6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view ofthe recent judgment of the High Court regarding the Queensland Government’s embargo on the exportation of stock from the State, will the Prime Minister suggest to the Premiers, attheir Conference, the advisability of an arrangement between them for the prevention of State interference with Inter-State trade?
– As the trouble referred to arose out of the action of the Queensland Government, there is little hope of that State being a party to an arrangement which would prevent it from continuing its embargo on the exports tion of stock, which, in my view, is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and prejudicial to the welfare of the community.
– Did not the judgment of the High Court indicate, if it did not suggest, that the National Parliament could set matters right by legislation? If that is so, is the Prime Minister prepared to introduce such legislation ?
– The High Court declared that the Queensland Act was a valid exercise of the powers of the Parliament” of the State, and, consequently, what was done under it was within the State’s jurisdiction.
– I ask the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether anything has been done to mitigate sentences which have been imposed on lads who have served in the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt and at Anzac. I know of a boy holding the best of testimonials who is now undergoing a sentence of two years’ imprisonment in the Forbes gaol because he overstayed his leave by two days. That is a scandal.
– I have no knowledge of the case, but I shall make inquiries concerning it.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the Imperial Government a statement of the exact terms of the peace proposed by the Central Powers? If he has received that information, will he supply it to the House, and, if not, will he endeavour to obtain it?
– I have not received any information on the subject, and I am not aware that the Imperial Government has received a communication from the Central Powers, or that they have made any direct proposals for peace to it. I have read certain statements in the newspapers, as to which I remind the honorable gentleman that during the recent conscription campaign the cablegrams which appeared in the press were frequently referred to as having been faked. Perhaps the cablegrams in which the peace proposals are mentioned may have been “ faked,” as it was alleged, during £he referendum campaign, others were.
– I have here a letter from a firm of butter agents in Victoria, in which it is stated that, owing to the limited quantity of factory butter coming forward for local distribution, it will be found impossible to supply the public with the best butter. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to this state of affairs, and will he have inquiries made into the complaint, so that the agreement entered into with the butter producers may be kept, and the people given butter at a fair price ?
– If ‘the honorable member will give me the letter, I shall make an inquiry into the complaints contained in it. Various committees throughout the States are seeing that provision is made for adequately meeting the requirements of the public in respect of butter, and limiting the exportation accordingly. If any irregularity has been committed, I shall have it investigated.
– Will the Minister take particular care to see that requests from speculators, such as that submitted by the honorable member for Yarra, who desire to reap the difference between the London parity and the Australian price of butter are not acceded to by his Department ? Will he also see that the influence which speculators could always bring to bear while the honorable member for Yarra was Minister for Trade and Customs is not allowed to interfere with the working of the Department ?
– I assure the honorable member that he need not be afraid of the influence of speculators. It is the intention of the Government to see that Australia is given a sufficient supply of butter, and to allow the exportation of any surplus.
– Is it not a fact that, so far as Victoria is concerned at any rate, the understanding between the butter producers and the Government has been more than honorably observed, and that more than the required percentage is being put on the market at the present time? Is not the “pool” every week selling the surplus to exporters, or to persons who buy for export?
– I wish it to be understood that I make no reflection on any one’ connected with the butter industry. So far as I know, the arrangement is working satisfactorily. I do not wish it to be thought that I have referred to speculators or to any one else connected with the industry in unfavorable terms.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the regulations which have been issued by the Government of New Zealand for the repression of sedition, and will the right honorable gentleman consider the advisability of taking similar steps to protect the community of Australia from the activities of . disloyalists and sedition mongers ?
– The honorable member has handed me a newspaper paragraph, from which I gather the scope of the regulations referred to. I have given notice of my intention to introduce at the earliest possible moment a Bill to provide for the suppression of sedition.
– Can the Prime Minister assure the country that the small wool-growers will have direct representation on the Board of Control which has been instituted in connexion with the wool deal?
– So far as I know, the interests of all wool-growers, small and large, are effectively safeguarded.
– Will the small growers of wool be directly represented on the Board of Control? I represent a constituency in which there are many small wool-growers, and from all parts of it comes the statement that they desire such representation. Will the - Prime Minister assure the House that this direct representation will be given to them?
– I cannot give that assurance. All I can do is to give consideration to the request, and submit it to the Committee, which, I may say, is only an Advisory Committee, and does not control anything; there is no control vested in anybody but the Government. If the honorable member can make such representations to me as to show that any one’s interest is not properly safeguarded at present I shall see that steps are taken to safeguard it.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House as to the progress made with lighthouses and lights on the North Queensland coast; what lighthouses are in contemplation during the financial year, and what is being done in the construction of steamers for lighthouse purposes?
– The following is the answer to the honorable member’s question : -
Booby Island.- The quarters at Booby Island have been renovated, and extensive repairs carried out.
Goode Island. - These quarters have been thoroughly repaired and renovated.
Grassy Hill.- The quarters at Grassy Hill, Cooktown, have been repainted and repairs effected to the ceilings, and stumps of foundations renewed.
New Construction Work. - New unattended lights have been erected at Clerke Island, Dhu Reef, and Coquet Island Reef.
Pipon Island Reef has been converted from an attended light to an unattended light.
The constructional work was re-commenced on the 27th May, and base of the foundations for Piper Island was completed on 31st August. Considerable difficulties were experienced on account of the reef being submerged at high water, thus necessitating tide work which, together with the unexpectedly bad weather, delayed progress.
Piper Island (partly completed).
Tih Tih Reef.
Breaksea Spit Lightship nearly completed.
Proudfoot Shoal Lightship commenced.
Western Australia. 14-mile Point.
West Point - completed.
Cape Don - nearing completion. Buoys -
Henry Ellis Reef.
Owing to the war, difficulty has been experienced in getting now vessels built in Australia, but it is hoped that arrangements may shortly be made for the construction of one steamer.
– Is it a fact that the Commonwealth PriceFixing Commissioners in the States are fixing pricea for f.o.b. sales of export produce - butter, for instance?
– Not to my knowledge; but I shall make inquiries.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Navy been drawn to a letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, from which the following is an extract : -
I was in the Domain this afternoon, and I heard a young man, who says he is employed at the works on Cockatoo Island, deliver an address from the I.W.W. platform.
This young man boasted that he was” going slow,” and was doing as little work as he possibly could do. He also boasted that all, or nearly all, the men engaged at these works belonged to the “ go slow “ brigade. He further stated that he had been the means of persuading five boys in a shearing shed in Queensland to practice the “go slow” policy. He made other similar statements.
If the Minister’s attention has been drawn to the matter, what steps have been taken by the Department to ascertain how many of the men employed at Cockatoo are connected, directly or indirectly, with the Industrial Workers of the World, and if there are such men employed there, what is it proposed to do in regard to them?
– I have not seen the statement referred to. I think, however, that the gentleman who heard this young man in the Domain on the particular Sunday must be a stranger to Sydney, because he could have heard similar sentiments any Sunday he chose to go there. The extract sets forth part of a gospel - not a gospel of glad tidings, but still a gospel, which is preached with much energy by some people. I do not know that any of those persons who preach that gospel are employed at Cockatoo Island, but my colleague, the Minister for the Navy, may be able to give some direct information on that subject. The Government, however, do not approve or indorse the policy - we are not adherents or followers of that gospel, indeed we are implacably opposed to it, and we propose, as far as it lies within the power of man, to quench it as its source.
– A copy of the statement that has been read was sent to me from Sydney. I referred it to the manager at Cockatoo Island, and ascertained who the person was who made the statement. He was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and, on my order, he was immediately dismissed.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the fact that the price of copper has reached £161 10s. per ton? What are the Government doing to regulate the price to the copper users of Australia?
– I have not noticed that the price of copper has gone up to that figure; but if it has, I am not responsible. As to the rest, I shall look into the matter, though I do not know what I can do. On the one hand, I am asked to see that the producer gets full value for his produce, and, on the other hand, I am told that he must in no circumstances be allowed to do so. The position is very difficult. I am asked to see that the farmer gets full value for his produce, and also that the workman shall have full value for his labour. I am asked by producers generally to see that Australia’s “ end is kept up,” and that we get good prices for our products abroad; and then I am asked to keep the price of copper down. I shall endeavour to do all these things.
– Having regard to the fact that copper is now three times the price at which it was quoted in pre-war times, and that a large quantity of that copper is being used in the manufacture of small arms ammunition and other munitions in Australia, will the Prime Minister endeavour to give some relief in connexion with the purchase of that copper for the manufacture of munitions of war ?
– I must have the question in black and white, so that I can see whither it leads me. When we are dealing with a commodity, the price of which is fixed in the markets of the world, and the local consumption of which is infinitesimal compared with the oversea business, one must hesitate a good deal before he attempts to depress the local price of the raw material below the world’s price. Of course, I» shall- see that the local price is not inflated beyond the London parity, but there must be some very good and. sufficient reason before we endeavour to depress it below that parity. We do not attempt that in connexion with any other commodity. For instance, we are selling wheat now at 4s. 9d. f.o.b., and 4s. 9d. for local consumption. The same condition applies to products generally.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House generally at what stage the proceedings are in’ connexion with the proposed arsenal? Is it the Government’s intention to go on with the work now, or are they going to take the wiser course of postponing it for further advice?
– A few days ago the Treasurer stated that a report on the question was now being prepared by an expert, and nothing will be done until that report is presented.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in reference to a statement which appears in the Argus of this morning, and which arises out of the question asked by the honorable member for Illawarra yesterday. In that newspaper I am. reported to have said that the three amounts mentioned - £73 6s. 8d., £206 5s., and £81 18s. 2d.- were all paid by me into the Patriotic Fund, and that the total amount was £361 9s. lOd. What I did say was that the total payment by me was £319 2s., and I ought to have said that it was made, not into the Patriotic Fund, but into the Repatriation Fund. I now desire to add one word, in order to explain what became of the difference between £319 and £361, £42 7s. 10d., representing the deductions from Ministers’ salaries for payment to the Honorary Minister and Whips - Senator Gardiner, Senator Russell, Senator Ready, and the honorable member for Maranoa was paid to Senator Russell for distribution amongst these gentlemen.
– I h I have received a letter from Mr. T. Docking, of the North-West Coast, Tasmania, in reference to the imprisonment of his ‘ son for failing to enrol under the Enlistment Proclamation. Mr. Docking says -
My son was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment for failing to enroll under the War Proclamation Act. The case was heard ex parte-
-I trust that the honorable member is not going to read a long letter.
– The The letter is very short.
– Though it may be permissible for ‘an honorable member to read a letter at length, it is not desirable ; and I think the case might be put without reading the whole.
– The The request made by Mr. Docking is that his son shall be released in order to help on the farm. He points out that the crops are late on account of the heavy rains, and that he was depending on the assistance of his son under the difficult circumstances. This young man is suffering imprisonment, although the referendum was decided in the negative, and I wish to know whether the Minister will do something in the case.
– I have not seen the letter; but I shall be glad to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
– I rise to make a personal explanation in regard to a statement contained in an Age sub-leader concerning my resignation from the Ministry. In the Senate, Senator Russell stated that in letters sent on the 12th September he and I were asked by the labour bodies to resign. The fact is well known to at least four members of the present Ministry that I intimated my intention to resign a month before the date of that letter. Senator Russell knew that. The Age endeavours to make it appear that my resignation was on account of the receipt of that letter. I received no such letter, and my intention was well known to Ministers. I did not make it known to any outsiders until I had written to the Prime Minister, but he knows that I notified him as to the course of action I proposed to take. The Age is doing me an injustice in saying that I resigned in obedience to an instruction, when, as a matter of fact, my mind had been made up long before any such letter as that mentioned by Senator Russell was written.
– Has the Attorney - General taken cognisance of the fact that various trade unions are passing resolutions in favour of the Industrial Workers of the World, and that some of them are reflecting on the justice of the Court which tried certain men ? Is he aware also that some of the unions are assisting financially to obtain redress of what is claimed to be the grievances of those Industrial Workers of the World?
– I have noticed the fact mentioned by the honorable member, but, as I have already stated, the Government propose to introduce before we adjourn for the holidays a measure dealing with the Industrial Workers of the World. Honorable members will see whether the Bill deals with the phase of the question raised by the honorable member for Echuca, but I prefer not to express any opinion in anticipation of the measure.
– Should it prove that the cablegrams concerning ,peace proposals by Germany have not been faked, will the Prime Minister ask that Australia shall be consulted before any peace terms are agreed to?
– If it should be proved that there is some foundation for the allegation that Germany has made an offer of peace terms, when those peace terms have been considered by the British Government, and an opinion has been expressed upon them, I shall be very glad to lay them .before honorable members so that the House may express its views. I have expressly refrained from saying more in connexion with this matter than that, in my opinion, no peace will be satisfactory that does not place the countries which have been invaded, outraged, and destroyed back where they were, with an indemnity sufficiently large to re-establish their industries and rebuild their ruined cities, and, in addition, insure that this international criminal, that has outraged the world, is prevented from ever again doing so.
– That is not an answer to my question.
– The Prime Minister has announced the sale of the Australian wool clip to the Imperial Government at 15Jd. per pound for greasy wool. Is Australia to ‘ get the same benefit as New Zealand, with which an arrangement has been made that when the requirements of the Imperial authorities have been supplied the balance of the clip will be sold in England, the Imperial Government taking all risk that it will produce ‘15 Jd., and any price realized for the residuum in excess of that sum to be divided equally between the Imperial Government and New Zealand?
– As I understand it, the’ arrangement between the Imperial Government and New Zealand is that all wool used for governmental purposes is to be paid for at the rate of 15£d. per pound greasy. The residue, if any, is to be sold in the market, and the extra price is to be shared equally between the Imperial Government and New Zealand The same arrangement, of course,- exists with Australia. If the balance is sold for a higher price than 15½d., half the excess will go to the grower and half - to the British Government.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the position of those who purchased small quantities of this year’s clip, mainly from small farmers, and endeavour to give them some relief on account of the price they ‘ have already paid?
– I ,had hoped to be able to see the Chairman of the Committee on this and cognate matters raised yesterday, but I regret that I was unable to do so. However, I shall endeavour to see that relief is granted to the small men who are likely to suffer, because the normal channels through which they have obtained financial relief in the past have been closed.
Purchase of Locomotives
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Works consult with his colleagues with a view to making a statement to the House before the holiday adjournment as to whether any locomotives have been purchased or ordered for the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway, in addition to those recommended by the Engineer’-in-Chief ?
– I shall be glad to consult with the Minister for Works on the matter.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether the steam-ship Morouya, which was purchased by the Government recently, is identical with the old steamer of that name, which, nearly half a century ago, was trading on the- south coast of New South Wales? If so, who is responsible for the purchase of a steamer which evidently has been laid by for the scrap heap for many years ?
– I will make inquiries into the matter and let the honorable member know.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Defence inform the House how much money has . been expended in connexion with the proposed Federal arsenal at Canberra, and whether it is proposed to incur any further expenditure on that site, pending the result of the investigations promised by the Government?
– The amount of money expended in connexion with the arsenal to date is £13,000. I am not in a position to reply to the latter part of the question.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral say whether there has been any alteration made in the method of computing the amount paid to allowance postmasters in country districts, and whether any consideration has been given to the fact that these officers have now increased duties to perform in the matter of paying pensions, separation allowances, and allotment money for the Defence Department ?
– There has been no alteration to the formula upon which the payment is made to allowance officers except that where additional duties are imposed on them for military services, or otherwise, they are paid proportionately in accordance with the work performed.
– Will the Treasurer be kind enough to state when the Income Tax Assessment Bill will come before the House for discussion?
– Probably to-day or early next week, whenever the business of the House will permit.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Commissioner is preparing a reply which will take a few days. I shall be glad if the right honorable gentleman will repeat his second question on next day of sitting.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
If he will inform the House of the amount of the loan expenditure for the Commonwealth and for each of the States for the year ended 30th June, 1916?
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Neither the Treasury nor the Statistician has yet been advised of the States’ Loan Expenditure for 19.15-16.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– There has been no time to get the information required, but I have sent a telegram to the manager of Cockatoo Island, and I hope to have the information for the honorable member before the House rises.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that, in accordance with the Constitution, one-half of the members of the Senate cease to hold office on the 30th June next, is it the intention of the Government to hold separate elections for the Senate and House of Representatives, or does the Government propose to hold the elections for both Houses on the same day?
– The matter has not yet been considered.
Bill returned from the Senate with the requests that the amount stated in the schedule and clause 2 be reduced from £3,293,290 to £2,195,527.
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
In Committee :
– I move-
That the requested amendments be not made.
The effect of the amendments requested is to reduce the Supply to two months, but we will be well into the first month before we get away from the House if we are to do the business that has been indicated by the Prime Minister. It is imperative that the Government should have three months’ Supply. Honorable members are expected to take part in the establishment of recruiting committees in their electorates under the recruiting scheme put forward by the Government, but it will be utterly -impossible for Queensland or Western Australian members to get in touch with the State members in their electorates if we accedeto the Senate’s request, and bring them back to Melbourne in the first week in February. For that primary reason, I ask honorable members not to make the requested amendments.
– I regret exceedingly that the Treasurer does not propose to accede to the request, which would have the effect of calling Parliament together in February. Though hitherto the British House of Commons has adjourned at frequent intervals, and, as a rule, has sat less than this House, it has been sitting practically continuously through the war. I think that we can very readily follow their example, and, without any loss of dignity, accede to the request of the Senate. I have done a fair amount of work on recruiting committees, and I intend to do it in the future.
– The honorable member used to talk conscription in those days.
– If I did so, my words would have been quoted against me.
– The honorable member told the people that they had better avoid conscription? Is that what he said?
– No. Whatever I said in that regard would have been looked up and used by the press against me, because on the matter of conscription theconscriptionists had practically the whole of the press of Australia backing them up, and six out of seven Governments, and six out of seven Oppositions in Australia. It is said that honorable members from distant States should have the opportunity of geting to their States, but I would like to know how much those honorable members did during the previous recruiting campaign.
– What the honorable member means is that they cannot do much good.
– In my opinion, they should be here. We should all be here. If half the energy that was put into the conscription campaign had been put’ into the recruiting campaign, recruiting would have been infinitely more successful. Many men have gone on the platform during the ‘referendum campaign and made great protestations as to whom they have sent to the front; but they did not send them. As I have heard it put, we have not sent any men from Australia, for those who have gone away have gone voluntarily. It was said of the chairman of an anti-conscriptionist meeting at Castlemaine, at which I spoke, that he was an anti-conscriptionist because he was afraid that his son would have to go, whereas his son had already gone, and his wife, who ‘ was also an anticonscriptionist, had eight brothers who had gone, two of them to meet their death and a third to be reported as missing. Some people who howled “ Conscription “ made all sorts of excuses when their sons were called up under the proclamation. The honorable member for Bendigo knows of one man in his city who, when voluntarism was in force, said that his son would not pass the doctor, but who made all sorts of excuses to get that son out of camp when he was called up under the proclamation.
– What bearing has all this on the matter before the Committee ?
– Many people who made protestations about recruiting did very little when the campaign was in progress. The Leader of the Liberal party-
– The Leader of the Opposition.
– The Leader of the party that is keeping the Government in office has asked me whether I advocated conscription during the recruiting campaign. I did not do so.
– I heard that you had done so.
– Whoever said it was wrong.
– The honorable member has a very short memory.
– On the recruiting train tour, during which I addressed twentythree meetings, there were always reporters from the Age and the Argus, as well as representatives of the local newspapers, present, and had I said anything in the direction indicated by the right honorable member for Parramatta, it would have been easily available. I made no such statement. I admit that I have never sent a letter to an organization stating that I would do a certain thing and gone back upon it, but I can say it of the honorable member for Gwydir.
– I have not done it.
– I am beginning to think that there is something in the alle.gation after all.
– No. What I did say was that if conscriptionists and anticonscriptionists alike had thrown themselves with equal energy into the recruiting campaign the result would have been more satisfactory. That statement will be found reported in the issue of the Age on the day that the recruiting tour concluded.
I trust that the Government will agree to the request made by the Senate, and that we shall be afforded an opportunity to deal with other legislation that awaits our attention. It is absolutely impossible for us before the Christmas adjournment to dispose of the measures foreshadowed by the Prime Minister last night. I am as anxious as is any honorable member that certain Bills should be dealt with. I, have been very anxious for some - time that the Tariff, for instance, should be disposed of; but that cannot be done before Christmas. Then there is the position of the iron industry to be considered. The Leader of the Liberal party referred to the importance of that industry a few days ago. The bounty on steel and iron terminates, I think, on the 31st instant. I do not know whether the Government propose to continue the bounty, but if it be correct, as reported recently in the press, that the Newcastle works alone expect this year to turn out about 150,000 tons of steel, that means that we shouldhave to pay something like £250,000 by way of bounty on the production of that factory alone, apart from the iron and’ steel produced at Lithgow. I do not think the Government are prepared in the present circumstances to provide so large a sum for that purpose. We have a right, however, to deal fairly with the iron industry, which has been encouraged under a system different from that adopted for the encouragement- of other industries. The report of the Inter-State Commission with regard to the iron industry is probably the best that it has issued. We cannot deal with all the legislation foreshadowed by the Prime Minister last night as necessary to be disposed of before Christmas.
– We can deal with it. What the honorable member means to say is that he will not deal with it.
– I do not mean that. Take the iron industry.
– It can be dealt with quite distinctly.
– But not in five minutes. Then, again, the interests affected by the Tariff are too far-reaching to be hurriedly disposed of.
– The Tariff can be dealt with, in a certain way, before Christmas.
– The urgency of that and other measures is another reason why we should fall in with the request made by the Senate, and refuse to grant more than two months’ Supply.
– Is the honorable member in favour of surrendering to the Senate the rights of this House.
– In connexion with the consideration of the Tariff in 1902, the right honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Parkes advocated that the Senate should have the right to amend such a taxation measure. If the right honorable member for Parramatta now says that we shall surrender our rights to the Senate by yielding to this request, I shall have much pleasure in quoting from Hansard what he said on that occasion.
– The honorable member knows that the Government gave way on that occasion because the Tariff had to be passed within two years.
– This Bill must also be dealt with at once. This is the day on which the fortnightly payments to public servants should be made, so that there is infinitely more reason for dealing ‘expeditiously with this Supply Bill than there was for so dealing with the Tariff Bill in, 1902.
– Was it not expressly declared that the action of the House in regard to the Senate’s requests with respect to the 1902 Tariff should not be treated as a precedent?
– That is often done. The Government will not lose anything by agreeing to this request.
– The country will lose recruits.
– The PostmasterGeneral, who can find time to conduct proceedings before a Royal Commission, should be able to find time for the approaching recruiting campaign. The great majority of members of this Parliament were able to take an active part in the .conscription campaign, although we did not adjourn until about the 29th September, and the vote was taken a month later. Surely it is equally important that we should all take an interest in the forthcoming recruiting campaign, which cannot be got under way until well after the Christmas holidays. I have already seen the officer who is to be in charge of the. recruiting arrangements in my electorate.
– Which shows the selfishness of what the honorable member is proposing. He lives in his electorate.
– No electorate is more than a week’s -journey from this House.
– There are very few honorable members who desire to come back in February.
– We have a right to be in attendance here to do the work of the country. We were told in the press the other day that we are now to have responsible government.- If the present Administration is a sample of responsible government, then I can only say that we have never before had such a thing in the Commonwealth. Hardly one member of the Government party is sure of reelection. I like the Treasurer’s chance, and that is only an even-money chance, but a man who was making a book would be prepared to lay 100 to 1 that some members of the Government party will not be re-elected. I have only to say, in conclusion, that I think the Committee should agree to this request. The re,cruiting campaign will lose nothing by such action on our part. Both the Government and the Liberal party have admitted that the question of conscription is now out of the way, so that honorable members should be able to work unitedly in the recruiting campaign, and do their very best to secure more volunteers.
The honorable member for Yarra did not deal with the Deluge, but he touched on almost every other subject. He passed very lightly over the fact that this House is very jealous of its privileges, and that the Senate, which has made this request to us to cut down Supply from three to two months, is thereby seeking to take out of the hands of this branch of the Legislature the control of the purse that properly belongs to it. If the question is solely one as to whether we should remain here to do our duty, I am bound to say I see no reason why we should adjourn over the Christmas holidays. Either certain measures are urgent or they are not. If they are urgent, there is no reason why we should adjourn except over Sunday and Christmas Day. One would imagine, after hearing the honorable member for Yarra’s speech on the urgency of the iron bounty that unless it was dealt with forthwith dreadful things would happen. Notwithstanding the urgency of that matter, however, he contemplates that we should engage for at least a month in a recruiting campaign. I take my stand on the position that this House has to determine how the moneys of the people shall be spent. It has also to determine the length of Supply necessary for the purposes of the Government. It determined by an overwhelming majority that three months’ Supply was necessary.
– There was no division; the House was unanimous.
– There was such an overwhelming majority in this House in favour of granting the Government three months’ Supply that the honorable member for Yarra and his followers were not. prepared to challenge us. No argument is put forward in support of this request except that we ought to go on with some work. I am prepared to go on with work every day in the week except Sunday, but like an offer I once made to cut down all salaries to 10s. a day, it is quite clear that such a proposal does not evoke any enthusiasm. I do not think that any Government would live long that ventured to ask Parliament to sit six days a week. If Parliament did sit six days a week the sessions would be short, which would be a salutary reform. I am prepared to fix a date for the re-assembling of Parliament which will enable us to deal with the Tariff and the iron bounty, both of which must either be passed practically without discussion, or must take five or six months to discuss. The alternatives are to legalize what has been done, or to thresh out the subjects at length. If the iron bounty is unsuitable, let it run out at the end of the year. If not, let us consider it under the new conditions. The iron industry is in a better position now than it was when the bounty was granted. If we accept two months’ supply, Parliament will have to re-assemble in the last week of January, or in the first week of February, and it is desirable, for the sake of the recruiting campaign, that we shall adjourn until, say, the third week in February.
– That campaign cannot be started in the wheat districts for a month to come.
– Nothing can be done until after the holidays, and then a full month will be needed to start the campaign. We ought not to contemplate reassembling before the third week in February, or the first week in March. That should be a satisfactory arrangement for all parties. It would give sufficient time for the recruiting campaign, in which all parties can earnestly co-operate. On reassembling, we shall have time to deal with the matters that have been mentioned. No case can be made out for the unprecedented attempt of the Senate to take the control of the public purse from this House, a control which it should never surrender, and the circumstances do not warrant the granting of a lesser supply than that for which we have asked.
.- I do not, and I am sure the Committee does not, regard the request of the Senate as unprecedented. That body is quite within its rights in asking us to provide for two months’ instead of for three months’ Supply. Yet the Prime Minister has exalted its request into a refusal to grant Supply, and into an attempt to take from this House the control of the purse. Is not that ‘an exaggeration? The Senate frequently has had reason to complain that vast proposals for- expenditure, passed in this House only too speedily, have been sent to it without sufficient time being allowed for their proper consideration.
– I understand that this Supply Bill was discussed in the Senate for a much longer time than was given to any of the Supply Bills introduced by the honorable member.
– The Leader of the Liberal party, who is the strong supporter of the present Government-
– The honorable member’s objection to him is that he is not a strong supporter of the House of Tudor.
– No doubt the Leader of the Liberal party will say that the last Government, just prior to the 30th June last, was able to pass expenditure, amounting to millions of pounds, in a few minutes; but the reason why the Estimates for last year were not considered at an earlier date was that the Prime Minister was away in England for a considerable part of the year. He had intended to be away for four months only, and with our consent remained away for seven months. If the Prime Minister is willing that Parliament shall re-assemble in the third week in February, two months’ Supply will be ample. That will carry the Treasurer to the 15th February, after which date he can provide for expenditure out of the Treasurer’s Advance. In his interim financial statement the honorable gentleman said that on taking charge of the Treasury he found that his predecessor had authorized the expenditure since the 1st July of the whole amount of his advance of £1,700,000.
– I might have added £5S,000 to that.
– The honorable member gave a table showing the amounts provided in the Supply Bill paid for in the previous year from loan funds, authority being taken from the Treasurer’s Advance for the expenditure of £1,020,000. If the Government get three months’ supply they will be able to remain in recess until the end of April. What is the reason for the anxiety of the Prime Minister and his right-hand supporter to pass the Tariff without discussion before the Christmas adjournment?
– There is collusion between these two Free Traders.
– Both are extreme Free Traders, having no sympathy with the Protectionist doctrine.
– And the honorable member is a Protectionist I.W.W. He won’t work.
– I ask for your protection, Mr. Chairman, against the attempt of the Leader of the Liberal party to associate me with the Industrial Workers of the World. He said that I stood for the protection of the Industrial Workers ofthe World.
– I did not. I said that the honorable member was a Protectionist I.W.W.
– That is a horse of the same colour. The political intrigues of the honorable member and of the Prime Minister are with a view to the defamation of the political party to which I belong. Will you, Mr. Chairman, allow him to defame my political character?
– I do ‘not regard what the honorable member for Parramatta has said as defaming the honorable member.
– I hope that the electors will take the same view of ‘his words. Do the right honorable member and the Prime Minister desire to get three months’ Supply, so that they may carry on until the end of April, and then spring an election on the country, in the meantime governing by regulation ? The Senate has reason for objecting to this procedure. Has not the Prime Minister stated that he declines to recognise their disallowance of regulations, and that he will continue to pass regulations, and put them into operation during the recess? The Senate has as much right as the House of Representatives to supervise the public expenditure. Why was the Senate constituted as it is, with six representatives from each State, although in some States the population is quite out of proportion to that of large States like New South Wales and Victoria ? Why is it that Tasmania has six representatives in the Senate, while New South Wales, with a very much larger population, has only the same number? The reason is that if the Senate had not such representation it would be a very easy matter for the honorable member for Barrier and other representatives of New South Wales, together with representatives of Victoria, to vote away money as they liked, quite ignoring the interests of the smaller States.
– On democratic lines !
– On democratic lines. It is of no use our “ putting our heads in the sand “ in regard to this matter.
– You are not in favour of a system of that kind ?
– I am not in favour of the representatives of New South Wales and Victoria combining to vote the public moneys raised by taxation and otherwise, solely in the interests of the two larger States. I do not think the honorable member for Barrier would consider that a democratic procedure. We know that in the various State Parliaments the representatives of the larger constituencies would spend all the money in those constituencies if the people out-back had not the representation they now enjoy. In many country constituencies the number of people and voters is, perhaps, half that to be found in those of the large cities. You, Mr. Chairman, as a country member, know that the reason the public do not accept what appears to be a logical and reasonable proposal, namely, one vote one value, is that if the larger populated electorates in and about the big cities had as much voting power as have the people in the country districts, the latter could not possibly get fair play in the Houses of Parliament.
– Then the Victorian system in the State Parliament is right.
– No, it is not. The honorable member is exaggerating most unduly.
– Is that the States right corner over there?
– I am a States righter-
– With qualifications !
– With qualifications, I am a States righter. I believe in increasing the number of States; indeed, in my opinion, Australia will never be well governed until the number of States is increased.
– And the Senate abolished.
– No, I would not say that. The Senate is entitled to supervise the expenditure on the various services of the Commonwealth, and the request that we shall be satisfied with two months’ Supply does not mean for a moment that another place is attempting to interfere with the control of the public purse. Senators have, I imagine, a desire to discuss items of expenditure as they ought to be discussed. We are informed in this morning’s papers that £30,000 per annum is expended on the censors. If the Prime Minister could get the censors to devote themselves to their proper duties - namely, the dealing with the information that it is proposed to publish from a military point of view, and not from the point of view of political necessity - the cost might be cut down by £15,000.
– I think the honorable member is going beyond the scope of the question.
– I am pointing out items which the Senate may wish to discuss, and which they will not have an opportunity to discuss if we give Supply enabling the Government to carry on to the end of April. If three months’ Supply be granted it would take us to the 15th March, and the Treasurer’s Advance of £1,700,000, to be recouped, will be there for the further use of the Government.
– A Government could be indicted for spending money in that way 1
– The Government were not indicted for spending millions in the purchase of ships.
– No; but they ought to have been.
– In my opinion, the Prime Minister desires to have a long recess.
– The honorable member is “ barking up the wrong tree.” There will be no long recess.
– The right-hand supporter of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Liberal party, possesses power without responsibility; and if he and the Prime Minister would tell us that it is proposed to call the House together on the 21st February-
– The Prime Minister has just made a statement to that effect.
– The Prime Minister has stated that he will call the House together in the third week in February.
– If the Prime Minister will instruct Mr. Speaker to that effect I venture to say-
– Be careful !
– Well, I do not wish to commit the great Australian Labour party, to which I belong, without consulting it; but I venture to say -
– You are waiting for orders.
– There is nothing derogatory in what I suggest. It would be impossible to run a party if each mem-, ber were to do, as the honorable member for Barrier is apparently doing this morning, when he takes on himself the duty of defending his Leader in his own way. I venture to say that if the Prime Minister will indicate to Mr. Speaker that he desires the House to be called together not later than 21st February, he will have very little difficulty in getting what he asks.
– Why did you not say that before?
– Do I understand from the right-hand supporter of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Liberal party, that he desires the House shall meet not later than the 21st February?
Mr.- Joseph Cook. - I desire that the House shall meet on the 21st February.
– And not later!
– I think that is fair, and I shall at a very early stage see the Leader of the Australian Labour party in this House, and ascertain his views.
– What about honorable members who have to come from distant States?
– The honorable member for Swan knows that it is not meet that he should stay out of this State for a long period, seeing that he may be called upon, at very short notice, to assume the duties of the office now .filled’ by the honorable member for Grey. It takes only four or five days to come from Western Australia, and the right honorable gentleman, after six weeks’ holiday, could leave his home on the 14th February and be here in time for a meeting of Parliament in the third week of that month. Therefore, I hope that the “ Emperor of the West “ will not bring any pressure to bear on the Leader of the Liberal party to alter his views in regard to the early meeting of Parliament. Since the Prime Minister has made the statement referred to as to the meeting of Parliament, and the Leader of the Liberal party agrees with him, I feel it unnecessary to occupy any more time.
– I ‘should not have spoken but for the interjection of the honorable member for Wimmera, and some remarks made by the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Wimmera asked whether it was proper that this House should surrender its rights by allowing the Senate to suggest amendments in this Bill. The Prime Minister went further, and said that the action of the Senate was taking the control of business away from this House - that in this House, and in this House only, was vested the power of the purse. I say quite freely that if a vote were taken on that issue I should be in favour oi the Senate retaining ‘the powers unquestionably granted to it by the Constitution. Under our party system this House has dealt with the powers of the Senate entirely as it suited the Government of the day. I remember that, during the term of the late Government, the Prime Minister said that the Senate must not be allowed to take control of the business of this House; but we know that for the whole of one session the Opposition in the Senate did take the control out of the hands of the Government.
– Did the Opposition take control of Supply?
– I shaH deal with that question. During the reign of the Cook Government the majority then sitting in Opposition in the Senate took the control of the business out of the hands of the Government at every sitting.
– That was within the Senate itself.
– Day after day the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, as soon as the first Order of the Day was called upon, moved that order 5 or 6 should take precedence of the others, and thus the Opposition had control of the business at every sitting. In regard to Supply, the question of the power ofthe Senate to deal with money Bills was debated at the Federal Conventions perhaps at greater length than any other question. The delegates to the conferences were mostly men from the State Parliaments, and the framers of the Constitution had in mind the past actions of the Legislative Councils, which are elected on a more restricted franchise. Therefore, instead of giving to the Senate, which is elected on the same franchise as the House of Representatives, the same power to deal with money Bills as is possessed by the Legislative Councils, they gave it the power to suggest amendments and to reject measures. There is not one constitutional writer who does not point out strongly that when a legislative body is given power to suggest and reject, it has practically most of the powers contained in the right to make amendments. Therefore, it is improper for this House to say that the Senate, in exercising the functions vested in it by the Constitution, is infringing the rights of this Chamber. I cannot imagine a more dangerous practice than that, in order to get an immediate party advantage, the rights of the second Chamber should be interfered with. Each Chamber is complete in its own orbit, and the Senate is merely exercising powers which have been conferred upon it under our Constitution. Therefor© I advise the Government to accept the amendment. I believe that another place is in earnest.
– That is all the more reason why we should be in earnest, too.
– I ask the Government and the House to consider what the position will be if the Senate persists in exercising its legitimate functions. Upon this House will then rest the responsibility of accepting Supply for two months, or losing the Supply Bill, and bringing about an immediate dissolution andappeal to the country.
– That is the scheme.
– That is the position which we are facing. The Senate is acting well within its rights. Will any honorable member, excepting the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Wimmera, say that in suggesting this amendment the Senate is improperly taking control of the business out of the hands of this House.
– Undoubtedly the Senate is doing that.
– That is myopinion, too.
– Then I ask the honorable member for Gippsland to say whether the Senate is or is not acting within its constitutional rights. The Constitution has deliberately given the Senate this power, and it is useless for any honorable member to argue that another place will be infringing the rights of this Chamber in exercising its power.
– The Senate has only the right to suggest, and we have the right to refuse the suggestion.
– The Senate has a right to return the suggestion, and, according to every constitutional authority, the Senate, having the power to suggest and reject, has powers, excepting in the actual making of amendments, co-equal with those of this Chamber. Honorable members must recollect that we are not now dealing with a Chamber elected on a restricted franchise. It has the widest franchise of any legislative body in the world, a franchise which is wider than that of this Chamber, because we represent only portions of our States, whilst the Senate is elected by the total population of each State. If the Senate stands to its amendment, this House must either accept the suggestion or we must take the responsibility of losing the Supply Bill and bringing about a dissolution.
– The Senate must take the responsibility.
– We may try to mislead ourselves, but we cannot mislead the common sense of the country. The question is not as to the refusal or granting of Supply, but as to the granting of Supply for two months or for three months.
– The Senate will have to reject the Bill, and that will be a refusal of Supply.
– From other stand-points I believe that it is in the best interests of the country that Parliament should re-assemble in February.
– We shall have to meet in February in any case.
– With a lengthy experience of State and Federal parliamentary life, my experience of Governments, both Liberal and Labour, is that they all have the same desire - to get into recess as speedily as possible, and to come out of recess as slowly as possible.
– And a very good thing, too.
– On that point I differ entirely from my leader. We are at a crisis in the history of the British Empire. There has been no time in the life of any member when such vital and important issues affecting our freedom and the future of our race were at stake as are in the balance to-day, and I do not think that any Government, dealing with the defence of this country, should be long in recess at this juncture. Unless some special arrangement is made between the two Houses the life of this Parliament will expire about the third week in May.
– The life of the Senate will expire then, but not that of this House.
– Does any intelligent man believe that the country would submit » to two elections within three months? Such a thing is not w’ithin the range of practicability; therefore, unless some special arrangement is made, the life of this House, too, must expire about the third week in May. There is much to be done in the meantime. One question in particular should be. dealt with before Parliament is dissolved, and that is the repatriation of our soldiers. Speaking as a member of the War Committee, I say that this matter has been delayed too long. There has been a passing on of responsibility from the Federal Government to the Central War Council, which has transferred the responsibility to the State War Councils. I believe that the State War Councils and the trustees have done a- certain amount of very good work, but no honorable member can say that the scheme for the repatriation of returned soldiers is in a satisfactory position. Therefore, in all the circumstances, and especially having regard to the alternatives which are possible, namely, of either refusing to accept the Senate’s suggestion, and thus bringing about a dissolution of Parliament, or accepting it after having put up a fourflush bluff - the Government would do well to agree to the Senate’s wishes.
– -Ji your proposal is agreed to, Parliament will have to meet again in January.
– The Treasurer is wrong. Other honorable gentlemen who have had extended experience in the Treasury have told me that Supply for two months will enable Parliament to meet in the middle of February.
– We shall have to meet our payments by the middle of February.
– I ask the Treasurer to think carefully before plunging Australia into a conflict between the two Chambers on a question as to whether Parliament shall meet a fortnight earlier or later. By attempting to take from the Senate functions which rightly belong to it we shall be casting the whole Constitution back into the melting-pot, with the probable result of plunging Australia at this- juncture into a political crisis which may mean sending us to a general election before the contemplated time without having done the important work that we should do. We ought to insist that during the brief recess a full and complete system of economy in regard to the ordinary expenditure of the Common-, wealth should be brought about. The expenditure to-day is more than Australia is prepared to bear on top of the enormous war expenditure that has been forced on us. I urge the Treasurer not to bring on a fight with another place for the sake of determining such a question as whether Parliament shall meet two weeks earlier than the Government contemplated. Let Ministers be reasonable.
– Why should not the Senate be reasonable ?
– The practice seems to have grown up that if certain members propose something, the others are expected to swallow it holus bolus, whereas if another section propose anything it must be fought tooth and nail. In connexion with the matter before us now the line of reasonable compromise and commonsense is the one that we should follow as being most applicable to the occasion.
. - The reasons advanced by the Treasurer and the Prime Minister for not agreeing to the requests made by the Senate are different and ingenuous. The Treasurer suggests as a reason that members wish to get out on the recruiting campaign. The Prime Minister tried to raise a much more important question, so far as the immediate necessities of Parliament are concerned, but he was careful not to admit that the Senate was going beyond its legitimate and proper functions. It is quite foolish to suggest “that the Senate is refusing Supply. There is a clear distinction between the request of the Senate, which is simply asking that Supply be reduced by one month, and the attitude it would be taking up if it should refuse to supply the money that is necessary to carry on the government of the country. Even had the latter course been adopted I would have been inclined to say that the Senate was perfectly justified, because when there was a proposal in this Chamber to reduce Supply by £1,000,000 I expressed the opinion, -which I express again in regard to the Senate’s requests, that the proposed reduction was altogether too modest. To give two months’ Supply in our circumstances is a thing utterly inconsistent with responsible government. We have the position in this House that thirteen members out of seventy-five are dependent on the Opposition for support to get even , their Supply Bills through. We have a Government who are dependent on their political opponents for their very existence.
– That is how the Labour party first got into office.
– In the Senate the Government are dependent on a hos-° tile majority for any permission they need to get a single measure through. Future students of political economy and methods of government will wonder how it is that a party of thirteen could carry on the government of Australia with so many honorable members in opposition to them in both Houses. One wonders why Ministers choose to carry on in the circumstances. Perhaps it is their, love of office; or, perhaps, their opinion of their particular ability, in contradistinction to that of other honorable members, to carry on the government of the country, is such that they think no other Government could be found of equal merit and ability. They are not compelled to accept the requests made by the Senate, or to accept Supply from this House, unless they are prepared to stick to office willy-nilly, ‘ so long as they can get sufficient Supply with which to carry on. f am opposed to granting them Supply, because I am not prepared to continue them in office for a single day. We have had so much evidence of the incapacity and unreliability of the Government that I am not prepared to give my vote to leave them with a shred of power a moment longer than I can help.
– That statement is getting quite stale.
– Nevertheless, it is perfectly true. The truth persistently reiterated will eventually be recognised.
– How did you come to be with those men for seven years?
– How do you come to be with them now ?
– Probably, because he thinks that they are the lesser of two evils.
– I am not with them.
– Order ! Order ! I have called for order several times, but honorable members pay no attention. I do not wish to take drastic steps, but proceedings are becoming so disorderly as to compel me to do so. I ask honorable members to observe some order, and enable the business to be properly * carried on.
– In the exercise of its legitimate rights the Senate has refused to pass certain regulations. Without going into the merits of those regulations, on the broad question that the Senate has taken up an attitude hostile to certain regulations made by the Government, and disallowed them, one would ordinarily have imagined that those regulations would disappear; but the Prime Minister has made a’ public statement regarding them.
– I ask the honorable member not to proceed with the discussion of a matter that has already been dealt with in another place.
– I am merely advancing a reason why the Government should not be intrusted with Supply.
– The honorable member may show reasons, but he must not break the rules in doing so.
– In the matter of these regulations the Government are defying the Senate, and saying that no matter what it decides, or what opinion it expresses, they will repeat the offence, and do again that to which it objects.
– The honorable member is continuing^ to allude to a debate in another place.
– A Government that would do this is not worthy of the confidence of this House.
– If the honorable member does not obey the ruling of the Chair, I shall order him to resume his seat.
– I cannot understand the position. I am not trying to evade the ruling of the Chair.
– Twice I have called the attention of the honorable member to a breach of the rules. It is distinctly laid down that he cannot allude to anything that has occurred in another place, but he is doing so, and is continuing to do so. I ask him not to proceed on those lines, because to do so is to commit a distinct breach of the rules of the House.
– My second reason for not agreeing to the giving of Supply is the misuse of the public money that has taken place.
– In what way?
– It was admitted yesterday that the country is spending about £60,000 to pay censors.
– Some other honorable member may say that it is a misuse of public money to pay the Public Works Committee.
– The honorable member’s interjection puts a greater strain on the intelligence of honorable members than they should be asked to bear. The censorship in this free country is a foreign institution which should not be tolerated for a moment It has been brought into operation by this Government.
– No; by the last Government which you supported for two years.
– It is quite wrong to say that I supported the last Government in regard to the censorship. I was, unfortunately for the Government, a perfectly free critic of its action with regard to the censorship. The mere fact that money is squandered in carrying on such an institution proves that the present Government, or any other Government that would use public moneys for such a purpose at such a time as this, is not worthy of the confidence of the House, and should not be allowed to carry on the administration. According to ‘the Treasurer it is necessary that honorable members should have a lengthy recess so that they may be able to tak© an active part in the recruiting campaign. I have always taken an active part in recruiting, and I hope to continue to do so. I have written to the Director-General of Recruiting stating that I will assist in recruiting to the utmost of my- powers. My position is perfectly clear and plain. But who imagines for a moment that it is necessary for the success of recruiting that seventy-five members of the House of Representatives and thirty-six Senators should be able to tour their electorates? The recruiting campaign that was carried on so vigorously previously, and which was so successful, was carried on largely without the assistance of honorable members.
– That is not so. The services of honorable members were largely availed of.
– A very small proportion of honorable members took part in the campaign. I had invitations in the early stages of the campaign, but later on it became in Queensland so strongly a matter of advocating conscription that it was found necessary to drop me; consequently I was not asked to take further part in recruiting meetings. But now the Prime Minister coolly suggests, and the Director-General (of Recruiting asks that I should join in a recruiting campaign with men who do not want me, and who have opposed me politically. Right from the beginning of the war they have not wanted me to act with them, and I do not wish to act with them, but I am quite willing to go on with recruiting. Having tried to kill recruiting by means of their conscription proposals, they now desire to force us, whether we like it or. not, into a recruiting campaign. The present proposals with regard to a recruiting campaign are intended for purely political purposes, and not for the honest purposes of war.
– A dirty imputation !
– I say quite clearly that the Prime Minister’s recruiting proposal and that of the Minister for Defence with regard to the formation of reserve battalions, creating new military institutions and organizations, are for political purposes, and nothing else. When the Prime Minister returned from England, with the great name that he had made for himself, and all the glory and praise that attached to his magnificent work there-
– On account of which the Labour party threw their hats in the air and hailed him as a demigod.
– I do not desire to retract one word that was said regarding the work done in England by the Prime Minister. Not by one word would I reduce the credit that is due to him for the work that he did there. I have always recognised that he served Australia re- markably well by reason of many of the things he did at Home, although I am somewhat doubtful as to some of the utterances he made there.
– There are no cheers from the honorable member’s party.
– I have never said a word against what the Prime Minister did while at Home, but I shall have something to say about what he did out here.
– I have in this House supported some of the sentiments expressed concerning the Prime Minister’s work in England. I did not agree with some of his Imperialistic utterances, nor do I agree now with those utterances.
– Does not the honorable member regard Australia as a part of the Empire ?
– Yes; but that is quite a different matter. I have not deviated in the slightest from the attitude that I took up at the beginning of this war. My utterances in this House are on record in Hansard, and my statements outside, so far as they have been reported, may be turned up.
– The honorable member’s utterances since he has been on this side of the House have not been so temperate as before.
– They were fairly strong when I sat on the Government side of the House. If the Prime Minister, when he returned from England with the glory and the reputation he had gained there, had thrown himself into the recruiting campaign with all the energy, ability, and vigour with which he threw himself into the preparation for conscription and the conscription campaign, there would have been a very different result. All the ill-feeling that has been engendered in the community would have been avoided, and he would have saved the community an expenditure of £80,000 on the conscription campaign, which would have been better spent upon a recruiting effort. It was wholly and solely because of his desire to secure a particular personal victory that he took this stand. Now that he has spoilt the recruiting movement, and made the very suggestion of recruiting almost repulsive to the people because of his conduct and utterances during the conscription campaign, he desires to throw upon us the responsibility of dragging him out of the hole in which he has placed himself. I refuse to help him, and I am going to refuse to give him Supply or the opportunity to cany on the government of the country. I understand that two months’ Supply will carry the Government on till the middle of February.
– How would the honorable member like his wages to be held over on pay-day ?
– There is no holding over of the wages of public servants.
– Yes; they should have been paid to-day.
– Their pay will be due to-day, and it can be handed over. The necessary cheques are probably ready to pay them.
– But they cannot be issued to-day unless this Bill is passed.
– The Government need have no hesitation in proceeding with the payment of the Public Service, because we are offering to give them two months’ Supply. We are not holding up Supply or obstructing the Government in any way. I wish we were obstructing them. If the Leader of the Liberal party would join with us we should have the Government out of office in half-an-hour.
– And the honorable member and his party would not keep the Liberal party in office afterwards.
– No, we would have an election ; that is what we want.
– The two months’ Supply which we are offering the Government will carry them over January, and a further grant of Supply to pay the services of the country would be required by the 15th February next. If the Government are honestly prepared to meet the circumstances of the case - if their desire is to carry on the work of the country - surely an adjournment for two months should be quite sufficient for all purposes. I have a suspicion that there is at the back of the minds of the Government an ulterior motive in refusing to take less than three months’ Supply.
– Has the honorable member a motive in declining to vote for three months’ Supply ?
– My motive is to get rid of the Government. That is what I am here for. If the Government meets the House again in February I am prepared to come to an arrangement with the Liberal party or with any other party in the House to dissolve both Houses of Parliament, so that we may go to the country.
– That cannot be done so easily, and the honorable member knows it.
– It is easy to make that boast.
– The Government are in no hurry for an election. I am equally certain that the Liberal party are in no hurry for an election. The Labour party alone can comfortably anticipate an election. We have gone through similar experiences, and have had every confidence in the people. We are so ready to go to the people and to ask them to decide between us that we would hail with delight any opportunity that would allow the country to. decide whether the present Government, the Liberal party, or the official Labour party should again be intrusted with the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member said, “ We have had experience of this before.” How long has he been in the movement ?
– The honorable member is old enough to know that the Labour movement has a place, not only in Parliament, but outside.
– It started with Ananias thousands of years ago.
– I bow to the honorable member for Wentworth’s superior knowledge so far as that is concerned; he ought to know. The experience of the Labour party, as the honorable member for Barrier ought to know, is not confined to that gained in this House. The Government can only carry on with the assistance of the Liberal party, and that party must take the responsibility of keeping a discredited Administration in power. It must shoulder the responsibility of keeping in power a party of thirteen in this House, and it must accept that responsibility, not only here, but before the country. If the Liberal party have any doubt as to our feelings, I can say for myself that whenever during the currency of this session they are prepared to oust the Government I shall be willing to assist them to do so. So long as they continue to support the Government, however, so long must they carry the burden of doing so, and it is an increasing burden which they must carry at the next election. I should like to know whether the support which the Liberal party is giving the Government in its demand for three months’
Supply is part of an arrangement come to as a result of a meeting held last night between the Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Balaclava, and the honorable member for Flinders. It would be most interesting to know what was the result of that conference.
– I had no meeting whatever last night with either the honorable member for Balaclava or the honorable member for Flinders.
– The right honorable member is careful not to carry his reply to its conclusion. I made the statement that a consultation took place yesterday between the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Liberal party, the honorable member for Balaclava, and the honorable member for Flinders.
– There is not a word of truth in that statement.
– The right honorable member tells me - and I must accept his disclaimer - that he had no consultation with the two members ofhis party I have named. Will he say, just as clearly, that he had no consultation with the Prime Minister?
– I very often see the Prime Minister.
– If an arrangement has been come to between the Government and the Liberal party, the Committee ought to know of it, so that we may understand exactly where we are, so far as this Bill is concerned.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Early in the sitting, I stated that three months’ Supply is needed for public purposes, and to enable the House to adjourn for a period sufficiently long to allow honorable members to take part in the recruiting campaign, after which Parliament must assemble to deal with certain legislation, of which legislation the Tariff may be instanced as a matter of importance and of some urgency. Since then I have seen the Director of Recruiting, who has told me that he proposes to launch his recruiting scheme formally on the 2nd January. I take it that every honorable member wishes to do what he can to make voluntary recruiting a success. Nearly a month’s . Supply will have been expended’ before the recruiting campaign can be commenced, and honorable members will not have an opportunity to do justice- to the cause unless they are allowed freedom from, their parliamentary duties for a period sufficiently long to allow them to get round their respective States or electorates. It is necessary, in order to deal with legislation of which I have spoken, and to allow that oversight of the war which is desirable, that we should meet at as early a date as possible, consistent with the requirements of the recruiting campaign, and the Government, therefore, proposes to call Parliament together again not later than 28th February, allowing the President and Mr. Speaker to summon it still earlier should occasion arise. On that date we shall have barely fifteen days Supply in hand. Were we to get only two months’ Supply, we should have to meet again on the 28th January, and that would not enable any of us to take an effective part in the recruiting campaign.
.- The contributions to the debate made by the members of the Labour Opposition clearly evidence that they are more concerned about the position of their party than with the public needs in regard to Supply, and the obligations of the recruiting campaign. Surely at a time like this everything should be subordinated to the prosecution of the war.
– I rise to order. It has been the practice, although not the written law, for the presiding officer’ to recognise leaders of parties, and I ask, therefore, Mr. Chairman, if you deliberately ignored the Leader of the Australian Labour party when you refrained just now from looking towards him, and called one of the rank and file of the Liberal party.
– There is no point of order. I have never attempted to ignore the leader of any party. The honorable member for Wannon, who had secured the call before the luncheon adjournment, gave way to allow the Prime Minister to make a statement, and that statement having been made, he was in possession of the Chair again.
– The Prime Minister has made it clear that the granting of three months’ Supply is necessary in order that the country may engage in a recruiting campaign. The prosecution of the war is the paramount consideration. Although I shall take part in the proposed campaign, I cannot deceive myself into the belief that it will be a huge success..
– Will the Leader of the Opposition be seated? I may be blamable for having allowed too much latitude, but if the present laxity continues, I must take severe measures to compel conformity with the rules. I ask leaders of parties to set a good example.
– As a personal explanation
– I rise to. order. On the 29th November, the Leader of the Liberal party objected to me moving a noconfidence motion from a chair which he said was the recognised seat of the Leader of the Liberal Opposition. I therefore ask if he is in order in speaking from a Minister’s chair ?
– [Having removed to the Opposition side of the chamber]. - I very much , regret that you should have thought it necessary, Mr. Chairman, to address to me the remarks that you have just made. I was merely bending over the chair of Ministers to ask them a question. I should like to know wherein my offence lay.
– It is an offence under the Standing Orders for an honorable member, unless he is walking into or out of the chamber, to remain un- . seated. The conversation that was proceeding made it difficult for the Chair to hear the speaker. I have no wish to interfere with private conversations, but when they are in a tone -which prevents me from hearing distinctly, they are disorderly.
– Although I am prepared to take part in the recruiting campaign, and to do my best to gain recruits, I fear that my success may be small. I have taken part in two appeals for volunteers, with satisfactory results. Then came the falling off in’ voluntary enlistments, and the proposal of the Govern- < ment to substitute compulsion for the voluntary system. Of that I approved. I. told my constituents . that I had lost faith in. the voluntary system, and stood for compulsion. Now I shall have to tell them that I stand for the voluntary system. The Prime Minister, after his return from the Old Country, told the House and the country that the Govern- ment was of the opinion that the voluntary system had failed to meet the need for reinforcements. The Government proposals for conscription having failed, we are forced to revert to a system which, if it was a failure when the Prime Minister spoke of it as such, must . be still more a failure now, the enlistments having fallen off to the extent of two-thirds. I believe the burden of making a success of this campaign to rest mainly on the Labour Opposition, who declared themselves utterly opposed to compulsion, and in favour of the voluntary system.
– Which you killed !
– The honorable member cannot say I killed it, because, in the part I took in the campaign, I do not think I antagonized one single man. Personally, I have no hopes that the voluntary system will give us the necessary reinforcements, and I predict that, in a few weeks, all the men now in camp will be on the water, and practically very few recruits will take their places. We shall then find ourselves with a costly war organization, suggestive of a huge industrial factory, with everybody on the pay-sheet, and full steam up, but no raw material. For all this the country will have to foot the bill, and, at the same time, we shall have no reinforcements. I am not personally keen on the proposal put before the country as a war policy, either as a means of raising men or of getting money. We shall not get reinforcements unless the Opposition Labour party can assure us that they are sufficiently in touch with their constituents to make it certain that the voluntary system can be resuscitated and produce the numbers. I have taken opportunities presented to consult residents of parts of my constituency - of consulting recruiting sergeants and others who ought to know the facts, and I find that some parts of the district have done splendidly - so closely have they been combed out that not an eligible man is left. And yet we are now asked to go back with an indiscriminate appeal, and allow public men to be made cock-shies of in their attempt to do a job that has already been declared to be a failure. There cannot be any one, from the Prime Minister downwards, who in his heart believes that the proposed scheme will give us the necessary reinforcements.
– We have no other alternative.
– Then we are at a “ dead-end,” and we must adopt some other course of action. Not more than a fortnight ago it was declared throughout the world that Germany was organizing on a mammoth scale her manhood power, munitions, and so forth, and that she was about to deliver a staggering blow such as humanity had never before experienced. What was our answer to that? - a referendum under which the vote was “ No.” This casts an obligation on somebody, and that somebody is represented by those responsible for the “No” vote; on them is cast the responsibility of making the proposed campaign a success. I, of course, shall do all I can, but I cannot believe the scheme will succeed”. To the Mother Country, on whom most of the burden of the war rests, we owe a greater duty than that of reverting to a system which has proved -a failure. I really think that we might call a truce in politics. Let us put aside all our political differences, and agree unanimously as to the attitude we shall adopt in the prosecution of the war. This of all times is the time when the Empire should be one united people. I suggest that the Prime Minister, with the consent of Parliament - if not the present Prime Minister, some other one - should take the initiative in inviting the Mother Country to call a council of the Empire. A post-war conference to divide the spoils has been suggested, but now is the time when all the brains and strength of the Empire should be utilized in bringing this war to an end. Let all the Dominions - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, .South Africa, India - meet in conference in the Mother Country and decide upon uniform action throughout the Empire. How long can an Empire be maintained on the principle that one portion only should be compelled to do the fighting? How long would the German colonies, if they were available to the Kaiser, be permitted to remain outside the war? There is no doubt that they would be thoroughly marshalled; and it is to the discredit of this Chamber that’ we here should have reached an absolute deadend. I am not satisfied, and I cannot pretend to be satisfied, with the present situation. As to a recruiting campaign, we do not stand in the same position that we did when we made the previous appeal. , At that time there had been no great division ; but the result of the referendum has, rightly or wrongly, divided the community into two hostile camps, with a harvest of political bickerings, bad taste, and much bad judgment on both sides. I am perfectly satisfied that on the side which advocated conscription some very bad errors of judgment were made. One of the errors, from the point of view of the success of the movement, was the calling up of the men beforehand by proclamation, thus showing every family in Australia the effect that conscription was going to have. Then, again, very bad taste in judgment was shown by some in the manner in which they conducted the campaign, pointing their fingers, as they did, at the very section of the people to whom we were appealing for support. I never thought that the Bill, when it passed this Chamber, would be used in this way; and we know what happened in the administration of section 9. Every person with a name suggestive’ of enemy nationality was practically marked as a disloyal person, and his vote was put on one side, with a view to, later on, asking him to explain to a Court. We all know that in this country there are hundreds of men with such names whose sons have enlisted, and many of them have given up their lives for the Empire. Of course, there may be amongst them some few who are disloyal; but, in order to get at these, it was sought to brand every person whose name suggested a foreign or enemy connexion. That was a huge blunder; and yet we are now asked to go to these people, whom we have practically insulted, and ask them for their sons. Too much has been done to disturb the harmony and good feeling which prevailed when the last recruiting campaign was. undertaken; and I do not think that we can have a united Australia again until the members of the Labour Opposition, the members of the Labour Government, and the members of the Liberal party are prepared to bury the hatchet. So far as the administration and control of the country^ is concerned, I look on the present as a mere transitory condition of affairs. Under the circumstances, it is the duty of this National Parliament to unite in the prosecution of the war, or a party should be placed in power which can, by its own weight and numbers, meet the situation in a better way than it is being met at present, and thus show that we are prepared to stand with the Mother Country until victory has been won.
.- I intend to occupy the House not more than two or three minutes; indeed, I should not have spoken but for the remarks made by the honorable member for Wannon and others^ which render it necessary, in the interests of recruiting, that the true position be placed before the country. During the last week or two I have listened to very many statements to the effect that recruiting has been a failure, and that we are not getting the number of reinforcements necessary to keep up the strength of the divisions at the front. It appears to me that very little consideration is given by honorable members to facts, and that, to a large extent, the public are being misled. We hear men speak as though we had an unlimited number of men to draw from. I am one who claims that recruiting has not failed, but that, on the contrary, it is keeping up as good a percentage as it did at the beginning of the war.
– Why have the enlistments dropped from 11,500 to 5,000?
– That is the very matter I rose to speak about. When the war commenced, we had a great number of eligible men, of whom we were able to get from 11,000 to 12,000 per month. Today we have enlisted over 300,000, while 150,000 have been turned down as medically unfit, out of the 600,000 or 700,000 possible men in Australia.
– Nonsense !
– It is not nonsense, but fact, which I leave the honorable member to disprove. It is evident that we must work in proportion to our numbers. The recruiting, at the beginning, was 12,000 out of an available 600,000, and, notwithstanding all the men who have gone, we have never had less than 6,000 recruits per month.
– And 300,000 are all we have left in a population of 5,000,000 !
– About 450,000 have offered their services, and, with 300,000 left, we have a total of 750,000 out of a population of 5,000,000. We have to remember that all sorts of men were placed in the camps at great expense under the recent proclamation. In one case, a young fellow of twenty-two, who had been an invalid from birth, and never able to work, was called in, and; because of this, his father, who was a town clerk, and had been secretary to all the patriotic committees, resigned all his positions. Again, a man with a cork foot wa3 called up, along with another who had previously been six months in bed with rheumatism. Why not tell us how many of those who went into camp made application for service abroad ? It is stated on fairly reliable authority, that of the men who were in camp only one man in four was eligible to pass the test for active service abroad, plainly showing that men who were not capable of passing the test were put in wholesale. Ministers are constantly placing before the country the statement that we need 16,500 men a month to make up the reinforcements for an army of 100,000 men. That is exactly one-sixth of that number.
– Are you arguing against recruiting, or what are you doing ?
– I am not arguing against recruiting, but telling the truth. I shall be out on the platform to ask for recruits, but the right honorable gentleman is damning the whole movement by telling the people that they have to find more recruits than they can possibly raise.
– You will go recruiting, and tell the people that it is not needed.
– When I am on the platform I will do just as well as the tight honorable gentleman will do.
– That is very doubtful.
– It is not very doubtful, and those who know me best are aware of that fact. I propose to analyze the position, and it is time that it was done. If 16,500 men a month are required to reinforce an army of 100,000 men, that is a sixth of the total number. Suppose that Great Britain were to put 1,500,000 men at the front. On the same basis of reinforcing she would have to send 250,000 men each month. So that in a year she would have to send 3,000,000 men as reinforcements. There you would have 4,500,000 men absorbed in a year.-
– It is not tommyrot, and the right honorable gentleman knows that it is not.
– I know quite the contrary.
– I am putting forward facts, which the members of the Liberal Opposition cannot controvert. If we in Australia are expected to” send 16,500 men a month as reinforcements the sooner we realize that it cannot be done the better. I said on the platform that if it is necessary to send so many men monthly we cannot keep up the supply. I take it that the message which the Prime Minister received from the Council of War to the effect that we should not use the fifth division for reinforcements at present, practically meant that, in their opinion, it was not necessary. That is my reading of the message. What I am arguing now is that it is not necessary to have a sixth for reinforcements. Otherwise, the nations supplying men in the -same proportion could not carry on the war for more than fifteen or sixteen months with the men at their disposal. They have gone on for over two years. It is a simple sum in arithmetic. I am always tired of hearing honorable members say that recruiting is a failure because we are getting 6,000 or 8,000 men a month. We have not had less than 6,000 a month.
– We have got only about 3,000 this month.
– The month is not completed yet. My honorable friend, if he likes to refer to the record, will find that recruiting fell off considerably in December of last year, and revived after the Christmas season was over.
– They do not lose men in the same proportion every month of the year.
– I do not say that they do.- What I say is that we have not an unlimited number of men at our disposal to select from, and we cannot expect to keep up the same number of recruits month after month if the war is protracted for five or six years. How is it possible to do so? The suggestion is unreasonable. I rose this afternoon to put plain facts before -the House and the country. It is all very well for an honorable member to say that I am against recruiting. I am in favour of recruiting. I shall take the platform and do my best to get recruits. Honorable members are only injuring the very result which they desire to bring about by constantly reiterating that recruiting is a failure, because we are not getting 16,500 a month when the men are not available to be got. If we get from 6,000 to 8,000 a month we shall do well. Our casualties up to the present time have not exceeded an average of 5,000 a month. The best thing which could possibly have been done was to adhere to the voluntary system. ‘ I told the boys that compulsion, if adopted, would set up a line ‘of demarcation, the worst thing that could happen, and they indicated by their votes that they took mat view. I have sat here day after day and listened to statements which are not correct. Recruiting, I repeat, will not be a failure because we do not get 16,500 men a month. Every honorable member ought to do his best to help recruiting as far as possible. I believe that if we get 6,000 or 7,000, or S,000 men a month, it will be sufficient to reinforce our army at the front, and that we shall -be able to do our part in the future as we have done in the past.
.- With reference to a remark which the honorable member for Wannon made in con- . damnation of section 9 of the Military Service Referendum Act, I wish to say at the outset that the responsibility for that, provision rests on this House alone. It cannot be passed on to any one else. From my own observations I know that nativeborn Australians of foreign descent were subjected to a humiliation which I did not believe was possible in a British State. I am as satisfied, sir, as I am that you are sitting in the chair, or that I am standing here, that these natives are as loyal to Australia as, I was almost going to say, their persecutor, the Prime Minister. Another thing is that they have a greater, affection for their native land than he seems to have had for his native land. They have no desire, to leave Australia unless they are driven out of it by persecution, whereas the Prime Minister, so far as we know the record of his career, took an early opportunity of leaving his native land when he was able to strike out for himself. I repeat that these Australian natives are loyal to Australia by and large, and by Australia I mean the Commonwealth as an integral part of the British Empire. I have no respect for a man who has one kind of loyalty for Australia and another kind of loyalty for “the Empire. Australia and the Empire stand or fall together in this great conflict. I said that on the platform when I spoke in favour of conscription. “ Quoting the words of a great English writer and preacher, I said -
A man who realizes he is a member of a State, be he Socialist or not, is a debtor to it, and is bound by principles of the strictest justice to render it service. . . . When you accept the benefits provided you by the’ State - benefits of personal immunity, of comfort, of culture, of justice, and of freedom - you are morally bound in return to help the State when, for instance, she is waging a just war and she calls upon you to rally to her flag and to fight for her honour.
That seems to me a very fair and comprehensive statement of the duty that every man who considers himself an Australian ought to render to Australia and the Empire. My original intention was to vote against the motion of the Treasurer. But, since I have heard the pledge of the Prime Minister - a pledge in which, I understand, he binds himself to call Parliament together not later than the 28th February my opinion has changed.- I will vote for the proposal of the Treasurer. I think that we are bound, in honour, to re-assemble at the earliest possible moment. We have heard a great deal, and we hear a great deal every day, in condemnation of striking and the going-slow movement. Why, sir, we are the greatest offenders of the lot. How many sittings of Parliament have we held during the last twelve months ? From the 12th November, 1915, until 29th November, 1916, we had twenty sittings. Out of 320 working days, we have been on strike 300 days. We valued our services, and remunerated ourselves, at the rate of £30 per sitting per member, and what services have we given to the country for the money ? We met when we were called together, passed a few Supply Bills, read the States the usual lecture about the necessity for economy, and then separated. It was because I felt it was time we should put a stop to that sort of thing for the sake of our reputation as the Federal Parliament, that I would have been prepared to vote against such a long recess as I think the request for three months’ Supply indicated. We have come to this position now - that we have a number of most important questions unsettled. Has it not been made clear to us - was it not made clear to us yesterday and the day before - that the scheme for the repatriation of soldiers is not in the condition in which it should be? Again, we have the matter of the Tariff, ‘ for the delay in passing which honorable members in the Corner are responsible - as we Liberals are certainly not responsible. The Prime Minister told us that, if by any mischance the House were dissolved without the’ Tariff being passed, chaos would result, and I have not the slightest doubt that it was a literal statement of fact.
– We would lose £4,000,000.
– Not only that. During this discussion we have heard - in fact; we have heard day after day - aboutthe necessity of building up new Industries. The Tariff was introduced, as I understand, as a Protective Tariff. How can honorable members expect any man to engage in a new industry under the Tariff when they withhold their approval of it ? I am sorry to say that I am not very sanguine as to the results which will come from the new recruiting campaign, because I think that it has already been damned with faint praise by the Prime Minister. He told us -
I think it will be conceded that it is not possible to raise the troops asked for by the Army War Council under voluntary enlistment. . . . As already said, it seems hopeless to expect that we can by voluntary enlistment raise 16,500 men per month.
In another place, we had a leading member saying -
I have no great enthusiasm for this new proposal. As a matter of fact, it is not a new scheme at all, though it bears a new name. There is nothing fresh in the proposal itself except that there are to be a few paid officials.
Again, a leading honorable member in this House referred to it as a “ miserable substitute.”
– As the honorable member for Wannon did just now.
– No. I know that the honorable member for Wannon is heart and soul in favour of voluntary enlistment. I had the privilege of being with him in Victoria during one campaign, and of having read the speeches he has made, and we know also something of the risks he has actually run. A wide political gulf separates me from the members of the Labour opposition, but I hope they will give me credit for sincerity in expressing my views, as I give credit to them. Never in the campaign did I deliver a speech in which I did not point out that conscription was a great question that we should argue without heat, and that we should remember that after it was decided we should have to live together in peace, and do our best to meet the great problems that are facing us. In the approaching recruiting campaign we may not get the results we should like, but it is our duty to do our best. For my own part, I shall assist with all the power that in me lies, and I hope that we shall succeed beyond our expectations.
– I desire to state my reasons for objecting to the Government being granted three months’ Supply. I am not at all impressed by the argument that in refusing to grant Supply for three months we are refusing Supply altogether. The statement made by the honorable member for Franklin, when dealing with the contention that if members of this Chamber conceded the right of the Senate to restrict the powers of the Government in money matters, they would be practically surrendering the rights of the people’s Parliament, cannot be challenged. It has been argued that because in other systems of government there is a marked distinction between the powers of the two branches of the Legislature in respect of finance, that distinction applies with the same force to this Parliament. Mr. W. Elliot Johnson. - It is laid down in the Constitution.
– The honorable member for Franklin showed clearly that the Constitution confers upon the Senate the right to suggest amendments, and in the exercise of that power they have rejected the Government’s proposals and offered a suggestion. Their action does not mean a refusal of Supply to carry on the work of the Commonwealth. It merely places a restriction upon the Government to the extent of one month.
– I do not think the Senate has refused the Government’s proposals. If the Senate had done so, we could not consider the matter now.
– The Senate has not refused, but has made a suggestion, and in doing so is perfectly within its rights. There are several reasons why I am opposed to a lengthy adjournment of this Parliament. We know that there must be an election for the Senate some time in May of next year. The people would not approve of the Government taking the responsibility of mating preparations for the election of eighteen senators in May”, and three or four months later sending members of this House to the country.
– We may go to the country earlier.
– There is that probability. But there must be an election for the Senate in May next unless the life of the retiring half of the Senate is extended, which can only be done by the consent of the whole Parliament.
– The Inter-State Labour Conference agreed to an extension of the life of the Senate, did it not?
– The resolution agreed to by the Inter-State Conference was that the life of the Senate should be extended in order to allow both Chambers to go before the country .simultaneously. An early dissolution of Parliament is something which perhaps we cannot avoid, and honorable members are entitled to some information as to the intentions of the Government. The Prime Minister made a v statement in which he tried to convey to the House and the people the impression that the Government had not considered the dissolution of Parliament. I am not prepared to accept that statement. I believe that the question has received the most serious consideration by the Government.
– Is it quite polite to tell a man that you will not take his word ?
– I have a fair recollection of the honorable member for Parramatta making a speech recently, not on what I said, but on the construction he placed upon what I had said. If the Prime Minister has not given’ any consideration to the possibility of the dissolution of this House and the Senate, he is the only man in either Chamber who has not done so. We have hea”rd a great deal from the Prime Minister about a secret junta, and the operations of the Industrial Workers of the World. I asked a question the other day as to a secret junta that has met within this building, and which seems to be working out a course of events for the near future. I mentioned the Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Flinders, and the honorable member for Balaclava as the four members of that secret junta, and I believe those gentlemen have given most serious consideration to the possibility of an appeal to the people in the very near future. In my opinion, the leaders of the Liberal party would be sitting on the Treasury benches to-day as Ministers of a Fusion party if it were not for the fact that a Fusion before the appeal to the’ people would mean their certain death as a political’ party. But, whilst no Fusion has been formed yet, there is an understanding between the Leader of the Government and the leading members of the Liberal party that when the appeal is made to the people, supporters of the Go’vernment shall not oppose candidates of the Liberal party in certain electorates, and the Liberal party shall not oppose Government candidates, and that if the two parties are successful at the polls, a Fusion Government will come into existence.
– What a vivid imagination the honorable member has.
– If the Government and the Liberal party secure a majority ai the polls a Fusion Government will be formed immediately after the elections.
– How do these things leak out ?
– Liberal members, in their political old age, would not allow themselves to be kept out of office when they have the power to get into office, unless they had an object in view. The object which I believe they have in view is to insure the success of their party when the appeal is made to the people. They know from the experience of the previous Fusion party that to go before the electors as a Fusion would be to court certain defeat. That is my prediction of forthcoming events, and it is built upon very sound foundations. But I notice that the support given to ‘the Government by Liberal members is not quite so unanimous as it was prior to the meeting of the Liberal party in this building a few evenings ago. Of course, I know that any admission by the Prime Minister to the rank and file of his supporters that this arrangement was to be carried into operation after the elections would create a great deal of discord, and I am ready to admit ‘ that Ministers, and the private members who support the Government, have not been -given that information by the Prime Minister. Who are the gentlemen who possess this information? They are the members of that secret junta to which I have previously referred, namely, the Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable members for Flinders and Balaclava.
– They have left out the right honorable member for Swan.
– Yes, possibly because they thought he might be too formidable a rival.
– He will be Prime Minister of Australia yet.
– The right honorable, member may be ambitious in that respect, and if there was an election for the position of Prime Minister among members of the Liberal party, I believe that the great services he has rendered to Australia in the past would receive a great deal of consideration. I may offer a further prediction. Providing the Fusion come back in sufficient strength, we shall see a Ministry comprising the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes as Prime Minister, the Right Honorable (probably Sir) Joseph Cook as Minister for Defence, Sir William Irvine as AttorneyGeneral, and the Honorable Wm. Watt as Treasurer. .
– Where would the honorable member for Richmond, who is such a faithful barracker, come in ?
– The other portfolios would be distributed among the lesser Lights.
– What is all this about ?
– I am simply amending the proposition of the honorable member.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Advantage is being taken of my action in. allowing far more latitude than I should have given. We have now a departure from debate, nothing but continual conversation going on all round the chamber. I ask honorable members to keep strictly to the motion.
– I am reminded that I should have made provision for the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– Order !
– I wish to make a few remarks in regard to the recruiting campaign. We are told that the principal objection that the Government have to the position that is now being raised - the reduction of supplies - is that honorable members will not have an opportunity of taking part in this campaign.
– How much more time are you going to waste?
– On a point of order, is the right honorable member for Parramatta in order in accusing the honorable member for Fawkner of wasting time ?
Tha CHAIRMAN.- I “did not hear what the right honorable member for Parramatta said, but that is entirely the fault of honorable members, who have become so disorderly that it is impossible for the Chair to hear what has been said. I ask honorable members to respect the Chair, and be more silent.
– On a point of order, if an honorable member, through no fault pf his own, is attacked by another honorable member, does he lose the protection of the Chair because the Chairman has not heard the words used ? The right honorable member for Parramatta told the honorable member for Fawkner plainly that he was wasting time, and I think that he should be called upon to withdraw those words.
– I withdraw them and, at the same time, I take the point of order that the range that this debate has taken is out of order. The only question that this Committee should consider is the difference between the two Houses: whether we -should agree to the request made by the Senate or not. The grievance part of this debate is over. I believe that, if the authorities are looked up, it will be found that the only matter that can be considered at this stage is the difference between the two Houses. Therefore, it is not in order for the honorable member for Fawkner to range over the whole gamut of political topics. The debate should be as to whether there should be Supply for two or three months.
– The point raised by the right honorable member must be sustained. I stated just now, and I repeat that honorable members have abused the latitude that I allowed them, but now that my attention has been drawn to my neglect in this respect, I shall confine them to the question before the Chair.
– On a point of order, I « would like to know how long it is since the honorable member for Parramatta has been elected Chairman of Committees ? Are you still Chairman, or are you not, Mr. Chanter?
– That is no point - of order ; it is a reflection on the Chair, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the reflection upon the Chair.
– I regret the incident which led to the right honorable member for Parramatta rising to this point of order. I am’ quite in accord with the attitude of the Senate. The Prime Minister did not claim that the Senate is wrong in making its request; but if honorable members -have got away from the question of the Senate refusing to accept the proposals of the Government, and have traversed other ground, it is only because the Prime Minister and other honorable members during the discussion have been permitted to say whateverthey chose on the matter.
– It was all out of order .
– No doubt the reason why the Prime Minister has -taken no exception to the action of the Senate is because, on a previous occasion when the right honorable member for Parramatta was Prime Minister, and received a great deal of opposition from the Senate, to every proposal that he sent up to the other place, the actions of the members of that House were directed to a large extent by the present Prime Minister, who was then a member of the Australian .Labour party. He and others considered that the Senate were perfectly justified in putting every obstruction in the way of the Cook Government’s giving effect to its proposals.
– They never refused Supply..
– The members of the Labour party have a minority’ in this House, but they have a majority in another place, and, rather than close up Parliament, they believe that they are perfectly in order in utilizing the power they possess in the Senate to compel the Government to come back here even, in the second week of January if we thought it necessary. We aTe of the same opinion as senators, that there has been too much, legislation by regulation, and the only way in which the representatives of the 0 people in this House can prohibit that form of legislation is to see that both Houses of Parliament are sitting.
– The honorablemember supported regulations issued by the Government for two solid years.
– As a member sitting behind the Government, I voted for certain portions of the War Precautions Act which gave the Government certain, powers ‘during a time of national emergency ; but at the time the Prime Minister gave a promise to the members of this> Parliament, and even to the honorablemember for Flinders, that the great, powers that we were giving the Government would never be abused. I remember the honorable member ‘for Flinders,, who -does not claim to be a Democrat aswe understand a Democrat outside, even admitted that he was quite aware of all the sacrifices that had been made by hisforefathers to obtain the liberty which we enjoy in this country, and which h,e would not like to see ‘filched from thepeople by regulations made ‘through this Parliament conferring any particularpower on the members of a Government. Members of the Labour party opposed certain clauses of the War PrecautionsBill. To-day we feel that the Government have abused the confidence that. Parliament placed in their hands by theissue of regulations under those provisions. If the Government obtain the Supply asked for in the Bill before us, it will” practically permit them to close up Parliament almost to within a few weeks of the election for senators, i I am not prepared to place that degree of trustin the hands of the Prime Minister. I believe he would prefer ‘to go on legislating by regulation rather than that Parliament should meet, and that his actions and those of his colleagues should thus be open to the criticism of members. I wish to emphasize the point that I, for one, refuse to subscribe to the view that, in taking up this stand, we are throwing ‘ away the rights and privileges of this House. I indorse all that has been said’ by the honorable member for Franklin, ‘ who pointed out that the custom to which 1 reference has been made was one that had grown up in other countries where-‘ one Chamber was elected on a democratic franchise, while the other was re- : turned on a property vote. That doesnot apply to the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The statements made by the honorable member for Fawkner are very useful. They mean that the honorable member, and, I take it, those who are acting with him, are prepared to punish any one in order that they may punish the Government. It matters nothing to them that the public servants of the Commonwealth have not received their last fortnight’s pay.
– We are not preventing their payment.
– There is no money to pay them with to-day, and the Corner party declines to let them have their money.
– That is not true.
– Is that interjection in order?
– The honorable member must withdraw it.
– In deference to you, sir, I do so.
– The position is that this is the 15th of December, and that the wages of our public . servants were really due yesterday.
– They can have two months’ pay whenever they like.
– It is very good of this little dictator to say that they can have two months’ pay. .The public servants of the Commonwealth will be very much obliged to him for his condescension in saying, in the greatness of his power, and out of his high and mightiness, “I “will condescend to give the Government a little so that the public servants may receive their wages some day after they are due.” The honorable member for Fawkner was very frank in telling the public servants of this country that he does not care how they suffer as long as he can get a dirty one into the Government.
– That was not his statement.
– That is the attitude clear and unmistakable of the Australian Labour party when they are prepared to take any step that will compel the Government to adopt a certain course, even if it involves the deferment of the payment of our public servants. The honorable member for Fawkner, for one, is prepared to do that.
– That is not so. .
– I am sure the Public Service will be extremely obliged for his consideration and generosity to them. It is time this cant ceased. It is time the public servants of the Commonwealth knew of the humbug that is practised on them by these men of the Australian Labour party, who are supposed particularly to have them in their care. They have imposed on the Public Service all along. It is time the Service opened their eyes to see who are their real friends in this Chamber and who are blocking their pay for nothing more than a political dodge. We are obliged to the honorable member for Fawkner and other members of his party who have made it all too plain that they do not care how they punish the public servants of Australia so long as by doing so they can punish- this Government. Whatever we may do in the matter of our political fighting, we ought, at any rate, to pay the salaries of the Public Service promptly as they fall due. It is not too much that these men get. Do not keep them days out of their money, while you indulge in your political squabbling and suffer no deprivation yourselves. That is the position in a nutshell, as disclosed by the very frank, candid, and simple member for Fawkner.
– Tell us about that secret meeting last night.
– Let me now address myself to the Leader of the Great Australian Labour party. The members of that party have accommodated themselves with a further adjective. It was the “Australian Labour party,” but we are told to-day that it is “ the Great Australian Labour party.”
– Who used that adjective?
– The exTreasurer, who, I believe, would have preferred a position other than that which he is now occupying. If honorable members in the Opposition corner are going to speak of secrets, we might as well talk of them. It seems to be becoming the rule now to disclose everything that takes place.
– I rise to a point, of order. Is the right honorable member for Parramatta now dealing with the question before the Chair?
– On the point of order, I should like to urge, sir, that there is no necessity for the Leader of the Liberal party to address himself to the question. He is well within his rights in addressing, himself to any question, however impertinent it may be. to the subject before the Committee.
– The right honorable member was not in order.
– I am afraid that I was a little out of order. It is lucky for the Great Australian Labour party that the point was raised, for I was just on the doorstep of their Caucus. I had my eyes, metaphorically speaking, on the key-hole.
– The right honorable member is wasting time.
– I am going to waste a little more time by supplying a few figures to the Committee. I find that these financial and constitutional purists of the Australian Labour party put through a number of Supply Bills last year. On 2Sth June, 1915, they put through one for £S,611,000 ; on 2nd Octo-bor, 1915, they put through one for £16,195,000 ; on the 15th November, 1915, they passed one for £7,250,000 ; and next day they put one through for £16,250,000. In the last six months of 1915 these honorable members - who now say with great pomp and ceremony, “ You can have two months’ Supply at any time you like” - put through Supply Bills representing a total of £4S,250,000. These are the men who now object to give the Government, in order that the Public Service salaries may be paid when they are due, Supply to the extent of two or three millions. These are the men who, when on the other side, governed by Supply Bills all the year round, and made it impossible for us to review the Estimates. They made it impossible for this Parliament to secure the slightest control over the finances. These are the men who, now that they sit in the Opposition corner, tell the Government that they can have two months’ Supply at any time they like - but no more. I should like to say, further, that only a couple of years ago Mr. Fisher, another Leader of their party, when in office, asked this House for five months’ Supply, and got it. On 14th December, 1914, he asked for five months’ supply, amounting to £10,316,000, for the ordinary civil administration of the country, and he got it without any protest from these honorable members.
– Did. the right honorable member protest ?
– I did.
– But Mr. Fisher had a majority behind him.
– My honorable friend did not protest, except, perhaps, by firing off a few of those empty squibs of his, with which every one has become familiar. I wish, further, to place on record the fact that only last financial year the honorable member for Capricornia, who says to-day that he will consent to a grant of two months’ Supply, put through a Supply Bill for five months. That was one of his last acts. It was the rule with these honorable members, when on the other side of the House, to obtain five months’ Supply at a time. Now that they are sitting in the Opposition corner a demand for three months’ Supply is an offence ranking as high as the heavens in their eyes. Oh for a little more consistency in financial matters!
.- The right honorable member for Parramatta said that he rose only to place a few facts on record, and I should like to make a slight addition to them. The right honorable member professes to be very anxious for the well-being of public servants. So am I. Poor civil servants ! They are going to be deprived of their pay. Let us object to that - if only for political purposes. I declare that I am anxious that they all shall get their pay. Who is preventing them from getting it? No one. But I recognise that there may be an election shortly, and how convenient it will be for me to be able to say, “ I supported the granting of Supply to give public servants their salaries “I I am not going to be left in the lurch in this matter. I say, “ Pay the civil servants.” Give the Government three months’, six months’, or whatever amount of Supply may be needed to pay the public servants. I remember that last year passages were taken from Hansard to prove that, on certain questions, my attitude was so-and-so. Let this speech be taken from Hansard, so that it may be known that I have demanded six months’, twelve months’, or any amount of Supply that you like, for the sake of the civil servants. I demand that these starving and destitute persons - how well that phrase will read if taken from Hansard to be used at the next election ! - be paid. I demand it in the name of my constituency, and in the name of my country.
An Honorable Member. - Why not grant two years’ Supply?
– Twelve months’ Supply will be enough. I demand not only that what was owing to the public servants last week shall be paid to them next week, but also that that which would otherwise be owing to them next month shall be paid to them before it becomes due. It shall not be possible for any man to take this speech out of Hansard and quote it against me. Is there anything that I have said so far that does not demonstrate that I am the friend of the civil servants, and that I am in no way allied with those who would refuse to vote Supply to enable them to be paid ? I stand alongside the honorable member for Parramatta in this. Let me now deal with some of his other facts. He told us that the members of the Australian Labour party, when they were on the Ministerial side of the Chamber, voted for five months’ Supply, covering an expenditure of £16,000,000.
– Of £48,000,000.
– What would it have mattered had the sum been £148,000,000 ? The circumstances were entirely different. In politics there is no consistency, and there are no principles - only interests. Everything that is done, and everything that is said in Parliament, is based on personal interest. We are all prone to this mental prostitution. The prostitution of women in the streets by night has its counterpart in the prostitution of the mentality of representatives of the people in Parliament assembled. Everything depends upon the side on which one sits, and on the support that he is giving. Were I sitting on the Ministerial side, and in possession of a portfolio, is there anything that I am now opposing that I would not be supporting, or anything that I am supporting that I would not be opposing ? After all, for what are we here ? The idea is that we are here assembled to serve the interests of the country; but we are really here to get jobs. Having got one job, we try for a better one. What greater objection can we have against a Ministry than that it exists, and what greater hope can we have in life than that it may be shifted ? If we have any desire or ambition, if we look forward to serving our country, it is only in the hope that God will give us a portfolio in the immediate future. If we are behind a Government, we support it. What, last year, we could see no evil in, to-day we can see no good in. Why should we? The honorable member for Parramatta exclaimed, “ Oh, blessed consistency ! “ How . he has condemned us ! How his pure soul has revolted at our conduct ! He is the embodiment of sanctity and purity. We are to be held up at the next elections as the villains of the piece. But the members of the Opposition are supporting those whom a few months ago they denounced. Let me place a few facts on record which may be of use - because no one knows what the future may bring forth. We can rest assured that, should it serve the interests of the honorable member for Parramatta, he will do exactly what we are doing to-day. He will follow our example, if it suits his book.
– I have not got a book.
– Not now, perhaps; but the honorable member may have one. Should circumstances change, he will carefully expunge his past record. No one .will be able to explain his position more readily than he. After all, the art of the politician is to explain away everything that may be regarded as misconduct. Let the people forget it if they can. Should some confounded nuisance heckle you at a public meeting, by pointing out that what you are saying to-day does not agree with what you said the day before, it is the duty of the astute politician to assert that what he is saying to-day is in accordance with what he said yesterday. Although his conduct to-day may be an absolute contradiction of that of last year, he must be able to show that it is consistent with every thing that he ever did, and with everything that he ever will do. ; Consistency must always be our watchword. Those who are with us are the honest and consistent men ; those who are opposed to us are all that is bad. In the varying grouping of the political kaleidoscope, we sit sometimes side by side and sometimes opposite each other; but always and ever must we be ready to explain that the clean, decent politicians are those who agree with us, and the bitter enemies of the country those who are opposed to us.
Patriots are those who belong to our party ; traitors are patriots who are not of our opinions. I do not desire to occupy more time. The statements of the honorable member for Parramatta were so excellent, so absolutely calculated to influence public opinion at the next election, that his speech forced me to say to myself, “ I must get a bit in, too.” Therefore, I have taken this opportunity to display my feverish anxiety for letting the civil servants have their money, whatever the exigencies of the situation may compel me to do a few moments later.
Question - That the requested amendments be not made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned to the Senate.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 14th December, (vide page 9955), of motion by Mr. Poynton -
That a tax be imposed upon payments for admission to entertainments at the following rates, namely : -
Payment for Admission (excluding the amount of tax), Rate of Tax.
Not less than fivepence and not exceeding sixpence-½d.
Exceeding sixpence and not exceeding one shilling -1d.
Exceeding one shilling -1d. for the first shilling, and½d. for every sixpence or part of sixpence by which the payment exceeds one shilling.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
That Mr. Poynton and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Poynton, and read a first time.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will observe that the taxation proposed under the Bill is much less than that introduced bythe exTreasurer, and also less than that indicated by myself some little time ago. In making my financial statement, I based my calculations on rates double those which are set forth in the Bill, but, in the light of information as to the results of similar legislation in the States, a substantial reduction Has been made. In levying taxation of this kind, we are in a very different position from that of the Parliament in England. There the rates apply uniformly to the whole of the United Kingdom, but, with our six States, the Commonwealth rates must to some extent be governed by the conditionswhich obtain at the passing of the Bill. Had this measure been introduced earlier, it is quite possible that the rates would have beenhigher, but several of the States have levied taxation on entertainments, and we must have regard to the actual position as it presents itself to-day. In Western Australia the taxation amounts to1d. on the 3d. ticket, 2d. on the1s. ticket, the rate rising until it amounts to1s. 9d. on the 10s. Sd. ticket. In Tasmania and South Australia the tax is -Jd. on the 3d. and on the 6d. ticket, and it rises by halfpence until it reaches 10½d. on the 10s. 6d. ticket. Under the Bill all 3d. tickets are exempt, and the rate rises in stages from ½d. on the 6d. ticket. We have to take the State taxation and the proposed Commonwealth taxation together in order to arrive at what is a safe impost to levy. We had to consider the fact that the people would pay both State and Commonwealth taxation, and we have reduced the tax, as at first proposed, from 2d. to Id. on the ls. ticket, and from ls. 9d. to 10½d on the 10s. 6d. ticket. Had the original proposals been adhered to, I am afraid the taxation would have proved so burdensome as to endanger the revenue. In France and Belgium a levy of 10 per cent, is made on “the gross receipts; in Russia it is 5 per cent., and in Italy up to 40 per cent.; and, in addition, there are in operation advertisement taxes on all bills exhibited.
– What revenue will the proposed taxation produce ?
– Not more than £400,000.
– You told us that’ in France the tax is imposed on a percentage basis. What will be the average percentage here?
– The tax imposed by the Commonwealth’ will amount to 8 per cent., but when the State taxation is added, it will amount to 16 per cent, on the price of the ticket.
– What is the objection to making the tax a percentage on the whole of the takings?
– If it were the intention to close up a number of these shows, the honorable member’s suggestion would very quickly accomplish the object. There is no doubt that this taxation will be passed on to the public.
– Those interested in the entertainments say that this is not so, but that the taxation will ruin them.
– The original estimate of revenue from this taxation was £1,000,000 for the half-year.- That estimate, however, was based on figures on a newspaper statement, which, on further inquiry through the High Commissioner, was found to be altogether erroneous, and, as I ‘say, I do not anticipate to receive more than £400,000. This is a simple proposition, clearly set forth in the Bill, and I do not think it is .necessary to say more.
– What does the Treasurer estimate the’ tax .on the 6d. ticket’ will return ?
– If the tax on the 6d. ticket were removed, we might as well abandon the measure. It is estimated that the revenue given up by exempting the 3d. ticket amounts to £70j000. I have cut the proposed taxation down as far .as possible, and I do not intend to go any further in that direction. I have had a number of interviews with people interested, and I know the position exactly.
– Picture combines, evidently !
– I have had interviews with all sorts of entertainers. The Bill is a very mild proposition, indeed, compared with that introduced by the exTreasurer. I may say that I have cut my estimated revenue down from £700,000 to £400,000, .and if I were to go any further the Bill would not be worth bothering about.
– What do the Government intend to do with the Bill? Are we going on with it to-day, or not?
– I am filling in time waiting for the Senate.
– We have now arrived at the ordinary hour for the adjournment on Friday, but we were given to understand ‘ that we were going on with business, not only to-day, but also to-morrow. If there is business to be done, I will stay here to do it; but I do not wish to remain here if we are not to do business.
– We shall have a message back from the Senate shortly.
– I am afraid the Speaker will’ not allow us to wait for that. I have not much to say about the proposed tax. The Treasurer says that he wants the money, and” it is fair that he should get it. I say frankly, that I am disposed to vote “for this Bill for one reason alone, and that is to’ prevent the States from jumping this form of taxation, as they undoubtedly will if the Commonwealth does not step in early. In Western Australia and South Australia a tax on amusements has already been imposed; but, strange to say, the great State of New South Wales has not been so nimble in this respect as it customarily is. Why Mr. Holman has not mopped up this little bit of revenue I do not know. He has been slower off the mark than usual; but I am quite certain that his predatory eye is on this form of taxation, and if this Parliament does not impose it he will. Therefore, as we need the money for the war, the Treasurer is quite right in imposing this tax at the present time. I hope that our action will not be followed by the States with a doublebanking tax. . It is time that doublebanking ceased, and cease it must before long. , The rates to be charged will be a matter for consideration in Committee, but it is clear that there is a consensus of opinion on the part of the people who conduct amusements throughout the Commonwealth that a tax on 6d. tickets will be to them ruinous. It seems that picture shows particularly cater, to a large extent for families, and, I am told, that the effect of the tax will be that people, instead of attending picture shows twice weekly, as they do now, will attend only once a week, and the consequences will be disastrous to those who conduct these shows. The proprietors tell me that they do not object to taxation, but only to its being imposed in such a way as to cut into the family rates, as a tax commencing on the 6d. tickets has a tendency to do.
– Let us start on the ls. tickets and stiffen the rates.
– I think that the rate on tickets above ls. is stiff enough. I do not anticipate much objection to the Bill. Honorable members are fully seized of the necessity for gathering revenue in any legitimate way for the purpose of financing- the war. Taxation is not welcomed by anybody. It is a burden to be borne, and sometimes a grievous one indeed. But these are the days of sacrifice and deprivation, and all those things that minister to war finance and efficiency. The Treasurer stated that he has gone as far as he possibly can in cutting down the rates.
– I have cut them to bedrock.
– What is the estimated return from this tax as compared with the estimate from the tax proposed by the honorable gentleman’s predecessor ?
– My predecessor expected to reap £1,400,000, and I estimate a revenue of £400,000 at the outside.
– It is evident that the Treasurer has sliced down the tax already by about 200 per cent. That is indeed a very severe cut. All I wish to say is that if the Treasurer can see his way to make a slight modification in regard to the tax on 6d. tickets such a concession would be very welcome.
– I have cut out the tax on 3d. tickets altogether.
– I shall not press the honorable member unduly, but I commend this suggestion to his notice and consideration.
.- It may be thought by some honorable members that I was a member of the Government which first proposed this tax on amusements, but the fact is that I resigned from the Government before this tax on amusements was considered. I deliberately refrained from attending a Cabinet meeting at which the financial position was to be discussed, oh the day on which I resigned. If the Government impose a tax of id. on 6d. tickets, the people who manage these shows will probably raise the price by selling a 6d. ticket for 7d., or, possibly, two tickets for ls. Id. In some way they will recoup themselves.
– The managers who are petitioning against the tax say that they cannot do that.
– Some - of them are doing fairly well; but others are experiencing difficulties. The honorable member for Parramatta was quite right in saying that if this Parliament does not impose this tax, the States will. They have already, taken that step in Western Australia, South Australia,, and Tasmania. That is the only reason that induces me to support the proposal. Even the tax on the higher-priced tickets will have a harsh effect. In Melbourne, and, I believe, in other cities of Australia, there are, in normal times, football clubs which have a great many members, who pay 5s. for a season ticket admitting to matches on the club ground, and to certain other matches on other grounds. Some of the cricket clubs issue season tickets for £1 ls., and the Melbourne Cricket Club charges £2 2s. The clubs would be required to pay to the Commonwealth a proportion of their receipts from that source. They are not run for profit, and many of them have huge overdrafts. They will be hard enough hit by the taxation on gate receipts, without the Government interfering with the revenue from their membership tickets.
– That question will arise when we are dealing with the Assessment Bill.
– I am anxious to know what exemptions are to be allowed. The money made by the clubs is spent in beautifying their grounds, which, in most cases, are utilized in the best possible way. I appeal to the Treasurer not to tax tickets’ of a less value than1s., and I am not in favour of increasing the rate on the higher-priced tickets, because, unless certain exemptions are allowed, the tax will work great hardship. When the original Bill was discussed in the press, I understood that for every person who entered a place of amusement, even on a complimentary ticket, the management would be required to pay taxation. It is well known that many picture shows, and other places of amusement, give complimentary tickets for the privilege of advertising in shop windows; and it would be unfair to tax such tickets, when the proprietor of the show is not gaining any advantage.
– The proprietors get the advantage of free advertising in the shop windows.
– That is so; but tickets are given for a number of other reasons. Recently honorable members received complimentary tickets for a performance of a certain play in Melbourne, and I understand that the proprietors would have had to pay a tax on every one of those tickets. I repeat that the only thing which actuates me in voting for this taxation, oven on1s. tickets, is that the States will invade this field if we do not occupy it. The Commonwealth expenditure is greater than that of the States. The State Premiers in conference claimed that they had been forced to meet extra expenditure on account of the war. They have had to incur not1d. of extra expenditure on that account, and they have had increased revenue from the Railway Departments, and from other sources on ac count of the Defence Department’s operations. I should like the Treasurer to strike out the tax on 6d. tickets, because that would be an impost on the amusements of the poor. I do not intend to argue the question as to whether picture shows are good or bad, or whether it would not be better for the people to adopt some other form of amusement.
– If we exempt 6d. tickets, we exempt the picture shows entirely.
– If we do not tax the 6d. tickets we exempt the football clubs. Mr. TUDOR. - They ought to be exempted.
– Ought not they to pay, too?
– They will not begrudge the payment.
– They do not charge.
– If that is so, they will not be required to pay any taxation.
– I shall vote against any tax on 6d. tickets, and I trust that the Treasurer will reconsider the other rates. We have been told that we should pass the Tariff practically in one line. I should object to that being done. In normal times this little measure for the taxation of amusements would not get through the House under a week; and I fail to see why we should be asked to pass in one line a Tariff with which the whole industry of the Commonwealth is bound up, and under which the Government collect revenue to the amount of £16,000,000 or £17,000,000. Honorable members realize that, on account of the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves, we must devise means of getting extra money, and as the States may invade this field of taxation, the Government intend to forestall them.
– I have already expressed my opinion upon the question of taxing 6d. tickets, so that my remarks upon the Bill will be very few. The Treasurer has claimed that an elimination of the tax on 6d. tickets will practically defeat the Bill by depriving it of its revenue-producing power; but that is just an argument that one could use against the imposition of the tax on these tickets, because it is evident’ that the Treasurer is going to draw the major portion of the revenue from an entertainments tax from those people who are unable to pay more than 6d. for their amusements.
– I have cut down and cut down the tax until there is hardly anything left.
– ‘The Treasurer is going to draw the major portion of the tax from the people who can least afford to pay it.
– I will draw £100,000 from them.
– My chief objection to the Bill before us is that, instead of placing the tax “ hot and strong “ on people who can afford to pay 3s., 4s., 5s., or 10s. for their amusements, we are to draw the revenue from people who can afford to pay only 6d. In the Arbitration Court the justice, in his awards, has always allowed a small proportion per week in the ordinary expenditure of the home for entertainments and amusements. I do not think that the Treasurer desires to penalize the poor people of the community. This taxation should be imposed in order to reach the people who, at a time like this, can afford to spend pounds on entertainments.
– The tax will mean Id. to a man and his wife. They will not begrudge it.
– They will begrudge it. The people who can most afford to pay are those who are going to escape by the system of taxation proposed.
– Is the honorable member dealing with picture shows only? Does he include football matches in his reference to 6d. tickets ? «
– I am talking generally. The tax will apply, not only to picture shows, but also to a large number of other entertainments. I may as well’ advise the Treasurer that I intendto move an amendment in Committee to the effect that the tax shall not be imposed on the charge for admission to athletic, philanthropic, or patriotic entertainments.
– “Would that amendment include football matches?
– Certainly, Football matches and cricket’ matches are run in the interest of the health and welfareof our community. They are not run tomake a private profit.
– How can the honorable member say that a big football match is run for the health of the community?
– Athletics are a distinct item in the health of a community. The more we encourage men totrain for athletic sports, the better men they are. What has made our troops sobrave and so capable in their operationsin Europe? If it was true of old that the battle-fields of Europe were won on the playing fields of Eton, it is just as true to-day. Then in’ regard to philanthropic entertainments, they are not run for private profit. The community gets the benefit of them. They are run merely for social purposes.
– The Bill may contain some exemptions in regard to the churchesand philanthropic entertainments.
– So far as I can see, it contains no exemptions. The Same remarks apply to patriotic entertainments. The Bill is brought down for thepurpose of imposing a tax for war purposes; but people who are already subscribing to patriotic entertainments1 should be exempt from these irritating little pettifogging means of getting revenue. The Leader of the Liberal party is correct in saying that the Government must have money, but surely there are some more reasonable means of getting it than by this miserable, shallow method. We are dabbling about in the shallows when we ought, to launch out into thedeep, where we can let down the nets of financial administration for a big draught, and not for a little dribble such as this, tax will produce.
– How much’ will be returned by the tax?
– The Treasurerestimates to receive a revenue of £400,000’ from this source.
– That is not a dribble.
– It is a dribble inproportion to the big schemes we ought to have the courage to tackle at such a, time as this. I want to inform the Treasurer of another amendment that I shall move in Committee. In order to protect the smaller companies and individuals) who are catering for public amusement, an exemption of £50 per week on the gross takings should be allowed before the tax begins to operate.
– I thought that your Leader said just now that- the’ public were going to pay this tax.
– It is unfortunate that, no matter how we put on a tax, the public will have to pay it later on.
– Then, why exempt these companies!
– Because it will be almost impossible on these small charges for admission to add the ½d. or Id.
– I know what is being done in South Australia. They are collecting the amount there.
– In the case of these smaller charges the taxation will be collected from the proprietors, and not from the general public. The proprietors, in the case of the larger shows, will be the agents for the Treasurer, and in turn they will collect the tax from the public.
– Then, why make the exemption of £50?
– Because it is impossible to expect the proprietors of these small shows to charge 7d. or 6½d. instead of 6d. They will have to fix their price at 6d., and pay the taxation out of earnings. For this reason the smaller shows and entertainments should be protected to the extent of £50 on the gross weekly takings.’
– Under that exemption philanthropic and patriotic entertainments would be eliminated.
– As I have already suggested, patriotic entertainments should bo omitted, because their takings do not amount to £50 per week unless a big patriotic show is being held. If the Treasurer can see his way to ‘ eliminate the taxation on 6d. tickets, and exempt the takings of smaller shows up to £50 a week, increasing the rate on the ‘higherpriced tickets as much as he chooses in order to raise a similar amount of revenue, he will have the House with him.
– To the Treasurer credit must be given for having gone very carefully into this question since it was first mentioned in the House, and for having reduced the rates by practically one-half of those proposed by his predecessor. At the same time, he would be well advised to listen to suggestions that are made in Com mittee for further emendations of his present proposal in the direction of concessions to smaller -priced tickets. The general public who pay the charges for admission will be called upon to pay this tax, and the probability is that in the case of families their attendance at picture shows and theatres will be considerably reduced. If that condition of affairs is brought about as a result of the tax, the Treasurer’s estimate of revenue may not be realized when the actual tax comes to be collected. I have received several telegrams and communications from pictureshow proprietors, some of them in a small way of business. They strongly resent the proposal to .tax the. 6d. tickets, and I am assured that several picture theatres will have to be closed down, particularly the smaller proprietary shows. It is well known that, during the latter period of the war, a large number of picture shows have already closed down, while others are not doing a profitable business. The system of taxing tickets is not the best. If a system of taxing the profits of all entertainments were substituted, it would be more equitable, because, in many cases, profits are not made, and in some cases losses are incurred, and if the tax should fall on the proprietors of the shows, it would not be on actual income clear of expenses, but upon expenses, on which the proprietors are already but of pocket, or which already cover only liabilities. To that extent, the tax would have to- be added to the losses already incurred. If the taxation is carried in its present form, I am informed that many of the theatrical companies that visit Western Australia and some of the other States, where there is already an amusement tax in operation, will have to abandon their future visits. I quite agree that tickets for football matches should be taxed for war needs, and I can understand that the Treasurer is anxious to get what revenue may- come from this source. He can do so in Committee by making provision to do so. It will, perhaps,. relieve the burden of taxation in some other direction, where the families of workers will feel the pinch. Another suggestion that I have to make to the Treasurer is that an alteration should be made on theatre tickets over a value of 6s. I am not much concerned about the effect- of the war tax on the higher-priced tickets, because those who can afford to pay those prices for their amusement can afford to pay a tax. It will fall on the public. There is room for further consideration of the rate of taxation on the lower priced tickets. The Treasurer’s main purpose in introducing this measure is to get revenue from these sources.- If, however, the effect of his tax will be to close up a number of these places of amusement, which are paying only a very small percentage over working expenses, it will largely defeat its object. When the Bill goes into Committee I hope the Treasurer will be prepared to receive reasonable suggestions for its improvement.’ I have every sympathy with his desire to obtain as much revenue as he can, but I think he will be equally as anxious as I am that the revenue to be obtained in this way shall not entail undue hardship on those who will be called upon to pay it.
.- I hope that when we go into Committee the Treasurer will be prepared to accept an amendment exempting 6d. tickets from this tax.
– I cannot do so.
– I shall support such an amendment.-
– Why stop at 6d. tickets ?
– Because many places of amusement, charging 6d. for admission, are run on a bare percentage over expenses.
– Are there not thousands of families who pay ls. for admission to these places of amusement?
– Those who do so can afford to pay a little more by way of this tax.
Mr.- Poynton. - I have exempted the 3d. tickets from taxation, so that the places of amusement to which the honorable member has referred will reap that advantage.
– The cheapest places of amusement now charge 6d., and they are attended only by the poorest sections of the community. The Commonwealth derives a large revenue from the duties on spirits and narcotics, and it seems to me that this tax on the lowerpriced tickets is something in the nature of double banking the taxation of these people. I have no sympathy with the proprietors of some theatres, who should be prepared to contribute to the revenue in this way. They engage the cheapest artists, bringing them out here under contract and refuse to employ Australian artists.
– There ought to be an import duty on those artists.
– I agree with the honorable member. Quite a number of the ordinary theatres are making a handsome profit, and people who can afford to pay 3s., 4s., and 5s.- for a seat in those places of amusement should be able to bear this taxation. I hope, however, that I shall have an opportunity to record my vote against the imposition of a tax upon 6d. tickets. In my district there are a large number of 6d. picture theatres, which are attended for the most part by children, who are taken there by their parents. I am speaking in no spirit of hostility to the Treasurer. I urge, as a matter of justice, that we should exempt from this tax those who are compelled to go to the cheapest shows in the country.
.- The Treasurer has, I think, been wise in granting the concessions he has already made. The tax as originally proposed by his predecessor, the honorable member for Capricornia, was one under which, standing by itself, the public might still have continued to enter Australian amusement enterprises at the additional charges. But superimposed upon the taxation which the States have already brought in, the original Bill would have been more than a fair thing. The Bill now before us practically brings the scheme into line with- the English provision in this regard. I should like to give my view as to why some such tax as this is fair in time of war. In time of war a country necessarily lives very largely upon its credit. That credit is sometimes, as in the case of Australia, drawn upon in the form of a very much enlarged paper circulation. Employment in non-productive enterprises is largely fostered upon the pledge of the country’s resources and future activities, with the result that, in time of war, there is generally among a whole host of people a large overplus of what appears to be, and what is for the moment, cash. These people have very often more to spend - in England this is extremely marked, and here in some cases it is also noticeable - and, as all people of a non-saving disposition, having money in their pockets will do, they will naturally go out and try to get the best they can out of life. We have at present closed one form of recreation. In this community, as in nearly all British communities, owing to laxity on the part of the municipal authorities, a number of men in poorer districts have, unfortunately, come to regard the public-house as their club. It is a lamentable fact. The municipalities should have avoided it by creating places of healthy amusement and recreation. Those places, however, have not been provided for in either Australia or Great Britain, and in the great majority of cases men have looked to hotels as affording a sort of meeting ground. Those places are now closed, with the result that theatres and amusement houses generally may be expected to do far better than they have done before, proportionately to the existing resources that remain in the Commonwealth. I do not wish to say one word that will add to the difficulties” of the smaller picture-theatre proprietors. The Treasurer has done his best to meet their position by cutting off what would have been a most serious impost for them - the tax on 3d. tickets, which was proposed by his predecessor.
– There are no 3d. picture shows in country districts.
– And none in the suburbs now.
– There were such places of amusement in the suburbs.
– They have all put up the price to 6d.
– What additional charge have they been called upon to bear that they should have found it necessary to increase the price from 3d. to 6d. ?
– They said that they could not carry on under the old rate.
– In this country it does not matter to a man whether he pays 3d. or 6d. for a seat as long as he gets a good one. It is because of that spirit that picture-theatre proprietors have been able to put up the price of admission to 6d.
– This makes a .difference in the case of family tickets admitting four or five children.
– I agree that it does. It might be possible to meet the case of children.
– The honorable member does not know what 3d. means to a man who has to battle along and keep five youngsters on fifty “ bob “ a week.
– I have just remarked that there is something in the point raised by the honorable member for Yarra, and that we might get over the difficulty of the tax in regard to children’s tickets. But when one is dealing with a Bill at short notice, one must be a little careful about accepting the protestations of those who are going to be affected by it. I have been watching with some interest during the last few days the intense activity of the persons to be taxed, and the influence it has had upon honorable members.
– They have been spending something on telegrams.
– No . one has interviewed me on the subject.
– I venture to say that there is not a member of this House who has not received half-a-dozen telegrams, and not one, but a dozen written communications.
– I have received no telegram, but have been forwarded two typewritten communications.
– I have received one telegram and one type-written communication.
– What influence would that have on an honorable member without a free ticket?
– I have received a whole host of communications on the subject. They fill a small file. I am bound to say that, on looking through the more authoritative, I see such blemishes that my complete faith is somewhat shaken. I have received from a big picture proprietary, which also conducts an ordinary theatrical undertaking, a long typewritten statement of the points against tha amusement tax. In that statement my preliminary argument is discounted by a protest against the loss which these institutions have had to bear owing to the present war. In the case of that particular company-
– What company is it?
– I am speaking of J. C. Williamson Limited. I happen to know a very little about that company’s financial affairs. I know as much about them as its balance-sheets, filed in the Titles Office, will disclose. The information they give is not very generous, but such as it is I will give it to honorable members, so that they may have it side by side with the protestation that such firms find the war a heart-breaking and bankrupting load. I have been to the Titles Office here, and I find that this company provides,, not a statement of profit and loss, but merely a general balance-sheet, with only three entries on each side of the account. On the one side, under assets, they have the items of cash in hand, rents, deposits in advance, and sundry debtors’ deposits ; account balances, payments in advance, investments, incomplete tours, &c. The assets of this company, as given by themselves, are as follow: - In 1911 they were £329,229; in 1912 they were- £362,893, showing an increase of about £33,664; in 1913 they had increased to £397,039- an increase of £34,146. In 1914- we are now coming to the war period - they increased from £397,039 to £464,155. That was an increase of £67,116 in the first war year. In 1915- that was a war year throughout - this company’s assets, as given by itself, increased ‘from £464,155 to £514,136!
– They do not employ Australian artists.
– I am making no attack on the firm, either in regard to the employment of artists or in any other respect. I am giving the bald figures as supplied by them under the law, and contrasting them with the statement in the circulars with which- all honorable members have been inundated during the last few days. It is true that the liabilities of this firm, as shown in its “balance-sheet, have increased from £29,000 in 1911 to £214,000 in 1915, although the subscribed capital remains constant. But we do not know what is included in these liabilities, and, therefore, we must not be too much impressed by this increase. The fact remains that the assets have increased,, since the war started, from about £400,000 to £514,000. I venture to say that the reason for that increase is the very large circulation of paper money that took place during the first, year or eighteen months of the war, and it is only fair to remember that that will not be felt so much in the future. But any one who keeps his eyes open must be well aware that, so far, the war has been of advantage to the big places of entertainment and amusement. Under these circumstances, I cannot see why the persons connected with these places should not be asked to bear some share of this taxation. I suggest that the Treasurer might consider the exemption of children’s tickets, but if he concedes a general exemption of 6d. tickets, the next proposal will be to exempt ls. tickets, and so on, right up to 7s. 6d. tickets. The agitation was, first of all, for the exemption of the 3d. tickets sold in the suburban picture houses, and it seemed to me rather hard that those tickets should be taxed. But I have found on inquiry that in most cases the charge in the suburban theatres has been raised from 3d. to 6d. without regard to the proposed tax. The simplest thing for the House to do is to trust the Treasurer in this matter, and support any proposition that the honorable gentleman may think absolutely necessary1 in the interests of the revenue.
.- In the multitude of counsellors there may be talk, but I question whether there is wisdom. I am glad that the ‘Treasurer’s proposals in this matter are more reasonable than those of his predecessor, but I hope that he will see fit to exempt from taxation the 6d. tickets of admission sold at picture theatres. The abandonment of the proposal to tax 3d. tickets was a concession to the residents in the cities, for I have yet to learn that any number of country picture shows issue 3d. tickets. Therefore, if the 6d. ticket is not exempted from taxation, the country resident will be treated invidiously, because, while a town dweller can get the benefits of a picture show, whatever they may be, for -3d., without paying taxation, the countryman will have to pay 6d. and a tax as well.. On the ground of consistency, city and” country dwellers should be treated alike in this matter. According to the figures that have been sent to me, six million 6d. tickets are sold annually in Australia, and a tax of £d. would produce only £12,500. I am willing to support the taxing of 6d. tickets of admission to football matches, because, although I am an enthusiastic advocate of football, having been an old Rugger player, I have yet to learn that the game is of any athletic value to those who sit in .safety and comfort watching the players. The country picture show, however, is a quasieducational institution. It has been pointed out that the proposed tax on 6d. pictureshow tickets will strain the resources of men with large families. But why should those in the country who have large families have to pay not only twice as much for admission as the townsmen pay, but this tax as well ? If an amendment is moved to abolish the taxation of 6d. picture-show tickets, I shall vote for it.
– Surely the Treasurer is convinced by the representations which have been made to him from both sides that it would be wise to concede something, in regard to the tax on 6d. tickets. If he proves unrelenting, he will find that the majority is. against his proposal. He made the confession that if he exempted 6d. tickets, he would lose practically the bulk of the revenue expected from this tax.
– No. But one member asks me to exempt one class of ticket, and another asks for another exemption, so that were I to make concessions to all there would be no revenue at all.
– That is another matter. In this country the picture show is the working man’s entertainment. Before picture shows came into existence, it was rarely that the workers could’ attend places of amusement. But now father, mother, and children often go at least once a week. Thus the taxation of 6d. tickets would mean a good deal to a man with a family. The proprietors of picture shows will nol continue to sell these tickets for 6d., nor will they deal in halfpennies, and raise the price to 6½d. ; they will make the price 7cL
– I shall provide that any such increase must come to the Commonwealth.
– I should be glad to hear that the honorable member has been able to devise means to prevent the passing on of taxation. To-day, the bulk of the taxes are passed on.
– Taxation is always passed on.
– - I am glad to have that admission, because some are saying that it is the rich that pay for this, that, and the other, and that it is the wealthy who are bearing the burden of the war. Last year the honorable member for Balaclava showed very plainly that taxation is passed on until it gets down to the unskilled worker, or labouring man. It is only a few of the primary producers who cannot pass on taxation. For the most part, the taxes on city properties mean increased rentals. Thus taxation is being continually heaped on the shoulders of those least able to bear it, and it is time that Parliament devised a scheme to prevent this. Under the proposal of the Treasurer, the picture show ticket for which 6d. is now charged will cost 7d.
– -In that case the tax on it will be Id.
– -Well, let us consider the position of a family paying between 5d. and 6d. for its tickets. In the case of a poor man, with three children, who visits a picture show once a week, the proposed taxation means an impost of 23s. 6d. per annum.
– The honorable member is forgetting that both States and Commonwealth are levying amusement taxes.
– That makes the position still worse. I think that enough has been said to show that there is very little hope of passing this measure as presented to us, because - and I say this with no idea of any threat - the members of another place know full well that the masses are already overlaid with taxation and will reject this part of the Bill.
In the course of the discussion, the honorable member for Brisbane has asked whether charitable and philanthropic institutions will be exempt.
– They are exempt.
– I point out that the word “ philanthropic” is a wide one, and may embrace religious bodies, but it may not, and it is possible that, in Committee, it will be necessary to have an amendment in this connexion. If the States show a desire to resort to this kind of taxation they may do so”, but it will not be tolerated. It might be possible for the. Commonwealth to confine their efforts to tickets -of ls. and higher values, and in this way considerable revenue might be obtained. I am informed that the Victoria. Racing Club, which is a fairly wealthy sporting corporation, has, ever since the beginning of the war, devoted its profits to one or other of the patriotic funds, and I should like to know whether race meetings held under such conditions are provided for under the Bill. However that may be, I protest against the imposition of this tax on tickets which are generally bought by thepoorer sections of the community. Whether the entertainment proprietors and picture-show promoters are wealthy or not,_ it is absolutely certain that this tax will be passed on to the public ; at any rate, I know that the picture-show proprietors- have a union, or association, the membership conditions of which are quite as ex-‘ acting as those of the Employers Federation or any other similar organization. I hop© that the Treasurer will listen to the advice that has been given to him from both sides of the House, and will see that the poorer people are .not called upon to raise the bulk of the revenue expected under this measure.
– If the Treasurer accepts all the advice offered to him, there will be very little revenue from-this taxation. I, in common with other honorable members, have received a good many petitions from amusement proprietors and promoters, who contend that the taxation must be paid entirely by them, because it is impossible to pass it on. It is a familiar argument in connexion with fiscal duties that, no matter what the tax is, the consuming public is called upon to pay it. It is held by many, however, that the amusements of the people form a better subject of taxation, than do the necessities of the people. It has been suggested that racing clubs and all philanthropic and religious entertainments shall be exempt. Then we have heard the old story about the battles of the Empire being won on the school playing fields, and it is urged that football matches and athletic sports - including, I suppose, the stadiums - shall also escape this taxation. My own opinion is that, in the interests of clean sport, it would be a good thing to reduce the profits of football clubs. If one feature more than another is capable of demoralizing sport here, it is the element of professionalism introduced into the football clubs. Under the conditions to which I refer, players are laid open to offers from ‘bookmakers; indeed, it is quite usual to hear, in connexion with some event of the kind, that “ So-and-so is playing stiff ; he must have been got at !” Do we not know that all the large football clubs, in Victoria, at any rate, keep a certain number of professional players. It would be much better, in the interests of sport, if these associations had not at their command such large sums with which tff pay prominent players. Representatives of prominent football clubs, when visiting Tasmania, have been quite eager to obtain the services of any player of promise they came across.
– That has not been so since the war.
-7-Quite so. At any rate, in a time of necessity like this, is it suggested that those who can afford to pay high prices for amusements and sports at the stadiums and the football grounds cannot afford to contribute something, at least, to the necessities of a country fighting for its very life? One cannot help thinking that there is a good deal of cant in the argument that the working man is unable to pay this tax on his picture-show ticket. I do not wish to impose any more taxation than is necessary on the working man, but I cannot help regarding all the talk about his being compelled to deprive himself and his family of1 amusement by reason of a tax of $d. on a 6d. ticket, as so much “fudge.” I cannot think that the show proprietor will be able to pass the tax on by charging 7d.
– The amusement proprietor cannot pay the tax unless he receives the money.
– I speak on good authority when I say that I do not know a better speculation to-day than a small picture show in some of the suburbs. There are shows of the kind which are earning 20 per cent., and we must not forget that this tax. will mean a revenue of £400,000 or £500,000. However, as I have already said, if the exemptions that have been suggested are made, the tax will be scarcely worth levying. According to information that is available to us, I believe that every penny of the proposed revenue will be required; and the conclusion is forced upon us that, in the immediate future, it will be necessary to apply the pruning-knife with no uncertain hand, if we are to make ends meet. The only way to do that is to provide additional money, or cut down to a great extent the normal expenditure. Unfortunately, very much saying cannot be made in the actual war expenditure. If this were not a time of war, I should unhesitatingly oppose the imposition of such taxation as this. My own opinion is that it is not a tax which should be introduced by the* Commonwealth, but one which ought to be left to the States.
– The States have not to ^ meet war expenditure.
– That is so; and it is only the necessities of the case that make the House entertain the proposal.
– The States pretend that the taxation is for war purposes.
– Where the taxation has been imposed in some of the States, it has- been to meet absolute local necessities. The estimated revenue placed before us by the ex- Treasurer has been reduced by nearly one-half ; and, as I said before, if the Treasurer accepts the suggestions that have been made this afternoon, it will not be worth going on with the Bill.
– That is what the opponents of the measure desire.
– I believe that the Treasurer requires the money, and I will support the tax in the form in which he has proposed it, not because I believe that it is a tax which in normal conditions should be levied by the Federal Parliament, but because in this time of national emergency every penny is required by the Government.
– The Treasurer struck’ the nail on the head when he said that if further exemptions were to be made we might as well throw aside the tax altogether. In my opinion, that is what should be done. I never dreamt that any Federal Treasurer would get a dragnet out to catch tadpoles. Every person interested in supplying amusements to the public pays the same taxation as everybody else, but now the Government propose to place upon those people a special tax. What is the reason for doing that? If the 6d. ticket is increased to 7d., the proprietor will not lose anything by reason of this tax being imposed; the burden will fall upon those people who can only afford cheap entertainments. Do honorable members realize that this proposal means the levying of additional taxation to the extent of 8^ per cent, upon an industry that is already subject to all other taxes ?
– I am proposing a tax only half as heavy as that to which the honorable member agreed.
– That statement is incorrect, because I was opposed to the amusement tax from the time it was first mentioned. I regard it as a foolish proposal. What have the people engaged in catering for public amusement done that they should be subjected to this special increase of taxation ?
– The trouble is that this is to be a duplication of taxation already in existence in three States.
– That is another aspect of the matter. But I ask again,
What have the proprietors of amusement shows done that the Federal Parliament should say to them, “ You, who supply amusement to those who in the community get very little joy in life, shall pay an extra 8 J per cent, in taxation”? In regard to the taxation of sporting clubs, if the Government expect to get any revenue from cricket and football clubs, they will be disappointed, because the clubs have no income that can be taxed. Since the outbreak of war, I have received more letters from such bodies asking for assistance than ever before. We have heard it said that there ‘is no sport in thousands of people sitting on hard seats to watch a few others at play. My answer to that statement is that the men who .sat on those hard seats were the same men as made history at Gallipoli. Before the war Victoria was the home of football, and bigger crowds were attracted to matches in Melbourne than in any other portion of Australia, but during the last season so little was heard of the game that not one person in a hundred could answer an inquiry as to what club won the premiership.
– Before the war the reverse was the case.
– Exactly. Sunday school teachers, brewers, members of Parliament, in fact everybody, could say who were the football premiers of Victoria. To-day practically no football is played. The Treasurer has said that if the clubs have no revenue they will not be taxed. The fact is that the clubs are keeping the game alive to the best of their ability, but every one of them has an overdraft, and yet the Government ask them to surrender 8 per cent, of any money they do receive. A lot has been said about the money made by those connected with these clubs. I guarantee that any honorable members who have occupied the position of secretary or president to football clubs have found their pockets constantly depleted. I have not known any football official who has not had to pay money out of his own pocket on account of his association with the sport. In regard to the payment of the players, the public want the best sport they can get, and men who go into training and run the risk of injuries on the football field say they have a right to be paid* but to-day there is not a professional player in Victoria, and there is no justification for the allegations about the lazy loafers who are said to be living on the game in this State.
– The clubs are running’ picture shows now.
– They are resorting to every method imaginable to obtain money to keep them in existence. In every suburb in my electorate the ladies have been asked to form themselves into committees and conduct bazaars in order to raise money to pay off the overdrafts incurred by the football and cricket club committees during the first year of the war. Yet the Government sets upon them as bodies which have money galore.
– Do the clubs make a charge ?
– Of course they do. But the Government are proposing to tax a section of people who are not able to pay their way. If the Government must tax somebody, let them select those who have funds to be taxed. If the clubs are to lose per cent, of their small receipts,’ there will be no football next year. If honorable members desire to stop football and cricket, let them say so. I have heard f ootball clubs attacked at times, and with some justification; but, whilst there may be some frequenters of football matches who are not desirable, a great proportion of them follow that form of amusement because they like it. I have not attended a boxing match for the last twenty-five years, but it is quite possible that the Government may get a fair amount of revenue from the stadia. In this case, however, the tax will not be upon- 6d. tickets, but will be collected from people who pay big prices for their entertainment. Reverting to the picture shows, it will be found that many of them do not make 8 per cent, profit. Plenty of the picture-theatre proprietors make only a bare living. West’s picture theatre, one of the oldest established and best conducted in Melbourne, and at which there is an orchestra - the music of which alone is worth the price of admission, is open only once a week now. At Hoyt’s picture show the public are well catered for, but anybody seeing the sparse audience on an ordinary week night will realize that the receipts could not pay for the evening’s entertainment. The proprietors depend upon, the Saturday night and holiday receipts for their profits, and no business carried on under those conditions can afford to pay a tax of 8^ per cent, over and above all the other taxes. I doubt if any of them have made 8 per cent, on the money thev have invested. If this is another subterfuge to compel the closing down of these places of entertainments and forcing the employees to enlist, let the Government say so, but if the tax is only for the purpose of raising revenue, it is preposterous. The result will be that the weaker concerns must go to the wall. I admit that the picture-show business has been overbuilt in Melbourne and I think that the Treasurer should have prevented the erection of some of the picture theatres which have come into existence here and elsewhere during the last two years. It may be said that these’ people will lose their money when the slump comes, but what is the sense of allowing them to do that? In every suburb of every city, there are churches, lodges, associations, and suchlike institutions, which appoint committees to run social functions, and the “nimble bob” is usually the charge for all the entertainments they promote. The Government say that they will take Id. for every ls. paid on these little social functions. Is the proposal worthy of a Commonwealth Parliament? Does the Treasurer really think that this is a statesmanlike attempt to get taxation ? Tt is said that the tax works very well in Great Britain. I do not know whether that is the case. We often get information that is not correct. There are other media of enjoyment in the district that I represent, and if the picture shows are closed, it will simply mean giving a greater opportunity to those who have the custom to raise their prices. It is useless to kill one form of occupation in order to enhance the profits of another. Teetotallers thought that they were going to stop the selling of drink when they closed some of the public-houses, but the only effect of their action was to give an additional value to certain other licences, some of which ought not to be in existence. They consider that drinking is a vice j but surely there is no vice in picture shows and amusements? We have heard about the four small boys who bought a revolver, and bailed up an old woman in her shop. This case has been, cited as a dreadful example of the effect of pictures on. the young mind, but we heard the same thing in regard to the dreadful effect of Deadwood Dick yarns.. If this sort of thing could not be attributed to picture shows it would be attributed to something else. Who can say that the picture show- the most popular form of amusement to-day - has no educational value? Each night there is usually one picture of educational value. People can travel all over the world hy means of picture shows. These pictures do not generally please the young people, but, at the same time, something of value is instilled into their minds. Instructive pictures are often shown of different forms of industries. I admit that some pictures may not be educational, but, at any rate, they are very interesting and very enjoyable. Some of the dramas may be very suggestive, but they are not more so tuan those produced on the stage, or those we see in every-day life. The innocent mind cannot understand them, and they do no harm to those children who are old enough to Lave the depth of feeling to understand them. If the Government will hot withdraw the Bill, I hope th at they will see their way clear to change the incidence of the tax. I give notice now that I shall move an amendment in Committee to delete lines 13 and 16, and substitute the words “ one shilling . . . one penny.” I may be told” that the price of the ls. ticket may be reduced to lid. in order to escape the tax, but provision can be made to prevent that being done. I think that the ls. ticket is really the lowest that should be taxed, and that a Id. tax on it will be ample. Some people hold that there should be no enjoyment when the war is on, and that we should be in sackcloth and ashes ; but the boys at the front are not in sackcloth and ashes; they enjoy themselves. I listened to the remarks of the honorable member for Hume. The party to which I belong believe that, m the interests of the community, the Government should pay for the amusements that go through the country in order to give people in isolated portions of our continent an opportunity of seeing some life instead of having their lives restricted. It is the duty of the Government Or the municipal bodies to do this. When I first stood for the municipal council in Port Melbourne, and talked upon that subject, they said to me, “ Jim, old chap, come down off that platform. That talk is no good.”” For fifteen years we talked of playgrounds for the children, and we have them to-day. Amusements are like telephones. The more amusements and telephones that are provided for the people in the country districts, the better’ will their conditions be, and I say that instead of restricting their enjoyment, the Government should drop the Bill, or not impose a tax on less than ls. tickets.
.- I am sorry that the Treasurer has seen fit to alter the Bill, and cut down thetax by one-half. It was part of a scheme - it may be a rough-and-ready one - for raising money for the purposes of paying the war expenses. It seems to me that the Treasurer has forgotten that fact. We are so far away from the sound of the guns that we are apt to forget that there is a war in progress. We forget that our expenditure has increased since* the pre-war period from £25,000,000 to £40,000,000,- and from £40,000,000 to £70,000,000, while it is expected that this financial year there will be an expenditure of over £100,000,000, which means that a very large interest bill will have to be paid on the money that is borrowed. W© must get revenue from somewhere. I venture to say that there has been no agitation on the part of the general public against this entertainments tax. The agitation has come mainly from the showmen who fear - I think wrongly - that they will have to bear the tax. In the United Kingdom, where they have imposed an amusements tax, the public generally have paid it cheerfully. Many people who go to a theatre during the war feel a little uncomfortable. While they are sitting there enjoying themselves the vision of the battle-fields of Europe will obtrude itself from time to time. I suggest that they would feel more comfortable if they were paying an amusement tax which they knew was imposed for war purposes. The point is : What is to be the scheme of taxation to raise the necessary revenue to meet the war expenditure ? Are we to continue borrowing money without making any attempt to pay our way as we go along ? I am sorry that the Treasurer has seen fit to come down, first, with a proposal that will mean that the general public will pay the tax. The entertainments tax was part of a scheme. The Treasurer knows that it was proposed to bring down the Wartime Profits Bill first.
– The honorable member knows why we did not bring down that measure. The entertainments tax will not apply until the Bill is passed, but the war-time profits tax can be collected for this year although we do not pass the Bill this year.
– I am afraid that the War-time Profits Bill will be postponed to such a period that it will never be considered in this House.
– The honorable member had it with him for a good long time, and he did nothing with it.
– The Treasurer knows that we did not bring on that measure for discussion because the Prime Minister was in Great Britain, and he wished to be present when an important measure of that kind was debated.
– Still it is not for the honorable member to complain of delay.
– I am entitled to complain that instead of bringing down the war-time profits tax the honorable member brings down an entertainments tax, which will affect the general public, whereas the people earning war-time profits are in a better position to pay than those who attend theatres and amusements.
– No one knows better than the honorable member that the time of the introduction of the War-time Profits Tax Bill will not affect the taxation.
– We must get revenue from somewhere, and if we do not get it from amusements, does the Treasurer propose to admit the suggestion that I have seen somewhere, that there should be taxes on tea, or kerosene, or other commodities that the people use ?
– That taxation has been arranged for.
– That statement is absolutely incorrect.
– ;Honorable members must make up their minds’ that they must get taxation from somewhere. I submit that the entertainments tax is a fair method of getting portion of it, but I am sorry that the Treasurer has not seen fit to adhere to the original proposal.
.- The statement has emanated from my honorable friends in the Corner, that recently there has been an abandonment of the 3d. tickets, and that prices have been raised generally to 6d. If that is true, and if it is also true that the taxation will come out of the returns of the shows, proprietors will not be very hardly pressed in having to pay a small tax on their receipts. I am glad that the Treasurer has seen his way clear to’ substantially reduce the tax originally proposed With all respect to what the ex-Treasurer, the honorable member for Capricornia, has said, I am inclined to think that the rates he proposed to levy were excessive.
– Does not the honorable member think the rates are still excessive?
– I am inclined to think that under existing circumstances they are fair. We have in this community people who are spoken of as persons of means, and others who are referred to as the poor of the land. The argument has been set up, ostensibly in the interests of the poor of the land, that the tax on 6d. tickets should be abandoned. After some consideration I have come to the conclusion that in Australia the people who are well off are those who have denied themselves over and over again practically every enjoyment of life in order that they might accumulate. There are in this community thousands who are numbered among those known as the poor, and who occupy that position because whatever they have in excess of the money necessary to provide for actual every-day requirements is spent on amusement. Too much money, I believe, is spent in that direction. As the honorable member for Capricornia has very properly observed, if the people will have these amusements at a time when some of the very best of the young manhood of Australia are sacrificing their life’s blood, they will feel a measure of satisfaction in contributing in this way some small’ quota towards the cost of the war. There may be something in the point raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong that as the result of the tax of Jd. on 6d. tickets, the people will be required to pay 7d. for them. We should take steps to guard against that. I visited a show while travelling through Canada, and discovered that there was a tax upon amusements in the Dominion. I was required to pay so much for my ticket of admission, and, in addition, so much for a war-tax ticket. If there is the slightest danger of these places of amusement calling upon the people to pay double the amount of the tax on their tickets, we might obviate the risk by providing for the issue of a special war-tax ticket. I have always been opposed to the taxation of the gross takings of any person, believing it to be wrong in principle, but have come to the conclusion that in this case the taxation will not be shouldered by picture-theatre proprietors as a personal obligation. They will pass it on, and .what we have to do is to safeguard the public under regulations that will prevent the price of the tickets being increased by more than the amount of the tax.
– What power have we over regulations?
– I have the same faith in the Treasurer that I had in his predecessor, the honorable member for Capricornia. I believe he will see that the right and proper thing is done. I am going to support the Treasurer in imposing this impost, believing that in the interests of the community it is good to let those who spend all their surplus money on amusements see that it is not to be expended without some small contribution to those war expenses which are inevitable, and which every section is being called upon to bear. As to the fear expressed by the honorable member for Capricornia that the other taxation measures which have been foreshadowed will not be brought down in time, I am satisfied, from what I have heard, that they will find a place on our statute-book, and that this Bill will form just as much a part of the complete whole as it did when the honorable member himself thought of introducing it.
.- I do not know whether I ought to compliment the Government on the courage they display in introducing a Bill of this kind. Every mother who, as the result of this tax, has to pay an additional halfpenny for the admission of herself and each of her children to a picture show will not bless the Administration responsible for it. It seems to be playing it a little low down to tax the amusements of those whom we know as the poor. I have seen most of the countries of the world, and must confess that I have seen on a film better views of a country than I was able to obtain whilst visiting it. That may be readily accounted for, having regard to the large sums of money that film makers are prepared to expend in obtaining the very finest pictures of the scenery, as well as the manufactures, of many lands. I have seen the carnivals at Nice and have known them to- be splendidly depicted on the picture screens.- Mountain and river scenery of various countries is also shown to perfection. Holding as I do the view that educational establishments should be wholly free, I should have been glad if the Government had come down with a proposal to exempt 6d. tickets for -picture theatres, provided that the proprietors would undertake to show every day a film depicting the scenery or the manufactures of a country. Such pictures must have an educational effect on the community. I should have preferred to see no tax at all of this kind, but if in a moment of generosity we had said that we would not tax amusements I am afraid that the needy State Treasurers would have availed themselves of this means of raising money. In Victoria betting tickets are already taxed, and to my mind taxed very unfairly. Surely the Government are not seeking to tax “the last shilling?” Seventy per cent, of our young men have volunteered to go to the front, so that if the promise made by Mr. Fisher that Australia would if necessary give its last man and its last shilling to the successful prosecution of the war is to be kept, 70 per cent, of the last shilling ought already to be in the coffers of the Treasury. No Ministry, however, would dare to bring in a tax amounting to 70 per cent. The greater portion of this amusement tax will fall upon the relatives of those who have gone to the front to fight for the whole community.- I am not blaming the present Government; I am not seeking to specially criticise them, because as a matter of fact I made up my mind to speak as I am now doing when this taxation was announced by the exTreasurer. I thank the Treasurer for having reduced the tax originally proposed. I would suggest that he go further and exempt 6d. tickets from taxation. Let him start with the shilling tickets. I can indorse all that has been said by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports as to picture shows being largely patronized by the young and as to the proprietors of such establishments having to depend in many cases wholly and solely upon a Saturday night’s ‘ ‘ house ‘ ‘ to pay expenses. The returns from a holiday night show may provide a profit, but the profits of picture theatre owners to-day are not what they have been. I resent the actions of the “wowser” element, who have no regard for the pleasures of others, and who seem to think that all pleasure should be found within the narrow limits of the churches. All churches are not attractive, because many of their teachers, instead of following the example of the lowly Carpenter, are forming an aristocracy of religion and are so causing many to decline to go to church. I was almost expecting the honorable member for Echuca to insist upon a tax being levied on the “ threepenny bit “ collected in the churches. Such a proposal I would have considered to be quite consistent with his long political career.
– That remark is contemptible.
– If the honorable member objects to it, I withdraw it.- It seemed to me from his speech that the honorable member would clip the amusements of the very poor, while allowing those of the very rich to go free.
– The honorable member has misunderstood me. I was merely showing why many people remained poor.
– If the honorable member would tax the “ guzzling “ that is carried on at Lord Mayors’ banquets, when bellies that have never felt hunger are overcrowded with food and wine. I would be with him; if he moved to tax the Lord Mayors’ banquets, as well as other large dinner parties, I would support him. The Director-General for Recruiting has already approved of a suggestion I have made that free moving pictures should be utilized in connexion with the recruiting campaign. My desire is that those who attend recruiting meetings should see some of the terrible things that only pictures can show - that they should be given an opportunity to see how countries have been devastated; and how injury has been done to life and, in a lesser degree, to property during this war. Our party does not value property as it values life. Our ideals are based upon the view of Ruskin, that “ life is the only wealth.” I should like to see those words written in diamond points in every State school.- This Parliament has idealized this view of life by granting the people a glorious franchise, and we should not limit the amusements of our women and children, the majority of whom are related to men at the front. I hope that the cinematograph will be taken more into the schools, and that history will be taught by the impressions conveyed from the eye to the brain. When an amusing picture is shown on the screen, the theatre is filled with that sweetest sound on earth—the rippling laughter of the children. I never hear it without feel ing myself a better man; and those who think that the human heart cannot be touched by pictures have only to look round when a sad play is being shown to see the handkerchiefs raised surreptitiously in the darkened hall. With very few exceptions, the pictures that are shown are uplifting, educating the world, and making it better. As to the theatre, some people ask why not tax the higher-priced seats. There might be more reason for that; but I would point out that many theatre tickets are given away as passes to admit to the stalls and dress circle, and it would not be fair to tax the management on tickets from which they get no monetary return. It might be possible, however, to provide that only tickets that were paid for should be taxed. ‘As for football and cricket, they are games which keep up the physique of the race. When we become a wise nation, we shall do more for physical culture. Men like Sandow have helped more in the physical regeneration of the race than all the doctors. Under the proposal of the Treasurer, however, tickets to admit to exhibitions of jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and boxing would be taxed. I warn those who are prepared to give complete support to this proposal that every man and woman who has to pay the taxes will remember the Government that imposes them when - I hope in the early future - we have an election.
– There has been an entertainment tax in South Australia for some time, and I have heard no complaints about it.
– That may be so; but I could prove to the honorable member, by taking him down Bourke-street, that there will be great complaints about this tax. There are, of course, men of the “wowser” type who never patronize amusements, and who may be in favour of taxing entertainments, and there are others who think that the higher -priced seats should be taxed. In Committee I shall be only too glad to support the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
.- For a considerable time past I have felt that one of the fairest taxes is a tax on entertainments, and I think that I was one of the first in this House to suggest the imposition of such taxation for the period of the war. It is not that I take exception to persons going to places of entertainment in war time, because, probably, rational amusement has its good effects.; but it must’ be remembered that entertainments, are paid for with surplus cash, after the ordinary demands of life have been met. Very few in our community spend money on amusements before paying their butchers and bakers. Tt> my mind, the whole question is, what is the fairest way in which to frame thi3 tax? Where shall we begin, and where shall we end? I think that those who patronize places of amusement realize t] at money ‘must be found to meet the extra demands of the war, and will not seriously oppose this taxation. In my opinion, those who are controlling the public amusements through the film agencies have engineered much of the opposition to the Bill. No doubt every other honorable member, like myself, has received large numbers of letters, telegrams, and other comunications, all couched in the same language, and springing from the same source.
– I have not read any of it. My trouble is that it. is proposed to increase the taxation of those, who are already overtaxed.
– The taxation is very heavy, .but it will probably be worse before the war is over. What we must endeavour to do is to avoid, as far as possible, increasing the ordinary expenses of living. The money spent on amusements is something possessed over and above what is needed to purchase necessaries; it is surplus cash. Whether the tax should be imposed on 6d. tickets is a question that can be, discussed in Committee. There is something to be said for not taxing such tickets. Seeing that the 3d. ticket, which is the minimum city charge, is not taxed, and that the minimum country charge is 6d., it might be reasonable to exempt the minimum country charge in the same way as the minimum city charge is exempted. I have not definitely made up my mind as to the point at which taxation should start, but I think the Treasurer has done right in proposing this form of taxation, and I hope that the Bill will pass within a reasonable time, and that those who have to pay this tax, the amusement patrons, will cheerfully acquiesce in it.
– I have listened to the debate, and to the appeal put forward on behalf of those in the community who will pay only 6d. for any form, of amusement, and I ask the Treasurer not to depart from his original proposals. We in Australia are faced with the fact that money has to be raised in. order to carry on the- war satisfactorily. We know that the expenditure is not likely to decrease, but rather to increase; and we have also the example of the British Government, who have raised part of their revenue by the means now proposed. In England a tax is levied on every form of entertainment; there is practically no exception, and certainly no exemption on a sixpenny admission fee.
– -Is there a tax levied on any price of admission below 6d.?
– On all prices, from 6d. upwards, there is a graduated scale. I brought information on this point with me from England; but I re’gret I have not it with me at the present moment. I know, however, that at every music hall, cinema show, or other entertainment, a tax is levied, and it is the individual who goes into the show that pays it.
– In England there is a tax of Id. on all prices of admission, from 2d. up to 6d.
– On one occasion a number of people I know went to one of the principal music halls in London, and they had to pay as much as ls. 6d. on the iOs. charged for admission. This is purely a tax on the amusements of the people; and I think it is only fair that those who are prepared to go to any form of entertainment at such a time as this should subscribe specially to the cost of the war. I may mention incidentally, that in England and in Canada people at entertainments have to pay for their programmes, though we know that this does not obtain in Australia. We are asked to consider the man of small means. I have as great a desire as any one to look after the person who is not in receipt of a big salary; but I think the taxes proposed by this Bill are perfectly legitimate and fair. If honorable members were to visit some of the other Dominions, they would find that there is not only a tax on the prices of admission to entertainments, but that the postage rates have been increased by a special war surcharge.
– Hear, hear I Let us have the same in Australia.
– Probably we shall before the war is over.
– Is that a forecast?
– I am speaking simply as the member for Fremantle, and not for the Government. There are members, in the Opposition corner particularly who are very anxious regarding the man of small means; and I remind them that in New Zealand the postage on the half-ounce letter is ltd. while in Canada it is three cents. It is in these small ways that the Dominions have had to raise money as their share of the war expenditure. It is time that we, as members of this Parliament, realized that, in carrying such legislation into effect, we are not alone ; but that through- out the Empire this and other forms of small taxation are in operation. I believe that when the whole of the taxation proposals of the Government are before us, it will be seen that there is a fair and true adjustment; that, although this is the first individual measure introduced by the Treasurer, it will be found, before he has finished with his other legislation which is now before the Chamber, that every class in the community will be called upon to bear their proper share. I rose merely to say that, in my opinion, the Treasurer will be wise if he is steadfast in regard to the measure before us, and does not give way in the manner that has been suggested. Along with other honorable members, I have been inundated with letters from representatives of cinema shows; and, having read them, I am convinced that no cogent argument is advanced why this taxation should not be imposed.
.- It is very .refreshing to hear the honorable member for Fremantle advocating extra taxation, and giving as his principal reason the fact that similar taxation is mv posed in England, Canada, and elsewhere. Is there any reason why Australia should follow the example of the older countries? The Treasurer could find other means of raising money without taxing the amusements of the children of those men, who, in a few weeks’ time, will be asked to go to the front - who will be asked to sacrifice their homes, wives, families, and even their lives. There are gentlemen in the Chamber, however, who desire to tax the kiddies’ amusements; for, if this Bill will interfere with any, it will interfere with the wives and children of the poorer classes. Now, I was sent here to represent those particular classes; it was they who sent me to- protect their interests, and I shall do that to the best of my ability. If the Treasurer cannot find a readier and healthier means of raising money than by taxing the 6d. shows of the poorer classes, he is in a very bad way.
– After all, the proposals of the Treasurer only amount to a third of the taxation that the exTreasurer proposed to whip through.
– I was going to oppose that measure.
– Were all your colleagues going to oppose it?
– I do not know; I am answering for myself. We are told that the proposed taxation is only a id. on every 6d. ; but does the honorable member for Fremantle realize that every workman’s wife and child are taxed up to the hilt through the Customs ? ‘ In this land, and elsewhere, the workers are taxed on everything they eat, drink, and wear.
– Is that peculiar to Australia ?
– I do not care what happens in England or Canada. - Australia is my country, and it ‘, is the Australian people I am going to look after. It seems peculiar, but I think the worst day’s work we ever did was to send members of Parliament to Europe, because they come back conservatized - every one of them. There may be exceptions, but there is something peculiar even about brother Hampson since he came back. We are shortly going out on a recruiting campaign ; and I ask honorable members what answer they will give to the question why they taxed the kiddies’ amusements? I can tell the Treasurer how he may raise £400,000 extra taxation with the machinery he already has at his command. Why not put a little extra tax on the unimproved land values throughout Australia? I am sure that the honorable gentleman would be surprised at the revenue he would receive. The owners of these lands can afford to pay; and why not tax those able to bear the burden, instead of the wives and kiddies whose -breadwinners do not earn more than £3 a week, at most. No one knows better the hardships of such people than does the Treasurer; he has been “ through the mill,” and can appreciate the value of a “ quid “ as well as the rest of us.
– He has forgotten.
– No, he has not; and no one realizes the conditions of the workers better than himself. I feel sure that if this matter were in his hands entirely he would find some other means of taxation v He tells us that there is such taxation as this in South Australia.
– He did not introduce the tax in the first place.
– What does it matter who is the father of the honorable member’s children so long as he has to keep them ? The Treasurer has to father this measure no matter whose child it is, and he is getting a very rough passage. I ask the honorable member to look upon my suggestion with a favorable eye, even if it
Be necessary to increase the higher rates. Amusements should pay some form of taxation, but I would rather see the tax imposed on the gross takings of each show. We may be sure that the patrons will not be charged merely an additional half-penny to cover the tax; the 6d. ticket will be increased to 7d.
– If the picture shows charge an extra Id. they will have to pay on the higher rates. ‘ The Bill provides for that.
– The patrons will not go to these shows with the extra halfpenny in their pockets.
– The showmen will not get it, anyhow.
– The Treasurer will not get it if I can prevent him’. How much will this tax of a halfpenny on 6d. tickets produce 1
– I suppose about £100,000.
– It is pretty rough to propose to take £100,000 from the pockets of the poorest sections of the community. As the honorable member for Hume pointed out, the people in the big cities will be able to escape this tax, because they can attend a 3d. show in the day time. But in country districts the lowest charge for picture shows is 6d.
– This tax is half that which the honorable member for Capricornia proposed.
– I was opposed to the original Bill, and I shall oppose taxation on the poorer classes of the communityno matter by what Government it is introduced. I would take up the same attitude in regard to the Tariff.
– Did you not tax. the poor man’s bananas ?
– I did not. If the honorable member , will carry his mind back fourteen or fifteen years, he will discover that I made that proposal on behalf of the honorable member for Herbert, but I voted against the duty being imposed. I trust the Treasurer, or at any rate the House, will reduce the rates, particularly in regard to 6d. tickets.
.- I trust the House will not agree to the taxation of 6d. tickets. This is a proposal to impose another burden on the poor people.’
– Hear, hear! But it is a great relief from the £d. on 3d. tickets which the honorable member waa ready to support.
– When that proposal was brought before the Caucus by the honorable member for Capricornia, I was in Sydney, and on the day on which the tax was announced in the press, I condemned it at a meeting I was addressing, and said I would vote against it. This tax was no part of the party’s platform to which I was pledged, and in regard to any proposal which is not on the pratform, and for which I am not pledged to vote, I shall not follow any Government.
– Is conscription on your platform ?
– No. We had a citizen force for the defence of Australia, and I thought we should adhere to that system. The honorable member for Echuca, in supporting the measure this afternoon said that a provision should be inserted in the Bill to prevent the tax being passed on to the patrons. Many proprietors of picture shows in country and suburban districts are just managing to make ends meet. When this taxation was first foreshadowed a gentleman who lives close to me, and is interested in the picture show business, submitted his books for my scrutiny. His accounts revealed that his picture show was earning less than £3 per week, which had to be divided between himself and his son. If he is prevented from passing on this tax nearly the whole of his profits will be taken from him, and he will be obliged to close his show.
– If it is not paying more than £3 per week it ought to be closed.
– The owner of the business expects that it will improve in time. A new business cannot be expected to pay at once. I understand that 7,000 people are employed in the picture show business in the Commonwealth, and if the passing on of the tax is forbidden, many shows, particularly those in country districts, will close down, and many people will be thrown out of employment. The honorable member for Fremantle stated that a similar tax is in operation in Great Britain, but I understand that 800 picture shows in Great Britain have been closed. Picture shows are the only form of amusement that the country districts have.
– You will be very considerate of the people in the country districts when, you are dealing with the land tax.
– Even if the land tax exemption be reduced to £4,000, that impost will not affect the poor farmer. We are about to establish a fund for the repatriation of our soldiers, and I suppose the proceeds of this tax will be utilized in paying the interest on the money which we shall have to borrow for that purpose. If we increase the land tax it will tend to decrease the value of large, properties.
– And the small ones, too.
– If the small ones are not taxed their value cannot be affected.
– By taxing the big estates you cheapen land, and reduce the value of the smaller estates.
– So much the better. The cheapening of land will give the Government a greater opportunity of obtaining land for the returned soldiers. Land taxation is the form of revenue raising which we should adopt, but it appears that the Government, being dependent on the support of a party which is opposed to land taxation, will not resort to it.
– Did the late Government increase the land tax ?
– The late Government altered the incidence of the land tax, but that alteration did not meet with my approval, although I supported it. We ought to have reduced the exemption by £1,000, and by so doing we could have gained more revenue than will be detained from the taxation proposals now before us. In Committee I shall vote against the proposed taxon 6d. tickets, because I know that this tax, if imposed, would be a great hardship on the poorer classes, particularly on the wives and children of the men at the front, who cannot afford to pay more than the existing charges.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The rates of the entertainments tax shall be as follows, namely
Payment for Admission (excluding the amount of tax). Rate of Tax.
Not less than fivepence and not exceeding sixpence -½d.
Exceeding sixpence and not exceeding one shilling -1d.
Exceeding one shilling -1d. for the first shilling, and½d. for every sixpence or part of sixpence by which the payment exceeds one shilling.
– I move -
That the words - not less than fivepence and not exceeding sixpence -½d. ; exceeding sixpence and not exceeding one shilling -1d., be left out, and that the following words be inserted in lieu thereof : -
Not less than elevenpence -1d.
The effect of the amendment will be to provide that l1d. shall be the lowest charge on which a tax may be collected. The tax of1d. will make the total charge 1s. The very fact that 6d. is charged in our community is a proof that that is the largest amount which amusement caterers can obtain from the mass of the people.
In the theatre there is no price lower than1s., showing again that 6d. is as much as these people can charge, because they cater for those who cannot afford to pay more. It may be claimed that if people cannot afford to pay more, they should go less frequently to these places of entertainment, but it illbecomes any one to advance that argument in a community where those who have the money can afford to pay for their entertainment. It is very evident to me that those who are running these shows will not be able to pay the tax, and that they will have to pass it on, because, if they are called upon to pay the tax, it will mean8½ per cent. on their takings. Is there any sec- tion of the community that would not raise Cain if in one fell swoop extra taxation to the extent of 8^ per cent, were imposed on it ? No one can say that those who are engaged in the entertainment line of business are not taxed in the same way as those who are following other lines of business. If an additional 8£ per cent, taxation were imposed on the great landowners of Australia, who are already taxed so heavily, their profits would not be covered by that percentage- in a large number of oases. If an additional 8$ per cent, income tax were imposed, I can imagine the squeal there would be. Then why should these people be asked to pay another 8^ per cent. ? But they must do so or pass. on the tax”. If they pass it on, each 6d. ticket will cost an additional Id. The Bill is so arranged as to prevent the tax being passed on in that way,/ but I believe that it will really mean, not a deduction of id. on every 6d. received, but the addition of Id. to every 6d. paid for the entertainment provided. People who can afford to pay only a small sum for their pleasure will have to pay more for it. The cost of their furniture, their food, and their rent has increased - that is why they seek the -cheapest form of pleasure - but now the cost of their amusement is to be increased. The tax will mean either that the people will pay more for that cheap amusement, for which alone they can afford to pay, or the men who have put their money into the amusement line of business will be ruined. The only effect will be the cutting down of those shows which are struggling, and the throwing out of employment of a very large number of people. In the electorate of Melbourne Ports there must be 120 people employed in picture shows. If these 6d. tickets are taxed as is proposed in the Bill, four-fifths of the picture theatres will have to close, and each locality will be restricted to one show. Even if we do not consider the case of those who will lose their employment, let us consider ‘he ca.se of those who have spent their money in putting up large buildings. We cannot get away from the fact that the lads who have gone to the front were those who patronized these shows; therefore, the owners of these buildings have suffered by the absence of these youths, just the same as other traders in the poorer districts have suffered through the loss of custom. After Monday one can go any night to a picture theatre and wonder why so much light is burnt for the very poor attendance. The attendances are lighter than the lights themselves. After Monday night it is hardly worth opening the show until the following Saturday night. The tax on 6d. tickets will not bring in the anticipated revenue. People attend the picture shows because they have facilities for doing so. If the theatres close to their homes are closed, and they have to go farther afield to see the pictures, they will stay at home or devote their attention to some other object. I leave the question of country districts to other honorable members. The attendance at the picture shows will certainly be reduced. The Treasurer expects this particular section of the tax to bring in about £100,000 a year. ‘
– That means that 90,000,000 ‘people go to these places in Australia each year, I cannot believe it.
– The figures are not extraordinary. There are families who go regularly once or twice a week. Formerly there used to be a lot of dancing, but dancing has been replaced by attendance at picture shows. The billiard-rooms have been emptied in the same way. If picture shows are not beneficial, I would like to know what they are.
– I limit my support of the honorable member to picture shows.
– The honorable member brings me back to the question of football and cricket matches. He is willing that they should pay the tax. I suppose that the clubs do not make any charge in his district, but as far as Melbourne is concerned, the attendance at football matches is nil. Every football club has an overdraft. There is not much money in sport to-day. Up to three years ago any honorable member of this House who knew nothing about football would always know when Carlton and South Melbourne were playing off for the premiership. Has any honorable member heard anything about football .for the last two years ?
– That state of affairs is not singular to Victoria.
– No, it applies all over the Commonwealth. I am endeavouring to show that it is useless to expect any revenue from football matches. The application of this tax to cricket and football clubs would close them down. They cannot afford to pay it.
– What will the members of the clubs then do?
– Let me answer the honorable member’s question by putting another question to him. What becomes of the men who used- to spend their earnings in the hotels? I would rather see our young men taking part in, or watching, a football match than hanging about hotels or playing “ two-up.” I could never understand why boys should be fined for playing “ two-up,” while I could go to a club and play bridge! There will be no revenue derived from the application of this taxation to .cricket and football clubs. There was not a senior football club playing in my district last year; but the few clubs in the metropolitan area that are still playing will be compelled to shut down if this tax is applied to them. Although I have always been keenly interested in football, I could not mention the name of one club that has played in my electorate during the last two years’, or the name of a club that has carried off the premiership. Since the war, interest in these matches has declined; but I hope to see a revival of it when the war is over and our boys come back. If the Government desire it, let them impose a tax on ls. tickets for admission to cricket and football matches ; but they ought not to attempt to deprive the clubs of the little revenue they are at present earning. A good sports ground is well worth having in any district; but the revenue which the clubs are at present earning is not sufficient to maintain their grounds. Are we to say that there shall be no football and no racing? If we decide to take 8£ per cent, of the little money that the sporting clubs in the metropolitan area are now receiving, we might as well close them up at once.
– I hope that the Committee will pass the clause as it stands. The painful picture which has been drawn of the wretched poverty existing in our metropolitan areas is one to which I do not subscribe. Some honorable members would have us believe that the people’ are tpo poor to be able to pay a tax of a *d. on every 6d. charged for admission to a place of amusement. I do not share that view. It is only a day or two ago that an honorable member referred in this House to the tremendous increase in the Customs returns from wearing apparel and jewellery; but a stranger listeningto the debate this evening would imaginethat Victoria was one of the most povertystricken places on the face of the earth. No sensible man will say that this form of taxation is an ideal one; but it must not be forgotten that there is a war in progress.
– And it is that alone which justifies this taxation.
– Quite so. It is. difficult for honorable members of the Australian Labour party to realize that a war is on. Such a thought never enterstheir minds, as is proved over and over again by their speeches in the House and outside of it.
– That is “bunkum.”
– Whether we like it or not, we have to build up our Consolidated Revenue Fund, and we must build it up by means of this and other forms of taxation. I hope that the war will soon come to an end, and that we ;> shall have peace, not on the terms talked of just now, but on such a basis that the Power which has been a menace to the nations of the earth will be smashed. That may necessitate a further increase of taxation. No sensible man would approve of this method of raising revenue in normal times, but it is necessary to meet a special emergency. A good deal of clap-trap has been indulged in with regard to the effect of this tax upon the friends and relatives of soldiers at the front. I do not believe that there is an Australian soldier who will object to this tax when he knows that it is part of a scheme for building up the Consolidated Revenue Fund, out of which we have to provide for war pensions and the needs of relatives of his fallen comrades. There has also been much talk as to the poverty of the people. Had my honorable friends been in Melbourne thirty or thirty-five years ago, when there was a lower standard of living, they might have seen evidences of a certain amount of poverty, more especially had they watched the girls going to the factories in the early morning and returning home at night. That was the position in every State capital. But it is not the position to-day. It is untrue to say that our work people are poverty-stricken. One has only to look at our working classes, and especially at our women folk, and to note the way that they dress, to satisfy oneself that this talk of poverty amongst the workers is all claptrap, and is resorted to only in the hope of winning votes. The great mass of the working people have too much common sense to be misled in this way.
– They are bearing the whole load of taxation.
– I do not think they axe.
– They are paying’ more into the Savings Banks than ever they did before.
– That is so. One of the boasts of the Labour party has been that we shifted a large amount of taxation from the backs of the poorer classes to a section of the community that was able to bear it. It is monstrous to say that our taxation is borne only by the workers. There are other sections of the community who have to bear the major portion of our war taxation. The cost of the war comes largely out of the revenue obtained from the income tax and the land tax.
– Who pays those taxes?
– Are they paid by the working classes ?
– They are passed on to them. ‘
– Every man in the community who is engaged in useful and necessary work is a worker, whether he be employed as the manager of a big station, the superintendent of a factory, or as a mechanic. In that sense the workers do bear the taxation of the country. But if my honorable friend means to refer only to mechanics and labourers as bearing the taxation of the Commonwealth, I do not agree with him. It is popular, I know, to talk like that, and such an attitude has many attractions for honorable members of the Corner party. Coming back to the proposal to tax entertainment tickets, I should have liked to see a tax of £d. put on many of the 3d. tickets issued in connexion with picture shows. In Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and probably in Perth and in Brisbane, picture shows are open from 11 in the- morning until 11 at night, the prices ‘of admission being 3d. and 6d. Is it the children of working men, or poor people, that you find in those places of entertainment all through the day? Cer tainly not. Those who can afford to” patronize such entertainments in the daytime might well pay a tax of Id. on the 3d. tickets. I know something of the world in which I live; I do not look at things over the fence. If I wish to learn the condition of the workers, I do not study blue books; I go to where their wives shop, and study their shopping, and thus get a better idea of their conditions than I could by any amount of reading, or by listening to liars who had some political purpose to serve. I know, oi course, that there are many other picture shows which are patronized largely by children. It was because of them that the Government determined not to tax 3d. tickets.
– In the country, children have to pay 6d. Why should those shows be taxed ?
– In most- places children are admitted for half-price. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports complained that cricket and football have been knocked on the head, and that the world is a very dismal place nowadays, but, apparently, he would like ut to spend our time wandering through churchyards crying. We have been told that the picture-show proprietors are losing money. Possibly they are, where the management is bad, but we are accustomed to hear persons declare thai they are losing money in their businesses, and then to see them retiring with a competence.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate was resolved to press its requests.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That the Bill be laid aside.
Bill laid aside.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
That the message be considered forthwith in Committee of Supply.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That there be granted to His Majesty, for the service of the year ending the 30th day of June, 1917, a sum not exceeding £2,105,527.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, adopted.
That Mr. Poynton and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Poynton, read a first and second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) proposed - That this Bill be now read a third time. Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [8.57]. - This is a remarkable proceeding. A Supply Bill has been put aside because of action taken in another place, and another measure substituted for it. This is a matter of the greatest constitutional importance, and I thought that the Prime Minister would make some remark upon the very unusual position in which we find ourselves. The position will arise again. Are those in another place to take action of this kind without demur from us?
– Of course they have ; but it is equally our right ‘to say whether we will .permit them to do it.
– It is not without precedent. ,
– So far as I am aware, it is. There is a precedent for a Government agreeing to the requests of the Senate, but that has not been done without a declaratory resolution claiming our constitutional rights and privileges in connexion with money Bills. The serious thing about the present position is that no such motion has been proposed. Our rights have been allowed to go by the board. The matter is not one to be treated lightly. Had the circumstances been different, the Prime Minister would not have dreamt of treating it as he is doing.
– Was not the honorable member consulted?
– I believe the Prime Minister consults me as much, perhaps, as he did my honorable friend, the difference being that my honorable friend was one of his colleagues and I am not. I have only to say that whatever the
Prime Minister did to my honorable friend, the latter stuck to him until he could not stick to him any longer - until his constituents told kim to get out. He not only stuck to the Prime Minister, but stuck to him silently.
– I object to that.
– He stuck to the Prime Minister silently, while the gravest question ever submitted to the electors was being decided - he was absolutely as silent as the grave.
– Might I make one observation - de mortuis nil nisi bonum
– Very well, we shall close that incident. I am very much afraid that we cannot close the other incident in quite the same way, though I wish we could. I se© in this action in another place grounds for very grave and serious trouble in the future, if it is allowed to go without protest of some kind - without something being said or something being recorded to show that w© are not the puppets of another Chamber, are not here to do their bidding in every way they, see fit to impose on us, but that, in this time of war, when other grave issues are at stake, we decided to take “this course for reasons affecting the Empire as a whole. I think that, at least, ought to be said. I do not know, but my honorable friends in the Corner seem to be “ crowing “ over this thing. They evidently deem themselves to have achieved a great triumph. Let it be understood that those honorable gentlemen, when the Empire is at war, would precipitate a crisis, and endanger the whole Government of the country, on a question ,of whether Supply shall be granted for two or for three months. , It is another instance of the way in which they set their own party advantage above all the great issues that are being decided in this war. I wish to enter my protest against the way in which it has been done; and at the same time I say that in other circumstances I would not consent to the course now being taken in the way in which it is being taken.
5] .-I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you will agree that the very mild question which I put to the Leader ‘ of the Liberal party, as to whether he had not been consulted regarding the action of the Prime Minister in moving the acceptance of the Senate’s request, should not have been’ made a ground for a vindictive attack on me.
– Vindictive attack on you ?
– Yes, a vindictive attack.
– I fancy the honorable member sees in every sentence I utter an attack upon himself.
– The honorable member does not know, half the time, what he is saying - does not realize the seriousness of it ? Now, he said what was not a fact, namely, that I stuck to the Prime Minister, and never said a word about a vital question before the country. Part of that is true. I stuck to the Prime Minister as long as I could, for the reason thatI wished to prevent a split in the Labour party - that was one reason - and because of my horror of conscription. Honorable members will recollect that when I saw the tide turning, as it was turning during the last week of the campaign in favour of “ Yes,” because of the dirty nature of the campaign, and the malicious and vile things that were being said, I announced to the public that if conscription were carried I would have to leave the Government, because I did not believe in the policy, and would not remain a member of the Administration which had to frame the law.
– Clearly the honorable member is only saying now that he would have stayed in the Government had he thought the vote was going “ No.”
– Well, I could not stay in the Government, of course, after there was an attempt to manipulate the ballot. I admit that I tried as long as I could to prevent a split in the Labour party. I have no doubt the split is very welcome to the honorable member, but it is not welcome to me. who may reasonably, and without egotism, make the boast that I was one of the founders of the Australian Labour party.
– Quite so.
– In 1887, I, with a partner, established a newspaper, the first plank of which was the advocacy of direct Labour representation in Parliament. When we started that newspaper there was not a single Labour representative in any Parliament in Australia.
– Oh, yes, there was, long before that.
– Excuse me! On 7th October, 1887, we started that paper called the Trades and Labour A dvocate in Sydney, and there were not then any Labour representatives in any Parliament.
– Yes, there were.
– Name them.
– There were Curley, Angus Cameron, Jacob Garrard, and some over here - Trenwith, in Victoria. There were lots of them.
– Trenwith got into Parliament in 1889.
– The Leader of the Liberal party will find that I am right in saying that that paper was started before Mr. Curley was elected for Newcastle in opposition to Mr. Graham. Naturally, I did not contemplate without anxiety a split in the Labour party, and I stayed with the Prime Minister in the hope that it might be avoided. The honorable member must not distort my action into meaning that I did something in my own personal interests. Had I consulted my personal interests, on the financial side of the question, I would probably have been with the Prime Minister to-day; but I got out of the Ministry. I may be allowed to say in conclusion that the honorable member’s speech to-night had the appearance of a great deal of make-believe and mock heroics. He can turn on the vox humana stop at any time.
– This is the man who complains about insults!
– I desire to say only two or three words. I would not have it thought, as the right honorable gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, seems to imagine, that the Government treat this matter lightly.I said all that need be said as to the rights of this House when we refused, at an earlier stage, to make the alteration requested by the Senate. I have to deal with circumstances as they exist. I have already received. dozens of telegrams from various parts of the country, on behalf of public servants and others who look to the public Treasury for their salaries and means of livelihood, pointing out that those salaries have not been paid. The Government had to choose between making provision for the payment of the salaries, or, in the midst of the gravest crisis that has ever convulsed the civilized world, engaging in a political or constitutional struggle over the powers of the two Houses. The Government have taken, I think, the wiser way, and I make no apology whatever for taking it. I am not responsible for the action of gentlemen in another place.
– I think you are; you put them there.
– “ The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” I am equally alive with the right honorable gentleman to the gravity of the attack on the ancient prerogative of the Commons that this action by another Chamber clearly indicates; but I am more impressed by the effect of that action on members of both Chambers, so far as the recruiting campaign is concerned. I have, however, already set out my views on that point at an earlier stage, and I do not wish to add anything further. The Government have taken the only course open that would not only involve very many thousands of people in this country in inconvenience, but embarrass them most seriously. I regret the circumstances, but [ am not responsible for them, and the Government have taken the only course that affords a means of an immediate solution and settlement. I trust that without any further delay the measure may be passed by this House.
– I cannot allow to go unchallenged the statements by the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister that the Senate has exceeded its constitutional rights in suggesting an amendment in a money .Bill, and sending that suggestion back to this House a second time. Whether we shall fight the Senate on this matter or not is a question for the House to decide. But a fourth-form school boy who has read through the Australian Constitution once could tell us that the Senate is justified in suggesting the reduction of the . amount of a money Bill. I do not wish it to appear as the unanimous view of this House that the Senate has in any way exceeded its constitutional rights in this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from page 10013) :
.- From the point of view of equity, I think the Treasurer should accept the amendment. The Bill, as drafted, is not equitable in the burden it proposes to place upon the people who will be required to pay this tax.
– lt is infinitely better than the previous Bill.
-I cannot be charged with having favoured the previous Bill, because I have always advocated that there should be one tax only, namely, a tax on incomes. If the Treasurer’s proposal is adopted, picture shows in the capital cities and other large centres of the Commonwealth will escape this taxation entirely, because the people who attend those shows and pay 3d. will not be affected by the Bill. But in the country the minimum charge for probably an inferior show is 6d. The people who have to pay that 6d. are of the same class as those who pay 3d. in the city, but because of the advantages which the latter enjoy, they are to be- immune from paying any contribution towards the prosecution of the war so far as this tax is concerned, whilst the country people, who are called upon to bear the lion’s share of every burden, must pay a tax of id. on every 6d. ticket. It is useless to say that the tax will be paid by the picture show proprietors. We know that those shows will require to increase their charges.
– Or reduce their staffs.
– The shows are run with minimum staffs, which cannot possibly be reduced. In effect, the people in the country are to be , asked to pay 7d. tq see an inferior picture show, whilst those living in the city may see a show of the very best class for 3d. As a matter of equity, is a tax of this kind right? If revenue is to be raised for war purposes by the taxation of the poorer classes the taxation should be at least equitably distributed. Country people are at work on their farms from Monday till Saturday night, and their only pleasure is a picture show on Saturday night. They are to be taxed, whilst people with daily access to entertainments at a cheaper price are to escape taxation. Again, if three State Parliaments are levying taxes on entertainments, is it fair that the people who live in those States should have to bear duplicate taxation. This means that people in certain States of Australia will be required to pay double the tax that is imposed on the people of other States.
– That is not the fault of the Bill.
– No. But there is a fault in the Bill when it proposes to tax country people and allow the city people to escape.
– Does .the honorable member desire me to restore the tax on 3d. tickets?
– No; I do not approve at all of the tax on the cheaper tickets. Most of the shows that are charging 6d. in country districts are barely able to pay their way, but they struggle along in the hope that times will improve. It has been urged that this tax will be unfair in regard to sporting clubs. Cricket is a national game, which I am sorry to say is gradually dying out. It should be fostered, but to-day attendances at cricket matches are so small that if 6d. is charged at the gates the clubs are not able to get sufficient revenue to pay a caretaker. Yet the clubs are to be asked to pay an additional penny. The effect will be, not to encourage the national game, but to help to extinguish it. Recreation should not be taxed on the 6d. charge for .admission. There may be some justification for a tax on the higher charges. People who can afford to pay from 3s. to 10s. 6d. for an evening’s entertainment can probably bear a little more taxation than the Treasurer has proposed.
– The cricket clubs charge a guinea for a season’s ticket, and they will be required to pay taxation on that revenue.
– Revenue from that source should not be taxed at all, because most of the persons who buy season tickets do so as a form of donation to a particular sport. In view of “the fact that only about £100,000 is involved, the Treasurer would do well to consider whether he cannot remove the tax from the cheaper tickets, and perhaps by increasing the rates on the higher-priced tickets he will get more money from people who are well able to pay it, and not inflict any injustice on the country population.
.- I cannot support the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to the full extent of his amendment, but I am anxious to place the country citizen on the same basis as the city citizen. As the Treasurer has already decided that the 3d. ticket shall be exempt from taxation,’ and in view of the fact that there are no 3d. picture shows in the country, I desire that some consideration shall be extended to those who do not enjoy nearly such great conveniences and opportunities as do the town.folk. Picture shows are practically the only amusements available to country people, and the lowest charge for them is 6d.
– The 3d. shows in the city are the continuous pictures. For the evening entertainments the charges are higher.
– I realize that, but in the country there is no hope of seeing a picture show for 3d. The consequence is that we find in the cities persons who take advantage of 3d. shows. The Bill creates an invidious distinction between city people and country people. It is a further discouragement to settlement in the country districts, and greater encouragement to flocking to the cities which we so much deplore. So far as football and cricket matches are concerned, I give way to no man in saying that this sort of sport should be encouraged; but I do not think that the taxation of those who pay to look on at these games is going to have a very bad effect On them as sports. I urge the Treasurer to consider the position from the point of view of the man in the country. He expects to derive £100,000 from the tax on the 6d. tickets. I beg leave to differ from him, if he is looking to the picture shows for the whole of this £100,000.
– The honorable member is not taking into consideration the fact that, if the tax on the 6d. ticket is removed, the whole of the revenue to be derived from the half rates on the ls. shows will be lost.
– My information leads me to the conclusion that the 6d. rate is paid by 6,000,000 people in Australia once in each year. That is information supplied to me by the people who are running picture shows.
– That means that every inhabitant of Australia - every man. woman, child, and baby - will enter a picture show not less than twice in the course of a year.
– If the figures supplied by the Treasurer are correct, it means that 50,000,000 people must attend picture shows in the 6d. seats each year. The truth may lie somewhere between the two sets of figures; but my information, which comes from those who are running the shows, leads me to anticipate that the revenue derivable from those who pay 6d. to visit picture shows will be ?12,500 per annum, on the basis of 6,000,000 halfpennies. I am prepared to believe that the people “who have supplied me with these figures are not likely to overstate thecase. I do not think they would wilfully understate it to any great extent. I can only believe that the Treasurer’s figures do not apply solely to picture shows, and that he expects to get some revenue from other 6d. sources. I am sorry that I cannot go as far as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who seeks to exempt all amusements that charge 6d. In order not to embarrass the Treasurer, I. cannot go as far as the honorable member would like to go; but, in justice to country people, I wish to limit the operation of the exemption that he proposes to picture shows, thus putting the man in the country on a parity with the city man, whose lowest price has been exempted by the Treasurer. Consequently, I propose to add to the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - if we reach that pointthe words “ This exemption applies only to picture shows.”
.- I enter my protest against this form of taxation, particularly in respect of picture shows. I do not think that the Government can justify their proposal. I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh when he condemned honorable members sitting on this side of the Chamber who have opposed the measure. He said that they did not realize the fact that this country is at war; that all they said was so much “ clap-trap “ and insincerity ; and that they had no sympathy with the interests of the Empire or our Allies in the war. If the Government wish to raise a substantial sum of money it is a pity that they do not impose some form of taxation on all the patriotic speeches that come from the lip loyalists in our community. They would derive a substantial revenue.
– Would the honorable member impose the tax on the antiloyalists ?
– There are other ways of punishing them, but it has become a matter of trading on the sentiment of the community, and it is sickening people both inside and outside the Chamber. Some honorable members are trading on it.
– Order !
-I am opposed to this form of taxation. Many people do not go to any entertainments. They write articles to the press condemning the tens of thousands of young Australians who go to football matches.
Mr. Palmes. The honorable member’s colleague condemned the soldiers for playing football in Great Britain.
– That is a lie.
– No, it is a fact. ,
– The honorable member for Indi must withdraw that statement.
– Yes, I withdraw it.
– I visit picture shows, the drama, musical comedies, and the vaudeville, and I take my wife and children wherever they can get some form of entertainment. I can afford to pay any price that is put on as the result of this taxation; but five years ago, before I came to this House, when I was working for8s. 6d. per day, as the biggest section of our community are doing to-day, I could not afford to pay it.
– There are a good many who go whether they can afford it or not.
– A good many pinch themselves in order to go to picture shows and theatres. On the other, hand, there are many who would like to go to these places, but are too mean to do so, and would even deny their wives and children the pleasure of going to them, because it might cost them a couple of shillings. That is one of my principal objections to this form of taxation. It is class taxation. It is taxing asection of the community who believe in having some form of social enjoyment. The Government would have done far better if they had devised some other method of raising revenue. We are told that the tax will injure no one. But I am satisfied that it cannot be imposed without bringing about an alteration in some direction or other. It may be used as justification for bringing about a reduction in the cost of production, either in the shape of cheaper films or in the shape of putting on poorer dramas. If a reduction is not brought about in this way, some method will be devised of curtailing expenses by dispensingwith the services of a number of hands engaged either before the curtain, or in the orchestra, or on the stage. There are methods by which those who are conducting their businesses may attempt to carry on, and at the same time make a reasonable profit. In another way, so far as the drama is concerned, the play may be staged in such a way as not to be up to the standard which we expect in dramas and musical comedies. It can be said to the credit of our theatrical managers that whether it be comedy, musical comedy, or drama, the standard of entertainment produced by them is not surpassed in any other part of the world. The prices charged for admission also compare favorably with those prevailing in the Old “World.Recent visitors to Great Britain have assured me that, on the average, the prices charged for admission to theatres in Australia are lower than those which have to be paid there. It may be that an honorable member can point to a, particular firm which, in his opinion, is making exorbitant profits, but even if that be so, it is no justification for the imposition of a tax of this kind upon theatrical and picture-show proprietors generally. This tax may mean absolute ruination to their business concerns. We have other means of reaching any firm that is making exorbitant profits.
-The statement of the increase in the assets of the firm concerned was referred to by me only to meet the direct statement in that firm’s circular that they were losing money.
Mr.HANNAN. - In answer to the honorable member, I would tell him of an ironworker in South Melbourne who, when I started as a boy in my trade, had a foundry no bigger than the average cottage backyard. To-day he has a large foundry in Melbourne, and also a foundry in Perth and Queensland. Would the honorable member impose upon that man a special form of taxation because of the extension of his assets?
– Certainly not; but if he told me that he had been losing money since he started I would test that statement by a reference to his balance-sheet.
– The theatrical firm to which the honorable member referred has established theatres throughout the Commonwealth, and has raised the theatrical profession to a standard that is a credit to them. We have no justification for striking a blow at this industry. Tens of thousands of people are, directly and indirectly, engaged in the theatrical and show business of Australia, and this tax is likely to injure them.
– It is stated in one of the circulars that have been distributed amongst honorable members, that the industry and by that it is intended, I take it, to include picture theatres - pays high wages and sets a high standard of working conditions. Is that true of picture theatres in the honorable member’s constituency ?
– I can safely say that 95 per cent. of the men employed in the vaudeville, theatrical, and picture-show business are members of registered unions, and work either under an award or under conditions fixed by a compulsory conference.
– I would recommend the honorable member to discuss the question with the secretary of the Employees Association.
– I frequently meet him.
– The honorable member cannot have discussed this phase of the question with him, otherwise he would not have said what he has.
– I believe that 95 per cent. of these employees are working under conditions fixed by law. I am not going to say that those conditions are all that could he desired - that, they could not be improved upon ; but I do say that this form of taxation will not bring about any improvement. Employers may be ultimately compelled to retrench. And what took place under the old system of retrenchment? The first to go out were the employees. Their wages were first of all reduced. If that were not found sufficient, the next step was to reduce the cost of the article being produced, either by making it of inferior material or in some other way. That would be the system followed in all classes of business including the theatrical profession. They would reduce the standard of the drama. lower the standard of staging their productions, reduce, perhaps, the number of men in the orchestra, try, probably, to introduce a cheaper class of artist, and if necessary, to cut down the number of hands engaged throughout the theatres. This is a form of taxation of which we ought not to approve. It is a class of taxation which, as a rule, has been brought forward in Australian Parliaments as the result of letters written to the press. There are some people who write to the press that they do not believe in mixed bathing. They do not believe in theatricals or picture theatres. They would close them up if they could. In their opinion, the woman who takes her children to a picture show is not respectable, and taxation of this kind, no matter with what object it was being imposed, would be approved by them, their desire being to wipe out of existence the whole profession. I am opposed to this tax, and, if I had the power, would destroy the Bill. I hope that the Minister will at least listen to the appeal that has been made to him to accept the amendment.
.- If the Treasurer is not prepared to accept the amendment, I would suggest to him a compromise. There are many picture shows, particularly in the suburban areas, which charge 6d., 9d., and1s. for admission, and I would suggest to the Treasurer that, as a compromise, he should strike out the word “11d.” in the amendment and insert in its stead the words “ 8d.” or “9d.”
Question - That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Mathews’ amendment) stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Patten) proposed -
That the following words be added in the second column after the amount :1d. “ Provided that this does not apply to picture shows.”
– I ask the Treasurer to consider the amendment with a view to its acceptance. I think it will relieve a great many poor persons, and not greatly interfere with the financial scheme of the Government. At the same time, if the Treasurer cannot see his way to make this concession, I shall vote with him against the amendment.
– The schedule proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia was much more severe than this. A deputation which fairly represented the theatrical and picture show industry waited upon the Treasurer, and subsequently upon me. The schedule, as it now stands, was arrived at as a result of that deputation. I do not know whether the deputation did represent the picture shows, but it professed to do so, and I am only repeating what was said. I understood the deputation to represent what I believe is called “Amalgamated Pictures.” There was also present a representative who spoke for the whole of the theatrical enterprises of Australia, and the deputation declared that the schedule, as amended, was fair and satisfactory.
– Did Mr. Thring, who represented the picture shows at that deputation, approve of the schedule?
– I do not recall the name, and do not know.
– Did the Prime Minister not get a wire from Sydney protesting against that deputation?
– I cannot recall that I did.
– The deputation consisted of J. C. Williamson.
– I am only giving the. facts to the best of my recollection. I ask honorable members to pass the schedule as it is now, and if the picture companies were not fairly represented at that deputation - if what was said to me was not authorized - then I am willing to agree to the suggestion that has been made. But when representatives come on behalf of an industry and declare that a certain proposal is satisfactory, we have a right to expect that they will accept it.
– Is there any reason to suppose that the deputation was not representative?
– None whatever. It was introduced by a representative of Williamson and Company, and there were two representatives of the picture shows present. Ministers themselves cannot know anything about these matters, and when the representatives of an industry or enterprises of this sort come as a deputation and makie certain representations, and when we give them what they ask, it is nob proper that they should make further ( representations to private members, and go behind the arrangement arrived at.
– The suggestion the Prime Minister has made is, I think, a fair one.
– If the representatives at that deputation were not authorized on behalf of the picture shows, I am perfectly willing that the proposal which has been made- should be accepted in another place. I shall, without delay, take steps to ascertain the facts.
– Will the Prime Minister find out whether the country picture shows were represented ?
– I shall. Of course, we must treat all the picture shows alike. I now remember that I asked the two representatives of the picture shows whether they were in a position to speak on behalf of the whole of the picture shows of Australia, and they said they were, and that they were quite satisfied with the arrangement arrived at.
– They left saying that they would do everything they could to assist me.
– These representatives saw the Treasurer after that interview. They took away with them the schedule, which they said was perfectly satisfactory , and I expect them to stand bv it. However, I have given an undertaking, and if honorable members will suggest some one with whom I can get in touch on the matter, I shall act immediately.
– I have received a telegram on the subject from the Secretary of the Picture Show Association of Queensland, and I should like the Prime Minister to ascertain whether that body was represented at the deputation. I have pleasure in handing the telegram to the honorable gentleman.
.- We seem to have retired from the position of a body empowered and trusted to deliberate on all such matters as this. Apparently, we are here, at present, to be the mere dummies and agents of certain interested parties throughout Australia, whose judgment as to what is a fair thing we are to accept before we impose the tax.
– Interested parties, who are making huge profits!
– That may or may not be so, but I think that, on the whole, they are.
– The bulk of the small picture shows do not .make huge profits.
– In the name of common sense, why “should we accept, without a moment’s cavil or scrutiny, the word of representatives of these industries as to what is a fair impost? The Treasurer is charged with financing the war, and he must find the money. Every section of the 1 community ought cheerfully and patiently to bear whatever impost the Treasurer, in his wisdom and with’ the researches at his disposal, deems essential.
– Provided they are fair.
– Quite so. And who is deciding in this case whether they are fair ?
– We are.
– Not this Parliament, and that is what I protest against. It is not this Committee or this Parliament that is deciding the matter, but interested parties outside. This I regret, and I am here to support the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. It is our duty to ask our constituents to bear any impost which the
Treasurer may feel necessary in the interests of the safety of the country.
– - The answer of the Prime Minister does not really touch the objections that have been raised. I can quite understand the deputation being agreeable to the charges proposed, but those charges mean death to the picture-show proprietors who are outside the ring, but who have to depend on that ring for a supply of films. We, on this side, are thinking, not of -the interests of the big firms, but of the smaller. ‘ shows in the suburbs that cater for the masses of the people.
– I take it the honorable member is referring to those proprietors who are not iri the association ?
– But they are nonunionists !
– Not necessarily. The telegram handed to the Prime Minister by the honorable member for Darling Downs is from the secretary of the Queensland association, and it protests against this schedule. As a matter of fact, the unionists are against the Government, which favours the monopolists who are trying to tie up the picture show business in the country. They have put up the price of films, and practically tell the small picture proprietors what they are. to show, and what prices they are to pay. I am speaking/for the small men in country, towns, and not the big places in the cities, which have almost unlimited constituencies to draw upon. I propose to move for an exemption of £50 a week on the gross takings before the. tax begins to operate.
– Knock it out altogether.
– If I move to do so, will the Minister support me? I am not concerned about those who are trying to monopolize the trade. The more they close up the suburban shows, and concentrate the trade, the better for them. I am against monopoly, and for the poor picture show proprietors. These irritating, miserable trickles pf taxation are of no use. A big scheme of taxation worthy of this Parliament would not cause half the irritation. The sooner these small taxation schemes are left to the States the better! The Federal Par- . liament should tap the reservoirs of taxation at their best and highest point.
– The States have done that already.
– If so, it is only because we have robbed them of their legitimate sources of taxation. I trust the honorable, member for Hume will not be drawn aside by the Prime Minister’ » promise of something to come later on. Let us put in the Bill what we want.
– I want to put the case on behalf of the people. Sixpence is the minimum chai go in country picture shows. That is to be taxed. In the cities it is 3d., which ia not touched. This miserable tax should not be put upon the 6d. admission ticket at country picture shows. I think the films are the greatest educating power that the public have. It is our duty to make amusements as cheap as we can, and raise them in . a healthy sense. We should not hold this matter up while a deputation from a certain group of owners waits upon the Prime Minister, and I honour the uncrowned King of Parliament, the honorable member for Parramatta, for making the suggestion he did. If it is not accepted, I hope he will show his sympathy for the people by voting for the motion.
.- I am not moving in the interests of the picture show proprietors. I want the people of the country to be placed upon an equal footing with the people of the cities. The city dweller can see a picture show l OT 3d., and his ticket is not taxed, but the country citizen has to pay 6d., and be taxed on it. That is an unfair discrimination to the detriment of the country. The conveniences of the cities have drawn population to them, and this tax on the amusements of the dweller in the country will drive more people into the big centres of population. This tendency should be strongly discouraged, and I must press, the amendment in the interests of the people.
.- Several members in the Opposition corner stated that 3d. tickets had been abandoned in the city, and that nothing less than 6d. would now be taken.
– No one here made that statement.
– It was made deliberately, and will appear in Hansard. I am astounded at the turn of events this evening. For the first time in my life I feel disappointment in my leader that he should have made a suggestion which I consider to be eminently improper at the present time. The. Government are freighted with the responsibility of financingthis war. They have forecasted various taxation measures for that purpose, including the one now before the Committee. Now influences are being brought to bear on us by interested parties I have received quite a number of telegrams - , and because those parties have asserted themselves, this deliberative Assembly, this great Commonwealth Parliament, without any consideration at all, delivers up its functions, and yields itself implicitly to the demands of those people, and a proposal is made that the measure shall be practically jettisoned.
– The honorable member is exempt, because he does not attend theatres.
– I go in for as much legitimate entertainment as , any other honorable member of this Chamber, and I am not amongst those members who condemn the soldiers of our land because they play a game of football. I condemn the honorable member for Indi for adopting that attitude last night.
– Do you mean to say that the honorable member for Indi objects to the soldiers at the front having a game of football?
– The honorable member expressed himself in those words last night.
– You ought to be flogged.
– Order ! The Committee is becoming quite disorderly, and I appeal to honorable members to allow the honorable member for Echuca to continue his speech without interruption.
– It is not enough for the honorable member for Indi to be against conscription and against the voluntary effort, but he is opposed to those soldiers who have been sent abroad to fight the battles of this country having a game of football. His attitude is a scandal. What is to be the fate of the Government in connexion with the financing of the war, if in regard to every measure of taxation objection is to be raised by those who are interested and liable to such taxation. One after the other we are being taxed, and to the credit of those who are called upon to pay heavy taxation, I have not heard a single word of grumbling from any taxpayer against the legitimate claims of the Government for war purposes. For my own part, as an owner of property, I am prepared to pay my share. We have before us a legitimate proposal for taxation, and I am inclined to think that the great mass of the people who purchase 6d. tickets will be filled with pride and glory that they can in this way contribute their little mite towards the maintenance of that grand Army which has distinguished itself, won the , plaudits of, both French and British generals, and stands so high in the estimation of the people of Europe to-day.
– Did you go to the Princess Theatre to see the “ Girl who Took the Wrong Turning “ ?
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Every honorable member is entitled to be heard, and I shall take some drastic steps against members if they refuse to obey the repeated calls to order by the Chair, and to give the honorable member for Echuca an opportunity to express his views. . It is impossible for me, and it must be impossible for Hansard, to follow the remarks of the honorable member for Echuca owing to the disorderly interjections. I appeal to honorable members to assist the Chair, and to maintain their own dignity’ by refraining from these disturbances.
– I hope the Prime Minister will not accede to the request which has been made, because if . he yields in connexion with this Bill, simply upon the representations of interested parties, he will be compelled to listen to similar representations from other interested sections of the community. I, as a loyal Britisher and Australian, declare that we must finance this war. The Government conceive this to be a fair and legitimate tax to be imposed, and it is the duty of the Committee to support the Government, or, if they are not prepared to do that, turn them out of office.
Question - That the words proposed to bo added (Mr. Patten’s amendment) be so added - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -I move -
That after the word “shilling,” line 8, the following words be inserted : - “ with an exemption of £50 per week on the gross takings.” The tax as proposed in this schedule will mean absolute ruin to a large number of small country and suburban picture shows, and the real effect of the amendment will be to prevent the application of the tax until the £50 per week exemption has disappeared. This will represent about the average working expenses of such businesses, and it will save many of them from ruin. Unless they are granted this exemption fully one half of them will have to closeup, as they will be unable to pay the tax.
– I gave an undertaking to the Committee a little while ago that I would ascertain whether the representations made at the deputation did reflect the views of those engaged in the enterprise generally, and I said that if that was not the case I would agree to an amendment. If what honorable members say is true, the amendment will not be needed, because no alteration will be made in regard to the 6d., but if the representations made by the deputation are not borne out the honorable member will be able to’ have his amendment moved in another place. I will do what I have undertaken as speedily as I can. I suggest to the honorable member that he should withdraw his amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The proposal of the Prime Minister to make further inquiries should have been accompanied by a motion to report progress, because I desire to see this. Chamber retain some vestige of independent action, and not rely on another place for the complete conduct and control of all public business. To-day already very valuable ground was given away by this Chamber without even the pretence of a struggle. We helped another place to gain its ends, which were also the ends of a minority in this Chamber. I hold? that the question of taxation is one that belongs peculiarly to the House of Representatives, and I resist any attempt toset up another power in another place. Apart from the control of taxation, there is another matter which has been surrendered, and that is the control of the government of this country. As the government resides in this Chamber, so the. control of it should rest in this Chamber, and not in another place.
.- I ask the Government not to listen to the advice of the honorable member for Brisbane, and allow an exemption of £50, because these people will increase their expenses, and thus prevent the Government from getting any taxation.
– I propose to deal with the amendment suggested by thehonorable member for Brisbane in this Chamber.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to - That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to unlawful associations and members thereof, and certain offences.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to marriage.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to promote the earlier use of daylight in certain months yearly, and for other purposes.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes, and. read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 10.30 o’clock a.m. on Monday next.
Recruiting Scheme - Price-fixing Commissioners - Inter-State Trade - Government Acquisition op Meat.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- In view of the short term for which Supply has been granted, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he will, be? tween now and Monday, reconsider the scheme of recruiting as laid down by the Government. It is perfectly obvious that in the altered circumstances it will be utterly impossible for members of this Parliament to accept positions as chairmen of the recruiting committees in their various electorates, and it will be necessary for the Government to arrive at some other arrangement by means of which these offices may be filled. For my own part, I had already arranged to go to my constituency with a view to getting the organization together. That would have occupied me during the best part of J anu.ary. After that, I had hoped that I would be able to devote five or six weeks to the furtherance of the campaign. But in the circumstances with which I am now faced I shall be obliged to leave my electorate in the last week of January, and it will be impossible for me to do what I had contemplated, because I would have no sooner, completed the arrangements than I would have to hand them over to somebody else. It will be far better, therefore, that other persons should take control of the movement from its inception. As honorable members in the corner, together with their associates in the Senate, have prevented us from doing our part in this campaign, it will be better for the Government to reconsider the scheme with a view to making other arrangements.
.- Last week I asked the Prime Minister if the Commissioners for price fixing in the various States had been authorized to fix the prices for -exportable produce which is sold f .o.b. The right honorable gentleman told me that he would look into the matter and let me have a reply at the earliest possible date. I repeated my question this morning, and was again assured that he would look into the matter. I replied, by way of an interjection, that he had told me that he would do that a week ago. In to-night’s Herald I notice that I am reported as having interjected that the Prices Commissioner in this State had promised me that he was going to do that. I based my question on a statement by Mr. Ackaman, the New South Wales Commissioner, who was reported to have said that he would see that no f.o.b. sales were made above the New South Wales parity.
– Has the honorable member any particular commodity in his mind ?
– I have any exportable produce in my mind, such as butter or cheese, the price of which is not fixed. The price of wheat and wool have already been fixed under arrangement with the Imperial Government.
– The honorable member’s criticism is directed to c.i.f. sales.
– No. it is directed to f.o.b. sales principally, but’ c.i.f., if you like.
– What commodity is sold f.o.b. besides wheat and meat?
– Butter, bacon, and cheese.
– Who are the buyers’?
– The London agents. I wish to remove the impression that the Victorian Prices Commissioner told me within the past week that he was looking into, this matter. I have no desire to be accused of stating what is untrue. It was the Prime Minister who promised to look into the matter, and apparently he has not done so. I hope, however, that he will do so, and that he will see that no restrictions are placed on the surplus produce which we are allowed to ship abroad, and that we are able to get the world’s parity for such surplus.
.- I wish to emphasize the situation put by the honorable member for Richmond, and to ask the Prime Minister to reconsider the necessity for some revision of the recruiting scheme. In the wheat-growing areas of Victoria it will be impossible to start that scheme until early- in February. It is a late season in nearly all the wheat areas of Australia, and it would be useless to attempt to organize within those districts with a view to getting recruits earlier than the first or second week in February. As this Parliament is to be called together- early in February, it will be impossible for. honorable members to take that part in the recruiting campaign which they had contemplated owing to the action of those who desire to kill recruiting in Victoria.
.- In view of the complaints which have just been made, it is well that the country should clearly understand that what has happened in this Parliament will not prevent honorable members from participating in the recruiting campaign. The Prime Minister stated that that campaign would start on the 2nd January, and’ Supply has been granted to 1st February. We have heard a lot of talk about men who are prepared to make great sacrifices, about a crisis in the history of the nation, and yet, as soon as these men have an opportunity of devoting five weeks to recruiting they immediately endeavour to throw the onus for their , neglect upon the party to which I belong. This circumstance only serves to show the hollowness of their plea. The action taken in another place was intended to prevent the government of the country being conducted by means of regulations. The excuse, that honorable members will be prevented from undertaking a recruiting campaign is so much fudge.
– The honorable member for Bendigo has done an injustice to honorable members who- protested this evening. They never said that they would not undertake recruiting. What they did say, and it is true, was that the action that has been taken must .make it much more difficult for Federal members to devote the whole of their time and energy for a proper period to the work of recruiting.
– To act as chairmen of committees ?
– Yes. There are some of us who are on a central committee as well as a local committee. Having to come down to Melbourne in the first week in February, it will be much more difficult for many members of this Parliament to carry out this work of recruiting. It is all very well for the honorable member for Bendigo to speak as he has done, or for any honorable member . representing what might be called a pockethandkerchief State so’ far as area is concerned. It is possible to cover Victoria in a few days because of the concentration of the population. It is quite a different matter to deal with such States as Western Australia and Queensland. It takes as much time to cover one electorate as it would take to cover the whole of the State of Victoria. What chance has Mr. Speaker in the four weeks at his disposal to go, as I am sure he desires to do, throughout his constituency in connexion with the recruiting movement ? It should be borne in mind also that in Queensland we have a wet season during January and February, and after an itinerary has been prepared three weeks ahead, an honorable member may be blocked in that State by the .wet season. I believe that honorable members on both sides during the short period that will now be at their disposal, will do the best they can to make the recruiting scheme a success. I ‘ rose chiefly to protest against the gross injustice of the imputation of the honorable member for Bendigo. I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to one important matter. I asked him this morning if he would bring under the notice of the State Premiers the necessity for something being done in view of the decision of the High Court with respect to Inter-State trade. I have here several letters from pastoralists, agents, and others, pointing out the severe hardship imposed upon them in Queensland owing to the action of the State Government in putting an embargo upon the removal of stocks from that State. There is not the slightest doubt that the effect of the embargo has been to increase the cost of living in other States, whilst at the same time doing a rank injustice to growers and producers in Queensland. One gentleman writes in this way on the subject -
In common with other agents on the Queensland and New South Wales borders, our trade is absolutely at a standstill, and it will ultimately mean that a great number will be out of employment unless the Federal Government takes steps to remove the injustice. It is not only unjust to traders, but it is also unjust to. the public in other States, who are being compelled to pay high prices for their meat through the Queensland Government prohibiting the export of stock from Queensland into other States. We are quite aware that whilst the war’ is on a great amount of legislation must remain in abeyance, but surely the living of the people in the States must be attended to, and if business people are to pay heavy income tax, and war tax, &c, they must be given an opportunity to do business, otherwise not only will the traders themselves suffer, but ultimately the various Governments.
As the Prime Minister pointed out very properly this morning, the decision of the High Court has practically enabled the State Governments to set aside the provisions of the Constitution. The prohibition against individuals remains still as strong as ever, . and the decision of the High Court that State Governments have the power of acquisition for public purposes is a proper distinction, because the State Governments are sovereign bodies, and they must have the power to acquire goods for Government purposes. It is not the use, but abuse, of the power that people are complaining of.
– The Queensland stock embargo has doubled the price of meat in South Australia.
– I quite believe that. It is really operating as a sort of export tax.
As regards cattle, the Government are charging 10s. per head for every beast that is taken across the Queensland Border into South Australia. In that way they are levying, in effect, InterState Customs duties. It is the same with sheep passing from Queensland into New South Wales. The fact is that the Government, exercising governmental capacity, are doing something which private citizens would not be allowed to do.
– What can be done?
– Later on, I shall suggest something to the Prime Minister. I have been asked whether the Commonwealth Government are taking any steps to take over the control of meat for Imperial purposes. At the present time, the Queensland Government are securing meat for Imperial purposes under an Imperial Act. When asked whether the Federal Government contemplate doing the same thing, I have replied to telegrams I have received that, so far, I know of no such intention on the part of the Federal Government. I am afraid that the Premiers’ Conference has concluded ; but I would ask the Prime Minister to make some representations to the Queensland Government on the subject. So far as they are honestly and legitimately acquiring meat for Imperial purposes, no one in Australia can take exception to their action. But where these powers are being exercised, not for that purpose, but for local purposes of one kind and another, that is neither fair nor legitimate in the interests of Australia as a whole. That is the aspect of the matter that needs inquiry. I do not expect the Prime Minisater to be able to give me an answer to my question at once; but I ask. him to take the matter into careful consideration, and see whether some communication cannot be made to the Queensland Government, with a view to securing justice for all persons engaged in legitimate trade between Queensland and New South Wales, without doing anything that would be detrimental to the supply of meat for Imperial purposes.
– I wish to ask. the Prime Minister a question. I desire to know how manymen are still in gaol for not reporting themselves under the proclamation calling up men for military service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 December 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1916/19161215_reps_6_80/>.