6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the
House that on the 19th January I received the following letter from Mr. Charles
Gavan Duffy, who has been Clerk of this
House for the last fifteen years: -
Dear Mr. Speaker,
The President has been good enough to inform me that he will Dominate me for appointment as Clerk of the Senate, which position is vacant through’ the regretted retirement of Mr. Boydell.
I much regret severing my connexion with the House of Representatives, of which I have been Clerk for more than fifteen years. I am anxious, however, before finishing my long official career, to fill the office of Clerk of the Senate. I therefore ask your approval to my transfer.
I desire to thank honorable members of the House generally for the uniform courtesy they have extended to me. I have served under all the Speakers of the House of Representatives, and I am most grateful for the consideration I have always received from them. Fox the consistent kindness and consideration I have received from you . during your long term of office as SpeakerI shall always have the most grateful recollection.
To my colleague, Mr. Gale, and other members of the staff I am much indebted for their loyal and efficient assistance.
I am, dear Mr. Speaker,
Clerk of the House of Representatives.
To this letter I replied as follows : - 22nd January, 1917.
My dear Mr. Daffy,
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th inst., in which you inform me of your proposed appointment to the position of Clerk of the Senate.
Allow me to congratulate you, after your long and honorable parliamentary career in connexion with the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, and the Senate and the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth, upon your new appointment.
Let me also express to you my personal regret that the long official acquaintance between you and myself is closing. For more than nine years, first as Chairman of Committees, and subsequently as Speaker of the House of Representatives, I have been officially connected with you. During this long period I hare been indebted to you for your advice on many occasions, and I have had frequent opportunities of appreciating your invariable courtesy and your energy and ability.
I am sure that members of the House will agree with me in appreciation of your good qualities, both personal and official, and they will, I feel certain, join with me in wishing you every success in your new appointment.
– I have to inform the
House that, in consequence of the transfer of Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy from the position of Clerk of this House to that of Clerk of the Senate, the following appointments have, on my nomination, been made in connexion with this Chamber : -
Walter Augustus Gale, to be Clerk of the House.
Thomas Woollard, to be Clerk Assistant.
Francis Laurence Clapin, to be SerjeantatArms.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Entertainments Tax Assessment Bill.
Income Tax Bill (No. 3).
Entertainments Tax Bill.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4).
Daylight Saving Bill.
Unlawful Associations Bill.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Awards further varied -
On plaint submitted by -
Australian Letter Carriers Association - Order dated 21st December, 1916, further varying award dated 8th April,. 1915.
Australian Postal Electricians Union - Order dated 20th December. 1916, further varying award dated 23rd April, 1913.
Audit Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 302.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1917, No. 10.
Customs Act -
Export of Goods - Lists of Persons to whom Goods may be exported (with Minister’s permission) in China (not including Hong Kong) and Siam - Additional names (dated 11th January, 1917). Liberia - Corrections (dated 16th January, 1917).
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1916, N6s. 313, 315.
Statutory Rules 1917, No. 9.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 318, 319, 320.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1916, No. 329.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act- Statement for 1915-16.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Blackwood, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Cockburn Sound, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Hamilton, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Mildura, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Pialligo and Goorooyaroo, New South Wales - For Federal Capital purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Norfolk Island - Report of the Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1916.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1917 -
No. 1. - Crown Lands.
No. 2. - Darwin Town Council.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 291, 310, 330, 331, 332.
Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 1, 4.
Public Service Act -
Promotions of -
E. P. Geraghty, Department of Trade and Customs.
J. L. Mullen, Postmaster-General’s Department.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 306, 307, 308, 309.
Statutory Rules 1917, No. 8.
Seat of. Government Acceptance Act -
Careless Use of Fire Ordinance 1916 - Re gulations.
Belgium - Slave raids conducted by the German authorities in - Statement’ issued from the British Foreign Office containing a declaration by His Majesty’s Government in regard to the protest by the Belgian Government against.
Civilians interned in the British and German Empires - Further correspondence (dated 3rd May, 1916) respecting the proposed release of (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Wolframite, Scheelite,and Molybdenite - Report by Mr. J. M. Higgins in connexion with the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and Dalgety and Company Limited.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 300, 311, 321-6. Statutory Rules 1917. Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13.
– Has the Prime Minister had his attention directed to a couple of articles in the Sydney Morning’ Herald of 25th and 26th January by the Professor of Mathematics in the University of Sydney, criticising the Federal Income Tax Act 1916, and will he ask the Federal Statistician to report on the points in which Professor Carslaw contends that the Act is in error?
– I have glanced hurriedly through the articles with which the honorable member has furnished me, and rejoice that he does not suggest that I should arbitrate personally in this matter. I shall call on the Statistician, whom I have defended in this chamber many times, to prove that he is worthy of all that some of us have said of him, and undeserving of some of those things which we Have not said of him.
– In view of the widespread dissatisfaction, not only in the country, but in the towns also, with the operation of the Daylight Saving Act, does the Government propose to introduce a repealing Bill at an early date ?
– I have no official knowledge of any reason why the Act should be repealed. “When the measure was under consideration I adopted the lucid and beneficent suggestions made by the honorable member, and thought’ that with those improvements it should be perfect. If, however, some persons are unable to see it in that light, I am prepared to look into the matter.
– Has the Government come to a decision as to what action can be taken in regard to the Queensland Government’s embargo on the removal of stock from that State?
– It has been decided, upon the advice of the Attorney-General, that the Inter-State movement of stock, being intimately related to export, is a matter coming within the ambit of the legislative powers of the Commonwealth, and it is therefore proposed to legislate either directly, or by regulation under the War Precautions Acts, in such a way as will prevent the State of Queensland from taking action having for its object the prohibition of the movement of stock from that State to another.
– Will the Prime Minister tell us what action he intends to take to reduce the congestion on the Opposition benches?
– The licentiates of the Royal College of Physicians are now meeting for the purpose of preparing a blister which it is hoped will reduce that congestion.
– Has the attention of the
Treasurer been drawn to a statement made in Sydney last Monday, during the hearing of a court case, to the effect that there are 10,000 sovereigns lying about the Defence Department wanting an owner? Will the honorable gentleman put the croupier on them as soon as possible?
– When I saw the paragraph to which the honorable member refers I caused inquiries to be made, and found it had reference to a statement in the Auditor-General’s report concerning an examinationmade in Sydney about April, 1915. The question was one, not of gold, but of cheques and cash which had been returned from the different places to which they had been sent, because the persons towhom the money was payable had not claimed it. There is no truth whatever in the statement as to the 10,000 sovereigns wanting an owner.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government have received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies a copy of the terms of the German or Central Powers’ note having reference to peace proposals, and a copy of the Allies’ reply thereto? If they have, will the right honorable gentleman have copies printed for. public information ?
– The answer to the first part of the question is ‘ ‘ No ‘ ‘ ; that, of course will answer the second part of it.
– Will the Prime Min ister take into serious consideration the advisableness of appointing a farmers’ representative on the Central Wheat
Board,. as, I understand, he has been requested to do, by practically all the farmers of Australia?
– The constitution of the Central Wheat Board is not a matter wholly for this Parliament. It is a body extraneous to the Constitution, and arises out of an agreement between the wheatproducing States and the Commonwealth. On the Board each State has a representative of its own, who is a Minister of the State, while the Commonwealth is represented by the Prime Minister or his appointee. The question of appointing a direct farmers’ representative has been brought before the Board by myself. I have stated publicly that I am in favour of that representation ;4 but, unless, and until, the constitution of the Board is altered, no such ‘ representation can be made. It is therefore clearly a matter for the Governments of the various wheatproducing States to consider. I shall take an early opportunity of bringing the question before the Wheat Board, but can hold out no hope whatever of a reversal of their decision unless the respective State Governments change their views.
– As the Prime Minister apparently finds it impossible to appoint a farmers’ representative on the Central Wheat Board, can he assure the House that such a representative will be appointed on the Advisory Board, which advises respecting the sales, handling, and financing of the crop?
– What the representatives of the various farmers’ associations asked for at the Conference was representation on the Central Board, and that was the matter considered. The Advisory Board is a Board of experts ; it does not decide anything. It is the Wheat Board that decides matters, and I take it that it is on that Board the farmers desire representation.
– The Advisory Board makes recommendations to the Central Board.
– It may make recommendations, but it does not make recommendations as to price.
– As to everything.
– No. The Board may make recommendations, but what I mean is that it has absolutely no power; its functions are purely advisory. As I have said, the Advisory Board consists purely of experts, and I am very sure that representation on that body would not satisfy the farmer. I ‘quite understand what the farmers desire, and, as I have said, I am in favour of it.
– Can the Prime Minister make a statement that will re7assure the families of the men who are going to the front as to ample precautions being taken to protect them from the submarine menace on their way oversea I Has he made any special arrangements so that these men will be safeguarded until they reach their destination ?
– If I could give such an assurance it would not be these halls that would enclose me; my place would be in the Empyrean. I cannot give such an assurance. The whole forces of a great nation are arrayed against us for the purpose of destroying the commerce of the Empire; and with the formidable massed legions of Tuscany arrayed against me, I am asked to give a guarantee that we will carry safely through this cordon vessels conveying Australian soldiers to the front. When President Wilson, the leader of a great nation of 100,000,000 people, is unable to wrest from the foe anything like such a guarantee, I cannot give it.
– Following on the question put by the honorable member for South Sydney, I would ask the Prime -Minister whether, in the case of trans: ports bearing Australian troops to the front, our enemies have not in the past been ever ready ana willing to sink them without notice, and if the fact that they - have succeeded so little in the ,past is not the best comfort . that friends and relatives of Australian soldiers can have? Should it not comfort them in the belief that our arrangements in the future to prevent the sinking of Australian transports will be equally successful ?
– We have enjoyed a most amazing and fortunate immunity from disaster. There has never been a war in which one-twentieth thousandth part pf troops have been conveyed oversea “where there has been so little loss. Of the many thousands that we have sent we have practically not lost at sea more than can be counted on the fingers of one hand. That is the best answer I can give. The eternal vigilance of the British Navy is our only guarantee.
Votes for Soldiers at thefront.
– Do the Government intend to introduce a Bill to enable adult soldiers at the front to vote at the forthcoming Federal election ?
– I shall be glad to make whatever arrangements are necessary to enable our soldiers at the front to record their votesat the forthcoming Federal elections.
Issue of Return Passengers’ Tickets
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that all the companies who participate in the mail contract between Tasmania and the mainland have ceased to issue return tickets to passengers on their vessels, and that only single tickets are now available?
– I have heard something about the change, but under our contract with the companies I have no power to intervene in the matter referred to by the honorable member. Our contract does not extend to the conditions in question.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister in view of the fact that there are only some thirteen members supporting him as Prime Minister, whether he will take the necessary steps to allow a census of the members of the House of Representatives to be taken, with a view to having the Prime Minister elected by the members of this House?
– I shall give a reply to the honorable member when the Ides . of March have gone.
– I desire to! know from the Postmaster-General whether he has any reply to the inquiry I have previously made in regard to the delay in the delivery of letters to our boys at the front - a delay which practically amounts to a breakdown ?
– Since the honorable member mentioned the matter I have communicated with the military authorities in charge of the postal service at the front, and they report that arrangements have been made other than those which prevailed when the honorable member first drew attention to the matter.
– I desire to know from the Minister for the Navy whether an amended reference of certain works at Flinders to the Public Works Committee may not be laid before the House, so that the whole scheme may be considered by Parliament with knowledge of the complete cost?
– I have no objection to that.
– I desire to know from the Postmaster-General whether, in the enormous profits which he has stated in the newspapers are made by his Department, he has included the amount withheld for the purchase of uniforms for the Queensland letter-carriers, who, during the recent hot weather, have been compelled to wear their heavy winter clothing ?
– The annual report of the Postal Service will be laid on the table in the course of a few days, when the honorable member may see all that has happened. I have no doubt that the information will be edifying to him.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware that instructions have been issued to deprive temporary letter-carriers of their uniforms? Will the honorable member take immediate steps to secure that such uniforms are provided?
-Whatever has been done in reference to temporary postmen is in conformity with the regulations governing those people. If the honorable member will specify any particular case in which he has any objection to offer, I shall consider it.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral, pending further consideration, repeal the instruction issued, that where a mail service is not paying, the residents must guarantee 50 per cent. of the loss, or make arrangements for a continuation of the service ?
– I shall be quite willing to comply with the request provided that the honorable member, and those who think with him, are able to furnish me with a tender for such services that is within the bounds of reasonable possibility.
– Is it a fact that the Treasurer intends to introduce a Bill to amend the Income Tax Act at an early date owing to the difficulty there is in interpreting section 19 ?
– The matter is under consideration, but no determination has yet been come to.
– Is the Treasurer aware that a great many income tax payers are being severely crippled - quite crippled - by the enforcement of the large demands for the payment of this tax ? I should like to know whether, under the circumstances, the Treasurer will consider the advisability of affording some relief by allowing payment to bemade in instalments. The matter is very serious in view of the increase, not only in the Federal tax, but in the State taxes. I ask the Treasurer to look into the whole question with a view of affording relief in the direction I have suggested.
– I shall be very pleased to look into the matter; but, if I am not mistaken, an arrangement has always been made by which taxpayers may be afforded relief in the way of deferred payments.
– When does the Minister for Home Affairs propose to lay on the table a copy of the statistical returns showing the voting within each subdivision on the Military Service Referendum ?
– The return will be ready to be laid on the table next Wednesday.
– Has the Postmaster-General considered the representations made to him by certain stamp vendors, typists, and others in reference to the proposed reduction of the commission to be paid to them on the sale of stamps? If so, is he in a position to communicate the result of that consideration to the House?
– I have given the matterconsideration, and upon one aspect of it I am calling for a report which will take a little time to prepare. When the report is available I will reply to the honorable member’s question.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether there is any difference in respect of the basis of appraisement and mode of payment, between the wool supplied to Australian manufacturers and the wool supplied to the Imperial Government ?
– So far as I know, there is no difference.
– Will the Prima Minister state whether the prosecution of Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Coombe, M.L.A., of South Australia, under the War Precautions Act, for statements made at Tanunda during the Military Service Referendum campaign in October, has been authorized or approved by him ?
– I do not recollect having seen the name of McIntyre in connexion with any such prosecution. I will investigate the matter and give an answer to-morrow.
– As Messrs. McIntyre and Coombe were served with summonses for making utterances alleged to be prejudicial to recruiting during the conscription campaign in October, does the Prime Minister approve of three months having been allowed to elapse since the men were charged without their having been brought to trial ?
– I have already stated that I know nothing whatever of the facts. The honorable member must not state a hypothetical case and ask me whether I approve or disapprove. I will make inquiries, and, on the facts, give an opinion.
– Will the Minister for Home Affairs and Territories lay upon the Library table all papers connected with the Daly River Copper Mine, including the letter and affidavit of Harold George Nelson?
– The papers will be available on the Library table within an hour.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether there is any foundation for the reports appearing in the press that negotiations are proceeding for the return to Germany of a number of Germans now in Australia ? If so, is there to be any reciprocal arrangement for the return to Australia of Australian prisoners now in Germany?
– We have no direct communication with the enemy on this matter. So far as I know, the matter has not been raised either directly or through the channels of the Imperial Government.
– In view of the advance made in fares by the coastal steamship companies by their refusal to issue return tickets, will the Minister for Trade and Customs ascertain whether, under the War Precautions Act, the companies cannot be compelled to pay the increases to the Treasury?
– I should think that it is within the right of steam-ship companies to issue either single or double tickets as they may think fit. As to the suggestion that we might put the War Precautions Act into operation against the companies, I will have the matter looked into.
– Has the Minister for Home Affairs and Territories yet been able to produce harmony in the official circles of the Northern Territory so that efficient work may be done?
– During the short period I have been in office, I have found it difficult indeed to secure the harmony to which the honorable gentleman refers. But I am doing my level best, and if honorable members generally will give me an opportunity, I hope that later on such harmony may prevail.
– In reference to the statement published in the press that the Prime Minister has received an invitation from the Imperial Government to attend aConference at London, will the Prime Minister say whether that invitation is confined to himself, or is extended to himself and another member of the Government, or of this Parliament? Has the Prime Minister any objection to laying upon the table of the House a copy of the invitation ?
– I am unable to lay on the table of the House the correspondence to which the honorable member re fers, because it is in the nature of secret despatches. I cannot disclose at this stage the contents of those despatches, beyond stating that they are, in effect, an invitation directed to me to visit England to take part in an Imperial Conference. I hope to be in a position in the course of a day or two to supply the honorable member and the House with the further information which he desires.
– Assuming that the invitation is extended to more than one delegate, is it the opinion of the Prime Minister that that body of public opinion which is represented by the Australian Labour Party should have representation at the Imperial Conference? Does he propose “to invite the Australian Labour party to select a delegate to represent them at the Conference?
– There are many “ ifs “ in the honorable member’s question, but I will eliminate them, and say that I trust the Australian. Labour party will be represented at the Conference. If he is referring to the faction to which he belongs, I remind him that they had an opportunity of being represented at that Conference, but they deliberately turned their back on it. As for what the people of this country desire in this, matter, the honorable member will have an opportunity of finding that out, perhaps sooner than he wishes.
– I object to the statement of the Prime Minister that I belong to a faction. I belong to the great Australian Labour party, which is not a faction, and I ask that the Prime Minister be called upon to withdraw the term that he has used.
– I withdraw the word “ faction,” and substitute “ fraction.”
– The Prime Minister has given notice that to-morrow he will move to appoint Mr. Sinclair to the Public Works Committee. I desire to nominate Mr. J. F. Hannan in substitution for Mr. Sinclair. Shall I have the opportunity of moving in that direction when the Prime Minister submits his motion ?
– When the question is before the Chair the honorable member will have an opportunity of moving the amendment he desires.
Holiday Pay: Annual Report: Conveyance of Mails by Rail.
– As a condition of the letter carriers award provides for the payment of double time for holidays, will the Postmaster-General say why this has not been compliedwith in relation to Eight Hours Day ?
– Because it was not in accord with a decision of the Cabinet concerning statutory holidays.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral contend that a decision of Cabinet overrides an Arbitration Court award given strictly in accordance with the existing law ?
– The contention that the letter carriers were entitled to receive double pay for Eight Hours Day except in districts in which the day is proclaimed a holiday, is not in conformity with the Arbitration Court award.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral say whether the annual report of his Department will be laid on the table immediately?
– The annual report of the Department will be laid on the table of the House at a later date.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether any agreement has been arrived at between his Department and the State railways for the conveyance of mails over the railways of Australia ?
– The matter has been deferred on three occasions at the request of the State authorities, owing to the fact that one of their representative men has been in England. That gentleman is now returning to Australia, and arbitration on the matter of the charges and rates will be commenced before the Inter-State Commission on the 19th instant.
– Has the Prime Minister agreed to give the State of Queensland pecuniary assistance towards the settlement of returned soldiers on the land? If so, will he state what form the proposed assistance will take?
– The matter about which the honorable member has spoken occupied the attention of the Premiers’ Conference for some days, and a conclusion was arrived at entirely to the satisfaction, so I understand, of the ‘ States, Queensland was invited to come in under that arrangement, but I am not sure whether it has done so. It is still open for it to do so, and there the matter stands, and will stand.
– Does thePrime Minister propose to accede to the request put forward by the Pastoralists’ Association of Western Australia that the appraisement of wool should be carried out at Geraldton and at Albany as well as at Eremantle ?
– The honorable member has brought this matter before me on several occasions, and I have had many communications with the Central Wool Committee in reference to it. I am in- formed that the committee held a meeting yesterday, at which it was decided to appoint wool and sheep-skin selling centres at Geraldton and Albany.
– I do not disagree with the decision arrived at, butI ask the Prime Minister why Newcastle, where there are thousands of bales of wool that will have to be carried to Sydney at a cost of 4s. a bale, has been denied the same privilege as has been extended to the Western Australian ports?
– There is a French problem which says, “ It is the first step that counts.” I can only say, in reply to the honorable member, that I shall make inquiries from the Central Wool Committee, without delay, as to their attitude concerning the position at Newcastle which he has already brought under my notice.
– Under the wheat pool all farmers are practically treated” alike, but under the wool pool it is impossible to treat all wool-growers alike. The central committee has created a fund by retaining a certain proportion of each wool-grower’s money, in order that adjustments may be made later, but early sellers got immediate payment, some even before the Board got its money, and they also got higher prices for their wool. Will the Prime Minister take into consideration the position of those wool-growers who . will be standing out of their money for many months, and make some provision for the payment of interest? ‘
– I do not propose to give an answer to a question I do not clearly understand. This is a very involved matter, and the honorable member has made it a practice to spring ‘ on me these almost mathematical problems to which he cannot expect an immediate answer. The basis of the arrangement is recognised as good. I do not admit that under it any wool-grower will be kept waiting for his money longer than he would have had to wait for it had no interference with the ordinary course of business taken place. The “ appraisements will be made as rapidly as the wool sales occur, and the money will be paid within fourteen days after. It is perfectly true that every wool-grower cannot be paid on the same day, but such a thing never yet happened. Precisely what can be done to put all the growers in exactly the same position I am unable to say, but it is the desire of the Government that all within the pool shall, so far as is humanly possible, be treated alike. I do not know what more can be done than is”* now being done to insure this, but I shall be glad to consider any suggestion that the honorable member may have to offer.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs been drawn to a recent statement in the Age that £58,000 has been spent on oilboring operations in Papua, bores having been put down to a depth of about 680 feet, and that the cost of boring down 100 feet in 1916 was £8,500 ?
– I have read the article referred to; its statements are, in the main, correct. About £60,000 has been spent on boring for oil in Papua, and only about 2,000. gallons df oil have been obtained. x This position is very unsatisfactory, but an effort is being made to do something more practical for the development of the oil-fields.
– -A number of our friends in the Corner are desirous of knowing whether the forecast in to-day’s* Age is a correct statement of the personnel of the new Ministry?
– Was the forecast alluded to published in the meteorological column ? I have not seen it, but I have no doubt that it is quite wrong.
– Efforts are being made for the repatriation of the returned soldiers, for which sufficient funds are not available. Will the Prime Minister see that money is advanced from the Treasury to enable the officials to handle more men, and to deal with them more quickly ?
– The whole question of repatriation was thoroughly considered at the Premier’s Conference in all its aspects. As regards the settlement of soldiers on the land it was agreed that the Commonwealth should assume the responsibility of finding the money needed, the State’s to provide. the land. In regard to repatriation other than land settlement, the Commonwealth has assumed the whole responsibility for the welfare of returned soldiers, has undertaken to find them employment, to teach them, where necessary, useful trades and callings, to assist them in setting up small businesses, and to help them directly during periods in which their labour must be unremunerative, and in cases of invalidity. The scheme, as outlined, was considered by the Repatriation Trustees and approved. The repatriation scheme is to be carried out under Commonwealth authority. The Repatriation Trustees accept the view that the work to be done is so vast, complex, and difficult as to demand the whole attention of the most capable man whose services can be obtained, and it has been decided to appoint a Commissioner and, possibly, two Assistant Commissioners, to take charge of it. The precise relations between the Repatriation Trustees and the Commissioner have not been finally determined, but it is thought that they should be analogous to those of company directors and their manager. It is proposed to connect the Commonwealth machinery with the States through the State War Councils. The permanent officers of the councils will be Commonwealth officials, but the State War Councils will represent the States, and will undertake towards the returned men the duties and responsibilities which the States are only too ready to recognise. These’ are the broad outlines of the scheme which has been approved by the’ Premiers’ Conference, the Repatriation Trustees, and the Government. We are now considering what shall be the precise relations between the Repatriation Trustees and the proposed Commissioner or Commissioners and the appointments necessary to launch the scheme. The Treasurer informs me that in the meantime the War Councils are being supplied with all the money for which they ask, the Government thinking that it is better to make ten mistakes than to treat one soldier unjustly. Our desire is to abolish red-tape and delay, and to deal directly with the men in a sympathetic and effective fashion.
– I wish to know from the Treasurer whether the War Pension Branch of his Department is better organized than it was? If not, will the honorable gentleman endeavour to improve its organization so that returned soldiers and the dependants of soldiers may receive their pensions more quickly than has been the case in the past, and that irritating, and often painful, delays may be prevented ?
– The War Pensions Department is much better organized than it was, and is now practically able to deal with every application as it is received. Under a new arrangement which I have instituted, it can provide that a soldier, a widow, or any other dependant, shall get, within twenty-four hours, what he is entitled to. I have appointed additional magistrates to deal with pension claims, and having been in communication with the Returned Soldiers Association, - I know that its members would admit that there is a vast improvement in the way in which pension business is now being dealt with.
– Seeing that we are on the eve of a general election, ‘ and that the electoral roll is in a very unsatisfactory state, I ask the Minister for Home Affairs if he has arranged with the PostmasterGeneral that the letter-carriers shall assist in the compilation of a satisfactory roll by recording removals and chronicling arrivals in the districts which they serve.
– The roll at the present moment is not as perfect as it might be; but, having had in mind the possibility to which the honorable member has referred, I have, during the last month or six weeks, consulted with Mr. Oldham on several occasions,, and have ascertained that, every thing which can be done to insure a complete roll is being done. Over a month ago I gave authority for obtaining assistance from the letter-carriers, . who are being supplied with what are termed habitation cards. They are in close touch with the residents of the districts in which they work, and with their help the roll, by the time the event to which the honorable member has alluded occurs, will probably be as perfect as it has ever been. Everything will be ready quite as soon as he would wish.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that Colonel Newell, the censor in his Department, is prohibiting the importation into the Commonwealth of certain books which do not in any way deal with the war?
– The censor in question, whatever he may be doing, is not under my authority.
– Then I ask the Assistant Minister for Defence if he is aware tha.t the military censor in the Post Office is preventing the delivery to booksellers in this city of books which do not in any way deal with the war. He says that these books are rubbish, and ought not to come in, although he admits that he has not read them.
– The information which the honorable member has supplied is new to me. Inquiry was recently made regarding a book, the introduction of which into Australia was said to have been prevented by the censor. It was found, however, that it was not the censor who had held it up. If the honorable member desires further information, I invite, him to place his question “on the notice-paper.
Imperial Conference : Australian Representation - Proposed National Ministry - Wool Clip: Examination and Valuation - Newcastle Trade - Income Tax Amendment - Tariff Reform - Post War Industrial and Trading Conditions - Repatriation of Soldiers - Old-age Pensions : Inmates of Benevolent Institutions - Pensions for the Blind - Rifle Clubs - Peace Proposals : German Note and Allies’ Reply - Control of Mints - Postmaster-General’s Department: Arbitration Court’s Awards - Temporary Letter Carriers : Uniforms and Wages : Arm Badges - Wages of Trench Workers - Alleged Sweating in Telephone Branch - War Precautions Act : Prosecutions - Daylight Saving Act - Recruiting Campaign - Naval Defence - Ship-building - Returned Soldiers : Pensions and Deferred Pay : Employment- Trainees of Duntroon College and Commissions - Prohibited Books - Censorship - German Submarine Campaign - Protection of Transports - Public Works and Unemployment - Army Service Corps : Case of Lieutenant Holland - Elections for Senate and House of Representatives.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of this Bill.
Referred to Committee of Supply.
In Committee of Supply:
– As honorable members are aware, our Supply runs out on the 14th instant. I understand that the members of another place are prepared to meet not later than the 13th instant in order to put this measure through. I ask the Committee, therefore, to agree to the grant of a month’s Supply, so that the ordinary obligations of the Government may be met.
I had hoped to be able to make an announcement to the House regarding matters to which considerable publicity has Been given, and which are connected intimately with the invitation that Isent to the Leaders of the Liberal party and the Official Labour party to confer with me for the purpose of forming a National Government. I regret that, as the Official Labour party was unable to deal with the matter until yesterday, it has not been possible for the conference between the representatives of the Liberal party and the Ministerialists to arrive at any decisions which would enable me to make an announcement. For that reason I propose to ask the House, when Supply is granted, to adjourn until such time as I am able to do so.
– Until when? Next Wednesday?
– Until Wednesday next. I purposely made the time of reassembling indefinite, as there is nothing very definite about the. whole matter. However, I do not wish honorable members to be kept waiting about the House for no useful purpose. I ask the Committee to grant the Government a month’s Supply, after which we shall adjourn until the usual hour of meeting on Wednesday next.
– I was anxious that the Leader of the Liberal party–
– Or the Deputy Leader of the new Governments–
– Or, as my honorable friend interjects, the Deputy Leader of the suggested Fusion, should have an opportunity to make a statement. Apparently, however, the situation is not as easy to handle as it would be if there were three instead of only two parties to the proposal.
– The honorable member should not commence here the tactics to which he resorted at the Town Hall meeting last night.
– I shall not.
– The honorable member has learned a lesson.
– Not at all. I would make the same statement again to the same crowd. There was a crowd at the Town Hall last night to howl me down. Recruiting is not likely to be helped by “ bull-dozing “ such as that in which they indulged. I attended the meeting with the object of assisting in the recruiting movement, and I am prepared to go anywhere for that purpose; but whenever a crowd tries to howl me down I shall have something to say in reply. Such conduct will not help recruiting.
– They want to kill it again.
– Iam not anxious to kill the movement.
– Why make these improper statements ?
– The subject was introduced by the Leader of the Liberal party, and but for his interjection I should not have referred to it. I now leave it. I trust that we shall have from the Prime Minister next Wednesday a definite statement concerning the suggested Fusion. I have no objection to the granting of a month’s Supply, but I am hopeful, having regard to the hints that have been thrown out during question time to-day, that we shall have an early appeal to the people. I hope that both Houses of the Parliament will make an early appeal to the people, so that the electors may have an opportunity to give their verdict on the questions that have been before us, and have also been brought prominently under their notice.
.- I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for the service of. the year ending the 30th day of June, 1917, a sum not exceeding £1,211,012.
The proposed vote is to cover a month’s Supply, and the schedule to the Bill contains nothing that is new. I understand that honorable members are generally agreed that the Bill shall be speedily passed, and if it is, the Senate may have an opportunity to deal with it to-day. At all events, the members of another place have undertaken to pass the Bill in time to enable the usual fortnightly payments to be made to the Public Service on the 14th instant. In these circumstances, I. shall not further discuss the motion.
.- I regret that the Prime Ministerhas left the chamber, because I wished to refer to the answers that he gave this afternoon to some questions addressed to him. As to the invitation to the Commonwealth to be represented at the Imperial Conference, I think there is a great deal too much secrecy about the methods of the Prime Minister. I see no objection whatever to the terms of the invitation being submitted to the House. We are entitled to know from the Prime Minister what the invitation to the Imperial Conference really comprises. Is it an invitation to the Prime Minister alone to attend, or an invitation to the Prime Minister and such other parliamentary representatives as he chooses to take with him ?
– It is reported that the Prime Minister of Canada is to take three representatives of the Dominion with him. The invitation is probably the same in the case of Australia.
– It is reported that the Prime Minister of Canada is to take at least two representatives with him.
– Will the honorable member go?
– I am not a candidate. I hold the view that the Prime Minister, who, in the opinion of some people, should be the sole representative of Australia at the Imperial Conference, really represents nobody in the Commonwealth. He has no political party behind him. He has referred to his Ministerial party, but that party consists of men who left the Australian Labour party, and they have as yet no political party to back them up. They may create a political party, but it will be at the expense of the Liberal party.
– Is the honorable member sure of that?
– I am. The Leader of the Liberal party himself has said that any party which the Prime Minister forms in the Commonwealth will be created at the expense of the Liberal party.
– Not wholly.
– A few of those who formerly belonged to the Labour party may join the Hughes party, but I venture to say that only a very small percentage of the supporters of the Labour party in Australia will join his organization.
– Then why should the honorable member complain?
– I do not.
– It is his tender solicitude for the Liberal party.
– Not at all. The Prime Minister is not in a position to represent public opinion in Australia until he forms his political organization. We have in the Commonwealth only two great political organizations - the Liberal party and the Labour party - and Australia ought to be represented, if represented at all, at the Imperial Conference by members of those two parties.
– We gave the Labour party a chance to come in.
– An invitation was extended to our party, at the request of the Leader of the Liberal party, to join in forming a Coalition Government. The Prime Minister would never have asked the Australian Labour party to join in forming a National Government but for the insistence of the Liberal party. The Liberal party know very well they are taking upon themselves a very great responsibility in joining hands with the right honorable gentleman. They would be let down very much more lightly in the opinion of the public if they could only induce the Australian Labour party to join them; but the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Liberal party know very well that the Australian Labour party do not believe in coalitions.
– Not even to save the Empire !
– The honorable member knows that the Coalition Government formed by Mr. Asquith, Mr. Bonar Law, and others went to nieces simply because it was a coalition. It is difficult enough to get anything done by a Government representing solely one political party. There is always some member or Minister who points out that it is unwise to do certain things; and how much are we likely to get done when there is a Coalition Government? Let the Liberal party form a Ministry and undertake the government of the country; and, although I cannot speak for more than myself, I believe that such a Ministry would’ get a fair deal.
– That is the trouble; you insist on speaking individually when you make promises.
– How can we speak otherwise? I say I believe that. such a Government would get a fair deal.
– You had a party meeting the other day- was this matter not considered?
– If the Government, which consists of members who left the Australian Labour party, refuses to concede to the honorable gentleman the number of portfolios that he is now demanding, let him turn the Government out. If that were done, I venture to say that the new Government would go on for at least two or three months, at the expiration of which time we know the elections take place. Again I say that if the Prime Minister goes to the Imperial Conference he cannot undertake to represent Australian public opinion as voiced by Australian parliamentary representatives in this House. He can, of course, represent the conscriptionist view of Australia ; and no doubt he will do so.
– Do you not think that the Prime Minister will represent this Parliament if he goes with the concurrence of the Liberal party ?
– He will not represent Australia. He will represent, ‘possibly, a majority of the members of the House; but he will especially represent the Australian conscriptionist opinion. Knowing the Prime Minister as I do, I venture to say ‘ that he will inform the Conference that the public of Australia was misled into voting against conscription, though, as a matter of fact, the misrepresentation was all on the other side. A dirtier, filthier campaign was never conducted than was the campaign conducted by the Prime Minister of Australia in favour of conscription. If we are to be represented at the Conference by more than one representative, there ought to be a representative from the Australian Labour party to give that Conference the Australian Labour party’s point of view.
– Will you send one ?
– Give us a chance to say that.
– Again, this is only speculation.
– The practice that has obtained in the Australian States of allowing a Minister to go to Imperial Conferences with a blank cheque is not conducive to the development of the country. I remember that when Sir Edmund Barton went home as Prime Minister he committed this country to a certain course, and the country felt bound to agree to the proposal. The Prime Minister, if he goes alone to the Conference, will go with a kind of blank cheque which he may fill in for whatever he chooses.
– He did that six months ago.
– What is the opinion of the Prime Minister, or any other delegate who may go, on the question ‘of Australia’s right to govern itself? Does the Prime Minister propose to in any way whittle down our local self-governing rights ?
– Did you and your colleagues in the Government not send the Prime Minister Home without any conditions ?
– When things are different, they are not the same !
– The honorable member for Wimmera knows very well that the Conference that was attended by the Prime Minister, some eight or ten months ago, was not of the character of the Conference proposed at the present time. What I desire to know is the views of the Prime Minister, or any other delegate, in regard to the whittling down, for instance, of our local self-governing rights. What are the views of the Prime Minister on the Tariff question? Are we to fix our own Tariff?
– That issue has been sunk since theFusion was suggested.
– Not so far as I am concerned.
– You have bad the Tariff under a leaden weight, 100 fathoms deep, for six years!
– Let us admit that we have had the Tariff down because we had Free Traders amongst us, like the Prime Minister.
– Had you a- majority of Free Traders in your party?
– These questions are disorderly.
– And a little awkward, are they not?
– As you, Mr. Chairman, will no doubt point out very quickly, every honorable member has a right to be heard in silence.
– Especially on the Tariff question !
– I must really seek the protection of the Chair.
– I must ask honorable members to refrain from these interjections, which are far too frequent. An interjection that is pertinent to the remarks of a speaker may be permitted, but the constant cross-firing must cease.
– I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will not leave the chamber, because I think he may be able to enlighten us as to his views on ‘ the Tariff question.
– How does the honorable member for Capricornia propose to go immediately to the country, and, at the same time, pass the Tariff?
-In my opinion, Australia will never make progress until we have a Tariff sufficiently high to protect the secondary industries of the country against the competition of cheap labour abroad. Wages Boards, Arbitration Courts, Factory Acts, and all other efforts to. ameliorate the condition of people who work forwages will be of no avail if we permit the products of cheap labour abroad to come in here under a low Tariff.
What we require is a high Tariff; if 50 per cent. is not sufficient, let us have duties of 100 per cent.
Is the delegate, whoever he may be, going to the Old Country to agree to any proposal which would have the effect of preventing our imposing whatever Tariff we choose to protect Australian industries? That is a point on which we require information. Is the Prime Minister, or any other delegate, going to commit this country to any legislation or agreement between the Allies as to what shall be done after the war? Are we going to have another set of resolutions like those of the Paris Conference? We ought to know what is proposed. I am convinced that what we require is to increase our population, which for years has remained at 4,000,000 or 5,000,000; and the only way is to impose a Tariff sufficiently high to keep out about half of the £70,000,000 worth of goods which are coming here under the present Tariff.
– You have fought two elections on the Tariff!
– That is so; and I have always been returned as a Protectionist. My constituents have no doubt as to my views.
– But what have you done?
– The present Tariff is a very great improvement on previous Tariffs, in spite of the effort of the honorable memberfor Parramatta, who on every occasion has tried to reduce protective duties to merely revenueproducing duties.
– That is not so; but let it pass!
– I wish the honorable gentleman would not interrupt, because there are several subjects on which I desire to talk.
– One must interrupt in the face of incorrect statements.
– I refer the honorable gentleman to the Hansard reports of the Tariff discussions. These reports show that invariably he voted against protectionist duties.
– Because of you and your party, there has been no discussion on the Tariff for four years.
– I am referring to the discussions on the Tariff of 1902 and 1906-7. The Prime Minister talked about the Australian Labour party being a “ faction,” and later on substituted the word “ fraction.” This gave rise to much pumped-up amusement amongst honorable members on the Liberal side, who applauded and laughed at the remark as a very great joke. The Australian Labour party have about forty -six members out of 111 members in the Federal Parliament, while the Prime Minister and his followers number only twenty-four; and if we are a “faction,” or a “fraction,” what arithmetical expression will fitly describe the Prime Minister and his supporters ? We notice a great deal in the morning daily newspapers about the necessity of patriotic action on the part of honorable members of this House - of public-spirited action in the formation of a Fusion Government. What is holding up this consummation, so far as the Liberals and the Ministerialists are concerned ? The Prime Minister has suggested that the holding up is due to the Australian Labour party not having called a meeting earlier. That, however, has nothing whatever to do with the case. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Liberal party know very well that the policy of the Australian Labour party makes it impossible for the members of it to join any Coalition. But, perhaps merely for show, it was pretended to be necessary to wait until the Australian Labour party had considered the invitation. Let us get down to bedrock. What has prevented a fusion being brought about up to the present moment - and I ask Liberal members to correct me if I am wrong - is the fact that the Leader of the Liberal party and his colleagues have not. succeeded in making a bargain with the Prime Minister as to the number of portfolios they shall have.
– Oh, no!
– The right honorable member’s gesture of disdain does not describe the position at all. The plain fact is - and I ask Liberal members to deny it publicly if they dare - that they demand a certain number of portfolios, rightly, from the Prime Minister, and he cannot see his way clear to throw over as many of his friends as honorable members ask him to do. If the Liberals would reduce their demand from six portfolios to five portfolios the fusion arrangements would be ‘fixed up in a few minutes. The “ Win-the-War party “ are quarrelling over the question as to whether they will have six portfolios or five in a Fusion Government. Is not that the position ?
– Not so far as I am aware.
– I hope that the Argus and those other leading daily newspapers which will endeavour to make capital out of the fact that we cannot see our way clear to join a Fusion Government will note the” attitude of the Liberal party.
– You asked a question, and I tell you that your statement is not a fact.
– That is a very belated denial. An opportunity was presented to the Australian Labour party to join the Prime Minister, and get three or four portfolios for its members, who would occupy very high anddignified positions, which are not unremunerative ; but the Australian Labour partydoes not want office on those terms. We declined to take office. We prefer some other party to take office, or we are prepared ourselves to assume the responsibilities of government. We are ready to do as we did before. The Australian Labour party carried on the war, and the national government, from the 14th September, 1914, until “the Prime Minister returned from Europe in August of last year, with general satisfaction and a minimum of irritation to the general public, and we raised by the voluntary system 300,000 troops to be sent abroad. We are willing to carry on the government of the country in the same way again if honorable members will permit us, or, as an alternative, if the right honorable member for Parramatta has the courage to turn out the Prime Minister and his followers, and form a Liberal Government, as he has a right to do-
– May I tell the hon- .orable member that I have not that sort of courage.
– Is the Leader of the Liberal party afraid that his Government would be turned out of office, and that he would have to face the country? Is he afraid to face the electors? The Australian Labour party certainly is not. We are willing to go before the people in April, May, or June, or even earlier.
– Are you speaking on behalf of the other members of your party ?
– I am. Let the people of the country decide which party possesses the confidence of the country. That question must be decided at an early date unless the Liberal party is prepared to fuse with the Prime Minister and his friends.
– When you talk about a general election it is a .case of “ Hold me back and let me at him.”
– The right honorable gentleman knows that it is within his power to bring about a general election within six weeks. He can turn out the Prime Minister, form a Government, be refused Supply, and go to the Governorgeneral and get a dissolution. But he is not sure that it would be a wise course to turn out the Prime Minister.
– Quite right.
– When the, right honorable member says that he has not the courage to turn out the Prime Minister, the inference is that he wishes to support the present Government. The Leader of the Liberal party is not prepared to do that. He knows that things cannot continue as they are with a Ministry having only five supporters in a House of seventyfive members. The right honorable gentleman knows that such a condition of affairs is a travesty of representative government, and, as an old parliamentarian, he realizes that he must accept all responsibility for the acts of the Prime Minister and his followers, because they remain in office only with the consent of the Liberal party.
– Did not your party keep the Deakin Government in power in the -same way ?
– We took responsibility for what the Deakin Government did, and the. Leader of the Liberal party knows “that he must take responsibility for the acts of the Prime Minister, although he does not agree with many of those acts.
There is too much secrecy about the Prime Minister. No one has yet seen the invitation which the right honorable gentleman is supposed to have received- to attend the previous Conference in England. Not even one of his colleagues knew the terms of that invitation, and some of us wonder whether it was not” an alternative invitation to himself, and some other member of the Government, presuming that there was. an invitation. The right honorable member for Parramatta does not agree with the methods of the Prime Minister, and he knows that a certain amount of discredit attaches to him while he permits the government to be carried on in the present .manner, and allows the Prime Minister to utilize .the censorship in the way in which it is being abused to-day. His alternative to allowing the Prime Minister to do as he pleases is to fuse with the Ministerial party, or turn them out of office and form another Government. If he will undertake to turn the Prime Minister out of office, and shoulder the responsibilities of government, he will get a fair deal from the members of the Australian Labour party.
.- To-day I asked the Prime Minister a question in reference to his decision that the whole of the wool clip must be examined and valued in the capital cities of the States, and he promised that the matter would be inquired into. When I relate to honorable members what has really happened in connexion with the port which I represent, they will realize the considerable harm which the Prime Minister, by his action in connexion with the supply of Australian wool to Great Britain, is doing to certain portions of the community. Throughout its history the State of New South Wales has suffered much from the policy of centralization, and from the* whole produce of the State being dragged to the one port for shipment. The conditions were bad enough prior to the outbreak of war, and the people of Newcastle bore them cheerfully, but owing to war exigencies the coal export trade from the port has practically come to an end. Now the Prime Minister, by deciding that all wool must be brought 100 miles further south in order to be examined and valued at Sydney, is doing a further injustice to that port, and robbing it of a bunkering trade running into thousands of tons. It is most remarkable that although representations made in behalf of Newcastle were treated by the Prime Minister with a flippant promise to refer them to the subCommittee dealing with the wool clip, the concession asked for has been readily granted to another port.
– We had a lot of trouble before we got the concession. We ought to have obtained it easily.
– Then how much more easily ought Newcastle to have obtained the same privilege.
– I see no reason why it should not have it.
– I shall quote a few figures to show the result of the decision which the Prime Minister has arrived at. The ‘total quantity of wool shipped at Newcastle during the five years, 1912 to 1916, was 105,216 bales. In Inter-State boats 22,473 bales were transhipped to Sydney, but because of the fact that in future these boats will be obliged to go to Sydney to load this wool, they will not call at Newcastle to take away other produce. What that means will be understood when I state that during the five years I have mentioned, 665,086 carcasses of frozen meat, 11,337 tons of bullion, 1,543 tons of tallow, 755 tons of oleine, stearine, and glycerine, and 842 tons of sundries were shipped from Newcastle. During the same period, the bunker coal taken by the vessels lifting this cargo was 70,000 tons, while the inward cargo discharged by these vessels was 20,849 tons. If the decision arrived at is not altered, the producers who have been shipping their produceat Newcastle will be compelled to rail all these products that I have just quoted as having been shipped from Newcastle a further 100 miles, and my information is that this means that at least an additional £1 per ton in extra railage and handling charges will be imposed on the squatters whose wool is taken past Newcastle for appraisement in Sydney, and’ on the producers who have been in the habit of shipping their products from Newcastle. The Prime Minister has said that he did not inquire into the matter, but sent all the letters from the Chamber of Commerce, and other people in my electorate, to the Central Wool Committee, the standard of intelligence of which can be judged by the following letter forwarded by it to the Newcastle’ Chamber of Commerce: -
I have the honour to reply to your favour of the 6th inst., and to thank you for the statistics contained therein.
The question of making Newcastle an appraising centre for wool has had the earnest attention of the Central Wool Committee, who, after a thorough investigation, cannot - for this season’s clip- support the application.
The appraisement of wool under the Imperial Government’s purchase is an operation requiring great skill and knowledge, and to install additional centres at the present time is almost impossible.
Whilst the Committee recognises that your Chamber of Commerce is anxious to make Newcastle an appraising ‘ centre, it does not follow that, even with warehouse accommodation and equipment, the wool-growers would support the proposal;
My Committee, therefore, asks that the consent of wool-growers to recognise Newcastle as an appraising centre be first secured.
This cannot be effected in time for this season’s clip, but the presentmay be a suitable opportunity to begin negotiations for next season.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) J. M. Higgins,
This Committee seeks to impose on the people of Newcastle the necessity and duty of getting into consultation with the whole of the wool-growers who have hitherto made use of the port, as if a wool-grower would not rather ship his wool from a port where it costs him £1 per bale less than to send it on another 100 miles by rail to Sydney. It is a new idea to me to place on a Chamber of Commerce the task of hunting up information that the officers of the Treasurer should secure and take action upon. The Central Wool Committee has either failed in carrying out the functions intrusted to it, or it favours the centralization policy that has been the curse of New South Wales up to the present time. It says, “ It does not follow that, even with warehouse accommodation and equipment, the wool-growers would support the proposition.” Did the people in the electorate of Dampier have to get the consent of the wool-growers before a decision was given to establish appraisement centres at Geraldton and Albany? I do not quarrel ‘with the concession secured by those ports. The step taken was the correct one, but what is right in one case ought to be right in another similar case. The Prime Minister has not a sufficiently practical knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the different ports of Australia. I am sorely tempted to move for the reduction of Supply for the purpose of testing the question whether honorable members agree with the decision to do injustice to a port that has already suffered - and suffered willingly - in connexion with the war, by placing this unnecessary burden upon it to its detriment, and to the advantage of Sydney. The Commonwealth was created for the purpose of breaking down the centralization policy pursued in the States; but now, while the people are asked to yield their best, and do their utmost, for the purpose of carrying the war to a successful issue, the Government come forward with a policy of penalizing a section which has already done so well in response to that request. Before this Bill leaves the Committee stage I want to know what the Government intend to do in the matter of giving justice to the port I represent. I cannot see why they should prefer to compel the people to take their produce another 100 miles by rail to Sydney. An officer could easily visit Newcastle and do the work of appraising there just as well as in Sydney; but, apparently, rather than that an officer should suffer the inconvenience of a three hours’ journey by rail, all the producers are to be put to the expense and trouble of sending their produce, wool, bullion, and everything else that I have mentioned to the terminal port of Sydney, this policy is to be pursuedfor the purpose of further fattening those who are already well fattened. I wish to know what the Government intend todo in the matter, particularly in view of the fact that, notwithstanding the terms of the letter that I have read, they have given another decision in reference to two ports which are, perhaps, separated from the central port to a greater degree than is the case with the ports on the eastern coast of Australia.
– If the honorable member will leave the matter with me I shall see the Central Wool Committee about it. Mr. W ATKINS. -I am quite willing to leave the matter in the handsof the Treasurer, but I wish to assure him that I am in earnest in regard to it. I feel that a great wrong has been done to a port that has already suffered greatly on account of the war.
Mr. FENTON (Maribyrnong) (5.0].I do not know whether during the progress of this Bill the Treasurer intends to further enlighten the Committee in re spect to the proposal to amend the Income Tax Act. I hope that he will make a statement upon it to-day.
– I do not intend to make a statement to-day. I have the matter under consideration. No amendment can be made unless a Billis brought down.
– I thought perhaps that the Treasurer would indicate the lines on which he might be prepared to’ amend the Act.
– At a later stage I shall give fuller information in regard to the matter.
– I am glad that some action is to be taken, because considerable hardship, as well as irritation, is being inflicted on a number of people that honorable members did not intend.
– I said that I was considering the matter. I did not say that I would bring down a Bill. I may or may not do so. I do not wish it to be said, later on, that I made the statement that I would bring in a Bill. If any injustice has been done, the honorable member need not fear what the result will be.
– The more the Treasurer explains, the further he is getting from what I understood was his original statement. At any rate, I hope that he will investigate the matter thoroughly, and take some steps to ameliorate the condition of many people who are paying more than a fair share under the tax as at present imposed.
In my opinion, Parliament should practically sit continuously until it has evolved schemes, in connexion with war pensions, repatriation, industry and employment, that will be satisfactory to the people of this country. Every country is affected by the serious conflict that taking place; but Australia, which is one of the youngest, is the furthest behind in regard to the preparation for the afterwar period. I do not wish to depreciate the qualities of the Prime Minister, but be seems to undertake too much - more, in fact, than it is possible for one man to carry out. If any scheme looms large in the public eye, he is sufficiently selfish to take on himself almost the whole task of setting it going and keeping it in motion. It is too much for one man to undertake. France, Russia, Great Britain and other countries practically within hearing of the cannon on the battlefield, are taking energetic action to prepare for that time when the great armies will be demobilized and industry dislocated by the termination of the war. I believe that they will feel the effects of the war less than we shall in. Australia unless we take the lesson to ourselves and organize for the aftermath by preparing to meet unemployment, and to provide for our returned soldiers. Schemes for this purpose ought to be considered by this Parliament thoroughly. Thisis a young country, and it possesses all the raw materials needed for the success of its industries, and yet we are ill prepared for the time that is coming. Although the present period of war is a most serious one, a still more serious period will follow the ringing down of the curtain upon the awful conflict that is now being waged. Australia, with its illimitable resources and wonderful possibilities, should be prepared for the time when the war is over. The Prime Minister has assured us, individually and collectively, that the Bureau of Science will evolve schemes for the assistance of existing industries and the establishment of new ones, and has told us he is willing that the Commonwealth should spend as much as £500,000 upon the stimulation of industries. But what has been done ? Although twelve months have elapsed since the appointment of this Commission, all that has been obtained from it are a few reports. I am not satisfied with the present position. Unless we do more, we shall be in a sorry plight atthe end of the war. Although France has been invaded, and her capital is even now within sound of the guns on the battle-field, her Government has invited a delegation of American industrialists to organize her industries, not so much for the better conduct of the war as in preparation for the time when the war will be over. Yet here the Liberals cry out, whenever it is proposed to construct a few miles of railway, or to erect a building or two, that we cannot afford to spend the money, because of the need for economy, and the necessity for concentrating our efforts on the prosecution of the war. So far as the prosecution of the war is concerned, this is already a united Parliament, and there is no need for a fusion or coalition. Is there any one measure brought forward to enable Australia to better do her share in this conflict which all parties have not supported by voice and vote? The proposed formation of a National Government is merely to distribute the loaves and fishes of office in a wider circle. I shall not say that the Prime Minister is callous regarding the position of Australian industries, but he appears to be so entangled that he cannot find time to listen to representations regarding the Tariff which an important organization desires to make to him. Perhaps he does not wish to do so. No doubt his new colleagues are not likely to give further protection to Australian industries. I agree with the honorable member for Capricornia that without a Tariff suited to our industries this country, instead of going ahead by leaps and bounds, will retrogress, and the people will suffer. While bending our energies to the prosecution of the war, let us not forget that it will be a sad day for the Commonwealth if our industries are still unorganized when the war is over.
– The honorable member for two years supported a Government which did not touch the Tariff.
– The honorable member has supported Governments that have played fast and loose with the Tariff, and either uttered no word of protest, or couched his protests in such mild language that they had little influence with Ministers.
– The honorable member was not here during the early years of this Parliament, when Tariff matters were being dealt with.
– I read the verbatim reports which were published in Hansard, and, like many others who were not in Parliament, knew what honorable members were doing.
– The honorable member cannot find a parallel to the last two years.
– Things have been worse than they were during the past two yearsl. Had a decent Tariff been framed in the first instance, this country would have a population, not of 5,000,000, but of 7,000,000.
– The honorable member cannot blame me for that.
– No; but when the honorable member twits me with having supported a Government some of whose members were Free Traders, I reply that he has been guilty of the same offence. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is the Minister having control of the Bureau of Science, and I ask him whether anything has been obtained from that institution except a few reports. Has there been any stimulation of Australian industry, or is any new industry to be created? So far as I can see, practically nothing has been done during the past twelve months. It is time to stir the Commission into something like decent activity.
– The honorable member does not try to ascertain what is being done.
– I have tried to ascertain what is being done. The Minister does not give us much information regarding the doings of the Commission. A number of university professors, acting on theoretical lines, are not likely to do much. The Minister for Defence, when acting for the Prime Minister some six months ago, told a deputation he recognised that a body of this kind could not do much to stimulate industry, and that something more was needed, but nothing has yet been done. It is time that we awoke to our responsibilities in this matter. Parliament should be in session continuously, until there has been placed on the statute-book the legislation that is needed.
– What about the Works Committee then?
– The whole Parliament would then be a Works Committee. I agree with much that was said by the honorable member for Capricornia concerning the proposed sending of a delegate to the Imperial Conference. In November, 1910, the Prime Minister, who was then acting for Mr. Fisher, in his absence in South Africa, disclosed to the House the proposals that were to. be brought before the Imperial Conference of 1911. The Conference now in view will be somewhat different from an ordinary Imperial Conference, and may have to discuss certain matters in regard to which the world at’ large cannot be informed; but the Prime Minister should let us know the proposals that are to be discussed, so far as they can be communicated to us; and before any delegate is committed to leave Australia it should be made plain, by a resolution, of this House, or in some other way, that he could not commit Australia to anything without consulting the Parliament and people of this country, otherwise we may be misrepresented, and bound by agreements inimical to the best interests of the country. That must be guarded against.
– I look upon that as impossible.
– It has occurred in the past. The honorable member for Capricornia has told us this afternoon ‘that Sir Edmund Barton, when in London, agreed to certain propositions that have not worked beneficially to Australia. Questions of vital importance will be dealt with at this Conference, and no one man should be permitted to settle them on behalf of Australia. Our representative should be in a position only to say that his consent is subject to the indorsement of the Parliament and people of Australia. We should not allow our representative to act like’ a powerful potentate, saying, “ I speak for Australia, and what I say is law.” There is no reason why Parliament should not be informed regarding nearly every matter that is to be dealt with by the Conference, and it should be understood by our representative that no determination can be come to regarding any one of them except by the consent of the Parliament and people of Australia. On such an understanding there will be little harm in sending away a representative, but we should not -give any man, however able, a blank cheque, telling him to fill it. in at his discretion in London. I hope that the Prime Minister will give to us regarding the proposed Conference a statement similar to that which he made regarding the Conference of 19ll, which is to be found in Hansard. At the time Mr. Deakin, the then Leader of the Opposition, intimated that he was of opinion that the subjects to be brought forward should be discussed, and he expressed the hope that the decisions arrived at would benefit Australia. This Parliament should lose no time in dealing with the question of repatriation, war pensions, unemployment, and other matters which have to do with the war and post-war times. Why should we take no action in regard to the Tariff, which has a most important bearing on industry and employment? We hear much to-day concerning repatriation. The Prime Minister told us this- afternoon that he was very well satisfied with the arrangements made by the Premiers’ Conference to provide land for returned soldiers. But, while there is much talk of settling returned soldiers on the land, and of buying businesses for some of them, in actual practice we find that many of these men are not treated as they ought to be. In Victoria alone to-day there are 300 or 400 returned soldiers out of employment. Is that state of affairs likely to encourage recruiting? If the Government desire to encourage men to volunteer, and if they are anxious to do their best for’ Australia, they should pay careful attention to the needs of the dependants of those at the front, and particularly to the needs of those who come back so maimed that they cannot follow, their ordinary avocations. The neglect of the- Government to do this is retarding the recruiting movement. Iwas glad to hear the honorable member for Franklin give notice of his intention to move for tie appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the administration of the Defence Department. There are many hurtful ^things associated with that Department. Many injustices are inflicted by it, and much that is being done is calculated to hinder recruiting and the true advancement of Australia. I hope we shall have the proposed investigation. I am not throwing the blame on those who have recently taken office, but I repeat that unless we attend to these matters Australia after the war will be in a worse position than any other country. If those countries who are in the , thick of the fight - who are within earshot df the cannon’s roar - can organize their industry in war time, surely we ought to be able to do something in the same direction ! Let us deal with the present mongrel Tariff, even if it takes us months to do so. Why should Parliament close its doors because one or two of its leading members have to attend a Conference in another part of the world ? It is a reflection on the Parliament that it should shut down because the Prime Minister, and perhaps t his future chief lieutenant - the right honorable member for Parramatta - are going to the Imperial Conference. Is there any reason why the 110 members who remain behind should not attend to their duties as they come along, and do something for the advancement of Australia? Without any desire to reflect upon the Imperial Conference and the important subjects to be discussed by it, I do not hesitate to say that we have before us work so important that if we . neglect it we shall deserve and receive the severe censure of the people of Australia. Even if half-a-dozen of our chief men have to attend the Imperial Conference,’ I shall be no party to closing up this Parliament. Let us go on with our work.
– Does the honorable member call it work ?
– The honorable member perhaps knows nothing of work, but some of us do.
– The honorable member talks a lot.
– I have heard the honorable member and the Prime Minister indulging in a lot of talk, with little result, and I am pleading with the Ministry, and indeed with the whole Parliament, to deal with the great problems that confront us. Our watchword should be, “ Organize, organize, and organize,” and unless we do organize, Australia will have cause to rue’ our neglect.
– I had not intended to intervene in this debate, and should not have done so but for some remarks made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. While he was most fervidly and, apparently, with sincerity, urging that the Tariff had been too long delayed, I ventured to remind him of what ought really to have been fresh in his memory: that the .Government for which he had such tender concern during the whole time he. was supporting _it had been returned with an express mandate from the country to deal with the Tariff in the first session. I reminded him, further, that it hardly became him as an aforetime ardent supporter of that Government to urge now that the Tariff should be dealt with with almost indecent haste. In order to cover up his own failure to discharge his responsiblity, the honorable member then resorted to a personal attack upon me, and urged that I had for years supported a Government consisting of a number of Free Traders. I ventured to remind him that he was not in a position to judge; that he was not even a member of Parliament at the time to which he referred; but his answer was that he had other means of obtaining his information. I can only imagine that his statement was made either with a desire to mislead or from crass ignorance and stupidity. If he was such a student of political history as he would have us imagine, he surely ought to have known that the time I supported a Government which comprised a number of Free Traders was when the Reid party joined the Deakin party. That Administration held office for less than a year, and was dismissed because it did not deal fairly and honestly with the Tariff.
– And the honorable member lost his seat
Dr.CARTY SALMON. - That is not so. Here we have another new member endeavouring to manufacture political history.His statement is absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable member lost his seat in 1913.
– The honorable member is again in error. TheReidMcLean Administration did not exist in 1913.
– I meant to say 1910.
Dr.CARTY SALMON. - That also is absolutely incorrect. During the twentythree years that I have been in. political life, I have never been defeated when seeking re-election for a seat that I previously hold.
– Deal gently with him, he is only a political infant.
– But these honorable members either swallow everything they are told or, from design, endeavour to fill the pages of Hansard with wholly erroneous and ridiculous information. To return to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I would inform him that the Reid-McLean Administration was put out of office with my assistance and with my hearty concurrence because it did not deal fairly with the Tariff. Ifthe honorable member will consult Hansard, with which he professes such intimate familiarity, he will find recorded there the action which I took on that occasion. I hope he will make at least some amends by withdrawing the erroneous, misleading, and somewhat injurious statement that he made - a statement which reflects upon my fiscal fidelity, and which might have some ill-effect uponthe influence wielded by the organization with which I am connected.
– I desire to refer to the action of the Commonwealth Wool Board, which has under its control the appraising and shipping of wool from Australia to the Old Country. I have brought under the notice of that Board the position of the wool-growers on the north-west coast of Australia, bub have received very little consideration from it. I regret to have to make such a statement, sinceI always desire to recognise the responsibilities of persons- in authority. I should not have complained if I could have found another way of securing reasonable consideration of my representations.It is very seldom that I bring a grievance before the Committee, but I cannot avoid doing so now, siice I am unable in any other way to obtain satisfaction. Western Australia is a wool -growing State, and a great deal of its last wool clip was shipped to England beforethe Wool Board came into existence. Wool from the north-west is usually shipped to England vid Singapore, by vessels of’ the Holt line, which run from Fremantle to Singapore, where they tranship the wool, and on the return voyage bring goods and stock down the coast to Fremantle. Thisis a regular trading concern, and arrangements are made by the woolgrowers on the north-west coast to ship their wool by that line which- offers the most economical, convenient, and speedy means of getting itto England. The Wool Board, however, has refused to allow the continuance of this practice, which has been going on ever since the north-west produced wool. They insist that the wool shall be brought to Fremantle to be appraised. That would not be so had if there were any ships to bring it down;but, while there are ships going to Singapore, which could take wool for transhipment at Singapore to London, there are no vessels to bring the wool down to Fremantle, sincethose steamers come iback laden with stock and merchandise. The wool-growers, therefore, have their wool lying in sheds or on the jetties awaiting’ shipment. They are promised ships some time in March, but that is not what they want. Their desire is to got their wool to market. They want their bills of lading and their money. When the Wool Board came into existence a great deal of the wool of the north-west coast, and of “Western Australia generally, was en route to England, and it had to be appraised in London. Some of it has hardly yet reached there; and I have argued that what could ho done in respect of wool which was en route - to England when this Board came into existence could be done in regard to wool shipped from the north-west coast to Singapore for tran- . shipment to London. All my endeavours, however, have been without result. The last I heard was that there were about 13,000 bales on the beaches, jetties, and in the sheds on the north-west coast, north of Geraldton, awaiting transit to Fremantle, although, about a month ago, the Charon, capable of carrying 4,000 bales, was not allowed to take- the wool, and had to fill up for Singapore with sandalwood, or any other cargoit could get. Mr. Sampson.- What was the reason?
– Because it was held that the wool could only be appraised at Fremantle.
– Why ?
– Because the Wool Board regarded that as the only appraising centre, forgetting that wool en route has to be appraised in London.
– Has the Board no power?
– The Board can do as it likes ; but, while the local Board in Western Australia, the Pastoralists Association, and the wool-growers are all anxious to have the wool sent away by the only route available, their endeavours, protestations, and requests have been ignored. So far as I can learn, there were several millions of bags of wheat atFremantle awaiting shipment some time ago, and a great deal of it is there now; some, I regret to say, rotting on the ground ; and, even in the face of such circumstances, the Charon was not allowed to take away any wool from the North-west.
– Are there any freight disabilities ?
– There are no disabilities at all, but only what one must describe as pure “ cussedness “ - a holdfast system that the Board will not vary or alter. It was said to me that the present arrangement would be a good thing for Fremantle, because it would make that the centre for appraisement in the future. That might be all very well for dealers, so far as it goes, but it does not appeal to the wool-grower when there are no ships to take his wool to Fremantle. I have written to the Board in strong language, but I have not been able to obtain a satisfactory answer. Only a little while ago I sent six or seven questions, and not one of these has been replied to. Several days ago, I wrote to the Board informing -it that Parliament would meet to-day, and pointing out that if matters could be arranged otherwise I did not wish to raise the. question inthis Chamber; but I have had no more than a mere acknowledgment of my letter. The Wool Board, which has no personal knowledge, ought surely to act on the advice of the local body, supported, as that local body is, by the Pastor a lists Association and the wool-growers ; but, as this is not done, my only course is to lay the matter before the House, and see whether some Ministerial pressure cannot be brought to bear. We are told that it will be all right in the end, and that as good a price will be got through Fremantle as by direct shipments; but the wool -growers wishto get rid of their goods, and deal with the whole business as quickly as possible. The honorable member for Dam pier would, I have no doubt, bear out everything I have said ; and, personally, I have been bombarded with telegrams and other communications from the Pastoralists Association, and others concerned. I have done my best; but, although our requests were refused, only to-day, the Prime Minister was able to inform me that, after all, it will be possible to have an appraisement at Geraldton and. Albany.
– It shows what you can get if you are persistent enough.
– I am not blaming the Treasurer in any way, but it is time that the local bodies had some say in matters of that sort, and that the Wool Board should be influenced by their advice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution reported and adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the service of the year ending 30th June, 1917, a sum not exceeding £1,311,013 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
.- To-day I was asked to give notice of a question which I desired to put in reference to oldage pensions, and I cannot refrain from taking the present opportunity of making further reference to the matter. This is not the first time I have brought this subject under the notice of the Government; and the late Administration, before the referendum was taken, agreed to meet my suggestions in a half-hearted and unsatisfactory manner. I allude to the pension payments to old persons in the benevolent institutions of the Com- monwealth. The then Government agreed topay pensions of 2s. per week to all old persons in those institutions who, prior to entering them, were in receipt of a pension. I am of opinion that Parliament will readily assent to giving effect to this proposal. I am assured that the increased expenditure under this heading would not exceed £8,000.
– That is what we are paying now.
– Assuming that it would cost one and a-half times as much, I am still of opinion that these pensions should be paid to these old persons. Many of the inmates of our charitable institutions have done the spade work in connexion with our industries, and particularly does that remark apply to the pastoral industry. Many of them hail from country districts. The Queensland Government is scarcely treating these people in a satisfactory manner, seeing that recently they disallowed the issue of tea to them. The small pension for which I ask would enable them to purchase little commodities of that description.
An Honorable Member. - What do they give them to drink?
– They are not given tea in the middle of the day. The State authorities are endeavouring to compel the Commonwealth to take over these institutions. They are refusing to admit to them persons who have not been granted pensions or who have not made a great effort to secure them. I refer to this matter because it was the intention of the late Treasurer to give consideration to it, and I am under the impression that in the near future he would have granted my request. But the present Treasurer has not given me any such assurance, despite the fact that I have spoken to him about it on several occasions. If he will agree to it, I am satisfied that the assent of Parliament will be readily obtained. When the pension was “10s. per week, the Commonwealth Government was paying to the States 8s. weekly for every pensioner who entered a benevolent institution, and the difference between the 8s. and the 10s. is being paid to the pensioner. Those old persons who now enter these institutions should, I contend, be placed in an exactly similar position.
– Does the honorable member wish the Commonwealth to pay 8s. per week to the” institution and 2s. to the individual?
– I ask the Treasurer to pay to the whole of the inmates who are entitled to a pension the 2s. per week, irrespective of whether or not they enjoyed the pension prior to entering the institution. I am aware that this concession will necessitate an amendment of the Act; but it will be merely a slight amendment, and I hope that before Parliament adjourns for any considerable period we shall have something practicable from the Treasurer in connexion with these pensions. Another matter to which I desire to direct his attion is the desirableness of paying the full pension to the blind people of the Commonwealth. At the present time’, many of them are receiving a pension, but on account of the Queensland Government having established a standard wage in the blind institutions of that State, probably some of those who were previously in receipt of the pension will have it taken away from them. The Queensland Government has fixed a standard wage of 30s. per week for blind workers. That is all that they are able to earn. Many of them are married men, and are so incapable of finding their way about that they have to employ an attendant. I mention this matter for the purpose of showing what a meagre opportunity thes people have of earning a decent living. As the Government are now paying a pension to half the blind people of the Commonwealth, the additional expenditure involved in paying a pension to all the blind folks would not be very heavy.
-it is estimated that there are over 3,500 blind people in the Commonwealth. The total number receiving pensions is only 500.
– Many blind people are living in destitute circumstances because of their inability to earn a livelihood. The honorable members’ for Yarra and Fawkner will confirm my statement that a deputation was being arranged to wait upon the ex-treasurer to bring under his notice the importance of immediately providing a pension for the blind. I know that the present Treasurer does not think the blind people are entitled to pensions. Institutions are established throughout the Commonwealth into which they may go and learn basket and mat making, but as the majority of the inmates of such institutions are paid by piecework, they unfortunately do not earn very much money. The justice of this pensionappeals to many people throughout the Commonwealth, and I am sure that Parliament would be. applauded if it established a pension. No greater infliction can, befall a man than the loss of his sight. Many deaf and dumb people are able to earn the full rate of wages, whereas blind people are not able to earn more than half wages. The introduction of the pension might result in removing many of the blind beggars from our city streets. If the present Government are not sufficiently sympathetic in regard ‘to this proposal, the time is not far distant when another Government will come into office which will realize the justice of these people’s claims. What I am advocating is that the blind people shall receive , the same pension as is paid at the present time to the aged and invalid people of the Commonwealth. If we can get that concession for them we will be satisfied; at any rate for a short period. I hope the Treasurer will decide to grant the pension in the near future. The Defence Department has been severely criticised by many honorable members, but having regard to the heavy administrative machinery connected with that Department, probably some excuse can be offered for some of the maladministration. No excuse can be offered, however, for the attitude of the Department in regard to rifle clubs. Two years ago the Minister for Defence became very active in the organization of rifle clubs, and in that work he sought the assistance of honorable members. In Queensland, we were very successful, and many new rifle clubswere formed. Sites for ranges were, selected, and departmental engineers were sent to make reports and estimates. There the matter has ended. In and around Brisbane many rifle clubs have been established, and people have enrolled in order to learn how to shoot. If in no other direction, the rifle clubs have rendered a great service to the community by providing the opportunity for many people to become acquainted with some form of military drill. Unfortunately, the Defence Department has rejected every request for the construction of new ranges, and there is a danger of many rifle clubs being disbanded unless they are properly equipped. The Defence Department replies that it has not the money at its disposal for this work. In many other directions, however, we see evidence of lavish expenditure, and having regard to the great value that rifle ranges will prove to the community, and the slight expenditure involved in their construction, I ask the Defence authorities to take action in this matter without further delay.
– The Government asked you ‘and your party to join them in remedying these things, but you replied, “No; we shall not.
– We shall give our assistance to the right honorable member for Parramatta , when he crosses to the Ministerial benches, and I feel confident that when he is securely fastened in office he will be more generous than the present Government have been to the rifle clubs. Although they have repeatedly promised to make the improvement asked for, nothing has been done. I desire to refer now to the Postmaster-General’s Department, and the boast he has made throughout the newspapers of the Commonwealth that during the first five months of the financial year he has earned for the Commonwealth £270, 000 more than was earned under the regime of any previous Postmaster-General. I believe the Minister has saved this money by sweating every branch of the Department under his control. He has not allowed a single branch to escape sweating of the very worst description. I wish to bring before the Committee the Minister’s neglect to see that the Arbitration Court’s awards are laid on the table of the House when they are obtained. When we ask him questions about it, he tells us that’ he has nothing to do with the laying of the awards on the table; but if he had any sympathy in his administration of the Department, or any wish to meet the desires of the different unions in his Department, he would see that immediately the awards were obtained they were laid before Parliament. The object of the delay is to deprive the workmen of the different unions in his Department of a certain amount of money during the period for which they are entitled to it. Thathas been the custom of the PostmasterGeneral ever since he has occupied that position. I am confident that not one of the unions has had the same complaint to make against any other PostmasterGeneral since the ArbitrationCourt came into existence. No other Postmaster-General has earned the disfavour of his departmental officers to the same extent as this Minister has up to thepresent time.
– The honorable member should make the reference plural. Mr. Frazer and Mr. Spence were the same.
– The PostmasterGeneral is occupying the position temporarily. He intimates, indirectly through the columns of the press, that it is necessary to appoint a board of control for the Postal Department, and points out what an enormous sum he would save if he was allowed to remain for five years in charge of affairs there.
– He probably means the amount that he would save himself.
– Probably that is what he meant.I am glad the PostmasterGeneral has entered the chamber. I thought it necessary to have him here, because, judging by what we see in the morning press, in all probability another Minister will occupy his position in the very near future, and I would like a parting word with him.
– I am afraid your position will be occupied before long..
– I am not nearly so much afraid of my position as the Minister is of his. The only way by which the present Minister can be allowed to remain in charge of the Department for another five years is to appoint the board of management which he has so long advocated, but which I am confident the House will never agree to. It is an open secret that the Minister is very anxious to occupy the position of chairman of that board. If we are to have the same class of administration by the board as he has given us up to the present, I am confident that honorable members will never agree to the appointment of any such body. Quite recently, the trench-workers in Brisbane agreed to strike because they were not being paid the standard rate of wage. The Postal Department, or the Public Service Commissioner’s office, made inquiries as to the scale of wages being paid to the navvies of the Water and Sewerage Board, but they made those inquiries during the coal strike, when not one of the navvies was working. Not being able to learn from the Board at that time the ruling rate of wage it was paying, the PostalDepartment decided not to pay more than the 9s. 5d. per day which they had been paying up to that time, although, as a matter of fact, the Water and Sewerage Board’s employees were receiving 10s. a day. The trench- workers asked for that ruling rate of wage, to which they were justly entitled, in view of the conditions they had to work under in Brisbane during the sweltering summer months. They refused to continue the work ; but I understand that, by some means, the Department have arranged to get men from the Linemen’s Union to carry out the duties. I mention this matter to show the seething discontent that exists in the Department, and what a hard task the Minister will have, if he continues to administer the Department in the future in the way he has done up to now. Correspondence appears almost daily in the press showing the sweating existing in the telephone branch, and the manner in which the girls are speeded up. We are told the number of lines they have to attend to, and the nerve-racking work to which the Department is subjecting them, all caused by instructions issued by the Postmaster-General for the purpose of working his Department ; at a cheaper rate/ The result is to break down the health of the girls. Honorable members should know how these savings are being made. They are not resulting in the efficient management which the Department should be giving to the public.
.- I shall not detain the Committee at the great length that the subject warrants, but I must make some observations regarding the Prime Minister’s reply to my question whether he had received a copy of the German Note as to peace terms, and of the Allies’ reply thereto. He said he had not received a copy of either of those documents.
– He meant an official copy.
– I did not hear him say “ official.” If he has not received an official copy, are we to presume that he has received an unofficial copy?
– Did he not see it in the press ?
– But are we to rely on the press for the information?
– Has the Prime Minister hadtime to get it officiallv except by cablegram ?
– We have certainly had time to receive an official communication. What I wish to draw attention to is the very small part that we play in the eyes of the Imperial Government or the authorities at Home. Although our men at the front are showing extraordinarybravery, and are doing their part, and although Australia is doing its part in supporting those men, we are not deemed by the Imperial Government, or the officers carrying out the instructions of the Imperial Government, to be of sufficient importance to be supplied with a copy of the terms of the German note and the Allies’ reply thereto.
– The honorable member has no warrant for making that statement ?
– I have the Prime Minister’s statement to-day.
– A oopy may be on the way at the present moment. The honorable member knows well that it could not have been sent here in the time that has
– The British Parliament was opened yesterday, and the following is an extract from the King’s Speech, as cabled to the MelbourneHerald: -
Certain overtures of which you are aware have been made by the enemy with a view to opening peace negotiations. Their tenor, however, indicated no possible basis of peace.’
My people throughout the Empire and my faithful and heroic Allies remain steadfastly and unanimously resolved to secure our just demands for reparation and restitution in respect to the past, and guarantees for the future which we regard as essential to the progress of civilisation.
In response to the invitation of the President of the United States we outlined as far as possible our present general objects necessarily implied by these aims.
Why are we not advised officially by cable of the terms of the German note and the Allies’ reply thereto? We should know what is going on, but we are of so little importance in the eyes of the officials in the Old Country that they do not take the trouble to send cables to us. I regard this matter as of very great importance. Some years ago I moved in this Chamber that the Defence Estimates be reduced by £500,000. The right honorable member for Parramatta, who was Prime Minister at the time, accepted the amendment, and almost without opposition the Committee expressed the opinion that the Defence Estimates should be reduced by that amount. Yet all the time Mr. Fisher and Senator Pearce were in possession of information which, had it been known to honorable members, would have prevented the amendment being moved or agreed to. They were taken into the confidence of the British Ministry, informed of certain matters, and, as they were instructed to keep them secret, they told no one of them. Mr. Fisher certainly rose in this House and said that it was necessary to spend every penny we could in the way of defence, but he did not advance any reasons why we should do so.
– He very frequently gave very broad hints.
– I see no reason why information concerning the defence of any portion of the Empire should be withheld from members of this Parliament.
– When the honorable member was in Great Britain he knew that Mr. Fisher and Senator Pearce were given very serious information.
– I was aware that they had been taken into the confidence of the British Government, and intrusted with certain secrets, but I did not, nor did others, know what those secrets were.
– Does the honorable member consider that they should have passed on those secrets ?
– I think that they should have been permitted to convey the information to members of this Parliament.
– They might just as well have told the world.
– Quite recently, when certain information was given to honorable members, it was carried to an organization outside.
– There is too much secrecy in conducting the Governments of all countries.
– Too much secret diplomacy.
– Yes, too much secret diplomacy. If wars are to cease, there must be an end of this secret diplomacy.
– Why should not the press be present at Caucus meetings?
– We did not have the press at Caucus meetings because of the contentious disposition of the honorable member for Barrier. He was not always so peaceful as he appears to be generally speaking, he was aggressive, and made remarks which induced other men to be aggressive. On behalf of my constituents, I make the demand that the terms of the German note and the Allies’ reply theretobe made available. I see no reason why the people of this country should not be acquainted with the exact terms of the note, so that they may be able to judge to what extent the suggestions made by
Germany are preposterous. My opinion is that the officials attached to the Government offices in Great Britain have very little regard for any of the Dominion Parliaments. At present, there are three mints in Australia for minting coins, situated in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, and controlled by State Governments. They are run at considerable expense. I believe that there is a loss each year on their administration to the extent of several thousands of pounds. When I was Treasurer I asked, as a matter of courtesy, and with the consent of the Government, that the Commonwealth might be allowed to take them over. Honorable members seemed to agree that the Commonwealth ought to own and control the mints, and mint our Australian sovereigns. It would not be the first time. Australian sovereigns were minted some years ago. It is part of my aspirations for Australia that we shall do everything we can in this country to build up the nation, and though the minting of our own sovereigns and our own silver coins may appear trivial to some people, still this work would have a sentimental and farreaching effect on the general public. But what was the reply of the Treasury officials in the Old Country? Their view was that the minting of Australian sovereigns involved “tremendous constitutional and administrative changes, or words to that effect, and they suggested that this matter should be held over until after the war. We ought to have been permitted to take over the mints immediately we asked for that permission, and there should be no objection whatever. But no! Those officials to whom I have referred evidently have a very poor opinion of Dominion Governments and Parliaments, and so we cannot get control of our mints because they object. I mention this by the way. In all probability, His Majesty the King and his Government would be quite willing that we should get a copy of the German Note and a copy of the Allies’ reply thereto, but probably the officials have such a poor opinion of Dominion parliamentary representatives that they would not take the trouble to send us copies. While I am on this question, let me refer again to the proposal to send a delegate to the Imperial Conference. It is possible that such delegate or delegates will be away from Australia for a long time, unless the war ends quickly. If, on the other hand, the war is about to end, they will be called upon to consider the question of , peace terms, and I would like to hear their views on this subject. I would like to know what, in their opinion, the terms should be. Will they include, . for example, a demand that the Kaiser shall be elected by adult suffrage? To some people this may appear to be a very extreme proposal, but, in my opinion, if the Allies made such a demand, or if they demanded that the Kaiser should be deposed altogether, it would make a very great difference in the consideration of the question.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– The importance of my remarks prompts me to ask for a quorum. [Quorum formed.] I was commencing to think that this assembly, to use the words of the honorable member for Parkes,had ceased to be a deliberative assembly. The honorable gentleman on one occasion used that term, and suggested that there were but ‘few members, among whom he, no doubt, included himself, who were prepared to discuss public questions in a logical manner. The delegates whom we send to the Old Country, who may be called upon to take part in the Peace Conference, should have some ideas on the subjects with which they may have to deal, and I wish to know whether those ideas run along the same lines as my own. Among other things, would they propose, as one of the terms of. peace, the retention or deposition of the Kaiser according to a vote of the people possessing adult suffrage? In my opinion, if the crowned heads of Europe had to submit themselves to election by adult suffrage, there would be little talk of war. The honorable member for Parramatta is very desirous that this war should be the last.
– Hear, hear!
– I share that desire. If we can put an end to the settlement of international disputes by war, I hope that it will be done. But there are certain fundamental reforms which must be arranged for at the Peace Conference without which it would be impossible to put an end to warfare. The peoples of the world are becoming educated. I am glad to say that in British communities education is compulsory; it is indeed compulsory in Japan. Thus the people are getting ahead of their Governments, which, in many countries, do not realize their ability to decide public questions. The people do not wish to be governed as they have been governed in the past. I have not seen any mention ofproposals of the kind to which I have referred. But are we not going to ask, as part of the international agreement which will close the war, that an attempt shall be made in all the countries concerned to grant the suffrage to those people who do not now possess it, and to give the benefits of free and compulsory education to those who are without it? I read the other day that, in Japan, only 5 per cent. of the people have a voice in the election . of parliamentary representatives. Even in the United Kingdom there is not adult suffrage. In my opinion, the people of the Old Country should have adult suffrage ; the women there should enjoy the same rights and privileges that our women enjoy. If we are to be permanently allied with Russia, in friendship and in trade, are we not going to ask that the benefits of education shall be extended to the Russian people, of whom I have read that 90 per cent, cannot read ? You may have war at any time in a country governed by a bureaucracy where a large percentage of the people cannot read. It is the educated peoples of the future who will put an end to warfare.
– The honorable member’s remarks do not apply to Germany. There the people are highly educated.
-Yes ; but their military system and their law-making institutions prevent the people from giving free expression to their views.
– The lesson of this war is the curse of intellectualism.
– The mass of the population of any country does not desire war, because it is the masses that suffer most when war comes. No one can challenge the courage of the sons of the aristocracy of a country when war comes. They are courageous because it is bad form among aristocrats to lack courage. Yet, notwithstanding the fact that the aristocracy makes a fair contribution of its sons, and loses a large number when a war breaks out, it is the people at large who suffer most, and have to bear the cost of war. When a people becomes educated, it realizes that warfare does not benefit it. We should see that the delegates whom we send to the Peace Conference possess advanced views, if we desire that this war shall be the last. If, forexample, we enter into any arrangement with our Allies and any other countries after the war, we ought to have some understanding with regard to trade. Honorable members have heard me speak of the virtues of Protection - of a Customs Tariff designed to protect our manufacturers against cheap-labour manufacturers abroad. But I am prepared to take a broad view, and say that if we can so arrange with any country we should have a preferential Tariff in favour of the products of that country which are manufactured by fair employers at a standard rate of wages. We have at the present time a preferential Tariff for the United Kingdom. That Tariff was designed for the purpose of assisting manufacturers and encouraging trade between ourselves and the United Kingdom. But what is the effect of that 10 per cent. preference?
– In many cases it is only 5 per cent.
– In some cases the preference is 5 per cent., but there is a very large number of items which come in under the 10 per cent. rate, as the. honorable member will recollect. We are giving a 10 per cent. preference to anybody whose goods are mainly manufactured in the Old Country. What happens under that Tariff? Those men who, before the war, were forming an organization with £50,000,000 to crush trade unionism can get their goods into this country at the same rate of preference as a fair emplover, who wishes to do his duty by himself as a man, and by his employees, both male and female, I am satisfied that the people of the future will demand, if there is to be any preference at all anywhere, that the goods coming into the country shall bear a certificate that they were manufactured at a standard trade-union rate, and that if any goods do not bear that certificate, they shall pay the full rate. Are the delegates to the Imperial Conference going to advocate views of this kind ? Because if they are, they will not truly represent Australia. And I submit to you, sir, with all respect, that the views I am enunciating this evening are the views held by a very large majority of the people of this continent, and should find expression at the Conference when the peace terms are being discussed. As I was saying, if we are to have an enduring peace, the claims of the masses of the people of the world will have to be represented, or expressed, 01 embodied in any agreement which is arrived at between the Allies and those countries which shall be united “together, I hope, to put an end to war, .as far as they can. I would like the representative who goes to the Old Country from the Australian labour party, if ever he goes, to put this view - that we shall never be able to .put an end to war until the civilized nations join together to police the earth and the seas, and to punish or suppress any Power that threatens or attempts to disturb the peace of the world. As honorable members will know from their reading, there was a time when the peace of the community was left to’ private individuals to look after; but as civilization progressed, the State decided to employ police, regularly paid, to put an end to physical combats. Why should that not be extended throughout the earth? Why should not America, Britain, France, and other enlightened countries join together to say, “We shall keep up an army and a navy to police the world, and any nation that desires to go to war shall furnish the reasons, and we shall demand of them, just as we demand of private individuals, if they want to fight that they shall submit their case to a Court of Arbitration, and we are satisfied that the Judges who will preside over the Court will give them fair play.” It has to come to that some day,’ and the sooner it comes, in my opinion, the sooner war will end. I grieve to think that the representatives going from Australia to the Conference will have very little weight there, and that they will not put forward any of the ideas which I venture to say are held by a large majority of the people in Australia to-day. Will those representatives be considered of any importance whatever, in view of the fact that this country went into the war without having been consulted, and is apparently not to be consulted as to the end of the war? I furnish as proof of that statement the fact that the reply to the German proposals of peace was made without any consultation with this country.
.- I listened with some interest to the . remarks which fell from the honorable member for Capricornia. It comes with very bad grace from one who occupied for so long the position of Treasurer in the late Government to refer as he did to the question of Protection. He said that he is a Protectionist, but I have failed to find that in this House he has ever urged the Protection which his party was returned to power on the last occasion, if not on two occasions, to carry into effect. I defy any honorable member to say that the Labour party would have got into the position which they occupied if it had not been for a distinct pledge that they would adopt a live Protectionist policy. What have we seen of their live Protectionist policy? I know of many and many an. instance where anomalies have not been straightened out. I know that the people in my own electorate, which has a large manufacturing community, extracted a promise from the Labour party that if they were returned to power they .would insist upon the adoption of a strong Protectionist policy, but not one single attempt has been made to redeem that promise. I am convinced that those electors who placed their faith in the -Labour party will, to’ a large extent, withdraw their support when the country is appealed to. The people are not so ignorant in these days that they will permit themselves to be hoodwinked in this way. If the Labour party got the votes of the people given to them for a certain object, and they fail to try to attain that object, I do not think that they will be trusted again.. There are some very vital questions which will have to be discussed when we send one or more members to the Conference in Great Britain - questions which are going to be of vital importance to the future of this great Commonwealth. If we are to hold intact the Commonwealth and its lands for a White Australia we shall have to do something for the industries in our tropical areas. The Labour Governments - Federal and Queensland State - have, through their administration, killed the progress of, if not the sugar industry itself, in Queensland, and are leaving millions of acres of most fertile agricultural land lying idle in the tropics simply because in the first instance our honorable friends will not assist in coming to some arrangement by which tropical products can be grown in competition with Java and other places, where such products are grown by almost solely black labour. We shall not be allowed to hold this continent as a White Australia unless we settle people on the rich lands that we possess in the north. People can tinker with mere trivial things, and discuss questions which are not of vital importance, but when it comes to the point of trying to assist an industry like the sugar industry of Queensland, it is to be allowed to sink, and with it the prospect of holding the northern country free from coloured labour. No attempt has been made by the late Government to protect the industry. I know of hundreds of men in the sugar industry, some of whom have devoted thirty-seven years of their lives to it, who to-day are practically ruined. But not a hand is held out to save them. If we are to retain this part of the country as a White Australia, those who represent the Commonwealth at the Imperial Conference must endeavour to arrive at an arrangement under which it would be possible to find a market for Australian sugar in other parts of the Empire, and, instead of Great Britain being, as in the past, a dumping ground for the surplus sugar produced by Germany and Austria, she should obtain her supplies from within the Empire. This question should be taken up most energetically by our representatives at the Imperial Conference. A definite understanding should be arrived at as between the Imperial and Commonwealth Governments that what we produce in the tropical and semi-tropical parts of Australia shall find a sale within the Empire, and. shall be granted a substantial preference over the produce of foreign countries. An end should be put to the policy under which Great Britain has been the dumping ground for the surplus products of our enemies.
– But the honorable member does not think that sort of thing is going to occur after the war ?
– What occurred before the war may happen again when the war is over unless an agreement such as I have suggested is made. Another point which our representatives at the Imperial Conference should emphasize is that no enemy nation shall be allowed to occupy islands adjacent to the Australian coast taken by us during the war, and that when we have beaten the enemy he shall be called upon to pay such an indemnity as will compensate Australia for what she has suffered in consequence of Germany’s violation of Belgium. But for Germany’s action in . that regard we should never have been drawn into this bloody war, and thousands of our men who have lost their lives in fighting for the Empire - men who have cheerfully laid down their lives rather than that we should be accused of disloyalty - would have been with us today. In these circumstances, therefore, the enemy should be called upon to pay us such an indemnity as will assist us in compensating, as far as we can, the dependants of those brave soldiers of Australia who have lost their lives at the front. The loss should not fall upon us. I do not suggest that we should not subscribe, to the last penny, if necessary, to the relief of the dependants of those men. My point is that we should see that the enemy is compelled to compensate us for the losses we have sustained. At the earliest opportunity provision should also be made for a large influx of population. That larger population is impossible, however, unless we have a more equitable Tariff. I hope the day is not far distant when Australia will have granted by this Parliament such a meed of Protection as will enable people to come here from all parts of the British Empire to engage in industry, and to assist in converting our raw material into manufactured products, which we can export, instead of the raw material itself being sent abroad to be made up. I have only to say in conclusion that I trust we shall impressupon our representatives at the Imperial Conference the necessity of making such an arrangement as will safeguard the industries of Australia, and more particularly those in the tropical parts of the Commonwealth.
.- I should not have contributed to this debate but for the answer which I received to a question which I put this afternoon. Two honorable members who have preceded me have referred at length to our representation at the Imperial Conference. I, for one, am not too keen about our being represented there at all. I personally believe that Australia can do its own work at home, and do it effectively, in the interests of the Commonwealth.From my point of view, the less we are involved in Imperial complications the better.
– Is the honorable member satisfied with what our representatives are being called upon to discuss ?
– If the honorable member will tell me what they are to discuss, I shall express an opinion on the subject. It is because we do not know what questions are to be discussed that I am rather anxious as to the representation of Australia at the Conference. One of the questions which ought to be discussed first of all is the right of the belligerents who are fighting for the Empire to manage the countries in which they live. There should be adult suffrage in all countries, so that the people, and not the autocrats, may control the world. If the people of other nations had had the same measure of political freedom that we in Australia enjoy, there would have been no war. Working people do not want war; they have always opposed it. The ideal of those who created our party was not the destruction of human life, but that the whole world should be made a better place to live in. Our ideals have been based on the good old prayer which so many say, but which so few understand - “ Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth.” But after uttering that prayer men will go to the Imperial Conference and cackle, as they have cackled before, as to the necessity of secret diplomacy ruling the lives of the people. I am speaking on behalf of the workers who had no say in the shedding of blood which is going on to-day at the call of the autocracy of Europe. I did not intend to speak in this way, as I have a recruiting meeting to address to-night, but when I hear people prattling about what they are going to do at the Imperial Conference, I want to know what they propose to say on behalf of the rank and file of the community. An honorable member has talked about the development of Australian industries to give employment to thepeople, but he forgets that it was the Labour party who wrung the neck of the black labour business in his State. We know who it is that is crippling Australia to-day, and we know darned well that it is the autocracy of Australia that we must strangle before we can secure justice for the working men of Australia.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong. It was not the Labour party but the Democratic party who settled the black labour question in Queensland.
– The Labour party might not have settled the question in the sense that it was they who passed the legislation that brought the settlement about, but honorable members should not forget that the Labour party always carried a good punch in both hands, and if the Liberals did not do what they desired, that was the end of them as a dominant party. Of late years Liberal parties in Australia have held office only so long as they have been prepared to do what has been best in the interests of the general community. Though the flotsam and jetsam that are in power in the Commonwealth to-day may for a little while be able to work their sweet will, when the good sense of the electors returns, Australia will soon get rid of them, and the Labour party of to-day will stand just where it stood before the dictatorship of Australia came into being. The object of true Australians is to develop Australia and not talk about it, and to bring people to Australia, and not talk about it at Imperial Conferences. It is to keep Australia white, and make it safe. We do not wish to bring people here in shiploads to send them on to the streets to sell newspapers. Our purpose is to make the wages, hours, and conditions of life in Australia such that this will be a country to which people will gladly come, and to which there will be no need to drag them. I know that we have a hard row to hoe, and I know the people against whom we have to contend ; but time and education are always on the side of the Labour party. When it comes to talking war, do not let anybody say that the members of the Labour party talk war. No one should say that we ever desired to destroy any one. It is said that we want to level down. No fear; no one ever heard the Labour party contending for lower wages and longer hours of employment. No one ever heard a Labour member say anything which would prevent kiddies being properly educated. The idea of the Labourparty is that there are in their ranks brains fit for the universities, and they want a university education to be open to their children. No one ever heard a working man say that his wife should not have a satin dress if he could get it for her. She would look just as well in it as would the wife of a member of any other party. One of the former leaders of the Labour party, who made a good name in Australia, and died full of honours, used to say that the party would have its ups and dpwns. We are at a time of change now, and whether the result is to be an up or a down the events Of the next few months will prove. I think that the good sense of Australians will give the few who are now taking advantage of circumstances a bad bump. I am reminded of the advertisement for Buchanan’s whisky, and I say that there will be a goodbig drop left for them, and they will realize it when they get to the bottom. The honorable member for Hindmarsh laughs, and I am reminded by the fact that Mr. Paris Nesbitt, one of the leading lawyers of South Australia, when irritated by a like circumstance in Court on one occasion, said that it was the loud . guffaw that proclaimed the vacant mind. Knowing the honorable member for Hindmarsh as well as I do, I should not like to say that of him, although it might be applicable. Today, I asked the Prime Minister a question with respect to the prosecution in South Australia of two persons who belonged to the Anti-conscription League, and the right honorable gentleman said he had no knowledge of the matter. If my memory serves me correctly, when we permitted the War Precautions Act to pass, and some honorable members were fearful of the powers vested in the Government, we secured the assurance of the Prime Minister that no action of a tyrannous character could take place under that legislation without his knowledge of it as Attorney-General. Yet today the right honorable gentleman said that he did not recognise the name of Mclntyre, that Mr. E. H. Coombe, the member for Barossa in the South Australian Parliament, was unknown to him, that he had no knowledge of the prosecutions I refer to, and that they did not exist .
– He never said that they did not exist.
– What I mean is that they did not exist so far as he had any knowledge of them.
– He said he was not aware of the facts .
– Honorable members may, if they please, give the right honorable member’s own words, but the point after all is that he had no knowledge of the prosecutions, although he was AttorneyGeneral, and he could not recollect the name of Mclntyre coming up.
– Perhaps the cases were not submitted to him.
– Perhaps he had more on his hands than he could handle and some one else was running that part of the show. That would not be a unique experience for the present Government. I find that the Adelaide Register of last Monday published the following paragraph -
Profound interest was caused in Adelaide by the announcement on Saturday that Messrs. Coombe, M.P., and F. Mclntyre, who were two prominent leaders in the anti-conscription campaign during October, had receivedsummonses under the War Precautions Act. When seen at his residence on Saturday morning in regard to the matter, Mr. Coombe said he preferred not to make a. statement, and Mr. Mclntyre, who is assistant secretary of the South Australian branch of the Federated Carters’ and Drivers’ Union, was also uncommunicative. He said the incident arose in connexion with a meeting at Tanunda on 26th October, and that the case was set down for hearing in that town on 12th February. The words contained in the information issued to him, he admitted, were : “ ‘ The Germans were being treated very unfairly, and they were as loyal as anybody else, and I would be pleased to shake them by the hand,’ or words to that effect.” ‘ “ The proclamation calling upon the men to enroll was invalid. We have had- that opinion from three of the leading lawyers of Melbourne, or words to that effect.”
There was a drag-net phrase which enabled the prosecution to say that if he did not say what was attributed to him he did say something to that effect. The Prime Minister says that he has no knowledge of this matter, but at least two of his Ministers must know of it, because there is very special reason at, the present time why they should very carefully peruse the Adelaide newspapers. Who is using the Act in this manner? Here we have two prominent men in South Australia, one a politician and another belonging to the union, who have been summoned under a special Act; and if it is not the Prime Minister who is doing this, it is a scheme on the part of those who are fighting for their political lives in South Australia, because they have been excommunicated - honorable members will see that I can use the word. I am endeavouring to show that even so far as the Federal arena is concerned there is more in this than meets the eye - that the Federal party is in collusion with the State party to do all that is possible to wreck the little band who fought conscription so successfully in our State. There are dismissals on the East-West railway; and, though I have not yet heard the honorable member for Wakefield say anything in this regard, I hope he will yet tell us what he thinks, because he knows Jack Elliott better than I do. No one better than the Minister for Works knows the qualities of Elliott.
– I am pressing the matter in order to give Elliott an opportunity.
– But while the honorable member is doing that; somebody is pressing the matter in South Australia, with the result that Elliott has been dismissed; this only shows that the people there have a bigger “ pull “ than has the honorable member.
-I have, not finished with the matter yet.
– Elliott, who has very nearly completed the line, has been dismissed, although, so far as my inquiries go, he is a thoroughly competent man, and originally came from Queensland. The only reason given for his dismissal is that he may cause disaffection. Elliott figures on the’ plebiscite for the Senate in South Australia.
– That has nothing to do with the dismissal, and the honorable member knows it !
– Perhaps the fact that Harry Jackson has “sacked” Mr. Kavanagh has nothing to do with the case either ?
– On behalf of Harry Jackson. I say that he knows nothing about Kavanagh being dismissed.
– It is in his Department, and he ought to know.
– I believe he knows nothing about it, and has absolutely nothing to do with Elliott.
– I did not say that Jackson knew anything about Elliott. There is retrenchment in South Australia, and Kavanagh, who is an anti-conscriptionist, and has five, children, is dismissed, although he is a competent boilermaker. Three months, elapse before these men are prosecuted. Why was there not a prosecution at the time of the alleged offence, so as to give these men an opportunity to defend themselves? I do not see what good can be done to South Australia by the adoption of this attitude towards men who were told that criticism would be as free as air. Mclntyre may have been speaking of Germans who were interned; and if the proclamation was wrong, why were not the lawyers, who advised on the subject, proceeded against? All the circumstances show the weakness of the position taken up by the Federal authorities; and yet we are told that by the action of these men recruiting is prejudiced. How much has the Prime Minister done in the recruiting campaign?
– How much have you done ?
– I looked for that interjection, and I shall tell the honorable gentleman.
– You had three months’ leave, and you have been at three meetings.
– The honorable member need not worry. When I got notice from Mr. Mackinnon that I was ex officio chairman of the committee in my electorate, I accepted the position, and straightway made application for leave from the 27th December. I got leave only to the first of the month, and did not get any further word until the 5th January as to whether I had leave or not. I had the committee called together at the earliest opportunity, but found that nothing could be done until 1st February, or, as it turned out, until the 6th, to enable the G.overnor to be present. The next week the committee met in the different sections, and to-night I am going to a meeting at North Melbourne, and have made all my arrangements accordingly. What has the Treasurer or any member of the Government done ? What are they going to do? They are going to make a fiasco of the campaign, and then blame honorable members on this side. I thought that when the scheme was set forth it would mean that Liberals and Labour men would work together with great zest - that the same zest would be shown that we saw when an effort was made to foist conscription on the people.
– You never took part at all on the last occasion.
– I admit I did not go out., and I said so in the House - I said I had not done anything to assist recruiting. If any fighting had to be done, as I said to the honorable member for Grampians, I would do my own fighting. I did not want it to be said that I spoke from an easy chair, or from the safe position of a member of Parliament, so I went into the uniform in which I now appear. I went to Adelaide from Melbourne in the latter end of September, and enlisted, but, as I told the officers, I merely gave my name in then, and, in order to show that I did not desire to dodge conscription, I would return on the 30th October. That meant five weeks between the giving of my name and the attesting. Yetthe people were told that I had not enlisted.
– Is this South Australia’s “ washing day “ ?
– The. honorable member’s washing day is to come, and if he can emerge from it with as clean clothes as I can, he will not go into oblivion.
– Does the honorable member say that I made statements of the character to which he has referred ?
– I was informed that the honorable member had done so.
– If I told the Committee what I did say, on the strength of an officer, it would not make the honorable member’s position a very comfortable one.
– If it has any reference to me, I care not what the honorable member may say. I do not fear it.
– I never once said it.
– I am glad to have the honorable member’s repudiation, and I accept it.
– The honorable member has a great talent for abusing somebody.
– I am merely stating facts. Did the Minister of Trade and Customs say that I had not enlisted when he was at Crystal Brook?
– I treated the honorable member with the contempt he deserves. I never mentioned his name.
– Then the newspapers tell lies.
– Give us some more washing.
– The honorable member has quite enough to do in looking after his own affairs. I can do my own washin. But I must hurry my remarks to a close, as I have to go out and do a little recruiting instead of merely talking about it. I have placed on record my opinion with regard to the Imperial Conference, and I have brought under the notice of the Prime Minister the fact that the War Precautions Act is being used, if not by himself, by some one else, for political purposes.
.- I desire to indorse the remarks of the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Newcastle, and I hope that the Treasurer will look into the statements which they have made, because they are of considerable importance. I would point out that for some years past wool has been shipped at Newcastle. It is the natural port for the north-west of’ New South Wales. It has, however, been decided that wool shall no longer be shipped from this port, but must be shipped from Sydney. Centralization has been the curse of the States, and to me it is astonishing that when we are in a state of war, and when it is being urged that we should do our utmost to economize, the Wool Board is actually compelling persons to drag wool 105 miles past its natural ‘port to Sydney at the cost of £1 per bale to the grower. That is not a fair position in which to put either the grower or the public, and it behoves the Government, to take into consideration the action of the Board in this connexion. In addition to the question of haulage, I would remind honorable members that the new departure must have a detrimental effect upon the coal trade. When the Daylight Saving Bill was before the House, we were assured that it was a necessary war measure, and that it had been adopted in England, where it had resulted in a considerable saving, and had proved a great success. The measure was consequently passed without discussion ; but, as far as I can gather, it has been a failure in Australia, and is doing much to impair the health of the residents of this continent. I was told by the secretary of a miners’ lodge that it has made a difference of from one to two skips per day in the output of the men, by reason of the fact that they cannot get their natural rest. Then, in connexion with the Walsh Island Dock, where there are a large number of employees, I am informed that these men have to start work at the regular time, and that their womenfolk have consequently to rise at 4 a.m. Instead of saving daylight, they are compelled to use artificial light, and are loudly complaining in consequence. The consensus of public opinion seems to be that the Act is a failure. While the in- novation may have proved beneficial in England, it has conferred no advantage upon Australia. I therefore hope that it will be repealed as early as possible, or that it will not be revived after the Act expires in March next. In regard to recruiting, I believe that we should accomplish much more if Parliament were to adjourn for a definite period, and thus allow honorable members to devote themselves more whole-heartedly to the task. I know it will be said, later on, that the voluntary system has been a failure; but, to my mind, it is not getting fair play. When we met last we understood that each honorable member was to be, ex officio, the chairman of the recruiting committee appointed in his own district. To my mind, it would be better if we could arrange that all honorable members should devote themselves to recruiting for a month. I believe that a fair response can be obtained from the voluntary method if we will only go out and speak with a view to creating enthusiasm. In the absence of enthusiasm, we cannot hope to secure recruits. I speak as a result of personal experience. For the last three weeks before returning to Melbourne, I was engaged in a recruiting campaign in my own electorate every night in the week, and we obtained good results. If we can get good results in the Hunter electorate, we can get them in every other electorate. Of course, there is a limit to the number of men we can expect to enlist. We can get recruits only in proportion to the number of eligible remaining in the community. No one will contend that we can get recruits at the, same rate, after having sent 300,000 men out of Australia, as in the. early stages of the war. But I do say that if we give fair attention to recruiting, the response will astonish many people. It will pr,ove that the voluntary system is not a failure, and it will provide all the recruits necessary to maintain the strength of our divisions at the front. I hope honorable members will give consideration to the advisability of devising some scheme whereby we canal! engage in a real recruiting scheme. Let there be no sham about it. Let every honorable member go out in his own district and do his best, and I venture to say that we shall obtain good results.
.- There are two or three matters in regard to which I would like to briefly express my views. The forthcoming Imperial Conference is fraught with great consequences to Australia, and whoever represents the Commonwealth will need to be very careful in dealing with the problems that will be placed before delegates. Our representative will do well to bear in mind that it is the desire of the Australian people to build up within the Empire . a healthy and virile Australian sentiment. As I understand it, the Australian sentiment is that the Empire shall be held together by the slenderest ties of fellowship and kinship - which, after all, are the strongest - and not by any agreement of a more formal and binding nature. I believe that if there is any attempt at the Conference to make Australia part of a great Imperial Federation, with a supreme Imperial Parliament, the Commonwealth will find itself confronted by a serious menace to its democratic ideals. Other portions of the Empire have a more restricted franchise than that which we enjoy, and there is a possibility that we may be compelled to surrender our adult suffrage.
– The honorable member does not think that there will be interference with local autonomy?
– We must not shut our eyes to facts. There is to-day a school of thought which holds strongly that there should be a drawing closer of the units of the Empire, with a view to creating a greater Imperial Parliament. I wish to warn the Commonwealth’s delegate to be careful of any such proposal, because in it there is a pitfall which may ruin all chances of giving effect to any scheme for bringing into closer harmony the outstanding parts of the Empire. In my opinion, the most effective scheme to develop the Empire, and bring about its greater unity, strength, and consolidation, will be one based entirely upon considerations of race and sentiment. If our delegate keeps such a view clearly before his mind, the Conference may result in some good to Australia. It is necessary that he should realize that, whilst Australians are prepared to do everything possible to maintain the Empire in its entirety, we, at the same time, claim for ourselves the right to develop along our own lines, and to work out those ideals of Democracy which we hold dear. Another matter which will probably be dealt with by that Conference ia that of trade within the Empire and with the allied nations. Here, again, is a path that may be strewn with pitfalls, and along which our representative will do well to walk warily. Australia is a young country, with all the potentialities of greatness lying dormant within it; and we need to be careful that any system of preferential trade to which we subscribe shall hot place a strangle-hold upon our industries.- I, like . most other Australians, am prepared to have some system of preferential treatment, firstly within the Empire, and secondly between ourselves and our Allies; but such ‘ preference will have to be based on adequate protection to the industries of the Commonwealth. Without such protection, preference would be to us a hollow sham and a mockery. It would be delivering this young country into the hands of the exploiters of the older world.- That is something to which I will not agree. But I am prepared to advocate a system of preference and interchange, firstly within the Empire, and secondly with our Allies, which, while assisting their trade, will maintain and develop on a proper basis the industries of Australia. The third matter to which I wish to refer is that of naval defence. That is a subject which should engage the serious attention of all thinkers in Australia. Experts are agreed that our primary defence must be upon the water; and I ask honorable members whether we are doing anything to give effect to a sound system of naval defence ? We made a fairly good start by providing the nucleus of a fleet, but after beginning so admirably ,.by bringing into . being a mosquito fleet which rendered signal service to the Commonwealth, at the outbreak of hostilities, showing the people that the safety of Australia lies in its defence upon the water, we suddenly stopped. That is a suicidal policy for Australia’ to follow. We took two essential steps, and then stopped short, allowing Australia to live in a fool’s paradise, from which she will have a rude awakening before very long. Australia’s safety demands the speeding up of the naval construction policy to its utmost limit. In our naval dockyard the keel of a vessel of the cruiser type, which has rendered the very best service in our ‘defence, has been lying for months past, and nothing further is being done to it. It is allowed to lie there just as if we were in the days of peace and unity again. We must awake to the danger lurking ahead, and realize that if we are to hold Australia we must take adequate steps to defend it. While I readily admit that we are not in a position to-day to defend ourselves against the navies of some of the old countries of the world, we could place our naval defence on such a firm basis that we could ward off the hostile attacks of any raiders that might cross’ the Pacific. We have been told of the escape of certain raiders from German ports, and of the construction of super-submarines. These have, apparently, been able to elude the vigilance of the British Fleet, pass through the Channel, cross the Atlantic to America, and return to German ports. If that is possible, it is possible for the same boats to cross the Pacific. That is where our danger lies, and we ought to be doing everything possible to bring into being more ships to defend Australia in Australian waters. The submarine menace has played such havoc among the mercantile marine of the world that the great problem that will confront the nations, Australia included, will, be the scarcity of merchant vessels at the conclusion of the war. We have a great opportunity in our Government yards to begin to build merchantmen. We have the best skilled workmen in the world, and some qf the best machinery. What, then, is to stop us making a start ? If we had a proper Government, whose ideal was to benefit Australia, it could, and would, be done. I read only the other day that in Great Britain arrangements are being made at the ‘ big shipbuilding yards to turn out merchant vessels of medium tonnage, all on the one pattern. These can be turned out like shelling peas. If our Government, instead of buying the rottenbottomed old things that were bought a few months ago, had adopted the policy of building merchant vessels of. 9,000 or 10,000 tons at Cockatoo, they would have turned them out like hot cakes.
– The cakes would be pretty cold by the time they turned them out at Cockatoo Island-
– They’ could all be built on the one pattern, and it is all clean work. It is most peculiar that the moment one advocates anything for the advancement of Australia, a howl of derision is raised by certain honorable members on the opposite side. I stand for the advancement of Australia and - Australian industries. The construction of merchantmen will help Australia materially at the conclusion of the war, and any Government which initiates that policy will earn the undying gratitude of the people of this country.
– At Cockatoo Island?
– I am not surprised at the Treasurer sneering at any proposal to advance Australia, but he will find that at the conclusion of the war the cry will go up, “ Where is the shipping to take away our wheat and wool ? “ If we do not make provision for that time, the whole of our sea-borne trade will be captured by foreign merchantmen. Anybody who has the interests of Australia at heart must see that the case is clear and plain. If we are the men whose duty it is to rule the destinies of Australia, we ought to be right up to our necks in the work of providing the means of carrying on the commerce of the country at the conclusion of the war. I make these remarks, not in a party spirit, but as one actuated by the sole desire to benefit Australia. If we do things that harm Australia, we harm ourselves. I represent the working class, to whom the prosperity of Australia means everything. They are the people upon whose backs bad times fall the hardest. I stand for them, and in standing for them I stand for the advancement of the Commonwealth. I urge honorable members to give consideration to the questions I have raised, in order that that advancement may. be helped.
.-I compliment the honorable member for Dalley on the truly national spirit he showed in the speech to which we have just listened. Never since I entered this Parliament have I heard a discussion in which honorable members have referred to the possibilities of Australia from the manufacturing point of view but those opinions have been received with a certain amount of derision by the members of a certain section of this House. The latter have no confidence in Australia as a manufacturing country, and in comparing Australian workers with those of other countries they always do so to the detriment of our workers here. The honorable member for Dalley has just pointed out how this Parliament would only be doing justice to Australia if it devoted a little more attention to the encouragement of the great ship-building in dustry. We have heard continual references to the slowing-down process which is said to exist at Cockatoo Island, and to the high cost of production said to be operating there. And further, we are always being reminded of the great cost of the cruiser Brisbane as compared with” vessels built in other parts of the world. In this connexion I can only say what I have said on many Occasions. The shipbuilding industry in Australia is practically in its infancy, but as far as cost of production is concerned it compares more than favorably with well established industries in Australia in their days of infancy.I recognise the importance of the forthcoming Imperial Conference. I have in mind what took place at the Paris Conference. We were told that, as a result of that Conference, an understanding was practically arrived at between the different countries represented, and that in all probability a fiscal policy would be recommended for adoption by the British Empire and its Allies.’ In dealing with the Tariff in this House, we have always had to take into serious consideration the cost of production in Australia as compared with the cost of production in Great Britain, and fairly high duties have been imposed for the purpose of trying to equalize local costs with the costs in Great Britain in order that those controlling our local industries might have a reasonable opportunity of competing with manufacturers in the Old Country. We have also had to take into consideration the cost of production in foreign countries, many of which are allied with Great Britain today. On that account I am totally opposed to giving the representative of Australia at the Imperial Conference any power to bind Australia or the Australian Parliament to any agreement likely to be proposed between Great Britain and the Dominions and our Allies. The fiscal policy of Australia is a matter which concerns the Australian people and the Australian Parliament only.
– Surely some one may speak for the Australian people ?
– I have noobjection to any individual going from this House and expressing his own opinion with regard to a fiscal policy, but I have the utmost objection to any representative of this Parliament attending a Conference and binding Australia and this Parliament to any agreement in regard to the fiscal policy concerning Great Britain, the Dominions, and our Allies. I have in mind certain of our Allies, and one in particular. Many of our industries, which are only in their infancy, are in danger of being strangled because of the goods that are flowing into the Commonwealth from the manufacturers of one allied country.
– Our industries have? been in the same danger for the last three years.
– What is the reason ? The war has given that particular countrY the opportunity of establishing its industries. Other countries, being engaged in war, are not in a position to provide us with goods. This country, although it is allied to Great Britain, is practically not engaged in war, and the whole of its operations are confined to the purpose of taking every possible advantage from the conflict so as to establish its industries firmly. We are told that the capital of other countries is flowing there and assisting in this direction. The result is that every week all classes of goods are coming here to the value of millions of pounds sterling, and certain industries which we have already established, and which we thought sufficiently protected against countries where wages are higher and the hours of labour not as long as in the country to which I am referring, are faced with the fact that the protection given is absolutely inadequate against this particular country. According to the statement of the Prime Minister, as this country is allied to us, it will be given special consideration when “the fiscal policy is drawn up later on between Great Britain and the Dominions and our Allies. In these circumstances, as one who at all times stands for Australia first, I object to any representative of this Parliament going to a Conference held in any part of the world and binding the people of Australia to a fiscal policy which may ultimately mean the absolute ruination of Australian industries. I desire now to protest to the Postmaster-General against the action of his Department in depriving temporary letter-carriers of departmental uniforms, which hitherto it has been the custom to supply to them.
– Have not the Victorians been supplied with uniforms.
– These temporary letter-carriers, as the result of a recent instruction, have been deprived of . their uniforms, and when the matter waa brought under the notice of the Secretary to the Postmaster-General, he said that the particular regulation dealing with the matter had been issued as far back as 1907, but had not been put into operation by previous Ministers. The permanent men are provided for, and rightly so- and moreover, under Mr. Justice Powers’ award, their wages are fixed at something like 10s. 4d. per day, which at the present cost of living, is not too high; but the temporary letter-carriers receive only 8s. 6d. per day, and on top of this the Department has now put into operation the regulation of 1907. This action is contemptible enough in itself, but I am confident that the general public, and I believe the majority of members of this Parliament, were not aware that the casual employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department were in receipt of the miserable sweating wage of 8s. 6d.’ per day. A married man with three or four children cannot go into any suburb of this or any other city of the Commonwealth and get a house for less than 12s. or 14s. per week.
– The honorable member had better have a word with the Public Service Commissioner on this matter.
– If ever there was a pretext to evade responsibility it is this continual hiding by Ministers, who should be responsible to this House, behind the Public Service Commissioner. If Ministers and members of this Parliament are of opinion that the minimum wage now paid to casual employees in the Government service is not fair and reasonable, Parliament should’ instruct that it be raised.
– How long has this been going on ?
– For some years.
– Well, the honorable member has been very quiet about it for the last two or three years.
– I brought this matter before the House on a former occasion. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro knows that seven or eight years ago when he said the rates fixed by’ the Arbitration Court should operate, I told him then that the award did ,not refer to this particular class of employee, and I urged that the Commonwealth Government, as a model employer; should - set an example to other employers.
– Why did not the honorable member “shake up “ Tudor when he was in power?
– Mr. Tudor was not Postmaster-General.
– But the same rule applies in the Customs Department.
– I am asking the Postmaster-General now to look into this matter, because it comes directly under his control, and I want him, if he considers that any regulation gives the Public Service Commissioner power to keep these men at 8s. 6d. per day, to induce the Government to rescind that particular regulation. I wish now to bring under the notice of the Assistant Minister for Defence a complaint with regard to the system under which soldiers’ pensions and deferred pay are dealt with. I have already spoken to him on this matter, and I know he has given it a great deal of attention, but if he has not the wholehearted co-operation of the Minister for Defence and the heads of the Departments, nothing that he may do will be of any avail There are to-day walking about our streets men who returned from. Egypt and Gallipoli twelve or eighteen months ago, and yet they have not received their deferred pay. Many of them are out of employment. When a soldier is invalided he comes back to Australia, and after being under medical treatment for, say, two or three months, is examined, and, if declared medically unfit for further active service, is discharged. While, however, he may be unfit for active service, he is not given’ a pension because the medical examiners are of the opinion that he is fit to undertake other employment; but, as a matter of fact, many are not as sound constitutionally as they were when they were accepted for active service, and so when they . apply to their former employers they find there is no employment for them. A great deal of dissatisfaction is thus created right throughout the Commonwealth because these men can be counted in their hundreds to-day. The average employer is looking for a profit from his business enterprise, and if he has to choose between a man who is physically’ fit and a discharged returned soldier who is not physically fit, his choice will go to the former. The returned soldier who is unfit for further military service, but is not.. sufficiently incapacitated to obtain a pension, has to compete in a labour market which is glutted, and, failing to obtain employment, naturally feels that the Government, Parliament, and perhaps his former employer, have not kept faith with him.
– The Prime Minister has repeatedly intimated” that he is willing to deal with any case brought before him, and his Department and the War Council have dealt with many cases.
– The interjection applies to men who consider themselves entitled to pensions. Those to whom I refer ‘ are medically unfit for further service, but are not sufficiently incapacitated to receive pensions,, consequently they .are discharged and turned loose. They being no longer soldiers, the Defence Department considers ‘ that it is under no obligation in regard to them.
– Is it not a fact that the War Council is continually dealing with such cases, and that in Victoria alone thousands of them have been dealt with?
– The War Council has dealt with the cases of thousands of men whose health is quite broken down, but they are not the oases to which I refer. Let me give a specific instance. The other day there came to my house a young fellow, 6 feet high, who, when he left Australia in 1915 to go to Gallipoli, weighed 13 stone 4 lb. He was “ gassed,” and returned incapacitated, and was given a pension of 10s. per week. He obtained a position in due courses but lost it again, and’ is now practically walking about the streets with death stamped on his face. His hand when you shake it is like a piece of ice. He now weighs only 8 stone 9 lb. The persons with whom he has been living for the last four months have told me that they have fed him out’ of charity. Yesterday I brought his case under the notice of the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions. When he left Australia he allotted 4s. a day out of his pay for the keep of a widowed mother and a little sister; now that he is back he receives only 109. a week to pay for the rent of his room and his board, and his mother and sister receive nothing. There are hundreds of such cases. The men do not know where to go to obtain justice. I shall not deal with the pension question generally. In my opinion the hardest cases are those to which I have referred; men who have no wounds to shew, and cannot obtain pensions, but, being unable . to obtain work, are practically forced to ask for charity. It is the duty of the Government and of Parliament to put an end .to these cases.
– I desire, to bring under the notice of the Assistant Minister for Defence the case of thirty-six non-commissioned officers who have passed through the Duntroon College, and have been told that they will be sent to the front as privates. It has cost the country £300 for the training of each of them. In the camp where they are four others - their names are Anderson, Opie, McFadgeon, and another - who were officers in the Citizen Forces, are acting as second lieutenants, although a regulation says that only those who have passed through the courses of instruction for the training of officers shall be given commissions. The second lieutenants whom I have named have not passed through the Duntroon school, but the thirty-six non-commissioned officers who are to be sent away as privates have done so. I have known officers in the Citizen Forces to apply for commissions in the Australian ‘ Imperial Force, and to- be told that they must first pass through the Duntroon school. There seems to have been some favoritism in this case. Xt was stated in’ the Sydney Sim a little over a week ago that another thirty-six men who had been through the Duntroon College, and whose training had cost the country £1,000 each, were to be demobilized, as they were not wanted. Yet we are told that recruits are needed. The publication of such statements roust prejudice recruiting. I wish to bring under the notice of the Treasurer a grievance of some returned soldiers who are employed’ in one of the Departments under his administration. Five or six returned - soldiers are employed in the Taxation office in Sydney on what is considered general division work. They are members of the Clerks Union. They are engaged in sorting out papers, and doing work of that, character - work which previously was paid for at the same rate as was given to clerical hands. The clerical award is 10$. a day. These men are in receipt of 8s. 6d. a day. I had brought under my notice the case of a returned soldier who was’ working in ‘ the Electoral Office, and who was receiving 7s. a day. He was taken on at 10s. a day,- being a married man. The authorities found out that he was eighteen years ‘ of age, and the moment they received ‘that information they reduced his pay to 7s. a day. Be called my attention to the matter, and I was successful in getting him 10s. a day. There was another case in the same Department. It was the case of a young man who, on the 6th of this month, became twenty-one years of age. He had. been receiving 7s. a day. I wrote to the Prime Minister, pointing out that the man was a returned soldier, ‘ and was in receipt of only 7s. a day. In this case, I was not successful in getting an increase to 10a.
– On what grounds was an increase refused ?
– The Prime . Minister said it was because the Public Service regulation provided for the payment of only 7s. a day. In one case it will be seen a married man, who was eighteen years of age, got the 10s. a day.-
– When was this?
– It occurred only a few weeks ago.
– Was it before you started to wallop your joss ?
– I have been walloping the right honorable gentleman all along, so much so that -I think the Government were glad when I came over to this corner.. Anyhow, this man is getting only 7s. a day, and .1 am informed that from the 6th’ of this month he is to receive the full 10s. a day. It is an injustice that, of two returned soldiers, a man twenty years of age should get only 7s. a day, and a man eighteen years of age should receive 10s. a day. The honorable member for Fawkner made reference to the fact that employers are not giving employment back to men who went away, did their bit, ‘and came back. I hold in my hand a letter from the secretary of the Wollongong branch of the Returned Soldiers Association dealing with the case of a roan who returned from Gallipoli. It reads as follows: - ‘
I am requested by the members of my association to write and place before you the facts nf the case of Mr. Dowsett, who ib a returned soldier, and a member of this branch of the R.S-A.
Previous to enlistment, Dowsett was employed at the Mr Keira colliery as a shiftman. He went through the Gallipoli compaign, but waa frostbitten at Anzac on the 28th November, 1915, and was invalided home last
March, his feet being too tender to stand the cold weather in France. After being discharged, he applied to the manager of the Mr Keira colliery, Mr. J. C. Jones, for the position he held’ previous to enlisting, but he was told that his place was filled up. Mr, Jones, however, told him that he would give him shift work in another part of the mine. Of course Dowsett accepted this offer, and started work. The first pay he drew he found he was only paid lis. per day, the’ other shiftmen getting 13s. He interviewed Mr. Jones, but was told by him that he could not give him the full money, but that he would give him la. 4Jd. per hour (12s. 4-Jd. per day), the other shiftmen getting 1b. 5i&. per hour. On drawing his pay the next fortnight, he found he was paid Is. 4Jd. per hour right through the weeks - thus for Saturday, a six-hours’ shift, he was paid 8s. 3d., the other shiftmen getting lis. 8d. for the six hours on Saturday. He again interviewed the manager, but was told that he had not served his time on coal. Dowsett then pointed out to him that he was paying one man shiftman’s wages that had not been on coal at all, whereas he, Dowsett, had been a year and a half on coal. He also pointed out thathe was getting full money before he enlisted, therefore he was entitled to it now; but the manager said that he was not as good as before he went to the war.
Since the “ eight hours “ started, he has been paid lis. for week days, and 8s. 3d. for Saturdays, the other shiftmen getting l1s. 8d. per . day for every day during the week.
I am placing this case before you, hoping that you will be able to do something in the matter. Dowsett is just as good now as before he. wont away. He was paid full wages then, and we think he is justly entitled to full money now.
Hoping that you will be able to do something in the matter,
I am, dear sir,
Hon. Sec, Wollongong Branch, R.S.A.
That is only one of many cases. Day after day in the Sydney newspapers we read of cases of a similar character. Men who were promised before they went away that their jobs would be given back to them on their return have to walk the streets. Honorable members will recollect that, just before Christmas, Mr. Bathurst, the secretary of the Returned Soldiers Association, made an appeal through the Sydney Sun for some hun-. dreds of pounds, because there were hundreds of soldiers in and around that city who would not be able to get a Christmas dimjer. If that statement was true - andit must have been true, because not only the Sun, but other newspapers in Sydney, took up the case, and collected some£2,000 odd - it ought not to have been the duty of the newspapers, or of the secretary of the Returned Soldiers
Association, to make suchan appeal. It ought to have been the duty of the Government of this country to see that thesemen, if they could not obtain work, got something with which to tide themselves over the Christmas festivities. These are the things which are militating against the recruiting campaign. The Government, I contend, failed in their duty by not looking after the soldiers when theyreturned. It is all very well for men to get up on a public platform, or to make statements through the press, that this thing or ‘that thing is being done. Something ought to be done. These men need to be cared ‘for and looked after. There are other cases where men were discharged and there was no work for them to do. It is the duty of the’ Government to keep men, and not to discharge them until work can be found for them; and then, if they will not take the work, the Government can let them go. In our cities and towns to-day there are hundreds of these men who are going about in search of work and cannot get it. What do we find now ? We find that instead of the Government providing employment for these men, they are closing down public works throughout the length and breadth of the State. They are turning adrift men who have been in work fora number of years. I well remember that the men who are linked up with Mr. Holman to-day urged, eighteen months or two years ago, that the public works of this country ought to be closed down in order to force men to go to the war.
– No; that is not the reason.
– They urged that it should be done, and to-day it is being done.
– Will you tell them where the money can be obtained?
– I am not here to say where the money can be obtained. The Ministry are here to see that it is found. About two years ago, the men I refer to urged that the public worksshould be closed down, and to-day it is being done. Not only are the men these persons desired should go to the front being turned adrift, but men who are unfit to go to the front, because they are physically incapacitated, or too old, and married men with families, are being turned adrift in this fashion.
– That is not the case.
– It is not right or fair. Let me get back now to the business of the returned soldiers. The Government should see that work is provided for these men, and that those who employed them before they volunteered shall carry out their promise to reinstate them on their return. I come back to the Public Service, and the position of clerks under the Treasurer.
– Give me some definite cases. Give me names.
– I will give the honorable member the names of five clerks in the Taxation Branch of his Department.
– The honorable member has not written a letter to me since I have been at the Treasury.
– The Treasurer has received a petition from these men in the Taxation Branch, but no answer has been forthcoming.
– No ,such petition has been received by me.
– The secretary of the Clerks’ Union, Mr. Lindsay, told me that the petition had been sent to the Treasury Department, and I said that I would not write to the Treasurer pending the receipt of a reply to it. Since no answer is yet forthcoming, I deem it my duty to bring the matter before the Committee. In the Sydney Sunday Times of 7th January last, there appeared an article headed “ Less Than Living Wage paid to Returned Soldiers.” “Federal Government’s Preference.” The Federal Government have granted a 0reference to returned soldiers. I do not object to that.
– Is it not better than preference to unionists?
– These men are unionists. It is stated in’ this article that -
The secretary of the United Clerks’ Union, or the Australian Clerks’ Association as it is now called, recently wrote to the Prime Minister, complaining that returned soldiers were being employed in Federal Government Departments at wages below the standard living wage fixed by the Arbitration Court.
The following reply has been received from the secretary ‘to the Prime Minister: - “I am directed to inform you that it is the policy of the Government that preference of employment is accorded to returned soldiers, irrespective of whether they are members of unions or not. In this connexion reference is invited to Public Service Regulation No. 121 (10), which reads as follows: - ‘Notwithstanding anything contained in these regulations, preference of temporary’ employment shall be given to sailors and soldiers who have .served abroad with satisfactory records in the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth.’ “The Public Service Commissioner is not aware of any case in which returned soldiers are employed as temporary clerks and paid less than 10s. a day, which is the minimum amount paid to temporary clerks. In some cases returned soldiers are employed as assistants in the taxation branches of the Department of the Treasury, and are paid 8s. 6d. a day; but the duties on which they are engaged are not of a clerical nature, are proper to the General Division, and are such as are usually carried out by permanent officers of the General Division.”
I have it on good authority that before these returned soldiers were employed 10s. per day was paid for this class of work. The award pf the Arbitration Court stipulates that clerks shall receive a minimum wage of 10s. per day. There is no mention ‘of 8s. 6d. per day in the award.
– I have had communications from the secretaries of various unions in Victoria, but have not had a complaint about wages.
– Here we have the statement of the secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department that 8s. 6d. per day is paid in certain cases. The Sunday Times article continues -
The “secretary of the union states that, notwithstanding the reply from the Prime Minister’s Department, there are cases in which returned soldiers are doing clerical work for 8s.
Bd. a day, which is less than is paid, in some cases, to girl typists in the employ of the Department, and much less than the living wage.
Complaint is also made that clerks at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, who have been graded as corporals, are paid f3 3s. a week, and compelled to work six and seven days a week for more than eight hours a day, and are not paid overtime.
The ordinary clerk is paid overtime rates, but these men who have been graded as corporals receive no overtime. I .bring these grievances under the attention of the Minister in the hope that they will be remedied. While such facts go out to the public, it is not to be expected that the recruiting movement will succeed.
– I suppose- this speech is being made in the interests of recruiting. >
– I have been asked why I have not attacked the Ministry before. As a matter of fact, I remained quiet’ because I did not want to place ‘ any obstacles in the way of the ^recruiting movement; but when I find the Ministry boasting of doing this and that, when, in fact, they are not, I think it time to attack thorn. This afternoon I put a question to the Postmaster-General relative to the shutting-out of certain books which it had been sought to import into Australia.I was referred to the Assistant Minister for Defence, as it was said to be a censorship matter, and I promised the honorable gentleman that I would supply him with a list of the books in question. Mr. Will Andrade, of Bourke-street, ordered a lot of books from Kerr and Company, of New York.
– Are they Industrial Workers of the World books ?
– No. I will give the honorable member a list of them.
– Is Sabotage included amongst the number?
– It is; but, as a matter of fact, Mr. Andrade advised the Department that 100 copies of Sabotage were’ being sent to him. That was months before they had left America, and he has marked off this book from the list before mo. The Art of Lecturing is among the books the importation of which has been prohibited. That does not deal with the propaganda of the Industrial Workers of the World. Then, again, we have such books as Militant Proletariat; Law of Biogenesis; Value, Price and Profit; Science and Superstition; Revolution and Counter Revolution; Socialism: Its Growth and Outcome; World’s Revolutions; and Ethics and History. Of 25 cents books the list shows TOO of Sabotage, GO Class Struggle, 20 Debate, Mann versus Lewis, 10 Eighteenth Brumaire. Of 15 cents books the list includes 100 Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, 50 What’s so and What isn’t. Of 10 cents books,. 100 Shop Talks on Economics, 100 Value, Price, and Profit, 50 each of Communist Manifesto, Industrial Socialism, Why Catholic Workers should be Socialists. Of pocket library pamphlets, the list included 1,000 Wage, Labour, and Capital, 200 each of Mission of the Working Class, Origin of Great Private Fortunes, Economic ‘ Revolution, From Revolution to Revolution, The Man under the Machine, 10 Cry for Justice, by Upton Sinclair. That is a list of books sent out, and which the censor has seen fit to prevent coming in. Colonel Newell stated on Tuesday last that he had not read the books, but that wo should net be allowed to get such rubbish into this country. Though he has not read the books, he designates them as rubbish, which ought not to be allowed to come into this country.
– Have the books the imprint of the Industrial Workers of the World on them?
– No, they were printed by Kerr and Company, of New York.
– I asked the question because the honorable member knows what the law is in that regard.
– I know that, and the books have not the imprint of the Industrial Workers of the World.
– Is the honorable member quoting from a letter by Colonel Newell ?
– No. I am quoting from a letter by the shipping agent for Andrade and Company, who went down and saw Colonel Newell. I have quoted the words which Colonel Newell said to the shipping agent. I wish to know when the censor was authorized to say what the people of Australia shall read or not read, beyond what pertains to the war. I tell the Minister for Defence that a man like this should be removed from his position. He says that fie never read these books, yet he has the audacity to say that such rubbish has no right to be introduced into this country.We were told that some of tho censorship was to continue in existence only during the time of the referendum. A regulation was issued intimating that this censorship was to remain in operation until the 6th’ January. The newspaper proprietors in Sydney and other . places naturally thought that after the 6th January this particular censorship would be discontinued, but on 23rd January the censor in Sydney, G. G. Nicholson, sent out this notice -
In. exercise of the authority conferred upon me under regulation 28a of the War Precautions Regulations 1015, I hereby require you to submit to me, before publication in your newspaper, any matter (whether in manuscript or print) intended for publication in the said newspaper which relates or refers to the present war or to any subject connected therewith or arising therefrom, or to any of the subjects mentioned in regulation 19, or the publication of which would be an offence under regulation 28 of the War Precautions Regulations 1015.
I give this order in respect of all the issues of your paper during the period of six calendar months from the 23rd day of January, 1917.
-(Mr. JohnThomson). - The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I asked the Prime Minister a question to-day with regard to the danger to transports leaving our shores at the present timo to take men to the front. The. right honorable gentleman’s reply did not satisfy me. If we are to have a successful recruiting campaign the least we’ can do is to make it clear to those whom we ask to enlist that so far as wo are concerned we shall be prepared to protect them after they leave Australia until they get to the front. How con we expect to secure recruits when we see day by day in the. newspapers the results of the new and vigorous submarine campaign by the Germans. It is. now more dangerous on shipboard than on the battlefield.
– Is this why the honorable member wishes to send the Prime Minister to the Old Country ?
– I do not wish to send the Prime Minister to the Old Country. I should prefer to keep him here. We con easily understand tho anxiety of parents whose sons are likely -to be leaving Australia for the front at this time.
– Does the honorable member not think that the authorities are doing all they can ?
– The Prime Minister did not make it clear that precautions are being taken to see that our men are safe while they are at sea. He wont a long way out of his way to repeat facts which are known to us all. He told us that we have been extremely successful in having lost none of our transports in the past two years.
– That should be a guarantee for the. honorable member.
– It is a guarantee for the past, but the submarine warfare has taken on a new phase.
– We are told that the Admiralty are coping with it in every way.
– I asked the Prime Minister to assure the people of this country that no troops will be sent abroad before proper precautions are Viken for their protection until they canbe landed. The right honorable gentleman did not give me a direct answer. He asked how he could give’ such an assurance. If possessing inside information he cannot give such an assurance, he should take the same action as was taken by the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Fisher, and prevent transports leaving this countryuntil he can secure protection for them. That would be only fair to the soldiers who are now being sent to the front. There is very grave anxiety on the part of parents of soldiers leaving our shores now as to whether the transports will be properly protected when they enter the danger zone. If my information is correct, we are in danger on the Australian coast, and it is up to the Government to make a pronouncement that every reasonable precaution will be token to secure the safety of our transports. The Prime Minister’s reply to my question will not facilitate the enlistment of recruits. If upon investigation he can give us an assurance that all reasonable precautions will be taken, that will have a stimulating effect upon recruiting.
– I do not think the Prime Minister properly heard the honorable member’s question.
– That may be so.
– I think the honorable member can rest assured that everything that can be done will be done to insure the safety of the transports.
– I want a definite assurance on the point to bo given to this House. On the subject of the Imperial Conference I am one of those who believe that Australia should be represented at the Conference. We are very much interested in the terms of peace to be arranged, when those engaged in the war lay down their arms and assume their customary vocations in the production of wealth. Australia has taken a very prominent part in the war. We have an annexed German territory in New Guinea, and we require to know what is to become of it when peace is declared. We should retain possession of the islands in the Pacifio, and we require to know whether our Allies are to be given certain privileges. It is of the utmost importance to the country and Parliament that we should have a representative at the Conference to take part in the settlement of the conditions and terms of peace. No man can say that the party with which I am associated has no right to be represented at a Conference of the kind. I hope that one of the conditions of peace will be that no country may maintain a standing army to be a menace to the world. I take it, therefore, that the bulk of the people who have shown their confidence in the Labour party will be represented in any such deliberations. If any of the countries concerned are allowed to have two or three representatives, why should not the same representation be conceded to the Commonwealth? No one can deny that the honorable member for Yarra and the party behind him represent the great majority of the people of Australia. I maintain that the Official Labour party has behind it a majority of 62,000 of the electors.
– Wait till you see the result of the elections!
– I am relying on facts, and I submit that if any party has the right to representation at an Imperial Conference, it is the party now sitting in the Opposition corner. No one will deny for one moment that Australian sentiment should be given full scope in any such deliberations. Turning to the Supply Hill generally, . I must express my regret that the increases in the old-age and invalid pensions wore not extended to the blind people.
Mr.Poynton. - The ponsion has been increased, but the pension and earnings must not exceed 22s. 6d. a week.
– The blind aro not allowed to earn as muck as other pensioners are.
– I take it that the Treasurer will consider the question sympathetically, and see that the blind suffei no injustice.
– To make, the change suggested would moan sn additional expenditure of £8,000. Invalid pensioners are allowed to earn only Cs. per week in order to. entitle them to a full pension, whereas the blind may earn 10s. a week, making their total allowance 22s. 6d.
– Even that is not much for a blind person ; and, in any case, I am told that the blind are not receiving the same consideration that other pensioners are. “With the honorable member for Dalley, I am inclined to say that our great public works, especially shipbuilding, are not being pushed ahead as thoy ought to be. We nave a large plant at Cockatoo, with the best machinery and the most highly skilled men available; but these men have been scattered, and the plant is not fully employed. If any branch of our industries requires stimulation, it is the iron industry, including shipbuilding. We cannot afford to leave our country unprotected by submarines and destroyers ; andI hope the policy of the Government will be to add to our naval strength. Money spent in this direction is money well spent, if only as insurance ; and it will certainly help to maintain the confidence of the people. I hope that the Government, when, after some slight changes, it is properly constituted, will see that this branch of industry is kept going. I regret that the Postmaster-General has seen fit to put a brand on the arm of our postmen.. I cannot see the necessity for the official brand being placed on the arm as well as on the neck, and, in any case, this is not a way in which money can be saved. 1 can only regard the new regulation as a mistake, for it certainly does not add to the dignity of any man. I trust that after this Supply Bill is. passed, we shall not see any more of these announcements about the movements arid meetings of the Leader of the Liberal party and the Prime Minister, and so forth. We should have no more talk about the political situation and the great necessity for bringing about the constitution of a “ War Cabinet.”
– It was said that for two or three days they could not find each other !
– These newspaper accounts would lead one to believe that everything in the world was of secondary importance compared with the doings of these men ; and it is a movement to bring about- what? A “War Cabinet.” I ask honorable members whether there has even been any question about the prosecution of this war ?
– Is it not wonderful’ that in all theAllies’ countries there were National Governments within twenty-four hours ?
– We are told that this is a great national crisis, and that the best brains of the country should be utilized with a view to bringing about the termination of the war. With that we all agree. Has any man, on any side in this Parliament, ever opposed any proposal which would tend to a speedy termination of the war ? Every honorable member, no matter to which party he belongs, is anxious to see an end to the hostilities.
– We want the assistance of your brains. -
– You can have all the assistance you require. No member of the Labour party has placed the slightest obstacle in the way of bringing about a termination of the war. Where is the need for all the shuffling we have seen? If Liberal members on this side are sincere in their desire to terminate the war, let them support the present Government.
– We have done so all along.
– You are only shuffling to get portfolios). If you really desire to terminate the war, you ought to support the Government now in power. All this talk about a National Government is a hollow sham, and through the sham the people are beginning to see. We who sit in the Opposition corner, do not desire any seats in the Cabinet, and we are prepared to support this or any Government which can bring the war to a successful issue. There will be no opposition to the granting, of the Supply necessary to enable the war to be vigorously prosecuted. The people of this country do not- want any fusion of political parties. They desire that the members of all parties shall devote themselves to bringing about a speedy termination of the war. Will the formation of a so-called National Government assist recruiting more than the movement would be assisted by honorable members joining whole-heartedly in an attempt to make it a success? Fancy people being told that there is a national crisis’, and that the country can only be. saved by a National Government 1 Where is the crisis ? Only in the minds of certain honorable members who desire the sweets of office. So far as the members of’ the party to which I belong are concerned, we do not want office.
– The honorable member’s own leader in the other chamber declared that he would never let us get into recess again.
– He may have been speaking for himself. I am utterly disgusted at the manoeuvres which are in progress with a view to bringing about a so-called National Government.
.- [ desire to say a few words in regard to ie representative of Australia who will attend the Imperial War Conference, If ;his- House adjourns for a week, we have no assurance that before it reassembles he may not have left our shores. Before he goes to that Conference, I submit that he should take the members of this Parliament into his confidence by telling us what he thinks is the mind of Australia upon some of the most important matters which will claim its attention. At a time like this - the most strenuous time in the history of the world - it is almost impossible to debate things in a calm manner. Anything that one may say is apt to be misconstrued by his political opponents. Only a few weeks ago I asked a question in regard to the peace proposals of the Central Powers. I asked the Prime Minister if he would request the Imperial Government to state the terms upon which they were prepared to make peace. In reply I was told that I should put my question’ to Von Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Chancellor. Yet within a few weeks of that question being put in this chamber the Imperial Government actually outlined the terms upon which they were prepared to make peace, and despatched them to President Wilson. I protest against the way in which my question was treated by the Prime Minister. I claim that it is due to the members of this Parliament that a Prime : Minister, who is about to visit England to represent Australia ait the forthcoming War Conference, should disclose to them the views which he holds upon matters of vital importance. In regard to the conquered territory in the Pacific, there are very few indeed who will say that it should be handed back to Germany. We do not wish Germany ever to be a menace’ to us again, and, consequently, the Prime Minister might well speak on behalf of Australia upon’ that ‘question. If he adapted an Australian Monroe doctrine, he would probably be voicing the national opinion. But it is incumbent upon him to tell us something of what is in his mind. Some time ago I asked the right honorable gentleman a question in reference to the resolutions adopted by the Paris Conference,’ and in reply he said, “ The honorable member is under a misapprehension. I did not represent Australia at the ‘ Paris Conference; I represented Britain.” Only a few days later one of the most prominent men in India rejoiced over those resolutions, because he urged they would be of great advantage to India. If the resolutions of the Paris Conference involved the whole of our Allies, they involved Australia just as much as India or any other part of the British Dominions. But there seems to be a sort of Indian understanding as to why the Tariff is not dealt with at the present time. Those resolutions involve placing some of our Allies- on a different footing to America, and it is feared that that is not the true Australian sentiment. If we take up that attitude, and say that we are afraid to deal with these matters at the present time, we shall be neither courageous nor honest. These problems must be faced some time, and they may as well be faced now. Everybody knows that our objection to the importation of goods from foreign countries is not on account of race or colour, but on account of economic conditions, and this issue will be raised when the Tariff is under discussion. That is the reason why the settlement of these problems is being deferred. Some members of the Liberal party say to us, “ Your party was in power for two years; why did you not deal with this matter ? ‘ ‘ They should remember that the bulk of the effort put forward by Australia in raising 300,000 men, equipping them, and sending them 12,000 miles overseas, a feat which no other nation in the world has performed, is now finished.
– Certainly not.
– The bulk of the work of recruiting men and supplying them with equipment is done. Australia’s duty at the present time is to’fill the gaps that are made in the ranks of the men who have already gone. If that attitude were adopted to-day, we should not experience half the present difficulty in obtaining recruits.
– We are only asking for reinforcements.
– The Government are accepting the opinion of the Army Council, which asked Australia to provide 16,500 men per month.
– The Army Council said that that number of men was required for reinforcements.
– Never mind what the Army Council said; it is Australia’s duty to say what number of men’ is required. Everybody knows that it is impossible to obtain 16,500 men by the voluntary system after we have sent 300,000 men to the front.
– Are you sure that the Army Council did ask for that number of men ?
– The GovernorGeneral has used those figures’, the Prime Minister stated them in’ this House, and he quoted them again last night at the Town Hall. It is not for reinforcements that the Army Council asked us to send 16,500 men per month. For the last twelve months the average wastage has been only 5,000 per month. If, instead of saying to the Australian people, “Drop party politics” while they are forming another party, instead of invading the constituencies of men who are in khaki and doing their service to the Empire - if, instead of indulging in that mockery, the Government were to tell the Australian people what has been the actual wastage amongst our troops, and ask them to keep up the necessary reinforcements, there would be no difficulty in getting the number of men required. Let all parties unite in asking the young manhood of Australia to supply those reinforcements, and there would be no need to talk about conscription, or to apply the’ pressure of economic conscription. That is the clear line of duty for Australia to follow. I wish to say a word or two with reference to the future defence of Australia. Until my visit to England I was one of those who held that we in Australia were utterly helpless without the protection of the British Fleet. But, after seeing Sir David Beatty’s cruiser squadron practically locked up in the harbor at Kossyth, and Sir John Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet practically locked up in the harbor in the North of Scotland
– I would not say where the fleets are.
– What is the use of humbugging? The whereabouts of the Fleet is well known to every one. There is too much pretence and secrecy.
– Tell our enemies everything.
– I do not say that. But it is utter pretence to say that Germany does not know where the battle and cruiser fleets rest. We found at the front in France, where the battleline has not shifted very much during the last two years, that there are practically no secrets between the two sides. We must learn the lessons which this war teaches. We have a programme mapped outfor the construction of cruisers and the creation of a battle fleet, which will not be of the same usefulness in future as they have been . in the past. A blockade under modern conditions is vastly different from what it was in the time of Nelson. Our ships cannot ride outside the Kiel Canal. If we are able to bottle up the German Fleet, the Germans also are able to bottle up our ships with their submarines in a very marked manner. We have not got that control of the North Sea and the waters around Britain which we had prior to the submarines attaining their present efficiency. Developments have proved that our defence in future will be under, rather than above, the water. Whilst we construct our fast cruisers and arm them with big guns, and utilize all our ingenuity to protect them against the attacks of submarines, it is clear to those who are watching events to-day that the under-water craft will be Australia’s best defence in future.
– Hear, hear! And aeroplanes.
– Aeroplanes will not matter very much in Australia. The British Fleet relies on its air craft, and small boat scouts for information as to the doings of the German Fleet. If the scouts report that the German Fleet is leaving its base, and the British Fleet has a chance to dash out and tackle the enemy, it does so. Canada is doing vastly more for the Empire than Australia in relation to the war in the manufacture of munitions, and what are called submarine chasers, and the repairing of battleships. Our attention should be directed to mak-, ing Australia self-contained so far as defence is concerned. We ought to be thinking and going in that direction now. The war, of course, has to be won before we begin even to talk of peace terms, and we ought to be thinking about building our own submarines and air craft.
– How can we now?
– That is the cry of every Conservative I have ever heard.
– How can we at this juncture ?
– I said we ought to be thinking in that direction, but as soon as any one points out what Australia should do there is always a sneer or jeer to the effect that we cannot do it. The Free Traders would buy their battleships from Germany to-morrow if they were cheaper. That has always been their policy. I want to put the Australian point of view. If we are to be represented at an Imperial Conference there ought to be no promises or entanglements in the direction of what is called closer organic union. Australia undoubtedly desires to be consulted with regard to the terms of peace and war, but the Australian people are not ready at the present time to be brought into closer relationship with other parts of the Empire that have an altogether different ideal from Australia. It -is the duty of our representative to come to Parliament and take honorable members’ into his confidence, giving them some general outline of what he thinks he ought to say on behalf of Australia at any Conference of the kind suggested.
– I do not intend to follow the example of those honorable members who have turned the motion for Supply into a grievance-day debate. We, are told that the Government desire to adjourn to-night until next Wednesday. I hope I will be forgiven for saying that I am not too sure that we will meet next Wednesday once the Government get Supply. The present conference of three members of the so-called Opposition, and three .members of the Government side, may not be able to settle their differences by next Wednesday, and the Prime Minister, exercising his power as the only man in Australia, may not call Parliament together until it suits him to do so, and we have no means of making him do it until the Government want further Supply. I do not say that is the intention, but it has been done before, and can be done again. I know the Prime Minister will meet Parliament only when it suits him, and I am not at all satisfied with the halfhearted assurance he gave to-day on the subject. Surely the batch of doctors who are meeting to decide on the plaster to be applied to my party know by this time what they are going to administer. They should let us know exactly how they have settled matters. I have known of Governments in the position of the present Government saying when they got an adjournment at the end of the week, “ Thank God, it is all right till next week.” This Government, when they get Supply, may say, “ Thank the Lord we are all right till next month.” I cannot imagine the Postmaster-General; if he were in Opposition, allowing any Government to get away for another month. We are told by the Conservative press, who are supporting the Government, and also the proposed Fusion, that it is the intention of the Government to have an election in May next for the Senate only. In that matter the Government are playing a game of “ Heads we win, tails you lose.” They are playing two-up with us with double-headed- pennies. It is necessary, we are told, to. have an election for the Senate in May, because eighteen senators retire on the 30th June. The Government evidently have a strong hope that if they come back with a majority in the Senate there will be no . need for an election for the ‘House of Representatives at all, because if they and the Liberals combine they will have a majority, and the people of Australia can go hang so far as they are ‘ concerned, the idea being, to extend the life of Parliament for three years, with the help of the British Government. We were told in one newspaper that that was the in. tention. Members in’ this corner will be recreant’ to their trust if they do not use all their powers in this and another place to prevent the Government doing such a thing, and to send both Houses to the’ people in May, in view of the chaotic state we are in. I am not very much enamoured of elections, but we are in this position as a party, that at the last election the Labour party came back with an overwhelming majority in both Houses against the Conservative section of the community. . The mandate of the people was that the Labour party should rule Australia till the next election. .
– To win the war.
– I meet, a number of people like the Postmaster-General, who, when they can say nothing else, talk of their patriotic fervour. No man in this House is a greater patriot than I am, but I am also an Australian representative, and cannot forget that this Parliament has been legislating for some time for the Empire, careless whether Australia is made a scapegoat or not. It is our duty to consider Australia as well as the rest of the Empire, especially when the other portions of the Empire have not considered Australia. This is the only portion of the British Empire that to-day has thousands of men. out of work. Why 1 Because we are so far removed from the seat of war. Millions of pounds are be ing spent in. producing commodities for the purpose of carrying on the war to a successful issue in every portion of the Empire except Australia, while all the talk here is to send men and spend money. There is not one man in Europe able to work who is out of work to-day, but thousands of Australians cannot get work. Therefore, it behoves the representatives of the people of Australia to see that Australia gets a fair share of the production of the commodities that are necessary for the carrying on of the war, and that it is not made to stand a greater proportion of the brunt and trouble than any other section of the Empire has to bear. We are not turning out the commodities that we should be manufacturing, and which Canada and other portions of the Empire are producing; we have never had the opportunity of doing so. We have thousands of men not fitted to go to the front who are out of work; but even if they are fit to go to the front, we have no right to put in force in Australia the method ‘of coercing men to go to the front by putting them out of work.. I do not say that this is the intention of the Government, but it is the desire of a great section of the community. One might not enter into any great controversy over the matter if young men only were affected; but the position is that right throughout Australia thousands of men who would not be taken to the front, and who have large families, are unemployed, and those who are howling “ win the war “ most are utterly careless in regard to their position. So long as the great centre of the Empire is saved, and the British Empire preserved in its entirety, they do not care about the’ position of Australia. I can understand their anxiety on behalf of the Empire; but, at the same time, I object to Australia being made the scapegoat for the rest of the Empire by reason of its being separated 12,000 miles from the seat of war. No doubt it is the duty of our Government to see that Australia does its share in preserving the liberties of the British people, but it also has the duty of seeing that the people of this country get a fair deal from the rest of the -Empire, so far as -economic conditions are concerned.
– Great Britain is buying all of our products.
– It left millions of pounds’ worth of wheat rotting in my constituency while it bought wheat from the South American Eepublics simply because it paid the shipping companies better to carry wheat from Argentine. If the British authorities had sought to relieve our financial situation, they could have done so to the tune of £14,000,000 instead of buying wheat from South American countries.
– They have paid for all the wheat to which the honorable member refers.
– Ask any representative of a wheat-growing district whether they have. The new harvest is at hand, and the whole of the last harvest has not yet been paid for.
– They have advanced 3s. per bushel on it. They cannot pay for the whole of it until they get it.
– We are told that the people of Australia should concentrate all their thoughts and efforts on winning the war. Have the British Government done so ? Have they considered all the elements that have brought about a successful issue so far as the war has already progressed, and at the same time dealt fairly with the whole of the Empire ? On many occasions I have shown where they have failed to do so. I do not care to repeat it, and I only do so because I realize that the majority of members of this Parliament are careless of the interests of the people of Australia, and have in view only one ideal, the light that the Prime Minister has seen. There is not one honorable member of this House who has not in his constituency men who are suffering and out of work. We are told by several honorable members that men cannot be secured to do work in country districts. It may be true; but can we expect a man in my electorate to go to the country and earn a living there for his family when he already owes the butcher and the baker for two or three weeks’ meat and bread, and probably owes the landlord two or three weeks’ rent? It is preposterous to expect him to go into the country and work for a pittance, and at the same time keep his family in the city. Has any honorable member tried to live on 48s. a week and keen two homes going ? No one understands the position of . the wage-earning section of the community better than I do. The Governments in power to-day in Australia are careless as to the condition of these people, and yet we are asked to hand over to the present Commonwealth Government another month’s Supply in order to enable them to get into March, when we shall have a request for more Supply, and if we refuse to give it the onus of not paying the Government servants will be thrown upon us. In my opinion, our party can better look after the interests of Government servants by insisting that this Government shall not hoodwink us so far as the next election is concerned. Once they gain power, there are many methods by which they can stop the Labour section of the community from wresting it from their hands again. The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Flinders will stop at nothing to secure political power, and we are asked to hand it over to them, because they hope against hope that, in March, after holding an election for the Senate, they will come back with a majority in another place. It is nothing but gerrymandering.
– Who has proposed that?
– Ask the Prime Minister to deny it.
– The honorable member wishes an election to be held.
– If that election takes place, and Ministers by a fluke happen to get a majority in the Senate, we shall be told that it will be a waste of money to hold another election for the House of Representatives. In spite of this, however, we are facing the prospect of one election for the Senate in May with the full knowledge that, if the Ministerial party come back with a minority, there must be an election about next September for the House of Representatives. Are we going to allow that? Is it the intention of this House to play that trick upon the people of Australia?
– The honorable member knows that there must be an election for the Senate.
– I know that; and I know it will be a waste of money to spend another £100,000 for an election for the House of Representatives in September.
– Is your plebi scite over yet?
– No; but I will give the fellow who is coming for me a bath. I can quite understand that indignation would have been expressed if honorable members on this side of the House had suggested that there should be two elections when one would be sufficient. Nobody will deny that the present position is chaotic.
– The honorable the Postmaster-General has my sympathy, and I know I have his; but sympathy does not cost much.
– The honorable member will have everybody’s thanks if he cuts his speech short.
– Nobody is keeping the Government here; and, besides, as we have not had an opportunity of meeting the Government for some time, why is there such great haste to get away tonight?
– You come down to the Defence Department to-morrow morning, and I will show you what work is to be done there.
– I know all about the Defence Department - it is rotten from floor to ceiling. Now that the Assistant Minister has interjected, I ask him, as the representative of the Defence Department, to make an inquiry into a matter connected with the Army Service Corps at the Victoria Barracks.
– I am continually making inquiries on behalf of honorable members, and continually coming out on top.
– I admit that I have been worrying the Assistant Minister a good deal, and 1 am now going to give him another matter to inquire into. The staff of the Army Service Corps of the Victoria Barracks is presided over by a “ pup “ called Major Butters, who has just sacked a man from the Army Service Corps because he could handle his men. He treated them like men; but, because Major Butters was displeased with him, the man had been demobilized. I refer to Lieutenant Holland, who is recognised as being a most efficient officer, and who had charge of the Army Service Corps at Broadmeadows. One afternoon, two of his men went out in one of their lumbering waggons, and when the horses began to kick up, he jumped down, got a switch, and was using it on the horses. Just then some officers went by in a motor car, and called out to him. They told him to stop thrashing the horses. He did so; but Major Butters - he was a captain at that time - without any trial whatever, removed that man from the Army Service Corps, and placed him in the Infantry. The Officer Commanding the A.S.C., however, knowing his value, demanded his man back, and got him; but Major Butters then brought the Army Service Corps into Royal Park Camp, and, though Lieutenant Holland had a Queen’s commission in the South African war, and is a thoroughly competent officer, he was placed subordinate to a man years his junior. Afterwards, Major Butters demobilized him. Is it any wonder that there isconsternation insome of the camps, and that men are growling about their treatment? I ask the Assistant Minister for Defence to look into this matter, and see if he can compel the men who pretend to run the Defence Department to deal with matters of this sort. General Williams tried his best, but it was beyond him, and I think it is beyond the honorable the Assistant Minister also.
– The Minister isnow in danger of being demobilized himself.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will have his little joke. I want to know now from the Minister in charge if it is the intention of the Government to meet this Parliament next week or not.
– Undoubtedly. Next Wednesday.
– The Treasurer has more faith in his Prime Minister than I have, for, at times, I have seen the Prime Minister take the business out of the hands of every other Minister.
– Was that when he was your Prime Minister?
– Yes; it was when I followed his leadership.
– You took it very kindly then.
– I did not take it any more kindly than I do now; but I am not speaking in a personal sense at all. I am talking of the Prime Minister as a politician, or, as some people would say, as a statesman. He is careless what he does, so long as he holds his position. Proof of that was seen by his action when he left the party that placed him in Parliament. If he had taken a manly stand then, he would have handed over to the party that placed him here the portfolio which he received at their hands. When he would not do that, he showed that he would do anything to keep in power. In view of this fact, I want to know definitely from the Minister if it is the intention of the Government to have an election for the Senate only in May?
– If I told you that the matter has not been discussed, would you believe me?
– Yes; but I believe, also, that the Prime Minister considers much that lie does not discuss with his Cabinet.
– Then, why ask me the question ?
– Will the PostmasterGeneral, then, tell me if there will be an election for both Houses next May ?
– The honorable member will be told that after next Wednesday.
– With the Government it is a case of “ heads we win, tails you lose.” This position is not fair to the people of Australia. If our opponents are still in a minority in the Senate after May next - and even the most sanguine of them must admit the possibility - money will have to be expended on the holding of another election next September.- A little time ago there was talk of an appeal to the British Government to extend the life of the Senate until September, but, in my opinion, it would be improper to allow the Imperial Parliament to interfere in our domestic affairs. But should the casting of the dice give the Government party a majority in the Senate ‘‘in May next, there will be ho other election until after the war, and the people of Australia will be prevented from expressing their opinions on public questions.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to emphasize what the honorable member for Bendigo has said regarding the representation of Australia at the proposed Imperial Conference. To my mind, it is essential that, before any one is sent- to represent Australia at that Conference, Parliament should express its views on the matters likely to be dealt with. Otherwise the decisions of the Conference may be rejected by the people of Australia. The Prime Minister is not an acceptable representative. He is at the head of the smallest party in the House.
– And at the head of the biggest party in the country.
– In the country he is a discredited leader. He gained a bubble reputation in England by means of the Northcliffe press, but the people of Australia^ are beginning to know that they were misled by the cabled reports of his reception, the other, side of the picture having been carefully withheld from their view. The censor would not allow the Australian public to know the facts either as they came through the newspaper offices, or from private sources of information. If there is one party which more than another has the right to be represented at the Conference, if it is not, indeed, the only party that should be represented, it is the Labour party, which, at the last general election, secured the votes of a majority of the people. The people then declared that they wished the Labour party, to have charge of the affairs of the country during the war. But, apparently, the Labour party is . to have no voice or vote in connexion with the matters that are to be dealt with at the Im- “perial Conference. The Australian Labour party must reserve to itself the option of accepting or rejecting, as it thinks fit, the decisions of a Conference at which it is not represented. It is proposed that the leader of the smallest party in Parliament shall represent Australia at the Conference, but the country cannot be properly represented by the Prime Minister, and the Imperial authorities should know that he cannot and does not speak for us. I believe that, to a great extent, it is a good thing that Australia has been invited to a “say” regarding the war problems, but we must be careful in what we* do. I entirely disapprove of the decisions of the Paris Economic Conference, and shall oppose them by all the means at my disposal should they be’ introduced into this Parliament while I have the honour to be a member of it. I consider ‘those decisions likely to be destructive of the unity of the British Empire, which we wish to preserve. Nothing is more likely to cause irritation, disturbance, and destruction than the old fiscal trouble, that brought about the tea party in Boston Harbor over 100 years ago. If effect is given to the decisions of the Paris Economic Conference, it will be the beginning, of the end so far as the British Empire is concerned. If not only economic matters, but also matters such as the distribution of population throughout the Empire, are to be dealt with outside Australia, there will be trouble here. I am the last man to desire the disturbance of our relations with the Imperial authorities. The events of the last two years or more have shown that the thread of kinship is strong enough to hold the Empire together, and there is no danger of disruption while the independence of the governments of Dominions is preserved. But any limitation of their local governing powers would cause trouble. If there is to be an Imperial Council composed of representatives of the Dominions acting with British representatives, and it so manages or controls the affairs of the Empire as to restrict the freedom and to interfere with the government of any of the Dominions, irritation and disturbance will be caused.
– Are you not reading into those proposals something which really is not there?
– Judging by common talk in the newspapers, that is what the Imperial Council is meant to develop into.
– I do not think that it is intended to interfere in any way with our rights of self-government or to curtail them.
Mr.FINLAYSON.-If the Imperial Council has to determine anything in regard to Australian affairs, it must necessarily limit our power to deal with them.
– Would not the proposals have to come before this Parliament ? Surely you do not think that our representatives would commit us absolutely?
Mr.FINLAYSON.- I cannot imagine that the Imperial Council is going to come to some decisions, and that those decisions are to be valueless until they are ratified by the Dominions, because the mere fact that one Dominion failed to ratify the decisions would make them futile. I am anxious to retain our connexion with the British Empire. I am anxious to develop the British Empire so much that it will be the one power in every part of the world which will be a guarantee for liberty and freedom. It is because I dread the possibility of disruption and disintegration that I do not want anything to be introduced which might be a fruitful cause of trouble. There is only one thing more that I desire to say, and I am sorry that the Prime Minister is not here. Is it not about time that the stupid press censorship in Australia was stopped? Is it not about time that instead of the words about freedom in Australia flowing so glibly from the lips of the Prime Minister he allowed us to get back to the first qualification in regard to freedom, and that is a free speech and a free press? There is no other country in the world to-day - and I make no exception - where there is a greater limitation on speeph and on the press than in Australia. Yet the archpriest of the whole thing is the man who most glibly talks about freedom and liberty. I want to protest most vigorously against the continuation of this press censorship, which is stupid, which is foolish, which is only breeding trouble. One of these days the system will burst, and the Government that is responsible for the system, and particularly the Minister who is responsible for its existence, will have to answer to an outraged public for the limitation which he imposed on the press and the people at a time when we should have free, frank, and full discussion. If anything that ought to be said is stopped by a stupid press censorship, you may be certain that the more you dam the current of people’s thoughts, you are only hastening for yourselves the time when the dam will burst, and a flood will overwhelm you. This stoppage of free speech in Australia, this locking up of men because they dare to express an opinion which, in the. mind of some biased military officer, is prejudicialto recruiting, is an outrage on decency. It is foolish in the extreme, and, if for nothing else than their stupid, actions in this respect, the present Government ought to be hurled from the Treasury bench at the very first moment. Before we adjourned last year, the Prime Minister promised that the restriction on the press would be withdrawn. He gave a most solemnassurance that there would be no restriction on the press or on the platform, yet day after day returned soldiers are afraid to speak. I have a letter from a returned soldier, in which he says, “ One of these days I will be able to tell you some things, and they will be of use to you, but I dare not speak now.” I say here now, as I said eighteen months ago, that the biggest obstacle to recruiting is the way in which returned soldiers are being treated, the way in which their mouths are being closed; the way in which they are prevented from saying what they ought to say in regard to their treatment. I am not going to make an appeal to the Prime Minister to withdrawthe restriction on the press and on free speech. I only make the statement that it is a disgrace to Australia, and that some day the people will reward the Prime Minister for his outrageous conduct.
– When I was called to order I was referring to the fact that it is the intention of the Government to have only an election for the Senate. I may be asked, “ What are you afraid of? Are you not satisfied with an appeal to the people?” Every honorable member knows that a Senate election is not a reflex of the opinion of the people of Australia, but a reflex of the opinion of the States. There might be a majority of 10 to 1 in favour of a particular thing, but it would be lost because each State has the same representation in the Senate.
– That is a good thing.
– I am not dealing with that question now. Equal representation in the Senate was a bait to bring the smaller States into Federation. There could be an overwhelming majority in three States against the present Government, and the Senate election would not express the opinion o’f the people of Australia as to whether they preferred to have the present Government or a Coalition. That is why there ought to be an appeal to the Democracy of Australia, and not. to the States, so that they could rectify some of the muddle we are in to-day. The Ministers are trying to preserve their political skins, and it is “ up to us “ to stop their game. They could come back with a catch vote of the States and alter the constitution, of the Senate or the constitution of the House of Representatives. They could do anything they liked. They could gerrymander to their heart’s content, and the people of Australia would be left to their mercy for another period of three years. Everybody can understand that if the Government were to get a majority in the
Senate they could do what they liked. In a Fusion with the supporters of the right honorable member for Parramatta, the Government would have a majority here npw. If they should come back under our hybrid system with a majority in the Senate, will the combination tell us in black and white that they will not bring in conscription by proclamation in spite of the vote of the people on that question ?
– Yes, I think that you could get that promise from them ?
– I will not trust the Government.
– It would mean a big trouble if they did bring in conscription after the vote of the people.
– The present Government would dare anything for three years. I do not believe that they will live long but I do not wish to see a revolution in Australia. With the military behind them, and under our constitutional machinery, we can imagine that the Government would believe that they were doing what was correct, and leave it to the Empire to do this thing to save us from the great German menace. . My opinion is that they would dp, anything once they had a “majority in the Senate. I am not a very bloodthirsty individual. I believe that, with a majority in the Senate, the Fusion in this House would do just as they liked; but they will have to deal ultimately with the people of Australia. A Prime Minister in Europe has been shot for closing down Parliament and governing against the wishes of the people, and I believe that the same thing would take place here. But we are, after all, a people who believe in constitutional methods. We do not want any Industrial Workers of the World methods ; but even the sabotage of the Industrial Workers of the World is not a bit more extreme, nor more to be deplored, than would be the action of the Government, backed up by the Opposition, in carrying on the administration of theaffairs of the country against the wish of the people. Since we get no answer to our questions on the subject, we can only surmise what is going to take place. We have only one means of thwarting any such action by the Government, and, if I had my way, our majority in the Senate would refuse to grant a cent of Supply until we had received from the Government an assurance, from which they could not depart, that a proper election would take place in May. I would not allow the Government, with the support of the Opposition, and a vote of the States and not of the people of Australia, to continue this Parliament for another three years at their own sweet will, and to the detriment of the poople whom I represent.
Question resolved in. the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Poynton and Mr. Webster do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Poynton, and passed through all its stages without amendment.
Order of the Day read and discharged; Bill withdrawn.
Order of the Day read and discharged ; Bill withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. Jensen) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
Motion (by Mr. Jensen) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Can the Minister in charge intimate, what, business will be taken on Wednesday next? Some honorable members fear that there will be no sitting of the House nest Wednesday; but, in view of the motion which we have just carried, there can be no cause for that belief.We must meet on Wednesday, in order that we may receive the Supply Bill from the Senate. Will the Minister for the Navy state whether the sitting is to be merely a formal one oxtendihg over only a few minutes, or whether business is to be proceeded with? Are we merely to meet and adjourn to enable the new team to be re-shuffled? Can the Minister give us any information as to the result of the conference between the representatives of the Ministerial and Liberal parties, and as to what Ministers are to be thrown overboard ?
– Having regard to the political situation, I can hardly indicate what will be the nature of the business to be submitted on Wednesday nest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 February 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170208_reps_6_81/>.