House of Representatives
19 November 1914

6th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 812




– I ask the Minister of Home Affairswhether it is correct, as reported in the newspapers, that balloting for employment is proceeding at Cockburn Sound, and that only members of unions are allowed to take part in the balloting. If this be the case, what becomes of the Prime Minister’s statement that preference would be given to unionists only when other things are equal ?

Minister for Home Affairs · HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– This is the first time I have heard of the matter. I doubt the accuracy of the report.

Mr Fowler:

– Will the Minister make an inquiry ?


– Yes.

page 813




– Has the Prime Minister observed that it is the avowed intention of the Government of New South Wales to acquire the entire wheat crop of the State during the coming season? It may be that a law ere this has been passed empowering the Government to do that. If the entire wheat crop of New South Wales is retained within the State, and thus made unavailable for other parts of Australia, what becomes of Inter-State Free Trade?


– I have heard something of the matter to which the honorable member refers, but no answer of mine would affect the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, and I have no declaration of policy on the subject to make on behalf of this Government. It will be time enough to intervene when there is occasion to do so.

page 813




– Has the Minister of Home Affairs yet reconsidered his previous decision regarding the Federal Capital Designs, with a view to allowing those designs to be submitted and a selection made at the earliest possible opportunity ?


– We have not reconsidered the matter yet.

page 813




– I wish to know from the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence if members of the first Expeditionary Force who refused to be vaccinated are being allowed to join the second force, and to persist in their refusal ? If so, has the Minister considered that their presence may mean the spread of disease which is preventable by vaccination ?

Assistant Minister · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

– I shall obtain information on the subject, and give the honorable member a reply.

page 813




– Has the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence read the newspaper statement that £150 a day is being taken over the counter of the canteen in the camp ? Will he inquire whether the price of the goods purchasable there compares favorably with the price of the same goods outside the camp ?


– I Have no objection to doing what is asked.

page 813




– I ask the Prime Minisfr if he does not think that this is a fitb.:/0 opportunity to move a vote of condolence to Lady Roberts on the death of her esteemed husband, Earl Roberts ?


– I have no doubt that Lady Roberts is aware that the heart of every subject of His Majesty the King is filled with sympathy and pity for her and those who have been bereaved with her. But it has not been the custom of this Parliament to pass resolutions of the kind suggested. The general expression of feeling in the press and elsewhere will, I think, be sufficient for all purposes.

page 813




-The other day I asked the Postmaster-General whether he would inform the House of the rates for transmitting telegrams in Canada and the United States of America. Yesterday, the Minister laid on the table excerpts from the rates, culled, I presume, by departmental officials. I ask the honorable gentleman if lie has any objection to laying on the table a copy of the rates themselves, so that honorable members may have an opportunity of determining what the charges in America really are.

Postmaster-General · DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Does the honorable member ask for the postal guides of Canada and the United States?

Mr Kelly:

– They would contain the information I desire.


– I shall ascertain whether it can be done. Of course, we could not have copies of these guides printed.

page 813


Export of Produce


– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence say -

  1. What prize vessels will be available for the conveyance of Australian produce to Great Britain?
  2. When will such vessels be available, and at what ports?
  3. How is it proposed to work these vessels; by the Commonwealth manning them, or by chartering to private firms?

I have already sent a copy of these questions to the Minister, asking that I might be furnished with replies to them.


– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. Practically all detained enemy steamers which are not required for transport purposes, and which are suitable for the purpose, will be available for the conveyance of cargo to Great Britain if required. To the present five of the larger steamers have been definitely requisitioned for transport purposes; each of these latter are fitted with refrigerated space, the whole of which is reserved for the carriage of frozen meat. Only one other of the detained vessels has refrigerated space, and this only of small capacity; she will be made available as soon as possible.

Numerous other of the detained German steamers will probably be required for transport purposes.

  1. The majority of the steamers suitable for cargo purposes will be available from about the end of November or early December loading. With regard to the allocation of loading ports it is proposed to arrange this as equitably as possible on the basis of requirements of the respective States, and tonnage available.
  2. The vessels are being manned by the Commonwealth Government, and loaded on its account, the agencies for loading purposes being distributed amongst established oversea agents on the basis of the extentto which their regular despatches have been interfered with by the requisition of tonnage for transport purposes. The five steamers already fixed us transports have already been allotted for cargo loading on this basis, and agents have been instructed to arrange allotments to individual shippers in such a manner as to give each applicant a fair proportion of the available space.

page 814




asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Has any report been submitted to the Postmaster-General or his predecessors in office as to the advisability, or otherwise, of installing such modern instruments for telegraph service as the “Creed Receiver,” the “ Hughes Telegraph Instrument,” or the “ Bandot Telegraph Instrument”?
  2. Does such report disclose that the use of these instruments would effect a saving in capital expenditure, in labour, and in the use of wire?
  3. Will the Postmaster-General make the report available to honorable members?
  4. If no report has been obtained, as promised, will the Postmaster-General give instructions for same, to cover cost of instrument, installation capacity of each instrument, and the experience of the United Kingdom in their use?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -

  1. Yes. 2, 3, and 4. The questions referred to have received continuous attention since the transfer of this Department to the Commonwealth, and were made the subject of exhaustive inquiry by the Chief Electrical Engineer on the occasion of his visits to Europe and America in 1904 and 1912. A copy of the ChiefElectrical Engineer’s latest report on the subject will be found in the Postmaster-General’s Annual Beport for 1912-13 (Appendix 1, page 33).

Creed apparatus was installed about twelve months ago on the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth lines with the object of dealing with the telegraph traffic between the Eastern and Western States expeditiously, and with greater economy. The service given by this apparatus has been satisfactory since its installation, and the staff economy effected has been considerable.

The question is still receiving close attention by the technical officers of the Department with a view to the extended use of automatic telegraph systems.

page 814




asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. How many cigarettes were (a) imported into Australia; (b) manufactured in Australia during the period 1st July, 1913, to 30th June, 1914?
  2. What was the amount of Customs and Excise duty collected?
  3. Are both imported and locally manufactured cigarettes periodically submitted for analytical examination ?
  4. Will the Minister state results of any recent analysis?
  5. Is it correct that rum is regularly used in the manufacture of cigarettes?
  6. Can the Minister say how much alcohol was so used by Australian manufacturers of cigarettes during the period named?
Minister for Trade and Customs · YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as soon as possible.

page 814




asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. The quantity, in superficial feet, of timber imported during last twelve months in (a) logs, (b) dressed, (c) undressed?
  2. The country of origin of each of these classes ?
  3. The value of timber imported from each country?
  4. The amount of duty collected?
  5. Comparative rates of import duties with royalties charged on Australian timbers?

– The following statement gives to the latest available date the information asked for in questions 1 to 4.

Inquiries are being made in regard to the honorable member's last question. {: .page-start } page 816 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### DEATHS OF MEMBERS OF THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCES {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-JRP} ##### Mr BOYD:
HENTY, VICTORIA asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, *upon notice -* >Will he inform the House if the four deaths of members of the Expeditionary Force, on four successive days, were due to any epidemic on board any of the vessels; if not, what were the causes of such deaths? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- In each case the cause of death was pneumonia. {: .page-start } page 816 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### ALCOHOL IN TEMPERANCE DRINKS {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-JTC} ##### Mr BURCHELL:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, *upon notice -* >Whether it is a fact that the Customs Department periodically test so-called temperance drinks for percentage of alcohol contained therein; if so, with what result? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
ALP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: - >It is the practice to take samples of socalled temperance drinks manufactured in Australia and to submit them to test as to spirit contents, in order to ensure that the provisions of the Excise Act are not being evaded. In some cases it has been found that the quantity of spirit is in excess of that allowed, and prosecutions have followed, but such instances are comparatively rare. {: .page-start } page 816 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### NATURALIZED ALIENS AND MILITARY COMMISSIONS {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-JRP} ##### Mr BOYD: asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will lie lay on the table of the House a list of the naturalized aliens who hold commissions in the Australian Army and Navy? 1. Will he lay on the table the papers in connexion with the appointment of Edward Edwards as a lieutenant of the Automobile Corps and his promotion to that of a captain? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. .Yes; on the table of the Library. This information, however, will take a little time to prepare. 1. Yes; on the table of the Library. {: .page-start } page 816 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### INCREASE OF COUNTING CENTRES AT ELECTIONS {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
EdenMonaro -- I move - >That the Electoral Act should be amended so as to provide for the counting and declaration of the votes polled at all polling booths where thirty or more votes are recorded. After all, I realize that this motion is only an expression of opinion, and I propose to take a vote of the House to-day, so that we may ascertain what membersare in favour of . the motion. I have no idea as to what the opinions of members are, because I have canvassed nobody and asked nobody; but I know that in many small centres in the country there is great dissatisfaction because the people there are not allowed to know what has been the result of the local polling. It is not so in the State elections. Under the State electoral law the votes are counted at small centres, and my experience of country centres is that the polling is conducted as fairly and honestly, and the officials are just as capable, as in the big centres. I cannot imagine why the Electoral Act was framed in the way it is; there must have been some mistake. At any rate, I know that great dissatisfaction exists. This system is only accentuating the curse of centralization. If we continue at this rate we shall find that the people will be expected to go to the large centres to record their votes, and to buy their postage stamps. I cannot see how the reform I propose can affect either one party or the other, because it is idle to assert that in these days men are afraid to disclose how they have voted. Parties are so clearly defined, and opinions are expressed so openly, that we know quite well the political attitude of the people. The day has gone by when men were punished for expressing their political opinions; therefore, it seems an anomaly that the people in the small centres are not allowed to know the number of votes polled in their district, and how the respective parties have fared. I know that this restriction takes a great deal of interest out of the polling, and many people who are a little indifferent in regard to political matters are deterred from going to the poll because they say, ' ' Parliament does not appear to trust us, seeing that it will not allow us to know how many votes each side has polled." Because I realize that the alteration I am suggesting would give great satisfaction to many country centres, I have had this motion on the notice-paper for a long time. Last session I was unable to move it because of the pressure of business, but I hope to get an expression of opinion from the House to-day. If, as the honorable member for Maranoa interjects, there is good reason for not counting the votes at these small centres, I should like to hear from the honorable member why the people in small centres are not entitled to the same privileges as those in the larger centres of population. We have compulsory registration now, and the trend of events is towards compelling people to go to the poll. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- The sooner, the better. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN: -- I do not know about that. So far the polling in my electorate has always been satisfactory to me. I am putting this proposal forward as the view, not only of myself, but of a large number of people in small country centres. The proposal emanates, not from any section or party, but re-, presents the desire of probably nine-tenths of the people in isolated places where they are without railways, telephones, and other conveniences of civilization. They hold that they should not be put on a footing different from their fellow citizens in the large towns and cities. {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr SAMPSON:
Wimmera .- I second the motion. For the reasons already stated by the mover a declaration of the number of votes recorded at each polling booth would increase the interest in elections in the country districts. I can see no chance of this alteration leading to a violation of the secrecy of the ballot. I know that throughout the country districts the people generally are exceedingly interested in political matters; the two parties are fairly well denned, and if they could only get some idea of the number of votes polled, the extent to which the districts maintain their reputation in regard to the proportion of votes recorded to enrolment, and how far the respective parties, have retained their strength, the interest would be increased, and there would be a much larger poll . If I thought there was any chance of the violation of the secrecy of the ballot I should certainly oppose the motion. I think the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, in mentioning thirty votes as being a sufficient claim for a local count, fixed the minimum rather low. If a booth has only thirty votes recorded, it might be very well merged into some larger booth for the scrutiny. I know that in the country centres, in my own district, there are a number of booths where the votes recorded exceed a hundred, and yet they are not counted locally. I see no reason why, at a booth of that size, counting should not take place, and the numbers be declared. It would facilitate a more speedy declaration of the poll, and would substantially increase the interest in the election. As far as I can see there is no reason why the Government should not accept the motion. If thirty is regarded as too low a minimum, the number can be increased. The number of counting centres at present is -too few. We should increase the number in order to get an earlier declaration of the poll, more particularly on occasions where the poll for the Senate and the House of Representatives is taken on the same day, and counted on the same evening, and when, in addition, there is sometimes a referendum poll. Believing that there is no difficulty in the way of this alteration, I have pleasure in seconding the motion. {: #subdebate-14-0-s2 .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON:
Assistant Minister of External Affairs · Kalgoorlie · ALP -- This is a very plausible proposition, but, as is apparent to any one who has had any experience of the working of electoral machinery, it contains the germ of insidious danger. In small centres of population there is a. good deal of eagerness and anxiety to know how everybody has voted. Representatives of country constituencies are aware of the keon desire on Brown's part to know which side Jones has taken. In many localities, especially in the smaller centres, employment is in the hands of a few individuals, and if we allowed the votes to be counted at these centres an employer would have little difficulty in learning the use his men made of their ballots. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- It is known pretty well now. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- There is no certainty about it. The present system of sending the small ballot-boxes to some central place, and commingling the ballot-papers received from different booths, is the fairest way. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- Does not that system lead to an enormous delay without any corresponding benefit ? {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- The system leads to a slight delay in counting, but there is no delay in the final declaration of the poll. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- Yes, there is. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- Not to this cause. The system pursued at the first Federal election was to take the ballot-papers from the smaller centres and mix them all up on a table at some central counting place. I do not know whether that is the present system. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- I think that is the theory. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- It is the theory, and should be the practice. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W Elliot Johnson: -- I do not think that the ballot-papers are mixed up at the central counting place. I think each box is counted separately. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- Possibly there have been many irregularities in the counting of votes, and that the officers are not too careful in observing the Act and regulations in their strict entirety; but now that special officers have been appointed, it is to be hoped that in future these irregularities will not recur. Apparently the right honorable member for Swan is giving this motion his patronage; and, if so, I shall refer to the system which he initiated in Western Australia. We all agree that there is delay in counting, but I. maintain that there is no delay in the final announcement of the poll. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- Yes, there is. Take, for instance, the counting of the Eucla box in the Kalgoorlie electorate. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- Will the right honorable gentleman say that the Eucla box ever decides a poll in the Kalgoorlie electorate ? {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- It may do so. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- Not in our time. The system advocated by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro prevailed in Western Australia in the ante-Federation days, and the right honorable gentleman, who now patronises this motion, was the one who abolished it, and put on the statutebook of Western Australia the system which now prevails in the Commonwealth, and which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro seeks to repeal. The danger of intimidation at smaller centres by employers of labour led to the absolute abolition of the old system in Western Australia. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- I do not think it was absolutely abolished. There was a limit for the number. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- That is the practice now prevailing in the Commonwealth. The contents of ballot-boxes are not counted at one centre. The ballots cast at small centres where there is the possibility of persons ascertaining how opponents have voted are counted in one central booth. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Where the poll is less than fifty. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- I would not allow the votes to be counted where the poll is less than 100. I even doubt whether that number is not dangerous. The first Federal election was held under the methods provided by the State laws, and I can well remember that when the Chief Electoral Officer in Western Australia attempted to adopt the scheme which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro now proposes, I drew his attention to the provision in the Act, and he was obliged to carry out the law, which at that time was that the ballot-boxes should be sent to one centre, where the ballot-papers could be mixed up and then counted. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- What was the minimum number of votes at a centre where the counting could be done ? {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- I cannot say from memory, but it was not such a small number as mentioned in the motion submitted to-day. Ballot-boxes should be sent in to the counting centre of the subdivision. There is no hardship in that system. The Dampier electorate is, perhaps, the most unwieldy in Australia, but I do not suppose that thereis a ballot-box in the Northam subdivision that cannot reach Northam within 24 hours. What hardship is therein that? Where is the grievance? I hope that honorable members will not; accept the motion. We should preserve the right of a man to vote as he thinks fit, and prevent his being intimidated by any employer of labour. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- The intimidation comes from the other side. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON: -- Then the right honorable gentleman should vote against themotion. It is an exceedingly dangerousone, and if carried will open the door, beyond the shadow of doubt, to the intimidation of electors. {: #subdebate-14-0-s3 .speaker-KI9} ##### Mr LIVINGSTON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 .- I have much pleasure in supporting themotion. In the large electorate that I represent several days pass before the ballotboxes from some small centres reach the counting centre. I do not think that any honorable members will say that in the small centres the Returning Officers are not careful. In my opinion these officers should be allowed to count the votes and seal the boxes again. I do not. agree with the Assistant Minister when he says that the counting of votes in small centres will be dangerous. I think it will tend towards greater safety, because the Returning Officer and the scrutineers in a small town know all the voters, and can immediately detect any person who seeks to vote wrongfully. We are all anxious to have a clean roll and clean voting. By adopting the motion to-day we shall go far to attain these objects. I do not think any constituency has a finer body of Electoral Officers than we have in the electorate of Barker. They are undoubtedly honorable men. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- And there is a fine body of electors there. {: #subdebate-14-0-s4 .speaker-KI9} ##### Mr LIVINGSTON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Yes, I have no reason to complain of them. I certainly think it would be an advantage to amend the Electoral Act in the way proposed by the honorable member, who has had very great experience of the electoral law, and whose judgment upon such matters is thoroughly sound. It is ridiculous that the ballot-box at every small centre should have to be sent to a counting centre, and the ballot-papers mixed up there, so that no one may learn how any particular elector has voted. It seems to me to suggest that we mistrust every one, whereas our policy should be to trust the people. The honorable member proposes that the votes cast at all polling booths where thirty or more are recorded shall be counted there. It might, perhaps, be desirable to raise the minimum. Subject to that amendment we should do well to make this change in the electoral law, which would do away with the present delay in ascertaining the result of an election. The proposed new system would also provide for a double check, and would certainly be an improvement on that which now prevails. I hope that it will be adopted. {: #subdebate-14-0-s5 .speaker-KMM} ##### Mr MANIFOLD:
Corangamite -- I find myself opposed to this motion, having arrived at the same conclusion, although for different reasons, as that to which my honorable friends opposite came some time ago. Undoubtedly in the smaller centres in times gone by a certain measure of coercion was used by the proprietor of a station or other large place of employment, who, when a ballotbox was opened there, was practically able to ascertain how every one of his men had voted. {: .speaker-KI9} ##### Mr Livingston: -- I have never had such an experience in South Australia. {: .speaker-KMM} ##### Mr MANIFOLD: -- I am speaking, not of South Australia, but of the whole Commonwealth. The system of counting the votes at small polling booths was done away with some time ago, so that the owner or the manager of a station where a booth was set up would not be able to ascertain how his employes voted. The change, I think, was a desirable one to make. I am opposed to this proposal on the part of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, for the reason that I do not wish to give union officials an opportunity to ascertain how every man on a station or at a saw-mill records his vote. On a large station in, say, Queensland, where in all probability at least thirty votes are recorded, it is well known who will vote for the Liberal candidate. The supporters of the Liberal party will probably be the manager, the storekeeper, and the bookkeeper. If any other individual on the station desired to vote for the Liberal candidate he would be afraid to do so under a system such as that now advocated by this motion, because he would know perfectly well that the union would find out how he had voted. This state of affairs is not peculiar to Queensland. It applies to the forest districts of Victoria. In my own electorate polling booths have been established at saw-mills, and I know perfectly well when an election comes round who are going to vote for me. The owner, the bookkeeper, and the clerk will probably do so, and as long as the secrecy of the ballot is insured I generally manage to secure the support of a good many of the men in these saw-mills. If the ballot-boxes were opened there, however, the position would be different. I see no inconvenience attaching to the present system under which the ballot-boxes at these small subdivisions are sent on to a counting centre. There are several counting places in each electorate. The ballot-boxes are conveyed thither; the papers taken from them are placed together on the table, and are counted i*» hundreds. If there are 100 papers available they are counted : if there are only thirty they are allowed to stand over until more ballot-boxes come to hand, and at least 100 papers are available. As to the anxiety of some honorable members to know before they go to sleep on election night whether or not they have been returned, I would point out that this proposed amendment of the law would give them no relief. In some cases many days elapse before the result can be known owing to the fact that the arrival of the absent votes has to be awaited. At the last election 3,000 absent votes were cast for Corangamite. I do not know where, they all came from, but we had to wait for the result until, I think, the 24th September, because some of them came from Western Australia and Queensland. Candidates may wish to get rid of the suspense, but even where the voting is close it is impossible to avoid the delay which necessarily attaches to absent voting. My practice may be somewhat different from that of some honorable members; but on election night I get to bed as early as 1 can, giving no thought to the result of the ballot, since, after a tour of six or seven weeks through my electorate, I feel in need of a good rest. I hope that this motion will be rejected. The principle which it proposes to embody in the Act is dangerous, and the little delay that takes place under the present system is by no means serious. Even where rough roads have to be traversed not much difficulty is experienced in conveying the ballot-boxes from small polling booths to the counting centres. The Deputy Returning Officer does not insist that they shall be brought in on election night. They are sealed down in the presence of the Presiding Officer and the scrutineers, and can be conveyed next morning to .the counting centre. {: #subdebate-14-0-s6 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE:
Maranoa .- The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, in submitting this motion, said that he did not know how the section in the Electoral Act which provides for counting centres came to be passed. I have a vivid recollection of the circumstances leading up to it. As a matter of fact, I, with your assistance, **Mr.. Speaker,** took an active part in securing the insertion of the clause, and the honorable member for EdenMonaro, as Government Whip, whipped the Committee to get it through. Some members of the Ministry of that day were opposed to the clause, but the honorable member "bagged " every member of the Cabinet, and carried it. **Sir William** Lyne was in charge of the Bill. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- There is too much history about this debate. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I know a good deal about the matter, because the counting of votes at small polling centres was one of the troubles that we had to combat in Queensland long before I entered this Parliament. The honorable member for Corangamite and I wish to reach the same gaol,, but for different reasons. He takes one road while I take another, but we shall get there just the same. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- And the probability is that you are both right. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- At any rate, I know that I am not wrong, as I have proved timesout of number. The honorable member for Corangamite says that he is afraid of the influence of the Australian "Workers; Union; but, if there be any ground for that fear, it only shows that the otherside are getting a dose of their own physic, and that we are getting some of our own back again. At the first Federal election my opponent was a squatter with a goodly number of men in his employ. {: .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr Palmer: -- Then there were twosquatters in the contest! {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Well, very often on theBarcoo I have had precious little to squat, on, and, therefore, I am not quite sure whether or not the term is applicable tome. This election was conducted under the-, old State law, and my opponent, when wemet one day about half-way across Australia, said he was sure that he was going tobeat me by 500 or 600 votes, because heknew how all the electors would poll. Tothis I replied, " Your information may be right, or it may be wrong, but they tell me I am going to win; at any rate, if on election night you are 400 ahead of me, you will be member for Maranoa in the first Federal Parliament." However, the agents of the Australian Workers. Union put in a little better work than did the agents of the Pastoralists Union, and the consequence was that I was : elected ; and I have been a member of ' this Parliament ever since. At that particular election, when the votes were opened on the station belonging to my opponent, it was found that out of a total of thirty-three I had received thirty, . while three had been given to the other - candidate. It was concluded, of course, that the manager, the bookkeeper, and the overseer accounted for the three votes ; . but when the boss came home, he said*. that, as there was no way of finding out who had or who had not voted for him, he would "sack" the lot, including the three head men. As you know, **Mr. Speaker,** there were dozensof similar cases in your own electorate when you were a member of the Queensland Parliament. In those days, when it was found how many had voted for the Labour candidate, and how many for the pastoralist candidate, there were wholesale dismissals; and the following week saw a parade of men "waltzing Matilda" along the road, on the outlook for a fresh job. Does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro wish to see a return of those days? We, on the Labour side, have now nothing to fear from the control of the bosses; and I ask the honorable member for Corangamite what he has to fear from the control of the Union. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- The other boss! {: .speaker-KMM} ##### Mr Manifold: -- The real boss! {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Even if there were anything to fear from the unions - though I do not admit that there is - there is no means on their part of finding out how men vote. And if there were, what could be done to a man who had voted against the Labour candidate? What penalty could be inflicted? {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- He could be put out of the union. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- In the whole of my experience of the Australian Workers Union I have known only three men expelled. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- How many union men have you known to be " sacked " because they voted Labour. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Three thousand. On many stations there are employes who have married and brought up their families there; and it would be asking something beyond human nature to suggest that they should sacrifice their jobs in order to vote as their conscience dictates. I candidly confess that many men came to me in the early days of Federation and said that they would like to vote for me, only they were afraid, and I told them that they should not by any means sacrifice their jobs on my account, because my seat was a safe one. And I would say the same to-day: if it means the loss of a job, an elector might vote for the boss's candidate, so far as I am concerned. However, those days are passed. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- Not altogether; it is now the other way sometimes. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Even at the worst we, on the Labour side, as I say, are only getting back a little of our own. The honorable member for Dampier may never have worked amongst a large number of men, half of whom were unionists and half nonunionists, and I am afraid he would not be able to do so now, because, thanks to the organization of the Australian Workers Union, there cannot be found to-day in the whole of Australia, a shearing shed so circumstanced. What does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro hope to gain by having the votes counted at these small places? The enormous majorities polled for the honorable member are simply astounding, and he expresses no anxiety on account of the absent vote. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- How does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro manage it ? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- No man in this House has a wider or deeper knowledge of politics up-to-date, than the honorable member for Eden-Monaro; and if the honorable member for Swan wishes a few hints or lessons, he cannot do better than apply to him. The honorable member for EdenMonaro says that he desires the votes counted at the small polling places because the people there like to know how the local vote has gone, or otherwise they will lose their interest in the elections. I fancy, however, that the honorable member's anxiety is not to enable the residents of Tin Can Bay, Windy Flat, Dead Horse Creek, or some other little one-horse crib to know how the twelve or thirteen votes have been cast, but rather to ascertain how many friends he has in the particular locality. There are some 300 polling places in my electorate; and the honorable member knows that the Federal law would have to apply to all alike. The honorable member cannot, I think, be serious, and I am sure that no man would be more sorry than himself if he thought his proposal would be the means of defeating me at the next elections. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- Nothing could beat the honorable member ! {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- I do not know that, because it is just those small things that very often turn the scale. We are hearing now what we heard during the debate last week from some honorable members who regard the present system as good enough to have returned them, and prefer to go on the even tenor of their way, so far as the counting of the votes is concerned. The system is bad. If there is one reason more than another why the motion should be rejected, it is that the alteration which it supports will increase the risk of victimization. I believe in the sanctity of the ballot-box. Every man and woman who votes should be able to vote freely. No one should be able to know how a vote was cast, unless informed by the voter. The fear of victimization makes me stick to the present system. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It may be news to the honorable member that a Liberal employer in this State has given an employe three months leave of absence to contest a seat as a Labour candidate. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- But does the honorable member say there has been no victimization in the past *1* If he thinks that, I am sorry that he has not travelled more. Representatives from Queensland know that in the old days many thousands of men were victimized for having stood by their political principles. It was a good thing for some of them, because they were becoming " lifers " on the various stations on which they were employed. Being hunted out of that employment, they became good unionists. The so-called bosses' men, who are merely boundary riders, managed from Melbourne, have done good to the Australian Workers Union. The employer who treats his workers tyrannically is the best organizer that a union can have, because he forces men into the position of having to do something for themselves. There are many stations in Queensland which are declared pollingplaces where only a few votes are cast. The Returning Officer is generally the bookkeeper of the station, a superior being, who has his tucker with the boss in the big house, instead of with the men in the hut. In marking the roll he would put a tick with a peculiar tail against the names of the voters, and the same mark under his initials on the ballot-papers. If the ballot-box were opened and counted at the station, the bookkeeper could thus know how votes had been cast, and there would be no secrecy in connexion with the ballot. Next day, some poor beggar would get the "sack," and be forced to walk 60 miles to the nearest station or to the nearest township. The first Parliament was so much afraid that the secrecy of the ballot might be violated that this provision, which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro wishes to alter, was agreed to on the voices. No man then advocated the present arrangement more strongly than did the honorable member; I do not know what has come over him since. I am pleased that a majority is against any change of system which would destroy the secrecy of the ballot. No one has a right to know how any vote is cast. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- On any question. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- In my opinion, the proposed alteration would destroy the secrecy of the ballot, and it should be the aim and object of every honorable member to prevent that. {: #subdebate-14-0-s7 .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr PALMER:
Echuca .- I am opposed to the motion. I oppose it, in the first instance, on the ground that in the counting of votes there would be no uniformity of practice as to the acceptance and rejection of ballot-papers about the legality of which there might be a difference of opinion. I am one of those who enjoy the distinction of having been unseated on petition; the honorable member for Riverina is another. The honorable member knows as well as I do that the highest authorities differ as to what constitutes a legal vote. If the counting of ballot-papers took place at every small polling booth, it would be done by a much larger number of men, and there would be a much greater diversity of opinion as to the legality of certain votes than there is now. I was unseated because a great many mistakes were made by Returning Officers. The Electoral Department then determined that every vote should be counted at one centre. This enabled me and my opponent to appoint carefully instructed scrutineers to watch over the counting, and the proceedings were conducted with perfect satisfaction to both parties, resulting, I am pleased to say, in my election. The Court has ruled that votes shall be accepted as legal which plainly express the elector's choice. But if the counting of the ballotpapers were done at every small polling booth, there would be such an army of persons engaged in the counting that it would be impossible to secure any uniformity of practice in the acceptance and discarding of papers about which there might be a difference of opinion.' I have no desire to know the voting in small centres. I consider that I represent every person in my constituency, both those who have voted for me and those who have voted against me. The honorable mem- ber for Maranoa said that my opponent at the last election was dismissed for appearing as a Labour candidate; but that is not a fair statement of the facts. My opponent put himself forward as a candidate for Parliament without consulting the convenience of his employers, and without asking for leave of absence. He left their service, and his place was filled, and there was no vacancy for him after the election. That man discharged himself. He left without the consent of his employers, and rightly suffered. The honorable member for Maranoa says that he stands by the sanctity of the ballotbox. He says that its secrecy should not be violated. I say the same. But the Labour party will not allow secrecy of the ballot to be observed when it comes to taking a vote on the advisability of having a strike. Some of the biggest and most disastrous strikes that we have had would not have occurred had the voting been done by means of a secret ballot instead of openly. In view of this fact I do not understand the consistency of my honorable friends opposite when they say that they are against the violation of the secrecy of the ballot-box. {: #subdebate-14-0-s8 .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER:
Riverina .- I express my surprise at t"he proposition of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. He comes from a State which does not take second place, even to Queensland, for the victimization that has been suffered by voters. No one knows better than he does what happened in New South Wales before special protection was given to voters by the law of that State. It was absolutely impossible, then, for a Democrat, working on a pastoral property, to record his vote in accordance with his convictions. He knew that if he did he would have to take his "walking ticket" at once, and find employment elsewhere. That evil has been largely, but not wholly, remedied. Even under the existing conditions, when men have intimated, by not observing the rule that " silence is golden," how they had voted or intended to vote, a very plausible excuse has been found shortly afterwards to give them their "walking ticket." It behoves the House, irrespective of party, to guard jealously the secrecy of the ballot. I quite agree with what the honorable member for Echuca said in regard to the confusion that would result from leaving the decision as to the validity of votes to the judgment of a great many uninstructed officials. In many cases there would be an interpretation put upon the validity of votes different from that already given by the Chief Justice in the High Court. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- There are twenty or thirty counting officers in every constituency. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER: -- Yes; but the honorable member would increase the number. I know that these reforms have been brought about gradually, and it is in consequence of the evils in earlier days that the reforms have accrued. We desire to make secure what we have gained, and to continue to make things better. We do not want to go back to the days when these evils were so intense. The honorable member for Wimmera will remember as well as I do that at the first Federal elections the Returning Officers were very few indeed. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- Many more than there are now. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER: -- There were many less. For instance, in the. electorate of Riverina, which was much larger in area than it is now, there were only five counting centres; now there are thirty-two, the number having been increased in order to convenience the people, whilst keeping in mind the necessity for the purity of elections. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- Thirty-two is too many. There are not more than a dozen in my electorate, which is quite as big as yours. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER: -- I do not know the area of the right honorable member's constituency, but I say that there are not too many counting officers in Riverina. The present number would not have been appointed had it not been for the desire to convenience the electors, and complete the scrutiny as quickly as possible. The honorable member for Corangamite pointed out that the real cause of delay was not in the counting of the votes recorded in the electorate itself, but in waiting for the return of absent votes from all parts of the Commonwealth. The honorable member, in opposing this motion, took a different ground from what I and other members on this side take. Looking at this proposal from the party point of view, he thought that it would be instrumental in enlarging the number of votes recorded in favour of the party with which I am associated. I take a view different from that. I ask the mover of the motion or any other honorable member to compare the electoral system of the State of New South Wales, where the counting of the votes at each polling booth is permitted, with the Federal system, by which counting is only permitted at certain centres, and it will be found that in New South Wales intimidation and victimization are rampant. In many places where the people are dominated by political bodies, particularly the Farmers and Settlers Association- {: #subdebate-14-0-s9 .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER: -- I am surprised to hear a question like that from the honorable member. He must know that the association has always dared men to vote a certain way, and has gone to the extent of saying, even to its own discomfort and loss, that no employment would be given to men who voted against the candidates of the association. What has been the result? At .a number of places where there are, probably, sixty or seventy votes, of which at least one-third would be Labour, in every case nearly the whole of those votes have been given to the other side, because the men were afraid to vote for the Labour candidate, knowing that at the count the direction of their vote would be disclosed. All through the country districts in New South Wales the experience related by the honorable member for Maranoa was rampant. It must not be forgotten that we have not got trained officers in all the places. Officers, no matter how honest, are biased in a particular direction, and even some of those who have been appointed to the official positions in these small places are in turn intimidated by their employers and do things which they would not otherwise do. I gave evidence before the Royal Commission on electoral matters, and facts were placed on record which would astonish honorable members if they would take the trouble to peruse them. The honorable member for Darling Downs, who was a member of the Commission, could relate some matters which would show the necessity of doing away with the evil of having votes counted in small centres, thus enabling the people to find out whether the numbers supposed to be recorded in a par ticular direction have gone in that direction or not. It was proved that in one of these remote places a vote was recorded for the name of every person on the roll, although some of the persons had not been in the district for years. The booth was in the hands of one person, a representative of the employers, and there was no check at all. That sort of abuse would be repeated if we adopted the proposal, if the honorable member for EdenMonaro. I am not going to say that the Divisional Returning Officers who were appointed by the preceding Government have not done their best to secure the purity of elections, and to conserve the interests of the various candidates. I freely admit that in my own case they did their work well ; but it must be recollected that the Department called a conference of these officers for educational purposes, with the result that some officers were only at their posts a short time before the election took place. Without intending to do wrong, some of them did allow a breach of the law. The Act makes provision that the votes received at the counting centres from two or three small booths must be mixed together before the count, in order that their location may be destroyed. The complaint I wish the Minister to take note of is that the Assistant Returning Officers in some counting centres - and I suppose it happened right through the electorates - did permit the votes in these small boxes to be counted as they came in from outside places. The votes in these boxes were counted separately, and the results made known. If that system is to continue, we might as well adopt the principle embodied in the motion now before the House, because the results from the small polling centres were made known, whereas the Act aims at keeping secret the location of the votes. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Do you say that the results were made known separately? {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER: -- Yes, and published in the press. The principle in the Act is that the counting officer shall wait until he has received more than 100 votes from the various small centres, and then mix them together before counting. If that principle were adhered to, the secrecy and security of the ballot would be preserved ; but in some cases - I hope only a few - the counting officers have permitted the boxes to be opened and their contents counted separately in the presence of the scrutineers, and the results made known to the press and everybody else. If that is allowed to continue, we shall have again that intimidation which it has taken us so many years to break down. I would seriously ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro not to proceed with this motion. I know that he does not desire to do anything that would be injurious to the secrecy of the ballot and the proper protection of the voter; but I can assure him, from my own experience, that if this motion is carried and given effect to, it will reopen the door to some of the worst, evils that the Democracy of Australia has had to suffer from. {: #subdebate-14-0-s10 .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE:
Gippsland .- The honorable member for Eden-Monaro proposes to make two changes: the first is that the votes polled at the small polling booths shall be counted separately, and the second is that they shall be counted at those small polling booths. The honorable member said that there was no intimidation nowadays, and that everybody was quite prepared to say how he voted. If that is so, I do not know why the honorable member does not propose to abolish the secrecy of the ballot altogether. Still more am I at a loss to understand why he proposes to make the minimum thirty votes, because if the principle is good he might carry it further, so that a polling booth at which, say, eight votes had been recorded, should also be a counting centre, and announce publicly the result of the voting. There is no doubt that when the present system came into force it did cause a good deal of disappointment in a State like Victoria, where the people had been in the habit of having the votes recorded at each polling booth published, so that they were able to know how the different candidates had fared; but when the people began to understand the object of the alteration, they became reconciled to it, and now I believe the majority, in the smaller places particularly, would prefer that the present system be maintained. The very fact that the motion is strongly opposed by the honorable members for Corangamite and Echuca, as well as by other honorable members on the Government benches, shows that there is a genuine feeling through the" country against any possibility of. intimidation, as it is called, or boycotting, or1 the. wreaking of dis pleasure on any person because of the way in which he has voted. That parties and friends of candidates are more or less inclined to carry out this muchtobecondemned practice is only too true. The matter cuts both ways, and is not confined to any particular class or party. The greatest privilege of the people of Australia is that, under the ballot system, they may record their votes secretly, without the fear of consequences. Of course, if people choose to make known how they vote, and suffer in consequence, they have only themselves to blame; but Parliament is entitled to say that the people should be allowed to exercise their votes according to conscience and without any fear of the consequences. We thought that the establishment of the secret ballot would achieve that end, but we know now that, in the' case of small centres, it is possible for people to guess how certain individuals have voted. According to' the mover of the motion, the existing practice causes a great deal of delay. I admit that this was the case in past elections, but it was due to the penurious method in which the Electoral Department conducted the elections. For instance, in Gippsland, the Department insisted that ballot-boxes should be taken to the counting centre by train or mail coach, even where there was only one coach a week, and the consequence was that, in some cases, there was a delay of a week, while the boxes at polling places not 15 miles from the head centre were delayed for a day until they could be sent along by train. The Department has now overcome that penurious system, and has made arrangements for the ballot-boxes to be sent into the central polling place by special messengers as quickly as possible, and there is now no delay. The greatest delay in declaring the poll is due to the need for' waiting until all the absentee votes have arrived from all parts of Australia. But even if it -be desired that the manner in which votes are recorded at each polling place should be made known, there would still be very strong objection to allowing the counting to be done at the different booths-. The honorable member for Echuca has already pointed out one objection, namely, that there would not be one system of allowance or disallowance of informal votes, and there would be an opportunity for greater differences of opinion among the presiding officers; Another objection is that the Electoral Department, which endeavours to secure as Assistant Returning Officers men of considerable experience in electoral matters, would not have the opportunity of getting such men to fill the places of presiding officers at all the small voting centres. The observance of the provision in the Electoral Act dealing with the counting of votes is very often more honoured in the breach than in the observance. At election after election in the Gippsland district the newspapers, in some parts, have disclosed the votes- recorded for each candidate at each polling place. There has been no concealment about the matter whatever, and evidently the attention of the Assistant Returning Officers should be called to their duty in this respect. Information also leaks out, though it is not made public, through Assistant Returning Officers not observing the rule which provides that no ballot-box containing less than 100 ballot-papers should be opened by itself, but that it should be kept until the ballot-papers in it can be mixed with those of another box that is received. That is the theory, but, unfortunately, the practice is too often to open every ballot-box, and thus, though the information may not be made public, the votes recorded at the different polling booths become known, because, in addition to the scrutineers, persons approved by the officer conducting the scrutiny are permitted to be present at the count, and may make notes of the manner in which the votes have been polled at the particular centres. Should a Bill to amend the electoral law come before us, I shall draw the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to the need for amending section 155, which provides that the scrutiny shall be conducted as follows: - >It s! mli commence as soon as practicable after the closing of the poll. The scrutineers, unci any person approved by the officer conducting the scrutiny may be present. The officer conducting the scrutiny may permit violent partisans to be present at the counting of votes. Scrutineers must make a declaration that they will maintain the secrecy of the ballot; but these other persons are not under any obligation of secrecy, and I have known of men, who were the strongest political partisans, who were permitted to be present at the opening of ballot-boxes, and in one case they immediately identified the two votes recorded at one polling booth in favour of one candidate out of the twenty-seven votes polled as those given By the presiding officer and the poll clerk, who were afterwards made to suffer. No one should be present at a scrutiny unless he is appointed by a candidate and pledged to secrecy. In many of the subdivisions in my electorate, I believe the ballot-papers are not mixed. The law is carried out strictly in some places, and it is to the advantage of the electors that this is so. The present delay is not great, and is of no material consequence. Great evil will be done if the system is altered. People interested from curiosity in ascertaining how their neighbours have voted in any particular locality have pretty well got over their disappointment now, and are accustomed to the present system, which it would be a great mistake to alter. {: #subdebate-14-0-s11 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS:
Franklin -- I am not in favour of the motion. Itis very desirable, not only tha "the secrecy of the ballot should be maintained, but also that every elector should be protected to the utmost extent, in order that hemay vote in his own way, without fear of intimidation, either from employer or from fellow employes. There are some defects in the present system to which the* Minister controlling the Electoral Department should pay attention. The elections are held on a Saturday, and ballotboxes are brought in from outlying districts on Saturday night, and locked up,, and remain at the mercy of the Returning Officer, whoever he may be, until' Monday. There is great danger of interference with the boxes during this period,, and great care should be exercised to prevent it. Men on both sides desire to voteaccording to their conscientious convictions. Circumstances may arise by which, people may be put to a great deal of inconvenience or hardship if it becomes; known that they have voted in a certain, way. The present system may lead to a. little delay, but any annoyance or disabilities occasioned in this way are farmore than counterbalanced by the knowledge that the elector can go to the poll' and vote conscientiously and accordingto his political convictions without fear of intimidation from an employer ora trade union, or any individual. Tosustain a good' deal of inconvenience rather than permit pressure to be brought to bear on any class, Liberal or Labour, in order to induce them to vote against' their conscience, or suffer in their walks-- of life, is better for the Commonwealth and for the political life of Australia. When this matter was first introduced, I thought that there could be no fear of intimidation, and that no hardship could be inflicted; but the more I see of contested elections the more I see that party feeling grows stronger and stronger, and that the political life of Australia is being more and more divided into two distinct camps. Therefore the opening of the door in the slightest degree to any chance of intimidation from one side or the other would be a great mistake. It may be claimed that there is no fear of intimidation existing, but I maintain that it is better for us to remain safe when we are safe. Let us give to those to whom we have given the freest franchise in the world the fullest knowledge that when they give their votes they will not be made to suffer any hardship or any indignity or any loss of employment because they happen to vote according to their conscience, although perhaps in opposition to those who are in a position to inflict hardship. I urge the honorable member for EdenMonaro not to proceed with his motion. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- I cannot accept the honorable member as an authority on conscientiousness. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -Then, if the motion goes to a division, I shall have very much pleasure in voting against it. {: #subdebate-14-0-s12 .speaker-KYA} ##### Mr PIGOTT:
Calare .- I support the motion. We have six State Electoral Acts and one Federal Electoral Act. No provision is made in the State Electoral Acts for subdivisional counting places, and the votes are counted in thu centres where they are recorded. A Labour Government has been in power in New South Wales for four years, and has not interfered with the Electoral Act in order to bring the provision in this regard into line with ours, showing that the State Labour party cannot see anything in the argument brought forward by the honorable members for Maranoa and Franklin. Seeing that the States are perfectly satisfied with their system, we should be prepared to accept the motion. There is now a certain element of risk in taking ballot-boxes to the counting centres. There is a risk of destruction of the ballot-papers by fire or theft. At the last general election the ballot-box used in the subdivision of Lewis Ponds was left in the polling booth at night by the Returning Officer, and later on a fire broke out. It was not wilfully caused, but it seriously threatened the polling booth, and if the box had not been removed it might have been destroyed, with the result that I should probably have had to go through another campaign. As to the suggestion that the adoption of this system would mean intimidation, I think that in all small centres of population every one knows how the other fellow is going to vote. The average voter nowadays has the courage of his convictions; and is not afraid to let it be known how he proposes to vote. A few days ago I visited a small polling place, where I saw forty or fifty supporters of the rival parties standing outside the booth, and wearing their colours. They were certainly not afraid to let it be known how they voted. I have very great pleasure in supporting this motion. {: #subdebate-14-0-s13 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson .- I intend to support this motion because it proposes an amendment of the electoral law which, I believe, most residents of country districts strongly favour. The honorable member for Maranoa has talked of the intimidation which, according to him, is practised on large stations; but he knows as well as I do that that is now a thing of the past. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I doubt it. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- Nowadays the men employed on most stations do not hesitate to tell a candidate that they intend to vote against him if he does not belong to the party which they support. If any intimidation at all takes place it is practised, not by the employers, but by the employes. . I am quite prepared to admit that twenty or thirty years ago intimidation was practised, but the position is different to-day. The average elector is quite prepared to say how he proposes to vote, and to give his reasons for supporting a particular candidate. It is because I know that many residents of rural districts are in favour of this amendment of the electoral law - because I believe it will induce more people to go to the polls, and lead to a more effective control over the ballot - that I support the motion. "Under the present system, ballot-boxes are removed from small polling places to counting centres, where the papers are supposed to be laid on the table, mixed up, and counted, in large parcels. We know that very frequently that is not done, and under such a system votes could be more easily manipulated than would be possible if they were counted where they were recorded. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- In what way? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- The number of votes recorded at a small polling place is practically known to every one. Local residents know within one or two how many votes have been cast, and in that way ve have a check on the votes that are polled. But when the ballot-papers are sent to a counting centre, where they are counted in bundles of 100 or 1,000, no one can say where they came from, and no one can tell whether there has been, as there might be under such conditions, any manipulation of the votes. Believing that this proposed amendment of the law would make for cleaner elections, give more satisfaction to residents of country districts, and arouse more interest in elections, I shall support the motion. {: #subdebate-14-0-s14 .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- I am pleased to learn that a number of members of the Opposition intend to vote against this motion. The proposed amendment, in my opinion, is quite unnecessary, and, if adopted would lead to intimidation. In many cases the men employed on big stations would be dismissed if the employers knew how they had recorded their votes. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- Does the honorable member know anything at all about big stations ? {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Let me tell my honorable friend of an incident which, according to the press report, took place in the Franklin electorate at the last general election. A member of. the State Upper House interested himself in such a manner as to bring about a law' case. He made a complaint to the Chief Commissioner of Police, with the result that the police officer was brought before the Police Court; but the magistrate, after hearing evidence, dismissed the case. The man on whose complaint the charge was preferred was **Major** Morrisby . who for years has been returned to the Legislative Council of Tasmania practically by the Labour votes cast in a mining centre. Notwithstanding his experience, he descended to this mean petty procedure which, under this proposed amendment, would be followed, by hundreds, with the object of penalizing an officer who was simply doing bis duty. The Presiding Officer at the booth in question swore that he was a Liberal, and that the police officer did his duty well and faithfully, although he might have a leaning towards the Labour party. It is this sort of intimidation that we desire to prevent. The honorable member for Robertson claims to know all that is done on big stations, and he declares that no attempt is ever made to intimidate the employes. Men employed on stations, however, will tell you, in conversation, that many of them have been repeatedly instructed how to vote. I am pleased to believe that men are now beginning to think for themselves, and to exercise their votes in the interests of their families. The day is. not far distant when the electors of Robertson, becoming more enlightened,, will reject their present representative. I do- not believe that he represents the' views of 10 per cent, of his constituents; but he is an eloquent and able platform' man, and no doubt, by reason of his ability, induces the small farmers tovote for him. The proposed new system would not accelerate the counting of the votes, and I am satisfied that it would' not be an advantage to the people. {: #subdebate-14-0-s15 .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD:
Minister of Home Affairs · Hindmarsh · ALP [4-151". - The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, in submitting his motion to the House, claimed that there was much dissatisfaction with the present system. I understood him tosay that, in small country districts, there is always very great interest in an election, and that the people there .wished to know with the least possible delay the result of a poll. I can well understand that, with such people, election day is a red-letter one, and that they are anxious: to get out of it as much excitement as possible; but I question whether there isnot a very substantial minority, and, in some of these districts, a majority, opposed' to this proposal. Its adoption would befatal to the secrecy of the ballot. Anotherobjection urged against the present system is that it keeps candidates in suspense as to the result of the polling. That, no doubt, is a very serious matterfrom the stand-point of candidates; but the answer to it is that no man is forced* to offer himself for election to this Parliament, and that every man who does somust subordinate his own wants and desires to the general well-being of thecommunity. We have been told this afternoon that the honorable member forEdenMonaro was a party to the passing' of the very provision in the Electoral Act which he now desires to amend. In his calmer moments I think he will be prouder of what he did to secure the passing of that provision than he would ever be of the carrying of such a proposal as this. The system of open voting caine down to us from our fathers, and we know that, under it, certain persons claimed that their property and influence entitled them, as of right, to vote. No doubt there was something of the same spirit prevailing in Australia . in the early days; but voting by ballot has been introduced, and we should do everything possible to preserve its secrecy. We should certainly destroy that secrecy if we gave effect to this proposal. It is perfectly obvious that a man with very little wit could readily ascertain how his neighbour voted if the ballot-papers were counted at small polling places. The honorable member for Robertson tells us that we are now a very hap"*' family, and that we do not care who knows how we vote. Where is this Paradise of which he speaks? I am unable to locate it. There is, no doubt, a growing feeling of indifference as to the way our neighbour votes. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- A man is given a right to his own opinions. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I do not know what is done in New South Wales; but there are some parts of South Australia where it is by no means desirable that any one should know how an elector votes. I am talking now not of my own district, but of country centres which I have visited, and where it has been thought undesirable even to attend a meeting at which I spoke, because I am a dangerous man, who ought not to be listened to. Where I have known that supporters of the Labour movement would run the risk of losing their employment if their political leanings were known, I have told them to hold their tongue; - to vote and say nothing - because I feel that the cause can afford to do without their active help if the latter involves any such disability as has been suggested. Such cases are by no means romances, but have occurred within the last year in my own State, which, of course, is not exceptional in this respect. I admit that the feeling in this regard is not so strong as it used to be, particularly in the larger centres of population; but in the rural districts, where there are greater facilities for find ing out how a man votes, the trouble is still serious. Of course, if all this antagonism found merely good-humoured expression, there would not be much harm done; but we know that good humour is not the prevailing characteristic. The fact is quite the reverse, and, therefore, I urge the honorable member for EdenMonaro to withdraw the motion. There has been no " whipping up " on this side on this question, and it is plain that among honorable members opposite there is a strong feeling in favour of keeping to the present system. I may say that I am merely speaking for myself, and not for the Government, this afternoon; and, personally, I should be inclined to increase the number of votes which might be counted at any particular place. If the honorable member for Eden-Monaro would make the number 1,000 or 5,000, there might be something to be said for his proposal. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Where would, we find 5,000 at any place in the Maranoa electorate? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I do not desire my suggestion as to the number to be taken literally, but, if there is any danger at all, it is in increasing the number of counting centres. There must be more polling places in widely scattered constituencies than in the big centres of population; and it is essential, in the interests of a proper return, that the counting should be under the supervision of trained Returning Officers and assistants. The Court of Disputed Returns lays down certain principles in regard to valid and invalid votes, and those principles ought to be well known by those who are intrusted with the counting. This would be more satisfactory to the candidates, and would certainly tend to the proper representation of the people, which, after all, is the first consideration. Every vote cast should have its legitimate value, and should be safeguarded with the secrecy of the ballot, so that no one should be exposed to any possibility of intimidation. No candidate likes to be beaten, but, should the Fates be against him, he likes to feel that he has been beaten fairly; and, if votes are to be counted in small parcels of thirty, or even of sixty to 100, it would, not be possible to obtain the services of really competent men for the counting. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr Fowler: -- What is - the good of flogging a dead horse? Let us get on with the business. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I am nob anxious to cover the whole of the ground; but the honorable member for Riverina has told us that, at the present time, the contents of small boxes are counted separately. This, I am inclined to think, is not according to law ; and, in any case, the practice is one that ought to be discontinued. No doubt the Chief Electoral Officer will turn his attention to the matter. As to Divisional Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers, I have the following note - Divisional Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers are, and always have been, the only officials empowered to scrutinize votes under the Commonwealth law. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Presiding Officers do not, in a very large number of cases, possess the qualifications necessary to enable them to deal effectively with bad and doubtful ballot-papers, having regard to the distinctions made by the Court of Disputed Returns. 1. There are no scrutineers at a large number of polling places. If Assistant Returning Officers were authorized to separately scrutinize the ballot-papers contained in ballot-boxes received from small polling places, or Presiding Officers were authorized to conduct the scrutiny of ballotpapers, as proposed by **Mr. Chapman,** the secrecy of the ballot would not in many cases be preserved. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- Is the Minister quoting the opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer on a matter to be debated in the House ? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- The Chief Electoral Officer supplied me with a few notes for my guidance. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- It is a new procedure in Parliament to bring forward the chief of a Department to criticise honorable members' proposals. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I do not see that any objection can be raised to thesenotes. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- I shall criticise the Chief Electoral Officer pretty freely, now that he has criticised me. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- I do not think that the honorable member should look at the matter in that light. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- I never heard of such a thing in Parliament before. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- If the honorable member criticises anybody, I hope he will criticise me, because I am responsible. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- I wish to criticise the *rrari* the Minister is quoting. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- It may be that I have made a slip; but I know that the honorable member, when he was a Minis ter, and all other Ministers, have obtained information from Departmental officers to guide them when addressing the House. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- If the Chief Electoral Officer wishes to be heard, he ought to be brought to the bar of the House. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- However that may be, I ask the honorable member to withdraw his motion. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr Austin Chapman: -- After what has been said, I shall do nothing of the kind. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- Then, on behalf of the Government, I shall oppose it. {: #subdebate-14-0-s16 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON:
Lang -- At first I thought there was some reason on the ground of convenience and expedition, why the motion might be agreed to; but, in view of the statements made in the course of the debate, I have been induced to alter my view. While recognising the advisability at all times of affording every possible facility, not only for recording votes, but for getting them counted as speedily as possible, every precaution should be taken to guard against anything that might militate against the secrecy of the ballot. I can quite conceive the possibility, in small centres, where everybody knows everybody else, of votes being mentally analyzed after the counting, and a fairly accurate conclusion arrived at as to how the different electors have voted. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- That can be done before the votes are counted. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- Before the counting the voting would be a matter of conjecture, but afterwards the mental analysis might be sufficiently accurate to amount to almost a certainty. In my opinion, it would be unwise to adopt the course suggested in the motion, though, at the same time, there is room for improvement in the present system. Where there are 200 or more electors, a plau of the kind proposed might be tried ; but it would be unwise to make it of general application. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- Make the number 250. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I am not particular as to the number; but it should be sufficiently large to afford security for the secrecy of the ballot. The honorable member for Denison told us of a police constable in Tasmania who contravened the provisions of the Act by giving directions to various voters in a polling booth as to how to vote, and so forth, and has denounced a public man for intervening to secure the observance of the law, and one wonders what would have happened, or what would have been the attitude of the honorable member, if that constable, instead of being a Labour sympathizer, had been a Liberal sympathizer and similarly broke the law. From the tenor of the honorable member's remarks, it would appear that he regarded the constable's breach of the law as commendable, because he was a Labour sympathizer; but it would be interesting to know what would have been his opinion if the officer's political bias had been on the Liberal side. This incident has really no direct bearing on the motion; but one is tempted to speculate on what might have been the view of the honorable member for Denison under such circumstances. As to the motion, I think that the sense of the House is against it, owing to the danger of abuse, and of a violation of the secrecy of the ballot. {: #subdebate-14-0-s17 .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
EdenMonaro -- It is interesting to hear their 'experiences of small centres from honorable members like the honorable member for Lang, who, if you took him into the bush and turned him round three times, would be lost. It is men like him who pose as authorities regarding the small centres. This afternoon some honorable members seem to have opened the Book at the chapter of Revelations. I never dreamed that there were so many men in this Chamber whose object in life was the uplifting of humanity and the preservation of the purity of the ballotbox. I have never heard such twaddle in my life as was talked this afternoon. The honorable member for Riverina took me to task for inconsistency, but had he looked into the political glass he would have hesitated to do so. The honorable member for Corangamite put it forward as his reason for opposing the motion that it might lose him a few votes. I did not propose the motion for any party reason. If carried, the motion will affect both parties equally. I refuse to believe that the overseers and station managers of Australia are tyrants, and that their men are crawlers. In my electorate men have no hesitation about saying how they will vote. I have a number of men working for me who tell me openly that they propose to vote against me because they do not agree with my political principles, and I respect them for their outspokenness. I do not employ them to vote for me. I pay them to work for me, and they are free to vote as they think best. I decline to believe that the workers are afraid to say for whom they will vote. My reason for the motion is that I believe that it would be a great comfort to the voters in small centres to know the result of the local poll. The honorable member for Echuca said that men must be experts in the counting of votes. To give effect to his views it would be necessary to send all the ballot-papers to Melbourne to be counted, and to hand over the work to the High Court. The motion is considered so important that two Ministers were put up to oppose it. Both appealed to me to withdraw it, but I shall not do that, even though I may be in a minority. Great reforms come slowly. I was charged by the honorable member for Maranoa with inconsistency, because I was Whip to the first Federal Government, which introduced the electoral provision which I now propose to amend - a very strange charge to make. I strongly desire the purity of the ballot-box, but I do not go round the country weeping about it. I do not believe that men can be intimidated. There is not a centre in my electorate where 5 per cent, of the voters would admit that there was any possibility of intimidating them, or thai they "were afraid to say how they would vote. To-night we had the spectacle of a Minister of the Crown controlling a great Department quoting the opinions of the permanent head of that Department in opposition to my proposal, instead of giving his own views. It is the first time that I have known such a thing to be done, and I hope that it will not be done again. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- What was done is quite proper. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN: -- I could understand a fledgling like the PostmasterGeneral saying that, but it is strange to hear such a statement from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. The honorable member for Gippsland asked why I did not make my proposal apply to places where only eight votes are cast. I do not know that there are such places. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- At one booth in my division only one vote was cast. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN: -- For the honorable member? {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- For my opponent. {: .speaker-JX7} ##### Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN: -- That was a sensible elector ! What I have proposed would meet the convenience of the electors. We hear too much about party interests and the purity of the ballot-box. All of us are in favour of the purity of the ballot, but we like things to go our way. I know that in many small centres the electors are desirous of having the local poll counted and declared. It is easy for honorable members to sneer at the small centres now, but there will come a time when they will not do that. I have moved the motion with the best of motives, and for no personal reason. It does not matter to me when a poll is declared, but it is unjust to voters in small centres that they should not know the result of a poll. To say that professionals are needed to count votes is absurd. If a majority is against me, I must accept the verdict, but the fact that I may be in a. minority will not deter me from forcing the question to a division, so that the opinions of honorable members may be recorded. Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided. AYES: 8 NOES: 41 Majority ... ... 33 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. {: .page-start } page 832 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### BONUS FOR TIN-PLATE INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert .- I move - >That, with a view to increase the number of our local industries, a bonus be given for the production of tin plates, and that the carrying of this resolution be an instruction to the Government to provide an amount, as bonus, sufficient to induce some person or persons to embark in the said industry. I do not think that any apology is necessary for moving this motion, at the present juncture especially, when both the members of this House, the outside public, and the press generally express the opinion that in the existing crisis in Europe we should endeavour by every means in our power to establish new industries in Australia. Everybody knows that trade generally is disorganized, not merely in Europe, but practically throughout the world, owing to the war. Before I address myself to any figures, I should like to preface my remarks by saying that there is an article in to-day's *Age* referring to this particular matter. It makes mention of some person or persons at the back of this movement. I desire to say that I know of no such person or persons ; I had no communication with anybody, and no idea that any interest was being taken in the matter outside of this House. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- As a matter of fact, you had not seen the article until I drew your attention to it. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- That is so. I knew nothing about the article, and nobody has approached me in any way in regard to this matter. I make this statement in no independent spirit, because I should have been pleased to have received from experts any advice on this, to me, very important matter. I did not know whom I might consult, and I was not aware that any person . in Australia contemplated engaging in this industry. The figures which are quoted in the *Age* this morning coincide with those I have worked out for myself, although mine are only approximate, because it is not necessary that any exact figures should be given in introducing a motion of this character. The value of the imports of tin plates is about £500,000 per annum; in 1913 it was, roughly, £527,000. In 1907 the value was only about £247,000, so that the importation has more than doubled in the interim, and the probabilities are that it will still increase owing to the advancement of our own industries in the canning of meat and meat extract, fruit, the making of jams, preserves, &c. Therefore, we may reasonably assume that during the next few years the value of the importations will again double itself. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- What country contributes our supplies? {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- Up to the present all our importations have come from England. Canada makes tin plates, and so does the United States of America, but there is a preferential duty of 5 per cent, against the importation of tin plates from countries other than Great Britain. That is to say, the imports from Britain are allowed to enter Australia free, but a 5 per cent, duty operates against tin plates coming from other countries. Whether that duty is the means of preventing any importation from the United States of America or Canada I am not able to say, but possibly it has had that effect. We produce in Australia iron in unlimited quantities, whilst there is more than sufficient tin produced locally to enable the manufacture of tin plates in quantities that would supply our own requirements. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- We raise ten times as much tin as we need ourselves. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- Something like 10,000 tons of ingot tin was exported last year, and it is an absurdity for us to import manufactured goods to such a great extent when we produce so much raw material. I have seen at Circular Quay, Sydney, ingot tin and copper going into one hold, and manufactured articles, such as copper wire and tin plates, coming from another hold of the same ship - a German ship, too. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr Fowler: -- Tin plates are not manufactured from tin alone. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- I am coming to that. I have already remarked that we produce both iron and tin in sufficient quantities for our requirements. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the difficulty in making tin plates is not in the tinning or dipping process, but in the manufacture of iron or steel plate, which forms the basis of the plate in order to make it stiff, thin, and tough enough to stand the tinning, and be a good wearing article. The question arises as to what would be a sufficient inducement for any firm to commence operations in this industry in Australia. My figures are only approximate, because very little information is to be found in the Parliamentary Library, and the only information I could get is nine years old. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Information as to production elsewhere? {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- Information relating to the manufacture of tin plates generally. I have estimated that it would cost £200,000 to establish tin plate works in Australia. The article in the *Age* refers indefinitely to a proposal to make tin. plates at Newcastle in connexion with the works which the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited are establishing there for the treatment of iron and the manufacture of steel. Whether such an enterprise is contemplated I do not know, but, as I have already stated, I have estimated that it will cost £200,000 to establish the works necessary to produce enough plates to supply our own requirements. The consumption in Australia in 1912 was about 32,000 tons. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- This is a much more important industry than a number of others to which we are giving bonuses. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- That is my opinion. The amount of bonus that would be required to induce somebody to undertake the production of these plates is very difficult to ascertain. The bonus we have been giving on the production of pig iron» however, has been 12s. per ton. Pig iron can be landed in Australia for about £3 a ton, so that the bonus represents . 20 per cent, on the landed cost of the article. Therefore, if we assume that the production of tin plates would be as important an industry as the manufacture of pig iron,. we should at least give the same rate of bonus, that is, £3 per ton based on the landed price of tin plates, which at the present time is £16 15s. per ton. A bonus of £3 per ton would be less than 20 per cent, of the present price. Assuming our requirements to be 30,000 tons per annum, the bonus we should be paying, that is, at £3 a ton, would be £90,000 per annum, if we could produce the whole of the tin plates required in Australia. However, I do not think we could do that for many years. The quantity of metallic tin required for the tinning of 30,000 tons of plates would be about 2,500 tons. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- 1,100 tons. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- Those figures are from the *Age,* and they are in excess of my own. Assuming that the erection of the works would occupy three years, there would be no bonus paid for that period. Presumably the bonus would be given for a period of ten years, making a total of £900,000. If we deduct from that amount £270,000 for the three years during which the works would be in course of erection, and no bonus would be drawn, there would be a balance of £630,000, assuming, of course, that we could produce from the commencement the whole of the tin plates we require. As I have said, that is not at all likely. But if we could produce half our requirements, that would mean a bonus of about £300,000, which we should pay for the establishment of this industry. Considering the importance of the industry, and what it has done in other countries, I venture to say that that would not be an excessive amount to pay for its establishment. I have here some figures which, however, are nine years old, relating to the industry in other parts of the world. I am reading from consular reports. In regard to the tin plate industry in the United Kingdom, I have the following evidence - >Employment in the tin-plate industry has picked up wonderfully since January, 1904, and the demand for labour is quite equal to the supply. At the end of January, 1905, 403 mills were in operation. I make this quotation in order to show the amount of employment which would be given by the establishment of these works - >This compares very favorably with the return of a year ago, which gave a total of 347 mills working. Out of seventy-seven works open, sixty-four have all their mills (346) in operation, while the remaining thirteen have fifty-seven mills working out of a total of seventy-eight. The estimated number of persons employed at the 403 mills is 20,150. The total output is shown in this return, but I do not think it affects the question particularly. At this time South Wales was supplying nearly the whole of the world, and this article proceeds - >In the South Wales, Monmouthshire, and Gloucestershire districts, 392 mills were working, as compared with 355 a year ago. The trade remains fairly brisk, but some excitement has been created in the tin-plate circles of South Wales by determined efforts to transfer tin-plate works to Canada. Inducements are being held out to some well-known Welsh manufacturers to erect works at Toronto. At present Canada is one of the best customers for Welsh tin-plates. I have not been able to ascertain what inducements were held out by Canada, otherwise we might hold them out to induce manufacturers to come to Australia and do for us what evidently has been done for Canada. I have also been unable to ascertain the requirements of Canada, but I do not suppose that they are greater than those of Australia. Against their salmon-tinning we can put our tinned meat industry, and I think that we can a greater quantity of fruit than does Canada - most of the canned fruit that we import comes from California. Let me read another excellent extract from this work - >It has been announced that the promoters of the tin-plate factory at Morrisburg have secured control of the Canadian Tin Plate and Sheet Steel Company, that Montreal and Toronto capitalists have become interested, and that the work will go on at Morrisburg The capital stock will be $1,500,000. It will require 28 mills to turn out the sheet tin-plate, &c, required, and there will be 3,000 operatives employed. Two hundred practical operatives will bc brought from Wales to instruct the others. **Mr. Lewis,** of Cardiff, is interested, and has the management. I assume that the capital required in Australia would be £200,000, if the works were built in conjunction with the establishment of the Broken Hill Company at Newcastle. The industry would give a great deal of employment. In Canada, as I have shown, one company employs 3,000 operatives; and, while in Canada the usage of tin plates is not developing much, in Australia it is likely to increase greatly. 1 think honorable members are in sympathy with the motion that I am submitting. The figures I have given are only approximate in some cases,' so that, if the motion is carried, the Government will need to ascertain more in detail what would be required as a bonus, what people would be likely to take the work in hand, and what results would be possible. A great deal of good has already resulted from the bonus system adopted in Australia; and there is no reason to suppose that the establishment of the tin plate industry will not lead to considerable employment, and the utilization of some of our own raw material. I do not think it will make any difference to our miners, because they have always had a good market for their tin. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- During the last few years only. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- As Tasmania is the greatest tin producer of Australia, the honorable member should know. I do not think that the establishment of works in Australia will affect the price of tin, because, when tin was at a low value, the market was manipulated by rings, just as the copper market was. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- The establishment of works in Australia would help the miners. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- The establishment of a local market might relieve the tension on occasions. I submit the motion to the consideration of honorable members. {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong .- I have pleasure in seconding a motion of this character. I might have had greater pleasure, had it been a little more comprehensive. However, as the honorable member has concentrated his attention on one particular item, I suppose we must be content to take one step at a time. There has been no time in the history of the Commonwealth when we could take the step proposed by the honorable member with greater advantage than the present. I believe that we all have the optimistic view of the great conflict now proceeding that it will result in one way; but Australia, above all countries, should be in such, a state of preparedness that, when arms are laid down, it will be in a position, not only to take advantage of its local markets, but also to supply any markets overseas that may be offering. Germany produces 30,000 tons of copper per annum, but sells 280,000 tons of copper in the shape of manufactured goods, some portion of which finds its way to Australia, and even to Great Britain. Australia produces 50,000 tons of copper in the raw state, but only uses about 1,000 tons in the manufacture of various articles. Instead of using our raw material, we are content to let the great bulk of it go to other parts of the world to be manufactured into the finished article, which we have to bring back again. No country stands in a better position than Australia does in regard to minerals, not only tin, but copper, and lead, and other materials, which we should turn to good account. The total value of the minerals produced in Australia runs to the vast sum of £785,000,000. Gold is a very big factor, but we have produced silver and lead to the value of £66.000,000, copper to the value of £59,000,000, and tin to the value of £30,000,000, while coal is also a big item. There are probably forty or more really good commercial or marketable minerals produced here which should be turned into the finished article here. We ought to be able to do in Australia what is done in other countries, and the present is an exceptionally favorable time for embarking on that course. I have already made my complaints in regard to the iron industry. The honorable member for Herbert did not say that we had reason to be satisfied with the bonus system; he said that it has done some good; but I maintain that it has only done a limited amount of good. Private enterprise has been very slow, for instance, in regard to the development of our iron industry. The bonus of 12s. per ton has done some good in the direction of keeping a certain firm going, but there has not been anything like the development of iron ore that we should have had. There are large deposits of iron ore in different States that should be developed. Making use of our iron ore deposits would be better for us even than the production of gold. I believe that, under the Federal Constitution as it stands, the Commonwealth could take some action in this regard. I have put a question to the Crown Law officials as to whether, under the compulsory resumption provisions of one of our Acts, the Commonwealth could not acquire some of the deposits that exist. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- There is no need to do that. We can get plenty without compulsion. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- Very likely. The Commonwealth is engaged on railway construction and bridge construction, and is putting up buildings in which iron and steel are a very important factor. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- Is there not an offer to the Federal Government by the Tasmanian Government I {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- I understand that, in a recent circular, the Premier of Tasmania made certain proposals to the Prime Minister in the direction of giving very cheap power. He also pointed out that there are iron ore deposits in Tasmania that could be easily worked, and would supply the requirements of the Commonwealth for the next twentyfive or thirty years. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- For the next 250 years. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- The Premier of Tasmania was probably modest in his estimate. If we cannot get the land where these deposits are from those who own it, by grant or otherwise, we can obtain it for public purposes under the compulsory acquisition provisions of our Statutes. Certainly we shall not be permitted to dispose of any of the material to private enterprise, but we could establish works for the manufacture of our own steel rails and the other requirements we must use from time to time. There are. certain private propositions- that I hope will come to fruition. The Zinc Corporation have been considering, at recent meetings, the establishment of works, but, unfortunately for Australia, it is proposed to have the works in England. I hope we shall be able to induce people who are seeking to invest capital in the direction of turning our raw material into the finished article to establish their works here, where the raw material is to be had, and export the finished article from Australia. The establishment of works to treat the by-products from Broken Hill, it is estimated, will cost something like £3,500,000. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- That is nothing when you get a good return. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- That is true. The value of the concentrates sent away from Australia, from 1905 to 1913, was £34,000,000; and the expenditure of £3,500,000 for the erection of works to treat material of that value is not great, while the resulting amount of employment would be considerable. One could dwell at length on the wonderful advantages that would be gained by Australia. In 1904, Canada produced only some 48,000 tons of steel rails, but in 1913 its output had increased to over 1,000,000 tons. The same rapid rate of advancement marks the production of pig iron, and other classes of metal in that progressive country. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- Canada has developed her metal manufactures by a very heavy bounty system. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- I do not know under what system the industry has been established there, but it has certainly made very rapid strides. Canada has in her next-door neighbour one of the keenest competitors that any country could possibly have in the production of steel and iron, but she has been able to develop her metal industries in this way. We should be able to do equally .well, for I question whether any country has the varied and valuable mineral deposits that we possess. The honorable member for Oxley has given notice of a motion on which we shall be able, a little later on, to discuss another branch of the metal industry. Meantime, I hope that this motion, so ably submitted by the honorable member for Herbert, will be carried. The honorable member has supplied us with much valuable information, in a most condensed form, and his speech must have brought conviction to the minds of all who listened to him. We shall do well to adopt this proposal, and so cause the Government to take steps that will make for the immediate extension of the metal industries of Australia. {: #subdebate-15-0-s2 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
Minister of Trade and Customs · Yarra · ALP -- I should be glad if the honorable member fbr Herbert would so amend his motion that it would read as follows: - >That, with a view to increase the number of our ' local industries, the Government be asked to consider the advisability of giving a bonus for the production of tin plates, and that the carrying of this resolution be an instruction to the Government to have an inquiry into the subject, with a view to induce some person or persons to embark in the said industry. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- There would be nothing left of the original motion if it were amended in that way. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- No Government could possibly accept such a motion, or agree to give effect to it without a preliminary inquiry. I congratulate the honorable member for Herbert on his action in bringing forward this question. He will acknowledge, I think, that I have given him every assistance. I directed his attention to an article, appearing in todays' issue of the *Age,* on this very subject, and which, I think, is the best of its kind that has been published in Australia. Neither the honorable member nor the House will lose anything by agreeing to amend the motion in the way that I have suggested. In the course of a few weeks, honorable members will probably have an opportunity to deal with other industries that we have been seeking to encourage by means of bounties. I find that Canada is not giving a bounty on the production of tin plates, nor does the United States of America do so. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- But there is a big duty under the United States Tariff. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- I was about to mention that. So far as the records show, Canada and Australia are the only countries in which bounties have been given in connexion with the production of metal manufactures. Canada has bounties on the production of pig iron, steel, wire rods, and lead - on mines, and on smelters, up to 75 cents per 100 lbs. of lead. In 1910, the United States of America imported 67,400 tons of tin plates; but in the following year the local production of tin plates had so increased that the imports fell away to 14,000 tons; while no less than 62,000 tons were actually exported. I take these figures from the *Journal of Comparative Statistics,* dealing with lead, copper, smelted tin, &c. A very large proportion of the world's production of tin is used in the manufacture of tin plates. The production of tin in Australia is by no means in proportion to our production of other metals. For instance, we are responsible for about 80 per cent. of the world's production of wolfram, and a metal known as molybdenite, which you, **Mr. Speaker,** have mentioned to me more than once. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- And Germany gets the lot. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- It has been exported and purchased largely, I believe, by the Germans. It is used chiefly for the toughening of steel. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- For hardening the German guns! {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- It is quite possible that some of this metal produced in Australia has been used in the manufacture of guns that are at present being turned against the British Empire. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- Does not the same remark apply to copper? {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- I do not think our exports of copper to Germany are as large as are some of our other exports. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- Germany takes nearly all our silicious copper in the form of ore in order to make our people buy dead fluxes. ' {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- I am afraid I am being drawn away from the question immediately before us. I take it that every honorable member has a desire to do his best for Australian industry, and to see that we make the best possible use of our raw material. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- And as early as possible. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- Quite so. With one or two exceptions, the bounties already granted by this Parliament have not been availed of to the extent that was anticipated. Save in the case of the bounties on pig iron and wool-tops, I do not think that more than one-tenth of the amount of the bounties made available has been availed of. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- One Government stopped the bounty on preserved fish. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- The honorable member, about 1909, brought under my notice, as Minister of Trade and Customs, the question of whether the bounty provided for canned fish should be paid on tinned barracoutta. I think that the honorable member for Kooyong, as Minister of Trade and Customs, had refused to pay it. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- It -was being paid, and they were having a royal time. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- It was tinned trumpeter that I spoke of. The bounty was offered, and as soon as people began to earn it, it was taken away. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- That is hardly correct. It was not a Labour Minister that was in power in those days, but I think that the action then taken was right. **Mr. Hoskins,** of Lithgow, has practically drawn the full amount of £150,000 made available by way of bounty on the production of pig iron, while the bulk of the bounty on wool-tops has been drawn by a Sydney firm. A second firm carrying on business in the same district has lately taken a small percentage of it, and I think that some honorable member opposite has taken exception to the use that is being made of that bounty. The object which the honorable member for Herbert has in view in submitting this motion is to ascertain whether it is possible for us to use our raw tin in the production of tin plates in Australia. This matter was brought under my notice by another gentleman only a few days ago. In the course of a visit to the Old Country, he went to South Wales, where practically the whole of the tin plate factories of the United Kingdom are situated, and made inquiries as to what would induce men engaged in the industry there to start works in Australia. He found that the fear was entertained that, although a duty might be imposed on imported tin plates with a view to encourage the industry here, it might not be allowed to remain, with the result that they would not be able to continue operations. The proposal made by some of these people was, I understand, not to use Australian iron ore in the production of tin plates here, but to employ British or Swedish ores; to pickle them and partly roll them in Great Britain, and to complete the process in Australia. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- The great bulk of the work would be done before the plates came here. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- I am not sure as to that; but this serves only to emphasize my contention that the matter should be the subject of inquiry. We all know that the iron bounty was intended to encourage the production of pig iron solely from Australian ore, but it has been found impossible to do that, and sometimes 1 or 2 per cent. of scrap iron is used. Pig iron is worth from 50s. to £3 per ton landed in Australia, and a bonus of 12s. used to be granted. That bounty is not in existence to-day. If we were to grant a proportionate bounty on the value of tin plates, it would mean, as the honorable member for Herbert has stated, a bonus of about £3 per ton. I take it that no Government would propose a bonus unless they were, as far as possible, sure that, in addition to using up our raw material, it would afford employment to a satisfactory degree. Practically the bulk of the work would have to be done in Australia; and our experience under the iron bonus is that, owing to the provision that the iron has to be made of Australian ore, the manufacturer is practically prohibited from using any scrap or other material, though I understand that in the process it is sometimes necessary to use a certain proportion. No Government has a right to ask Parliament to grant a bonus unless there has been full inquiry. If, under a bonus, we were to produce tin plates in the same proportion as we produce pig iron, we should produce about half the requirements of Australia. As I saidin reply to a deputation, I think that the iron industry at Lithgow is entitled to some further assistance, either by way of bonus or some protective duty. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Only the raw material is produced there; there is no manufacture of steel rails, and so forth. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- I think rails are being made there. We must remember that a firm in New South Wales proposes to start an industry for the manufacture of iron and steel rails without any bonus or protective duty. I hope they will succeed, but I feel confident that, without such assistance, they will find it difficult to do so in the open competition of the market. However, they know their own business best, and I do not intend to argue the point with them. {: .speaker-JWC} ##### Mr Carr: -- They have revised their first opinion. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- The honorable member will have an opportunity to give his authority for that statement. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- Is that firm not commencing on the faith of legislation which provides for protective duties at the cessation of the bonus? {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- The honorable member is referring to division 6a of the Tariff, which provides for a duty when the bonus shall cease ; but before there can be a protective duty there must be the sanction of both Houses, and a proclamation has to be issued. It is provided that the proclamation shall be issued as soon as Parliament is satisfied that the manufacture to which it refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, and the proclamation is not to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses setting forth that fact. My own opinion is that such a joint address would be more difficult to pass than even a Tariff. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- I think that, in face of that provision, those concerned are perfectly justified in expecting a duty. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- I am saying nothing to the contrary, but merely pointing oui the method of procedure. In Canada this industry was started without any bonus ; and would it not be wiser to ascertain whether it could not be assisted in some other and better way? The figures for the last five years show that in 1910 we imported tin plates to the value of £355,000; in 1911, to the value of £486,000; in 1912, to the value of £514,000; and in 1913, to the value of £527,000. This is about three times the value of the importations of pig iron. That tin plates vary in value is evident by the fact that, while in 1912 we imported 644,000 cwt., or 32,000 tons, at a cost of £514,000, we last year imported 1,000 tons less at a cost of £13,000 more. Long before 1911, under, I think, the McKinley Tariff, a duty was placed on tin plates in the United States of America, but up to that year there were large importations from South Wales, which is the home of the industry. I suggest that the honorable member should amend his motion to provide for inquiry to be made as to whether it would not be better to give a protective duty instead of a bonus. The honorable member for Franklin shakes his head, and he evidently thinks that a protective duty would raise the prices of tin used in the canning industry here. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- What I mean is that, with a bonus, the price is not increased to the factories, and the bonus is not paid unless the stuff is manufactured, whereas a protective duty increases the price whether it is manufactured or not. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- The tin produced in Australia has probably been exported as ingots and brought back again as tin plates. I have no desire to reflect on past Ministries or Parliaments; but bonuses have been offered which have not been availed of, and which, had further information been available, would not have been granted. It is better to establish one industry on a sound basis than to endeavour to establish twenty or thirty by means of bonuses for which no applications are made or are likely to be made. If the honorable member will amend the motion in the way I have suggested I shall do my best to have an inquiry instituted. While, in the case of some metals, we produce as much as four-fifths of the world's supply, in the case of tin we produce 9,911 tons, or about 9 per cent. of a total production of 126,000 tons. The facts and figures in the following statement may prove of interest to honorable members : - >The production of tin ore (concentrates) in Australia during 1912, the last year for which returns are complete, was 9,011 tons, obtained in the respective States as under: - In the same year the world's output of tin was about 126,199 tons - 100 tons ore concentrates=70 tons metallic tin. The number of persons engaged in tin mining in Australia in 1912 was 7,314, in the respective States as under: - The price of tin reached £228 per ton in October, 1912, but has been down as low as £155 per ton during the last five years (to 1912). Price, to-day's quotations, £138 per ton; £208, June, 1913. Exports from Australia for 1913 - the latest available year - Imports of Tinned Plates during 1913 were : - There are three smelting works in Australia - the Mount Bischoff works in Tasmania, Kelly and Company's works at Newcastle, New South Wales, and the Irvinebank works in Queensland. They treat the bulk of the Australian output, which is equal to about 7,000 tons of metallic tin per annum. Australia's requirements of tin plates I estimate at about 2,500 tons per annum, which is the figure stated in the *Age* this morning. Apparently we import about 30,000 tons of tin plates, but it is possible that part of that quantity comes in under some other head. It is necessary, therefore, to have a full inquiry before proposing any bounty. If the honorable member will amend his motion as I have suggested, I shall be pleased to accept it on behalf of the Government, and I shall do my best to have an inquiry made. {: #subdebate-15-0-s3 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS:
Franklin -- The Minister naturally desires to have an inquiry made before agreeing to the proposed bounty. That is always the attitude of a Minister when a proposal of the kind contained in the motion is brought forward by a private member. In the past I have objected to many proposals for bounties, and to many import duties, on the ground that the industry proposed to be established was barely worth establishing. The industry now under review, however, is a real and substantial one, which would unquestionably give employment to a very large number of Australians, and add considerably to our national wealth. 1 prefer the granting of a bounty to the imposition of a duty for the encouragement of an industry of this kind. A bounty does not increase the cost of the article for the production of which it is given, and which is the raw material of many industries. On the contrary, an import duty does increase the cost of the article on which it is placed, and if the object of the duty is to encourage local manufacture, and that is not begun for ten years, the consumer has to pay a higher price for his raw material for the whole of that time, and gets nothing for doing, so. When a bounty is offered, nothing is paid unless the industry is commenced, and the price of the article manufactured is not increasedThis is one of the most important industries that we could establish in Australia. With the exception of coal, iron, perhaps, gives employment to a larger number of persons in proportion to the worth of the raw material than any other mineral. To produce iron in Sweden, roll it in Great Britain, and dip it in Australia would not be worth doing. Such an arrangement would give so little employment to Australians that it would not be worth giving a bounty to establish the industry. What is needed is to employ our own people in the production of iron and the various manufacturing processes leading up to the dipping. Such an industry would be substantial and worth creating by means of a bounty. The Minister has pointed out that bounties have been offered for a number of industries . which have never been established. Among the first that was proposed by the late **Sir William** Lyne was a bounty for the growing of peanuts. That, with a few kindred idiocies, was rejected, but Parliament agreed to a number of bounties which were not earned for many years afterwards. We have iri Australia iron, coal, and other minerals that are necessary for the establishment of the tin plate industry. I hope that the honorable member for Herbert will accept the amendment which the Minister has suggested, and that the Minister will give this matter, not that perfunctory consideration which is often given to private members' proposals, but earnest consideration, so that Parliament may be able to deal with some proposal before very much time has elapsed. {: #subdebate-15-0-s4 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 .- In my opinion, it would not require the expenditure of £200,000 to establish a tinning plant; I think that an expenditure of £10,000 would be sufficient to make a start. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- The dipping is a very small part of the industry. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Yes. In my opinion, the granting of a bounty is better than the imposition of a duty, because when we grant a bounty we know exactly what it costs to establish the industry, and we do not increase the cost of what is raw material to many manufacturers. I am a Protectionist right up to. the hilt, though I would allow to be admitted free everything that we cannot manufacture in Australia, with the exception, perhaps, of the productions of an enemy's country. But in a case like this under review, I prefer a bounty to an import duty, to prevent the unnecessary increasing of the price of a raw material. In the early stages of an industry, it often suits importers to increase prices, and that should be prevented if possible. By the courtesy of the Minister, I am able to inform the House that in 1913 the value of our importations of iron and steel was - Plate and sheet, galvanized, corrugated, £937,144; galvanized non-corrugated, and corrugated non-galvanized, £1,005,845; and of non-galvanized plain, £483,033; or, in round figures, £2,500,000. Tin is the only metal which, like a member of the vegetable kingdom, suffers from the attacks of a pest; and for that pest chemical science has, so far, provided no remedy. It is this fact that explains why tin objects are rarely found in ancient tombs. The pest that I speak of causes the tin to disappear, whether it be solid or merely used as a covering. I hope that the Minister will see his way to propose a bounty. I am sure that he does not wish to raise revenue at the expense of Australian manufacturers. The offering of a bounty is the most ready way of starting the tin-plate industry. {: #subdebate-15-0-s5 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert .- I am pleased that the House and the Minister have dealt with my motion so sympathetically. I accept the amendment which the Minister has suggested. {: #subdebate-15-0-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- If an amendment is to be moved, it should be moved before the honorable member replies. Perhaps it is the pleasure of the House that the motion be put in the form in which the honorable member desires that it be amended. Honorable Members. - Hear, hear! {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- I desire, then, that my motion be put in these terms - >That, with a view to increase the number oE our local industries, the Government be asked to consider tlie advisability of giving a bonus for the production of tin plates, and that the carrying of this resolution be an instruction to the Government to have an inquiry into the subject with a view to induce some person or persons to embark in the said industry. As to the suggestion that the plates might be manufactured elsewhere, I have given consideration to that, and I think that, in fixing a period of three years within which works may be established, we shall give an opportunity to whoever may desire to engage in this industry to have tests made as to the suitability of our iron ore for the purpose. I am not in favour of a duty on imported plates other than the present duty of 5 per cent., or, rather, I think we might make the duty 5 per cent, against Great Britain, and more against other countries. At present, imports from Great Britain are free, and there is a duty of 5 per cent, on imports from other countries. Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 841 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### MILITARY TRAINING OF CADETS {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER:
Perth -- I move - >That, in the opinion of this House, the military training of cadets should commence at the age of sixteen years instead of fourteen, as at present, and until the age of sixteen is reached the training should consist of physical development exercises and the simpler, evolutions, without military equipment. I am very pleased to have at last reached this motion, which has been on the noticepaper during several sessions. I do not intend to take up much time in discussing the proposal, because I have an idea that it will not be very strongly contested, and there is a possibility of its being accepted by the Government and the House. I say that because I have had favorable indications from various quarters, and even members of the Government have expressed their approval of this proposal. It is regarded on both sides of the House, and, I believe, throughout the country generally, as a very feasible, and proper improvement on the present conditions of compulsory training. At the outset I desire to assure, the Government that I have not the slightest desire to interfere in any way with the efficiency or thoroughness of our system of compulsory training. I am absolutely committed to it, and as long as I am in public life I shall certainly do all in my power to make the system efficient; safeguarding it, and, at the same time, trying to improve it. I think that just in this one respect, which is the subject of the motion, it is open to very considerable improvement. We are spending a very large sum of money, an increasing amount, on our defence. I do not begrudge a single penny of that amount so long as we are getting value for the money. But, of course, in the introduction of a big system like this, it was inevitable that in certain quarters * there should be some misdirected effort and some money expended for which we were not getting full value. In regard, to the training of the Junior Cadets between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, I feel sure we have one of those conditions that do not represent value for the money we are spending. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The honorable member is going to interfere with the very foundations and principles of the defence system. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I can assure the Assistant Minister that I am not going to do anything of the sort. It would be better if the honorable member would wait till I had finished my remarks before judging of what my intentions are. I have obtained from the Defence Department an approximate estimate of the present cost of clothing and equipping these boys, and it amounts to a sum of no less than £44,000. That is a very considerable sum indeed, and I desire the Assistant Minister to observe that it represents only the cost of clothing and equipping the boys ; it does not include the cost of training. I do not object to training these boys. I do not object to the Department keeping in touch with them, but I do object to putting them into military toggery, putting rifles into their hands, and making belief that these poor little kiddies are soldiers - placing them under control of a drill sergeant, and, as I shall show in a few minutes, absolutely doing injury to their constitutions, and, at the same time, creating a disgust with military training, which, in all probability, will remain through life. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- You differ very much from Lord Kitchener. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I do not know that Lord Kitchener has laid down the exact lines upon which this training is proceeding. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- But Lord Kitchener has no boys. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- That may be a fairly good explanation of the situation. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr J oseph Cook: -- I do not think that Lord Kitchener ever expressed an opinion on this phase of the question. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- Exactly. I do not think Lord Kitchener ever recommended to the Government this particular detail of military training. The reason why I made a few inquiries on my own account in regard to this matter was that, in my own electorate, I was approached time and again, after this system of training the boys was put into force, by parents with indignant protests about the way in which their boys came home Saturday after Saturday from the drill to which they were subjected under the compulsory training scheme. I went out one Saturday and saw some of the Junior Cadets in training, and the sight was a revelation to me. The day happened to be unusually hot. The boys were being drilled in a public park in one of the suburbs of Perth, which was not too well grassed, and it had for its soil the usual sand that surrounds the City of Perth. Before the boys had been there long, there was evidence of the strain of the training which the drill sergeants were putting them through. The weaker amongst them were falling out absolutely knocked up, and before the drill had finished' the whole of those boys had degenerated into an absolute rabble, which retained no appearance of drill or military discipline. After seeing that, I made further inquiries in other States, and I found that there was a very general objection on the part of the parents to the drill of the boys under the age of sixteen, an objection that was voiced by parents who were absolutely in favour of the system of training as a whole, but who saw their boys being seriously injured by being put into the hands of drill sergeants, who, in many cases, did their best to handle the lads gently, but in other instances were more concerned to drive them through their exercises in military fashion than to spare them any undue amount of fatigue. In the first place, I object to the uniforms which these boys are clothed in. As a rule, I do not attach much importance to appearances, but to see some of these poor little lads engulfed in the hideous bags they are compelled to wear is simply to see them made into caricatures of soldiers. There is no necessity for a uniform at all for these lads; and, above all, why should rifles be put into their hands; and why should we pretend that they are soldiers at that age? The rifle in itself is a weight for some of the boys to carry. Of course, I know that they are subjected to medical examination, but I repeat again that, on a hot day, even a light rifle is too much for some of them ; and I have seen, in the attitude of the lads,- evidence that the strain is too much for them. In some instances it might be accompanied by serious results to their health. I need only point to the display we had when the Cadets marched through Melbourne a few months ago. Undoubtedly, the sight as a whole was one that aroused enthusi asm; but in some of these companies, composed frequently of undersized boys, and again of boys who have grown too rapidly - although the little fellows did their best to preserve a martial aspect - there was apparent a strain that it is not desirable to continue. Just at the particular age at which these boys are subjected to this drill, they are in a condition in which a strain of an undue character, such as I contend the present form of military training is, may mean a serious injury to them for life. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- That argument was never used when, in earlier days, the lads had to go into factories. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- If it was not used in those days, the more is the pity ; but what has that to do with the point I am trying to make? The Assistant Minister is introducing totally irrelevant matter. So far as I am concerned, all the time I have been in public life, and for many years before I had an opportunity of speaking in Parliament, I strongly opposed the industrial system that pushed boys into factories before they had reached a suitable age. There is one objection, and one *only,* urged by the military authorities to the adoption of the proposal embodied in this motion. It is feared by them that they may get out of touch with the lads between the time of their leaving school and the age at which they commence military training in earnest. They are afraid that it might mean a gap in the scheme, and that it would be a difficult matter to round the boys up again. If I thought there was any risk of that, I would not propose this alteration. I do not for a moment desire that the Department should get out of touch with the boys at all. I desire the Department to retain charge of the boys, but to handle them differently. The motion proposes that the training of boys between the ages of fourteen years and sixteen years should consist of physical development exercises and the simpler evolutions, without military equipment. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- That is the training the boys get in the schools. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- A good deal of that class of training is being done for us gratuitously, and my motion, therefore, will apply only to boys who have left school, whose training has now to be undertaken by the military authorities. I should regard attendance at the drills of boy scouts as equal to the training that I propose in the motion, and I believe that what I propose could be carried out very cheaply, because most of the work of giving instruction in physical development exercises and the simpler evolutions could be done by volunteers such as those who undertake the control of the training of boy scouts. It would be a very popular way of serving one's country among many who are ready to jump at opportunities of that kind. The adoption of the system proposed in the motion would make the training of the boys much more popular among parents, even among the boys themselves. No doubt the majority of parents see very many unpleasant features in the present system of giving military training to boys between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years. In the past these lads have had to drill at night on the streets, and sometimes in mud and rain; and though this defect is being gradually remedied, the practice is still in existence. I object to my boy being out in the streets at the hours at which I have seen these lads being drilled, and under influences that do not tend to the mental, moral, and physical development of the boys. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- Where would they be given their physical exercises? {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I propose that we should continue to carry out the system we are now developing, that is, securing halls where drills can be carried on. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- That will take a long time. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- Why should we not be able to do most of the training on Saturday afternoons? I do not wish to take up all of the spare time these boys have; but the comparatively few drills they are required to attend could easily be held on Saturdays. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- The boys now complain about having their Saturday afternoons taken away from them. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I agree that some may complain on that score, but the boys cannot be absolved from responsibility in this matter. If we are to keep in touch, with them, and to continue to prepare them to be fit soldiers, we must continue the training right through from the time they leave school. Let me repeat that if any of these boys are members of boy scout companies, properly conducted and registered by the Defence authorities, and under the control of scout masters approved of by the Defence authorities, a certain number of attendances at the meetings of these boy scouts should be regarded as training in the terms of my motion. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W Elliot Johnson: -- They need drill-halls. {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- My son is a boy scout, and the training of the company to which he is attached is excellent. Many of the boy scout companies have halls available for the training that they receive. {: .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr Sharpe: -- Would you be agreeable to the boys drilling on a Thursday or a Friday afternoon? {: .speaker-JWG} ##### Mr FOWLER: -- I do not wish to interfere unnecessarily with the present system. I am quite willing to adopt the hours and the number of drills at present in force for boys of the age referred to in the motion, with the proviso that if possible they should not be drilled in the streets at the late hours at which I have seen some of the junior cadet companies being drilled. I have put my case briefly, but I am sure that if honorable members have considered the matter, and are desirous with me of maintaining the efficiency of the present system of training, at the same time removing from the junior cadets an injurious strain upon them, and applying £44,000 in a better way in regard to defence, they will support me in the motion which I now formally submit to the House. {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON:
Lang -- In seconding the motion, I desire to say that, generally, I support the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Perth, because many of my constituents who are parents of boys between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years, have pointed out to me many disabilities under which their boys labour under the present method of training. Apart from the points brought forward by the honorable member for Perth bearing on the distress suffered by some boys who are not as physically strong as others in having to drill burdened with rifles and other military accessories, there is the question of the effect of evil influences at work on the minds of some lads through association with others who have not been brought up perhaps as strictly, especially in connexion with the night drills in streets. *Debate interrupted under sessional order; and sitting suspended from 6.30 to* 745. *p.m.* SUPPLY -(Formal) *.* Belgium Grant - Unemployment - Increase in Pensions - Pensions to Widows - Commonwealth Contributions to Active Service Forces - Military Raids on Business Premises - Conduct of Censorship : Objectionable Play - The Late Lord Roberts - Wheat Supply : Fixation of Price : Alleged Purchase by New South Wales Government - Wireless Telegraphy - Australian Foreign Policy: Domination of Pacific - Financial Situation - Export of Produce : Prohibition - Mining Industry - Telephone Extensions - Wool Industry - Pensions for Widows and Dependants of Men on Active Service - System of Rural Production and Distribution - Public Works in Federal Capital and Northern Territory - Development of Norfolk Island - Navigation Act - German Loan - Employment in Post Offices. Question - That **Mr. Speaker** do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed. {: #subdebate-16-0-s2 .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS:
Cook .- I wish to make some references to the financial situation, and, as arising therefrom, to refer to - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. The Belgium grant; 1. Unemployment ; 2. Increase in pensions; 3. Pensions to widows.- When Supply Bills were under consideration in this House on 9th October last, the following statement, as reported in *Hansard,* page 72, was made by the Prime Minister- {: #subdebate-16-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member will not be in order in quoting from a previous debate of the current session. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- Very well, sir. I shall content myself by referring honorable members to the page in *Hansard* at which the remarks made by the Prime Minister appear. In dealing with a Supply Bill then before the House, the right honorable gentleman stated that the position was fairly critical, that we had enormous expenditure ahead of us, and that a detailed statement of the financial situation could not be made. He said that no mortal man could state what the financial position was. Later on, in the course of the same debate, the Prime Minister, when dealing with the question of unemployment, said- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable mem.beris now going behind my ruling. He is deliberately looking at the copy of *Hansard* in front of him. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- -As it lies on the table at some distance in front of me, I could not read it if I wished to do so. But I wish to give the correct reference. The Prime Minister's statement to which I allude will be found reported at page 79 of *Hansard.* It was to the effect that instructions had been given to the various Departments to go ahead with public works, in order to cope with the trouble of unemployment. The right honorable gentleman said, further, that he knew what the financial situation was, and was able to make that arrangement with his Ministers. {: .speaker-JRP} ##### Mr Boyd: -- I think that he said that he did not know exactly what the financial situation was. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- That is so; but he stated that he felt that he could arrange to provide his Ministers with whatever money they required to push on with public works, in order to relieve unemployment. I give the reference in *Hansard* so that my statements may be checked and verified. When the Belgium grant was before the House, on 14th October last, I indicated that I did not feel altogether comfortable in the vote I was about to give. I said that I felt that we had obligations on our own shoulders in Australia, and that, until some statement of the financial position could be made, I did not think I was justified in voting for the Belgium grant, however much my sympathies might be with the Belgian 23eople. I said, further, that we had contracted obligations, that we had made distinct and deliberate promises, and that I felt that, until it was known that those promises could be honoured, we should be really voting away, not our own, but other people's money in agreeing to the Belgium grant. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I ask the honorable member not to go beyond a casual reference to that matter. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- In the recital of these facts I am leading up to the main question. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I do not wish to hamper the honorable member in any way in the statement that he desires to make, but he will recognise that if I were to allow him to deal with a debate of the current session - to deal with something that has been finally disposed of in this House - I should open the door to the discussion of every other question with which the House had dealt. I ask the honorable member not to go into details in referring to these matters. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- I do not desire to go into details. I wish merely to show that certain statements were made in the House as to the question of unemployment, and, further, to indicate what has since been done in connexion with the matter. It will be seen that the facts show my fears that our obligations to our own kith and kin would not be honoured were justified. It is necessary that I should make these preliminary remarks as leading up to the general questions that I desire to discuss. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -The honorable member may not discuss any motion that has been dealt with, or of which contingent notice has been given. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- I have no desire to do so. During the debate on the Belgium grant, I indicated my position with regard to the several items which I mentioned on rising this evening. I stated I felt bound to vote as I did in the absence of information as to our financial position and our prospects of honoring our election pledges. The Attorney-General, as reported in *Hansard,* page 150, then said that the present Government was returned for the express purpose of attending to matters affecting working men. He was referring to the question of unemployment, and he declared that if the Government could not deal with it, they ought to give way to some other Administration. I had been making an effort, prior to these statements in the House, to secure employment for persons in my own electorate - personal friends, whom I had known for years, and who are some of the best supporters that the Labour movement has. {: .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr Sharpe: -- What is the State of New South Wales doing? {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- It is doing magnificent work in dealing with the unemployment problem. Great credit is due to the Holman Government for the courageous way in which they are tackling some of the big problems arising out of the war. Whatever may be done by State Governments, however, we must not forget that we have our own responsibilities. A State Government is not in such a good position as we are to deal with these matters. The Commonwealth has the control of the whole currency of Australia, and has at its disposal means which no single State, or aggregation of States, has. The Commonwealth is the sole financial authority to-day. No State can borrow except through the national power. With our comparatively unlimited financial resources, we seem to think we are doing our duty by referring national calamities to dependent States. General statements, that money was being provided in all Departments for public works, that work was being found for men, and that everything was going on all right, have been made for weeks past by Ministers. But when I tried to ascertain where I could advise men to make application for employment, I found that I was very much in the position of a man who chases his own shadow. I propose to give some proof of my statements, as this is the only opportunity I have to bring this matter prominently before honorable members, in the hope that something will be done to remedy the situation. On 22nd October, with the object of following up this matter, I communicated with the head of each Department. Prime Minister's Department. In the first place, I wrote as follows to the Prime Minister - Melbourne, 22nd October, 1914 Dear **Mr. Fisher,** - Almost daily I have letters from men in need of work. I understand that orders have been given to the Departments to put in hand works that are necessary. I should be glad to have particulars of any such works within your knowledge, so that I may direct applicants for employment. I should also like to know if there is any expansion of employment under the Public Service Commissioner f I would suggest that members may be notified of any men required under the Public Service Commissioner from time to time, and the necessary steps to be taken re applications in each case during this time of unemployment. - Thanking you in anticipation, yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts. I received the following reply: - Melbourne, 24th October, 1914. Dear **Mr. Catts,** - I am in receipt of your letter of yesterday on the subject of unemployment, and have asked my colleagues to furnish you with the information you desire with regard to public works. Works have been authorized in all Departments during nur term in office. - Yours faithfully, Andrew Fisher A further letter, dated 5th instant, was received by me as follows: - Melbourne, 5th November, 1914 Dear **Mr. Catts,** - In continuation of my letter of the 24th October, on the subject of unemployment, I desire to inform you, as regards the Public Service, that any temporary assistance required by Departments is obtained by selection from the list of applicants registered at the offices of the Public Service Inspectors in the various States. The Commissioner states that sufficient applicants are available for any temporary work which may be required. Any person at present unemployed may register for the work for which he deems himself suitable, and he will be considered in his turn. As selection should be made, under the law, in order of registration, it would seem that no good purpose would be secured by notifying members of Parliament in any case whenit is necessary to employ temporary assistance. - Yours faithfully, Andrew Fisher So much for the Prime Minister's Department. The letters are delightfully vague, and do not disclose where one man may obtain work. Attorney-General's Department. - I wrote as follows to the AttorneyGeneral - Hon. W. M. Hughes, AttorneyGeneral. Dear **Sir, -** I understand from statements of the Prime Minister that Commonwealth public works are being put in hand. As I have applications from men wanting work, I shall be glad if you know of any work going on where applicants may be directed that you will let me know. - Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts. All these letters to Ministers were dated 22nd October. The reply I received from the Attorney-General waa as follows: - Melbourne, 23rd October, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear **Sir, -** I have yours of the 22nd instant, in which you ask that a schedule of Commonwealth Public Works be supplied you in order that you may know where applicants in your constituency desiring employment may apply, and in reply to inform you that I am asking the Home Affairs, External Affairs, PostmasterGeneral's, and Defence Departments to supply me with such a schedule. As soon as this comes to hand I will let you have it. - Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="W"} 0. M. Hughes. No further information from this Department has come to hand. {: #subdebate-16-0-s4 .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- I quoted the remarks of the Attorney-General in regard to this question in opening my speech, and, as he is Deputy Leader, thought he might have information at his disposal. I wrote as follows to the Minister of Defence : - >Dear **Senator Pearce,** - I have applications almost daily from men wanting work. I understand from statements made by the Prime Minister that works are being put in hand in your Department, and that he is willing to' find all the money you require. Will you kindly let me know what work is being put in hand, and where it is located ? Also, kindly let me know the name of the officer in each case to whom application for employment may be made. - Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts. The reply I received was - Melbourne, 24th October, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear **Sir, -** I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd instant, asking for certain information in connexion with works being undertaken by this Department, &c., which is receiving attention, and you will be further communicated with in due course. - Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="S"} 0. A. Pethebridge, Secretary. On 27th October I received a further reply as follows: - Melbourne, 27th October, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear **Sir, -** With further reference to your letter of the 22nd instant, relative to applications received by you from men in search of employment, I am directed to inform you that, with the exception of certain Naval works, works required to be performed for this Department are carried out by the Department of Home Affairs, which Department, together with the Naval Board, have been asked to supply the information you desire. - Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="T"} 0. Trumble, for Secretary. I also received (yesterday, 19th November) the following further communication, dated 13th November: - Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear **Sir, -** In continuation of my letter of the 27th ultimo, regarding certain Naval works, I am directed to inform you that the follow ing are now in progress, and if those desirous of employment submit their applications to the addresses mentioned, same will receive due consideration : - Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="T"} 0. Trumble, for Secretary. This morning I forwarded the following telegram to the gentleman named - General Manager, Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney Have you any vacancies for men? Please reply, urgent. {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 19.11.14. The reply was as follows - >Your wire *re* vacancies for men; we have not many at present, and the local supplies are ample for our wants stop. Number ninetyone. King Salter Then I wired - District Naval Officer, Fremantle, W.A Have you any vacancies for men? Please reply, urgent. {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 19.11.14. The reply was - >Please apply to Navy Office, Melbourne, for information *re* vacancies for naval men in this district. Naval I tried to get into communication with the Director of Naval Works in Melbourne by telephone, but was unable to do so, and, therefore, I sent an urgent telegram this morning. It would appear that, although I could get an answer from Western Australia, it was not possible to get one from Little Collins-street, MelbourneThe telegram I sent was as follows - >Director Naval Works, 430 Little Collins-street, Melbourne. > >Have you any vacancies for men? Could not getyou on 'phone. {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 19.11.14. There was no reply to that telegram. It will be seen that the Minister referred me to the officer at Fremantle, by whom I was directed to communicate with the official in Victoria, and that the latter apparently had no time to reply to me. Cockatoo Dock. With further references to the Defence Department, I may say that, on finding that there was no employment to be obtained at Cockatoo Island, though the men there were working overtime, I submitted the following note to the Minister of Defence - Melbourne, 22nd October, 1914 Senator Pearce, Minister for Defence, Melbourne Dear Sir, Recently I tried to secure employment for a skilled mechanic at the Cockatoo Dock, Sydney, and was informed by the manager that there were no vacancies. At the same time, I learned that the nien at the dock were working overtime. I think it is a fair thing if this overtime were abolished, especially at the present time, so the men who need work urgently may get a chance. Will you kindly look into the matter? That letter was acknowledged on the 22nd October, and a fuller reply reached me yesterday, as follows - Department of Defence, Navy Office, Melbourne, 18th November, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear Sir, With further reference to your letter of 22nd instant, stating that you had been advised that men at the Commonwealth Dockyard, Cockatoo Island, were working overtime, I am desired to inform you that, wherever possible, the men at the dockyard are employed in three shifts of eight hours each, in order to give employment to as many men as possible. The general manager ofthe dockyard reports that the names of applicants for employment are entered in a roster kept for the purpose, and, as vacancies occur, men are taken on - other things being equal - according to their order on the roster. Yours faithfully Geo. H. Macandie, Naval Secretary It will be seen that really there was no information whatever in the whole of the letters received from the Naval Secretaries, Directors of Works, and so forth. Postmaster-General's Department. I now turn to the Postmaster-General's Department, in reference to which I sent the following letters to the PostmasterGeneral - Melbourne, 22nd October, 1914 Hon. W. G. Spence, Postmaster-General, Melbourne Dear Mr. Spence, - I have applications almost daily from men wantingwork. I understand from statements made by the Prime Minister that works are being put in hand in your Department, and that he is willing to find all the money you require. Will you kindly let me know what work is being put in hand and where it is located? Also will you kindly inform me the name of the officer in each case to whom applications for employment may be made? On the 23rd I received the following reply Melbourne, 23rd October, 1914. Dear Mr. Catts, I have received your letter of the 20th instant, asking that you be furnished with particulars regarding the works being put in hand by this Department. I am referring the letter to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, and am instructing him to furnish you, without delay, with the desired information so far as your electorate is concerned. Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="W"} 0. G. Spence. So far as my electorate is concerned, I could have (informed the honorable gentleman before he wrote that there are no works of any sort going on there, and, in any case, I did not ask for information in regard to my electorate, but in regard ' to works going on throughout Australia. However, I duly received the following reply from Sydney - Deputy Postmaster-General's Office, Sydney, Nov. 6, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Sir, With reference to your communication of the 22nd ultimo, addressed to the Honorable the Postmaster-General, regarding applications received by you from persons desirous of employment, I have to intimate that, as your electorate is in the metropolitan area, the only employment likely to be available would be in connexion with ordinary line work and undergrounding works. Applicants should register their names with the Commonwealth Public Service Inspector for New South Wales, The Banking House, Pitt-street, Sydney, and any application for temporary employment made to the Acting Engineer for Lines will receive consideration in its turn. Yours faithfulty, {: type="A" start="W"} 0. Whtsall. Acting Deputy Postmaster-General External Affairs. The Department of External Affairs was the next to receive attention. I wrote as follows - Melbourne, 22nd October, 1914 Hon. J. A. Arthur, Minister for External Affairs, Melbourne Dear Sir, I have applications almost daily from men wanting work. I understand, from statements made by the Prime Minister, that works are being put in hand in your Department, and that he will find all the money you require. Will you kindly let me know what work is being put in hand, and where it is located? Also will you kindly let me know the name of the officer in each case to whom applications for employment may be made? Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts. P.S. - I am directing this letter to the Secretary to your Department, as you are unfortunately ill. - J.H.C. The following was the reply - Melbourne, 23rd October, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear Sir, With reference to your note of the 22nd, addressed to **Mr. Arthur,** I think the remarks of the Prime Minister to which you refer must have been made with regard to some other Department, probably the Home Affairs. This Department is not undertaking new works to any extent at the present time. Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="H"} 0. Mahon. There was the following further letter from the External Affairs Department on the 4th November - Melbourne, 4th November, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear Sir, I have to inform you that **Mr. Fisher** recently forwarded an extract from your communication to him regarding the possibilities of obtaining employment in connexion with works being carried out by the various Departments, and now desire to state that there are at present no openings of any description in the Northern Territory or Papua, which Territories are under the administration of this Department. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. It would, however, be advisable for persons who are desirous of proceeding to either of the Territories in question to submit applications stating their ages, and setting out fully their qualifications and experience. The applications should be accompanied by copies of testimonials. The claims of the respective applicants will then be noted for consideration in the event of suitable vacancies occuring at any time for which they appear eligible. Yours sincerely, {: type="A" start="H"} 0. Mahon. I appreciate the correspondence from the Assistant Minister of External Affairs, because it is certainly definite. It is characteristic. I would rather have a definite statement that nothing is being done, or can be done, than a general statement that something is being done, when subsequent investigation gives no tangible results. Customs Department. Now, as to the Department of Trade and Customs, I wrote as follows - House of Representatives, Melbourne, October 22nd, 1914 Hon. F. Tudor, Minister for Customs, Melbourne Dear Sir, I have applications almost daily from men in need of work. I understand from statements made recently by the Prime Minister that he was willing to find the money for all the Departments to put works in hand. Will you kindly let me know if any such works have been put in hand in your Department, and, if so, where? Also to whom applications for employment may be made. I received the following reply - Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne, 26th October, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear Sir, In reply to your letter of the 22nd instant, I beg. to inform you that, with the exception of lighthouse construction work now being carried out on the Queensland coast, all works for this Department are under the control of the Department of Home Affairs. Several quarantine works are now in course, but, as mentioned above, these are controlled by the Department of Home Affairs. Yours faithfully, Frank G. Tudor It is rather curious to speculate as to what would become of an application for employment addressed " Certain Federal Works, Queensland Coast." Home Affairs. We now come to the old Department of Home Affairs, to which we are referred by the other Ministers. I wrote as follows - House of Representatives, Melbourne, October 22nd, 1914. Hon. W.O. Archibald, Minister for Home Affairs, Melbourne Dear Sir, I have applications almost daily from men wanting work. I understand from statements made by the Prime Minister that works are being put in hand in your Department, and that he is willing to find all the money you require. Will you kindly let me know what work is being put in hand, and where it is located? Also will you kindly inform me the name of the officer to whom applications may be made in each case? This is the reply - Department of Home Affairs, Melbourne, 26th October, 1914 Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., Melbourne Dear Sir, In acknowledgment of your communication of the 22nd instant, regarding the work being carried on by this Department, I have to advise that the large day-labour works are being executed at Canberra and Jervis. Bay. There are also various smaller works being done under the Works Directors, New South Wales and Victoria. Application for employment should be made as follows: - Canber ra. - To the Supervising Engineer, Canberra, Federal Territory. Jervis Bay. - The Resident Engineer, Royal Naval College, Jervis Bay New South Wales. - The Works Director, Customs House, Sydney Victoria. - The Works Director, 151 Collinsstreet, Melbourne In addition, many workmen are being employed on the east-west railway construction works, and applicants are engaged by the resident engineers at Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. Yours faithfully, W.O. Archibald, Minister for Home Affairs I immediately wired as follows - Supervising Engineer, Canberra, N.S.W Have you any vacancies for men? {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts. Commonwealth Offices, Sydney. 29th October, 1914 {: #subdebate-16-0-s5 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I have followed the honorable member for Cook, and I take it that he is merely elaborating the case he intends to put forward. {: #subdebate-16-0-s6 .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- The honorable member for Henty, who sits there grinning like an ape, apparently thinks that the troubles of thousands of men out of work are a matter for levity. Personally, I do not so regard my obligations to the men who sent me to Parliament. The answer to the wire was as follows - **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. Labourers applying on works are being engaged at present. . Supervising Engineer, Canberra, 31.10.14. I again wired - Supervising Engineer, Canberra. How many vacancies have you? Could you not accept men from Sydney approved by, say, Works Director? Impossible send men up on chance. {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts. 2.11.14. The reply was as follows - **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. Sufficient number of men for all requirements are applying on works. Supervising Engineer, Canberra, 3.11.14. I sent the following wire - Resident Engineer, Royal Naval College, Jervis Bay, N.S.W. Have you any vacancies for men ? {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 29.10.14. This was the reply - **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. No vacancies for men, works tailing out. Jeffrey, Jervis Bay, 30.10.14. I wired to the Supervising Engineer of the transcontinental railway at Port Augusta - Supervising Engineer, Transcontinental Railway, Port Augusta, S.A. Have you any vacancies for men? {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 29.10.14. The reply was - **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. Sorry have no vacancies for men. Supervising Engineer, Port Augusta, 30.10.14. I sent the following wire - Supervising Engineer, Transcontinental Railway, Kalgoorlie, W.A. Have you any vacancies for men? {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 29.10.14. The reply was - **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. Please do not, on any account, send any men here. Saunders, Kalgoorlie, 30.10.14. I wired to the Director of Commonwealth Works, Melbourne - Commonwealth Works Director, Melbourne. Have you any vacancies for men? {: type="A" start="J"} 0. H. Catts, 20.10.14. The reply was - Bourke-street East, Melbourne. **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. No vacancies; 830 registered and waiting call. Works Director, Victoria. 30.10.14. I wired the authorities at the Customs House, Sydney - Commonwealth Works Director, Customs House, Sydney. Have you any vacancies for men? {: type="a" start="j"} 0. H. Catts, 20.10.14. The reply, by letter, was awaiting me in Sydney next day, as follows - Public Works Branch, Customs House, Sydney, 30th October, 1914. **Mr. J.** H. Catts, M.H.R., Sydney. **Sir,** In reply to your telegram, which was only received this morning owing to interruption to lines, I have to inform you that just at the present moment I am not putting on any fresh hands; furthermore, that the custom of the Department when taking on men is to apply to the union secretaries to send the number required in the different trades, in accordance with the policy of the Ministry, that, all things being equal, preference should be given to unionists. I am, sir, yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="C"} 0. H.N. Todd, Acting Works Director, N.S.W. The point of the letter is that no fresh hands have been put on, and this seems to be the result of the whole correspondence. Some additional employment has been necessary in the Defence Department, due to activity connected with the Avar. But I can find no evidence of the calamity of unemployment being dealt with by public works being put in hand. I am referred to various persons in different parts of the Commonwealth, and all my communications bring forth practically the same answer - " For Heaven's sake, do not send any men, because there are no vacancies; we have more men than we know what to do with." Further questions. Last Friday I put on the notice-paper some questions which I intended to ask on Wednesday. That gave the Department several days in which to obtain the information which I sought. The question had to do with the relief of unemployment and the allocation of money by the various Departments. I asked the Prime Minister several questions, which are recorded in the *Hansard* report of yesterday's proceedings. The right honorable gentleman answered those questions in part, but he told me personally that he had not been able to get information in regard to the details of the money that had been allocated to the various Departments. The following are the questions and answers: - {: .page-start } page 851 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### UNEMPLOYMENT {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister, as Commonwealth Treasurer, has offered to provide his Ministers with funds to proceed with works in their Departments, in order to provide work for the unemployed? 1. Have any Ministers availed themselves of this offer? 2. If so, will he state the names of such Ministers and the amount of money requisitioned and provided in each case? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- I can answer the first part of the honorable member's question. Money has been found for Ministers for works that can be profitably proceeded with in order to relieve unemployment as far as is consistent with the interests of the Commonwealth. The particulars are not available at the present time. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr j H CATTS: asked the Minister of Home Affairs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Have any works been put in hand in the Home Affairs Department additional to those in hand when the Minister took office? 1. If so, where are these works located, and how many additional men are employed in each case? 2. What was the total number of men employed by the Home Affairs Department on 30th September, and what is the total number at present employed ? {: #subdebate-17-0-s2 .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD:
ALP -- To afford the information in regard to all the works being carried out throughout the Commonwealth would be a large undertaking, but I will obtain the particulars in regard to the principal works in each State and lay them on the table of the House. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr j H CATTS: asked the PostmasterGeneral, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Have any works been put in hand in the Postmaster-General's Department additional to those in hand when the Minister took office? 1. If so, what additional men have been employed and where? {: #subdebate-17-0-s3 .speaker-KUF} ##### Mr SPENCE:
ALP -- The answer to the honorable member's first question is "Yes." In regard to his second question, I cannot give the information without getting reports from all over the Commonwealth, which would take a considerable amount of time and involve additional work on staffs already fully occupied. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr j H CATTS: asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Have any works been put in hand in the Defence Department additional to those in hand when the Minister took office? 1. If so, what additional men have been employed, and where? {: #subdebate-17-0-s4 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follow: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes; but the works so put in hand are, with the exception of some naval works, carried out by the Home Affairs Department. 1. Ninety-eight at Flinders Naval Base, and sixty-one at Henderson's Naval Base. I think that the information forwhich I asked the Postmaster-General and the Minister of Home Affairs could have been obtained within three or four days, and that the Department could have informed me what was the total number of men employed on the 30th September, and what was the total number employed on the last pay day. The Pay Branch should be able to give that information within an hour. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- If it cannot be obtained, there is something lacking in the accountancy. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- There is something radically wrong. I could go to the Railways Department in New South Wales, where the number of men employed is as great as the number of men employed in the whole Commonwealth Service, and obtain within ten minutes the number of men employed on any one day in comparison with the number employed on any other day. Unless the Departments do not desire to give definite information, it seems to me that the excuse that it cannot be obtained without an extraordinary amount of extra work is a weak one. It is now a month since Parliament voted the grant to Belgium, when we were told that work could be given to relieve unemployment. A member representing a large constituency does not ask too much when he desires to be informed what public works are being pone on with, what money is being made available, and where men can be recommended to apply for employment. Until now all my efforts to obtain the information that I desire have been without avail. One reason why I brought this matter forward is that in my electorate large numbers of men are out of work. I have done my best for them. It is impossible for me to send to them copies of the correspondence which I have received, but I can refer them to the *Hansard* re cord, to show them that it is not because of any want of attention on my part to their difficulties that better answers have not been given to them. Those who are out of employment are not men of the unemployable class. In several parts of my electorate the men who are out of work were in charge of the political campaign in their district. They are men of superior qualifications and intelligence. That applies to the man who was in charge of the political work in the Camdenville subdivision of my electorate, and to the man who had charge of the political campaign in the South Annandale subdivision, to the man who was in charge in Camperdown, and to a number of leading men in charge of parts of subdivisions of Newtown and other districts.It applies also to other men in the division. I do not wish to mention names, but I could give names of men well known to those acquainted with the Labour movement in the metropolitan district of Sydney. Several men who were prominent in the movement, and who are capable of doing the highest class of work, are prepared to handle the pick and shovel, and to do anything to make an honest living; but they cannot get any tiling to do. The honorable members for Riverina and Melbourne, who sit by me, inform me that it is the same in their divisions, and in every electorate. No doubt that is true. We have sent, or have arranged to send nearly 50,000 men to the theatre of war, and the army of the unemployed has been relieved to that extent. What the condition of affairs would have been otherwise, it is difficult to imagine. There is a huge army of unemployed in Australia. The dislocation of our industries was to be expected, but there are ways of tiding over the difficulties that have arisen. The Commonwealth, I am told by the Prime Minister, has financial resources which enable it to undertake works in various Departments, and this is the time to go on with such works. A few days ago I ascertained from the Minister of Home Affairs on the floor of the House that the competition for designs for the parliamentary building to be erected at the Federal Capital is not to be proceeded with until the war is finished. It appears that one or two architects are away at the front, and the matter is therefore to be held over, which will mean a delay of three or four years. Then everything will be started over again, and that notwithstanding the fact that persons all over the world have been invited to send in designs, and that some of them have probably commenced the preparation of plans. *Now* everything is broken off, and the whole scheme is thrown into the meltingpot. The late Government brought from America **Mr. Griffin,** whose design for the planning of the Federal City was regarded as the best. He modified his design to meet the views of departmental officers, and schedule No. 17, issued by the Home Affairs Department last' February, informed us that the amended design of the lay-out of the Capital had been adopted. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- The Minister who was in charge bears me out. Now I understand that it has been thrown into the melting-pot again, and some new layout is to be arranged. This is trifling with the subject. If there is opposition to the project, there should be an end to it. We ought to be able to go ahead with some concrete, definite, and continuous policy. There is work on which 5,000 men could be profitably employed, and unemployment is rampant throughout Australia. Not only has the layingout of the Capital been postponed for an indefinite number of years, but we are losing an opportunity to profitably employ men who are now out of work. Increase in old-age pensions. Another matter to which I wish to refer is the increasing of the pensions to old-age pensioners. Our ' constituents were promised, before the last election, that those pensions would be increased. I made that promise from every platform in my electorate, and the AttorneyGeneral gave point to it. The promise was definitely made, particularly in New South Wales. We are absolutely bound to increase the old-age pensions. I have a budget of letters from old-age pensioners in my electorate, men and women, reminding me that the promise was made, and asking that effect be given to it. Any member may see them. I do not wish to trespass on honorable members' patience to read them.- They wish to know what will be done in the matter. I have a letter, written by the honorable member for Lang to a lady who is an old-i age pensioner, which shows the position in which our Liberal friends are placing Labour supporters in regard to this mat:,ter. This is what the honorable gentle-: man wrote - Melbourne, .3.11.14. Dear Madam, - Your letter of yesterday is to hand. Unfortunately, the Liberal Party, were defeated at the elections, so the matter of increasing the old-age pensions is not now in their hands. I hope the Labour Government, for whom most of the old-age pensioners in the district voted, -will do something in the matter, and increase the pensions, as the Liberals would have done at the first favorable opportunity. I will ask **Mr. Fisher,** the Treasurer, what he proposes to do about it. Yours truly, {: type="A" start="W"} 0. E. Johnson. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W Elliot Johnson: -- I asked him, and he did not tell me. {: #subdebate-17-0-s5 .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- I find from the *Hansard* report that the honorable member did ask the Treasurer what he pro. posed to do in regard to increasing old- age pensions. Widows' pensions. I have also several letters from widows with families who are in acute distress. They ask me what canbe done to relieve them, and remind me of the promises made to the constituents. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- The elector to whom the letter just read is addressed had evidently been a Labour supporter, and has become a Liberal supporter. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- The writer was a constituent of mine who moved into the Lang division. After receiving this letter from the honorable member for Lang, who is her representative, she communicated with me. I do not complain of the letter. No doubt, had positions been reversed, I should have written a similar letter. I do not see anything objectionable at all in the honorable gentlemans letter. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W Elliot Johnson: -- I should . think not. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- At the same time, I would like to know what is being done in these various matters. In regard to unemployment, I would like some fair and square treatment, some straight statement, from some representative of the Government, or from various Ministers, as to what is being done in their Departments. The Prime Minister stated that he was "prepared to. find money, so that his Ministers could go ahead with public works which would provide employment. That is, not only to find employment for those already employed, but to find employment for additional men. If the Prime Minister make3 such a statement on the floor of the House, and it is repeated elsewhere, surely if the Ministers cannot find the means of spending the money with which they are provided it is a reflection on them. Ministers have all sat here throughout my speech, and I think I am entitled, on behalf of my constituents, to a reply or an explanation. An Honorable Member. - What works do you suggest? {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- The works of the Federal Capital could be gone on with. These include the laying out of the city, the building of roads, bridges, and buildings, and the necessary connexion by rail with Jervis Bay on the one side and Yass on the other. Developmental works are needed, and have been approved, for the Northern Territory, and unless we do something to open up that area by public works it will be impossible to make the Territory pay. It will continue to be a drag on us, and a severe drain upon our revenues. We know that considerable expenditure is necessary in order to bring the Postal Department up to date and to provide for the requirements of the people. Then there is the unification of railway gauges - an urgent matter. There is no difficulty in making some arrangement about the carrying on of public works, as far as I can see. The officers of the Department are no doubt a difficulty. An officer enters his office at 10 o'clock in the morning, and goes off duty at 4 o'clock. He gets an inquiry as to whether such-and-such a work can be proceeded with. He marks the inquiry on to another officer; in due time it is taken, from his basket and handed to the second officer, who transmits it to a third officer. So the system goes on, and probably, in a month's time, the officers get to grips with the question at issue. Those men in comfortable positions ought to see that in a time of stress like this urgent action is necessary in order to provide for the unemployed." But we must insist upon Ministers shouldering their responsibilities and producing tangible results in their Departments. I would have preferred this session to have been absolutely nonparty. The difficulties, both financial and industrial, arising from the war, particularly during the first few months, and the consequent disruption of industry and commerce, afforded sufficient work to justify both sides joining together in a free and frank discussion and united effort on the floor of the House, in order to devise means, to meet the special circumstances. My party has decided otherwise, and I must loyally accept the majority's view. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
INDI, VICTORIA · ALP -- Do you not want the Referenda Bills put through? {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- Certainly I want the referenda, but it is of no use talking about the referenda when thousands of men out of employment are tramping the streets. If we could go ahead with this urgent work, and proceed with party legislation at the same time, I would not object. But I have had correspondence with all the Departments, extending over a month, and I find' it impossible to get any definite information. There does not appear to be any definite information. It appears that Ministers are so occupied in dealing with a multitude of questions that they are not able to afford the time to deal with these more urgent matters of vital national concern which gravely affect all classes of the community in one way or another. If we had allowed these other questions of party politics to stand over until next year, and this short session before Christmas had been devoted exclusively to dealing with the consequences of this dreadful war, I have no doubt that in a free and frank way, without party divisions, we should have been able to do more than we have done. It seems to me that, from the point of view of those who represent Labour, it is particularly necessary that this should be done; and if honorable members sitting in Opposition represent the moneyed classes, it is in their interests also that something should be done, because property must depreciate if thousands of men are out of work. Men cannot pay their rents and their butcher's bills if they have no employment, and, therefore, it must be to the interests of those representing capital to see that the people are kept in employment, and that there is no depreciation in the values of property, stocks, and shares, and the various other interests that can thrive only if the great working population of the community is prosperous. For that reason it seems to me that it would have been better if we could have devoted ourselves exclusively to those urgent matters. I find no pleasure in having to refer to this subject by way of subdued complaint. It would have been much more palatable to me if I had not to speak in this way, but I have a responsibility to a large constituency, and I am asking for definite information. Forty thousand qualified electors and their families look to me to do all I can to safeguard their interests. Probably because my constituency is a metropolitan area, and I, as its member, am more readily accessible to the constituents than the members for the larger electorates, this matter is more acute to me in my relations with my constituents than it is to those other honorable members. At any rate, so far as I am concerned, these are the allimportant questions in my electorate at the present time, and I take up the words of the Attorney-General, who said that we were here to deal with the interests of the working man, that it is our imperative duty to do so, and that we can do it. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- And that all party questions were dead. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H CATTS: -- I may tell the honorable gentleman that I, personally, was agreeable to that statement being made, and I would have been very pleased if these more pressing matters which are racking the vitals of the people could have taken priority over matters of contention. I am not one of those who refuse to recognise the ability of honorable gentlemen on the other side. We have able men on this side of the House, and there are some extremely able men on the Opposition side, and I should like to see the best brains of the House come together to try to deal with this far-reaching problem of unemployment, which is of such pressing urgency to the rank and file of the community. I do not mention the matter in any carping spirit, or with any desire to have a wrangle with anybody, but I have" felt that, owing to the pressing applications from my own district, the responsi bility is upon me to show what I am doing in this matter. Honorable members who have been in the Commonwealth Offices in Sydney know that I have had sometimes eighteen and twenty persons waiting for me on my arrival in Sydney on the Saturday morning, and thosepeople were all looking for work. They write to me, and I tell them I will make inquiries. They call on me, and I tell them I will make inquiries. I promise to write to them, and all I am able to say is that I have nothing further to tell them, and that, at present, there does not appear to be any opening for them. That is repeated time and again, and they begin to look for something more definite. They put the responsibility on me, but I have done my best to urge that these things should be attended to, and I, in turn, am compelled to show that the responsibility is not mine. I thank honorable members for listening to me in such numbers) as are present, patiently, silently, and sympathetically. I only wish that some explanation could be made, so that I could give a satisfactory answer to those people who sent me here. {: #subdebate-17-0-s6 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 .- For over a score of years I have been connected with the unemployed trouble. I regret to say that there is a very severe unemployment difficulty in Melbourne at the present time, and what I do object to is the number of places at which men and women are compelled to register in order to obtain work. My friend, the Leader of the Opposition, knows that I brought the matter under his notice, and he thought, with me, that there should be one office at which any one who wanted work could register. Unfortunately, notwithstanding all the honorable gentleman's good intentions, that idea has not been given effect to. The Leader of the present Government is also in sympathy with that proposal, and when I read out the numberof places to which I have to send people who are in want of work honorable members will agree that some central registration office is necessary. I may say, in passing, that the honorable member for Henty is quite in sympathy with me, and he has done his duty whenever I have sent persons to him. Of these various places for making application for work, there is, first of all, the Labour Bureau, at the corner of King and Bourke streets. Applicants for work register there, and, perhaps, their names are on the- books for two years without their receiving a call. Then there is the Office of the Public Service Commissioner pf the Commonwealth. The inspector, **Mr. Edwards,** does everything a man can do; but I have letters in my pos- session showing that men have been registered there for three years without getting a call. Is it any wonder that when human beings go there time after time, and are repeatedly told to register, they say, "What is the good?" There is the Office of the Victorian Public Service Commissioner, at the rear of the Treasury. My heart is always sick when I have to send anybody there. Certainly I fill up the names on the back of the application forms, as any man would do, but one knows in his own heart that he is only fooling the applicant in sending him there. And there is the Office of the Department of External Affairs, where men can register for any employment that may be offering in the Northern Territory or Papua. There is the Office of the Commonwealth Works Director, at 151 Collins-street, formerly in charge of **Mr. Hill,** but now controlled by **Mr. Mackennal,** brother of the famous sculptor. In Elizabeth-street, above Brooks, Robinson's store, there is an office where they agister applicants for work in one portion of the Postal Department. There is another office in the Defence Department. There are the Harness Factory, the Clothing Factory, the Cordite Factory, and the Melbourne Town Hall. If ever there was a piece of humbug taking place, it is the proceedings at the Melbourne Town Hall. Men may register there with the City Treasurer and the City Electrician, but the Greek Kalends will have come and gone before any of the applicants will receive a call. There is the Melbourne Harbor Trust, -and for positions as caretakers there is the Melbourne Customs House. Now I turn to the position of the women who are looking for employment in the capacity of cleaners. How many places must they be registered in? I have become tired of giving them letters to these various places, knowing that it is playing the fool the whole damned time. {: #subdebate-17-0-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I withdraw the word. But I get tired of giving them letters to go looking for work. Now I burden the Secretary to the Prime Minister by asking him to send letters to the Departments, so that these people may be registered. Why should there not be one place where all unemployed persons could register? The late Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister both agreed that it could be done. I am very glad to be able to congratulate the honorable member for Cook on the systematic way in which he is approaching this matter, and I am sure that his speeches will be read at the meeting of unemployed, where there are many men whose hands are hard, and who are willing to work, but whose hearts are grievous, for they have not the means to pay their tradesmen or their landlords. What course must the women' take in the States ? They must go to a ladies' benevolent society. The majority of the ladies connected with the societies are women in every sense of the word, though some of them are only worthy of being called cats, and their scope is limited by the State clipping off 2s. here or 3s. there. I invite any honorable member who doubts my statement to come to my rooms at 10 o'clock any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday morning, and see the names that I have there. The splendid system of old-age pensions has certainly removed one of the most pitiable effects of such times as these in the case of aged men and women; but I think the Commonwealth could take further action. We have lent the States the money that we have been the means of obtaining for them, and it is the duty of the States, in return for our enabling them to have that money at a lesser rate than they would have had to pay if they had borrowed it in the open market 'in London, to make some attempt to find more work for people within their borders. They should remember that for every individual, whether he be working or out of work, they receive 25s. per annum from the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- We cannot shift all our responsibilities to the States. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I am the last in the world to shift any responsibility that I think my own party or the House should hold; but it is difficult for the Commonwealth Government to do much in this matter. .There should certainly be one place of registration in each large centre of population. I have always been grateful to the Hon. George Graham for what he did when he was Minister of Labour in Victoria, during a ter- rible time of unemployment, when 235,000 meals were distributed from the Trades Hall in Melbourne, and over 30,000 beds allotted. At that time there was only one place of registration, and the method of giving employment was carried out so equitably that there was no complaint. No names were taken out of order; no favoritism was shown. If there were vacancies for fifty men in the country, the first fifty names registered were called out, and if any men whose names were called out were not present, the calling of names continued until the 50 required were secured and sent away. There was no complaint from the unemployed in regard to the manner in which the Hon. George Graham managed the business. There is nothing sadder than the sight of a man who wants work, especially if he has a wife and children behind him. Therefore I ask the Government to take my suggestion into consideration. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will support me. I hope that he and the head of the Government will see that one place of registration is selected. {: #subdebate-17-0-s8 .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY:
Wentworth .- I cannot help expressing sympathy with the views put forward by the honorable member for Cook. Honorable members on both sides will realize that, apart from the question of unemployment, the present is a unique opportunity for putting into effect those broad schemes of Commonwealth advance and works construction that we have all been talking about for years, and now have the opportunity of consummating. Take, for instance, the great work of the unification of the Australian railway gauges, a work which, obviously, cannot be done in a day, seeing that it requires organization in regard to rolling-stock and other matters, in addition to the actual toil of reconstructing the line, but which, by virtue of the fact that the Australian Commonwealth is to-day in Supreme control of the finances of the Australian people, could be pressed through our influence on the State Governments in a way in which it has not been attempted to be pressed up to the present time. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- The States do not need pressing on that point. It is the present Commonwealth Government that needs pressing. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- The Government has been slack. I do not say this in a carping spirit, or with the idea of embarrass ing Ministers, but I think they have been so engaged in other' matters that they have overlooked this unique opportunity of influencing the States and directing their efforts towards the consummation or this great work. The carrying out of the Murray waters scheme is a work which the States are burningly anxious to see completed. By constructing such works a3 these we are not wasting money on relief works; we are adding to the productivity and wealth of the Australian people, while at the same time alleviating the distress which the war has for the time being created. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr Chanter: -- The Victorian Government allowed the State Parliament to be dissolved without passing the necessary Bill. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- But we have not started upon the matter yet. At a time like this I prefer that we should speak quite frankly among ourselves, and accept quite frankly our share of the blame, instead of trying to shift the responsibility to some other shoulders. We are in an extraordinarily favorable position to see that our will is done in works policy throughout Australia. Owing to the fact that any loans the States get are got through us, we are the fountain head in reality of all public employment, and of all activity throughout Australia; and yet what do wefind ? The Government called together the Premiers of the various States - I am not carping at this Government - and the Premiers came to Melbourne; and the papers told us that, as is done invariably on these occasions, the proceedings were inaugurated with a luncheon, and that, after a few meetings, the Premiers departed, each telling the press what his State was getting out of the Prime Minister. But there has been nothing to show what the Commonwealth got. So far we have been acting as the humble instrument of the States, without considering the big responsibility of seeing that Australia's ends are advanced, whilst at the same time safeguarding employment. I tread with delicacy on the next question to which I wish to refer. Without offence, I may call it a sin of omission in connexion with the war on the part of the present Government. I speak as a private member, with the right to speak as any other honorable member, and subject to having my remarks refuted; but I ask honorable members on both sides whether they think that we in this Commonwealth are doing enough to assist our world-wide ' race in this supreme crisis of its existence ? The figures quoted by the honorable member for Cook were significant. He said that there were 42,000 men now being trained or on their way to the scene of this great contest. But what is going on in England ? There, more than a million and a quarter men have been brought under arms; and on that basis, according to our population, at least 125,000 of our manhood should have been given the opportunity of preparing to meet on the battle-field this grave crisis. I do not wish to urge the matter further, but I suggest to my friends on the Government benches - in this matter we are all friends of the existing Government; - that they should take some very early step in order to use the present opportunity for training our Citizen Artillery. Under the Defence Act, the period of training allotted to the Citizen Artillery is not sufficient to make them efficient handlers of the very efficient guns which we have given to them. We now have the opportunity of giving them continuous training, and I sincerely hope that the opportunity will be availed of. It should have been taken months ago. While dealing with the Defence Department, I would like to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether he has satisfied himself with what has been happening in connexion with the censorship. We read about a number of raids conducted in Melbourne recently. Soldiers with fixed bayonets went into business houses. I suppose they thought the top-hatted gentlemen inside would put up some sort of physical resistance. There was all the parade and panoply of war, but very little else. I do not say that the actions of these firms should not have been inquired into; but I say that the proper person to inquire was some one who did not necessarily go to their offices with fixed bayonets, but rather with a fixed determination to get right to the bottom of what these firms had been doing. Take the case of one of the houses alleged in the press to have been raided - the firm known as D. Bernard and Company. That firm was announced as having been raided, but the head of the firm indignantly repudiated the idea. He said that certainly he had received a visit from the military - I presume a visit had been conducted with fixed bayonets- {: .speaker-KHU} ##### Mr Howe: -- What else would you expect from the military? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- What did Bernard and Company have to say about the visit? {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- As the case is the subject of a law action against a newspaper, we should not discuss it. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I am not dealing with the merits of any libel action, or with anything that will embarrass in any way the action that Bernard and Company are taking; but, in an interview with the press afterwards, the head of the firm said that the military had come to his office, and that when assured by him that his firm had done nothing wrong, the soldiers were perfectly satisfied with the assurance, and went away. Without knowing anything of the reasons that actuated the military, whether they were right or wrong, I say that if tlie statement of the firm is correct, it was a mighty funny sort of raid to go to the place with fixed bayonets, and leave immediately they were told there was nothing to occasion the visit ! At a time like this, when we are not waging our world's battle alone, but are depending for our success upon the enthusiasm and loyalty of our Allies, we should see those Allies are not held up to public ridicule or public contempt in Australia. Indeed, one of the first duties of* a censor is to see that our Allies are not disparaged. But what do we find? In Sydney, where the picture shows were forbidden to exhibit a picture of Australian troops passing through the streets, I saw a play put on which, to my inten'se regret, was nothing but an entirely unwarranted and unjustifiable aspersion upon our great Allies, the Russian people. It distorts things that are gone; but you cannot see that play, if you do not know the facts, without feeling loathing for the great people upon whose efforts our existence to-day very largely depends. When I saw that play advertised for reproduction in Melbourne on Saturday next, I suggested that perhaps a hint to the management would do all that was necessary, and I said that my name might be used and my opinion given. The play ought not to be produced in Australia while the war is in progress. I do not believe that it could be played to-day in any other part of the world except Berlin or Vienna. The censorship took up the matter, but did not send for the book of the play. Yet, if a play in itself is a national insult, the fact should be made manifest in the book. But what did the censorship do? Again we had a parade; but this time it took the form of a full dress rehearsal ! This morning, two officers of the censorship, in lonely state, attended a full dress 'rehearsal of the play. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Is there a ballet in connexion with it? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- No, but my honorable friend is getting sufficiently near the mark, insomuch as not only are the male members of the company particularly adept actors, but the gifted ladies are of charming personality, and are thoroughly capable of persuading the most censorious censor that he owes a duty to more than the State. The two military censors went to the rehearsal - with the result, I understand, that the military authorities have not now any objection to the show going on. {: .speaker-JLY} ##### Mr Anstey: -- How could they object? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- Exactly; my honorable friend, who is sentiment to his finger tips, knows exactly what might happen to even stronger stuff than he if placed in a similarly embarrassing position ! This sort of thing is an utter farce. I hope that the Minister will himself take a hand and see that the play is not produced in Australia. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Does the honorable member desire that the Minister should attend a full dress rehearsal ? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I do not want any more dress rehearsals. I would not trust even my honorable friend in a matter of this kind. I hope that honorable members opposite realize as keenly as I do the absurdity of the methods followed by the censors and the impossibility of getting anything like a genuine verdict after such a trial as that I have indicated. I hope that the Minister will call for the book of. the play, go through it, and realize, as I do, that in common loyalty to one of our Allies it should not be produced. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- What is the name of the play ? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- The *Yellow Ticket.* {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- The honorable member is giving it a good advertisement. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- There will be a great crowd present on the opening night. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I am sure that every one of my honorable friends opposite would like to be there, not because they wish to see a play of which our Russian friends would disapprove, but because they want to find out what has happened to the censors. I regret having to raise this question. It is essentially a matter that ought not to require the notice we have given it. I sincerely trust that something like common sense wlil be imported into these proceedings, and that we shall not have any more dress rehearsals or bayonet parades when all that needs to be done is to get at the facts. {: .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr Sharpe: -- Were these censors acting when the late Government were in office? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I do not know who they are, and I make no charge against individuals. I shall not further discuss this matter. I listened with considerable interest to the honorable member foiCook, and can assure him that I feel more than sympathy with him in the trouble to which he has been put. I believe that a Commonwealth Works policy could be better put into operation to-day than at any other time. I believe a great deal could be done at the Federal Capital. If the Minister of Home Affairs will give himself up to a personal consideration of these questions, apart from any little differences of opinion which there mav be among the officers of his own Department, he will see that the architects of Australia, Great Britain, the United States of America, France, and Italy were never in a better position than they are to-day to submit competitive designs for the required public buildings. The only countries that are detrimentally affected in this respect are Germany and Austria, and I do not think we need be particularly susceptible to their feelings. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- There is a slackness in all building professions. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- Quite so, and architects are now free to give themselves to a competition of this character. I hope that the Commonwealth Departments will try to pull together to try to alleviate distress in Australia, and that in alleviating that distress we shall give first consideration to the policy and future action of the Australian Commonwealth, taking care to first put into effect larger questions of Commonwealth policy, and leaving other things to come afterwards. {: #subdebate-17-0-s9 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson .- I entirely agree with the remark made by the honorable member for Cook that this should have been a non-party session. There appears to be little hope, however, of our carrying onthe affairs of the nation as we ought to do, at the present time, free from party considerations. I wish to-night to make special reference to what I consider to be a grave omission on the part of the Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Within the last few days the British Empire has lost one of its foremost soldiers, and yet we have not heard in this House one word in reference to his distinguished career and regretted demise. It reflects very grave discredit on the Government that one of the greatest soldiers the British Empire has ever known should be allowed to pass away on the battlefield - doing his duty up to the last moment - without any reference being made in this Parliament to the loss which the nation has sustained. We pride ourselves upon our patriotism. We are sending men oversea to fight for the Empire - in my opinion, not so many as we should be sending - and yet we make no mention of this matter. A glance at the life story of Earl Roberts should satisfy every one that he is exactly the type of man to whom we should be proud to do honour. He began in a minor position, and fought his way to the very head and front of the British Army. He never failed the Empire in its hour of need. He was never found wanting, and his is a record which must inspire every Britisher now and for generations to come. And yet we have allowed him to pass out without one single reference to his death being made in this Parliament. This omission is a lasting disgrace to the Government. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- Reference was made by the Prime Minister to-day to the death of Lord Roberts. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -The honorable member must withdraw the statement that it is a disgrace to the Government. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- If I must do so I shall; but I feel that tens of thousands of people will share my view that this Parliament should have placed on record its recognition of the great services rendered to the Empire by Earl Roberts. I have now to refer to a very different matter. A statement appears in one of today's newspapers to the effect that the Governments of New South Wales and other States, acting in concert with the Government of the Commonwealth, intend to take certain action with regard to the wheat crop of Australia. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- We ought to have some explanation of that. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- Undoubtedly. We are informed that in New South Wales the State Government have fixed the price of the new season's wheat at 5s. per bushel. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- A big price. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It is, in a prolific season, but not in a bad one. The State Government of New South Wales for some time fixed the price of the old season's wheat at 4s. 2d. per bushel, and commandeered the whole of it at that figure. {: .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr Sharpe: -- No. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- They practically placed an embargo on the sale of it. I do not know if there is any truth in the statement that is abroad that the miller who supplies the New South Wales State bakery obtained at that price all the wheat he required to enable him to supply the State bakery for the next twelve months, and that, that having been done, the price was raised to 5s. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- The statement as to the State bakery is not true, to my knowledge. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It may not be true, so far as the honorable member knows, but it is abroad, and if untrue should be contradicted. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Can the honorable member vouch for its accuracy? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I have already said that I cannot. The Premier of New South Wales is reported as having said that there is a surplus of 1,000,000 bushels of wheat in the State, and that he considers that during the coming season wheat in Australia will sell at from 6s. 3d. to 6s. 6d. per bushel. And yet he has commandeered the whole of the new season's crop in New South Wales at 5s. a bushel. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Not yet. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- The Bill is before the House, and the Labour Government have a majority with which they can carry it. If they do, the Government will have obtained 1,000,000 bushels of wheat in excess of their requirements at from1s. 3d. to1s. 6d. per bushel below the market value, and will be able to sell it at whatever price they can obtain for it. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Five shillings per bushel is too rauch for it. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- I have seen wheat sold at 2s. 6d. per bushel. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- There are times when 3s. 6d. a bushel will pay infinitely better than 6s. a bushel will pay this season. I have grown wheat, and can speak with some authority. One cannot grow wheat in such a season as we have just had, and sell it at a profit, at 5s. per bushel unless one has been extremely fortunate in the matter of rainfall. If this is not plain daylight robbery, I want to know what is, and I hope we shall have a statement from the Government as to how far they are implicated. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- I think the honorable member is crying out before he is hurt. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I am simply giving Ministers the statement as it appears in the press, and putting them in a position to meet it. When the Ministry knows the charges that are made, they are put in a position to clear themselves, if that be possible; and I hope, for the honour of Australia, that it is. As the honorable member for Henty reminds me, it would be altogether too late to cry out when we are hurt. Once the Bill has gone through the State Parliament of New South Wales, as it probably will to-night, it will be useless for any one to speak on behalf of the producing interests. It is stated that to a large extent the State Parliament is acting in conjunction with the Federal Government. We know that the present shortage of wheat is owing to the dry season, but any one with any knowledge of farming also knows that a great deal of the trouble arises because the producers have not had a fair deal, owing to the fact that they are absolutely at the mercy of the city-controlled unions. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Has the honorable member got the statement to which he refers, because, if so, he had better read it and get it into *Hansard?* {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- This is what appears in the *Herald: -* {: .page-start } page 861 {:#debate-18} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-18-0} #### PURCHASE OF WHEAT Developments to be Awaited. Sydney, Thursday A meeting of the State Labour Party to-day discussed the Government's Bill under which it is proposed to purchase all the wheat in the State. **Mr. J.** Cann, the Chief Secretary, who presided at the meeting, stated afterwards that it was decided to introduce the Bill, and leave it at that stage pending the result of negotiations which are now going on between the various States and the Commonwealth. Should these negotiations bear fruit, there would be no necessity to proceed further with the Bill. Should they fail, the New South Wales Government would be ready to set its own machinery in motion. {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It plainly implicates the Commonwealth Government, and it is for. Ministers £o either admit the fact or clear themselves. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- That has nothing to do with wheat. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- The newspaper mentions wheat, and it certainly does not refer to meat, eggs, or anything else. It is plain that, in connexion with the proposal in New South Wales, there have been negotiations with the Federal Government, and we wish to know what those negotiations are, in order that we may protect the interests of those men who are struggling, many of them unsuccessfully, to make a living. The trouble, which lasts year in and year out, is not the drought, but, as I said, the fact that our producers are at the mercy of the city-controlled unions, who do not understand country conditions. It is said that these steps are being taken in the interests of the public, but really they are against the public interest. They may mean slightly cheaper wheat and bread this year, but they will certainly mean dearer wheat and bread in years to come. In bad times the farmers have to " carry the baby " all the time, and in what ought to be a good year they are being deprived of their profits. It is the same old spirit of highway robbery which was so prevalent in Australia many years ago, and it is time we were above that kind of thing. There are one or two other matters to which I desire to refer briefly, and one is that of wireless telegraphy. Some time ago I asked in the House whether it was a fact that messages could be sent without those wires and poles which people commonly think are necessary, but which are really required only for receiving messages. The Assistant Minister of Defence, in reply, informed the House that messages could be sent without poles, but only for a short distance. I have good authority, however - I do not pretend to be an electrical engineer - that messages can be sent a very long distance without any visible poles or wires. Another grave aspect of the question is that messages may be sent any distance from poles and wires - wires particularly - which are not visible to ordinary observation. It is well known that in the Old Country wires have been found concealed by growing creepers, and there are many and various ways in which messages can be sent without exciting comment. The only check is that the messages may be intercepted by other wireless stations, and their being able to locate the place of origin within, perhaps, a mile. I believe, with some reason, that there has not as yet been a sufficiently thorough search made in this direction. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Would not our own wireless apparatus catch any messages of the kind ? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- The messages may be intercepted, but the exact point of their origin cannot be located. I can assure honorable members that until recently, in one of the capitals of Australia, wireless messages, which could not be located, were being sent from one of the suburbs, and the facts altogether seem to me to indicate a public danger. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- Were the messages in code? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I do not know, but they were being sent. I do not mention these facts in order to raise any alarmist feeling, but merely to show the absolute necessity there is for full and searching inquiry. The men with whom we have to deal do not stop at trifles; and if we do our duty we shall not only send soldiers abroad - and I do not think we are sending enough - but we must take every possible means to prevent any abuse of that liberty we allow people in this country. Another question has agitated my mind, both before and since I entered this House. When I had the honour of seconding the Address-in-Reply, I drew attention to the fact that there was no mention in His Excellency's Speech of a foreign policy. We now see the absolute necessity for such a policy. Australia, unquestionably, will have to control the Southern Pacific, and it is full time that serious attention was given to this matter, for we know the tremendous potentialities of that, ocean. On the little island of Java alone there are six times our population, and those fertile islands of the Pacific, which are capable of enormous expansion, are right at the very doors of those people, who, indeed, are knocking and threatening our dearest principle - that of a White Australia. We shall have to re-adjust ourselves, and widen and broaden our policy sufficiently to embrace the different conditions which exist in those islands. One of the most serious problems is how to do our duty by the Empire and the Pacific, and, at the same time, maintain the vital policy of a White Australia. A further question is : What are we going to do in connexion with the financial' situation ? The Prime Minister has given us some very cryptic utterances in regard to the method in which he proposes to carry on public affairs. The State Premiers, who have recently been in conference here, have informed the people that they propose to borrow sufficient for necessary public works; and the Prime Minister, in that oracular style of his, has told us that the money is coming from somewhere, though he has left us completely in the dark as to the exact source. I entirely ' agree with the honorable member for Cook, who says that when we can afford to send money abroad we should be able to do something to meet the distress in Australia. I voted for sending that money, and would do so again tomorrow under the same conditions; but we were assured that provision would be made to cope with that distress which is inevitable here. {: .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr Sharpe: -- Provision has been made. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- What provision has been made for the unemployed, or for the farmers and their hands? All that has been done for the farmers is to rob them of some of their rights. That is the way in which the Government and the Labour party propose to carry Australia through one of the greatest crises we could be called upon to face. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
INDI, VICTORIA · ALP -- All this comes from the extravagant talk amongst the farmers. The honorable member cannot prove a word he has said. What robbery is there? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- There is the robbery of taking the wheat under the proper market price - of taking 1,000,000 bushels and disposing of it at ls. 3d. and ls. 6d. over the price given for it. If that is not plain daylight robbery, it is a very strange way of carrying the country through a crisis, in view of 'our desire to make Australia the producing centre it should be. We all know that, as the years roll on, the Old Country will be- come more and more dependent on the outposts of the Empire for her supplies. What are we doing in Australia to put ourselves in a position to send those supplies? By every possible method the producers are discouraged, whereas they ought to be insured a fair return for their labour and the hardships which they undergo. We ought, as far as possible, to be in a position to send to England that produce so necessary to help the people there through the present hard times; and the proper course is to give the producers here a fair return for their labour and the risks they take. Encouragement in this connexion would result in increased production; but one of the first acts of the present Government was to prohibit the export of meat.' How are the people in the Old Country going to face the bitter times ahead? And, further, what is going to happen to the meat in this country? There is a difference between a prohibition on the export of wheat and a prohibition on the export of meat. There may, with some degree of reason, be a prohibition on the export of wheat, but to prohibit or restrict the export of meat means an absolute dead loss to the community. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- There is no prohibition in regard to the export of meat to Britishspeaking races. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It was announced in the newspapers that the Government were putting a prohibition on the export of meat. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Where to? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- The newspaper did not say where to. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- To the enemy. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- So long as meat can go freely to the Old Country, we must be satisfied. {: .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr Mahon: -- Has a pound of meat been stopped yet? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I sincerely hope that no meat or other produce has been stopped; and I protest against any interference with trade with the Old Country. The people at the heart of the Empire who depend on those at its outposts for their foodstuffs will need our supplies more this year than they ever needed them before, and this Parliament should do all that can be done to bring about increased production. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Can the honorable member show that any exportation has been stopped ? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- No; but it was published in the newspapers that the Government was going to prohibit the export of meat. I hope that that will not be done, and that everything possible will be done to assist the exportation of butter, of which some thousands of tons are awaiting shipment. Parliament at the present juncture should not deal with party measures, but should do all that it can to encourage production, to make the. country safe, and to help those in the heart of the Empire, who will be dependent upon us for their food during the coming bitter winter. {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
Assistant Minister · Bass · ALP -- I should not have risen but for the scathing attack on the Prime Minister made by the honorable member for Robertson. He said that it was a standing disgrace that the Government has not publicly recognised the services rendered to the Empire by the late Earl Roberts, and his position as the leading soldier of our raceTo refute his statements, let me say that as soon as the Prime Minister heard of the death of Earl Roberts he sent the following cablegram to the High Commissioner in London on behalf of this Parliament and the people of the Commonwealth - >Please convey to relatives sympathy and Australia's regret at the demise of a great soldier and son of the Empire. - Fisher. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- There was no public recognition of the services of Lord Roberts. {: .speaker-KYA} ##### Mr Pigott: -- The cablegram just read did not emanate from this Parliament. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The Prime Minister is head of the Government, and Leader of this Parliament. He also ordered that on every public building in the Commonwealth flags should be flown today at half-mast. Further, the Government was represented by a Minister at a memorial service held to-day in the Melbourne Anglican Cathedral. Therefore, the statements of the honorable member for Robertson were unworthy of him. The Prime Minister has asked the High Commissioner to express to the relatives of Lord Roberts Australia's sympathy, and in the manner that I have mentioned he has recognised the loss which the Empire has sustained. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- The Government could not well have done less. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- We were charged with having neglected our duty in the matter. I have shown that we did not do so. {: #subdebate-18-0-s2 .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT:
New England -- It is to be regretted that matters of controversy have been raised in this debate at a time when all parties should be drawn together by the perils of the great war in which the Empire is engaged. I rise to draw attention to one or two matters to which I think " the Government might well give consideration. In New South Wales the mining industry has been very much affected by the war; indeed, throughout Australia a great deal of misery is being suffered by mining communities. The need for settling the Northern Territory, because of its nearness to Asia, is generally admitted, and the other day I suggested to the Minister of External Affairs that the time is opportune for assisting development there by sending out prospecting parties to exploit the mineral possibilities of the Territory. The expenditure of money in that way would probably result in the discovery of large deposits of minerals, and would also considerably alleviate the want of the mining community. If large deposits of gold, tin, and other metals were found, there would soon be a. big flow of population into the Northern Territory. Professor Gilruth has drawn particular attention to the mineral wealth of that part of Australia, and men who have been there tell us that the surest and best way to develop the country is, not to attempt close agricultural settlement, but to encourage tlie grazier and the miner. At the present time there is a very small market for metal, and though a considerable quantity of tin is being won in different parts of Australia, there is practically no sale for it. Many men who were employed on dredges, and in big mining concerns, have been dismissed, and have engaged in prospecting in various parts of Australia. They are getting a certain quantity of metal, but they have difficulty in obtaining a market for it. Possibly the Government, by getting into communication with the High Commissioner, might be able to find a market, and thus enable these men to obtain a profitable return for their labours. For the last twelve or eighteen months we have been told what is to be done in the matter of telephone extensions. In many parts of the country telephone works are eighteen months in arrear. In America the telephone installations are supplied very promptly. Recently we were told that the Ministry could not get the mechanics and workmen that are needed; but with so many men out of work that cannot be the case now. Surely it is not due to want of money that the necessary works are not being carried out. There is at present a great opportunity for giving relief to men out of work, and of providing country districts with a much-needed convenience and necessity, telephones very often being the means of saving life in sparsely settled districts. The war has placed our wool industry in a parlous condition. Not one-twentieth part of this year's wool has been sold, and it is not likely that any large part of it will be sold at a reasonable price within a short space of time. We must guard . against the exportation of wool to enemies' country; but the Government might inquire whether there are not countries outside the British Empire to which our wool could be sent, and where there would be no risk of it falling into the hands of our enemies. A large market would greatly relieve the present strain. I am afraid that the financial stringency is not yet at an end. We depend largely on the sale of our wool to pay our obligations in the Old Country, and to keep our credit afloat. I wish, therefore, to impress upon Ministers the need for doing something to put the wool market on a better footing, so that our primary producers may get better returns for their produce. If the report quoted by the honorable member for Robertson is correct, the Commonwealth Government is associated with the Government of New South Wales in what may be called a corner in wheat. If the export of wheat from New South Wales is being prohibited, the Government of the State is acting in defiance of the Constitution; but I understand that, to get over the constitutional difficulty, it has made itself a monopolist, and is buying the whole wheat crop of the State. I ask the Prime Minister if the report in to-night's *Herald* is correct, and I advise him to hesitate before associating with **Mr. Holman** in this matter. The object of the Government of New South Wales may be to give the people of the cities a cheaper loaf, though that will be done at the expense of the farmers who produced the wheat, and who will not be allowed to obtain the prices that they would have got under ordinary circumstances; but it will prevent the people of the other States from getting wheat at prices which will make their bread cheap. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The New South Wales Government cannot stop the exportation of wheat to another State. {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- The honorable member for Maranoa is correct. It cannot prevent the export of wheat to another State; but when it steps into the market as a buyer, and by Statute says, " I am the only buyer," buying up the whole of the present wheat supply in New South Wales, it surely prevents indirectly the export of wheat from the State. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Do you mean to say that people could not send wheat across the border, say from Albury to Wodonga? {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- If the Bill which is at present before the Legislature of New South Wales becomes law, as it probably will do on Tuesday next, I say, with all respect to my legal friend, the honorable member for Maranoa, that the whole of the present crop of wheat in New South Wales automatically becomes the property of the New South Wales Government at a price of 5s. a bushel. The Government will not have to find the whole of the necessary £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to purchase the wheat, but, as the grain comes to Darling Harbor or any other station, and is taken delivery of, the Government will pay, perhaps, cash on delivery, or give promissory notes, or bills at thirty days; and as it is unloading its stocks it will buy other lines. It certainly can prevent one bushel of wheat going over the border if it steps in as the only buyer. The New South Wales Government is protecting the people, and 1 quite recognise the view of the honorable member for East Sydney, who represents a city constituency. We know that the average consumption of bread is from two to two and a half loaves per head of the population per week, and if the price of a loaf is raised½d., bread costs each person in the community an extra1d. per week. I quite appreciate that the constituents of the honorable member will get the benefit of the Government's action. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- If you are on half pay, and have to pay an increased price for your bread, you feel the pinch. {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- The point is that you are depriving the farmer, who has had a pretty troublous time, of the price he would get under ordinary conditions. You are certainly benefiting the man in the city by giving him his loaf½d. cheaper than he would otherwise have got it, but you are preventing the people in other parts of the Commonwealth, who should have an opportunity of getting some of the surplus wheat, buying their loaf at a price regulated by the law of supply and demand. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- And you are annihilating the Constitution. {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- As my honorable friend interjects, the Government is annihilating the Constitution if it does something which cannot be done without falling foul of the Constitution . An Honorable Member. - What will the State Government do with the wheat ? {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- I do not know what the State Government will do; but when a Government starts out to nationalize an industry - and it has already a State Bakery - it may sell at a bigger price later on. The fact is that the Government came into the market as an absolute monopolist, taking charge of the whole wheat supple in New South Wales; and be it remembered that New South Wales and South Australia are the only two States in the Commonwealth today that have any wheat at all to export. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- The New South Wales Government only proposes to hold enough wheat for the State requirements ; the balance will be made available for export. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- An opposite declaration has been made. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- That is what they intend to do. {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- Perhaps the honorable member for East Svdney knows more than I do. In Victoria, contracts have been entered into *bond fide* for the delivery of some of that New South Wales wheat to millers and distributors in that State. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- At what price? {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- I was not let into the secret. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- At 5s. per bushel; and they only received 3s. 9d. before the war. {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- Then they ought to be shot. Legislation such as this, particularly if the Commonwealth Government is associated with it, as the newspaper says, may be of a very harmful nature. If, in the States of Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland, *bond fide* contracts have been entered into prior to the introduction of this measure in New South Wales to corner the wheat supply, what is the position of those people in other States who have contracted to purchase New South Wales wheat ? Are their contracts to be honoured and respected, or must those people, who bought on the assumption that they would get a supply through the ordinary commercial channels, see their contracts converted into so much waste paper, and be deprived of the chance of getting wheat from New South Wales, and, incidentally, from any other part of Australia? If so, the only course open to them is to buy in Canada and the United States of America; and wheat landed in Australia from either of those places during the next few months will certainly cost 6s. or 6s. 6d. per bushel. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- Are you championing the Wheat Ring? {: .speaker-JLM} ##### Mr P P ABBOTT: -- I have no ring in my nose. I am mentioning this because, according to newspaper reports, the Commonwealth Government is associated with the wheat monopoly in New South Wales. I think the Prime Minister should be careful about associating himself with an arrangement such as this, which may be harmful to the "people in other parts of Australia. There is one other matter I should like to refer to. We have heard tonight that 40,000 men are leaving Australia to fight for the Mother Land; that one large expedition has already left our shores, and several others are to follow. It seems to me that, in a session such as this, in which matters of a controversial character were not intended to be brought forward, one of the first measures that should have been introduced was a Bill to provide for pensions and allowances for the relatives and dependents of those men who have gone to the front. Although I believe that the Minister of Defence seriously intends to introduce such a measure - in fact, I understand that in another place a measure has been introduced - that is poor consolation indeed to the 12,000 or 15,000 men who have already gone from our shores. Had they been told before they left exactly what were the limitations of the measure, and what provision was made for their dependents - although I know they are prepared to fight to the death - they would nave left Australia in better heart. I hope that the pressure of business will not prevent that measure being introduced and dealt with at an early date, and that before the next expedition leaves these shores we shall have liberally dealt with them in the Bill. Let us remember that the nation gets the glory, but the soldier bears the brunt. The people, as a whole, are prepared to deal in no niggardly fashion with the men who have taken on themselves obligations for the Empire, and appreciate the self-sacrifice and loyalty of those men, and we should give them and their dependents such consolation and solace as is commensurate with the good deeds of our soldiers. If we do that, our soldiers will be able to leave our shores feeling that if the fortune of war goes against them, those whom they have left behind will receive liberal treatment at our hands. {: #subdebate-18-0-s3 .speaker-KIL} ##### Mr LYNCH:
Werriwa .- I know of no question of greater importance than the one involved in the provision of employment for our people in this supreme moment of national peril; and I think that any practical scheme which any member on either side of the House may be capable of evolving should receive respectful consideration. At the same time, I think we might reasonably now, when we have the disastrous conditions brought home to us, look at the cause, and, if anything is self-evident in Australia at the present time, it is the fact that the system of production and distribution as at present carried on by private enterprise has absolutely broken down. As a working farmer, I have been confronted with the possible danger of such a crisis for many years, during which I have given a practical study to this question. By the system that obtains in the farming industry, we require a few hundred men above those regularly employed for ploughing and harvesting for a couple of months, after which we get rid of them. Such a system, when we are confronted with the difficulties which now surround us, only accentuates our peril. These men are turned out by the schools with a fair measure of education, and a natural desire to establish homes, and yet what permanency attaches to that system of employment? None whatever. The same condition applies in the grazing industry. I beard to-night gentlemen who claim to represent the farming community saying how solicitous they are to protect the farming interests; but as a man who claims to be at least practical, having been engaged for twenty-five years as a farmer, and having for eight years assisted as a member of the Land Board in administering the land laws of New South Wales, I am convinced that our system of settling our fertile lands must always accentuate the labour troubles when we are confronted with difficulties. Now that the crops have failed, we do not want those extra men, and we restrict our operations in every direction. By our absurd system of distributing farming products, a whole host of deserving people, as well as a parasitical class, are thrown out of employment, and they, too, are clamouring at the doors of Parliament for relief and redress. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W Elliot Johnson: -- What parasitical class have we in our farming community? {: .speaker-KIL} ##### Mr LYNCH: -- I am speaking of the commission mongers who everywhere infest the farms, and I am looking forward to the day when a close season for them will be proclaimed. Chief amongst the men that are endeavouring to carry on our production are the share farmers. Then we have a class of some of the best country people who are operating under our closer settlement repurchase Acts. The system will break down from its own weight. If those who are solicitous for the welfare of the farmers would assist in establishing a totally different system instead of the present absurd and harassing methods, there might be some hope of our having something on which to rest our industrial feet in a time of crisis. We hear the Government called upon to do something to protect the people from the effects of the present unfortunate and ill-conceived system. Let me take, as an example, share farmers, who are among the most deserving of our producers. As I employ them, I am able to give the House the absolute truth as to their position. In a good wheat-growing district such as the wheat-growing area in the Werriwa electorate, the share farmer easily repays to the land-owner, in periods ranging from eight to twelve years, the whole of the improved selling value of his property at present valuations in the shape of half the crops that are garnered, because the work is done by up-to-date Australians, using the most up-to-date methods and improved machinery. It is a tribute to this class of the community and to the fertility of the soil; but,- at the same time, share farming as now carried on is a system of rack-renting that should not find a place in Australia. The remedy is not to be found in tackling the Government for spasmodic action to meet the necessities of a time of trial such as the present. I shall attempt to put the practical remedy before honorable members. My remedy is that those who own good and fertile land should be made to shoulder the responsibilities of ownership, and that we should legislate, as they were forced to legislate in. the House of Commons, against rack-renting, providing that the share farmer should get at least twothirds of the produce of his labour. If a share farmer produces £1,000 worth of wheat, consider what he has to meet out of his £500. He has to meet the exactions of machinery firms, bag combines, and manure fiends, and the great robberies perpetrated by the speculative system of wheat-buying, which I hope the National Parliament will ultimately have the power to alter; and as he is only a yearly tenant, if he is married he has to maintain two homes, one under his waggon like the gipsy, and the other in a distant village or town. With all these obligations to be met, he is thus not in a position to meet the just claims of the rural workers of the country. The only remedy honorable gentlemen opposite have is, instead of asking the landholder not to take so great a proportion of the earnings of the land, to ask the share farmer to stand shoulder to shoulder with the land-holder and prevent the rural workers from getting better conditions and better wages through association with powerful industrial organizations in the city. It never strikes them that the real remedy would be to give the share farmer a bigger proportion of the earnings of the land he is farming. If we give him two-thirds of the £1,000, and the relief that we can give him by more scientific distribution, we will not only settle the question of the rural workers, but will also solve the question of decentralization. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Would you legislate to compel a man to lend a share farmer his farm on a two-thirds basis ? {: .speaker-KIL} ##### Mr LYNCH: -- I would legislate, as they are prepared to legislate in New South Wales, with the supertax, so that no man in the rain zone can hold good, fertile land close to the State-owned railways and run cattle on it. With a graduated time system I would compel such a man to put his land under production, either under the wage system - by which he would shoulder the responsibility of ownership under a decent rate of wage - or by leasing it under regulations framed by Parliament or on the share system. In that way we could fix each man's production and establish a permanent industry, and in time of trial we would have something to fall back on without establishing a system of pauperism. The land-owners now pursue a very short-sighted policy. I am convinced, from a practical knowledge, that a progressive policy would have the effect of giving him in a very short time a greater revenue than he now derives by insisting on the full pound of flesh from the poor unfortunate sharefarmer who is being robbed all along the line. Villages would soon become towns and towns cities, and the added value given to the land by increased production and by close culture, and the markets that would be provided for by-products which the farmer dare not now touch, would all mean that in the aggregate the yearly revenue from his land would be greater. We have absurd systems of production and distribution that cause people, as soon as a time of crisis arrives, to retrench and th row many of their hands out of employment. In all grades of life people seem to be living up to the whole of what they produce, and, in consequence, have to ask a Government to repair in a session what generations have destroyed, just as some of us rush to doctors and blame them because they cannot repair constitutions which we have for a generation set ourselves to impair. I was told by a reputable financial agent in Sydney a few days ago that a movement was on foot among financial ghouls to fatten on the industrial classes. Men in small businesses who were a few hundred pounds in debt were to be called upon to pay up, the ultimate object being to provide good, substantial bank balances for certain people, who would be able to take full advantage of a slump in property when distress became accentuated. I think that inquiry should be made as to whether that statement is correct. As a bushman, I would prefer to have relief works in the Northern Territory, but we cannot send hosts of men there; we can only begin gradually. Therefore, I would like to see the Government, first of all, assisting people who really have good, sound financial businesses in town or country to retain their employes where curtailment is due to lack of means. Apart from that, it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth to consider the necessity for doing more at . the Federal Capital, especially in building a railway, which must ultimately be constructed from the main southern railway through the Federal Capital and on to Jervis Bay. We are intent on doing this work sooner or later. It is a work the interest in which is not confined to any particular State; all States are equally interested in it, and t has the advantage of being situated in one of those fortunate, but all too scarce, portions of our continent not severely visited by drought, and where there is water and, I believe, grass, and which consequently, lends itself to occupation in a temporary way by a few thousand additional people. I have no desire to occupy more time. I would like to show how progressive principles might be applied, even in the Northern Territory, but I recognise that what is required is immediate assistance and immediate work. I have pleasure in indorsing the statement of the honorable member for New England that it would be a wise thing to send prospecting parties into the Territory. I have had a few years' experience of gold mining, and I say that that industry - when profitably established - is always the forerunner of a big population. No more useful investment could be made at the present juncture than that of exploiting the mineral resources of the Northern Territory. Concerning the alleged arbitrary action of the Government in respect of wheat, I -say it has been rendered necessary by the utterly improvident system of production and distribution which we have hitherto followed. I hope to see the day - and I make the statement as a practical wheat farmer, and one who has made whatever little advance he has made out of wheat growing - when a system will be devised under which the Government will be able to guarantee the primary producer a return of 3s. 6d. per bushel. Under such a system he would be infinitely better off than he has been. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- How much did the farmer get for his wheat last year? {: .speaker-KIL} ##### Mr LYNCH: -- Most farmers sold for 3s. Id. and 3s. 2d. per bushel. I sold, later, 6,000 bushels at 2s. 6jd. per bushel. I hope that the scientific system of the future will be one under which the National Government will guarantee the farmer about 3s. 6d. per bushel for his wheat, and under which they will establish a wheat bank that will contain, at least, a year's supply, the surplus of which can be parted with whenever the foreign market is favorable. Hitherto, there have been a host of speculators fattening upon us. The action of the Government may appear to be somewhat arbitrary, but it has been rendered necessary by the circumstances I have described. {: #subdebate-18-0-s4 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON:
Lang -- The speech of the honorable member for Cook was listened to with great interest by honorable members on both sides of the chamber, but probably for widely different reasons. It must have been galling to honorable members opposite to hear his strong indictment of the Ministry which he and they support. He brought forward a list of grievances, which, had they been ventilated by any honorable member on this side of the House, would have provoked a storm of interjections. I noticed, however, that he was permitted to proceed very quietly with' an indictment which I think the Government will find it extremely difficult to satisfactorily answer. Honorable members opposite went to the country as roaring lions, prodigal in promises of great things;- but now they have the chance to fulfil those promises they sit on the Treasury benches as mute and inert as sucking doves. They appear to be intent upon carrying out a policy similar to that depicted by Gilbert and Sullivan in one of their famous operas, in which they depict members of the House of Lords as spending most of their time in doing nothing in particular, and doing it very well. With the general criticism of the honorable member for Cook I am in hearty agreement. He placed upon the business-paper a series of questions of a very pertinent and interesting character, and the answers given to them certainly cannot be regarded as satisfactory. When the people recollect the profuse promises with which honorable members opposite went to the country and contrast those promises with their wretched performance, they cannot but feel a very keen sense of disappointment. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- They re-started works which the honorable member's party stopped. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I would like to know where. If they restarted anything, perhaps the honorable member will tell us something about it. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- At the Fitzroy Dock today there are hundreds more men employed than there were when the late Government were in office. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- The less that is said about what is being done at the Fitzroy Dock the better. It is one thing to employ men and another to employ them advantageously to the country. Any investigation into the condition of affairs which obtains there will not redound to the credit of those who have been charged with the administration of that dock for some time, and who are now once more in occupation of the Treasury bench. Unfortunately, at the present time, our mouths have to be closed upon some thing3 which ought to be the subject of very severe criticism in this Chamber in connexion with Naval matters. Existing international conditions prevent us from expressing ourselves as freely as we would do under normal circumstances. But suffice it to say that the position there constitutes a grave scandal. In regard to old-age pensions, which were referred to by the honorable member for Cook, I would point out that honorable members opposite made them one of their leading battle cries during the recent election campaign. They made all sorts of promises of what their party would do to improve the position of old-age pensioners generally if they were again returned to power. I have yet seen no indication of any attempt to carry out those promises. Conditions have changed since the pension rate was fixed. The cost of living has so increased as to make the pension quite inadequate; but when I asked the Prime Minister a few days ago whether, in view of that fact, he proposed to increase the rate, he evaded a direct answer by saying that that "and all other matters " would be considered in connexion with the Budget. The Budget statement, it should not be forgotten, is not likely to be delivered for some considerable time, so that there is no prospect of any immediate relief to old-age pensioners in the form of an increased allowance. I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to protest against the malicious falsehoods that were circulated verbally, as well as in pamphlets, and in the Labour party's official organs, during the recent election campaign to the effect that the old-age pension system would be in danger if the Liberal party were returned to power. We were held up to the reprobation of old-age pensioners as having no regard for their interests and as being so devoid of the ordinary attributes of humanity that if returned we would destroy the present system. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- The exAttorneyGeneral himself practically said as much. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- So far as I have been able to discover he never at any time gave utterance to any such statement. Whatever he did say was in any case merely an expression of his own views, and he has always been at pains to make it abundantly clear that he did not speak for the party to which he belonged. He has always been careful to say when expressing views differing materially from those of the party with which he is associated with respect to old-age pensions and kindred subjects that he was giving utterance merely to his own views. That fact, however, has been carefully suppressed, and we have been falsely held up to the electors generally as opponents of. old-age pensions, who anxiously await an opportunity to abolish them or otherwise to interfere with them to the disadvantage of the recipients. How false the statement is will be realized when it is remembered that the Liberal party brought in the old-age pension system. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Is the honorable member in favour of an increase in the pension rate? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- Yes; and that was part of the Liberal policy at the last general election. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Why did not the honorable member insist upon the late Ministry providing for an increase? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I was not in a position to insist upon anything in the last Parliament, even had there been need for insistence, which there was not. As the occupant of the Speaker's chair, I was debarred from active participation in the debates on the floor of the House. This attempt on the part of the Labour party to make political capital out of the question of old-age pensions was a resort to a kind of political warfare akin to that of the German method of falsity and unscrupulousness, which cannot commend itself to those having any sense of decency and honour in the conduct of political campaigns. Every member of this Parliament, I think, has always been favorably disposed to the old-age pension system, and when it was first proposed not one objection was raised to it. It was first mooted by a Liberal Government. The very first Liberal Administration, at the inception of Federation, expressed its intention of legislating to provide for old-age pensions as soon as the financial position would permit. It was put forward as a part of the Liberal programme in the Governor-General's Speech on the opening of the first Parliament. It is a remarkable and singular commentary upon the interest which honorable members of the Labour party take in this question that for seven years in this Parliament they took no practical step to bring in an old-age pension scheme. It is remarkable, also, that in those States where Labour Administrations were in office no old-age pension system was in existence. The only States in which old-age pensions were in force were those in which Liberal Governments were in power. That is further evidence that the Liberal party has never been opposed to old-age pensions. For seven years Labour members supported successive Administrations in this Parliament, for the greater part of that time holding the balance of power, and yet never once made an effort to secure the passing of old-age pension legislation. It was not until that time had expired that the present Prime Minister, who was then a private member, suddenly sprung upon this House an abstract motion expressing the opinion that the provision of old-age pensions was an urgent public necessity. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- It was a case of presenting a gun at Deakin. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- But the gun was not loaded. It was a mere theatrical display. In order to test the sincerity of the motion, **Mr. Wilks,** who then represented Dalley, moved an amendment, the exact wording of which I cannot remember, but the effect of which was that it should be an instruction to the Government to bring in an Old-age Pension Bill that session. The honorable member for Wide Bay had said that the provision of old-age pensions was an urgent necessity. Well, a matter of urgency is something that admits of no delay, and one would have thought that, if there was any sincerity behind it, the honorable member for Wide Bay, and those associated with him, would not only have at once welcomed the assistance that was at once offered them on this side to pass an Old-age Pensions Act without delay, but would have accepted the amendment and proceeded to introduce a scheme. But what happened *1* One after another, honorable members opposite began to make excuses for delay, and the utter insincerity of the motion was exposed when, on a division, they and others, including the mover of the original motion - the present Prime -Minister - voted against the amendment. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- That was a palpable political trick on the part of the Opposition. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- It was a successful attempt to expose the hypocrisy and insincerity of the motion. The motion was not sprung from this side of the House, but was moved by the Leader of the Labour party, who declared it to be one of urgency; but when we on this side agreed as to its urgency, and offered to facilitate and support the passage of a Bill in that session, then honorable members opposite began to climb down. So much for the sincerity of the action of honorable members opposite in regard to old-age pensions, the scheme for which was subsequently introduced by the Deakin Government. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- It was a case of " bring in the scheme or get out." {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- That statement has been made on the public platform and elsewhere by Labourites, but it was emphatically denied by **Mr. Deakin.** {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- **Mr. Deakin** never once denied it. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I have **Mr. Deakin's** denial in print, but unfortunately it is not in the chamber at the moment. **Mr. Deakin** declared that no pressure was brought to bear on him in this connexion, but the old-age pensions were part and parcel of his policy, and the measure was introduced of his own volition. It will be seen that the claim of the Labour party to 'the exclusive credit for old-age pensions is a bogus one. 1 have no desire to take the sole credit for members on this side ; all I ask is that we shall be at least fair, just, and honest, and admit that this is not a party question in any sense or form - that there are no party divisions on this or any other humane legislation proposed in this Parliament. I should be sorry to believe that those who happen to be opposed to me in politics are devoid of all the best attributes of human nature, or of any of those qualities which command regard and respect ; but I am entitled to object to honorable members opposite posing, as they and their *confreres* in the State Parliaments do, as the only humanitarians. I should like to call attention to what was printed in the Liberal manifesto while all these falsehoods were being industriously circulated - from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Hobart, and from Sydney to Perth and Broome - all for the sake of winning votes under false pretences. The manifesto, which bore the signature of the Leader of the Liberal party, the honorable member for Parramatta, dealt with in the opening speech of that honorable gentleman, in which he denned the policy of his party, made special reference to old-age pensions as follows: - >It is a melancholy reflection that, owing to the increased cost of living, the value of the pension originally agreed upon has been greatly reduced. Unfortunately, there is great need for circumspection at the moment in the control of the public finances, but if the revenue during the coming year shows reasonable elasticity I hope it may be possible to make their pensions a little more generous than at present, with a view to enabling the recipients to meet their increasing expenses. These old people, who have the misfortune to be compelled to rely on the State in their old age, may be assured of the Government treating them with the fullest generosity. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- What increase in old-age pensions does the honorable member suggest? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- The amount of increase would have to be determined by revenue considerations, though we should make the increase whatever the revenue can afford. At any rate, something should be done speedily in view of the disabilities under which the pensioners labour. The increased cost of living is more acutely felt by those poor people than it is by others who are in the position to earn an income, and yet, while the pensioners were led to believe that something would be done for them immediately, no steps have been taken by the Government. I must take exception to one remark made by the honorable member for Cook when he said that honorable members on this side represent the moneyed classes. I always take exceptionto being described as the representative of any class. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- I did not make the remark absolutely; I said "if" honorable members opposite represented that class. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I, of course, accept the honorable member's explanation, but, at the same time, there is a general tendency on the part of honorable members opposite to make it appear to the public, and particularly to the working classes, that the Liberals are the representatives of moneyed or monopolistic interests. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- In view of that interjection, I should like to give the statement the most emphatic and direct denial possible. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Then who are the representatives of the moneyed classes? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: **- Mr. Holman,** the Labour Premier of New South Wales, seems to be on very good terms with English titled millionaires. If we are looking for wealthy men, as many, if not more, can be found in the ranks of the Labour party than on this side. You will find as many landlords getting the last farthing in rent they can who are members of the Labour party. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- **Mr. King** O'Malley has reduced his rents all round. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I suppose that it is better to reduce rents, and get what they can, than to have empty houses, and get nothing. I am speaking generally. I do not want to single out individuals; but when we are charged with being the representatives of the capitalistic, the landlord, and the moneyed classes, I think it is just as well to point out that there are amongst the Labour party men who are just as rich as any honorable members on this side, who are just as keen in hunting after the almighty dollar, who are just as keen in accumulating money, notwithstanding all their Socialistic professions, and all their pretended contempt for, and disregard of, the advantages of having a little store of wealth to draw upon. I do not blame them in the slightest degree for accumulating the wealth, as long as they get it by honest, proper, and recognised legal and decent methods. What I do object to are the cant and the hynocrisy of so many of them, who pretend to the country that they despise wealth and those possessing wealth, who pose as Socialists, and denounce private wealth accumulation, while, at the same time, they arc accumulating wealth as fast as they can for their own profit and personal aggrandisement. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- As shareholders in Trusts ? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- As shareholders in Trusts and mines, and other private profit-producing concerns, and as company promoters, too. We on this side, as Liberals, represent no class, but we represent the community as a whole, and therein lies the distinction. {: .speaker-KEX} ##### Mr Finlayson: -- How many of them? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- The whole, without distinction of creed, class, or party. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- You represent 10 per cent. of the people. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- We represent all the people. We do not pretend to represent one class more than another class. The very basic principles of Liberalism on which we all stand are the equal rights of citizenship, the equal freedom of all, and equal justice for all. In contradistinction to the basic principles of our creed, let me point out that the creed of those who are op- posed to us is a creed of class selfishness, of class consciousness, as they call it. They say, " Let us wage a class war," and it has been said on the floor of this House, "Let us make it as bitter as possible." I have no sympathy with that kind of creed, nor have the party with which I am associated. We believe in legislating equally in the interests of all classes, recognising no distinctions between classes, but recognising only the fundamental principles of equal freedom, equal justice, and equal opportunity for all. Those are the three cardinal points of our creed. Those are cardinal points which honorable members on the other side are very fond of mouthing on the public platform. But in practice what do we find? We have only to look at the proposals on our business paper to-day to find how narrow, how selfish, and how restricted is their political outlook. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Are you in favour of a war tax on unearned increment? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- I do not propose to be diverted from the subjectmatter I have in hand by interjections which are designed to lead me off the track. I am too old a political campaigner and debater to be side-tracked in that way. My views on the subject of unearned increment of land are well enough known already. The point is, What will the Labour party do about it? The kind of campaigning in which our opponents have been indulging is, to my mind, not creditable. With regard to the work of the present Parliament, I agree with the honorable member for Cook that, in view of the declaration made by the leaders of the Labour party at the inception of the war, that it was indecent to introduce party politics at a time when the whole Empire was involved in a life and death struggle, it is wholly inconsistent with that declaration to find ourselves compelled to deal with measures of a highly party contentious character. I am at one with the honorable member for Cook in agreeing that it would have been very much more in accord with the dictates of decency, as well as the dictates of prudence and common sense, if, du:ing the life of this Parliament, we had temporarily laid aside party considerations and devoted ourselves to measures for promoting the development of the country on lines which would have insured the work of production going on and provided work for a number of those who will, in the circumstances necessarily attendant on war and drought, be deprived of their ordinary employment. . {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
DENISON, TASMANIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Your remarks, if uttered outside this chamber, would cause a breach of the peace. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- Then the present Attorney-General must, when advocating such a course during the recent election campaign, have spoken with his tongue in his cheek. I am merely indorsing now what has been said here by the honorable member for Cook. The honorable member for Denison was particu-' larly quiet during that speech, and the re-' mark he now addresses to me might very well have been addressed to the_ honorable member for Cook on his own side when he was denouncing the present Government so strongly. T want, before I sit down, to say a few. words about the matter of the Federal Capital. I regret, with the honorable member for Cook, that this session has not been devoted to matters which are of a non-party character, and in which we could have all united for the purpose of pushing on a number of works - works, not only of urgent necessity, but works which would help in the permanent development of tho country. I would like to know what is being done in connexion with survey work in the Federal Capital area. It has been stated that a number of men have been put off in connexion with the railway and other works, but, so far, I have not been able to see any of the surveyor's reports. What, for instance,, has been done in connexion with the survey of the railway from Yass to Canberra, and thence to Jervis Bay? I agree with the honorable member for Werriwa that it would be in the interests of the producers if this railway were proceeded with as speedily as possible, but I understand that the survey work has been temporarily hung up for some reason or other; that the work is not proceeding as fast as it might do. If this work were pushed forward, not only would it provide an avenue of profitable employment for some hundreds, if not thousands, of men, but it would also tap some of those sources of supply which would enable the primary producers to get their products to the Federal port as speedily as possible. There is, therefore, a double reason why the line should be proceeded with rapidly. It would provide work for a number of men who at present cannot obtain employment, and also facilities which the honorable member for Werriwa explained to the House are so needful to relieve some of the primary producers in different parts of the country. With regard to the high cost of living, too, I think that something ought to be done. In view of the abnormal condition ' of things obtaining at the present time, and the consequent very high cost of living, I think that the Prime Minister might have come down with some proposal for a reduction of the taxes on some of the necessaries of life. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- According to **Mr. Knibbs,** the cost of living has dropped since the Cook Government went out of power. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- That is not a correct statement. The Tariff could be reduced in the case of articles which are used in every working man's home. I have in my hand an extract from a speech which was delivered by the honorable member for Wide Bay on the 25th August, 1909, and which will be found on page 2569 of *Hansard,* when he was speaking on the Budget. Ho said - >Taxation on the necessaries of life, speaking generally, and according to absolute fact, falls most heavily on the toiling masses, who have larger families, and who themselves and their families consume proportionately a larger amount of dutiable goods than the wealthy do. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Was the right honorable member in office then ? {: .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON: -- No. That seems to make all the difference. If the statement was true when the right honorable gentleman made it, it is no less true to-day. The Prime Minister is now in a position to relieve the burdens of those upon whom he says taxation falls most heavily. I assure him of my most hearty co-operation in any legitimate effort that he may make to do so. I do not know that anything of a developmental nature is being done in the Northern Territory, notwithstanding that there is such an outcry for employment in the various avenues of primary and other production. In the Northern Territory there is a chance of doing a great deal of work, if we are to believe the statements made by the present occupants of the Treasury bench when they were on this side of the chamber. I should like to know whether the famous steam laundry, which was such a feature of their policy, has been resuscitated. The Commonwealth recently took over Norfolk Island. I do not know whether anything has been done for the development of that Territory, so that it may be a source of revenue to the Commonwealth and provide profitable occupation for those who make their residence there. The Navigation Act was passed a considerable time ago, and ought by this time to have been brought into operation. It may be that the Minister is doing something of a practical nature in regard to the establishment of a Navigation Department, although things seem to be as they were many months ago, there being no apparent advance. However, I shall not say more on this occasion, because other honorable members may wish to speak, and I do not wish to trespass upon their time. {: #subdebate-18-0-s5 .speaker-JRP} ##### Mr BOYD:
Henty .- As the Treasurer has entered the chamber, I call his attention to a statement in -the *Argus* which may have escaped his notice. It speaks of a means of raising money in a very easy manner, which may appeal to his Scotch instincts. The article is headed " German loan," and is as follows - German " Loan The *Wall Street Journal* (New York) says : - " German despatches point in prideful vein to the successful flotation of the five billion marks war loan without outside assistance, but the methods employed are only now coming to hand. It is learned that the Government attached 25 per cent, of all bank balances in the country, and the depositor was forced to subscribe to that extent to the war loan whether he wished to do so or not. It also appears that German merchants, at the, direction of the Government, are liquidating their debts by investing the amount owed in the Government war loan at 5 per cent., placing this and interest thereon, to the. credit of the creditor, while at the same time notifying the creditor that it has been decided to discontinue doing business with such manufacturerswho will not agree with this method of paying German debts. In this connexion, the communication being sent out by German concerns owing for bills of goods bought in Switzerland, and supplementing a statement that the money owed had been invested in the war loan, is herewith reproduced : - " ' Referring you to our communication, we repeat that on account of the very high rate of 84.25 we are not in a. position to send you liquidation for your invoices, as it is not in the interest of the German Empire, while at war, to forward actual money abroad. We are convinced that you wish with all your heart for the success of the German Empire in this war, and we presume that you consent to the placing of your claim on us in the German war loan at 5 per cent. In consequence we have this date credited you in the German war loan at 5 per cent., the interest to be carried by us to the credit of your- account. We also wish to advise you that we have decided after the war not to continue business with other manufacturers than those who will agree with the measure announced herebefore.' " This country has done a considerable amount of trade with Germany in the past. The Government have caused the premises of a number of firms having German names, or known to have German connexions, to be raided, but may I suggest that there must be a large number of British houses in this city that owe considerable balances to Germany ? How would it be for the Treasurer to float a war loan and commandeer that debt, allowing the firms to pay their creditors on the same terms that German merchants are forcing on their own creditors? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. German firms dealing in wool owe Bradford something like £6,000,000. They made a notification to Bradford similar to that which has been sent to Swiss merchants. After the war the Government might deal with their war loan debentures in any way they might see fit. One matter to which I should like to refer is connected with the management of the Post and Telegraph Department. In a number of outlying districts men are temporarily employed in conducting post-offices. Many of these men have worked for the Department for a considerable number of years. I have in mind at the present moment a case, in which the honorable member for Riverina is also interested, of a man who has been for seventeen years employed by the Post and Telegraph Department in conducting a postoffice. The place at which he is stationed has grown in population to such an extent that the authorities of the Department have determined that what is called a staff office should be established there. The result will be that this employ^ - and I suppose that there are thousands in a similar position throughout Australia - will be thrown out of employment. He is a man with a family, and after seventeen years' service for the Go- vernment, he will be turned out at an age when he is unable to turn his hand bo any other work. There should be some provision to enable men so placed to be taken into the general service of the Department, which has developed as Australia has developed, and should afford plenty of scope for the continuous employment of such men. They ought nob to be thrown upon the streets to hunt for work, particularly at a time when it is very difficult to obtain it. I direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the matter, and hope that the honorable gentleman will see whether some scheme cannot be devised to continue these men in employment. {: #subdebate-18-0-s6 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 .- By a question this afternoon I directed the attention of the Prime Minister to the wheat supply in New South Wales. I asked the right honorable gentleman a question which, according to his way of thinking, apparently was better left unanswered. The matter to which I refer has been dealt with in the debate this evening by two or three speakers, and particularly by the honorable member for Robertson. If what that honorable member said be correct, some negotiations have been entered into, or are pending, between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government with regard to the surplus wheat of the coming harvest in that State. Several honorable members opposite appeared to doubt the accuracy of some of the statements made by the honorable member for Robertson, but I find that the *Age* newspaper, in yesterday's issue, gives a fair space and a prominent position to a statement on the question of the wheat supply, from which I quote the following - Sydney, Tuesday The wheat crisis has reached a stage when the intervention of Parliament is to be asked, to enable the Government to step in to prevent the possibility of any shortage in the Commonwealth. In the Legislative Assembly to-day the Premier said he would ask the House to pass an urgency bill, giving effect to the proposals, through all stages on the following day. **Mr. Holman** further announced that, from information collected by the Minister of Agriculture, it appeared that the forthcoming wheat harvest would be insufficient by an amount roughly estimated at 1,000,000 bag3 for consumption in the Commonwealth. Exact information on that point would be available later by the Minister. While there would be a surplus within the area of New South Wales, there would be a shortage in other parts of the Commonwealth. It would therefore become necessary to import a quantity of wheat, presumably from Canada, in order to make up that shortage, and apparently the ruling price throughout the Commonwealth would be determined, not as in former years by the surplus they had for export and by the price then ruling in the London market, but by the price of the 1,000,000 bags which they brought in to supply local markets, and that would be a high price, probably 6s. or 6s. 3d. per bushel, there was a probability of a heavy increase in the price of flour and bread unless adequate steps were taken to protect the interests of the people of the State. What the Government proposed to do, **Mr. Holman** said, was to protect the situation of the Commonwealth as far as it was able to do. Clearly, any step they might take would leave the situation in other States in the Commonwealth unaffected where there was actual shortage, and where wheat at 6s. 3d. or 6s. 6d. per bushel had to be imported. **Mr. Holman** goes on to make the state-: ment that the price at which the New South Wales approaching wheat harvest is to he purchased by his Government is 5s. per bushel. That price is indorsed by one or two honorable members present on the Government side, and I should like to say that these champions of the farmers appear to me, on the present occasion, to confuse the facts. When the fixation of prices for wheat was first undertaken in this State, the farmers yielded because they took into consideration the effect df the surplus from last year's, harvest. But to-day, in Australia, we are faced with the position that the coming harvest will be at least 1,000,000 bags short, even taking into consideration the surplus from last year; we shall, therefore, re"quire to import at least 1,000,000 bags. I regret to have to refer to the action of a State Government in this matter, and I should not do so but for the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson as to concerted action between the Commonwealth . and the New South Wales State authorities in this connexion. I do not excuse the authorities of the State of Victoria should they propose to continue the action they have taken to the coming, harvest. I wish that the position should not be misunderstood. The foodstuffs of Australia should be protected in time of war. I am prepared to admit that action taken to that end is right; but at a time of drought, when the wheat yield of Australia is insufficient for the requirements of our own people, the matter requires consideration from another point of view. The wheat harvest of 1912-13 yielded 91,981,000 bushels, but this year the yield, plus the accumulated surplus from last harvest, will be insufficient for our own requirements; and if the public are to be protected by being provided with a cheap loaf, -the question arises as to who is to be called upon to bear the burden. Are the farmers of the Commonwealth to be saddled with. the entire responsibility of providing a cheap loaf for the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, or are the taxpayers generally to be called upon to bear the burden ? It seems to me that at present it' is necessary to create a public conscience in this matter. Prom one end of the Commonwealth to the other the farmers have been affected by the drought; they have been unable, in many cases, to prevent the starvation of their stock, and it is not reasonable that they should be called upon to bear the whole burden in this matter. If we have been rightly informed by a *Herald* report this evening, I hope that the Prime Minister will hasten very slowly in the matter of taking concerted action with the Government of New South Wales if the intention be to deprive the farmers of any State in the Commonwealth of the price for their wheat which they are entitled to get in comparison with the price in the world's markets. Honorable members should remember that a normal yield of from 12 to 13 bushels per acre has not been found in the past to yield the farmer very much profit. With a yield ' of less than 2 bushels per acre, if the price be fixed at 5s. per bushel, he will not receive what he may fairly consider himself entitled to, nor sufficient for his immediate needs. I hope that public men from one end of Australia to the other will take this matter up and will see that any Government that proposes to step in and acquire wheat in order to secure a cheap loaf for the general taxpayer, shall pay the ruling price for it. {: #subdebate-18-0-s7 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I agree that they should. As a wheat-grower in Victoria, I took no exception to the first fixation of the price of wheat by the Victorian Government. It was fixed then at 4s. 9d. per bushel. It was my good fortune to have saved about 6,000 bushels from last year's harvest. I delivered over my wheat at the fixed price, and it was hardly weighed out to the miller who bought it when I found that there had been a further fixation at 5s. 6d. a bushel. That additional 9d. did not go into a cheaper loaf, but into the pockets of the miller or the wheat merchant. That is why I object to farmers being compelled by law to make a forced contribution to a false patriotic fund. {: #subdebate-18-0-s8 .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER:
Riverina .- I should not have risen this evening but that so much has been said about the farmer and his losses. The presumption is that the farmer throughout the Commonwealth is a free agent in regard to the sale of hia wheat, and waits until he ge.ts his crop before he sells it. I know, however, that there are different oircumstances altogether, and I desire the Prime Minister to take this fact into consideration if there are any negotiations in progress between himself and **Mr. Holman** or any of the other State Premiers. I am speaking particularly of Riverina, and I know that a large number of the farmers have been in the habit for years past of making "ahead sales." They sell their crop very often almost directly after it has been sown for forward delivery, and those contracts are in existence now. When I was in the Riverina a short time ago I attended a deputation to the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, **Mr. Ashford,** asking the Government to protect the farmers against the middlemen who were going to get these rises in the price of wheat. Prom statements made to the Minister in my presence, it appeared that farmers had entered into contracts to sell wheat at 3s. 2d. per bushel. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is most unusual, so early. {: .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr Sampson: -- What percentage of farmers had entered into such contracts? {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER: -- The statement made to me was that the great proportion of farmers in that district had contracted to sell their wheat at 3s. 2d. per bushel, and they asked the Minister to protect theiu against those contracts. The Minister said he could not do so, and that the only way they could get protection- was by the introduction of a moratorium to cancel the contract altogether. The position is, ' therefore, that, no matter what action the New South Wales Government may take, it is not the farmer who isgoing to get any benefit from the rise in prices. Those farmers who have contracts will be held to them, and will, in many in stances, I am sorry to say, be driven into serious losses and trouble, and probably into the Insolvency Court. Every member of the House will deprecate any interference with the New South Wales Government, acting under what they call their sovereign powers, in regard to the allocation of food supplies for their own people, providing that their action does not injure people in any other part of the Commonwealth. I rose simply to state that phase of the question, namely, that a great number of the farmers have contracted to sell wheat at 3s. 2d., and if the Government do not take the wheat, the farmers will receive only that price for it. {: #subdebate-18-0-s9 .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr PALMER:
Echuca .- I should not have Bpoken but for the remarks just made by the honorable member for Riverina. I cannot think that a very large number of farmers in Australia are so foolish as the speech of the honorable member would lead us to suppose. {: .speaker-KIL} ##### Mr Lynch: -- That practice is adopted every year. {: .speaker-KXP} ##### Mr PALMER: -- There are always wise and foolish people in this world. Those men who sell their wheat under the conditions which the honorable member for Riverina has indicated, namely, estimating their probableyield as soon as they have planted their fields, and selling ahead at a certain price, are the foolish people; and now, because there are a number of farmers who were too wise to enter on those foolish speculative ways, they are to be penalized in order that the foolish men may escape the consequence of their act. It is only right,in the interest of the wise farmer; who does work along legitimate lines, to say that he shall not be victimized, if we can help it, because other farmers chose, to act the fool. Question resolved in the negative. {: .page-start } page 877 {:#debate-19} ### ADJOURNMENT {: #debate-19-s0 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I move - That the House do now adjourn. In doing so, I ask the assistance of the Opposition to enable the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, that should have been dealt with to-day, to go through tomorrow. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 November 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.