6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read pray ers.
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, on the 29th ultimo, I waited upon His Excellency the Governor-General, in the Parliamentary library, and presented to him the Address in Reply to His Excellency’s Speech on the opening of Parliament, agreed to by the House on the 15th ultimo. His Excellency made the following reply : - .
Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen,
In receiving the Address which has been adopted by the House of Representatives in reply to the Speech delivered by me on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the sixth Commonwealth Parliament, I desire to thank you for your expression of loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign the King.
Assent to the following Bills re ported : -
War Precautions Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency theGovernorGeneral, recommending an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
– In pursuance of standing order 25, I lay on the table my warrant, nominating Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Bamford, Mr. Charlton, Dr. Maloney, and Mr. John Thomson to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
– With the permission of the House, I wish to make a statement regarding the recent successful action of H.M.A.S. Sydney off the Cocos Islands, which, for greater accuracy, I shall read. It is as follows: -
About noon on Monday, 9th November, a telegram was received at Navy Office from Cocos Island stating that a three-funnelled warship had arrived off the island and was landing a party of men in boats. Communication with Cocos immediately ceased. It was realized at Navy Office that this must be the Emden, and efforts were at once made to get into touch with Sydney, then believed to be in the vicinity of Cocos islands. An urgent tele gram was despatched to the Perth Radio Station, forwarding a code telegram, to be made on the highest power of which this station is capable, with the . “ en clair “ preamble, “ Very urgent ! do not reply.” followed- by the Sydney’s call sign and the telegram informing her of the Emden’s presence at Cocos Island.
No further information was received until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 10th inst., when the Eastern Extension Company brought to Navy Office a telegram received from Cocos that the Sydney was engaging Emden, and that Emden was a wreck on the north of Keeling Island.
This news was confirmed half-an-hour later by a telegram received by the Naval Board from the Naval Commander-in-Chief on the China Station, stating that the cable from Perth to Cocos was out of order, but that the one between Cocos and Batavia was still working. He reported that on the night before Cocos Station had managed to send a short message on extemporized instruments that Emden had been engaged by a British cruiser, but that the result was not yet known, and that the German landing party had seized the schooner and left the island. The CommanderinChief stated that later information had been received from Cocos that Sydney had arrived there and that Emden was wrecked on the north coast of the island. He added that he was informing Admiralty. A more complete account was received on the morning of Wednesday, 11th. It was then ascertained from Cocos by a telegram forwarded by the courtesy of Mr. Webster, Adelaide representative of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, that Cocos had temporarily restored communication, and was able to supply further particulars. It appears that Emden arrived at 6 a.m. and sent three boats with a landing party, consisting of three officers and forty men, with four maxims. The island immediately sent out an urgent wireless call for help, which was received by Sydney just before the installation was smashed by the Germans. The landing party had apparently just completed their work of destruction, and actually put off to the ship, when the Sydney hove in sight. The Emden at once put to sea, leaving her boats behind. On clearing the island the Emden apparently opened the action on the Sydney, and it is stated that her shooting was at first excellent, but after she had been under fire from the Sydney her shooting fell off considerably. It is gathered that Sydney must have poured an accurate and deadly fire into Emden, as the latter very soon lost two funnels and a mast, whilst the whole of the after part of the ship was on fire. The action lasted an hour, the Emden being then apparently in a sinking condition and completely on fire.
The captain evidently decided to beach the ship, as she is reported to be wrecked on the north of the island. The Sydney received very slight damage, the casualties consisting of three killed and fifteen wounded. The names have not yet been reported. After Emden was beached Sydney picked up the doctor of Cocos Island and his assistants and proceeded to the help of the Emden. The result of this visit is not yet known. The German landing party seized two months’ provisions and made off in the schooner Ayesha. The manager of Cocos Island station reported that they had been well treated by the Germans, andwere all well. The following are the particulars of Sydney and Emden:-
Sydney- Light cruiser; 5,400 tons; speed, 25 knots;armament; eight 6.in. guns, four 3- pounders.
Emden - Light cruiser, 3,600 tons; speed, 24 knots; armament, ten 4.1-in. guns.
The Sydney has recently come out of dock, and has, therefore, an advantage in the matter of speed.
In addition to these statements, we have received from all quarters telegrams of congratulation. Amongst them I may mention the following -
From the Secretary of State for the Colonies. “ Please convey to your Government my hearty congratulations, complete success achieved by H.M.A.S. Sydneyin putting an end to the career of the Emden.”
Telegram received by the Governor-General from merchants of Kingston, Jamaica. “ Hearty congratulations Sydney’s naval victory. Hurrah for Australia !”
Telegram received from Henry Marks, Suva, “ Australians in Fiji congratulate Commonwealth first naval victory.”
There is a host of other telegrams from within Australia and from ‘ individuals outside the Commonwealth, but I do not think I need trouble the House with them. I have only to add that I do not think there is a soul in Australia but feels very happy indeed that such an opportunity arose, and such a success has followed the first serious naval action by our own ships.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that some commendation should be communicated to the operators of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company for their alertness in sending, before their equipment was smashed, the message that resulted in the destruction ofthe German cruiser Emden?
– Where so many have done so well, I refrained from specially naming any individual or individuals. I am sure that the people of Australia, while having pride for the victory gained by the Sydney over theEmden, are sorry indeed that the success was not attained without, at least, three casualties by death and fifteen by wounds. While pleased at the event, we sorrow for the sufferers and mourn the killed; but nevertheless these are the consequences of war. .. Undoubtedly, the Government are grateful for the alertness and capacity shown bythe officers at Cocos; and, acting on the suggestion . of the honorable member for Perth:, we shall take suitable action to convey to the parties concerned the feelings expressed in this House.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether it is a fact, as reported in the Sydney press, that the stevedoring of prize vessels has been let by contract to a German firm; if so, will the Minister give the House information on the subject?
– As soon as I saw the statement in this morning’s newspaper, the question having arisen before I assumed office, I had the file looked into and a short statement made out as to whatthe procedure has been -
On the 15th August last, Collectors of Customs were informed that if the agents of the detained vessel’s were willing to undertake the. work of discharge of cargoes it should be intrusted to them, . but the person undertaking the chief responsibility must not be an enemy subject; in case the company were not represented by a British firm and had no responsible British or neutral subject in its employ, it would be necessary to make other arrangements, and in that event Collectors were to consult with the President of the local Chamber of Commerce before deciding to whom the work should be intrusted.
I understand that was the arrangement made by our predecessors, and that procedure lias been followed by the present Government. Ithappens that the headquarters of the two German shipping firms are in Sydney, but in other capitals the agents of those companies are British subjects. I understand that the man in charge of the Sydney head office is a British subject.
– Is that a fact?
– I understand so.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that a full list of the shareholders of the company in question, which goes by an Australian name, has been published in the Sydney press, and that the whole of the shares are held ‘in Hamburg by Germans, and, therefore, that the work of discharging the cargo of prize vessels has been intrusted to a German firm ?
– I have not seen the Sydney papers, but I saw- that statement in the Melbourne Age to-day.
– If the Minister finds that this company, which is under an . Australian name, is wholly made up of German shareholders, so that whatever profits may be made out of this work will go to Germany, will he take steps to cancel the contract and give it to an Australian firm?
– Yes. I was not aware of the fact until I saw the newspapers this morning. Although the honorable member knows it, I can assure him that I am as keen an Australian as he is.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral yet in a position to make a public statement in regard to the raids made by the Military Forces on the offices of the Broken Hill mining companies?
– I should be glad to supply the information desired by the honorable member, but I prefer that the question be postponed until to-morrow, when I shall be in a better position to make a full statement.
– In view of the fact that’ shipping communication with countries overseas is likely to be, to some extent, disorganized, on account of vessels being utilized for the conveyance of troops to the seat of war. will the Minister of Trade and Customs make inquiries to ascertain if such disarrangement of the shipping service will interfere with the ordinary shipment of fruit from Australia to England?
– As soon as I found that a number of vessels were required by the Defence Department, I made arrangements through the Transport Committee that every one of those vessels which had refrigerated space should be loaded with refrigerated cargo when taking troops to Europe. Vessels were not to depart with their holds empty if cargo was available. In addition, the Government have communicated with the British Government, asking if there is any vessel in any part of the world adjacent to Australia available for service between Australia and England, as I understand there is plenty of produce offering for export.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether, in view of the prevailing high cost of living, he proposes to take any steps during this session towards increasing the old-age pensions?
– That question will receive consideration, together with all other questions of a like nature, when the Budget is submitted.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to the honorable member for Bendigo on account of ill-health.
– That is purely a question of law, not of parliamentary procedure.
– The same course has been followed in the Victorian Parliament in similar circumstances.
– It seems an extraordinary procedure to give leave of absence to a man who is not yet a member of the House - he not having been sworn in.
– He is sick, at any rate.
– I hope the honorable member will not suggest that I am objecting to this unfortunate member being granted sick leave. I very gladly concur in the motion, but I hope it is not beyond the province of any honorable member to raise a question which affects the rights and privileges of every member of the House, and is, ‘indeed, a protection of the particular member concerned. I only hope that the honorable member for Bendigo will have no further need for such leave, but will be soon amongst us restored to his wonted health and strength.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-As the refrigerating space for meat awaiting export is completely crowded so far as South Australia is concerned, I would like to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether boats are likely to be available at an early date for the export of frozen meat to the United Kingdom?
– As the honorable member knows, the Government, apart from the requirements of the Defence Department, have no power to charter boats, but in regard to the boats chartered by the DefenceDepartment for the transportof troops, instructions have already been issued that they must take, as far as they can, refrigerated cargo, and that all the cities of Australia must have an equal chance to secure the space available - the whole of the produce must not go from one port. Those are the instructions I have given to the Transport Committee, and they are being acted on. Unfortunately, however, owing to the drought, a lot of stock has been hurried to the market for killing, and this has caused a glut. If honorable members have any suggestions to make to meet the situation I shall be pleased to hear them.
-Will the AttorneyGeneral say if it is possible to do anything that will prevent the Colonial Sugar Refining Company from raising the price of sugar to the public?
– I think not.
– There is a statement appearing in both Melbourne papers this morning to the effect that the Premier of New South Wales is placing on the Adelaide market Treasury Bills at the rate of 5 per cent, for an amount of £2,000,000. Is the Prime Minister aware of that fact, other than from his reading of the newspapers, and does he consider it to be a breach of the agreement arrived at at the late Premiers’ Conference, by which agreement any State was precluded from borrowing other than for renewals ?
– I am not officially aware of borrowing of any kind whatever by any of the States. I have handed to the Leader of the Opposition a copy of the agreement entered into between the States and the Commonwealth at the recent Conference, by which agreement the Commonwealth finds the money and the States borrow from the Commonwealth under certain conditions. If these conditions are not complied with, the Commonwealth is on its part under no obligation to comply with the agreement.
Telephone Attendants : Calls : Cable Jointers
– I have received a letter from Sydney stating that the hours of the telephone girls have been increased. The hours these girls worked were reduced while Mr. Austin Chapman was Postmaster-General, and they have remained the same for six years, though I understand that there was an attempt to increase them during the time MrFrazer was Postmaster-General. I ask the Postmaster-General, is it a fact that the hours of these girls have been increased ?
– While Mr. Frazer was Postmaster-General an arrangement was arrived at by which the hours worked by the telephone attendants in New South Wales were to become the same as those worked in the other States - namely, 37- when the new common battery switchboard came into operation. I understand that this arrangement has now been carried out. The matter has not come before me officially, but I believe that those concerned placed the matter before the Deputy Postmaster-General, and an arrangement was come to to overcome the difficulty. In all the other States the girls work 37 hours per week. The new arrangement in New South Wales does not lengthen the hours; it simply puts the girls in the State on the same footing as those in other States.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral see that subscribers, in connexion with the introduction of the, automatic telephone system in Perth, are not charged fees unless they have effective and correct results to their calls?
– I shall look into the matter and see that the subscribers in Perth are on the same footing as those anywhere else.
– In view of the fact that a number of men engaged on cable jointing have recently been dismissed, will the PostmasterGeneral take steps to see whether they can,, if possible, be reinstated? Also, in view of the fact that the statement has been made by the Postal. Department that these men have been dismissed because they have served nine months, will the Postmaster-General inquire how it is that other men who have had three years’ employment as temporary hands have not been dismissed in place of those who have had only nine months’ employment ?
– Some of the men employed as cable jointers have been put off because employment had to be found for the permanent staff. Men who have been employed for three years are on a different footing. They are exempt officers under the Public Service Act.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the Government of New South Wales have passed the legislation promised to the last Commonwealth Government dealing with the outbreak of small-pox? If not, will the Prime Minister urge the State Government to complete that course?
– I am unaware whether the State Government have done so or not. If the honorable member will put the question on the notice-paper, the Minister of Trade and Customs will be pleased to give all the information the Government cangive him on the matter.
– Will the Minister of
Trade and Customs say what steps his Department intend taking in regard to the suspension of the fodder duties? The scarcity of grass has put the farmers into a very deplorable condition, and if the fodder duties could be remitted immediate relief would be given to thousands.
– Any decision at which the Government may arrive will be announced, in the first place, in this House, so that no person may gain advance information regarding any alteration of the Tariff.
– Seeing that several expeditions have already left Australia for service abroad, I desire to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence when the Government propose to make public the actual terms of their scheme of pensions and allowances to the dependants of those who have gone to the front?
– An announcement will be made when the Bill comes before the House, which I hope will be at an early date.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House of the result of the trial of the electrical contrivance for the registration of calls which was installed some time ago at the Ballarat Exchange?
– I do not know what the result has been, but I shall inquire into the matter.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs state whether a date has yet been fixed by the Government for the issue of a proclamation bringing into operation the Navigation Act?
– No date has yet been fixed.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if any step has yet been taken for the appointment of a Director of Navigation?
– I have gone through all the applications for the position, and hope to be able, within the next three or four weeks, to announce the decision of the Government.
– Three or four weeks ?
– Yes. The right honorable member’s Government was in office for thirteen months without taking final action in the matter.
Use of German Prize Vessels
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that large quantities of wool, meat, rabbits, and other produce for shipment oversea are held up in Sydney, and that large numbers of men are consequently out of employment, owing to the requisite vessels not being available? Will the honorable gentleman say whether the German prize vessels which are lying idle in Australia could not be put to the urgent use of transporting our produce overseas, and so giving employment to many Australian workers ?
– I do not think that the honorable member could have been present when I answered a question a little while ago in regard tothis matter. On the last day of sitting, I said, in reply to a similar question, that all such vessels which had refrigerated space would be used to convey Australian produce to oversea markets.
– But when?
Mr. TUDOR.That is a question to be decided, not by me, but by the Department of Defence. I have already stated this afternoon that we communicated with the British Government, over a month ago, to ascertain whether there were, in the vicinity of Australia, any other vessels which could be used for this purpose. We have taken every possible action in the matter.
– In view of the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs as to the utilization of prize vessels for transporting Australian produce to the Old Country, will the Assistant Minister of Defence inform the House in what position the matter now stands? How long will it be before these vessels can be put to such a use?
– I think the first course that the Defence Department will have to adopt is to apply to the Commonwealth Prize Court for permission to use the vessels. I have no doubt that the Minister will take the necessary steps.
– Has the Minister of
Trade and Customs yet asked the Commissioner who was appointed to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust in -Australia when his report will be available?
– I have; and, from the reply I have received, I hope to have the report some time this month.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence state what is the present position with respect to Naval Bases? Is any general scheme being adopted by the Department, and can the honorable gentleman give the House any special information as to the sub-Naval Base at Beauty Point?
– The matter will be dealt with in the Budget statement.
– Has the Prime
Minister any reason of State for declining to admit the source of the sum of £18,000,000 which has been apportioned amongst the States seeing that it has been publicly stated in cable messages that Great Britain is lending or guaranteeing the money, in order that it may be distributed by the Commonwealth ?
– I believe that it would not be in the public interest for me to make any statement until I am in a position to give full details of the whole transaction. I ask honorable members to bear with me. I cannot give now the whole of the details; but I promise the House that I shall make a full and ample statement of the whole transaction at the earliest possible date.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to lay on the table of the House, or to make public, the document which he said, a little while ago, he had given to the Leader of the Opposition, containing the conditions of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State Governments in relation to loans?
– The document has not been published.
– No, but the facts have been published.
– That does not absolve me. When the document is laid on the table of the House I shall at the same time make a full statement.
– Will the Prime Minister inform us whether the arrangement will be completed before honorable members are made aware of the terms?
– As soon as I am in a position to make a full statement of the facts, the House shall have the first benefit of it.
– After the arrangement is completed.
– When the whole thing is completed any statement I have to make shall be first made in the House.
– I understand that the arrangement as to the distribution of these funds has been completed. Does the Prime Minister see any objection to making honorable members aware of the details of that agreement?
– I have no feeling, and certainly no party or political feeling, in the matter; and I ask the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members, in the public interest, to defer the matter for a little time at least.
– But all the facts have been made public. Why this secrecy ?
– They have not been made public by my authority. I have handed the document in confidence to the right honorable gentleman, and it is for him to say what he will do with it.
– The facts have been published in all the newspapers.
– They have not.
– Without any desire to harass the Prime Minister, I wish to say, following on the question of the honorable member for Bourke, that there seems to be one matter that some honorable members are afraid of. I quite appreciate the natural reticence of the Prime Minister not to make improper or premature disclosures, and I ask him whether he proposes to submit his statement when submitting the Bill necessary to give authority to the arrangement?
– That is the intention of myself and the Government.
– When the Prime Minister is framing the conditions which are to attach to the loan by the Commonwealth to the Governments of the States, will he take into consideration the urgent need of the primary producers to be financed during the next few months, and not limit ibis assistance to the industrial or distributing activities of the States?
– The Government thinks that by providing ample and cheap money for the carrying on of the public works of the States, it will leave free a vast amount of capital for application to ordinary productive undertakings.
– In view of the disastrous effects of the drought, will the Minister of Trade and Customs consider the advisability of suspending the duties on tools of trade and machinery used in agricultural work?
– Any proposals that the Government have to make in regard to the Tariff will be laid on the table of the House.
– It is reported in the press that it is the intention of the Post and Telegraph Department to increase the telephone charges; and I ask whether the Postmaster-General would consider the advisability of providing each subscriber with a call register, so as to en able him to check the accounts which are rendered every half-year by the Department.
– We shall be prepared to provide a register and an officer to attend to it, if the subscribers will pay for this being done; ‘but, I think, not otherwise. I may say that some of the statements that have been made in this connexion have been very carefully scrutinized; and a check shows that the Department has come out accurate every time.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if there is any truth in the newspaper statement that he intends to increase the telephone charges. If so, will the honorable gentleman give Parliament an opportunity to discuss his proposals by embodying them in a Bill?
– There is no doubt that we shall have to increase the telephone rates, but there will be ample opportunity for the discussion of proposed alterations.
– As the PostmasterGeneral treated my previous question with a lightness somewhat foreign to him, I ask him if he considers it reasonable that telephone subscribers should have no opportunity of checking the accounts furnished by the Telephone Department to ascertain whether they faithfully represent their indebtedness or not. Would he, in ordinary business life, tolerate such a system as is imposed by the Department on telephone subscribers ?
– The Department presents its accounts in the ordinary business way. Will the honorable member show how a subscriber could keep a record, or properly check the departmental record ? A subscriber cannot be aware of the extent to which his instrument is used by clerks and other employes on their private concerns.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is not a fact that the Postal Department, the Telegraph Department, and the Telephone Department each show a considerable loss?
– There is a loss, notably in connexion with the Telegraph and Telephone Departments. The whole matter has been gone into carefully, and I am now expecting a report from a committee that is investigating the working of the Telephone Department. Our telegraph and telephone rates are much lower than those in any other part of the world, and will have to be increased.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral in. what other country does it cost 2s. to send a telegram with any expedition ?
– In no other part of the world are telegraph messages sent over such long distances for such small charges.
– Is the Prime Minister correctly reported as having stated at the Lord Mayor’s dinner that there are now no parties? Is he also correctly reported as saying that during this week the Government propose to introduce the Initiative and Referendum Bill? Does the Prime Minister think that that is a non-party measure, or does he think that the war has come to an end?
– I consider that the initiative and referendum, and the granting of larger powers to the Commonwealth, are non-party matters - that they are national and not party. My reference at the Lord Mayor’s banquet was to the fact that the Mother Country, with Australia, is now at war; and it was in that connexion that I said there are now no parties.
– Is it not a fact that the referenda submitted to the people by the Labour party on the last occasion were indorsed by the Hobart Labour Conference, and made part and parcel of the party programme?
– I am not sure, but if that were done it would help.
Public Service Dismissals: Temporary Employes
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether it is not the policy of the Government that the unemployed in Australia shall not be increased by further dismissals from the Public Service of the Commonwealth?
– It is the policy of the Government to increase employment wherever men can be profitably employed, and not to make any dismissals where such a course can be avoided.
– I wish now to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that at the outbreak of the war the services of a number of temporary employes in his Department, who were due for dismissal, were retained, under instructionsfrom the late Government, and that they are still being employed, although other men have been dismissed since the present Government came into office?
– No, I am not aware of that.
– In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister that it is not the policy of the Government to increase unemployment, will the Postmaster-General take steps to reinstate the men I have already mentioned on the necessary work they were doing ?
– These men cannot be reinstated until their turn comes without displacing the permanent men engaged on this particular class of work. They are, I believe, cable-jointers, and there is only a limited amount of work for them; but they will get their chance of any other work.
– In view of the declared policy of the Government during these depressed times, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the fact that there are thousands of men waiting for their turn, while others have been employed for a longer time than that to which they were entitled?
– The only fair and just rule in times of stress is to give every Australian citizen a share.
– Exactly, and not keep one lot employed all the time.
– Every Australian citizen?
– This must, of course, always be limited by the statutory declarations by Parliament.
– When the Prime Minister says that he is going to give every Australian citizen his “ turn,” is he going to do that consistently with carrying out the policy of preferenceto unionists ?
– There is no inconsistency between my statement and preference to unionists. Other things being equal, unionists will get preference.
– Are the terms and conditions of temporary employes of the Government provided for in the Public Service Act, and are those employes under the control of the Public Service Commissioner ?
– Certainly they are under the control of the Public Service Commissioner; but the matter is more complex than honorable members may think. The Act provides that such men can be employed for only six months, and sometimes they are given another three months. Then they must go off, so that others may have a turn.
– That is the rule laid down under the Public Service Act.
– Yes, but certain employes, particularly those engaged on line construction, are exempt from the rule, and remain continuously in the employment of the Government. Men who during their temporary employment have qualified for permanent employment by passing examinations complain when others are retained for longer than six months, claiming that as they have qualified they should be given their turn, with a view to obtaining permanent employment.
– I draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to the fact that Mr. Justice Higgins has expressed the view that the practice of exempting certain classes of employes from the operation of the rule forbidding temporary employment for longer than a certain period is ultra vires.
– I do not think that Mr. Justice Higgins has said that the practice is ultra vires, though he has cast a doubt on its legality.
– Every Government has done what is complained of.
– I ask the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence if the sale of intoxicating liquor on the troopships now on the way to the Old Country has been prohibited?
– No. Every soldier is allowed a certain quantity a day, but the supply is under very strict control.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House when he will introduce a Bill to ratify the Murray waters agreement?
– I have told the State Premiers that as soon as their Parliaments have passed Acts to ratify the agreement a Bill will be introduced into this Parliament. They are the parties immediately concerned.
– Why wait for the State Parliaments?
– The party which is making the gift should be assured of the bona fides of the parties to which the gift is being made.
– Will not the Commonwealth expenditure under the agreement be expenditure on public works which will be the property of the Commonwealth? What justification, then, is there for postponing the ratification of the agreement in the manner proposed ?
– This Parliament should not commit itself to an undertaking for which the States that are also parties to the agreement have not obtained statutory authority. Last week the Premiers concerned unanimously agreed to the course which I have mentioned.. It was understood” that Commonwealth action should follow the action of the States.
– I ask the Prime Minister when we may expect the Budget? A month ago the right honorable gentleman told us that it would be ready within about a month.
– My anticipations have not been realized. The war expenditure and the general difficulties of the financial situation warrant me in saying that it will be probably three weeks before the Budget will be delivered. I could make a financial statement earlier, but I think that I shall be able to deliver a complete Budget statement about three weeks hence.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether instructions cannot be given to prevent the mutilation of shade trees by the men engaged in erecting telephone lines? I have already brought the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister. Is the honorable gentleman taking any action in this connexion?
– The instruction has been issued to those concerned that they are to be careful not to injure shade trees unnecessarily. Of course the Department must have power to keep the lines clear of obstructions.
– In connexion with the grant of £100,000 to the Belgium Government, the following cablegram has been sent by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is dated London, 6th November, 1914, and the message transcoded reads -
With reference to your telegram 27th October, Belgian Minister has asked that following message from King of the Belgians may be communicated to your Government: - “I am deeply moved by the extremely kind resolution of both Houses, and very grateful for the assistance which the Commonwealth so generously offers to Belgium in the terrible crisis through which it is passing. I beg the Commonwealth of Australia to accept the thanks of the nation and of its King. - Albert.”
I lay the document on the table.
– Will the Prime Minister also lay on the table a copy of the message sent with the grant to Belgium, or let us know whatthemessage was?
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Has Mr. Oliver yet reported, or engaged upon reporting, to the Department on the sewerage proposals for the Federal Capital?
– Pending consideration of Federal Capital matters generally, the Department of Home
Affairs has not officially asked the Metropolitan Board of Works for Mr. Oliver’s services.
asked the Assistant Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What is the annual cost, approximately, of clothing and equipping cadets under the age of sixteen ?
The following papers were presented : -
War - European -
Austria-Hungary - Despatch from His Majesty’s Ambassador at Vienna respecting the rupture of Diplomatic Relations with the Austro-Hungarian Government.
Correspondence relating to gifts of foodstuffs and other supplies to His Majesty’s Government from the Oversea Dominions and Colonies.
Correspondence regarding the Naval and Military assistance afforded to His Majesty’s Government by His Majesty’s Oversea Dominions.
Ordered to be printed.
Customs Act -
Proclamations Prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of - Wool (dated 23rd October, 1914).
Hides (dated 28th October, 1914).
Sheep Skins (dated 28th October, 1914).
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Phillips Ponds, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Soottsdale, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Papua - Ordinances of 1914 -
No. 5- Supply 1914-15.
No. 6 - Constabulary.
Public Service Act - Promotion of P. Sukroo, as Postmaster, Grade IV., 3rd Class, Roeburne.
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 149, 153, 157.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Notices of Motion, Government business.
– I take this opportunity of suggesting to the Government that it is about time we knew what the business of the session is really to be. It seems to me that there is no sense or point in one party in the House agreeing to whatever the Government desire to do upon the plea of non-party arrangement and nonparty attitude, under the overpowering and overshadowing influence of the war, if the opportunity is to be used by the Government, under cover of the exceptional circumstances, for the purpose of furthering what are purely party ends and a purely party policy.
– There is nothing of a party nature in these notices of motion.
– I do not know whether that is so in regard to the first one. That may raise a very serious controversial question.
– The first may be, but not the other five.
– I do suggest to the Prime Minister that there is no use in making an appeal to members on this side of the Chamber to dispose of this allegedly non-party business, if it is only to clear the way for the consideration of business which is purely of a party character.
– “We are not asking for anything to-day beyond the formal stages.
– This is a convenient time to raise the whole question. Is it not time that the Government put their cards on the table? When asking for non-party treatment of the tremendous issues arising out of the war, is it not fair that they should put their programme on the table, and tell the House and the country, and the Opposition to whom this appeal is made, and rightly made, in’ the circumstances, what they propose to do?
– It is all in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
– Is that nonparty? The honorable gentleman, himself, has supplied a case in point. The Prime Minister on Monday evening declared again and again, as he had done many times previously, that there were no parties in these days.
– So far as the war is concerned.
– The statement was, I think, a general one, and at the very moment when the right honorable gentleman was making the assertion that there were no parties, the honorable member for Maribyrnong was claiming that the
Labour party would not be doing its duty if it did not urgently and immediately nationalize the iron industry. ,
– Hear, hear!
– Is this a piece of canting humbug and clap-trap that honorable members are indulging in?
– There are no parties in relation to the war.
– I see. Then does it mean that we are to plunge into party warfare in regard to these other measures ?
– What did you say in September ?
– I said then what I say to-day. We did not go to the country talking all this nonsense about stopping the elections as honorable members opposite did. Now they have been returned to power, and they got thousands of votes-
– Order ! The right honorable member must confine his remarks to the motion.
– But this motion raises the whole question of the attitude of the Government towards the business of the country.
-The right honorable member will not be in order in discussing things, that took place during the elections.
– With all due respect to you, sir, I think that I am in order in discussing them in so far as they relate to the conduct of the business of the House. Honorable members made a piteous appeal to the people of Australia that this was no time to raise party issues. That was the appeal of the AttorneyGeneral repeated time and again.
– It served his purpose. He got thousands of votes.
– Order ! Just now I called the honorable member for Parramatta to order for the very line of conduct he is now repeating. If I allow him to proceed, I can see the possibility of an endless discussion on a matter that is not before the House. Therefore, I must order the honorable member not to follow that course.
– I do not see how else I can discuss the matter. I desired to discuss for a few minutes the general attitude of the Government in the light of the declarations they have made.
Here is a proposal to put through six first readings and introduce six Bills before proceeding with Supply.
– That statement is not in accordance with fact. We do not desire to do that.
– I understand that the honorable member desires to move for leave to introduce these Bills.
– Quite so.
– And one of them, at any rate, the honorable member admits to be of a controversial character.
– But we do not desire to introduce either that or the Bill referred to in notice of motion No. 2 to-day.
– I am merely taking advantage of this opportunity to discuss the Government’s declarations before the country, the business they propose to deal with, and the proposals actually before us.
– That is not the question before the House.
– It is time that the Government told the House and the country what are their proposals for the session. We on this side are here to help them to the fullest possible extent, and to raise no unnecessary debate regarding any of these matters relating to the ordinary business of the country and to war preparations and proceedings. There is no party along those lines, but I hope there is to be something reciprocal in this arrangement. While we are helping the Government to put through this business, the Government ought not to take advantage of that attitude on the part of the Opposition to bring down a controversial programme when we have helped them to clear the decks for it. I submit that such a procedure would not be fair, but would be the essence of unfairness. And I invite the Prime Minister to tell the House, if not now, at any rate at the earliest possible moment, what his intentions are. I cannot see why he should not tell us now. The right honorable gentleman knows what is in his mind, and I suppose the Caucus has come to its decision. The Government are therefore in a position to state what their programme of business is. We expect them to play the game with us, as we have tried to play the game with them so far this session, and as we contemplate playing it for the remainder of the session in all that relates to ordinary public business and the safety of the Empire and the measures found necessary to that end. Now is the proper time for the right honorable gentleman to make a statement in the direction I have indicated.
– All I desire to say to the right honorable gentleman is-
– Will the Prime Minister’s reply close the debate on this motion 1
– It will. Does the honorable member desire to speak ?
– I do not desire to speak immediately after my leader, but it seems to me that there should be a fuller opportunity for discussion than the right honorable gentleman’s attitude would seem to leave to honorable members.
– Perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words before the Prime Minister replies. I am a little at a loss to know what the trouble is. We are not asking for any favour at all, nor had we thought to impose upon the good nature and kindly feeling of honorable members opposite. What we propose to do is to enable the House to conduct the business of the country. If we do not pass these motions to-day, judging the future by the past, we shall be left without a legislative feather to fly with tomorrow afternoon.
– That is nothing new this session.
– It is surely not an unlaudable desire on the part of the Government that we should have some business to go on with. It is proposed that we shall go so far with the first notice of motion as to carry the motion without introducing the Bill. We have the same intention in regard to No. 2, whilst the other four Bills may be taken up to the second-reading stage, so that honorable members may have an opportunity of seeing them. The last four Bills are clearly of quite a non-party character; they are mostly formal, and would probably take not more than ten minutes to dispose of. Therefore, I do not think this is quite the place to hang up that elegant little homily to which the right honorable gentleman has just treated us.
– If they are nonparty in character, and will go throughin ten minutes, there is no urgency about, bringing them in now.
– I may say that I went through all these measures with the Leader of the Opposition, and he knows their contents just as well as I do. They are profoundly uninteresting to the ordinary member, and even my right honorable friend yawned when I was explaining them to him.
.- The honorable the Attorney-General has suggested that the Government are making no appeal to the Opposition for goodnatured accommodation, but, as a matter of fact, he did not speak quite truly. Being -acquainted with parliamentary procedure, we know that the Government are asking for a- concession from the Opposition as to the way in which they shall conduct their business. And I think the opportune appeal of the Leader of the Opposition is a reasonable one, viz., that if we consent to convenience the Government in the conduct of their business in the way suggested, they, in turn, should tell us what work we shall have to do this session. This motion really proposes the arrangement of the business sheet, and, naturally, when we start a session with such an elaborate programme as was contained in the Governor-General’s Speech, we desire to know what’ measures mentioned therein are going to make their appearance, and when they are to be taken. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is in a position to make a declaration on that point, but it seems to me that there is nothing unreasonable in the request of the Leader of the Opposition that honorable members should know what business we are expected to do.. It is perfectly clear to even a novice on either side that we cannot get through the programme outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech, even if we were to sit for twelve months. That programme appears to me to have been drafted for a quinqennial Parliament.
– That may apply to a State Parliament.
– It applies to all Parliaments that act with similar fatuity.
– We have passed a bigger programme than that in past Parliaments.
– There were giants in those days, no doubt; but, speaking with twenty years’ experience of parliamentary life, I beg leave to doubt whether even with the most amiable co-operation of the
Opposition it would be possible to put even 20 per cent, of the programme of the Government into statutory operation within twelve months. Apart from the appeal of the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister, to let us know whether this is to be a non-party session or not, if there are to be controversial measures - and one is to be introduced today - I say that the Government should let us know what they are to be, and when they will be introduced, so that we can be ready for them. The humour, amounting almost to cynicism, of the right honorable gentleman in designating his Initiative and Referendum Bill to-day a non-party measure caused amusement on both sides of the House.
– Some honorable members opposite have said the same thing.
– Yes, there were a fewincautious admissions made on both sides. Ministers will find generally a resolute determination on the part of some of us against any proposition to legislate upon that matter this session. I am here, not to fight the Government on non-essentials, but to help them through a war session, and I ask them to wait for non-essentials till some other session. I hope that the Prime Minister, who is surrounded with such unique and grave responsibilities as confront him and his colleagues ‘ to-day, will not think that we on this side are taking up an improper and fighting attitude. I, with a number of others here, am prepared to help him.
– Would you postpone the Tariff?
– No. I think the honorable member for Maribyrnong will realize the difficulty facing his party in regard to the Tariff - in the matter of that terrific conflict between Victoria and New South Wales.
– Order ! The honorable member must speak to the question before the Chair.
– But for the incautious and improper introduction of the subject by the honorable member I would not have alluded to it. I did not rise in any fighting attitude. My sole desire is that we shall have an early intimation of the business nature of this session.
– I have no complaint to make regarding the statements of the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members who have spoken, but I wish to make a correction. 1 presume that the Leader of the Opposition has gained a wrong impression concerning some statements reported to have been made by me the other night when speaking in the Melbourne Town Hall. In responding to a certain toast. I did not say, nor have I ever said, that any nonparty question existed outside the matter of the war. The Leader of the Opposition must not attribute to me anything except what I have said. I wish the representatives of the people here to know that the Government are pledged to carry out their programme as a consistent duty, but that their first duty is to help in every way possible to secure victory to Great Britain and her Allies. I am sure both parties, whatever their differences may be, will co-operate in that way. The proposal to-day is to alter the business-paper, and thus enable the preliminary stages of certain Bills to be taken early, so that they may get to the printer. I do not wish to unduly press the Opposition for concessions. If they feel it their public duty to do certain things, I have no reason for complaint. We shall endeavour during the session to meet their convenience in every possible way. So far as we can see at present, it is unlikely that Parliament will be able to rise for the Christmas holidays until about the middle of December.
– That is only a month ahead, and there is no Budget yet.
– I hope, under the circumstances, that a fairly long holiday will be convenient to honorable members. Mr. Speaker and others coming from distant States knew, in the early days ofFederation, the difficulty of a short adjournment over the Christmas holidays. We knew how difficult it was to get back to our homes. The Budget will be delivered at the earliest possible moment. I am sorry it is not available almost immediately, but it will certainly be produced within twenty days from now. No action on the part of the Government is intended to prejudice the future attitude of the Opposition. I shall be pleased to have their co-operation; the Government will be very happy to co-operate with honorable members opposite where assistance can be given. The time to declare the policy of the Government is when the Budget is produced. The protection of the people of Australia is almost equal to the matter of protecting the Mother Country and those allied with Great Britain.
– Before the right honorable gentleman concludes, would he mind telling us what he has told us?
– The business of the country will go on - that is, that which we think is in the interests of the Commonwealth. The present sittings will continue until the middle of December, but the session will afterwards go on until the work is completed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave he given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1911 and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1914.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Divorce and Matrimonial Causes.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to extend the powers of the GovernorGeneral during the continuance of the present hostilities to make regulations under the Patents Act 1903-1909, the Trade Marks Act 1905-1912, and the Designs Act 1906-1912.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Archibald) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Lands Acquisition Act 1906.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Amendments Incorporation Act 1905.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an
Act to amend section one hundred and twelve of the Customs Act 1901-1910.
Bill presented and read a first time.
In Committee of Supply:
Supply Bill (No. 3)
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That a sum not exceeding £2,104,438 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending the 30th June, 1915.
Supply Bill (Works and Buildings) (No. 3)
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1914-15 for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c., a sum hot exceeding £262,690.
Standing Orders suspended.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Supply Bill (No. 3)
– I move -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1915, a sum not exceeding £2,104,438 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
There are no alterations to salaries. This is to provide for the ordinary monthly expenditure.
– The Treasurer very properly says that only the ordinary services are provided for.
– And active defence expenditure aswell.
– Does that account for the whole of the increase ?
– The totality of the two estimates is nearly £2,250.000, which is at the rate of about £27,000,000 a year.
– I am afraid that we are spending at a higher rate than that.
– There is an item of £925,000 for the Expeditionary Forces, which, I take it, is extraordinary expenditure.
– I suppose that, although we are passing these things in a piece-meal way, they will all be brought to account in a general statement made to Parliament.
– Certainly, in the Budget.
– And I hope that there will be a special Estimate for this extraordinary expenditure.
– I can promise that.
– There is not much to complain about in that regard. I merely wish to call attention to the abnormal conditions in connexion with our finances. Here we are at the fifth month of the financial year, and yet the Treasurer tells us that he will not be ready to deliver his Budget until, possibly, the sixth month is nearly ended.
– That is your fault. Did not the right honorable gentleman’s Government get a double dissolution?
– It goes without saying that, from the point of view of honorable members opposite, we are to blame for everything. It is our fault that Australia has not got, amongst other things, the tin-pot Navy which the Labour party proposed.
– That is the biting part.
– Let me lay once and for all a very old bogy. My honorable friends opposite, despite the continued asseverations of their leader, never go on a public platform outside without taking for the Labour party credit for the naval preparations in Australia. Why, sir, this very note was sounded by a Minister only a night or two ago.
– And the public knowit, too.
– In order that the public may know it, let me place on record the fact that the proposal made by the right honorable member for Wide Bay, on 30th March, 1909, was that we should have, in the first place, four ocean destroyers, each of 1,300 tons. Those were to be his four big boats. The Emden could have knocked every one of them out of the water. The other boats which my right honorable friend proposedwe should have were sixteen destroyers, of the improved River class, of 700 tons each. We were to have sixteen of these cockleshells careering around the Australian coast.
– Thosewere the boats that the right honorable member was going to take into the bush.
– They were so small that they could have been taken into the bush - so small that we have not one of them to-day. The Labour party themselves are heartily ashamed of that proposal. It is time this nonsense on their part ceased. The warships that are now protecting Australia were not of their proposition at all. Their proposal was that we should have the fleet of vessels I have just described. The Emden, the Scharnhorst or the Gneisnau could have dealt with the whole lot of them, and sacked our cities as well. This, then, was the Labour party’s programme - this their tin-pot Navy.
– And the right honorable member for Parramatta wanted to take up a collection at the time.
– I shall tell the honorable member what we wished to do. We desired, in the first place, that a Dreadnought should be built at the earliest possible moment.
– The right honorable member was against an Australian Navy at the time.
– There is not a tittle of truth in that statement.
– It is the truth. The right honorable member and Mr. Deakin wanted to take up a collection.
– It is as true as anything else that the honorable member says in this House. I was always against the proposal to which I have referred, regarding it as foolish and useless; but I was always in favour of adequate naval protection, both here and elsewhere. After all, the whole of our naval preparation would not amount to much if it were not for the great BritishFleet which is bottling up the fleet of the enemy. But for that Fleet overseas, keeping watch and ward over us, even to-day, we should have fifty or sixty Emdens let loose on us, and my honorable friends opposite, and, indeed, all of us, would be very sorry for that.
– I think so.
– For naval defence where it is for the great fabric of Empire, I and those who sit with me have always been in favour of a generous contribution.
– Not always. The right honorable member at one time favoured an Australian Republic.
– Does the honorable member desire to raise that question? Does he wish me to remind him of the company he is in over there? I think he had better let the question alone.
– The right honorable member’s party raised it at the last general election, and thus succeeded in bringing about the defeat of Arthur Rae.
– I do not think so.
– I must ask honorable members to discontinue these interjections.
– We do not begin these discussions, and I should not have introduced this matter to-day if I had not been called upon to. answer the statements and claims that are made by honorable members opposite. The fact remains that the vessels which we have here, and which are doing such gallant work in the defence of Australia, were arranged for at the Imperial Conference, which was attended by Colonel Fox ton.
– He attended it onlyby accident. Senator Pearce had been appointed to attend the Conference.
– It was not an accident. The facts are on record, and may be seen by any one. When my honorable friends opposite lay claim to the vessels of the present Australian Fleet as being part of their naval programme they demand that which cannot be substantiated by the facts.
– What matter who owns them as long as they do the work?
– It does not matter a bit. Why, then, did the honorable member interject as he did a little while ago? Both sides may lay some claim to credit for the Fleet. This question of the defence of Australia should not be a party matter.
I wish now to point out that this is the third Supply Bill for the. current financial year. Before the double dissolution, to which the honorable member for Maranoa had alluded, we passed a Supply Bill for £3,060,000, covering three months. The present Treasurer has passed one for £3,227,000 covering the month of October; and that now before us is for a sum of £2,367,000. Add to that the Belgium grant of £100,000, and the Loan Bill for £2,000,000, which has been circulated-
– It is to provide for works - to raise money to carry on the transcontinental railway.
– I take it that the right honorable gentleman obtained leave to introduce that Bill seeing that it has been in circulation for some weeks. Does he propose to so on with iti
– Leave has not yet been granted, but a Bill is often circulated for the information of honorable members before leave is obtained.
– Quite so. The amounts which we are voting, in this piecemeal way, in anticipation of the Budget, soon to be delivered, I hope, total £10,754,000. Every one knows, however, that the circumstances are extraordinary, and I make no complaint -whatever in regard to these expenditures. The right honorable gentleman can have as many more of these Bills as he feels he ought to have, in so far as they relate to the war preparations that are now proceeding.
There is one proposal, and it was referred to this afternoon by the honorable member for New England, which I much regret was not brought to fruition long ago. I allude to the pensions for the Expeditionary Forces. That should have been one of the first matters to be dealt with.
– We shall bring it in at an early date.
– I do not pretend to know the reason for the delay. Before the men left our shores we were under a moral obligation to let them know the exact conditions under which they were proceeding to the war. Members of the Imperial Forces, both officers and men, know exactly what they are facing. The latest proposal, I read, is to increase the pensions of the soldiers. I think that the British Government might very well do so, having regard to the small amount which they are paid over there. We can afford to be more generous, ana 1 hope we shall be. When we left office there was in existence a draft pensions scheme.
– I think that the right honorable gentleman’s Government agreed at the first Conference to a uniform proposal.
– That was only as to the pay of the troops. There was a draft pensions scheme in existence when we left office, but I do not pretend to know what is the reason for the delay in shaping it and putting it before Parliament.
– It will not be long delayed.
– I suggest that the Government expedite this matter so that the men will know exactly what they are to expect. It is only fair to them, and particularly is it due to those dependent upon the men who are going out to fight our battles for us, that they should know what we propose to do for them.
We have made an excellent beginning in connexion with the war, and I hope that it is only a beginning. The war, if I know anything about it, is going to be a very long one. All the experts agree on that point, and so long as the war exists we are under obligations to do our very utmost - to the last soldier we can send - to see it to a successful conclusion. We have sent away one expeditionary force of 20,000 men. Three months have elapsed since the war broke out, and I should like to know whether the Treasurer can indicate what course the Government are going to follow so far as the future of the war is concerned. I see that Senator Pearce said the other night, at the Town Hall, that already 42,000 soldiers had been provided for. I do not know how he makes up that number, and would like to see the details; but, so far, only one expeditionary force of 20,000 has left the shores of Australia. This, it seems to me, is very far from being a sufficient contribution, in view of the tremendous war in which we are engaged. Great Britain has 1,250,000 men under arms; and I understand that she is asking for another 1,000,000. If there is a rich prize in this war it is Australia ; and I should say that Germany would rather, many times over, have this country to-morrow than she would even Great Britain.
– Do not mention that in public.
– I am trying to show what we have at stake. I am not quite sure that we realize the position ; or, if we do, we are not expressing it as yet iii the number of men we send oversea.
Compare our numbers alongside the men from the rest of the Empire, or with those of our Allies, and we see at once that our contribution is a very small one. I am now merely urging the Government to get on with the recruiting of more men, so as to give Australia adequate representation in the theatre of war. It is no use sending the men in such small numbers that they are killed as fast as we send them; it is far better to send as many as possible at the outset, so as to make as respectable a show as is in our power, because this must be infinitely more effective than dribbling men along later on. I know, of course, all the difficulties of equipment, and I am not making the slightest complaint, but urging the Government to see that nothing arrests them in the course they have set out for themselves, and to send another force or two as soon as ever circumstances ()6rmit. Servia, who is fighting for her ife, has a population of only 4,500,000, and she has 500,000 in the fighting line, while Belgium, with a population about as large as that of Canada, has all her available men under arms. Great Britain is arranging to have 2,250,000 men at the front, and Australia, with ti ninth of the population of the Mother Country, should, on a proportional basis, have considerably over 200,000 men in the field as our share in this mighty struggle of life and death.
I know that it costs a great deal more to send troops from Australia than it does from any other place, and I am not suggesting that we should send 250,000 men at this moment, though I think that we should do that sooner than see the battle lost. We should, no doubt, aim at something considerably less than . that for the present, but Australia ought to make a powerful contribution to the fighting strength of the Empire. My idea is that the Government should get the equipment from wherever they can. Senator Pearce gave utterance to an admirable sentiment the other night at the Town Hall when he said that our Forces should be equipped from head to heel in Australia ; and that would be all very well if we could do it quickly.
– It is the most effective way to give assistance.
– It is, whenever it is possible to give it ; but I do not think that even this consideration ought to hinder the despatch of troops. We must not wait for equipment, but must do what “we can, and in the quickest possible time. If we can get our equipment here, so much the better; and I hope we may be able to continue to do so. But we ought not to wait for the equipment; that is the point above all others to be regarded. The greater the effective force in the field in these early stages, the shorter will be the duration of the war, and less the loss of life in the long run. The Prime Minister must not understand me as making the slightest complaint, but as merely expressing the opinion that our efforts should be accelerated very considerably, because this v/ill prove the cheaper, and better, and safer for all concerned.
I had intended making some re- marks regarding the Imperial loan; that is to say, if it is an Imperial loan. The Prime Minister has not told us, and I do not think he has told anybody, where he is getting the money; and that is the peculiar part of the transaction. This is, I think, the first time in the history of parliamentary government when such an important matter of public expenditure and public finance has been made a solemn and profound mystery.
– It is not a mystery; there never was a war of this kind before.
– We are not discussing the war, but the £18,000,000 to which reference has already been made; and the Prime Minister is under obligation to tell the country all about it at the earliest moment.
– I shall, too.
– What the mystery is about the borrowing of £18,000,000 I do not pretend to know. The facts regarding it have already appeared in the newspapers, and everybody knows them; and it seems to me to be foolish for the Prime Minister to play the mystery man when the heads of other Governments are telling the public all about the situation.
– The information will be authentic when we get it here.
– It is authentic now. Mr. Holman has already told the people of New South Wales the amount he is to get - roughly a little less than £8,000,000. This has appeared in the newspapers in New South Wales; and Mr. Holman has told the public, in addition, that he is entitled to about another £1,500,000, making a total of about £9,000,000 altogether. Sir Alexander Peacock has also made known to the public his part in the transaction; and, therefore, I cannot see why the Prime Minister affects this silence. It is certainly a novel attitude for a Treasurer to pretend that there is any mystery about a matter that is of public notoriety from one end of Australia to the other.
– The Prime Minister is a Scotch “oyster,” and cannot be “ opened.”
– I do not think there is anything “ Scotch “ about it, but what the mystery is I should like to know.
There is only one other item in the schedule of the Bill to which I should like to call attention, namely, £1,000, under the head of “Miscellaneous,” for the administration of the Bureau of Agriculture. We have no Bureau of Agriculture, and, as yet, no statutory authority to establish one; indeed, there is no Bill before us. It seems strange to be providing money in a Supply Bill for a Department that has not yet been created ; but perhaps the Minister of Trade and Customs may be able to give us some explanation.
– I think the right honorable gentleman is rather in favour of a Bureau of Agriculture.
– I am in favour of putting through a Bill at the earliest possible moment providing for a scientific Bureau of Agriculture.
– The sooner we get an Australian Bureau of some kind the better it will be.
– Quite so, but does this item ‘in the schedule get us any “forrader”? Is it proposed to introduce a Bill immediately? If not, why does such an item appear in a temporary Supply Bill of all places? I could understand such a proposal if we were considering the Estimates, and it was thought that the money might be required within the year; but this is merely a monthly Supply Bill.
– The item may be associated with the bitter pit.
– But there is another item in the schedule connected with bitter pit. In any case, it is not -usual to introduce policy proposals in a monthly Supply Bill.
– I quite agree with .the honorable member.
– Does the Prime Minister know why the item appears ?
– No, I do not.
– I have nothing further to say at present. But, I say again, I hope the Prime Minister will expedite the despatch of the expeditionary forces. The wastage in war is, I believe, about 60 per cent, per annum, so that what we are now doing will just about keep 20,000 of our men effective in the field. We ought to try to give a fillip to recruiting in Australia at the earliest possible moment, and send along men with such equipment as we can procure, so that we may take a worthy and adequate share in the great war being waged for our safety, as well as for the safety of the whole of the Empire. The pensions proposals are, I think, long overdue; and I suggest that the Prime Minister should let us know definitely something of the scheme, which ought to have been introduced and passed through both Houses long ago. This is only due to the men on their way to the front; and I think it would give a tremendous impetus to recruiting if it were known that adequate provision was to be made for dependants.
– The Government are fully in sympathy with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition regarding the duty of the Commonwealth in furnishing an adequate number of efficient soldiers to help to bring about the early termination of the war. Towards this end we are training officers who will be able to lead the Forces required.
– How long will the training of officers take?
– We have not delayed a day in commencing this work.
– Is it the intention of the Government to “allow officers of the Permanent Forces to go to the front?
– The Minister of Defence is endeavouring to make the Forces that go from this country as efficient as they can be made, but I have not discussed with him the matter about which the honorable member asks. I am in duty bound to reply to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, though I suggest the unwisdom of discussing too particularly what we propose to do.
– There is no need for secrecy as to the number of men to bc sent.
– I think that there is.
– Did not the right honorable gentleman read the statement made by Lord Kitchener the other day?
– The statement that Lord Kitchener wants 1,000,000 more men has not been communicated to us officially, and what is desired of this Government will be so communicated. We have not been backward in providing equipment, and all Australians will be pleased to know that no other, part of the Empire, including even the Mother Country, is so well provided in this respect.
– That statement is easy to make, but hard to prove.
– Those who know most about our position are proudest of it, and all share in the credit. The Leader of the Opposition omitted to mention that this Commonwealth is the only Dominion under the Crown that has provided a fully-equipped naval unit. It has also, in conjunction with New Zealand, provided soldiers for the capture and defence of enemy territory in the Pacific. The burden we have shouldered is greater than that of any other Dominion, the cost of maintaining the Navy alone being far greater than the expenditure undertaken by our senior sister Dominion, Canada, in the despatch of Expeditionary Forces. I make this comparison merely to show that the Commonwealth has no need to apologize for what it has done. We have established factories that have been, and will be, of the greatest value to us.
– If the right honorable gentleman refers to the Small Arms Factory, I say that it is not much to be proud of. It has been a great disappointment so far.
– There are other factories connected with the Defence Department. Before the Budget speech is delivered, the Government will introduce a Bill to provide for military pensions. It is for Parliament to determine what the pension scheme shall be, so that the Government may make provision for it in the Budget. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the pensions should be adequate in view of the sacrifices made. We have provided pensions for the relief of persons in other walks of life, and there is little difference, so far as the suffering and misery entailed is concerned, between loss of life on the battlefield and failure in the industrial warfare. I do not intend to discuss the origin of our Navy, and who first conceived the idea. Undoubtedly our defence at sea was the subject of the severest controversy five years ago, and, happily, as experience has shown, the right decision was arrived at. The Premier of New Zealand, who, three years ago, strongly opposed the establishment of local navies, now is in favour of them. I believe, though I am expressing my own view only, that the strength and unity of the British Empire will be increased by a wider distribution of armed forces on the sea, with greater autonomy. If this increase of autonomy is granted freely and cheerfully by the Mother Country, the striking force of the Navy will be increased, and mobilization can be undertaken more quickly than at the present time. That view is supported by independent and capable observers who have visited this country. Their conclusion is that while unity of command is necessary, there must be a larger delegation of executive power if we are to make the best of our Naval Forces. I hope that the time is not far distant when other parts of the Empire will see fit to fall into line with the Commonwealth in the matter of naval defence. After what took place on Monday, local criticism of the Australian Navy should cease. That Navy is believed in and supported by all the citizens of the Commonwealth, whatever their political party may be.
– I am sure that we would all like the outside world to know that Australians are absolutely united in their policy of defence at sea and on land. Whenever the Liberals have been in power or in Opposition, they have protested against attempts to make political capital out of the defence policy, and I hope that the Prime Minister’s lead will be followed bv all members of his party, including the Minister of Trade and Customs, credit being given to all who in their various spheres of action have assisted to build up our Australian defence. Only the other night the Minister of Trade and Customs claimed that our Navy is practically the result of the Labour party’s efforts alone. That is the effect of what he said, and I have read no correction of the newspaper report of his speech. Then, in a manifesto issued prior to the last election, the Labour party claimed to have originated our scheme of land and naval defence. Whatever political parties may claim in this connexion, nothing could have been done had not the taxpayers shown their willingness to make the necessary sacrifices. Had any protest come from the taxpayers, political parties could have done nothing. I agree with the Prime Minister that the controversy as to which political party should have the credit for our defence should end, but before leaving the subject I wish to put on record, in an unpartisan manner, one or two statements of fact. In 1902, when the Barton Government was in power, a report on Naval Defence was obtained from Captain Creswell, who recommended the establishment of an Australian Navy, to consist of four cruisers, whose equipment he set out in detail. In 1903 a debate took place in this Chamber, in which many honorable members participated, as to whether we should continue the Imperial contribution or make a beginning with an Australian Navy. If honorable members will turn up the debates they will see that Liberals, like the honorable member for Angas and others, took up strongly the idea of an Australian Navy.
– That was before you joined the Fusion party.
– Again, in August, 1905, Captain Creswell put aside the proposal for cruisers, and suggested a “Unit of cruiser-destroyers, torpedo boatdestroyers, and torpedo boats - thirty-two in all; and in August, 1906, when the second Deakin Government was in power, he reported in favour of a scheme of three ocean destroyers, sixteen destroyers of the River class, and five torpedo boats, twenty-four vessels in all. In 1906 a Conference of the Commonwealth Naval Officers’ Committee was held, and they made a recommendation that the Unit should consist of four ocean-going destroyers, sixteen coastal destroyers, and four first-class torpedo boats. On the 26th September, 1906, Mr. Deakin adopted the first instalment of the Naval Officers’ Committee’s report, comprising twelve boats in all, namely, eight coastal destroyers and four first-class torpedo boats. Then, in 1907, the foundation was laid by one to whom all Australia is indebted for his work in the formulation of an Australian Naval policy. I refer to the policy propounded by Mr. Deakin at the Imperial Conference in 1907. Mr. Deakin there discussed the principles with the Admiralty, and those who consult the despatches will see clearly that the foundation of the agreement, as regards the control of the Navy, which agreement our friends opposite consummated, was then laid. I am dealing now with the claim that the Labour party originated the Australian Naval policy.
– The Labour party sat behind the Deakin Government at that time.
– T have no desire to introduce partisan feeling. On the 13th December, 1907, was delivered in this House, by the then Prime Minister, one of the most complete statements upon land and sea defence ever delivered in this Parliament. Mr. Deakin set out a proposal for six destroyers, nine submarines, and two depot ships, making seventeen boats in all. At the conclusion of that speech the present Prime Minister congratulated Mr. Deakin upon it. The honorable member for Wide Bay said -
The subject is a big one, and I do not think I have ever heard the honorable member to greater advantage. With such a subject, and with such a speaker, I have no doubt that when the time comes for the people of this country to defend themselves they will respond as he desires. I offer the Prime Minister my congratulations upon the manner in which he has set forth the defence policy of the Government.
The Government of that day went further. There was placed on the Estimates, by the Prime Minister of the day, a vote of £250,000 for the purpose of providing for the coastal defence of Australia. The Deakin Government intended to proceed with that policy. They submitted the proposal to the House, and did their best to get that movement going.
– Did the vote go through the House?
– The vote of £250,000 was appropriated, but the honorable member for Wide Bay thus expressed the views of himself and other honorable members on that proposal on 22nd May, 1908-
If I understand the position correctly, the Prime Minister purposes tying up a quarter of a million of money in some way that I do not quite appreciate. Whilst I am in favour of naval defence and the establishment of an
Australian Navy at as early a date as possible, there are other things that, in the opinion of the electors and of this House, have a prior claim, and that this House has declared to be urgent.
The Government had to yield to the pressure of the House, and Mr. Deakin then said that he would simply have the appropriation, but that not a penny of the amount would be expended except with the consent of the House. He was allowed to appropriate £250,000, and to place it in a trust fund, but not one penny was to be expended until details of any proposed expenditure had been submitted to Parliament. On 22nd May, 1908, Mr. Deakin said-
It is to be devoted to a special purpose, and to be expended only when Parliament shall approve of some scheme of naval construction to be laid before it.
The honorable member for West Sydney and others pressed the point, and Mr. Deakin further stated -
Not one penny of this amount will be expended except with the assent of this House to the way in which it shall be expended.
The Deakin Government went out of office, and a Labour Government came into power, and during recess, without having submitted a scheme to Parliament, they called for tenders for ships, using the plans and specifications which had been specially prepared by Mr. Ewing when Minister of Defence in the Deakin Government. Those are the facts. Then, on the 30th March, 1909, the Fisher scheme was announced at Gympie, namely, four ocean destroyers, sixteen destroyers (improved River class) in addition to three already ordered, and one vessel armed for police duties, making a total of twenty-four, exactly the same number as had been recommended by the Commonwealth Naval Officers’ Committee in September, 1906. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports asks, “ What about the Dreadnought episode?” At that time matters became critical with regard to the Empire.
– It was after that.
– Somewhere about that time the international situation became critical, and several members of the Liberal party suggested that a Dreadnought should be offered by Australia in the same way as one had been offered by New Zealand ; but, at the same time, they made it perfectly clear that that offer should not in the slightest degree interfere with the proposal for the establish ment of an Australian Navy. That point was made clear beyond all doubt. The Labour Government were defeated that year, and the third Deakin Government came into power. An offer of a Dreadnought was then definitely made by the Liberal Government, and these despatches contain telegrams in which the Deakin Government offered a Dreadnought, or its equivalent, to the Empire, whilst at the same time they announced their intention to proceed with the creation of an Australian Navy.
– But there was to be no Dreadnought here.
– It is true that the Dreadnought, or its equivalent, was offered to the Empire, wherever it might be required by the Imperial authorities.
– In the North Sea?
– Wherever it was required.
– Read the cable.
– The cable is not in accordance with the declarations made in public.
– I will quote the cable in a minute. In the meantime the Government of the day announced clearly that, so far as they were concerned, they desired a conference with the Imperial authorities upon the whole question of naval defence, and were quite prepared to consider any proposal made by the Admiralty as being requisite for the naval defence of Australia and the Empire. Colonel Foxton did go to the Imperial Conference to represent the Australian Government, and bases were arrived at between him, on behalf of Australia, and the Naval authorities with respect to a Fleet Unit, which is the Fleet Unit in Australia to-day. That is clearly shown in the Imperial Conference’s report. It was suggested that Australia should provide a Fleet Unit, to consist of one armoured cruiser of the Indomitable class, three unarmoured cruisers of the Bristol class, six destroyers of the improved River class, and three submarines of the “ C “ class. That was modified later on by an agreement with the Admiralty in 1912 that our Unit should consist of one armoured cruiser of the Indefatigable class, three second class protected cruisers of the Weymouth class, six destroyers of the improved River class, and two sub- marines of the “ E “ class. A motion for the establishment of the Fleet Unit was submitted in this House by the present Leader of the Opposition, and was carried, and that was the first parliamentary approval of the scheme. In December, 1909, the then Government despatched a cable to the Imperial authorities ordering the present battle cruiser Australia, which is the vessel we are all so proud of to-day. .There is no doubt about these facts, and the same cablegram definitely stated that the three cruisers, now known as the Sydney, the Brisbane, and the Melbourne, were to follow. This is all ancient history to most of us, but it is necessary to put the facts before the public, because, day after day, statements are made which would make it appear that the Labour party were the sole originators of our present Australian Navy. Ifc stands to the credit of the Labour party !that they accepted the policy advocated by the Liberal party. That is the reason why all Australia is behind the policy. It is an Australian policy, belonging to neither one side nor the other. I promised honorable members that I would read the cable that was sent by the then Governor-General, Lord Dudley, to the Secretary of State on the 4th June, 1909, offering a Dreadnought to the Imperial Government. That cable reads -
Government of Commonwealth of Australia take earliest opportunity, after assuming office, to inform Prime Minister, as President of Imperial Conference, that they will shortly submit to Parliament their proposals for defence of Commonwealth and its_ coasts.
It is thus seen that we informed the Imperial Government that we had our proposals for the defence of the Commonwealth -
They now beg to offer to the Empire an Australian Dreadnought, or such addition to its naval strength as may be determined after consultation with Naval and Military Conference in London, at which it will be represented. This offer will be communicated to Parliament immediately it reassembles.
The Dreadnought of that day was sneered at, but it is the flagship Australia of to-day; and I say that, whether that vessel was required for the Australian Navy or not, the fact remains that if the Empire wanted such a boat to-day, there is no one in Australia who would not offer such a ship to the Empire. That is the test.
– But the Empire did not want it.
– If the Empire did not want it, no harm was done in making the offer; but while our Navy is in Australia, and is passed over to the Imperial control in time of war, it is an Empire force all the time, and it is the wish of the people of Australia that it should be so. I do not wish to go further, into this matter, but it is only fair that a few facts should be put on record. I hope that in future the Australian Navy will not be regarded either as a Liberal or Labour creation. It is an Australian Navy, supported by all parties, and paid for by the taxpayers generally. As I have already said, the Labour party are entitled to credit for taking up the scheme propounded by their Liberal predecessors, and carrying it on from the stage it had then reached. The late Government carried on the scheme and advanced it, and endeavoured to make our Navy an efficient Unit for the defence of the Empire as a whole. When the Prime Minister asks us to sink party controversy in regard to the Navy, it is well, before doing so, to put the facts before the public.
– I was careful not to raise controversial matters.
– But the vague references made by a Minister to croakers the other evening had their significance. The Minister of Trade and Customs made no secret of his attitude in this connexion. At least he is so reported. Further, the Prime Minister, during the last election, signed a Labour manifesto,” in which he made the same claim. He now says he is prepared to drop it. If he is prepared to do that, so am I.
– I still think that the Labour party initiated the Australian Navy.
– The right honorable gentleman is entitled to his belief; but I am pleased to have had the opportunity of putting on record the actual facts of the case.
– I was in favour of a local Navy in 1907, and said so.
– Quite so; but in 1908 the honorable member said -
Whilst I am in favour of naval defence and the establishment of an Australian Navy at aa early a date as possible, there are other things that, in the opinion of the electors and of this House, have a prior claim.
– Old-age pensions.
– The Prime Minister now says that, although he theoretically favoured the Australian Navy in 1908, he thought old-age pensions were more important.
– I succeeded in dovetailing the two matters.
– I am not questioning the academic belief of the right honorable gentleman, but it is quite one thing to have an academic belief for ten or’ fifteen years, and another thing to claim that the Labour party originated the naval defence scheme of Australia. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has included the Bureau of Agriculture in his programme. The matter was not mentioned in the Speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral at the opening of the session. I do not know when Ministers decided to take up the policy. The Bureau was mentioned in the policy speech of the right honorable gentleman during the elections in 1910; but, though the Labour party was in power for three years, it did nothing to establish it, and last session it effectually succeeded in preventing the late Government from carrying it out. I hope, now that the Government have placed the establishment of the Bureau in their policy, they will carry it out on sound lines.
– Does the honorable member see any way of effectually doing it without the full co-operation of the States, because that is my difficulty?
– I think the Prime Minister will” find that the States will not object to the Commonwealth undertaking the purely national sphere - that is, the scientific investigation of pests and diseases affecting animals and plants all over the continent. I know that on the part of the Queensland Government, the Victorian Government, and others, there was no objection to the Commonwealth taking that sphere of action. The Scottish Commission, all practical men, who knew what they were talking about, investigated the matter from an impartial stand-point, and studied it from a practical point of view, strongly advocated the establishment of this Bureau on the lines that I have indicated.
Mr. MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) who have preceded me, I wish to prevent this matter of defence from becoming a partisan one, but I believe that partisanship can be put aside, while, at the same time, a few facts may be given. When the first Fisher Government left office in 1909, and the Deakin Government came into existence, Colonel Foxton went to Great Britain to attend an Imperial Conference, and what took place at that Conference is green in the memory of all of us. That those who took part in that Conference believed that an Australian Navy was very desirable was very evident. Up to that point all was well.
– But what happened at the 1907 Conference?
– I am dealing with the year 1909. There is no need to go back further than that year.
– It does not suit you to do so.
– The elections of 1910 were fought with all the usual bitterness of political fights, and the question of whether our Fleet should be an Australian one, or one that should be handed over to Great Britain, or sent to the North Sea or anywhere else, was one of the biggest points fought out. In that year, 1910, the Age took up the stand that it was desirable to have an Australian Navy. On the other hand, the attitude of the Argus was that the navy should be a British Navy, and not an Australian one. The Argus advocated the payment of a larger subsidy to the British Government. Honorable members can turn up the files and see the articles.
– You are wrong in your dates.
– At that time the Argus was the advocate of the Conservative party now in Opposition, and then in power; but, to the dismay of the Jingoes, as a result of the 1910 elections, the Labour party came into power, and decided that we should have an Australian Navy. At the time, the feeling in Europe was very tense, and the policy of the British Government to concentrate the whole strength of the British Navy in the North Sea was consummated.
– You are wrong. You have mixed up your dates.
– I am just as conversant with the subject as is the honorable member. The Fisher Government came into power in 1910, and during the recess all the jingoistic talk that could possibly be imagined was talked. Everyone remembers that a twopenny-halfpenny play called The Englishman’s Home was brought out. It was a beautiful dodge with the idea of charging the Labour party with being disloyal, with wanting to cut the painter, with not realizing the position, and with being without the desire to remain a portion of the Empire. The Jingoes said that the other Dominions had started sending Dreadnoughts to England, and they suggested that Australia should do the same. However, the Labour Government said “ No!” Mr. Atkinson. - You are mixing up the years.
– I am not. I remember all the facts. I remember the fight, and the howling Jingoes of Victoria, who charged the Labour party with being unpatriotic. I remember the stand we took. If it had not been for the Australian Navy, Australasian seas and islands would have been at the mercy of the German Fleet; there would have been no warships here of sufficient strength to meet the German cruisers; there would have been nothing but 6-in. guns; there would have been no 12-in. guns.
– Who ordered the Australia?
– Yes, but you wished to give it away. Mr. Deakin, to my surprise, took up the attitude of the other Jingoes who sat with him on the other side, and tried to embarrass the Government on the question of the Dreadnought. Everywhere we heard so-called Patriotic Associations condemning the Labour party. It was a political dodge. Did we not hear the Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand the other day give away the whole show ? He admits now that if Australia had carried out the policy that the Jingoes intended, of sending a Dreadnought or a large warship to the North Sea, we should have been at the mercy of the German Fleet during the last month or so. Let us have some more evidence on the point. We remember that in 1910, when the Labour party refused to send Australia’s largest vessel to the North Sea, the patriots who objected to the land tax wished to expend thousands and thousands of pounds to build a Dreadnought to send to England. They called for subscriptions with this object, because the Labour party would not give effect to it. They collected £60,000 or £70,000. For what purpose? For a political dodge - to use the matter during the election ‘ with a view of getting political supremacy. That it was a political dodge these people knew. I say with the Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand, that if it had not been for the Labour party in power at that time keeping the Dreadnought here, all our ports would have been shelled within the last two months, and our smaller vessels would have been of no use against the German cruisers. Why is it that during the last few months we have not been able to attack those cruisers? Because the German vessels have 8-in. guns and 9-in. guns, and the Melbourne and Sydney have 6-in. guns only. To attack the German cruisers we require ships of the calibre and with the guns of the Australia, and we have only one Australia. Honorable members opposite know the position as well as we do. If they had had their way there would have been no Australian Dreadnought here, and we would have had nothing but vessels of the type of the Sydney and Melbourne.
– That is not correct.
– It is a fact, and the honorable member knows it.
Several Honorable Members. - No
– In 1910 I had the pleasure of visiting Tasmania for the purpose of assisting Labour candidates during the State election. I went to the State in the company of a Labour Premier of one of the States, but another Jingo Tory. He said to me, “What a mistake Andrew Fisher and you chaps made in not presenting the Dreadnought to be part of the Imperial Navy.” Even in our own ranks there were men who had that jingoistic feeling that we should have presented the Dreadnought to England, and not kept it here. I agreed with him that the Empire was one, and that in a war it did not matter for the ultimate good that certain sections of the Empire should suffer, so long as the head centre survived the fight, seeing that afterwards we could re-create, as will have to be done in portions of Germany and France; but I said that the British could provide all the Dreadnoughts they required, that they had never asked for ours, and that Australia had no desire to be the scapegoat, and suffer, when the possession of a Dreadnought would prevent it. That was my attitude then as it is to-day. Coming to the question of the contingents that we are sending away, I must express my surprise at the position taken up this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition in discussing the subject, although he was careful to say that he did not desire to make any attack on the Government. The right honorable member expressed regret that we could not get our men away more speedily and in larger numbers than at present. The honorable member for Perth interjected that what was desired was not equipment but men. Let me assure the honorable member that men without proper equipment would be perfectly useless.
Mr.Fowler. - I did not suggest that they need not be equipped.
– The allied forces are fighting in France and Belgium today, and are gradually driving back the German hordes. Great Britain has some 1,200,000 more men who are being trained for service on the continent. Why are these men not sent abroad at once? The answer is that Lord Kitchener does not consider them to be efficient, and that they are not yet properly equipped. No doubt he feels that during the winter campaign, when much cannot be done, they can be well drilled and equipped to take the field in the spring. The British Army on the continent, I am assured, is the most efficient and best equipped that ever took the field in any part of the world, and it was only because of this that they were able to withstand the rush of the Germans during the historic retreat from Mons. Half-trained men could never have withstood such an onslaught as was made upon them. And so I say to the Government that every contingent that we send from Australia must be not only well trained, but so equipped that it can at once take its place in the field. The British Government are not able to clothe, boot, and equip all their own men at the present moment, and we should not assist them by saying, “ Here are men for you, but you must equip them.” There is one other matter which I desire to bring forward, and I shall do so with a certain amount of diffidence. With all due respect to the teetotal section of the community, I venture the opinion that those who conduct the temperance movement are the most intem perate I have ever heard speak. I wish to approach, from a common-sense standpoint, the question of dry camps. I make an appeal to those who know something of the drink traffic, and there are very few teetotallers who do. It is not so much the imbibing of strong drink as the evils of the drink traffic that we wish to avoid. The taking of strong drink in moderation does not prevent a man from being a good soldier. Some of the finest soldiers the world has ever known have had their share of beer, and some of the finest sailors their share of rum. I certainly do not desire that the Australian Army shall be a drunken one. I think that the consumption of alcohol by our troops should be supervised by the Defence Department itself.
– Has, the honorable member read Lord Roberts on the question?
– I know more about the drink question than fifty Lord Roberts could know.
– Does the honorable member know as much about it as does the honorable member for Brisbane?
– Yes ; I know good whisky from bad, whereas he - does not. I hope that the Minister of Defence will display his common sense by trying to regulate the consumption of alcohol in our camps instead of pretending to abolish it altogether. If any effective step could be taken to prevent the consumption of strong drink in military camps, the position would be different; but the system now in force is calculated to make drunkards of men who would hot otherwise be so. An effort is being made to maintain a dry camp. We know that the average man drinks beer. He cannot afford to pay for champagne, and he has not acquired a taste for whisky. When he cannot obtain beer in camp he surreptitiously takes in a bottle of whisky, and very often it is the vilest stuff that could be bought. I do not hesitate to say that in all our so-called dry camps there is being introduced a lot of horrible whisky, the consumption of which maddens men who would not be affected by a glass of beer. The Australian nation is not a drunken one. I have had as much experience of our young men as has any honorable member. I think I know every young man in my constituency. I have known some of the biggest larrikins that ever paraded the streets, and they would not even drink a glass of shandygaff. It cannot be said of our Australian youths that they are drunkards. We are told that the Russians are a drunken people, but I deny that Australians are.
– Whoever said that they were? This is most intemperate language.
– Our men may be fairly abstemious, but as they are not able to get a drink in camp they, in many cases, take into it a lot of inferior spirit. When they get twenty-four hours’ leave many of them say, “ We can get no drink in camp, so we will have a good skinful while we are out.” It is in this way that harm is done to our men. I want a stop to be put to this sort of thing, and I appeal to all who wish to abolish the evils of the drink traffic to try to bring about some better system than has yet been conceived. I maintain that we shall never get rid of the evil by declaring for dry canteens, when we know very well that such a proposition cannot be carried out. We pass laws to regulate every phase of society, and it is ridiculous that we cannot regulate the supply of strong drink in camp instead of pretending to do away with it altogether. It is, after all, only a pretence. The community does not consist solely of intemperate teetotallers. We have in our midst many rational men and women who are moderate drinkers. I know that the teetotallers say that the moderate drinker is worse than the drunkard, but my answer is that the teetotaller does not understand the situation. The men in our camps are going to take our place in the battlefield; some of us ought to be going with them. Many of them have, rightly or wrongly, acquired the habit of taking some alcoholic refreshment; but as soon as they are sent into camp they have forced upon them a system of which they disapprove. It is a silly method that we are adopting, and I appeal to the teetotal section of the community to devise a better one. I think that 95 per cent, of the officers of any army would prefer to regulate the drink traffic amongst their men rather than have an attempt to prevent it altogether. If we established canteens in the camps, and arranged for them to be properly looked after by the officers, we should go a long way towards securing what we desire.
– The officers are worse than the men.
– I am surprised that the honorable member should make such a statement. I have known officers who took drink, but who took care to keep their men sober. We know that an officer who gets drunk does not want to see his men get -drunk.
– Even an officer who was a drunkard would take care, I think, so to regulate the canteen under his control as to keep his men from getting drunk. I am not urging that our troops should be allowed to get drunk. Such a position would be almost as silly as that taken up by the teetotaller. I am merely appealing to the Government to regulate the drink traffic in our camps, and not to continue the present system, which is detrimental to the well-being of every soldier who has ever taken a drop of liquor. We should introduce a system of regulation that will make “our camps sober, instead of sly-grog, communities. I know that the teetotal section of the community are actuated by a desire to do good. A lot of large-hearted men and women have devoted years of their lives to the cause without any recompense ether than that which they derive from the knowledge that the community is a sober one. But they do not understand the drink question, because they have never taken any part in the drink traffic. Perhaps, if there were more reformed drunkards in the Temperance party, their efforts would have more effect.
– Why does the honorable member not try his hand ?
-The arch-priest of teetotalism in this House, the honorable member for Brisbane, has an idea that at the back of my head there is a spark that requires a lot of quenching; but I tell him that I take my present stand as a man who was born in the army, and know its conditions, and who> is familiar with the drink problem in all kinds of places, from bush townships to largelypopulated centres, and my opinion is that the traffic is one to be regulated - that it is the misuse of drink, and not its use, that we have to prevent.
.- It does not appear to me to be necessary to occupy much time in the discussion of this Supply Bill, because the Government have to carry on the affairs of the country, and must have the necessary appropriation. At the same time, I am disappointed that the Prime Minister has made no statement, not only in regard to the two Bills that have been mentioned, but also in regard to the general financial position of the country. This has always been a customary course in the introduction of temporary Supply Bills; and I remember that my friends opposite, when in Opposition, were very insistent that that course should not be departed from by the then Government.
– The situation is now different.
– I do not think that, in this respect, there is any difference whatever. We might have been told how the revenue stands as compared with the previous year in regard to certain Departments in which some of us are interested. Personally, I should have liked to know something about the Customs and Excise revenue, and also the income of the Post Office, not to mention other branches of the Public Services.
– The revenue is fairly steady.
– We have heard a great deal about which party or Government ought to have the credit for the establishment of the Australian Navy; but I do not think it is necessary to debate the question.
– Who introduced the question ?
– I do not know, but I do know it was discussed all over Australia during the elections, when the Labour party took the whole credit for the establishment of the Navy, to the exclusion of any efforts on the part of the Liberal party. There is no doubt that, at one time or another, most of us have expressed views different from those which we now hold.
– That is the case with all progressive men.
– When I was Minister of Defence, in the early days of Federation, the idea of expenditure in this direction found very little favour; and it was stated, I think, by the Leader of the Labour party of that day, that a very few hundred thousand pounds was sufficient; but, as I say, the views of honorable members opposite, and also of honorable members on this side, have changed a good deal since then. I remember at that time - il901 - that the Defence vote, which was less than £900,000, as submitted by me as Minister of Defence, was, at the instance of the Labour party, reduced by £180,000; and when Sir William Lyne was acting for me as Minister of Defence, he promised to reduce it by another £60,000 in the following year. However, I do not think either party achieve any good purpose by taking to themselves all the credit for our present position in defence matters; there is no advantage in disparaging the efforts of others.. As Minister of Defence, I introduced a Bill in 1909, under the authority of which it was proposed to borrow £3,500,000 for the purpose of building a Navy; and, certainly, in our circumstances then, a’; Navy could not have been constructed without borrowed money, seeing that, owing to the .introduction of old-age pensions, we could not have financed ourselves otherwise. However, owing to the alteration in connexion with the Braddon section, the borrowed money was not required. I admit that, in the early years of Federation, I was not an advocate for a local Navy, but favoured an Imperial Navy. Mine was a broad-based Imperial idea, founded on a common kindred and a common interest. My hope was that all the selfgoverning Dominions would contribute, on a basis to be arranged, to maintain an Empire Navy, in which we should all be partners. I looked forward to a time when we should be represented at the Admiralty, and have a closer relationship with the defence of the Empire, and with the great questions of peace and war, than we have now. Afterwards, however, when I found that the idea was not so acceptable to the people of this country as that of a local Navy, I was quite willing to accept the latter, because the object I had in view was to defend the Commonwealth, and to assist in the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire; and he would be a pig-headed man who, because he could not get all he wanted, would refuse to take anything - half a loaf is better than no bread. By this Bill it is proposed to appropriate a further sum of £925,000, in addition to £1.650,000 voted last month, making a total appropriation of £2,575,000 for the Expeditionary Forces. The latter figure does not startle me in the least: but, on the contrary, strikes me as moderate, considering what we have had to do in the way of equipping and paying troops, provisioning transports, and so forth.
– The amount will be big enough in the future.
– The Prime Minister is probably doing his best to keep the expenditure down as much as possible; but, as he says, it must increase later on. Altogether, I do not take any exception to the figures, because I think the best is being done by the right honorable gentleman. I notice that there has been a Treasurer’s Advance of over £500,000, but that, of course, is necessary.
– Especially now.
– I should have been glad to hear.: something about the expenditure on the transports, which, no doubt, represents a very large item. I have been told that demurrage at the rate of £15,000 per day was paid. If so, it is a very regrettable fact.
– Nothing in the world could have prevented it.
– We are promised full information in regard to the proposed loans to the States. There is no doubt that a Bill will have to be passed authorizing the Commonwealth to obtain the money before we can carry out any such arrangements with the States. I have received some little information in regard to the amount to be lent to each State, but doubtless the whole facts will be laid before us in a document presented to the House. One point strikes me, namely, that we are not bound to provide money for the States except on the ground that the States cannot obtain it for themselves. If the States cannot borrow at a reasonable price, and the Commonwealth can do so, we should do what we can to assist them ; but I think it would not be unreasonable for us to ask how the States ‘ propose to spend the money. It may be said that the States are responsible Governments, and that the various Parliaments will have to be given this information, and that, therefore, we ought not to interfere in local affairs. At the same time, if the Commonwealth has to make itself responsible for the £18,000,000 for the benefit of the States, we are entitled to some little assurance on the matter. The Commonwealth is, perhaps, the most interested in the welfare of the primary producers, and, in my opinion, it would not be too much to ask the State Governments to see that this money is spent in such a way as to be wealth-producing for the country generally. At the present time, those engaged in country pursuits are suffering severely from the drought, and I do not think we would be going too far if we inquired how much of the expenditure was to be devoted to assisting and protecting agricultural interests. It would make the passing of the Loan Bill through this House much easier if we were able to assure the people that a considerable portion of the money would be devoted to the end I have suggested. We should thus provide for the giving of assistance where it is required, to the benefiting of the whole community. It may be objected that we cannot interfere. I do not advocate interference at the point of the bayonet, so to speak, bub I think that we should do good by the expression of our strong opinion and desire that expenditure shall be in a certain direction. Any expression of that kind would, I am sure, not go unheeded.
– Will not the provision of money for public works release ample and sufficient capital for other enterprises ?
– There are public works that are urgently required, and others that are political, and the Commonwealth should not provide funds to assist the socialistic ideals of a political party. “Unless some such expression of opinion as I have suggested is made, I do not think we will be acting either with caution or reason. In conclusion, I feel it to be my duty to assist the Treasurer in obtaining Supply that ‘ I know to be absolutely required. I have, therefore, refrained from controversial discussion, merely drawing attention to one or two matters which I felt it my duty to mention.
.- I should not take part in the debate bad it not been for the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I have not heard for many a long day a more intemperate speech on the temperance question than that which he delivered. He arrogated to himself, and to those who think with him, all rational opinion on the question. He appealed for the regulation of the supply of liquor in military camps, and, I presume, on military transports, too. I do nob propose to go fully into this very difficult and perplexing question; I take my stand on the ground that the drink traffic cannot be regulated. After 2,000 years’ experience of regulation and restriction of every kind, it must be admitted that the drink traffic defies regulation and restriction, and that the only sensible way of dealing with it is to prohibit it. Section 123a of the Defence Act says -
No intoxicating or spirituous liquors shall be sold or supplied, and no person shall have such intoxicating liquors in his possession at any naval or military canteen, camp, fort, or post during such, time as training of persons as prescribed in paragraphs (a), (6), and (c) of section 125, is proceeding in such naval or military camp, fort, or post, except as prescribed for purely medical purposes.
The section was meant to apply to camps of military training under our universal training system, and particularly to camps in which youths were being trained. Parliament has affirmed, and, I think, would re-affirm, the necessity of maintaining dry canteens in all camps in which cadets were under training. Under the limited interpretation that I have mentioned, Senator Millen unwisely allowed wet canteens to be established in the camps maintained for the Expeditionary Forces. Senator Pearce, who followed him, gave the section a wider interpretation, and disallowed wet canteens; hence these tears.
– Has the change had a good effect?
– In my opinion it has. Speaking from my own experience
– The honorable member does not drink.
– It is ridiculous to suggest that therefore I know nothing about the subject on which I am speaking. How many honorable members would be competent to express an opinion on any subject were a test of that kind applied ? My experience of the Enoggera camp, where there was a wet canteen, was of a most saddening character. The camp was, perhaps, the best conducted in the Commonwealth, because the military commandant of Queensland objects to wet canteens, but there was nevertheless a regrettable and a disgraceful amount of drunkenness even there. The men were allowed so much leave that they were able to visit city hotels, and not merely to -satisfy their immediate wants, but also to obtain supplies of liquor which they took into the camp. Things became so serious that special efforts had to be made by the commandant to put an end to the scenes that occurred, and special orders were issued for that purpose. What happened amounted to a public scandal. No more sad sight has been seen in our cities and towns - and it could be witnessed here in Melbourne - than the reeling about our streets of. drunken men clad in military uniform. What should be and has not yet been done is to stop the introduction of liquor into the camps. Why should men be allowed to take liquor into the camps when Parliament has declared that liquor shall not be taken into them? The greatest slygrog sellers that we have are the licensed hotelkeepers. No persons more consistently and audaciously break and defy the law than those engaged in the liquor traffic.
– The honorable member should not utter a slander like that without possessing full information.
– I am making a straight-out, open, and distinct charge. The nations now at war have ordered the avoidance of intoxicants by their armies. Kitchener’s message to the troops contained the injunction to abstain from liquor, and Lord Roberts, and every other British general of note, has always advocated such abstention. General Grant, of the United States army, once said -
Give me the sober man, the absolute teetotaller, every time. He is dependable. If I had the greatest appointive power in the country, no man would get even the smallest appointment from me unless he showed proof of his absolute teetotalism. If I could, by offering my body a sacrifice, free this country from this fell cancer, the demon drink, I’d thank the Almighty for the privilege of doing it.
Listen to this from Germany. Count von Haiseler has said -
The soldier that can abstain altogether ia the best man; he can accomplish more, march better, and is a better soldier than the man who drinks even moderately. . . . Strong drink tires and only increases thirst. For soldiers, water, coffee, and, above all, tea, are the best drinks.
Honorable members carry in their memory Sir Victor Horsley’ s remarkable statement about the marching during the
Boer war. He said that in the trying march to Ladysmith the men who dropped out were not the tall men, or the short men, or the stout men, or the thin men, the old men, or the young men, but the drinking men, as plainly as if they had been labelled on the back. The Parliament of Norway has passed a resolution declaring that both army and navy messes shall be non-alcoholic. The Japanese and Russian navies are on the water waggon, and the British Navy is proceeding in the same direction. Admiral von. Muller has stated that -
In the German navy, grog rations are excluded from ships, and all canteens on shore and afloat, and to every recruit joining the navy is given a pamphlet warning them against alcoholic abuse.
Among the regulations issued for the government1 of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces is this -
The men are to be reminded that, on the voyage, their first aim and object should be to keep themselves fit in every respect, and that each man out of the firing line is a drag on his comrades. Tt should be noted that cigarette smoking impairs a man’s marching power.
No liquor of any sort or description will be . allowed on board, except that in charge of the medical officer for medical purposes.
This prohibition includes the officers’ mess. All bars are to be sealed.
With the sad recollection of their experiences in the war with Japan, the Russians have taken a very courageous course. The Czar last year issued an order under which officers are forbidden to drink spirits in camp or on duty. Commanding officers are ordered to discourage drinking, and recommended to set an example of abstinence. Spirits are forbidden to the men at all times, and the most stringent measures will be taken to prevent them from buying them . Medical officers are to deliver lectures to officers and men concerning the harmful effects of alcohol. Major-General Kirkpatrick, who was Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Forces, reported -
My observation this year leads me to believe” that, on the whole, the absence of liquor was an advantage, and that, as the men accustomed to alcoholic beverages at the canteens complete their service, its absence will not be noticed during the short training period of the militia.
I refrain from making further quotations. The position, put in a nutshell, is this: The armies and navies of to-day are intended to be, first and last, efficient fighting machines. Everything that interferes with their efficiency is discouraged, and experience, and the result of every test and observation, prove that nothing impairs their efficiency, nothing so interferes with and hinders their work, nothing is more destructive of their discipline, than the use of alcohol. Why are the nations to-day in arms against drink ? Is it because of any objection to the thing itself ? No. It is because the use of spirituous liquors is harmful and detrimental.
– It is the harmful effect of drink that I wish to stop.
– The- honorable member suggests that it is not what is drunk, but where it is drunk that makes the difference. That position is illogical. The evil is in the drink itself; it does not matter where it is drunk, or who serves it. I made an interjection about the officers being worse than the men, and I desire to substantiate that statement by saying that the anxiety to have wet canteens in the camps is wholly due to the desire onthe part of the .officers to secure perquisites for themselves.
– Do not say so.
– I do say it. There was a conference of militia officers in Melbourne in October, 1911, and they recommended that wet canteens should be reintroduced into camp. For what reason? The main reason was that they had lost a certain amount of pocketmoney by the abolition of the canteen. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports stated that a drunken officer always insisted on his men being sober. By that very statement the honorable member admitted that he knew the disadvantage of men being in any way inclined to the drink habit.
– The honorable member does not seem able to separate the man who drinks from the man who gets drunk.
– I agree that you cannot separate the’ two.
– Sensible men can, but teetotallers cannot
– That point is rather wide of the argument which I wish to emphasize. But let me reply to it in a word. It is impossible to distinguish between the man who drinks and tha man who gets drunk, because in every two men there is a difference in the line of demarcation. The line of difference between drinking and getting drunk is different in the case of the honorable member from what it is in the case of the next man. Every man has his own standard by which he alone can be tested. It is morally impossible to say where the line shall be drawn between when a man is drinking and when a man is drunk.
– You cannot say when a man is drunk.
– If a man is drunk on ten glasses, he is one-tenth drunk on one glass. That is the logic of the position. In reply to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, let me say that the nations of the world to-day are against drunkenness, but the trouble with the world is not drunkenness, but drinking. There is less drunkenness in the world to-day, but a lot more drinking; and scientists, medical men, and professionals of all studies are not denouncing drunkenness, a disease which every honorable member who has a spark of manliness in him regrets to see a fellow-victim suffering from, but drinking. What the nations . are against today is drinking, and it has been proved on British warships that even one glass of alcohol interferes with a man’s efficiency at the guns.
– A glass of drink saves many a man’s life.
– That theory was exploded so long ago that I am surprised to find the honorable member so far behind the times as to still believe it.
– I have saved many a life that way.
– And many a life has been brought to a premature end by the same means. It is not only the effect a of drink on one man that we have to consider. If a man were inclined to take a drink and be satisfied with that, the evil would not be so great; but it is the effect on others that causes the trouble. Do not forget that the mothers and fathers in Australia to-day, the parents of the boys who have gone to the front with the Expeditionary Force, are thanking God that there is a man like Senator Pearce, to do what that honorable gentleman did in regard to the abolition of wet canteens. I desire the Minister of Defence to go further. I regret that Senator Millen, through an omission - I give him that credit- allowed a supply -of grog to be available on the troop-ships. I believe that if Senator Millen had not been so overworked at the time he would have prevented that grog being available’ ; but I hope that Senator Pearce will see his way to stop in some way the drink evil on Australian troopships, as has been done on the New Zealand boats and on other vessels.
– And you will get other bad effects.
– The history of the world proves that, not only - in individual cases, but in the aggregate, efficiency is increased immediately the’ supply of alcoholic liquor is stopped.
– You do not know anything about it.
– That is no argument. A few months ago the Secretary of the Navy Department in the United States issued an order prohibiting the supply of liquor on American warships, except on the doctor’s orders. Why has that been done ? It is no argument to say that the Secretary ‘ of the Navy Department knew nothing about the subject.
– Tt was done because the teetotal section of the community concentrated their efforts to bring about that result.
– Can the honorable member explain by the same analogy why four more States in America have resolved on a prohibition of the drink traffic during the last week?
– But the temperance party lost many of the old prohibition States.
– The honorable member is in error, because there is not a single State in the world, which, having once had prohibition, has gone back on that policy. There are some 40,000,000 people living under some form of prohibition in America, and I think there are thirteen States which have now adopted prohibitory resolutions.
– I wish we could shut you up.
– Pass a resolution prohibiting the supply of liquor in the camps and on ships, and I will be for ever silent on that point. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that it is the temperance fanatics who are responsible for this opposition. The honorable member is evidently overlooking the fact that to call a man a fanatic is to pay him one of the greatest compliments that it is possible for a man to receive. To be called a fanatic is to be put in line with every great reformer in the world’s history. It is to be told that you are doing something to-day which shall be first ridiculed, then considered, and finally adopted. It is only a matter of a very few years when not only this country, but every country in the world, will have adopted absolute prohibition of the liquor traffic in regard to the army and navy.
– Do you ever, in your most optimistic moments, think you are going to make this world dry?
– If the honorable member asks me if I ever in my most optimistic moments think I am going to make the world all that it ought to be, I reply that that is not my business. It is not my business to reform this world and make it clean. It is not my business to make the world sober, but my business is to do what I can to make the world what it is meant to be -a heaven on earth.
– That is why I desire you to assist me to regulate the traffic.
– I cannot agree to the regulation of any evil. If a thing is wrong, there is only one course to adopt, and that is to abolish it.
Mr.Carr. - Would you wipe out every wicked man ?
– That is for a higher authority. My business is to assist to make it easier to do right and harder to do wrong. Admiral King-Hall, who was in charge of the Australian Naval Station for some years, after completing fifty years of service at sea, said -
As a naval officer, I am well within the mark when I say that 75 per cent. of the trouble in our service arises from the drink question, and that if we could have a service of total abstainers crime would be practically nil, and the service more efficient, as I proved in a paper entitled “Is the service more efficient for Alcohol?” read at the Imperial Institute some four years back.
The testimony is prolific and unanimous, and most of the naval experts and military officers in the world have declared in favour of dry canteens ashore and afloat. The only reply of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is that “ You know nothing about it; you are a fanatic.” I prefer to follow the man with expert knowledge and experience.
.- I agree with the right honorable the Prime Minister in deprecating the public discussion of matters in connexion with the war, which are better left untouched; but, at the same time,
I think it is only reasonable that honorable members should take this, the first, opportunity of referring to certain phases of the grave issue that is before us. I intend to take advantage of that opportunity very briefly, and in a way which, I trust, will not overstep the discretion that ought to rest on the lips of every member of the House. I was very glad to hear the references to the matter of pensioning those who may be disabled, or the relatives of those who may be killed during the war, and I also join in the hope that these pensions may be of a liberality that will make any dependence upon public charity unnecessary. I think the Commonwealth can very well afford to do that, and that it should not be left to private charity to supplement what it is certainly the duty of the country as a whole to do. In this connexion, I have had some difficulty with regard to a fund that is being added to very rapidly in Australia; that is the patriotic fund, which exists in the various States, and the sum total of which must now be very considerable. At the inception of the war, we had a patriotic fund in Western Australia that has remained in existence since the Boer War, and, while I was discussing the object of the fund with one of the trustees, he informed me that it was impossible to apply that money to any other purpose than the direct assistance of those who had participated in the war; thus the fund, which amounted to several thousands of pounds, was useless for any other purpose. If the Government are going to make ample provision for those who may lose their support during the war, I desire to know what the patriotic fund is to be applied to? According to the basis of the fund, in Western Australia, at any rate, the money can only be applied to the assistance of those who have suffered by reason of actually participating in the war.
– The same remark applies to the patriotic fund in Victoria.
– It now appears that there will not be the need for the application of the patriotic funds in this particular direction, and a considerable sum of money will remain unutilized simply because it cannot legally be applied in any other way. If this money cannot be applied in the direction of alleviating distress arising out of the war - I am told that in Western Australia, at any rate, it cannot - it is just as well at this stage to make inquiry as to whether there is any great necessity for the accumulation of money, in this particular fund, such as is going on at the present time. If the money cannot be utilized to deal with distress arising out of the war through unemployment, and with cases of absolute hardship suffered by women and children, it is high time another fund was in existence to which public charity might be directed, -and which would have for its object the assistance of those who, in these present times of crisis, through no fault of their own, find themselves without the means of buying bread.
– They have refused to do that in Victoria.
– I shall regret very much if the money in this patriotic fund cannot be utilized in the broadest sense, for which, no doubt, many people thought it existed ; otherwise their money would not have been contributed to ic.
I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that we should make a greater effort to convince the people of Australia as to the urgent necessity for entering more enthusiastically into the war. We are all proud of the contingent that we have despatched, 20,000 very fit and capable soldiers, who will give a good account of themselves; but I would like to see another contingent of the same strength going away very shortly. I do not think that we are making a sufficient effort to advertise the fact that Australia needs recruits. In the Old Country, everywhere, there are posters exhibited calling on the young men of the country to enter the army; but here in Australia, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the only advertisement is one of 3 inches or 4 inches appearing in certain papers, and not seen by one in a hundred. It is the duty of any Government in power to point out to Australia that our interest in the war is even more vital than that of the people of the Old Land. One cannot imagine the rule of the British Isles passing away from the people of the British Isles; but if this war goes against the Empire there is nothing more certain than that the rule of Australia will pass away from the people who occupy this continent at the present time and we shall be brought under the heel of a Prussian despotism which will be something beyond anything many of our Australians believe- possible in these civilized times. There is urgent necessity for impressing on Australians, and especially on our young men, the need for defending Australia at the point where it requires defence at the present time, namely, on the field “ of battle on the frontier of Belgium.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports objected to a statement that I made by way of interjection a little while ago, that it was more important for Australia to consider the question of sending men than to send them equipped. The statement is quite a truism. Let us equip the men by all means, if we can; but, if we cannot, let us send them Home, and let them be trained and equipped there, as undoubtedly they would be in a very little while. Active operations on the battlefield will very largely come to a stand-still during the winter, and the work of the warring nations will be mostly in the direction of preparing their forces for the spring campaign. If we send our Australians forward without equipment, they could very readily fall into a general scheme in England for the necessary training that would make them all the fitter to face the enemy on the battlefields of France and Belgium, and, perhaps, Germany. It has to be remembered that the topographical conditions of these countries are entirely different from those of Australia, and it is very necessary that our Australians should get a considerable amount of training under conditions approximating more nearly to those on the field of battle on the Continent than we can find in Australia. The small, frequent enclosures, the frequent streams and ditches, the clumps of timber here and there, and the unevenness of the ground make a set of conditions entirely alien to the Australian. Therefore, I hold very strongly, that if we can get another 20,000 men together, equal in all respects to the 20,000 already despatched, we need not keep them back until they have every strap and buckle, or even every rifle required, but we should send them Home, where they would get their training and all their equipment, and be ready to take the field when they are required in the spring.
I wish to refer, very briefly, to a matter which has been discussed with some heat, that is the question of which party, if any, is entitled to the particular credit for bringing into existence the Australian Navy.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 7.45 p.m.
– I intimated before we rose for dinner that I intended to refer to the question, that has already been discussed, as to which party or parties is due the credit of the establishment of the Australian Navy. When other speakers on this side attempted to debate the question to-day, they were met with cries of protest from the Government side of the House, and it was urged that this was not a proper subject to discuss at the present tune. That cornea rather strangely from honorable members’ who, during the last few weeks’, have been availing themselves of every opportunity to claim that the Labour party is alone responsible for the vessels of the Australian Navy that are now creating such a magnificent record for the Commonwealth and themselves in meeting our enemy. I have scarcely been able to open a newspaper during the last fortnight without seeing a direct claim on the part of honorable members opposite or their friends that the Labour party is alone entitled to the credit of creating our Australian Squadron. While they may refrain from making such a claim in this House, knowing the absurdity and the falsity of it, the fact that they do. reiterate such claims outside makes it necessary to put the whole matter in its true light The honorable member for Darling Downs has covered a good deal of the ground in giving a history of the various steps by which we arrived at our Australian Squadron. Now, I have not at any time during my career in this House had any great inclination to discuss any question from a purely party stand-point. It is only becauseI amin a measure compelled, as a member of the Opposition, to enter my protest against the misrepresentations of honorable members on the Government
Bide of the House, that I deal with this matter at all.
– The misrepresentations come from both sides.
– I have not heard yet any. Liberal claim that the Australian Squadron was brought into existence solely and entirely by the Liberal party.
– I have.
– I can show the honorable member a pamphlet or two in which that claim has been made.
– I, at all events, do not propose to make any such claim, nor doI purpose dealing with this question from a party stand-point.
– The honorable member for Balaclava did.
– I have not heard the honorable member for Balaclava do so, and I should be much surprised if he claimed for Liberalism one-half of that which is frequently claimed for Labour, outside this House, with regard to the Australian Navy.
– Read his speeches in the Macquarie electorate.
– I have not had the pleasure of reading anything that the honorable member for Balaclava said in the Macquarie electorate; but I have read repeatedly in the Melbourne newspapers of claims made by members of the party opposite- in one case by a Minister - that the Labour party is entitled to the credit of having established the Australian Navy. I have a recollection that carries me over the whole record of the Federal Parliament, and I must say that for many years the question of an Australian Navy was regarded by all parties as being almost outside the range of practical politics. That was during the period when the Imperial Navy was absolutely unchallenged by any other Power. So long as the Imperial Navy held that position many members of the Federal Parliament - members of all parties - took up the attitude indicated by the honorable member for Darling Downs as that of the Prime Minister when he said that the money proposed to be devoted to the foundation of an Australian Navy could very well be applied in other directions. That was the attitude of many members during the earlier years of the Parliament. ““The question of creating an Australian Naval Force became acute only when Germany, having made great strides in constructing her Navy, began almost openly to look forward to the time when she would be able to challenge the British Navy. When, following these developments by Germany, the Imperial authorities realized that it was necessary to re-arrange the disposition of the Navy and to concentrate very largely in the North Sea, the question of creating an Australian Squadron became a very pressing one to the people and the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Darling Downs has referred to the Conference of 1909. That undoubtedly was the particular time when the present Australian Squadron took definite shape. And it took that shape at the instance of the Imperial authorities themselves. ‘ There were at that time in Australia two schools of thought regarding an Australian Navy. One was the deep-water school, as it is usually called, while the other comprised those who regarded the defence of Australia as more likely to be accomplished by the creation of a mosquito Fleet - a Fleet of the smaller class of vessels, that could act only as a defence force close about our coast. The Imperial authorities, however, submitted to the Conference of 1909 a recommendation in which they pointed out that a defence force of that kind for Australia would not meet all the requirements that might arise. I wish to make only one brief quotation to indicate this attitude. At page 23 of the report of the Conference we have the following : -
In the opinion of the Admiralty, a Dominion Government desirous of creating a Navy should aim at forming a distinct Fleet Unit; and the smallest unit is one which, while manageable in time of peace, is capable of being used in its component parts in time of war.
Under certain conditions, the establishment of local defence flotillas, consisting of torpedo craft and submarines, might be of assistance in time of war to the operations of the Fleet; but such flotillas cannot cooperate on the high seas in the wider duties of protection of trade and preventing attacks from hostile cruisers and squadrons. The operations of destroyers and torpedo boats are necessarily limited to the waters near the coast, or to a radius of action not far distant from a base, while there are great difficulties in manning such a force and keeping it always thoroughly efficient. A scheme limited to torpedo craft would not, in itself, moreover, be a good means of gradually developing a self-contained Fleet capable of both offence and defence. Unless a naval force - whatever its size - complies with this condition, it can never take its proper place in the organization of an Imperial Navy distributed strategically over the whole area of British interests.
There was a clear indication by the experts of the Admiralty as to what, in their opinion, Australia should do if it had made up its mind to attend to its own sea defence. At that time a Liberal Government was in’ power here, and we find immediately an indication by that Liberal Government that it was prepared to carry out the recommendation of the Admiralty as made at the Conference.
On 8th December of the same year, the following cable message was despatched by Mr. Deakin to the Secretary of State for the Colonies : -
The Commonwealth Government will be glad if the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty will arrange for the construction, without delay, of an armoured cruiser of the Indefatigable type, to be followed by three unarmoured cruisers of the improved Bristol type.
That order was given, and would have been carried out in its entirety, I believe, if the Liberals had remained in office.
– What about the Dreadnought arrangement!
– We have just discussed it. This cruiser of the Indefatigable type, which was ordered, is the Australian Dreadnought. We have called her the Australia.
– Did not the Liberals wish to give a Dreadnought to the Imperial Navy?
– Of course we did.
– The Liberals offered one to the Imperial Navy, but, as I have tried to indicate, at a Conference subsequent to that offer, it was pointed out by the Admiralty authorities that the proper step for Australia to take was to establish a Fleet Unit, consisting of a Dreadnought and three unarmoured cruisers, in addition to vessels of a smaller type. The Liberal Government acted immediately on that suggestion. They ordered an armoured cruiser - the Australia - and she is now in commission.
– This is news.
– It is news that the honorable member does not relish, but I am placing it on record as an historical fact. Of the three unarmoured cruisers that the Liberal Government ordered, two are now in commission - the Sydney and the Melbourne. They ordered a third - the Brisbane -but when the Labour Government came into power the order for the construction of that vessel in the Old Country was cancelled, and it was placed in Australia.
– Does the honorable member object to that ?
-I certainly do, in the circumstances. It was a gross blunder’ - a blunder from which we are suffering today, because this cruiser Brisbane, being built in Australia, is going to cost about double what it would have cost had it been built at Home.
– That is only an assertion.
– Well, we have had a report on the question, which bears out what I say. But the worst feature of all is that, if the order for building the cruiser had remained where the Liberals placed it, the vessel would in all probability have been in commission now, whereas we are not likely to see her afloat during the continuance of the war. If there is as big a mess going to be made in the case of the Brisbane as there was in the case of the Warrego, she will not be of much use when she is afloat.
– What was the mess over the Warrego? She is the best of the lot.
– I do not propose to take up the time of the House in order to enlighten the honorable member. Those vessels were ordered by a Liberal Government.
– I think we had better have the military censor here.
– The facts I am giving are on record, but they are being ignored by honorable members opposite, who, outside before a public ignorant of the position, make the claim that to the Labour party alone is due the credit of the existence of an Australian Navy to-day.
.- I do not intend to enter into any elaborate argument as to who is or is not responsible for the Navy and the Defence Forces we have in Australia to-day.
– What did the honorable member say during the elections?
– I told the truth, and I hope the honorable member did the same.
– Dozens of other Labour candidates did not do so.
– The electors are the best judges. I say, once again, as I have said on the platform, that if there is one man to whom Australia owes special thanks in connexion with naval and military defence, it is the present Attorney-General. I refer honorable members opposite to the speech delivered by that gentleman in the first session of the first Federal Parliament, on 31st July, 1901, as reported on page 3292 of Hansard for that year. This was, indeed, a very early commencement; yet in that speech honorable members will find what is practically a forecast of the defence system as we have it to-day. The present Attorney-General on that occasion declared that we must defend ourselves, and it is wonderful how he foretold what has taken place during the war in various parts of the world. The honorable member for West Sydney on this question of defence was then in opposition to many members of his own party; indeed, there were times when he was almost mobbed by electors outside this chamber. The fact is that in this connexion he was a long way in advance of his party at the commencement of Federation; but his speech outlined unmistakably our present universal system of training on land, and, without specifying any particular class of vessels, showed the necessity for some naval force to take the place of the British squadron in Australian waters.
– Mr. Crouch, the then member for Corio, was really the first to make the suggestion.
– If the honorable member for Wimmera can point to any earlier proposals of the kind I shall be glad to listen to him ; but I do not think that any one was before the honorable member for West Sydney. We are all, I am sure, devoutly thankful that there is an Australian Navy in Australian waters to protect us to-day. It may have been that, had the other party been in power all the time, they would not have been quite so expeditious in bringing the Australian Navy into being.
– Is that fair?
– Fair enough. I am only judging the party to which the honorable member belongs by their conduct in the Federal and other political spheres - they are good hands at promising, but very poor performers.
However, my desire is to refer to the Northern Territory, and particularly to an agreement for the establishment of freezing works at Darwin entered into between the Cook Government and Sir William Vestey, of the firm of Vestey Brothers, West Smithfield, London. As a layman, I take exception to the terms of the agreement as being vague. Of course, it is quite likely that after I hear the honorable member for Angas - who was Minister for External Affairs in the Cook Government - I may modify my opinion ; but it appears to me that the agreement is very much in favour of Vestey Brothers as against the Commonwealth, or, what is more important still, as against the future producers and cattle-raisers of the
Northern Territory. The first paragraph of the agreement referring to the conditions says -
The said company shall be incorporated under the Companies Acts of the United Kingdom, or of the Commonwealth, or of any State or Territory of the Commonwealth, for the purpose of taking over the said works and the rights and obligations of the contractor under these presents: ….
In my opinion that paragraph is vague, and apparently gives to the firm the right to register under any Companies Act that may be suitable to them. In some of the States there are Companies Acts on which I do not place much reliance, though in other States the law has been brought somewhat up to date. At present there is no Commonwealth Companies Act, and my fear is that in this paragraph of the agreement may be found a loop-hole which will allow this wealthy English company to register under an Act which would not give the Commonwealth very much control. In the same paragraph of the agreement we find it set forth that the capital of the company shall not be less than £100,000, and that -
There shall be a condition in the memorandum of association of the said company that a majority of the shares in the said company shall always be held by British subjects.
Only recently we have read how some companies are formed in Australia, and we do not know but that the British subjects who hold the shares may not be in collusion with the subjects of some other country, particularly of the United States of America. I am anxious to know whether Vestey Brothers have any connexion with the Meat Trust as we know it.
– That is dead !
– It is not dead. Woodrow Wilson declared that he was going to kill the Meat Trust in America by throwing down the Protectionist barriers, and thus allow free competition, but the Meat Trust, which can legislate even before the Legislature, made due provision. It came to Australia, and went to other countries, and set up in business, so that when the Protectionist barriers were thrown down in America millions of pounds weight of Australian and other meat were sent over to the United States, and sold under the auspices of the Trust in the same old way. As a layman, the agreement appears to me to be altogether in favour of Vestey Brothers, with their large business at Smithfield, where, I may say, the American Meat Trust also has some fifty establishments. There is nothing to insure that there is no connexion between the firm and the Trust.
– The firm are the great competitors of the Trust.
– That may be, but I have seen firms flying at one another’s throats one month, and the next month hanging on one another’s necks. This has been the history of companies in Victoria, New South Wales, and Australia generally, and particularly in America; wherever competition proves disastrous to the competitors, they come to an arrangement to share the profits. Then, again, in the agreement certain specified charges are set forth in connexion with the freezing of stock belonging to other persons than Vestey Brothers. This is to be done - at the average price from time to time charged for similar services at private meat works in tropical Australia (that is to say, at meat works situated north of the parallel 23 degrees 27 minutes), together with any addition to, and subject to any deduction from, such price which may be agreed upon from time to time between the Administrator and the contractor…..
This, I take to mean, that the charges are to be the same as those at works at and about Rockhampton, or further North. The Administrator may be a very good man in certain respects, but I question whether he is a fit and proper person to determine the conditions governing the operations of a big company like this in the Northern Territory. This is too large a matter to be settled even by a Government. The agreement should have been submitted to the Parliament for discussion and the suggestion of amendments. If the producers in the Northern Territory are to be protected, we shall have to do for them what has been done in Victoria, New South Wales, and other States; the Government must look after freezing and export operations. Unless there is Government control, big men possessing money and influence will secure all available space, to the exclusion of small men. Parliament should have reviewed the agreement, so that the interests of the small men would be safeguarded.
– Very few men ship away their frozen meat themselves.
– I have known individuals to do it. A clause of the agreement would lead one to believe that the company is to obtain no concession -
The contractor shall not, in any circumstances, claim, or be entitled to, any grant, contribution, payment, or assistance by or from the Government towards the cost of the said works.
Although it would thus appear that the company is to receive no concession, it is specified that the Commonwealth shall make improvements to the jetty, bore for water ito give the company a water supply, charge railway freights in accordance with the North Queensland railway freights, extend the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River, and lease to the company 160,000 acres at the rail head and at Glencoe. The control of the company has almost passed out of the hands of the Government, and rests almost exclusively, so far as the enforcement of the main provisions of the agreement is concerned, in those of the Administrator. He would have to be a wonderfully good all-round man to be able to determine the big commercial questions which must crop up.
– What Government entered into this agreement?
– I made it, and take full responsibility for it.
– I hope to hear the honorable and learned gentleman’s explanation. Any person who desires to export frozen carcasses is required to give six months’ notice to the proprietors of these works, stating what number of carcasses he wishes to have frozen at the works. That seems to me an excessive notice to demand. In addition to the concessions which I have mentioned, paragraph h. of clause 4 of the agreement says -
Subject to any law for the time being in force in the Northern Territory, the contractor may, on such terms as may be approved by the Administrator, supply electricity in the town of Darwin for lighting and other purposes, provided always that, in the event of the contractor and the Administrator being unable to agree as to such terms, the dispute shall not be referable to arbitration.
I wish to know whether the ex-Minister of External Affairs absolutely satisfied himself that there is no connexion between Sir William Vestey and the American Meat Trust. If there is such a connexion, the Northern Territory has been placed in the hands of those who have been manipulating the meat pro ducts of the United States of America, and who will, if they get the opportunity, manipulate the meat products of Australia.
– Does the honorable member say that there is a connexion ?
– When I find two big companies operating close to one another, and on the same lines, I suspect a connexion. The fact that a certain proportion of this company’s shares must be held by British subjects does not make the position satisfactory. I have a strong suspicion that there is a connexion between the company and the American Meat Trust. The company has a lot of land in the Northern Territory, and the agreement will give it a still larger area. It has also properties in the north-east of Western Australia. Vast tracts of country are owned or leased by it, and it possesses nearly 200,000 head of cattle. To hand over the Northern Territory to a company associated with the American Meat Trust would be disastrous to settlement there. If the honorable member for Angas is able to disabuse my mind of the suspicions which I entertain, I shall be very pleased.
– Is it fair to associate the company with the American Meat Trust without evidence in support of the connexion ?
– Apart from any association which there may be, I say that too much power has been given to this company. It seems to me that competition is shut out for all time. The charges seem likely to be anything that Vestey Brothers wish to make them. There is to be an allowance of 1 per cent, for depreciation, which would come to £7,500 a year. That is to be provided by outside freezers as well as the company. The company will be in a position to control the cattle business and the export trade of the Northern Territory - at least, that is my reading of the agreement. T am sorry that the last Government did not bring the proposed agreement before Parliament. Had that been done, the agreement would not have been made in the form in which it was drafted. Should the majority be of the same opinion as I am on this matter, I hope that things have not gone too far to prevent the alteration or cancellation of the agreement.
.- I propose to deal with the two matters on which the honorable member for Maribyrnong has touched. I regret that the origin of the Australian Navy has been brought into this debate, but, as it has been spoken of, I wish to set one or two facts before the Committee. I have had the honour of representing, first, the State of South Australia, and, subsequently, a constituency of the State, in the House of Representatives, from the beginning of the Federal Parliament, and I am about to speak from a memory which is pretty retentive. At the beginning of Federation, Sir Edmund Barton declared, in two speeches, the very policy which is now being developed in our naval and military defence. I opposed the Naval Agreement of 1903 because I was afraid that, if the subsidy to the Imperial Government were continued without qualification, the construction of an Australian Navy might be definitely postponed; but, during the discussion of the matter, Sir Edmund Barton said that he could not hope to begin even .the nucleus of an Australian Navy while the Braddon blot existed. In his preliminary statement of policy in 1901, he declared that he intended to go in for, not an extravagant system of land defence, but the establishment of a Citizen Defence Force. In June, 1909, an arrangement was made with the Premiers of the States, which was ultimately not ratified by the electors under which the Braddon blot would practically have ceased to have effect as from that time. The honorable member for Parramatta, who was then Minister of Defence, introduced a Bill for the creation of an Australian Navy, on the assumption that the Braddon blot would so cease to have effect.
– Was not ‘that proposal the result of the decision of the Imperial Defence Conference ?
– I do not wish to claim credit for any party in this matter. Before the Liberal Government took office in 1909, a memorandum was drawn up by its predecessor, clearly setting forth the principle of an Australian Navy. That was telegraphed Home in April, 1909. When the Liberal Government took office, Colonel Foxton was sent to England to attend an Imperial Conference, and what seemed to be the policy of Mr. Deakin in 1906 was adopted by both the Liberals and the Labour party. Both parties agreed to the establishment of an Eastern Fleet of thirty-nine vessels, to .which’ Australia’s contribution was to be one Unit, and that brought about our existing local Navy. I do not propose to quote ancient history more than is necessary to justify what I <have said from memory. Speaking on the Naval Agreement Bill on 14th July, 1903, I said-
Those who rely upon this method of recognising our Imperial obligations have a concrete suggestion for carrying them out. We may find then in the creation of some sort of local Navy a way of recognising and acknowledging our responsibilities to the Empire and to the Commonwealth. As members of the Empire, we must bear a reasonable share of its burdens and responsibilities. The method and extent, however, must pay some regard to the local desire for independent control and the vast differences between the interests at stake. Proportionate contributions are not called for by any excessive intermeddling on our part in international affairs, nor as a premium upon risks voluntarily incurred by us and covered by the Imperial Fleet. But as units in the great Imperial system whose real strength lies in the voluntary co-operation and independent development of its various members, we must, and do, acknowledge an obligation to bear some part of the cost of naval defence; and we are prepared to do so by a method which will pay some regard to local necessities and instincts, and will not, in substance, oppose Imperial desires.
That method was to be the method of building up the local Navy, . and at the same time, in accordance with Imperial desires, would transfer the control of that Navy to the Admiralty when war broke out. That policy was declared by some Liberals, at any rate, as far back as 1903, and is the principle now being administered in connexion with the naval defence of the Commonwealth. Honorable members will find in Jebb’s work on the Imperial Conference, published in 1911, a statement pointing out the vision of some Liberals, as well as some Labour men from the Colonies, particularly Australia, of building up a fleet, which on great emergency might cover any failure by the Imperial Fleet being concentrated in northern waters to safeguard Pacific interests. Turning now to the policy for the development of the Northern Territory, I take absolute responsibility for the drafting and conception of that policy. It took me about five months to consider what was best to be done. When I had the honour to become Minister controlling the Northern Territory, I found that we had to face very serious problems. There was an annual deficit of nearly £400,000 in the revenue. I found pastoral settlement absolutely stagnant. In the Victoria River district, which is the country to be connected with the freezing works, there were only 13 lessees, who were paying a rental of about £2,000 a year, and I think the area held was something like 38,000 square miles. Amongst other holders were Vestey Brothers, who had recently acquired in open market a considerable area of leased country which gave them a total holding of some 14,000 square miles out of the total of 38,000 square miles. There was no easy means of getting Victoria River cattle to market. There was a strong probability, and almost a certainty, that the Western Australian Government would establish freezing works at Wyndham, and if that had been done it would have been a bad thing, for, at all events, the bulk of the lessees in the Victoria country. I may tell honorable members opposite that I read the terms which the Labour Government in Western Australia, it was said, were offering to private people to build freezing works in Western Australia, and they were more liberal than I have given. What did we do? I found that my predecessor had put an amount of £25,000 on the Estimates towards freezing works that would cost at least £200,000. You cannot possibly carry on freezing works unless you have cattle stations tied up with those works. What had been done by my predecessor in office in this respect? There were not 5,000 cattle a year tied up with the freezing works. We are now getting built by Vestey Brothers in the Northern Territory, freezing works which will accommodate at least 30,000 cattle a year, and Vestey Brothers alone are capable of keeping those works going. I say that it was not sound administration on the part of those who preceded us to set about establishing freezing works before they had contracts definitely enabling them to keep those works going. I asked my colleagues, if I failed to make a satisfactory arrangement with private persons, to restore the provision of £25,000 towards the erection of freezing works.
– Did we think we were going to build the works for £25,000?
– I did not say that. That amount was a vote towards the cost of building them.
– At any rate, we were going to build the works ourselves, and not hand them over to private people.
– I am coming to that. I have pointed out that there were not enough cattle tied up by agreement to enable the works to be fully carried on. We may have been political Micawbers, waiting for something to turn up which we had not provided for, but that something had not turned up, and nothing substantial had been done to bind some of the stations to send cattle to the works. I had an opportunity through other companies of establishing freezing works there. I did see some gentlemen who may or may not have been connected with some of the trusts. There was one gentleman who came out from Armour and Company, in England. I saw him, and I am not sure whether Armour and Company, in England, is dissociated from Armour and Company, of New York. I had reasons for suspicion as to what their relations were, but I did not act on suspicion. My colleagues and I obtained from Sir George Reid a report running into 200 pages of foolscap, which will give the honorable member for Maribyrnong more accurate information than he now possesses if he cares to study that document. I believe it ‘is in the hands of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the members of the Government party will find in it all the information as to who really are the three or four firms who boss the meat trade in the Old Country.
– Who are they ?
– They are not Vestey Brothers. One firm has a name that smells of a German proprietary; but its connexion is not clear. We know the extent to which the evil of the Meat Trust exists in England, and the possibility that may exist of its extension to Australia. I told the gentleman from Armour and Company that I would not deal with his firm.
– Why ?
– Because I did not like the name. I might have been right, or I might have been wrong, but there was a fear of the Meat Trust in Australia, and unless I was absolutely sure of what I was doing I was determined to take no risk. Who are Vestey Brothers? I made inquiry from the High Commissioner’s office, and from other sources. I already knew something about them. I took the
English financial papers, and read their recent re-arrangements. They own about forty-seven meat works throughout the world - they or The Union Cool Storage Company, of which they are the controlling shareholders. They are some of the biggest meat dealers resident in the British Empire, and amongst the biggest in the world. They are an English firm, and it is stated to me that the Vestey Brothers are the strongest barriers against the methods of the Meat Trust in England. They are Englishmen who are trying to keep the English market free. They are not mixed up in any way with obnoxious operations in Smithfield. I do not wish to mention names in the House at present, because the document has not been published, but there is a large portion of that report from the High Commissioner which could be put on the table of the House at any time. It is not confidential, and honorable members who peruse it will see who are the parties who are beginning to control the meat industry in England. I say that they are not Vestey Brothers.
– If the report runs to 200 pages of foolscap you may be sure it will not be read.
– I read the report immediately it was received, and I then handed it to my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, who, I think, also read it. The honorable member for Maribyrnong first threw out a suspicion on Vestey Brothers, by attempting, without evidence, to associate them with the Meat Trust. Then he objects that there is some suspicion about the formation of the company. They need not form a company. Vestey Brothers are the contractors, and are bound, by the provisions of their agreement, and all the conditions say is that, if they do form a company, we will permit the transfer of the interests they have acquired to the company, which must be incorporated, if not under the English law, under whatever law operates in the Northern Territory. The law that operates there is the Commonwealth law, and if we choose to pass a uniform companies law, they must come under that. All we ask is that the company be incorporated under some British Act. We can control them no matter what Act they are under. Parliament could to-morrow morning pass an Act modifying the conditions of incorporation under the agreement, no matter what Act the company are incorporated under.
– Did the honorable member say we could pass a uniform Companies Act?
– We could pass a Companies Act, but not a thoroughly comprehensive one; there are difficulties in the Constitution. But we can pass an Act for the Territory. We have absolute power as regards the Territory, and we are now dealing with the Territory only. The next point which the honorable member for Maribyrnong took up was the concessions given to the company. What concessions were given ? Absolutely none. Any one can start freezing works in the Territory to-morrow. No monopoly is given. We have given Vestey Brothers the right to take up leaseholds under existing Ordinances, and I refused to give them anything beyond what Parliament had sanctioned. All that we promised to do was to facilitate their getting these lands.
Mr.Fenton. - They have land at the railhead and at Glencoe.
– We promised to assist them to get land as holding ground in the vicinity of the works and at the point of shipment.
– One hundred and sixty thousand acres is not a big area in any case.
– It is not as big as some of the holdings which honorable members of the Labour party took up along the route of the transcontinental railway.
– The conditions under which the land is taken up are provided in the Ordinance which the Labour party framed. All I promised to do was to facilitate their getting those areas where they would be effective for the purposes for which they are intended. They are held under a perpetual leasing system in some cases, and in others on the terms of pastoral or miscellaneous lease. The honorable member has referred to the question of a concession of railway rates. What is the nature of that concession? We merely declare what rates shall be charged for five years. It took me nearly two months before I was satisfied that they were fair rates. Even after the agreement was first signed, though not by myself , I de- clined to abide by the rates fixed, and Sir William Vestey even got as far as Thursday Island before agreeing to the ultimate arrangement. He was quite right to see that the charges were not too heavy upon him, and on the other hand I was right in seeing that the rates were fair from the Commonwealth point of view. The rates fixed upon were the minimum Queensland rate of 9s. 2d. per head of cattle, with a maximum of, I think, lis. 6d. I was informed that it was not intended in Queensland to raise the rates beyond 9s. 2d. - honorable members will see that I was not sleeping on the matter - but if the Queensland rates are raised our rates will also go up to the maximum prescribed. The honorable member says that we made no provision for the treatment of the cattle of private owners. Is it not a great stroke to compel a firm spending their own money on the erection of freezing works to give up part of their space to other lessees? Not only that; if at any time they do not use any of their space, the whole of that space not used must be devoted to the use of outside lessees. They must give up, if required, at least one-third of their space to outside lessees. I am afraid, however, that it will be some years before other lessees will be in a position to use that amount of space. In any case, as development proceeds there is nothing to prevent any other person from starting freezing works.
– Do you think that any other company will start operations?
– Before we left office we were making provision for the starting of other freezing works in another part of the Territory.
– Can the honorable member give the name of any other company wishing to start freezing works?
– There are none as yet, but one individual told me that there were prospects of freezing works being erected in another part of the Territory, and I told him the conditions. He got no rights, however, though we facilitated his project in every way while he was negotiating with British capitalists by holding up land, which would otherwise have not been occupied. I can assure the honorable member that we were not asleep in regard to the problem of the Northern Territory. However, I have not done with these, so-called concessions about which the honorable member for
Maribyrnong was talking. The honorable member spoke of erecting sidings. Does not every railway company provide for the erection of sidings on the same terms? They are to be provided on the ordinary terms of payment for services rendered. Then again, in regard to the question of electric light, the Commonwealth were not prepared to establish an electric light plant. I discussed the matter with the Administrator, and he did not think it would be profitable, or that we were likely, under the circumstances, to erect such a plant. In any event, Vestey Brothers will only be permitted to supply Darwin with electric light, and only on terms settled by the Administrator.
– There is too much left in the hands of the Administrator.
– Who is the Administrator? The man appointed by the Labour Government to control the Northern Territory.
– I do not think that the Minister should hand over everything to the Administrator.
– The Administrator is doing his duty. He is a forcible character, and a very zealous and energetic official. But he is not the only man concerned. The Minister has control and direction. When we were dealing with this matter I telegraphed for Dr. Gilruth, and when he came to Melbourne I had the advantage of his co-operation and knowledge during several weeks of very keen negotiations in regard to this and other matters. The honorable member referred to the fact that any one wishing to send cattle to the freezing works must give reasonable notice - six months in some cases. And why not? Should a man be permitted to send in cattle for treatment without notice ?
– I do not say so.
– All these matters were very carefully considered. It was not a case of the head of a Department bring-, ing a matter to the Minister for his approval. The files show the extent of the negotiations. For five months the matter was given most careful scrutiny. There were objections to this and to that, and there were amendments suggested by the one side and then by the other side. As a matter of fact, Sir William Vestey had to come out to Australia to conclude the negotiations before the terms were finalized, indicating an amount of administrative care and caution, at all events, worthy of some commendation. The honorable member has referred to boring. In any event bores were to have been put down in the Northern Territory. We shall simply be putting down bores for which, among others, parliamentary provision had already been made. The Administrator told me that bores would have to be put down close to Darwin. There is not a single concession given to Vestey Brothers that is not reasonable. There is no concession, except as regards the railway rates, and that concession, which is really a declaration for guidance, is only for five years, being based on the Queensland rates and the minimum at present in force in that State.
– Where are the abattoirs to be?
– Within 3 miles of Darwin. The cattle will be sent down from the end of the railway being constructed - that is, the line to Katherine River. We promised to construct that railway; the Bill for the purpose was passed last session. There is nothing in that point. Vestey Brothers asked for an assurance that we would go on with the line, and we gave it.
– We do all the nonpaying work, and they get all the paying work.
– What is the nonpaying work?
– Building the railway and boring for water.
– A sum of about £20,000 was to be placed on the last Estimates for the purpose of boring for” water in the Northern Territory, and part of the boring provided for is that which will serve the freezing works as well as the town of Darwin. Vestey Brothers have no concession in land. They were entitled to some reasonable declaration as to what railway rates would be charged from Katherine River for the first five years. Reasonable rates were fixed. The charges for treatment at the freezing works are to be the same as are charged in other freezing works in tropical Australia. Some allowance is to be made for increasing or lowering the rates to meet the special conditions of the Northern
Territory. What this allowance will be is a matter for expert arbitration as provided for in the agreement.
Mr.Fenton. - There will be no arbitration if the contractor and the Administrator agree.
– Naturally ; but if the Administrator does not agree to the charges suggested the matter goes to arbitration. What could be fairer? We cannot leave the matter to the absolute discretion of one party. These are the rates to be charged for the treatment of the cattle of men who have the privilege of having their cattle treated by this private contractor to the extent of a third of the total capacity of his works.
– How many stations have these people secured?
– I know every holding they have in the Territory, their period of occupation, and the duration of their leases. I told them that I was preparing a policy for dealing with the pastoral lands of the Territory that might possibly result in taxing them or in resumption. I did not wish them to be under any misapprehension as to compensation. The outlines of my policy in regard to the Territory were published and in the hands of honorable members before the contract was signed. There is no obligation on us in regard to any subdivision or any pastoral policy we may pursue. I do not know that any other matter the honorable member has mentioned in connexion with this agreement is worth discussing. The agreement is a very successful one. To bring it about was the Minister’s duty. We have not attempted to boast about it; but it will stand the closest scrutiny. The members of the Meat Trust can be found from information in the possession of the Department of External Affairs. They do not comprise Vestey Brothers. But if Vestey Brothers abuse their position we have exclusive power of dealing with them. I told them that we had behind all these matters the power of an Act of Parliament or Ordinance to see that their position was not abused.
Mr.Fenton. - But there is nothing to prevent the Meat Trust buying up the members of this company.
– There is.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The following message has just been received, and I take this opportunity of reading it:-
Following further particulars from company’s doctor Ollerhead, returned from Keeling, reports “ Emden’s captain unwounded, prisoner; Kaiser’s nephew also unwounded; about 200 killed; about thirty wounded taken off Emden. Some remaining Keeling. Will be picked up by ship returning from Cocos.” Nothing seen Ayesha. Island will be visited frequently while uncaptured. Sydney sunk Emden’s collier as flooded prior capture.
There has also been an appreciative, sympathetic, and patriotic resolution passed by the Legislature of Queensland, to which we shall suitably reply.
– I regret that the practice followed on the hustings of each side attempting to take credit for the establishment of our defence system has been continued in this chamber. To me it is immaterial who started the great forces upon which we are relying. There are large bodies of both parties who were keen on Australian defence, and there are others who have been adverse to any effective defencesteps being taken. I wish to add the weight of my opinion in the matter of providing pensions for those who, as a result of going to the front, may leave behind them children and others dependent upon them. There should not be the slightest hesitation on the part of the Government to make adequate provision for possible widows and orphans, the result of the great war in which we are engaged. I also think that it would be wise for the Government to take a hand in controlling the huge Patriotic Funds that are being accumulated. There have been many rumours about questionable control of similar funds that have existed in the past. I do not say that there is any danger of that now, while every one is keenly patriotic and careful to see that the right thing is done, but as time goes on, possibly when the war is over, this enthusiasm may wane, and there will not be so much care exercised. A trust should be appointed to take charge of these funds, and see that they are suitably applied in the direction of. making adequate provision in the shape of pensions to those who are wounded and those who have dependent survivors. I wish to refer to the attitude of the Government in regard to dry canteens. I am well aware that adverse comment on the action taken renders one open to the imputation from many eminently respectable citizens and many good people of lacking moral fibre and a sense of decency in combating the assumption that everything tending to total abstinence should be encouraged. However, I do combat the said assumption, not because I have any less respect for the sober man or less contempt for the drunken man than has the honorable member for Brisbane. It seems to me that the honorable member is eaten up with a commendable zeal, and a zeal without which, no doubt, very much good work in this world could not be accomplished. At the same time, I think that if it were not for the wisdom of wiser people in many cases the efforts of the good would not result in anything like that which is desired by even themselves. I fear that the efforts of the honorable member and his friends will bring about their own reprisals. Added to the general desire that people shall reform, there is also the sub-conscious tendency to -
Compound for sins they are inclined to, By damning those they have no mind to.
I do not suggest that the honorable member for Brisbane has any sins that he would like to condone, but there can be no doubt that this, after all, is a human tendency. I fear a reaction will follow the efforts to suppress all traffic in drink, whether inside or outside our canteens. The trouble is that men who are probably in the habit of taking a little drink when away from the camp, and “ off the leash,” so to speak, may indulge too freely, chiefly because they have had no drink for some time. That is one of the reactionary effects which I foresee in regard to dry canteens. Prohibition in other quarters has not had all the good results that our honorable friend would have us believe. According to the statistics, the importation of stimulants into New Zealand during the prohibition period is larger than it was before. That is not necessarily conclusive proof that more strong drink is being consumed than was the case before, but it certainly conveys such a suggestion. We cannot lose sight of the fact that prohibition means driving trade underground; it means illicit traffic.
No one will say that if the rank and file are denied their beer, those who are in a position to acquire it by some means will do without it. In such circumstances, those who were supposed to uphold the law would not always do so, and even if the law prohibited the traffic altogether, I think that strong drink would still be acquired by some. The military canteens are under official control; they are supervised by officers who spend their lives in keeping others up te the mark, whose one function it is to inculcate discipline and to secure the strict observance of rules and regulations. If, in such circumstances, the drink traffic in our camps cannot be administered satisfactorily, one must feel inclined to abandon all hope. I am quite satisfied, however, that we are more likely to secure effective control over our men inside our canteens than in public houses. I would, therefore, much prefer to know that our soldiers were obtaining what drink they required under properly regulated conditions instead of in a haphazard, illicit way, and getting questionable brands as well as undue quantities. Many of these men are probably going to lay down their lives for their country. Many of them have been in the habit of taking some alcoholic refreshment, and, for the most part, they are moderate drinkers. If their supply is to be absolutely cut off, we shall have a great deal of dissatisfaction and discontent which we would do well not to engender. There are many practical considerations in favour of the canteen in camp rather than having our soldiers supplied by irresponsible persons outside, or obtaining illicit supplies within the camp itself. There are very substantial reasons for permitting the old system to obtain, and for refusing to adhere to the lines laid down by the honorable member for Brisbane.
.- After hearing the many speeches to which we have listened to-night regarding the authorship of the Australian Navy, I feel constrained to say that I am interested, not so much in the question of who is entitled to claim credit for the initiation of the Navy as in that of the proper upkeep of the Navy as we have it to-day. An examination of our responsibilities in this respect has led me into several interesting investigations, and a large field for careful study, more par ticularly in regard to the food supplies of the men whom we are sending to the front, is opened up. From the reply that I received to a question which I addressed to the Prime Minister to-day with regard to the proposal to borrow money to be handed over to the States, I am inclined to the opinion that the right honorable gentleman regarded my inquiry as a rather hostile one. I am sorry that he is not in the chamber just now, for I desired to assure him that in putting the question I had absolutely no hostile intent. Having looked carefully into the position, I find one or two remarkable situations arising from the present unfortunate drought troubles of Australia, and I believe that if the Prime Minister had been perfectly acquainted with the actual position he would not have regarded my suggestion from a hostile point of view. I am assuming, first of all, for the sake of argument, that we shall have to work up to the ultimate number of men that many people in Australia expect us to put into the field in the defence of ourselves and the Empire, and that is no fewer than 100,000. The question naturally arises, “How are they to be fed?” Whilst we may be very anxious to know what their equipment is to be, it is idle to talk about their clothing, and so forth, if we do not give them the necessary material wherewith to maintain body and soul. A most important factor in dealing with a number of men at the front is to see that their food supplies are kept well up to them. I find that if we do ultimately place 100,000 men in the field, we shall have to provide, in respect of their bread alone, no less than 1,666 bushels of wheat per day. I search in vain for any part of Australia that is likely, in the near future, to be able to supply that demand. I am under an obligation to Mr. Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistician, who has given me some of the latest figures in his keeping with respect to this question. We are in a rather precarious position in the Commonwealth owing, not to war, but to something that is really more dreadful to us here, and that is the drought over which, unfortunately, we have no control. We read in many of the newspapers that New South Wales hopes this year to have a wheat yield of 20,000,000 bushels, but, as a practical man, I have no hesitation in saying that the Commonwealth will be well served if we have sufficient wheat grown this year to supply us with the seed we require and with the bread that is necessary for the people within our own borders.
– We shall be very fortunate if we have.
– I think so. The maintenance of our own men at the front is something that we all have at heart, and according to the figures in my possession for that purpose alone we shall have to provide no less than 1,666 bushels of wheat per day, which means 608,090 bushels per year.
– Whether they go to the war or not they must still be supplied with bread.
– Quite so. There are one or two other considerations of much importance that I wish to bring before the Committee. I practically concentrated the whole of my desires in this respect in the question that I addressed today to the Prime Minister. I asked the right honorable gentleman if it was proposed to impose any conditions regarding the use of the money borrowed for the States - whether the primary producers throughout Australia might expect to receive some slight benefit from the amount of money that would then be let loose. The reply I received was that, if the money loaned to the States were devoted to a public works policy, other financial activities would probably be left open for the particular class of producers I desired to see assisted. You, Mr. Chanter, know, as well as I do, that a large number of our primary producers in New South Wales will require substantial financial assistance before they will see their way clear to go on with producing operations during 1915.
– They will be able to obtain that assistance from the honorable member’s friends - the private banks.
– The private banks will not lend money on a certain tenure which the honorable member and his brother Labour men in several States have brought into existence, and which is commonly known as the leasehold system.
– Any amount of money can be obtained in Queensland on leasehold securities.
– I am extremely pleased to hear it; but that statement, I am sorry to say, does not apply to New South Wales.
– Then, why is the honorable member always supporting the private banks?
– The money of the private banks is not available for the class’ for whom I desire to secure assistance. While I admit that there are difficulties in the way, I was pleased to hear the exTreasurer draw the attention of the Prime Minister to one method by which, in his opinion, the States might be induced to take into consideration this very matter. The Commonwealth, I think, might impose a condition that a certain amount of the money loaned to the States should be used to assist those engaged in the production of our food stuffs, who need financial assistance.
– This is lovely, coming from the honorable member!
– Why ?
– After the electioneering speeches in which the cry of the Liberals was “ Leave us alone.”
– State righters.
– I am not asking for anything unreasonable. I am simply urging that this borrowed money should be spread as far as possible over every industry, and should not necessarily be limited to one particular class of activities.
– The honorable member requires the Commonwealth to take a risk that the private banks will not take.
– No, I am not asking for anything unreasonable. I merely urge that if the Commonwealth is prepared to borrow this money from the Imperial Government, or from some other source, we should impose some conditions insisting upon some assistance being given to necessitous fanners. I should like to know, in the first place, whether the Imperial Government, if they are lending this money, are prepared to advance it for public works only. Of course I have only the press reports to rely on, but it is said that the States intend to use the money for this purpose, as, for instance, in New South Wales, where it is to be devoted to the construction of railways and activities of that sort. But what is the good of building a railway line if, when it is built, there is no produce to carry? For the last few years a large number of men in the country have experienced a series of droughts, which culminated in that of the present year, the most disastrous, perhaps, in the history of Australia.
– After every drought we hear that it has been “ the worst of all “ !
– I am sure the honorable member, from his experience, must know that I am not exaggerating the position. If this year there is only sufficient wheat to provide our own bread and seed, what will be the position next year if a large number of our producers are in such financial straits that they cannot carry on operations? It is all very well for a paternal State Government to talk about supplying seed wheat and superphosphates; but where is the benefit of that if these farmers have not the wherewithal to enable them to carry on for the five or six months before the crop is harvested ?
– What does the honorable member suggest the State Government should do?
– If the State is borrowing for developmental purposes, a certain portion of the money should be allotted to the reasonable assistance of those producing activities which otherwise must cease.
– What activities?
– Wheat-growing ; and I am alluding particularly to men who have been on the land not longer than two or three years, and of whom there are large numbers in New South Wales.
– Could the Government not meet the case by giving them a fair price for their product?
– What is the good of a fair price if they have no produce to sell? I should say that, if wc have enough seed and flour for the whole of the Commonwealth, we shall do very well indeed with our present crop. But what about next year? I am very sorry indeed to have to make observations of this kind in regard to my brother farmers, but I know the conditions under which they are suffering, and I have intense sympathy with them. Honorable members opposite, who are always prating so much about their humanitarian attitude-
– Why say “prating”?
– I used the word “prating” because of the hostile interjections that I have experienced. I started out to deal with the subject from the point of view of the food supply for the Navy and Expeditionary Forces. The state of affairs at the other side of the world requires that we should do everything possible to safeguard the food supply of our kith and kin here and in all parts of the Empire.
– What about the companies that are continually raising the prices of foodstuffs ?
– I am not arguing from that point of view, and I regard that as a hostile interjection. According to the latest statistics supplied by Mr. Knibbs, Great Britain and Ireland require 276,000,000 bushels of wheat per year, and hitherto the supply has come from British East India, the United States of America, Canada, Argentine, Russia, Australia, Roumania, Chili, New Zealand, and quite a number of other places, some of which, owing to the war, are now “ out of action.” In 1913 Great Britain imported 35,000,000 bushels from the British East Indies, 63,000,000 bushels from the United States, 40,000,000 bushels from Canada, 27,000,000 bushels from Argentine, and 18,000,000 bushels from Australia- a total of 183,000,000. Great Britain and Ireland supplied 56,000,000, bringing the figure up to 239,000,000, and leaving a deficit of 35,000,000 bushels of wheat. This deficit last year was made up by imported flour and wheat from other countries which to-day are at war, and next year will themselves need all the wheat that is raised, and then, probably, they will have a very small loaf. We cannot hope next year to see the Empire supplied as it was in 1913, if for no other reason than that, to begin with, there will not be the 18,000,000 from Australia. Under the circumstances we should, to the best of our power and ability, safeguard those industries which supply the bread of the British Dominions, and to that end I submit that we ought to assist those producers in Australia who, owing to circumstances over which they have no control, now find themselves in dire necessity. If the producing industries are kept going, then all the dependent industries would continue normal; but some honorable members opposite, losing sight of the true position, propose that we should limit the assistance to the wrong end of the line, namely, the public works of the States.
.- I was prevented a little while ago by the time limit from completing my remarks; and T should not have risen again had it not been for an argument that was attempted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. That honorable member mentioned a Melbourne newspaper of somewhat Conservative tendency, and insisted on identifying honorable members on this side with the attitude of that newspaper on the question of the creation of a Naval Unit for Australia. I wish to give him a Roland for his Oliver. If the honorable member chooses to identify members on this side with particular newspapers, he cannot take exception if I identify a certain section of the Labour party with opinions expressed on this matter by the leading Labour organ, the Worker. I readily admit that what I am about to quote did not, even at that time, represent the opinions of any considerable number of Labour members in this House, and I am sure that it does not represent the opinions of any of them at the present time. I read the quotation, however, as an indication that when the question of an Australian Unit was being discussed an influential section of the Labour movement, outside the House to a large extent, took anything but the national view that an Australian Navy was essential to the Commonwealth. When this particular matter was becoming a very live question, the Sydney Worker, on ‘ the 13th February. 1909, published an article from which I propose to read one or two extracts. It indicated that the question was one which must be considered free from the “ cant of patriotism.” Only a short time ago we had a section of the people - mostly on the Labour side - which sneered at the idea of patriotism. If the war has done nothing else, it has brought back to the people- of this part of the Empire the old idea of patriotism.
– The honorable member is dealing with matters which might well be left alone at this juncture.
– So long as the Minister and his friends are allowed to claim that they alone are entitled to all the credit for the creation of the Australian Navy, everything is right and proper, but they consider it wrong to mention that there is another point of view. It is quite right for an honorable member on the Government side to identify honorable members of the Opposition with certain opinions expressed by a Conservative newspaper, but quite wrong for me to quote opinions expressed by the principal Labour organ in Australia. When an attempt is made to place me in a false position, I am not going to remain silent. The Worker article stated -
To half the British population, then, there would be nothing to lose. There might be something to gain by the setting up of a German Government to match the German dynasty on the throne.
The writer sneers at the idea of an Australian Navy -
Australia is going to have a Navy, only, it is true, a little bit of a thing that Australia will be able to carry about in its lunch bag, and amuse itself with floating in a basin, but the beginning of a Navy, nevertheless.
– At the Brisbane Conference in 1908 the establishment of an Australianowned and controlled Navy was made a plank of the Labour platform.
– It was made a plank of the Labour platform when it became a vital part of the policy of the Empire. I am willing to give honorable members opposite their proper share of the credit for the defence preparations of Australia, but I protest against the claim that they have repeatedly made during the last few weeks, and which I have read in the newspapers, that they are entitled to all the credit for the establishment of the Australian Navy. The article in the Worker continues -
The Federal Government has decided to spend £250,000 in the inauguration of this novel project, and two destroyers are to be ordered forthwith, to protect the coast and commerce of Australia, and strike terror into that little brown beast, Japan, to say nothing of incidentally acting as a warning to Kaiser Bill to be very careful and mind what he is about in the future. The heart of Fat is rejoiced. He has wanted a Navy all along.
The Worker gave the credit for the Navy to the “ fat man “ -
He is always in favour of spending the national wealth in the protection of his wealth. Not, however, that he is wolfish in the matter. He is anxious to preserve the homes of the people from foreign foes. What a dreadful thing it would be if the Japs or the Germans came over here and invaded the sanctity of our slums. … To the Worker, on the contrary, the whole business seems at once so pitiful and so absurd that it knows not whether jeers or tears are more expressive of its feeling on the subject.
– Is not the honorable member now going into party questions?
– When honorable members attempt to put the facts in their true light, they are accused of going into party questions. But for members of the Labour party to claim all credit for the creation of the Australian Navy is not to go into party questions.
– The Labour party was the first to put the creation of an Australian Navy on its political platform, and it brought its policy into operation pretty quickly when it got into power.
– No doubt the Labour party recognised the need for an Australian Squadron; but while it was doing so Mr. Deakin initiated the scheme. All I desire is that credit shall be given where credit is due. Neither party is entitled to all the credit in this connexion. If the war has done nothing else than to revive a solid patriotic feeling throughout Australia, it has been not altogether an evil. It is not many years since it was a common thing in many quarters here to sneer and jeer at anything and everythink English.
– That was when the honorable member belonged to the Peace Society.
– I never belonged to the Peace Society. It is not very long since it was the correct thing in some quarters to incite in the minds of Australians hostility and contempt for England and the English. Those who did so are now only too glad to read of the English Johnny shedding his blood to protect them. They have come into line with those old-fashioned folk who believe in national patriotism, and who are convinced that the race has the pluck to fight to a triumphant finish in this war.
.- I compliment the Prime Minister on the adoption as part of his policy of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States for the settlement of the Murray Waters question, which has agitated the minds of the people of Australia for the past forty years. But I regret exceedingly that the right honorable gentleman has declared that we must wait until the State Parliaments have ratified the agreement entered into by the State Premiers before we can deal with it. It has been our boast that we are prepared, as the Parliament of Australia, to pass the legislation needed in the interests of Australia. Why in this case should we wait for the lead of the Parliaments of the States? It will be clearly a dereliction of our duty if we do not at the earliest moment discharge our responsibilities under the agreement. Since Federation was established fourteen years ago, this is the first real opportunity that the Parliament has had to approve of a scheme of a purely developmental character for the benefit of every section of the community.
– We shall be willing to act as soon as the States concerned have done their duty.
– It is our duty to pass the legislation we are pledged to pass. Australia is now faced with the most disastrous drought in its history. Those who are acquainted with the irrigation works already carried out along the Murray know that the lives of thousands of sheep have been saved by the irrigation of lucerne paddocks. By ratifying the agreement with the States we set an example to the State Parliaments, and produce a moral influence which should compel them to do their duty in this matter. The Commonwealth has undertaken to provide £1,000,000 for the construction of locks and other important works on the Murray, and the States are to co-operate. It is impossible to determine exactly the benefits which will result from the carrying out of the enterprise. We know that already some 300,000 acres are under irrigation in the three States which are parties to the agreement, and that when effect has been given to the agreement, some 1,500,000 acres more . will be available for intense cultivation.
– Privately-owned land?
– There are large areas of Crown land and also large areas of private land which could be repurchased. In New South Wales’ large areas of land have been repurchased for closer settlement in connexion with the Burrinjuck scheme. At Mildura 12,000 acres of irrigated land give a return which averages £30 per acre per annum. On that basis, 1,500,000 acres of irrigated land would yield annually £45,000,000. On a dairying basis, allowing a cow to every acre put under lucerne, and a return of £10 per annum from each cow, the gross return would be £15,000,000. No proposal in the Governor- General’s Speech would produce such a valuable national return as that. Yet we, the National Parliament, are to wait for the States to act before discharging our responsibility in the matter.
– Can we do anything until the State Parliaments have passed Bills?
– We could pass- a Bill, to be proclaimed as soon as the State Bills had been passed. The National Parliament should take the lead in this matter. It should not wait for the States. “We are in session. One State Parliament at least is in the throes of an election. In those circumstances we know that the question may remain unsettled indefinitely, and yet we are faced with the fact that the Murray River is lower than on any previous occasion on record. Only last April any of the important plants on the bank of that great river could have pumped it dry. We have a statement now made from one important station on the Murray that, in October of the lowest year previously on record - namely, 1902 - 159,000 cubic feet per minute flowed past Mildura, but in October of the present year only 90,000 cubic feet per minute passed the Mildura station. In April, 1903, before the drought broke up, something like 23,000 cubic feet per minute passed the Mildura station. On the same ratio of reduction, in 1915, if we have a continuation of this drought, we will have probably only 13,000 cubic feet per minute passing Mildura Settlement, as much water as could be pumped up by two pumping stations at Mildura, and leaving not a single gallon to flow on to the Renmark Settlement. That is a parlous condition of affairs. The lesson we have learned from this drought should stimulate us into immediate action. We have awaiting ratification one of the best agreements that could be framed, and one which will be accepted by this House, and by the State Parliaments; and yet we, as a National Parliament, representing the three States vitally interested in the settlement of this question, have to proclaim that we are powerless to act until the State Parliaments act.
– We must observe State rights.
– I do not think that any one can accuse me of being an advocate of State rights in regard to this question. On two different occasions I have tabled a motion to hand this great question over to the National Parliament. That I believe to be the proper policy to pursue. The distribution of this wealth of water should be handed over to a National body which is without State prejudices. The Commonwealth, as the honorable member for Maranoa well knows, is the greatest sheep-producing country in the world, and if we had a proper system of irrigation and intense cultivation, the greater portion of the tens of thousands of valuable sheep which we are now losing would be saved. We had some 90,000,000 sheep in our flocks at the beginning of this year, but we know that thousands, and millions, of those sheep are bound to be lost, as well as the increase for the coming year. The enormous losses which must follow the death of so many stock, as well as the failure of the agricultural crop, cannot be overestimated. It will be a loss that will take the Commonwealth many years to recover from. I am not suggesting that the passing of an Act of the kind I have suggested is going to finally settle this question; the State Parliaments have yet to do their part. What I complain about is that the Commonwealth Parliament, which should have set an example and given moral assistance by the immediate passing of such an Act, is doing nothing but wait for the States to act.
– How much further would we be if we passed the Act ?
– We would have the satisfaction of knowing that we had discharged our duty.
– We had to wait for the State Parliaments.
– Then I desire to know if that attitude is to apply to other things? Has the party now in power arrived at the position that they have to wait on the States before they can do any business ?
– On this particular question, “ Yes.”
– Then I say we have reached a stage of declension.
– Because you are interested.
– Everybody ought to bc interested in this great question.
– I am not.
– There has been no time in the history of the Commonwealth when the lack of employment has been more keenly felt than at the present time. There are thousands of men who would readily take work, and later oh, towards the beginning of the New Year, there will be large additional numbers of men seeking employment. I know of no better work that could be put in hand than the utilization of the Murray River waters.
– Whatever have you done to relieve any drought? Nothing at all.
– Looking at the history and the failures of the past is notgoing to help us in present circumstances. We have to look to the future. If this agreement is carried, we shall have this work authorized, which will mean an expenditure of £4,500,000, and I do not know of any more fruitful source of employment that could be undertaken in the Commonwealth than the ratification of the Murray Waters Agreement. That expenditure is only the first immediate benefit; following that, we have the enormous possibilities of settlement, irrigation, and intense cultivation along the river bank.
– Are you in favour of the navigation of the Darling River as well?
– The question of putting down locks is all involved in the agreement. This is not a party question ; everybody is interested in it.
– It is the great national Wimmera question.
– If the honorable member cannot see that this is a national question I am sorry for him in his lack of vision. I can only express once more my regret that this one question that has given the Federal Parliament an opportunity to help the producers, find plenty oi employment, enormously increase our wealth, and perform a great national duty, has been handed over to the States, while we, as a National Parliament, are waiting on the doings of the State Parliaments.
– I am not going to detain the Committee very long, nor would I have risen at all but for the statements of the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member who preceded him. I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera that this question of the Murray waters is one that should concern the whole of Australia. If the question of water conservation and irrigation is not a national one, it is hard to find a question that is. I would suggest to the honorable member for Maranoa that this question concerns Queensland as well as any other part of Australia. The agreement to which reference has been made was framed by the party opposite when they were in office, and I would remind the honorable member for Wimmera that it was in his power last year to have compelled the Government he was supporting to give statutory effect to the agreement. That party had a majority of one, and it was in the hands of any one gentleman sitting in support of lue Government to Have compelled them to take action in connexion with the agreement.
– Could he have compelled the Senate?
– The question never got as far as the Senate.’ But any honorable member supporting the Leader of the Opposition when he was in power could have compelled the sending of the agreement to the Senate very speedily, and we do not know what fate it would have met with there. I quite agree with all the honorable member for Wimmera has said with regard to the urgency of this question, whilst, at the same, time, condemning him for not having done a little more to further the ratification of the agreement when he had the opportunity.
– The honorable member ought to know that the agreement was only signed last September, on the eve of the elections, and it was impossible to do anything with it until it was signed.
– Why was the signing of it deferred so long? Because the Government had moTe important business to transact, such as the abolition of preference to unionists?
– I will tell you why it was detained so long. We could not get the agreement back from a St:! te Attorney-General.
– Order ! These conversations must cease.
– I quite agree that this question is of importance to the whole of Australia. Any one who has seen what has been done at Mildura must be forced to the conclusion that we can have a great many more Milduras if effect is given to this agreement. I think the honorable member for Wimmera misrepresented the Leader of the Government when he said that the Prime Minister is practically going to do nothing but wait for the State Parliaments to pass their Acts. The honorable member must have misunderstood the Prime Minister, whose statement was that, whilst the Government were willing to do a!! they possibly could, they must wait for the Act to be passed by the State Parliaments. That was an invitation to the State Parliaments to do their duty in this regard. I well remember that when the present party were in power before, and tried to get greater powers for the Commonwealth, the honorable member for Wimmera was a strong advocate for State rights. I hope that the attitude he is taking up now will be adopted by him when an opportunity is presented later on of obtaining greater powers for the Commonweal uh. I join with the expressions of opinion from members on both sides of the House in regard to the Navy, and I would not mention the matter further but for the attempt made by t-ne honorable member for Perth to have the last say whilst, at the same time, deploring any reference to the subject. The honorable member, at considerable trouble to himself, quoted from a newspaper to show what the views of members on this side of the House were, but he found it convenient to overlook the fact that, before that reference was made by the Worker, the principle of an Australianowned and controlled Navy . had found its way on to the platform of the Labour party, and consequently the whole of the members of the party in this Parliament were pledged to support that policy.
– I said there was a considerable section of the Labour party outside this Parliament who were identified with that statement in the Worker.
– The honorable member knows that when that policy became part of the platform of the party every member of the party was pledged to support it. I will give the honorable gentleman something from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, to show what the attitude of the party now in Opposition wa3 when the first Fisher Government adhered to the principle of an Australianowned and controlled Navy at the time of the Dreadnought outcry. The Sydney Daily Telegraph had the following pas sage in a leading article in its issue of the 11th April, 1909:-
Mr. Cook and Mr. Deakin have both pronounced publicly against Mr. Fisher’s naval policy. They have both pronounced in favour of giving a particular kind of assistance to the Imperial Navy at the present juncture -
– We passed the Naval Loan Bill in 1909.
– This is a leading article in a paper that supports the other side. I can also give some of the words of honorable members opposite as uttered on the platform. However, let me continue this quotation from the Sydney Daily Telegraph - and the particular kind of assistance which they desire to offer is entirely different from the scheme to which Mr. Fisher stands committed.
I shall read Mr. Fisher’s words to show exactly what his policy was. His policy, as the Sydney Daily Telegraph said, was one to which the party led’ by Mr. Deakin was diametrically opposed. In reply to a press interviewer of the 22nd March, 1909, Mr. Fisher said -
I much prefer that this country should face her responsibilities in the matter of defence by a steady, determined, and continuous policy of Australian defence - co-operating with the Mother Country especially in times of danger. I will he delighted to find Australia is ready to go in for that steady, determined, and continuous defence policy to which I have referred.
A few nights later, in the Sydney Town Hall, the present Leader of the Opposition, according to the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 26th March, 1909, in reply to certain resolutions that were submitted to the meeting, said -
We should offer a Dreadnought and an increased subsidy. If he had any preference it was for both of them. Their immediate duty was to offer a Dreadnought and to give a greater subsidy year by year. He nailed his flag there and now, to an increased subsidy. They could surely offer a subsidy in the same proportion as New Zealand, and paying in that proportion would mean a subsidy of £500,000 instead of £200,000.
It was such a pronouncement that led the Sydney Daily Telegraph to say that the policy of Mr. Fisher was diametrically opposed to the policy of the other party. I submit . these extracts in answer to the statement of the honorable member for Darling Downs, who claimed that the policy of the party then in power was on the lines of an Australianowned and controlled navy. Every utterance I have quoted shows that the policy of the party then in power was diametrically opposed to an Australianowned and controlled navy. I am delighted we have now reached a stage in the crisis when both parties will stand in a position that will redound to the honour of this great country and the welfare of the Mother Land.
– The honorable member has made a statement that he has made a number of times on public platforms, and a statement similar to those made by every member of the other side when discussing this question on the public platforms of the country.
– I plead guilty to the soft impeachment, but it is true.
– It is one of those half truths which are harder to fight than a lie.
– It is the whole truth.
– It is not the whole truth. I shall give the whole truth. That I did use those words in the Town Hall in Sydney is perfectly true, but those words were not all that I said. Not only did I advocate during all those times the immediate offer of a Dreadnought to be placed where the Imperial Government should see fit to use it, so that it might add to the effective defensive strength of the Empire, and the immediate increase of our obligation in the shape of a subsidy, which was then the only machinery in existence whereby we could offer assistance of any kind, but I also went on to say - and this is the part that honorable members all leave out - “ that it was time we began to build an Australian Navy.”
– That does not appear in the report of your speech.
– You told all your friends that you were opposed to an Australian Navy.
– All these honorable members know better than I do what I said. All over Australia these garbled statements have gone. They are a total misrepresentation, in effect, of what I said.
– Can you show that in print ?
– Yes, in many a case.
– It is not in the report that I have read from.
– Not from your garbled report.
– I did nob write the report.
– No; you go about making garbled reports, and telling half truths.
– I will present you with the copy of the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
– The honorable member secures one report of a number of speeches delivered all over the State, and says, “ This is the only thing the honorable member ever said.”
– He would have a good deal to do if he told all you said.
– The honorable member would have a good deal to do if he told all that the honorable member for Maranoa has said - and quite recently, too.
– I told the truth.
– It is time that nonsense ceased. No one denies that the Labour party has been in favour of an Australian-owned and controlled Navy. I know of no one who has attempted to deny to the party that credit.
– The honorable member for Perth denied it.
– I did not deny it; I gave to the party credit over and over again for the part it took.
– Honorable members have circulated these half truths all over the country, until I believe the. bulk of them believe them to be true. That the Labour party took up the cry of an Australian Navy is quite true, but they did so long after Mr. Deakin had advocated it in the House.
– At that time you opposed it.
– What has that to do with it? The question is, Who originated the policy in this House?
– The old Liberal party originated it.
– Yes; and is that why the honorable member left the old Liberal party? Is it because of all these good Liberal things that the honorable member for Gippsland turned back on his party, and now sits on the Government cross bench, not openly advocating Labour principles, but prompting every one else about the place to get up and say things in opposition to the Liberals across the chamber ?
– I stick to the old place that I occupied before my old leader fused.
– The honorable member has said that he is a LiberalLabour man.
– That was what you used to say of your own leader, and of the honorable member for Darling Downs before he fused.
– If I did I had the same attitude towards him then that I have towards the honorable member now. Does my attitude of then justify the honorable member’s attitude of today?
– Order ! The honorable member must address the chair.
– I merely wish to clear up this matter of the Navy.
– I am waiting to hear this clearing up.
– I am glad you are. You are one of the worst sinners. You have written and spoken more of these half truths than any man on your side. You actually leave out all the facts when you deal with the subject.
– I am waiting to hear your facts.
– The facts are not mine. They are in the report of the Imperial Conference.
– If they are not yours I shall look at them.
– Then if you do it will be bad for your rhetoric. The facts are these: Mr. Deakin first propagated his idea of an Australian Navy, but he fell into the mistake - it was an honest mistake - of advocating a flotilla of small boats for the purpose of purely Australian defence, boats which could not move out to be active co-operators with the Imperial Navy, or could not move to any part of the waters outside our own immediate neighbourhood.
– You said that they could not get out of the rivers.
– I said nothing of the sort; that is just another of those lies you circulate all over the place. They are lies, straight-out lies, and honorable members keen repeating them - they become their stock-in-trade. I said then as I say now, that so far as the use of these boats in the coastal defence of Australia are concerned, they were a delusion, a sham, and a fraud. Is that plain enough? Not only did I say that, but let honorable members listen to what the Imperial authorities said about the Navy at the Imperial Conference -
In the opinion of the Admiralty, a Dominion Government desirous of creating a Navy should aim at forming a distinct Fleet unit; and the smallest unit is one which, while manageable in time of peace, is capable of being used in its component parts in time of war.
Under certain conditions, the establishment of local defence flotillas, consisting of torpedo craft and submarines-
That referred to the Prime Minister’s proposals at Gympie - might be of assistance in time of war to the operations of the Fleet, but such flotillas cannot co-operate on the high seas in the wider duties of protection of trade and preventing attacks from hostile cruisers and squadrons. The operations of destroyers and torpedo boats are necessarily limited to the waters near the coast, or to a radius of action not far distant from a base, while there are great difficulties in manning such a force and keeping it always thoroughly efficient.
A scheme limited to torpedo craft would not, in itself, moreover, be a good means of gradually developing a self-contained fleet capable of both offence and defence. Unless a naval force - whatever its size - complies with this condition, it can never take its proper place in the organization of an Imperial Navy distributed strategically over the whole area of British interests.
That is not my statement, but the statement of the Imperial authorities, regarding the tiny cockle-shell fleet proposed by the right honorable member. They knocked it right out of the water. Further down they said that the honorable member’s proposal showed a complete misconception of proper naval strategy, as applied to Australia or any other part of the Empire. That is the Fleet the honorable member proposed to bring into being. I condemned those proposals, and those only. I did not condemn a properly-organized Unit for the defence of Australia. I always advocated it.
– You advocated something else.
– Of course I did. I wanted an immediate contribution, in the shape of a Dreadnought, to the effective defence of the Empire.
– For the North Sea.
– For the North Sea or anywhere else.
– If you had had your way, we should have belonged to the Germans now.
– Such rash statements are the honorable member’s stock-in-trade. It is an offensive interjection, but I do not suppose the honorable member knows it. Those are the things we have to put up with. Honorable members opposite go about the country misrepresenting everybody. Why do they not stop it? When they tell the people what a man has advocated, and what he believes in, why do they not tell them what he says, and not pick out a bit of his statements and make a complete misrepresentation ?
One honorable member has taunted the honorable member for Wimmera with sitting supinely behind the late Government when he could have compelled them to carry the Murray Waters Agreement through this House. The honorable member who said that ought to, and does, know better, and is. therefore guilty of complete misrepresentation. The agreement was not signed until September, after the Houses had been dissolved, and were in process of election.
– Like the misrepresentation you used at Beechworth.
– Yes, about the Bureau of Agriculture Bill.
– I am glad the honorable member mentioned that subject. That is another of their dirty pieces of electioneering. The honorable member for Maribyrnong said, among other things, that I was the biggest liar in Australia. That is his method of controversy. It never occurred to him that anybody could make a mistake. If a man makes a statement that he does not think accurate, he regards him straightway as a liar. I made a statement at Maryborough, Bendigo, and elsewhere that, but for the opposition of the then Opposition in this House, the Bureau of Agriculture Bill would have been placed on the statute-book.
– You said the Senate “booted it out.”
– And the records show that the Senate did bitterly oppose it, and refuse to put it through the last time it was up there. I wish I had five minutes to get the’ record of what the Senate did to the Bill. That, perhaps, would be my best justification, and certainly would substantiate my statement that the Senate refused to pass the Bill. The whole debate showed the bitter opposition of members in that place, including Senator Pearce himself, and eventually they succeeded in defeating the pro posal, and preventing the Bill going through the Chamber.
– During the last Parliament?
– No; nor did I say so. I said we should have put it through this Chamber but for the opposition of honorable members opposite.
– You did put it through this Chamber.
– That was the only mistake I made. My statements have been distorted and misrepresented all round. This statement of the truth is what hurts honorable members opposite. Now they are getting the facts of the case and the truth. The only mistake I made was in saying that the Bill had left this Chamber. I found out afterwards that it had not. I was told that it had. But that is a small mistake to have made.
– It was read a first time in the Senate on the 18th December.
– I know that. That is the mistake which I made, and it is the only one. The Bill did go up to the Senate at the end of the session when nothing could be done with it.
– The day before the session closed.
– Exactly. The reason it did not go up before was that certain honorable members opposite had made up their minds that it should not. If honorable members will look up the record, they will see that, time and again, I appealed to the honorable member for Capricornia to let the Bill pass, and that he refused to do so. Honorable members opposite know these facts full well, but outside they deliberately suppress them. My only mistake was in saying that the Bill had not gone up to the other Chamber when, as a matter of fact, it had gone up the day before the session ended. Upon that small mistake, statements of deliberate lying on my part have been based. The facts show that the measure would have been placed on the statutebook long ago but for the fierce opposition which it encountered in the Senate at the hands of the party opposite, as well as in this Chamber. The statements of honorable members opposite stand to-day upon the official records of our debates, and they cannot be wiped out. All their statements on the platform avail them nothing to wipe out that record. The measure would have been law to-day but for their opposition.
– It would have been carried but for the opposition of the honorable member’s own party.
– I am speaking of what occurred before the honorable member’s advent to this Chamber.
– He was here last session.
– I am not talking of what occurred last session, but of the general attitude of the party.
– The honorable member did not make his statement in reference to last session.
– I made the statement about last session that the Bill would have been placed on the statutebook but for the opposition of honorable members in this House. I repeat that statement now.
– Every time the adjournment of the debate was moved by members of the honorable gentleman’s own party.
– Why, how many times did I appeal to honorable members opposite to let the measure through ?
– Only six of our members spoke upon it.
– What has that to do with the matter?
– Had not we a right to speak upon it?
– Of course you had. Honorable members opposite had a right to let the Bill through or to say that they would not let it through.
– We let it through.
– Only when nothing could be done with it elsewhere.
– The honorable gentleman afterwards had a whole session in which to deal with it. One member of the honorable gentleman’s party could have forced the Murray Waters Agreement through.
– Here is a gentleman who says that one member upon this side of the Chamber could have forced the Murray Waters agreement upon the statute-book, although that agreement was not signed until after both Houses had been dissolved. This is the sort of tripe that my honorable friends talk upon the platform. These statements have done duty all over Australia, and it is time that the facts were placed on record.
– Are we to look to the honorable member for facts? If I were in his place I would stick to rhetoric, of which he is so great a master, and would leave facts alone.
– I am glad of this opportunity to reply to these allegations, which amount to a complete misrepresentation of all I have said and done. The fact is that the Murray Waters agreement was not signed until it was beyond the possibility of any Government, save the present Government, to deal with it. The Prime Minister has declared that the States must put their Bills through before he will bring forward any measure dealing with the matter.
– To which they have cheerfully agreed.
– Of course they have. My impression is that the sooner we get this Bill through the House, the better chance we shall have of getting it through the States. However, I am not criticizing the Prime Minister, but am merely explaining the facts. As to the other statements by honorable members opposite, fortunately the facts are on record. Our Navy is in existence. It is nobody’s special navy. Why, therefore, cannot we give each other a little credit for having called that Navy into existence? Why are these party aspects dragged in every time the matter comes up for discussion, despite the statements of the Prime Minister outside ? If we are going to legislate on non-party lines, let us adhere strictly to those lines. There ought to be no party lines connected with this war, or with the preparations that have to be made to see it through. I appeal to honorable members to cease these party interjections, to desist, once and for all, from adopting a party attitude in everything relating to the Australian Navy, and to the defence of our Empire.
.- I would not have risen but for the reference of the ex-Prime Minister to the Agricultural Bureau Bill. I have no desire to do him any injustice. During the recent campaign I quoted from press reports, and proved to my own satisfaction, and, I believe, to that of the audience which I was addressing, that the exPrime Minister had not made a truthful statement of the position. On the 1st
June he was reported in the Age to have said at Maryborough -
He wanted to say very seriously that the Agricultural Bureau Bill would have been put through if the Senate had been willing to pass it. At the door of the Senate must be laid the failure to pass this measure of justice to the farmers of the country.
When the ex-Prime Minister made that statement I believe that he was referring to the Senate of 1914.
– I made that statement concerning this House.
– I learn from Hansard that, on the 18th December last year, the Agricultural Bureau Bill was received from the Houseof Representatives, and, on motion by Senator McColl, was read a first time. Without any discussion it passed its first reading. When the Leader of the Opposition was taken to task for having made the statement which he did, I find that, in speaking at Bendigoon 30th J uly in reference to Mr. Arthur, he said -
That gentleman had accused him (Mr. Cook) of a fabrication in regard to the Agricultural Bureau Bill. To accuse a man of fabrication was equivalent to calling him a liar. Mr. Arthur had said the Agricultural Bureau Bill was passed by the House of Representatives, but theGovernment would not let it go beyond the first reading in the Senate. The fact was that the Bill had not passed the House ofRepresentatives at all.
– That was my mistake.
– The right honorable member, when cornered, made another misstatement at Bendigo to the effect that the Bill had not even passed the House of Representatives. ‘This report of his speech reads -
What became of Mr. Arthur’s accuracy or veracity either ? The question provoked cheers from nearthe front andinterruption at the back of the hall, but Mr. Cook hadnot done with Mr. Arthur , yet. “I have rarely met,” he said, “ a man who has come on so rapidly. He has become a’ whole hogger,’ and is rapidly qualifying for the Yarra Bank.”
The ex-Prime Minister, speaking at Bendigo, had an opportunity to correct the wrong impression which had been conveyed by his first speech, but he did not avail himself of it. He said, first of all, that the Senate had refused to pass the Bill. When Hansard was quoted to show that that statement was untrue, he said, “ Why the House of Representatives would not pass the Bill. It did not go to the Senate at all.” I shall leave the matter there. That is how we dealt with it prior to the elections, and the statement made by the right honorable member to-night is the first explanation I have heard him give. It will be news to the farmers who attended the conference at Maryborough that the right honorable member was referring to the Parliament elected, not in 1913, but some time before. I wish now to refer to the question of unemployment. The Government, I know, have not at their disposal many means of giving employment, but certain industries might well be taken up by them.. The constitutional powers of the Government are certainly limited, but there are many articles used very largely in the Government service which, owing to the war, we are unable at present to import, and which might well be manufactured here. We have been importing, for instance, something like 500,000insulators per year from Austria and Germany, although we have : in Victoria clay equal to the best to be found in any other part of the world.
– We have the same in South Sydney.
– Never mind South Sydney ; I have in mind just now deposits of clay at Lal Lal, which is in the electorate of Ballarat. Private enterprise has failed to develop this industry, and the Government, being threatened with a shortage of supplies, has now an opportunity to open it up. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department would require all the insulators that could be turned out, and I suggest to the Postmaster-General that he make inquiries regarding the possibility of successfully working these deposits of clay.
– Some splendid insulators are being made in Victoria today.
– Quite so, but the output is not half as large as it ought to be. The Constitution prevents the Departmenb undertaking any trading concern, but here we have anopportunity to develop one of thenatural resources of Australia. By doing so, we should give employment to hundreds of our own people, and also satisfy one of the requirements of the Commonwealth. There should be no necessity to import many other articles manufactured from clay, and now used largely in Australia. I have been shown a sample of kaolin from the Snake Valley district, which experts say is equal to anything of the kind to be found in Austria or Germany, but this deposit is also untouched.
– We were exporting it to Austria.
– The young man who brought the sample to Parliament House informed me that something like 100 tons of this kaolin was sent to Austria, where it was manufactured into the finest china. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will adopt my suggestion, and. inquire into the possibility of developing the vast and profitable deposits of clay which we have in Australia. I wish now to refer to the payments we are making to the troops we are sending abroad. I agree that the Bill to provide for pensions should be introduced as soon as possible, so that we may know what provision the Government propose to make for those who may lose their breadwinners on the battle-field. But there is a duty still nearer home, and it relates to the wives and children of those who have gone abroad. I understand that the soldiers receive 5s. per day.
– Five shillings, and also1s. per day deferred pay.
– The deferred pay of 1s. per day is of no use to the men now. I was interviewed to-day by the wife of a soldier who has gone to the front, and was told that she had six children. She said that she was receiving 4s. 6d. per day. That was the provision which her husband had made for her support;and if he is receiving only 5s. per day I think he has done his best for her. She has rent to pay, and how can she hope to maintain her six children decently on such an allowance? I am informed that one officer is receiving £1,500 a year, and an allowance of 15s. per day. I do not know what the allowance is for, seeing that, white an board ship, all his wants will be supplied. His allowance is three times greater than the pay received by the men in the ranks. If we want to induce 100,000 men to volunteer, we must see that adequate provision is made for’ those whom they leave behind.
– Men with large families ought not to be sent.
– We cannot deal with that question now. Many men so situated were loth to leave their wives and children; but realizing the danger of the Empire, they thought it their duty to volunteer, and the least we can do is to see that their wives and. little ones are not allowed to want.
– What is being done with the large funds that have been raised?
– We do not desire these people to depend on charity. We have vast resources, and we ought to see that the wives and children ofour soldiers are provided for.
– I am told that no allowance will be made out of the Victorian patriotic fund for such a purpose.
– I do not care so much about that. My contention is that we should make adequate provision for the wives and children of those who have gone to the front, and I trust that the Assistant Minister of Defence will ascertain whether an increased payment cannot be made. There is only one other matter to which I shall refer, and it relates to the positions vacated by officers who have volunteered to go to the front. I was promised by the Minister that non-. commissioned officers would have an opportunity to apply for these commissions, and certain regulations were cancelled to afford them that opportunity. In the latest district orders issued to the Military Forces, however - District Order No. 54 - we have this statement -
Applications are invited from the militia officers on the active, unattached, reserve,, and retired lists, for appointment as brigade-major (temporarily) 18th Infantry Brigade, and Brigade Area, 3rd Military District, to reach District Head-quarters not later than 1st November, 1914.
Under this order, sergeant-majors and other non-commissioned officers are debarred from applying for higher positions in the Force than they now occupy. I consider that that is most unfair. There are no better men connected with our Forces. There was a regulation in force giving priority inregard to appointments to quite a number of people, such, as retired Imperial soldiers and reservists, and, to a certain extent, disqualifying non-commissioned officers of our Forces from applying for promotion. I brought this under the notice of the.. Minister of Defence, and he immediately ordered that those regulations should be cancelled. They were cancelled, and I was informed that non-commissioned officers could apply for higher positions than they at present hold. But later on, the district order, which I have read, was issued, under which noncommissioned officers are included amongst those. who are not eligible to apply for higher positions.
– I am told that we cannot remedy that without an alteration of the Act.
– I believe that it can be remedied without altering -the Act. Senator Pearce, in his letter to me intimating the cancellation of previous regulations, gave me clearly to understand that there is nothing in the Act to prevent non-commissioned officers from applying for promotion.
– Who signed the order last issued?
– It is signed “J. C. Hawker, Colonel.” I know that some of these people have no time for noncommissioned officers. We are accustomed to say that amongst our citizen soldiers a man may rise from the ranks to be a general ; but there is nearly as much class distinction in our Australian Army to-day as there is in the Imperial Army. I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to take a note of the order to which I have referred, and to see that non-commissioned officers are made eligible for appointment to higher positions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Supply Bill (Works and Buildings) (No. 3)
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to-
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for Additions, New Works, Buildings,&c., for the year 1914-15, a sum not exceeding Two hundred and sixtytwo thousand six hundred and ninety pounds be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr: Hughes do prepare and bring in Bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Supply Bill (No. 3)
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr.
Fisher) read a first and second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer or the Minister of Trade and Customs to explain the item, “ Administration of
Bureau of Agriculture, £1,000,” appearing under the heading of “ Miscellaneous” in connexion with the Department of Trade and Customs. I should like to know the real nature of the proposal, since it appears on this occasion for the first time.
– No, it was in the last Supply Bill.
– We had an assurance that there was nothing unusual provided for in the last Supply Bill. Perhaps the Minister of Trade and Customs will indicate the policy of the Government in connexion with the item.
– It is there by mistake.
– That will do.
Schedule agreed to. ..
Bill reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Supply Bill (Works and Buildings) (No. 3).
Bill presented, and passed through all its stages, without amendment.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the. receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The first Government business taken tomorrow will be the Banking Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 November 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19141111_reps_6_75/>.