald, he will instruct the Intelligence Department to request that gentleman to give circumstantial proof of what he alleges ?
– Any citizen who has proof that any German here is acting contrary to the law and in support or the enemy will, if loyal to the Commonwealth and to the Empire, produce that proof forthwith for the information of the Minister of Defence.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to an advertisement which appeared in the Gazette of the 17th October, page 2374, setting , out that a certain German firm, trading in England, has been given contracts by his Department for the supply of batteries? If his attention has not been drawn to the matter, will he ascertain why his Department at this time is giving preference to a German firm over British firms which tendered for the supply of these batteries t
– I do not know to what the honorable member refers. The Department is not giving work to German firms. It gives preference first to Australian, and then to British, firms, and no work at all to German firms.
– Is the Minister of Trade and . Customs requiring persons who desire Tariff relief, and apply direct to him for it, to fill in forms similar to those that he had prepared when administering the Department in the last Fisher Government!
– A deputation waited on me the other day, and I asked a member of it if application had been made to the Inter-State Commission. His reply was, “ No,” and I then stated that I thought it fair that applications should be made to tha Commission, or, if it were preferred, to me, but that, in any case, the details asked for should be supplied. The information that is required should be furnished to some authority. As the form prescribed by the Inter-State Commission is practically the same as that which I had prepared, I am willing that it shall be used.
– What is the position of the Inter-State Commission in regard to the Tariff? Is the Commission taking evidence with a view to making a report, and recommending Parliament to impose or alter certain duties, or is it merely taking evidence with a view to stating that, in the opinion of a majority of the witnesses examined, Protection should be given to certain industries ? I should like the Minister to tell us what he thinks the Commission is doing in regard to the Tariff.
– I understand that the Commission ib still taking evidence in regard to the Tariff, and that it will furnish reports. Last week I laid on the table the Commission’s annual report, and it has been printed. Any_ recommendations made by the Commission will be carefully considered.
– Does the Minister understand that the Inter-State Commission are receiving evidence concerning the Tariff with a view to making recommendations as to what duties should be imposed, increased, or reduced? Has the Minister up to the present received any recommendations from the Commission with regard to duties? If not, will he ask the Commission to send in immediately any recommendations they may intend to make in regard to the Tariff? .
– I understand that the Commission are taking evidence, and intend to make recommendations.
– I do not know.
– Has the Minister received any?
– I have not yet received any report from the Inter-State Commission concerning an increased or decreased duty on any item in the Tariff..
– Has the AttorneyGeneral read the report of an interview with the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court ? If so, does he not think that the remarks of Mr. Justice Powers, together with the recent decision of the High Court in the Tramways appeal case, render it advisable for us to wipe out the whole of the Arbitration Act, and allow to the workers the right to strike in order to get redress of their wrongs?
– I have been informed that Mr. Justice Powers, the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court, made some observations this morning in regard to certain remarks of mine which appeared in this morning’s press, and that these observations were in the direction of modifying very materially the interpretation that I had assumed was to be put on the words he made use of a few days ago. Until I have had an opportunity of carefully considering how far the relationship between the High Court and the Arbitration Court has been affected by the recent judgment in the Tramways case - which no one seems to know very well - I am unable to reply to the question submitted by the honorable member except to say that it is perfectly obvious that the present state of things in relation to the Arbitration Court is not compatible with the maintenance of industrial peace.
– Is it the intention of the Government to give effect to any of the recommendations of the Royal Commission upon the pearling industry, especially in relation to a school for diving, the establishment of which was suggested by the Torres Strait Pearlers Association ?
– As the last Government extended the indentures of colouredlabour divers until the 30th June, 1918, the matter of indentured coloured labour cannot he considered urgent. In regard to some of the other matters, the cooperation of the States would be requisite. I am doubtful whether the Commonwealth has sufficient powers. I do not think it is wise to promise to find funds for the establishment of a school of diving at the present time.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether his Department have, for reasons of economy, deferred the carrying out of works approved of on the last Estimates?
– I do not know the works referred to by the honorable member.
– I was referring to the Casino Post-office.
– “We are pushing on with all the works we can carry out. In many cases orders have been given to proceed with works suspended by the late Government.
– Then, will the Post-. master-General inquire why his Department wrote to me on the 21st of this month informing me that the work on the Casino Post-office, which was approved of on the last Estimates, was being deferred owing to reasons of economy?
– I shall inquire into the matter.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House as to the general scheme under which a number of telephone subscribers, who were attached to the Melbourne Central Exchange, are being connected with suburban exchanges, to their great inconvenience?
– I shall look into the matter, but I think the reason is that the undergrounding of the wires has necessitated new connexions.
– In view of the severity of the drought now prevailing, will the Minister of Trade and Customs take into favorable consideration the matter of remitting the fodder duties, in order to give relief to graziers and others?
– The remission of the fodder duties can only be done by Parliament. The Government have had the matter under consideration, and I can promise the honorable member that I shall do my best to see that all sections in the community obtain justice.
– What does that mean? They want chaff.
– The matter has been considered by the Government. It is still under consideration.
– I wish to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether he is aware that in some isolated cases horses are being shot in the drought areas, and whether, in view of the tremendous importance that horses will assume, very shortly, in the war, he will take that factor into consideration?
– I do not know that the Department has power to prevent a man shooting his own horse, but I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister, in order that we may ascertain whether these horses could be used by the Defence Forces.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to the fact that the Imperial authorities have just placed an order with Canada for 1,500,000 tunics and 50,000 saddles? I also wish to ask the right honorable gentleman what action he is taking to see that Australian factories obtain similar orders ?
– I would ask the honorable member, and, indeed, honorable members generally, not to put questions of that kind.
– What are the duties of the High Commissioner in this regard ?
– Our position is more satisfactory from this point of view than is that of any other Dominion.
– I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is proposed to revert to the old method of dealing with members’ postage, in view of the inconvenience that is caused by the present arrangement? By way of illustration, I would point out that I have now a number of letters which, under the present system, I must take out to be weighed, in order to ascertain what postage they shall carry. Complaint is frequently made that honorable members’ letters reach their constituents insufficiently stamped, and I think it is about time that something was done in the matter.
– The matter is under consideration, and will probably be dealt with in the course of a few days.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is correct, as reported in the newspapers, that the present session is to be continued next year, and that after the Christmas vacation we are to be brought back here for several months?
– I am not at all anxious that the session should be continued after Christmas. I can promise the honorable member a long holiday if the Tariff is dealt with before the end of the year.
– I do not want a holiday; I wish to do some work.
Reported Case of Small-pox.
– Has the
Minister of Trade and Customs observed a report in this morning’s newspapers to the effect that a case of small-pox has occurred at the Federal Capital ? I desire, also, to know what steps are being taken to deal with such cases?
– I heard yesterday that a case of small-pox had occurred at the Federal Capital, and that it was being dealt with there.
– Supplementing what my colleague has said, I wish to inform the honorable member for EdenMonaro that what was alleged to be a case of small-pox at the Federal Capital was reported, and that just before I left the Department for the House this afternoon, I received a telegram from the Administrator stating that Dr. Reid, Chief Quarantine Officer for New South Wales, arrived from Sydney this morning, and diagnosed the case as one of chicken-pox. He has, therefore, allowed the patient to go free and the contacts to be released.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if the Board contemplated under section 66 of the Federal Land Tax Act, to deal with cases of hardship, has yet been appointed ?
– The Board referred to has, I think, been constituted, on several occasions, under the chairmanship of the Commissioner, and has dealt with such cases, and dealt very satdsfactorily with them. I ask the honorable member, however, to give notice of his question.
– In regard to the proceedings before the Public Service Arbitration Court, will the Prime Minister issue a general order that facilities shall be given to organizations for the inspection of documents which are proposed to be used before the Court without the necessity of an order for discovery or any other legal proceeding?
– Without discussing the legal aspect of the question, I desire to say that I think that the Government will in general supply any necessary or essential information. They will see that all parties have- a fair opportunity to discover the facts without adding to the legal expenses of the proceedings.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs received any overtures from the Government of South Australia in regard to prohibiting the export of wheat? Will the honorable gentleman state generally what is being done in reference to the export of wheat?
– Speaking from memory, I do not think any representations with regard to prohibiting the export of whea’t have been made by any State Government. We took action without being approached by any of them. Two vessels, the Crewe Hall and the Dalhannah, obtained permission from my predecessor to load wheat, and the Edinburgh was also allowed, about a month ago, to take a cargo of wheat. The South African Government requested by cablegram that that vessel should be allowed to ship a cargo of wheat, as it was urgently required. Apart from these cases, I do not think permission has been granted in any part of Australia to export wheat, with the exception of a certain quantity which was on order for New Zealand, and some small lots, such as 5 or 10 ton lots of flour, which were required for the islands. These orders have now been completed. Apart from them, no wheat is going out of Australia to-day, and no permission has been granted within the last three or four weeks to export any.
– It has been brought under my notice that a great deal of overtime is being paid in the Clerical Division of the Public Service. If this be true, does not the Prime Minister think that temporary hands should be employed and the work distributed, seeing that there are so many unemployed ?
– I understand that there has appeared in the press a statement to the effect that in the “AuditorGeneral’s office clerks are working overtime. Such information has not been officially communicated to me, but the policy of the Government is not to allow overtime. We believe that the work should be distributed. At certain periods - for instance, towards the close of the financial year, or during the preparation of the Budget - no number. of additional officers would be of any service; but, subject to these special conditions, the policy of the Government is to distribute the work.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of the following Message from the Senate : -
The Senate acquaints the House of Representatives that, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913, the following Senators have been appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz. : - Senator The Honorable J. H. Keating, Senator P. J. Lynch, and Senator W. H. Story.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of the following Message from the Senate : -
The Senate acquaints the House of Representatives that, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913, the following Senators have been appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz. : - Senator T. J. K. Bakhap, Senator A. E. H. Blakey,and Senator The Honorable J. C. Stewart.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– Have any steps been taken in connexion with dividends lying to credit in Australian companies of alien enemies resident in enemy countries? What I desire to know is whether these accounts are being held by all the companies in suspense until the termination of the war, or whether the Treasurer has taken into considerationthe payment of these accounts for the time being into the hands of some proper authority?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of the question; I am not fully informed of the whole facts at- the- presenttime.
– The Imperial Government have been contemplating some such provision. It would be well to look the matter up.
– I know that other Governments are acting more freely than we are, and, in my opinion, there is good reason for that.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position to judge whether there will be any surplus wheat for export, and, if so, will he endeavour to make some reciprocal arrangement with New Zealand with a view to supplying the requirements of the Dominion on condition that fodder from there is allowed to enter the Commonwealth free?
– From the information I have there will not be any surplus wheat for export this season. The facts concerning the position are being placed before us at present; and that is what I conceive to be the prospect. Of course, if there is any surplus wheat, I should say that New Zealand ought to have a first chance of supplies. The New Zealand Trade Commissioner has shown me a cable that he has received from his Government to the effect that they have already remitted the duty on flour which is ordered, or which will arrive, up to the 1st February next year.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that several reputable British and Australian firms are having their letters censored, and that, in consequence, they experience considerable delay and loss? Will the PostmasterGeneral instruct his officers that, as soon as they are satisfied that letters have nothing to do with an enemy country, they should be allowed to pass freely?
– The censorship is not controlled by the Postal Department, but by the Defence Department. The two Departments are working together to minimize as much aa possible any delay; and that, I think, is all that can be done.
– Will the Treasurer call for a return of the total value of the cash balances in the various banks which are not in use, with a view to considering the advisability of taking steps to insure that such balances are placed in circulation?
– If we have the power to discover what is asked, I shall get the information for the honorable member. Am I correct in understanding the honorable member to mean unclaimed balances ?
– Balances on all accounts ?
– In that case, the answer is, “ No.”
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs yet received a report from Mr. Justice Street in relation to the Beef Trust; and, if not, when does he expect to receive it ?
– I have not yet received a report, and I have not the slightest idea when Mr. Justice Street will be able to present one.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs asked Mr. Justice Street when his report will be ready, or taken action in any way to expedite its presentation?
– I considered that the Commissioner, who was appointed by our predecessors, would furnish the report as soon as it was ready, and would need no urging. It might have been thought that I was reflecting on the capacity of the Commisssioner had I made any such suggestion to him.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The circumstances, it will be seen, are, therefore, not similar; but the whole question is receiving the Minister’s consideration.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table a return showing the value of imports of the following items for the year 1913: - Bags, purses, n.e.i. and wallets, baskets, boxes, cases or trunks with or without fittings, viz.: - Fancy hand jewel, trinket, sporting, travelling, picnic, toilet, dressing, glove, handkerchief, collar, work, satchels, reticules, valises, and companions. Belting. - Composition and canvas, leather, rubber. Leather manufactures, n.e.i., leather cut into shape, harness, razor strops, and whips, including keepers, thongs, and lashes?
– The following particulars, in the form of a return, give the information desired by the honorable member : -
Commonwealth or AUSTRALIA
Statement showing Imports, according to Country of Origin, of the Items mentioned, into the Commonwealth during 1913.
Bags, Purses, n.e.i., and Wallets, Baskets, Boxes, Cases or Trunks (with or without fittings), viz., Fancy, Hand, Jewel, Trinket, Sporting, Travelling, Picnic, Toilet, Dress ing, Glove, Handkerchief, Collar, and Work, Satchels, Reticules, Valises, and Companions.
Leather Manufactures, n.e.i., Leather cut into shape Harness, Razor Strops, and Whips.
Department of Trade and Customs,
Melbourne, 28th October, 1914.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - j
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Proclamation Prohibiting Exportation of Coal(except under certain conditions) - Dated 14th October, 1914.
Defence Act - Military Forces -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 141.
Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended(Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 140, 142, 143.
Lands Acquisition Act-
Land acquired under, at -
Beaconsfleld, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Kyogle, New South Wales - For postal purposes.
Moonee Ponds, Victoria - For postal purposes.
New Norfolk, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Toowong, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act - Promotion of R. H. Crow, as Clerk, 4th Class, Accounts Branch (Expenditure), New South Wales.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to enable the Governor-General to make regulations and orders for the safety of the Commonwealth during the present state of war.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) - agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– This motion is, I think, a little premature. I have yet to learn that a Bill which is not before the Chamber can be accorded special preferential treatment. The proper time to move this motion will be when we have seen the Bill, and know what it contains. It is a dangerous precedent -to establish to move the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to deal with a Bill the contents of which are not known to honorable members.
– The Bill is already before the House, and has been read a first time.
Mr.Fisher. - And the honorable member for Parramatta has seen a- copy of it.
– But no other memberhas.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the Bill is now being distributed to honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill is one that the present circumstances call for. It has been drafted to meet certain conditions lately arising, which the laws of the Commonwealth and the proclamations issued by the Governor-General have been insufficient to deal with. The Bill confers upon the Commonwealth power to make orders and regulations of a farreaching character, and, as honorable members may see in clauses 4 and 5, is. mainly directed to preventing the leakage of important secrets, to secure the safety of means of communication, railways, docks, harbors, or public works, and to deal effectively with aliens, and, in certain circumstances, with naturalized persons. Its aim is to prevent the disclosure of important information, to give power to deport, and otherwise deal with aliens, to interrogate and obtain information in various ways, and to appoint officers to carry into effect any orders or regulations which may be made under the Bill. The penalties are set forth in clauses 6 and 7, the former of which sets out that -
Any person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any provision of any regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
Penalty : One hundred pounds, or six months’ imprisonment, or both.
By clause 7, those who aid or abet in the commission of such- offences are made equally liable. The duration of the measure is limited to war time and continues until such time as a proclamation has been issued by the Governor- General that peace has been declared between His Majesty the King and the German Emperor, and between His Majesty the King and the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. The powers conferred by the measure are very considerable; but honorable members may rest assured that they are required.
-Will the AttorneyGeneral answer me this question? Clause 6 seems to lay down penalties for all contraventions of this measure. A man is herein required not to go into certain specified places. Suppose one of those places is a fort. If an alien goes into that fort, really bent on spying, is the maximum penalty towhich he will be liable £100 or six months’ imprisonment?
– The honorable member will see that clause 11 provides that the powers given under this measure shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other powers exerciseable apart from this measure. Under other Acts we have ample power to deal with treason and offences of that kind, and this Bill is really supplementary to, and not in derogation of, any of the existing laws. The Bill is to supplement existing powers, and to provide an instrument at once ready to hand, flexible, and sufficient to deal with circumstances which cannot be met by the ordinary law.
– This is in some respects an extraordinary Bill, and one intended, I presume, to meet circumstances which are extraordinary. We shall have to trust the Minister absolutely in regard to it, because in the very nature of the case he cannot inform the House of, and thus make public, the circumstances which require the passing of it.
– That is so.
– As a layman, I do not know the exact setting of the Bill in our general scheme of civil and military law. Clause 5 deals with some such act as the denaturalizing of persons who have been naturalized. I do not see what is to be done in regard to offences of that kind that might not be done under our existing military law. The possibility of martial law being proclaimed seems to be contemplated. What else does subclause 2 of clause 4 mean? It enacts, among other things, that the regulations may authorize the trial by courts martial and punishment of persons contravening any of their provisions. That is a very serious power to take, and one to be taken only in exceptional and extraordinary circumstances. It means, I imagine, that private persons may be court-martialled, and that the authority to set the court martial in operation is to be the Naval and Military Board.
– The Bill does not create trial by court martial, but it empowers the Governor-General to make an order which will have that effect Full power is still left in the hands of the civil authorities. This is a civil law, and deals with civil powers.
– You are proposing to clothe the Naval and Military Board with power to do certain drastic things. Is the Board to exercise discretion in these matters, or is the Ministry to instruct it in all cases when and how far it may proceed?
– It is proposed to give, not a general, but a special, power for a special purpose.
– A special power for each case?
– Yes; limited in extent, and for each purpose.
– That does not appear here.
– Yes, it does.
– I should like that to be made clear. As a civilian, I am not prepared to place tremendous powers in the hands of the Naval and Military Board to deal with citizens for offences other than those created under our present drastic laws.
– I am with the honorable member. If it were proposed to give the Naval and Military Board such powers, I should object. It is proposed to clothe the Governor-General with authority to delegate to the Naval and Military Board such powers as he may think fit.
– That means that the Government, through the GovernorGeneral, may clothe the Naval and Military Board with discretionary power if it thinks fit.
– As it may think fit. We may do this by proclamation. Practically, the authorities are now acting under a proclamation which gives them power to search.
– That is so. One wonders, therefore, how the Bill fits in with our general scheme of law.
– I told the honorable member privately that we have a reason for wanting to get the Bill through quickly. I assure him that the present law is not sufficient for our purpose.
– I must accept that statement.
– It is not proposed to clothe the Naval and Military Board with any authority incompatible with the full supremacy of the civil law.
– I am glad to have that assurance. However much I may object to some of the provisions of the Bill, I feel that I must support the measure, leaving the Government to take full responsibility for it. This is not the time to do anything but to give full and cordial support to the Government in regard to ail measures proposed for the maintenance of our supremacy in our own domain, and for assisting the Empire in the great war in which it is engaged. I am only anxious that the Government shall not make a mistake in its procedure.
– Would it not be more dangerous to take too little than to take too much power?
– Clause 2 provides the safeguard that the Act is to continue during the present state of war and no longer. May the end of the war come soon, is the earnest wish of us all. Recognising that these drastic powers are necessary to enable those in our midst, who seek to destroy the integrity and to injure the interests of the Empire, to be dealt with, I shall give the Government cordial support in passing this and other measures having that object in view.
– We all recognise that at a time of war the Executive is entitled to be invested with authority which Parliament would not think of intrusting to it in ordinary times. But before the Bill passes, it is desirable that honorable members should understand fully the immense range of the Executive power which it confers on the Governor-General in Council. Clause 5, especially, deals with particular measures requisite for the maintenance of effective defence and security, such as the prohibiting of aliens from embarking, the preventing of persons from disclosing information, and from communicating with the enemy. With regard to all these things Parliament will be pre pared to give to the Executive the fullest powers required. But I feel a good deal of apprehension about the first part of clause 4. I know what the Government probably desires to attain by it, but the method proposed for giving effect to that intention goes to a length which I think has never been gone before, and the matter ought, therefore, to be considered. The clause says that the GovernorGeneral may make regulations for securing the public safety and defence of the Commonwealth. That provision is absolutely unlimited. It invests the Executive Government of the day with the most complete power to legislate, whether Parliament is or is not sitting, on any matter touching the actions or conduct of any member of the community.
– Very appropriate in war time.
– It may be necessary to give this power.
– Is any power given by clause 4 that is not inherent in all Governments? Cannot we do what is provided for by virtue of the power to declare martial law at any time?
– I do not know what authority the AttorneyGeneral thinks the Government has to declare martial law.
– We may do anything necessary.
– In time of war Governments do - the late Government did - many things not directly authorized by law.
– The late Government did not put off the elections.
– There are some things which may be done, although unlawful, but there are certain things which cannot be done. If the honorable member saw the distinction, he would be aware that his interjection was meaningLess.
– I do not regard the honorable member as supreme.
– I have not suggested that I should be so regarded.
– Can the honorable and learned member suggest a better way of conferring a necessary power?
– I do not profess to have had time to consider the matter. The Bill has been before us for about five minutes only. .1 understand that the Government ask that it be passed as a matter of urgency, and I am therefore prepared to let it go through, but I hope that the House realizes that the first part of clause 4 gives unlimited legislative power.
– We shall be glad if the honorable and learned member will suggest how the powers that we need can be given with less risk.
– I am not prepared to do that at the present moment. I merely point out that the powers given are enormous. If the Government say that it is essential to have these powers, I, following the Leader of the Opposition, raise no objection.
– It is not intended to exercise these powers in the way suggested by the Leader of the Opposition.
– He referred to the supersession of the civil power by the military power. I raise no objection to the Bill. In a case of urgency, responsibility for a measure of this sort must be taken by the Government. I rose merely to direct attention to the enormous scope of the powers conferred, and I ask the Government to take the matter into full consideration.
– The Government will be very pleased to receive suggestions from any honorable member, because the Bill has been introduced in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia, and of those connected with us by the closest of ties.
– It is a little unreasonable to expect suggestions, seeing that the Bill has only just been put before us.
– Quite so. As for the point raised by the honorable member for Flinders, if the Government does wrong, it will be the opportunity of the Opposition. The Government is not likely to use this power in a drastic way, contrary to the best traditions of our race.
– If you do wrong honestly in carrying out these matters we shall not attempt to have a case against you.
– It is the wish of the Government not to take any more powers than are absolutely necessary to meet the case. The preservation of the safety of the Commonwealth is not a milkandwater business. We cannot fit the purpose with a Bill giving the requisite powers, and then deal with offenders with feather dusters. That we have to deal with possible enemies and people who are clever and cunning must be recognised, and that the machinery to deal with them should be in the possession of civilization and organized society. The Government seek for nothing more than is necessary to meet situations of emergency and difficulty.
.- The Prime Minister is correct in saying that if a regulation of unduly wide power is framed, the Government must take the responsibility and bear the penalty if they are wrong ; but by the provisions of clause 6 the Government will not be the only persons to suffer, because individuals who commit breaches of such a regulation will also suffer. I do not anticipate that the Government will make any such regulation, but there is an entirely new principle introduced in clause 4, which permits the framing of regulationsauthorizing trial by court martial,, and the punishment of any persons contravening any of the provisions of regulations. The Defence Act in section 90 provides that no person other than persons subject to naval and military law may be proceeded against by court martial, but clause 4 of the Bill before us now extends the jurisdiction of courtsmartial to private persons.
– To persons communicating with the enemy, obtaining information, and so on; why not?
– I merely point this out because there is special procedure as regards martial law, and I ask what thereis to justify extending this unusual procedure of trial by court martial tocivilians ? However, I take it that the Attorney-General is merely taking tentative authority to do this. I perceive that, later on, the Bill provides that theordinary jurisdiction of the civil courts is to be a concurrent power.
– Clause 4 is really aStatute by itself, to be exercised in special cases.
– Do I understand that only in special cases, necessitating someurgency of treatment, the AttorneyGeneral will authorize a prosecution by court martial ?
– That is so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and i2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
AU regulations and orders made by the GovernorGeneral since the commencement of the present state of war shall be deemed to have been made in pursuance of the powers conferred by this Act, and any contravention thereof or non-compliance therewith, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to be an offence against this Act, and shall be punishable accordingly.
.- I did not speak upon the second reading, because I believe that the Government are wise in asking for the widest powers, provided they are prepared to exercise them with discretion, and to take the fullest responsibility; but it appears to me that this clause may have been framed without that full consideration to which the AttorneyGeneral has referred. It seems to me that it could be held to deal with what are known as ex post facto offences ; and I ask whether it is advisable, under the powers given by this Bill, to apply the penalties provided to any person subsequently dealt with? For instance, orders have been issued - apparently without full statutory authority - to deal with offences supposed to have been committed, which offences are to be punished by the infliction of penalties imposed by this Bill, yet the accused persons may not have had any knowledge that they were offending against the existing law. I have no sympathy with the alien, naturalized or unnaturalized, who endeavours in a state of war to communicate with the enemy, or to do anything against the public interest; but let us take the power given in clause 5, paragraph g. There the GovernorGeneral may, by order published in the Gazette, make provision for any matters which appear necessary or expedient, with a view to the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth, and in particular for requiring any person to disclose any information in his possession as to any matter specified in the order. An individual may have already been asked to disclose certain information of a general or a specific kind, and now, by this Bill, for a compar’atively small offence innocently committed, he may be mulcted in a fine of £100, or sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, or both penalties may be inflicted. I have no desire to put difficulties in the way of the Minister - I am with him in regard to the Bill generally - but I hope he will take into consideration the advisability of modifying the application of clause 3 to the whole of the Bill, more particularly in regard to offences that may have been inadvertently committed by comparatively, innocent persona .
– The scope of clause 3 is limited to all regulations and orders made by the Governor-General since the commencement of the present war. All offences committed under any order or proclamation so issued are to be regarded as offences under this measure, and must be proceeded against under clauses 6 and 7. I know of no order or proclamation made by the Governor-General since the commencement of the war which does provide for penalties.
– This is really a validating clause, with the full consequences of validation.
– The clause does no more than that. I do not think it extends to clauses 4 and 5 to any material degree.
.- An honorable member who has only seen the Bill for the first time a quarter of an hour ago must hesitate to cross swords with the Attorney-General, but it appears to me that the clause validates regulations and orders. Now, clause 4 deals with regulations, and clause 5 deals with orders. It is a validating clause of a striking character, and deals with all orders issued without statutory authority prior to the passing of the measure. It also provides a means of punishing affences, because it brings these acts within the purview of the measure. However, I take the word of the Attorney-General that no very harmful order, likely to kick back on a comparatively innocent person, will be made operative by this Bill.
– If any man has done wrong under an order or proclamation now existent, he is liable to a penalty of some sort under that proclamation or order, or under some Statute or the common law. Clause 3 makes those acts already done under any proclamations already issued offences under this Bill, as well as under that particular proclamation. The Bill is retroactive, but it is not the intention of the Government to so apply it unless in regard to an offence so rank in character as to justify recourse to such an unusual remedy.
– The honorable member for Balaclava has urged on the Committee the proper consideration of the case, and his view will be made clear by inserting after the words “ state of war “ the words “ before the coming into operation of this Act.” I understand that the measure is intended to validate all regulations which have been made, and to attach to any breach of those regulations some penalty. The object of the Attorney-General is to validate the regulations already issued, and to provide punishment applicable to breaches of those regulations. I suggest the insertion of the words I have mentioned to meet the views of honorable members.
– To a layman there seems to be no difference.
.- There is a difference. The AttorneyGeneral will need to read the amendment very carefully. The question is how far the new provisions of the Bill are supplementary to and in aid of the powers already possessed. If they are supplementary powers to strengthen those we already have we cannot draw an arbitrary line between them. We cannot cut off what is past and separate it from what is to come. Otherwise the Government might cripple themselves in regard to a power they might wish to exercise. It seems to me safer to leave the clause as printed, because I take it that it gives additional powers to those already possessed. Though one may impinge on the other, what is given in this clause should merely strengthen and tone up what the Government already possess.
– The words of clause 11 strengthen that argument. I think we may leave the clause as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Regulations).
.- I do not wish to add to what was said on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, but I assume that the regulations for which this clause provides will be liable to be disallowed under the Acts Interpretation Act. I merely call attention to this matter so that the AttorneyGeneral may consider it. If, in a matter of high criminality, action had to be taken under this measure, it would not do to place it within the power of either House to upset perhaps the whole proceedings six months later on. I do not recommend that there should be no right of disallowance. It would be a very wide power to give the Executive - the power to make regulations which could not even be challenged in Parliament - because we do not know what their scope might be.
– It is just as well that we should leave the provision flexible.
– To a large extent we must do that. If we cannot trust the Administration in war time–
– My remark had reference also to the Parliament.
– I do not think we shall do any harm by allowing the clause to remain as it stands.
– As it stands, either House will have the power of disallowance.
– The clause gives power to proclaim something like martial law. Under the military power we can, by legislation, declare that martial law may prevail. This is a general power as set out in sub-clause 1. Sub-clause 2, which is an independent provision, sets forth that courts martial may be established for the punishment of persons who commit any of the offences enumerated in paragraphs a, b, and c. I see no objection to the clause, but in South Africa some question arose as to the powers exercised under martial law, and some powers that were exercised without legislation had subsequently to> be ratified by the Imperial Government. That, however, I do not think is likely to occur here.
– This clause has been made very wide, but the aim of the Government will be to use it as little as possible, and to as limited an extent as possible.
– No matter how drastic the Bill may be, we must accept that assurance. In war time, surely it is a matter of proper administration.
.- I regret that it appears to be necessary to pass this Bill through all its stages in the same day. The time allowed to consider so important a measure seems to me to be too short. The Bill proposes to establish Naval and Military Courts and courts martial. These, I imagine, will be secret tribunals. Neither the public nor the press will be allowed to be present at the ferial of any person before them. While I am with the Government in every endeavour they make to get hold of any enemy in Australia, and to put him where he ought to be, I wish to know whether they are making due provision for the protection that ought to be afforded to every person who comes to Australia at our invitation, and who makes his home here. I regret to find that there is a great deal of feeling against Germans who have come to Australia, and have made their homes here at our invitation - people who have raised families here, and whose sons and daughters are in every respect good citizens of Australia. What may be described as something of a “ pannicky “ feeling has taken possession of some members of the community, and it is causing a great deal of cruelty to be exhibited to certain persons who are good citizens of Australia. We sent agents to Germany to invite Germans to settle here. Queensland sent a representative to Germany to endeavour to secure immigrants for that State, and it had difficulty in obtaining any until our agents were able to inform the German Government that they could obtain here as good a living as they could secure in their own country. I understand from the Attorney-General that the Government will not avail themselves of this measure except where necessary. But will each case come before the honorable gentleman? Will no action be taken, with regard to any individual or body of individuals, until his consent has been obtained?
– Nothing will be done without the approval of the Government as a whole.
– Is that in regard to each individual case?
– No; that is before the power is conferred, and the power may be conferred in respect of one particular case.
– I understand that the proposal is to give power to Naval and Military Boards to conduct courts martial. Some person with a very vivid imagination might lay an information against a German, or the offspring of German parents in Australia, and that individual might be brought before a naval and military court martial - a secret, tribunal. The matter, I presume, would not come before the AttorneyGeneral.
– Tes; the proceedings of all courts martial come before the AttorneyGeneral.
– Has the Government’s treatment of Germans resident in Australia been harsh up to the present time?
– I see no provision in the clause to the effect that it can be put into operation only after the AttorneyGeneral has been consulted. The position would be different if it provided that no action could be taken without his consent.
– Before or after? It would be very difficult.
– The Minister of Home Affairs wishes to know whether the Government have so far treated unfairly any of the Germans at present residing in Australia. I do not believe that they have, nor do I believe that they will. I should be very sorry to think that members of our party would allow themselves, because of what may be described as “the war feeling,” to do an injustice. I notice, however, that power is to be taken under this clause to apply to naturalized persons, with or without modifications, all or any of the provisions of any order relating to aliens. I fear that it is rather dangerous to hand over to naval or military men the power to hold courts martial. It would appear to me to be unnecessary, seeing that we have civil Courts that ought to be able to deal with all the offences covered by this measure. We have Judges and magistrates who are capable of weighing evidence, and men who are accustomed to hear evidence from day to day are in a far better position to decide what is really evidence against an alleged offender than are the men who, as members of a naval or military court martial, would be placed in the position of Judges. I do not rise to oppose the Bill, because it was introduced only an hour ago, and I have, therefore, not had an opportunity to properly study it. I hope, however, that the Government will take full power to see that wherever possible cases arising under the Act will come under their supervision before they go to these secret tribunals, where the persons concerned may not enjoy the protection they would have in an open Court presided over by a Judge or a magistrate.
– The position of the Government in this matter is not one of hostility to any person, whether he be of German or other nationality. It is rather that of an inflexible determination to prevent any person, alien, naturalized citizen, or British-born, from doing any act endangering the safety of the Commonwealth. The ordinary powers of the law have been found insufficient for this purpose. This is a question, not of sentiment, but of fact. Our powers under the ordinary law, I repeat, have not been found to be sufficient, and people enjoying the hospitality of this country have violated and betrayed it. Hearing some honorable members speak, any one would imagine that we were living in Utopia. The honorable member for Capricornia knows perfectly well that the Prime Minister and all his colleagues in the Ministry would be the last men on earth to part with that authority which belongs to the civil power. I do not believe that we shall need to have recourse to courts martial other than those within the ordinary control of the military, and provided for under the Defence Act. It is quite certain, however, that all cases cannot be dealt with by the civil law. There is about the civil law a majestic dignity and circumlocution which unfit it to deal with espionage and treachery in a time of national danger. It is for that purpose, and that alone, that we desire a sharper and readier instrument, and to it we shall resort only in the very last extremity. The Prime Minister has given the honorable member his positive assurance, and I give him mine, that this power will be used only when absolutely necessary, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary. No general power will be given. I wish honorable members to follow me closely. No general power will be given to the military authorities other than that which they have already. If it should be necessary to give a special power, that special power will be defined; their duties will be defined, and the extent and the time during which the power shall be exercised will also be defined. In any case their determination will come up for review before me, as representing the Department of Justice, and, through me, will come before the Government. Therefore, the civil power, and the power of this Government and Parliament, will be maintained supreme. My only desire is to disabuse the honorable member’s mind of the idea that we propose to harass those persons who, whether from Germany or any other country, have made their homes with us, while they treat this country as it ought to be treated, and as we shall insist on its being treated. So long as they remember their obligations and duties as citizens they will be welcome; but when they forget these things they cease to have any right to be treated other than as enemies. I am as ready as any one to extend the hand of friendship to men of all nations; but I am not ready to sit down and have my throat cut by people who, while masquerading as peaceful citizens, are doing what they can to undermine the foundations of this Commonwealth and democratic government.
.- The Attorney-General has told us that these very large powers are needed to deal with cases likely to crop up in time of war.
– Exceptional cases.
– Yes ; emergency cases. I should like the Attorney-General to tell us on what he bases this particular clause. Has any similar legislation been recently passed at Home? What model has been, followed ?
– We have followed the British model ; but the honorable member ought to know that the drafting of a Bill is a trade secret; the drafting Department never divulges where it gets its models, and is supposed to get the form out of its own head, though it never does.
– That is not so, because I have seen Bills with marginal notes showing the source of the various clauses. I thought it possible that the Attorney-General might have seen some other similar legislation recently.
– I am unable to say more than I have on the point. I do not know that this Bill follows word for word the British Act, but the scope and the powers are very similar.
– I have no desire to oppose the Bill, if the Attorney-General finds that the powers are necessary, and the Government are prepared to take the responsibility of exercising them. As the Attorney-General rightly says, this is not a time when we, perhaps, can resort to the long and circuitous methods of the civil law.
– It is strange to hear such an admission from a barrister !
– Under present circumstances, action has to be taken promptly; and, for my part, I cannot see why a civilian should not be treated in the same way as a military man if he . is guilty of espionage, or any ‘ traitorous conduct, so long as the Military Board or Naval Board, before whom he is taken, goes to the trouble to give him a fair trial.
– In time of war, I agree with the honorable member.
– And this Bill applies only in time of war. But, even if a person were brought before the Naval or Military Board, would it not be possible for the Board to send the case to the tribunal contemplated in section 90 of the Defence Act, if it thought that such a course would meet the case?
– I’ do not think so.
– All I am concerned about is the exact position of the Boards in regard to the exercise of their discretionary power - whether their action is or is not to be final. For instance, the clause provides -
The Governor-General may make regulations for securing the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth, and for conferring such powers and imposing such duties as he thinks fit with reference thereto, upon the Naval Board and the Military Board and the members of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
The regulations may authorize the trial by courts martial and punishment of persons contravening any of the provisions of such regulations designed -
to prevent the spread of reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm.
I cannot conceive of wider or more discretionary powers; and the AttorneyGeneral knows, as well as I do, what happens in connexion with the military now and then. He knows, for instance, that on the outbreak of the war, members of the Forces went about commandeering everything they thought they required. I heard of some cases in which they had stopped drays and horses in the street and taken away what animals they required, leaving the owners stranded. It is not a power resident only in the Military Board or Naval Board, but a power given to the whole of the members of the Naval and Military Forces.
– The Forces cannot act at all unless we clothe them with authority.
– That is what the Government are proposing to do.
– We do not say so at all. It might as well be argued that we encourage burglary by passing a Crimes Act.
– What I am dealing with now is the discretion that is left to individuals in the exercise of the powers conferred. With the Crimes Bill that we passed the other day, it seems to me that the Government are now clothed with complete autocratic power relating to the civilians of the country, and to all matters concerning the prosecution of the war. I take it that the intention is to make the power complete; and, therefore, the obligation is all the greater on the Attorney-General to see that he does not clothe these irresponsible people - not irresponsible, but sometimes not wise people - with all these powers without check or hindrance. I have no doubt, however, that all this has been taken into account. It is of no use conjuring up all the evils that may arise, and I am merely pointing out some of the possibilities of the case, with a view to perfecting the regulations made under the Bill.
– What will be the power of punishment that the courts martial will have, under sub-clause 2 ? Clause 6 provides that any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any regulation or order under the Bill shall be subject to a penalty of £100 or six months’ imprisonment; and this contemplates a prosecution before the Civil Court.
– By the clause under discussion, we are authorizing courts martial to punish persons.
– I take it that the whole Bill is extra civil.
– No, that is not so. It is clear that if a court martial is not constituted, and there is a breach of the regulations, the penalty is £100 or six months’ imprisonment; while sub-clause 2 of clause 4 contemplates regulations which will authorize a court martial to punish persons who contravene the BillAm I correct in supposing that there may be conferred on a court martial the power to punish in any way that may be prescribed by the regulations - an even greater power than is given under clause 6 ?
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 4 deals with an entirely different matter, and provides for trial by court martial and punishment as prescribed in the order.
– That is to say, if a person communicates with the enemy, or is guilty of any other offence, the Government reserve to themselves the power to prescribe any punishment that they think fit? I do not suggest that the Government can go to the extent of imposing capital punishment, but the penalty might be six months, six years, or imprisonment for life. I mention this because the powers are very wide to be left to a military tribunal which is not composed of persons who are trained to weigh and sift evidence. Of course I am not saying one word against the sense of justice of the members of courts martial, but merely pointing out that, while the Civil Court is given only a limited power of punishment, a court martial is given unlimited power.
– That is so.
– That is the intention of the Attorney-General ?
– Yes; I thought I had made the matter perfectly clear. In reply to the honorable member for Angas, I said, in effect, that this clause was quite a separate and distinct Bill, and gave authority to the Government to make regulations clothing the Naval or Military Board, or any member of the Forces, with certain powers. The authority conferred on the Government is tremendous, and the responsibility is equally great; but circumstances demand that there should be this power. It does not follow for one moment that it is proposed to exercise the power to the full, or at any particular time, but events move with lightning rapidity, and at any moment circumstances may arise that will make its exercise imperative. I firmly believe that the power is necessary. As for the power to create courts martial no doubt a court martial has rather a summary way of o getting through business. I do not approve of courts martial as a general principle. I have a rooted objection to the subordination of the civil power; but the present circumstances are no ordinary ones. The Government will not make any order or regulation under clause 4 which will give a court martial power to deal with any person, whether an alien, a naturalized subject, or a British citizen, without reference to the AttorneyGeneral - the Government will have the last word. What is really proposed - and honorable members have the positive assurance - is government by Executive in certain cases.
– One does not like to. delay this Bill, but we are now considering a very important clause, and the reason why I put the question to the Attorney-General for confirmation of my impression as to whether sub-clause 1 was independent of subclause 2 was this: As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Darling Downs, if a regulation made for the purposes of sub-clause 1 be broken, it then becomes a question for judicial inquiry. In other words, there is a prosecution before a Court; it is a law that must be judicially interpreted, and the judicial power of the Commonwealth is vested in a Court. Then under clause 6, the prosecution might land a man in a penalty of £100. But that is not all that exists to secure the observance of the regulations made, because you may vest in a Naval or Military Board any power you like. You may give them power to carry out by force the authority vested in them. In addition to the powers which you give them to carry out an object, the person who attempts in any way to frustrate those powers may be prosecuted under clause 6, and may incur a penalty of £100. That is how I read sub-clause 1, which is exceedingly wide. But I take it that in administration the Attorney-General will not permit the vesting of these powers in other than the Naval and Military Board. When the words “ Naval and Military Forces” occur in the clause, I take it that they are only to show that whatever powers are vested in the Board may be executed through members of the Forces. They do not mean that an individual member of the Forces may be picked up and vested with the powers which it is intended to confer on the Naval and Military Board. I therefore look on these words as providing an executive means of carrying out whatever powers are vested in the Naval and Military Beard.
– The honorable and learned member is quite right.
– As regards sub-clause 2, it is really a power to say that the provisions of the Army Act as regards courts martial may be applied under circumstances mentioned in paragraphs a, b, and c. That is to say, you may pass a regulation declaring that certain persons contravening the provisions of these regulations may be tried by court martial, but only in such cases as those in which they would be tried by court martial under the Army Act were they members of the Naval and Military Forces on active service. I have said of sub-clause 1 that I believe that any power which the Governor-General may give would, as a matter of verbal interpretation, be conferred upon the Naval and Military Board, and I cannot find any limitation of that power. It may be, as suggested, that the power would go to the length of capital punishment. We are really in the position of trusting the executive, but it is our duty to point out what we believe may be logically deduced from the words employed. Reverting to sub-clause 2, I think that the protection there is that it only enables the GovernorGeneral to declare by regulation that, just as offences committed by members of the Naval and Military Forces on active service may be tried by court martial, so offences by other persons, although not committed on active service, may be tried by court martial.
– That is so.
– I cannot see what limitation we can put on that. I am sorry that by stress of circumstances we are compelled to be rather wide in our drafting, and I am sorry also that the States by stress of circumstances have been compelled to pass many Acts which are beyond the requirements of the occasion. The Moratorium Acts passed by the States are not the same as the Act passed in England. The English Act has limitations protecting the public and protecting the creditors. The State Acts, which are supposed to be modelled on the English Act, go far beyond it. However, the circumstances are exceptional, and I think our duty is done by pointing out the limitations of the clause.
.- The Attorney-General has stated that the military authorities will have no power beyond what is delegated by the Execu tive. He has further told us that the Executive will still have complete control over all these trials.
– No, I did not say that. I said we would make an order in such a way that we should have the sentence forwarded to us as prescribed in section 99 of the Defence Act.
– Will the Executive be able to have control of these trials before the sentence is passed in each individual case, or will the military authorities hold the trial and inflict the punishment, and then the Attorney-General be referred to as a Court of appeal ? I believe we should follow, as far as the law will allow, those who are damaging the community, but at the same time we must protect the innocent.
– I refer the honorable gentleman to section 99 of the Defence Act-
The proceedings of a court martial, other than a regimental court martial, shall, after promulgation, be forwarded to the Minister for transmission to the Attorney-General for record.
I say that if there should be any courts martial the decisions and the evidence taken will be forwarded to the Executive through me before the sentence is carried out.
– The sentences will be reviewed by you?
– I did not say that. They need not be reviewed by me, but they could be.
– These cases should be reviewed by the Attorney-General before the military authorities have power to act, because we know that military trials all the world over are short and sharp, and justice is not always done. Whilst we should pursue those who are offenders against the country, it is also our duty to protect the innocent, and I for one am not prepared to hand over any civil power to the military authorities. We should retain the power of life and death in every case, and we should not give the military authorities more power to control civil rights than they have at the present moment. I say that these cases should be referred to the civil Executive before the military, authorities can inflict punishment.
– The honorable member for Robertson is naturally very anxious that there should be no injustice done to any one. I am completely in accord with him. I cannot say that the Government will review every sentence. But we shall retain the power to review every sentence. And that is all that is necessary. The idea of giving power of life and death to a court martial, divesting ourselves of our responsibilities, of our power of review, is so opposed to our conception of what ought to be done that to me it is inconceivable. No such thing is contemplated for a moment. In any case, this is not a question of life and death. No power of life and death is to be handed over to any court martial under this measure. Questions of life and death must be decided by the ordinary Courts in the usual way. The best answer to the honorable member is really contained in my interjection in reply to the honorable member for Angas, that what we are considering is really government by the Executive. In certain cases we shall delegate to certain persons power to carry out certain things. Amongst other things we shall delegate to them power to hold what is known as a court martial. Any sentences which the courts martial may impose are limited to imprisonment.
– For what length of time?
– That is quite a different matter. It is very different from life and death.
– But you could intern an offender for life.
– In every case the person aggrieved may approach the AttorneyGeneral in his capacity as Minister of Justice, and have a review of his case. He will be in exactly the same position as a prisoner sentenced by an ordinary Court.
– I understood the AttorneyGeneral to say that it would be competent, under section 99 of the Defence Act, to permit the review of the decision of any court martial. The terms of that Act do not justify an interpretation of that kind. It is quite true that the Executive has certain inherent powers, but, so far as concerns the results of investigations made by courts martial, they are only forwarded to the Attorney-General for purposes of record, and, amongst other things, to enable any one who has been convicted by court martial to secure some particulars regarding the evidence which has been taken.
– The Attorney-General could review the decision in any way he thought fit.
– No; he may have certain executive power.
– You cannot call it trial by court martial if the AttorneyGeneral can review every case.
– The AttorneyGeneral, in conjunction with the Executive, has certain powers apart altogether from the court martial. In answer to the objections made by various honorable members, the Attorney-General stated that there were certain powers of review, and, in order to show what the powers were, he referred us to section 99 of the Defence Act 1903-11. If the Attorney-General is relying upon that particular section:-
– I do not rely on it. I refer the honorable gentleman to it.
– There can bo no meaning in the reference unless the honorable gentleman relies on certain of the powers which are conferred in that section. If it is contended that power to review should be given, there should, in order to meet the suggestions made by honorable members, be something more definite inserted in the Bill. So far as the Defence Act is concerned, no power to review is conferred at all.
– Oh, yes, there is. The case must come before the AttorneyGeneral.
– Only for purposes of record, and not for purposes of review. I think that the AttorneyGeneral is under a misapprehension in that regard. The Crown may have an inherent power of review.
– The essence of a court martial is finality.
– This may, of course, be limited by Act of Parliament, and the question is how far it is so limited bv the provisions of the Bill, and of regulations which may be made under the Bill, which will have the force of the Bill itself. There is the possibility of the limitation of the discretion and powers o’t the Crown by the Bill, or by regulations framed under it.
– - In any order or regulation made under section 4, provision will be made that cases shall come under review, as 1 have said.
– That is very satisfactory.
– Quite apart from my statutory power that may or may not exist.
Sir ROBERT BEST__ I suggest the putting in of some enabling power in that connexion.
.- I have listened carefully for something which might throw light on a matter to which I referred earlier in the day, the searching of certain premises in Melbourne and in Perth belonging to or rented by aliens. We cannot be too drastic in dealing with treachery or espionage, and I have read with a good deal of disgust of the tender handling of alien or naturalized traitors who. in the Old Country, have been guilty of acts intended to subvert the government. Their offences have been met by the imposition of a few months’ imprisonment; although, to my mind, much more drastic punishment should have been given. But I object emphatically to anything in the nature of random persecution of innocent persons. The search to which I refer may or may not have been justified; I do not wish for any official information regarding it, beyond the assurance that tho Government had reasonable suspicions to justify the steps that were taken. To a casual onlooker, it would appear that, at this time of day, search for evidence of treachery is likely to be futile. Such searchings should have been undertaken a couple of months ago. If there was anything objectionable at these places at the outset of the war which could be hidden, you may be sure that it was removed long ago and put beyond the reach of discovery. There may be a leakage of information, or of assistance to the enemy, from Australia, and if there is, the people of the country should be made aware of the fact. If there is nothing of the kind, what justification was there for the invasion by a military force of the premises of decent ar.d reputable persons ? I want to know whether the military officer Or officers in command acted in the matter on their own initiative, whether, being perhaps over zealous, they thought that they might as well have a go *at these people, on the chance of discovering something. If there was nothing beyond vague suspicion to justify the search, grave wrong and injury has been inflicted on reputable persons who have been for many years in residence and in business in Australia. I wish to know whether the searches were made with the consent and approval of the Government, or whether they -were authorized only by the military authorities ? Will Ministers make sure, in future, that action of this kind is not taken without reasonable ground ?
– There was reasonable ground for suspicion.
.- I am always timid about giving power to the military. Even in war time, the civil power should hold control. This cursed war that has broken out is a war against military control. It is with some diffidence that I support clauses giving the military more power than it has at the present moment. Military authorities actually took possession of this building and refused to allow men to enter it who had the right to come here; I allude to the occasion of the march past of our Forces. In another case three men, armed with bayonets, took possession of a little office in which the women’s paper is published. This is not a party question, and I do not say whether the occurrence took place during the regime of the Cook Ministry or in the early days of this Government. They said that the censor had ordered them to take possession, and they would not allow the journal to be published. Fortunately, the present Minister of Defence was man enough, when the matter was brought before him, to put down his foot firmly.
– Hear, hear! We have had some very good articles published since.
– Yes. The portionthat was censored contained the words of the divine Christ, which were considered not fit to be published. Take another case. An old gentleman, eighty years of age, naturalized for many years, and a mate of mine for forty years, was asked if he carried his naturalization papers in his pocket. He said, “ No, they are at home. I shall be glad to place them at your disposal.” He was asked, “Cannot you send for them?” This was fairly late at night. His answer was, “ No, I cannot, but I refer you to Dr. Maloney, Mr. Prendergast, and many others who know me.” “Ultimately a police official came along and said, “This gentleman is all right,” and the matterwas passed over. As the honorable member for Batman has justly pointed out, clause 5 applies to naturalized persons, with or withoutmodifications, all or any of the provisions of any order relating to aliens. The Bill has been framed primarily to put down treachery, and I am in agreement with the Government as to the necessity for doing that. If enemies’ money is used to buy up our own citizens, or to pay a naturalized or an alien spy, the offender should be punished. I have been a member of the Melbourne German Turn Verein for forty years, and I am as proud of the fact to-day as I was when I first became a member. I hold a pass which admits me to every gymnasium in the world. I do not believe that any Australiannative, born of German parents, but that would fight for Australia against Germany. Who have been my teachers for over forty years? One of them was a man who had to leave Germany in 1848; Techo, a gymnastic master, who having been forty years from Germany, returned when an amnesty was proclaimed, but Bismarck would not allow him to enter. Are men such as these likely to be traitors to Australia at a time like this ? Certainly not. Much of the foundations of my Democracy I received from such men. They left their Homeland cursing, not it, but the infernal Government whose cruelty and injustice made them suffer. Some of these men are our best citizens. Of course, traitors are to be found everywhere. One of the twelve disciples was a traitor. We must expect that money will do in Australia what it has done in the Old Land. The punishments inflicted at Bow-street, in London, were travesties. There would have been some justification for much severer penalties. If a Britisher living in Germany, and naturalized there, communicated with an enemy of Germany, he would be shot.
– What punishments were inflicted at Bow-street?
– One man was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment; in another case, four months’ imprisonment was the penalty. I wish the AttorneyGeneral would say whether the civil power will hold the control in any case.
– Yes; it will.
– Then I am perfectly content.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Orders in Council) -
The Governor-General maj’, by order published in the Gazette, make provision for any matters which appear necessary or expedient, with a view to the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth, and in particular -
for prohibiting aliens, either generally or as regards specified places, and either absolutely or except under specified conditions and restrictions, from landing or embarking in the Commonwealth ;
for deporting aliens from the Common wealth ;
for requiring aliens to reside and remain within certain places or districts ;
for prohibiting aliens from residing cr remaining in any areas specified in the order;
for requiring aliens residing in the Commonwealth to comply with such provisions as to registration, change of abode, travelling, trading, or otherwise as are specified in the order ;
for applying to naturalized persons, with or without modifications, all or any provisions of any order relating to aliens ;
for requiring any person to disclose any information in his possession as to any matter specified in the order;
for preventing money or goods being sent out of Australia except under conditions approved by the Minister;
for appointing officers to carry the order into effect, and for conferring on such officers and on the Minister such powers as are necessary or expedient for the purposes of the order; and
for conferring on such persons as are specified in the order such powers with respect to arrest, detention, search of premises and persons, inspecting, impounding, or retention of books, documents, and papers, and otherwise, as are specified in the order, and for any other matters necessary or expedient for giving effect to the order.
.- Doubt has been expressed as to whether, in some cases, the last clause included capital punishment. On looking up the Army Act, I find that it does not. This fact should relieve the minds of honorable members. In regard to the clause now before the Committee, I do not know that we should go the length of paragraphf, which provides that the Governor-General may make an order applying to naturalized persons with or without modification all or any provisions of any order relating to aliens. When a person is naturalized, there is, of course, a certificate of character; and I assume that the Government are still allowing persons to naturalize; and, though something has appeared in the press stating that the practice has been stopped in Great Britain, I do not think that that is so. When I was in office, I cabled to the Imperial Government rather early in the war, and also later, asking what was being done, and I ascertained that the British authorities were still allowing alien people to naturalize.
– Naturalization has been stopped for some time.
– I understood that they were still allowing it, but that they required better and special guarantees. The practice in the Commonwealth, until recently, was exactly in line with that followed in Great Britain. From those who were subjects of our enemies, special guarantees were required, and there was careful scrutiny as to character and habits, extending even to persons after naturalization. Every precaution taken at Home was taken here. Under this clause, and the paragraph that I have mentioned, the Bill provides that, even after naturalization, special laws may be made by which naturalized persons may be segregated in a particular place.
– If any person has done that which is inimical to the Commonwealth, why should the form of naturalization save him ?
– Nothing in the Bill says that those persons must have done something inimical to the Commonwealth. The paragraph gives a general power - apart from any offence - to frame a regulation, with a view to public safety, declaring that particular persons may be grouped in particular localities. However, if. the same power applies in Great Britain to naturalized persons, I shall say no more. I know that a Bill was introduced in the Imperial Parliament to fix certain localities in which aliens might be grouped so that they might be under supervision, but I am not aware that the provision of such a measure would extend to naturalized persons.
– It is not contemplated here.
– But the power is given.
– There are no circumstances which call for its exercise.
– We do not know. This Bill seems to have been drafted to follow an Imperial measure, but I do not know that the power as used in Great Britain applies to naturalized persons.
– I do not know that it does.
.- Does the Attorney-General think it necessary that we should retain paragraph /, applying to naturalized persons all the drastic regulations which in the other paragraphs are applied to aliens? No person is naturalized in the Commonwealth unless he has been a resident for at least two years, long before there was thought of war. We should not select our own citizens for specially drastic treatment.
– Many of these persons have become naturalized since the war commenced.
– But they have been resident here, and have given necessary evidence of their good faith.
– The number who have naturalized since the war commenced is not very great. In ‘the first six weeks applications came in at the rate of about 100 per week.
– At any rate, I suppose that naturalization is now suspended. Clause 4, with its application to citizens generally, should be quite sufficiently strong in regard to those people who have taken out naturalization papers, and it should not be necessary to insert a special provision, more or less offensive to those persons, applying to them drastic regulations which ought not to be applied to them. I am glad to have noticed in the Chamber to-day a spirit of deprecation of the preaching of the gospel of national hatred of which we have seen something and heard something outside. I deprecate this preaching. I hope that Australia under a Labour Government will set a better example in regard to that matter as dealing with persons - not those responsible for the war, but the masses of the people under the Government that is responsible for the war.
– You spoil that utterance by the party complexion you give to it.
– I did not give to my utterance a party complexion, except to say that I looked to the Government which is the head of the party of which I am a member to reflect certain views, which I think are purely Australian, in regard to this matter.
– You put the case as if another Government had acted differently.
– I simply say that 1 look to the present Government to promote and foster a spirit of justice, and not to be so led away as to echo the sentiment printed in a Melbourne paper yesterday inviting us to cultivate a spirit of holy hatred against certain so-called diabolical persons. Peelings of that kind I deprecate, and from them I dissociate myself entirely, whether the spirit relates to an enemy country or any other country. Needless to say, I join with those who are determined to take every reasonable step to protect our shores, and do our duty to every part of the Empire in the fight which has been forced upon us, but I hope that nothing will be done in this Chamber to impose or suggest the imposition of penalties on naturalized citizens of this Commonwealth.
– Other than what would be done to our own people in the same circumstances.
– Yes. But this paragraph of clause 5 shows that their position will not be precisely the same as that of our own people, because it is a special paragraph, indicating that specially drastic treatment may be meted out to persons already naturalized.
– As to the general tone of the honorable and learned member’s remarks and his deprecation of the spirit of national hatred, I quite agree with him that we have no quarrel with the masses of the German nation; but we have a” quarrel, and a quarrel to the death, with that intolerable Prussian military autocracy which, by this war and by deliberate preparation during the last twenty years, has hoped to dominate the world, and trample under foot liberty and democratic government. In order to meet the machinations of this blood and iron policy, the power given in this paragraph is obviously necessary. We are face to face with the most terrible realities. It is for us a struggle of life and death. We must not forget this fact. Sentiment is idle; mere talk will not avail. This Bill is not intended to harass any law-abiding person in the Commonwealth, naturalized, un naturalized, or native born ; but, as I have said, it is a measure which the circumstances have shown to be necessary for dealing with the extraordinary conditions arising out of this war. I have at my disposal information which shows that persons regard the form of naturalization as a convenient cloak which they assume in order to operate more successfully against the Commonwealth. We have evidence of that fact. In the face of facts like this it is necessary to have powers to deal with naturalized persons in a manner befitting the circumstances. I do not attach much weight to the mere form of naturalization under present circumstances. In the organization to which I belong there are a thousand foreigners - Scandinavians, Germans, Italians, and what not - better men I never hope to meet. I never ask them whether they are naturalized or unnaturalized; I merely ask whether they are unionists. If, however, I found a naturalized German doing anything opposed to the interests of my organization, let alone my country, he would get very short shrift from me. Naturalization is nothing but a form if the substance does not accompany it - that is, if there is no change in the heart and mind. I ask the honorable and learned member for Batman how long a period of expatriation in Germany would be needed to destroy his love for Australia. If I were in Germany for 100 years, if I could live that long, I should still be British or Australian, and I would not think it wrong to do what I could for Great Britain or Australia. I put a German in Australia on exactly the same footing. His sympathy is for Germany in this struggle. Is it not a question of life and death with him and with us?
– But you do not wish to penalize him?
– No. So long as he expends his patriotism in mere desire or hopes more or less blatantly expressed, I say nothing; I care not what people say, it is a mere matter of taste; let speech run free; but it is another matter when a man does something against the interests and safety of this Commonwealth. Then, whether he is naturalized or not, punishment speedy and severe ought to be meted out to him. In reply to the honorable and learned member for Batman, I desire to say further that it is the intention of the Government to apply this measure to an extent which the circumstances show to be necessary, and no further. I wish also to say to my fellow citizens of this country that, whether naturalized or not, they will receive at the hands of this Government a fair and? square deal. They have no right to expect more. As long as they give a fair and square deal to tie Commonwealth, all will be well ; but, if they do not, then under this law we shall be able to deal with them quickly and effectively. That is the position. I can assure my honorable and learned friend that the sentiments he has uttered regarding his hatred of war and his love of the spirit of brotherhood which ought to animate all, but which, too obviously, does not, are reciprocated to the full by this Government. At the same time, it has a lively apprehension of its duties and of the dangers with which it finds itself confronted to-day. This measure is designed for a special purpose, and it will be used with all discretion.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented and read a first time.
– I think that concludes our business for to-day.
– Give me ten minutes to deal with private members’ business.
– To-morrow is grievance day. I do not wish to prevent the honorable member going on with his notice of motion, but he can submit it tomorrow.
– I cannot move my motion to-morrow, because it will not be first on the list.
– Order ! There is no business before the House. I cannot allow an irregular discussion.
– I move-
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the administration and expenditure at Canberra.
I do not propose to occupy much time in submitting my motion to the House, because there are other important notices of motion with which honorable members desire to deal. My proposal should not provoke any discussion. I am not submitting it for the first time. When the late Government came into power, I asked its leader, the right honorable member for Parramatta, to grant a Committee of inquiry, or to allow an inquiry of some kind into reports that were being circulated regarding the administration of, and the expenditure at, the Federal Capital. The statements then made were not levelled at the present Government, since it was not then in existence, nor were they levelled at the Cook Administration, which had only just taken office; they were made against previous Governments, and they were to the effect that the expenditure at Canberra had been on extravagant lines. My own knowledge of the expenditure there leads me to believe that there is a good deal of truth in the reports. We are as yet only laying the foundations of the Capital. The amount already expended is but the forerunner of an expenditure of many millions which nrast take place there, and it seems to me that, at the very outset, we ought to take action to insure that our expenditure shall follow sound economic lines. The question is not whether the work shall be carried out under contract or by day labour. My point is that all work at the Capital should be under closer supervision; that it should be of the best character; and that we should tate care that the Government receive the best value for their money. I do not wish to make any imputations against officials. The adoption of such a course in this House is always to be deprecated, seeing that the officials concerned cannot make answer here. The Minister must be allowed time to obtain information to answer any charges that are made. Although many statements have been made to me, I have refused to repeat them here, because I have no proof of them. Throughout my political career I have never attempted to blacken any officer’s character, and we ought not to repeat allegations in this House, where those concerned cannot reply to them. The Minister of Home Affairs has, since my last speech here on this matter, paid a visit to the Capital, and I congratulate him on his action. I remind him, however, that when he goes there and asks for information, he has to obtain it from the men who are actually administering the Capital, and who, while they may be strictly honest, are, at the same time, prone to take a partial view of things. No man can be a judge of his own work. In no other part of the world is there such a method of control or management as we have at Canberra. What are the conditions prevailing there ? The Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Colonel Miller, is acting as Administrator. He was sent there by the honorable member for Darwin, who, at the time, held office as Minister of Home Affairs, and was by him designated the Administrator. He has, however, no real legal position or power If an honorable member questions any of his actions, what happens ? A letter is sent by the member to the Department, and . the Minister at once refers it to Colonel Miller, as Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, and he then proceeds to deal with it as Colonel Miller, the Administrator of the Federal Capital. No private enterprise would be conducted in that way. And, whilst I make no imputation against any one, I think that we should follow business lines. I am told that at the present time carpenters and other tradesmen at the Capital are being discharged, on the ground that there is no work for them. No charge is made against their competency, but within a week of their dismissal other men from Victoria are put in their places. I claim no special right for the local men to be employed; but if this statement be true - and I have put these reports in writing before the Department - that a man who has gone to the expense of moving his wife and family to the Capital is suddenly discharged, not because of any want of competency as a tradesman, but on the ground that there is no work, and that thereafter a single man is put on in his place, there ought to be some investigation, and local men should have some reasonable consideration.
– When did this occur ?
– The present Ministry is not responsible for it; but it’ has occurred within the last three months. We ought to have some better system of administration. Then again, I believe that if the land resumed at the Capital by the honorable member for Darwin when he held office as Minister of Home Affairs - and he seems to be the only one who has done much there - were leased out properly, it would earn interest on the money paid for it, and there would be some people settled on it, putting it to the best use. There is no land law or Ordinance, and the Administrator is a regular czar in the way of fixing rents and conditions. As a matter of fact, relatives of some of the principal officials have leased large areas of land in the Territory. I am pretty certain in my own mind that there is nothing wrong in these transactions, but the principle is unsound. An official is very foolish to lease land to relatives unless the leaseholds are put up to auction. Under all the circumstances, I appeal to the Minister to take a practical view, and appoint a Select Committee. My own view is that, as in the case of Washington, there ought to he a Commission of three to govern the Territory ; and if such a Commission, like a Harbor Trust or a Metropolitan Board of Works, were empowered to borrow money, I am satisfied that the Capital would prove no drain on the Commonwealth. At present, if there is any dispute as to the value of land to be resumed, the matter has to be taken to the High Court ; and I am quite sure that neither the present nor any past Minister would agree that such a condition under the law is a fair one, when questions of the kind could be promptly and inexpensively settled by an appeal to arbitration. I make no charges against any previous Government; and certainly the present Government cannot be held responsible for anything that there may be wrong; but I believe that some of the works have been carried out in an extravagant way. For this, of course, a Minister in charge cannot be blamed, because all depends on the supervision, which, although there are some splendid officers there, has not been as good in some cases as it might have been. From my own knowledge, I can acquit the officers of many of the charges that have been made, but the whole principle of the system of temporary administration is rotten to the core.
– Why not refer the matter to the Public Works Committee?
– I have no objection to that proposal ; my only desire is to have an inquiry by some authoritative body. Personally, I should not care to take part in an investigation of the kind, because I know, and have high regard for, many of the officers, though, of course, I am always prepared to do my duty. While extravagance is rife. I think we are getting some good work done, and, in many ways, the foundations have been well laid. But where are tha plans of the city ? We have been told that the bank chamber which is being built there is big enough, and good enough, for the head office of the Commonwealth Bank; and, further, that it has been built on one of the main avenues of the city. As Ave know, wrangling is going on in regard to the laying-out of the streets and thoroughfares, and an inquiry such as I have suggested would do away with this unpleasantness, and place matters on a business footing, while affording us much useful information, and saving considerable sums of money in the future. The people and the workmen there would be rendered contented and happy, and the Capital generally made a profitable undertaking. There is a prevalent idea that Victorian influence is behind the delay that has taken place, but this I do not believe, although many residents of this State have expressed the opinion that no Federal Capital is required. However, New South Wales is entitled to have the undertaking carried out, and splendid foundations have been laid. I think that an inquiry of the kind is too wide for the Public Works Committee ; whereas such a body as I have proposed could speedily “conclude the work, and should not entail any expense.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. It is not necessary for me to add anything to what has been said by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. It is evident that the House would be richer for an investigation of the kind proposed; and the information contained in the report would enable us to discuss matters in detail.
– I regret to say that I am not in favour of the proposal of the honorable member for EdenMonaro. During the short time I have been in office I have, to the best of my ability, made myself acquainted with the position of affairs in regard to the Federal Capital and Territory, and a visit to the place has led me to the conclusion that the administration, so far from being bad, is good and efficient. Of course I do not pretend to say that at Canberra may be found Paradise and perfection, but there is certainly no justification for any Committee of Inquiry. Evidently the idea of the honorable member for EdenMonaro is that because the work is carried on at a considerable distance from Melbourne there is, therefore, looseness, carelessness, and maladministration. This, however, does not necessarily follow, and I ask why there should be any more absence of control and care at Canberra than there is in the construction of the building for the Postal Department at the foot of Bourke-street ? All these works are carried out on precisely the same lines, and under precisely similar supervision.
– One work is under public observation and the other is not. We are told that the bank at Canberra is being erected on one of the avenues.
– It will be no serious matter if two or three temporary buildings on a street, or intended street, disappear during the next five or six years; there are much bigger considerations in the administration of the Territory than these trifling matters. I have heard something to the effect that the banking building encroaches some 5 or 6 feet on the avenue, but whether that be so or not there are, as I say, much more important matters to concern us. ‘ It reflects credit on our predecessors that the Commonwealth has in its employ good officials and skilled craftsmen and foremen to carry out their works. There was some complaint made about the work at Cotter River, and when I was there on Sunday week I had an interview with the foreman, who, I may say, is not a gentleman in kid gloves.
– He is a very good man.
– And yet we hear reckless charges about maladministration and inefficiency.
– I made no reckless charges. I made no charges against anybody.
– The honorable member made charges of a loose, drag-net character, and by way of innuendo; and these charges I am trying to meet. The foreman has been doing supervising duties for very many years, and knowing, as he does, when a man puts in a fair day’s work, we may be sure that any one who is not found suitable will get his travelling ticket. I suggest that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro ought to take a pinch of salt with the complaints he receives. Amongst the workmen we find really good men, some not so good, and others who are the last to get a job and the first to leave ; and it is these latter who are so very free in making complaints. I may say that I am determined to investigate any complaint that may be laid before me, and to give a fair deal to all, whether rich or poor.
– All except nonunionists.
– That statement is an insult to the Government, and no credit to the honorable member; in fact, there is not another man in the House but himself that would make it.
– It is quite true.
– It is not true, but absolutely false. I take it that, so far as the honorable member for Perth means anything, he is referring to preference to unionists.
– That is so.
– It is very likely that if the honorable member had been in my place, and there had been an alteration in policy, he would have turned out the unionists.
– No, I should not.
– I doubt, that assurance very much. So far as the policy of the present Administration is concerned in the Department I represent, there is no desire to disturb any men in the employment of the Crown at the present time. I do not ask any man already employed whether he is a trade unionist or not.
– The Minister must not discuss that matter.
– The Minister is going against his own regulation.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs answer one question ?
– I must ask the honorable member for Wannon, and other honorable members, not to continue these interjections.
– The works being carried out at the present time are under the active and immedate supervision of a practical and skilful foreman. What the Federal Territory is suffering from more than anything else is a lack of continuous policy, but now that the Labour party are again in power we shall be able to follow up the policy of the previous Fisher Government. Waiving to one side the abstract opinions which honorable members may hold in regard to contract and day labour, I would point out that when the Government are carrying out their own works they are training a number of officers, and they are able to pick men for the carrying out of work after work just as well as a contractor who has been carrying on operations for thirty or forty years. That is one of the advantages of a continuous policy of construction by day labour. I say there is nothing to justify an inquiry at the present time into the condition of affairs at Canberra.
– Why do you wish to prevent it?
– The reason is obvious. Is not every Government a Committee for the purpose of carrying on the affairs of the Commonwealth, and responsible to Parliament for the efficient administration of the country?
– Will the Minister say what he thinks about the land question ?
– I am not afraid of the land question or any other matter connected with my Department.
– What does the Government fear from the inquiry ?
– Is it a fair thing to ask any Government to allow an inquiry unless a prima facie case for such inquiry is shown? Is government to degenerate to such a level that we are to have roving Commissions and Select Committees to do the work which the Government ought to do ? If they are not doing it the sooner they are put out of office the better. I have no love for Select Committees or Commissions either. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro ought, in the language of the Courts, to “ show cause “ for an inquiry. He has shown no cause. I do not desire the honorable member to think that I am using offensive language, but, to my mind, he has not given sufficient evidence to justify the House in agreeing to his motion. His statements are too general in character. I say that no Government is justified in accepting a Select Committee, which is really a Committee of inquiry into the Government’s own administration, unless there are very strong grounds for such a course. In regard to the administration of the Territory, the Administrator is not appointed under Statute, although I think he should be, and that a Bill for that purpose should be introduced. Whether we shall have time to deal with that, in addition to other more urgent matters, remains to be seen. But the interests of both Canberra and the Commonwealth are being well looked after by the Administrator. The statement has been made that the Administrator is acting according to his own methods, and that when any complaint is made the Department sends to him for a report. I would like to point out that there are other officers whose opinion about Canberra is asked, and if the complaint were serious enough, I would go there and personally investigate it. If there were any doubt in my mind, I would call in other officers to assist in the inquiry. We have been asked why we have not the plans of the lay out of the Capital City before the House. I will explain the reason. The late Government invited Mr. Griffin, who was the successful competitor for the designing of the lay-out of the Federal Capital, to come to Australia and submit an amended design after he had personally inspected the area and formed an opinion on the spot as to whether there was any necessity to alter his original scheme. I am waiting for the more matured plan of his amended design, and, when we receive it, we shall be in a position to go forward much faster than we are able to do at the present time.
– In the meantime we are to drift.
– In regard to the competition for a design for the Federal Parliament House at Canberra, a committee of five experts, comprising an American, an Austrian, a Frenchman, an Englishman, and an Australian as chairman, was appointed. But owing to the outbreak of war, I have simply turned the competition down.
– For good, or merely temporarily ?
– Not for good; I shall revive it.
– I hope you will alter the conditions.
– I may do- that. There was an element of doubt as to the advisability of proceeding with the competition at the present stage. It was represented to me that if I postponed it I would be doing an injury to various architects who had already put a certain amount of work into their designs, and that in consequence claims against the Federal Government would be made. The Australian architects who were competing would have had three months in which to proceed with their designs, and those in Europe about six weeks; but my officers advised me that probably hardly any work had been put into the designs, and that I need not allow that point to influence me at all. I was requested by Mr. Griffin to modify the order I had given for the postponement of the competition. I had no desire to do any injury to the competing architects, nor did I wish to put the Government into a position in which they would be liable to claims for injury on account of the postponement. The best course to follow was, to- my mind, to get the advice . of an outside expert. I therefore asked Mr.
Tompkins, the president of the Victorian Institute of Architects, to give me his opinion. Mr. Tompkins is considered by the Victorian architects of sufficient standing and ability to be their president, and that fact was quite good enough for me. He said, “ Mr. Archibald, you may be sure that the competing architects have done no work yet, and, therefore, you may turn the competition down without any fear of doing injury to them.” I merely mention this instance as an illustration of the line of action I would take - as I have no doubt any other Minister of Home Affairs would - to get outside advice whenever there is a doubt. I would not be bound slavishly by the advice of my officers. When a doubt arises I obtain an additional opinion from outside. It would be singularly unfortunate if, in the carrying out of public works, complaints of a serious character were made against any of the staff of the Home Affairs Department, and the Minister in charge did not avail himself of every means to ascertain whether the officers were doing efficient work, and were entitled to the confidence of the Government. That is the line of action we have taken, and there is nothing in the statement that the ‘Minister slavishly accepts the opinions of those officers who are carrying out our public works. Turning now to the land policy in connexion with the Federal Territory, I admit that that policy is not all that I could desire. I would like to see it put on a sound footing. I am acquainted with some of its defects, and I intend as soon as I possibly can to investigate the matter, but I am afraid that the proposal of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro would not help in any way to improve the conditions. There are evils in connexion with the ownership and leasehold of land at Canberra. An innuendo was thrown out about prominent officials or their relatives occupying great tracts of country. I wish to be perfectly frank, and I believe that the relative of an official occupies a tract of country, part of which is in the Territory, and the remainder in New South Wales. It is not the policy of this Government, nor is it the policy of any Government or Parliament in Australia, to prevent the son of a member of Parliament or of a civil servant from leasing land. Why should the relative of a member of Par-
Iliament or a civil servant be prevented from obtaining a lease by tender if he agrees to pay an honest rent for it in open competition ?
– He should not use firsthand knowledge.
– He should not do. anything underhand or unfair. In thecase which I have in mind the lessee pays a higher rent than any one else.
– That suggests that he has got the plum.
– My honorable friend would always impute something dishonorable. The information regarding this case was given to me voluntarily. Personally, I shall always see that the relative of a member or of a Minister who tenders for a lease of land is made to pay a fair rent for it, and a bit more perhaps, so that the interests of the country may be safeguarded; but I am not prepared to go further than that. In this instance there was no other tender, I believe, and the rent paid is higher than that at which the land was valued. If any charge can be brought against an official, I shall have it investigated thoroughly; but these innuendoes are beneath the dignity of the House. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has complained that the Department wishes to bring land-owners before the High Court. That is not so. I have asked one of my officers to prepare a statement showing the prices that have been asked for land, and the prices that we have paid in the case of both large and small estates. When there is a disagreement as to price, the Department gets valuations from the best valuators. Quite recently a case came before me. The land concerned was not in the Federal Capital area, though it was in New South Wales. My instruction was that a most reputable person knowing something about land values in the district should be asked to value the land. That is the policy which is always pursued by the Department; but, of course, there must be finality, and when an arrangement cannot be arrived at in any other way an appeal is made to the High Court. It has been suggested that there should be arbitration, but I am opposed to arbitration for the settlement of these disputes. What happens when, a claim goes to arbitration is this: Each side appoints “an arbitrator, and an umpire is also chosen. The arbitrators invariably split the difference. For in- stance, if the claim made by one side is £2,000 and the offer of the other £1,000, the arbitrators award £1,500. Such arbitration is not fair to the taxpayer. No doubt, Governments are regarded as fair game, but it is the duty of Ministers to study the interests of the taxpayers. I do not wish to take any one into the High Court, but I know that the taxpayers and the owners of property will be more fairly dealt with there than by the submission of cases to arbitration.
– The landowners would rather leave matters to the Minister to settle than go to the High Court. He could hear the evidence on both sides.
– I could not do more than I do now; but is it seriously suggested that my decisions would be regarded as satisfactory?
– I am sure that they would.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. £5 p.m.
– The history of arbitration as applied to the determination of land values shows that it is really a matter of splitting the difference, and not a matter of equity between the two contracting parties, who are in this case the Crown on the one hand and the propertyowner on the other. I did not anticipate that this motion would be reached so soon, but I asked the officer dealing with the matter of land resumption to supply me with some information that I could give to honorable members in order that they might realize the difficulty of the Department in the matter. I asked him not to pick out any special cases, but to give one or two examples of purchases involving large and small amounts. I shall refer to the individuals as A, B, C, and D. Honorable members can see for themselves the names of the vendors if they desire to do so. In the case of A, the claim was for £5,750 16s., the valuation placed upon the property by Mr. C. W. B. King being £3,447 10s., while Mr. A. W. Moriarty valued it at £2,852 14s. 2d.; the claim was settled for £3,417 16s. 8d., or £2,300 less than was claimed. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro spoke of Crown valuators. Mr. King and Mr. Moriarty are not Crown valuators. Any member of the public can go to these gentlemen and employ them. All that the Department require is that the valuators employed by them are men of good standing and reputation in their profession.
– Do I understand that the Commonwealth have no departmental valuator for property acquired in the Territory?
– These gentlemen were employed by the Commonwealth, but any person can employ them. According to some honorable members it would appear that the Government have certain valuators which they let loose on the community, and then swear by the valuations of these men, and drag every one into Court; but that is not the position. The valuators .employed by the Crown will value for us or for any one in the community.
– Would they not have a retainer from the Commonwealth in regard to valuations in the Territory? Surely they would not be available for the Commonwealth to-day and for the public to-morrow in the Territory.
– I do not suppose they would. Would the honorable member have a lawyer retained for him and for the other side at the same time? We need to use a little sense in debating this matter. In the case of B, the amount of claim was £2,372 0s. 5d., the valuation by Mr. King was £1,169 17s., and the claim was settled for £1,225 - just about half the original amount.
– That was the claim submitted by a friend of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– That statement is an absolute lie.
– Should not the honorable member be called upon to withdraw that remark ?
– I understand that there have been some, interjections across the chamber which I did not hear. I trust honorable members will not continue such interjections.
– C’s claim was for £939 16s. Mr. Moriarty valued the property at £66S lis. Id., and Mr. King valued it at £477. 10s., and the claim was settled for £600 - a difference of nearly 50 per cent. D’s claim was for £2,816. The valuation put upon the property by Mr. Moriarty was £1,515 9s., Mr. King valued it at £1,621 ls., and the settlement took place practically on Mr. King’s valuation. That has been the policy pursued by the Department, and it must continue until I get a direction from the House to the contrary. I must admit that I am prejudiced against arbitration, because it is only a matter of splitting the difference. There are many poor people in the constituency I represent, and I always advise them to avoid going to law. I have no fault to find with lawyers, but I advise poor people to keep away from them, and from Law Courts, because, possibly, they can do better by agreement. I make no apology with regard to the administration of the Federal Territory and the work carried on there. It has been done efficiently. The weak part is, undoubtedly, the question of land settlement and land tenure, and, under existing conditions, it is bound to be weak. The Department will endeavour to get over the difficulty as soon as possible, in the interests of the lessees in the Territory. To acquire the whole of the land would cost £600,000. We have now spent something like £400,000, leaving £200,000 to be spent when the Treasurer can see his way clear to make the money available to the Department. To delay the question of fixity of tenure an hour longer than is absolutely essential is not wise on the part of the Government. I favour the giving of leases for periods of fourteen or twenty years, with re-valuations, practically on the Ulster tenants’ rights system, which provides that improvements made by the tenant belong to him. The incoming tenant must pay to the outgoing tenant the value of improvements. The ex-Attorney-General probably knows that principle. From the time I first became acquainted with it in studying the land tenure of Ireland, I have believed that the Ulster tenants’ rights system is one of the best in the world. When I have had time to look further into the matter, I shall submit some proposals to my colleagues. They are as anxious as 1 am that something more stable than the present system should be in force. I regret that the late Government commenced the system of tendering for leases. When a case came under my notice, I issued instructions that, where old occupiers were concerned, a different system should be followed. I said that I would have no rack-renting in the Federal Territory. Men who have been there from very early days should not be dispossessed of their land; they, and those who follow them, should be allowed to reside upon it as long as they pay a fair rent to the Crown. I contend that it is possible to arrive at what is a fair rent without submitting the matter to competition. One reason why I oppose the system of tendering is that, if a man has a set on a neighbour, he may be willing to give 25 per cent, more for the neighbour’s land than the neighbour is prepared to pay, and thus may dispossess the neighbour. I do not say that such a thing ha3 teen done here, but it has been done elsewhere, and it may be done here. To say that we cannot arrive at a fair rental of any land is idle. So long as we can do that, our policy should be, not to dispossess people, but to allow land to be held from generation to generation, with the right to sell it in the open market and derive value from improvements. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro referred to one weak point, though I do not think he treated it fairly. My honorable friend has not done justice to himself. The weak point is that, so long as there is unsettled tenure, the small settlers or graziers cannot go to a financial institution or bank and get assistance, because, naturally, the question of the length of lease arises. Any one of common sense knows that a bank would not give assistance to a man who admitted that he had only a twelve months’ occupation lease, or something of that character. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro asked on a previous occasion why the Commonwealth Bank did not assist these people. I maintain that the Commonwealth Bank would have no right to assist them. We should not go to the Commonwealth Bank with a proposition of that character. It is well known that land is a dead security, and that bankers have no right to deal with securities of that character. We should pass a Bill that will authorize the Treasurer to make advances to these settlers in the Federal Territory, just as is done in several of the States. I do not specify the exact lines we should follow, but that is the principle by which we should be guided, because it is not right that we should allow our tenants, and those settled in the Federal Territory, to be under the disability of not having fixity of tenure, which a settler in New South Wales can get. They have a grievance. I shall not deny that. But I cannot follow my honorable friend when he suggests that the Commonwealth Bank should assist them. I do not think it should; and I, for one, would strongly oppose that class of security being taken up by the Commonwealth Bank or any other banking institution. I should be disposed to fight shy of any bank which did so. Honorable members know that no bank is secure when it deals with dead securities of that kind.
– The honorable member does not desire that the Commonwealth Bank shall be a mortgage association?
– No ; it was not established with that object, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is not justified in condemning it because it does not deal in such securities. In conclusion, I must apologize to the House for the somewhat rambling speech I have made, since I have had to reply on the spur of the moment, and have not had at hand documents which would have assisted me to put all the facts before honorable members. I have tried, however, to put the position fairly. I ask the House not to agree to this motion for the appointment of a Select Committee. I can regard it only as a reflection on the Government. There is nothing to justify it. The weak point relates to the administration of the lands of the Territory, and the giving of a proper security to the settlers. That matter, however, can be dealt with without any Select Committee, and I am sure that, at no far distant date, the Government will be prepared to grasp the question, and to deal effectively with it.
– I was surprised and disappointed by the remarks made by the Minister of Home Affairs before we adjourned for dinner, in regard to the policy of his party with respect to the Federal Capital. I should prefer to support the notice of motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Richmond -
That the Government should at once place the Federal Capital Territory under a Commission, and that expenditure upon improvements in the Federal Capital should cease to be ii charge upon the Consolidated Revenue.
It is obvious that the policy of the Government with respect to the Territory is very immature. As I pointed out on a previous occasion, not a line appeared in the Governor-General’s Speech with regard to it. I have already asked the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is proposed to provide for the development of the Territory out of revenue, or by borrowing.
– What has that teo do with this motion?
– The honorable member will find that it is proposed that the scope of the Select Committee shall be all-embracing. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, in dealing with the question of land tenure, said that the valuers were Government officers. The Minister replied that they were not, and that their services were free to the community. When I interjected that they held retainers from the Government, the honorable gentleman suggested rather unpleasantly that I might very well get a little sense. I must remind him that he is now a Minister of the Crown, and that such remarks coming from a Minister arc not appreciated by the House. The services of a valuer holding a retainer from the Crown cannot, at the same time, be available to the lessees with whose lands he has to deal. The Minister has shown a reversal of form on the question of valuation by arbitration. He agrees that the principle of arbitration is a good one to apply to industrial disputes; but he thinks it altogether improper to apply it to this question of land valuations. No land valuer can definitely set down a value that cannot be assailed. I have had a good deal of experience, and do not hesitate to say that it is almost impossible to get two men to agree regarding the value of a piece o,f land. They proceed to their assessments on a different basis; their respective computations are based on different lines. I certainly think that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was right in urging that greater facilities should be provided, and that leaseholders who are being dispossessed of their lands should be able to have the valuations inquired into by a tribunal less costly than is the High Court. It is high time that the Prime Minister promised to lay before the country something in the nature of a definite scheme for the building of the CapitaL He should tell us what it is going to cost.
– And what work is to be gone on with.
– Quite so.
– Could it not be left until the war is over?
– The voice- I am sorry - is. the voice of a Victorian. The Minister was riding a dead horse when he .referred to the attitude of Victorian members on this question. If the question as to whether the Capital is worth building at the cost of the taxpayers of Victoria and the other States, was ever worth discussing, it is dead and gone now, and we are all prepared to shoulder our responsibility in the matter. In Victoria the revenue is found to be inadequate to provide for railway construction and general developmental works. They can be carried out only by means of the loan policy. In these circumstances, does the Minister mean to tell us that it is the policy of his Government to build the Capital, and to develop the Territory by taxation - that privileges that cannot be given to wellsettled communities are to be given in that way to the Federal Territory? I hope we shall have a definite statement of policy. The Government are dispossessing settlers in the Territory by acquiring their lands. I should like to know what is being done there in the direction of putting a fresh group of settlers on the soil. What is the increase in the number of settlers? When I last looked into the question the expenditure on the Capital had amounted to about £750,000, and the whole revenue from the Territory was only some £3,000 per annum.
– It is now about £15,000.
– The Labour Government tell us that everything will come out all right, and that the city will pay its way.
– No doubt it will.
– If the revenue and expenditure continue on the lines I have just mentioned, then I can only say that the community is a very indulgent one if it is prepared to take the word of succeeding Governments as to what revenue will be obtained from the Capital. Coming to another question, I should like to be informed whether under the tenures at present in existence any residential or betterment conditions are imposed. If not, is it not time that they were? The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is surely doing his duty to the country in pointing this out. I do not think the Minister was justified in heckling the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who has been moved by a sense of public duty to take this action. The honorable member is not a Victorian. He lives contiguous to the Territory, but there are no votes in it. It would be well for the Government to furnish half-yearly progress reports as to the work that is being carried out at the Capital.
– We have no objection to that.
– Such reports will enable us to see whether or not a definite line of policy is being carried out. I should be glad to have from the Minister of Home Affairs a statement as to whether or not he is personally favorable to the notice of motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Richmond. I can assure him that I shall continue to harass him until I hear from him a statement of policy which will free the taxpayers from the ever-increasing incubus that the Capital City is going to impose on them until they take the work in hand on sound business lines.
.- I think it ill-becomes the Opposition to attack the present Government for failing to do anything in the Federal Capital, seeing that the present Administration have been in office only a few days, and it seems to me that for the same reason the Minister was very generous in putting up the defence that he did of the administration of the Territory. I am certainly dissatisfied with it, and support the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, although I could have admired his action more had he taken it a few months ago. We do not know how we stand in regard to the Federal Capital. We have no progress reports to guide us. It is all very well for the Minister to refer to what has been done, but what we know is what has not been done. One of the acts of omission of which I complain is the failure to establish proper means of communication. A railway to the Territory should have been completed long ago. We are spending money on motor lorries, teams, and other forms of transport, and it seems to me ridiculous that in this age of progress such methods should be employed in the building of the capital of
Australia. I understand that a hitch occurred in regard to the building of the railway owing to the failure of the New South Wales Government to acquiesce, but they could have been brought to heel by a threat to suspend operations at the Capital unless they agreed to proper means of communication by rail. Matters are constantly occurring which give occasion to question the operations in the Territory. Some investments with regard to traction engines have been adversely criticised. The Minister of Home Affairs in a former Labour Government purchased some, I believe, but they were not approved by members of his staff, with the result that they were not a success.
– They are very useful.
– The present Minister has not been long enough in office to be able either to defend or to condemn what has been done up there. We desire to know whether it is true, as alleged, that the building of a bank was commenced on one of the avenues, quite out of alignment. I should like to know whether that statement is true or not, because we cannot ascertain the fact in the absence of progress reports. If it be true that one of the largest and most important buildings is being erected on an avenue, what sort of architectural control or surveying does this disclose? Altogether I am prepared to indorse the motion that a Select Committee be appointed, or a reference made to the Public Works Committee - I do not care which so long as we ascertain something definite as early as possible. I, along with others, am anxious that the home of the Federal Parliament shall be in its proper place, and any proposal that will lead to that end shall have my support.
.- I have much pleasure in supporting the motion, the adoption of which cannot, in my opinion, do any possible harm; but, on the contrary, is most likely to result in some good. I compliment the honorable member for Eden-Monaro on the impartial manner in which he dealt with the question. He introduced no arguments of a partisan character, and gave previous Administrations credit for what has already been done; all he asks is a “fair deal.” The honorable member has no axe to grind, seeing that the residents of the Territory do not possess a vote, and can afford him no political advantage. I was surprised to hear the Minister of Home Affairs say that he was opposed to Commissions of every description.
– I did not say that.
– The Minister certainly led the House to understand so.
– I said that many Commissions represented a profligate waste of public money.
– The Minister applied his remark generally, although it must be remembered that for fifteen months he supported a party that appointed Committees to investigate all sorts of comparatively insignificant questions. There were, for instance, the Chinn inquiry and others in connexion with which the business of another place was taken out of the hands of the Government. The honorable gentleman also told us that he was opposed to arbitration as applied to matters of this sort.
– That is, as applied to land questions.
– I cannot see any difference between arbitration as applied to land and arbitration as applied to industrial disputes.
– I cannot help that!
– If the principle is right in the one case it should be fair and just in the other.
– When things are different they are not the same !
– The Minister staggered me, as I think he staggered the House, when he gave us to understand that he justified members of Parliament and high officials taking up land - members and officials who know the secret workings of the Departments, and thus have privileges over the general public.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The Minister absolutely did say so, and further said that he saw nothing wrong in such action. However, [ understand that some of the landowners whose properties were resumed in 1908 have not yet received payment.
– That was when the valuations were made..
– I have the best information on the point. These properties were ear-marked and resumed at that time, and, as I say, the owners have not yet been compensated, although, if they were called upon to sell now they would have the advantage of an increment over the values of 1908. This is manifestly unfair to land-owners in that part of Australia. It is absurd that this Territory should have been administered for so many years without any guiding Ordinance; it would be just as reasonable to try to run Australia without a Constitution. When the Commonwealth took over Norfolk Island from New South Wales, one of the first things we did was to pass a Bill setting up a Constitution, but for the Territory where we have spent something like £600,000 on the resumption of lands, and altogether have expended £1,000,000, we have not passed any Ordinance. I was pleased to hear the Minister say that the Crown proposed to give the full tenant right in improvements, but in almost the next sentence the honorable gentleman added that, if the outgoing tenant sold his property, the value of the improvements would have to be a matter of settlement between him and the incoming tenant. Under such circumstances, I cannot see how it can be said that the Crown is going to give the tenant right. If the Crown undertakes to guarantee the tenant right in improvements, as is done by the State Government of New South Wales, it is the Crown which should settle with the incoming tenant. In my opinion, it is absolutely wrong that in cases of dispute as to value, the tenants or owners should have to take their cases to the High Court. There ought to be instituted a Land Court, similar to that of New South Wales, which should sit at the Federal Capital, so that the parties may be able to have matters settled promptly and inexpensively, instead of being called upon to take a cloud of witnesses to the High Court in Melbourne or Sydney. Seeing that the members of the proposed Select Committee would not be paid, the cost of the inquiry would be practically nothing; and I sincerely hope the Government will accept the motion.
– I was unable to gather from the remarks of the honorable member for EdenMonaro any facts on which he based his motion. It is not of much use setting up a Committee of Inquiry to go forth on a “ fishing expedition.” Before any body of the kind is appointed, there ought to be some reasonable grounds advanced. The honorable member has the best of opportunities for gathering evidence of a preliminary kind if there is anything that needs serious inquiry. During his election campaign, he was in the Territory, and held one or more meetings there.
– That is incorrect.
– The honorable member may not have held a meeting, but I ask him whether he did not drive into the Territory, and meet a number of. workmen there.
– Yes, to settle a strike brought about by the late Administration.
– I do not know the kind of gathering that was held, but I do know that the honorable member when in the Territory had a meeting or conversation, or whatever he may choose to term it. It has been said that the honorable member has no particular personal interest in this matter, whereas, on the contrary, he has a very keen interest, seeing that his constituents in Queanbeyan are very much involved. I know of business men there who had supported Liberal Governments in previous years, but who were seriously thinking of voting on the last occasion to oust the late Government because of their neglect of the Territory, and of their cutting down the expenditure on works there. I say that if there is any evidence the honorable gentleman has access to it. Although he may have something in his mind, he may feel that it is disagreeable to go into the matter; but an honorable member who elects to move for a Committee of investigation must face that kind of thing ; and if there is a disagreeable task to be performed, he must do it, and bring his evidence forward. No facts having been put forward, I do not see that I can vote for the appointment of a Committee of this kind.
In any case, what does the setting up of a Committee mean ? It means delaying the matter. The Minister would say, “ I do not know what the Committee is going to report. Before doing anything substantial, I had better wait to hear what the Committee has to say.” The Committee may be perambulating around the country for six months or so, and all that time the work will be held up. I desire to see something quicker than that done. I expect to see the Minister go into this matter, and see how fast he can get on with the work. At the present time there is unemployment throughout the country, and this is a favorable opportunity to push ahead with this necessary national undertaking.
I have mentioned this matter to not only the Prime Minister, but also to’ the Minister of Home Affairs, and I understand, from the statement made by the Prime Minister, that he is prepared to find whatever money theMinister of Home Affairs desires, so that this work can be pushed on.
– Do you mean the work in the Federal Territory?
-Yes. The Prime Minister, as Treasurer, is prepared to find whatever money the Minister of Home Affairs can profitably spend.
– Where is he going to find it?
– That is his affair. The Prime Minister says he will find the money, and the onus is on the Minister of Home Affairs to show that he can get on with the work. I expect him, as a business man, to lay down a definite policy, and to see that the work is carried on without delay.
– I am waiting for the amended design of the late Government.
– For heaven’s sake, do not wait for the amended design of the late Government ! We do not want amended designs every time there is a change of Government; otherwise, this work will be held back for centuries.
– Would that not be soon enough?
– It would be soon enough for the honorable member, no doubt; but we cannot go on in this slow fashion for ever. The rearguard action that some Victorian members are fighting in regard to the Federal Capital is no good. If we spend a few hundred pounds, and then a few persons think it is well to agree with the Age leading articles, when their constituencies are not affected, that there should be a change of policy, it means that the money already expended is thrown away.
– You are not up-to-date. The last leading article in the Age said that we should push ahead with the work.
– I have not read that, but I am glad to hear of it. If the Age has come to reason, I hope that the Victorian members who are trying to delay the work will realize that it should be proceeded with.
– Your crowd seems pretty unanimous in New South Wales about the spoils.
– I do not know what you mean by spoils.
– The spending of boodle in your own State.
– So far as I am concerned, I am for the expenditure of money on public works throughout Australia wherever the Commonwealth has power to carry them out, so long as the works are of a profitable kind. I believe there is plenty of opportunity in that respect. I do hope that the Minister will take this Federal Capital seriously.
– I do.
– While the other party were in power the matter was kept in the clouds. It was admitted by the Sydney daily press the other day that nothing substantial was done in regard to the Capital until Labour got into power, and that the Labour party were bent upon doing something. I hope the present Ministry will maintain the reputation of the party in that respect. There is necessary work to be gone on with, and that work will absorb some of the unemployed, and eventually be of benefit to the Commonwealth.
– I do not intend to speak long in regard to this matter. It is one of the most important financial questions with which the Federal Parliament has to deal. Already a very large amount of money has been expended in this Territory, and the interjection made by the honorable member for Gippsland reveals his whole attitude. He has always been an uncompromising opponent of the Federal Capital.
– That is right; you stick to the honorable member for Gippsland, and leave me out.
– Both honorable members are in it. In my judgment, the Federal Capital arrangements, as at present being carried out, are far from being satisfactory. That much, I think, goes without saying.
– What were the arrangements of the late Government?
– Why does the honorable member desire to raise party questions in regard to this Capital? In quibbling as he does, he is the enemy of the Federal Capital. This is not a party question in any sense of the word, and the further we keep away from party considerations and party acrimony in regard to the building of the Federal Capital, now that a decision has been arrived at, the better for the Capital and for all concerned. I sympathize with the Minister’s attitude on this matter. He is only just in office, he has not had time to look round him, and I think this matter might well stand over. I do not suggest that the honorable member for EdenMonaro should withdraw his motion, but I do strongly urge him not to press it to a division to-night. Give the Government an opportunity to come down with their plans for the future development of this Capital. The work is beset with difficulties, and, if one may believe the newspapers, already there is a battle in the Department in favour of reverting to the old position of affairs. It is only fair that the Minister should have an opportunity of deciding for himself on what lines the future development of the Capital is to proceed. It looks as if he is going to be in office for the next three years, at any rate. At present he is new to his office. He has not yet had time to unfold his plans; he has not even had time to formulate them. It is only fair to him that he should have an opportunity of doing so. That, I think, is simple fair play inthis matter.
But I do think there is an obligation resting on the Government to formulate their plans at the earliest possible moment. To my way of thinking, to continue developing this Capital out of revenue is sheer, absolute foolishness. It was the intention of the late Government to relieve the revenue, as far as possible, of the cost of the development of this Capital. It ought to be made, at the earliest moment, a self-supporting proposition, and I believe it could be made so if properly managed, and put under competent control. That is the secret of the whole business.
– You are not serious about the appointment of three Commissioners, are you?
– Indeed I am. I think the Minister can do nothing better at the present moment than to put the whole affair into the hands of a Trust or a Commission, or whatever you like to term it. To begin with, we want, say, a competent and able business man, such as the present Administrator, who will look after the business side of the work, and deal with all the finances surrounding it. We want, also, a land expert, whose advice would be available to the Department. I do not know that he need necessarily be on the Commission, but he ought to be attached to it in some way. We need a competent man, who understands the estate business, and knows it in all its phases. We want, also, a competent constructing engineer, in addition to the architect.
– Why did you not propose that when you were in office?
– Is the honorable member really so ignorant that he has not read what we proposed?
– No one could understand it when he did read it.
– I am sure of that so far as concerns the honorable member; that much goes without saying. He need not have told us that he did not understand it. It was obvious. What we proposed was to put the whole thing into the hands of a competent set of men, and to give them sufficient financial resources to . enable them to acquire and develop this Territory on business lines.
– It would have been half finished now had it been under my control.
– Refer it to the InterState Commission.
– There is another honorable member sneering at the Commission which his party created. There have been nothing but jeers and sneers at that Commission ever since they created it. I never saw such a set of men.
– What about the Tariff?
– It seems to me that the honorable member’s party is not anxious to get on with the Tariff at the nresent moment.
– Order !
– The honorable member for Barrier is suggesting that we should hand this matter over to the Inter-State Commission.
– The honorable member for Barrier was out of order in interjecting.
– The honorable member says that the Inter-State
Commission are not doing anything with the Tariff, and they might do something with this. Is that the reason why the Minister is suggesting to people that they should consult the Inter-State Commission on every matter?
– Will the honorable member confine his remarks to the motion?
– I will do so if these interjections cease.
I will come back to the InterState Commission when we have before us the Tariff, which was so urgent that, before the elections, it could not wait, and since the elections has become so “unurgent,” if I may coin a word. The Minister should be allowed an opportunity to formulate his plans. This is an important work, which will cost a large sum of money, and the sooner we can relieve our revenue of its cost the better for sound finance, and for the evolution of the project. That cannot be done at the present time. The Minister has too much else to do to satisfactorily control this undertaking. We shall do no good with it until we give men absolute control in the Territory, and hold them finally to their responsibility. That has not been done yet. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, having ventilated the matter in a most useful way, might well postpone a vote on the motion until the Minister has had time to submit his final plans, and has let us know exactly what is in his mind concerning the development of this project”. There is point in the statement of the honorable member for Cook that to start an inquiry now will retard the works that are in progress. Officials cannot attend before a Committee of the kind proposed without interruption to their ordinary work. An inquiry would disorganize things considerably, and at a time when we want to find employment for as many men as we can. The present situation makes it obligatory on the Minister to finalize his plans, so that the work may proceed in a definite course, and in accordance with statutory authority. It is’ useless to keep changing our plans. A tree will not grow if you continually dig it up to examine its roots. We must plan our work and work our plan, if we are to do any good with the Federal Capital. My suggestion is that the Minister should undertake to submit his scheme at the earliest moment. There must be a state ment on the subject in the Budget and financial speech which the Prime Minister has promised to deliver within a fortnight, so that we shall not have long to wait for information. When we know the mind of the Government, we shall be in a better position to vote on the motion, and time will be gained by the delay. Above all things, I urge the Minister not to continue in the present course. In my judgment it is a wrong one; but it cannot be rectified until a definite scheme has been determined upon, and responsibility fixed finally and statutorily, sufficient financial resources being provided to see the thing through. The method of acquiring land in the Territory should not be an insoluble problem, though it will be a difficult one. Landowners there are now suffering, hardship and injustice, and the sooner an end is put ito their state of uncertainty the better it will be for every one concerned. No one has felt the unsatisfactoriness of the position more than I did when in office. We could do nothing, for reasons that honorable members are aware of, but the Minister should make up his mind decidedly at the earliest moment, and submit definite plans of development. The Capital ought not to cost the country one penny, and will not cost anything if we proceed on business lines.
.- I am under an obligation to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for this opportunity to express my views on the Federal Capital question, though I do not think the time is opportune for a vote regarding it, and if the motion is pressed to a division I shall support the Government. Although a design was chosen twelve months ago, no definite plan has yet been fixed upon for the lay-out of the city. I understand that there is a conflict of opinion between the person who drew the successful design and the Department. The first thing is to have a definite policy in regard to the lay-out of the city.
– That was definitely settled.
– I understand that there is a difference between the Department and Mr. Griffin.
– Such a difference, if it exists, has arisen since I left office.
– I am not in a position, to dispute that statement, but I give the information that has been supplied to me.
Mr. Griffin has been in the employment of the Government for twelve months. Has he supplied a report as to what has been done? If he has made such a report, copies of it should be in our possession. I wish to know what he has been doing. I understand that he received £1,000 a year from the Government, and has a large private architectural practice in Sydney. In my opinion, the work is sufficient to wholly engage one man’s time. I do not think that a person to whom we pay £1,000 a year should engage in private business.
– We are entitled to his services for only six months in the year.
– Then his salary is equivalent to £2,000 a year. I do not complain of the salary, nor of the man, but I wish to know what is being done.
– I am waiting for Mr. Griffin’s amended design.
– I understand that the honorable member for Wentworth did his best to expedite matters, but that some hitch has occurred. We must have the lay-put of the Capital definitely settled. Once the plan is fixed upon, the avenues and streets can be commenced, and work can be found for the unemployed. I suggest to the Minister that he should form a land and survey branch in his Depart-, ment. The lands of the Federal Territory, the Northern Territory, and Papua, provide so much work that such a branch is needed if progress is to bo made. I shall give the Minister all the assistance I can, but in the future I shall lodge my protest, and shall cast my vote against any delay in connexion with the Capital.
.- J agree with the statement that to institute an inquiry of the nature proposed would embarrass the Minister and his responsible officers, and delay the work of the Capital and other relief works which the Government will have to take in hand very shortly. There cannot be a roving inquiry, even though it be conducted by friends of the project, without the officers of the Department being put to a great deal of trouble which will interfere with their ordinary work. They must be put to trouble, because in many cases their professional reputation would be at stake. If on the Committee there were persons determined that the work should not go on, untold trouble might be given to the officers, and the whole project might be sunk. It is suggested that the honorable member for Gippsland should be a member of the Committee ; but when the honorable member for Cook said just now that if we have delays, and delays, and delays, the Capital will not be built for a hundred years, the honorable member for Batman asked, “ Would not that be soon enough ?” and the honorable member for Gippsland said, “Hear, hear!”
– I say, “Hear, hear!” too.
– Some honorable members say, “The Day of Judgment will be a busy day; put this matter off until the day after.”
– Does not the honorable member for Eden-Monaro see that it might be extremely dangerous to appoint to the proposed committee men who would be willing to defer the undertaking till after the Day of Judgment?
– The honorable member wants another Chinn Inquiry.
– The Chinn Inquiry occasioned a great deal of trouble, and gave a great deal of work tq the officers of the Home Affairs Department, and what resulted from it? If the Minister looks at the records he will find that countless clerks were employed in preparing papers and documents; and that officers were constantly in attendance to defend their reputation and professional character. The same thing will happen if the proposed inquiry is made. Men whose professional fitness has never been called into question will have to defend themselves, not only from charges of bungling, but from cleverly concocted criticism of their conduct of public works under a system which I consider a bad one; and I believe that the Minister has the same opinion of it. One thing you must do as soon as possible, and that is, arrange for continuity in your works and enterprises at the Capital. For instance, to acquire cheaply, you must know about what quantity of cement will be required each year, whether you buy or make it. Without such knowledge you cannot buy or make on a reasonably profitable basis. You cannot let a decent contract except for large quantities, to be supplied over a long period. Now that new cement works are being started in New South Wales, and the supplying of cement has ceased to be something in the nature of a monopoly, you have a great opportunity, if you do not want to make your own cement, to buy cement at a reasonable price. But you must be ready to take large quantities over a considerable period, and you cannot arrange to do that if you do not know what the appropriation will be from year to year.
– I should like us to make our own cement.
– I went into the matter, and shall be glad to give my honorable friend the benefit of the knowledge that I obtained, because I regard this as a non-party question. I ask him not to take a decided view off-hand. Certainly we have been paying too much for cement. But nothing is to be gained by quarrelling in regard to what has happened; our business is to see how we can work economically in the future. I did not rush about seeking to criticise the occasional mistakes that had been made previously; I did not wish to do it, because this Capital has a great many powerful enemies, who will seize on one or two things in order to discredit the whole project.
Mr.Rodgers. - Who are the enemies?
– Surely, the honorable member himself is one ! He moved in the last Parliament a motion which was not altogether too friendly.
Mr.Rodgers. - What was the nature of the motion?
– Eame is such that I do not recollect the exact wording of it.
Mr.Rodgers. - We do not want cleverness. We want the truth. I did not oppose the Capital, and never have. Therefore, stick to the truth.
– I hope the honorable member will not be offensive. I thought he would be candid. I think the whole House realized, when the honorable member proposed to cut down the Estimates by £1, that he intended to cut down the expenditure on the Federal Capital.
Mr.Rodgers. - Did I propose that?
– I cannot remember everything that my distinguished friend has done, but I remember his moving in that direction. However, this is not an opportunity for badinage-
Mr.Rodgers. - It is an opportunity for getting a correct statement, and we expect it from you.
– It is so difficult to be correct about the insignificant.
Mr.Rodgers. - I shall deal with that remark in another place. Make no mistake about that.
– This is not a question that should arouse feeling between party and party. Some amount of hostility to the project must be expected from certain localities; but, so far as parties in the House are concerned, it is the duty of honorable members of either side to support to their utmost ability the Minister in charge of carrying out the work, when they have reason to believe that he is honestly endeavouring to do his duty. I have every reason to believe that the present Minister is prepared to do everything he can to advance the development of theFederal Capital. I did everything I could to do so. The suggestion of the honorable member for Cook that the last Government did not do their best is not correct. We spent a considerable sum of money. We spent at least £20,000 more than our predecessors.
– And the rest.
-I am speaking from memory. The present Minister is new to the Department. He has an acrobatic job ahead of him. He has to move suddenly from technical subjects of a purely scientific nature to everything else under the sun. I have a most poignant recollection of the difficulty I had in the first month or two in the Department in keeping a grip of subject after subject, as they came along with lightning rapidity and with startling dissimilarity. As the Minister has a hard task in front of him, and we should not complicate it by a motion of this kind, I suggest to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that he might easily allow the motion to stand over for a while - he will then have complete control of it - and, in the meantime, give the Minister the chance of clearing up matters in regard to this particular part of his arduous and diverse duties. At the same time, we can get on with the building of the Capital itself.
– I have a very lively recollection of the first occasion on which I made an attempt to discuss this very important topic. I do not intend to adopt the same tactics to-night. I am sure honorable members do not wish to indulge in the luxury of “ stone-walling “ through the night. I quite agree that the development of the Federal Territory at Canberra is a matter that should be discussed without any display of party feeling, but I have endeavoured to place myself in the position of those living within the Territory. If there is anything tlie Britisher or Australian particularly delights to possess, it is the opportunity to exercise the franchise. Therefore I consider that something should be done at a very early date, whereby those living in this Territory, as well as in other territories of the Commonwealth, may be enfranchised. I do not know whether there are constitutional or legal difficulties in the way of carrying this out. Perhaps the area at Canberra may be tacked on to the constituency represented by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I think that all the revenue and expenditure in respect to the Federal Capital should be kept separate from the general revenue and expenditure of the Commonwealth. It has been said that the Federal Territory will be a really good paying proposition, and I believe that when things are put in proper working order such will be the case. I further believe that we have the opportunity of putting into operation certain measures that should make the Federal Capital an example to the world. At any rate, all the receipts and expenditure should be submitted from time to time in the shape of a balance-sheet, just as we have balance-sheets in connexion with the Harness and Clothing Factories.
– I hope it will be a more correct balance-sheet than we have had from those factories so far.
– Let some of our financiers who are able to draw up balancesheets point out what should be done, and when the defects are pointed out, those in charge will be only too ready to remedy them. I think that the Federal Factories have shown out very well, having regard to the experience they are going through.
– Their balance-sheets are not worth the paper they are printed on.
– The honorable member says that because he has embedded in his mind a hostility which it is hard to remove to anything in the nature of
State factories. From the time any money was spent in seeking the Federal Capital site, all expenditure should be collected and presented to Parliament in one balance-sheet. I am certain that our revenues from the Federal Territory will increase, and show the receipts side much more creditably than is the case at present. There are 2,000 or 3,000 people at the Federal Capital, and this is too considerable a population to leave without representation in any Parliament. We deal with the Federal Capital every session, and many times during each session, and we are dealing with the destinies of a large number of people.
– Can they vote for the Federal Parliament?
– They seem to be without representation. I think that they could be attached to some Federal constituency. I am opposed to the appointment of a Select Committee. I indorse the stand taken by the Minister, and I appreciate the suggestions made by the honorable members for Parramatta and Wentworth that it would be wise for the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to withdraw the motion. I hope that the Government will bring down a special programme in connexion with the Federal Territory. I urge upon them that Parliament should know every item of expenditure in connexion with the Territory, so that in future we can estimate on a proper basis whether the Federal Capital is a paying proposition. I believe that it will be properly managed. I trust that we shall have a complete programme at an early stage.
Mr. BOYD (Henty) [9.121. - I do not know what effect the carrying of this motion will have on the Federal Capital. If I thought that it would mean delaying the wasteful extravagance in the Territory, I would support it. On the other hand, if I thought that it would facilitate work, I should vote against it.
– It is intended to facilitate the work.
– Last year the honorable member for Grey moved to reduce the estimated expenditure upon the Federal Capital from £285,000 to £138,000 with a view to bringing it down to the standard at which the previous Government had carried out the work. All who are anxious to facilitate the work at Canberra are most anxious to have a Committee of honorable members who are not opposed to the motion, and the honorable member for Wentworth, who was lately administering the Department, was most dramatic in his sympathy for the present Minister, and in his anxiety that the present Minister should not be interfered with in his magnificent administration of the Department. The reputations of the officers of the Department were so dear to his soul that, rather than that an investigation should be made, the honorable member was prepared to sacrifice himself on the altar of his country. We have seen in this House that the proposal to expend money has led to open admissions that, so long as the expenditure was in or about the constituency of an honorable member, it was the best and most righteous expenditure that could be incurred. In the case of the Federal Capital, however, honorable members gu further, and they say that, so long as the money is being spent in New South Wales, they are quite satisfied that the rest 01 the Commonwealth should suffer by it. They justify these remarks on the broad grounds of nationalism. Listen to the broad grounds of nationalism as expressed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro on the last occasion that this question was discussed -
I am satisfied that money has been wasted. My constituency practically surrounds the capital, and it suits my constituents that money should be expended there.
That is a candid admission.
– It is quite true.
– I dare say that it is; but it also suits the representatives of the people of Australia generally, who have to find the money, that this expenditure should go slowly, especially if it is to come out of revenue. Let us look at the personnel of the proposed Committee as indorsed by the honorable member for Wentworth. The honorable member, with tears in his voice, bewailed the fact that any one who was hostile to this project was to have a seat on the Committee. Is it not a principle of parliamentary government that in independent parliamentary inquiries the representatives of both sides should be equal in number, so that a fair and independent opinion may be obtained ? If we are to have a makeweight on the one side and light weights on the other how can we expect to obtain a fair and honest opinion.
– This is not an inquiry into policy.
– The honorable member has already been laid out; he should rest where he is. It is proposed to begin with that the Select Committee shall consist of three representatives of New South Wales and two representatives of Victoria. The honorable member for Wannon has evidently been converted, because when a division was taken on the proposed reduction last year he voted with some others, including the present Minister of Home Affairs, against this extravagant expenditure on the Federal Capital.
– Is the honorable member quite sure?
– As a rule I do not make statements that I am not very sure about where I am likely to be found out. This is hardly the place for such statements to be made, and, consequently, I try, as far as lies within my power, to be accurate. Among the noble minority who voted for the proposed reduction in the expenditure, which consisted of ten members and three pairs as against forty-seven with three pairs, there appears the name of “ Mr. W. O. Archibald.”
– I had forgotten all about it.
– The honorable member for Wannon is the only honorable member amongst that minority whom it is proposed to appoint to this Select Committee. I gather from interjections that have been made that the honorable member for Gippsland is also hostile to the expenditure on the Capital. I am pleased that the firmness as well as the clever engineering of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has caused him to propose that there shall be on the Committee at least one honorable member who can, to use an every-day expression, “ hold up the other end of the stick.” I wonder why a Tasmanian, in the person of the honorable member for Darwin is to be appointed a member of the Committee, and a make-weight from Queensland, in the person of the honorable member for Maranoa, to counterbalance him. Upon examination we find that the honorable member for Darwin as Minister of Home Affairs was largely responsible for this expenditure, and we see coming out on fop that clever underground engineering for which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has gained so much credit.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, is it competent to charge an honorable member with engineering?
– I did not take it that the expression was used in an offensive sense. If I had I should have asked that it be withdrawn.
– I did not intend it to be offensive. I was under the impression that I was giving the honorable member for Eden-Monaro credit for cleverness and astuteness. If the proposed Select Committee is to be appointed-
– And appointed it will be.
– I am not so sure of that.
– I have the numbers.
– Another testimony to his clever engineering.
– I think so. If the Select Committee is to be appointed, I think it would be fair to place upon it three of those who voted for the proposed reduction of expenditure last year. In this way we should have plenty of ground for a systematic and reliable inquiry. I am not going to say that the Committee as proposed by the honorable member would not produce a reliable report on the evidence given ; but everything depends upon the way in which the evidence is collected. If every member of the Committee, with the exception of the honorable member for Gippsland, is of one way of thinking, we must conclude, on the law of averages, that six questions will be asked on the one side for every one asked on the other. In such circumstances the mass of evidence would all be on the one side. What would be the use of appointing a Committee which we knew beforehand would bring in a report favorable to the project ? The House would not get the information which it might naturally expect. I agree with the honorable member for EdenMonaro that there has been a huge amount of extravagant expenditure on the Territory. As I said last year, I believe it would pay Australia to write off as a dead loss the whole Capital expenditure, and to establish the Federal Capital in Sydney. In that way, we should save a gigantic amount of future extravagance, and a waste of money which will never benefit Australia. Is it not ridiculous in this, the twentieth century, to create a Capital miles away from the sea, and then to build a railway to connect it with the seaboard, when we could establish the Capital on the coast?
– Does not the honorable member think that the experiences of the present war show that it is undesirable to have a capital on the seaboard ?
– No; because, before this war is over, we shall probably see in possession of the enemy capitals placed in the middle of Europe. If that be so, we need not worry about building our Capital 60 miles away from the sea coast. All that an enemy could do would be to knock a hole in Parliament House.
– And we should take care not to be there.
– I am quite satisfied that if we were, with the result that some of us met with accidents, lots of people outside would be perfectly happy. There would be a few vacant billets. Disasters of that kind have happened to other powers. We have in Sydney all the facilities for a modern Capital. It is a city worth, I suppose, hundreds of millions of pounds. What greater damage could be done to Australia than that a city like Sydney should be attacked? Would an attack on the Federal Capital at Canberra mean a greater loss, assuming that it were destroyed by an enemy, than the destruction of Sydney would mean ? I venture to say not, and, therefore, the argument that the Minister of Home Affairs has sought to draw from the war does not apply. The expenditure going on at the Capital is, in my judgment, being wasted; and, unless care is taken - and I think nature is unfortunately working on the side of the people who, because we have not the money to waste up there, are opposed to this expenditure at the present juncture - we shall have trouble. We have better use for our money. If the first part of this motion be carried, I shall move an amendment to omit three of the names, and to insert in their stead the names of three honorable members who voted last year for the reduction of the Federal Capital expenditure. In that way, we might possibly secure a Committee that would give us an unbiased opinion.
– As a personal explanation, I desire to say that, in the course of my remarks a few minutes ago, I stated that the honorable member for Wannon. to the best of my recollection, had moved last year that the Estimates in respect of the Federal Capital be reduced by £1.
I find, on looking up the records, that he did not do so, but that he proposed as a condition precedent to additional expenditure, that a Select Committee should be appointed to investigate expenditure to date at Canberra. 1 regarded his action at the time as difficult, although he himself said that he did not intend that it should be. Later on, he voted for a reduction of the proposed vote by £147,000, but that was because it seemed an explanation of the project sufficient to satisfy him was not forthcoming. I thought that, in fairness to the honorable member, I should make this statement.
.- As the representative of a constituency which adjoins the Federal Territory, it may be considered that I am a strong supporter of the proposal to have the Federal City built and occupied as soon as possible. Quite apart from that consideration, however, I, in common with countless thousands, held the opinion, long before I entertained the hope of representing Werriwa in this House, that expression would be given to the Constitution, and the Capital established in accordance with the decision of this Parliament. I never thought that the site as selected was a proper one; but, since it has been selected, and selected by the representatives of the people, I consider it is incumbent on this Parliament to give some evidence of its sincerity - to give effect to the letter of the Constitution and the will of the people. The longer we hang up the question the more talk we shall hear on the question of expenditure. The very same principle that applies to a man’s management of his own private property applies, though, of course, in a greater degree, to the management of a country or an empire. It is, at all events, my own experience in the management of a property that, until the owner gets possession, there is always a certain amount of waste. If we are sincere in this matter, there is a reasonable and practical course to take. At this juncture in Australian affairs we cannot possibly afford to allow the opinion to get about that we are not sincere, because greater matters await solution, and if we are suspected of insincerity in regard to the Capital we shall be similarly suspected in other directions. The practical course is to, as soon as possible, erect the necessary public buildings. Although the marble city, which, no doubt, will ultimately arise, may not materialize in all its beauty for a long while, let us at once provide the necessary portions. If we have at first to go into shanties, it will not be a new experience for many of us; for I may say that I have lived in a humpy, and am not ashamed of the fact. With Parliamentassembled there, and the thousandandone factors of progress that will follow as a natural corollary of its presence, values will be raised and trade created, all helping to make the Territory productive and profitable. It is for- this Parliament, at all events, to take its courage in both hands and give effect to the will of the people. I do not think any useful purpose will be served by giving effect to such a motion as that before the House. What is required is not an inquiry as to past expenditure, but a proposal to devise ways and means for the much greater expenditure that will be necessary to the early occupation of the city. We find that the Government, bound as it is, I understand, under the Constitution, by so many limitations, will not, in our present hour of trial, be able “off its own bat” to provide work for the unemployed; and surely no more productive work could offer than the building of the Federal Capital. Since it is necessary that we should do something in this direction, it might be as well to consider whether it is not desirable, even now, to build a line connecting the great southern railway with Jervis Bay. That work could be carried out more cheaply now than, perhaps, at any other time; and since the New South Wales Government cannot be expected to continue their huge railway works as in the past, there ought to be plenty of plant available. Speaking as a man who deals in practical land matters, I regret that the final settlement with the land-holders whose properties have been resumed has not been brought about. It would be easy, under capable management, to devise a system by which profitable production could be carried on under conditions which will not allow vested interests to arise in the lands which belong to the people, thus, perhaps, necessitating compensation in another form. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Parramatta say that, in his opinion, it would be possible to make the Territory self-supporting; and I agree with the honorable gentleman, though we may differ as to details. The same remark applies to the Northern Territory, where we should not permit speculative capitalism to exploit the labour of the producers on the fertile lands there, as it was allowed to do in the States, and thus create an evil from which we are still suffering. The principle I am advocating is a sound one; and though, perhaps, these remarks are a little wide of the subject of the motion, I suggest that it might be possible to even now retrieve our first mistakes in this direction in the States themselves. It is, as I have said, our duty to establish the Capital; and this sort of cut-and-thrust business that leaves the opinion in the minds of the people that we are not sincere will not only militate against the success of the venture itself, but will, in a great measure, prevent this or any other Government from receiving a full measure of respect in regard to other and bigger projects, to which I hope effect will be given. I shall not touch on the question of how the land should be dealt with. I have not as yet visited the Territory, but I feel, as a practical man, who has had experience in the profitable working of land, from a small piece to a fair-sized piece, that all that is required is the application of common sense, because what an individual can do in similar country on his own account, the Commonwealth can do.
.- No doubt the manner in which the expenditure has taken place in the Capital Territory has been exceedingly unsatisfactory. This, however, is only in keeping with everything in connexion with the Territory, from the selection of the site to the present day. It is remarkable that the site is one that received only one or two votes at the outset in this Chamber. The business was manipulated in such a way that, while Canberra was rejected, the site called Yass-Canberra - though nobody knew what this meant - was carried, and ultimately, out of the same district, the site finally selected was that which, as I say, received only one or two votes on a direct ballot. It has always occurred to me that there has been a method in the unsatisfactory manner in which, not one, but three or four, Governments have dealt with the expenditure; and this has arisen from the fact that nobody is particularly enamoured of the selection. There is very little faith in the Territory at all; nobody has any real, firm conviction that this Territory can ever be made to pay its way; and in the matter of expenditure, my opinion is that one party has been playing off the Capital site against the other party, so far as the New South Wales electors are concerned. Personally, I do not think the great body of the New South Wales electors care a scrap whether the Capital is built there or at any other place, or when it is built. There appears, however, to be a feeling amongst New South Wales representatives that the party which does not spend money on the Capital site will suffer politically. Twelve or eighteen months ago the expenditure by the last Fisher Government was £138,000; and this was loudly condemned by almost every Fusionist candidate and the party throughout Victoria. Then the Fusion Government came down with a proposal to spend £2S5,000; the idea undoubtedly being to go one better in the eyes of the electors of New South Wales. The only gratifying feature about this lack of belief in the Territory is that it has prevented any wild expenditure of money. We may have wasted money, but, thank goodness, it has been only in tens of thousands, and not the £1,000,000 or more that we might have spent if either party had had full confidence in the site, and had rushed the work forward. I do not know that the proposed Committee would either advance or materially delay the work. The honorable member for EdenMonaro did not consult me before he included my name as a member of the proposed Committee. I have no objection to serve, because, amongst other things, it may give me an opportunity to ascertain some facts which I should very much like to know.
– The facts may alter the honorable member’s mind.
– On the contrary, I may be only the more confirmed in my present opinion. I am not opposed to an inquiry, and I shall support the motion. My opinion in regard to the Territory is not only not altered, but, in consequence of the candid expressions of opinion we now get from the New South Wales newspapers and speakers, I am satisfied that the conclusions I previously arrived at are correct.
– I do not propose to allow this motion to go to a vote without expressing my view regarding it. I do not think the Committee asked for would, serve any good purpose - that it would discover anything worth discovering - but, on the contrary, my view is that it would only delay the proper carrying out of the work of constructing and building the Federal Capital.
– If it is going to have that effect, I shall withdraw it.
– This Government will, as far as possible, avoid the casual appointment of Committees for particular purposes, which are permitted to develop into Royal Commissions, with no satisfactory results. In saying this, I am in no way reflecting on honorable members. If there is one thing clear in the Constitution, it is that a Federal Capital should be established in New South Wales, and not within 100 miles of Sydney. That was a bargain made, not by the elected representatives, but by the people of the States, before they entered Federation, and afterwards confirmed by them.
It has been contended that the Capital, instead of being in the “bush,” as it is called, ought to be in one of the existing capital cities. That contention ignores the fact that the curse of Australia to-day is the size of the populations in the big cities, whose power has not, in my opinion, the best influence on the true progress of Australia. Canada, under its Constitution, had to have a capital; and I ask whether the people of the Dominion selected one of the existing big cities? In Canada, as in Australia, each of those big cities was desirous of being made the Dominion capital ; and what was done was to place the capital on a site approved, speaking from recollection, by Her late Majesty’s Government.
– A site was selected by Queen Victoria.
– Then, in the case of the South African Union, so afraid are the people there of the effect of having the whole of the administration, or the whole of the Government control, in one city that they have divided it amongst three. I believe that in Pretoria the South African Government are spending £2,000,000 on the administrative Departments alone. Bloemfontein is to be the judicial capital, while Cape
Town is to be the political centre. They have three separate and distinct capitals, probably running in all to an expenditure of about £10,000,000. In my opinion, Australia has chosen well in deciding to have one Federal Capital and Territory - because it is not only a city, but a Territory.
– That is all settled. You are arguing beside the question.
– The honorable member has evidently not listened to the debate.
– I have been here aU the time.
– The honorable member could not have heard what was said by the honorable member for Henty, and he could not have grasped the argument of the honorable member for Gippsland, that the Capital Site and Territory are in the wrong position altogether.
– Their remarks were irrelevant to the motion.
– The honorable member for Henty went into an elaborate argument to show not only that the Federal Capital should not be where it is, but that it should be in Sydney. He argued that it would be better to have the Capital in Sydney. Why? Because it would be cheaper. I say that he could not establish the Capital in Sydney, or any other big city, and do it more cheaply. Probably it would cost ten times as much to establish the Capital in any city as it would cost to build it on the site which has been chosen. I venture to say that the money which is being spent on the Federal Capital Territory will, before the expenditure is completed, return interest and sinking fund on £1,000,000, and within ten years, with ordinary administrative capacity, we shall have a return of the interest on the whole of the expenditure. Do honorable members really know what the development of this country is like? In the life-time of most of us here the majority of the coastal towns north of Brisbane have been brought into existence; there are 700,000 people in Queensland to-day, and the population is growing every year. The great drawback in these southern settled States is the lack of development outside the immediate coastal districts. If we, as a Parliament, make no greater mistake in our administrative affairs than the establishment of a Capital away from the great centres we shall not go far astray. I would ask the honorable member who has submitted this proposal to withdraw it. Failing that, it will be my duty to ask my honorable friends not to support it.
– Will the Prime Minister say what he proposes to do there?
– We propose to go on with the building of the Capital, but this is not a time to make a declaration of our financial policy. That cannot be done’ casually. The circumstances are too great at the present time to enable us to make piecemeal declarations of financial policy.
– Did the Prime Minister hear the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa, who suggested that the works might be carried out as a means of giving employment ?
– There will be no withholding of assistance, financial and otherwise, from any enterprise that will be of a developmental character, and will leave substantial improvements and value in return for the labour and money expended. There is going to be no shifting of sand in the policy of this Government, and no baling water out of one hole into another simply to keep people employed. It will be our duty as a Government to find means whereby substantial improvement work in Australia can be started and carried out while we have the privilege of a supply of skilled and unskilled labour to undertake it. In a young country like this it is a privilege to get willing hands to undertake work of that kind, and this is no time to reason on the steps of the temple as to what we are going to do and what we are not going to do. Let us do something, and keep on doing it. We may make mistakes; we may discover afterwards that we might -have done better, but those people who want to do perfectly, especially in new enterprises, are the people who never do anything. No progress is made in that way. I can only say to my honorable friends that in regard to the Federal Capital the Government will do as we did before, and at the earliest possible time we shall proceed with the improvement and administration of the Territory according to the best advice of those whose special duty it is to advise us in these matters.
– After the candid and manly statement of the Prime Minister there is no other course open to me but to withdraw my motion. I brought it forward in all good faith, and although the discussion has ranged somewhat widely, I think it has done good. I proposed the motion with the object of calling public attention to the fact that the Federal Capital has not been treated in a business-like way. I did not lay any charge at the door of the present Minister of Home Affairs, or of any other Minister, because it seems to me that there has been a policy of drift. I am quite in accord with the words of the Prime Minister. He has put into his speech all that could be said, and after his manly statement it would be unfair on my part to press the motion to a division. While I did not ask for a promise at the present moment that he will go on with the construction of the railways at once, yet I think the Prime Minister realizes that there are willing hands and able men available in this country, and that there are railways and other permanent works there that can be proceeded with, and which are bound to be reproductive, and I take it that when this trouble is passed the Prime Minister will be prepared to favorably consider the pushing on with the Capital and its works.
– And I hope we will be able to prevent in some measure the trouble continuing. ‘
– I am very pleased to hear the Prime Minister speak so courageously as that. We must remember that in that Capital site we have the nucleus of a very valuable asset. It has been very gratifying to me to see the Minister of Home Affairs taking such a lively interest in the Capital, as is evidenced by the fact that he has already paid a visit to the Territory. I believe that, if properly administered, it can be made reproductive, and not only return interest, but in a few years become a paying asset. We know that a railway from Yass to the Federal Terri- tory has been decided on. Yass is 25 miles nearer to deep water at Jervis Bay than at Sydney, and who is to say that we shall continue for all time paying an extra 25 miles of haulage on the whole of our Riverina wheat, wool, and meat when we can link up the Capital with the Federal port, and take all the heavy haulage that way at a cheaper rate? I cannot understand the argument of those who say that we ought to have the Capital in one of the big cities. Our first consideration must be to get away from the provincial atmosphere. The people of Victoria have treated us well in regard to the use of this Parliament House and Government House, and they have been kind to us in other ways, but no one can deny that we have been in a provincial atmosphere. We want to get away from that. As the honorable member for Werriwa has said, we do not want for a start in our Capital marble palaces and palatial halls. We are prepared to go to a simple, effective building, and carve out our own way in the wilderness, and I have no doubt that, if we do that, it can be done, as the Prime Minister has stated, at one-tenth of the cost which would be incurred in establishing the capital in Sydney or any other big city. There can be no doubt as to which course is the more profitable and the better to pursue. In our own Capital City we shall be in a Federal atmosphere, where men can do their work as they should be able to do it, free from provincial influences. I do not wish to press the motion to a division after the Prime Minister’s speech, upon which I congratulate him, because I realize that he has always been in earnest in regard to the establishment of this Capital. I have no alternative but to withdraw the motion. I brought forward the proposal in the first place, because I knew that there had been some extravagance.
– I hope there has not been more than is incidental to all new enterprises.
– Perhaps not, but there has been extravagance, and people have asked me why I do not mention specific cases and give details. I am not going to start tattling on officers in regard to what I have heard and seen, because, as the Prime Minister says, such extravagance may be incidental to all new works. Nor am I going to use my position as a member to spy upon officers and make charges in this House which they are not able to answer for themselves. If I had been intending to make charges against any officers, I would have given the Minister particulars beforehand, so that he could have been furnished with full information, and have come here and spoken on behalf of his officers. I am pleased that both the Minister and the Prime Minister have met me in a frank and open way; and although the object with which I moved the motion may not have been accomplished, the motion will have done good. Whatever extravagance may have taken place in the past is finished with, and there is no good in belling the cat over it now. We have to deal with the present and the future. We can accept the assurance of the Minister that the expenditure there is of a legitimate character, and that he will do his best to promote the development of the Capital. I hope to see him bring before the House a settled policy. We realize that the proper course to follow is to put in charge some one who will be responsible for all these works. Personally, I am in favour of the policy outlined by the honorable member for Parramatta, and which I know he had iu contemplation when his party was in office. I know it was his intention to appoint a Commission to control the development of the Federal Capital, as in the case of Washington, so that we may have men who will be responsible to us for seeing that value is received for all expenditure, and when blunders are committed we can put our finger on the culprit. I say nothing against those men who are at present in charge of the works at the Federal Capital. They have had a difficult task, and many of them are competent officials, whom I respect and esteem. The Minister seems to think that I made some charge against the man who is in” charge of the Cotter River works (Mr. Oxenham). I know the gentleman well, and I believe that no abler or better servant works for the Government amongst all the thousands that they employ to-day. I make no charge against him, because, in my opinion, he has done splendid work.
– He is the type of man in charge.
– But he is not the type of man who has always been in charge. I have not charged the Minister with having done anything wrong. I realize that he has only been in office a little time. I hope he will be there for a long time, especially if he continues in the way he and the Prime Minister have promised. The promises made by the Prime Minister are such that we all ought to be pleased with them, and I know they will give great satisfaction to the people in New SouthWales. I hope that the Minister will take into consideration the representations I made in regard to the land-owners. I have no axe to grind, because those men have no votes, but the fact that they are old constituents of mine gives them a claim upon me. I have the assurance of the Prime Minister that he will do his level best to settle all those cases, and not drag the land-holders to the High Court, and that is good enough for me. Men will submit to a good deal of injustice and wrong rather than go to the High Court. In view of the speeches made by the Minister and the Prime Minister, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
.- I move -
That, with a view to securing as far as possible representation of parties in proportion to their strength at the polls, the method of election by quota and transferable vote be adopted as the method of choosing senators.
Although the merits of the motion are self-evident, I ask leave to postpone my exposition of them until a later day.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 10.5 to 11.8p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
Clause 3 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Commonwealth officer “ means any person … in the service of any public authority under the Commonwealth ….
Senate’s Amendment. - After” Commonwealth,” line 5, insert “and includes an officer of the Commonwealth Bank.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The intention of the amendment is to make the provisions of the Bill in respect to offences against the Commonwealth apply to officials of the Commonwealth Bank in the same way that they apply to other Commonwealth officers. An officer of the Commonwealth Bank is not, technically, an officer of the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– I would point out that the effect of the amendment will be to leave it to the Governor of the bank to decide what is, and what is not, a duty with reference to a bank secret under the provisions of clause 71. It will make any officer of the bank who discloses any document or any information in the possession of the bank liable to two years’ imprisonment.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 17 (Offenders previously convicted).
Senate’sAmendment. - Omit clause.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Clause 17 provides that if a personconvicted of an indictable offence against the law of the Commonwealth has been previously convicted of any offence against the law of the Commonwealth, or of a State, or of a Territory, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of a year or more, the maximum term of imprisonment in respect of the offence of which he is convicted shall be double that provided by the section creating the offence. The clause was drawn to enable the Court to make the sentence more severe in the case of previous convictions. It was to apply only where the accused was convicted on indictment, and the indictment contained a count charging him with the previous conviction. It was thought by the Senate that, as clause 18 provides for indeterminate sentences, clause 17 is unnecessary.
.- I am glad that the Senate has made this amendment, because I asked the Committee to strike out the clause, but I am sorry that it has given a reason for the amendment, because the reason given makes me doubt the wisdom of the action.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 47 -
Any person who- (b)conveys anything into a prison with intent to facilitate the escape therefrom of a prisoner . . . shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Penalty : Imprisonment for five years.
Senate’s Amendment. - Omit “five” and insert” two.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Under clause 47, any person aiding a prisoner to escape from gaol or from lawful custody is liable to imprisonment for five years, but, under clause 49, a prison officer, a police officer, or a Commonwealth officer, charged with the custody of any person, who wilfully permits him to escape, is liable to imprisonment for two years’. The amendment rectifies this inconsistency.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 80 (Unlawful communication of secret information).
Penalty (twice occurring) : Imprisonment for two years.
Senate’s Amendment. - Strike out “ two “ (twice occurring) and insert “ seven.”
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
This must be an attempt on the part of another place to make the totality of the penalties unaffected by any of the previous amendments, and, looking at the gravity of the offence in clause 80, I am quite in accordwith the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 82 (Harboring spies).
Penalty : Imprisonment for one year.
Senate’s Amendment. - Strike out “one year “ and insert “ seven years.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This refers to persons guilty of the offence of harboring spies. Here again it has been thought by another place that imprisonment for a period of one year is absurdly lenient, and that it means nothing more than a mere suggestion of a holiday jaunt. The amendment makes the penalty seven years, and I agree with that.
Motion agreed to.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 11th November, at half-past 2 o’clock p.m.
The reason for fixing that time is that I am desirous of getting Supply through both Houses on the same evening, because His Excellency the Governor-General proposes to leave Melbourne about that time. I shall be glad if the motion is acceptable to honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
– I move -
That theHouse do now adjourn.
I would remind honorable members that there is an arrangement that His Excellency the Governor-General will be in this building at 3.15 p.m. to-morrow to receive the Address-in-Reply, andIhope that as many members as can conveniently do so will be present.
– I, too, will be pleased if as many members as can conveniently attend will be present when the Address-in-Reply is presented to His Excellency to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 October 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19141028_reps_6_75/>.