7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented: -
Royal Australian Naval College - Report for 1917.
Ordered to be printed.
The War. - Supplementaryreturn showing persons of enemy birth and enemy descent employed in the Departmentof Defence.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister seen the report in to-day’s newspapers of a prosecution directed against an official of the Navy Office, which makes it appear that documents of tremendous and vital importance, not only to Australia, but to the whole Empire, are as accessible to subordinate officials as a lot of old newspapers might bet Will the honorable gentleman see that the individuals responsible for this state of affairs are prosecuted, as well as the man who has taken advantage of it?
– I have not had time to read closely the report in to-day’s newspapers, but I am acquainted with the main circumstances of the case, and, without prejudice to the trial, which I think is still proceeding, I may say that the Government regards the matter very seriously indeed, and will take the proper steps to prevent a repetition of this unfortunate occurrence.
– I wish to know from the Minister acting for the Minister for the Navy how many tenders have been accepted and contraots made for the building of ships since the honorable member’s last announcement on the subject, with whom they have been made, and how many ships have been allotted to each firm?
– Two contracts have been made, each for the construction of four ships, one of the contractors being Walkers Limited, and the others Poole and Steele. Contracts have also been let for the construction of six wooden vessels, one of the contractors being Mr. Kidman. I forget the names of the two others. Up to the present time we have contracted for the construction in Australia of twenty-six steel ships, of a gross tonnage of 143,000 tons, and of twentyfourwooden ships, of a gross tonnage of57,600 tons, the combined tonnage being 200,600 tons. There will be ten yards in operation in the -various States, and within a very short time twenty-seven slips will be in use.
– Will the Minister responsible for price-fixing say when a definite pronouncement may be expected regarding the prices and conditions governing the sale of groceries? The present uncertainty is unsatisfactory.
– I do not know what the honorable member wishes in the way of information.
– There is the matter of butter, for instance.
– The price of a number of grocery lines has been fixed, and the regulations requiring the posting in shops of the various price lists is in course of preparation and will be gazetted shortly. All steps are being taken to make the public aware of what has been done, so that in purchasing supplies they may know exactly where they stand.
Mr.McWILLIAMS. - Yesterday, when I was speaking, the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy interjected that none of the steamers owned by the Commonwealth was now conveying wheat from Australia to the Old World. Can the honorable gentleman say, from memory, on what routes the steamers are being employed, and what they are carrying?
– I am not aware that I said that none of them were carrying wheat.
– You said that none of them had carried wheat from Australia since you took office.
– I haveno recollection of having said that they were not carrying wheat. I cannot, without notice, give a definite answer to an inquiry regarding their exact cargo.
– I wish to know whether the officers mentioned in Judge Blacket’s report on the Federal Capital, who were practically accused of criminal waste of public funds, are still in Government employment?
– With the consent of my colleague, I shall answer the question, because, as I was in charge of the Department of Home Affairs at the time, I am more familiar with the matter than he is.
– It is about nine months since I addressed the question to you.
– And I think I gave an answer “ after the style of the English, in straight-flung words, and few.”
– You said that some were employed, and that some were on furlough.
– There are none now on furlough. The officer then on furlough was the late Administrator of the Federal Capital Territory, Colonel Miller, who has since been retired, he having reached the retiring age. The matter was thoroughly considered by me as the Minister at the head of the Department, and my opinion was embodied in a report that was left in the Department for the consideration of my successor, who, no doubt, will be glad to show it to the honorable member.
– Are these officers still in the Department?
– The responsible men criticised by the Commissioner are, in most cases, still there.
– I am sorry to hear it.
– I am not. The retention was justified in every case.
Board of Advice.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister seen the reference in the Brisbane Courier to the creation of a Board of Advice in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank? If there is such a Board, will the Acting Prime Minister be good enough to inform the House who are the gentlemen filling the positions on it?
– I do not know anything of the creation of a Board of Advice in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank, but I judge, from the paragraph which the honorable member has handed to me, that the Board referred to is an internal Board, composed of responsible officers. I shall make inquiries, and advise the honorable member in due course.
– Last week I had the honour to introduce a deputation of the master tannors of Australia to the Minister for Trade and Customs, in an endeavour to get the embargo on the export of leather from Australia to England removed. I have learned this morning - I must take entire responsibility for the statement - that a private message has been received to the effect that, as the result no doubt of the promise made by the Minister, the embargo has been entirely removed. Can the honorable gentleman give the House any official confirmation of that statement?
– I understand that fresh permits are to be given for the exportation of leather to the United
Kingdom, but as to the main object of the deputation inregard to the sale of leather I have as yet received no answer.
– Will the Government in dealing with the proposed Wheat Pool advance for 1918-19 make the first instalment 3s. 6d. instead of 3s. as stated, seeing that the first instalment means everything to the farmers?
– In the recent consultation with the representatives of the States and the Federal representatives on the Wheat Board, the matter was fully considered. The States urged that 4s. should be given; but that becomes a question of financial resources, and with some knowledge of the way in which the financial institutions deal with such businessI have thought it better to make 3s. the first payment. This will less dislocate and strain the resources of the financial institutions,which we desire to stabilize and preserve, than would the larger demand of 3s. 6d. or 4s. I would rather be safe than sorry in a matter of the kind.
– Will the excessive price of rabbits and fish be considered in connexion with the proposal to fix the prices of meat?
– At the present time the price of rabbits is fixed, and, speaking from memory, it is1s. 3d. a pair. I shall give consideration to the question of the fixation of the price of fish.
– Does the Treasurer propose to float any loans in London onbehalf of the States at any time this year? If so, does he propose to use the Commonwealth Bank as a means of raising the loans, rather than hand over the issue to private firms of brokers in London?
– That opens up a question I do not desire to spend much time on, but I think the honorable member is familiar with one phase of the obligations which the Commonwealth has voluntarily incurred - to raise a certain amount of money for five out of the six States. We are now communicating with the British Government regarding the matter. Whether or not we will raise any loans in London, I cannot say at this stage, but the British Government will, of course, be fully apprised of our intentions, and its consent will be asked before we operate. I have not considered the mode of raising the money - whether it will be through the old channel of underwriters and brokers, or through the bank - but I shall give consideration to the matter.
– Have you considered the raising of loans in America, where it appears we can get money at 3 per cent. and 4½ per cent. ?
– We cannot get money at anything like that rate. The American Government is borrowing money from it6 own people at the lowest rate prevailing in any of the belligerent countries. Before America came into the war, the rate of interest charged to Great Britain and France in the Anglo-French flotation was very high, but since that country became a participant with the Allies money is being lent to Britain at a low rate.
– How much per cent. - 3 per cent. ?
– I gave the figures a little time ago. Prior to 30th June, 1917, the rate varied from 3 per cent. to 4¼ per cent. It is now 5 per cent.
It does not follow that the Dominions, which ought to live on their own resources, can go with safety to ask for money at a low rate of interest from the American people.
– Yesterday, subsequently to the reading of a letter by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) on the previous evening, I made a personal explanation in which I stated -
In explanation of my own visit, I may say that some time after the strike endedI heard that certain goods were being manufactured in the camp, and were being disposed of, or offered for sale, by certain houses in Sydney, these goods thus competing with local industry.
Later on, referring to the visit, I added -
If my memory serves me aright, it was made some months after the strike was over.
During the interval I have refreshed my memory, and I find that the visit occurred at about the time of the strike.
Foreign Service Badge
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is a factthat under the provisionsof a Departmental Ordinance, or regulation, home service officers are permitted to wear the same style of arm badge as those soldiers who have served in Gallipoli or France?
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that the Imperial Government have completed arrangements to purchase all our wool produced during the currency of the war and for one year after, he will favorably consider the application of the West Australian Producers’ Association to receive the wool produced by their own members, and generally to be placed on the same basis as other approved wool brokers and agents?
– I have had very little time to go into the matter, but I have here a report from the Central Wool Committee, which says -
The Central Wool Committee is unable to agree to any increase in the approved houses for the appraisement of wool. “ I am advised, however, that as agents for wool-growers’ co-operative associations are absolutely free to act as in the past, but the wool consigned through their organizations must be appraised at approved appraising centres. The division of the commissionis a matter between the parties, and outside the jurisdiction of the Central Wool Committee.”
Enlistment and Intimidation
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I got notice of this question only about half-an-hour ago, and I have instructed the Defence Committee to communicate with Sydney with a view to ascertaining the facts. I may be able to reply to the honorable member later in the day.
Claim against State Government.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are rather long, but I know that honorable members from Queensland desire to have this matter cleared up. I have therefore gone into it this morning, andthe answers are as follow : -
I may further say that, in dealing with the matter, I had prepared for me from the papers the following résumé of the situation bearing on the particular matter to which the honorable member’s questions refer. These are thepoints to which I desire to direct his attention: -
The diminished number of recruits coming forward, and the defeat of the conscription referendum on 28th October, 1916, materially affected our anticipated actual requirements, and it became apparent that actual requirements would not nearly approach the 4,000 tons which had been reserved. The Queensland Government regretted that, as the beef was all stored and awaiting shipment, the undelivered portion of the order could not be cancelled. The’ Commonwealth Crown Solicitor gave the opinion that there were no grounds on which the Commonwealth would be justified in cancelling the contract. After negotiation, thu Queensland Government agreed to take over all the meat in store on Commonwealth account, and waive a claim for interest, on condition that £19,717 10s. 2d. was paid for storage This sum was accordingly paid over. On the question of the production of documentary evidence of payment of this amount for storage by Queensland Government, the Crown Solicitor gave opinion as follows: -
This has hitherto not been disclosed to Parliament - “ In my opinion, the offer made by the Commonwealth, and accepted by the State, under which the amount of £19,717 16s. 2d. was paid, was for an amount in full settlement of all matters between the parties arising under the agreement for the purchase of the meat, and, though it was based on the amount claimed for storage charges, in my opinion, it was payable whether or not the State Government had actually incurred that amount for storage charges. The amount was offered to, and accepted by, the State as a lump sum, and, in my opinion, the Commonwealth is not now entitled to require the State to furnish any voucher or particulars in respect of that sum.”
– Some time ago the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked whether it was possible for the Department of Defence to send consignments of Australian tobacco to the Australian troops at the Front, and I replied that the Controller of Shipping advised that, owing to existing shipping facilities, the proposition was impracticable. Since then the Australian Imperial Force Headquarters, London, have cabled in reply to our inquiries that arrangements had been made for regular monthly supplies from America of Havelock, Welcome Nugget, and Lucy Hinton tobaccos for troops in France, and that arrangements were completed for importing cigarettes and tobaccos from America and Canada for issue to our troops in England, duty free, on repayment.
In Committee (Consideration of Se nate’s message).
Amendment in clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
Section 12 of the Principal Act is amended -
by adding at the end of sub-section (2) the words “ for the granting of assistance and benefits to any of the classes of persons specified in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d) of section 22 of this Act or for any other purpose prescribed by the regulations.”
House of Representatives’ amendment -
After “Act” insert - “ or to any relative or person not specified in paragraphs (b), (c), or (d) of section 22 of this Act who was dependent upon any deceased or discharged sailor or soldier prior to his enlistment.”
Senate’s message -
Amendment agreed to with the following amendment, viz. : - Leave out “ discharged sailor or”, and insert “incapacitated Australian “in lieu thereof.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to with the omission of the word “ incapacitated “ and the insertion instead of the word “discharged.”
In this House we agreed to a provision extending relief to any relative or person not specified in paragraphs b, c,or d of section 22 of the Act who was dependent upon a deceased or discharged sailor or soldier prior to his enlistment. The Senate’s amendment striking out the words “ discharged sailor or,” and inserting “ incapacitated Australian “ in lieu thereof, does not carry out the arrange- ment entered into with the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), and I am asking honorable members to revert to that arrangement. Furthermore, I propose to agree to the deletion of the words ‘” sailor or,” and the insertion of the word “ Australian” in lieu thereof, because it will give the paragraph a wider meaning. Under the Act “Australian soldier” is defined to cover soldiers, sailors, nurses, and others abroad.
– Will the word discharged “ cover “ incapacitated or discharged “ ?
– I want the Minister’s assurance that the word “ discharged “ will cover the case of a man who has been discharged from the Forces for no specified reason whatever, or whether it is intended that it shall only apply to men who have been discharged for specific reasons? Obviously, men have been discharged for special reasons which practically deprive them of all rights. I also want the Minister’s assurance that a man’s discharge will not affect the rights of any of his dependants.
.- The general scheme of the Act is that the Minister will have power to make regulations for the granting of assistance to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service, and this paragraph is merely following the wording of the Act in this respect. The question raised by the honorable member is a matter for interpretation. Power is given to make regulations defining what persons will be ‘benefited within the meaning of the Act.
– Will not the Act itself define what are discharged men?
– The Act uses the words “ upon their discharge from service.”
– Is the meaning of the word “ discharged “ limited or extended by any provision in the Bill, or will it be. left to some official to define its meaning?
– The honorable member had better leave well alone.
– I ask the honorable member to leave the matter as it stands. It is expressed in wide terms. I am not prepared at the moment to give an offhand opinion as to different phases the word “ discharged “ will cover. We are simply following the wording in the original Act. Any attempt to define the meaning of discharged might narrow it.
.- I am thankful to the Minister for his proposal to restore the provision as it left this Chamber, and carry out the promise he made to the Committee. It will enable assistance to be extended to a discharged man which would not be possible with the retention of the word ‘’ incapacitated.” Some units have been disbanded, and men have been discharged. Officers who have returned have been unable to go back at their old rank, and sometimes they are discharged. In the administration of the Act every reason for a man’s discharge is carefully inquired into by the Department. It is better to rely on the administration in this regard rather than to have a provision in the Act stating that a man can receive assistance only when he has been discharged for certain specific reasons.
– Would a man who has been dismissed be a “ discharged “ soldier?
– We must leave discretion to the administration. It cannot be specifically set out “ that the following persons shall not be entitled to assistance.” In any case, the paragraph affected applies only to the administration of local funds, raised and controlled by Local Committees, and has no application to the general funds.
– I am afraid the Minister does not quite appreciate the point raised by me. I am not concerned as to the status of the discharged soldier, but I am anxious that the rights of his relatives who were dependent upon him shall not be challenged, even if he was discharged for some reason that might affect his status. Whatever the reasons for his discharge they should not deprive his relatives of their rights under the Act. Some Australians have been very severely dealt with for small offences on the other side, with the result that their dependants here have been deprived of their allotment money, and suffered severely. I think the word “ incapacitated “ is much better than the word “discharged.” I ask the Minister to give the Committee an assurance that the rights of relatives will not be affected under this amendment no matter what the circumstances attending the discharge of the man may be.
– This is an extension rather than a curtailment of the area of the Act. The provision was confined specifically to the persons mentioned in the Act. It was brought under our notice that it should be extended to the relatives of soldiers who were deceased or who were discharged. I promised that that should be done, and we are now extending the area to the relatives of soldiers, deceased or discharged, where not specifically mentioned. I quite appreciate the point raised by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) that soldiers might be dischargedfor certain reasons, and that the disqualification associated with that discharge might extend to their relatives. The point is a very important one, and I promise tobring it under the attention of the Minister for Defence.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 17 -
Section 22 of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting paragraphs (b) and (c) thereof, and inserting in their stead the following paragraphs: - “(c) in the form of free passages from abroad to Australia to the wives and children of Australian soldiers -
the widowed mothers of deceased or incapacitated Australian soldiers who, prior to enlistment of those soldiers, were dependent upon them.”
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit paragraph (iii), insert - “ (iii) to the mothers of deceased or incapacitated Australian soldiers -
who are widows and were, prior to the enlistment of those soldiers, dependent upon them, or
whose husbands are so incapacitated as to be unable to contribute materially to their support.”
Senate’s Message. - Amendment agreed to with the following amendment, viz.: -
At end of paragraph (iii) add the following new paragraph : - “and (iv) the incapacitated fathers of deceased or incapacitated Aus” tralian soldiers who were, prior to the enlistment of those soldiers, dependent upon them.”
– I move -
That the Senate’s amendment he agreed to. It is exactly the same as the first amendment dealt with by us. It extends the area of relief.
.- While I am anxious that the repatriation scheme should be as wide as possible, I wish to ask the Minister whether he has any idea of the extent to which our financial obligations will be increased by the adoption of the Senate’s amendment ?
– It is impossible to answer that question. One cannot foretell the duration of the war, or what will be the proportion of Australian casualties.
– Is the Minister able to say from the knowledge at his disposal whether this amendment will involve any serious addition to our financial obligations?
– I cannot. But I think the general feeling in Australia is that these men have taken risks for us and that we must be prepared to take certain risks for them.
– I do not wish to suggest that we should not do so.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 4802), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I do not propose to debate at anylength the amendment of which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has given notice in regard to the insertion of a clause to prevent the enlistment of youths of nineteen without the consent of their parents. We are concerned, however, in regard to the decision of the Government that boys of nineteen - because many of them are really boys - may enlist without their parents’ consent. We hoped that the Government would be influenced to a great extent by the widespread objection throughout Australia to their proposal. The Ministerial party, I presume, discussed this matter in Caucus, and resolved to instruct the Government to abandon their original determination to permit of the enlistment of boys of eighteen years without first obtaining the consent of their parents.
– Do not say that.
– There is nothing derogatory to a party in so instructing its Government. The honorable member must think that we know very little of the practice of the Ministerial party with regard to Caucus meetings. I could, if it would interest honorable members, cite a number of cases in which the Ministerial Caucus has directed the Government, and has pulled them up when they appeared to be about to wreck the party. Whilst the Government may refuse to pay anyattention to the opinions of laymen, they certainly ought to be influenced by the advice of men who have served at Gallipoli and also on the Western Front.
In this House are two such men, representative of both political parties - I refer to’ the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) - and I could furnish honorable members with the names, of a number of returned soldiers who have most pathetically pleaded that this is a war for men of adult age, and not for youths. A good deal of pressure is brought to bear on young men. I believe that the majority of them have sufficient respect for their parents to endeavour to fall in with their wishes, but the pressure that has been brought to bear, ever since the war began, by ladies who send white feathers to those who have not enlisted, and by the taunts which men under twenty-one years of age have to endure in offices, workshops, and other places, is so great that when the Government give to youths of nineteen the opportunity to enlist without getting their parents’ consent, they feel that they cannot any longer endure the reproaches and derision.
– I believe tha’t they have higher motives than that.
– I admit that there are thousands of young men under twentyone years of age who believe -that it is their duty to go to the Front. Many of them have told me so.
Another place has made certain amendments which bring the Bill more into conformity with righteous public opinion than it was ‘originally. The first proposal which the Government made was to break faith with the soldiers who had enlisted for three years or the duration of the war, whichever was the longer period, and they seriously proposed to return the men to Australia and not give them their discharge until the authorities thought fit. That proposal has been withdrawn, and I see no objection to the Bill. Therefore, as soon as the second reading is carried I propose to move the amendment of which the Leader of the Opposition has given notice.
– On previous occasions I have expressed my views in regard to the enlistment of minors, and I do not propose to repeat to-day the arguments I adduced then. My only objection to the amendment which has been forecasted is that it is too modest. . I do not feel at liberty to move a further amendment, but I, object entirely to the enlistment of any young fellows under twenty-one years of age without .the consent of their’ parents. Whilst the proposal to make the new regulations apply to the youths of over nineteen years of age, instead of over eighteen years of age, will have my support, it will be somewhat regretful support, because I think that if the principle of parental control is good in regard to youths under nineteen, it applies to minors of any age. Under our laws we refuse persons under twenty-one years of age the right to control their business, . or their cash, or their ordinary affairs. Until they are twenty-one years of age they have no legal standing in the community, and cannot be held legally liable for their actions. Their parents, accept responsibility for them in respect of all the ordinary affairs of life. Yet now, in a matter affecting their life and liberty , and involving, perhaps, the supreme sacrifice - the doing and the risking of what is, after all, the greatest service that a citizen can render to his country - Ave say that parental responsibility can be reduced and parental control entirely ignored. Obviously, if in respect of comparatively small and unimportant matters the legal responsibility of parents holds good until their children are twenty-one years of age, that would justify the argument that, in regard also to this matter of such immense importance, parental responsibility should continue till the same age. But my main objection is based upon that high moral law, which, is stronger and more important than any legal restrictions or statutory powers. The moral law has distinctly placed no limitation upon the duty of children to their parents, or of parents to their children. Four thousand years ago that law was given to the world, and, whether in detail we do or do not recognise the force of that “law, we ought in a national sense, at any rate, to recognise the binding force df those great moral principles known as the Ten Commandments. There is one commandment dealing specifically with the duty of children to their parents, and, therefore, emphasizing the importance of parental responsibility - “Honour thy father and thy mother.” There is no limitation of age in regard to that duty of children, and impliedly ,there is no limitation on the responsibility of parents, but the present Government have substituted a new commandment - “ Honour Willie Watt and George Pearce, the self-appointed disposers of thy life and liberty, that thy father and thy mother may know that they have no authority over thee.” The abrogation of the moral law is to me the most serious aspect of this matter. In a previous speech I pointed out the physical and legal effects of the enlistment of minors, and also its possible effect on the homes of the people. I am content this morning to emphasize the moral aspect, because I believe that as moral force is the greatest, and, at the same time, most beneficent, influence in the community, we cannot, without grave peril and loss, be indifferent to the moral law.
I was a member of a deputation that waited about three weeks ago upon the Treasurer to protest against the inclusion of gambling amongst the means adopted for the raising of war loans. The chief argument adducedby the gentleman of that deputation, and one with which I entirely agree, was that the regulation approved the introduction of an immoral principle in the conduct of national affairs. I believe that gambling is based upon an essentially immoral principle, inasmuch as it seeks to take from a man something for which no equivalent is given, and which is not earned.
No other nation in the world seems to surround the home with such a halo of responsibility as does the British nation. No doubt, in China the virtue of filial devotion is developed to a quite remarkable degree. It is inspiring to note the reverence for their ancestors, amounting to veneration and even worship, which the Chinese have developed for many centuries with,I think, considerable advantage to themselves. But even in China, and amongst other nations where filial devotion is highly developed, homes are not established on the same basis, nor is the influence of the home so beneficent or its responsibilities so recognised as amongst British communities.
There is no word in the language of many nations corresponding to our English word “ home,” and certainly the influence and responsibilities of the home are not recognised in other communities as they are in British communities. There is a special, subtle, and peculiarly bene ficent influence which can only be developed in the home. There is no substitute for it, and its effects can only be feebly imitated where the influence of the home is interfered with. It is quite true that some homes, even amongst ourselves, are not all that according to our ideas they ought to be, but I question whether it is not true that, even in those homes where there seems to be less effort to surround the children with an atmosphere of love, kindness, and goodness, a devotion and service to each other may not be found, which are absent from homes where another atmosphere is prevalent. We may find in homes where there is very little comfort, in which poverty is the daily experience, and all sorts of difficulties are. met with, an attachment of the people in the home to each other that in the circumstances is very remarkable. There is by some means a family devotion engendered and a paternal consideration generated that are largely, if not altogether, absent, from the homes of the well-to-do. where the inmates are less dependent upon each other.
– Who made the honorable member an authority on that point? He has made a very definite statement.
– It is a definite statement, and my authority for it is the right which every man who reads and observes reserves to himself to form an opinion.
– How does the honorable member reconcile what he says with such an absence of patriotism as will prevent a lad who desires to do his duty to the country from doing it?
– The question of what a son’s duty is can only be determined by those affected for themselves. The objection I have to the interjections of honorable members opposite is that they appoint themselves adjudicators in regard to the duties of others.
– No. It is proposed to let the boy decide for himself in this case.
– There are some questions in connexion with which we may impose certain duties on other people and say, “ This you shall do, and this you shall not do.” But in regard to this matter of military service, as in regard to all matters of conscience and matters affecting life and liberty, my principle is that a man’s duty cannot be determined for him by anybody else. It must be determined by himself alone.
– That is against the honorable member’s argument on this question.
– No; my argument is that, until boys become twentyone years of age, the age of legal responsibility, we have a right to say that the responsibility imposed by the moral law shall not be abrogated.
– The moral law has nothing to do with age.
– It has nothing to do with age. There is no limitation. It is not abrogated by any matter of days or dates.
– But the honorable member is proposing to put limitations upon its operation.
– My argument is based upon the principle that the legal responsibility should not be allowed to remove the parental responsibility.
– The honorable member says that no one should be allowed to volunteer unless he gets his father’s consent, and yet that is quite opposed to what he is contending for now.
– When the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) asks questions and then answers them himself, it is not worth while to pay any attention to him. I was hoping to meet his arguments, but he is so absolutely cocksure about his own position that he is not prepared to listen to any one else. I shall therefore take no notice of his interjections. The moral law would have its continuous application were it not for the legal provision which removes parental responsibility when the son reaches twenty-one years of age, and imposes upon him from that time forward the direction of his own affairs. But that does not abrogate parental responsibility, nor does it affect the son’s recognition of his duty to his parents. The moral law covers the whole field of a man’s responsibility to his country and to himself.
– The proposal is to make the duty legal at the age of nineteen years.
– I object, and I want to record my objection to any abrogation of the rights of parents to determine what their children shall do until they reach the age of twenty-one years.
In the matter of enlistment for military service I refuse to recognise the right of the individual under twenty-one to determine the matter without the parent’s consent, just as in many less important matters we require the consent of parents.. This is more important than anything else in life. It is a matter of the highest service that a man can render to his country, involving the supreme sacrifice, the risk of everything that life holds dear, a man’s liberty and conscience, and I say that in such a matter parental responsibility should be conserved until the age of twenty-one is reached. I shall vote for the proposed instruction with regret that the age is not twenty-one instead of nineteen, as suggested.
.- I could understand, and perhaps sympathize, with the attitude of such as” the honorable member for Brisbane if, while he recognised the claim of the parent upon the loyalty of his son up to the age of twenty-one he proceeded further and recognised the claim of- the country upon the loyalty of the man after he has reached that age. The honorable member talks about moral laws with an amount of unctuous rectitude that is not usual in this House, and certainly not usual in the mouths of the people to whom he belongs. If there is one thing more than another that the people of Scotland have maintained, it is that duty to country and to kindred, to wife and mother and daughter, which demands of every ablebodied man, as his first and fundamental duty, that he shall stand between them and the enemy wherever he may appear, and in whatever circumstances he may be ^ found. The Ten Commandments nave given us a code of morality that all civilized communities have endeavoured to embody in law - law that puts compulsion upon every individual concerned. But, in addition, civilization has recognised the one important duty of compulsion in regard to the defence of one’s country and kindred. There can be no question as to the moral justification of compelling every man who is fit to do his duty in such circumstances as we are placed in at the present time. It is most astonishing to me, and one of my bitterest regrets in regard to the cause of Democracy, that this country of ours, which pretends to stand in the very forefront of the world, in Demo- cratic principles, should have put aside the one fundamental and essential principle of Democracy in relation to its selfdefence. A blow has been struck by Australia against the cause of Democracy that will react upon it, perhaps, for many centuries to come. If we do not realize it now, the time is not far distant when we, or those who come after us, will feel the terrible effects of the mistake we are making in our attitude towards the war. It is not merely what we think ourselves. It is what the people of the world think of us. Can any one say that a country such as ours, which has enjoyed the protection of the Motherland during the whole of its existence, can continue to hold the respect of the civilized races when, with the welfare and existence of not only the Motherland, but of our own land, in danger, we refuse to take the one step by which we can reinforce our men at the Front, and do our share in the dreadful struggle now proceeding? If we want a hint, if we will only take it, it is before us in our daily press of a few weeks ago. The New York Times, in a leading article, we are told by cable, made these remarks regarding the position in Ireland -
Some Irish politicians are said to be nursing the mad notion that the people of the United States of” America sympathize with Irish slackers. There was talk of sending an emissary here to solicit America’s opposition to conscription. It would be impossible for America to receive it. The Chief Burgomaster of Berlin would be as welcome.
That may be taken as fairly typical of the attitude of the United States of America towards the refusal of Ireland to accept conscription. What must America think of Australia on that question? If there is condemnation in the United States for the people of Ireland in this regard, is it not a hundred times stronger towards Australia, seeing that the people of Ireland have, perhaps, some justification for their attitude, while the people of Australia can plead none whatever? If we are wise, if we will only look at indications such as these, we will realize, I hope before it i3 too late, the absolute necessity to Australia’s future welfare of doing the one thing needful to rehabilitate ourselves in the eyes of the civilized world. If we want another hint, we have only to read between the lines of the cables describing the passage of our
Prime Minister through the “ United States of America recently.
– With a publicity agent to advertise everything.
– We are told that the Prime Minister avoided all publicity. Can we imagine him avoiding publicity? No. The truth of the matter was that he was cold-shouldered by the people of the United States of America, who would have nothing to do with him coming from a country that had refused its duty in the circumstances that had compelled the United States to adopt conscription. Again I plead with this Parliament, on the last day of these sittings, to realize the tremendous responsibility upon us, and to take the one step’ of duty that is imperative if we have any regard for our honour and our future welfare.
.- I have a certain amount of sympathy with the honorable member for Perth in taking up the mantle that ha£ fallen from the ex-honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine).
– I was’ a conscriptionist before the ex-honorable member for Flinders opened his mouth about it.
– I have no desire to determine the priority of the honorable member’s claim as compared with the exhonorable member for Flinders. I simply remark that the honorable member has taken up the mantle that fell from Sir William Irvine’s shoulders when he left the House. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the honorable member, although totally opposed to his views, because he is to some extent occupying an isolated position in the’ House, in reiterating his opinions on conscription. The honorable member has not adduced very much evidence when he asks honorable members to base their views of American public opinion upon a solitary quotation from the New York Times with respect to the proposed visit of the Lord Mayor of Dublin to President Wilson. Anybody who knows anything about the newspaper world can appreciate just how representative of public opinion is the press of any country. The Northcliffe press is a standing illustration of how public opinion is manufactured. The New York Times is in the same position, and in no country in the world is public opinion less accurately portrayed than in the American press.
Australia, upon each occasion on which she has been given the opportunity to express herself with regard.. to conscription, has made a certain declaration ; and on the second occasion she did so ‘ more emphatically than at first, despite the fact that the question was put in a more crafty and cunning manner. Even admitting that the American press criticism was in opposition to our own sense of self-respect, it must not be forgotten that we have been granted the right to govern ourselves according to our own ideals. We have chosen, for good or ill, to do without conscription ; and I disagree with the conception of Democracy, as expressed by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) when he tells us that Democracy has achieved the highest pinnacle of greatness when it has imposed on itself the Continental form of militarism. Militarism and Imperialism are incompatible with Democracy. The growth of Democracy means the downfall of Imperialism. Militarism and Imperialism go hand in hand, while Democracy and freedom advance together. It was because of their distorted ideas of Democracy that’ the people were deluded into militarising themselves to such an extent that militarism eventually brought about this conflict.
– Is not self-defence the first duty of a Democracy ?
– Self-defence is not a duty. It is instinctive. It is an inheritance from nature that we should protect ourselves. The honorable member and I do not disagree in the matter of defending ourselves. We disagree as to who are the enemies against whom we shall defend ourselves. To use the phraseology of some honorable members opposite, the “enemy within our gates “ in every country in the world is the most inimical to the interests of that people. Those individuals who exploit a people’s patriotism the better to explore their pockets are our worst enemies.
– But, after all, they do not cut your throat, like the Germans.
– I have yet to learn that being slowly starved to death is any less painful than having your throat cut. In fact, I think I should be inclined to choose the latter method of decease - and be done with it - rather than be gradually starved to death.
A matter to which I now desire to address myself has to do with the instruc tion of which notice has .been given by the Leader of the Opposition. I agree with the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) that the motion does not go far enough.
– Order! That motion is not before the Chair.
– The proposal of the Government, in reply to protests from both sides of the House as to the enlistment of minors without parental consent, has been in no way improved upon. I cannot see. that there is any material difference, either physically or mentally, and particularly so far as qualifications to fight are concerned, between a lad of eighteen and another of nineteen. Moreover, if the Government were logical, they would say that if an individual of eighteen or nineteen is eligible and fitted to take his part in warfare, he should be equally capable of undertaking the responsibilities of citizenship, and should be entitled, therefore, to full citizenship rights. The Government should remove the legal dis-‘ ability with respect to minors. Instead, however, they have simply made a compromise which certainly does not satisfy parents or guardians.
– It will not satisfy any one who does not want anybody to go to the assistance of the Empire.
-The honorable member must speak for himself. His innate modesty would allow him to speak on behalf of tlie universe no doubt, but I deny that he has the right to speak for me.
An aspect of the question that I wish to put now is from the point of view of those people who, from religious motives, are much per tu r bed .
– Is the honorable member genuinely taking an interest in religious people ?
– I am afraid the “ Win-the-war “ Government are . inoculated with the idea that they, and they alone, are to determine even the arguments which shall be advanced in this House.
– I was thinking of the honorable member’s views as expressed with respect to the form of prayer.
– J ‘ have a letter from a very religious-minded gentleman in Sydney with whom I have had personal friendship for the past sixteen years. In his epistle he refers to those remarks of mine upon the form of prayer delivered in this House. But his mind is not so warped by prejudice against me as is that of the Minister (Mr. Wise), apparently. I propose to read a letter which I have received in order that honorable members may understand the views of certain religious people in the community who have no sympathy whatever either with my political ot religious convictions.
– Order ! I am afraid that the honorable member will not be in order in reading a letter relating to a matter which is not before the House. I understand that he proposes to read a communication dealing with some religious question.
– No. It deals with the question of the enlistment of minors. It is from a gentleman named E. Wotton, of 129 Cowper-street, Waverley.
– A clergyman?
– No. He does not believe in clergymen. The letter, which is addressed to myself, reads -
I am writing you asking you to do me a favour, and pray that any effort put forward by you may have God’s blessing. I just read in the Herald four lines of your speech on the order for prayer for victory. I should like to read all you said. If you could send a copy of Hansard I might get a better view of your speech. Well, my reason for asking you to help me is this: “This new order of the Government releasing boys nineteen and over from parental jurisdiction has brought a dark cloud into my home. On Monday last my boy Cecil, who turned nineteen last month, has been led away by the excitement and enlisted. He is now in camp. I am afraid that if lie is not released Ids first victim in the war will be his own mother. She has had three restless nights - up at daylight each morning, swallowing her grief. This new regulation appears to me to be an allurement to the sons of conscientious objectors. You know our belief, Mick; therefore you- can know the amount of grief it must bring to us. Had Ite been a man, he could have chosen for himself. But, even though he is nineteen, he really is only equal to .fourteen, for you know how I have trained my boys and kept them away from nil worldly allurements and evil contamination. Knowing that, even if conscription had been carried, boys the age of my son would have been the last to call up, I felt confident that he could not go to the war, and would not be needed. He is apprenticed to the same trade as myself - the linotype - and pounds have been spent on him for the’ piano. His teacher (Mr. Thorman), one of the best in Sydney, was shocked when informed. He said it was a shame that such a youthful boy, with such a brilliant musical career before him, should be taken to the war.. For his agc lie is exceptionally fine. But this is not my reason for his redemption from war. “Sou know me too well for that. I am not the only Christadelphian whose house is filled with mourning. Others beside me have broken-hearted mothers. Our Brother Rogers’ wife is in great straits because of her son enlisting.”
I have been on two deputations to Melbourne as representative of the Christadelphians of Australia - once to Senator Millen, who was Minister for Defence; and, about a year ago, to Senator Gardiner, when he was Assistant Minister. <
I want you to show this letter to Senator Higgs, who was secretary of our union for many years, and also to Senator Gardiner, who will remember mc He will remember the conversation I had with , him at Bondi Junction on the night he addressed the people against conscription. You are at liberty to get Mr. Tudor, Mr. Gardiner, Mr. Higgs, or yourself to make public use of this in the House. However,, ask those gentlemen named first before you do anything as to the best course to adopt, because “ In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.” If your party can help Christadelphians in this matter you will earn our gratitude. I saw a new notification in the Herald that, before boys over nineteen could enter camp for training, the recruiting officer must inform the parents and ask if there is any objection. I cut this out of the Herald and took it with me to the Recruiting Office, corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth streets, to ascertain what course I should pursue, and at the same time to lodge my objections, in harmony with the new decree; An officer seated at the table listened while I told him it was for conscientious religious reasons I objected to his enlistment.. At the same- time I said to him that no one could deny the justice of the nation in its defence against the armed camp of Germany. But I said, as a follower of Christ I was compelled to suffer injustice. Just then the captain came in, and the officer at the table told him my mission. I did not go there’ to discuss the pros, and cons, of my religious conviction. They started it themselves, and when I said that I was compelled, under the command of Christ, to allow the Germans to overrun the country without using physical force to resist, the captain became impertinent and insolent. Others seated on the stool waiting listened to the insult. “Stand aside,” said the captain. “Attend to the others,” he instructed his subordinate officer. I said, “ Will you take a note of my application ? “ “ Take no more notice of him,” said the captain, as though I were something fit for the rubbish tip. My first answer to the captain when he began to talk was, “Honour thy father and mother, which is the first Commandment with promise” -(Ephesians I., 1, 2, 3).’ His reply was, ves, the authorities have broken that Commandment for the safety of the nation.” How do they make void the word of God by their own tradition. They will break His Cornmandment and then pray to Him for victory. They will sit in the National Church and repeat this Commandment, and’ say, “God have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law.” How can a boy who dishonours his parents (more especially on religious grounds) expect a blessing from God? How can a nation prosper which encourages it? “Vengeance is mine,” said the Lord. “I will repay.” “ Righteousness exalteth a -nation, but wickedness will turn a fruitful field into barrenness.” Who can condemn a man for loving his enemies, Who can condemn a man for praying for his enemies? Lot them pray to God to direct the German nation to see its error and determine to cease war. Pray to God to make them better men. Not pray to God to destroy them and send them to hell. How different to the words of Jesus-“ I came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” By all means pray to God for peace in the name of the Prince of Peace. But you know our belief concerning the destiny of the British Empire. And no one can accuse us of having no sympathy with it. You know Dr. Thomas in Elpis Israel, written in 1848, - says “The German and Austrian Empire is doomed to extinction by fire and sword, and that Russia, Germany, and Austria will become one.” It looks like it, and “ That Britain would dominate Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine, with the Jews as colonists.” A wonderful forecast. Well, Mick, do what you can for us, and God will bless you for it.
I am, your faithfully,
P.S. - I offer no objection to this letter being read in the House if you think it would do any good. I might state that the King has exempted our people in England. They work on the farms. And if the worst should come
I would then appeal to the King under the Empire’s regulations for his exemption when he came under Imperial jurisdiction. Could you drop me a note by return of post to let me know if you received this, or a wire - “ Received letter”? I am extremely anxious. I have preferred to write to you as a one-time close companion than to any others, because you know all the tenets of our religion, and are better . able to understand our sorrow, knowing the ultimate eternal destiny of our son if Tie falls in the battle, having, as yet, been unbaptised. Why did they make the defence law such as to make the law of calling up boys at such an age as the last resource? Because they felt it was wrong in principle to send them. They, therefore, stand selfconvicted of adopting a pernicious principle. What does this new regulation mean? A parent cannot chastise his son without the threat, “I. will enlist.” This is not so in my case. There has been no trouble with me or my son. We were given a sudden surprise. Because only a few days before he enlisted he was talking about his future as a musician. It was a sudden event. Some months ago he was tempted to got away and tried, but I stopped him, and he then promised that he would go on, finish his apprenticeship, finish his musical education, and then go abroad for further learning. But excitement of the receptions and cheering of the crowds to returned soldiers and soldiers departing has allured him into the net. My boy went straight into camp, and sent word home that he had enlisted. Self-condemned, he was ashamed to face his father and mother.
– He is a better mau than his father.
– The honorable member knows nothing about his father, and so he is not competent to judge. The father is a conscientious individual with firm religious convictions. . He is an old friend of mine, a man I have known intimately for over sixteen years, and I should like to help him out of the trouble in which he has found himself because of his religious convictions. He belongs to a particular sect which believes that it is the destiny of the British Empire to work in harmony with Providence for the regeneration of the world. “ They look upon the Central Powers as being the adversaries of the Lord. These people are, if anything, essentially loyal; but their religious convictions prevent them taking up arms or taking part in politics. I say, therefore, that this man and the lad’s mother ar.e suffering keen anguish because they believe that as the boy has not been baptised, and as they regard baptism as essential to salvation, the son is risking his immortal life. Their anguish is probably keener than any anxiety that might be felt by parents belonging to other denominations, and who may object for various reasons to the enlistment of their sons. While I do not subscribe to the tenets of this belief, I respect the people who comprise the sect.
– How would they stand in the event of this lad falling a victim to one of the ordinary ills of life before he reached the age of twenty-one years and was baptised’!
– The religious belief of the Christadelphians is that without baptism there can be no salvation and no resurrection. As I have already pointed out, in England the King has exempted them from combatant service because of their religious convictions.
– Our Defence Act contains the same provision.
– Yes, as the honorable member for Darwin has reminded me, the same provision is contained in our Defence Act. The same remarks may apply to the Quakers, who, although they are a different denomination, are united with the Christadelphians on this question of military service. If concessions can be made to their religious beliefs - I am not speaking for myself in this respect, as I belong to a totally different section of the community, who do not believe in physical opposition without giving* something in return - I think the Government would be well advised to exempt them from combatant service
– There will be a big increase in professed religion in the community if that is done.
– The honorable member must know that there is a safeguard in the Defence Act providing that they have to be members of the denomination for a certain time before they can claim exemption.
– But this boy does not belong to the sect.
– I do not think the honorable member should raise any quibble about that, because the tenets of their faith prevent any person being accepted into it until he has attained the age of reason.
– But in their case anxiety does not arise so much from the fact that the boy must go to the war as that he has not been accepted into the faith.
– It is a cardinal principle of their belief that if he goes to the. war he will be doing something in opposition to Providence and so will be breaking one of the tenets of their religion, and if he gets killed before he has been baptised he will be blotted out of eternal life.
– But if he gets under a tram or slips on a banana skin and meets death in that way, would he not be in the same position?
– That may be so, but the probabilities of death in that way are not so great. I appeal to the Minister (Mr. Wise) to at least consider the views of these people. I am not speaking personally, because I would not claim exemption for myself or any one belonging to me on those grounds. But these people have rights as have any other citizens in the community, and their feelings should be respected. The Government should not endeavour to ride roughshod over religious convictions. As it is laid down in the Defence Act that such people may be exempted from com batant service, their case could easily be met. I do not propose to deal with the aspect of tHe matter referred to by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) with regard to parental control.
– I think you were pretty hard to manage when you were a lad.
– -No, I was very docile then, but I did not receive my training at the hands of my parents so much as at the hands of the exploiters of this country, because I had to go early to work and the employers for whom I worked, by their treatment of me, must be held responsible for my education along industrial and social lines.
– They did not break your spirit though.
– Neither have they dimmed my ardour. On the contrary, they added to it. I appeal to honorable members to respect the feelings of the parents of lads who may be induced by the Government proposal to break away from parental control and so do an injury to the religious convictions of their families. The advantage to the Commonwealth will be infinitesimal as compared with the injury done to the families concerned. The Government have made a compromise already. They would be well advised to go all the way and say they will not enlist any persons under the age of twenty-one without consent of their parents. If a lad runs away from home and enlists, ten days are allowed within which parents and guardians may notify the ‘State Commandant of their objections to their ‘boy serving, and may have the case investigated; but a lad who wants to run away from home will take care to hide his whereabouts, so that he cannot be found. The regulation is a direct incentive to adventurous youths to run away from home. It is causing great grief to mothers and other female relatives, and brings about the disregard of parental control. The Government will be well advised to drop their present policy in this matter. The gain that it may bring to them is infinitesimal compared with the injury that is being done.
– I do not see eye to eye with Ministers in this matter, though I shall not labour the question now,- because I expressed my views regarding it clearly the other night. No doubt, the motives of the Government were good, and their enthusiasm caused Ministers to take what they thought a right step in a time of crisis like the present. I fear, however, that they have made a mistake. I was much impressed by the statements of the honorable member for Flinders (Captain Bruce), who is fresh back from the Front, where he fought and bled for his country. He solemnly and emphatically, though in few words, warned us against sending youths to the Front, because he said they were not really reinforcing our strength there. My opinion regarding the need for reinforcements is very different from that which has been expressed by some honorable members to-day. While I do nol agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), I certainly do not agree with certain views which have been expressed from the Opposition side of the Chamber. My remarks may seem inconsistent, because both of my sons went to the war before reaching the age of nineteen. I am glad that they have made good, and have done good work. Naturally I am as anxious concerning them as persons mentioned by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) who hold non-combatant, religious beliefs differing from mine are about their sons. But, nevertheless, I thankGod that they are there, and that they are doing their bit, and I hope that they will stay there, and see it out to victory. The Minister (Mr. Wise) is another whose boy went away as a mere lad, and is doing his bit. At the same time, I think that the enthusiasm of Ministers led them into making a mistake which they have tried to cover by altering the age limit from twenty-one to eighteen and to nineteen. It is a pity that they do not alter it again to twenty-one. I refused to vote for the amendment the other night, because it would have been taken as a vote of censure on the Ministry. But as on the present occasion we have an opportunity to express our opinion unclouded by other issues, I say that I cannot support the Government’s action in this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I move -
That it be an instruction to the Committee to insert a clause to the effect that sons of nineteen years shall not’ he enlisted for active service abroad without the consent of their parents first obtained.
– I am unable to accept the motion unless from the honorable member in whose name it appears on the businesspaper. Under the Standing Orders a motion can be moved by one honorable member on behalf of another only when it is a motion for leave of absence, or for an unopposed return, and then only by leave of the House. The practice of the House of Commons, too, is that one honorable member may not move a motion for another honorable member except he be a member of the Government, moving on behalf of another member of the Government. May says, at page 250 of the 10th edition of his Parliamentary Practice -
A member of the Government may act onbehalf of a colleague in all cases, including the proposal of new clauses on the report stage of a Bill; but, with this exception, or in the case of an unopposed return, or pn a motion for a leave of absence, no motion can be moved save by the member in whose name the notice stands.
– I do not dispute the ruling, although I regret that the motion may not be moved. As honorable members may be aware, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) is absent in Perth on very important business, which has made it impossible for him to attend here.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Through an unforeseen circumstance I had not an opportunity to speak on the second reading, and under the ruling just delivered by Mr. Speaker, I shall, therefore, have no opportunity to deal with the subject of the enlistment of boys under the age of nineteen without their parents’ consent, because there is no clause in connexion with which the matter could be discussed. I therefore say that I shall vote against the Bill as a protest against the action of the Government in creating in Australia unfilial feeling.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section 39 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead : - “39. (1) Subject to this section, a soldier shall be entitled to be discharged -
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) proposed - That paragraph (a) be left out, with a view to .insert in lieu thereof - ” (a) if voluntarily enlisted or appointed - upon the expiration of the period for which he engaged.”
.- What is the object of using the phrase “ if voluntarily enlisted “ ? Are there members of the Defence Force who are not voluntarily enlisted?
– No; but some may be appointed, and the words are to cover such cases.
– I understand that every member of the Military Forces whether permanent or for the period of the war, has voluntarily enlisted.
– I take it that the clause as altered is intended to cover officers who are ‘ ‘ appointed “ ; whereas the men are “ enlisted.” There is nothing concealed in the clause - no trick of any kind.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
.-i- I desire to move a new clause, to the following effect -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, or in any War Precautions Regulation, sons of nineteen years shall not be enlisted for active service abroad without the consent of their parents first obtained.
– Such an amendment is not in order at this stage. The Bill could be recommitted in order to insert such a clause, but that must be by the instruction of the House.
– The new clause suggested is substantially the same as that which was ruled out of order by Mr. Speaker, and I submit that a ruling cannot be evaded in this way.
– I was ruled out of order on the motion referred to by the honorable member because it was not permissible then to give an instruction to the Committee, I not having myself given notice of the necessary motion. But if the Bill will permit of my moving such a new clause, there is no occasion for an instruction to the Committee. Why should Ave be required to instruct the Committee to do anything like this ? An instruction is not necessary if the Committee can introduce legisla tion without an instruction. I submit for your consideration, Mr. Chairman, the fact that this is a Bill for an Act to amend the Defence Acts of 1903-17.
– It may save time if the honorable member will allow me to explain. The Committee can deal only with matters that are referred to it, and those matters come before it in a special form. The honorable member proposes to put something in the Bill which is altogether .outside the scope of the Bill, and, therefore, not in order, apart altogether from any instruction that the House may give. It is outside the scope of the Bill, because the Bill does not contain any provision or reference to the matter contained in the proposed new clause.
– The order of leave describes this as a Bill for an Act to amend the, Defence Acts 1903-17, and those Acts comprise all the various, provisions relating to defence, and the proposed clause is merely a modification of the Acts that are now being amended.
– I am bound by what the Bill itself contains, and therefore I rule that what the honorable member proposes is outside its scope.
– I am beginning to find out that there is a good deal , of trouble involved in getting an amendment before honorable members. I should like to know, whether I can submit a motion in the nature of a recommendation from this Committee to -the House on the lines of the clause that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) desires to insert ?
– That cannot be done; the. House may instruct the Committee, but the Committee cannot instruct the House.
– The rules of the House permit the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) an opportunity to test the question in other ways. There is no reason why he himself should not introduce a Bill dealing with whatever rights a minor may or may not .possess in any walk of life. He might, for instance, in?troduce a Bill providing that a minor should not be permitted to take part in any political organization, or do what a minor is now permitted to do under his rights of citizenship.
– Is this a point of order ?
– No, Mr. Chairman, itis a friendly suggestion.
– Mr. Chairman, do I understand your ruling to be that no new clause may be moved ?
– No ; a new clause may be moved provided it is relevant to the Bill.
– Clause 8 of the Bill provides that in time of war persons who are not graduates of a military college may be appointed officers of any Expeditionary Force raised for service outside the Commonwealth. Idesire to move a new clause providing that that shall notapply to any one under the age of twentyone years.
– So that a boy who shows ability is to be kept back ?
– Would such a new clause be in order?
– I am sorry to have to give these rulings, -because I have no desire to interfere with the rights and privileges of honorable members, but I am bound by our Standing Orders and procedure. The honorable member proposes to do in another form what the honorable member for Capricornia proposed to do, and what I have ruled out of order as outside the scope of the Bill. I must give the same ruling in regard to this proposed amendment.
– May I ask you, Mr. Chairman, in your official position, to make a suggestion which would meet the desire of honorable members on this side, namely, to get a vote, oran expression of opinion, as to the enlistment of youths of nineteen years without the consent of their parents.
– The only suggestion I can make is that honorable members should give close study to the Standing Orders. I am bound by those Standing Orders, but I point out that there will be an opportunity to raise the question on the third reading of the Bill, when it will be for the Speaker to determine whether such a proposal is relevant or otherwise.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Wise) proposed -
That this Bill be now reada third time.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) in his anxiety to get a decision on the question of the enlistment of youths of eighteen years of age has, I think, put himself in rather a false position. I do not think that, on consideration, he would adopt the view embodied in the amendment he suggests.
– I suggested it in order to get over a difficulty.
– Is the honorable member in order in referring to business transacted in Committee?
– I have not been able to ascertain what the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) is endeavouring to say. I do not know to what he is referring, but if he is reviving a matter that arose in Committee he is out. of order.
– One of the provisions of. the Bill is that in time of war persons, who are not graduates at the Military College, maybe appointed an officer of any Expeditionary Force raised for service outside the Commonwealth. If the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) desires to place a limitation on that provision so that youths of nineteen years of age shallnot be entitled to be appointed officers of Expeditionary Forces raised forservice abroad, I venture to think he is making a mistake. I am glad to know, however, that there is no intention on his part that the suggested amendment should have that effect.
.- As there is no other method permitted us of expressing disapproval of the enlistment of minors, I take this opportunity to say that I shall vote against the third reading of the Bill.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sit tin ff suspended from. 1.1J/. to 2 p.m.
SUPPLY BILL (No.l) 1918-19.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recollect that the Royal Commission which inquired into Naval and Defence administration called attention to the difficulties connected with the supervision of the clerical staff of the Departments owing to the existence of varying sets of regulations. In their third report, which deals solely with this subject, they point out the nature of the difficulties that have arisen, and draw attention to the fact that in the twelfth annual report on. the Commonwealth Public Service, the Acting Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner also referred to the disadvantages of the system of dual control. Dealing with the necessity for the abolition of divided control, the report of the Royal Commission says -
We consider that uniformity in methods of staff control, discipline, and advancement is essential in order to secure that contentment of service without which there can be no real efficiency. We have conferred with the Acting
Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner, the Crown Lag authorities,’ and the responsible officers, both civil and military, of the Defence Department, and the recommendations contained herein are calculated to bring about the desired unification of staff management.
The Commission recommended that legislation should be passed on the lines of a draft Bill which accompanied their re- . port, but when the matter was considered it was found that many other points had to be provided for, necessitating the drafting of a much longer measure than that which the Commission recommended. The Commission also drew attention to the fact that there are three classes of employees in the Defence Department. As a matter of fact, there are often more. When the Department was formed, some of the employees were public servants under the Public Service Acts of the various States, who had been taken over with all the rights given to them by the different State Acts. In some’ States certain employees of the Department were not public servants, but had been appointed under State Defence Acts, although previously they had frequently held clerical positions in the State Defence Departments. Then there was another class, semi-military, which had been appointed under the various State Defence Acts. As the result of the transfer of State officers and other .appointments to the Defence Department, there are on the civil side of’ the Department no less than three different classes of employees. This Bill is introduced to overcome that difficulty. It is not an amendment of the Defence Act; it is a separate measure dealing with a special subject, and it will come into force by proclamation, and continue in force for the period of the war and twelve months afterwards. Its object is to abolish divided control, and to bring under one set of regulations all persons employed in a civil capacity in the Defence Department. When the Act expires twelve months after the war no officer’s rights will be affected. Length of service under this measure will stand to the credit of the officer just as if he had all through been employed under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, and each officer whose services are no longer required by the Defence Department will go back to his former position.
– Will they carry their military rank with them?
– They will have preserved to them all the rights they possessed at the time they came under the provisions of this Bill. No one will suffer by reason of coming under them.
.- It has always seemed to me an anomaly that the employees in the Public Service should be under separate control. The Public Service Act was passed in order to make it impossible for members of Parliament or Ministers to place their supporters in positions in the Commonwealth Service, the desire being to remove political influence as far as possible from the making of appointments to the Service. Certain examinations are provided for, which, I suppose, are a very good test of ability. We all agree, probably, that it is a good thing that it is not possible for a member of parliament to get his friends or supporters into the Public Service. Some of us are rather pleased to be relieved of the many applications which came to us before the Public Service Act was passed.
– Members of Parliament might as well use the influence as head officials.
– I was coming to that point. The whole position in regard to Commonwealth employees in the Public Service or in the Defence Department is unsatisfactory, and some Government should evolve a better method of testing the efficiency of applicants. I do not know that we can substitute anything that will absolutely do away with the educational tests. At present we demand that an applicant for employment shall pass some literary examination, be able to write in a legible hand, and work certain sums in arithmetic, and know the history of the British Empire from the eighteenth century to the present time, more especially with regard to Australia. I do not think it can be held that it is tha best test that could be devised. It might be supplemented in some way. We have all had experience of people possessing most remarkable memories; persons who can memorise dates and facts ; but at the same time they may have absolutely no initiative. That is why it seems to me that something is required to supplement the educational test. We might have something like the test which is applied in regard to students who wish to enter the Naval College. In addition to an educational test there, they are also compelled to go before a committee, which has a conversation with them.
– That is the old English system.
– I know that many lads fail in literary examinations through nervousness. Their brains seem to stop workingthrough the fear that they may not pass. We ought to avoid tests of that character. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) has mentioned a serious matter. We have abolished political influence in regard to appointments to the Commonwealth Public Service.
– Have we?
– I believe that we have done it to a large extent. But has there not grown up a social influence which takes the place of political influence? I do not wish to make any lengthy criticism of the Public Service.
– It is too big a question to discuss at this stage.
– It is. Therefore I will not go into the matter. At some other time we should discuss the whole question of the Civil Service, because it is growing to enormous proportions, and there are many difficulties in connexion with administering it.
– In my opinion, the wearing of military uniforms by men holding clerical positions in the Defence Department should cease. It is a farce. We have heard the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) speaking in reference to the hundreds of civilians being employed at Horseferry-road who are posing as soldiers when they are not; but if we go to the Victoria Barracks we can see there also a large staff of clerks wearing military uniforms. If it were not for the seriousness of the military situation, it would be a matter for ridicule. There are men employed at the barracks who cannot even do the goose-step, and know nothing whatever about military matters, yet they are lieutenants, captains, majors, and colonels. The Government ought to consider that question.
– Yes, I shall go into that matter.
– I can quite understand a returned soldier who is given a position in the Defence Department being allowed to wear his uniform; but when others who are not really soldiers are permitted to wear uniforms the whole position is likely to become one for ridicule.
Perhaps the matter appeals to me more than it may appeal to others, but I was reared in the Army, and I know that when I was in the Old Country civilian clerks there did not wear uniforms. I am pleased to see the reforms that the Bill proposes to bring about, but I wish to enlarge upon the matter referred to by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs). No one can claim that the present system of Public Service examinations is perfect. In my opinion, it is very imperfect. I did not get much chance of securing an education, seeing that I commenced work when I was eleven years and four months old, but I have no nerves, and before I left school I beat boys in examinations wno were miles ahead of me in knowledge. I have seen the same thing right throughout life.I knew one man who had passed his third year in medicine, but was unable to pass his fourth. Yet he was able to coach others through their degrees. Young men who studied under him recognised the great talents that he possessed, and they could not understand how it was that heshould fail to get his degree ; but the trouble was absolutely nervousness on his part. Then there is the matter of luck. By a peculiar set of circumstances a man may during the course of an examination be called upon to supply answers to the very matters upon which he has concentrated his studies. I think that an examiner should be allowed to pick up a candidate’s papers, and, irrespective of the errors in them, judge whether they display ability or not. The honorable member for Capricornia has said that there are people who can memorise anything, but they only memorise for the time being.
– Most of the examiners give consideration nowadays to what they call general knowledge.
– I do not think that they are permitted to do so. I brought forward this question when I first entered this House twelve years ago. Another point worthy of consideration is as to the unwisdom of allotting marks for handwriting in connexion with an examination. A candidate’s handwriting should either be passed or failed. Handwriting is largely a matter of personal judgment of the examiner. On one occasion an Adelaide University Professor who was acting as examiner clearly adopted a certain style as being the best, although another examiner might have adopted a totally different style as worthy of the maximum number of marks. During the last thirty years I have known many young men and women to fail at an examination owing to sheer nervousness. I hope the Government will take these two points into consideration - that they will do away with the wearing of military uniforms by military clerks and improve the examination system so that it will result in the selection of the best qualified candidates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended; Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message resumed from 7th June, vide page 5685, on motion by Mr. Watt) -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and money be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to the payment of a bounty on the export of evaporated apples from the Commonwealth.
.- I think it would be well to postpone the discussion of the principle involved in the Government proposal until the Bill is before us. I shall therefore refrain from speaking to this motion, as Iam sure honorable members are anxious that the Bill should be distributed as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Jensen and Mr. Webster do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Jensen, and read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
When the Governor-General’s message was under consideration in Committee I explained the object of this Bill. I wish to supplement my previous statement by informing the House that the evaporation of apples is being carried on, not only in Tasmania, but in other States. There are three evaporating establishments in Tasmania, three in South Australia, and five in Victoria. The bounty is to be given, not to the evaporators, but to the growers who supply the fruit to them, and the Bill provides for a total payment of £12,000 in respect of the whole Commonwealth. That amount represents practically a bonus of 10 per cent, on 300 tons of evaporated apples, at 7d. per lb., which the Imperial Government have purchased from the Commonwealth.
.- Our experience of some of the bounties granted by the Commonwealth has not been a very happy one. The bounty on wool tops, for instance, has not had the effect we believed it would have. The employees in that industry seem to have derived no benefit from it. They are expected to work long hours, to work at night .time, and, in some cases, seven days a week. I do not think, however, that our unhappy experience in connexion with the bounty on wool tops is a good reason why we should oppose the proposal to pay a bounty in this case.
– Labour conditions are provided for in this case.
– I shall not oppose the payment of this bounty as such, but I take exception to the method by which it is proposed to be administered. All who have regard for the man on the land must sympathize with the orchardist. I have frequently known of cases where the whole results of a fruit-grower’s labour have* been swept away in a single night. A terrific storm may destroy all his crop; his prospects may be ruined by too heavy a rainfall, or he may suffer because of an inadequate rainfall. Those of us who desire to do justice throughout the Commonwealth must sympathize with the fruit-grower, and endeavour to make his lot as pleasant as it is possible for legislation to make it. That being so, I do not oppose this bounty as a bounty. When this question was previously under consideration, however, I asked the Minister whether the fruit-growers themselves would receive the bounty.
– They will.
– If they do, will a proportionate reduction be made in the price paid to growers for the apples?
– That is the all-important consideration. If the bounty goes to the growers, will the price they receive for their apples before it was passed be so reduced as to conform to the amount of the bounty?
– Co-operation will alone . secure what is desired.
– Some of the evaporating factories are owned by orchardists.
– Co-operation, to my mind, affords the best way of helping the man on the laud. I would go so far as to say that, where necessary, fruitgrowers should be assisted by the Government to find the requisite capital for the erection of the evaporation plants and machinery.
– Each State Government ought to do that.
– Either the Commonwealth or the State Governments should subsidize fruit-growers where they are too poor to find the capital to establish evaporating works for themselves.
– The honorable member’s Government granted a bonus to middlemen to make wool tops.-
– The honorable member could not have been present when I said that our experience in that regard had been most unhappy. It is true that our Government agreed to the payment of a bounty on wool tops, but we were induced to do so upon the representations of certain people. We were led to believe, that the payment of the bounty would give employment to a large number of skilled operatives; .but, after the bounty had become law, we found that all the employees required in the industry were, as Mr. F. W. Hughes set out in his prospectus, a few girls to work machinery that was so nearly automatic that it would almost work itself.
– But the Labour Government continued the bounty year after year.
– Time will not permit of my going into that matter this afternoon. Granted that we did pay the bounty for years, the honorable member will also admit that Ave stopped it in 1915, when the Inter-State Commission recommended that it should not be continued. Our experience in that regard should make us careful. If ever the man on the land and the general public are to remove the extraordinary discrepancies now prevailing in society, they will have to adopt, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) has said, some form of co-operation. The co-operation which has proved very successful in the dairying industry and made it permanent materializes in a number of butter factories in which the dairy farmers themselves are interested. In those places in Queensland in which the sugar grower is also the shareholder in the sugar mill, the results of his labours are far higher than where the grower has to sell the product of his labour to a private companyowned mill. I understand that the capital for one of the principal evaporators is to be supplied by Mr. Henry Jones, a very clever and far-seeing business man.
– He has only one out of the eight or nine evaporators in Australia.
– I understand that he is one of the prime movers in this matter, and we know that he is not in business for pleasure, but to make money.
– That may be some guarantee that the industry will be a success.
– It may be. We should not take any exception to any man aspiring to manage a large business and get control of a vast amount of capital, but we should insure that in doing so he has not the assistance of the Government. We should not grant a bounty which will find ite way mainly into the pockets of Mr. Henry Jones.
– The bounty is only for the growers, and will last only during the current year.
– The Minister has said that, but I propose to show that that is not so.
– Look at clause 7.
– I observe that clause 7 says that no person shall obtain payment of any bounty by means of any false or misleading statement. But that will not protect the grower and insure that the bounty will go only to growers. I do not think there will be any advantage to the fruit-growers of Tasmaniaor any other State, except in a very remote degree, if the principles of the Bill in its present form are made law.
– This bounty will be the salvation of’ scores of small growers.
– Nobody will get the bounty from me unless he is a grower.
– I shall be interested if the Minister can prove that the Bill insures that that will be the destination of the bounty.
– The price is verylow, and the man who picks the, apples will get all this money.
– The Bill means that the grower will receive for his apples 1s. 9d. per bushel, plus the bounty, and it will simply enable scores of them to carry on till next year.
– The Minister has handed me a letter received by him, and has suggested that I should read it to the Committee -
Northern Evaporating Co. Ltd.,
Town Point, Launceston, 27th March, 1918.
I note that this is a limited company, the liability of the shareholders being limited to the amount of their shares. Who are the shareholders? Are they growers or are they capitalists who have invested in evaporators ?
– I cannot say. That is the letter received by me as a grower.
– The letter reads-
Dear Sir,- Owing to the British Government’s decision not to pay for their evaporated fruit until two months after consignments have been landed in England - and the uncertainty of when it may be possible to obtain shipping space - the Federal Government have agreed to advance a portion of the money to finance the scheme, for which they will charge 6 per cent. interest.
The obligation to pay this interest for iin indefinite period compels the exaporating factories to modify their scheme of payment to the growers -
That indicates tjhat the growers are not the shareholders - and they submit the following three alternatives, and I shall be glad if you will state, at your earliest convenience, upon which terms you desire to be paid -
– That letter shows that the scheme is on a genuine basis.
– It does not meet my contention that the bounty is not positively certain to go into the pockets of the growers. The bounty may be paid to the evaporator, who may not be a grower, but merely a capitalist who has invested money in evaporating plant.
– The Bill says that the bounty shall be payable to - the grower only.
– “When the Minister was moving the second reading of the Bill, I asked him if the growers would get the bounty, and he replied that the whole of it would go to “the growers in the States interested, and not to the evaporators.
– I say that again.
– Clause 5 provides -
The owner, occupier, or lessee of any land on which the apples were grown, or factory in which they were evaporated, or in which they have undergone any process, shall, unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs, be deemed to be employed in the growing ‘ or evaporation of the apples.
The evaporator need not have an orchard at ali, but, unless the Minister otherwise directs, he shall be deemed to be a grower.
– Every grower, before he gets .the bounty, must make a declaration, and I must be satisfied that he is a genuine grower.
– Then why does the Minister ask for power, in clause 5, to declare the evaporator a grower?
– In many cases these apples have been evaporated, and considerable advances have been made upon them by the evaporating companies. Fruit could not be kept till now before being evaporated, and, therefore, a great portion of the work 13 already done.
– Nearly all the evaporators have shut down by now.
– Then the bounty is to be given to the evaporators. The Government cannot shut their eyes to the experience in connexion with the bounty for the sugar industry in Queensland. This Parliament had to make a law that the signature of. the _ grower should be given before the bounty was paid, because the money was finding its way into the pockets of people whom Parliament never intended to benefit.
– That is correct.
– The same thing will happen in regard to the apple bounty unless we demand that the grower shall get the money and that his signature must be received before the bounty is paid.
-t- The letter which the honorable member has read shows that the evaporating company is prepared to pay the bonus to the grower in advance.
– That may be; but in the case of the sugar bounty .we knowthat the. money was intercepted, and that the grower never received it.
– Neither did the dairyfarmer get the Victorian butter bonus. The middleman received it.
– The Government ought to see that sub-clause 2 of clause 3 means what it says, namely, that “ The bounty shall be payable to the growers of the apples only.” If we agree to clause 5, which gives the Minister power to hand the bounty over to Henry Jones, or .to some other evaporator, effect will not be given to the intention of Parliament.
– The evaporating plants are almost entirely owned by small men or little companies of the growers.
– I heard that Henry Jones was interested, and the Minister has said that he is interested in only one evaporating plant.
– That is right ; he is interested in one plant. Supposing that the evaporating firm advances the 10 per cent, to a grower who is very much in need of money. If that grower makes a declaration that he has already received the bonus from the factory, there can be no harm in my paying the bo’unty to the factory if I am satisfied that the grower has already received it in advance.
– If the evaporator produces documentary evidence that he has paid the bounty to the fruit-grower, that may be satisfactory.
– I assure the honorable member that he is no more anxious to protect the grower than I am.
– We know from past experience that the only way to protect the grower is to pay the bounty direct to him, and to get his signature before the money is paid, otherwise the bonus may be diverted to persons interested in evaporators, who may not’ be growers at all, but have taken advantage of the unfortunate condition of the fruit-growers. According to the statement of the Minister in moving the second reading, the fruit-growers are to receive ls. 6d. per bushel for their apples. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) has informed me that the average weight of a bushel of apples is about 40 lbs.
– It takes 56 lbs. of apples to produce 6¾ lbs. of evaporated fruit, for which 7d. per lb. is to be given.
– It is proposed to give orchardists1s. 6d. for 40 lbs. of apples. Yet we hope to encourage fruit-growing, and to settle returned soldiers on the land to, make homes for themselves and rear their families on the produce of orchards.
– The reason for the bounty is the lack of shipping facilities for the exportation of apples to Great Britain and to Sydney, in consequence of which the fruit is a drug on the Tasmanian market.
– Although the growers will get less than½d. per lb. for the apples, these apples are sold in Melbourne for 4d. per lb., or about 13s. 4d. per bushel. You will never have peace while such discrepancies exist.
– A case of beautiful apples can be bought in Melbourne for 5s., delivered at the door.
-The wife of the average worker cannot afford to buy apples by the case. Her wage-earner gets only about £3 per week.
– About £2 12s. per week is the average wage of a worker.
– The wife of the average worker cannot afford 5s. to lay out on a case of apples, and, if she did it, she would find that a case went too soon. I have three children, and it is surprising how soon a. case of apples disappears in my household. Consequently the ordinary housewife has to buy in small quantities at 4d. per lb. apples for which the grower gets less than½d. per lb.
– The apples that will be evaporated will be nearly all second class apples. For first class apples the orchardist gets from 4s. to 4s. 6d. per case.
– On one occasion the late Sir Thomas Bent won his election at Brighton because, in appealing to his constituents, he said, “You talk about pensions in Victoria - pensions, and 200,000 to 300,000 Jonathan apples going at a couple of shillings the case!” According to the Melbourne Age, the best Jonathans were recently selling here at 2s. 6d. per case, and were being put into cold stores, to be sold later at 14s. per case. We wish to help the man on the land, but the fruit-growing industry will not prosper while growers get such small rates as are provided for in the Bill.
– They cannot get more, because the Imperial Government will not give more than 7d. per lb. for evaporated apples.
– Then let us see, at least, that the bounty goes direct to the growers.
– No evaporator who is not a grower will get any. bounty from me.
– In that case, the Minister cannot object to the striking out of clause 5.
-The Acting AttorneyGeneral tells me that clause 5 must be read in conjunction with clause 4.
– When a Judge is dealing with a case, it is useless for an advocate to quote the speeches of members of Parliament, or even of Ministers, as evidence of the intention of Parliament. The Judge will declare that it is the words of the Actthat must prevail. In the Bill as it stands it is provided that the bounty must bo paid to the grower; but another clause allows the Minister to pay it to the investor.
– The Bill follows the form of all our bounty Acts.
– Then the Minister should not object to a clause or regulation requiring that before the bounty is paid, the grower shall sign, with his own signature, a receipt for it.
– I could not accept an amendment to that effect.
– I will riot oppose the giving of a bounty to fruit-growers to help to keep men on the land, but I object to the payment of bounties to men who are merely investors.
.- On two points the Bill is not satisfactory to me. We should be particularly careful in the matter of granting bounties. Almost invariably our bounties have been paid to the wrong people, and there is a good deal in the contention of thehonorable member who has last spoken that the grower should be protected by the Bill. I hope that in Committee we may arrange for that. I regret that the Bill was not circulated a few days ago, so that we might have looked through it carefully. I took exception to the proposed bounty on wool tops,, on the score that it applied only to tops manufactured for export, pointing out that if we could build up the top industry in Australia, it would assist our local manufactures. I have already expressed my approval of. the American advice in regard to food- , stuffs, “Eat what you Can, and can what you can’t.” But our first consideration should be to our own people. There is no reason why the bounty should be confined to apples evaporated for export. Last year a deputation waited on the Minister asking him to permit the importation of 100,000’ cases of apples. I should think that evaporated apples would meet the requirements of persons in the. interior in places to which it is said the Australian apple will not carry.
– -Why give the bounty only for the production of evaporated apples? Why not help the growers who cannot take advantage of evaporation methods ?
– This is all that the growers have asked for.
– No doubt, the growers will sell as much’ ripe fruit as they can. In the large cities, where the cost of distribution is not much, apples form- a cheap and wholesome diet within the reach of the masses. Only .the other day I bought half a case for 2s. In good seasons there is bound to be a large surplus, and we should be ready to assist in the disposal of this surplus.
– I am ^prepared to consider the giving of a bounty for all evaporated apples; but the fruit-growers have not asked for such a bounty. This bounty is to have effect for one year only.
– By giving a bounty for exported wool tops only, we have not assisted our local manufactures, and, as a result, have to import woollen yarn. I think that the bounty should be given for all evaporated apples. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs’ has referred to the encouragement of cooperation amongst the growers ; and in our legislation we should keep that end steadily in view. Co-operation has been a great success in the case of butter, resulting in a steady supply, with benefit to both consumer and producer. Cooperation in marketing would give Aus- 1tralian people cheap fruit and insure better prices to the producer. The economic loss in the distribution of fruit through waste and the middleman’s charges, is something enormous, there being a difference of something like 200 per cent, between the return to the producer and the price paid by the consumer. I do not know whether the arrangement in regard to the- evaporation of apples will permit of co-operation being furthered by means of the Bill, but I hope that co-operative companies wall be encouraged in preference to those formed privately.
– 1_ believe in encouraging the production in Australia of everything, required in Australia. Through force of circumstances I am compelled to vote for this bonus, although my own belief is that, unless the grower is also the evaporator, he will not get the benefit- of it.
– The Minister ought to be trusted.
– The Minister may have the best intentions, and the honorable gentleman at present in charge knows as much about* the business as anybody in Australia ; but we must remember that business men adopt most peculiar methods. In Victoria the grower is at the mercy of’ everybody, and when evaporating companies come into existence he will be at their mercy. We may make all sorts of arrangements as to the price to be paid to the grower, but we know that evaporating and other companies have a custom of making advances, and the interest charges will be so managed that not much of the bonus will reach the man on the land.
– There will be no evaporation at all unless there is this bonus to make the business profitable.
– The desire of us all is that the grower himself shall get the bonus, and we must as”k ourselves what inducement there is for the evaporator unless he gets his share of that bonus.
– They will get the evaporating charges.
– There is no reason why this business should not be a very large one in Victoria, for in the hills here I have seen millions of bushels of apples going to waste under the trees. Some time ago I was staying at a boardinghouse at Yarra Junction, and the ground all round a dozen apple trees in the garden there was covered with apples quite suitable for the process. I ask again, What inducement is offered to the evaporator other than ordinary business profits?
– He will get a market he could not get otherwise.
– Business concerns have no conscience. A large section of the men on the land are at the mercy of the storekeepers, and I am afraid that something of the kind may happen in the case of the fruit-growers and the evaporating companies. Of course, I know that the fruit-grower in a large way is well ab.le to look after himself; but, unfortunately, a large majority of those engaged in growing fruit live from hand to mouth ; indeed, that is one of the reasons for the introduction of this Bill.
– And without this assistance they are- “ going under” wholesale.
– I understand that. But, as I say, all business men, whether German, British, Irish, or Scotch, are without conscience in business affairs, and insist on their pound of flesh. We must make sure that they get none of this bonus.
– Those who have induced the Government to introduce this Bill have done so wholly in the interests of the grower.
– Clause 5 of -the Bill affords sufficient ground for the apprehension I have expressed. That clause provides that the owner, occupier, or lessee df any land on which the apples were grown, or the factory in which they were evaporated or have undergone any process, shall be deemed to be employed in the growing or evaporation of apples, unless the Minister, in writing, otherwise directs. In other words, a factory shall be deemed to be employed in the growing of apples.
– Not at all.
– I am afraid the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not able to discuss that question at this stage.
– We are making provision for certain wages conditions, and for power to apply to the Arbitration Court; but we all know that the employers have simply to “ put up a fight “ in order to postpone or avert a decision by the Court. I emphatically say that there must be no bonus paid until there is a decision as to wages by the Arbitration Court or some other competent tri bunal. On that I shall insist, and claim a vote, if necessary.
– Is there no provision in the Bill for that?
– Not to satisfy me. The arbitration proceedings may be protracted, and in the meantime the employers may pay what wages they like. We have had experience of this in connexion with other bonuses, such as the iron bonus. At that time the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) was Minister for Trade and Customs, and provision was made in the Bill for a certain living wage; but this was declared by the High Court to be ultra vires. The Bill was held up pending some assurance in the matter of wages, and I remember that Mr. Hoskins brought five representatives of the union to Melbourne, who urged us to pass the Bill, saying that they were strong enough to extract from the iron masters the wages and conditions desired. In our . innocence we passed the Bill; and, when trouble arose in the industry, those same unionists asked the Minister not to pay the bonus, because the iron was’ being turned out with “ scab “ labour. As a matter of fact, the employers had outwitted the men, and they succeeded in obtaining the bonus, irrespective of any labour conditions. It will be seen, therefore, how necessary it is to take every precaution in the present case.
– The whole of the labour covered by this Bill has already been provided for.
– Then it is a retrospective Bill, and wc are going to pay a bonus irrespective of what wages have been paid.
– Nearly every grower does his own work.
– In Victoria there are hundreds of men who go fruitpicking. I know very well that the fruitgrower, as a rule, is not able to pay big wages, and I look to this bonus to assist him in that direction. We also know that amongst fruit-growers are a number of grasping individuals who always pay as little as possible to the men they employ. The great fruit-growers of Renmark and Mildura had to be forced by the Courts to pay a fair wage, though theirs is one of the most highly protected industries in Australia. I admit that this
Bill involves only the comparatively small amount of £12,000.
– It is only for one year, and the labour is all gone now. The evaporators are closing down.
– I cannot make out why the Government have delayed so long with a measure of so much importance. We are now right into the winter, and I, in an interjection, asked the Minister whether he really thought he could pass the Bill to-day. # I can quite understand his anxiety to do so, because the work it covers has already been done.. My great desire is that the grower shall get the bonus, because I believe that, up to the present, certain men, who are dong the evaporating work, have advanced money to those on the land, and for that will charge them through the nose.
– Many of the evaporators have only paid the growers for the fruit, and have nothing to do with the bonus.
– But clause 5 provides that evaporators shall be regarded as growers under the Bill.
– The Attorney-General advises me that that clause is necessary because of the Sugar Bounty Act. You must read clause 5 in conjunction with clause 4. I assure the honorable member that the bounty will be given to the grower only under my hand.
– I am willing to give the fruit growers of Australia this £12,000,- because I think they deserve it this year; but, at the same time, it is my duty to point out the difficulties presented in the Bill. It will be no use asking me next year to vote for a re-enactment of the bonus, unless wages conditions are attached. v
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Next_ year, if, as is the case this year, there* is no shipping space provided, for fruit to England, it will be necessary to re-enact this measure. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) has waited on me, and pointed out the necessity there is for a bounty on dried vegetables. I am prepared to consider that, and I also agree with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Sinclair) that we should endeavour to make provision for evaporating fruit and vegetables for inland consumption, obviating the necessity for importing fruit from America during several months of the year. It is a matter which I am prepared to take into consideration next year/ However, I would like to have this Bill passed as it is printed. It is only to operate for twelve months, and the evaporating for the year is now nearly completed. “When the fruit-growers, who were deprived of their export market, waited on th* Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), he promised to consider whether assistance could not be given to them by the payment of a small bonus of 10 . per cent, on 300 tons of evaporated apples, purchased by England. I hope that the Committee will not adopt what is proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia and Melbourne Ports, because the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) has assured me that the provision in clause 5 is absolutely necessary. In every instance the growers will get the bounty.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
.- I move -
That in sub-clause ( I ) the words “ the export from Australia of” lie left out.
I move this with a view to adding at the end of the paragraph the words, “or sold in Australia prior to the 31st July, 1918.” There are two dangers in connexion with the export of evaporated apples. If we. cannot get the fruit away the bounty will lapse, and this may, perhaps, put the grower in a worse position than if we allowed the bounty to apply to Australian consumed evaporated apples also.
– I submit that the amendment is not in order, because the appropriation agreed to is for a bounty on the export of evaporated apples.
– The resolution reported from the Committee of Supply is, “ That it is expedient that an appropriation of re- venue be made for the payment of a bounty on the export of evaporated apples from the Commonwealth.” The honorable member’s amendment proposes to go outside the scope of that resolution, and is therefore not in order.
Amendment (by Mr. Higgs) negatived -
That the words “and before the bounty is paid the grower shall sign with his own signature a receipt therefor” be added to subclause (2).
Clause agreed to.
Clause4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The owner, occupier, or lessee of. any land in which the apples were grown, or factory in which they were evaporated, or in which they have undergone any process, shall, unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs, be deemed to be employed in the growing or evaporation of the apples.
.- I move -
That the words “ or factory in which they were evaporated, or in which they have undergone any process,” and the words “ or evaporation “ be left out.
The Minister has stated that the bounty is for the grower, but this clause will enable him to pay it to the evaporator, who may be an investor. We can raise no objection to an investor coming here and putting his money into the country and securing 5 per cent for it, but we have no right to subsidize him.The subsidy provided by this Bill should be confined to the grower.
– Put it in next year’s Bill. If this measure is. amended it will be lost altogether.
– Honorable members have been most inconsistent. They say, “ Why not pass the Bill? The money has been paid, the evaporators have already paid the growers, and we need the money to recoup them.” If that be the case there is no need for hurry. I protest against the Government bringing down this Bill at such a late stage and expecting it to be passed simply with their assurance that it is all right. It is not all right.
– It was fully explained last week.
– But it was not accurately explained. The Minister told me that the grower only was to get the bounty, but now he produces a Bill by which he will be enabled to pay it to the evaporator.
– I intend to pay it to the grower only. The Acting Attorney-Gene ral has assured me that these conditions are necessary.
– The Minister is a good business man; he understands business and the English language ; he knows what a grower is, and he knows what an evaporator is. The Acting Attorney-General has just drawn my attention to section 4 of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905-10, which contains the following provision: -
The occupier and the lessee of any plantation on which any sugar-cane or beet is produced shall be deemed to have been employed in the production of all sugar-cane or beet produced thereon.
The clause I propose to amend will exactly follow the lines of that provision. It will read -
The owner, occupier, or lessee of any land on which the apples were grown shall, unless the Minister in writing otherwise directs, be deemed to be employed in the growing of the apples.
There is no reference in the Sugar Bounty Act to the owner of any factory in which sugar cane is turned into sugar receiving a bounty. If there were aprovision in that Act providing that the owners of a raw sugar mill should get a proportion of the sugar bounty, the honorable member might be right in contending that the clause in this Bill is a similar provision to that to which he has drawn my attention in the Sugar Bounty Act; but the two provisions differ, because in the clause of this Bill we have words introduced enabling the bonus to be extended to the evaporator or any other person who owns a factory in which apples are evaporated, or in which they have undergone any process. We are most anxious to help the fruit-grower of Tasmania or of any other part of Australia. The attitude of honorable members on this side of the chamber supports that contention, but we are not prepared toprovide the Government with money so that they may present it to a gentleman - whose interest it has been to spend some of his capital in these evaporating plants and who pays the fruitgrowers1s. 6d. per bushel for the apples which they grow in their orchards.
– The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has misconceived the reading of this provision. I am rather surprised that he should have done so in view of his intimate knowledge of the Sugar Bounty Act. Clause 3 declares that the bounty is to be payable to the growers of apples only. In the Sugar Bounty Act it is declared that the bounty is to be paid to every grower of ‘whitegrown cane or beet, and in clause 4 of this- Bill it is set out that this bounty shall be payable only in inspect of evaporated apples which “ have been grown and evaporated by white labour only.” If the honorable member’s amendment be agreed to, the white-labour conditions of the clause will be destroyed. All previous measures of the kind contain a clause the same as that to which the honorable member is now taking exception.
Mr. HIGGS (Capricornia) [.3.32 j. - The Committee appears to be in such a state of mind that there is little prospectof any amendment being carried. All that I can do is to insist that the Government intend that under this Bill the bounty shall go to the evaporator, and that the evaporator may not be n grower of apples.
– In some cases he is.
– Where he is, we have no objection to the payment of the bounty to him. The Assistant Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) declares that the clause is necessary as it stands, and that since it is stated in clause 2 that the bounty shall be payable only to the grower of the apples, clause 5 is not in any way contradictory. I would point out to. him what he, as a lawyer, must know - that, although clause 2 provides that the grower alone shall receive the bounty, if a subsequent clause declares, as this does, that an evaporator shall be considered to be a grower, then such a person may claim the money. I believe the principle is wrong, and I oppose it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 9 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee
Act 1913-14, the following work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report .thereon, viz., Scheme of housing workmen and others engaged in connexion with the Commonwealth Factories at Lithgow, N.S.W
I produce and lay on the table of the House the plan ‘of the site, the lay-out and engineering service, drawings of the proposed cottages, estimates of cost, and schedule of the estimates and ‘ plans. This proposal arose out of the unsatisfactory housing conditions of the workmen in the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. The matter was brought before the then Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Watt) and the .Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) by a deputation while they were on a visit to Lithgow.
– What will be done with these houses if the factory is to be transferred to the Federal Capital?
– This will not interfere with the Arsenal scheme.
– The recommendation of the Commission is that, after the war, the Small Arms Factory should be removed to the site of -the Arsenal.
– Part of the plant and machinery at Lithgow will be transferred, but the factory itself will be continued in conjunction with the parent factory at the Arsenal. The scheme sets forth the outlay of the land acquired, which comprises an area of 130 acres. It provides, for the erection of 100 houses in the first instance., and plans of three types of cottages are submitted, together with a fourth type, which is of an optional character. The whole scheme, when complete, will COSt, the Commonwealth in round figures about £61,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Honorable members are aware of the conditions which render this motion necessary. As we do not prorogue during war time, absence from the session is possible even although the House is not sitting. ‘ We are, therefore, repeating the procedure which it was found necessary to adopt in connexion with the -last Parlia- meat. Another reason for this motion is that certain honorable members who, perhaps, need not be specially mentioned - although as a matter of courtesy and recognition, I think we should mention them - are on active service. They are the honorable member for North Sydney (Brigadier-General Ryrie), the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell), the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming), the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Heitmann), who is shortly to embark. Two honorable members have also returned from the Front-the honorable member for New England (Lt.-Colonel Abbott) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Warrant Officer McGrath). We respond most readily to the desire that while these honorable gentlemen are in the service of their country, either here or overseas, they should be granted the necessary leave of absence.
– There is also the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page), who is ill.
– Yes, the honorable member for Maranoa is absent through illness, and the right honorable member for Swan (Lord Forrest) is also unfortunately for the same reason away.
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) is in England, and is to be one of the Press delegation .
– That is so. While the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) is also in England. I was about to say with respect to the right honorable member for Swan that the latest news we have received concerning his health since his arrival in Western Australia is gratifying.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– We are glad to know that he safely got over the very tedious journey to the West, and I am sure I am voicing the sentiment of every honorable member when I say that we hope there will be given him a steady and complete recovery. A man who has served so long, in his own peculiar way, the Commonwealth and the State from which he conies, deserves, and, I am glad to know, receives, the generous recognition of the Parliament and of the people of his State, as well as of the whole Commonwealth.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a date to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which day of meeting shallbe notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– I think it would suit the convenience of . the House if you, Mr. Speaker, would leave the chair pending the receipt of certain messages that we await from another place.
– (By leave) . - I should like to draw the attention of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to a report in a morning, newspaper in regard to the Wheat Pool, and which is to the effect that the payment of a dividend to-day would be the final one in connexion with the 1915-16 crop. Will the honorable gentleman state whether or not that report is correct?
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) directed my attention to a paragraph in one of this morning’s newspapers purporting to report a statement by Senator Russell as to the 1915-16 wheat payments. I directed Senator Russell’s attention to it, and am glad to be able to announce that he was erroneously reported. The statement he made was not that this 1915-16 payment was to be the final dividend. As a matter of fact, after that payment has been made there will be a cleaning up payment, which will be made as quickly as possible.
Sitting suspended from 3.44 to4.33 p.m..
Bill returned from the Senate, with a message intimating that the amendment made by the House of Representatives on the Senate’s amendment had been agreed
Bill returned from the Senate, with a message intimating that the amendments made by the House of Representatives had been agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
War Situation^ - Recruiting - Harmony in Parliament - Wool Appraisement at Townsville - Sale of Intoxicants to Soldiers - Wheat Pool: Advance to Farmers - Raid on Offices of “ Labour Call “ - Public Service : Employment of Roman Catholics - Sydney University: Alleged Intimidation of Students.
– I moye -
That the House do now adjourn.
I again take the opportunity of thanking honorable members for their hearty cooperation during the past week. The Government felt that it was advisable to close the session at this time, because of the problems that are pressing for solution. As honorable members on both sides are well aware, Ministers are severely handicapped in administrative work when the House is sitting continuously. The course we -have adopted was not prompted by any desire to escape into recess, as some honorable members have implied, for there is no holiday ahead of Ministers. The Government desire, as far as the administrative work will permit, to co-operate with honorable members of the House in recruiting work throughout the various constituencies during the early part of recess. As far as they are able to do so, Ministers will visit different portions of the Commonwealth, because the news we are getting every day justifies the belief that Australia must do its duty in the war till the very end. Apparently,, the German offensive is still making progress. No encouragement is derived from a study of the military outlook, but we feel that the heart of Australia is just as sound to-day, if it be properly appealed to, as when we first entered the war.
Happily, we have ‘been able during the last few weeks to banish some of the asperities from the political arena, and I pay my due tribute to honorable members opposite because of that. The Government have tried to encourage a better spirit than, unfortunately, has prevailed during the last eighteen months, and I hope that when we meet again we shall be able to promote harmony to a still further degree. We have tried to show in spirit, as far as was possible, the consideration promised by the Prime Minister and his colleagues at the GovernorGeneral’s Conference, and in that spirit we go into recess, hoping that the cooperation which has been established in the House will continue outside in connexion with recruiting and the other important national work that calls for attention.
.- The Acting Prime Minister, in referring to the sale of our wool to the Imperial Government, said that possibly some of the wool would reach other destinations than England. The inference is that some of it may go to Japan or other Eastern countries. Some time ago the Chamber of Commerce at Townsville, acting in behalf of the wool-growers in the hinterland, appealed to the Government to make that port a place of appraisement. Townsville is the fourth port of the Commonwealth in respect to the value of its exports, and the people’ there think that ships travelling to the Orient from that port might take wool, and save the grower the expense of sending it to some other place of appraisement, such as Brisbane or Sydney, and then shipping it to the East. I ask the Acting Prime Minister to take the matter into consideration, and to suggest to the Wool Committee that wool be shipped direct from Townsville to the East, thus saving’ a double journey and freights.
.- I congratulate the Government on slipping so easily into recess. I had fully made up my mind to test the feeling of the House in regard to the matter of prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors by moving an amendment on the motion for the special adjournment. As, however, fully half of the honorable members of the Chamber had already left for their homes, it was futile for me to do so. But I assure the Government that I shall take the earliest opportunity of asking the House to vote on that subject. It is our duty to do all we can to get reinforcements for the men at the Front, and, even at personal sacrifice, to insure that when they are recruited we shall get the most efficient service from the men, and also safeguard their interests when they return.
.- I never found greater difficulty in speaking - to a motion than I do now, because the Leader or Acting Leader of the Opposition is liable to be misunderstood if he responds to the amiable expressions of the Leader of the Government. The duty of an Opposition Leader is to endeavour to destroy the Government, in the belief that the Government cannot possibly do any good; that no good can come out of Nazareth. I find myself in a difficulty. If I agree with the Acting Prime Minister, and accept his compliments for having endeavoured to create harmony where discord formerly prevailed, the Opposition may lose votes from two quarters. When we appeal to the electors they may ask, “Why should we make a change, when you have such a good opinion of the Government?” and our more enthusiastic supporters may say, “ You cannot be sincere, because you have not attacked the Government on every possible occasion, giving them no quarter.”
– A member’s natural amiability must be allowed for by the constituencies.
– A speech like that of the Acting Prime Minister is in the nature” of the hand-shake, which is the preliminary to a boxing ‘contest, and means, I suppose, that the men intend to fight fairly, and bear each other no personal malice.
– I have seen boxers kiss in the ring.
– The country would be amused, and possibly edified, if the Acting Prime Minister and myself were to fall on each other’s necks and kiss. However, I reciprocate the sentiments that he has uttered. Greater harmony has prevailed. I do not think that there was any occasion for the discord that preceded it. The Government has not done what we think it should have done. I say that without desiring to create angry feeling. It is not the duty of an Opposition to instruct Ministers as to what they should do. Our duty is to tell the” Government what it should not do. But in the goodness of heart which characterizes those on this side, we are prepared to give the Government a few hints. I agree with the Acting Prime Minister tha.t there is no recess for Ministers: they work nearly as hard when Parliament is not sitting as when it is sitting. That is especially true of’ the- Treasurer, upon whose shoulders a tremendously heavy purden will sit during the continuance of the war. In his dual capacity of Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer, the honorable member for Balaclava will have a very great deal to do, and he is entitled to the fairest criticism from opponents. I am of opinion that the Government are making a mistake in regard to the fixing of the prices of meat. Ministers must endeavour to reduce the cost of living to the consumers, bearing in mind their duty to the dependants of the soldiers. It is for the Government also to make the rich bear their due share of taxation. I might enlarge on these matters, but if the Acting Prime Minister wishes for further advice, and will drop me a line, I shall be happy to reply to him freely. On behalf of the Opposition, I thank the honorable gentleman for his amiable expressions, and I hope .that honorable members opposite, as well as those on this’ side, may live long and die happy.
.- In commending the Government for their advance to the farmers, I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister, however, to take into consideration the advisability of making the first instalment larger. The proposal is to pay 3s. now, and to keep back ls. indefinitely; possibly for. one year, possibly for three. The instalment of 3s. will all be needed to pay expenses; it is the last shilling that will go to the farmer himself. Therefore I urge the Acting Prime Minister during the recess to consider whether, to meet the case of the necessitous farmer and the man who is farming on the share system, a scheme cannot be devised whereby negotiable certificates may be issued for the second payment. A needy man could then go to the Commonwealth Bank and discount his certificates, while a wealthy man would put them in his safe until the payment which they represented became due. This arrangement would not cost the country much, and would relieve many farmers considerably. At a conference of farmers which I attended, at which there were about 500 representatives, the conclusion was come to that the cost of producing a bushel of wheat, was, at the present time, from 3s. lOd. tq 4s. a’ bushel. I know that the Acting Prime Minister will do what I ask, if it can be done, and I ‘hope that he will’ be able to treat the suggestion favorably.
.- The Leader of the Labour party having replied to the Leader of the Government, and the Leader of the Country party haying also contributed to the debate, it may not be unbecoming for the unworthy but. aspiring Leader of the Peacemakers to supplement the discussion.
I ask the Acting Prime Minister to consider a matter . that has been brought under, my notice within the last few days. I am glad to hear that within the last few weeks the censorship has been administered with more wisdom and moderation than characterized it formerly. But I learned a day or two ago that a raid had been made on the office of the Labour Call - I think on Friday night of last week - during which the premises had been searched and certain papers and printed pamphlets taken away. The raiders were not content to take copies of these pamphlets, but in many cases took the sole remaining copy from the editor’s table, the use of which he claimed for his special purposes and protection. The pamphlet which the military officer and the civil police were particularly eager to obtain was a peace pamphlet circulated during the recent Flinders election campaign. I have the pamphlet here, but do not intend to rea’d it for reproduction in Hansard. If the raid and seizure of the pamphlet are intended as the preliminary to a prosecution, I urge the Acting Prime Minister, in all fairness, to remember that the election is a thing of the past ; that the candidate of his party was returned by a handsome majority; and that the pamphlet can no longer have any influence. I hope that this sudden attack - this ex post facto raid on the Labour Call - does not mean that during the recess there will be a recrudescence of what we consider the unfair administration of the censorship. I hope, too, that the Acting Prime Minister, in his endeavour to be just, will try also to be generous.
With some reluctance - but I say quite candidly - from a sense of duty, I desire to bring another matter before the House. In courtesy I informed the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) this afternoon that I proposed to speak on this subject on the motion for the adjournment, but he replied that he regretted that he could not wait to hear my remarks, because he was anxious ‘to catch his train. I refer to the matter to do justice, to a large section, of the com- munity in which. I, for reasons well known to honorable members, take a personal interest. It was reported in the Argus of 26th March, 1918, that Mr. Palmer had said at a public meeting that -
Underhand methods were being employed by which Roman Catholic lads found entrance to the Public Service over the heads of Protestants. There should be an inquiry as to whether the questions to be answered in entrance examinations were made known previously to any section of the candidates.
Next day a letter from an anonymous correspondent, signing himself “ B.H.,” was published in the newspaper in these terms -
Sir, - Mr. Palmer, M.H.R., is reported to have stated that Catholic candidates for the Public Service gained entrance thereto “ by underhand methods,” and inferred that they knew the questions that had to be answered before the examination was held. This is one of those incorrect statements that are readily believed by those in whom the embers of sectarianism have been fanned into flame by such similar utterances, which on being put to the test will not. stand the penetrating rays ,of truth. Mad Mr. Palmer had his statements substantiated by the Public Service Commissioners or the examiners, there would be some prospect of intelligent people believing him, but being so uncertain of the accuracy of his statement, he’ is good enough to request ait inquiry, so that the onus of proof might be removed from him. The onus is undoubtedly on him, and if he can make out a good prima facie case an inquiry would be ardently welcomed; even if it only disproved such attacks on those public servants who are Catholics, and who by no other means than their ability passed the entrance examination for the Public Service. Mr. Palmer,, being a public man, and having made a public statement affecting: public interests, it would become him to either point to a single instance in which his statement is correct or withdraw it.
In reply to that letter Mr. Palmer wrote on tlie 27th March -
Sir, - “ B.H.” is quite justified in asking me as a public man to substantiate my statement that an unfair advantage is given to some candidates for admission to the Civil Service over others, inasmuch as the actual questions have been made known to some. In the speech made by me at South Melbourne I referred to it not as a fact, but as a rumour, so generally believed that’ it justified an inquiry as to its truth. I will now go further and’ justify my position by referring to an incident which happened a few months ago in the Defence Department at Melbourne. Clerical examinations were being held by that Department. It waft found on examining results that the students of one college, the principal of which is one of the party to which I referred, obtained an extremely high percentage of marks. It so surprised the examiners that they became curious, as to the possibility, of the question* having been divulged. At the next examination the precaution was taken immediately before it to alter some of the questions. The result was that the candidates from the particular college referred to failed miserably in the amended questions, but as heretofore easily and correctly answered the original questions.
These statements struck me as so serious in their character as to demand some investigation by a member of this Parliament, affecting, as they do, part of our examination system, and reflecting in the gravest manner on a certain educational institution. That institution may, perhaps, not be known individually to honorable members, but, nevertheless, it is well knoAvn, and was referred to by Mr. Palmer and a large number of persons outside. In those circumstances, I addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence (Mr. Wise) as follows: -
That question was asked on Thursday, 11th April, and an answer was submitted me to the effect-
An examination of candidates for appointment as Military Staff Clerks was held on the 7th, 8th, and 9th March, 1918, the complete results -of which have not yet been received from the examiners.
Can further particulars be made available to enable the matter to be investigated ?
I submitted another question in similar terms -
Has the Minister any knowledge or corroboration of the following statement referring to the Defence Department, and made by a correspondent in the Melbourne Argus of the 28th March last?
Then I quoted the terms of the speech reported to have been delivered by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer). The Assistant Minister has, I believe, set about, in a perfectly candid spirit, to have inquiry made, but, nevertheless, on Thursday, 3rd May, I was constrained to ask him -
When may I expect some information about the important matter of the alleged improper practice in connexion with the examination for the Federal Public Service, about which I asked a question, without notice, a week ago?
The reply was -
– I shall endeavour to get the information by Wednesday next.
A little later on I received the answer -
The matter received immediate attention, and is at present the subject of inquiry. Inquiries are not yet complete, but a reply will be given to the honorable member as soon as I am in a position to do so.
This shows that I was determined to pursue this inquiry until I obtained a satisfactory answer. It shows, also, that the Minister busied himself to obtain all the information he possibly could on the subject. On Thursday. 23rd May, I said -
About three weeks ago I asked the Assistant Minister for Defence a question relating to Public Service examinations. Seeing that the question involves the honour of a member of this House, as well as the purity of the examination system, will the honorable gentleman, without further delay, supply an answer?
– Inquiries are being made, and I told the honorable member yesterday that I thought I would be in a position to give a reply to-day. I shall obtain the information as quickly as possible.
The answer - if not in due time - came eventually -
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 had 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 tho 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 information.
It would appear from this that the statements made by the honorable member for Echuca, on the face of them, from the knowledge we have of our examination system, and for other reasons scarcely credible, have now been proved to be wholly unfounded This is a finding upon which I think honorable members on both sides of the House may well congratulate themselves. I can scarcely conceive of any honorable member subscribing to the view that an unfair advantage is given to any section of the community in the examinations for the Public Service, and certainly that any unfair advantage is given to any persons by reason of their religion. I thought it, d e to the persons involved in these damaging statements that the matter should be cleared up as far as possible. I am glad, therefore, to place on record a complete answer by the Minister showing that there is not a vestige or tittle of truth in the allegation reflecting on a large section of the community and on a well-known educational institution. The honorable member should now withdraw his charges, or attempt to make them good.
.- This morning I asked the Acting Prime Minister a question as to whether undue influence was being used on the students in the Sydney University who refused to sign a statement that they would join a company that is being formed in connexion with the Australian Imperial Force. The question was in the following terms : -
The Acting Prime Minister was then unable to answer the question, but he has since courteously communicated with Sydney, and has now handed me the following:
The Minister for Defence has no knowledge of the employment of any methods of intimidation to induce students at the” Sydney University to sign promises that they will enlist in the A.I.F. The Department for Defence has very recently been in touch with the authorities of the Sydney University in connexion with the matter of the enlistment of medical students in the A.I.F., and the Minister is convinced that any such action would have been brought to his knowledge during the discussion of these -matters.
It appears to me that the Acting Prime Minister, perhaps not intentionally, has “failed to answer the- second portion pf the question, namely, whether this was taking place, if not with the knowledge of the Minister, with the knowledge of the University Senate. . I have been very credibly informed that certain people are trying to induce some of the students to promise that they will join this company if it is formed. Those who have not done so have reason to believe that their refusal to sign will militate against them in the forthcoming examination; and I should - like the Acting Prime Minister to consider that phase of the matter. He will himself know the best way to dissipate these fears of the students.
– I have first to explain to the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) that, in the hurry of to-day, the second part of his question was unanswered. I shall take steps to have the attention of the New South Wales Government drawn to the matter, as they are the proper authority.
As to the observations of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), I am not specially interested in the production of evidence concerning the allegations of my honorable friend the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer). This is the first I have heard of a raid oh the Labour Call office. I know nothing of the object of such a raid; probably it was in the discharge of the duties of the censorship. I can assure my honorable friend that in the recess, if we can call it a recess, there will be no recrudescence such as he referred to; no action will be taken except what the Government feels is necessary for the maintenance of our war aims and the preservation of the country. As I told the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) in a recent letter, we cannot yield on things that seem vital to us in that respect; that will be the guiding principle actuating us throughout.
The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) has asked the Government to reconsider the question of the Wheat advance on the next crop. I have already given the remarks of the honorable member a good deal of consideration, and I do not see that the cure he suggests will remove the difficulties which face the Treasury. It would be very easy to issue 3s. and gave a certificate for the balance, which would be hypothecable at any bank; but that, of course, would mean financial stress on the bank or banks which do the business. It is far better forus to spread the liability in our ordinary financial arrangements. If we felt that the needs of the farming community required, and the capacity and resources ofthefinancial institutions would permit-
-Only necessitous farmers would ask for the advance.
– I know a great number of farmers, and most of them think they are necessitous, and it money is obtainable, they get it.
– A man with money would not pay the discount.
– Very often it is better to pay the low rate of interest of 5per cent. than pay. some of the other rates to which farmers are sometimes subjected.
I may say that I am not acquainted with the reasons why Townsville is not a centre for wool appraisement, but I promise the honorable member forHerbert (Mr. Bamford) to take an. early opportunity to discuss the matter with the Chairman of the WoolCommittee.
Before I sit down I should like to say a fewwords that were inadvertently omitted whenI moved the adjournment of theHouse. I desire to express to you, Mr. Speaker, and the Chairman of Committees, the recognition and gratitude of honorable members for your courtesy and impartial treatment during the session, and also in regard to the. officers, who have been assiduous and courteous in the discharge of their variousduties. I can only say that the Government and the House generally are conscious of these services, and are grateful for them.
– I desire to indorse the remarks of the Acting Prime Minister.
– I desire, on behalf of the officers and staff of the Houie and myself, to express our appreciation of the kindly sentiments which have fallen from the lips of the Acting Prime Minister, and have been supported by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Higgs). I am sure we all recognise that, so far as the officers of the House are concerned, we have a staff of men of whom any institution in the. world mightwell be proud. There is no doubt that they endeavour to discharge their duties satisfactorily, with courtesy to everybody, and I am sure that every honorable member of the House thoroughly appreciates the work they do and the spirit they at all times manifest in giving the best that is in them to the service of this Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The House stands adjourned to a date to be fixed, which will be notified to each honorable member by telegram or letter.
House adjourned at 6.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 June 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180615_reps_7_85/>.