7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had received a return to the writ issued for the election of a member to serve in the House of Representatives for the electoral division ofCorangamite in the place of the Honorable James Chester Manifold, deceased, indorsed with a certificate of the election of William Gerrand Gibson, Esq.
Mr. GIBSON” made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Iron and Steel Bounty Bill.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2).
Income Tax Bill (No. 2).
War-time- Profits Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2).
Chief Justice’s Pension Bill.
War Precautions Bill.
Appropriation Bill 1918-19.
War Service (Homes) Bill.
Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Bill.
Naval Defence Bill.
Public Service Bill (No. 3).
Defence Bill (No. 3).
– During the recentadjournment I received from Lady Forrest a letter which, omitting references of a personal nature; was as follows : -
My deepest gratitude and thanks are due to you and all the members of the Federal Parliament for kind expressions of sympathy at the sad loss of my dear husband, Lord Forrest. My heartfelt thanks to you all.
Very sincerely yours,
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of the following letter from Mr. Douglas W. Reid:- 10 Brendon House,
My mother has asked me to thank you most sincerely for your great kindness in sending hep copies of the resolution passed in the House when the death of my father was announced. She is greatly touched by the kind references which were made to my father’s work for Australia’s welfare, and the record of the expression of sympathy by the Commonwealth Parliament with us in our sad time will always remain a most cherished possession.
Yours very sincerely,
The Honorable the Speaker.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Immigration Act -Return for 1918 showing - (a) Persons refused admission; (b) passed dictation test; (c) admitted without being asked to pass test; (d) departures of coloured persons.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1.918, respecting Contract Immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia -
Aggregate balance-sheet at 31st December, 1918, with Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
Death and Invalidity in the Commonwealth - Committee concerning causes of - Report on Diphtheria.
Defence - Report by Surgeon-General R. H. Fetherston, Director-General A.A.M.S., to the Minister for Defence on - 1. Australian Army Medical Services Overseas. 2. The Medical Services of Great Britain and the Allies. 3. Re-education and Reestablishment of War Cripples in America, Europe, and India.
Northern Territory - Report of the Administrator for year ended 30th June, 1918.
Small Arms Factory - Report for year ended 30th June, 1918.
Ordered to be printed.
Agricultural Wages Board - Report of Committee appointed by, to inquire into the Financial Results of the Occupation of Agricultural Land and the Cost of Living of Rural Workers.
Agriculture - Wages and Conditions of employment in -
Vol. I. - General Report.
Vol. II. - Report of Investigators.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Awards and orders of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents in connexion with plaints submitted by the -
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers’ Association - Dated 16th and18th December, 1918.(2)
Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association -
Dated16th and 18th December, 1918.
Dated 14th March, 1019.
Australian Letter Carriers’ Association -
Dated Kith December, 1918.(2)
Dated 18th December, 1918.(2)
Australian Telegraph and Telephone
Construction and Maintenance Union -Dated 3rd March, 1919.
Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association -
Dated16th and 18th December, 1918.
Dated 6th March, 1919.
Commonwealth Legal Professional
Officers’ Association - Dated 6th March, 1919.
Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association -
Dated 16th December, 1918.(2)
Dated 18th December, 1918.(2)
Dated 31st March, 1919.
General Division Officers’ Union of the
Trade and Customs Department -
Dated 16th and 18th December, 1918.
Dated 6th March, 1919.
Meat Inspectors’ Association - Commonwealth Public Service - Dated 27th March, 1919.
Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia - Dated16th December, 1918.
Audit Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 47, 52, 60.
Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial vear 1918-19 -
Dated 26th March, 1919.
Dated 30th April, 1919.
Dated 28th May, 1919.
Dated 6th June, 1919.
Bolshevism in Russia - Collection of Re ports on.
Coal Industry Commission - Two Interim Reports and Report (all dated 20th March, 1919).
Commerce (Trades Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 11,88.
Cost of Living - Report of the Working Classes Cost of Living Committee, 1918.
Criminal Law Amendment Bill and Sexual Offences Bill - Report from the Joint Select Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendices.
Customs Act -
Proclamations prohibiting Exportation of (except under certain conditions) -
Cheese containing margarine or other foreign fattv substance (dated 30th April, 1919).
Condensed Milk (dated 5th March, 1919).
Goods per parcel post (dated 8th January, 1919).
Russian rouble notes (dated 29th January, 1919).
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 41, 86, 87, 137, 138.
Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1919, No. 67.
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 319, 320, 321, 322, 333, 334.
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 6, 10, 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 26, 33, 38, 39, 42, 48, 49, 50, 54, 61, 64, 65, 66, 72, 73, 74, 91, 92, 95, 104, 105, 111, 114, 121, 122, 126, 127.
Dye Industry - State Assistance to - Memorandum by the Board of Trade.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration ) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 57.
Electric Power Supply - Report of the Committee of Chairmen, Advisory Council.
Employers and Employed - Committee on. Relations between - Final Report.
Emigration Bill 1918 - Correspondence.
Engineering Trades (New Industries) Committee -Report.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act - Regulations Amended -
Statatory Rules 1918, No. 289.
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 51, 68.
Excise Act-Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 118.
Gold Production of the British Empire - Report of Committee.
Indian Industrial Commission, 1916-18 - Report.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at -
Currie, King Island, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
Fairy Meadow, New South Wales - For purpose of obtaining Building Material.
Five Dock, Sydney, Now South Wales - For Repatriation purposes.
Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Queensland - For Repatriation purposes.
Launceston, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Lithgow, New South Wales - For Defence purposes. (3)
North Sydne, New South Wales -
For Defence purposes.
For Repatriation purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes. ( 2 )
Port Pirie, South Australia -
For Customs purposes.
For Defence purposes.
Redfern, New South Wales - For Repatriation purposes.
Rosemount, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Westernport, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Machinery of Government - Report of Committee.
Naturalization Act -Return of Number of Persons to whom Naturalization Certificates were granted during 1918.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 18, 19, 58,62, 63, 110, 135.
Northern Territory -
Ordinance of 1918 -
No. 13 - Real Property.
Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 1 - Interpretation.
No. 2 - Bush Fires.
No. 3 - Jury.
No. 4 - Bank Holidays.
No. 5 - Workmen’s Dwellings.
Ordinances of 1918 -
No. 11 - Native Taxes.
No. 13 - VeneTcal Diseases.
Ordinance of 1919 -
No. 1 - Native Plantations.
Patents Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 14, 30.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 327, 330, 335.
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 22, 37, 56, 124, 131, 132, 133, 146.
Public Service Act- -
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
W. Carrick, Postmaster-General’s Department.
H. W. Conolly, Postmaster-General’s Department.
A. Crisp, A. J. . Harney, A. H. Harper, Department of Defence.
V. R. Driscoll, Prime Minister’s Department.
A. W. B. Fawcett, Postmaster-General’s Department.
J. Fennessy, Prime Minister’s Department.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1918, No. 312.
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 17, 25, 27,
40, 59, 93, 94, 99, 109, 120.
Railways Act -
By-law No. 9.
By-law No. 10.
Seamen’s Compensation Act - Regulations
Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 139. Seat of Government-Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 2 - Timber Protection.
No. 3 - Fish Protection.
No. 4 - Cotter River.
Spirits Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 69.
Advisory Bodies (other than Reporting Committees) appointed by the Minister of Reconstruction - Statement with regard to.
Armistices with Germany, AustriaHungary, and Turkey - Terms of, signed 11th November, 1918.
Armistice with Germany -
Conditions of, signed 11th November, 1918.
Convention prolonging, signed 16th January, 1919; together with the Financial Protocol, signed 13th December, 1918.
Austro-Hungarian Government - Note addressed by, to the Governments of all the belligerent States, September, 1918.
Building Industry after the War - Report of the Committee appointed by the Minister of Reconstruction to consider the position of.
Civil War Workers’ Committee- 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Interim Reports.
Demobilization and Re-settlement - Regulations made by the Military Service (Civil Liabilities) Committee.
Education in the Army - Second Interim Report of the Adult Education Committee.
Emergency Legislation - First and Second Reports from the Select Committee.
Emergency Legislation passed by the Parliaments of the Empire in consequence of the War - Summary of.
Employment of Women during the War - Report of the Board of Trade on the increased employment in the United Kingdom, with Statistics up to April, 1918.
Finland - Treaty of Peace signed at Berlin between Germany and Finland, together with the Commercial and Shipping Agreement.
Government War Insurance Schemes - Preliminary Statement of Results.
German Colonies - Correspondence relating to the wishes of the natives of the German Colonies as to their future Government.
Germany - Reports by British (Army) Officers on the Economic Conditions prevailing in - December, 1918, March, 1919.
Hospital Ships - Circular Despatch addressed to His Majesty’s Diplomatic Representatives in Allied and Neutral Countries respecting torpedoing of certain Hospital Ships by German submarines.
Imperial War Conference, 1918 - Extracts from Minutes of Proceedings and Papers laid before the Conference.
Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Acts - Report of the Committee on.
Merchant Tonnage and the Submarine - Supplementary Statement, showing, for the United Kingdom and for the World, for the period August, 1914, to October, 1918- (1) Losses; (2) Shipbuilding Output; (3) Enemy Vessels Captured, &c.
Ministry of Reconstruction (British) Report on the Work of, for the period ending 31st December, 1918.
National Expenditure - Select Committee -
Memorandum on Sixth Report.
Ninth Report (Procedure of the House), together with an Appendix.
National Relief Fund - Report of the Administration of, to 30th September, 1918.
Prisoners of War -
Agreement between the British and German Governments concerning combatant prisoners of war and. civilians.
Employment in Coal and Salt Mines of British prisoners of war in Germany - Report on.
Treatment by the Germans of prisoners of war taken during the Spring offensive of 1918 -
Treatment of British prisoners of war in Turkey - Report.
Trade - Report on the Trade of Australia for the year 1917, by Mr. G. T. Milne (H. M. Trade Commissioner in the Commonwealth ) .
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 326, 331, 332.
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 4, 5, 8, 29, 34, 36, 46, 53, 70, 71, 112, 113, 116, 128.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules, No. 134.
Wool Clip - Statement re the British Imperial Government’s Purchase through the Commonwealth Government of the Australian Wool Clip - Balance of Season 1916-17.
Papers presented to the British Parliament.
Message recommending Appropriation reported.
Referred to Committee of Supply.
. -(By leave.) - Upon the reassembling of Parliament, I desire, on behalf of the Government, to make an announcement as to the business of the session and other important matters.
Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook are expected to leave Britain this week, and, as soon as practicable after they reach Melbourne, the Peace Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations will be presented for the consideration of honorable members. The Government appreciates the momentous importance of the decisions of the Conference, which, in addition to far-reaching territorial, racial, and economic determinations, involve such vital questions to this young nation as disarmament, indemnities, and the destination of the former German Colonies in the “Western Pacific.
At the request of the Imperial Government, Executive authority was conferred upon the Australian Ministers to sign the Treaty on behalf of the Commonwealth, but the adoption or otherwise will be dependent on the will of Parliament.
The Government feels that the powerful and sustained efforts of the Prime Minister for the preservation of Australia’s interests entitle him to the unqualified approbation of the people and Parliament.
Up to 31st May, 1919, approximately 169,000 members of the Australian Imperial Force had returned to Australia; 3,300 had been discharged at their own request overseas; 18,000 were en route to Australia, leaving about 79,000 still to be repatriated. If the present shipping provision is maintained, all our troops, except the Depot and Head-Quarters Staffs, will have embarked for Australia by the end of next month.
The success which is attending this great task amply confirms the steps taken by the Government in placing the work in the hands of a responsible Minister in London.
We record with gratitude and pleasure the return of the Australian Navy to its home station after its splendid services overseas.
To the end of last month 94,036 applicants presented 177,478 applications for assistance under all headings ; 150,350 were granted, 42,470 men were placed in employment, and 7,513 allotted to vocational training, of which number 2,466 have completed their courses and been placed in employment.
Extra facilities now being provided will enable up to 15,000 additional men to be thus trained.
Notwithstanding the serious effects of the influenza epidemic and the strike upon employment, the number on the books of the Department awaiting employment is only 6,810 (inclusive of 2,500 men who have been thrown back on the Department by the influenza epidemic and the strike), being 3.86 per cent, of the total number discharged.
The total expenditure incurred in direct assistance to returned men and their dependants is £1,023,939.
The powers of L’ocal Repatriation Committees have recently been greatly extended, and it is anticipated that this decentralization will insure the treatment of applications with a minimum of delay.
With a view to making more ample provision for returned soldiers desiring to settle upon the land, the Government recently undertook to advance to the States the money necessary to make available the requisite number of holdings, and for railways and other works necessary to their successful occupation. It further agreed to provide an advance up to £625 per settler. The total liability of the Commonwealth in respect of land settlement is estimated at between 30 and 40 millions.
The “spade work” in connexion with the Housing scheme for returned soldiers, which was authorized by Parliament in December last, has been heavy, and surrounded by many difficulties. The initial stages are complete, and the operations of the Department are now being entered upon. It is intended to extend the provisions of the Housing scheme to munition and other workers who undertook war service abroad under contract.
The Government has given careful consideration to the question of employment of returned soldiers and sailors in the Public Service, and has, in their interests, modified to a considerable extent the conditions of employment, both temporary and permanent.
Although much general repatriation work yet remains, and experience is continually pointing to fresh activities and new methods, it may fairly be said that the repatriation machinery is running smoothly, and the system, considering its magnitude, has already achieved gratifying results.
Although quarantine is in the hands of the Commonwealth, important health powers still reside with the States.
When an outbreak of this disease appeared probable, the Government, with a keen desire to unite all the administrative forces of Australia in its attack, entered into an agreement with the States which provided for complete concert and cooperation.
This agreement was abrogated by several State Governments, who, in defiance of constitutional rights, imposed their own ^quarantine measures on land and sea traffic.
The result was lamentable disorganization of the shipping services, occasioning serious shortages of food supplies and fuel in many parts of the Commonwealth, and grave delays in the debarkation of our returning soldiers.
The futility of such methods was, however, gradually recognised by most of the States, and nearly all the local regulations have since been withdrawn.
During the past year the ship-building policy of the Commonwealth has been energetically pursued. Two steel vessels have been launched in Australia, ten more are under construction, and contracts have been entered into for another ten.
The contracts for wooden ships in Australia have, for the most part, been cancelled. It is the intention of the Government, when opportunity offers, to dispose of similar ships built on the Pacific coast of America.
The policy of the Government is to continue the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and to build larger and faster vessels for our oversea trade, so that the producers of our exportable primary products shall be assured satisfactory shipping facilities at reasonable rates. Negotiations in this direction are at present in progress.
Representatives of the wheat growers now sit on the Australian Board, and have publicly expressed approval of the efforts made on behalf of the producer.
In furtherance of its policy of assisting our primary producers, the Government has placed before the dairy farmers of Australia a scheme for the better organization of their industry and the standardization of their products. If, after full consultation with those concerned, a work” able scheme acceptable to the great body of dairy farmers is evolved, the organization of producers in other lines of primary production will be considered.
Vigorous efforts have been made by the Prime Minister to make sales of lead, cooper, and tin with the Imperial Government, but, so far, without success. Negotiations are still proceeding. The zinc position is more fortunate, as the contract is for a period of ten years after the war. In the hope, of maintaining the output of the copper mines and smelting works, the Government, arranged to make advances to producing companies in respect of copper produced up to 31st March last.
It is the intention of the Government to make proposals to the Governments of the States which are calculated to relieve materially the stagnation arising out of the unfortunate stoppage of production.
The reduced demand for rare metals has induced the Imperial Government to terminate many of its contracts, and, at present, proposals to cancel certain shortdated agreements are the subject of correspondence between the Imperial and Commonwealth Governments.
The seamen, who obtained increased wages and improved conditions under an award by the Commonwealth Court in January last, have struck, and thrown idle practically the whole of the Inter-State shipping. The Government intervened with the object of averting the disorganization of industry, but the seamen declined the mediation of the Court. The Government has, in order to conserve light and power for essential needs, imposed restrictions on the consumption of fuel.’
The seamen’s strike is already causing much unemployment in dependent industries, but as the attitude of the union constitutes a challenge to the authority and laws of this Parliament, the Government can offer no concessions. Unless wiser counsels prevail amongst those responsible, grave suffering to innocent industrialists and. to the community must supervene.
Tt was considered advisable to gradually release these restrictions, and thus allow trade and commerce to adapt itself to normal conditions, rather- than continue this form of control to the date when our powers would automatically come to an abrupt termination.
As the Commonwealth has not, in time of peace, the constitutional authority to deal with price-fixing, the exercise of such powers must now revert to the States.
There is indubitable evidence that, during the abnormal conditions created by the war, the operation of the Pricefixing Department has saved the consumer many millions sterling, and has prevented those tragic increases in the prices of goods which have been registered in every other country engaged in the great conflict.
A Supply Bill covering the first two months of the new financial year, which will be the first measure tabled.
Bills for the supersession of the War Precautions Act, as indicated during the debate on the extension Bill last year. These will provide protection in. relation to Wheat, Wool, Dairy Produce, and some other commodities which have been specially dealt with during the period of the war. Other mat ters of importance arising out of war activities or experience will also be submitted.
The Peace Treaty and its attendant Covenants.
A Tariff Bill, designed firstly to in sure the preservation of those manufacturing enterprises inaugurated during the war, which are already being subjected to fierce competition; secondly, the encouragement of new undertakings which are basic and upon which our national safety depends; thirdly, the extension and diversification of existing industries; and generally the development of Australian production and manufacture.
A measure to facilitate and expedite the decision in industrial disputes, and improve the methods of the operation of the Arbitration Acts.
Financial measures dealing with loans and taxation and the relations between the Commonwealth and the States.
Legislation dealing with naturalized subjects and aliens, with a view to the better safeguarding of national interests.
Amendments of the existing law providing for a closer inspection and control of immigrants, which the experience of the war has rendered necessary.
A Bill in relation to the method of voting at elections for the Senate.
A Bill to amend the Inter-State Commission Act.
The Bill to establish the Institute of Science and Industry, which has. already passed the Senate.
A measure to establish the Bureau of Commerce and Industry.
A Bill to amend the Navigation Act, which must ere long be proclaimed. This amendment is necessary to bring the present Statute into line with more advanced legislation.
Several other measures, including Bills dealing with Customs, Defence, Lighthouses, Posts and Telegraphs, Estate Duty Assessment, Land Tax Assessment, Aviation, Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Lands, Quarantine, Lands Acquisition, Trade Marks, Shipbuilding and Shipping, and other matters.
This programme promises an arduous session, and the Government invites honorable members to co-operate in the consideration and passage of measures having for their object the welfare of the people of Australia. I move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
Report of Royal Commission
– Can the Acting Prime Minister say when the report of the Royal Commissioner, who has been sitting in Melbourne inquiring into the wharf labourers’ dispute, will be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General and be made available to this Parliament?
– I am afraid that I cannot. I observe by the press that the Royal Commissioner has completed the taking of evidence, but he has not yet submitted his report. As soon as it is submitted, it will receive the consideration of the Government.
Position in North Queensland.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware of the very serious position of North Queensland? North of Rockhampton there is no communication other than by sea, and, as a consequence of the seamen’s strike, the people in that portion of Queensland are very short of provisions and also medical necessities very urgently required because of the prevalence of influenza. I have here a telegram from Bowen which tells me that, owing to the shortage of flour, starvation is imminent. In view of this, I ask the Acting Prime Minister if any Commonwealth overseas ships cannot be diverted in order to take provisions to Northern Queensland? I may be permitted to say that, although I have received a number of telegrams in reference to the seriousness of the position, in not one is it suggested that there should be any yielding on the part of the Government.
– The honorable member has on very many occasions pointed out to the Government, and chiefly to myself, the unfortunate position of many of the communities in Northern Queensland. Yesterday, particularly, he stressed the view that a speeial attempt should be made, apart ‘altogether from the strike, to put a vessel in communication withplaces in Northern Queensland which are beyond the Teach of railways. I got into communication with the Shipping Controller, to see how far : this suggestion is capable of operation; and he advises me that he is already endeavouring to arrange for one vessel to load cargo for Northern Queensland ports. He points out that it is very difficult to induce the oversea ships to accept cargo for Northern Queensland ports on account of the uncertainty of arranging foT the discharge of the cargo. In some cases ships have been hung up because of the refusal of the unions to handle cargo in Northern Queensland ports. The Shipping Controller further says that if definite assurance could be given that there would be no delay in the discharge of cargo, it would be possible to arrange for oversea ships to accept cargo.
-Will the Minister for Home and Territories be good enough to lay on the table of ‘the House the application form which I made out in Sydney in January last for a passport to enable me to proceed to Londonvia America, and also the passport itself?
– I have no objection. It is not usual to disclose-
– I ask the question in consequence of allegations which have been made.
– I shall be glad to lay the documents on the table of the House as soon as I get them.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will now, or, if not convenient now, at a later stage, make a statement as to the nature of the alleged offence of Paul Freeman ? Will the Minister also inform the House of the names ofthe persons who have made accusations against this man,of those who tried him and condemned him? If he has not ibeen tried, and has had no opportunity of putting up a defence, why is he now kept in gaol?
Mr.WATT. - I am glad to see that the honorable member is back here in health andstrength, and I can assure him that he has not lost any -friends while he has been away. If the honorable member, in his usual courteous fashion, will give notice of this important question, I shall endeavour to supply him with the desired information.
– Will the Acting Prime
Minister lay on the table of the House a copy of the agreement or understanding between Great Britain and Japan which is said tohavebeen approved of by Mr. Fisher and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), whereby Japan was to occupy the Pacific Islands north of the equator, and Great Britain the islands south of the equator.
– I have only to reply to my, I was going to say Tespected, but I might almost say my revered friend, that in delicate matters affecting international relationships, I beg that Ministers be given notice of questions.
– In view of the straitened circumstances of many graziers owing to the record drought from which they have suffered, will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House when the 10 per cent, reduction made from the wool clip will be adjusted, and also when the Imperial authorities will be likely to make a division of the profit, namely, up to 50 per cent, on the sale of the wool in London?
– That is a nice conundrum for the honorable member to expect to be answered off-hand! I cannot answer the honorable member now, but if he will give notice of the question, I shall have the data collected, if possible.
Remission of Soldiers’ Punishments - Date and Nature of Celebrations, - Closing of Hotels - Holiday Pay - Expenditure on Illuminations.
– I desire to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether in connexion with the celebrations of peace it is proposed to remit all fines and terms of imprisonment passed on soldiers for offences committed during the war?
– I am not prepared to give any such promise ; but forthe information of the House and the country generally, I may say that, appreciating the significance of the celebration of peace on the conclusion ofour great war effort, and anticipating that the Governments of the Empire might consider acts of clemency towards prisoners of various classes, I have communicated on behalf of the Commonwealth Government with the Governments of the States of Australia to ascertain how far a uniform policy in relation to such sentences could be operated.
– When will the Acting Prime Minister be. able to advise the public as to the date of the Peace celebrations and the form which they will take in the Commonwealth?
– I think that within a few days of the date on which we receive definite news that Peace is signed, and of the arrangements that have been made by the British Government for the Peace celebrations at Home, we shall be able not only to say how far the celebrations will synchronize throughout the Empire, but to determine our own dates. The chairman of the Peace Celebrations Committee is here, and can perhaps speakmore definitely than I can on the matter at the present moment ; but it appears to me that the 3rd and 4th’ August will bet the days of the celebrations, Monday, 4th August, being the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
– In the interests of peace and good order, will the Government arrange that all places licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors shall be closed during the Peace celebrations ?
– The Government are considering that matter at the present time.
– Very many workers in the community, probably 90 per cent, of them, if compelled to take a Monday holiday, will lose pay for that day. Will the Government endeavour to make such arrangement, at any rate as employers, as will insure that the men who are compelled to take a holiday receive payment for that day ?
– I have not yet. considered whether an employer should be compelled to pay wages for a compulsory holiday, but I shall do so. It seems to me that if the peace is real, and the terms are as satisfactory as we all hope they will be, the people of this country, whatever their station in life, will not boggle over the minor questions that usually concern them. It may be, however, that owing to the present industrial disturbance, and widespread unemployment, the loss of a day’s pay is more than usually serious.
– Assuming the truth of the report that decorations on a lavish scale are to be carried out in the thoroughfares of’ Melbourne and other cities, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government have definitely decided to approve of such lavish displays, or whether they may not be persuaded to devote the money to some useful purpose, such as the relief of the distress which is so marked a feature at the present time?
– I doubt whether any other than the honorable member for Batman would have placed in relation the two matters which he has mentioned. The Government have no desire for a lavish display.
– The newspapers implied to the contrary.
– The honorable member has seen erroneous statements in the press before to-day, concerning himself and all sorts of people. When the Government first considered, some months ago, the question of the celebration of Peace, if and when it should come, we requested a then member of the Ministry, the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Orchard) to take charge of the matter. Within the financial limits imposed by the Government, the honorable member was allowed a free hand to make arrangements with the State Governments and the municipal authorities, and his last report to me was that the amount which the Government thought they could afford to spend in celebrating Peace would not be more than half spent.
– It is reported that the Premier of Western Australia has communicated with the Acting Prime Minister in regard to certain excessive prices that are being put on goods in Western Australia, with a view to some action on the part of the Government. I desire now to give the Acting Prime Minister an opportunity to say why the communication was not replied to, and whether this absence of a reply is due to indifference on the part of the Commonwealth Government in matters of this kind.
– The honorable member is starting this session very badly-
– What he said he said very kindly !
– But when the question goes into Hansard it will not bear that Caledonian inflection which makes it so kind.
– I have no ulterior object; I merely wish to give you an opportunity to explain.
– I appreciate the honorable member’s unfailing courtesy, but there is a sting in the tail of his question. The Government are not unmindful of their responsibility in matters of this kind. The first thing I saw in reference to this communication was the report in the press to which, undoubtedly, the honorable member refers. Doubtless this is one of the many communications which reach the Prime Minister’s office, and, not being treated as a personal matter, are sent on to the Departments concerned. The honorable member no doubt knows the procedure in such cases. I may take the opportunity of saying that there is growing up in Australia a grave system of official discourtesy. Governments all over Aus- tralia, and various other public bodies, announce in the press that they have sent communications to the Acting Prime Minister, who, however, seldom, if ever, sees them. The proper way to conduct official correspondence is to send it through the post or by telegraph, and give the information to the press after it has been received.
– Has no communication been officially received by your Department?
– I shall answer that question in due course; at present I am concerned with the question asked by the honorable member. Attention will be given to the matter, and I have no doubt that an answer has already been sent in the ordinary official course.
Case of Mr. Yates - Court Martial on H. M.A.S. “ Australia “ - Manufacture of Steel for Shrapnel Shell - Prosecution of Mr. Mathews.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister lay upon the table of the Library -
– I should prefer to have the question in print on the notice-paper, so that I could understand the mysterious reason for the juxtaposition of the prosecution of James Mathews and the manufacture of shrapnel.
– I understand that at present certain experts on iron ores are at Blythe River, Tasmania, on behalf of the Government. Can the Acting Prime Minister get those gentlemen to inspect the iron ore deposits at Ilfracombe, near Beauty Point, before they return?
– An application was made by the Government of Tasmania, when the intimation appeared in the press that the Commonwealth had sent experts to Blythe River, that certain other deposits should be examined. I do not know whether the particular deposit mentioned by the honorable member was on the list, but it was explained in our communications, as I remember them, to the Government of Tasmania, that we could not search for iron and find experts for the State Government to identify or describe iron ore in the many deposits in Tasmania. We are inspecting and having this place reported upon, because we have an option over it for Commonwealth purposes; but the States must do their own geological and mineralogical work.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories yet discovered a good practical man to direct the affairs of the Northern Territory pending the appointment of a new Administrator ?
– Yes. I have not absolutely concluded the arrangement yet, but I have in my mind a man who, I think, will accomplish the end.
– Is the Assistant Minister for Defence aware that a certain military police officer in Sydney, who tried to arrest a returned soldier named Williams, has been committed to prison himself for the assault he then committed ? Does he know that the returned soldier was ordered to be imprisoned for one day and fined thirtyeight days’ pay by the military court martial ? Seeing that the civil Court found that the military police were at fault, will the Minister arrange that the returned soldier shall receive the money due to him ?
– I shall make inquiries on the subject.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister received confirmation by cablegram of the message picked up by the-
Perth Radio Station on Tuesday morning that Peace has been signed ?
– Not yet.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister, in the absence of the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton), state whether there is any appeal from the awful sentences passed by the recent navy court martial on the Australian boys who were alleged to have committed some breach of discipline on the Australia?
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with the provisions of the Naval Defence Act to give an answer to that question, but will endeavour to ascertain the facts.
– In view of the great delay that hastaken place in the freightage of perishables between Melbourne and Perth, will the Minister for Works and Railways see if it is possible to expedite transport?
– The goods to which the honorable member refers are transported over no fewer than four railway lines, with three different gauges. The matter was brought under the notice of the Railways Commissioner”, who made inquiries and received a report. Representations have been made to two of the States concerned, with a view to expediting the transit of goods. So far as the Commonwealth line is concerned, the goods are carried with as much expedition as is possible in the circumstances.
– Eighteen days is too long.
– The Commonwealth is not responsible for any delay.
– Has the Acting
Prime Minister any statement to make public with reference to certain postal electricians about whom he gave me an interview, and in respect of whose employment it is contended that Mr. Fisher, when Prime Minister, made a fairly definite promise to the House?
– In accordance with the undertaking I gave the honorable member in an office interview late last week, I instructed the Department to ransack the records to find out exactly what the promises of former Administrators, including Mr. Fisher, were. Just before I came into the House, I received a precis of the case, which I shall be glad to show to and discuss with the honorable member.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister say whether the welcome statement that all our troops are likely to embark for Australia by the end of July includes the soldiers in Egypt, many of whom have been there for four years, while others who have hardly been two years abroad have returned home?
– I have been inquiring into that matter to-day.. It was submitted to me for consideration by some other good folk. I have just received a reply from the Defence Department which indicates, at first blush, that the difficulties with regard to Egypt have been special. The date of enlistment meant priority of return in the Old Country, where there were vast numbers of men; but that system could not be operated in quite the same way for the Egyptian or Mesopotamian troops. It appears that the Department therefore adopted, on the advice of the highest organizing authority, the unit embarkation theory, which, I think, will keep some of the troops in Egypt away a little longer than some of the troops in England. I understand that there are about 9,000 men, all told, in Egypt at the present time.
– They feel they have a great grievance.
– That is natural, when they see their brothers-in-arms passing through the Canal, or getting home round the Cape, a little earlier. The conditions of shipping, however, have to be considered. I do not know whether the policy adopted is a reasonable one or not; but I shall confer with the Minister upon the subject.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence get into touch at once with London and see if the accounts we are receiving ‘ of the destruction of British military property in France applies to’ light railway lines and similar gear that could be utilized in Australian development? If they do, will he urgently press on the Imperial authorities the desirability of ascertaining whether any of this material could be saved for the benefit of the Commonwealth?
– I will make inquiries.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence lay on the table of the Library all military papers connected with the removal of the Military Camp at Newcastle.
– I shall ask the Acting Minister for Defence to do so.-
– Complaint has been made to me that youths are still engaged in drilling our cadets. Will the Assistant Minister for Defence ascertain whether it is not now possible to allot this work to members of the Australian Imperial Force who have returned from the Front?
– I shall look into the matter, and advise the honorable member later on.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister allow samples of the Anzacs’ hand-woven Australian tweeds to be added to the splendid exhibition of the work of returned soldiers now on view in the Queen’s Hall? My reason for asking this question is that some influence seems to be at work to prevent the advancement of the men engaged in this particular industry.
– I know that the honorable member takes a deep interest in the Anzac tweed problem, and has done all that he can to help the movement. I see no objection to his suggestion, and will confer with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), who, I believe, was responsible for the exhibition, in order to ascertain whether the proposed addition can be made to it.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence take into consideration the claims of every country district to participate in the distribution of war trophies when such distribution is made?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter, and advise the honorable member.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister sufficiently acquainted with the Peace terms to be able to inform the House how much Australia will get from Germany by way of reparation? If he has not that information, is the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) keeping it back until he returns?
– Had the honorable member concluded his question in- the way in which he opened it - with that courtesy which so embarrasses this side - I should have given him a very pleasing answer; but I think this question comes very ill from a man who advocated “ no indemnity.”
– In my question, I spoke not of “indemnity,” but of “reparation.”
– It is the same thing. Speaking seriously, however, the Government do not know what indemnity,, if any, Australia will receive. As soon as the Prime Minister knows, we shall know, and as soon as we are permitted to tell the House and the country, we shall do so.
Nurses - Answering of Questions
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether the privileges extended to our returned soldiers, including those in relation to land settlement, will be extended to nurses who have served at the Front?
– I think there is on the business-paper a question dealing with the matter, the answer to which will satisfy the honorable member. May I add that in future the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton) will answer questions on behalf of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen).
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the agitation that has been going on in regard to a recommencement of work at the Federal Capital has made any impression upon him or the Government, and whether the Government intend to observe the constitutional requirement that the Seat of Government shall be in New South Wales, and not less than 100 miles from Sydney ?
– The honorable member has really put to me two questions, and I shall answer them separately. The “ agitation,” which has been properly named by him, has been brought under the notice of the Government, and, with respect to myself, has caused a very deep and lasting feeling of depression. As to whether the Government intend to observe the constitutional requirement, I can only say that they would be recreant to their duty if they did not see that the Constitution and laws of this country, which they are sworn to administer, were given effect.
Speeches by Prime Minister in London.
– In reference to certain speeches reported to have been made by the ‘Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in London - speeches in which he referred very pointedly to the domestic policy of the Imperial Government on Tariff matters - I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether his chief speaks as the mouth-piece of the Commonwealth Government here, and to what extent his actions will dictate our Tariff policy for Australia?
– Again we have a doublebarrelled question, such as the honorable member, it seems to me, always fires. The Government take full responsibility for the Prime Minister’s utterances in London in respect of all matters. We could not, even if we desired to do so, dissociate ourselves from our share of that responsibility. As to how far the cabled reports of the right honorable gentleman’s utterances are correct, I have no means of judging. The policy of the Government on Tariff matters will be considered in full consultation with all the members of the Cabinet.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will make provision to exempt from future taxation moneys derived from personal exertion by sailors and soldiers who served in the recent war?
– The question involves a principle of far-reaching importance, and I shall be glad to have it considered if the honorable member will give notice of it.
– Great difficulty is experienced in country districts in securing connexion with local telephone exchanges because, we are told, of the want of wire. Will the Postmaster-General state when that difficulty will be adjusted.
– As soon as wire is available.
– The PostmasterGeneral has stated that country telephones will be installed as soon as the requisite wire is available. Will he inform the House when the wire will be available ?
– That information can be supplied only by those who are reponsible for the manufacture of the wire. As soon as they supply the material to the Department the installation of country telephones will be proceeded with.
– In the Ministerial statement just read by the Acting Prime Minister, no reference is made to the building of the North-South Railway. . I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether the Government’ have forgotten the agreement made with South Australia in regard to that matter, or is it their intention at any time to honour it?
– Here we have another double-barrelled question. I do not know that the Government, being a collective body, have what is called a memory. Individuals, I believe, are given that by the Almighty.
– The Government certainly have no conscience.
– The honorable member is now speaking of Governments with which he has been intimately connected, and not the present Administration. I would again ask my honorable friend, fresh from fields of service, and other places, not to pounce upon mewith far-reaching questions of this kind. If he will give notice I will consider it.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that his Department intends to hand over to the Wheat Pool the profit of £100,000 made by the sale of corn sacks? If so, do the Government intend to hand back to the rabbit trappers the £250,000 which they made out of their transactions in rabbit skins?
– The Government propose to take steps that will lead to the £100,000, made out of the wheat sacks, being refunded to the Wheat Pool. The circumstances under which the rabbit business was transacted make it practically impossible to do what the honorable member suggests. It is not practicable to trace to the men who actually caught the rabbits the various transactions in regard to the skins, and that is the only means by which we could make a refund to the trappers. Had it been possible no doubt the Government would have been very glad to do what the honorable member suggests.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question relating to what is termed “ An Official Puzzle.” I have here a telegram from Melbourne, published in the Sydney press, suggesting that an agitation has been started to prevent the Government remov ing the control of sugar. In this telegram it is stated that -
It was officially stated to-day . that Java sugar was £30 a ton, and it cost £2 a ton to carry it to Australia. Sugar in the United Kingdom was quoted at about £57 a ton, and in America at £46 a ton. Therefore, it was stated, if the prices were repealed there would be every incentive to export sugar from Australia, leaving us with insufficient, sugar supplies, and thus sending up prices like a rocket. Is there any truth in the statement that the Minister is endeavouring to give further opportunities to the enemies of Australia to raise the price of sugar?
– It is a little difficult to follow the honorable member, but I may say that there is in force, as between the Commonwealth and the Queensland Governments, an agreement under which we are obligedto purchase the whole of the sugar produced in Queensland for the next twelve months. I regret very much to say that the crop this year, as well as last year’s crop, fell very much below anticipations, and that the probabilities are that there will be in Australia a serious shortage of sugar, the extent of which at present can only be guessed. Anticipating, however, from all the information we could obtain, that this shortage would occur, we entered into contracts, some considerable time ago, for the purchase of a very large quantity of sugar. That was before the market price had risen to anything like the figure at which it stands to-day. Whilst I am unable to promise that there will be no rise in the price of sugar during the next twelve months, by averaging the Australian sugar with the imported sugar which we are buying, I think I can definitely say that the increase in price will not be great. The control will be maintained as long as it is necessary, and there is no possibility of anything of the nature suggested by the honorable member happening, so as to result in the exploitation of the Australian consumer, through any oversea agency.
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories lay on the Library table all papers in connexion with the leasing of the area known as Hoadley’s factory site., St. Kilda-road, which was required hy the Repatriation Department ?
– If the papers are available in my Department I will lay them on the table.
– The usual practice is for an honorable member to give notice of his intention to move that certain papers be laid upon the table of the House or the Library. If the Minister is agreeable, the -motion, being unopposed, is taken as formal, and moved without debate, and the papers are then tabled accordingly. It would be better to adhere to the old practice which prevailed before the war.
– Under what power has the Minister for Trade and Customs acted in regard to the prohibition of the importation of sheep dip? Was action taken under the War Precautions Act or under some provision of the Customs Act?
– Amongst other questions upon the notice-paper in regard to this matter is one concerning the actual character of the prohibition. The answer to that question will disclose the information which the honorable member seeks, but when those questions are called upon I shall ask that they be postponed till to-morrow so that the complete information may be made available.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister say whether the Government propose to take any action to prevent or punish profiteering?
– The honorable member, when he was in office, did very little in that direction, and I think profiteering was more rampant then than it is now. However, if the honorable member will give notice of the question he will receive an answer.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence say whether it is the practice of the Defence Department, when making final payments to discharged soldiers, to deduct the amount of fines imposed on the men during their service abroad ? If such is the practice, will the Government consider its discontinuance, in view of the great service rendered by our soldiers?-
– I shall ask the Acting Minister for Defence to take the suggestion into consideration.
– In order to prevent an opinion now held by many becoming universal, namely, that the proposed sale by the Defence Department of 235,000 yards of flannel is in the interest of the warehouse kings of Flinders-lane, and in view of the fact that this flannel was paid for by the people, will the Acting Prime Minister consider favorably the suggestion contained in a letter published in the Age on 34th June that arrangements should be made for the Red Cross societies to take orders from citizens for small quantities of flannel suitable for familiesat a fixed price?
– I know nothing, personally or officially,’ about the procedure adopted, or the object of the sale of thisflannel; but I will convey the honorablemember’s suggestion to the Acting Minister for Defence, and ask .him to consult with the Business Board.
– Assuming that a war indemnity is paid to Australia, will the Government give consideration to allocating portion of the money for the following purposes: - (a) To relieve from the necessity of paying rent under the Commonwealth housing scheme any widow who’ remains such, or any person who was entirely dependent on a deceased soldier; (6) to augment the pensions of blind or totally incapacitated soldiers; and (c) to pay the interest for a period of five yearson loans granted by the Repatriation Department to soldier settlers and others embarking in business?
– The honorable member might well give notice of that question. At this moment, I can only say that before we can cook our hare we must ‘catch it. We must make sure that we ‘shall get some indemnity before we proceed to allocate it.
– In view of the great increase in the cost of living, do the Government propose’ to increase the old-age and invalid pensions?
– The financial proposals of the Government are at present under consideration, and will he presented in the Budget.
Mr.SAMPSON asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
If he can inform the House - (1) Whether the 1915-16 Wheat Pool will be finally cleaned up at an early date; (2) as to the prospect of an early dividend from pools 1916-17, 1917-18, and 1918-19?
– Theanswers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1.The question of winding up the 1915-16 Pool was dealt with at the conference of the Australian Wheat Board held last month. It was agreed that this could not be done until returns had been received which would enable an estimate to be made of the profits yet to be received from the British Wheat Commission on account of diversion of cargoes shipped under the 3,000,000 tons contract.
As regards 1918-19, there is no prospect of any further payment at an early date.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Approval, with similar reservations, has also been given to the designs and estimates submitted by the constructing authority for South Australia in respect of locks Nos. 2 (at 225¼ miles), 3 (at 269 miles), and 9 (at 479 miles ) . 2. (a) Locations of the locks referred to are indicated in paragraph. 1.
A commencement has been made by the constructing authority for Victoria (on behalf of the constructing authorities for New South Wales and. Victoria) with work on the weir and lock at Torrumbarry, and it is anticipated that work in connexion with the three South Australian weirs and locks referred to will be made at an early date.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Whether provision has been made for special allowances to be paid to nurses who have served abroad to continue their studies at hospitals in special branches of training?
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Poynton)Under the Repatriation Act, members of the Army Medical Corps Nursing Service are regarded as Australian soldiers within the meaning of that Act, and are, therefore, entitled to the advantages of the training facilities provided.
Finance : Revenue and Expenditure : Public Debt : Per Capita Payment to States: Interest on Loans - Public Service : Aliens : Appeals to Arbitration Court - Minister for Defence: Visit to England : Demobilization : Treatment of Soldiers Abroad - Export of Hides - Increased Cost of Living : Dairy Products : Bread : Clothing : Profiteering : Inter-State Commission’s Reports - The Tariff - Australian Sheep Dip: Telephone Table Sets - Repatriation : Exhibition of Soldiers’ Work: Furniture: Land Settlement: Insufficiency of Pensions - Economy : Bureau of Science and Industry : Dr.. Gilruth : Naval Bases - The War: Terms of Peace: Payments by Germany - General Election - Ministerial Caucus Resolutions - Postal Administration: Telegraph Forms: Uniforms - Australian Imperial Force Education Scheme - Weevil in Wheat - Invalid and Old-age Pensions - Eight-Hours’ Day Procession and Union Jack - Use of Red Flag - Influenza Epidemic.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration of Governor-General’s Message) :
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year 1919-20, a sum not exceeding £4,337,335.
In asking for temporary Supply, it is proper that I should give the Committee a brief indication of the general financial position of the Commonwealth. I shall deal first with War Loan Finance.
The seven war loans raised by the Commonwealth within Australia brought in a total of £188,432,040. To this must be added receipts from the sale of War Savings Certificates, £5,140,513. The total amount, therefore, raised in Australia was £193,572,553. We borrowed direct from the British Government £47,500,000. The British Government further paid for the maintenance of Australian troops overseas, and for their munitions £70,645,000, but of this last amount Australia has repaid £26,000,000, leaving the amount due to Great Britain for the payments at £44,645,000.
The amount borrowed altogether consequently totals £285,717,553. The Treasurer had on hand on the 31st May unexpended war loan moneys amounting to £24,176,449. Deducting this from the total borrowed, it will be seen that the war loan expenditure to the 31st May last has been, approximately, £261,541,104.
Although the Armistice was signed seven months ago, there has not been any diminution of the expenditure directly borne by the Commonwealth, out of loans. Disbursements on munitions have certainly disappeared, but as the cost was being met temporarily by the British Government, the Commonwealth Treasury has not yet felt relief. On the contrary, large payments for transports and deferred pay have increased the drain from the Treasury. Demobilization is expected soon to be complete, and then the war payments in respect to soldiers still in khaki will be reduced to comparatively small proportions. Some hospital expenditure, however, will be requirod for a considerable time.
Although the payments referred to may be expected to rapidly diminish in the near future, the repatriation effort will necessitate the raising of further loans. At the Premiers’ Conference of January last, the Commonwealth agreed to lend to the States sums of money aggregating over £30,000,000 to enable them to carry out a programme of settling 20,000 returned soldiers on the land. The payments under the War Service Homes Act are likely also to reach a large figure, but the amount cannot at present be indicated even roughly. Sustenance payments will also require considerable funds. With the heavy expenditure in prospect, it will be necessary before long to raise another war loan.
Interest on the war debt now amounts to £13,170,000 per annum. Of that amount, there is payable to Australian lenders £8,560,000, and to the British Government £4,610,000. Difficulties of exchange, with which the financial and commercial community are well acquainted, have prevented payments which otherwise would have been made to the British Government in reduction of Australian indebtedness. We are not able at the present moment, and have not been able for some time, to transfer to London the interest which is due to Great Britain, and it has, consequently, been decided to establish a trust account in the Treasury to which will be credited about £2,000,000. This will enable the interest to be charged to the present year’s accounts that should properly carry it, and to be held in the Treasury until exchange becomes available. This difficulty is receiving attention in the Treasury, and I hope will soon be removed.
The total annual recurring charge at present upon the Consolidated Revenue in respect of the war may be set down as follows : -
All these items may be expected to expand for a year or two.
– Ministerial supporters do not take much interest in this matter, I notice.
– They have such complete trust in the Government.
– They did not show it at the latter portion of last session.
– Yes, they did; all but two or three who were infected by the virus of the honorable member. My friend may take it from me that if he had been at the meeting of the party yesterday, he would have had no doubt on the point.
The total expenditure of the Commonwealth out of revenue in the financial year before the war was £23,160,000, including payments to the States. The war burden has. thus almost doubled the payments out of revenue. The indemnity imposed by the Allies upon Germany may somewhat lighten this load, but, judging by present indications, any such payment to Australia will probably be spread over a long period of years, and will represent a comparatively small portion of our total cost of war. The Australian taxpayer must, according to my information and judgment, make up his mind to carry and liquidate the great bulk of Australia’s war debt.
– Is not the Treasurer now giving information about the indemnity that he had just indicated he did not possess ?
– I said that I spoke “ according to my information and judgment.” I think I am entitled to do so.
– How much is information, and how much judgment?.
– The honorable member having had administrative responsibility ought to know how difficult it is to decide that matter.
The state of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Commonwealth is at present good. Customs and Excise receipts have greatly exceeded the amount which was anticipated before the armistice waa signed.
– That is due to the Minister for Trade and Customs !
– It is due to the fact that the Budget was produced in a period of war, and to the House having to provide for the conception of the war lasting till the end of the financial year. Direct taxation is also likely to be in excess of estimates. The Department is still issuing income and land tax assessment, and all the money will not be received before 30th June. When the accounts have been closed I expect that the expenditure will be below the estimates. On the whole, a satisfactory surplus may bt expected for the year which is now closing, though it is quite impossible at this stage to hazard a guess as to its size. As early as practicable in August the Budget statement for the new year will be presented to the House. Complete information as to the finances will then be available. During the first week of July, however, I hope to be able to lay on the table a statement giving the approximate receipts and payments of the Commonwealth in 1918-19 under the main heads. This will show as nearly as one can what the surplus is likely to be. This Supply Bill, though nominally for two months, really is for about a fifth of the year, because a pay-day for the Public Service occurs on 5th September, and it is necessary to provide funds for other services for a little longer than that. The total amount of the Supply asked is £4,337,335. Included in this, as will be seen from the Bill circulated last night, is £700,000 for Treasurer’s Advance, which is required for the continuation of public works in progress and for unforeseen items generally.
– Was that arranged at the secret Caucus ?
– I gave instructions for the Bills to be circulated last night.
– I notice you carried, a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and I wanted to know if that was necessary.
– I do not desire these exchanges. I do not see any necessity for a vote of confidence, though I am sure the honorable member would not object if honorablemembers desired to show their loyalty to their leader.
– Why did you carry a vote of confidence in Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook, and not in Senator Pearce ?
– We were not dealing with Ministers discharging the duties of ordinary administration, but with men representing Australia at a Conference of the utmost importance to Australia.
In the first Supply Bill for the current year an amount of £1,000,000 was included under the head of Treasurer’s Advance, but the officers of the Treasury advise me that £700.000 is likely to suffice for the present. To get a fair compari son with the total amount of the expenditure approved by the Parliament for the’year 1918-19 it is necessary to deduct the £700,000 for Treasurer’s Advance, £80,000 for refunds of revenue, and £1,452,000 for war expenditure payable out of revenue. After abstracting these sums, the amount in the Supply Bid is £2,105,335, which is rather less than one-fifth of the £11,207,860 granted by the Parliament for the comparable services in the year just ended. The £1,452,000 set down for war services is composed of the following items: - War pensions, £1,040,000; repatriation of Australian soldiers, £356,000; and other war services, £56,000. The Bill includes no new items. It is for ordinary services only, and the total is less than that which was provided for a similar period of the previous year.
– Is . there any chance of compelling the press to separate war expenditure from ordinary expenditure, so that the issue may not” be clouded ?
– All the efforts of the Government have been bent in the direction of informing the public of the difference between ordinary expenditure and war expenditure.
– The press will not do it.
– The press has been refusing to do a lot of things lately, and the Government have had to take their own course with the press. The honorable member is not more in love with the press than I am myself ; and recently I felt it my duty to shut the press out of the public Departments for a considerable time. This was not with the object of getting the press to criticise the Government less, but in order to insure that official statements of facts or policy were published as they were uttered, and not manipulated to suit some organs. As I have said, there is nothing extraordinary or new in the expenditure under this Bill, and I think I have given honorable members enough material to enable them to compare the items for the corresponding period of this year and the coming year for which we are providing Supply. Having given the assurances I have, I think. I am justified in asking that this Supply be granted by the Committee. I have only to add that the Government have no desire to rush this Bill through either House. We realize quite clearly that the Committee of Supply in either House is entitled to reasonable time for discussion after so long a recess. The only reservation I make is that we desire to be able to pay war pensions constantly falling due ana wages commitments, the first of which the Treasury officers tell me will fall due on Wednesday, the 2nd July. Within that limitation I ask honorable members to discuss this Bill as freely as they desire, and any information which the Treasury or the Departments can afford will be freely given.
Acting Prime Minister has given us. something in the nature .of an epitomized Budget speech, with the difference that we have not on this occasion the advantage of following him with a printed copy of his remarks. I think it is rather unusual that on the first day of meeting, .af ter a lengthy recess, we should :be asked to deal with a Supply Bill. I realize, “however, that we cannot =pay one penny in wages or pensions after the 30th June, even .from Treasurer’s Advance, without a measure of .this kind, and this suggests that we ought to alter our system of finance so as .to make -certain moneys available, .or call Parliament .together earlier. Practically we shall have to curtail discussion in order to get this Supply Bill out of the way before the :2nd July, for, as matters stand, the measure ought to leave this House this week.
– So long ,as the Bill is passed by Wednesday night next it will suit.
– That means that the’ Bill must be out of this House this week ; and, of course, we know that, with their numbers and the present Standing Orders, the Government, if they choose, could have it passed by 5 o’clock to-day. We remember how in the past honorable members opposite have religiously voted to shut up every member on this side on particular questions.
– That is not so.
– They shut me up on the Electoral Bill.
– We did not shut up honorable members opposite; we applied a self-denying ordinance to the whole House.
– I know all about that. We know <that Government supporters have to keep quiet, or the Government Whip takes a hand.
– I wish they would keepquiet !
– This Supply .Bill hasbeen sprung on the House, .and the first intimation I had of it was in the newspapers this morning.
There are many ma’tters to whichI should like to refer; for instance, I should like to see the report of Police Magistrate Barnet on the Public Service, in order to find out how much justification there was for the slanders that were uttered by many people in regard to the public servants. In one case the man concerned was an. Australian, his parents were Australian,, and his grandparents were British, and I am very anxious to see what the report has to .say on this and other cases. I am also very desirous of seeing the Te-
POrt of the late Public Service Commissioner, Mr. Mclachlan, in order to ascertain what suggestions he has to make. I understand from the press that the Government intend to take away from the public servants a right which they have enjoyed up to the present time. Parliament has seen fit to place public servantsin the same position ,as all other worker* in the community .and give them the rightto appeal to the .Arbitration Court ; .anilit would be very much regretted if that right were now to be taken away. I” know it has been said that Parliament isthe body to deal with this matter, but I know no body more unfitted to deal with wages and conditions. I am sure that the Acting Prime Minister will agree with me that it would be a great mistake to take away this right of appeal to the Arbitration Court.
Then we ought to have a report from the Government in connexion with the visit of Senator Pearce to England. I remember that at “the Australian Natives Association banquet in Melbourne the gentleman who proposed the toast of the Commonwealth Parliament made reference to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) and also to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). Senator Millen said it was not right to blame the Minister for Defence, and that if there was any responsibility in connexion with his visit to London, it rested with the Government. I went further, in replying to the same toast, and pointed out that, on the last day on which Parliament sat last year, there was a meeting of the Government party upstairs, and the party agreed that Senator Pearce should go to London. The responsibility, therefore, was upon the whole party for the visit of Senator Pearce, his wife, and family to Great Britain to do certain work.
– I never heard of it.
– The honorable member could not have been at the meeting. It was towards the end of the year. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jensen) delivered his speech one night, and the next day, or the day after, we wound up. We were here until about 1 or 2 in the morning, and during that day there was a party meeting upstairs where the matter was mentioned. Every member of the party, including the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott), is as much responsible for Senator Pearce going away as Senator Pearce is himself.
– I am not.
– And I am sure I am not.
– The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) is ako responsible as a member of the party.
– The Government will take the responsibility; in fact, we reach out after it. It is ours.
– There is no particular reaching out after the responsibility in this matter. Every member of the Government, and every member of the Ministerial party, is responsible for what was done. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is as much responsible for Senator Pearce and his wife and family going overseas as is the Acting Prime Minister himself.
– Did not Mr. Ryan and his wife and family go to England?
– I am saying nothing about the visit of Senator Pearce except to point out that the responsibility is not on Senator Pearce, but on the party to which he belongs. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), or the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) may refer to State politicians having gone. I do not complain, but I candidly admit that, when I went to the Old Country, my only regret was that I could not work my passage. I had to pay for it. I had the opportunity of going and working in the Old Country - an opportunity that every Australian should avail himself of if he gets the chance.
– You are trying to benefit the Government party by giving them a share of the responsibility. We do not want them to carry it.
– They will have to do so.
– I know one who will refuse.
– The honorable member cannot remain a member of that party and refuse his share of it. I asked this afternoon across the table, why, in the resolution carried yesterday afternoon at the Ministerial party meeting applauding Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook for doing good work in England, Senator Pearce’s name was not mentioned. The honorable member for Robertson knows a little of the work of the Defence Department over there, and of demobilization proceedings, and I should like to hear him say whether demobilization is not proceeding more harmoniously now, and whether Senator Pearce has impeded the work over there.
– I think Mr. Hughes is doing it, and was doing it, as well as it could be done.
– Then why send over a fifth wheel of the coach to do the work ?
– Has Mr. Hughes been in London the whole time?
– I have already said that I believe in Australia being governed from Australia, and not from London. I was glad to hear that our boys will all be leaving England by the end of next month, and that we shall soon have an opportunity of welcoming them back. I am sure we all rejoice to know that peace is once more with us, and that the ingenuity of man will be devoted to the purpose of saving life instead of destroying it. I hope we shall be able to welcome our men back in the very near future.
Many matters should be referred to in discussing this Bill. One is the tremendous increase in the cost of living. ITo matter what Government is in power, it will have to deal with that question. Recently the Government lifted the embargo on the export of hides. The people who were holding hides in Australia would not sell them. Before the war the very best hides that Australia could turn out, which are some of the best in the world, were less than ls. per lb. The, price was then fixed at ls. l£d., but directly the embargo was lifted it jumped up to ls. 8d. The farmer has obtained no advantage from th,alt. because the hides were in store here; and it was estimated that over 1,000,000 hides were held by the speculators and the big killing companies of Australia. They are the people who made the profit on those hides, but the people of Australia have to pay. We are anxious .that the very test should be done for Australian industries. We have here the material to turn those hides into leather. We have the bark and the grease. We have the hides and the labour, and every one will admit that Australian leather made a name for itself during the recent war; but, instead of the work being done here, .we are going to send away the hides and the tanning materials, and deprive our own people of the work. To take the embargo off the export of hides was not a statesmanlike action. It would have been far better to keep them in Australia to create labour for our people.
– Were any of the hides exported ?
– I understand so.
– I understand not.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) can give us information on that point. If they were not exported, it means that their price was artificially inflated. We are told that, instead of the prices of commodities going down, they are likely to increase. This means, then, that the value of land is to increase, the value of cattle will increase, the values of commodities will increase, but the value of human life will be less. I shall never subscribe to a policy which means that the life of any individual in this community is to be counted second to the life of a beast, or to the value of a piece of land. The lives of human beings should be valued higher than commodities or land or beasts.
– What has that got to do with the argument?
– We are told that the dairy farmer is to get more for the stuff which he produces. That means that the cow is going to be more valuable, and human life less valuable.
– More valuable for its hide?
– I am speaking of the stuff that is produced, as the honorable member will realize when he catches up to my argument. This or some other Government must take control on the question of the cost of living. The people who . are manipulating the commodities that are absolutely essential to human life are reaping enormous profits. I have no doubt that even better opportunities will offer for the discussion of this important question in the debate on the Ministerial statement than on the Supply Bill.
Let me give one illustration on the question of the cost of living. Bread to-day is dearer in Australia than it has been probably for forty years. Forty years ago you could get a 4-lb. loaf for what a 2-lb. loaf costs to-day. The wages of the people who are producing the article have not made all that difference. During the past three or four weeks bread has gone up in Melbourne by &&. per 2-lb. loaf, and this increase is attributed to the increase of the wages of the bread carters.
– Do you think the master bakers are making bigger profits than they did in the old days ?
– I know the master bakers have such a monopoly that they could really make the people of Melbourne pay what they liked. The wages of the bread carters have gone up 5s. per week, but the price of bread, which these men deliver, has gone up at the rate of 50s. per week.
– Were there as many restrictions in the employment of labour in those days?
– Not that I know of. A recent law case showed that it was impossible for a customer to transfer his patronage from one master baker to another. The proprietor of a cafe in Melbourne had left baker “ A “ and gone to baker “ B.” The case was taken to the committee of the master bakers organization, and the customer -was compelled to go back to baker “A.” Baker “ A “ can supply any sort of bread that he likes, and his customers are not allowed to leave him. That is one of the results of that employers’ union, the Master Bakers Association.
– Those are combinations that ought to be suppressed.
– Yes, and a lady who was a member of the association, in Parkville, was fined £50 because she broke its rules. In my own district the Civil Service Co-operative Bakery - the largest in Victoria, and one of the largest in Australia/ - was refused flour by the millers. The case was taken to Court under the War Precautions Act, and the millers, who defended the case, were fined £50. They were a firm that admitted a few years ago that they had lost £6,000 worth of flour sacks, and did not know that they had lost them, so they must have been making enormous profits. Although the defendants gave notice of appeal, “they did not appeal, because they did not want these things shown up to the public. These are the things that are increasing the cost of living. In the Age of the 14th inst. a paragraph was published stating that tlie new determination of the Bread Carters Wages Board, which was to come into operation on the 21st inst., had been discussed at a meeting of bread carters. A resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the determination was passed, and it was decided to refer the matter to a conference of the bread cart ers and bakers’ societies, then in session at the Trades Hall. It was said that while the master bakers had raised the price of bread by Jd. all round, and were reaping a considerable profit on the transaction, only twelve firms were paying the increased wages. A letter appeared about a week before stating that the price of bread was increased from 7d. to 7£d. per 4-lb. loaf on the 30th of the previous month, the reason given being the increase of wages. The wages increase was not to take effect until the 21st inst., but the price of bread was increased three weeks before that. This is the sort of thing that is giving rise to the continual industrial unrest. I told a gathering of the Chamber of Manufactures that I was not surprised at the existence of industrial unrest, and that the only thing that surprised me was that there was not more of it. How some of the women manage to maintain their families on the weekly wages coming into their homes, I am at a loss to know. When the price of bread was increased from 7d. to 7$d. per loaf on the 30th ultimo, the reason -given was that the wages of the operative bakers had recently been increased, and that on 21st inst. further increases of wages would have to be paid to the breadcarters. The combined increases to bakers and carters range from 14s,. to l’7s. per week; but on the average load of 140 loaves the increase in the price of bread would amount to 5s. lOd. per cart per day, or 40s. lOd. per cart per week. This., it is pointed out, is a very impressive illustration of the ratio in which the public are made to pay for increased costs in the baking trade.
– Does the honorable member say that the master bakers are making too much money?
– I say they had no right to increase the price of bread before the increase in the wages of the bread-carters actually took place.
– How would the honorable member remedy the position ?
– The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has said that the Government have abandoned the policy of price fixing, and that the matter will have to be dealt with by the State Governments.
– If they would make all combinations illegal, well and good.
– Power should be given to one Parliament in Australia to deal with the whole question of the illegality of combines. We know that when combinations were practically made illegal in the United States of America, the various trusts took steps to secure their incorporation in the State of New Jersey, where they could practically flout the Federal law. If we have to wait until action is taken by the slowest State in Australia to deal with these matters, then Australians will be waiting a long time for the redress of their grievances.
– The law in regard to secret commissions was quickly observed.
– But the particular question with which I am now dealing affects the life of the people far more closely than does that of secret commissions. All classes in Australia to-day are suffering because of the increase in the cost of living. Mr. Knibbs has published statistics as to increases in house rents and the prices of groceries, which are very important items; but there are others that have not been touched., Take, for instance, the increase in clothing, which has been more pronounced than in respect of any other necessity.
– The price of some classes of boots, has increased by 300 per cent.
– I do not know that they have increased to that extent; but I am informed by tailors that to-day they are paying £1 per yard for cloth which they could buy before the war for 5s. per yard. A suit of clothes which in pre-war days cost £4 4s., now costs £8 8s.
– The position is the same in England.
– We are told that if the people of other countries are suffering we ought not to complain.
– We have the raw material here.
– But our woollen industry has not yet reached the stage at which it cam supply the whole of our woollen requirements.
– It would if we had Protection.
– When I was Minister for Trade and Customs my honorable friend was constantly complaining that I failed to do this and that in regard to the Tariff. That was nearly three years ago, but since his party has been in power he has been as silent as an oyster with respect to Tariff matters.
– That is all the honorable member knows about the matter.
– I cannot speak of what takes place at the Ministerial party meetings upstairs.
– What opportunities have there been to deal with the matter in the House?
– Three years ago my honorable friend said that Walkers Limited, the big engineers of Maryborough, Queensland, were absolutely crippled because I would not take action to give them increased protection. That company apparently is still going on, but my honorable friend has nob urged the present Government to do what he said should have been done by the Government of which I was a member. He will have an opportunity to-day to tell the Ministry what they ought to have done before now in respect of Tariff matters.
I wish now to refer to the splendid exhibition of the work of returned soldiers which we have in the Queen’s Hall today, and especially to the exhibition o£ furniture made by returned soldiers-, which work is certainly first class. I would remind honorable members of a case reported in the press about, a fortnight ago, wherethe Repatriation Department, through one of its local committees, voted to a returned soldier a sum of £35 with which to purchase furniture. It was alleged that the returned soldier was swindled by those from whom he made his purchase, and that the furniture obtained by him was of Chinese manufacture. Is it not absurd to teach some of our returned soldiers how to make furniture when we allow others to purchase Chinese furniture out of advances made by the Department? It should be laid down by the Repatriation Department that as long as returned soldiers are making furniture no part of any advance made to a returned soldier shall be used for the purchase of furniture of Chinese manufacture. Our own men are making furniture superior to anything turned out by the Chinese of Melbourne or elsewhere. This is not a party question, and I hope it will receive the attention of the Repatriation Department.
– We all agree with what the honorable member has just said.
– The Department did see to the matter. It was only one of those blunders which will sometimes occur.
– It does not happen to be the only blunder made by the Department, and, so far as I am aware, there is nothing to prevent a recurrence of the incident.
I exceedingly regret that we are called upon to discuss this measure without being afforded time to consider it. This is practically the first occasion on which a Supply Bill has been brought down on what is really the first day of a new session, and members have been called upon to proceed at once with its consideration. We have already had a Ministerial statement covering seven or eight pages of printed matter.
– Is that not enough?
– Quite enough. May I express my pleasure that the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. McDonald) is well enough to be with us again. I am sure we all hope that he will soon be restored to perfect health, so that he may again take a vigorous part in our debates. Superimposed upon the Ministerial statement we have had from the Treasurer in connexion with this measure a semi-Budget statement, and we are asked to deal with it without being afforded an opportunity to assimilate the figures. We are asked to pass in two and a half days a Bill providing for an expenditure of some £4,300,000. Within these two and a half days we are to deal, not only with this proposed expenditure, but with the various problems that have arisen during the six months that we have been in re cess. That is the only time allowed us by the Government to deal with such questions as the industrial unrest which now prevails, profiteering, and the steps which should be taken to put it down, as well as other important subjects which we must have an opportunity to consider.
.- The procedure adopted by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) is unusual. The honorable gentleman should have consented to an adjournment of the debate in order to give honorable members an opportunity to examine the Supply Bill, and to consider the financial statement made by him, more especially as we have nothing before us to enable us to thoroughly grasp its purport. It is difficult at any time to follow the honorable gentleman when he is dealing with an array of figures covering our receipts and expenditure, and it is to be regretted that on this occasion he has not circulated a financial statement which we might compare with the last Budget statement made by him.
We have every reason to complain of the brutal tactics of the Ministerialists, who have a majority of two to one in this Chamber, and who refused to permit us any time to discuss the Estimates other than the few hours between 11.20 a.m. on one day and 4.30 p.m. on the following day. That was the attitude they adopted towards us, notwithstanding that the Estimates covered an expenditure of some £120,000,000. The Estimates relating to some of the Departments, indeed, were not allowed to be discussed. I do not think it is too late even now to refer to the way in which the Treasurer brought in his Estimates. The method adopted was entirely new, since the Estimates as submitted, instead of giving us the actual expenditure of the previous year, simply compared the Estimates for the current financial year with the Estimates of the previous year. Formerly we had had the actual expenditure for the previous year side by side with the Estimates for the period under review. Such a method in my opinion, tends only to confuse the House. I should have preferred to see the Treasurer bring forward his Esti- mates of revenue in this way, although with greater detail: -
From this statement I have omitted the £20,000 of unexpended balances of London orders, and also the interest repaid by the States, viz., £836,230. I ask honorable members to read the Estimates of expenditure for the year ending the 30th inst. under ordinary votes and appropriations, and excluding war services -
Deduct estimated receipts, £39,634,270, from estimated expenditure, £44,544,595, and we get a deficiency of £4,910,325, after allowing for the £5,356,000 which the Treasurer ‘ expects to obtain by new taxation.
The Treasurer partly made up that deficiency by taking the money set aside for Invalid and Old-age Pensions, £3,995,091, and balances brought from London, £800,000, making a total of £4,705,091. But he will not be able to draw on such reserves during the financial year 1919-20. In order to arrive at the total estimated expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1919, we must add to the estimated expenditure of £44,544,595 the amount of £78,914,809 paid out of loan for war services. This gives a total of £123,459,404. If we deduct from that the estimated receipts, £39,634,270, we have a probable deficit on the year’s transactions of £83,825,134. Add that to the public debt of the Commonwealth, viz., £272,022,072, and we get a total public debt of £355,847,206. I believe those figures are approximately correct, but they cannot be absolutely accurate, because the cessation of hostilities has already taken 150,000 soldiers off the pay sheets. But they show that there has been a very great increase in. our public debt, and the Treasurer will have to meet an interest bill of not less than £16,000,000 for the year ending 30th June, 1920, apart altogether from any sinking fund to repay the loans.
I do not agree with the proposal of the Treasurer to rob the States of their per capita allowance of 25s., which we agreed to pay as compensation for the Federal authority taking all Customs and Excise revenue. The Treasurer proposes to reduce that payment by 2s. 6d. per head of population in each year, commencing in 1920-21, until the payment reaches 10s. in 1925-26. That per capita payment of 10s. is to continue for the succeeding five years, when it will be again reviewed by the Federal Parliament. It was in 1910 that Mr. Fisher, the then Treasurer, introduced a Bill to provide that the States should receive a per capita payment of 25s. for a period of ten yeaTs, and at that time the States were in great fear that the Commonwealth would rob them of a considerable amount of revenue. It is very easy for the Treasurer to propose to make good the deficiency which will arise through the war debt by reducing the per capita allowance to the States. But we must remember that the States have a great deal to do with their revenue. Many of the activities of the State authorities enter into the very heart ofthe social and domestic life of the community. There are many domestic Departments to be maintained, which were not included in the Commonwealth’s thirty-nine articles. There are State Departments of Mines, of Agriculture, of Education, and of Charity. In Queensland the Charities Department is very comprehensive. Any unfortunate wife whose husband has deserted her is given by the Department assistance for the maintenance of herself and her chil dren. That is an allowance which ought to have been granted long ago by all the States.
Mr.West. - The maintenance of the children is provided for in New South Wales.
– There, waa a time in Queensland when a widowed mother who could not maintain her children was compelled to board them out. Now she oan claim from theCharity Department an allowance for their maintenance. Similarly a deserted wife can obtain assistance for herself and her children, and there is a further provision for granting aidto the wife and children of a man who is ill and unable to earn a living. The Charities Departments ofthe States must be continued. If the Commonwealth could prove to the general public that it is expending money more economically than the States are doing, we might have some claim to reduce thepayments to the States. But where can we point to any wise system of economy in our Federal expenditure?
– The expenditure has been riotous:
– Are we to take a couple of million pounds from the States each year and insist that they shall find some source of revenue other than the per capita allowance ? I could mention a number of directions in which the Federal Government are wasting a great deal of money. Without any lawful authority they have commenced to expend a lot of money in connexion with a so-called Bureau of Science ‘and Industry. The Government promised to make no appointments in connexion with that Bureau until the House had had an opportunity of considering the proposal. But I understand that Dr. Gilruth, who has been retired from the position of Administrator of the Northern Territory, has actually been sent on a trip abroad, and is to receive an appointment in the Bureau.
– Only during his absence abroad.
– With the approval of the Government he has been sent abroad by Dr. Gellatley, who, with all his ex- perienee as a journalist, andhis qualifications as a financial editor, is not fitted to be a director of the Bureau of Science and Industry. He has commissioned Dr. Gilruth to inquire into the problem of nodules in beef.
– He is to receive only his travelling expenses.
– He is to receive a salary of £1,750 per annum.
– He will receive that in any case, because he is still on leave.
– But I understand that when he returns he will receive an appointment at £1,500 per annum in the Bureau of Science and Industry.
– That is only a statement.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral deny it?
– I have no knowledge of any such arrangement.
– Ought not that arrangement to have come before a Minister as a member of the Cabinet?
– It has been before Cabinet, but no arrangement such as the honorable member has stated has been made.
Mr. HIGGS. The Minister said that he had no knowledge of the appointment.
– Not of the amount the honorable member mentioned.
– The procedure has been most irregular, and indicates the extravagant way in which the Government deal with questions of this nature. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) will recollect that when he was a Minister in a Labour Government and appointments were brought before Cabinet the salaries were always mentioned. Why are the Government sending Dr. Gilruth abroad? Is the trip a solatium for his deprivation of the position in the Northern Territory, or do the Government think that they have so much money to dispose of that they may expend it in this extravagant fashion? We could easily refer to a score of other such items. Before the Government deprived the States of 2s. 6d. per head per annum, commencing in 1920-21, they ought to show that they are prepared to exercise a wise economy. I do not say that they should start in wholesale fashion to throw large numbers of men out of employment.
– That is what economy generally means.
– That policy would be a mistake. But there are ways in which the Government could save hundreds of thousands of pounds. They certainly’ could economize to a considerable extent in the proposed expenditure upon the Naval Bases. If the Allies’ victory in the late war is to bring into being a new world, and we are to have the protection of a League of Nations - as I believe we shall have - what will be the use of expending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the creation of Naval Bases ?
On the figures with which the Treasurer has supplied the Committee, I estimate that the Budget speech will show that we shall require nearly £16,000,000 to meet our interest bill, and that we shall be obliged to raise about £10,000,000 of new revenue in order to pay our way. Where is that money to be obtained ? Are we to receive an indemnity of £120,000,000 from the Germans ? I have heard rumours that the Acting Prime Minister is in possession of certain information; indeed, he almost admitted as much in the first part of his statement: -
Until the protracted deliberations of the Peace Conference were approaching finality, it was considered inadvisable to summon the Houses for the discussion of public business. Even now the information at the disposal of the Government as to the terms of peace is not sufficient to warrant the submission of the matter to Parliament, and it appears probable that it will have to await the return of the Australian representatives.
Those who know the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) know very well that if Australia is likely to get anything from the Germans he will keep it secret, if he possibly can, until he comes back. He will keep it “in the bag.” The Acting Prime Minister almost suggested that there was a likelihood of something coming to Australia.
– The Prime Minister will be sure to bring something back with him.
– He will need to do so in order to justify the motion of confidence in him passed by the National party at its Caucus meeting yesterday. If the terms of peace include the payment of reparation by the Germans to an amount which will cover war pensions it will account for £6,000,000, so that we shall only require to find about £4,000,000 of fresh money per annum in -order to pay our way. If, however, there is no payment of that kind, the Government will need to get £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 from some source or other. Where do they propose to get it? For one thing, they propose to rob the States in order to get some of it. Are they going to increase the rates of the income tax, the probate duties, and the land tax?. Or are they to, have a “ khaki “ election, so that they may come back with a mandate giving them a free hand to do as they like - to tax the general public by way of certain duties on tea, kerosene, and so forth? There is a very strong impression abroad that there will be a general election as soon as the Prime Minister returns. The electoral officers have been instructed to speed up and get all the rolls ready, so that when he returns the Government can rush to the country. There is a general impression that they will even go to the country without dealing with the Tariff.
– That will be suicide.
– They will go to the country as Protectionists. Their leader will do anything he thinks will enable him to score a victory. In any case, it will be suicidal to the electors if they remain, in office for another nine months.
At its Caucus meeting the Nationalist party carried a .motion expressing its pride at the admirable way in which the Government had carried out their administration. It was a very foolish thing for them to do. There are plenty of members of that party who do not believe that the Government have carried out their administration in an admirable manner. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who laughs, may believe in the motion which was carried, because the administration of the Government is in accord with his views; because he thinks that the public deserve all that they get. He really believes that everybody can become rich and prosper ous if he will only keep on the straight and narrow path, and that if the public have to pay high prices it is their own fault.
– Can the honorable member suggest how prices may be reduced?
– It is not the duty of an Opposition to instruct the Government. Nevertheless, we have already furnished honorable members opposite with ideas. The best of their work has come from our programme. Shipbuilding, which is really the best thing the Government has done, was a plank of our programme which they appropriated or stole from us. They have also stolen our PostmasterGeneral from us.
– That is probably the best thing they have done.
– But they have spoiled him. To-day we see the effect they have had on him. He ought to be ashamed of the parsimony of his administration. When does he propose to do away with the ridiculous method of sending out telegraphic messages that now drive the public to desperation? People cannot open the messages. “ Open from right to left” is the rule they are asked to observe.
– The economy has effected a saving of £7,000.
– Well, the irritation it has caused must mean the loss of 7,000 souls. Look at the quality of the paper supplied for filling in telegrams. A person is supposed to write his name and address on the back of the form, but if he does so, he destroys the writing on the front. Consequently, the form has to be torn up, and a fresh one has to be filled in. On my travels, I have heard that the Postmaster-General has actually deprived the travelling post-office employees of their uniforms. These men have a difficult job to perform travelling during the night, and sorting letters, yet men who have been twenty years and thirty years in the service have been deprived of the privilege of having their old uniforms. The Postmaster-General has now issued to them the same uniform that telegraph messengers who have just entered the service are asked to wear.
– The honorable member must be in a jocular mood to-day.
– I can assure the PostmasterGeneral I .am not joking about the matter. I met a man in Queensland who was very distressed over it. I sympathized with him. He said, “ I have been thirty years in the service, and have been deprived of the uniform I used to wear. I think I am entitled to that privilege.” It is poor economy that the Postmaster-General is practising. A great deal of time is lost in saving pieces of string, and in writing on the backs of used envelopes, and a great deal more money is wasted in that way than if fresh string and fresh envelopes were used. I did not criticise the Minister during the war because I thought that he was trying to do his best in the way of exercising economy; but now that the war is over, and paper is cheaper, I think it would be wiser to consider tha comfort of the people who make use of the postoffice, and the personal pride of the departmental employees in the matter of uniforms.
– Is the honorable member in favour of having them dressed in gold braid? *
– I am in favour of the travelling post-office employees having the uniform which they wore prior to the raid the honorable gentleman made upon them recently in a spirit of false economy.
I have reason also to find fault with the Government for their treatment of the Queensland Government, which is trying to do so much for returned soldiers.
– That is a most discourteous ejaculation on the part of the honorable member. Why does he meet with derision a remark which is absolutely true - that the Queensland Government are doing more than any other Government for returned soldiers?
– Why do they not give the fee simple instead of perpetual leases ?
– The honorable member compels me to give the schedule of farms which the Queensland Government Has set apart for their soldiers. It is as follows : -
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
No . other honorable member having risen,
– I am much obliged to honorable members for giving me the opportunity of continuing my remarks at this stage ; and I am pleased that the Treasurer is in the chamber because the Commonwealth Government have agreed to advance to the Queensland Government the moneys referred to in the schedule which I have just read.
– Up to the quota only.
– Is that quota not an arbitrary figure, which the Repatriation Department consider is the number of soldiers Queensland may be entitled to out of 20,000 who are expected to settle on the land ?
– I will tell the honorable member how it was arrived at. The Australian estimate was essentially arbitrary, but after consultation with the State Governments, within the Australian estimate, the allocation was on the basis of enlistments.
– It is interesting to honorable members to know that out of 416,000 soldiers who enlisted it is expected that only about 20,000 will take up land - a very small percentage. In the old days we used to think there would be many thousands desirous of settling on the land. We in Queensland have reason to feel that the Commonwealth Government have not met us as it might have done in this matter. In addition to the schedule of 699,000 acres, the Queensland Government set apart in
Northern Burnett 1,487,704 acres, and in Callide Valley 1,074,522 acres. The estimated cost of the railway and other works to open up these two areas is - From Many Peaks to Monto, £610,000; Mundubbera to Monto, £320,000; Dawson Valley through Prairie to Monto, £400,000 ; a point between Prairie and Monto south-west, £90,000- a total of £1,420,000. The estimated cost of the road formations is, Northern Burnett, £146,770; and Callide Valley, £107,500. Of the resumptions of unexpired leases the estimated cost is, Northern Burnett, £105,240, and Callide Valley, £57,000; and of the surveys and so forth, Northern Burnett, £126,730, and Callide Valley, £87,150. The Commonwealth Government were asked to lend this money, and Mr. Hunter, the Queensland Minister of Lands, estimates that if these areas were opened up they would be capable of settling and maintaining 45,000 people. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), I understand, suggests that a portion of the land is not suitable.
– I say that expenditure on a line over a mountain is unwarranted when the same end can be reached without such expenditure.
– That is the honorable member’s view.
– It is the view of Queensland.
– The honorable member’s district includes Maryborough, and it is desired to get all the traffic which would be caused by the opening up of these lands to go to Maryborough.
– It is the hinterland of Maryborough and Bundaberg.
– It is not the hinterland of Maryborough. One of the great defects in Australia is that the people in certain centres want to monopolize all the trade and commerce; and Australia will never progress until we aim at decentralization, and settle people where they ought to be settled. I am surprised that an otherwise broad-minded man should throw such obstacles in the way of the construction of this railway; his is a parochial view unworthy of a statesman. Once this money is expended it will bring settlement so much nearer to one of the best ports in Queensland, namely, the port of Gladstone. I approached the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) in this matter, and he referred meto Senator Millen, who wrote a letter in the following terms : -
With reference to your letter of the 15th instant, asking my views on a letter received from the Hon. W. G. Higgs on the subject of advancing a loan of £1,420,000 to the State of Queensland for the purpose of building certain railways, I have to advise that the arrangement made at the Premiers’ Conference was that the Commonwealth should provide funds to the extent necessary for each State to make available its estimated quota of holdings for the soldier land settlement scheme, and this, 1 consider, fully meets the present requirements.
The Queensland proposals to the extent of their quota have already been approved, and the request of Mr. Higgs for consideration of a loan of £1,420,000 is in addition to the provision required for the Queensland quota.
This request really amounts to a proposal that the Commonwealth should finance Queensland for its ordinary public works policy, and, if such a request were agreed to, other States would naturally expect similar assistance; and I strongly urge, therefore, that the proposal be not entertained.
Later on, if a policy of immigration is adopted, it may be necessary to aid the States financially.
– Is this not a line that has been turned down by one of the Houses of Parliament in Queensland?
– Forgive me if I do not answer questions without notice. However, if I am taunted in this fashion, I reply that I believe that the Legislative Council of Queensland, owing probably to the promptings of our friend from Wide Bay, did turn down this particular proposal.
– On four different occasions.
– Will the honorable member tell me whether he or his friends have any personal interest in the railway from Mundubbera ?
– Not one penny.
– Now we know that because certain people own land in this neighbourhood they desire a line to be constructed for their benefit. This 2,000,000 acres of land is mostly Crown land, and can be got for the purposes of settlement for practically nothing; whereas we know that the Government of Victoria are paying £20 an acre in order to settle returned soldiers. Maryborough need not complain, seeing that it would get its share of the advantages of the line from Mundubbera . to Monto. Tha Queensland Government have already set aside 699,000 acres, and are prepared to set aside another 2,000,000 acres for the benefit of our returned men.
During the last elections the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) sent a personal letter to the mother of every soldier, and audaciously addressed each one of them, although he could not know hundreds of thousands of them, as “My dear.” The Government have now to make good the promises made in that letter. Mr. Hughes promised that his Government would not desert the mothers, or their sons at the Front, either during the war or after the war; and at the same time he said there was another party, meaning the party on this side of the House, who were pro- Germans, Sinn Feiners, and disloyalists, who would desert them. I suppose that at the next khaki election, when we get this indemnity of £120,000,000 from the Germans, we of the Labour party will be described as Bolsheviks. The general impressionis that Bolsheviks are people who kill off the rich and steal their property, and as such we shall be described.
What were the Government doing with regard to demobilization 1 We saw that Keith Murdoch, the - shall I say? - brilliant correspondent of certain newspapers, complained that the Government had deliberately ordered the demobilization to cover a period of two years - deliberately sent orders abroad not to bring our soldiers back. Then the plot was exposed. I suppose that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) desired the soldiers over there for his own purposes. Honorable members may be interested to know that I met a defeated candidate not long ago who explained to me that his defeat was due to the fact that “ Billy did not stand to me with the soldiers’ votes.” I wonder whether it is desired that the soldiers shall remain abroad over the next election. Of course, we know that soldiers are coming back now, owing to the proposal of the Government having been disclosed by Keith Murdoch.
In a recent issue of the Argus there is a report of a welcome given to Bishop Long, at the Trinity Grammar School, Kew. This gentleman, on that occasion, complained of the manner in which he and others had been treated by this Government in reference to the education of our soldiers. Bishop Long, who has the military rank of Brigadier-General, in the course of his remarks, said - that he had gone to Prance expecting to do the work of a padre, but on arrival General Birdwood asked him to undertake work which practically ended his career in this capacity. The new work was that of organizing the education service for the soldiers. General Birdwood had cabled to Australia, with the usual result -no reply. He (Bishop Long) learned in the months that were to follow what it was to wait for a reply from the people who were supposed to answer cable messages. Early efforts had to be made against officialdom. Books were smuggled up, no matter how the transport officer cut down allowances, and mathematical and other classes were held at night. This showed the men’s great desire for education. He became Director of Education. He bad to think of 200,000 men from every part of Australia, the great majority of whom would depend for their living on their hands, and if left alone would gradually come to depend upon work as casual labourers - the first to surfer in hard times. “The feeling over there,” said Bishop Long carnestly, “ was - Australia’s dead. They will not think about demobilization, about the end of the war, or about repatriation . . . . “
While the Australian Government was always talking about how much it was going to cost, and side-stepping, he and his helpers borrowed things, and big English engineering firms lent them things.
This is the Government, the Prime Minister of which wrote to all the mothers of soldiers in Australia, promising to look after them and their sons after the war.
– It was evidently time the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) went to London.
– Do you know what the soldiers think about the Minister?
– Yes, I do; and to do you.
– I should like to read to the Committee, if the light in the chamber were good enough, the opinion of William Winfield. He wrote from No. 3 Camp,
Parkhouse, to the British Australasian, giving the opinion of the soldiers about Senator Pearce. He spoke of the disabilities they laboured under in Egypt, and how theyprotested to Senator Pearce, and Senator Pearce ignored their protest. They complained of having been compelled to go’ to the disgusting slums of Egypt because all the decent hotels were made out of bounds. This soldier stated that because one of the nurses married a private soldier she was dismissed, and that the nurses in Egypt were ordered not to be seen in the streets with any private soldier.
– The nurses were not allowed to walk even with their brothers.
– Surely you do not blame the Government for all those things ?
– Who is responsible hut the Government? A protest was sent to Senator Pearce, and this soldier states that it was ignored. How are the Government to escape the blame?
What have the Government done to protect the dependants of soldiers at the front and returning soldiers in the matter of profiteering? What has the member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who ought to know a little about the price of goods, done to protect the general public against profiteering, and to point out how the Government could intervene?
– Do you find any profiteering up in Wide Bay?
– There is profiteering everywhere.
– It is not there.
– But the only case I remember where the Government took any action to. prevent profiteering was in the matter of a second-hand dealer in kerosene tins. He sold old tins at more than the regulation price, and was brought to Court. The magistrate was indignant. He said. ‘” It is my duty to send you to gaol. However. I will not do that on this occasion, but I shall fine you £100 for each offence.” .
– For each tin?
– The honorable member must not be so frivolous.” His troubles “ about profiteering ! Profiteering does not hurt him. The higher the price, the bigger hia banking account. This second-hand dealer, who goes round from yard to yard, crying, “ Any rags, any bones’, any bottles to-day - the same old story in the same old way” - is fined £100 at South Melbourne for each offence; but when the highly respectable, fashionable Collins-street firm, Messrs. George and George, were brought before the Court the other day for exhibiting goods with a false trade description, namely, “ art. silk,” did the magistrate become indignant about them?
– They ought to have been gaoled.
– I really believe that if the Commonwealth Government put some of the profiteers in gaol, it would not be long before the public would be getting goods at reasonable prices-. I do not believe in Russian methods of dealing with people, but there should be something like equality of treatment. Ti a fine of £100 was necessary in the case of a secondhand dealer, who, I suppose-, did not receive the education that was given to the gentlemen who comprise- the- firm of George and George, and their managers, what ought to be the fine imposed on those* gentlemen ? But’ the magistrate did not get indignant at all’. He thought a £5 fine and a guinea costs would meet the case:. I protest against the manner in which the Supply . Bill has been introduced.
– It is rather surprising, seeing that we have just come through such a lengthy recess, that some members on the Ministerial side- have not some complaints to make. There have been grumblings innumerable spoken in our ears, and we have heard complaints by way of interjection across the chamber, while during the recess we have often heard from members on the Ministerial side that when the House met, and they had an opportunity of exercising their lungs and attacking the Government, they would be heard from. I do not know whether the Acting Prime Minister (Mt. Watt) or other Ministers have had. a hypnotic influence, but yesterday’s Caucus of the National ‘party seems to have disarmed all criticism from their own side. The. first opportunity in six months is now given to Ministerialists to voice their complaints about maladministration, repatriation,, soldiers’ pensions, and the treatment of returned soldiers generally, yet they have said absolutely nothing. For my part I do not intend to be silent.
During the ‘all-night sitting that took place just prior to Christmas the matter of assistance t6 the manufacturers of Australian sheep dip was discussed. The Prime- Minister (Mr. Hughes) had previously promised to assist the local manufacturers of this article against the importers.. ‘The recess was more than half way through before the Acting Prime Minister, in carrying out his multifarious duties, happened to light upon the promise made by the Prime Minister before he left for Great Britain. This promise, given to the manufacturers of Australian sheep dip> was. that if they could satisfy the Wool Committee and the experts that they could turn out as good a dip in Australia as was produced by Cooper or Quibell, they should have an embargo placed upon importations while shipping space was so short, and an opportunity to give employment to a large number of people-, and distribute to the sheep-owners of Australia an article which is not only equal, but in some cases superior, to any imported . dip. I am not here to distribute compliments to the Ministerial party, but I will say this of the Acting Prime Minister: that, as soon as he discovered - although it was a belated discovery - that the Wool Committee, with Sir john Higgins at their head, had practically said that, the local dip was as good as any imported, and that the Prime Minister had made the promise I have referred to, ‘he honoured that promise. Since then some wealthy Australian firms, who are agents for imported sheep dips, have been trying, to influence municipal councils and members of Parliament; by circular. Two firms that stand out prominently in this agitation against the locally made dip are Dalgetys, who are ‘agents for one imported dip, and the New Zealand Loan Company, who are agents for another. They have- circularized nearly every municipality throughout Australia, , and nearly every member of Parliament, both State and Federal, in the endeavour to throw the local manufacturers out of the business, and, consequently, to throw out of employment a large number of Australians. I believe the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) will agree with me that the local dip is equal, if not superior, to the imported.
– You ‘ are absolutely right.
– The Wool Committee are satisfied with it, and the makers are offering this splendid article to Australian pastoralists at less than Quibell’s or Cooper’s can supply their goods at.
– The local cattle dip is better than the imported cattle dip.
– That is so. If we are here to make Australia a self-contained country as far as practicable, as it should be, surely we will put up a big fight in this House for an industry of this kind, established under the conditions under which it has been established. I am sounding this warning note, because I am afraid that some, municipalities have been led into a sort of trap by this appeal to them to place an embargo not on the imported dip. but on the- locally-made article. I know something about this, because some country or semi-country municipalities are in my electorate. Let this House fight those squatters.’ who will have the imported article. I hope when the Tariff proposals are tabled, we shall have such a duty on this and other items that we can set at nought opposition from any other quarter. I am glad to have backing in this matter from the Ministerial side. I hope we shall continue to give our ardent support to this Australian industry. I complained just prior to the Christmas adjournment that the promise given by the Prime Minister in that matter had not been kept, but I pointed out that the Prime Minister had taken upon himself a big load of duties that he was not able to discharge unaided. I said that if the work was better distributed amongst the members of the Ministry, some matters that had been hung up for months would be more expeditiously attended to. No one man, no matter what his brain power is, can, espe cially in war-time, carry the load the Prime Minister attempted to carry, and which the Acting Prime Minister has, unfortunately, been attempting to carry, since the departure of that honorable gentleman. But we know that shipping space was very scarce during the war, and that the British Government requested that as far as practicable Australia should do for herself all that she could, so that ships might not have to carry any more than the utmost necessities by way of cargo to Australia - indeed, that Australians, so far as possible, should supply their own requirements. In the face of that special request, so negligent were the Government that, by some means or other, the firms interested in the imported dip were able to obtain shipping space.
– They had procured it before.
– No. If the Prime Minister had acted up to his promises, no imported dip would have been brought out to Australia, and Australian manufacturers of that commodity would have been saved from having to practically close down, thus throwing out of work a very large number of men. In several of the States manufacturers of Australian sheep dip have satisfied the most able and candid critics as to the quality of their product.
– I consider the Australian dip the best. I have tried it.
- Sir John Higgins showed me a pile of correspondence to similar effect; and he remarked - and I am sure that I am not uttering a breach of confidence in stating this - “ These manufacturers of sheep dip have been treated in a scandalous fashion.” The Australian manufacturers had been working three shifts continuously in order to keep their promise that they would supply Australian sheep-owners with full quantities. Yet, by what means I am unable to state, certain wealthy firms interested were enabled to secure shipping space with the result that hundreds of Australian working men were thrown out of employment. I am surprised that the farmers, through their Farmers’ Union, should permit themselves to listen to the claims of agents for the imported commodity - staunch and stalwart Protectionists as the farmers ought always to be in their own interests. Why is it that today the farmers of this community, through the Farmers’ Union, are being hoodwinked by wealthy importers who are endeavouring to force upon the man on the land the squelching of a local industry? If the farmers allow themselves to be deceived in this case, it will serve them right if their own pockets are squeezed by those same wealthy importing firms by rises in the price of the overseas article. I hope Parliament will stand by the local manufacturers, and not only by regulation place an embargo on the imported dips, but in the Tariff itself make it absolutely impossible for any sheep dip to come into Australia. There are undoubtedy sinister influences at work. When. I see what is happening, I want to know whether, into our municipal councils and the ranks of the very farmers themselves, ‘ there are not certain persons interesting themselves in order to farm the farmers. If the local sheep dip were being charged for, say, at double the price of the imported dip, or even at 10s. a case over and above the other article, I could understand some amonnt of opposition. But when we know that a better and cheaper article is being offered by Australian manufacturers to the Australian farmer and sheep-owner, I am puzzled at the attitude adopted by the latter.
– Dalgety’s have got them in their grip.
– Give the manufacturers protection, but not prohibition.
– If the promises of the Prime Minister had been kept there would have been prohibition for this industry for months and months past. The local manufacturers are prepared to put their dip to any conceivable test as against the imported, and they are confident that the expert verdict will always be absolutely in their favour. Why, therefore, should not our farmers encourage our own manufacturers in every way?
– I call attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– There has been circulated amongst honorable members a pamphlet in which it is made to appear that unless an embargo be placed on the locally-made sheep dip the Australian wool industry will suffer. The tests passed by the locally manufactured sheep dip go to show, however, that it is equally as effective as is the imported article in dealing, not only with blowfly, but all other pests. It remains for this Parliament to stand up against the trickery on which so much money has been spent, and to stand by the local industry.
I desire now to refer to another local industry, which is under the control of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster). We have been boasting that we will find employment, not only for our returned soldiers, but for every man and woman in Australia. With so much to do and so little done, there should be no talk of unemployment insurance in Australia. Here every man and. woman should be profitably employed. Our policy in respect of the Tariff and other matters is very much awry if we are not providing for every Australian artisan. We have in Australia men who are employed in making table sets for the “CB.” or common battery system, in connexion with the telephone service. Those sets are made of Australian woods by Australian workmen; but I am informed that the men engaged in this industry are now practically to be deprived of their employment, since orders have been sent out of the country for the supply of at least 2,000 sets, to be made, I presume, of foreign material by people who contribute nothing to the upkeep of the Commonwealth. A Government that is prepared to countenance this sort of thing is not acting consistently with the policy of developing this country. This matter may not have come under the direct attention of the Postmaster-General, but I ask him to inquire into it and to see that these orders are carried out by our own people in our own country.
Another matter in respect of which this Government has been negligent-
– Not the present Government ?
– Yes. Before we adjourned for dinner the honorable member indorsed my statement as to the treatment of certain manufacturers. As a member of the Wool Committee, as a wool grower, and as a member of this House, he has -done so, and I therefore expect him to join with me in condemning the Government, if they continue such a policy.
The present Administration are taking but little interest in machinery for the elimination of weevil from wheat. All the work being done in that direction in South Australia and Victoria is under the auspices of the British Government, which is bearing the whole cost. The Commonwealth Government are standing aloof, although’ the matter is one of great import- ance to our primary producers.
– It is something that will happen only once in the lifetime of a nation.
-That may or may not be so. In South Australia last week some of us inspected machinery that is doing magnificent work in killing weevil- in wheat, destroying the eggs, and removing from the grain everything of a deleterious character, so that it may be sent away in a proper condition.
– To which process is the honorable member referring?
– I am referring to machinery employed in South Australia by the firm of Bagshaw and Company. It is a rotary process, the wheat finally passing through cylinders carrying a degree of heat sufficient to destroy the weevil. I was surprised to learn that the British Government alone are taking an interest in this work.
– But they own the wheat which is being dealt with.
– Why does the Commonwealth Government stand aloof from schemes of that kind?
– What does the honorable member mean ? It is only in respect of the Imperial wheat stacks that “this process is necessary.
– We were told only this afternoon that we have still 2,000,000 tons of wheat to dispose of..
– What about the erection of silos?
– There has been much talk as to the erection of silos by the Government, but it is- a case of all talk and no action. I am surprised to find honorable members who are supposed to represent the primary producers standing as apologists for the Government in this regard.
In submitting his preliminary financial statement to the Committee this afternoon, the Treasurer (Mr. Watt), so far as I am aware, did not indicate that the amount which he gave us in respect of our loan indebtedness included other than war loans. A financial statement which deals only with war loans and interest thereon is by no means complete. We have borrowed money in respect of many of our undertakings,; we are paying interest on a great deal -of money borrowed in connexion with the Northern Territory and the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. With these, and other loans, I do not think the Treasurer dealt this afternoon; but I hope that before the Bill is passed we shall have full information in regard to them. We have to pay over £80,000 a year by way of interest on the Northern Territory loans., and we are also paying interest on over £6,000,000 borrowed for the construction of the East-West railway. All these represent burdens upon the people, and should be included in any financial statement made by the Treasurer. I shall question the honorable gentleman later on as to whether they were included in the total indebtedness of £261,000,000 of which he spoke. I understood him to say. that that amount represented merely the money borrowed locally and abroad to carry on the war. In addition to the other items enumerated by me, the Government have borrowed money from the Australian Notes Trust Fund and other Trust Funds, and also, I believe, from the Commonwealth Bank. In respect of all these borrowings, interest has to be paid. Australia to-day is paying, by way of interest alone, an amount considerably in excess of what was the revenue of the Commonwealth in normal times. Our interest bill in respect of State and Federal, borrowings is something like £30,000,000 per annum, and is increasing. We are told that a further loan will be necessary before we can clear the decks in respect of the interest bill relating to the war a ad repatriation. The financial situation of the Commonwealth is serious.
It is incumbent upon honorable members, not only to safeguard the existing industries of Australia, but to encourage the establishment of new ones, since in that way alone can we hope to keep our people well employed, and to induce others to come here- We need a scientific Protective Tariff, and we should do everything possible by means of the Tariff and other schemes to make Australia as far as possible self-contained.
– And increase the cost of living.
– If the cost of living is to go higher than it is, we can expect to look a revolution in the. face. The people’s patience has reached the breaking point. Apart from industrial troubles, there are in all the cities of the Commonwealth people who are in absolute want, and this notwithstanding that we have stored up over 2,000,000 tons of wheat. And yet the honorable member for Calare suggests that the imposition of a scientific Tariff would increase the cost of living.
– It has done so in the past.
– If that is the honorable member’s idea of saving Australia, and he is going to get a majority of - his party to think with him, then the outlook is a poor one; but I do not believe he will.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not intend to delay the Committee very long in dealing with the Supply measure, but I think it well to direct the attention of Ministers to some anomalies that exist. Provision should be made during this session to render assistance to old-age pensioners. Some fourteen- or fifteen cases have been brought under my notice in which the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act appears to have been administered iri a very harsh way, though we know that sympathetic administration of such- an Act is necessary. Honor - able members will agree that 12s. 6d. per week is not sufficient to enable an old-age pensioner to procure even the necessaries of life in these days when the cost of living is so high. I know of one case in which an old-age pensioner was earning a few shillings by doing a little work which brought her weekly income up to 22s. The Pensions Office got to hear of this, and they have since been deducting 5s. per week to cover arrears, leaving the pensioner with only 7s. 6d. per week. The Government should instruct their departmental officers that such cases should be overlooked, especially at this time, and that no action should be’ taken whatever to the injury of the pensioner. ‘ It is up to the Government to increase the amount of the old-age pension. Now that the cost of living has been increased by from 75 to 100 per cent., the pension should be 25s. or 30s. per week instead of 12s. 6d. .per week. I have another case to which special attention should be directed., and it is one which affects a seaman. We are having trouble with seamen just now, and this is a case which will show the general public, how seamen are treated. This man has been a seaman on> the Australian coast for sixteen years. Whilst on atrip to the Fiji Islands, he met with an. accident in Fiji, from- which he became totally incapacitated. He is a Swede, who has been naturalized in Australia for the past fourteen years, and is domiciled in Sydney. He applied for .an invalid pension, but his application was rejected on the’ ground that’ the incapacity occurred outside of Australia. The pensions officer informs me that the application was refused om the authority of the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. Hewrites to say that the evidence showed that Mr. Hansen’s incapacity occurred during his absence from Australia, and in view of the provisions of the Act, he had- to take the course of refusing the application following an expression of opinion by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor that a claimant for an invalid pension becoming permanently incapacitated whilst employed on an Australian vessel outside of Australia could not be regarded as coming within the provisions, of the Act. ‘
– Had this man a home in Sydney?
– Was the ship owned in Australia ?
– Yes ; and the man was working under an award of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. If such a man is not an Australian citizen, who is?
– He would not be disqualified under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– No. He received the amount of compensation to which he was entitled uuder that Act, and has been living on that for the last three years. Now he has nothing, and that is why he applied for the invalid pension’. I say thathis application was rejected on the ground that his incapacity occurred outside of Australia. It should be remembered that we have 7,000 seamen on the Australian coast, and many of these men are trading to the South Sea Islands and to New, Zealand, while they are domiciled in Australia. Their families are here, and they are paying rates and taxes in Australia. It is strange that they cannot be brought within the provisions of an Act of the Parliament of this country.
– As a layman, I should say that is bad law if the man has a home in Australia.
– Undoubtedly it is the result of an unsympathetic administration of the law, for no sane person would say that this man is not an Australian.
– The administration of the Act in Sydney is very sympathetic.
– The honorable member may have found it so. I will say that, so far as Mr. Macpherson is concerned, he is prepared to give every case consideration, but he is bound by the provisions of the Act, and if instructions come to him from Melbourne to carry out those provisions to the letter, he is unable to give the assistance asked for. We cannot blame him, hut we can blame the Department.
– The honorable member should blame the Parliament that passed the Act.
– The Treasurer (Mr. Watt), instead of introducing measures to foment industrial strife and trouble, should bring in an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act to meet such cases as I have referred to.
– The honorable member should not spoil a good case.
– I cannot spoil this case, and I say that the Act should be so amended as to bring such a case within its provision.
– I advise the honorable member to bring the case before the Minister.
– I told the man concerned that I would not let the matter drop, and that I intended to try to get satisfaction for him, because I believe that he should be given a pension.
I should like to ask what is the use of paying Commissioners to make inquiries into the cost of commodities if the only result is to be the distribution of a few reports to honorable members, and the outside public are to know no more about them than they can glean from the brief resume of such reports that appears in the press. I refer honorable members to Report No. 11 on clothing by the Commissioners, which discloses a scandalous condition of affairs, and shows that the manufacturers of woollen goods have been exploiting the Government and the people for the last four years.
– The honorable member must include the Commonwealth Factory with them.
– I had the pleasure of going through the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, and I was surprised at the progress made there, and the cheapness with which they were able to turn out goods.
– Is the honorable member aware that the Commonwealth Factory has set the price for all military work.
– I know that at the Commonwealth Factory they can turn out a military overcoat for 27s. 6d.
– What is their cost price for a suit of clothes?
– A suit of clothes complete can be turned out for 30s.
– That is so; that is what we were told there.
– It surprised me to learn how cheap military clothing can be turned out there. They can turn out an overcoat for 27s. 6d., and yet if you come up to the city you will find that an overcoat of inferior material, and not nearly as good workmanship, sells for £5 or £6. I want to know where the difference in cost is going.
– We should get a return laid on the table of the costs in the Commonwealth Factory.
– I wish the honorable member would do so. In this report I find the statement made of a hosiery and knitting factory that in 1914 had a capital of £105,404, and their net profit was 12 per cent. In 1917 their net capital was £233,217, and their net profit 21.279 per cent.
– Does the honorable member know which company is referred to.
– That concern does not require much protection.
– In the limited time at my disposal I cannot go through the whole of this report on clothing, but I recommend honorable members to study it. Speaking of the woollen mills, the Commissioners state that in 1914 they had a net capital of £1,144,385, and made a profit of 13.444 per cent. In 1917, their capital was £1,459,040, and they had a net profit of 25.978 per cent. In 1916, their net profit was 39.452 per cent., which represents an increase of 300 per cent, on the profits made in 1914.
– They had to work three shifts.
– Whether they were working one shift or three shifts honorable members will agree that an increase of 300 per cent, in profits in war time calls for some comment. This is what the Commissioners have to say -
It will be observed that the net profits on capital derived by the hosiery and knitting factories have been much in excess of what is fair and reasonable. The proprietors generally have substantially benefited by the abnormal conditions of trade arising out of the war.
– They may have to turn over their capital frequently. .
– I think the honorable member will agree that when a set of individuals are in control of an industry, presumably for the benefit of the community, if their output is augmented, they should be satisfied with a lower proportional return.
– Not in the circumstances under which they were working. The Government asked them to work their machinery three shifts.
– The honorable member must know as well as I do that before profits are disclosed depreciation of machinery is allowed for. In running any business, wages and all charges are deducted before any profit is disclosed, so that even if the machinery is renewed every six months the cost of renewal is added to the price of the article.
– The Treasurer will tell the honorable member that the firm to which he refers paid 15s. in the £1 as excess profit tax.
– So it should. But that does not alter the fact that the firm has been exploiting the people. Is there any man in the community who, if he were allowed to walk into a bank and take money, would not be willing to pay back 15s. in the £1 ? That is what the profiteers are doing.
– The whole question is whether it is legitimate to calculate that profit on the capital when they are turning over the capital three times by working three shifts.
– I turn now to the wholesale softgoods warehouses. I find that in 1914 those warehousemen had a capital of £3,553,535, and their net profit on the capital was 8.33 per cent. In 1917 they had a capital of £3,646,492, and their net profit was 15.21 per cent., an increase of 7 per cent, in the profit as against an increase in capital of about only £100,000. The Commission’s report is too bulky to be placed in Hansard in its entirety, but I again advise honorable members to read it carefully in anticipation of a request by some of these firms for increased protection. The Government have lifted the price-fixing regulation, and thewholesale distribution is to continue without interference. The Commission says -
Prices are now fixed by wholesalers, not by adding the same uniform percentage to landed cost, but by directing the head of each department, e.g., Manchester goods, ready-made clothing, silks, &c, to produce at the end of each half year a defined gross profit . on the sales. The departmental head knows what his goods’ have cost into warehouse, and so adjusts the additions to that cost of the various articles handled as to bring out an aggregate amount in turnover which will yield the stipulated gross profit over aggregate landed cost.
The minimun profit which the departmental head must return is 331/3d. per cent. And yet honorable members growl because seamen are asking for £16 per month ! To the questions asked by the Prime Minister the following answers were submitted by the Commission : -
The enhanced prices are directly attributable to the war and to the fact that local manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors have; to a large extent, taken advantage of abnormal conditions for the purpose of increasing their profits. ,
As more particular causes the Commission refers to -
So far as the Commission has been able to ascertain (with the exceptions mentioned in the next sentence), there is no evidence of the existence of any combination of manufacturers or distributors for the purpose of fixing prices or manipulating the market.
The exceptions are that the association concerned fixes throughout Australia the minimum price for flannel said to be applicable only “ to the lowest-grade flannel that can be made,” and also a minimum price for blankets, which, according to the evidence, has a similar basis to that of the minimum price for flannel.
The report contains the crux of the whole situation, and it is essential that the public should understand it. The Commission has suggested that prices may be regulated by prescribing the following maximum percentages, to be added to “ prime cost,” representing actual cost of material and wages : -
If the Commission recommended that the merchants should be allowed to make the foregoing percentages of profit, what profit must they be making at the present time? In regard to retail distributors, the Commission recommended-
Prices to be controlled by prescribing a maximum of 331/3 per cent, to be added to cost landed in warehouse or shop of all materials for clothing and of all’ articles of clothing.
The report concluded -
The following suggestion, which is not directly related to control of prices, is also submitted: - “That in the public interest action be taken to bring about the compulsory keeping by all traders of prescribed trading accounts, profit and loss statements, and balancesheets.”
It is the duty of the Government to take a decided stand in this matter. T have quoted only the report in regard to clothing. Let honorable members read the report upon groceries.
– The Commonwealth has no power to deal with thismatter.
– We ought to obtain the power. The Commonwealth took power under the War Precautions Act to do many things which it was said not to have power to do, and honorable members should be prepared to see that the Commonwealth is given the necessary authority to deal with the matter of profiteering. Instead of frittering away time with some of the measures which the Government propose to introduce, let them bring; forward a’ set of Bills for a referendum at which the people shall be asked to confer power in this matter upon the Federal authority.
– The States have the power to-day.
– I am sure that if this Parliament desires power to control the profiteers the people will be prepared to give it. It must be apparent to them and to honorable members that it is useless to have five different authorities attempting to control commodities and fix prices. Under, that system Queensland will have one set of conditions, New South Wales another, South Australia still another, and so on. We require one central authority to exercise power throughout the Commonwealth, and the. proper authority is the Federal Parliament. We have learnt something from the lessons taught by the war. We have organized most of the industries; we have these reports by the Inter-State Commission, and there should be no difficulty in either taking steps to reduce prices to normal, or to raise wages in proportion to the abnormal prices. Honorable members talk of industrial unrest. But what else can they expect? During. the five years of war the minds of the people have been disturbed. For patriotic and other reasons many men have borne the burden of increased cost of living and other irksome conditions without complaint. Now the Avar is over, yet they see the cost of living still increasing. Notwithstanding the statement of the Commonwealth Statistician that the cost of living has increased only 41 per cent, since 1913, £3 per week to:day will not purchase as much as 25s.. would have purchased five years ago.
– Does it not occur to the honorable member that if the members of the various unions were to invest their funds in co-operative concerns they would solve this problem for themselves?
– Has it ever occurred to the honorable member that if the Government started co-operative concerns they would assist- to control prices? If the honorable member had studied the cooperative system as much as I have done he would know that it is a fallacy to suppose that they can entirely solve this question. Whilst I admit they do a lot of good in their immediate spheres, yet there is a large class of people in big industrial centres who, because of their nomadic habits, irregularity of employment and uncertainty of domicile, cannot get any advantage from membership in a cooperative concern unless there is a complete reciprocity between all the co-operative concerns throughout the country. I am interested in a co-operative concern at Lidcombe, and I admit that we started it with 150 subscribers of £1 each, and to-day it is flourishing. But I will give .an illustration of the difficulties with which it has to contend. A few months ago, when horse feed was dear, I’ bought, from a farmer, two trucks of chaff. We sold that chaff at a satisfactory price, but when I asked him for a further supply he refused, because the Sussex-street merchants had heard of the sale to me and had warned him that if he sold more chaff to me they would refuse to handle his produce. The store at Lidcombe cannot get supplies of Champion’s vinegar, because the manufacturers have been warned that if they supply the co-operative store, the local storekeepers will not stock the article.
I contend that it is the responsibility of the Government, and not of a few individuals, to undertake co-operative effort. We have read of what local councils do in that direction in different parts of Europe. It is possible for local councils in Australia to establish co-operative stores and eliminate the middleman. Instead of voting £500 or £600 to each local council for the purpose of providing pick and shovel work for returned soldiers, the Government would be better advised to vote a few thousand pounds to municipalities, so that’ they may open stores and check the profiteer.
– Does not the honorable member know that the New South Wales Government will not allow a meat market to be established in Sydney?
– We do not see much meat in Sydney these days: Meat is a curio for which one must look in the museum.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– A less inquisitive individual than myself might be pardoned for asking what arrangements the Government have arrived at with a view to pacifying their malcontents. Surely during the past seven months the actions of the Government have been such as to justify criticism on the part of some honorable member upon the other side of the chamber. If we were discussing a no-confidence motion, I could readily understand the delicacy of the situation; but seeing that we are merely debating the question of Supply, I am indeed surprised to find many of the stormy petrels amongst the Ministerial following either conspicuous by their absence or absolutely dumb. However, we shall doubtless learn the reason for this silence within the course of a few days, and we shall then know precisely where we stand. Of course, I can quite imagine the Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) saying to Ministerial supporters, “ Now, don’t you talk too much; you throw the blame on the Opposition if the old-age pensions are not paid by the 2nd ofnext month “ ; or the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) exclaiming, ‘ ‘ You make the Labour party keep back the pay of the civil servants, and then they will get hell for. having done it.” That is the sort of conversation which must have gone on. I can assign no other reason for the attitude of my honorable friends opposite.
I listened with pleasure to the speech of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace), and I confess that all he said was correct. During the war period, the manufacturers of Australia have remorselessly robbed the people of this country of millions of pounds; and yet I will pile higher duties on imports if I can. The fact that our manufacturers have deliberately robbed the consumers is the people’s own fault. They refused to give the Commonwealth Parliament the power to prevent this exploitation; but while I frankly admit that during the war the manufacturers have robbed the people of Australia of millions of pounds, I say, without any hesitation, that the importers have robbed them of ten times as much. I do not forget that they are all patriots. I have no doubt that in the future when the importer is asked by his children, “ Father, what did you do in the great war?” his reply will be, “I sold soldiers’ comforts while mother waved the flag.” All these people - manufacturers and importers alike - are great patriots. They never grow tired of waving the Union Jack. But God help a man if he attempts to wave the red flag. Personally, I have no great opinion of the individual who always wants to wave the red flag; but I have a less opinion of the man who always wishes to wave the Union Jack because under the shelter of that flag he has been robbing the consumers throughout the war. Only the other day we had that old imbecile, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Alderman Cabena, compelling the Labour movement to carry the Union Jack at the head of its procession on Eight Hours Day.
– That was a hardship, was it not?
– It was. I ask the honorable member for Kooyong whether he thinks that he can command respect for the Union Jack by compelling people to carry it?
– It should not have been a matter of compulsion; it should have been carried voluntarily.
– Can one have respect for a flag which he is compelled to carry ? Then why was this action taken by the Lord Mayor? It was not because it was thought that respect for the Union Jack would be thus increased, but because it was anticipated there would be a refusal on the part of the eight hours movement to obey the order, that a riot would ensue, and that the Bolsheviks could then be shot down. That was the reason underlying the issue of the edict for the carrying of the Union Jack. The order, however, served only to bring the Union Jack into contempt. The idea of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne
– A good man.
– He is a true sample of his class. I suppose that some of his barrackers instilled into his feeble mind the idea that something might be gained by the issue of that order. Had the leaders of the Eight Hours movement said, “We will walk in procession, and we will not carry the Union Jack,” what would have taken place? The instruction, I repeat, was not issued with a view to commanding respect forthe Union Jack, but rather with a view to belittling the Eight Hours movement. In Victoria that movement is annually celebrated by the workers, who have succeeded in reducing their daily hours of labour from sixteen to eight, and who will doubtless still further reduce them in the near future. I cannot forget that in days gone by they had to wrest their improved industrial conditions from the flagwaggers of the Union Jack. I am surprised that any honorable member opposite should not recognise how futile it was to endeavour to instil into the minds of the people who walked in the Eight Hours procession respect for the Union Jack by compelling them to carry it. I am one of those who do not think ithat it is essential that an organization should have either an emblem or a flag. But the fact remains that there has grown up in the human mind a desire foT something of that sort. A flag or an emblem of some description constitutes a rallying point just as do the colours of a military regiment. With all our civilization, we are to-day very fond of ritual.
– Well, many people describe the love of the Union Jack as tomfoolery. The fact remains that we wear a button or a medal to showthat we wre associated with some particular organization. That being so, why should the Labour movement be prevented from carrying a red flag if it wishes to do so? Candidly, I do not see the use of carrying it; but now that I am prevented from carrying the red flag, I desire to carry it. Persecution has neverkept down anything. The very religion ofthe Christian people became dominant in spite of persecution. Indeed, I believe that persecutionhelped it to become dominant.
– Is the red flag the flag of any Christian people?
– The honorable member ought to know that the red flag was the early Christian flag. The Labour movemenlt is not a sectarian movement. A man may be a Mohammedan and belong to that movement. During the past twelve months in particular, we have had people in out midst who desired to exhibit the red flag at their meetings. I have often looked at that flag and wondered where was the necessity for exhibiting it. These people have attacked me repeatedly, just as they have attacked the Labour party. But we had no desire to prevent them carrying the red flag if they wished to do so.
– Why do society ladies carry poodle dogs?
Mr.MATHEWS. - The honorable member might as well ask me why they have bare backs. I do not know. There is not an honorable member opposite who has been in Parliament for an appreciable time, and who believes for a moment that the prohibition imposed by the Government on the carrying of the red flag by any set of people possesses any real value. But things have now gone so far that at race meetings, instead of running up the red flag when the winning jockey has weighed in all right - as was the custom previously - the officials now run up a blue-and-white flag. I understand, too, that the red flag is to be taken away from the railway men and a green one substituted as an emblem of peace. The war is over now, but during its continuance there has been a constant suppression of free speech and a censorship of literature. We were told that these things were necessary in the interests of good government and because freedom of speech and the publication of uncensored literature might give offence to some of our Allies. That objection has now disappeared. Weare, I hope, enteringupon a new era. Yet we have not heard one word from the Government to-day about the restoration of liberty of speech or of the right of people to fly the red flag if they so desire: I have never yet heard any valid argument why, in time of peace, restrictions should be imposed upon any section of the community who desire to follow their own particular course of action. It stands to the credit of the Government that they have released the women who were incarcerated for having flown the red flag, but there is a man named Long in gaol, and I ask whether anything can be gained by keeping him there any longer, now that the war is over and peace is about to be signed. He says that the red flag is the emblem of the brotherhood of man. I have no belief in the brotherhood of man - I know human nature too well; but I would not prevent any other man from holding that belief. Some people consider that by organization and example they will very soon bring about the brotherhood of man. Why should they be prevented from endeavouring to bring it about by the production of literature and the flying of a flag? We may consider -their songs foolish, but why should we prevent them from forming their organizations and singing these songs? It may. be amusement for them.
– They may possibly be right.
– Quite possibly they are right. That may be the reason why they are being suppressed. But if it amuses them, why stop them ? It reminds me of a big blacksmith I knew, whose wife used to hit him with a poker. A friend said, “ I would very soon stop her from doing that.” But the big “blacksmith merely replied, “ It does not hurt me, and it amuses her. Why should I stop her ? “ If these people choose to carry a red flag and publish newspapers with what they consider high ideals, and go ‘On the Yarra bank, or to any street corner where they are not impeding traffic, to hold forth on a special form of religion, or political ideals, what right has any one to try to prevent them? We have heard a good deal of talk about engendering in the community hostility to our present form of civilization and so forth. Well, all I have to say is that there is a good deal wrong with our civilization, and if these people can conceive methods of improving it, no one has the right to stop them so long as they do not inflict bodily harm on others. If by their advocacy they can bring about social reform in a constitutional way, no one has the right to prevent them by phy sical force. The time has passed for indulging in that sort of thing. Last October I warned honorable members that these people would be driven to the breaking point. If there are honorable mem-, bers opposite who seek an opportunity to shoot down the populace let them say 80 but if they desire to have peace in our midst let them see that those people who are being persecuted to-day are permitted to ventilate their opinionsso long- as they do it in a constitutionalway; but honorable members opposite arenot entitled to lay down what is a constitutional manner. I have no quarrel with honorable members opposite, or with those who have sent them here, as to their opinions. They think they are right; I think I am right. But they have no right to suppress me, and prevent me from giving expression to my views so long as I do not advocate methods which, in a civilized community, I should not advocateHow can an article published in a newspaper which people are not compelled toread, but which circulates among a section of the community who have a desireto read it, do any harm? If these people wish to give vent to speech on ordinary lilies, why should they be prevented from doing so? I do not know whether I can draw from the Government any promise,, or get from those associated with them any expression of opinion as to this matter, but I do think the Acting PrimeMinister, now peace has been declared,, has an opportunity of telling the people of Australia that there will be a cessation of what has taken place in the community for some time past, that people who have been gaoled will be released, and that those who have been prosecuted and. persecuted for holding particular ideas will no longer be imprisoned. What possible gain can there be from the continuance of this practice? If political gain could be achieved I could understand it; if the community could be helped in any way by suppressing these things I could understand it; but nohonorable member opposite has yet advanced one reason why the desires of people who differ from them should besuppressed, and the Government are very remiss in not taking some step in* the direction I am urging.
During the recess, when honorable members did nob have the opportunity of ventilating them, crimes that I am surprised that Ministers are not ashamed of were committed. I do not propose to go into the Freeman case, which has- already been dealt with, and which will need to be dealt with again; but men have been -deported for no reason whatever. Sailors, not enemy aliens, but citizens of allied countries, have deserted their ships, and the whole of the machinery of the Australian Government has been used to deport them. We were not always so considerate of the nations we have been associated with during the war as to go to the length of chasing deserting sailors from one end of Australia to the other, and deporting them. But during the past few years, because it was thought necessary to do so, and because it was thought that we were doing something our Allies desired, men in Melbourne and Sydney have been kept in detention for deportation, not. because they were considered to be undesirable citizens, but simply because they were sailors who had deserted from their vessels. I do not know what can be gained by resorting to such extreme methods in -such trivial cases. Australia is supposed to be a free country, yet because a man comes here in a foreign vessel and is dissatisfied with the treatment he has received - under no flag does a sailor receive more than a human being should receive, and in the mercantile marine of some nations the conditions under which sailors live are still more undesirable than they are on Australian or British ships - if a sailor deserts, as right down through the centuries, sailors have always . deserted, the whole of the machinery of the Defence Department is set to work to institute a search and capture him, if if should so happen that the shipmaster cannot get hold of him while he is in port, or the owners- cannot get hold of him,. and bring him up before a magistrate. Surely it is time we heard from the Government that this practice will cease. There must be a stage at which sanity will return to the Government and to their supporters.
As to the treatment of the unfortunates who happen to be of German origin or birth, a case which’ I ‘-recently brought .under the notice of the Defence authorities and the Prime Minister’s Department, and which was also brought under the attention of the PostmasterGeneral, who is now dealing with it, is one that I would like to mention to honorable members, asking whether any reason can exist for resorting to such methods as have been employed in regard to it. It is the case of a young fellow named Paul Herman, whose father came to Australia some thirty-two years ago. He was a Pomeranian by birth, and had run away from Germany because of his detestation of the compulsory military -service of that country. After being in London for a little time, he came to Australia, and he subsequently brought out his wife and child, Paul, who was then two years of age. I worked with the father in Sydney twenty-three years ago. Paul had one brother who enlisted, and was rejected on account of physical defect, and another who enlisted and went to the Front. The latter returned to Sydney five weeks ago to find that Paul was in gaol because he had been born in Germany. He had a tailor’s shop in Sydney, and has documents to prove that he offered to manufacture clothing for the Defence Department at the military price ; but after the armistice was signed - not before - he was seized and placed for a time in Darlinghurst gaol, .and afterwards removed to the Holdsworthy Concentration Camp, where he- is now confined. I have endeavoured to ascertain why he was interned. I have asked men closely associated with him if they knew why this step was taken, but the only reason they can advance is that at a meeting of the Young Australia League, he made use of the remark that he believed the money which was being spent on Mr. Hughes’ trip to Great Britain, and expenditure of a similar character, could be better devoted to the advancement of the production of Australian goods. As a young Australian, he believes that Australia ought to produce largely, and that the Commonwealth ought to be independent in these matters. That is the only reason his friends can advance for his internment. There can be no possible reason for a sane Government perpetrating crimes of this character.. Are they doing this sort of thing for fun ? Do they enjoy inflicting punishment on people just to see them squirm and suffer ? What reason can there be for keeping Paul Herman in gaol ? There are dozens of similar cases. At Canberra, Australian women married to German husbands, and children reared in Australia - true Australians - have been placed in an internment camp for what reason they do not know. During the war it might have been felt there was some need for all this sort of thing, but when the armistice was signed every one knew that the Germans could not possibly renew the’ attack on the Allies, that it would be futile to attempt to do so. Yet there are thousands of people still interned in Aus=tralia. I am quite ready to admit that remarks made by some of those who were interned were objectionable, and that there is a desire not to keep these people in Australia; but I cannot understand why others who have expressed no enmity to the British Empire are still kept in internment, and I do not believe there are two honorable members opposite who would still keep them in confinement. I am not one of those who attack a Government merely for party purposes, and my remarks upon this subject are not made from a party stand-point at all. I would rather be a Britisher than the native of any other country in the world ; but while that is so, I am willing to allow everybody else to have the same opinion about his ‘own native land. I cannot see what we have to gain from legislation or regulations framed for the purpose of incarcerating men for no reason whatever, now that the war is over and peace about to be declared.
.- I am somewhat surprised that members supporting the Government have not availed themselves of the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the returned soldiers and their treatment since they have come back to Australia. I heard the Acting Prime Minister’s statement, in which there is the boast that the cases of only about 4 per cent, of the returned soldiers have not been finalized. If the Acting Prime Minister had been in my position, and had met as many of these returned soldiers as I have, he would realize that the statement is absolutely untrue. A far greater percentage than that have not been finalized. The promises made to the men prior to their enlistment and on trie battlefields are not being fulfilled. Before the election of 1917, the United Kingdom and Prance were flooded with newspaper reports about tens of millions to be spent on the returned soldiers, without any stipulation or regulation then as to who was to participate. Every soldier had a promise that he would be looked after on his return to Australia. That, I think, was one reason why the soldiers’ vote went so largely in favour of the Winthewar party at that election. The soldiers believed those promises. But they are coming back now, and they are finding that there was little in them. If any young man comes back Class A medically fit, and if he does’ not want to go upon the land - and not too many of them want, or are fitted,- to go on the land - his position is a difficult one. “Back again to mining” is the best that this Government can say to a man who prior to the war may have been a miner in Broken Hill. Some men medically unfit, and whose discharge is not due to any misconduct, get no pension, and they are not entitled to claim vocational training. Men who were miners prior to the outbreak, of war have to go back to mining. That is the best that this grateful country can do for them. I say that if the Government want to precipitate trouble they are going the right way about it. These men have been in Flanders fighting for four or five years, during which they have been taught to respect neither life nor property, and they are coming back with some of those feelings still in them. When they realize that nothing is to be done for them, that they are to receive nothing but a paltry month or two of sustenance, there will be trouble. I am blunging these cases continually under the notice of the Victorian Deputy Controller of Repatriation, but T do not get much satisfaction from that quarter. The trouble is that there is too much of the military spirit in the administration. Every man who has a job in that Department must be a major or a. colonel. You never heard of any mere private getting any job worth having in the administrative functions of this country.
– And they do not forget they are colonels, either.
– We set out to beat the German military spirit, but if we are not careful we shall createthe same spirit in Australia. I know that every lad who comes back honestly believes that something will be done for him. That is the generally accepted idea. And yet, Class A men are coming back after four or five years’ experience of war - men who have been in several “hops-over” in Gallipoli and France - to find that, after a month or two, they are to be finalized, and told to get back to the old job.
There is industrial unrest in this country, and there is good reason for it. During the war wages increased 26 per cent., but the cost of living for food alone has gone up 54 per cent., so that earning power has actually decreased. Men. are coming back with one arm off to find that they are to get a pension of 25s. per week. And the Minister for Repatriation says to them, “You are finalized.” Finalized! Kicked out into the street on a pension of 25s. per week! The man with one leg is in the same position. I know of an incapacitated man and his wife who get 45s. per week between them. I would sooner be dead and buried a thousand times than be obliged to live on that amount of sustenance, denied as that man must be, the enjoyment of any sport and participation in the every-day affairs of life with other men; living, in fact, in poverty and misery on 45s. per week.
– Did you say he was totally incapacitated?
– Yes; I met that man at Ballan two nights ago. He and his wife are living there on 45s. per week. In my capacity as president of our branch of the Returned Soldiers Institute, and by reason of the fact that it is known I was with them at the Front, I meet dozens of boys. I saw one lad with an arm off. His mother, who was with him, prayed that I might be able to get him some work to do, as his pension was just enough to enable him to walk the streets and become an absolute loafer.
– But there is vocational training for cases like that.
– One would have thought that, after four or five years of war, some big scheme would have been devised for the proper treatment of our returned soldiers. I have had men on the sustenance list in Ballarat for six months waiting for vocational training. “We are doing our very best by these dilatory methods to prevent these boys from becoming good citizens. Our scheme of vocational training is only a baby affair. It is not half big enough. Provision has only been made for a few cases.
– The Department say they have provided for 17,000 men, and that 4,000 have been trained.
– The training they have received is not very much. We are not going to turn out fitters and turners or motor mechanics in six months, with all the limitations and restrictions upon the scheme. It is not too much to say that: every lad who has been abroad should, upon his return, have an opportunity to undergo some course of training to make him a carpenter, blacksmith, motor mechanic, electric wirer, turner, or fitter, or to qualify him for whatever calling he may have a liking for. These opportunities should not be confined to the medically unfit.
– They are not. The Minister says that every one up to the age of twenty-one years has an opportunity for training.
– Yes. He means all those who ought never to have gone to the war; the lads who enlisted before they reached the age of twenty-one years. It is true they can get vocational training whether they are in Class A or not; but I am speaking of the great bulk of the men who enlisted over the age of twentyone years, and I say that a man who, prior to enlistment, was a miner, and returns “ Class A,” gets no vacational training from the Department, no matter how good his credentials may be. In the office of the Repatriation Department to-day there is nothing but muddle leading to delay, and the men are getting absolutely sick. I know of a returned soldier who brought his girl from London. He applied for £35 worth of furniture, but his application has been hung up for weeks because of the system of centralization. I contend that the local committee ought to have had power to give that returned soldier the £35 worth of furniture two days after he applied for it. But it appears that everything must be sent on to Melbourne, where it is handled by the military authorities in the usual military manner.
Then we boast about giving men sustenance while on the land. But if land is not productive for a few months after allotment, the miserable £1 per week offered to the soldier settlers cannot be called sustenance. It is impossible for such men to keep on the land. I read in to-day’s paper that the Government of Western Australia are paying 9s. per day sustenance to men who take up land in that State. We ought to see that they are not paid less by the Repatriation Department. I know of a young man who gets a pension of 17s. 6d. per week. He is a man with a record for one of the most brilliant deeds on the battlefields of Flanders, for which he was awarded the MilitaryCross. He was a school teacher. but his health having been broken, he was not able to stand the strain of teaching children. He was lucky enough to get a block of land at Sutton Park., and now he is getting a pension of 17s. 6d. per week, upon which sum he is supposed to be able to work the farm, and make it profitable. I say we are going the right way to make failure a certainty for such men. It is an impossibility for them to be successful in such circumstances.
– They have no incentive to do anything.
– That is the manner in which they are being treated to-day. And so it is with every phase of the repatriation scheme - all muddle and delay and centralization in Melbourne. The pensions system must be revised, for we may take it for granted that the return ing soldiers are not going to accept the conditions “ lying down.” They do not wish to threaten the community. Their association is a non-party one; but we must make no mistake, for it is going to be a political association. The pension of 30s. was fixed at a time when the cost of living had not increased, and the promises made to the men ought to be fulfilled in the spirit.
– The newspapers all said that the pension was to be raised to £2 per week.
– That is so. Who paid for the cost of the paper that was issued on this matter?
– It was issued by the Government in London.
– And it was filled with glowing promises of what was to be done for the boys. So far as I am concerned, this session will not proceed very far before there is some alteration made regarding the treatment of our men. I want a pronouncement from the Government that every soldier who desires shall receive vocational training; and in this regard there ought to be no exceptions made, provided the men are healthy and fit. There are, of course, some in such a state of health that it would be foolish to send them to learn any trade, and such men ought to be in receipt of a full pension without working.
There is another matter that requires urgent attention. I received a letter today from a young boy who enlisted at the age of seventeen, and after four years’ service in Gallipoli and in France he was absent without leave for a short time. For this offence he was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment in the military compound in France, and in a letter to his mother he says -
You know that I got twelve months’ hard labour last Christmas. Well, I was sent away to do it in a military prison. After I hail been there about six weeks, there was a strike for better food. The stuff that we were getting would just keep one alive. There were 400 odd in the prison, and we were all together until the governor of the prison read the Riot Act out to us, and all but ninety-seven of us gave in to them; so we were court martialled and I got ten years out of it, others got thirteen years, and so on.
That was the treatment meted out to a bit of a boy who enlisted at the age of seventeen. The letter, I may say, is dated from the Park House prison, in the Isle of Wight. Our returned men will not be worthy of the name of Australian soldiers if they rest until every one of these boys is released and sent to his lovedones in Australia. During last session, I kept very quiet on the question of their treatment. When I returned, the position was critical, Germany being likely to capture Paris, and I did not utter one word to discourage any one from enlisting. To-night, however, I am free to speak the truth; and I know what these compounds are, and for what trivial offences the boys are thrown into them. When the British “Tommy” gets one ortwo stripes on his arm, and has Australian boys under him, they are treated with very little consideration. The life these men have to lead in the compound is beyond description, and I can well understand their revolting. 1 have known some of these prisoners, in the middle of winter, to have only a sack as their clothing, and they have been made to sleep without blankets, and awakened in the morning with a bucket of cold water thrown over them. The very characteristics that made this boy of whom I am speaking absent himself without leave, are those born of a love of freedom - of the spirit that made him the gallant soldier he was. These men see that the officers get about ten times as much leave as they do,. ‘ and this causes them to break out sometimes; and the case of this boy is typical of many who are doing eight, ten, and thirteen years in gaol. There should not be the slightest delay on the part of the Governmentin bringing these boys back to Australia, and, if they are offenders, having them tried by the civil power in this country. The honorable member for Adelaide (exGunner Yates) was tried by court martial here. Had he been tried by the French military authorities he would have had some semblance of fair treatment. In a similar trial in France one of the members of the Court would be a man of his own rank; but that was not so when he was tried in Australia. The Navy affords an illustration of how our men are treated. I have received a letter from the Sydney, at Portsmouth, regarding the conditions on that vessel; andmy correspondent tells me that this is not really an Australian Navy, because 80 per cent, of those on board are what he describes as “ Pommies.” He says in his letter -
Cablegram reports that the Acting Minister for the Navy has stated that the Government was confronted with a serious problem regarding the manning of the Navy, in spiteof the £25 gratuity, men had refused to sign on for further period. Now, sir, there are several reasons why men will not renew their contract: -
The Australian Navy is controlled and “bossed” on exactly the same principles as the British Navy ? The same snobbery exists between officers and men, and the same injustice meted out.
The food is bad, and we have no method of improving same other than stating a personal complaint, which results in complainant being “ run in “ for. inciting a mutiny.
3 ) Because officers are allowed wine bills, . and indulge in drunken orgies, whilst the menforward are debarred from drink altogether, this being a teetotal navy. Where does the teetotal part come in? One end of the ship being “ wet,” and the other end “ dry,” and dry as a bone, at that.
Another reason why is: - Australians being in the minority, they are merely tolerated aboard their own ship. If an Australian and a “ Pommy “ are brought up on any trivial offence, the Australian gets the worst of it, to the great satisfaction of the “ poms “ in general.
Now, in view of these reasons, can yon. wonder why people refuse to continue with a “ naval career “ ?
The time has arrived when we should have an Australian Navy officered by Australians. For a long time in the Australian Imperial Force every good position was given to somebody from abroad, who knew nothing more than did our own. officers about the war. This war was waged under conditions different from those of any other war, and our men and? officers were there just as long, and knew just as much, as did the officers and men of any other army. In the Navy there is a similar state of affairs. We are everlastingly bringing officers from theOld Country as experts and instructors, although we have asgood men here as in any other part of the world. We shall? have a satisfied Nayy when we have officers in charge who understand Australians and how to treat them. Only the other day some boys on a war vessel in Australia were given most ferocious sentences. Did we not enter the war to fight for freedom ? Has this war, after all, been just a gigantic fraud? We set officers to try these offenders, although officers are the last people in the world who should be trusted with such a duty. All offenders of the kind ought to be tried by the civil Courts, and there is a big difference between a trial by courtmartial and one in an ordinary Court.
– There is a man serving a term of two years in Darlinghurst to-day because he got drunk on his way to Australia. I have been informed that as this case has already been gone into the sentence cannot be altered.
– I. certainly think that these are matters which claim the early and serious attention of this Parliament. There is the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews). Since the armistice men have been thrown into gaol without trial. No one knows who’ made the charges against Freeman, or what the charges were, and it was only by adopting . the extreme course of refusing to take food that he compelled the Government to consent to his being placed in one of the gaols. Such occurrences as these ought not to be tolerated, and if we on this side, though small in numbers, do our duty, there will be mightly little business done in this House until there has been inquiry made into all these cases, and the -boys brought back to Australia.
People talk about “ patriotism,” but I am beginning to almost hate the word. There was a case in which land was offered to the Closer Settlement Board by a lady at £8 an acre, but that land she sold to a private person at £6 10s. ‘When the Board stepped in and told the pur- . chaser that the land was under option to the Board for a month he said that he did not know a soldier desired to have it. The owner gave another option to the Board, but not at £6 10s. ; her price was £8, and the Board offered £7, and the land was subsequently sold to this “patriot” for £6 10s. There is no doubt that the word “ patriotism “ is being very much abused to-day. I leave all these questions in the hands of the Government, and I believe that, not only on this side, but opposite, there are hon orable members who will not be satisfied with an explanation, but will insist on a thorough revision of the methods of the Government and the treatment given to returned soldiers.
.- It is awful to think that so little interest is taken by this National Parliament in questions of public finance, although the finances are the most important topic with which we are called upon to deal. The Government have brought down PrO.posals for Supply, and yet they leave the House absolutely in the dark as to the possibility of raising the necessary revenue. Australia at the present time is accumulating debts, and those at the head of affairs are simply raking in whatever they, can get hold of, while making no provision to meet their responsibilities. If a private firm carried on its business in this way it would be liable to a criminal prosecution- and, indeed, I think the Government are deserving of a prosecution of the kind for their gross disregard of their financial responsibilities. When the Commonwealth Parliament was established one result expected was the consolidation of ‘ the debts of Australia. Yet for nearly seven months this Parliament has not been in session, although there were most urgent measures awaiting to be dealt with. We on this side were thirsting to serve our country, but honorable members opposite seem to have only one ambition - to become members of Parliament, draw their salaries, and let the country go to the devil. I have tried to find out what they are sent here for, but I cannot find a member on the Government side who is prepared to offer any proposals that will help to get us out of the present difficulty.
When Federation was brought about it was believed that one of the most important things with which the National Parliament would deal was the consolidation of the State debts, but nothing has been done; and a few months ago, when loans were falling due in New South Wales and other States, no attempt was made to meet the liabilities. Of course, the party in power in most of the State Parliaments is in sympathy with the party now in power in the Australian
Parliament, but that will be altered at the next election, and a good many of these anomalies, I hope, will be removed. Some of the States are actually paying per cent, for the renewal loans floated last year or this, because the interest is 5^ per cent, and they were floated at 98, and some at less than that. However, no honorable member opposite seems to’ be at all concerned. Our children will curse the men in Parliament in these times who neglected to make provision to meet these responsibilities.
The Government have proposed a graduated scale to reduce the proportion of the Customs and Excise duties now paid to the States. At the time of the expiry of the Braddon section of the Constitution, the Labour party took the view that the 25s. per capita should be paid to the States for ten years only as a sort of compromise. The then Opposition, thu party which is now in power in this Parliament, wanted the payment of the 253. per capita to be made perpetual, but the country returned our party with a triumphant majority, and the intention then was that at the end of the ten-year period the whole of the Customs and Excise duties should go to the Commonwealth. That is the authority which should have it. It is sound financing, because the Commonwealth Parliament imposes the duties, either to raise revenue or to encourage local industries, and Should be free to frame its balance-sheet to meet its own requirements. Under the present system the States have to receive a share of this revenue, and s.me of them have even put on super-taxes, while still expecting the Commonwealth Government to allow them to receive a share of the Customs and Excise revenue. When Federation was brought about, the State Governments should have begun to set their houses in order instead of keeping up their enormous expenditures. We are the laughing-stock of the outside world, with our fourteen Houses of Parliament, seven Governments, and seven AgentsGeneral, with all their trimmings and paraphernalia. We have ohe Parliament to pass a law, and a second Parliament to tell the other fellow that he shall not have it, and some of the Houses are not even elected by the people. I sometimes wonder what Australians are made of, and whether they understand what Democracy really means. They put me in mind of the Canadian boxer Burns, who met the coloured fighter Johnson in a contest in Australia. Burns’ only qualification was that he was a little fellow and could stand a lot of hammering. The people of Australia can stand a big lot of hammering without any feeling of resentment. The various State Governments are making a clamour because the Commonwealth Government proposes to take away from them part of the Customs and Excise duties. The people always expected that they would be taken away. I took as active a part as anybody in the advocacy of Federation, and all those working with me shared my opinion that duties of Customs and Excise should go to the Commonwealth Government, because the Government that raises the revenue should have the responsibility of spending it.
This Government cannot last much longer, thank God; but I do hope that even in their dying hours they will make some attempt to deal with the question of the consolidation of our debts. They do hot seem to take any interest in the matter of arranging loans when they fall due. Whatever the State Governments do in raising loans must affect the financial position of the whole of Australia, and any wrong action on their part must prejudice the credit of Australia. It has been difficult to find money, except at extraordinary interest, for some of the State loans floated recently. Honorable members should remember that for all loans raised outside of Australia the interest has to come from the wealth of Australia. It is sent abroad, and we get nothing for it. That means impoverishing the country, whereas when loans are raised within Australia, the interest is received by the people of Australia. The’ money simply goes out of the Treasury into the pockets of the people for them to spend next day. If a consolidation proposal were put forward, much of the money required could be found in Australia. The Government discovered during the war that enormous sums could be raised locally. If we must ‘ have taxeaters, at least they should be in Australia, and not abroad. This question ought to exercise the mind of every honorable member, but no interest appears to be taken in it. Some members are snoozing on the Ministerial benches, and others are outside the Chamber.
I have received a booklet which bears the Government imprint, and deals with the appointment of a Commission to manage the debts of the Empire. It puts me in mind of an agreement which I was once asked to sign by a main, for whom I undertook a contract. A friend of mine warned me that it was too long. He advised me never to sign a long agreement, because it was always contradictory. He said that if I signed it, I would find myself under the thumb of “the other man. This proposal absolutely takes away from Parliament the control of its debts. It has not yet been ex-‘ plained by anybody on the other side, and at present appears to me a very dangerous document. The Japanese Govern-, ment have certainly shown a point to our Government, if they are prepared to agree to a document of this sort, because there is nothing to prevent the Government of Japan from taking up a . few million pounds worth of Australian stock, and drawing the interest in Japan. Members opposite evidently do not know that, and probably have not read the proposal. There is nothing in it to prevent our stock being carted all over the world. I am sure that no Australian wants that to happen. I do not believe in consolidating the debts of the whole Empire. “We ought to manage our own debts, and reduce our indebtedness, while the interest on all our loans, or on as many of them as possible, should be paid to the Australian people. The Government should wake up and realize the serious financial situation. We are expecting this year an enormously heavy revenue. We have a revenue of about £39,000,000; but if we examine all our responsibilities we shall find that we are about £11,000,000 short. We should begin to set our house in order. Two years ago I pointed out that one of the responsibilities of the Government must’ be to prepare for peace.’ I told them that the problems which peace would “ bring would be as great and difficult as those arising from the war; yet nothing has been done. How oan we wonder, then, at the general discontent? Who is breeding this discontent? Not the people outside, who are rightly complaining, but those in political office who should have made ready adequate relief against the time when the problem was bound to arise, namely, at the end of the war. There must be some causes leading to all this dissatisfaction. A community is not discontented merely because it loves .the country in which it lives, but because of some fear of a calamity such as starvation. When feelings like those are aroused, they animate attempts to bring under notice the urgent necessity for Government action; but day after day nothing is done. Members of Parliament find themselves at the four corners of the Commonwealth instead of being called together to assist in carryingrelief measures, and in facing the pressing problems of the day. It is only playing with the whole subject to take one man away from .a job and put a returned soldier in his place. What are the Government doing towards making Australia self-contained? The whole country seems to be going “ on the drunk,” and honorable members opposite seem to be assisting towards that end instead of trying to secure some amelioration. The national drift is very serious. There must be a limitation to the raising of loans. It appears to me, indeed, that certain parties in the. community who have put so much money into recent loans can only have been in a position to do so by fleecing the people. In Great Britain the people can never get anything done without a rio’t or a bloody revolution, then, when it reaches that stage, Parliament begins to “ get a move on.” This Parliament requires a revolution toawaken it ‘ to its sense of responsibility. The Government and their supportersare aware of seething discontent from one end of Australia to the other. What do they do? They call .people all manner of names, from “ Grasshoppers * to Bolsheviks. What is the good of hurling names? Supporters of the Government have been away from this building foi six or seven months, and they come back like a lot of dumb dogs, with muzzles over their mouths. The only hope I «an see of reviving interest among them in public affairs would be to fling a book at Mr. Speaker, or to wake up this’ House in some similar way. I am here to represent the industrial masses of Australia, and I have to try to look after those who need help. Honorable members like the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. .Jowett) can look after themselves. He has been able to do so all his life, and, very likely, at the expense of somebody else; because one cannot create wealth save at the expense of others. I shall endeavour at every opportunity to instil into the supposed representatives of the people on the Government benches their heavy responsibilities in connexion with the financial position of Australia.-
I desire how to refer briefly to one phase of -the influenza epidemic in Sydney. There have been certain working men who, in following their “occupation as Government employees, have had to go on board mail steamers and transports aud men-of-war in Sydney Harbor. They have done so under official instruction, with the .result that numbers of them have been stricken with the “flu,” and have died. In most of these cases domestic relief has been urgently necessary. It was in the public interest that those men boarded the infected ships. The Government would be well advised, therefore, to grant pensions to the widows and children of those unfortunates who have lost their lives. There would be no precedent created if’ the Government were to take such action’, remembering, as one does, the pension granted by Act of Parliament last year to the Federal Chief Justice.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have no desire to block the passage of the Supply Bill. The statement of the
Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) today was very disappointing to me. Our men are returning from the war every day. When they were departing from these shores the Government said, “ Now is the time to foster Australian industries and make the country self-contained.” But in the past two or three years not a single industry has been established by the efforts of the Government. I ask honorable members opposite to point to one substantial industry created and fostered for the purpose of providing employment and support for our returning soldiers.
– The wirespinning at Port Kembla.
– I doubt if .that will support very many men. The war having terminated sooner than we had anticipated, the Government found themselves at the end of last year in possession of large sums of money which had been raised for war purposes. The Treasurer told us this afternoon that as the men came back they were paid off, so that our outgoings in that direction also are not what they used to be. . I contend that all the .unexpended moneys raised for war purposes should now be devoted to the work of repatriation. The finding of work for the men who come back should be regarded as part and parcel of our war expenditure, and these unexpended war balances should be used in providing employment for our men by the establishment of new industries. In the Ministerial statement as submitted to us this afternoon, however, there is not one solitary proposal in the direction of a vigorous industrial policy.
– £23,000,000 for land settlement ! . .
– That is all very well for those who may desire to go on the land, but thousands of our returned soldiers wish to take up other callings which they were following before the war. The Government should have come forward with ‘ a strong, vigorous policy to provide employment for our men on reproductive works. As many honorable members have been travelling all night, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Copper Industry : Resumption of Operations at Mount Morgan and other Copper Centres - Refusal of Invalid Pension.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I am sure that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), and honorable members generally, will be glad to know that, as a result of interviews which Mr. Ryan, the Premier of Queensland, and I myself have had with the board of directors of the Mount Morgan Company, the president and secretary of the Trades Hall, and officers of the Seamen’s Union, the directors of the company are making arrangements to re-open the mine on Monday next. This will be glorious news for the 12,000 persons who are dependent upon the operations of the mine for a livelihood. I feel that the’ directors have met Mr. Ryan and myself in a very fair spirit, and that we have reason to be grateful to the officers of the Trades Hall Council and the Seamen’s Union for having brought about such a happy settlement.
– I should like the Government to place in possession of the House the opinion of the Crown Law officer which led to the denial of a pension in the circumstances stated this afternoon by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace). It was stated by him that a pension had been refused to a resident of Sydney who was incapacitated while following his calling as a seaman at Fiji, the refusal being based upon the opinion of a Crown Law Officer that the Act as i’t stands does not apply to Australian citizens in such circumstances. I have examined the Act-
– It is quite specific on the point. I have looked it up.
– I do not think it is. It provides that a person to whom a pension is granted shall be a resident of Australia; not that he shall be resident here when he suffers the injury in, respect of which the claim is made. At all events, I ask the Govern ment to place the opinion of the Crown Law Officer in the possession of the House.
– I did not hear the speech to which the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) has referred, but my legal friend and colleague the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr, Wise) is familiar with the case, and I shall avail myself of an opportunity to confer with him upon it.
I heard with very great pleasure about half-an-hour ago of the settlement of the Mount Morgan difficulty to which the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has referred, and hailed it with the same satisfaction that he has expressed. The Government are now deliberating on measures that may induce similar action in some other important copper-raising centres. Although the circumstances of the different mines vary, and the resources of the mining companies are not in any way equal to those of the Mount Morgan Company, we are hopeful that the stoppage of production will be prevented in the near future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 June 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1919/19190625_reps_7_88/>.