7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Inter-State Commission Act - Inter-State Commission -
Prices Investigation Report- No. 7.- Meat - Further Report on Reinvestigation.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act-Appointment of B. S. B. Cook, Prime Minister’s Department.
Shipping - Return showing, under various headings,Ships thathave been withdrawn from service in Australian waters since the outbreak of the present war.
– Some time ago, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) asked a question concerning Public Service examinations, and an allegation of improper conduct in connexion with them. I promised that an inquiry should be made, and there has been some little delay in obtaining a report, but I am now informed that -
Inquiry has been made by a special officer deputed by the Minister, but no corroboration of the statements referred to in the press has been obtained.
The only thing at all bearing on the matter has reference to a simple departmental educational test of candidates for casual employment, in which, however, no educational college or institution is in any way involved.
In regard to this test, it was thought that the continued use of the same papers would lead to applicants acquiring a knowledge of the questions put, and the questions were suddenly changed, with the result that one applicant showed he must have had prior knowledge of them, probably derived from one who hud already undergone the test. The passing of this test did not insure employment in the Department, but merely served to give some indication as to whether the applicant had any educational qualifications to warrant consideration for employment. It is understood that another Department has held an examination at a business college recently, and the Minister has referred the papers showing the result of his inquiry to that Department for their informa- . tion.
– Referring to the reply given by the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to a question put to him by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan)with regard to Public Service examinations, I should like to ask whether his reply makes it clear that the inquiry completely exonerates the owners of the business college involved? Does it make it clear that no improper practice took place?
– The college in question was not involved in any examination relating to the Department of Defence. I said it was understood that another Department had held an examination at a business college recently, and that the Minister had referred to that Department for it’s information, the papers showing the result of his inquiry.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mt. Fenton) asked -whether the procedure* adopted in the overhauling of the kit bags of returned privates was different from that applied to officers’ kit bags. The departmental reply is as follows: -
Officers’ kits are examined by Customs officers before leaving the boat, while men’s kits are brought direct to the office of the Staff Officer for Invalids and Returned Soldiers, where they undergo the some examination by Customs officers as the officers’ baggage does.
Only articles of Government property and any souvenirs which are Suspected of containing explosives are taken from the kits; the latter, after examination, are returned to owners, if tho approval of the Intelligence Branch is obtained. It is not proposed to alter this procedure.
– Last week the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) asked me when the wheat silos in course of erection would be completed, and whether they would be in readiness for the farmers during the coming harvest. I have received from Senator Russell a report from the officer who has charge of silo construction on behalf of the Commonwealth. He says that -
No contracts have been let in Victoria. I understand the matter is still receiving the attention of State Government. The erection of silos in New South Wales is proceeding in the wheat districts under the contract system. Silos at Narromine and Peak Hill are practically complete, and work is, in progress at Dubbo, Wellington, Gilgandra, Eumungerie, and Geurie, in the western part of New South Wales. The silos are approaching completion at Uranquinty, and work is well under way at The Rock, Milbrulong, Lockhart, Boree Creek, and Oaklands, in the Riverina district, whilst the contractor for the wheat district between tho Mumimbidgee and Lachlan Valley is workins at Temora, Combaning, Stockinbingal, and Ariah Park.. It is anticipated that storage for at least 7,000,000 bushels, out of a total contract of 11,000,000 bushels, will be available for next harvest.
– I have received from the Serjeant-at-Arms the following report upon the matter which formed the subject of the motion of privilege yesterday : -
In regard to the telegram addressed to Mr. Considine which has been the subject of debate in the House. I have the honour to report that I have made inquiries from the attendant con cerned, who admits having received the. wire from a telegraph messenger between 8 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. The attendant, having satisfied himself that Mr. Considine was not about the House, pinned it to Mr. Considine’s letter-box. About half-an-hour afterwards the same telegraph messenger went to the attendant and said, “I’ve got to set that telegram back.”
The attendant asked if Mr. Considine hod given instructions to send the telegram to any other address. The telegraph messenger said he did not know. The attendant, thinking that the telegram was asked for in order that some error might bc corrected, then handed it to him.
No instruction has been given by any one in this Department which would authorize the giving up of correspondence to any person other than the member to whom it is addressed, except in cases where the member concerned gives such an instruction.
The instruction has been given to the attendants that, as soon as possible after they have been handed in by the telegraph messengers, telegrams must be delivered personally to the honorable members to whom they are addressed, if these honorable members are within the building.
– I desire to address a question to you, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the seizure of my correspondence. I understood your report to set out that the telegram was returned to the messenger who brought it in the first place to the House?
– So it was stated in tha report.
– That is not in accordance with the information at my disposal. The report, according to my information, is inaccurate in so far as it states that the telegram was returned to the messenger who originally brought it here. I am informed that it was re*’ turned to the individual who is in the habit of collecting press reports from, the House’ every half -hour.
-The honorable mem-, ber said he was going to ask me a question; he must not debate the matter.
– When shall I be in order in further discussing it?
– If the honorable member believes that there is ari inaccuracy in the report, I shall be glad if he will see me. I will arrange for the messenger concerned to be present at the interview, so that, if he desires, the matter can be further explained.
– Even accepting the accuracy of the report as based on the evidence which you, sir, were able to obtain, I would point out that it does not touch the question of what authority was responsible for the seizure of my telegrams once they had been delivered to the custody of a messenger of this House.
– On the question of privilege, sir, am I to understand that your report is final? Obviously it does not touch the point to which the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has just referred. There is a junior telegraph messenger-
– Order! Honorable members will not be in order in discussing the matter at this stage. I would remind them, however, that this is what is known as Grievance Day, and that, on the formal Supply motion, which will be submitted later, the whole question can be discussed.
– In view of the statement made by Mr. Speaker in connexion with the interference with my correspondence, is it the intention of the Government to make any inquiry into the matter of ascertainingwho was responsible for the action taken - whether it was the Postal Department or the military censor ?
– If the honorable member desires the Government to make an inquiry into the matter, I will have one made as early as possible. If yesterday, instead of moving as he did in the House, he had made such a request, he could have obtained the same answer.
– I asked whether it was the intention of the Government to make any inquiry. I did not ask for an inquiry to be made.
– If the honorable member wishes me to make an inquiry, I shall do so.
– I am not asking any favour.
– The inquiry will not bo made as a favour.
– A few weeks ago I asked the Acting Prime Minister when the Government proposed to introduce the industrial legislation referred to in the Ministerial programme, and his reply was that the Government were considering the matter, and an answer would be given at a later date. Has that later date yet arrived?
– I am in a position to inform the honorable member that it is not proposed to introduce that legislation during the present sittings.
– Has the InterState Commission, in the report recently received by the Government, recommended the fixing of the price of meat, and, if so, what action does the Government propose to take in the matter.
– The report of the Inter-State Commission does recommend the fixation of the price of meat, but the Government do not consider that the recommendations are capable of practical operations and, being anxious to solve the difficulties with which this subject is surrounded, are at present giving attention to an alternative course.
Relief to Sufferers
– On several occasions I have put a question to the Acting Prime Minister in regard to the granting of relief to sufferers from the cyclone in the Cairns and Innisfail districts. I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether the Cabinet have considered the matter; and, if so, at what determination they have arrived. I have received a telegram from the secretary of the Innisfail Vigilance Committee which reads as follows: -
Vigilance Committee strongly urge your Government immediately extend cyclone relief Innisfail district on same lines as was done to Mackay district.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister include Rockhampton in the relief scheme?
– That is another matter. It is true that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) has on three occasions, I think, endeavoured to elicit from the Government what assistance they are prepared to offer sufferers from the cyclone in the Cairns district. In order to make it clear that we were doing our share, and that only, I telegraphed to the Premier of Queensland, asking what his Government proposed to do. I have received a reply, which I saw for the first time this morning, intimating what amount the Queensland Government intend to give. I am now in a position to say that tha Federal Government will grant a similar amount for the relief of the sufferers. I am anxious, if I can get in touch with my colleagues, to ascertain whether we cannot increase that amount. I hope to be able to determine the exact amount of the grant this week, but the honorable member oan rely on, at least, a grant similar to that made by Queensland being contributed by the Commonwealth.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister take into consideration the question of granting to sufferers by floods at Rockhampton relief similar to that given by the Queensland Government by way of grant to the Flood Relief Committee ?
– I do not remember having heard this request before, but if the honorable member will furnish me with particulars of the matter I will have it considered.
Tenders for Machinery
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy state whether tenders are being called for the supply of the machinery, boilers, &c, required for the various ships that are to be built in Australia?
– The honorable member is referring to the machinery required for the fitting up of the ships?
– Tenders will be called. I have established what is known as a Tender Board, which will deal with them.
– Has that system applied in the past?
– No. In the past some firms were invited, on the grounds of urgency, to supply quotations. I have, however, established a Tender Board, which will deal with future tenders. For all works of any importance, tenders will be advertised.
Arrivals and Departures
– The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer), on 11th April last, asked the Prime Minister, before his departure for England, certain questions relating to the classification of Germans within the Commonwealth. The honorable members’ questions were as follow: -
I have now ascertained that the particulars are: - 1 and 2. (a) Number of Germans who have arrived in Australia since the declaration of war -
Practically the whole of these arrivals represent prisoners of war.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he is aware that some nine members’ of the original Anzacs recently returned to Sydney, and that there was no public welcome tendered them? There was no public recognition of their services, and no means placed at their disposal for necessary amusement and. entertainment except that provided by a Sydney club. Will the honorable gentleman see that some steps are taken to more appropriately mark the return of these original Anzacs - some of Australia’s greatest heroes?
– I understand that a similar question was asked yesterday in another place. I saw to-day the reply furnished in answer to that question, and it is that inquiries are being made into the matter.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister say when there will he any likelihood of facilities being afforded for the export of leather to England?
– From the information at my disposal, I am afraid that I can only give an answer to the honorable member’s question in a general way by saying that tile Government have been pressing the British authorities frequently^ by cablegrams, and correspondence, to give greater facilities for the export of leather. Recently we were able to get a concession for the export of 1,200 or 1,600 bales, which afterwards was not fully utilized, because the time available was not sufficient. However, the honorable member will realize that the Government are doing, their utmost to accomplish all they can in the direction which he has indicated.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister obtain certain information which is in the hands of Mr. Holmes, Commissioner of the State Accident Insurance of Victoria, in regard to the system adopted by the United States of America for insuring against the loss of life or disability of its soldiers and sailors, and have it printed and supplied to honorable members ?
– The idea is an excellent one. I did not know that Mr. Holmes was in possession of this information. I shall obtain it, if I may, at the earliest possible moment for the benefit of honorable members.
– On the 16th inst., the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked -
In view of the gr.-.t inconvenience caused to the public by the use of old directories at various post-offices, will the Postmaster-General cause up-to-date directories to be issued?
Prior to this year residential directories were purchased and supplied annually to fifty-one post-offices in Victoria, at a total cost of £53 Ils. The Deputy PostmasterGeneral did not consider the provision to such offices of a copy of the 1918 edition of the directory a necessity, and, in view of the urgent need for economy, decided not to supply it. At each post-office a copy of the relative Commonwealth electoral divisional or subdivisional roll is available for public and official reference:
On the same day the honorable member also asked -
In view of the potentialities of the existing electoral rolls, will the Postmaster-General give consideration to the matter of issuing a more perfect directory by utilizing the information contained in them?
The requirements of the Department do not necessitate the use of a directory. The chief office is supplied with a purchased directory, and at all offices a copy of the Commonwealth electoral divisional or subdivisional roll is available for public and official reference.
– Has the Minister in charge of price fixing any information to give in reply to a question submitted to him the other day in regard to the price of chaff, and has his Department considered the advisability of establishing flour, bran, and pollard pools?
– The matters are receiving the consideration of the Department.
– The British coat of arms appears on a document which has been circulated to-day. While we all pay our respect to the British coat of arms, I would like to know if there is any reason why the Australian coat of arms, which has been adopted by this Parliament, cannot appear on documents issued by the House?
– I know of no reason why the Australian coat of arms should not appear on documents issued by the House, but the matter does not come within my. control.
– I would like to know from Mr. Speaker why the Australian coat of arms has been ignored, and whether he will see that in future it is used upon Hansard, and upon all documents which coree under his control for issue?
– If honorable members wish to have the Australian coat of arms printed on documents connected with Parliament, I see no reason why it should not be done. As a matter of fact, it is printed on most of the stationery j- but I have ascertained that there is a quantity on hand bearing the British coat of arms, and it would be as well to exhaust it before any alteration is made. I presume that in the absence of any instructions to the contrary, the Government Printer has followed the old practice of using the British coat of arms.
– Will you, Mr., Speaker, kindly inquire and report to the House what are the coats-of-arms used by Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa ?
– I shall be very glad to titan ply with the honorable member’s request.
– With reference to the inquiry made by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) on the 8th instant for a statement showing what ships have been taken from the coastal service, and what other ships have been taken to economize in the handling of coastal produce and passenger traffic, with special reference to the abandonment of the wasteful system of travelling to timetable which used to obtain in the overseas service, I lay on the table of the House a summary showing, under various headings, the vessels which have been withdrawn from service in Australian waters, together with lists which formed the basis of the summary. With regard to the honorable member’s reference to the abandonment of travelling to timetable in the overseas service. I desire to state that the time-tables in that service have all been suspended.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any objection to restoring the design of postage stamps which shows the kangaroo on a map of Australia? That is the stamp which was adopted by a Labour Government supported previously by the honorable gentleman.
– Having regard to the financial strain, this is not the time to indulge in the introduction of new stamps for Australia.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral serious in stating that it would cause extra expense to reinstate the kangaroo stamp, seeing that every stamp, from 2d. to £2, already bears the kan garoo? Only the £d. and the Id. stamps are without the kangaroo.
– I was referring to the printing of a new issue of stamps, and in view of the fact that paper is a very costly luxury to-day.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister, in order to relieve the terrible stagnation in the tanning- trade, again cable to the British Government, asking .them, if possible, to afford some relief in the way of taking shipments of. leather?
– Begging of the Mother Country again !
– Does the Acting Prime Minister hear that interjection?
– Is not the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) quite right?
– It is not begging; my desire is that we should supply the manufactured article.
– These conversations may be very interesting, but they are very disorderly.’
– I do not know, when the most recent cable was sent to the Old Country about this matter, but if it was not quite lately I shall certainly make further representations to the British authorities.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister at the same time request, by cable, that shipping space be found for eucalyptus oil?
– As a considerable consumer of eucalyptus oil just now myself, I do not wish too much of the commodity to leave Australia. However, I do not know the circumstances of the oil trade, while ‘ I am aware of the pressure on the tanning trade.
– I desire to say a word or two under cover of the standing order which permits personal explanations. I am represented in a section of the press this morning as having been engaged last night in a “ stone-walling “ speech. I think honorable members will agree that I was earnestly engaged, at great personal inconvenience, and animated by the sternest sense of duty, in discussing a’ question of the very first importance to Australia. I resent very much an imputation of the kind in ‘the press. Although “stone-walling” is not officially known to you, Mr. ‘Speaker, still the imputation has an offensive significance to me. All honorable members who were present when the closure was moved last night must have been aware that the reason for its application, seeing that I had spoken for only about twenty minutes, “was that I expressed views unpleasant to the Minister who stopped me.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy aware that at Garden Island, at the present time, men of the Naval force, who are sentenced to ninety days’ imprisonment for minor offences, have to wheel stones in barrows for a certain time during the day from one heap to another, and that if they do not do this in a given time, or become exhausted, an attendant applies a baton to them, and removes them to dark cells ? If the facts are as alleged by my informant, will the Minister take the necessary steps to have the system stopped?
– I have never heard of this before. Do I understand that the honorable member asks me to remove the baton ?
– I fl.sk you to apply some other method of enforcing discipline.
– If the honorable member will place the question on the notice-paper I shall have inquiries made.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that a Mrs. Buhmeyer left for Japan by the Nikko jtfo.ru with the Hon. D. R. Hall and party, and whether a cable was received by the Defence Department early in April in reference to Mrs. Buhmeyer?
– As intimated by me in the House on the 22nd instant, it has been ascertained that a Mrs. Buhmeyer obtained a passport in February last to accompany the Hon. D. R. and Mrs. Hall on their trip abroad. Mrs. Buhmeyer was to leave Australia o.i the 1’ t/,1.:0 Maru on 24th February. No such telegram us that referred to by the honorable member has been received.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I regret that I have been unable to get this information to-day, but if the honorable member will repeat the question to-morrow, I hope to be able to answer it.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice-
– As I ‘have received a letter on this subject from the solicitors acting for the Letter Carriers’ Association, and the matter is therefore sub judice, the honorable member will realize that I am not in a position to answer his questions.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
New Buildings : Administrator : Flying of Flags
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he inform the House -
What are the numerous wooden buildings that have lately been erected at Canberra intended for?
Is there a military guard installed; and, if so, for what reason?
Is it a fact that the head officer of the Territory is addressed as “ His Excellency the Governor”; and, if so, who is he, and does he fly the Union, Jack at his residence like, as it is stated, the late Administrator, Colonel Miller, did ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. A camp for prisoners of war has been established in the Federal Territory.
asked the Assistant
Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made into this matter, and the honorable member will be advised immediately they are completed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Mr. Gilbert, lately connected with the proposed Labour daily paper, the World, is to be appointed to the position of Controller of Repatriation; and, if so, are there no returned soldiers, no citizens of Australia or members of the Public Service, who could fill such position, and so justify advertising it?
– The position of Controller has been offered to Mr. Gilbert, who possesses special qualifications for the position, owing to his unique experience. He was, in the first place, secretary of the New South Wales War Council when that body was created. He was subsequently secretary to the late Board of Repatriation Trustees, and as such was charged with the administration of the Act. The Board has left on record its high estimate of his organizing and administrative abilities. Since the passing of the present Act, he has been closely associated with the preparation and launching of the new scheme.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the reported intention of the British Government to negotiate with Germany for an exchange of prisoners of war who have been a long time in captivity, will he make representations to the Imperial authorities so that a proportion of those to be exchanged will be Australians?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
On the 23rd July, 1917, a cablegram was despatched by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to the Secretary of State for the
Colonics stating that it was presumed Australian prisoners of war would be included in the agreement which it was understood had been made between the United Kingdom and Germany for the exchange of prisoners of war.
The Secretary of State replied on the 28th July that that assumption was correct.
The Commandant of the Australian Imperial Force, London, has reported that up to 25th March, 1918, 2 officers and 110 others have been repatriated ex Holland, and 1 officer and 24 others ex Switzerland. Of those repatriated to England, 1 officer and 23 others have been returned to Australia. There were at that date interned in Switzerland 10 officers and 100 others.
A cablegram was despatched to the HighCommissioner on the 23rd instant asking whether any further particulars were available in this connexion, and what were the full conditions at present governing the repatriation and exchange of Australian military and civilian prisoners of war.
It is considered unnecessary at present to make further representations to the Imperial authorities of the nature suggested by the honorable member.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he place on the table of the House a copy of the evidence given in connexion with the recent appeal to the Arbitration Court by the Professional Officers’ Association and the findings of Mr. Justice Higgins thereon?
– The award of the Court in respect of this plaint was laid on the table of the House on the 16th instant. The evidence may be seen by the honorable member at the Public Service Commissioner’s office.
asked the Assistant Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– This matter has been dealt with by two Departments, and I will give the reply from each. The Re-‘ patriation Department replies -
The Defence Department replies -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Shipment of Condemned Tea - Importation of Motor Cars and Chassis - Prohibited Imports - Tanning IndustryCompulsory Military Training : Broken Hill Prosecutions - Cost of Living at Broken Hill - Censorship - Deportation of Italians - Privilege : Interference with Member’s Correspondence - Development of Papuan and Australian Oil Fields - Supply of Wool and Metals - Tariff : Australian Industries - Returned Soldiers : Vocational Training - Soldiers’ Dependants - Defence Administration - Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms - Supply of Meat by Angliss and Company - Bureau of Science and Industry - State Insurance of Soldiers - St. Arnaud Recruiting Committee - Age of Enlistment - Transport of Troops: Food and Accommodation - Case of “ Gordon McDonald “ - Ministers’ Replies to Questions - Italian Consul-General - Industrial Conscription.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair - proposed.
.- Last week I asked a question of the Minister for Trade and Customs in regard to a quantity of tea that was condemned in 1916, and recently was granted a permit for shipment out of Australia. It is well known to honorable members that if goods . are condemned by the Customs Department they are forfeited to the Crown, and I cannot recollect any instance - although there may have been such even during my own control of the Department - when condemned goods have been released. This tea was condemned as unfit for consumption in Australia, and, according to the answer given by the Minister, a permit was granted for the shipment of the tea to Russia, but as there was difficulty in arranging shipment to that country the tea was sent to America. I contend t hat when food has been condemned as unfit for human consumption it should not be handed backto the importing firm. The firm has no right to export these goods to another country.
– They will be condemned there.
– They may, or may not; but we should not permit the exportation of goods which we will not. allow to go into consumption here. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs, a large importation of condensed milk was condemned, and its distribution through Australia prohibited. Those who were responsible for the milk wished to get permission to treat it in bond, relabel it, and send it away; but that was not allowed.
– This tea may not be up to our standard, but the standard of some other country may be lower than ours, and the tea may not be actually unwholesome.
– It is not wholesome. I have been given to understand that moisture was running out of it when it was in the King’s warehouse. I do not know whether it got damp through injury done to the vessel which brought it here.
– I take it that what the Department did was to hand it back to the owners.
– It was condemned as unfit for human consumption, and was not allowed to be sold in Australia. I hope that the Minister will go further into the matter, and will see that foodstuffs that do not conform to our standards are not allowed to be exported to other parts of the world.
I wish to direct his attention also to the embargo on the importation of certain articles’, which took effect on 10th August of last year. In February of last year questions were asked in this House as to what would be done in connexion with the prohibition of the importation of luxuries, to which the reply of the Prime Minister was that the matter had been referred to a committee for inquiry, and that the committee would report on the subject. The Prime Minister said that ‘we in Australia should do what they were doing in other parts of the world, and a cablegram came from Mr. Lloyd George saying that Australia could best help the Empire by becoming more selfsupporting. The list of prohibitive importations was a miserable one. I remember ridiculing it, and the Minister saying that my criticism was not fair. Among thé-prohibited articles were bay rum, scent, and eggs - this latter prohibition being evidently the ‘ premonition of the Warwick trouble. The Minister knows well that Australia produces about £2,500,000 of eggs, and has never imported more than £25,000 worth in any one year. The prohibition of the importation of motor cars was also ordered, and went in the right direction, being a step towards the encouragement of Australian industry. The matter is one which we should deal with further in connexion with the Tariff, so that those in the industry may have definite knowledge on which to work. This prohibition respecting the importation of motor cars has been amended from Sme to time. Anything for which a’ firm’s order had been given prior to the date of the embargo - the 10th August last - was to be allowed to come in within a certain period, which has been extended three times. The date first fixed for the termination of that period was 31st December last. Then the 31st March was fixed, and now the date is 30th June.
– Shipping troubles were the cause of that.
– No doubt they were largely responsible for it, but the period of ten and a half months now allowed should be sufficient. It is feared in the trade, however, that this period may be extended if sufficient pressure be exerted, because the extensions have been so many. I hope that there will be no further extension. Last week I asked the Minister how many cars and chassis of certain makes had been imported. The rule is, I understand, that for every complete car imported two chassis must be imported, those importations being in addition to the firm orders of which I have just spoken. In regard to the importation of complete cars and chassis, I take it that it is not the Minister’s intention that, say, 1,000 complete Fords should be imported, and in conjunction with them 2,000 chassis of some other make of car.
– I would not permit that.
– I am. glad to hear that; but there is a fear in the trade that such action is being taken. A grievance with certain employees in the motor-body building industry is that some motorbody builders are importing panels and mudguards practically made up. Of course these importations are dutiable as manufactures of metal at, I think, 30 or 40 per cent. ad valorem, according to the country of origin ; but I ask the Minister to look into the matter, because the object of the pro:hibition of luxuries was two-fold : to save shipping space, and to encourage local industry. I have it on good authority that one firm alone has imported 60i> pairs of mud-guards and sets of panelsfor fifty complete cars, and that these things thus imported took up at least three times as much space, if not more, than would have been occupied by the sheet-iron or sheet-steel necessary ro make them here. The Minister has had the other matter brought under his notice, because I introduced to the Acting ComptrollerGeneral a deputation which made representations on the subject. I should like him to make a definite statement to the effect that the time within which firm orders may be imported will not be further extended, and that when the present embargo on importations has been removed, the motor-car industry in Australia will receive a sufficient amount of Tariff protection to justify it in continuing. Manufacturers are naturally reluctant to extend their businesses unless they can be certain that after the war they wilt have ‘a chance of keeping going. ,
I wish now to refer to a matter which does not directly come under the Minister for Trade and Customs, but he will, I hope, bring my remarks under the notice of his colleague. The honorable members for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald), myself, and others have asked questions regarding the prohibition of the exportation of leather, and the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) asked that the exportation of a certain quantity of eucalyptus oil might be permitted. I understand that the British Government will take hides, but not leather, from Australia. Our leather is not objected to on the score of quality, it being admitted by all experts that it is equal to, if not better than, any leather with which it comes into competition. No one has a greater knowledge of this subject than has the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt). When Great Britain imports, say, 1,000 tons of hides, she has- to import, probably, 1,500 tons of tanning material, greases, and oils to make those hides into leather. Australia, on the other hand, possesses most of the materials .necessary for the making of leather, of which the three chief are hides, tauning material and grease. “ Of recent years we have imported bark from South Africa, that bark being the produce of trees from seeds of Australian origin. As the honorable member for Eden-Monaro knows, representations on the subject were made to me, and one of the last alterations of the Tariff was to put an import duty on tanning bark, to encourage its local production. For many years we have been exporting tallow. If, instead of sending hides, we sent leather to England, the weight of the shipments would probably be from three-quarters to _ four-fifths of what it is, and only about one-third of the weight of the hides and various tanning materials necessary to make those hides into leather.
– A good deal of the tanning material is produced in Great Britain.
– Not so much, proportionately, as in Australia, which is particularly fortunate in respect of its supplies of raw material.
– If the Government doubled the honorable member’s duty they would do the industry a service.
– No Minister would say what it was intended to do regarding a Tariff alteration.
– The honorable member should urge the Government.
– Shall I make the suggestion that my example be followed? At one time our tanners held £600,000 worth of leather which they were not permitted to export. This is a serious matter, particularly for the tanners of heavy sole leather, of which we produce more than of any other class, and that is the sort which we usually export. We are able to obtain the hides from Queensland, and other States, and it is well that we should utilize them. These hides can be turned into leather, not only in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia, but even in Western Australia and Tasmania to a smaller degree. The Minister should see that representations are made to the British authorities that from the point of view of the saving in freight alone it would pay them to take the leather rather than. the hides from Australia. It would be a good thing for Australian trade, and also for the Mother Country.
– I think it well, Mr. Speaker, that at the outset I should ask for a quorum. * Quorum formed.]* Some little time ago I brought before the House the fact that a number of vindictive persecutions in connexion with the administration of the compulsory service provisions of the Defence Act were taking place in Broken Hill. The Minister representing the Minister for Defence yesterday made a statement to the effect that these prosecutions had resulted in great good to the Department, and an increase of discipline among the lads. I have here a number of copies of the Barrier Daily Truth, and from one dated 21st May I gather that on the previous day there were 20 more of these prosecutions at Broken Hill. One case was that of a Maltese, who was unable to speak English. Owing to his inability to read the proclamation issued in English, he did not answer the call, with the result that he was served with a summons by Lieut. Davey to appear at the Police Court. He explained that as soon as the proclamation had been translated into Maltese, so that he could read and understand it, he registered as required. The magistrate, however, said, “ I must convict. Ignorance of the law cannot be accepted as an excuse. In the circumstances the defendant is fined £5, with 3s. costs, in default one month in custody.” Common sense suggests that it was ridiculous to fine a lad £5 for his failure to comply with the requirements of a proclamation in English which he could not read, especially when, as soon asits purport was made known to him, he obeyed the law. He was fined £5, apparently not for failure to comply with the provisions of the Defence Act, but for his inability to read English. This case, in common with others, shows that the authorities at Broken Hill are not exercising common sense or displaying any reasonable discrimination. On the contrary, both on the military and civil side, they seem to be actuated by a spirit of vindictiveness. The Minister tells us, with his tongue in his cheek, that these prosecutions have been attended with good results. So far as I can see, they are not likely to be beneficial. The compulsory service provisions of the Act are being administered in a way that is developing on the part of the relatives and friends of these lads ‘a feeling of exasperation and a determination which, at no distant date, will lead to a farreaching agitation for the abolition of compulsory training. I hope that the Minister will not confine his attention to the cases he has already investigated, but will keep himself in touch with the prosecutions which are continuously being launched at Broken Hill, and that he will find some other excuse than he has offered for the disparity between the fines inflicted for such offences there as compared with those imposed in other centres. The desire in the minds of the military and civil authorities at Broken Hill is, apparently, to break down the spirit of the Barrier lads, so that they will be more susceptible to the influence of their employers.
Another, and if anything a more serious, matter affecting the general population of Broken Hill relates to the abnormally high prices of foodstuffs and clothing there I have received from the Barrier District Assembly Political Labour League a letter intimating that they have conveyed the following resolution to the Prime Minister: -
That this assembly demand that immediate action be taken by the Federal Government against the ever-increasing cost of necessary commodities in Broken Hill.
In explanation of this resolution the secretary states that the assembly considers that the industrial unrest on the Barrier is created through the ever-increasing cost of living, and that they consider that this is detrimental to the morale of the country generally. I have lists of some of the prices prevailing quite lately at Broken Hill. The following is the pricelist of the local Butchers Association, as published in the Barrier Daily Truth of 4th inst: -
Beef (cash) -
Sirloin, with bone,1s. per lb.
Ribs, with bone,11d. per lb.
Steak, pieces,1s.1d. per lb.
Thin flank, whole, 7d. per lb.
Rump steak,1s. 5d. per lb.
Undercut,1s. 7d. per lb.
Beef steak,1s. 2d. per lb.
Gravy beef,1s. per lb.
Corn beef,11d. per lb.
Corned round,1s. per lb.
Leg beef, whole, 6d. per lb.; cut, 7d. per lb.
Shin beef, whole, 6d. per lb.; cut, 7d. per lb.
Clod bone, whole, 6d. per lb.; cut, 7d. per lb.
Sausages, 9d. per lb.
Suet, 6d. per lb.
Rendering fat, 6d. per lb.
Pressed beef,1s.5d. per lb.
Dripping, 8d. per lb.
Tripe,10d. per lb.
Poloney,1s. per lb.
Cow heels, 6d. per lb.
Ox tongue,1s. per lb. ,
Ox kidney,1s. per lb.
Ox tail, 9d. per lb.
Ox heart, 6d. per lb.
Fritz,1s. 3d. per lb.
Black and white pudding,9d. per lb.
Saveloys, 2s. 6d. per dozen.
Soup bones (minimum), 6d. ,
Hind quarter, whole,11d. per lb.
Fore quarter, whole, 9d. per lb.
Loin, without flap,1s.1d. per lb.
Shoulder,11d. per lb.
Spanish neck,11d. per lb.
Spanish neck, best end,1s. per lb.
Breast and hand,10d. per lb.
Neck and breast,10d. per. lb.
Chops,1s.1d. per lb.
Chops, short loin,1s. 2d. per lb.
Fry, 6d. per lb.
Suet, 4d. per lb.
Sheep tongues, 4s. per dozen.
Flaps, 7d. per lb ,
Knuckles, 7d. per lb.
Sheep kidneys,11/2d. each.
Hind quarter,1s. per lb.
Fore quarter,11d. per lb.
Leg,1s. 2d. per lb.
Loin,1s.1d. per lb.
Loin,1s. per lb.
Fillet,1s. 2d. per lb.
Cutlets,1s. 4d. per lb.
Shoulder, 9d. per lb.
All joints, fresh,1s. per lb.
All joints, pickled,1s. per lb.
Pig’s head, 8d. per lb.
Sausages,10d. per lb.
Pig’s fry, 8d. per lb.
Chops,1s. 2d. per lb.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- I have also the prices operating in Brisbane -
Head shop: Roma-street, Brisbane.
Branches: King Edward Chambers, Wickham- street, Valley; Five Ways, Woolloon- gabba; Latrobe Terrace, Paddington;
Kent-street, Tenerifle; Bay Terrace, South
Roast, prime rib, 41/2d. per lb.
Roast, sirloin, 61/2d. per lb.
Roast, chuck rib, 31/2d. per lb.
Steak, fillet,8d. per lb.
Steak, rump, 71/2d. per lb.
Steak, beef,51/2d. per lb.
Topside, in piece, 5d. per lb.
Corned round, 51/2d. per lb.
Corned brisket. 31/2d. per lb.
Corned ox tongues, 6d. per lb.
Gravy meat, 51/2d. per lb.
Sausages, 5d. per lb.
Mince, 4d. per lb.
Shin beef, 4d. per lb.
Ox skirts, 4d. per lb.
Ox cheeks, 3d. per lb.
Suct,6d. per lb.
Ox kidneys, 6d. each.
Ox tails,10d. each.
Ox hearts,6d. each.
No booking. No delivery. Cash at counter. I have not been able to obtain quotations for mutton, ham, or pork. The Barrier householders have also to pay the following prices for wood, a very material factor in the cost of living : -
Long wood - 1 ton, 36s. (minimum 35s.) ; 1/2 ton, 18s. 6d. (minimum 18s) ;1/4 ton, 9s. 3d.) 3 cwts., 6s.; 2cwts., 4s. 3d.;1 cwt., 2s. 3d.
Short wood - 1 ton, 41s. 6d.;1/2 ton, 21s.; 1/4 ton, 10s. 9d.; 3 cwts., 7s.; 2 cwts., 4s. 9d.; 1 cwt., 2s. 6d.
Stove wood - 1 ton, 43s. 6d.;1/2 ton, 22s. 6d.; 1/2 ton,11s. 3d.; 3 cwts., 7s. 6d.; 2 cwts., 5s.; 1 cwt.,2s. 6d. .
I have also some figures that were supplied by members of the Commonwealth
Public Service Association when they were anxious to secure an increased allowance for living in Broken Hill. These figures are as follow : -
In their statement of claim the members of this association said -
The commodities dealt with in these official figures do not embrace other necessaries of life such as fuel, light, water, fresh milk, vegetables, &c, which, while being equally serious factors in the total cost of living, represent in the case of Broken Hill the items in which, in fact, the excess is most evident, as will be seen in the accompanying schedule prepared by this organization after most careful inquiry.
In addition to the high cost of living, the climatic conditions of Broken Hill, combined with the absence of any natural facilities for recreation, render a periodical change of air essential to the health and efficiency of officers and their families, but owing to the isolation of the locality a change for recreation purposes - especially to a family man - is almost prohibitive.
If this is so necessary for these officers, how much more necessary is it for those who have to toil in the mines, with the round of shifts, day, night, and afternoon, week after week, without any holidays, and without the benefit of receiving the allowance made to members of the Public Service for the increased cost of living at Broken Hill ?
On the last occasion on which I was in the town I made it my business to obtain prices of other necessaries of life used by the working men and women. The list supplied to me compares the prices existing in May, 1916 - two years after the war started - with the prices existing in March of this year. The comparison is shown in the following table : -
If honorable members will listen they will hear of a form of sabotage different from that which they accuse the workers of practising -
What is. true of Broken Hill in the glaring cases I have cited is true of every industrial centre in Australia. Honorable , members opposite are exercised in their minds as to why the workers are dissatisfied with existing conditions. - why it is that the workers are not what honorable members opposite are pleased to call patriotically interested in the progress of the war, or in the obtaining of the particular number of recruits that the Government declare are necessary.
– If the honorable member will wake up and move among the workers he will find that the great majority are particularly interested in bringing the .war to a close.
– I know the workers, and they know me, too.
– The workers will know the honorable member better after next election, because then, I hope, he will be back amongst them.
– Unfortunately, the election is a long way off for some of them.
– Of course it is, for the Government has not the slightest intention to go back to their masters so long as the war lasts. There is no particular anxiety to consult the workers -is to the war, the high cost of living, or any. thin” else, because the only occasions ou which the workers and the people generally have been consulted have had results eminently unsatisfactory to the supporters of the Government.
– That comes well from the only man in the House who was elected on a minority vote !
– I may have been elected on a minority vote, but, anyhow, it was an intelligent one. I am not the only man who has met difficulties in seeking to enter this House to represent the working classes; and I think the honorable member for Wilmot, or any other honorable member, will find it hard to obtain that “minority” vote of mine if they take the trouble to contest my seat - anyhow, I extend to them a hearty invitation to try. The “ minority “ vote at Broken Hill hurt honorable members opposite just as much as if I had been returned by a majority of 100,000, and it is my business to see that it continues to hurt.
As I was saying, honorable members opposite are much exercised , in their minds by the unrest among the workers. We all know that the basic principle “of every political party, and of every political mind - that which colours the view of politics and all that goes to constitute modern life - is con cerned with, the methods necessary to obtain our bread and butter. Alt depends on these methods and the use made of the machinery of wealth production and on how the people who produce the wealth succeed in getting an equitable distribution of the -wealth which they produce. Herein is the fundamental cause of the divisions of political parties and all other parties that spring to life in the community. The workers to-day are beginning to recognise the truth of this, and to have their eyes opened more and more. They see that the people who prate so much about “patriotism,” with the emphasis on the “ Pav>” are the very people who are engaged in exploiting the community through high prices. At the same time fault is found with the workers, who receive nominal wages fixed by the Arbitration Court, mutual agreement, or a strike, and who, with the continuous rise in prices, find themselves in a worse position than before. The process will continue until the people outside, unless some alteration is made, will be driven to desperation in their vain efforts to make ends meet. It is no use’ talking nice platitudes to these people, for platitudes will not nay the landlord or procure beef steak at ls. 7d. and ls. 8d. per lb. If the workers do not receive sufficient in return for their labour at Broken Hill or elsewhere to enable them to procure a bare existence there must be trouble, and all the wars in creation will not prevent it. Selfpreservation is said to be the first law of nature, and this forces the working classes outside to agitate and “ kick over the traces “ until such time as they can obtain the necessaries of life. It reflects no credit on the Government, or those behind them, that this state of things is allowed to prevail in Australia at the present time. On the one hand, we see in operation all the rigours of the law, and all the vindictiveness possible, exercised in penalizing the children of the workers at Broken Hill for some trumpery breach of discipline in their training under the compulsory sections of the Defence Act, while at the same time the cost of living is raised to such an extent as to make it impossible for the parents to pay the fines. This means that the children must be dragged to gaol, and there kept until the flouted majesty of the law is vindicated.
Honorable gentlemen opposite talk about the absolute necessity for the flotation of war loans; but they almost take an apoplectic fit at the bare . suggestion that, in order to save the Empire and preserve our liberties, the wealthy, who are engaged in exploiting the Test of the community, should be deprived of their 4£ per cent., free of taxation, and removed from the pinnacle whereon they demand admiration and respect as glorious “patriots.”
– The Acting Prime Minister has already stated that the interest on the new loan will have to beartaxation.
– And I have not the slightest doubt that the Acting Minisister for the Navy, and the rest of the Ministry, and their supporters, will, in the usual way, so fix up the rate of interest as not to do their particular friends any harm.
– You do not give .away much for nothing.
– 1 give nothing for nothing, for the simple reason that I “ have nothing to give.
– But you do not mind giving away somebody else’s money.
– I would not mind starting with the honorable gentleman’s “ pile.”
– You can have my overdraft very cheap.
– Although honorable members opposite from time to time express disagreement with the policy of the Government, on every occasion when a question is taken to a vote, they, with, very few exceptions, support a Ministry which is denying the community the liberty to express the truth, and preventing the representatives of the people from telling it. There was the raid and seizure within these walls by Senator Pearce’s handy men of the reprinted speech of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) ; and, further, we have seen the Government, in conjunction with a foreign Power, seizing Italians who have been resident in Australia for years, and who came here because they believed this country . to be free from the military tyranny that is exercised in Europe. All they asked was to be allowed to conform to the existing law, and rear their families in peace and comfort. No crime has been alleged against them, but a foreign power claims their allegiance in time of war, and in spite of the fact that the Australian people have said that they will have nothing to do with conscription for themselves or for citizens of the British Empire resident in Australia, these Italians are being rounded up by the authorities in a most ignominious and humiliating manner. Then, when some of my constituents tried to communicate with me in order to complain about the brutal treatment of the military authorities, and their action in preventing the Italian conscriptionists from communicating with their wives and families, that juggling with my correspondence took place of which I have previously complained Apparently nobody is responsible, and the Government display no anxiety to cause an inquiry to be made into the holding up of my correspondence. I object to that action, not only because my correspondence was interfered with - to-morrow .some other honorable member may be the victim - but because the encroachments that are being made continually by those in command of the Military Forces are resulting in the supersession of all civil authority. Whenever a complaint is made in the House about the censorship or any other vagaries of the military authorities, we are blandly told that some Minister will make inquiries, and inform the complaining member at a later date. Then follows a fresh phase of military tyranny. It is all very well to throw bricks at the Prussians and the Kaiser, but wherein lies the advantage of the people of Australia Hocking to the colours to fight for freedom and destroy Prussianism overseas when they are being subjected to the same Prussian militarism in Australia? Honorable members talk about the Reichstag being dominated by the Kaiser and the military caste, and we are told that debates cannot take place in that chamber without military interference. We have the saint! military interference in this House, but there is no protest from honorable members on the Government side. They tamely acquiesce in every act of Senator Pearce and his satellites, and we can never discover that anybody acknowledges responsibility. At any rate, the Government do not show any desire to inquire into the complaints we make. If this sort of thing is to continue the Australian people will be entitled to ask themselves whether they are justified in incurring the expense of having a Federal Parliament of two Houses, ostensibly for the purpose of governing the country, when in reality Senator Pearce and those under his authority control all our affairs by a military dictatorship that governs telephones, telegraphs, and the post-office; that sends squads of soldiers to seize Australian inhabitants, and shanghai them overseas, and prevents protests being sent through the Post and Telegraph Department from one centre to another. All vestiges of freedom are fast vanishing from this country. Yet I suppose I shall be told later on that I have the liberty to stand in my place and ventilate grievances in the manner I am doing. A nice lot of liberty I enjoy when, probably, if I desire to circulate amongst my constituents a speech in which I disclose how they are being prevented from communicating with their representative, a henchman of Senator Pearce will come along and subedit my speech, and decide whether it is good for the people of Australia to be allowed to read what I say in this House.
– But it must be nice for the honorable member to hear himself. At any rate, he has an opportunity to “ blow off.”
-The honorable member is obsessed with the idea that so long as honorable members on this side are allowed to “blow off’’ occasionally, everything that is due to us as’ members of Parliament is fully provided. I deny that. I claim the right to let my constituents know, without interference from the military authorities, that I am attending to their interests. There can be no freedom unless the civil authority is unquestionably supreme, and not subject to the whims or fancies of some dyspeptic military official. Unless parliamentary privileges are established beyond doubt, and interference with honorable members in the discharge of their duties is prohibited, we have not liberty, but domination by a military autocracy.
– I reached Adelaide on Saturday morning last, a?nd while waiting on the railway station for the arrival of the Broken Hill train I saw a sight which caused me considerable sorrow. I saw Australian citizens who had travelled all night from Broken Hill in unlighted carriages, and under military escort, being lined up on the platform, and marched off under armed escort to be deported later on for military service overseas. Already this question has been debated so much in the House that I regret that it should be necessary again to call attention to the fact of the military authorities, at the behest of a. foreign consul, adopting practices which are in diametrical opposition to the policy adopted by this country. Rightly or wrongly, the Australian people have rejected the principle of compulsion for military service overseas in connexion with the present war. Yet we are actually allowing a foreign consul to dictate to us a policy which is in direct opposition to the popular will, and which, so far as we are able to discover, has not even the authority of the Government he represents. The Italian citizens who desire to make representations to their own Government are compelled to do so through the Italian Consul, and he, therefore, is not only a party to the dispute, but is, in fact, the judge of the merits of the dispute, and being the only channel of communication available between Italians in Australia and the Italian Government, their case is prejudiced from the beginning. There was a hope that the representations made in this House in behalf of Italian citizens would have some influence with the Government; that the raids which had been made on the homes of those citizens, and the forcible arrest and deportation of men of military age were being either discontinued or carried out in a sympathetic way, and only in relation to those who were Italian reservists, or, at any rate, unnaturalized citizens of Australia. But, unfortunately, the fact is that, without reference to naturalization, cfr anything else but the fact that the Italian Consul makes a demand on the Australian Government for all their powers to help him to seize the persons of Italian citizens, the Government show no slackness in their activities. I wish to express in the strongest . terms at my command my detestation of the practice being adopted by the Government in this connexion. I do so not only because this policy affects Italians. My protest would be equally emphatic if the policy were being applied to any other citizens of Australia. So far, Italians have been the only persons singled out for this action. But it is obvious that if the policy of compulsory seizure and deportation can be applied to Italian citizens, then, at the request of the Consuls of other foreign powers, the same violence may be perpetrated on other citizens. That action means not only an immediate disturbance among our citizens, but an absolute collapse of our naturalization theories, and the destruction of all hope of building up in Australia a cosmopolitan population. It is obviously impossible for Australia to draw from English-speaking communities the whole of the population we require for the development of this country. But it seems that all argument in favour of populating Australia, and in regard to the necessity for importing immigrants in order to utilize our waste spaces, and all argument as to the value of European immigrants as against those from other continents, go by the board ; during the war, at any rate, all our principles and ideas in this connexion are considered of no account. I wonder if the Government ever consider that, after the war, it will not be easy to convince the people of European countries, other than Great Britain, that their naturalization rights in Australia are of any value, and not liable to be torn up like a scrap of paper at the behest of any foreign representative, or that if they come here their citizenship will be respected. We have to remember that very many of those people who came to us from European countries did so to escape that very military system which we all decry and deplore as being undoubtedly the primary cause of the present war.
– And they came much against the wish of the Labour party.
– Oh dear, no.
– I have heard many speeches in this House in opposition to Italian immigration.
– During the whole of my membership of this House I have never heard any such arguments from members of the Labour party.
– There may have been some objection to employers swamping the country with foreign labour.
– The honorable member for Grey knows that the policy of the Labour party was never opposed to European immigration; but it was determinedly opposed to Asiatic or African immigration.
– Italian immigration was discussed in this House many times, especially by Western Australian mem-
– That is so; but the Labour party has never yet been truthfully accused of being opposed to European immigration.
– During the last referendum campaign the anti-conscriptionists urged very strongly that we ought to insist on all these foreigners going to fight in their own country.
– I never heard that said. The honorable member must have been reading the misrepresentations published in the conscriptionist press.
– That attitude came under my own personal observation, particularly at Port Pirie, where there are a lot of foreigners.
– Even if that be so, I do not pretend to hold myself responsible for the attitude of every man who attempts to deal with the matter of immigration. We must all recognise the fact that Australia is not being developed at the present time as it should be. For years past there has not been a satisfactory increase of population. It is painful to travel through the country and see the enormous empty spaces along the railway lines. Mile after mile of beautiful country, in close contact with the means of communication necessary for development, is without inhabitant. We can never forget the vivid statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that Australia is a white speck’ in a coloured ocean, surrounded with dangers, and encompassed by hordes of cheap labour, whose standards of living are altogether different from those that we are inculcating and trying to establish. To develop Australia we must get people to come here from other countries.
– And look after the man on the land a bit.
– I should like to see a big increase in the native-born population, but at the best that could not be enough to enable us ‘to do our duty to the great continent that we hold in trust.
How, then, are we to attract population from other countries, and particularly from the countries of Northern Europe, which can provide us with the best class of immigrants ? How can we attract any immigrants when we pursue the policy that is now being pursued, and allow persons of foreign extraction who have made their home here to be forcibly seized and deported for military service? There can be no sense of security -for the foreign residents in Australia if, at the request of the Consul representing their home Government, we allow them to be taken away for military service. Many of them have severed t,he home ties to escape from military service, and military tyranny. Like many of us, these persons came here to improve their condition, and to- make their homes in Australia. On the whole we have been fortunate in our immigrants, the larger number of them being most estimable citizens. The United States of America contains a conglomeration of nationalities, which it will take a very strong national digestion to assimilate into the national life. But Australia is in a much better position. Our distance from Europe enables us to exercise a more strict supervision, and more severe discrimination in regard to immigrants. But having allowed persons of other nationalities to come here, we should treat them as citizens have the right to be treated. Our Italian citizens are not being fairly treated, and our wrong treatment of them may bring discredit on this country years hence, when we may need all the sympathy and friendliness possible. Such a sight as that I saw in Adelaide last Saturday morning ought never to be seen in this country. It was a sight that might be expected in Prussia. One of the most abominable things that the Germans did in the early stages of the war was to seize and hold as prisoners for compulsory agricultural service the 250,000 Poles who were paying their annual visit to the country to take part in its harvesting operations.
– The Germans would treat us in the same way if they got a chance.
– Of course they would, but Australia should not follow a bad example.
– Yet we stay at home and talk at them.
– The Minister condemns this just as I do, but I cannot understand how /what is a vice in the Prussians can be a virtue in us. I am speaking on a matter of principle. The Government is adopting Prussian methods, and these must lead to the disturbance of friendly relations with persons of foreign nationality, and must bring us a harvest of sorrow and trouble in future years. Australian citizenship is degraded and made to appear worth nothing if, at the request of foreign Governments, its citizens are to be seized and forcibly deported. Had the request for the deportation of Italians come from our own Government, it might have been worthy of consideration, but it came from a Government which, although the Government of a country that is allied with us, is a foreign Government. Italy is a country which we have reason to respect, because there has always been a strong community of interest between the British and the Italians, and we have admired them for their fine fight for liberty under the leadership of Garibaldi and others. But we are practically sacrificing our national interests to please a foreign consul. Our object should be to combine our citizens into a homogeneous whole. I wonder that the Government have not realized the meaning of its policy, and I trust it is not too late for Ministers to afford protection to our Italian citizens. I hope that the Government will guarantee to all Australian citizens, of whatever nationality, creed, or colour, equality before the law and equal protection by the law.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Government again the need for more vigorous effort in the development of the oil resources of this country. The price of oil is increasing. That commodity is necessary to industry and to proper defence. We are now building vessels of war and vessels for the mercantile marine, and it behoves us to develop as far as possible the oil resources which are under our control. The other day I asked the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) what had been done with the two expert drillers who had been brought to Australia to assist in the development of the Papuan oil fields, where boring operations have been carried on for a period of four or five years with very little results so far as a supply of oil is concerned. I understand that the Government is paying those experts about £60 per month, but when they got to Australia it was found that the machinery in use was unsuited for the work, or that, parts of it needed repairs, or replacements, and additions. One of the imported drillers was, therefore, sent back to America to obtain whatever machinery may be heeded, and the other has been loaned indefinitely to the New South Wales Government. Is it because of the remoteness of Papua that we have been so negligent of the oil resources there, and the expenditure that is being incurred ? I am a member of the Finance Committee which inquired into the expenditure that had been made for the development of the Papuan oil fields. The Committee made certain recommendations to the Government. If these recommendations are adopted there will be greater activity. I hope that the Minister in charge of the House will inform the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) that once again complaint is being made that the work of developing the Papuan oil fields is not being prosecuted with sufficient vigour.
– The Minister is very much concerned about the matter, and is doing his best.
– I am not throwing the whole of the blame upon him. He has occupied his . present position for little more than twelve months.
– The honorable member knows that there have been many difficulties in the way of actual working operations.
– Quite so ; but evidence has been tendered that if the work had been placed in the hands of private individuals the same loss and waste of time would not have occurred, and that the results generally would have been far better. We have had evidence showing that not only the present Minister, but others who have preceded him, have not pushed along with sufficient vigour the development of the oil resources of Australia. If there is one thing that we ought to take in hand with all possible earnestness, it is the development of our oil resources. Efforts should be made to discover oil fields, not only in Papua, but in various parts of Australia. Although it is difficult to find the necessary money nowadays, I think it would be well worth our while to spend £500,000, if by doing so we could obtain within our own boundaries the oil supplies which are so necesary to our industrial pursuits as well as to our Navy. We cannot go on as we are. While we talk of saving pounds here and pence there, we have been practically allowing money to be spent ad lib. on the Papuan oil fields during the last five years. The only result has been the winning of a few gallons of oil. I understand that some of the oil obtained from Papua was sold to the local owner of a vessel propelled by oil. engines, and proved to be exceptionally good.
As soon as the war drum ceases to beat, every country will be considerably exercised in respect of the development of its resources, and that country which is best equipped to engage in the industrial struggle that must follow the war will win the race. I am not satisfied that Dr. Wade and his officials should prosecute their work in Papua alone. I should like to see them or other experts engaged in an effort to develop other fields.
– Exhaustive inquiries are being made by the Government.
– I should like the Minister to make a statement as regards the operations in Papua.
– I shall do so if the House desires.
– I shall be very glad to hear from the honorable gentleman. I hope that he will not think that I am trying to harass him; but I cannot help saying that the result of the five years spent upon the development of the oil fields of Papua is very disappointing. It is a poor return for the time and money expended, and this Parliament will not be satisfied if the present lack of system continues. We ought to know our fate, whatever it is, as soon as possible, and make arrangements for an adequate supply” of the oil we require. The oil wells of America, Borneo, and elsewhere are controlled by very wealthy syndicates, and the prices they charge for kerosene, benzine, petrol, &c, in Australia are altogether too high, even when we allow for the shortage of shipping. I leave the subject at that, and promise the House that if better developments do not take place in the near future, I shall return to it. I hope there will be jio necessity to adversely criticise the Minister for Home and Territories, or those associated with him. “When we urge the immediate organization of our industries we are told that we should win the war first of all, and then set about other work. If we are to wait until’ the war is over before we put our industries in order, and so provide more employment for our people, Australia will again be a long way behind in the race for industrial supremacy.. I know that we are hedged about by Tariff difficulties, but I have a short cut to success for Australian industry. The only salvation for Australian industry, whether it be primary or secondary, lies in the absolute prohibition of the importation of all that we can produce or manufacture for ourselves. I would take this action in respect of the productions of every country, not excepting even Great Britain or New Zealand. I would not allow any man to import those articles that we can produce ourselves. Even a duty of 2,000 per cent, would not enable us to compete with some countries in respect of certain goods, which they are sending to us, and the volume of such imports is increasing. Cotton and a number of other commodities, which are used in the manufacture of certain articles that we produce here, must necessarily be imported, but if we, as a Parliament, determine, in the interests of our industries and those engaged in them, that Australia should have absolute prohibition in respect of those articles th.it we can produce or manufacture here, we shall give a magnificent fillip to enterprise, and open up new avenues of employment. The Repatriation Department,” as well as the, Victorian Government, seems to be devoting a considerable amount of attention to the settlement of our returned soldiers on the land, but only 10 per cent, of them will need to be provided for in that way. Other employment will have ito be found for the remaining 90 per cent. Unfortunately promises, which private employers and some of the State Governments made to men leaving for the Front, have not in all instances been fulfilled. Promises to restore these men to their former employment in certain cases have not been redeemed when the men have returned, and a greater responsibility is thus oast upon the National Parliament. It is more necessary than ever that we should open up new avenues of employment, so that our returned! soldiers and others may not seek in vain for work. Surely in a country like this, abounding, as it does, in raw materials, that should not be a difficult task, and we ought to have done far more than we have. I should be very glad if honorable members, no matter what their politics, would meet in conference, and evolve some scheme to save Australian industries from the absolute extinction that, in some cases, faces them. Men and women in an industry which is indigenous to Australia are being moreand more thrown out of employment. Seeing that we have sent some 350,000 of our young manhood to fight for us overseas, there ought to be no lack of employment here, and yet we are confronted with this deplorable situation. This Parliament must not fail, even if the Repatriation Department does, to do its duty tothe men who have gone to the Front. There is not a family that is not represented in one way or another at the Front, and when our men return, if they find their relatives in a worse position industrially than when they went away, they will want to know the reason for it. By absolute prohibition in respect of those goods that we can produce or manufacture here we shall reduce very materially the enormous sum that is annually expended in bringing goods from overseas. We spend £70,000,000 per annum in importing goods, a considerable proportion of which could, and should, be manufactured within our own boundaries. If those goods were manufactured here, employment would be found, not only for our own people, but for other white peoples with aspirations similar to our own. If we develop our industries, as we are expected to do, Australia after the war will be one of the most attractive and desirable lands for the people of other countries to settle in. We must, first of all, however, attend to the people already here. We must see that every man and woman of the Commonwealth is employed. Even in war time, the cry of unemployment should not be heard here. In a land overflowing with everything that should make people happy and prosperous, there should be no want. But the cry of want is to be heard in our streets to-day, and it comes from hearts which are becoming more and more bitter because of the increased burden from time to time imposed upon the people by the high cost of living.
The future development of this great country is of the utmost concern to us. We are all anxious that we should win the war- we are all .anxious to see the conflict over and peace prevailing throughout the world - and when peace does come, I want this country to be prepared for the race for industrial supremacy which must follow. Surely I am not speaking to- deaf ears. Surely the hearts of honorable members are not impervious to the cry of the people. A Board has fixed the price of metals. It has been fixed at a high figure. Never before, in the history of Australia has so high a price been paid for metals. Never before has such a high price been obtained for wool. Some of the poorer people in our community who are anxious to knit socks for our soldiers at the Front find great difficulty in providing them with this comfort because of the exorbitant charge that is made for the necessary wool. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has asked whether some provision could not be made so that these various workers, who number thousands upon thousands, could obtain the raw material at the cheapest possible rate. In almost every home throughout Australia there are women’ utilizing their spare moments in knitting socks for soldiers, and I trust that hundredweights of wool will be placed at the disposal of the Red Cross Society and the women who are carrying out this essential and voluntary work. The wool kings of Australia need no very great additions to their banking balances. My complaint is that the very men who are engaged in these industries, metal and wool, are those who have fixed the prices for the articles which . they produce and control. I have already pointed out that the men whom the Prime Minister appointed to fix the price and the destination of the metals produced in Australia ‘were those who prior to the war were dealing with the Germans, who then controlled our output. In many instances those who have been intrusted with the control of our metals have carried out their task in such a way as to do considerable damage to industries already established in Australia. One of the complaints of the Colonial Small Arms Ammunition Company, which has supplied the ammunition for all our soldiers, as well as the New Zealand troops, and has also provided the South African Forces with their requirements in their fight against the Germans iu South Africa, is that the price of copper, which was £56 in the pre-war period, was increased to nearly £170 per ton. I am aware that the price is now down to £110 per ton, but nothing has occurred to justify the price being almost double what it was prior to the war. We are still producing as much copper as we did before the war broke out - in f act there has been a slight increase in the output - and no difficulty has occurred with the miners or in connexion with the process of treatment. There may be a shortage of transport facilities in the shape of coastal steamers, but that is not sufficient justification for the great increase in price, an increase which should not be tolerated, especially in regard to the manufacture of munitions. A strong Ministry would not allow more than a fair profit to the copper producer.’
I have no desire to make this too much of a party question. I represent a mixed constituency. There are people in portions of my electorate who vie with Toorak in their inclinations and aspirations; in other portions of the electorate the people are the most democratic in Australia. The complaints I am voicing come from those to whom I listened first, and to whom every honorable member should listen first - those to whom life is a terrible struggle. It would matter little to a man on the Stock Exchange or to a shareholder in a metal company if he did not receive one penny during the next twelve months.
– He could leave it in the war loan.
– That class of man has invested in the war loan extensively, because by so doing he has been getting into the non-taxation area. It is a wellknown fact that the rich man always lives more cheaply than the poor man, because he can buy wholesale, whereas the other has to pay the profit demanded by the manufacturer, the wholesale man, the middleman, and the retailer.
The Government have allowed t.hp. wool kings and the metal barons to fix the price of their commodities. They have allowed others to fix the prices of other commodities. Why do they not step in and do their duty to the great mass of the people and fix the price of those commodities that enter into the daily life of every man, woman, and child in the community,? I know that the objection will be raised that there are so many difficulties in the way, but we had difficulties in connexion with the metal industry, and we claimed to have settled them, and we had difficulties in connexion with wool and its destination, and we have settled them. . The Prime Minister has boastedof having settled big problems. These other matters are great problems, but they must be tackled in a business-like way, and there will not he harmony in the community until they are solved. The poor people are crying out. While wheat is going to waste and rotting, they find it difficult to get a crust of bread in some parts of Australia. That state of affairs should not exist when we have practically 350,000 of our manhood on the other side of the world. The expenditure of loan money has created prosperity in certain directions. Some people have more money now than they had before, but others have not nearly as much as they had before, and it costs them much more to live. Cannot we take into consideration the cry of humanity? I do not know how many people are managing to live today with 7s. cut off the purchasing power of every sovereign compared with what it was a few years ago. How are people with five or six in the family living on £2, £2 10s., £3, or £3 10s. per week? How would any man of moderate means, or the rich in this community fare on such a wage? We do not know the heart-aches, troubles, and trials of some of the poor among us to-day. If we could only lift a little of the burden that is bearing them down, it is our duty to do so. I do not know whether the honorable member for Cap- ricornia (Mr. Higgs) is prepared to go as far as I was advocating before be entered the chamber, namely, to have absolute prohibition against the rest of the* world in regard to articles which we ca.n produce and manufacture in Australia for our own requirements.
– Prohibition is not scientific Protection.
– At any rate, it is Protection. There are honorable members, formerly Free Traders, who have told me that this war has considerably altered their opinions in regard to Free Trade. I would like them to give some evidence of their new faith. Whether the honorable member for Capricornia calls it real scientific Protection or not, we have no hope of competing with some of our competitors unless there is absolute prohibition in respect to those articles which we can manufacture in Australia. I trust that honorable members will deal with this question. If we could supply our own requirements, we would have busy factories all over the land, there would be no cry of unemployment, and there would be a splendid invitation to people of other parts of the world to come to our country to live. After the war, the citizens of other countries will be looking to some place for a sanctuary. Among our white Allies to-day I believe there are many people who will be attracted to Australia, not only because of what this country has done in the actual matter of fighting, but particularly because of the manner in which it has resisted the imposition of a compulsory system “of military service. It will be an attraction to them to escape from countries where compulsory military service is enforced and get to a place where there is something like freedom in that respect.
In regard to the establishment of new industries, we could very well take a leaf out of the book of the people of Germany and copy the wonderful energy and perseverance which they have displayed in this direction. The big chemical companies of Germany had men engaged fortwentysix years in investigation work before they discovered the secret of synthetic dyes. That was a case in which perseverance was rewarded - to such anextent that in the pre-war period Germany had absolute control of the world’s supply of dyes, and one of our greatest- difficulties during the war has been to obtain dyes of the character and quality of those which were supplied prior to the war.
– It is said now that Great Britain can produce equal, if not superior, dyes.
– I hope that the honorable member’s statement is correct, but difficulty has been experienced in Great Britain, and even more so in the United States of America, in the matter of supplying adequate dyes. At one time, Great Britain held a monopoly of the dye trade, but she allowed it to slip out of her hands, and Germany obtained a practical monopoly just prior to the outbreak of war.
– We refused to produce the. dye which they took up and established on the market.
– That is quite likely. I could give another illustration to show what little regard the British have paid to the inventive genius of the nation. Prior to the war, two Australian engineers made what they ‘ considered was a valuable discovery. They brought it to Melbourne engineering firms, but met with no success. They took it to Sydney firms, and they were equally unsuccessful. They went to Great Britain, hoping that some firm there would take up their device and utilize it, but the engineering establishments in that country were indifferent when it was submitted to them. Finally they went across to Germany, where they were received with open arms by the engineering firms there. Consequently articles that ought to have been manufactured in Australia were being made in Germany when the war broke out. I have inquired as to the whereabouts of the two men, and I am told that they are supposed to be interned somewhere in Germany. However, that is only one illustration of how we are ready to turn our backs on the genius in our midst, and to reach out to distant lands for what we require.
I desire to refer to the efforts to assist our industries by means of the Bureau of Science. A number of university professors profess to be doing something in this direction, but I have seen no great evidence of any results up to date. I remember that before the first visit of thi
Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to Great Britain, when I was taking a great interest in the establishment of a bureau, he informed me in a letter, which is now in my possession, that he thought I would be well satisfied with what had been done - that a committee had been appointed, which, though of a temporary character, would no doubt prove of value and assistance. That was in the early part of 1916, and we are still almost at the initial stages. I am sure that this does not meet with the ideas of progressive members of this House. In connexion with certain industries, where capital is not available, the Government ought to follow the example of the Broken Hill Proprietary, and the Mount Lyell ‘Company, both of which are now making immense profits by availing themselves of the services of chemists and other experts. At Broken Hill hundreds of thousands of pounds more revenue is being earned to-day than was at one time thought possible. I understand that the first development of this country was due to the search of silver, but to-day it may be said that silver, although at 4s. an ounce, is a secondary consideration. This is simply because chemists and practical men have been at work, and, with their aid, hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of products are turned out that were previously neglected. Cannot the Government do something on similar lines to start and foster new industries? One of the first things that should have been done after the mobilizing and sending away of our first troops, was the mobilizing of the chemists of Australia, for it is certain that the one aid we are short of to-day is that of commercial chemists, such as those ‘ who have helped Germany and other countries to achieve their great success. I mention once more that, in my representations to the Prime Minister on 31st October, 1914, and by way of questions, and on the adjournment of the House, I urged that steps should be taken to establish new industries, and foster those already in existence; and I have always contended that, side by side with military organization, there ought to be industrial organization. Our repatriation efforts are in a state of chaos to-day, because we did not start soon enough in the preparation of a scheme. I admit that, in this connexion, things are smoothed out a little, hut not nearly so much as they ought to have been.
I make no reflection on the personnel of the Bureau of Science, which, I believe, is actuated by the best of intentions; but it does appear to me that it is too slow, when two years and a half after the initiation of the scheme practically nothing has been done.
– Give us a little constructive policy now!
– I think I have done’ so. Mr. Wilkinson, the Commonwealth Analyst, has been handicapped ever since he was appointed, owing to the lack of proper equipment, for the assistance of industrial ventures. In reply to the derisive interjection of the honorable member for Moreton» I may say that one of the first essentials in the establishment of new industries is the mobilization of our chemists ; that is a point on which I have never been silent. The honorable member for Moreton claims, I believe, to be a Protectionist; but, for my part, I submit that prohibition would be a very good thing until our industries are firmly established. Surely that shows that I have done something in the way of suggesting a constructive policy. On grievance day I cannot go very deeply into subjects of the kind, but no doubt some honorable members are intelligent enough to grasp my aim. If my criticism is a little destructive, it is due to the wilful and, I might say, criminal neglect to initiate a vigorous policy on the part of the Government. As I said before, I do not altogether blame the occupants of the Ministerial benches; but we must remember that they have behind them the experience of all their predecessors, and of every other great country in this great conflict, together with that of other countries, so that if they are not in a position to do something, God help Australian industry ! The document I hold in my hand shows that some three score and ten men are prepared to sympathize and aid in any movement to the desired end, and yet I do not think we are making any progress worth mentioning. We must wake up and do something practical. Industries must be given considerable protection, so that we may provide for the day, fast hastening on, when w& shall have to provide for our returned soldiers; indeed, they are crowding on us now, and it is our duty to find work for them, and their dependants, as well as provide for generations yet unborn. The resources and possibilities of Australia are great; and, with proper organized effort, this ought to be made one of the most attractive countries for people from all parts of the world.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has suggested that I should make some statement on the oil development in Papua. I am only too glad to avail myself of the opportunity to show that any assumption that the matter has been overlooked from the point of view of the honorable member is a mistake. The oil development in that possession commenced about 1913, the discovery of the fields having been made in 1911, when actual boring was commenced under the charge of an expert taken over by the Government from the British Exploration Company. There were further developments in April, 1913, and in October of the same year, and all this went on for a time without a proper geological survey, which, from the investigations I have made, I regard as absolutely essential to the proper working of any oil field. When in office I communicated with the Imperial Government, the Admiralty, and the British Imperial Institute, and on their recommendation I brought out Dr. Wade, who made an exhaustive geological survey of the part of Papua where there were indications that the oil industry might be established. The geological indications of oil which justify prospecting extend over an area of about 2,000 square miles, though the actual fields being developed now, about 200 miles from Port Moresby, are comparatively small, because boring for oil is a rather expensive, as well as a gambling, business. By October, 1916, there were seven bores, Dr. Wade having actually commenced his work on that part of the business in May, 1915, after he had made his geological survey and reported. Dr. Wade was placed in charge of the management of the developmental work, as well as commissioned to continue his geological examination. Delays have been caused, first, by the peculiar character of the country. The rainfall is from 150 to 200 inches a year, and there is bad malaria, with other climatic diseases. The country is very rugged and marshy, particularly where the boring is going on now, about 50 miles from a most dangerous bar which blocks the entrance to the river, on either side of which the operations are going on. By October, 1916, a bore was put down with the help of the somewhat defective plant that had been ordered. It was not plant that admitted of boring to the depth of 2,000 to 4,000 feet that is necessary for success in any oil country. I suppose this plant was ordered originally on the best advice, but when I was in office I questioned its suitability. I was then told that the plant was the best of the kind obtainable - that light plant was used on most fields because it had to be shifted about a good deal in order to get the requisite depth, and that it was when oil was discovered in commercial quantities that the big machinery became effective. Delay has also been caused by the distance from the seat of supplies, and also, I think, through the men who supply the machinery. In one case there was a delay of something like nine months, owing to the non-supply of materials required for continuing the operations. I was not in office at the time, but I have since looked through the papers; indeed, I may say that this week I spent at least eight hours in investigating the position- in Papua. Further delay has occurred in connexion with a new bore. This, in my opinion, is due, not to the Department, but to defects, in part, of the machinery supplied, and I am at present investigating the matter. For an expenditure in five years of something like £70,000 we have got, on the whole, as fair results as have been obtained on most fields throughout the world. I can prove that statement, because, in order to test the evidence put before me, I have made some careful comparisons between Papuan developments and those on other fields. I find that Japan commenced operations in 1866, and it was not until 1909, when they introduced rotary and percussion machinery, that they obtained substantial results. That is the latest machinery ordered for the Papuan fields, and it is now on the site, but not yet in operation. When the Japanese people introduced that machinery, it trebled at once their output. and led to such success that they are able now to supply all the oil re quirements of Japan. I. could quote the instance of Burma to the same effect, and the experience in Egypt was much similar. Three British companies exploited portion of Egypt. Two did the work until they had expended- in prospecting £100,000 and £50,000 respectively. Ultimately, after some years, they failed, but a third company stepped in and had the good luck to strike oil after a few months. Recently, the Public Accounts Committee inquired into the development of the Papuan oil fields, and one of the expert witnesses made this statement, which, so far as I can gather, is true of all fields: -
Oil being liquid, and able to migrate, its accumulation comes under very different laws from those applying to any other mineral. It is the biggest gamble on earth. The thing is to be able to locate the place where the geological conditions are suitable for the accumulation of pools, and then to bore for it; but in one of these places some little accident in the geological structure underground may have led to the escape of the oil and its migration elsewhere.
If honorable members will take the trouble to look into the expert evidence, as I have done, they will find that that is the cause of many of the great delays in the prospecting of oil fields. I may remind honorable members also that there are only two means of quick exploitation : (1) to expend as much money as the Treasurer can afford; and (2) to allow private enterprise to step in. When I speak of quick development, I mean an expenditure of, perhaps, £250,000 in one or two years: as compared with an expenditure of £70,000 in six years. Boring in Papua since it reached the stage of drilling, in October, 1916, under Dr. Wade, has shown, under the most difficult conditions, as good results as have been obtained in similar circumstances in any other country. For instance, boring in No. 6 well costs about £7 8s. per foot, which was largely accounted for by very heavy overhead charges, but the actual cost of boring, on the No. 7 site was only about £1 16s. per foot. In different parte of the world, such as Pennsylvania, the. cost varies from £1 to £5 per foot, according to the locality.
– Is the work being done by contract or by day labour?
– By day labour. There are about twelve whites on the field, operating five drills, and about from 150 to 180 natives, who receive about 10s. per month. They work fairly well, so far as natives can be made to work at all. The alternative to day labour is private enterprise, and I tell honorable members seriously that, although I have not yet consulted the Cabinet, I am considering the financial drain that the expeditious development of the fields will necessitate in future, and I propose to ask Cabinet to decide as to the continuance of our present methods of development. I have seen during the last twelve months representatives of companies that have developed oil in Egypt, in which the British Government is largely interested, and in several other places.” They have come to me not on my solicitation, but yielding to the pressure of their own desires, and I know that there is the possibility of a very large amount of capital being invested in testing the fields of Papua if private enterprise is permitted to step in. But we cannot allow exploitation such as some people desire, because there are very great labour difficulties in Papua. There is, or might be, dearth of labour for large operations and private enterprise, if it is allowed to come in, must be kept under control, and the conditions of labour must be made such as they are in connexion with the plantations. Our guiding principle in the administration of Papua is that the natives shall live according to the best traditions. We have intruded ourselves upon their domain, which is a black country, and we should not, in the exploitation of the oilfields, completely destroy the future of the natives. For that reason, there are limitations to allowing all sorts of people to enter Papua, and prospect the place for oil.
– There is a union there.
– I know that there are defects in Papua as well as elsewhere. The Empire, as well as Australia in particular, is very directly interested in oil development. I do not think that 3 per cent, of the essential oil production of the world takes place within the British Empire. America supplies about twothirds of the world’s requirements, and c Australia is directly dependent upon two sources of supply only for kerosene and lubricating oil. We are dependent chiefly on America; and, secondly, on the Dutch East Indies. Last year, whilst the imports of kerosene from the United Kingdom was only 27 gallons, from the Dutch
East Indies, we imported 272,000 gallons, and from the United Sta’tes of America 22,957,000 gallons.
– Is there a very great difference between the Dutch Indies and Papua ?
– The conditions in Sumatra, Borneo, and Java are very similar to those in Papua. The Dutch people took a long time to develop their oil deposits, but they have been successful, and they have used compulsory labour. I understand from the experts that the oil in Papua will not supply kerosene or lubricating oils in great quantity. Kerosene is present as an element in Papuan oil, but its extraction would involve stages of distillation which would mean ‘ waste, and impair the benzine element, which is the chief commercial constituent of both Papuan and Dutch East Indian oil. I believe that we can supply from Papua high-class benzine and motor spirits, and, if necessary, we can get kerosene, but the cost of production would not justify us in devoting attention to the last-named commodity. Australia is in a peculiar position as regards oil supplies. Of the two sources of supply upon which it is dependent, one, the United States of America, is undoubtedly most friendly, but upon the policy of the Dutch East Indies we cannot absolutely rely. I mention these matters to show honorable members that -we are not oblivious to Imperial interests, and to Australia’s interests particularly; but I ask honorable members to understand the difficulties in development that beset us in Papua as they have beset others elsewhere. We are now considering what are the best and quickest means of completely exploiting and developing the fields of Papua, having regard to the expenditure involved. I am speaking personally now, but I hope shortly to be able to submit the matter to Cabinet.
– For a long time I have not been content with the remuneration paid to our soldiers or with the amount, sometimes contemptible, allowed to their dependants. It is idiotic for any one to say that a child has a fair chance of growing into a healthy adult on an allowance of 6d. per day, which is 25 per cent, more than this Parliament was allowing until , recently for the children of men who have sacrificed tHeir lives at the Front. I have previously asked the Government - and I feel sure that Parliament would have supported them had they acceded to my request - that they should pay at least as much as New Zealand pays its soldiers. Every married man knows that he could not possibly bring up his children on an allowance per head of 3s. 6d. per week.
I desire to again suggest the adoption of a Government system of insurance of soldiers against death and injury. Pension lists for those following the pursuit of war have existed in many European countries, but, generally, in a contemptible form. I recollect an old man who had taken part in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, and I had to collect money amongst students in order to provide him with funds for the purchase of a cart with which to earn a living. That old soldier had undergone eighteen operations, but the wound never healed, and in the early eighties he died. Many of his comrades died in the workhouse. I have a< photograph of the survivors at that time. In bringing this matter before the House, it matters not to me that the Government benches are mostly empty, because Hansard is widely read, and country newspapers sometimes cull from the pages of Hansard speeches which they think of interest to the soldiers or their dependants. By a Bill introduced in the United States of America in June, 1917, the Government of that country are insuring every soldier, not for a paltry £200, but for £800. The insurance is for one year only, but it may be renewed. Every man and every officer can insure at peace premium rates for amounts up to £1,200. The courtesy shown by the great American insurance companies to. the Government of the United States of America is in’ contrast to the want of courtesy in the case of our Australian Mutual Provident Society, in which I am a policy holder. On the 2nd July, Mr. McAdoo met the representatives of the life, casualty, and accident insurance companies of America, and the Bill that has been brought in is the most generous, humane, and enlightened that has ever been introduced. According to Munsey’s Magazine - I quote from the issue of December last, page 419- the main provi- sions of ,the measure include five features^ -
First, allowances to the families of soldiers and sailors; second, compensation, for death in the form of pensions to dependants; third, pensions on account of total disability; fourth, pensions or payments for partial disability or mutilation; fifth, life and disability insurance at the lowest possible rates.
This is the statement of the head of one of the largest life insurance companies -
The public is, of course, entitled to the cheapest insurance that can be provided. If the Government, after the war or at any time, can honestly provide its citizenship with insurance cheaper than private companies can, then the public ought to have the benefit. Under the continuing insurance features of this Bill, however, no such demonstration is possible.
At the direction of the Secretary to the Treasury, a committee of five actuaries estimated the cost of the Bill during the first two years of its operation, and the writer of the article from which I am quoting says -
As a member of that committee I may state that our estimate of an outlay, of about 700,000,000 dollars (£140,000,000) was necessarily based on conditions which may radically change. »
My own point of view regarding the matter of cost to the Government may best be judged by the following extract from a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated the 6th August last: -
Plans should be prepared for indemnifying the soldiers and sailors who are disabled and the dependants of those who are killed. … If these plans are just to our soldiers and sailors, and to their dependants, then the cost must be borne by the country, whatever it is. . . . No cost is unfair or excessive which does justice to the men themselves and to their dependants.”
That statement will find an echo in the hearts of most members, though we are not doing what the United States of America is doing. That country has the advantage of experience gained in her war with Spain, which she fought from the West Indies to Manila in the East Indies, and her deductions are likely to be more accurate than those of nations that have not had a similar experience. The first cost of the allowance to the families of soldiei’3 and sailors will end soon after the ending of the war. For total disability, an allowance of 30 dollars a man, or about £6, is made, and the allowance may go up to 45 dollars, that is £9, in the case of a married man. If a man needs a nurse to feed and attend to him, the allowance can go to an amount not exceeding 20 dollars.For partial disability, a liberal allowance is made, compared with our allowance of 30s. a week, which the. authorities make every endeavour to reduce, expecting men who are not fit to work to live on7s. 6d. a week. During the war, and after it is ended, many difficulties will be caused by obscure phenomena due to injuries of the spine or brain resulting from shell shock. A man who was imprisoned here has been released because it was shown that the man who gave evidence against him had been troubled with what are known as “Anzac noises,” and his evidence was thought, for other reasons, to be unreliable. “When a man has been buried through the explosion of a shell, or has been treated in a hospital for shell shock, the Government should regard him with more than kindness. These men have offered themselves for the supreme sacrifice, and have earned our gratitude for what they have done.
I thank Mr. Holmes, the Commissioner for the State Accident Insurance Department, for his promise of data, which I shall gladly welcome. When a member of the Legislature of Victoria, many years ago, I moved for a return showing the amount paid in premiums to various life insurance companies by the employees of the Railway Department, and the claims met by the companies. Speaking subject to correction, the claims paid during the period covered by the return were only some £30,000 odd, there being a profit of £250,000 to the companies, which had no expense of collection, because the premiums were deducted from the monthly pay of the employees. That return was my first intimation of the huge profits made by the life insurance companies. Honorable members know how big have been the profits of the huge American insurance companies, and they know the vast reserves of the Australian. Mutual Provident Society, and of the National Life Insurance Company, in both of which I am a policy-holder. When I read their beautiful balance-sheets I wish that the accounts of Australia could be presented in as simple and easilyunderstood a form.
I again utter my protest against the infamous treatment of our Italian residents, who loft their country to avoid military sendee. Having for over thirtyfive years belonged to one of their workmen’s clubs, I may say that every member had left his country to avoid military conscription. Every one of them was on absolute Democrat, with no belief in kings ormonarchs, and three were revolutionaries, who came away in 1848. If they had had their way, no monarch would have been permitted to exist. Recently a citizen of this State asked me, “ What are you going to do with the Dagos ; I mean the Greeks. I know a lot of decent Italians, but not any decent Dagos. Are they to be left alone ? “ My reply was that I did not know. But having dealt with the Italians, as we have dealt with them, we must, if asked, deal similarly with the Greeks, the French, and the members of twenty other allied nations living in our midst. This Government is applying on behalf of the Government of another country the system of conscription which it dare not apply to its own people. At the behest of the Italian Consul, whom I have always founda courteous gentleman, this is being done. I hope I do not wrong him, but 1 believe that he has withheld from his fellow citizens what they have a right to see, namely, his authority from his Government to do what he is doing. Italians have told me that he has refused to produce this, and that they are not satisfied that he possesses it. This Government has accepted his statements, and I ask Ministers if they are going to do to other foreign residents’ what they have done to our Italian residents? Honorable members will find that what has been done will cause trouble in the future. The foreign residents of this country resent it, primarily, because they fear that the treatment suffered by the Italians may be given to them also, and, secondly, because they consider it unfair that a country that has twice voted against conscription by overpowering majorities, should apply conscription to the Italians. If the Consul of a country in which slavery is legalized were to ask this Government to forcibly deport its citizens, so that they might be enslaved, would his request be complied with? There are such countries, though thank Heaven we are not in alliance with them. Our foreign residents and their descendants willremember what has been done to the Italians, and will make their resentment felt at the ballot-box when they have the opportunity. The foreigner must be pardoned if not quite au fait with our naturalization laws. Germany, with all her faults - and God knows, I think that the Prussian faults are worthy only of the pit of darkness - has not refused to any naturalized subject any part of his rights of citizenship. I have watched the newspapers, and studied the periodicals, and have not come across any statement to the contrary. I recognise that persons of British race are justly so well contented with their condition that they rarely become citizens of another country; but there must be a few who have become naturalized citizens of Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
The fact that the Censor’s Department will not stand up to the big newspapers while it oppresses the little newspapers shows that the scales of justice are not held fairly. I ask honorable members to pay attention to the following letter addressed to the Postmaster-General by the secretary of the Australian Clerical Association, and dated 8th January last : -
Dear Sir, - I have been requested to draw your attention to the fact that, on the 10th December, . 1917, we lodged the Clerk newspaper at your office, receipt number is book A 333, No. 097. The censor passed the paper on or about the 3rd December. On the 18th December it was still in the mail room, when, owing to the representation by the censor, it was released on the 18th; however, it was not delivered until the 21st of the month.
Trusting, sir, that you will have inquiries made, yours faithfully, T. J. Smith, Secretary.
To that communication the PostmasterGeneral replied as follows, on 9th January : -
Dear Sir, - I am in receipt of your letter of the 8th instant, complaining of delay in handling copies of the Clerk newspaper lodged by your association during last month, and it will be given due attention.
On 29th January, twenty days later, the secretary of the Australian Clerical Association received the following letter from Mr. Oxenham, secretary to the Postmaster-General’s Department: -
Sir, - With reference to your letter of the 8th instant, in which you complained regarding the delay in the transmission of copies of the Clerk newspaper through the post, I beg to inform you that inquiry has been made, and the Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne, reports as follows in connexion with the matter, viz.: - “Copies of the newspaper in question were posted at the General Post Office on the 10th December, and were examined by the censor, who issued instructions that they were to be detained. The copies were subsequently removed to the censor’s office, and the major portion, it is stated, was released on the 17th idem. The Superintendent, Mail Branch, states that, as the work in the mail room was well in hand at the time the papers were released, they would have been promptly despatched to the offices of destination. On the 19th December, however, a basket containing the remaining copies, which, it is stated, were overlooked in the censor’s office, was returned to the mail room. As the work was then somewhat congested, owing to the heavy Christmas traffic, it is possible that a slight delay may have occurred before they were despatched. This would account for the delay in delivery of a certain number of copies until the 21st December.”
That clears the Postmaster-General’s Department from blame. The secretary of the association next addressed the follow - ing letter, dated 12th February, 1918, to Lieutenant-Colonel Newell,- the deputy censor, at the General Post Office, Melbourne : -
Dear Sir, - I have been requested to write and ask you if the reply by the PostmasterGeneral to our letter of the 8th ult. is correct. The following is a copy of the letter sent to him. [Letter attached.]
The following is his reply. [Latter attached.’]
When our editor interviewed yon, you stated that everything was all right; whereas the postal authorities state you ordered them to be detained.
I would be very pleased to obtain your reason for holding up the paper on the 10th December, 1917, seeing that you passed it on the 3rd of that month.
To this letter the following reply was received from Colonel Humphris censor, practically two months after these copies of the Clerk had been held up: -
Dear Sir, - Your letter of 12th inst. under reply. I regret that I am unable to reply fully to all your queries, owing to the fact that Colonel Newell is not at present on the staff, and I am not fully acquainted with all the circumstances in connexion with the delay to the December issue of the Clerk.
I presume your statement that Colonel Newell passed the issue on the 3rd December refers to the passing of certain proofs for that issue. If that assumption be correct, it would not justify the mail censor in passing the complete issue for transmission through the post without reference to his chief, i.e., censor, Melbourne.
I presume he did so refer it, and Colonel Newell asked him to hold the issue until he had an opportunity to examine it. Such examination, under ordinary circumstances, would be quickly effected, and I know of no reason for the delay in this instance. Apparently the matter was overlooked in some way, as the office was very busy at that time.
I beg to express my regret at the delay, and trust you will not have reason to make a similar complaint in future.
As to the second paragraph in this letter, every one knows very well that if the publisher had included in the issue anything that had not been passed by the censor he would have been liable to a prosecution. No doubt it is the intention of the Government that the scales of justice should be held evenly in connexion with the censorship, but that is not being done. If an article is allowed to appear in any of the big daily newspapers, then there is no reason why it should not be published in any of the smaller newspapers. As a matter of fact, however, some of the small newspapers have been forbidden to publish matter that has already appeared in some of the big dailies. I know that the officers ‘of the Censor’s Department object to a system under which such injustices occur. I come now to another branch of the Defence Department, and propose to put before honorable members a case that is worthy of a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera. Mr. Gordon J. Holmes, barrister and solicitor, of Temple Court, Melbourne, has supplied me with the following epitome of what is known as the Parker Brown case: -
I am enclosing for your delectation copies of certain correspondence I have recently had with the Defence Department concerning a man named Parker Brown. You may see fit to use this in the House in pointing out the state of hopeless chaos in which the Defence Department has apparently sunk into under the administration of the present incompetent Minister.
This man Parker Brown was arrested at Warrnambool some time since on a charge of having deserted from the Australian Imperial Force. He was a returned man, who, it was alleged, had re-enlisted. I was briefed to defend him, and at his first appearance at orderlyrooms, at Broadmeadows, the presiding official, Lieutenant-Colonel Le Maistre. the Camp Commandant,refused to deal with him on the grounds that he was not the man described in the attestation papers. He was remanded to the detention ward, No. 5 A.G.H.,and while he was there I wrote a letter, dated 27th September, 1917, to the Secretary for Defence (copy enclosed).
The letter reads as follows : -
I am acting for this man, who has been arrested for desertion. I am instructed that, on 10th May, 1917, he was examined by a
Medical Board in relation to his military pension, which was, in consequence of this examination, increased. I am desirous of adducing this fact in evidence, and beg to apply that the file containing the report of the Medical Board be made available for production on the file of this man.
Mr. Holmes goes on in his epitome to state that -
The documents I asked for in that letter were, in my opinion, material for the purposes of his defence. Brown was again presented before orderly-room, Lieutenant-Colonel Le Maistre presiding, on 4th January, 1918. The documents which I had asked the Defence Department to produce in my letter 27th September were not produced, but the Colonel, after hearing me, ordered that the man be discharged from the Forces. To-day, to my astonishment, I received the letter dated the 7th inst from the Secretary for Defence.
That letter reads as follows : -
With reference to your letter of 27th September, 1917, re Sergeant Parker Brown, I have to inform you no action is being taken at present against this man for desertion, as he has been committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Melbourne, on the loth February, 1918, on a charge of bigamy.
Mr. Holmes replied to that letter as follows: - 8th February, 1918.
I received your letter of the 7th inst., in which you informed me “ that no action is being taken against this man at present for desertion.” I may mention for your information that this man was tried by LieutenantColonel Le Maistre, at Broadmeadows Camp, on 4th January last, for desertion and ordered to be discharged from the Forces.
In his letter to me, Mr. Holmes goes on to say that -
It will, no doubt, appeal to your sense of the ridiculous that a Department such as the Defence Department should write to a prisoner’s solicitor and inform him that “no further action will be taken “ against his client for an alleged offence which has been dealt with by Defence officials more than a month previously. One cannot but doubly regret that W. S. Gilbert is dead. What unlimited matter for an opera bouffe he would find in Pearce’s Department.
The original documents are held by me, and can be produced at any time.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has referred to the question of Protection. I have always been a Protectionist up to the hilt, and am ashamed that Australia does not produce everything she requires. Our splendid ally, Japan, has set us a great example.
Within the span of my life she has risen from a people using shields, spears, and bows and arrows to a nation that can build her own Dreadnoughts. She can rival the world in the production of woollens and various manufactures, and she is the only country that has been able to defeat the great American Tobacco Combine. Our imports are absurdly high, and, as a Protectionist, T would not allow anything to come in here which we could manufacture for ourselves. I have expressed that view over and over again, and have always stood for election to Parliament as a straight out Protectionist. I indorse all that the honorable member for Maribyrnong has said.
If we had the referendum, the initiative and recall, we should not hear the Government talking of allowing Parliament to at once go into recess. On the contrary, we should go on until measures which the people desire had been carried.
We can well imagine how, under such a system the electors would vote with regard to Protection, the fixation of prices, and the imposition of equitable war-time profits taxation. Let me give but one illustration of how the paid-up capital of a company has increased since the war. In 1912-13 the paid-up capital of the Vacuum Oil Company was £600,000: in 1915-16 - war years - it was increased to’ £800,000: and in 1917 it was increased to £1,600,000, or £1,000,000 in excess of the pre-war level. The people, if we had the referendum and the initiative, would vote against any profits in excess of those made in the pre-war days. I repeat an argument that I have used before. Is there any one in the devastated lands that have been harried and cursed by the victory of the Prussian-led army but would thank his Maker morning, noon, and night, if he could but go back and have things as they were before the horror of war broke upon him ? There is no merchant but would suffer the loss of all his profits to gain that end. We have enemies within our gates who are more culpable than those enemies of ours who are carrying arms a.nd fighting against us. They, at least, are fighting in the open. This House would be more honorable and honest if the same wage were paid to members as is paid to a Minister.
– I do not know that my work outside is not equal to that which is done by a Minister.
– We have to do work outside as well as attend to our Ministerial duties.
– Ministers should have more regard to the honour of serving their country as Ministers. There could be no greater honour. The man who leads the British Cabinet is a greater man than all the trumpery, tin-pot, titled nobilities who have no voice in the control of the affairs of the nation. Gladstone’s voice, and the voice of Disraeli when he was in the Lower House, commanded more regard from the nation than could any member of the trumpery, tinpot, titled nobility. My hope is to raise all human beings to the purchasing power equivalent to the salary of £12 per week which .is paid to honorable members. I have already shown where Mr. Pitt, during the early part of the Continental war, imposed an income tax of 500 per cent, on any man who would be paying £1,000 in taxation at the ordinary rate. He would, therefore, have to pay £6,000. I think that the people will agree with me when my proposal is put before them. I do not know what they think of that horrible example we had when thirteen men took possession of the benches op- .posite and ten of them became salaried Ministers and officers drawing salaries from the people outside who have no voice in their appointment.
The salary paid to a member of Parliament should be the highest wage paid in any Government Department. The country is ruled by departmental heads. The majority of Ministers are nothing but rubber stamps. Some of them, as the Minister who has just interjected said, have to attend to private work as well as their Ministerial duties. In such cases they,cannot go into all matters that come before them in their Departments, and they must accept the advice given them by their departmental heads. One man in the service of the Defence Department is paid £2,000 a year, with a field allowance of 15s. per day. When Von Moltre led the victorious Prussians to the destruction of the power of France, he did not draw anything like that sum. A MajorGeneral in the Australian Expeditionary Forces draws £1,200 per annum, and a field allowance of £5 5s. per week. In
Caucus I asked that the same pension should be paid to the dependant of a common soldier as would be made payable to the dependant of an officer. I was not able to achieve my object. But from this time forth I am out for the same wage, the same uniform, the same food, the same pension for officers and soldiers alike. The wife of a man receiving £45 a week should be able tosave enough money to meet the requirements of herself and her children without it being necessary to put an excessive amount upon our pension list.
It is astonishing how easy it is for a man to rise to be a General. I have my eye on one man who can become a General by polishing the handle of the front door of the Defence Department. There is not a man under him but is his superior in the matter of knowledge and attainments, yet he will draw a General’s salary though he will not go to the Front. He will not go to the Front because there are no women to be delivered there. He never was fit to be an army surgeon. He would not be admitted to the staff of the Melbourne or Alfred Hospitals as an inpatient surgeon. There is no medical man in the British Forces or in Australia but who is vastly his superior. Yet he will continue to draw a General’s salary, though he will never risk getting killed.
Sitting suspended from 6.30. to 7.45 p.m.
– In to-day’s Age we are told that Mr. Abigail, one of the leaders of the Bar in New South Wales, stamps the Defence Department as a “Department ofmuddledom,” inasmuch as some fifty Anzac men, who had risked their lives abroad, not only received no welcome on their return, but were not even paid what was due to them. I cannot understand such happenings, for, if a little newspaper publishes anything, the whole of the Intelligence Department, plus the censor, is on the spot. There was no welcome for these returned men, but other men in the Defence Department, who never will go to the Front, succeed in rising to high rank by carefully “ polishing up the handle of the big front door.” This is an infamy and a shame; and from every platform I shall urge that those who are responsible ought to be sacked. We know, of course, that the “ top dog “ is never sacked ; and this country will not be civilized until every one is a servant, no matter what his position may be.
There is an idea outside that members of this Parliament may eat and drink what they please within these walls at the country’s expense. Every member of the press knows that that is absolutely false; indeed, we actually pay more for our refreshments here than we should pay outside. In the refreshment room we are called upon to pay1s. 6d. for a threecourse meal, and if we invite a friend we are fined 6d. extra. The newspaper men, who do not dine in the chamber that is sacrosanct to members, are also charged 6d. extra for their meals. Of course, outside we do not have the pleasant room and surroundings that are to be found here, nevertheless it cannot be said that we are not charged enough. The loss on the refreshment room is £1,500 per year, a sum sufficient to present 12,000 halfcrown free meals to members at a profit, or to distribute 30,000 free meals at1s. each to any unfortunates who require them-. It is a mystery why there should be any loss, seeing that there is no rent to pay, and that light, and possibly fire, together with all linen, cutlery, crockery, and glassware, is free. Are we to put the loss down to bad management? Much profit, we know, is made from alcohol, but we cannot look for relief in that direction, bcause, so far as I understand, we are within easy distance of the abolition of drink in Parliament House, and, in any case, some time ago, when an inquiry was made, it was found that the expenditure amounted to only 4d. per head per month, including refreshments for occasional visitors entertained by members. In these days of economy, why should not the refreshment rooms as they stand be handed over to a combination of the chef, the assistant cook, the steward, and the waiters, with all cutlery and so forth free, to manage at reasonable prices and pay themselves? I draw attention to this matter because I am tired of hearing people outside declare that we have a very fine club here, and all the refreshments we desire free of cost. As a matter of fact, I can get a three-course dinner at refreshment rooms outside, with a bottle of wine thrown in, for1s. 6d., or, instead of the wine, a better cup of coffee than I ever drank in this House. I call upon members and the press to make the facts in this connexion widely known, so that we may be relieved from a most unpleasant imputation.
I strongly object to a man named Angliss being allowed to supply meat for the use of the Navy. It has been proved that meat from his abattoirs, supplied to transports, was infected with hydatids ; and in this connexion I should like to read the following extract from the Labour Gall of the 16th instant: -
Mr. Angliss represents the Southern Province in the Victorian Legislative Council. The seat that he holds has, in portion, the unique distinction of returning W. M. Hughes to the Federal Parliament.
The whole of these facts, with the exception of 11 and 12, were known at the time Mr. Angliss was last elected for the Southern Province as M.L.C.
Return dated July 30, 1908. 1.W. C. Angliss, Fitzroy Court, for adulterated sausage meat, fined £1.
From Return dated October 12, 1912.
From Return dated July 8, 1914.
From Return dated October 14, 1915.
Why did they not put him in gaol for five years ?
The Judge stated: My findings therefore are: -
That Mr. Angliss loaded the transport A37 in willful disobedience of the decision of the Government.
Supreme Court, Melbourne, 7th July, 1915
Note. - Nothing was done in this matter by the Liberal party, the Government and its supporters voting solidly for a whitewash.
During the time that the Royal Commission (Judge Hood) was preparing his report, the Legislative Council of Victoria appointed a Select Committee to “inquire into the statements made in connexion with the export of meat from this State, imputing to the Hon. W. C. Angliss, M.L.C., improper conduct.”
The Committee was formed of the following members of the Legislative Council: - Robert Beckett, F. G. Clarke, A. McLellan, Walter S. Manifold, T. II. Payne, E. J. Crooke, J. K. Merritt.
The Legislative Assembly refused to permit the Minister of Agriculture to give evidence before this Committee, “because the Judge Hood Royal Commission was then inquiring. The Committee went on taking evidence, with the principal witness excluded. The report was that the statements of “ improper conduct were not proved.”
That was a whitewashing by his fellow councillors -
Let any impartial person weigh up the report of Judge Hood against that of the Legislative Council Committee and see which testimonial is likely to weigh with the public.
In 1917 the Angliss firm was reported for sending livers rotten withhydatids on board the troopships for Navy use.
Nothing was done by the authorities
I accuse the Minister for the Navy. Mr. Joseph Cook, of having screened this man and made it most difficult for me to get the information I required concerning the case. . I also charge that honorable gentleman with having allowed blame to be unjustly attached to the Melbourne Municipal Council, on whose behalf it has been distinctly stated that the diseased meat never left its abattoirs, and that it possibly may have left those of Angliss. The Labour Call goes on to say-
More important still is the fact that, while our soldiers, who were going abroad to fight for us, did have the advantage of an inspection, the men, women, and children of this city, who eat Angliss’ meat, have no safeguard of the kind once the meat has left his abattoirs. That is why I accuse this Government of supporting (his man; and I take my present stand in spite of the fact that I have been warned that if I dare* repeat on the platform what I say here I shall be made insolvent. I have said on the platform, and I. repeat here,, that I cannot prove in a Court of law that Mr. Angliss knew that the meat he sent to the soldiers was diseased, but when bad meat is sent - not once, not twice, but several times - the fact is suspicious. Never again will disease, in the form of bullocks’ livers, be supplied to transports, because the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jensen), to bis honour,, instructed the ‘Navy Department that bullocks’ livers were not to be put on transports as food for soldiers. If Mr. Angliss or his managers knew the meat was diseased when they sent it on board the transport, hanging on the nearest lamp-post would be too good for them! Yet the Government support that man. He is still a contractor, sending meat to the transports - possibly diseased meat. If the people outside had a say in this matter they would demand that the Minister should immediately cancel his contract, and see that all his meat was examined for the sake of the _ health of every man, woman, and child in the community. A returned soldier a;t Mildura assured me that he had seen meat with hydatid cysts put in the saucepan by the cook on a transport, and when the doctor was called he said that it should bo thrown overboard. The soldiers buried it at sea with musical honours’, the band playing the “ Dead March in Saul.” Ask any doctor if he would like to eat mea! with hydatid cysts on it, and he may say that it would be safe to do so if the meat were boiled to rags. But ask him if he would care to eat it even in that state, and he would say “ No.” I am making this protest, not only on behalf of the soldiers, but on behalf of every man., woman, and child who, through eating diseased meat, may find themselves upon the operating table of any of Melbourne’s hospitals. Any doctor connected with a hospital will tell honorable members how great is the rate of mortality in connexion with operations from hydatids on the liver, lungs, or other internal organs. In my opinion, many of the deaths in the Melbourne hospitals have been caused by the eating of ‘diseased meat. If this meat was supplied to the Navy Department, is it not possible that it has been supplied to the public, and, through being eaten in a partially cooked state, has caused disease ?
I have had a fair spell of grievances to-night. I have spoken, not for the lo re of talking,, but for two reasons : firstly, because I deem, it my sacred duty to expose infamies; and, secondly, because I am taking advantage of the short time which is available to us before the House adjourns for some weeks. The members of this House are paid a full minimum wage. I wish ali the people outside were receiving its equal in purchasing power. But we are not doing our work, and we never will do it until the people outside, who created us, have power over the created thing which they call Parliament. Can honorable members point to anything in nature- where the created thins makes itself more powerful than the creator ? This Parliament, created by the people, has made itself more powerful than the people. They are ruled by War Precautions Regulations, issued at au average rate, possibly, of one per day. We are told that these regulations are not laws; but if a regulation gives power to imprison me or any other person, it is a law., caj! it by what name you will. When I asked the Government to issue a regulation under the War Precautions Act to prevent landlords raising their rents in war1 time, I was refused.’ Honorable members must know that rents are being raised. One man, honorable to the extreme, but with whom I had some trouble, said to me, “ I will never again raise my rents; but why do not the Government make it illegal for men to raise rents in war time, and not leave it to you to come to me as an individual?” We ought to go to the country again.
– If we had the recall the people could control this Parliament, which they have created. My conscience is at peace, for I have given my electors the right to recall me at any moment, if only one over half the electors who vote in my constituency sign a petition. That great organ, the Age, which has done so much to educate public opinion in regard to the initiative and referendum, now agrees that 30 per cent, of the electors should be sufficient to drag any member out of this chamber, and declare his seat vacant, the election of his successor to take place in fourteen days. I know that I shall live to see that reform in operation yet, and then only shall we have honesty in Parliament.
.- I regret very much that the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) is not in the House to-night, because I rise to refute a gross slander on some honest and loyal citizens resident at St. Arnaud, in the Grampians electorate, contained in a letter which the honorable member read in the House on Friday afternoon. If I may be allowed to quote from Hansard -
– The honorable member will not be in order in reading from Hansard of this session. He may refer to the matter from memory.
– Why did not the honorable member deal with the matter on Friday?
– I had no opportunity of. doing so without interfering with the business of the House.
Mr.Blakeley. - The honorable member ought to have asked his Minister to “gag” the House a couple of hours earlier.
– I have no doubt that when the honorable member gets the opportunity he will apply the “gag” all the time.
– I would not be guilty of such despicable tricks.
– Then why does the honorable member suggest that I should ask the Minister to “ gag “ honorable members ?
– Because the honorable member voted for the “ gag “ last night.
– Order ! Honorable members must cease interjecting.
– I rose to speak in defence of loyal citizens whose honour, as dear to me as my own, has been impugned in the letter read by the honorable member for Cook. The honorable member explained that the letter had been sent to him instead of to me, the parliamentary representative of the people of St. Arnaud, because the writer wished to address it to a quarter in which there was more genuineness and sincerity than amongst members of the National party. No honorable member of this House can from his heart and conscience cast any reflection on my genuineness and sincerity.
– I think this debate is one which requires a full attendance of members. [Quorum formed.]
– I shall say no more about the reflection passed upon me except to say that I have never reflected on the genuineness and sincerity of honorable members opposite, especially the honorable member for Cook. I am prepared to give him the fullest possible credit for being most genuine, most sincere, most capable, and whatever else he likes. Comparisons are odious, and therefore I have never compared the sincerity of one honorable member with that of another.
– The writer of this letter says that theRecruiting Committee at St. Arnaud is composed of men eligible for service.
– I will deal with that point. That letter contained allegations against honest and loyal people in the St. Arnaud district.
– Is the statement true ?
– It is a foul and infamous falsehood!
– I think a quorum should be maintained for the honorable member. [Quorum formed].
– I consider that this gentleman of St. Arnaud, in passing by me, his parliamentary representative, and sending a letter to a member representing another constituency, paid to me the highest compliment that has ever been paid to me, because the letter was of so vile and scurrilous a character, and contains such absolute and malignant falsehoods, that I venture to say the like has never before been read in this chamber.
– What are the statements ?
– The statements contained in the letter were that there is in the town of St. Arnaud a recruiting committee consisting of lawyers, bankers, storekeepers, commission agents, doctors, and a few others, who have snug, comfortable billets, the majority of whomare eligible for military service. I give that falsehood a completeand emphatic denial.
– Such a denial does not count. Will you tell us the ages of the members of the committee?
– I have obtained information concerning the committee against whom this foul and infamous slander has been uttered.
Honorable members interrupting,
– I ask honorable members to cease these continuous interjections. I have appealed for order several times, and insist on my appeals being regarded. I ask honorable members to allow the honorable member for Grampians to address the Chair without interruption.
– I wish to quote a letter written by my friend, LieutenantColonel H. W. Dunkley, the chairman of the St. Arnaud Recruiting Committee. He says in it that -
The statement that the “ majority of the St. Arnaud Recruiting Committee are of military age and eligible for active service” is absolutely incorrect, and must have been known as such to members of the St. Arnaud branch of the A.L.P. The fact is that only two out of a committee of eleven are of military age; one of these is physically unfit, and the other is very doubtful, and next year will be above military age. The names of the committee are as follow: - Lieut.-Colonel H. W. Dunkley, chairman-
He is a man of my own age.
– How old is the honorable member?
– Will the honorable member for Dalley cease interjecting. I have several times called the House to order, and if my call is disregarded again, I shall have to consider seriously the reporting of the matter to the House, for action to be taken against the offender.
– We should have a fuller House to hear what the honorable member has to say. [Quorum formed.]
– I give to my friend, the. honorable and gallant member for Ballarat, the names of the gentlemen composing the committee, well known men, with some of whom he, as the representative of the adjoining electorate, may be acquainted. In addition to the chairman, there are J. Crosbie, honorary secretary; H. T. Edwards, W. J. Rowe, G. Sturrock,F. E. Davies, G. Osborne, N. J. A. Reed, W. Mitchell, and G. Suggett. The writer of the letter says that”these are all well known local men, and if the A.L.P. Committee “ - probably my. honorable friends know the significance of those mysterious letters-
– They stand for the Australian Labour party.
– I ask the honorable member for Darling not to interrupt.
– The St. Arnaud Branch of the Australian Labour party passed a resolution declining “ to have anything to do with the St. Arnaud Recruiting Committee for the simple reason that the majority of that committee are of military age, and eligible for active service.” My friend, the chairman of the committee, says -
If the A.L.P. Committee arc sincere in their statement that the only reason for not assisting is as stated, the two members of the Recruiting Committee are willing to resign, so as to remove any objections that the A.L.P. Committee may have; in fact, the full Committee are prepared to hand the whole matter over to the A.L.P. Committee, and give them every possible help and assistance in obtaining reinforcements for our brave lads at the Front, who are not stopping to quibble over such trifles as these, and who are worthy of our united and earnest support.
This statement, signed by my friend, Lieut.-Colonel Dunkley, completely refutes the foul and malicious slanders contained in the letter read in this House by my friend the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) on Friday last.
.- There are many grievances with which I should like to deal, and which should be remedied, particularly grievances concerning the soldiers; but I do not wish to cause discord in the community at thi3 juncture. I recognise the seriousness of the position, and feel for the boys that are over there to-day, as I believe the whole of the people of Australia feel for them. “We realize that they are fighting with their backs to the wall, and have a pretty big task in front of them. There are some questions that will have to be settled decisively by the Acting Prime Minister within a few days, serious grievances which I have submitted to him, and I am waiting to know the decisions concerning them. There are also one or two matters of minor importance about which I wish to say something. The reply of the chairman of the St. Arnaud Recruiting Committee may contain the truth; but when any Recruiting Committee has on it any man of military age, and eligible for active service, it should be ashamed of itself. On the admissions of the chairman, there are two such men on the St. Arnaud Recruiting Committee.
– They are prepared to resign.
– They ought to be kicked off the committee, not allowed to resign. Fancy such men daring to ask other men to fight, and seeking to get babes of eighteen years of age to go to the Front - children to carry on a fight that concerns ‘the men of the British Empire. I hope that the committee will strike off the names of these two men; I do not know any of the other facts of the case. I hope that the Government will go back to the original conditions of enlistment, and allow no lad under twenty-one years of age to enlist without his parents’ consent.
– We all agree about that.
– Yes; but the Government has not rescinded its regulation. I shall never forget the first night that I spent on the line. The sergeant called me at 2 o’clock in the morning, when bombs were dropping. He said, “ Come out, warrant-officer, and have a look.” There was a boy, eighteen years of age, stone dead, and not a bomb had fallen within 100 yards of him. This Government and the Acting Prime Minister will leave behind them the legacy of this regulation, which permits babes to go overseas. My God! They do not know the conditions there. They have not been through them. I have not seen much of the war, but I know that, no lad under twenty-one years of age should be allowed to go. Even if they never hear a shot fired, the moral temptations of camp life are too serious, and the lads will be ruined morally. We can win the fight, or can secure terms of peace which will be. honorable, just, and lasting, without calling in the children to assist us. I hope that the Government will repeal the regulation wholly, and allow no lad of eighteen years of age to go.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) spoke on the food question. As to the Angliss matter, I know nothing, because I am not acquainted with what happened after I went away. The food question is, however, an urgent one. I wish to speak regarding the food supplied on board the transports. On the boat by which I came back, there were munition workers. Many of them had gone abroad with the best intentions, believing that they could do good work by assisting in tobe manufacture of munitions. They were coming back because of illhealth, and were carried as second class passengers. Yet boys without legs, boys without arms, boys with one arm or one leg, had to go steerage. Where possible, they had to make their own beds, and to live on badly-cooked food, while the second class passengers had stewards to wait on them and to make their beds. ls it any wonder that there, is discontent? The officers had a menu for every meal, but the boys who had bled and suffered for their country had to be content with bread and jam for their evening meal. Two hundred officers occupied one-half of the ship, and 1,000 of the boys, nearly all of whom had been wounded, occupied the remaining half. More food was wasted than eaten.
If the Minister desires to do a real service to our lads, then he should take this matter in hand at once. I am speaking quite irrespective of party. I believe every honorable member wants to do the best possible for our returned soldiers, but the trouble is that too much power has been given to the military class.
The military are paramount in the community. I have submitted to the Acting Prime Minister a statement in regard to the treatment of our boys, and I want to give the Government a chance to deal with it. I know what our returned soldiers have to go through on the voyage out, and I have seen how they suffer.
Thousands of our boys are invalided in England, and want to come home. The Government tell them, however, that the supply of transports is insufficient to permit of their return. I can give the Minister for Defence a ready means of doubling our transport capacity without employing an additional ship. My suggestion is that he should tear out the cabins on board ship, and that the officers should live the lives of the boys on board. Let them submit to the same conditions. Why should 200 officers on board a transport occupy cabins while limbless and blind boys’ have none? If it is good enough for such privates to do without cabins, it is good enough for the officers to do without them. Let the Govern.ment adopt my suggestion in this regard, and instead of bringing back 1,200 on a transport they will be able to accommodate 2,000. These boys in England, who are anxious to return, are wanted by their relatives. They have done all they can for their country, and should be returned to their homes. Food on the transports is not properly cooked. More than onehalf of it, although of the best quality - the people of Australia are paying for the best - is often improperly cooked, and consequently is thrown overboard, while at the same time our boys are constantly making purchases at the canteen.
I have experienced these things, and know exactly the circumstances in which our boys are brought home. Is it any wonder that returned soldiers are dissatisfied when such conditions prevail? Although I realize the seriousness of tho situation, I cannot go on the recruiting platform when I know of these facts. If the Government would let us get back to the position in 1914- if they would abolish one-half of our war regulations, sack one-half of our censors, and give us the freedom and the conditions operating in 1914 - there would be no lack of recruits.
Then, again, I would urge the Government to appoint civil authorities to attend to the requirements of our men while they are away. We have sent to the Front somthing like 350,000 men. We, so to speak, pushed them off at the end of our umbrellas at Port Phillip, and left them to the mercy of the military authorities. Is it any wonder that a thousand and one grievances have arisen? There is no one to redress these grievances of our boys at the Front.- The British Tommy has his Parliamentarian to whom he can appeal and can get some redress, but our boys in England and France have no. Parliamentarians or civil authorities to attend to the many serious questions which ought to be settled for them. They often desire to appeal to a civil authority, but here we are doing nothing for them in that respect, and they are helpless. No matter how serious the grievance under which they labour, they are forced to go. before officers, to salute, and to say “ Yes, sir.” They are not allowed to argue any matter when they go before their officers. It is not yet too- late for the Government to remedy this state of affairs.
– Two members of the Government will land in England shortly.
– The PostmasterGeneral is referring to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook).
– I have no desire to say anything unpleasant, but God help the Prime Minister if he gets up .against the “ dinkum “ Australian soldiers. No man is likely to get a worse reception fromthem. The real soldiers - the men in the trenches - turned down conscription by ten to one, and they have no good feeling for the Prime Minister.
– There is a reason for that.
– And a very good reason. The Postmaster-General knows very well that it is not the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Navy that we want over there to look after the interests of our boys. We should have at the Front men who will mingle with the privates. Will the Prime Minister mix with them? Not much.
– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) is making inquiries over there.
– He may be doing good work. His character is such as will appeal to privates, but it is not generally known by our soldiers that he is there. As a matter of fact, the military at the Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, ride rough-shod over the community, notwithstanding the protest of members of Parliament, and the action of the press in drawing attention from time to time to the misuse of military powers. In Horseferryroad, London, there is a little clique, and if you want a- company you can get it there - a company of young men who have never heard a shot fired. I shall say no more, however, on this phase of the question. Another opportunity to discuss it will present itself, and I shall anxiously await action on the part of the Government.
I regret that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. “Watt) is not present, since I desire now to make special reference to the vocational training of returned soldiers. The problem is a serious one, and with every additional shipment of returned soldiers will become still more serious. I propose to refer to the position in Ballarat, since it is in my electorate, and I am familiar with what is being done there in regard to the training of returned soldiers. At the present time twenty returned soldiers are being taught a trade at the Ballarat School of Mines, but, as a matter of fact, they are given only sixteen hours’ instruction per week. Such training is farcical. It means that it will take something like sixteen years to teach these men a trade. The Government, are allowing the men a sustenance allowance, and the fact that they have only sixteen hours’ instruction a week, and are free to spend the rest of their time on the streets, is likely to have a .very bad effect upon them. Give a man employment for only two hours a day, allow him to spend the rest of his time on the streets, and you will not help to make him a good citizen.
Mr.. Webster Would the honorable member have them put in eight hours a day ?
– I would have them devote eight hours a day to the learning of a trade. These men themselves desire to devote more time to their studies. They have waited upon me as a deputation, and the Ballarat School of Mines has submitted a scheme which would greatly improve and enlarge the present system. It is prepared at once to make arrangements to instruct sixty men, and to give them full training, so that they would be competent tradesmen after from six months to two years instruction.
– The responsible Minister has arrived at an arrangement with the States, under which he hopes to give effect to a proper system of training. The matter will be referred to later on.
– I am pleased to have that assurance. While the Federal and States Governments are in conflict these men are walking the streets.
– The honorable member is quite right in his desire that an effective system of training shall be established.
– The sooner these men are taught a trade, the sooner will they be able to support themselves and their wives and families. I hope that the Minister for Repatriation will be advised of my statements. Let the Government deal with this question at once, and not be satisfied with a mere promise on the part of any of the State Governments that such-and-such steps will be taken to remedy the situation. These training schools need only a little financial assistance in the purchase of equipment and the provision of a few additional teachers to be able to largely increase the number of men receiving instruction. This question of vocational training and the giving of a full day’s instruction to each trainee is of vital importance, and I hope that the Minister will not trifle with it.
If the Government wish to encourage recruiting let them treat our returned soldiers fairly and squarely. That will put ‘a, stop to the grumbling now going on at our street corners. Let them have some regard for the men who have bled and suffered for their country, and there will be no lack of recruits. Give our returned soldiers a fair deal, afford them opportunities to< learn a trade, and the position will be immensely improved. The fact that a lad is prepared to go to a school to learn a trade is in itself evidence that he is not a bad citizen. It shows a desire on his -part to become selfsupporting. But these lads in many case* have been walking the streets for months, and nothing is being done for them.
– I have already mentioned the matter to the responsible Min- ister
– I hope that the scheme submitted by the Ballarat School of Mines will be at once accepted. If the Commonwealth Government have arrived at an agreement with the State Government, let them telegraph to-morrow morning to the Ballarat School of Mines, “ Carry out your scheme. Take in the boys, and teach them a trade. By taking such action they will render good service, not only to our returned soldiers, but to the whole community.
.- Following upon the statement just made by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), I desire to deal with the case of a returned soldier which appears to me to be a most extraordinary instance “ of mistaken identity and of harsh treatment meted out to a man who has served his King and country, and bears on his body the scars of battle. There is grave doubt as to this man’s real name. He says that it is Richard Clifford Lewis, that he is a native of Scrwrfa, in Tredegar, Monmouthshire, South Wales, and that he was born on 25th September, 1898.
– Let us have a quorum to hear this statement. [Quorum formed.]
– He will not be twenty years of age until September next. He enlisted in the 3rd Reinforcements of the Fourth Battalion, Cameron Highlanders, at Inverness, in the name of Gordon McDonald, in 1914. He was then sixteen years of age.
– Does he admit this ?
– Yes. He went to France on 23rd September, 1914, and remained with his unit until October, 1915. He was shot on four occasions, and was once bayoneted. I have seen the wounds on his body. He was sent to the Manor House Hospital, Folkestone, and then transferred to Harefield, which is an Australian hospital. He was a month at Harefield, and then rejoined his regiment at Inverness on sick furlough. He subsequently passed as fit, and went to France in April, 1916, with the Cameron Highlanders. He was employed as a motor cyclist despatch rider between the First Division of the Imperial troops and the First Division of the Australian troops. While engaged carrying a despatch at Fricourt to an officer at the Australian Head-quarters, who was at the time preparing an experimental mine for the training of young officers, he crossed the mine-field in order to deliver the despatch to the officer who was to receive it, and at that moment the mine was accidentally set off, and this man was buried for forty-nine hours before he could be dug out. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the Napsbury Hospital in England suffering from shell shock, as it was described; but he had lost his memory, and forgotten his identity. An officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps insisted that he was Gordon McDonald, of the 13th Australian Light Horse, and though he protested that he was not an Australian, that he had never been in Australia, and that he was an Imperial soldier, he was treated as a mental case, and confined in a padded cell. There is no doubt that, even now, he is a mental case. Every time he protested that he was not Gordon McDonald, he was told not to excite himself, and to keep quiet; that he would be properly dealt with, and when he had recovered he would be sent back to his home in Australia. When he protested that he had never seen Australia, he was sent back to the padded cells as an obstreperous case. Ultimately, he was told that he would be shipped back to his friends ; but the more he protested, the worse the authorities thought his case was. Ultimately, he was shipped to Australia on the Euripides, which arrived here on the 18th September, 1917. Then his troubles began. His troubles at Home were nothing in comparison with those he has met with out here. Having been confined to padded cells, and treated as a lunatic every time he tried to identify himself, and protested that, although he did not know who he was, he was certain that he was not Gordon McDonald, an Australian, he began to feel so nervous and timorous about the matter that he ultimately decided that, if he was to retain his sanity, he would admit that he was Gordon McDonald, of the 13th Australian Light Horse. When he made that admission, they realized that he was coming back to his senses. He decided to accept the official statement that he was Gordon McDonald, No. 360, of the 13th Australian Light Horse, and the Defence
Department notified the relatives of No. 360 of the Australian Light Horse of his intending arrival. Subsequently, they sent a card of entry to the barracks yard to his mother, who, they believed, lived at Edenhope, showing that before he landed, and before he made a statutory 0 declaration- which subsequently created most of his troubles, they had accepted his papers from England as genuine, and believed that he was No. 360, Gordon McDonald, of Edenhope, a member of the 13th Australian Light Horse. On his arrival in Melbourne, he was asked to make a statutory declaration concerning his pay-book, and in that declaration he is described as Gordon McDonald, No. 360, 13th Australian Light Horse. One paragraph stated that his mother ‘was Mrs. McDonald, of 19 Camberwell-road, Camberwell. It was on this declaration that he was subsequently prosecuted on the criminal charge of having made a false declaration. On the 19th October, 1917, Constable Henry J. Clapham, No. 5519, reported to Major F. V. Hogan, of the Intelligence Section of the General Staff, regarding complaints that Gordon McDonald was an impostor, and had tried to obtain money from a Mrs. Deering. This report states that “ Sergeant Gr. R. McDonald, regimental number 360, returned to Australia by the Euripides as a mental case on the 18th September, 1917, was granted leave on the 20th September, 1917, until 3rd October, and has now been noted ‘A.W.L.’, meaning absent without leave.’ He was subsequently found in the Bendigo Hospital. ‘ ‘ It appears that he was on his way to Inglewood with a fellow soldier who came out with him on the Euripides, and who had his home in that town, but he took ill at Kyneton. On reaching Bendigo, he was taken to the City Family Hotel for the night, and he was subsequently admitted to the Bendigo Hospital, where he had to be operated on because his wounds had broken out afresh. The Defence authorities asked the Bendigo police for a report on his attempted imposition on his alleged mother at Camberwell, whose name, by the way, he did not know. He had given the address of his mother as No. 19 Camberwell-road,’ Camberwell, and her name as Mrs. McDonald; but, as a matter of fact, the lady living at that address was Gordon McDonald’s aunt, named Mrs. Deering. If he had been an impostor he would have been in possession of the full facts through the papers of No. 360, which were given, to him in London before he came out to Australia. He was accused of having attempted to get an advance in cash from this lady, whose name he did not know. Constable Smith, of Bendigo, No. 4707, after investigating the matter, submitted a long report, from which I have taken the following extract: -
There does not appear to be any intention on the part of Sergeant McDonald to impose on Mrs. Deering. He received the attached post-card from Tier, dated 11th October, 1917.
On the 1st December, 1917, Constable Clapham wrote to Major Hogan, of the Intelligence Department, as follows: -
I believe this man is an impostor. He made a statutory declaration at Victoria Barracks on 19th September, 1917, in regard to his pay-book, that he allotted his mother, Mrs. McDonald, of 19 Camberwell-road, Camberwell, 3s. per day. This statement is untrue. The allotment was made to his aunt McDonald, of Edenhope.
That is the charge upon which they placed this man under arrest and prosecuted him criminally for having made a false statutory declaration -
When admitted to hospital he was wearing the colours of C Company, 13th Australian Light Horse, but when he left he was, wearing the colours of A Company, 2nd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.
This matter is now in the hands of the police. I propose to show that the fact that he was a mental wreck was forgotten at this stage, and that henceforth he was regarded as a criminal.
– Where is he now?
– The last I heard of him was that he was in Wirth’s Park Rest Home. I had him at the House last Thursday, and arranged that he should be here to-day, but when I spoke to the Rest Home on the telephone a few minutes ago they told me that he had not been there for two or three days.
Detective Jones next comes on the scene, and between him and Major Hogan and Constable Clapham as much imagination seems to have been displayed ,as one would expect to find in a camel’s brain. Detective Jones minutes Major Hogan as follows: -
Re Gordon McDonald. - Is still at large and imposing on various people.- Made declaration before Major Ryan which is false.
That is in regard to the allotment of the 3s. already referred to -
I desire that Constable Clapham should swear an information for the offender’s arrest and charge him under section 63c of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, and then circulate the crime by Criminal Offences report.
A warrant was issued by Major Hogan on the 16th November for the arrest of Gordon McDonald. In the meantime, the man had returned to the Base Hospital from Bendigo, and he remained in the institution until Christmas eve. On that day he went for a bicycle ride with a recruiting sergeant and met with an accident at the Elsternwick railway gates, waking up after having been unconscious for several days in the Base Hospital at Caulfield. All these facts I can vouch for. They are nearly all contained in the departmental files. I have spent since 10 o’clock this morning in perusing the files and in interviewing the solicitor who defended him. When he recovered consciousness after his accident, no doubt the authorities at the hospital wanted to know how he came there and who he was, and, as the result of making inquiries, the police ascertained his whereabouts, and arrested him under the warrant issued on the 16th November. They took him from his sick bed and conveyed him in an ambulance to a detention ward. It was on regaining consciousness after his accident that his, memory was restored to him and he came to recollect who he was. The detectives got another statement from him when he came out of hospital on the 25th January, 1918, and I propose to read that statement, which was a declaration made on oath. It says -
Declaration. 25th January, 1918. 1, the undersigned, make the following true statement: -
I was born in the year 1898, on 25th September, at a place called Scrwrfa, Tredegar, Monmouthshire, South Wales. Being an illegitimate child, I was registered in my mother’s name, that of Lewis, my name being R. C. Lewis, my father’s name being R. Davis, the headmaster of Earl-street Public School, Tredegar. I was told that trouble took place between my parents, and they never married. I was living with a Mr. David Probert, of Scrwrfa, Tredegar, Monmouthshire, South Wales, and after being expelled from Sandhurst Officers’ Training Corps, I was apprenticed to Tredegar Iron and CoalWorks as an electrical haulage engine-driver. When the war broke out I enlisted in the 3rd Reinforcements of the 4th Battalion, Cameron High landers, in the name of Gordon McDonald. I enlisted in the town of Inverness. Shortly after war broke out I was sent to France as a lance-sergeant on 22nd December, 1914, and was wounded in the battle of Le Cateau on 29th March, 1915. After being in hospital for a time I rejoined my unit at the depot at Inverness.
From this point the evidence is, apparently, not correct. The documents in the Department all lead to the conclusion that a good deal of the information that follows is not correct, but I ask honorable members to remember that this statement was taken when the man was barely out of the hospital after the accident, and before he had time, being a mental case, to be restored to his equilibrium -
I next proceeded to Gallipoli and landed there about October, 1915. After the evacuation I, with my battalion, proceeded back to England, and, owing to a previous concussion which caused loss of memory, I somehow got admitted to the Australian Hospital at Harefield, which I now remember being admitted to. When I got well I was given furlough, and afterwards rejoined my unit.
What follows seems to be imaginary -
I qualified for my pilot’s certificate, and proceeded to France with the Royal Flying Corps under the command of the lute Captain Ball, V.C., D.S.O., M.C. After taking part in several air fights, I was resting in a dugout which was blown up with a mine, and was partially buried for forty-nine hours. When I was taken out my uniform must have, been taken off, and my suffering from loss of memory I was unable to give the doctors any information as to my identity. I was admitted to the 20th General Base Hospital in France. While there I’ was under the treatment of Captain H. Yellowleas, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who insisted on saying that I was an Australian and belonged to the 13th Light Horse. These facts he had found out for himself while on leave in London. I was sent from there to the Napbury Asylum, outside London, and on more than one occasion protested I was not the man they had me there for. but each time I made this statement I was put in a padded cell and told I had delusions, and that I was not to worry. I told the doctors to procure the London Daily Sketch for February and March, 1916, which would clear up everything, but this again was put down as a delusion. The mentioned Daily Sketch published an account of ray winning a commission and medal, and also published my photograph on four or five different occasions. (Signed) Richard Clifford Lewis. 26th January, 1918.
– Does the honorable member say that the whole of the latter portion is untrue?
– No; the part that deals with the statement as to where he joined seems to be borne out by the rest of the Departmental file.
– He may have done that if he were in the British Army.
– It is possible, but I can only deal with the file and the information I have.
– From that point to the conclusion it is true?
– Yes, the statement from that point is verified by the ‘facts in possession of the Department here. Detective Jones then notified Major Hogan of the arrest of this man in the Caulfield Hospital, and in the notification he said -
Warrant taken out for arrest of the impostor, who was subsequently found at the Caulfield Hospital and brought to No. 5 Base and kept under observation, who then made several contradictory statements as to his identity.
It is a curious thing that this warrant should have been in existence from the 16th November, and that he should he supposed to be missing, and on the records as absent without leave, when really he was in the Base Hospital. Then he met with the accident, and subsequently went to Caulfield, where it was not known that he was absent without leave.
– That is nothing in the Department!
– That may be, but it was mighty serious for this man. When his memory had been restored and he realized who he was, one would naturally have expected the Department to make some investigation as to his statements concerning his associates on the other side of the water. But what happened ? Detective Jones suggested that all the processes of the criminal law should be put into operation against this man, such as obtaining and sending his finger prints to the police here, and having them examined by the criminal investigation branch. After finding nothing against the man, and no record of him in the criminal investigation branch here, Detective Jones suggested that the finger prints should be sent to Scotland Yard. This was done by telegraph, and the reply from Scotland Yard was that he was not known there. There seems to vanish the last vestige of an idea that this man was a criminal in the hands of the police, or was dodging the police in some way. No attempt was made to treat this man as a soldier who had served his country and had suffered in her service. On the 31si
January, 191S, after all this had occurred, Brigadier - General Williams awakened to the fact that there was something wrong, and he suggested to the Secretary of Defence that the authorities in England be cabled to in order to ascertain the truth or otherwise of his statements. He was kept in the detention ward at the Base Hospital from the 10th January to the 23rd March. On the 8th March McDonald wrote to the Officer Commanding No. 5 Australian General Hospital, and asked to be released from the ‘ detention ward after three months’ incarceration. That request was evidently refused, but there is no record on the Departmental file as to what reply was given. The fact that he did not get a satisfactory reply induced him. to escape, and he did escape from th.t ward.
He explained to me that he escaped for the purpose of getting some one to take an interest in his case. After being out five or six days he returned voluntarily on the 28th or 29th March to the Base Hospital. On the 15th March Detective Jones asked Major Hogan to facilitate this man’s discharge so that the civil police could get hold of him. Detective Jones said that he had notified the Criminal Investigation Branch of the man’s escape, and practically asked that he be discharged from the Military Force, when the police would be ready to snap him and prosecute him on a civil charge. ,
– Was this in Prussia ?
– No; in Melbourne. On the same day, the 15th March, the Department cabled to the Commandant of the Administrative Head-Quarters in England asking for verification of Gordon McDonald’s enlistment in the 3rd Reinforcements of the 4th Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders. It might be thought that would be deemed sufficient, but to that request was gratuitously added, “ as a criminal charge is pending.” What object was there in the Department cabling that to England? It is infamous - enough to make one’s blood boil ! A reply was sent to the effect -
No trace of Lewis, Australian Imperial Force. Investigating with War Office.
I cannot* make head or tail of that reply, which is not elucidated in any way. Does it mean that Lewis was missing from the Cameron Highlanders, and that they had no trace of him ? If not, I ask the Minister whether any other telegrams came to hand in reply to the Departmental inquiries concerning that cable ? There is none on the file.
– Might it not be due to the fact that the man himself confused the name under which he had enlisted ?
– I am quite prepared to admit that the whole case bristles with difficulties: In the first instance the man enlisted under the name of Gordon McDonald, and it happened that there was a Gordon McDonald here, No. 360, in the Australian Imperial Force. But the Crown Solicitor investigated the case at a later stage, and, basing his judgment on a diary that this man, or some man in the Defence Department, had kept, came to the conclusion that there was another Gordon McDonald in the Australian Imperial Force who had enlisted in Sydney, and who, according to the diary, had sailed in the Argyllshire. However, inquiry showed that the Argyllshire did not take the detachment referred to in the diary, but that the vessel was the Suffolk. How this man got the particulars of the Gordon McDonald of Sydney, the file is too complicated, and the statements too varied, to allow one to draw any legitimate conclusion. I, therefore, desire to keep that side of the case out of the matter, and to confine myself to the man Lewis, who enlisted as Gordon McDonald, and the Gordon McDonald who enlisted in Melbourne.
– One of his statements is that he enlisted under the name of McDonald instead of Lewis. He may have imagined that.
– That McDonald has been found. On the 19th March, Major Hogan, of the Intelligence Department, wrote to the Principal Medical Officer -
Would you cause searching inquiry to be made as to escape of McDonald from detention ward ofNo.5 Australian General Hospital?
As McD. was reported to be a mental case at the time, it was decided to allow him to remain at the hospital, especially in view ofh is statements., which, if true, would seriously disparage the Army Medical Corps.
We here see the cloven hoof. There is Major Hogan ‘s dread that if this man’s statements are true, they are going to seriously disparage the Army Medical Corps; and anything should be done rather than that. Then he added -
A warrant has been issued for some time for McD. on a criminal charge.
In nearly every document after Detective Jones secured the authorities’ consent, there is an allusion to a criminal charge pending against this man. Again I remind honorable members that the criminal charge was that of making the statement when he landed that he had allotted 3s. a day to his mother, who lived in Camberwell, when, as a matter of fact, that was allotted to his aunt at Edenhope.
– He did not allot this money to his mother?
– No, he did not.
– Then that was not a correct declaration.
– But I point out that it had been strongly insisted in England that this man was No. 360, McDonald, and he had been put in a padded cell when he said he was not. When he said he was not Gordon McDonald, he was regarded as getting worse, but when he said he was McDonald they said he was getting better, and they would send him home to Australia. What was he to do here? He landed with all the papers of No. 360, McDonald, supplied to him in London. The original trouble arose in Loudon, but before the Department at this end can say that they have not blundered they have to show why they notified Gordon McDonald’s relatives in Edenhope that this man was arriving on the 16th September, and supplied them with cards of admission into the barracks to meet their son. That is a clear indication that the Department had been advised, and believed that Gordon McDonald, 360, was arriving, and made arrangements for his relatives to meet him.
– Did not the relatives recognise the difference ?
– There are far too many complications in the case already.
– To be fair, the honorable member should mention all the complications. The honorable member has cut out a number of them.
– Does the Minister suggest that I have read any statement that is not in accordance with the facts contained in the file?
– Give all the complications.
-I am purposely avoiding the complications in connexion with the third Gordon McDonald, who enlisted in Sydney, because they will only tend to further involve the matter without at all helping the case. If the Minister will look at the second document on the file, he will see that that view is taken by the Government’s legal adviser. McDonald was arrested for leaving the detention ward at the Base Hospital, and was sentenced to twenty-one days’ imprisonment in the Bendigo Gaol. He was left there for thirty-two days. On the 27th March, Major Hogan wrote to the detention camp in Bendigo -
McDonald sentenced to twenty-one days by Provost Marshal and sent to you to serve sentence. Arrange to have him paraded at Intelligence Section of the General Staff on completion of his sentence, as he is required to answer a further charge.
The military police subsequently went to Bendigo, and took McDonald to the detention compound at the Victoria Barracks, and kept him there for nine. days. When he was released, he was immediately arrested by Detective Jones. On the 1st May, 1917, Detective Jones wrote to Major Hogan as follows: -
Re McDonald - I beg to report that the warrant for the arrest of the above-named offender, charged with that he, on the 19th day of September, 1917, at Melbourne, did wilfully make a false statement in a statutory declaration, contrary to the Statutory Declarations Act 1911, was executed this day by Detectives Jones and Sickerdick. He gave the name of R. C. Lewis.
His case came before the Court. He was remanded for fourteen days, because the Defence Department was not ready to proceed with the case. Do honorable members think that the man was sent back to the detention ward at the Base Hospital ? No ; he was sent to the Melbourne Gaol, and detained there for fourteen days, pending the hearing of his case. He could not get bail, and nobody in the country cared a damn what happened to him. The Department should have been’ ready with its case, and should not have made the man suffer the indignity of going to gaol. When the Crown Solicitor dealt with the case - and here I have to tread on delicate ground, for I am forbidden to state all I know - he saw that the case was so complicated that, instead of advising on it, he submitted the matter to counsel. Counsel investigated carefully the whole of the papers and facts in the possession of the Department, and advised that the prosecution should be withdrawn. That advice was submitted to the Minister, and approved. By that time the man had been fourteen days in the Melbourne Gaol. Then after the case was withdrawn, Detective Jones told McDonald that he was free to go where he willed. Colonel Jones, the mental expert of the Defence Department, also informed him that he was free, and, as he had nowhere else to go, had arranged for him to stay at Wirth’s Park for a day or two. He was there when I last heard of him. He was given no discharge; he had no friends and no money. He was in a strange country, part of the Empire for which he had fought and bled, and he was flung like a sucked orange on the rubbish heap. In his declaration he swore that he had been brought up by foster-parents in Wales, and he gave the name of his foster-mother as Mrs. Probert. Mr. Kelley, of MacPherson and Kelley, who first approached me in the matter, cabled to Mrs. Probert -
Have you D.C. medal belonging to fosterson? Give name. Is he missing?
He did not mention his name. We desired the foster-mother to mention the name, so that we could verify the statements which had been made to us. To that cable came this reply -
Not heard foster-son long time. Regards distinguished conduct medal, know nothing.
The medal part of the story may be pure imagination, but the statement about the foster-mother is substantiated by Mrs. Probert’s reply. She knew nothing about the McDonald case so far as the Australian facts were concerned, but she would know if her foster-son had enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders. Her reply seems to bear out the cablegram which the Defence Department received from London - “ No trace of Lewis, A.I.F. Consult Head-quarters, London.
– That shows he enlisted under the name of Lewis, and thought he had enlisted under the name of McDonald.
– That is possible. At any rate, the reply to our cable shows that this woman had a foster-son and had not heard of him for a long time. He may or may not be the man with whom I am concerned. McDonald mentioned as his foster-mother Mrs. Probert, residing at a town of some unpronounceable name in South Wales. We cabled to that address, and the woman replied. Had McDonald made a wild shot? If so, the fact that we should have obtained a reply from the address he gave is a wonderful coincidence. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) advocated tonight that some one should be appointed in London to take an active interest in the Australian soldiers there. If such a person as the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) were appointed to look after the interests of soldiers in London it would be his business to investigate first hand a ease of this kind, and to report whether or not there was any truth in it.
When we commenced to investigate the case, we learned that two cousins of the Australian Gordon McDonald were in Bendigo, and that one was a policeman. On the 17th May they came to Melbourne at our request to identify McDonald, but as soon as they looked at the man they said that he was not their cousin. That was clear evidence that he was not the Australian McDonald. Still the question remains - Who is he? As the Department knew of the relatives of the Australian Gordon McDonald, this identification test could have been made as soon as this man landed in the Commonwealth, instead of proceeding with prosecutions on criminal charges.
McDonald, or Lewis, stated to me, and I should like the Minister to take notice of this, that at the town of Tredegar, in Monmouthshire, South Wales, he was given a reception by the Mayor (Councillor North), about the last week in February or the beginning of March, 1916, on account of his having received the distinguished conduct medal. This medal he gave to Mr. William Probert, fosterbrother, to take care of. That gentleman is a captain in a mountain battery of the Royal Field Artillery, and is attached to the Indian Army. At the function in Wales, McDonald’s photo was taken in the dress of a Cameron Highlander, and was published in the London Daily Sketch. I have tried without success to obtain a copy of that paper in Melbourne. In Sydney last week I searched every library and newspaper office, and every other likely place, but could not get a copy. Corporal Honeybone, of the 14th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, now residing near Coburg, saw the photo and the whole story in the London Daily Sketch, and mentioned it to McDonald in hospital. Will the Minister undertake to investigate these facts in London? Will the Government return the man to his unit? Will they see that he is not left to starve in Australia, and will they investigate the facts mentioned at the bottom of page 4 of counsel’s advice to the Crown Solicitor ?
– What is that advice?
– I am not allowed to say what it is..
– I should like to know what are the facts that are being kept back.
– Might I ask Ministers to remember these words - I shall not say where they come from -
He is one of the war’s wrecks, physically and mentally, and, as far as I can see, had to choose between begging and starving.
– I do not know why the honorable member does not refer explicitly to the paragraph at the bottom of page 4, about which he is talking. Will be tell me why he does not?
– The Minister for Defence said that I was not to use these documents..
– You have been using them all through.
– This is not a question of documents. It is a particular bit of advice on a particular page of a particular report. I will read it openly. I do not care whether the House knows it or not.
– I will read the whole thing if you will let me. Do not think that I want to cover anything up. I spent three hours in the Defence Department this morning, going through these documents. I read the Crown Solicitor’s opinion, and more than half of counsel’s advice to the Crown Solicitor. When I asked that the documents should be sent to Parliament House in the afternoon, the clerk, although I had left them only half-an-hour or three-quarters of an hour, said to me, “ You are not to see these documents until I have got the consent of the Minister.”
– I shall read the paragraph.
– I said to him, “ Do you want to abstract any document from the file?” He replied, “Oh, dear no; that is the last thing I would think of.” He brought them back with Senator Pearce’s statement that, as these were confidential, I should not be allowed to see them.
– You have made a lot of mystery about these matters. I shall read the statements.
– I am not going to stop you from reading them; but I am not going to allow you to read them while I am making my speech. I know you of old. I went to Senator Pearce, and said to him, “Why have you taken away counsel’s advice and the Crown Solicitor’s opinion to you? Why have you taken those off the file?” He replied, “ Because they are confidential.’’ ” But,” I said, “ I have read the Crown Solicitor’s letter to you, and I have read part of the opinion of counsel to the Crown Solicitor, and as you handed me the file I am prepared to use that.” Then he gave me the documents, and said, “ For certain reasons I do not want those used, and I ask you not to use them.” I said to him, “ Am I permitted to say such-and-such things?” which I then outlined to him.1 He replied, “Yes; those things I have said, and other things I have not said.” If the Acting Head of the Government likes to overrule the Minister for Defence, no one will be better . pleased than I shall be if he will read the whole thing.
– I will read the paragraph now, if you will allow me.
– It will not be in order to intervene in the course of another, honorable member’s speech. The Minister cun read the paragraph afterwards.
– The honorable member for Henty invites me to do so. He is surrounding this matter with an air of mystery, but he has been quoting from the document all along.
– I have not quoted a word from that document.
– Then where did you get the words, “He is one of the war’s wrecks “ ?
– I said I would read those words, and would ask the Minister to consider whose words they were. That was but a moment ago. I have not been quoting from the documents all along.
– I say that those words come from the document which you say you did not quote.
– Now that the Acting Prime Minister admits it, I say that they do. I said I would ask the Minister to consider these words; I did not say where they were to be found. They come from the counsel’s advice to the Crown Solicitor. This is- his advice -
He is one of the -war’s wrecks, physically and mentally, and, as far as I can see, had to choose between begging and starving.
That was the advice of the counsel who was hired by the Government to prosecute this man.
– It is comment, not advice.
– Here is another passage from that document, as you ask for quotations -
McDonald claims to be the recipient of a distinguished conduct medal and the French Cross, which he earned with the Cameron Highlanders.
Counsel says -
Perhaps he did. His extreme youth and hia numerous wounds may have earned him all the decorations that the authorities have to bestow. Some of his ideas may be delusions, but his wounds are not.
This is the first case of this special nature that I have brought before Parliament during the whole of my political life. When the facts were brought under my notice I could not sit. down and refrain from ventilating it. Had I done so I should have been guilty of a- dereliction of duty as a member of Parliament, and would have insulted my humanity. This man’s identity must be cleared up, and he must be sent back to the unit to which he claims to belong, or if, as the counsel to the Crown Solicitor suggests, he is, as he may possibly be, the Gordon McDonald who enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the Australian. Imperial Force in Sydney, the facts can be discovered here, and ought to be discovered. So many months should not have elapsed before an attempt was made to discover them. This man should not be thrown to the dogs without a . ° penny to live upon. When he came to see me he had been given his fare by the officer commanding at the Rest Home, he having . nothing. The suit of clothes which he wears was given to him by a fellow soldier, who supplied the money with which to buy them. When they had hounded him down as a criminal - his crime consisting of having adopted the statement and sworn to the facts about his pay-book, in having said he was the man they said he was - this trouble arose, and he is to be thrown to the wolves without any consideration. Whatever may be the consequences I shall not allow this thing to rest until it has been threshed out to the uttermost and the question solved. I give the Defence Department fair warning that they will have to take some 0 steps to identify this man, and not merely be satisfied with the slipshod methods which have-been “adopted up to the present time.
.- I appear on behalf pf the real Gordon Richard McDonald, also a foster son, raised at Ullswater, near Edenhope. Certainly this story is not lacking in romance. On Thursday of last week the honorable member for Henty, as I passed him, said in a casual kind of way, “ I have a very interesting case; I should like you to hear the facts.” I met young McDonald, who for the sake of identification I shall call “ Lewis “ McDonald, with the honorable member for Henty, and heard his story, or the major part of it. I had to leave in the afternoon for my constituency to attend a large repatriation gathering in the Apsley district, where Gordon McDonald was born. The meeting was highly successful, and the evening of the function I spent with a resident who contributed handsomely to our funds, Mr. Walter Laidlaw. Chatting over current events, I mentioned the peculiar circumstances of the “ Lewis “ McDonald case that had the previous day come under my notice. Addressing his sister, Mr. Laidlaw said, “ That seems to v fit the case of our Gordon McDonald, of Ullswater; we will get into touch with the relatives in the morning by telephone.” That they did, and late the next evening I met the foster parent of. Gordon Richard McDonald, or, as he is described, Troop-Sergeant Gordon Richard McDonald, No. 360 C Squad, 13th Light Horse. I learned that this Gordon McDonald would be twenty-three years of age in July next. He enlisted on the 26th December, 1914, and left for the Front on the 28th May, 1915. He has seen active service, and has not yet returned to Australia, being still a member of the Australian Imperial Force abroad. As a matter of fact, his relatives wished to consult me prior to my going to the district with regard to the stoppage of an allotment in their favour, consequent upon the impersonation of him by the soldier for whom the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) has spoken to-day. Briefly, I shall give the House the statement of the foster parents regarding the boy. They live at Ullswater, near Edenhope. Mr. Ewen McDonald is a small farmer in the district, and is the uncle of Richard Gordon McDonald, who is his allottee. On leaving for the Front the nephew, who has lived with his uncle all his life, and has been brought up by him, allotted to him 3s. a day, and when raised to the rank of sergeant increased the allotment to 5s. a day. About the first week in August, 1917, notice was given to Ewen McDonald that Sergeant Gordon Richard McDonald was on his way to, and would shortly arrive in, Australia. Then a notice, undated, was issued from the Third Military District informing Mr. McDonald, in connexion with the return to Australia of No. 360, rank, Lance-Corporal Gordon Richard McDonald, Unit, 13th Light Horse, “ Herewith find card, on presentation of which one member of your family will be admitted to the Victoria Barracks to meet the soldier.” In later official records the boy is described as “Sergeant.” Accompanying the invitation was the ticket of admission. About the 9th September Ewen McDonald received a wire, which had been lodged at the Stock Exchange Office, Melbourne, reporting that Gordon would arrive on 16th September. The signature to the telegram was undecipherable, but looked like “Rubcib.” The notice enclosing the admittance-card was undated, but was received by the relatives on the 14th September. Meantime, the family were receiving letters from Gordon McDonald abroad, and this made then suspicious as to the incoming Gordon McDonald. In these letters they were told that Gordon was an instructor in Tidworth Camp, at Home. When they received this notification, however, they telegraphed to Constable George McDonald, who has been referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd), and who is stationed at the Russellstreet Barracks. As the uncle, Ewen McDonald, was away shearing in New South Wales, the cousin, Constable George McDonald, was asked to meet the doubtful Gordon on his arrival here. The constable knew the real Gordon McDonald very well, and, as a matter of fact, went to school with him as a hoy. He visited the Barracks and the Base Records Office, but could not find the man he was seeking. He was afforded every facility by the Department, and finally went to Bendigo, where he saw in the local hospital the mau whom I shall speak of as “Lewis”’ McDonald. This young man was tall, dark, and good looking, but the constable could tell by his accent that he was not an Australian. He made inquiries of him,- but for tlie sake of the young man whose identity has yet to tie established, I shall say no more than that Constable McDonald suspended judgment, although he was quite certain that Lewis McDonald was not the man he wanted. He notified the family to that effect.
On the 3rd of May the Defence Department issued to Mr. Ewen McDonald a certificate headed “Military Allotments. - Discharged (in Australia), Deceased, and Missing,” and which read as follows : -
Termination advice No. D2109, District Pay Office,, Melbourne, 3rd May, 19.18.
Certificate No. 8, payable at Edenhope Postoffice. Reference No. S.O.I. 18/110-2.
No. 360; rank, sergeant; name, McDonald, Gordon Richard; unit, 13th Light Horse, C
Allottee’s name .and address - Mr. E. McDonald, Edenhope.
I have to inform you that allotment and separation allowance of 3s. per diem payable to you under above certificate is to be Cancelled on and from 16th May, 1918. …
The reason for the cancellation is - Soldier discharged, 15th May, 1918.
That was clearly a notification that the real Gordon McDonald had been discharged, although tlie family were in receipt of letters showing that he was then on the instructional staff at Tidworth Camp.
– Every one who has listened to the remarks made by the honorable member for Henty and myself will clearly see that there is a weakness in the matter of identification as between here and the Old Country.
– The trouble is that, at Horseferry-road a lot of young men who ought to be in the trenches are employed. They know nothing, and do not care what happens.
– The honorable member for Henty and I asked Lewis McDonald what had become of his identification disc, and of his uniform as a private in the Cameron Highlanders. His. reply was that he knew nothing of them . ‘ He said that he was ‘buried by the explosion, and that when he recovered consciousness he was in hospital in England. That seems to clear the air so far as he is concerned, but I cannot imagine that a soldier on going into hospital in England would not be immediately registered. Lewis McDonald says that it is the custom for members of the Imperial units to have two discs, and that one of these is never removed.
– It is so with members of the Australian Imperial Force at the Front.
– This is a problem of great complexity as placed before the Department of Defence. I want, however, to place on record the exact dates relating to the case, as they are of importance. In September - long before the date of discharge, and after the notification of McDonald’s return had come to hand, Gordon McDonald’s friends here received a’ cablegram in regard to an advance which was to- be- sent to him abroad, and which had been referred to in a previous letter. The arrival, of this cablegram served only to confirm, the opinion of the family that the man who was returning to Australia was not their Gordon McDonald. The House may rest assured that the Lewis McDonald to- whom reference has been made is not Sergeant Gordon McDonald, No. 360, of C Squadron, 13 th Light Horse. I have a photograph of the youth, who is one of the finest locking young fellows that has ever left this country. He- is a credit to Australia.
– The other man persisted in saying that -he was not Gordon McDonald.
– I am bound to say that that is so. He loudly proclaimed that he was not Sergeant Gordon McDonald, No. 360, and said that he had never claimed to be. On the 2nd October Mrs. McDonald, in the absence of her husband, wrote to the Defence Department that Sergeant Gordon McDonald had cabled for money to be sent to him abroad ; that the f amily were certain that he was not in Australia; and that the only two people in Melbourne who could identify him were the Reverend McMeikan and Constable George McDonald. She went on to say that if she had any more trouble with the Defence Department she proposed to put her case in the hands of a lawyer. As a matter of fact, she had already been appealed to for a refund of about £120, drawn by some McDonald of whom she knew nothing, so that she was naturally somewhat annoyed. I have already placed on record the notice of discharge of 3rd instant. On 10th instant Mrs. McDonald received a second notification having reference to the same soldier. It was a notice of the cancellation of the increased allotment of 5s. per day, the cancellation again being made on the ground that the soldier in question had been discharged as from 15th instant. Peeling that the position of their soldier might be jeopardized, the McDonald family interviewed the secretary pf the Edenhope Shire, who, on 19th instant, wrote to the District Paymaster, 3rd Military District, Melbourne, in the following terms: -
Re Sergeant Gordon Richard McDonald, No. 360, 13th Light House, “ C “ Squadron.
Termination Advice D.2220.
Mrs. Ewen McDonald, the allottee of above, has asked me to write concerning your termination advices of the 3rd and 10th inst.
There is evidently some error. This soldier is still on active service in Belgium. Mrs. McDonald this week received letters from him dated 3rd, 10th, 14th, and 21st of March last.
Possibly the error has occurred through tlie impersonation of Sergeant McDonald by some person a few months ago.
Trusting you will have the matter looked into and adjusted.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) ‘ H. T. Hill,
On my return to Melbourne yesterday I at once got into touch with the Defence Department. I telephoned the paymaster’s office with the object of adjusting matters and making sure that the cancellation orders should be annulled. The sergeant who answered my call told me that he was then fully aware of the circumstances; that the cancellation orders had been set aside ; that the allotment would be restored; and that a notification to that effect would be sent on to Sergeant Gordon McDonald’s relatives In order that there might not be any further trouble, either here or abroad, in regard, to the real Gordon McDonald, and being anxious that his records should not be in mn v way besmirched, I addressed the following letter yesterday to the District Paymaster : - 29th May, 1918.
The District Paymaster,
Third Military District,
Re No. 360, Sergeant McDonald- Gordon Richard, 13th Light Horse.
The relatives of this young soldier, Mr. and Mrs. Ewen McDonald, of Ulleswater, Edenhope, have seen me relative to tho impersonation of their nephew, the above soldier, by a min who is returned to Australia in the name of the above soldier, and who has also drawn certain moneys belonging to the soldier. Mr. Ewen McDonald has received your notices of 3rd and 10th inst., advising the cancellation of the allotment in his favour, and he has caused a letter to be written to you by Mr. Hill, secretary, Shire of Edenhope, advising you of the impersonation, and that the real Gordon Richard McDonald is still on active service abroad. This fact, I understand, you have also unquestionably proved by communicating with Head-Quarters in London. I wish to have it indubitably on record that no impediment of any description will rest on the sheets of this young soldier, Sergeant Gordon Richard McDonald, either at Head-Quarters in London or Head-Quarters in Australia, either in the matter of his future or deferred pay or allotments or advancement or preferment in the Army. No doubt, temporarily, a query mark will bc against li is name, and I wish to have the assurance that you have taken every step requisite to remove any doubt or suspicion that might disadvantageous!)’ affect the real McDonald. Naturally, the notices to the relatives have been an annoyance, but this they are quite prepared to set aside, but are keenly anxious that the records shall be purged at both ends of any query or doubt respecting their soldier’s record. I have had the assurance over the telephone to-day from Sergeant Roscrow that the allotments in favour of Mr. Ewen McDonald have been restored, and will be punctually paid in future, and I am so advising Mr. McDonald.
Arthur S. Rodgers
That, so far as the McDonald family of Edenhope are concerned, terminates the case. Their boy is back ou the paysheets. His record will remain unsullied by any temporary interference at this or the other end. The family and the boy himself have no desire to pursue the other lad, or the Department, in regard to the matter. All they were concerned about was to have the doubt cleared away, but they express the hope that, after all, the story of mental delusion may prove to be correct, and that the two lads may emerge worthier men for having played their part in the Empire’s trouble.
.- It is almost painful to have to descend from these interesting and romantic histories to plain matter of fact. Both stories to which we have just listened show that truth is stranger than fiction, and we have had some fairly strong fiction from the Ministerial’ side at one time or another. I want to take the opportunity^ given to me to say a word or two about answers which have been supplied to me in reply to questions on matters of very great importance.
As a first, though not the worst, example, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence was it not a fact that a certain notorious person, of the Italian nationality, who was in gaol for a very serious and, indeed, a capital offence, had been released under circumstances from which it was fair to assume that he was being deported for compulsory military service. The answer Avas a curt “No.” It is due to the Minister .to say that immediately he found that the answer was not correct, he supplied me with an amended, reply, and I do not complain greatly about what he has done, but I do complain that Ministers are apparently satisfied to take information from any departmental subordinate, and without inquiry or responsibility, bring it here and repeat it to honorable members as though it were verified with all the sanctity of Holy Writ. It now turns out that, this unfortunate person - because, although convicted of a very grave criminal offence, I still call him unfortunate - has been released from gaol, and has been deported to his own country, and, in the absence of further explanation on the part of the Minister, it is a very legitimate inference- to assume that he has been deported in company with conscript Italian soldiers who, in breach of the British practice, and in breach of all propriety, have been deported from Australia for compulsory military service in their native land.
I addressed a question to the Acting Prime Minister on a matter of privilege. I am not permitted to quote the exact words from the , Hansard record. I asked him was it not a fact that certain petitions, which had been prepared, and which were in course of being signed at the Italian Club, had been seized by officers of the military, and were we to assume from that fact that the immemorial right of the people of this country to petition Parliament, was being invaded by the censorship with the consent * of the Government. The answer I received was to this effect: It is true that forms of petition at the Italian Club, and certain incriminating documents, were seized; the right of petitioning Parliament is not to be invaded, but people may not put a prohibited statement in a petition. When the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) rose in his place in the House, and proceeded to show that there were, in that petition, no objectionable statements, or statements capable of being rightly prohibited, h,e was met by Mr. Speaker raising the point of order, that he must not recite the contents of a petition on a motion for the adjournment of the House, as petitions could only be presented in a certain way, and dealt with according to other forms. Therefore, we have this position created - that petitions may be seized by the military authorities on their mere allegation - I have not the least respect for their judgment in this matter - that they contain incriminating or prohibited matter, and when an honorable member comes- to this House to ventilate a grievance of that kind, he is told that he may not bring the substance of the petition before the House in that way. In addition to that absurdity, I wish to direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to that portion of his answer in which he said that incriminating documents were found in the Italian Club. Again, that was ah answer supplied to him by the military authorities. Honorable members of the House who heard the statement, as any intelligent person would have done, must have concluded that, at least, it was alleged by the military authorities that these documents incriminated our Allied friends, the Italians. Doubtless, it will surprise honorable members, and those people who take the trouble to read ilansard, that the so-called incriminating document was an allegation in the form of a statutory declaration which, if it incriminated any one, incriminated the military authorities themselves, and did not in the slightest degree reflect upon the honour of our Italian Allies. That sworn declaration referred to a military raid on a house at Richmond, and in it the householder set out the circumstances, which showed that during his absence his house was raided by the military authorities, and that after they had tried to seize some one they had no right to seize, when he returned he found that a sum of £20 was missing. However, the matter is now on record. This incriminating document, which casts suspicion on the military authorities, was interpreted by the Acting Prime Minister to the House to mean that the Italians had in their custody, and under their control, certain documentswhich incriminated some of them. His answer was misleading, and even worse than useless, because it conta ined a most unjust aspersion upon persons whom we should be very careful to see are not unfairly treated.
Next, I have a case concerning the amiable Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn). He has done no better than the other Ministers. He has failed to supply information asked for in reply to me, and, worse than that, the answer which he has given to me is misleading, as well as incorrect. Having found out the information for myself, I am here now to show that the answers given were all wrong. On more than one occasion I have alleged that, in connexion with these Italian deportations, the authorities are seizing, not only the bodies of our Allies who were not naturalized, but who, nevertheless, as approved immigrants to this country, were entitledto greater consideration than to be “ shanghaied” out of Australia, but also the bodies of naturalized persons. Every time I have asked a question in this House a Minister has risen and solemnly denied that any naturalized person has been interfered with. I took the names of three Italians and put them on record. Here is a certificate issued to one of those persons, and it can stand as a sample of those which have been issued to the others -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Home and Territories Department, 61 Spring-street. Melbourne, 19th March, 1918.
NATURALIZATION ACT’ 1903-1917.
In accordance with Regulation 10, dated 14th November, 1917, made under the Naturalization Act 1903-1917, I hereby certify that Gaetano Carra is deemed to be a naturalized subject of the Commonwealth, and that such naturalization is to be regarded as having taken effect from the date of his coming of age, viz., 11th October, 1916.
Minister of State for Home and Territories.
Similar certificates were issued to the brothers Antonio Bongiorno and Bartolomeo Bongiorno, over the signature of the Minister for Home and Territories. While the Minister thus declares that these persons are naturalized, and while representatives of the Government, from their places in this House, haverepeatedly declared that no naturalized person shall be seized or interfered with,the Minister for Defence, the brother Minister of P. McMahon Glynn, the Minister for Home and Territories, who signed these certificates, has issued certificates to the effect that such men are aliens, and are to be deported. Although the Minister for Home and Territories has told me, in an answer which is to be found in the records of this House, that none of these three persons was to be deported, so completely is the Ministry the instrument of the Consul-General for Italy,that in truth and in fact he has had placed at his disposal military officers of the Commonwealth, and those officers have been pursuing from pillar to post these three, notably among others, naturalized Italian citizens. The officers have gone to the homes of these men, and by a demonstration of force, which they had no right to exercise, have insulted the relatives of those whom they had no right to seek out. Up to the time I asked the questions those unfortunate persons, with certificates of naturalization in their pockets or in my possession, were being hunted and hounded as aliens, in spite of the promise of the Minister. The Ministry have not a word to say about this; and if I put a question on the notice-paper they simply come up smiling, and give me an answer as inaccurate and worthless as others I have received.
I desire to say a word or two about this Consul-General. There is a halo of importance, and almost sanctity, surrounding this gentleman that has up to the present prevented me, out of consideration for the Prime Minister and others, from saying a necessary word or two about him. I now desire to show, however, that the attitude of the Government towards the office of Consul, and towards this Consul in particular as an illustration, is quite a wrong attitude. Here, again, an answer was given to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), which is not justified by any reference to British law or practice. The honorable member for Brisbane asked, by what channels Italians resident in Australia may communicate with their Government in Italy, and whether the Minister would afford an opportunity to Italians resident in Australia to make representations to the Italian Government in regard to the conduct of the Italian Consul, or may they communicate by any channel ? The answer to that question was that they may communicate through their Consul, and, apparently, by no other means. Italians in this country, naturalized and unnaturalized, are quite “ full up “ of their ConsulGeneral, a trade agent, with no inter- national status, who affects to stand arbitrarily between Italians here and their Government. So “full up” are they that, if not before the war, at any rate a considerable time ago, there was a joint and, I am informed, almost unanimous movement to rid themselves of him, as a person who does not adequately and fairly represent them for any purpose. The Prime Minister is a busy man who answers questions put into his hand casually, reciting them at the table without having the time or perhaps tlie inclination to investigate their truth or otherwise; and when he told the honorable member for Brisbane that the proper and, inferentially, the only channel for Italians in this country to communicate with their Government was through the Consul, he was saying something that is totally wrong, misrepresented the true position, and did a very grave injustice to those Italian residents. I shall show briefly what the position of the Consul is. He is very little more, as I have said, than an agent of his Government for a strictly limited number of minor purposes, and has not the right ‘to himself communicate with his Government unless in exceptional cases, where there is no diplomatic agent whom he may approach for the purpose. A Consul may be also a diplomatic agent, but I have not heard of any such claim on behalf of this somewhat officious person. He is certainly not, so far as I know, the constituted international channel through which people of his own country must communicate with their Government if they wish to so communicate.
– Does he receive any honorarium or allowance from the Italian Government ?
– I do not know. I assume, of course, he has a certain subordinate standing, as I shall show from an authority - as agent tor the country from which he comes. But it is not a standing which constitutes him a diplomatic agent in the way that an ambassador is one, so that communications must be addressed through him to the country from which he comes.
– Our Government seem to treat him as an Italian Government official.
– They treat him as an ambassador, as representing the State. He openly boasts of his power over the Government. At the risk of taking up a little time, I shall quote from Hall’s International Law, seventh edition, page 325, in which are laid down the general duties and status of a Consul -
Consuls are persons appointed by a State to reside in foreign countries, and permitted by tlie Government of the latter to reside, for the purpose partly of watching over the interests of the subjects of the State by which they are appointed, and partly of doing certain acts on its behalf which are important to it or to its subjects, but to which the foreign country i3 indifferent, it being either unaffected by them or affected only in a remote and indirect manner. Most of the duties of Consuls are of the latter kind. They receive the protests and reports of captains of vessels of their nation with reference to injuries sustained at sea, they legalize acts of judicial or other functionaries by their seal for use within their own country; they authenticate births and deaths: they administer the property of subjects of their State dying in the country where they reside; they send home shipwrecked and unemployed sailors and other destitute persons: they arbitrate on differences which are voluntarily brought before them by their fellow countrymen, especially in matters relating to commerce and to disputes which have taken place on board ships; they exercise disciplinary jurisdiction, though not, of course, to the exclusion of the local jurisdiction, over the crews of vessels of the State in the employment of which they are: they see that the laws are properly administered with reference to its subjects, and communicate with their Government if injustice is done; they collect information for it upon commercial, economical, and political matters. Tn the performance of these and similar duties, the action of a Consul is evidently not international.
This is what I desire to draw attention to-
He is an officer of his State to whom are intrusted special functions which can be carried out in a foreign country without interfering with its jurisdiction. His international action does not extend beyond the unofficial employment of such influence as he may possess, through the fact of his being an official and through his personal character to assist compatriots who may he in need of his help with the authorities of the country. If he considers it necessary that formal representations shall be made to its Government-
That is representations by himself - as to treatment experienced by them or other matters concerning them, the step ought in strictness to be taken through the resident diplomatic agent of his State, he not having himself a recognised right to make such communications.
As I said before, he has not even a recognised right to make representations of his own free will, on behalf of his own people, to his own Government, much less to prevent representations by his own people direct to their Government -
Thus he is not internationally a representative of his State, though he possesses a public official character, which the Government of the country in which he resides recognises by sanctioning his stay upon its territory for the purpose of performing his duties; so that he has a sort of scintilla of an international character, sufficiently strong to render any outrage upon him in his official capacity a violation of international law, and to give him the honorary right of placing the arms of his country upon his official house.
He has to that extent a scintilla of international character, and that only; and as emphasizing that view, I further quote from page 331 of the same work -
The cases of Consuls in the Confederated States, nominated before the outbreak of the Civil War, who continued to exercise their functions during its progress, and that of the nomination of Consuls by England to the various South American Republics eighteen months before the earliest recognition of any of them as a State, are instances of the dissociation of consular relations from any question of political recognition.
There is one other authority I desire to quote, whose name might be regarded as of enemy origin, but it is really the name of a very distinguished British jurist, Oppenheim, from whose work, page 465, I take the following as referring to the position of Consul: -
As they are not diplomatic representatives they do not enjoy the privileges of diplomatists, nor have they ordinarily anything to do with intercourse between their home State and the State they reside in.
Consuls are a species of glorified agents to whom all sorts of respect will be shown so long as they keep within the borders of their official duties, and do not interfere with the administration of the law in the country in which they are permitted to reside, or do not seek to impose injustices on their fellow countrymen also residing in that country. It is in these aspects that the present Italian ConsulGeneral has departed from his duties, and in respect of which he persists in allocating to himself powers he ought not to be given, and would not be given by any Government, except a Government which desires secretly to carry out its policy of conscription on certain unfortunate people amongst us, when it dares not do it openly as operating on the citizens of our own country.
– Do not say that about the Government !
– Well, I can only judge by the facts as we have them before us. The Assistant Minister will have nothing to say in reply, and has not taken the trouble to inquire whether the allegations I make are true. He simply whispers something to the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), and dismisses the facts I have related, and the authorities I have quoted, as if they were the result of a vivid imagination. It is quite clear to me that this consul, who misconceives his duty, is very largely influenced, firstly, by the congenial company in which he finds himself, with a Conscriptionist Government in power, and, secondly, by the fact that he himself is a militarist, and doubtless a conscriptionist, who draws his militarism and love of conscription, not from the friendly country of Italy, but from the enemy country of Austria. I think I have quite sufficient evidence before me to say that this gentleman is really a man of Austrian blood, although technically he is an Italian. For my part, speaking as one who is proud to call himself an Internationalist, I have no prejudice against a man merely because he is of Austrian blood. My objection to this gentleman rests upon the fact that he is apparently in sympathy with the Austrian military traditions. Therefore I feel justifiedin reminding the Ministry that not long ago they disfranchised the descendants of Germans and Austrians who were Australian born.
Now they are pleased to make a dictator over themselves of the son of an Austrian, who happens to fulfil, by their grace, the duties of Consul-General for Italy. We of the Labour party cannot be expected to sit idly by while this kind of thing is happening. We shall continue as long as our protests have any possible chance of being effective - and I think they have been effective to some extent already - to protest against the whole policy of deporting men against whom no crime is alleged, and for no other reason than that a request has been made by a certain agent, who arrogates to himself powers and duties which he should not properly have or exercise. I do not know whether the Minister for Home and Territories, who has just now entered the chamber, will take any notice of my declaration that the answers he gave to me are totally incorrect. Perhaps he will have as much courtesy as the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Wise), who was good enough to come up to me hot-foot, and state that his answer was incorrect. It is only fair to say that the Assistant Minister saw in circulation a handbill, which exposed his answer to be totally wrong. I wish to see asserted and maintained the right of not only Italians, but of every foreigner in this country, to communicate with his own Government. These men say they wish to communicate with their Home Government. It is not a treasonable communication’ they desire; it is a perfectly fair and candid communication. Can any one deny foreigners in this country the right, in accordance with the boasted traditions of British fair play, to communicate with their own Government?
– What are the usual channels?
– I have been endeavouring to explain that the usual procedure is for any foreigner to communicate with the appropriate secretary or officer of the Government in the Home Country whose business it is to deal with foreign affairs, and not necessarily to approach the Consul.
– The honorable member knows that most countries are represented by a Consul,
– I have explained at some length before the honorable member entered the chamber that a Consul is not a diplomatic agent. He is the agent of his Government for certain limited purposes. Even he himself has not the right to communicate with his Government on State matters affecting his own people if there is any other properly-constituted diplomatic channel of communication, and in no circumstances may he prevent citizens of his country from communicating with ‘ their Government. . Imagine what would be the consequence if the contrary of that were true, and if the whole of the Italian people in Australia had lost complete confidence in their Consul and laboured under disabilities which they wished to have redressed, but were not permitted to communicate with their own country. Those are just the facts of the position to-day. The Italian people in Australia have lost confidence in the ConsulGeneral; they wish to communicate with their Home Government, but they are denied the right to do so, because there is in power in the Commonwealth a conscriptionist Government who wish to “ shanghai “ these people out of Australia. Because the Consul-General dominates the Prime Minister, anything he asks to be done in regard to these unfortunate Italians is done. No inquiry is made as to whether the procedure adopted is sanctioned by law, fair play, or anything else. Then the Consul goes to the Minister for Defence and asks for a certificate that somebody is an alien. The Minister signs a certificate that such person is an alien, regardless of the fact that his brother Minister has previously signed a certificate that the man is not an alien but a naturalized subject. When we rise in the House to make inquiries about these things we are supplied with information which is totally incorrect. I challenge Ministers to prove that my statement is inaccurate, although they may come forward to-morrow with something written out for them in the Department, and, having supplied the House with secondhand information, toss the whole question aside.
– Does the honorable member say that the Italian ConsulGeneral is an Austrian ?
– I say he is a man of Austrian blood, and that he has Austrian militarist tendencies. I think I am safe in saying that his father was an Austrian military officer.
– Yet the Government interned a man in Queensland whose grandfather was a German.
– Yes; and they disfranchised Australian-horn descendants of Germans. They look askance at them, and they enroll their names on special lists of suspicious persons. Yet they constitute dictator the descendant of an Austrian. Here is one case : An “Italian named Antonio Picone, living at Stawell, was naturalized, and is fifty-two years of age. His only son is at the war.- He is not one of those who hold a special certificate of naturalization issued by the Minister; he has been naturalized for years in his’ own right. Yet a warrant for his arrest was issued, and the emissaries of the Government entered his home and seized him, but, to the credit of the local official whose business it was to take the man away, when the naturalization papers were produced he said, “ I will take the responsibility of refusing to take you into custody.” And he went away without the man whom he was instructed to arrest.
– It is a good Government.
– The man was released, not by the Government, but by the local policeman. The Government would not release a canary. The policeman had more sense than all the Ministers put together. Another case is that of Michaeli Cappetiano, of Puckle-street, Moonee Ponds. Recently six soldiers in uni- form went to his home, and demanded and obtained admittance. On being shown the certificate of naturalization .they said, “ That looks all right “ ; so they took particulars of the naturalization, and induced the man to sign them. Nevertheless, in spite of the production of the naturalization certificate, on Sunday, 5th May, another military posse arrived, in charge of a major. The naturalized Italian was absent at the time, and the major frightened his mother by saying to her, “ It is no use trying to hide him.” They left word with the mother that her son was to call at the Barracks at 9.30 on Monday morning. This unfortunate Italian went to the Department of Home and Territories, and saw the senior clerk, who rang up the Defence Department, and explained that Cappetiano was a naturalized British subject. Then, in order to try to drive sense into the heads of the military, the Italian went tothe Barracks. There he was told that they would not trouble him any further,, and would withdraw the warrant. That was a most gracious concession after two attempts to arrest him in his own home. Now a word or two as to the Governmentpolicy of industrial conscription. The New South Wales branch of the Australian Clerical Association, through itssecretary, Mr. Bruce, has addressed a letter dated 18th May last to Mr. T. J. Smith, general secretary of the Association, of 222 Little Collins -street, Melbourne, which reads -
I enclose herewith copy of an anonymous letter.
The fact of its anonymity is immaterial, because it was accompanied-
Several Honorable Members. - Here isthe Minister for Home and Territories.
– It is idle for me to talk to the Minister, because he gives me the amiable answer, but not the correct one.
– He naturalizes the aliens.
– And the Minister for Defence denaturalizes them. Then these Siamese twins walk down the street, one declaring that a man is an unnaturalized subject and must be dealt with, and the other affirming that he is a naturalized subject, and must not be touched.
– We do not touch the unnaturalized man.
– Why, the three men whose names I gave the Minister have been pursued by the police all round Melbourne, and are practically fugitives.
– I told the honorable member that three or four mistakes were made at the beginning, but they had nothing to do with my Department. “
– Since the Minister told me that those mistakes had been made, these men have been hunted. I know that this matter has nothing to do> with the honorable gentleman’s Department, but it has everything to do with the Defence Department, which ignores the certificates issued by the Department, for Home and Territories.
– It. does not ignore them.
– Now a word or two: into the susceptible ear of the Postmaster-, General. By the advent of the Minister.
I was interrupted in my reading of the letter which has been addressed by the acting secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Clerical Association to the general secretary of that tody in Melbourne. It is as follows: -
I enclose herewith copyof an anonymous letter, and clipping from the Sun of the 2nd inst., dated the 3rd May, but which only reached me a few days ago. Evidently the letter was written by a clerk at Victoria Barracks, and is self-explanatory. As a rule, I ignore anonymous communications, but as the action taken by the Defence Department, as indicated in the newspaper clipping, is diametrically opposed to the pledges given by the Federal and State Governments at the Recruiting Conference held in Melbourne recently, I have decided to forward the matter on to you. I think it should be brought immediately under the notice of Mr. Tudor, with a view to exposing the hypocrisy of the present Federal Government.
I shall be glad if you will kindly let me know what action you take in the matter. With best wishes.
Brookes, Acting Secretary
Mr. Tudor has already said something today in reference to somecases which came under his notice. In the communication which I have read there is a reference to an anonymous letter, which I do not intend to quote, because I am only concerned with the enclosure to that letter. That enclosure is acutting from the Sun, dated 2nd May, 1918, and headed, “The Call for Men,” “Eligibles to Enlist,” “Action by Defence Department.” The paragraph in question reads -
The Defence Department has decided that it will employ no more eligibles on home service. “ I have given orders,” said Brigadier-General Antill, “Acting A.A.G., this morning, “ that every man who has not seen active service is to be medically examined. If he is found fit, he will have to lose his job. This order applies to every branch and department at the barracks here, and to the staff of every camp or depot. We shall endeavour to fill their places with returned men who possess the necessary qualifications. Of course the man who leaves us can please himself what he does when he gets outside; but we hope that he will at once turn round and enlist for active service. Any way, whatever happens, the fit men have to get out of here - to go from here and the camps. This decision may influence those men who, in the past, have declared that they could not bring themselves to enlist whilst the Defence Department has sheltered young men who very often have no dependants.”
I quite frankly describe that bombastic communication as being worthy of Prussia, both in its tone and in its inten tion. When its author says “ Of course, the man who leaves us can please himself what he does when he goes outside, but we hope that he will at once turn round and enlist for active service,” he knows perfectly well that a statement of that brutal character will do more to discourage men from enlisting than a month’s campaign against recruiting, either on the platform or in the press, could possibly do. He proceeds, I have given orders that these men are to be medically examined.” What right has he to give any such order?
– Well, I suppose that he rules New South Wales. But what becomes of the Ministerial promise that there shall be no industrial conscription when we find that married men with families are being turned out of their billets merely because they are medically fit and within the prescribed age for active service abroad? Here again, is it not perfectly clear that the military is the dog and the Government the tail, which is being wagged in the administration of the affairs of. this country? In the Electoral Department at Echuca a Commonwealth temporaryclerk, a married man with two children, was employed for a period of two years and three months. He was displaced last week by a returned soldier - a single man, aged 20 years. This man is in receipt of a pension of 30s. a week, which cannot be reduced for a period of ten months at least. He receives 7s. per day from the Government for the services which he renders as a clerk. Now, whilst I would give the greatest encouragement to the Government, not only to do as much in the future for returned men as they have done in the past, but a great deal more, if their provision for these men is to take the form of depriving married men with families of their living, while young men who have returned from the war after very short service, and who are without dependants, are to be given their positions, it is a very unjust policy, and one ex tirely out of keeping with the promises made by the Government, and with the understanding arrived at during the recent Conference at Government House.
– Still, this young soldier fought for his country.
– Of course he did; and I have not suggested that provision should not be made for him. Does the honorable member say that it is fair to turn out a man with young children to make way for this young fellow?
– I would not turn out any one with young children.
– Would you turn out a married man whose only son had gone to the war ?
– Certainly not.
– I should like to hear more of that case. I think there is some mistake about it.
– This is Mr. Trumble’s memorandum -
In view of the recently-announced policy of .the Government, approval can only be given up to the 30th April next for Messrs. Campbell (married), Leanord, and Barnett (married). Returned soldiers to be taken on and trained to the work. (Signed) T. Trumble.
– Were they temporary or permanent men ?
– Temporary, apparently.
– Most of them are filling the places of young fellows who went to the Front.
– Does the Minister believe in economic conscription, or has he dropped it?
– These soldiers were told that they would be given these positions when they came back.
– Is it the policy of the Minister to compel men to enlist ? I believe that it is, and that he is secretly giving effect to it wherever he can.
– You want to believe it. It suits your Sinn Fein policy.
– I do not believe the honorable member, because I do not attempt the impossible.
– You would put your knife up to the hilt in anything British.
– I require the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) to withdraw his offensive statements about me. So far as I could understand his mutterings, he said that I am opposed to anything British, and that something was in’ keeping with my Sinn Fein policy. I require both statements to be withdrawn.
– ‘The honorable member should tell you, Mr. Speaker, what I did say. He does not know, and is insulting me.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot
Johnson). - If “the honorable member for Hindmarsh made remarks of a persona] nature which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) considers offensive, they must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw what I said, and ask the honorable member to withdraw what he said about my mumbling. His remark was objectionable to me.
– If the honorable member for Batman referred to an interjection as mumbling, there was nothing unparliamentary in the reference. I ask honorable members on both sides to refrain from interjections, so far as possible, and particularly to avoid interjections of a personal nature, which lead to trouble.
– I hope that the Government will see the necessity of keeping faith with the people of the country, and not introduce conscription by a side wind. I am opposed to compulsion for military service, both direct conscription and conscription by the devious methods by which the Italians and other foreign residents are being seized. I anr. opposed also to the secret methods by which industrial pressure is being brought to bear upon deserving” persons to force them to enlist. So long as the Government placidly permits statements to be made such as that of the comfortably placed military officer in Sydney, who talks so largely about driving eligible men out of the Defence Department, the public mind will be under the impression that they are not sincere in their protestations about the abandonment of conscription. I am sorry that the Acting AttorneyGeneral finds it necessary to leave the chamber, and that he was not present when I exposed the fact that he and other Ministers had been supplying incorrect information to honorable members. If he directed more attention to the real problems of the Government, and less to his new role of gagging members who were ventilating grievances, he would serve the interests of the country better.
– We have spent so much time to-night in listening to grievances that I do not think it can be fairly said that honorable members have been gagged. The truth of the statement of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that Ministers have supplied the House with false information may be judged by what happened in connexion with the criminal Soro. He asked me -
Was it a fact that a person of the Italian race-
– I object to this. I was not permitted to read Hansard, and therefore had to rely on my recollection of the circumstances. I want the facts, but I should like the Standing Orders to be observed.
– This is in keeping with the honorable member’s sense of fair play. He asked me a few days ago was it a fact that a person of the Italian race, convicted of the most serious capital offence, and serving, in consequence, a life sentence of imprisonment or other extended term, has been released from civil custody and enlisted with the Italian conscripts in Australia.
– I rise to a point of order. The Minister is reading out of Hansard, and has no right to do so. He is sneaking it out under the table.
– Order ! If the Minister was reading from Hansard of the present session he was not in order in doing so.
– Will you compel the honorable member for Melbourne to withdraw the statement that I was sneaking Hansard under the table?
– If the honorable member for Melbourne has made a statement which is offensive to the Minister I am sure he will withdraw it.
– I withdraw the word “ sneaking,” and say that the Minister was surreptitiously reading Hansard.
– I ask that that remark should also be withdrawn,
– I ask the honorable member for Melbourne to withdraw any expression which the Minister regards as offensive.
– I withdraw it. I now desire to ask you, sir, a question. When the honorable member for Batman drew your attention to the fact that the Minister was breaking the rules of debate you ruled that it was so, yet after that the Minister continued to read from Hansard. I then used the word which 1 have withdrawn. I now ask you to direct the Minister to obey you.
– I have already intimated that the Minister will not ‘be in order in reading from Hansard of the present session.
– That is just what we expect.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! The Minister has only just risen to his feet to continue his speech, and has not spoken three words before there are further interjections. I must insist that honorable members should be allowed to exercise their right to speak without interruption. It should not be necessary for me to repeatedly call the House to order in this way. Honorable members ought all to recognise the right of other honorable members to speak without interruption, and when the Chair calls for order that call should be obeyed.
– Honorable members will remember that I gave the answer “ No “ to that question. A few days afterwards, without any further question being asked by any member of the Opposition, I stated voluntarily in the House that the Department had ascertained that a criminal had been released, although, at the time I was given the answer “ No,” they had no knowledge of the circumstances whatever.
– Nor did they try to find out.
– Will you, sir, ask the honorable member for Batman to cease interrupting ?
– Order ! I have already done so. As the Minister, who is in possession of the floor has made a special appeal to be heard without interruption, I warn honorable members that the next honorable member who disregards the call of the Chair for order will be named.
– I said then, without any further question from the Opposition, that the Department had ascertained that a criminal had been released by arrangement between the State Government and the Italian Consul, and that as soon as the information came to the knowledge of the Department they asked me to correct <he answer previously given. Those facts show the Department gave no- false information to .the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I do not think we are allowed to say “ Hear,, hear “ over here.
– It is not often we hear the Leader of the Opposition interject. Last night he did not utter a sound when all the scene was taking place. I wanted to make some remarks regarding the case of the unfortunate man McDonald, or Davies, or Lewis, or Rowland, for I believe he has given four different names. 1 cannot understand what object the honorable member for Henty had in making the speech he made here this evening. He waited on the Minister for Defence early this morning, he told us, and the Minister gave him the whole file to look at, and get all the information he could out of it. He was not finished with the file by lunch-time, and brought a small part of it away with him. This is all I have seen of it.
– It was sent to me by the Minister.
– The Minister sent it to the honorable member because he had not finished with it. I heard, somehow or other, that the honorable member was likely to move the adjournment of the House on the subject. I immediately told the Minister for Defence that I would like to obtain some knowledge of the subject. He then asked me to ring up the Department, and tell them to send an officer with the file, so as to give me an outline of the case. At twenty minutes to 2 I rang up the Department, and was lucky enough, as it was the lunch hour, to get the typist in the secretary’s room. She told me it was a very big file, and that no precis- had been made of it, but that as soon as the others came in she would get some one to go over with it. I was speaking to the honorable member for Henty a few minutes afterwards, and he told me he did not intend to deal with the matter to-day at all..
– I said I did not intend to move the adjournment of the House.
– The honorable member told me distinctly that he did not intend to speak on the subject at all that day, and there are members present who heard him say it.
– The honorable member must have misunderstood! me.
– I immediately told the Department by telephone that they need not rush the papers over, or make a precis ai once, as the matter was not going to be- dealt with to-day. About 7 o’clock the honorable member told me that he thought of dealing with the matter tonight under “grievances.” The first thing I saw of the file was when the honorable member came into the House,, after the dinner adjournment, so that I am not in a position to deal with the matter, nor is anybody from the Defence Department able to put the case before the House as it ought to be put, to-night. One thing that is much to be regretted is that the honorable member for Henty gave statements as facts, and as reliable, which this unfortunate man made to him, but did not tell the House other statements that the man had made on- other occasions. For instance, he did not state that on one occasion the man told the officials that his name was Rowland Davies, that his father waa Doctor E. T. H. Davies, of Cardiff, England, that his mother’s name was Isabella, that there were four brothers, Cyril, Rowland, Jack, and himself, and one sister named Mabel, a nurse at the V.A.D. Hospital, Folkestone. On that occasion he also said -
Cyril and I then intended, to come to New Zealand, but instead were landed in Adelaide two years before the war broke out. I received a remittance from home of £4 10s. per week by cable. I lived at various places in Adelaide; I cannot give the names. I drew my remittance from the post-office at Adelaide. About January or February, 1914, Cyril and I came to Melbourne, and stayed here four or five months. We stopped at the Oriental Hotel, Collins-street, for a while. A couple of months before war broke out we went to Sydney, and stayed at, I think, 00 Bourkestreet, Darlinghurst, with a friend of Cyril’s: I cannot remember the name. Cyril left Sydney for Dunedin before I enlisted at Paddington, Sydney, in the Australian Imperial Force, and while in camp my officer commanding was Colonel Braund.
There is no question there of his being a member of the Cameron Highlanders -
I left Sydney by the Argyllshire in the middle of October, 1914. I landed in. Egypt on the 10th December, 1914. I was attached to the 2nd Battalion, and I was also lieutenant officer in the 1st Brigade, Intelligence Section.
I remained in Egypt until I went to Gallipoli, and I was transferred by the Derflinger under Colonel Braund. I landed at Bay Beach. [ was wounded at LonePine and wounded before the evacuation. i was taken to the 3rd General Hospital, and remained there three weeks; then to Malta and Harefield in 1916. I leftthere on the 2nd March, 1916, rejoined the 2nd Battalion, and then went to the Flying Corps Camp, St. Albans, and was attached to the Imperial Flying Corps as a lieutenant and temporary captain under Captain Ball, V.C., 2nd Squadron. I remained there, and then went to France with Captain Ball, and served with this captain when he got the V.C. I met with a mishap; our engine was riddled while flying at Ostend in August, 1916, and we had to make the pancake drop, in consequence of which I got concussion.
The honorable member for Henty said that he could not read anything from counsel’s statement of the case, as the Minister said it was confidential. Honorable members will remember, however, that the Acting Prime Minister detected him quoting from it. He did not read this part of the resume -
He is at times Gordon R. McDonald, Richard Lewis, andRowland Davies. At one time he says that when he was fourteen years of age he and his brother Cyril came to Australia about two years before the war. At one time he says his father is a doctor in Wales, and at another time he says his father is a principal of a college in Wales. He says that when war broke out he enlisted at Sydney and sailed with the first division on the Argyllshire on 14th October, 1914, when he was only sixteen years old, that he was at Gallipoli and in France until he was blown up with a mine and lost his memory; that he remembers being in the Australian Hospital at Harefield under Colonel Allen, and that he was eventually shipped to Australia as Gordon McDonald, No. 360, A.L.H.. Another account states that he enlisted in Scotland with the Cameron Highlanders, and fought with them, and that he was never in Australia in his life until the Euripides brought him here last September.
I think it was grossly unfair-
-Read it all.
– I have not time. I think honorable members will agree with me that the case was not stated fairly by the honorable member. It is a painful matter in whatever light it is viewed. Either this man is labouring under a delusion as the result of his injuries, or suffering from loss of memory, or he is an impostor. There may be a combination of all three circumstances. But in any case it was grossly unfair to state part of the facts and not to give the whole. I have stated these facts, not with a view of injuring the man concerned, but to show that the statement made by the honorable member for Henty is utterly unreliable.
– I take exception to a remark of that kind. It is a gross reflection on my honesty of purpose in this matter.
– I withdraw any expression of mine that is unparliamentary.
– May I ask the Minister a question?
– No. I leave honorable members to form their own conclusions. One part of the story was told by the honorable member for Henty, and another part, which was within his knowledge, w as not stated by him. Having regard to all these circumstances, honorable members can judge for themselves whether or not the statement he made was reliable. It is unnecessary for me to make any comment. Honorable members may rest assured that the matter will be thoroughly investigated by the Department. Cablegrams have already passed between here and the Old Country. The case is very difficult and also very painful, and if the honorable member for Henty had had at heart only the interests of the soldier, I think he would have brought the matter before the people in a different way. He would have appealed to the Defence Department.
– What would have been the good of doing that?
– After the treatment the Defence Department meted out to this man it wants shooting.
– That interjection shows the feeling that actuated the honorable member in bringing this matter forward as he has done to-night. His statement was influenced by a feeling of antipathy towards the Department, and was not madein the interests of the soldier himself. The case will be fully investigated after which the whole facts will be presented to the public. I ask leave to con tinue my remarks at a latex date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I warnt to say, in reply to the statement just made by the Honorary Minister (Mr.
– The debate which hasjust been adjourned cannot be revived on this motion.
. -I desire to take advantage of the presence in the House of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) to make a personal explanation, which is due both to him and myself. Last Thursday I was unfortunate enough to have a little difference with the honorable member, and in taking exception to some remarks he was making with regard to myself I made an unparliamentary interjection, which I subsequently withdrew. It, has since been represented to me that the honorable member misunderstood the motive of my interjection. What I took exception to was the statement by the honorable member that I was smiling while thousands were losing their lives in order that he and I might live in security. It is true that I was smiling at the time, but not at anything he was saying. I was amused at something that was happening in the Ministerial corner, and of which the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd), the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), and I were alone aware. It had no reference whatever either to the honorable member for Denison or what he was saying. I did resent, and still resent very strongly, the suggestion by the honorable member that I was inclined then, or at any time,to be indifferent to the sufferings of our boys at the Front. When I asked how many sons he had at the Front, I had no intention of reflecting upon him. It has been represented to me - and I wish to refer to the matter in a very delicate way - that the honorable member thought I was referring to an . unfortunate domestic experience he had had. I assure him that such a thing was never in my mind, and that I would be ashamed to make any such reference. I wish him to accept my assurance that that was not the motive of my interjection, and that I interjected simply because I resented the suggestion that I was indifferent to the sufferings of the boys on the other side.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180530_reps_7_85/>.