House of Representatives
28 July 1915

6th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 5404




– A few days ago I asked the Minister for the Navy whether anything was being done to prevent men who volunteered in the country districts for active service abroad from getting free passes to the city, and thus enjoying a cheap holiday without reporting themselves at the barracks for final examination, and whether means were being adopted to bring to book those who have done this?

Minister for the Navy · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

– In compliance with the honorable member’s request I have looked into the matter, and have been furnished with the following reply to his question : -

It is probable that such cases have occurred. In order, however, to keep a check over men who are provisionally accepted in the country, and who are given free railway passes to town, instructions have been issued that the papers dealing with the acceptance of any recruits are to be forwarded by the Recruiting Officer, by post, to the depot at which the men are instructed to report. If any men do not arrive at the depot, their names are to be furnished to the local recruiting officer in order that the fact that such men have not reported for duty may be known in the locality in which he lives. The instructions referred to are printed on the back of the attached form.

page 5404


The following papers were presented : -

Inter-State Commission Act -

Inter-State Commission - Tariff Investigation - Appendices toReports : Statistical and other information, and Evidencer-

Butter : Margarine : and Edible Oils. Corks and Cork Manufactures.

Grain and Pulse.

Machinery, Weighing and Testing.

Miscellaneous Group II. - Badges, Regalias, and Gold Embroideries. Calico for the Manufacture of Bags for the Export of Flour. Carpets, Floorcloths, and Linoleums. Cottons, Sewing, vis. : - Fancy Cotton Threads, Plain and Mercerised. Feathers. Felt, Roofing, and Dampcourses. Felt, Saddlers’. Flowers, Artificial. Hessians and Brattice Cloth, Jute Piece Goods, and Bookbinders’ Cloth. Parasols. Quilts, Down. Saddlebags and Divan Covers. Sails, Tents, and Tarpaulins. Shirt Studs, Small. Woven Smallware.

*Soldiers' Children.* [28 July, 1915.] *Military Horses.* 5405 New Hebrides - Report of Royal Commission on Mail Services and Trade Development between Australia and the New Hebrides. Ordered to be printed. Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of 1915 - No. 4 - Executive Council. No. 5- Executive Council (No. 2). Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 58, 79, 80, 93. Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 42, 56, 57, 106. Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 127, 128. Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 129. War, The - National Relief Fund - Report on the Administration of - up to the 31st March, 1915, presented to the British Parliament. {: .page-start } page 5405 {:#debate-2} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-2-0} #### VACCINATION OF SOLDIERS {: #subdebate-2-0-s0 .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr WEST:
EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I ask the Minister for the Navy, as representing the Minister of Defence, if hehas seen in the press the report of the sudden death after vaccination of Private Frederick Lemmon, who, according to Drs. Palmer and Sheldon, died of blood-poisoning. It is stated that- >The upper part of the body, especially in the region of the arm where the vaccination had taken effect, was markedly decomposed. The organs were very decomposed; but there were no signs of any injury or any special disease. The doctors added that the deceased was a welldeveloped man. Will the Minister take steps to stop vaccination, or make some special effort to prevent the deaths of soldiers from this cause ? {: #subdebate-2-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister of Defence, in order that the facts may be ascertained. {: .page-start } page 5405 {:#debate-3} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-3-0} #### CASE OF JULIUS BLAU {: #subdebate-3-0-s0 .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I ask the Minister for the Navy if he will ascertain from his colleagues in another place whether there is any objection to laying on the table of the Library all the papers in the Defence Department relating to the permit to visit America which was given to Julius Blau, senior ? {: #subdebate-3-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- I see no objection to that being done. {: .page-start } page 5405 {:#debate-4} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-4-0} #### SOLDIERS' CHILDREN {: #subdebate-4-0-s0 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy, as representing the Minister of Defence, to a case which has been brought under my notice by **Mr. Solly.** A lady, the wife of a soldier who went to the front and was wounded on the 15th June, died recently, giving birth to twins. I desire the honorable gentleman to ask his honorable colleague if he will have an inquiry made into the action of the Defence Department in sending Constable Sharp to the house of **Mrs. Tiernan,** at 112 Cardigan-street, to take from her four children, of whom two were twins, aged only three weeks, and to bring them before the Court as neglected children, thus removing them from the care of the lady with whom their father had placed his wife and them when he went to the front? Will the honorable gentleman also ask his honorable colleague to take such action as will prevent the children of soldiers being dealt with in future as neglected children? {: #subdebate-4-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- This is the first time that I have heard of the case, which I shall bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence, to ascertain if the Defence Department is responsible for what was done. I shall let the honorable member know the result of my inquiry. {: .page-start } page 5405 {:#debate-5} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-5-0} #### MILITARY HORSES {: #subdebate-5-0-s0 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Is the Minister for the Navy aware that in the paddocks at Ascot, where military horses are being run, there is a broken fence which would seem specially arranged for the crippling of the horses? The officers in charge say that they cannot remove the fence because authority in the matter is divided between the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Defence. Will the honorable gentleman arrange to have the fence removed, so that the horses may be given a fair chance ? {: #subdebate-5-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The matter will be inquired into, and, if the Defence Department is to blame, will be immediately remedied. {: .page-start } page 5405 {:#debate-6} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-6-0} #### SMALL ARMS FACTORY {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-JWC} ##### Mr CARR:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I ask the Prime Minister if it is true, as reported in the press, that the Government have indorsed the recommendation of the Public Works Committee to remove the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow to Canberra? {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister · WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND · ALP -- The question should have been put to the Minister of Home Affairs. It is not correct that the factory is to be removed from Lithgow to Canberra, but a new factory is to be erected within the Federal Territory. {: .page-start } page 5406 {:#debate-7} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-7-0} #### EXPORT OF WHEAT {: #subdebate-7-0-s0 .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Has tha Attorney-General, acting on behalf of the Government, concluded an agreement with Messrs. Elder, Smith and Company and Messrs. Gibbs, Bright and Company, under which they will have the exclusive right to engage the charters necessary for the exportation of the wheat gathered during the approaching harvest? If so, what are the terms of the agreement, and is flour included with wheat? Did the honorable gentleman, before making the agreement, consult the Australian wheatbuyers, who handle and practically finance the Australian harvest so far as the farmers are concerned *t* {: #subdebate-7-0-s1 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
Attorney-General · WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The Government have made an agreement with Messrs. Elder, Smith and Company, and Messrs. Gibbs, Bright and Company, with a view to obtaining sufficient freight for the exportation of wheat and other commodities from Australia, flour being included with wheat. In doing this we have carefully considered the wheat buyers. I had an interview to-day with Messrs. Dreyfus, and one yesterday with Messrs. Darling. Messrs. Elder, Smith and Company, and Messrs. Gibbs, Bright and Company are in daily consultation with those firms. The arrangements which the Government have made include and depend on the heartiest cb-operation of every interest and every agency concerned in the harvesting, handling, and transporting of these commodities. They assented and approved of every detail of the arrangement. When we had agreed upon a policy, the Government of the Commonwealth was asked to carry it out, the arrangement being that we should secure freight for Australia on the lowest terms possible. It was agreed that the freight so secured should be distributed among the States upon the basis of their exportable wheat, the charges to the States being apportioned on the same basis. The States and the Commonwealth are to share the profit and loss resulting from the arrangement. {: #subdebate-7-0-s2 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- In view of the AttorneyGeneral's answer to the honorable member for Wakefield, to the effect that two firm's have secured the exclusive right of chartering for the wheat season, I wish to know whether it is a condition precedent that these firms shall surrender their direct agencies for those special lines of ships they represent in Australia, thus putting the firms in the position of having in this matter only one master to serve, namely, the Australian people. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- The arrangements have been made in the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Question I {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- If the honorable member is going to answer the question as well as ask it I shall sit down. The arrangement was made after consultation with, and with the approval of, the States. ' No interest whatever is being served excepting the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth. These shipping agents, are not doing this for the Commonwealth as a business transaction or on business lines. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- Will you place the agreement on the table, and let us see what the firms are getting? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- What is more, so far as I have been able to gather, every interest is being consulted, and is extending its heartiest co-operation to the efforts to obtain cheap freight for the transportation of our wheat. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- You have not answered the question. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- You did not want au answer. {: #subdebate-7-0-s3 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Considering that the particulars of this agreement, as known to me, do not indicate that it is so favorable to the public interest as the Attorney-General thinks, would it not be better to place it on the table of the House, and thus enable honorable members to see what the real facts are? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- The Government took this step after consulting the States; and it is obvious to any one who will look at the factors at work that there is no other way by which freight could be obtained, without such a disturbance of the freight market as would be ruinous to shippers, than by the arrangement we have made. I saw **Mr. Vaughan** and **Mr. Goode,** of South Australia, who may be assumed to have the interests of South Australia at heart as much as has the honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Wakefield; and it was after seeing them, in conjunction with every representative of every exporting firm, that the arrangement was made. I am perfectly satisfied that it is a good arrangement, and the only one by which *Export of* [28 July, 1915.] *Wheat.* 5407 freight can be obtained without a disturbance of the freight market. {: #subdebate-7-0-s4 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I presume there would be no objection to the AttorneyGeneral submitting a memorandum showing exactly what has been done in regard to shipping arrangements. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- I shall be glad to supply the House with the whole of the facts, including the arrangements arrived at with these two companies. The facts are very much at the disposal of the House; and I shall lay them on the table early this week. {: #subdebate-7-0-s5 .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr POYNTON:
GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a question I asked about a fortnight ago in connexion with freights. On that occasion I asked the honorable gentleman whether, before finality had been arrived at in connexion with freights, the Government would take into their counsels men who *were* experts in the business, and the Prime Minister said that he would do so ; and not only that, but that Parliament would have an opportunity to consider the matter. I now ask the honorable gentleman why this arrangement has been made without consultation with those men in the business, thus ignoring the promise he made to me. Mr.FISHER. - I do not think that I made a promise of that kind. As explained by the Attorney-General, the Government found themselves in the position that to have open competition would be to sell the interests of the people. This binding agreement has been entered into to make doubly sure that the freights required for the transport of the expected big harvest in Australia will be secured to the producers. The agreement will be laid on the table of the House. {: #subdebate-7-0-s6 .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr HANNAN:
FAWKNER, VICTORIA -- Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement in the London press, to the effect that the profits made by some shipping companies have increased to the extent of 300 per cent. since the outbreak of the war? If so, did he have that statement in mind when he and his colleagues in the Cabinet came to a decision regarding the matter of freights? Mr.FISHER.- Our first duty was to look to the requirements of Australia. "We did so, and made the best possible bargain. The Government must stand or fall by the arrangement they have made in the interests of the people, and the point is, that they had to act promptly before a difficulty arose which no one could overcome. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER: -- Does not the Prime Minister consider that a question of such far-reaching importance as the handling of the Australian harvest might appropriately have been submitted to the War Committee? {: #subdebate-7-0-s7 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- The matter was considered urgent. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richabd Foster: -- The Government have made a bungle of it. Every man of experience in the handling of wheat knows that that is so. {: #subdebate-7-0-s8 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! If honorable members are going to put questions and then immediately answer them, no purpose can be served in making such inquiries. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- The matter was considered urgent by the Government and by the producers. I venture to say that my colleagues and I might have had some doubt at one point as to our action being absolutely correct and beneficial to all concerned, but I have no doubt at all to-day. {: #subdebate-7-0-s9 .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA -- Is the Prime Minister satisfied that the arrangement made is one by which the charges will be less than they would have been if it had been delayed, and other methods had been permitted to be carried out? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- TheAttorney-General has agreed to lay the agreement on the table of the House as early as possible, and I ask honorable members to defer any discussion of this very important matter until that is done. If the matter turns out all right, we shall have done only that which we ought to have done. Of course, if it turns out the other way, we shall have to accept the blame. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- When conferences were being held before the Government entered on their course of action, did they consult the producers or any of their representatives? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- No. Arrangements were originally made with the State Governments of Australia. {: .page-start } page 5407 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### EXPORTOF COAL {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Has the Prime Minister taken any action, following the representations recently made by a deputation from Newcastle, in regard to the restriction of the export of coal? 5408 *Export of Coal.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Australia Day.* {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- I desire to state, for the information of honorable members, that the position of the Australian coal trade has recently received further attention by the Government. Shipments of coal were being permitted to consignees in regard to whom satisfactory guarantees were obtainable from the resident British consul that the coal would be so dealt with that it could not be diverted to the use of any public or private vessel belonging to a country at war with the United Kingdom. From information received, however, it appeared that in the absence of similar restrictions elsewhere, the export trade of the Commonwealth was being detrimentally affected. Representations were accordingly made to His Majesty's Government in several telegrams with a view to insuring that Australia was on the same footing as other countries in respect of the export of coal. The position here was fully explained, and it was asked that advice be furnished without delay, when all restrictions could be removed. As it seemed from press reports that a difficulty was being experienced in obtaining sufficient coal in the United Kingdom for war purposes, it was strongly urged by this Government that consideration be given to the question of obtaining supplies of coal from Australia. This, it was mentioned, would aid in relieving the situation in the Commonwealth. The Secretary of State advised in reply that His Majesty's Government are most anxious that no unnecessary restrictions should be imposed on the Australian coal export trade, and the following arrangements have now been made: - The export of coal to the Philippine Islands, Honolulu, and Mexico is to be unrestricted, provided British consuls are first consulted and are satisfied that the shipments are *bond fide.* As regards South American ports and the Dutch East Indies, shipments will be allowed to named consignees in those ports who are recognised coal importers on the same conditions as are imposed in respect of export from the United Kingdom, namely: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That no coal of any kind is furnished directly or indirectly - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. to any vessel belonging to enemy countries, 1. to any vessel known to trade with enemy countries, 2. to anyvessel or firm the name of which is specially notified. 1. That no coal is used in the production of goods or by-products of distillation of military value which are furnished directly or indirectly to any enemy country. 2. That no coal is sold by one importer to another without express permission. The Governments of Japan and Canada are being asked to take similar action. With respect to the question of shipments of Australian coal to the United Kingdom, the Board of Trade advised that, owing to the high freights now ruling, and in view of the fact that in ordinary years the price of coal free on board at Newcastle exceeds the average price of coal at pithead in the United Kingdom, it is improbable that coal can bebrought from Australia on terms admitting of competition with coal of domestic origin, even at the inflated prices now prevailing. Ministers have expressed to His Majesty's Government the hope that further facilities will be given for the export of Australian coal as soon as circumstances permit. {: .page-start } page 5408 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### AUSTRALIA DAY {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-KXU} ##### Mr PATTEN:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Prime Minister favorably consider a suggestion to adjourn the House this week on Thursday afternoon, instead of on Friday, in order to allow members to take part in the celebration of Australia Day ? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- I think I must yield to an appeal on behalf of Australia Day. . {: .page-start } page 5408 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### AUSTRALIAN METAL TRADE {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-L77} ##### Mr HAMPSON:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA -- I should like to ask the Attorney-General whether, if the Broken Hill companies, the Mount Morgan Company, and the Australian Metal Company dispose of their products to the detriment of the best interests of Great Britain and her Allies during the war, there is anything to prevent the Commonwealth Government commandeering and disposing of the output of those companies ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
ALP -- This question raises the point touched upon by me recently in this House, and in the press. The answer is that the difficulty arises, not at this end, but at the other end. It is owing to the sales being made to agents who are acting in behalf of, or in the interests of, the enemy that the trouble has arisen. There is no reason to doubt for one moment that the metal itself reaches Britain or her Allies, and the Govern- *Old-Age Pensions.* [28 July, 1915.] *Expeditionary Forces.* 5409 ment have taken such steps as are within their power to prevent German influence in and. control of the Australian metal products continuing. It is not considered necessary to commandeer the metal at this stage. As to whether we could do so or not, I express no opinion. But if, in face of every effort made by the Government to control the sale of metal in Australia, the German influence still exists, the Government will require to reconsider the position. In that event we shall consider whether we ought to commandeer the metals or not. {: #subdebate-10-0-s2 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
DAMPIER, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- Will the AttorneyGeneral announce the name of the Australian agent who represented the British firm which desired to purchase lead from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company as quoted in a cable message of the 15th February, 1915? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- The Australian agent's name is Fraser, and his British principal's name is Foster. {: .page-start } page 5409 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### OLD-AGE PENSIONS {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr W ELLIOT JOHNSON:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of remitting pensions by post to pensioners who, for physical reasons, are unable to attend personally at the postoffices ? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- On the face of that suggestion, it would appear that no course could he more satisfactory. As a matter of absolute fact, the safety and protection of pensioners is guaranteed by the present method. However, I shall inquire into the honorable member's proposal. Repeatedly pensioners have been robbed by intermediaries, sometimes by most distinguished members of the community, and the fact became apparent that it was necessary to hand the money from the Treasury direct to the pensioners themselves. However, if money can be remitted by post without loss to the pensioners, that course will be followed. {: .page-start } page 5409 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### ENEMY SHIP RANGOON {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND -- I have just received a letter from Thursday Island under dale 19th July, and the concluding paragraph reads - >We have just heard that theRanqoon has escaped from the Celebes. She is going to he another *Emden,* snapping at Australian trade. Can the Minister for the Navy give the House any information in regard to that ship? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The information contained in the question is, so far as I know, unreliable. {: .page-start } page 5409 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA -- Seeing that there will be great trade opportunities and advantages after the war, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is in favour of the appointment of a Parliamentary Committee to assist in organizing our industries with a view to making Australia more self-contained? Further, if the honorable gentleman is favorably disposed towards such organization, will he set apart a day for discussion of the project in this House ? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- The honorable member was good enough to intimate to me that he intended to ask this question. I have only to say, in reply, that parliamentarians are pretty well employed at the present time. {: .page-start } page 5409 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### EXPEDITIONARY FORCES Returned Soldiers: Unpatriotic Literature {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr HIGGS:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND -- Will the Minister for the Navy see that there is a sufficient interval between the disembarkation of the sick and wounded soldiers and those who are being returned for breaches of discipline, so that the public may have no doubt whatever whether they are or are not cheering the wrong men ? {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- I shall bring the ques tion of the honorable member under the notice of the Minister of Defence. I, myself, think that the question deserves some consideration. The honorable member for Lang some time ago asked me the following question : - >I ask the Minister for the Navy if any representations have been made to the Minister of Defence regarding the circulation at Tumut, New South Wales, of literature designed to prevent recruiting, and, if so, has any action been taken to prevent the circulation of any such unpatriotic literature at Tumut or elsewhere ? If no action has been taken will the Minister give the matter immediate attention ? Inquiries have been made, and the answer to the honorable gentleman's question is as follows: - >This matter was brought by the police under the notice of the Commandant, 2nd Military District, who authorized a search to be made of the premises from which the pamphlets in question emanated, and all the literature of the nature mentioned was seized. > >The question of taking further action in the matter is now under consideration. 5410 *Expeditionary* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Forces.* {: .page-start } page 5410 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### POSTMASTER-GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT Enlistment of Officers {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-KUF} ##### Mr SPENCE:
Postmaster-General · DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- On Thursday last the honorable member for Maribyrnong asked the following questions: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What number of telephone mechanics from the various States have enlisted - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Permanent. 1. Temporary. 1. A temporary employee enlisting whose time has not expired, what will his position be on his return ? 2. The announced policy - " No permanent appointments to be made until six months after the war," what is the position of those who have passed an examination for permanent employment (especially married men who are unable to enlist) whose time limit for employment, expires in eighteen months? 3. For permanent officers' insurance, who will pay the premium? 4. A permanent officer, being disabled by loss of arm or leg, on his return, will he, as promised, be reinstated in his present position with same salary? 5. Will the Postmaster-General issue definite instructions so that all volunteers shall be able to enlist, without fear as to their future? In reply to inquiries which were then being made, the following information has been received: - 1. (a) Permanent, 105; (b) temporary, 21. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Every endeavour will be made to find suitable employment in equivalent positions and under similar conditions for all such employees on their return to Australia. Temporary employees, whose term of employment is limited by Act of Parliament, have not, of course, the same claims in that respect as permanent employees. 1. An amendment of the Public Service Act will be necessary, and this is now in hand. 2. Premiums which become due after the officers concerned leave Australia are paid by the Department. 3. Yes, if he is able to perform the duties of that position; if not, special consideration will be given to the case. 4. The existing instructions are considered to be sufficient. {: .page-start } page 5410 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### EXPEDITIONARYFORCES Banking Arrangements at Gallipoli : Comforts for Wounded Soldiers : Recruiting Station, Lismore. {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KYA} ##### Mr PIGOTT:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- A great many Australian soldiers, before embarking, arranged with the Commonwealth Bank that money placed to their credit should be made available for them at Gallipoli. Many of these men are now cabling from Gallipoli that the arrangement has not been observed, with the result that they are penniless. Will the Minister for the Navy see that instructions are given that the arrangement made shall be promptly carried out? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- I shall make inquiries and do all that is possible to comply with the honorable member's request. {: #subdebate-16-0-s2 .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS: -- Will the Minister for the Navy allow members of the Port Melbourne branch of the Australian Women's Association to go on the local pier to meet the ship arriving shortly with wounded soldiers from the front, so that they may give the men comforts in the shape of fruit, confectionery and cigarettes? Hitherto they have been prevented from doing so. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- I should like the honorable member to give notice of his question. I do not know that the Defence Department will stand in the way of returned soldiers receiving any comfort that may be offered them, but there may he some question of departmental policy involved in regard to the right of the public to go on the wharf when the vessel is berthing. {: #subdebate-16-0-s3 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- A few days ago I asked the Minister for the Navy to have inquiries made as to the desirableness of making Lismore the final recruiting station for the northern rivers of New South Wales. Have those inquiries been made, and, if so, what action has been taken? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Inquiries are being made, but I have not yet received from the Minister of Defence a reply to the honorable member's question. {: .page-start } page 5410 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### EXPORT OF SHEEPSKINS {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Is the Minister of Trade and Customs yet in a position to furnish an answer to the question I put to him last week regarding the great increase in the export of sheepskins to America, and the intentions of the Government with respect to that matter? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
Minister for Trade and Customs · YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP -- The figures as to the total exports to the United States of America have been ascertained; they are now being obtained for other places, and inquiries are being made as to the ultimate destination of sheepskins shipped to America. Such exports are at present allowed to be made only to approved firms. {: .page-start } page 5410 {:#debate-18} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-18-0} #### SMALL ARMS FACTORY AT CANBERRA {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-JWC} ##### Mr CARR: -- Will the Minister of Home Affairs state when his Department expects to have the new factory ready at Canberra to receive the small-arms plant from Lithgow? *Imports of* [28 July, 1915.] *Eau-de-Cologne.* 5411 {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD:
Minister for Home Affairs · HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- My honorable friend is under a misapprehension as to what is proposed to be done. The proposal of the Government is to erect a factory at Canberra to house the new plant that is coming from America-- {: .speaker-JWC} ##### Mr Carr: -- But when will the factory be ready? {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD: -- It will be built in time to house the plant on its arrival. So far as I can say at present, the factory will not be in full going order for something over twelve months. {: .page-start } page 5411 {:#debate-19} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-19-0} #### IMPORTS OF EAU-DE-COLOGNE {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether a general order has been issued in his Department that all imports of eaudeCologne shall be held up, pending inquiries, and, if so, why a recent shipment of eau-de-Cologne manufactured by a German company in New York has been admitted into Australia without inquiry? {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
ALP -- Inquiry was made as to the source of a shipment of eaudeCologne known as "4711," and, on proof being furnished, signed by the British Consul in New York, that it was of American manufacture, it was admitted. We have no jurisdiction over firms carrying on business in neutral countries. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I wish to ask the Minister whether his inquiry into this shipment of eau-de-Cologne did not disclose that it bore practically the identical label that is placed on German eau-de-Cologne, the import of which has been prohibited ; that the name upon the label shows that the money invested in the New York firm is of German origin, the name - Muhlens - being the same on the labels of eaudeCologne of both German and American manufacture, and whether, knowing these facts now, he will not for the future prohibit this importation of what is really German-owned eau-de-Cologne? {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- The British Consul in New York having certified that the eaudeCologne in question is of American manufacture, it is not desirable for us to prohibit its importation. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- The Government do not care whether the eau-de-Cologne is really German-owned ? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Would the honorable member turn down the certificate of the British Consul? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- Certainly, if the article were German-owned. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- It is not desirable for us to prohibit the importation of an article certified by the British Consul as having been manufactured in a neutral country. The honorable member is aware that the words " Manufactured in the U.S.A." axe blown on the bottle. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr Kelly: -- Does not the Minister care where the article is owned? {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR: -- As to how the concern is owned, we cannot help ourselves, provided the article is manufactured *bona fide* in a neutral country, and bears the certification of the British Consul to that effect. The practice for the past six or eight months has been to secure a certificate from the British Consul in the place of manufacture to the effect that the article has been produced in a neutral country, and on that information being obtained, the goods are admitted. {: .page-start } page 5411 {:#debate-20} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-20-0} #### EXPEDITIONARY FORCES Soldiers Mentally Deranged: Alleged Treachery: Prisoners {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr HIGGS: -- Has the Minister for the Navy observed that it has been announced in the press that the Imperial Government do not intend to treat as ordinary lunatics soldiers who have lost their reason as the outcome of the war, and will he see that any unfortunate who returns to Australia in such a condition receives special treatment? {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The Defence Department will extend the greatest consideration to any such person returning to Australia, and do all that it is possible to do for him in the circumstances. A few weeks ago the honorable member for Lang asked a question concerning a message transmitted to the Melbourne press from Reuter's correspondent, Cairo, dated the 7th June, in which an allegation was made that an Australian captain, born in Australia of German parentage, had been discovered sniping our officers, and that whilst the troops were in Cairo several men had been placed under suspicion as spies. Inquiries were at once instituted in regard to this matter, and the following reply was received a few days ago from the officer commanding the Intermediate Base Depot, Cairo: - >Head-quarters, Egypt, state - " Nothing known of any men placed under suspicion as spies while troops were in Cairo." > >A further telegram has now come to hand as follows: - > >Head-quarters, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, report - " There is no foundation for the report that an Australian captain born in Australia of German parentage was found sniping our officers." {: #subdebate-20-0-s2 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND -- Has the Minister for the Navy yet obtained from the proper authorities the names of the Australians who are prisoners in the hands of the Turks! {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- No. {: .page-start } page 5412 {:#debate-21} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-21-0} #### MILITARY HORSES, ADELAIDE {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr POYNTON: -- Is the Minister for the Navy aware that there are over 900 military horses located near the abattoirs, at Adelaide, at a place where there is no feed ? Is there not enough horse sense among the military authorities in South Australia to get feed for these horses among the many farmers who would be glad to have them for the purpose of eating down some of the grass that is now growing too fast? {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- I know nothing of the matter, but I shall be pleased to telephone to Adelaide at once to have inquiries made. {: .page-start } page 5412 {:#debate-22} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-22-0} #### POSTAL RATES {: #subdebate-22-0-s0 .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr SHARPE:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND -- Will the PostmasterGeneral say whether it is the intention of the Department to bring the rates of the different branches of the service to a payable standard in order to make up the shortage shown last year by the Department? {: #subdebate-22-0-s1 .speaker-KUF} ##### Mr SPENCE:
ALP -- The whole of the administration of the Department is being reviewed, the question of rates included. {: .page-start } page 5412 {:#debate-23} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-23-0} #### KALGOORLIE TO PORT AUGUSTA RAILWAY {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr ARCHIBALD:
ALP -- A few days ago the honorable member for Wakefield asked me the following questions: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the original estimate of the cost and construction of the east-west railway ? 1. The expenditure to date ? 2. The expenditure on rolling stock, and description ? 3. The expenditure on land resumption for all purposes. 4. The expenditure on water provision, and the result? 5. The expenditure on buildings of various kinds ? 6. The mileage for which sleepers and rails have not vet been delivered ? 7. The present estimate of the total amount involved in the completion of the railway ? The answers are : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Several approximate estimates have been submitted; but the first, based on trial survey, was that of the late Engineer-in-Chief **(Mr. H. Deane),** dated 20th September, 1911, the amount being £4,045,000. No estimate has yet been prepared based on the working survey. 1. At 30th June, 1915, the total expenditure from Loan Funds was £3,635,669, which includes expenditure on rolling stock, etc. 2. The expenditure on rolling stock was £445,794, which covers various kinds of locomotives, waggons, cars, vans, wheels and axles, brake equipment, couplers, &c. 3. £11,089. 5. (a) £68,043. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. Work has not been sufficiently advanced to enable definite results to be stated. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. £39,326. 1. Sleepers, 111 miles; rails, 323 miles. 2. The preparation of an estimate of the total amount at present involved in the completion of the railway entails a decision as to a number of matters which are now under consideration. The Engineer-in-Chief is, therefore, not in a position to furnish these figures at present. {: .page-start } page 5412 {:#debate-24} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-24-0} #### SLAUGHTER OF BREEDING STOCK {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr WEST: -- At the annual conference of the Dairy Factory Managers and Secretaries Association of New South Wales, a report was submitted that, owing to the high price of meat, dairy cows and heifers were going to the butchers instead of to the milking yards. Do the Government intend ro take any action in regard to this matter? {: #subdebate-24-0-s1 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
ALP -- The honorable member for Oxley has frequently asked questions in regard to breeding cows and heifers being sent to the slaughter-yards instead of being kept for breeding purposes. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth have no power to deal with the matter, but representations have been made to the State Governments as to the importance of preventing this slaughter. The British Government have recently issued a circular drawing attention to the importance of ceasing the slaughter of female stock which is being carried out in many countries at the present time. {: .page-start } page 5412 {:#debate-25} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-25-0} #### RETURNING SOLDIERS {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-JRP} ##### Mr BOYD:
HENTY, VICTORIA -- Will the Minister of Defence make public, by announcement in the newspapers, the time of the arrival of the *Ballarat,* which has on board wounded troops from the Dardanelles, so that the public may be able to give them a fitting reception ? *War Loan.* [28 July, 1915.] *Cattle and Sheep.* 5413 {: #subdebate-25-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The Minister of Defence has already promised to make every notification that he can, and to give not merely the name of the ship,but the number of men as well. {: .page-start } page 5413 {:#debate-26} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-26-0} #### WAR LOAN {: #subdebate-26-0-s0 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
BATMAN, VICTORIA -- In reference to the first instalment of the war loan of £20,000,000, for which exceptionally favorable terms have been offered to lenders, did the Prime Minister confer with the Stock Exchange, or with any recognised representative stockbrokers, regarding the levy of 5s. per £100 which they are to be allowed to charge, and which they are charging? If any representation on the subject was made by the Stock Exchange, what reply did the Treasurer make as to the propriety of this levy on the people? {: #subdebate-26-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- Representatives of the financial institutions were consulted regarding the loan generally, and representatives of the Stock Exchange regarding the placing of it. I understand that it is the rule of the Stock Exchange to charge½ per cent. commission on dealings in Government stock; but when I put to the representatives of the stockbrokers the position of this loan, they agreed to reduce the charge by one-half. Attempts to obtain commission on other than *bond fide* transactions will be prevented, and commission will not be paid except when the transactions are *bond fide.* {: .page-start } page 5413 {:#debate-27} ### WOUNDED SOLDIERS SENT TO {: .page-start } page 5413 {:#debate-28} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-28-0} #### BRISBANE {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-KEX} ##### Mr FINLAYSON:
BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND -- Has any report reached the Minister for the Navy in regard to the treatment of the wounded soldiers who were brought to Melbourne by the *Kyarra,* and sent hence to Queensland by train ? What arrangements are to be made for the travelling of future contingents of wounded? {: #subdebate-28-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- Since the honorable member for Maranoa spoke on the subject last Friday, the Minister of Defence has suspended certain officers, pending an inquiry into the whole matter by Colonel Irving. If the officers who are suspended are found not to have been at fault, they will be reinstated. We are endeavouring to ascertain the facts, so that in future every kindness may be extended to wounded soldiers on their return home. {: .page-start } page 5413 {:#debate-29} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-29-0} #### CATTLE AND SHEEP {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-KR8} ##### Mr SHARPE: -- Can the Minister of Trade and Customs supply information regarding the number of cattle and sheep now in Australia, the natural increase of stock, the annual local consumption, and the number available for export? {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr TUDOR:
ALP -- I have been going into the matter recently, and have prepared a return much on the lines of the information now asked for. I shall give the honorable member the particulars to-morrow. ADJOURNMENT *(Formal).* Nurses' Equipment and Uniforms. {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I have received the following letter from the honorable member for Richmond - >Bear **Mr. Speaker,** - I desire to give notice that I wish to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the conditions under which the nurses leaving Australia are supplied with their uniforms and outfit. *Five honorable members having risen in theirplaces,* Question proposed. {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 .- On Friday, I informed the Minister of my intention to move the adjournment of the House to discuss this matter, but, as honorable members know, I was prevented from proceeding then, and consequently must deal with the matter to-day. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Is it so important? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I think so. I am confident, because of the answers given by the Minister for the Navy to questions that have been asked on the subject, that the Government have not the slightest idea of what is going on. I am not actuated by any unfriendly motive. It will be admitted that if any of those who are at present leaving our shores to serve their country abroad in connexion with our military organization deserve the full protection of the Defence Department in regard to matters of outfit, it is the nurses. We should take every care to see that they are not imposed on when they volunteer to accompany the troops on their mission of mercy. The Department allows each nurse £15 with which to purchase her equipment, and this sum the nurses say is insufficient to buy the things with which they must be furnished before they leave Australia. That is the first matter to which I direct the attention of the Minister. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Are not the nurses supplied with everything they want when they are at the front ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know. That is not my point. I am not concerned with "the equipment supplied to the nurses after they have left Australia, about which J know nothing. Their complaint is that the equipment with which they are compelled to furnish themselves before their departure cannot be bought for £15, and that unless they have private means, or receive assistance from others, they cannot volunteer for nursing service abroad. It is only nurses who have command of a little money who are able to go away. The second point to which I draw attention is the complaint that the nurses are compelled to get their uniforms at certain places. Quite a number of them have told me this on various occasions, but when I have questioned the Minister on the subject, be has denied that it is S0 {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I have replied to the effect that the Department does not compel the nurses to go to any particular place. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The matter was first brought under my notice several weeks ago, and I then asked a question in the House, and received the reply that the nurses were not compelled to go to any particular place. About a fortnight ago, however, some nurses, who were leaving with a later contingent,' told me that they had been compelled to get their uniform at a certain place. I said to them, " The Minister tells us that there is no compulsion on nurses to get their uniforms at any particular place," and one of them replied, " It is done in this way. A certain firm is apparently supplied with a list of the nurses who are going to the front." Where does that list come from? Who gives it to the firm in question ? {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- There is no harm in any firm having that information, so long as no firm is given a monopoly of the business. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- What happens is this: The firm that is supplied with the information rings up the matron in charge, and tells her over the telephone that Nurse So-and-so has not yet been in to order her uniform. The matron at once tells the nurse to order it. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- This is unknown to the Minister. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is why I brought the matter up. I asked a nurse, ' ' Where did you get the uniform that you are wearing?" and she replied, " Prom David Jones and Company," and told me that it cost £10 12s. 6d. - that was for the cloak with a cape attached, and a skirt. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- We must try to ascertain who gives the names of the nurses to David Jones and Company. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- And if the statement ia true, we should see the firm's books. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Possibly the bonnet is included in that price. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Yes, the cost of the little toque the nurses wear is included. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- This nurse told me that she had never paid more than £5 5s. for a coat and skirt, but pressure was brought to bear to compel her to go to David Jones and Company. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- By whom ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- By the matron in charge. . Any one who is acquainted with the training of nurses knows that the nurse must obey the matron. To-day I received a letter from a gentleman whom I do not know, and it contains one very strong point in confirmation of what I have just said to the House - >The s.s. *Mooltan* in June last took a party of nurses from Sydney, and during that vessel's stay in Melbourne, two of them stayed in our house. I saw a list that was issued to them, containing the names of the different articles they were required to purchase, and the name of the firm from which they had to be obtained. The uniforms, it was stated, were to be got at David Jones', for which six guineas was charged, and which looked like barefaced robbery. This was for bare uniform, without other dresses. The nurses considered that they could have purchased the turn-out anywhere for four guineas, and, seeing that only £15 was allowed thom for everything, they think they were imposed upon. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- If the uniform cost only £6 6s., what was the £10 12s. 6d. for? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know; but I have heard that the particular kind of material used in these uniforms ha» been cornered by one firm, and in consequence the nurses cannot get the uniform anywhere else. I do not know whether that fact accounts for the rise in price, but I do submit that it is high time this matter was inquired into. First of all, the Government should ascertain whether the £15 allowed to the nurses is sufficient, and, secondly, whether any influence is brought to bear in any way to compel the nurses to buy their uniforms, either directly or indirectly, from certain houses. I suggest to the Minister that he might go even further, and enter into a definite contract with two or more firms in Australia to supply the full equipment at £15. Surely the Government should protect these ladies who are going to the front. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I shall be delighted to take action if you will give me the names. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The motion has not been moved in an antagonistic spirit. I desire to let the Government know of facts that have come to my knowledge, and which, I feel confident, the Government do not know. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- If ten persons had made these statements, I would not have believed them without evidence. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I suggest that the Government should not give the nurses any money at all, but should take full financial responsibility in regard to the whole of their outfit, and so relieve them from the necessity of having to fall back on their slender resources. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- How many nurses have been sent away ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know, but I believe that 150 left last week. I do think that the Government should give those ladies every possible assistance and protection. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
Parramatta -- I am glad that this matter is being brought to an issue, so that it may be settled once and for all. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- So am I. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- My opinion is that the Prime Minister is anxious that the nurses should get a fair deal. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I think we are all equally anxious. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- Then will any honorable member tell me what we are to do? On Friday last the Minister, replying to a question by me, said, "On four occasions I have given replies prepared by the Department that a nurse could go anywhere she liked for her equipment." It is true that the Minister has given four replies, and I suppose at least fourteen minutes have been written in the Department on the subject, but the trouble continues. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Will the right honorable gentleman say what the trouble is? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I will tell the Prime Minister in one minute. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Is it dishonest scheming by people to extort money from nurses? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I am not dealing particularly with that aspect of the matter. When a nurse has been accepted for active service abroad, the least the Government might do is to write her a note informing her of the articles she is to procure, and telling her in unmistakable terms to get them or make them in any way she chooses, so long as she conforms to the regulations, and has the articles which the Department stipulates. What does it matter to the Department or anybody where she gets them, so long as the regulations are complied with ? I am told that the bulk of the nurses leave these shores with a feeling that they are suffering injustice. There is no man in the House who is not anxious to rectify such a position. But the fact remains that most of the nurses who go to the front have to put their hands into their own pockets in order to complete their equipment. It is not fair that they should he asked to do that. {: .speaker-JWO} ##### Mr J H Catts: -- Why should not the Government equip them as they equip our soldiers ? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I really do not see why the Government cannot have the nurses equipped. I have here a letter from a man in my electorate enclosing a newspaper clipping in reference to the debates in this House on this subject, and the writer says : - Dear **Sir,** My sister, Nurse- , left for Egypt by the *Karoola* hospital steamer on or about 23rd June last. The list of articles which she was required to get included a number of things - uniforms, I think - which she was told by - (matron in charge) to get from David Jones, and from nowhere else. The list was typewritten, and a typewritten memorandum was on it, stating that David Jones were the contractors for these particular articles, and intimating (I forget the precise terms used) that that was the place to go to. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The matron is responsible. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- But surely the Department is responsible for the matron ? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I do not think so. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I think so; and may I make this general observation to the Minister, that a lot of his trouble in connexion with nurses' equipment and other matters is due to his not holding the superior officers in his Department responsible for the carrying out of these details. I suggest to him that he should make them responsible, and so save himself a lot of trouble. There are Commandants in the various States, and responsible officers in Melbourne, and they ought to be held responsible for all that takes place under them. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Quite right! I agree with you. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- All the while blame is being placed upon some man of low rank, but if the superior officers were held responsible they would, in their Own interests, look after the men below them. The letter continued - >The Department allowed £15 for each nurse's outfit, and David Jones ran their account to £14 18s., leaving in this case 2s. for all the other things required under the regulations. I believe all the other nurses who went at the same time had the same complaint. You may use this information as you please. I have another letter written from Melbourne, and to it is attached a list of articles and their prices - {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Is that letter from Elsternwick? I received a similar one this morning. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- No. That total represents a cost of £2 Ils. 9d. more than the Department allows for the whole outfit. I have another letter, written from St. Kilda-road, and it mentions - Various other articles are included which bring the total to £10 18s., leaving the nurse £4 2s. with which to provide herself with three zephyr dresses, four grey aprons, three grey belts, three white belts, military buttons for dress, and a number of other things which I need not mention. The facts tend to show that the nurses are obliged to put their hands into their own pockets very deeply in order to secure the equipment which the Department says they must have. The consequence is that all the nurses feel that they are under a very great disability, and are suffering a hardship. The motion for the adjournment of the House is moved in order that the facts may be made public, and that the Minister may put a stop to this kind of thing. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I can assure the honorable member that the Department will stop this kind of thing; and I may say that it has been going on unknown to the Minister. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I am sure of that, because I cannot conceive the Minister, day after day, giving point-blank contradiction to such allegations. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I may say that I myself received a similar letter this morning. {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- I have spoken to the Minister two or three times myself about the matter. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- Well, the letters I have read give the Minister some facts to go on; and it certainly concerns him more than it does us, though it concerns us all to see that the nurses who devote themselves to these duties oversea shall at least not be out of pocket, any more than are soldiers, by reason of the work they undertake. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Hear, hear. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I shall say no more. I simply rose for the purpose of supplying some additional information to assist the Minister in making an investigation and insuring that the nurses are not out of pocket in providing themselves with the outfit which the Department makes imperative. {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- The time occupied in this discussion will be well spent, because it must bring to the Minister's knowledge facts that it would be very difficult for him to ascertain in any other way. The honorable member who submitted the motion is to be commended for the concise way in which he put his case and stated the facts that have been brought under his notice. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- I should like to add that the two nurses to whom I referred were from the Parramatta Hospital, and that they called to see me on their way. There is no mystery about the matter. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The discussion shows the necessity for an immediate inquiry. Some time back J had occasion to ask a question in the House on this very matter, following on a public meeting at Maitland, where complaint was made that the amount allowed for equipment was inadequate, and that some nurses had to expend a good few pounds over and above the amount they received from the Department. It is quite possible that the Department was under the impression that the amount was adequate, and that - particularly in view of the statements to-day - too much has been charged for the equipment of the nurses. The time has arrived when the Department should deal with nurses as they do with the soldiers, and1 see that they are provided with everything necessary for the front, without leaving it to any particular firm to gain an advantage. These nurses are prepared to brave all the inconveniences and dangers of assisting our wounded at the front, and it is only right that we here should see that every precaution is taken to insure their proper equipment. There is no doubt that when the Minister looks into the matter he will find that there is room for improvement. During the last few weeks I have received letters from reputable citizens, who, no doubt, are well seised of the facts, asserting that the amount allowed is altogether too small. I feel quite sure that the Government only desire that everything reasonable shall be done, not only for the nurses, but for all who are going abroad to serve their country; and, in the future, we may take it for granted no one need be afraid to volunteer for nursing on the ground of inadequate equipment. I believe that there are some women who would like to go to the front, but they have no money of their own, and they know that the amount allowed is insufficient. The Government ought to take this matter into their own hands, and see that all that is necessary is provided, for these angels of mercy. If that is done, there will be no difficulty in getting an adequate number for this work on the battlefield. {: #subdebate-29-0-s7 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman -- I am pleased that this matter has been ventilated, though possibly it might have been dealt with otherwise than on a motion for adjournment. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- The honorable member will admit that we have tried every other way, and failed. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Yes. I feel certain that the Minister of Defence very naturally thought that his wishes expressed in the House were being respected by the responsible persons; and it no doubt comes as something of a shock to him, as it does to all of us, to know that persons who, in other respects, are somewhat ostentatious patriots, are acting in a way which is,' to my mind, mean towards those who take on the responsible duties of nurses - a way which is certainly very much out of harmony with their protestations of patriotism. It may be that the £15 allotted would, if spent by the nurses themselves, at their discretion, be sufficient. Women know exactly what they require, and, having skill in putting such things together, could make the money go a long way. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- I think that is the whole point - that the nurses could provide themselves to better advantage if they were permitted. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The experience of the honorable member for Richmond in New South Wales has been precisely my experience in Victoria. One nurse assured me that she received a written intimation that she had to go to Ball and Welch's to get her uniform, and whatever else she required. I take the responsibility of repeating what she said, corroborated as it is by other evidence. She told me that, in such a simple matter as aprons, she has been charged 100 per. cent, more than what is a fair price. That statement has been corroborated, and it is in keeping with what has been said by honorable members opposite to-day. It is a gross shame that such a thing should be done or allowed for a moment. I suggest that it is no longer sufficient for the Minister to say that the nurses may get their costumes where they like; it rests upon him now to say that certain persons may not do what they have been doing in the past . {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Hear, hear ! I agree with you. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- There should be no mere negation, but a positive order on the part of the Minister to those responsible, in terms that cannot be misunderstood, so that, if there is any repetition of such conduct, they may be .brought to book. 5418 *Adjournment* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *(Formal).* The firms who have been mentioned today will have an opportunity to explain their position; and if such conduct is repeated, and it is discovered who are responsible for what appears to be a very unpleasant kind of combine, then I hope the Minister will see that they are no longer allowed to operate. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- They ought to be turned out of Australia ! {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- They give to the patriotic fund with one hand, and rob people with the other. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- You cannot say that they are robbing. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I do not go one inch beyond information derived from sources which I am certain are reliable. I agree with the honorable member for Hunter that the nurses' equipment should be supplied by the Commonwealth, though I do not know that it would be practicable to make those uniforms on the same principle as uniforms are made for the soldiers. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND · ALP -- That has been the trouble. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The varieties in taste are almost equalled by the varieties in shape, and, therefore, I think the idea impracticable. However, what is practicable is for the Commonwealth to supply the materials at fixed prices; and there should be great latitude given to the nurses, or their chosen representatives, as to where the materials are made up. I have not the slightest doubt that the Minister will keep his promise, and see that effect is given to the wishes of the House. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I shall do so. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I have always held the view that loyalty is a kind of cardinal virtue which ought to be assumed without any necessity to parade it; and it is a particularly gross offence to exploit people who, at a time like this, are in a sense, at the mercy of traders, and particularly deserving of protection. {: #subdebate-29-0-s8 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I have no desire to anticipate the reply of the Minister for the Navy.I only wish to say that at first I thought the honorable member for Richmond was bringing up a somewhat unimportant matter which really did not come within the category of urgent public business, justifying a motion for the adjournment of the House. However, in view of what has been stated. I think that the honorable member took the right course. In one of the letters he read - written, I understand, by a. practical person - it was said that the nurses are being robbed, and the Commonwealth deceived, in connexion with the equipment of these ladies. No gravercharge could be brought against traders or any other members of the community. I am quite in agreement with those who say that the Commonwealth should provide all the necessary equipment. Whatever the cost might be to the Government, it must be infinitely less than that which has to be met under the present circumstances. In hardly a single instance in which we have gone into the market for the necessaries of war have we done so without being under the gravest apprehension that we were not getting a fair deal. A suspicion of that kind is, of course, unfair to suppliers, and also unfair to the Government and people, who are the purchasers. The matter having been raised, there should be an investigation *by* some body that will be mercilessin its examination of the books of all suppliers, with the object of ascertaining that no undue profit has been extorted, and that material of the requisite quality has been supplied. Two points have been raised. The first is that the outfit with which nurses have to supply themselves, and in respect of which an allowance of £15 is made, is costing more than it should legitimately do. The second is that undue influence has been used in the interests of certain firms. It is not suggested that this has been done at the instigation of the Minister of Defence, or of any member of the Government. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- The suggestion is that influence has been exercised by some person or persons to secure the trade for certain firms, and those firms are inferentially alleged to have overcharged to the extent of nearly 100 per cent. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I did not go as far as that. I simply gave the prices charged. They may be 50 or 100 per cent. more than they ought to be. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- I said 100 per cent., and am prepared to prove my statement. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I am prepared to say that the charge is 50 per cent, more than it should be. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- Whether it be 50 per cent., 40 per cent., or even 10 per cent. in excess of what should be legitimately charged, it is wrong. This allegation is made against citizens who are just as much bound to protect the country as are the members of this Parliament who have "taken the oath of allegiance. If the Government knowingly allowed such a thing "to go on when it had the means to prevent it, it should be ousted from office. These allegations having been brought before the House, they will be sifted to the bottom in order that the whole of the facts may be ascertained. It will be our duty to invite those who can give *as* information on the subject to supply it to us under protection, in such a way that we may make a thorough investigation, examine the parties who are now under accusation, and ascertain whether they have been guilty of any malpractice. I do not wish to anticipate the action that will be taken by the Minister of Defence, who must first be consulted in the matter; but, as the result of frequent conversations with him, I know that he believes that nurses accepted for service at the front are perfectly free to obtain their uniforms and equipment wherever they please. I must add, and I think all honorable members will agree with me that, whilst this freedom is allowed, care must be taken that the material and equipment obtained by the nurses are in accordance with the requisite standard. Subject to that condition, there should be absolutely no inducement or suggestion that a nurse should obtain her outfit from any particular firm. Nurses should not be under any such compulsion, but should be free to obtain their outfit wherever they please. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- I have been wondering whether the standard fixed is at the bottom of the trouble. It may be the quality. insisted upon has something to do with the charges made. That point should be inquired into. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- It has been said during this debate that certain material required for nurses' uniforms has been "cornered." That may account for the high price charged for it. If there has been any such "cornering" of material, in anticipation of a demand for it to meet the requirements of nurses going to the front, then the firm guilty of such conduct has no right to exist in Australia. {: #subdebate-29-0-s9 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I make no complaint against any member of the Government in regard to this matter, but I think I was the first to bring before the House the fact that nurses were unfortunately being compelled to obtain their equipment from a certain Melbourne firm. I put to the Minister for the Navy some time ago a question on the subject, and received from him the distinct reply that the Minister of Defence stated that the nurses could obtain their outfit wherever they chose. Up to that time nurses in Melbourne were compelled to obtain their outfit from Messrs. Ball and Welch. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- What kind of compulsion was used? {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- They had to go there by direction. That was the complaint made to me. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- By whom were they directed to go to Messrs. Ball and Welch ? {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I was told that they were directed by the Defence Department to go there. Shortly after that complaint was made to me, I was informed that Messrs. Ball and Welch had cornered certain material, so that nurses were compelled to obtain their outfit from that firm, as they could not secure elsewhere material of the standard required. Any one who has been in a hospital will know that one of the first requisites of a nurse's uniform is cleanliness, and that that can best be secured by the use of white material. But it is absurd to say that the simple garments that a nurse requires are costly. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Should an allowance of £15 be sufficient for an outfit? {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Certainly, if the nurses receive fair play. As to the instruments required by them, all that they need is a pair of scissors, a small pair of forceps, and a few safety pins for bandages. All other instruments are included in. the surgeon's outfit. I am satisfied that, after the statement just made by the Prime Minister, there will he no further trouble. Inquiry will show that the system complained of here has also" been going on in Sydney. The name of the Sydney firm to whom I was told nurses had to go for their equipment is David Jones and Company, of George-street. The matter having been ventilated, I am confident that no further trouble will arise, and I hope that no preference will be given by the Department of Defence to any one firm in respect of equipment required by nurses or any other persons going to the front. 5420 *Adjournment* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *(Formal).* {: #subdebate-29-0-s10 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
Minister for the Navy · Bass · ALP -- As representing the Minister of Defence in this House, I am pleased that this matter has been brought forward. On returning from Launceston this morning I found in my office a letter addressed to me by a nurse living at Elsternwick. in which she stated that she had read in the *Herald* the reply I had given to a question on the subject, in which I had stated that nurses were free to obtain their uniforms wherever they pleased, and that they were made an allowance of £15. She assured me that - this freedom did not exist, and stated she had been informed by nurses that they had to obtain their outfit from one of two Melbourne firms, which she named. I regarded the matter as being of such importance that I immediately sent the letter to the Secretary for Defence, with a direction that it should be at once brought before the Minister of Defence. I have since had a conversation with my colleague, and he has assured me that at no time has he issued an instruction that nurses going to the front shall obtain their uniforms from certain firms in Melbourne or Sydney. It was news to him that any direction of the kind had been given. If certain persons have been trying to secure business for particular firms, I think it right that we should ascertain who those persons are. As business men, we know full well that no man would interest himself in securing the business for a particular firm unless he was getting something out of it, and if we can sheet home to any officer of the Department an attempt to exercise such influence, we shall deal severely with him. If any officer has been advising certain firms by telephone or otherwise of the names of nurses who have been accepted for service, so that those firms may communicate with them, and represent that they alone are entitled to supply their outfit, we shall take strong measures against him. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Apparently lists of ac cepted nurses have been supplied. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The information may have been given in various ways; but from the first **Senator Pearce** has known nothing of this matter. The answers I have made from time to time to questions put to me in this House bear out that statement. On the 20th May last, for instance, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Richmond, I made the following statement as to inquiries by the Director-General of Medical Services : - >On investigating the matter recently he found that an order or advice had been given in two States to take extra articles, such as mess kit, which nurses do not need, they being arranged by the Department in Egypt or England. He has not been able to find how this advice was originally given, but thinks it was done by matrons now on active service. > >Nurses are not compelled to go to any firm, and many have made their own uniforms. Sealed patterns are available in all States. That is to say, nurses can obtain patterns and make their own uniforms - >The Director-General of Medical Services has repeatedly told nurses that they can buy their uniforms at any shop they wish. In the course of my reply to the same question, I said - >At the beginning of the war the then DirectorGeneral of Medical Services obtained prices for the necessary outfit for nurses from several firms in various States. The average was £ 15, and he advised that amount as the allowance. It appears that the Director-General of Medical Services inquired from a number of firms the price at which they would be prepared to supply the full equipment for a nurse, and the average of the prices quoted was £15. The Department, therefore, decided to make to each nurse an allowance of £15. The Director-General of Medical Services states distinctly that he has never told a nurse to go to any particular business house for her outfit. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- I believe that. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Quite so. If any such direction has been given to the nurses, it has occurred without the knowledge of the head of the Department. The Minister of Defence will immediately look into this matter, and if he ascertains that any officer of the Department has been acting wrongly he will deal severely with him. The publicity given to the matter by this debate will in itself do good, since nurses will be fully advised that they may obtain their outfit wherever they please. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Would it not be well to give each nurse accepted for service a departmental circular setting out that she may obtain her outfit wherever she pleases, as long as it is up to the required standard? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- That will be done. *Expeditionary* [28 July, 1915.] *Forces.* 5421 {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- It would be as well to know whether the standard was recommended by the medical officer, or by the matron of the Melbourne Hospital, who would know much more about it. {: #subdebate-29-0-s11 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- Quite so. All that I. can do is to promise that the Minister will look into this matter immediately, and that anything which is wrong will be rectified. Question resolved in the negative. {: .page-start } page 5421 {:#debate-30} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-30-0} #### EXPEDITIONARYFORCES Promotions and Seniority: Venereal Cases: Training or Married Volunteers {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that every permanent officer in the Defence Department volunteered for the front at the outbreak of the war; if so, how many were taken and how many were left? 1. Have the captains who were compelled to remain to carry on administrative work in Australia been placed on the same footing as those who have gone to the front; if not, why not? 2. In the cases of some captains being promoted to rank of major, and some lieutenants promoted to rank of captain when sent to the front, will such promoted officers rank senior to their superior officers who, through no fault of their own, are compelled to remain behind ? {: #subdebate-30-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Individual applications for active service were not received from every officer of the Permanent Forces; it is understood that every permanent officer is available if required. One hundred and fifty-nine officers of the Permanent Forces have been accepted for active service, and 188 have not been permitted to go. 1. No difference in status has been made between officers of the Permanent Forces who have gone to the front and those who have been compelled to remain behind. 2. The following notification was published in Military Orders on 8th September, 1914 : - " It is notified for information of all ranks that any appointments or promotions in Australian Expeditionary Forces apply only to such Forces, and give no claim to future rank in the Australian Military Forces." {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Whether the information known to the British and other navies for the protection of men and officers from certain diseases is utilized by the Defence Department for the military; and, if so, how is it that so many cases of these terrible diseases have occurred amongst the soldiers ? 1. Will the Minister have the printed instructions in connexion with this matter circulated for the information of members? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are - 1 and 2. The Acting Director-General of Medical Services believes that the percentage of venereal disease amongst soldiers is extremely low, and is nearly all gonorrhoea. Recently 3,600 men were examined, and only five cases discovered. Shortly afterwards 2,000 other men were examined and four cases discovered, or a total of nine, all gonorrhoea, amongst 5,600 soldiers. The proportion amongst civilians is far greater. The practice of British, American, and German Navies is known to the Acting DirectorGeneral of Medical Services. Men are advised to institute treatment, but there can be no reliable statistics regarding results. A copy of the pamphlet issued for the information of Australian soldiers has been laid on the table of the Library. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* >With reference to the arrangements made for the training of recruits, as many of them are married, will the Minister for Defence arrange matters so that all married men whose homes are in Melbourne can be trained at the nearest camp, in order that they can retain, as long as possible, the advantages of their home life? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The answer to the honorable member's question is - >The suggestion of the honorable member has the Minister's sympathy, but the training and organization of the units and reinforcements for service abroad is of primary importance. The units and reinforcements for service abroad are trained at and despatched from Seymour; the training at present being carried out at Flemington is of an elementary character for recently enlisted men. However, I will Bee whether it would be practicable to take any action in the direction indicated. {: .page-start } page 5421 {:#debate-31} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-31-0} #### IMPORTS OF EAU-DE-COLOGNE Case of Julius Blau {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 asked the Minister of External Affairs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Did his Department grant a permit to visit America, since the outbreak of war, to Julius Blau (senior), of Sydney? 1. When was Julius Blau naturalized ? 2. Did he visit America to arrange for large shipments to Australia of " 4711 " eau-de- Cologne, manufactured in New York? 3. Is the Minister aware that the above New York factory is owned and controlled by Germans ? {: #subdebate-31-0-s1 .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON:
Minister for External Affairs · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Minister for Defence approved of **Mr. Blau** leaving Australia on a business visit to America. Julius Blau & Sons Ltd. entered into a bond in the sum of £6,000 that **Mr. Blau,** while absent from Australia, would not engage in trading with the enemy, and that he would act as a loyal British subject. 1. 20th March, 1912. 2. The reason given by **Mr. Blau** in a statutory declaration made by him prior to his 5422 *Defence Department.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Commonwealth Annuities.* departure was that be desired to visit America for the purpose of obtaining the necessary plant for the manufacture of perfumery and soap in Australia. 3. No information upon the matter is to hand. The Attorney-General is making inquiries, and has directed that **Mr. Blau** is to be asked for information. {: .page-start } page 5422 {:#debate-32} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-32-0} #### DEFENCE DEPARTMENT Overtime: Payment due to Trainees Enlisted and Sent Abroad. Mr.KELLY asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* >Is the Minister for Defence aware that the armoury staff in Sydneyhas not been paid for overtime worked in February, March, April, May, and June! > >Were the pay-sheets sent to Melbourne for checking before payment; if so, why, and why the delay? > >Will the Minister for Defence arrange for overtime payments to be made in his Department with the same readiness as exists in private employment? {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The armoury staff at Sydney were paid overtime upto the end of April on the 19th July. Claims for May and June have not yet been received from the Ordnance Department. 1. No. Claims were submitted to Headquarters for approval in accordance with regulations at the end' of June, and were dealt with and returned on 15th July. Delay in this case was due to the illness of the officer charged with this duty. 2. It is considered necessary to apply certain checks to prevent working of excessive overtime, but arrangements will be made to expedite payment of claims in future. {: #subdebate-32-0-s1 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What steps, if any, have been taken to insure to members of the Citizen Forces, who are on active service abroad, payment of moneys due to them for their period of training previous to enlistment? 1. Is it considered, in eases where an order to pay agent has not been left, that moneys so due should be disbursed as directed by the member in his enlistment form ? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Unclaimed militia pay is held by the Commanding Officer for a period of three months and then forwarded to the Military Paymaster, who lodges it in a trust fund. *It* may, therefore, be obtained at any time by the soldier upon personal application, or may be disposed of in any way desired upon receipt of a written order. 1. The allotment form of a member of the Expeditionary Forces only relates to pay earned as a member of such force, and cannot be taken as an authority for the disbursement of Citizen Forces' pay due to such member, unless specifically stated thereon. i {: .page-start } page 5422 {:#debate-33} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-33-0} #### COMMONWEALTH ANNUITIES {: #subdebate-33-0-s0 .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr HIGGS: asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >Whether, with a view to securing money for Commonwealth services, he will obtain actuarial opinion as to the terms upon which may be safely based a system for the payment of (a) immediate annuities, *(b)* deferred annuities? {: #subdebate-33-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- The desired information will be obtained. {: .page-start } page 5422 {:#debate-34} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-34-0} #### ROTTNEST INTERNMENT CAMP {: #subdebate-34-0-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* >Whether it is not a fact that the Military authorities placed all the bedsteads obtained from the Tourists' Department, Western Australia, at the disposal of the interned Germans, atRottnest, while the troops guarding those interned were allowed to sleep on the ground? {: #subdebate-34-0-s1 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
ALP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is - >When the Rottnest Tourist Camp was taken over sufficient stretchers were issued for the troops and the balance to the enemy prisoners. All troops are in buildings with wooden floors, and do not need to sleep on the ground. The District Commandant further states that it is not known that any troops actually sleep on the floor except when on guard duty. > >Hundreds of prisoners are in tents sleeping on the ground or on stretchers provided at their own expense. > >It is not customary, except in very isolated cases, to provide men actually on guard with stretchers. It is essential that they should always be ready to turn out at a moment's notice. {: .page-start } page 5422 {:#debate-35} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-35-0} #### HORSE-BREEDING DEPOTS {: #subdebate-35-0-s0 .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr CHANTER:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES asked the Prime Min ister, *upon notice-* > *As* the cost of horses in connexion with the > >Expeditionary Forces, it is stated,has already amounted to about half-a-million pounds sterling, and in consideration of Parliament having already passed a resolution approving of the establishment of horse-breeding depots - > >Is he in a position to state whether any attempt has been made to give effect to the resolution? > >If not, when is it proposed to make a start? {: #subdebate-35-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- Owing to the pressure of work and the strain on the finances of the country occasioned by the war, it has been found necessary to defer the establishment of these depots for the present. Any steps taken to establish such depots at the present juncture would not be likely to be of assistance during the present war *War Pensions* [28 July, 1915.] *Bill (No.* 2). 5423 {: .page-start } page 5423 {:#debate-36} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-36-0} #### WAR CENSUS {: #subdebate-36-0-s0 .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir JOHN FORREST:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >Will he ask the Commonwealth Statistician whether any portion of the expense of collecting the census, viz., about £150,000, could be saved by utilizing information already in the Statistical Departments of the Commonwealth and States? {: #subdebate-36-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- As it is necessary to get accurate and up-to-date information in connexion with the war census, the benefits, if any, of getting piece-meal data would probably be futile for the purpose in view. {: .page-start } page 5423 {:#debate-37} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-37-0} #### SMALL ARMS FACTORY {: #subdebate-37-0-s0 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What has been the total expenditure incurred in the erection of factory and buildings, installation of plant, working expenses, and all other expenditure at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, from inception to 30th June, 1915? 1. How much of this sum has been charged to capital account? 2. What was the approximate value of stock on hand on 30th June, 1915? {: #subdebate-37-0-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
ALP -- Inquiry is being made, and information will be furnished as soon as possible. {: .page-start } page 5423 {:#debate-38} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-38-0} #### PERMISSION TO GERMAN SUBJECTS TO LEAVE AUSTRALIA {: #subdebate-38-0-s0 .speaker-JTI} ##### Mr BURNS:
for Mr. Burchell asked the Minister of External Affairs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that a German subject was given permission to leave Geelong for America? 1. If so, under what conditions? {: #subdebate-38-0-s1 .speaker-KLB} ##### Mr MAHON:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are - 1 and 2. No: but the Department has a record of the issue of passports to two residents' of Geelong, who declared they were natives of Victoria, although, they bore German names. These men were desirous of proceeding to America. The papers in those cases wore referred to the Defence authorities, who expressed the opinion that there was no objection to the issue of the passports. {: .page-start } page 5423 {:#debate-39} ### WAR PENSIONS BILL (No. 2) *In Committee* (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message) . {: #debate-39-s0 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
Minister for the Navy · Bass · ALP -- I move - >That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the War Pensions Act 1914. It is proposed to take the second reading at once. {: #debate-39-s1 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs -- I trust that the Governor-General's message is framed in such a way that there will be the fullest freedom to honorable members to make suggestions for improvements, such, for instance, as increasing the expenditure over that which is now proposed. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- It would not be wise to bring down a message of such an indefinite nature. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported, and adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Jensen** and **Mr. Hughes** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Jensen** and read a first time. {: #debate-39-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Is it the pleasure of the House that the Minister be given leave to move the second reading? Leave given. {: #debate-39-s3 .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN:
Minister for the Navy · Bass · ALP -- I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. This is a Bill to amend the War Pensions Act of 1915. One object which the Government has in view in its introduction is to place the administration of the Act on a better and sounder basis. At the present time all claims must be referred to Melbourne, and if that arrangement were continued it would necessitate a tremendous amount of correspondence from all parts of Australia, and unnecessary friction. We therefore propose that in each State there shall be an authority competent to deal with the claims therein arising, with power to refer to the Central Office in Melbourne. It is proposed that the Deputy Commissioner for Old-age Pensions in each State shall become also the Deputy Commissioner for War Pensions for his State, and that the Registrars under him, to whom claims for oldage pensions may be made, shall also receive claims for war pensions. The Registrars will obtain all necessary evidence and particulars in respect of each claim, and forward the claim, together with the medical certificate, to the Deputy Commissioner for the State, who will act on the facts put before him. Thus it will be easy to keep in touch with every claimant, and to investigate thoroughly every case. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Will all Queensland claims be dealt with in Brisbane? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The Deputy Commissioner for Queensland will reside in Brisbane, but under him, in all parts of the State, will be Registrars who -will receive claims, and make necessary inquiries concerning them. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Could the Registrar at Roma take all evidence in respect of a claim made there, without it being necessary for the claimant to travel to Brisbane" {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Yes. Our desire is to afford every facility for the making of claims by those residing in remote places. The administration of the Act was intrusted to the War Pensions Board, but the Bill abolishes that Board, and puts the administration of the Act under the Treasurer. No doubt the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Branch, which is to be asked to deal also with the war pensions, will have an enormous amount of added work, because of the great number of casualties for which we must make provision. The Deputy Commissioners of the States will act in accordance with instructions issued from Melbourne by the Commissioner, and an attempt will be made to deal uniformly with the various classes of claims. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- The Deputy Commissioner for Old-age Pensions is sometimes Public Service Inspector as well, and has a great deal to do. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- In Tasmania the Deputy Commissioner for Old-age Pensions is also Deputy Commissioner for Taxation ; but we consider that these officers are the best available for the work. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- They will need assistance. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- That is a matter for consideration later. Paragraph & of clause 3 removes a doubt which exists as to the claim of nurses to receive war pensions. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Do naval men come under the Act? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Yes. Paragraph c of the same clause provides for the abolition of the War Pensions Board, to which I have already referred. The next clause, by paragraph *a,* makes it possible for a person to draw both an invalid or old-age pension and a war pension. Under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act a pensioner, to receive the full amount of the invalid or old-age pension, must not be in receipt of more than £1 a week from all sources. That might debar such a person from drawing a war pension. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- How could an oldage pensioner be a returned soldier? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- An old-age pensioner may be the dependant of a killed or wounded soldier. At the present time a son may contribute £26 a year towards the maintenance of a parent, and that parent may also receive another £26 from the Government as an old-age pension. Apparently, however, a pensioner who is now receiving £52 a year from all sources could not, as the law stands, draw a war pension as well, and the Bill amends. the Act so that an invalid or old-age pensioner who is in receipt of £52 a year from all sources may also receive a war pension in the event of him or her having a claim on the war pensions fund by reason of dependence on a son who has been killed or wounded in military service. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- What is the position of a widow who is not in receipt of an old-age pension? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- She is provided for elsewhere. Paragraphs *b,* c, and *d* of clause 4 deal with the positions of public servants who have volunteered for service. Under the Public Service Act and the Defence Act employees are en ti tied to six months' furlough after twenty years' service. If they retire without having had furlough, they are entitled to six months' pay in lieu, and if they die without having had furlough their dependants receive the six months' pay. It has been discovered that under the War Pensions Act it is doubtful whether such an officer would be entitled to both the six months' pay in lieu of furlough, and also the war pension. This clause will make it absolutely clear that the payment of the six months' salary in lieu of furlough will not jeopardize the ordinary war pension. In other words, when a civil servant to whom furlough is due is killed, his dependants will be entitled to draw both the war pension and the six months' pay. This amendment fs necessary, in order to avoid injustice to many persons. Clause 5 is merely a machinery clause. Clause 6 makes an amendment which is rendered necessary by the abolition of the Board. Clause T authorizes each Deputy Commissioner to determine claims that are now determined by the War Pensions Board, and allows the Commissioner to decide that any particular case or cases of a particular class shall be referred to him for assessment or determination. Section 6 of the Act makes any determination of the Pensions Board subject to the approval of the Minister. Clause 8 proposes to repeal that provision, and to provide instead that an appeal shall lie to the Commissioner from any assessment or determination of a Deputy Commissioner. That means that if any claimant is dissatisfied "with the allowance made by the Deputy Commissioner he will have the right, without prejudice, to appeal to the Commissioner in Melbourne. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Is not the real point of this amendment, that whilst under the original Act the claimant had the right of appeal to the Minister, the appeal is now to be to the Commissioner, so that the Minister may wash his hands of the whole business? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- I take it that the Minister will have power to deal with every case even after this amendment is made. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Even under the Act, the Minister can only give a pension according to the law. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- That is so. Clause 9 makes an alteration which is necessitated by the substitution of the Commissioner for the Pensions Board. Clause 10 proposes the insertion of a new section to provide, that the Commonwealth shall not be compelled to pay a pension to a man while he is in gaol. At present there is grave doubt as to whether a man who is in gaol, and is entitled to a pension, cannot insist on drawing that pension. It is proposed to remove that doubt. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- What about his de pendants? While a man is serving a sentence his wife may be suffering. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- I do not think the clause has any application to the wife. It applies only to the man who is in gaol. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- In any case, the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner is given a discretionary power to suspend the pension. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Yes, the administration of this provision will be at the discretion of the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner, who will no doubt exercise common sense. If a single pensioner is undergoing a term of imprisonment, this clause will preclude him from drawing a pension . {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- *But* he might have a mother dependent upon him. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The Commissioner will have a discretionary power. Clause 11 proposes an amendment in order that the pensions to widows and children shall be in every case at the full rate. Under the principal Act the pensions could have been cut down if the wives were nos wholly dependent on their husbands. Paragraph *b* of this clause is merely a machinery provision. In regard to paragraph c, under the Act dependants other than wives and children could not receive pensions if the soldiers were incapacitated. For example, the mother of a soldier who had been maintained by him before the war could not get a pension if her son were incapacitated. By this amendment she and other dependants will be entitled to draw a pension, and so justice will be dealt out to everybody. Paragraph *d* proposes the addition of a sub-section to section 8. It is thought that a child who has lost both parents, or who has lost its mother, and whose father is incapacitated, should receive more than 5s. a week. If the proposed sub-section be agreed to, the pension for a child so situated will be £19 10s. per annum, or 7s. 6d. per week. Clause 12 is of a machinery character, and clause 13 contains amendments necessitated by the abolition of the Pensions Board. Turning now to clause 14, the principal Act is silent as to the period during which pensions may be paid to dependants other than children under the age of sixteen years. There is nothing in the Act to show for how long a pension should be paid to a boy or girl of seventeen years who had been dependent on a father killed at the front. Suppose a man killed at the front leaves as a dependant a boy or girl who is under seventeen years, there is nothing in the Act to say that such a person shall not receive a pension for the whole of his or her life, although this dependant may be just entering manhood or womanhood, and be able to earn a good livelihood. It does not seem right to refuse help, and, on the other hand, it is clear that in such a case a pension should not be paid for life. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Would the pension not be limited by the period of dependency? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- No; and I shall show what we propose. At present there is nothing to show bow long a pension shall be paid to a boy or girl of seventeen who was dependent on a father killed at the front. It does not seem right to refuse help, and, on the other hand, it is clear that a pension in such case should not be paid for life. Under this clause it is provided that, except in the case of a child or the wife, widow, father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother of a soldier, no pension shall he payable for more than two years to any defendant who, in the opinion of the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner, is able to earn a livelihood. "For instance, if a man killed at the front leaves a girl sixteen or seventeen years of age as a dependant, it would not be right that the pension should go on when she reaches the age of eighteen or twenty, and oan earn a living. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- But the pension would go on in the case of a permanent invalid, even above that age. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- That is so; the pension of an invalid would go on for all time; but the desire is to definitely state when pensions shall cease in such cases as I have mentioned. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- In the case of a girl of seventeen, I take it that the pension would cease in two years' time ? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- That is so; though, of course, if that daughter is a permanent invalid, she will continue to be a dependant, and receive a pension. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- It depends on the ability to earn a livelihood? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Certainly. This clause will not prevent the payment of a war pension for an indefinite period to a cripple. To provide a pension for two years to a dependant over the age of sixteen, makes it necessary, in equity, that a child's pension shall continue for at least two years. For example, it would not be fair to grant a pension to a girl of seventeen for two years, and, to a girl of only fifteen and a half years, for only six months. It is, therefore, proposed, under the amendment, that if a girl at fifteen and a half years of age, suddenly loses her father at the war, she shall have the right to draw a pension for two years, just as well as will a girl at seventeen years of age. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr Atkinson: -- How will this provision affect the case of young children? Will they receive any pension when over the age of sixteen? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Young children who have received a pension from two or three years of age will cease to receive it at sixteen years of age, but if a girl at fifteen and a half years of age becomes entitled to a pension a3 a dependant she will draw it for two years. Such children as have been mentioned by the honorable member for Wilmot will have the right to draw a pension for twelve or fourteen years,but the minimum amount of time that any dependent child can draw a pension is two years, irrespective of age. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- But supposing the "child" marries? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Then she is not a dependant, and is not entitled to a pension. What the amendment proposes is to make the minimum period two years instead of the shorter period mentioned in the Act. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr Hannan: -- If a child has received a pension from being three years of age, and at sixteen years of age is physically unfit to earn a livelihood, what is the position? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- The pension will still go on. As to clause 15, in the principal Act a female dependant, other than the widow, could get a pension for life, but a widow's pension would be payable only during her widowhood. This clause will take away the pension from all female dependants on their marriage. It will be remembered that there was a long discussion on this point when the original Bill was before the House. The amendment, as proposed, will deprive all female dependants of the pension on their marriage. Under the present Act there is a doubt on the point, though there is no doubt in the case of a widow, whose pension certainly ceases on her re-marrying. The idea now is to treat all alike, and to remove all doubt as to female dependants who are not widows. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- I thought all pensions ceased at a certain age. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- That is not so; and the idea is to put all women on the same footing in this regard. Clause 16 amends section 11 of the principal Act, which makes it necessary that before a pension can be paid the Governor-General's approval must be obtained. This entailed delay which it is desirable to avoid. Under the amendment there will be no necessity for the Governor-General's approval, once the Commissioner has decided. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I thought that all pensions ceased when a dependant was old enough to earn a living. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- No; that is why the amending Bill is introduced. Clause 17 *War Pensions* [28 July, 1915.] *Bill(No.* 2). 5427 makes an alteration necessitated by the abolition of the Pensions Board ; clause18 makes merely a verbal alteration, and clause 19 provides for a minimum pension. The principal Act does not show what rate of pension is to be paid in the case of any member of the Forces who is in receipt of less than 6s. a day. Under the schedule to the Act, as at present, there is nothing to show what the pension shall be to any person who has been in receipt of less than 6s. per day. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Are there any persons in receipt of less than 6s. a day '! {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr JENSEN: -- Yes, the nurses; and we have incorporated nurses within the amendment. Some of these receive less than 6s. a day. It is desired that any one who receives less than that rate shall receive the minimum pensions referred to in the schedule. That is to be the minimum pension, no matter what the pay may have been. I have much pleasure in submitting the measure to the House. {: #debate-39-s4 .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK:
Parramatta -- It is not my intention to occupy many moments in discussing a Billwhich is to be welcomed on many grounds. First of all, I entirely agree with the decision of the Government to include nurses amongst those who are to benefit by the pension system. These ladies fulfil a function at the front which is second to none of those in the actual firing line. There is one function which a nurse always fulfils in war, but which, I am afraid, is oftentimes lost sight of. I refer to the number of lives she saves, and. therefore, the number of combatants she returns to the trenches. This is, perhaps, one of the most important features of our warlike operations. We are told that 54 per cent, of those who are wounded return again to the front; and how much of that percentage is due to the nursing at the hands of these sisters of mercy, in truth, is, perhaps, beyond our capacity to compute. We do know, however, that a great proportion of those who return to the firing line owe their ability to do so to the nursing received in hospitals ; and one of the main objects of the measure before us is to rectify an anomaly which excludes this most useful arm of' our defence from the benefits of the pension provisions. I venture to say there will be a general feeling of relief at the removal of an undoubted injustice arising, no doubt, from the fact that we did not sufficiently consider the Pensions Bill in the first instance. The Bill gives relief in many other ways. Definitions and limitations are necessary, the idea being to do justice to those who are entitled to pensions, and to preclude the possibility of injustice being done to the Government itself. We have to protect our finances on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to take care that we are not parsimonious or niggardly in really deserving cases. I am not so sure that the change from a Pensions Board to a sole Commissioner will be altogether an improvement. I should imagine that where things have to be balanced nicely, a Board could do the balancing, perhaps, as well as any sole Commissioner. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Better to have this Act administered by one Department than by. two. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- I quite agree with the honorable member, though I do not know that things are altogether satisfactory under the Old-age Pensions Act. However, I hope sincerely that if there is to be any erring, it will be on the side of mercy and liberality, and not on the side of strictness and red-tape. There are some cases, I think, we might have provided for in the Bill. A great deal of latitude is left to the Commissioner, who, as we know, must delegate authority, and it is sometimes difficult to get matters rectified. *I* think we might provide safeguards in the Bill itself for some of the individuals mentioned. The case I have in my mind occurred in my own electorate the other day. The boy had a widowed mother. They were three in family. The mother kept a small shop, on the proceeds of which she and her sister had to live. It is a business that has practically gone to pieces since the war began. Even before the war, the returns from it were very small ; but. the mother struggled along and reared her family, one of whom was old enough to go to the front. He was shot. At that time he held the rank of sergeant, and his pension rights under the schedule to the principal Act amounted to £70 a year; but the Board has awarded the mother the princely sum of £26 per annum, or 10s. a week. I do not know on what principle it proceeds in determining such matters, but it seems to me that we should lay down in this Bill the principle that the extent of the assistance which a boy like this rendered 5428 *War Pensions* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Bill (No.* 2). his mother before he enlisted is the measure of the pension to which she ought to be entitled. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- He might have given her nothing at all. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- In such cases no monetary loss would be involved. But supposing that this lad gave his mother £50 or £60 a year, why should we offer that mother after his death only £26 a year? I fail to see why a principle such as that I have just enunciated should not be incorporated in the Bill. Whether the Commissioner will exercise more discretion in dealing with these cases than has been used by the Board I do not pretend to say; hut great hardships are already occurring under the Act. I do not suggest that we can cover all cases of hardship, but I think that we might well lay down in the Bill principles for the guidance of the Commissioner in making these allotments. Anomalies and injustices are already beginning to creep in, and I sometimes wonder whether that is why the Minister, seeing the crop of trouble that might come from the exercise of discretion on his part, is divesting himself of the whole business, and imposing these obligations upon a Commissioner, who, perhaps, will not be subject to parliamentary pressure. Whatever the meaning and purpose of the Bill may be, we shall see in the sequel whether the change of control from the Board to a Commissioner is beneficial. As to the rest of the Bill, I think that the proposed amendments of the principal Act will, for the most part, be an improvement, having regard to the major factors with which we set out to frame such a measure, namely, the protection of the revenue, on the one side, from unjust encroachment, and on the other the liberal pensioning of the dependants of those who sacrifice their lives, or prospects in life, in this war. The very structure of the Bill should incline it to the side of mercy and liberality wherever there is a doubt. I cannot help feeling that we might lay downthe principle that the pensions derivable by the dependant of a soldier killed at the front should at least be equal to the amount actually received from him before the war broke out. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Limiting it, of course, by the extent of the scale in the schedule. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- Certainly. The young sergeant to whom I have referred was entitled, under the schedule, to a pension of £70 per annum. Why should the mother be offered only £26 per annum? {: .speaker-KEX} ##### Mr FINLAYSON:
BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND · ALP -- What was that son contributing to his mother's maintenance prior to the war? {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- A great deal more. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- There might be instances where the dependants were getting nothing at all, so that the principle suggested by the right honorable member would not work out. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- Where men have not been contributing to their dependants, there isno monetary loss involved in the losing of their lives in the war. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- If within five years of the death of a soldier, his dependants find themselves without adequate means, they may obtain assistance. That is provided for in the principal Act. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- But how is that assistance to be assessed? I recognise that it is much easier to criticise than to construct, and that it is difficult to frame a clause to fit all these individual cases. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- That would be impossible. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr JOSEPH COOK: -- But we should endeavour to do justice as far as we can, and to spread that justice over as wide an area as possible. On the whole, I welcome the Bill, and congratulatethe Minister upon its introduction. {: #debate-39-s5 .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS:
Barrier .- Whilst I am pleased that the Minister has introduced this amending Bill, and regret that an opportunity has not offered for its submission at an earlier date, I trust that the honorable gentleman will not seek to carry it beyond the secondreading stage to-day, since I think that we should have time to consider it, and to ascertain whether any anomalies that could be cured by the Bill have escaped his vigilant eyes. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- We cannot be too careful in dealing with a Bill of this kind. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS: -- Quite so; it is one of the most important with which we could deal at the present time. I was very much impressed by a remark made by the honorable member for Balaclava whilst speaking at a recruiting meeting in Malvern. In explaining why he could not at that moment volunteer for active service, he gave the very justifiable reason, among others, that he felt that he had not made adequate provision for those whom he would leave behind'. I could not help feeling that if that objection would apply to gentlemen in certain positions, it would apply with still greater force to the vast majority of the people of Australia. It is the bounden duty of this Parliament to make fair and adequate provision for the dependants of those who go to the front. It is all the more necessary that we should do so, seeing that our men are going to the front as volunteers, and not under a system of conscription. Quite a number of people object to the principle of conscription, holding that it is opposed to the fundamental principles and the genius of the race from which we spring. The honorable member for Brisbane takes that view. {: .speaker-KEX} ##### Mr Finlayson: -- I do. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS: -- I am not at present advocating the principle of conscription ; but it seems to me that there is a great deal of poetical sentiment and " flapdoodle " associated with the suggestion that it is opposed to the genius of the race from which we spring, having regard to the records of the press-gang, and to the fact that 90 per cent, of British soldiers have been forced to adopt soldiering at the point of the bayonet of necessity. I go a long way with the right honorable member for Parramatta in his desire that, as far as possible, we should set out in the Bill itself the principles by which the Commissioner should be guided in determining the pensions payable iri each case. lt may not be possible to follow the exact lines laid down by the right honorable member, but I certainly agree with the principle he has enunciated. We are sending our young men to the front with a great deal of cheering, and with much enthusiasm, but those who die at Gallipoli and elsewhere will inevitably be forgotten save by their mothers. A mother does not readily forget her children. Those who come back will be forgotten in a very short time. Already wounded soldiers returning from the Dardanelles have been forgotten, not only by officialdom, but by the general public. Whilst we are justified in condemning officialdom for its failure to pro vide for the comfort of the wounded soldiers who recently travelled from Melbourne to Sydney, what are we to say of the general public who travelled by the same train, and who jostled these unfortunate men at Seymour in order that they, healthy and strong, might be the first to secure a cup of tea ? {: #debate-39-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- I ask the honorable member not to discuss that question. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr THOMAS: -- I referred to it only as showing the necessity for making proper provision for these men in the Bill now before us, since the incident in question shows how soon their services will be forgotten. If such a thing could occur while the war is in progress, what is going to happen when the war is at an end, and when many of our men return halt and lame, and in some instances blind *1* A few years hence they will be swept aside in the struggle for existence, and unless we make adequate provision for them while the war is on, while every one is enthusiastic, there will be no chance for them in the years to come. Therefore, I am glad that the Bill has been introduced. I am sure that honorable members will be prepared to go as far as the Government are anxious and ready to go in this matter, and that there will be no hesitation in making the Bill as liberal as it should be made. As I realize that it is not necessary to deal with particular clauses or cases on the second reading, at this stage I merely express my pleasure at the introduction of the Bill and my readiness to support all its provisions. I consider that they are an improvement on those in the Act itself, but it is the duty of any honorable member to bring under the notice of the Government further provisions which, he thinks, should be included ; and I am sure if the suggestions are reasonable, the Government will be prepared to adopt them. I am very pleased that it is proposed to remove the control of these pensions from the War Pensions Board - a matter on which I spoke some time ago - and have the Act administered by the Old-age Pensions Department, a branch of the Commonwealth Service which has had a great deal of experience in these matters. There may he anomalies, and some of us may consider that injustice has been done in a few cases; but, generally speaking, the Old-age Pensions Department has done its work very well, and the Deputy Commissioners have administered the Act under which they work in a spirit of fairness and liberality. I have no hesitation in supporting the proposal to hand over to their control the matter of paying war pensions. With two Departments dealing with a matter, there is always difficulty in sheeting home the blame for any delay that may occur. I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill. {: #debate-39-s7 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs -- I am glad that the Minister has introduced the Bill in its present form. It is true, as the honorable member for Barrier has said, that, while the war is in progress, and people are enthusiastic and are prepared to cheer and welcome our heroes returning wounded from the front, and that, after the lapse of time, when the war is forgotten, we shall be apt to forget that their injuries were sustained in their endeavour to preserve the honour and integrity of the nation ; but I do not altogether agree with the honorable member for Barrier's account of the reception that was accorded to the wounded soldiers who recently returned to Australia. No greater honour could have been accorded to men than was given to the wounded Queenslanders at Warwick and Toowoomba and Brisbane on their progress through Queensland. The spontaneous outburst that was witnessed in those places showed that the people fully appreciated the - sacrifices the men had made. The Minister has done right in proposing to abolish the existing Pensions Board and substitute for it the administration of the Old-age Pensions Department. Centralization - having one Board to investigate the whole of the claims throughout Australia - would lead to injustice and unspeakable delay, and would shake the public confidence in the sympathy of the people for the soldiers who had fallen at the front. Two cases have been brought under my attention recently. In one case a letter was written to the Defence Department in January last, and this afternoon, on my return to Melbourne, the information to hand is that the father, not being a dependant, is not entitled to claim a war pension, though he is drawing an old-age pension. I am? making further inquiries into this case. It may probably be reviewed under the provisions of the Bill now beforeus. The second case to which my attention has been drawn is that of a man who was injured on a transport, and who, after passing through several hospitals abroad and in Melbourne,, is now apparently permanently incapacitated, and going about Queensland maimed and injured. His case has been before the Pensions Board for some time, but it has not yet been decided. Thesedelays would seem to be a reflection on Australia. That men have to wait such a considerable time while their claims are being investigated from Melbourne.' and while communications pass to and fro asking for further information, would seem to indicate a lack of sympathy towards injured soldiers. Two public- bodies have written to me asking when this man's case was to be dealt with, and whether they could give any assistance in the matter. I do not blame the Minister: I do not blame the members of the Pensions Board - they are sympathetic, and desire to do a fair thing - I blame the existing machinery, which cannot work satisfactorily. The system of decentralization now proposed should workmuch better. I understand that the proposal is that there will no longer be centralization by having all investigations made from Melbourne, but that all matters will be referred to the Deputy Oldage Pensions Commissioners in our capital cities. Claims will be made to Registrars first, and will then be forwarded to the Deputy Commissioners for investigation. The question is what machinery will be at the disposal of the Deputy Commissioners for the purpose of enablingthem to investigate a claimant's incapacity. These investigations will have to be made all over the Commonwealth, according to the localities from c which men have enlisted. I hope that a scheme will be devised whereby these men can have their depositions taken. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- Why are. they not told* before they go to the front that they will have to fight their cases when they comeback? The advertisements in the newspapers simply tell them what their pensions will be. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- The Bill before us is a distinct improvement, because the amount of the pensions is laid down specifically. The words " shall not exceed the following " are to be struck out, and the words"shall be as follows" are to be inserted' in their stead. Thus the wife, the widow,. and the children will, in case of death, he entitled beyond all doubt to the amount set out in the advertised schedule. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- If they were dependent on the deceased soldier. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- The specific pension to the wife, widow, or child is set out. but all other dependants - the father, the mother, the grandfather, the grandmother, and so on - will be required to prove the fact that they were dependent on the deceased soldier, and the Commissioner will have to assess the extent to which they were dependent upon him, and the amount to which he thinks they are entitled as compensation for the fact that they were his dependants. The rates are also absolutely fixed in regard to total incapacity. What I am concerned about are cases of injury such as the one I have already mentioned. There will be a Registrar in each large country town, and he should be able to investigate And take depositions on the spot when a claim is made, and make a report upon it, which report should be accompanied by *a statement as to the claimant's condition from a medical practitioner, or from people living in the locality. I take it that, where the claimant has been injured on the field of battle and examined by the doctors attached to the Forces, the Commissioner will be in touch with the Defence Department, and will be able to ascertain the evidence in the possession of the ^Department showing the certificate of the injury that the man has sustained. Thus the Deputy Commissioner should be able to get all the evidence available, and give a complete and proper determination on each case. Decentralization can be carried out to n very great extent. Possibly, in working out the system, improvements may be found, but I think that it will prove effective. I would like to see the Minister develop certain definite principles for the administration of the Act on a uniform basis in each State. Frequently in Departments, often without the knowledge of the Minister, different rules of interpretation and amplication exist. A Pensions Act should he construed in the most liberal fashion possible. I think that the feeling of honorable members is that we should err on the side of liberality and generosity, and that it would he far better that one unscrupulous man should take advantage of a generous interpretation than that forty-nine men should not get justice. The Minister should try to get definite instructions drafted as early as possible, and send them to the Deputy Commissioners. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- That is the intention. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- The Minister can get some very valuable help in regard to uniformity from the machinery and schedules of the Workmen's Compensation Act. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- If the Minister does this a Treat deal of trouble and reference back to the Central Department, and delay, will be saved. It would no no harm to let it be known that, in case of doubt, it is better to give a claimant the benefit of a liberal interpretation of the measure rather than to adhere to the strict letter of the Statute. There should be a good deal of latitude in deciding the fact of dependency, and it should be made known that, if the interpretation of the measure is not too strict the Deputy Commissioners will he carrying out the wishes of honorable members. Above all, I wish the Minister to impress on his officers that honorable members desire our wounded soldiers, or the dependants of deceased soldiers, to realize that the nation is in sympathy with them. The only way in which we can convince them of this fact is to give a practical demonstration. The best way to show that is by the prompt and liberal settlement of claims. {: #debate-39-s8 .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr HANNAN:
Fawkner .- Fully *10* per cent, of the young men who have gone to the front thought when they enlisted that the dependants they left behind would, in the event of their death, receive pensions proportionate to their pay, but the Act is not being administered as they thought it would be. Some time ago I mentioned a case in point, and one or two other cases have since been brought under my notice. In the case which I brought before the House, a young man going to the front arranged that his mother should receive 5s. a day out of his pay, he keeping only ls. a day for himself. This action on his part showed that he was practically responsible for the maintenance of his home, which consisted of his father, who was suffering from paralysis of the eyes and unable to work, his mother, four children who were going to school, and two girls who were in employment, but are now out of work. When, after his death, application was made for a pension, his mother was asked, " Were you wholly dependent on the earnings of your son?" and, being a truthful woman, she replied, "No. During the past twelve months my two girls, as well as my son, have helped to maintain the home, but the girls are both out of employment now, and for some weeks before my son's death his pay was all that I had on which to keep things going." I do not know if the Department is administering the Act more sympathetically now, but the mother was told that, as she had not been entirely dependent on the earnings of her son for the twelve months preceding his death, she was not entitled to a pension. The case of the sergeant mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta, whose dependants, instead of receiving £70 a year, are receiving 10s. a week, shows that the Act is not being administered as sympathetically as we should like it to he, and, under the circumstances, I agree with the honorable member for Barrier that more time should be given for the proper consideration of this measure. The position of a soldier's widow and of his children has been clearly defined, and meets with the approval of honorable members, and the proposal to increase the allowance for children whose widowed mother dies, leaving them to the control of some one else, is worthy of support. I think, however', that a soldier's mother should be treated in the same way as a soldier's widow, even though not wholly dependent on her son's earnings. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- Of course she should. The son earned a pension for her at the cost of his life. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr HANNAN: -- A soldier's mother who is burdened with the care of several children should be treated in the same way as the soldier's widow who is left with children, and I hope that an amendment will be made to provide for that. A mother who has not been wholly dependent on her soldier son, but has had a small income from some other source, should receive at least £1 a week. From the financial point of view it is advantageous to offer every inducement to young men to go to the front, by removing the fear that those whom they leave behind will not be properly cared for. *Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to* 745 *p.m.* {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr HANNAN: -- One of the proposed new sections reads as follows: - >If any pensioner is convicted of an offence and sentenced to any term of imprisonment, the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner may suspend his pension during the term of his imprisonment, or any portion thereof, or forfeit any instalment thereof accruing during such term or portion. The power of penalizing a pensioner who has been convicted of an offence should be taken out of the hands of the Commissioner. The Act provides that a soldier who has been totally incapacitated shall receive £52 a year, his wife £26, and each child £13. I think this proposed new section should be altered, so that, while it gives the Commissioner power to take away the pension from the convicted pensioner, it shall not give him discretionary power to deprive the wife or children of their pension. In dealing with this matter, I wish to state the position as fairly as possible on behalf of dependants of single men who are going to the front. I know that a great deal of moral suasion is being exercised on the single men to induce them to offer their services to the country. The other day the single men of military age employed in a factory at Port Melbourne received notice of their dismissal, and in their pay envelope they found a small slip of paper bearing these words, ' ' We do not need you; your country does." The majority of these men are single, but a number of them have responsibilities. We recognise that the services of every young man who has the opportunity to go to the front will be gladly accepted by the country, but when we are sending men away, we wish them to take with them the assurance that if they forfeit their lives for the cause they are fighting for, those whom they leave behind will not be left to the cruel mercies of the world. So far, this Parliament has attempted to do fairly by the dependants of the soldiers we are sending away, and in that respect we differ from the Government of the United Kingdom. From our reading of the history of past wars, we know that very little provision was made for the British soldiers or their dependants. It was with feelings of almost disgust that I read in the press recently that even to-day there is a tendency on the part of the British Government to treat the dependants of soldiers as they treated them in years gone by. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- You are referring to the House of Lords. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr HANNAN: -- The House of Lords is part and parcel of the system of British government. Though the Lords may not at all times express the sentiments of the British people, the fact remains that they are a power in the land in making the laws under which the people live. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- "Under the Parliament Act they have lost that power. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr HANNAN: -- Only after a certain course of procedure, and while that procedure is being carried out thousands of the wives and children of soldiers who are now fighting in Europe are in a state of actual want. This Parliament should set an example, not only to the Mother Country, but to the whole civilized world, as to how the dependants ' of soldiers should be treated. When our soldiers are leaving for the front, we cheer them off, and assure them that everything that can be done will he done in the interests of their dependants. Many of the young men who went to Egypt prior to the passing of the War Pensions Act, enlisted with the belief that if it were their fate not to return, their mothers, or fathers, or other dependants would receive the benefit of any provision which Parliament made. We know that, so far, the Act has not operated in fulfilling that belief. In those circumstances I am pleased that this Bill has been introduced, and "I approve of the proposal made by the honorable member for Barrier that the later stages of the Bill should be deferred in order to give honorable members an opportunity of considering the proposed amendments, and to ascertain if there is anything undesirable in them which the Minister may have overlooked, or anything omitted which ought to be inserted in order to protect the interests of the men who have gone to the front. I shall conclude by saying that this Parliament cannot do too much for the wives, parents, or children of the men who are fighting our battles today. I hope and trust that the experience of our soldiers and their dependants, after the war is over, wilh not be the experience of soldiers and their dependants in other parts of the world after past wars. The Relatives of our soldiers must not become dependent on the charity of the people. I hope honorable members will give the Bill their closest consideration with a view to so amending the Act as to make absolutely certain that the dependants of those who fall in the fighting line will be adequately provided for. {: #debate-39-s9 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 .- I do not think there are two opinions as to the necessity for this Bill. Generally speaking, honorable members realize that the Minister's proposals for decentralizing the administration of the Pensions Act will probably be beneficial to the recipients of the pensions. I hope that such decentralization will allow of greater expedition in the granting of the pensions, and that we shall not have the experience we have had heretofore, of people being compelled to wait a considerable time before receiving the pensions to which they were entitled. I desire to say a few words about the amount of the pension payable. There is no doubt as to the intention of the House when the original Bill was passed. The amounts payable to each rank were stated in the schedule, not because we considered them in any way a just recompense for the actual service rendered - it is impossible to place a monetary value on that - but because we did desire, so far as was within the resources of the Commonwealth, that those who were dependent upon men killed or incapacitated should not afterwards be the recipients of charity. Already it has been pointed out that in the administration of the pensions, cases have occurred in which the full amount has not been paid. I doubt very much whether it was the intention of the House when the original Bill was passed, that the clause regulating the amount payable should. operate in the same way as the Old-age Pensions Act operates. The latter is framed on the principle that no one shall receive any pension at all who has an income of more than £1 per week, and that if a person enjoys an income less than that amount he shall receive by way of pension not more than such a sum as will raise that income to £1 per week. I do not think this House intended that in the event of two persons being dependent on their respective sons, the one having an income of £26 per annum, and the other no income, the former should receive a war pension of £26, and the other to the extent of the full £52. I believe the intention was that in all cases where it could be shown reasonably that the claimant was really dependent on the fallen or incapacitated soldier, the full amount of the pension should be paid. In Committee we might insert a clause which will insure that when the Commissioner is making his assessment he shall in no case make it lower than the amount of which the claimant had been in receipt during the time the fallen soldier was actually on service. What I mean is this : Suppose a man goes to the front, and allots to his dependants 5s. per day out of his total pay. For all we may know to the contrary, such a woman may have an income of ner own of 5s. a week; hut when it comes to apportioning the pension, it should in no case, within the rules laid down in the schedule, be less than the actual amount which was paid by the soldier while on active service. There is presumptive evidence, I say, that to that extent the recipient was actually dependent on the soldier. To meet such cases I have drafted a clause which, I think, will probably secure the object I have in view. I am not, of course, tied to the particular wording that I have used, but it conveys, at all events, the idea. I propose to move, at the proper time, a new sub-clause providing that in assessing the rate of the pension, the Commissioner, or Deputy Commissioner, shall not "n any case assess a less amount than the dependant shall have received during the lifetime of the man on whose account the pension is granted, provided that such assessment shall in no case exceed the amount specified in column 2 of the schedule opposite the rate of pay of the man. Such an amendment would secure, at all events, one thing- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I must ask the honorable member not to debate the proposed amendment. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I shall deal with the matter no further, seeing that there will be another opportunity when the Bill is in Committee. There is another point to which I should like to refer. In the course of the last day or two I have received a letter, forwarded through the Mayor of Lismore, who vouches for the correctness of its contents. Personally, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements, but they have reference to the case of a soldier who was invalided home from Egypt after a prolonged attack of pneumonia. He was paid off by the Department, and he is now incapable, and will for a long time be incapable, owing to a weakened heart, of doing any work. It is held by the Department that this man is not entitled to any allowance because his injury or illness was not contracted in actual "warlike operations." As I say, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements made in reference to this case. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr Hannan: -- A similar course is taken in lots of cases. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Of course, I understand that there are certain men being returned from Egypt who are entitled to no sympathy at all from the Department. This man suffered from pneumonia for ten or twelve weeks in hospital in Egypt, and was invalided home; and the Department holds that his injury or suffering was not caused during warlike operations. I am quite sure that any such interpretation was not the intention of honorable members when the original Act was passed. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- I thought that the ' warlike operations ' ' started when a man went into camp. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- So did I. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- If a man contracts any disease after he is sworn in, or after going into camp, through no fault of his own - and I think pneumonia would come under that head - he is entitled to a pension. Did the honorable member see this man's certificate of discharge or the reason he was sent home ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I did not. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Sometimes a man suffers from more than pneumonia. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That I know quite well. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- Is the man now receiving his pay? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- No; I understand that he has been discharged. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr Hannan: -- That is just what is being done. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I repeat once more that I am not in a position to vouch for the correctness of the statements; and all ' I am concerned about is whether the Bill before us. covers such cases. I am sure that it was the intention of Parliament that such men should receive pensions. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- So it was, and it is bo provided in the existing Act. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know that; it is a matter of interpretation. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr Hannan: -- There is a provision for payment of pensions in the Act, but what is the Department doing ? When a man is returned invalided, he is discharged, and it is held that the Department has no further responsibility regarding him. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The original Act provides - " Dependants " means such of the members of the family of a member of the Forces, whose death or incapacity results from bis employment in connexion with warlike operations. . . . It is all a question of interpretation of the -words " in connexion with warlike operations." If these words mean that " warlike operations " commence the day a man goes into camp, there is no doubt that, under such circumstances as I have mentioned, he is entitled to a pension. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Pensions are already being paid in cases from Broadmeadows Camp. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member for Darling Downs, when speaking on the original measure, said he hoped it would be construed to mean that from the moment a man volunteered his services and was accepted, his pension rights would be conserved; and the Minister in charge of the measure said that he could assure the honorable member that that was the intention of the Government. That was the general feeling of the House. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Read the definition of "incapacitated," which, I think, applies In the case quoted. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The definition is as follows : - "Incapacity" includes incapacity of a member of the Forces, arising from disease, not due to the default of the member, contracted by him while employed on active service. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- And " on active service " means the service given as soon as a man is sworn in and placed under drill. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- As I have said before, I am quite sure it is not the intention of the Minister to have the Act interpreted as it has been by the Department; and we have heard from honorable members opposite that similar cases have come under their notice. "Will the Minister, between now and when the Bill is in Committee, look into the matter, and make quite sure that the actual wording of the Act covers such cases? And, having ascertained that, will the honorable gentleman see that instructions are given to those interpreting the Act as to what the Act means? {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I shall do so. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- There is just one other point that I think deserves some attention. I have been wondering whether we could not now do something for the soldiers who were incapacitated during the South African war. There are quite a number scattered about the country; and two cases have been brought promi nently under my notice during the last few weeks. These men were pretty well shot to pieces, and are now living in Australia practically on charity. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Were not such men given lump sums by the State Governments at the time? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know whether they were or not. It has occurred to me that, without involving any large additional expense, the services of these men might receive some recognition, because there is no doubt they are just as much entitled to it as are the men engaged in the present great war. They served the country just as well, and suffered just as much, and when they are now utterly incapacitated they ought toshare, I think, in our pension benefits. I had a long letter from one of these men the other day; and, although he could not rise from the chair in which he sat to write, he declared that he would be only too willing to go to the front if he could. Yet his former services have not been recognised in any way. The Minister of Defence might very well consider the matter, and see whether it is not possible to frame a clause to enable such men - not their dependants, for that could not be done at this time - to participate .in thebenefits of the measure before us. {: #debate-39-s10 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman .- I rise mainly to call attention to oneclause to which I take great exception, and which I shall later on ask the Minister to eliminate. In the meantime, I Jim st express surprise and pain that thereshould be any doubt as to the correct interpretation of the definition in the Act which speaks of injury in connexion with "war-like operations." I understood, and I think most honorable members understood, that persons who enlisted during the currency of the war were necessarily engaged in war-like operations, so far as to insure their rights under the War Pensions Act. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- That is the intention. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Then I trust the interpretation will be made so clear as toleave no misconception in the mind of any officer. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- I do not think there is any. I fancy that in the cases quoted some facts have been left out. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Possibly that may be so; but I am accepting the view presented by the honorable member for- 5436 *War Pensions* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Bill (No.* 2). Richmond that, in some cases, at all events, there has been a miscarriage of the intention of the House. I am entirely and absolutely in sympathy with the main object of the Bill and of the principal Act. I realize, as we all do, that it is a duty incumbent on us to make provision for those maimed at the war, and for the dependants of those who may be maimed or killed. It is also necessary that we should not trust to the short memory and gratitude of those who come after us, but firmly embody our intentions in an Act of Parliament, from which there can be no appeal. However, I shall, in Committee, move that clause 10 be omitted. The clause is as follows: - >If any pensioner is convicted of an offence and sentenced to any term of imprisonment, the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner may suspend his pension during the term of his imprisonment or any portion thereof or forfeit any instalment thereof accruing during such term or portion. If honorable members will examine that clause for a moment, and consider its incidence, they will see the injustice of it. It may seem at first glance only proper that those who have been guilty of an offence, for which they have suffered imprisonment, should be in some way punished by the suspension of their pension rights under the Act. But why should they? {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Why should they be doubly punished? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Quite so. If they have been imprisoned they have paid the penalty of their offence, and should not be saddled with the further punishment of the loss of their pensions. A soldier will receive a pension for something he has done for his country, and it is to be assured to him because he has earned it for all time. Surely it is not given to him subject to the grudging condition that it shall be regulated by his future conduct? It is given to him for his services to his country. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Might it not be the view of the Legislature that while he is in prison he is being sustained by the country out of another fund? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- There is a complete answer to that contention. Letus take the case of two persons, one a pensioner, the other not a pensioner, who are joint perpetrators of an offence for which they are sentenced by a Court of Petty Sessions to seven days' imprison ment. The pensioner would have the additional punishment of losing portion of his pension in respect of the period during which he was imprisoned. {: .speaker-KGG} ##### Mr Hannan: -- The other man would lose his wages. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- It does not follow that he would be a wage-earner. He might be amongst the unemployed or be independent. I suggest to the Minister the omission of this clause. A similar provision in the Old-age Pensions Act is a blot on that measure. It makes the Commissioner of Old-age Pensions a kind of moral censor. That should not enter into the duties of the Commissioner of Pensions. If a person is guilty of wrongdoing that is not punishable by law, public opinion will deal with him. If his offence is cognisable by a Court of law that Court inflicts a punishment commensurate with the offence, and we should not set up, as a sort of overriding tribunal, which is not qualified to be a court of investigation, the Commissioner of Oldage Pensions to visit a further punishment. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Take the case of a man who was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for a serious offence. If he were receiving a pension of £50 a year he would have, on the completion of his sentence, a nice little nest-egg of £500. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The honorable member is putting an extreme case. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- A man sentenced to a similar term of imprisonment for embezzlement might have an income of £500 a year from companies in which he was interested. That would not be taken from him. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Quite so. The principle of this legislation is that a pension shall be given to a soldier for his past services to the country, and that pension should be unalterably retained for him. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- A pension is given under the War Pensions Act because of injury received while on active service, and not as a reward for the service itself. It is given to maintain him because of his inability to sustain himself owing to injuries received. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Injuries received in the service of his country. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The honorable member is arguing that every man who goes to the front is entitled to a pension. That is not what the law provides. A pen- > *War Pensions* [28 July, 1915.] *Bill (No.* 2). 5437 sioner, if he commits an offence, and is ordered to be imprisoned, is maintained by the State while in gaol. Why should he be a second charge on the State? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- These pensions are given for Life. Whether they be given upon the basis of pensions because of injuries received, or as a reward for services rendered, the principle involved is not affected. We cannot get away from the fact that they are assured to the men for life, and that they should not be taken from them by reason of any weakness or fault in their after-life. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The Bill only provides that the pension shall be suspended during imprisonment. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- It is not very harshly put, but the principle is a bad one. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- What would be the position of the dependants of a man who was sent to gaol, and whose pension rights ceased while he was in prison? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I was about to point out that the punishment would also fall upon the dependants of the man. If he were imprisoned, his wife and children, who had to look to him for support, would not receive the pension. From every point of view I think the clause is indefensible, and I hope that it will be omitted. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Does an old-age pensioner draw his pension if he is sent to gaol? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I have just cited the Old-age Pensions Act as containing a shocking example of this very principle. An old-age pensioner may lose his pension altogether, on the general ground that he is not deserving of it. That is absolutely wrong. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- Surely the honorable member would not give a pension to a man who committed a criminal offence, for which he was ordered to be imprisoned for ten years? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I say, without the slightest hesitation, that from my point of view, the consideration of any offence committed should not enter into the question of the payment of the pension. Such a principle will not bear examination. If a man commits an offence - and I think the Minister should realize this - he has to stand his trial, and is punished for it. In that regard a pensioner stands in exactly the same position as any other citizen. But, in addition to being imprisoned, a pensioner under this Bill is to pay the double penalty of losing his pension while in gaol. One has only to compare the position of a pensioner who commits an offence with that of a man who is not a pensioner, and who commits the same offence, to show the fallacy of this provision. {: .speaker-KEX} ##### Mr Finlayson: -- Conviction for an offence involves the sacrifice of citizenship rights. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I do not desire to discuss this matter further at this stage, since there seems to he a likelihood of a general discussion upon it. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Do not prisoners receive payment for work done in gaol ? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- But the minimum wage is not very high. I do not wish to labour this point, but I am convinced that the principle is bad, and should not be retained in the Bill. In all other respects I welcome this measure, which is designed to make the original Act more generous and just. It could hardly be too generous, and it ought not to be less than just to the men who have gone, and are going, to the front, and who arc risking their lives in this great war. The least we can do is to make the necessary sacrifice - and it is a sacrifice in which those who serve will join - to make suitable provision for those who suffer and for the relatives and dependants of those who fall. {: #debate-39-s11 .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES:
Adelaide .- I indorse the view expressed by the honorable member for Batman that clause 10, which provides for the suspension of a pension during the term of a pensioner's imprisonment, should be omitted. In order to secure a pension under the Act, a soldier must have been partially or totally incapacitated while on active service, and I think it would be unjust to deprive such a man of his pension because of some temporary lapse. I have always held that it is wrong to send a man out of gaol on the completion of his sentence without any funds to enable him to make a fresh start. Prisoners should be profitably employed, so that when their time has expired they may go into the world once more fit to make a fresh start. If a soldier who has been awarded a pension falls from grace and becomes a prisoner of the State, his punishment should not he increased by the withholding of his pension. I hope that the Government are prepared to listen to reasonable suggestions for the improvement of the Bill. I am glad that the Opposition join with us in the desire that this measure shall be a credit to Australia and a benefit to all who come under its operations. It is my belief that it is the man in the ranks, and those dependent upon him, who will feel the pinch of these restrictions. On what basis is the Commissioner to determine the extent of the dependence of any person upon a soldier who is injured or killed at the front? {: #debate-39-s12 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The clause in question does not provide that the pension shall be absolutely taken away from a man who is imprisoned. The whole, or "only a portion, of it may be suspended while he is in prison. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- It will largely depend upon the humour of the Commissioner. A soldier who has lost an arm or a leg while fighting at the front may, because of a slight lapse, lose his pension under the Bill as it stands. That ought not to be. Such a man, after serving his sentence, should be entitled to receive the amount coming to him in respect of the period during which he has been in prison. That is my conception of generous treatment. Having regard to all the restrictions that are being imposed, it seems to me that these pensions are going to assume the shape of something in the nature of a charitable dole. I do not approve of that. Another portion of the Bill provides that, in certain circumstances, the dependant in receipt of an annuity shall not be entitled to the full pension provided in the Bill ; and it is in regard to where it will prevent an old-age pensioner from receiving the whole of the war pension that I take exception to what is proposed. The very task of rearing a citizen fit to take his place in the firing line may have brought a man and woman into such a position as to render it necessary for them to draw old-age pensions, and, at the very time they might reasonably expect some little return for their outlay on their sen, that possible source of income is taken from them, and they are also prevented from getting the full amount of the minimum pension provided for in this Bill. This should not be the case. The dependants of the £52 class will be the very persons who should draw the full amount, and when we come to the pensions ranging from £101 to £156, I shall be anxious to know the basis on which the Commissioner will form his judgment as to whether the persons left behind by colonels and lieutenantcolonels were wholly or partially dependent on these deceased officers. Possibly they may not have been dependent on these officers for their livelihood, and it will be interesting to know how rauch is deducted from these higher amounts. There may not. be any deduction on account of a recipient of one of these higher pensions drawing an old-age pension. I trust that this clause dealing with annuities will not pass. The oldage pensioner is entitled, to the full amount of the pension as compensation for the loss of his or her son. It will only be a fair requital for those who sacrifice their lives for the nation. I know a middle-aged woman in South Australia who has lost her husband at the front - one of the best men who has trod tin's earth - and her only son is at the front. Her only other child is a daughter. She may also lose her son, but her pension will not exceed £52 a year. It has been said that we cannot place a monetary value on the services of our soldiers, and it is a bigger task to place a monetary value on a man's possibilities. Had it not been for the war, the husband might have become a millionaire, but all of that possibility went with his death, and yet the widow may be left with a daughter and £52 a year. In another case, a woman's husband and three sons are at the front. If all four lose their lives, she will receive £52 to replace services that they might have rendered to her. The system does not seem to me to be equitable. We are attempting to liberalize the Act, and our liberality should run to absolute generosity towards those who are going to the front. I am sorry to say that they are being forced to go. They are told, " We do not want you ; but your country does." That remark is heard, not only in Melbourne, but also all over Australia. We can only appreciate what is being done by applying the argument to ourselves. I would not like to leave behind me a mother or father whose sole support would be £52 a year. The amount is too small. If any one thing should be deleted from this Bill it is the power of the Commissioner to assess the amount to each dependant, and in Committee I shall make the suggestion that once a person lias proved his dependence, there shall be no further question about his being entitled to the pension. I hope that the Minister will listen to the suggestions which may be made for liberalizing the measure, and that with that object in view he will accept what amendments it is thought will improve the Bill. {: #debate-39-s13 .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY:
Wentworth -- I agree with the remark of the honorable member with regard to liberalizing the provisions of the Statute to the true dependants of men who have fallen or have been injured at the front. A mother who has lost one son, or possibly a husband as well as a son or two, should be entitled to more than the maximum amount provided, and I hope that the Bill will be amended to enable this to be done. But, while I wish to see the Statute made as liberal as it can be made, having a reasonable view to our finances in the future, w© need to be a little careful with regard to the definition of " dependants." According to the Bill, a dependant is the dependant of a soldier at the time of his death or injury, and the maximum is increased by £52 a year in order to cover the case of more than one dependant. Any man who is willing to serve his country is anxious to see that those who are truly dependent upon him are provided for in the future, and does not desire that others whom he has not kept during his life should be kept by the State after he dies; but if he sees in an Act of Parliament a provision enabling this to be done after he enlists without any additional cost to himself, he will undoubtedly supply the formalities which enable a whole number of people to be entitled to draw 'pensions as his legitimate dependants. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- There are many decisions under the Workmen's Compensation Act and similar measures of what constitutes dependency. It is a question of fact. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- Under this Bill it will be a question of fact at the time of the soldier's death, whereas it should be a question of fact at the time of enlistment. Any person dependent on the soldier at the time he enlists should be kept by the State after the soldier dies. I am speaking of sisters, brothers, cousins, and aunts who, under this pension law, may become "dependants" provided the soldier makes them a weekly payment of so many pence. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- Inquiry will show whether they were really dependent on the soldier. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- The power of inquiry will rest with the Commissioner; but in practice the Commissioner will have a rough-and-ready method of dealing with cases. He will say, " Here is a bachelor who has gone away and left his deferred pay among five people - sisters and brothers." These persons are regarded by the Bill as dependants. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Does the honorable member say that any person who receives anything from a soldier thereby becomes a dependant of the soldier? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- It is so laid down most clearly in the definition clause of the Bill. What we really wish to arrive at is a liberal measure which will reflect the opinion of the people, so far as *bond fide* dependants are concerned. We do not wish to create a whole army of technical dependants who were not dependent upon soldiers before they enlisted. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- But a whole army of dependants can receive only a certain amount under the schedule. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- They will receive £52 per annum more than one *bond fide* dependant can receive. This will not only be a greater burden on the State, but it will also militate against *bond fide* dependants. This strikes me as the fault of the Bill. The real test of what constitutes a dependant is dependency, not at the time of death, but at the time of enlistment, for after enlistment a man can make as many "dependants" as he wishes, and automatically, by so doing, the amount of the pension rises by £52 per annum. That is an inducement to create dependants. The mother, the wife, and the children of a man who goes away are his obvious dependants, and I desire the Bill to be most liberal to them ; but I do not wish to see a person who has received, perhaps, not more than a Christmas present from the soldier, automatically created a dependant. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The provision is very stringent. Any person who wishes to be considered a dependant has to prove hisdependency to the Commissioner. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- The Pensions Board, I understand, has been burning the midnight oil trying to solve the question of who is or who is not a dependant. It will .not be possible for those who are already burdened with the 5440 *War Pensions* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Bill (No.* 2). administration of the invalid and oldage pensions law to inquire minutely into each case. Therefore, a rough and ready method of administration must be adopted, and unless the definition of "dependant" be altered, the matter will be determined in accordance with the answer to the question, who was and who was not drawing deferred pay. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The Registrars will inquire into every case in their own district, and will know who were dependants and who were not. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- The Registrars are not given the discretion which the Minister suggests. Action by a Registrar could be only in the nature of an appeal against the liberality of these provisions, and that I do not think a public servant would care to make. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- Does the honorable member say that the definition he speaks of is in the amending Bill? {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- I am dealing with the law as amended. The Pensions Board has sat until midnight time and again, endeavouring to make sure that all who claimed to be dependants were *bond fide* dependants. {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- The Board's work has been very heavy, because claims received from every part of Australia have had to be dealt with in Melbourne. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- If you defined "dependant ' ' as one who was a dependant at the date of enlistment, you would get over all difficulties, safeguarding the men's relatives as they are not now safeguarded, and protecting the revenue as well. As to the fear of the honorable member for Hunter that a man's dependants might lose their pensions should he be convicted of an offence, and sent to gaol, I would point out that it is only the man himself who will lose his pension in such an event. If his dependants were also to lose their pensions, I should not rest until the matter was set right. But it is plain that it is only the malefactor himself who loses the pension, and he only for the period during which he is in gaol. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- Section 5 is subdivided in such a way that it seems to me capable of the interpretation that the whole of the pensions must be withheld. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- As I read the provision, I think that it is perfectly clear, and that the dependants would not lose their pensions because of the fault of the pensioner on whom they were dependent should he be convicted and sent to gaol. When a pensioner who has served his sentence is released, he will again receive his pension. After all, the pension is given to enable the pensioner to live, and whilst he is an inmate of one of His Majesty's gaols he does not need it. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- The soldier's pension might be £52 a year, his wife's pension *£26* a year, and their one child's pension £13 a year, and the whole amount might be just sufficient to keep the family. If it were reduced by £52 by reason of the imprisonment of the husband, there would not be enough to keep the wife and child. {: .speaker-KEA} ##### Mr KELLY: -- There is something to be said for that view of the matter. My honorable friend is evidently in favour of liberalizing the schedule. The question is one for the Committee stage. I hope that before the Bill is considered in Committee the Minister will ask the opinion of his advisers as to the definition of " dependant." If he does so, we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that the provision is in accordance with expert advice. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. *In Committee:* Clause 1 agreed to. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 5440 {:#debate-40} ### WAR LOAN BILL (No. 2) (UNITED KINGDOM) Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. {: .page-start } page 5440 {:#debate-41} ### INSCRIBED STOCK BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message) : {: #debate-41-s0 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I move - >That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue he made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1011-13. It is proposed to amend section 5 of the principal Act by omitting therefrom the words, " but not exceeding Three pounds ten shillings per centum per annum." It is obvious that we cannot continue to borrow at the rate of interest at which we have been borrowing from ourselves, that is, 3½ per cent., plus½ per cent, sinking fund, when we are going into the market for a loan at 4½ per cent., with another 4s. amortization. We must of *Treasury Bills Bill.* [28 July, 1915.] *Adjournment.* 5441 necessity depart from the sound principle which we have been following until now of borrowing for Commonwealth purposes only from trust funds and accumulations of revenue, and the amendment is necessary to enable us to pay a higher rate of interest than 3½ per cent. Section 32 of the Act is repealed, and the following provision substituted - Transfers of stock may be made in such amounts as are approved by the GovernorGeneral. There must be a flexible rule to allow transfers to take place. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The right honorable gentleman is not going to fix another maximum rate of interest? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I wish I could say what the maximum rate of interest will be. No one can foresee in war time what it may rise to, and we can only do the best under the existing circumstances. At present it is our business to remove the maximum rate which stands in the Act, so that our financial business may be legally transacted. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported and adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Fisher** and **Mr. Hughes** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Fisher,** and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 5441 {:#debate-42} ### TREASURY BILLS BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of Go vernor-General's message) : Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** agreed to - >That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Treasury Bills Act 1914. Resolution reported and adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Fisher** and **Mr. Hughes** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Fisher,** and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 5441 {:#debate-43} ### OFFICERS' COMPENSATION BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message) : {: #debate-43-s0 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I move - >That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for compensation to be paid on retirement or on decease of certain officers of the Commonwealth. The principal purpose of this measure is to provide compensation for relatives of the officers who met their death through the unfortunate loss of the trawler *Endeavour.* Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported, and adopted. *Ordered -* That **Mr. Fisher** and **Mr. Hughes** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Fisher,** and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 5441 {:#debate-44} ### COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message) : Motion (by **Mr. Fisher)** agreed to - That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913. Resolution reported, and adopted. {: .page-start } page 5441 {:#debate-45} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-45-0} #### Australia Day - Nurses' Equipment - Employment of Returned Soldiers - Delivery of Letters to Troops - Registration of Unemployment - Export of Sheepskins - Cable Service to Egypt - Export of Wheat - Returned Wounded Soldiers {: #subdebate-45-0-s0 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I move - That the House do now adjourn. As I understand that a number of honorable members wish to return to their own States by the train to-morrow afternoon in order to participate in the Australia Day celebrations, we will endeavour to so adjust the notice-paper that non-contentious business may be taken in the evening. It will not be necessary to sit on Friday. I think that arrangement will meet the convenience of honorable members. If I have sufficient opportunity in the interval, I shall endeavour to make a financial statement, and probably introduce the new taxation proposals, on Wednesday next. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- That is a financial statement - not the financial statement? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- It is impossible to have, so early in the year, a financial statement covering the whole of last year's transactions and a forecast of those for the current year. But with the information in the possession of the Government, I shall do my utmost to submit to the House a concise statement of the operations during the year just closed, and of the possibilities of the year upon which we have entered. What the Government desire is to get as accurate a forecast of the position as is practicable, bo that we shall have some information before us to work upon. No one can see eight or nine months ahead at the present time. The best we shall be able to do will be to submit an estimate, but the facts will be placed before honorable members as clearly as it is possible for the officials of the Treasury and the other Departments to make them. The statement will necessarily be brief; and, of course, the statement of policy usually presented on such an occasion will be absent, except so far as relates to strictly financial matters arising out of the prosecution of the war. {: #subdebate-45-0-s1 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 .- Since speaking this afternoon on the subject of the equipment of nurses, I have been informed that exactly the same procedure as that which I mentioned has been followed in connexion with the nurses' trunks. That is to say, they are instructed where to procure their trunks. In order to assist the Prime Minister in placing the blame on the right shoulders, I should like to add that I understand that in the official communication telling the nurses of their engagement, instructions were invariably given as to where the outfit could be procured. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Does the honorable member know from whom the instruction came *1* {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- No. **Mr. Tudor.** - Or in which State it was given f {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That I am not in a position to say. {: .speaker-JTI} ##### Mr Burns: -- Do you know when the instruction was given? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I cannot speak of my own knowledge; but those who have seen such instructions tell me that the actual intimation to the nurse of her acceptance for foreign service also conveyed an intimation as to where she ought to obtain her outfit. The same procedure, I am informed, was followed in regard to the trunks. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- You say that instruction was issued definitely in New South Wales ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I understand so. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- I understand that each Commandant issues instructions in his own State. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not know whether the instructions came from the Commandant or the head of the Medical Forces. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Was the instruction given in New South Wales? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr MASSY-GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is my information. I mention these two points which have been brought under my notice this evening, so that the inquiry which the Government have promised may be as full as possible. {: #subdebate-45-0-s2 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman .- I should like the Prime Minister to give the House some information in regard to the employment of returned soldiers. Already a good number of soldiers havecome back, and although they were invalided home, some of them are sufficiently recovered to be able to engage in some kind of occupation. A question was asked of the right honorable gentleman the other day as to whether -the Government had any policy in regard to the employment of these soldiers, and I - and I am sure other honorable members - have received a number of applications for work from these men. I should like to be able to tell them what proposals the Government have in mind. Can the Prime Minister say where these soldiers can* register themselves for employment, and whether any special provision for them is to be made? {: #subdebate-45-0-s3 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs -- Has the Prime Minister yet received any definite information in regard to the better organization of the delivery of letters to troops at the front? Several complaints have been made to me in Queensland on that subject. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- A special report is being obtained. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- About three or four months ago a special inquiry was promised, and from the information I have heard it seems as if no satisfaction will be gained until some of our Australian postal officials are attached to the Egyptian office in order to organize the service overseas. I have been informed that letters despatched six months ago to persons at the front have not yet been received. There seems to be a complete lack of system in the postal service in Egypt. That trouble could be overcome by attaching two or three" of our own postal officials to the Egyptian office", where they would be able to keep in touch with the hospital and military authorities, and forward " the letters to the soldiers as they were shifted from place to place. Men at the front have complained of no letters having been received from 'Australia for several months. I understand that the question of the transport of wounded soldiers to Queensland was mentioned in the House during my absence. I was in Queensland when those men arrived, and it did seem to me that the railway carriages provided for them ought to have been more suited to the men's condition. I met a large number of the men, and not one of 'them made a single complaint of the treatment they received. That is what one would expect from soldiers. But I formed the opinion that, having regard to the condition of the men, sleeping-car accommodation ought to have been provided. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Would it not be better to transport them by sea ? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- I do not think so. Many of the relatives of the returned men lived inland, and were anxious to see them as soon as possible. Some of them had to travel right through Wallangarra to Brisbane and report before returning to the Darling Downs. I would offer the men the alternative of travelling by sea or rail. The men seemed deeply touched by the spontaneous warmth of their reception all along the railway. Even at side stations where the trains did not stop, children were drawn up by the State school teachers, and in some instances the stations were decorated with flags and the children cheered lustily. At Warwick nearly 1,000 people, including the Mayor, were gathered at the rail way station, and a very hearty demonstration was made in honour of the men. At Toowoomba fully 2,000 people must have been present at the station, and they vere most enthusiastic in their welcome. I do not think anything would gladden the hearts of the soldiers in the trenches more than the knowledge that when they return, the people of Australia knew how to appreciate the heroes who have fought for them. I hope the Prime Minister will not think I am making any complaint. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- A blunder was committed, and the men responsible will have to answer for it- {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM: -- I am not blaming any one individually ; but I am sure that if the Railways Commissioners were approached in time something better in the way of accommodation could be afforded. {: #subdebate-45-0-s4 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I desire to press a point that I have endeavoured to press during many sessions of Parliament. In my opinion, there ought to be one place of registration for all unemployment, instead of the twentyone or twenty-three places in Melbourne at the present time, exclusive of the Trades Hall Council, the unions, and the splendid Committee presided over by **Mr. Mauger.** In every large centre of population there ought to be one place for registration of the kind. At present, if a woman comes to me desiring employment. I have, if I do my duty, to write five separate letters, and, if a man applies, it is necessary to write twenty-one separate letters; and the position is altogether too ridiculous. . As we have men returning from the front, let us establish a centre, and do away with the present absurd system. **Mr. RILEY** (South Sydney) [9.181. - Last week, as a matter of urgency, I brought under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs the fact that American people are buying all the sheepskins that they can from this country, and taking them without their having been subjected to any treatment whatever. Men in the district I represent have been thrown out of work because of American purchasers taking away these sheep-skins at any price; and, further, the suspicion is that the skins are going to Germany through the United States. I cannot see what inducement they have to take our untreated skins at the trices they are giving. For a few months during the war the export of untreated skins was prohibited, and there was employment given in this country. We owe nothing to America in this war; and I do' not see why we should allow that country to take the skins. Of course, if the British Government require the skins, let the skins go; but it certainly is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to see that our people are given employment on the manufacture of our raw materials. I ask the Cabinet to come to a decision in this matter in the interests of thousands of men who ought to be in employment. {: #subdebate-45-0-s5 .speaker-JWC} ##### Mr CARR:
Macquarie .- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne. We have been too long neglectful of our duty in regard to unemployment. The first and chief function of government is to see that those who are out of work have a definite channel through which they can always get something to do. That country is the best governed which nourishes the most human beings; and if they are to be nourished, we must provide some assurance that they will ni#t be allowed to starve. This duty has been neglected too long. {: #subdebate-45-0-s6 .speaker-L0P} ##### Mr SAMPSON:
Wimmera -- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Darling Downs in regard to the mail arrangements abroad; and I desire to call special attention to the cable service to Egypt and the front. This service is certainly no better than it was three or four months ago. I understood that Brigadier-General Legge, when he reached Alexandria, intended to reorganize the whole post and telegraph service, in order to insure that cables, particularly reply-paid cables, would reach their destination. I hope that the Prime Minister is able to give us some information as to the proposed reorganization, and some assurance that an improvement will be effected. {: #subdebate-45-0-s7 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 .- As the House will rise to-morrow for the week, I hope that the Prime Minister is able to assure us that the agreement entered into in regard to the handling and shipping of the coming wheat harvest will be laid before us before we do rise. Honorable members should have an opportunity to consider its terms during the present week. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I did not gather exactly from the Attorney-General whether the agreement was ready to be laid on the table. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The AttorneyGeneral promised to lay it on the table. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- To-morrow? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- He did not name the time. Seeing that the Attorney-General told us to-day that the Government had not consulted the growers of wheat - who, after all, are those most vitally concerned in its disposal - I think we might be afforded an opportunity, before going into the country, to see the terms of the agreement. {: #subdebate-45-0-s8 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP -- I do not think that the agreement will suffer whether it be delayed a day or two or not. If the agreement is a " good thing " for the Opposition they will get it nearer to the time when it will be more effective. However, the production of the agreement will not be delayed by the Government, but as soon as it is completed, it will be laid on the table. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Attorney-General said that the agreement was so urgent that it was concluded before he consulted the farmers. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I take full responsibility for the conclusion of the agreement. {: .speaker-JM8} ##### Mr Archibald: -- Farmers are generally consulted about the shipping of their wheat, are they not? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- It is no light matter to complete an agreement like that. It was not entered into with a light heart - it was not concluded as a definite agreement without full consideration of what the Government were doing. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- If it is concluded, what object can there be in keeping it back? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- None whatever; and as soon as it is completed it will be laid on the table, as promised, though whether or not that will be to-morrow I cannot say in the absence of the AttorneyGeneral, who is engaged with the War Committee. But the agreement will be laid on the table ; and honorable members will have an opportunity of using it against the Government or in any other way. We thought it was essential that the agreement should be entered into because time was pressing. May I say to the honorable member that immediately transport is provided for the great harvest Australia hopes to reap about the end of the year, the credit of the growers of the harvest will be increased. The uncertainty of transport in the case of a valuable product decreases credit enormously, and increases the facilities of speculators - that is a principle. The agreement, however, does not rest on that, but on a substantial business-like transaction under the circumstances existing in Australia - the most distant part of the world which has to supply the most populous and greatest buying powers in Europe and elsewhere. Mr.Rodgers. - Whatever the Governmay do, the same arrangements as rto will have to be made for the ling, chartering, and so forth. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- If that is. so, what is se of the honorable member making s? to the treatment of our red soldiers, I am sure we are all d. We all deplore the fact that arrangements made by the Minister defence broke down, through no fault s, but, as was discovered later on, gh mismanagement somewhere. Howtwo officers have been suspended; under the circumstances, we ought, I it, to reserve our judgment. On beof the Government, I can only say we sincerely regret the fact that we ot show that courtesy and consideratowards our first butch of wounded every man and woman in Australia d, in their hearts, have liked to show as a failure, but that failure may, aps, assist in making the reception hose wounded, who, unfortunately, yet to come, more worthy. to the postal and telegraph service at ronl and in Egypt, Brigadier-General e is returning to the base according e latest information; and he will now time to deal with the matter. We remember that Brigadier-General e,on his way to the front, was only w hours in Egypt, and could not be cted, as a soldier, to see to those ilmatters then. Mr.Rodgers. - I understood that the ernment were considering the advisa- y of sendinga direct representative here who would be responsible. M r. FISHER. - Not just at present; we have taken occasion, not to comion, but to authorize, an Australian sman, who ison his way to London, take inquiriesenroute, with a view iscover, with the assistance of the offithere, a better method of getting the s and cables forwarded to both the s and the fighting lines. This gentlewill be given facilities, and will make port, at no cost, however, to the Goment. The honorable member for Macquarie suggested as an ideal that a Governt ought to provide employment for the lie; and I quite agree with him. The culty of the Commonwealth lies in the fact that employment is closely associated with land: and the Commonwealth possesses no land to give employment facilities. However, the Commonwealth, with the opportunity presented, and the money at its command, has done wonders during these times, and I pray that it may be able to continue to do so. It is not clear that suchwill be the case; but it is, at any rate, our ambition - and I think I speak for the whole of this Parliament - to continue in the same direction. It is the duty of organized society to see that bread and butter questions shall be first considered. The question raised by the honorable member for South Sydney as tothe desirableness of retaining in Australia sheepskins that are being freely exported has received some consideration on the part of the Cabinet. We are awaiting further information on the subject, and it will be dealt with at the first opportunity. The honorable member for Melbourne has suggested the establishment of a cheap registration bureau. I hope the time is' not far distant when we shall have one bureau for the whole of the Public Service, and when, as a matter of policy, we shall have Commonwealth bureaux of every kind relating to employment and unemployment. The subject, however, cannot be so readily dealt with as would at first sight seem possible. I was glad to hear from the honorable member for Darling Downs that by the time the soldiers who recently returned from the front reached Queensland the people of that State were able to organize a fitting welcome to them, and I am specially glad to learn that the school children participated in it. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- They had a good welcome in Sydney. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I am pleased that they did. The Government thought that those who had charge of the matter would have enabled the president of every shire council, and the mayor of every town through which the men would pass on their way home, to be advised of their coming, so that they would have been able to give them such a welcome as would have warmed their hearts. That the arrangements failed is a deplorable fact that we cannot erase. It was a serious oversight which I shall 6416 *Adjournment.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Adjournment.* not for one moment try to hide. The Government do not shelter themselves behind their officers. If the wrong officers were asked to make the arrangements we are to blame ; but I regret the occurrence. 1 shall ever regret that we lost this opportunity to give a fitting welcome to the first of our wounded men to return, and that we also deprived representative citizens at various places along the route of travel of a pleasure which they would have greatly appreciated. In reply to the honorable member for Batman, I may state that the intention of the Government is that returned soldiers who have been on active service shall have preference in Government employment. A general scheme to provide suitable employment for returned soldiers, I am sorry to say, has not yet matured. {: .speaker-JTC} ##### Mr Burchell: -- Does the Prime Minister include within the term " active service " those who went to Egypt? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I should prefer to allow the term to be defined by experts; but, as one whohas been an amateur soldier, I might suggest that any soldier who has been to a base could he said to have been on active service. I should not include within the term those who only went into camp in Australia, but those who went to a base oversea with the intention of fighting might reasonably be classed as having been on active service. The honorable member for Richmond has placed additional information before us in regard to nurses going to the front and the purchase of their outfit. He states that he has discovered that the officer who communicated with the nurses gave a direction as to where their equipment and their trunks had to be purchased. We seem to be getting closer to the facts. If there has been any blundering, as there seems to have been, I deeply regret it. If, notwithstanding the public statement repeatedly made by the' Minister that no instruction had been issued by him that nurses' equipment must be obtained from certain establishments, officers have given such a direction, there has been blundering. {: .speaker-KEX} ##### Mr Finlayson: -- Worse than blundering. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- Macaulay has said that a blunder is sometimes worse than a crime. This is one of those duties in respect of which a man feels that he can never be sure all is right unless he himself attends to it. I can only say again that I think the honorable member for Richmond has done a service to the Government and to the country in bringing forward this matter. At the outset I thought it was a small thing to bring up ; but I had no idea that anything of the kind now indicated was going on. There should be absolutely no restriction imposed upon the nurses going to the front as to where they shall obtain their equipment. There should be only one condition, and that is that the outfit must be up to the required standard. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at9.37 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.